Have you tried…not being a Cinemaholic? The “X-Men” franchise is on its last wings these days, so Jon and Will are here to discuss Dark Phoenix, Fox’s last breath of fire before Disney bought the rights to these characters. We also discuss the new comedy Late Night starring Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson, The Secret Life of Pets 2 from Illumination, and Joanna Hogg’s latest film The Souvenir from A24.
19 years of X-Men films have led to one very awkward moment. A patchwork of sagas ranging from transcendent to bottom-dweller couldn’t have a picked a flatter vehicle for punctuating a complex legacy now in the hands of Disney upon the Disney-Fox merger. And to make matters more confused, we still have another one of these ancillary films, New Mutants, delayed to next spring for an unrelated and likely inconsequential misadventure. For now, Dark Phoenix effectively closes the book on a story that already has two, maybe three endings as it is.
Where there once stood the pillar of the white, male gaze in literature, Toni Morrison exchanged her chisel for a sledgehammer and there, knocked it down. The author, editor, and icon has amassed a following worthy of her extraordinary verve. A towering figure in the world of fiction, Morrison’s titles include The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, and Beloved, among many others. She is a Nobel Peace Prize winner in literature and, will have you know, she makes the best carrot cake you will ever have.
We’re not the podcast you thought we were before. This week, Sam Noland joins Jon Negroni for a packed episode, covering all the wide releases of the week, plus some extra limited/streaming releases. Our theme music this week is “Amoreena,” performed by Taron Egerton on the Rocketman soundtrack.
Jon, Will, and Sam talk about François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, which began the French New Wave of Cinema in the late 1950s. We discuss the significance of the film and why it’s essential viewing for cinemaholics, plus we debate the meaning behind the film’s controversial ending.
Over the past 65 years, there have been 35 films featuring Godzilla (or 38 if you’re being technical), a super-powered reptilian giant and titan of the ancient world, born against his will from the complicit ashes of mankind’s mistakes. He’s a rightful god among monsters and humans alike, and such is the case in this latest outing of the world’s favorite monster, in which there might be some serious competition for the title of “King.”
Sifting through Netflix’s endless rolodex of content can be daunting. What should you watch? What are the streaming overlords recommending? Is there a category curated specifically for one’s own tastes? Mind-boggling algorithms aside, there are sometimes those movies that just pop up out of nowhere (fine, not out of nowhere exactly, I just went through the algorithm process). But these are the movies that always seem to simply say, “maybe.” Maybe this is the one. And this time, that “maybe” is literal in Always Be My Maybe, which is now streaming on Netflix and stars Ali Wong and Randall Park.
Every teen generation tends to get defined by the media they consume and how they consume it. Sure, not everyone can relate with the exact feeling a single song from the 70s can invoke when played in a film like Dazed and Confused, or perhaps what an early 2000s pop culture reference might inform in Superbad. But in Booksmart, the tradition of expanding relatability beyond the constraints and memories of a given era continues in this lovingly ambitious feature debut from actor-turned-filmmaker Olivia Wilde.
Fellow Game of Thrones fanatics Kimber Myers and Julia Teti join us for a full-length discussion of the hit HBO series and its 8-season finale. We discuss what we liked and disliked, what surprised us, and how the legacy of Game of Thrones may shape pop culture for winters to come.
We’re ready to get in on the action of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, the third installment of the ongoing Keanu Reeves hitman franchise from director Chad Stahelski and screenwriter Derek Kolstad. We kick off the show with Off-Topics and briefly catch up on some of the new films we saw this week and last week but don’t have time to fully review.
In my view, 2014’s John Wick is the ultimate Redbox movie. On the surface, it looks like your typical, generic B-movie action thriller. It features a recognizable actor who was out of the limelight at the time, and to some, past his prime. In this case, that actor was Keanu Reeves, and this revenge tale looked like any other generic action romp, the likes of which you typically find crowded in those recognizable movie machines outside of Wal-Mart.
Special guest Cory Woodroof joins Will for a long conversation about Under the Silver Lake, the latest film from director David Robert Mitchell (It Follows), which stars Andrew Garfield and Riley Keough. Despite a lot of buzz surrounding this neo-noir thriller after premiering last year at Cannes Film Festival, A24 has only recently unleashed the mystery upon us hopeful cinemaholics. Is that for good reason? Dive in and find out!
I can still recall…The Last Summer.
John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien, author of such high fantasy novels as The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, was recently the subject of Dome Karukoski’s Tolkien, a new biopic about the prolific author produced by Fox Searchlight Pictures and released through Disney last weekend.
We just have one movie following us around as we battle it out over Pokémon Detective Pikachu, a new live-action movie based on the video game, as well as the larger world of pocket monsters with so many games and merchandise, we couldn’t possibly hope to catch ’em all.
In Pokémon Detective Pikachu, the rules of Pokémon and perhaps video game movies in general are turned on their head to seemingly serve a single purpose: give the people what they want. But what do audiences really want in a new Pokémon movie? A stylish film noir? A diversely casted Zootopia narrative? Dozens of CG monsters to adore and collect? The Ryan Reynolds brand of comedy under a PG rating? Or perhaps simply a reminder that when many of you were young, Pokémon (in some fashion) was a big deal to you, and now it can be a big deal to your kids.
Filmmakers generally build their stories around proven formulas. Either intentionally or not, most movies you see at your local theater follow a predictable series of set ups and payoffs. Sometimes this can be grating, and other times, it’s part of the charm. In one’s mundane day-to-day living, a familiar, run-of-the-mill story can be dull, meandering, or frustrating. You’ve almost certainly heard someone ask, “Why won’t Hollywood make something new?” But in other cases, a film that’s light, good-natured, and winningly by-the-books can invoke a welcome sigh of relief.
Special guest Abby Olcese joins us as we cast our ballots for Long Shot, a brand new political romantic comedy starring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen. But that’s not all! School is out but the party is just getting started. We’re doing an early review for the upcoming bad teen comedy Booksmart, the first film directed by Olivia Wilde. And later in the show, we discuss three new releases on Netflix: Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil and Vile, Tuca & Bertie, and Knock Down the House.
For reasons that may be obvious, critically analyzing a film intended for children can be a difficult task. There’s a prevailing notion that kids, due to their general lack of experience, have very low standards and will eat up whatever colorful media they’re given. There may certainly be some truth to that sentiment, given that children and adults consume art very differently, but one of our responsibilities as critics is to thoroughly clarify how disparate age groups might react to a film, especially one made for kids to enjoy.
This month on Extra Milestone, we’re celebrating the 65th anniversary of Akira Kurosawa’s legendary action epic, Seven Samurai, which was released on April 26, 1954. As always, we dive into the historical context and legacy for the film, why it’s so fondly remembered, and what we think of it all these years later.
Pristinely lined upon walls in America’s capital are the imposing, glorifying portraits of the fathers of our nation. Men who may have written moving words, but did so using the backs of women, people of color, and disenfranchised groups as the desk to write upon. It’s a tiring cycle; to be told the people have power only as far as the ballot box, and only if they can even get there. But in Netflix’s new documentary Knock Down the House, director Rachel Lears follows four women and their personal, political battles against a broken system.
We’re assembling some surprise guests to review Avengers: Endgame, starting with a spoiler-free discussion of the blockbuster event that’s already breaking box office records. Afterward, all of our spoiler hesitations disappear with a snap, and we have special guests Alisha Grauso and Matt Donato on deck to help us process basically everything this saga by Marvel has been building up to for over a decade.
Avengers: Endgame marks the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. At least…until Spider-Man: Far From Home comes out in a few months. Regardless, there are 22 films in this sprawling quilt of franchises, and not all of them are made equal. In this bonus episode of Cinemaholics, I spend a grueling two hours with Sam Noland collaborating and debating a definitive ranking we can both put our names on.
The set up and payoff structure of the Marvel films beginning with Iron Man in 2008 may never be fully realized. These stories will continue on for as long as audiences continue to be fans of the material, so any definitive ending for a saga of episodic films requires a conclusion to at least one prominent idea, not necessarily an entire world of characters and their respective potential as branched franchises. This is why Avengers: Endgame is a film deftly committed to playing out the first and last revelation of such a film series. Tony Stark is Iron Man. And the Avengers are the Earth’s mightiest heroes. Everything else in Endgame is secondary, including its villain.
Special guests Sam Noland and Julia Teti join us for a Summer Movie Preview that includes the entire writing staff at Cinemaholics for the first time! We talk about all the biggest sparks, spooks, and bops we’re looking forward to the most this summer. Plus we each pick a few “dark horse” films we think might be better than they look, then cover all of our honorable mentions for the upcoming blockbuster season.
Actor Raymond Cruz is often best known for his television work, particularly on TNT’s The Closer and his memorable reoccurring turn in Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul. For more than thirty years, however, Cruz has appeared on screens both big and small, providing memorable and distinctive turns in a variety of projects. His latest role in the New Line horror film The Curse of La Llorona, however, is one of his biggest to date. Premiering in theaters and IMAX screens around the world starting tonight, his role in The Conjuring spin-off film is literally and physically among his most gigantic to date, particularly if you see him on the 72-foot screen.
The Curse of La Llorona is the sixth film in the ongoing Conjuring series. Released through Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, the film is helmed by first-time director Michael Chaves (the director of next year’s The Conjuring 3), written by Mikki Daughtry & Tobias Iaconis, and stars Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, and Patricia Velásquez. The story is based on the Mexican folklore of La Llorona, also known as The Weeping Woman, and follows Anna (Cardellini), a widowed mother of two in 1970s Los Angeles, who must protect her children from the supernatural entity in question (Marisol Ramirez).
Merriam-Webster Dictionary should be on the lookout. Paying attention to the latest changes in the English language, the millennial vernacular has birthed some questionable terms in its wake: “Extra,” “Slay,” and the ever-practical “Lit” have found their way into the jargon of many young folks. But above all other terms, there is one that shames them all. Adulting. Defined: “to behave like an adult, to do the things that adults regularly have to do,” as per Merriam-Webster. This is the very word encompassing the Netflix nexus of Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s neon-lit directorial debut, Someone Great.
Slut in a Good Way is directed by French-Canadian actress Sophie Lorain and stars Marguerite Bouchard, Romane Denis, and Rose Adam as Charlotte, Mégane, and Aube respectively, a trio of teenage girls who are hired to work part-time at a toy store during the winter holidays. Over the course of the season, they each engage in various romantic and sexual exploits with their coworkers and are suddenly forced to reckon with the frustrations and uncertainties that arise when it comes to adult relationships.
We’re traveling to hell and back this week with our review of Hellboy, a new R-rated adaptation of the monster-fighting comic book anti-hero, now starring David Harbour. We also catch up on the latest stop-motion animation family film from LAIKA, Missing Link, and cover plenty of other releases worth talking about, including High Life, Guava Island, Little, The Death of Dick Long, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, and Breakthrough.
For many film fans, Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has taken on a bit of a mythic quality since its inception. Either fittingly or ironically, this long-in-the-works passion project centered (in part) around the literary icon is one that has often alluded the Brazil director. For the past 30 years, Gilliam has tried — with only fleeting success — to bring this mischievous fable to the big screen. Despite every intention and aspiration to make it a reality, Don Quixote yet remained a fantasy.
Special guest Ryan Oliver (The Playlist) joins us for a supersized review of Shazam, the latest superhero film from DC and Warner Bros. We also bury our feelings to discuss Pet Sematary, a new horror remake of the 80s Stephen King adaptation. Later in the show, we’re covering a wide variety of other releases, including The Best of Enemies, Shrill Season 1, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, and Unicorn Store.
It’s been some time since I’ve been completely and utterly transfixed by a film. It happened quite often back when I started to really dive into cinema; it was only 2015, but it seems like a thousand years ago, and I remember everything I watched seeming so unique and tantalizing at the time. Naturally, the frequency of this sensation started to die out as my knowledge grew, and it slowly began to take a lot more for a movie to truly knock my socks off.
The escapist horror of Stephen King is known and perhaps beloved for its eery “other” worlds and frightscapes mirroring our own reality, yet are not quite the same. Something is always off in the very best of King’s written stories and media adaptations, and in the same way, Pet Sematary (a remake of the schlocky 1989 horror hit) contains just about everything recognizable in a memorable, unshakeable King horror, but something here inevitably strikes as a bit twisted and wrong.
Robin Bissell has produced, though not frequently, films of varying quality over the years, primarily under director Gary Ross. If you’ve watched Pleasantville, Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games, or Free State of Jones, for instance, then you’ve had a chance to spot his name in the credits. And now, after two decades of bringing films to the big screen, Bissell has jumped into the director’s chair with his own screenplay for The Best of Enemies, a lukewarm debut for the veteran producer under the STX Films brand.
There’s a moment in Unicorn Store when frustrated Kit (Brie Larson) is coaxed to sit down at the kitchen table for a chat with her mom, Gladys (Joan Cusack). During their mother-daughter heart to heart, Gladys tells Kit, “The most grown-up thing you can do is fail at something you love.” This is the gamble Brie Larson takes on as director and star of the latest Netflix original film. Unicorn Store is not a failure by any means, but it’s also quite far from brilliance.
The inmates are running the asylum this week as Jon is absent for mysterious reasons and Will takes over the show to ramble about Danny DeVito, Sad Clowns, and his enemy list with special guest Cory Woodroof! Later in the show, Will is high on his own supply — i.e. the sound of his own voice — as he spews more nonsense about Harmony Korine in a prolonged, in-depth conversation about The Beach Bum, starring a far-out Matthew McConaughey. All this and more as fans begin to get worried about Jon’s sudden disappearance.
This month for our Extra Milestone series, we’re discussing the classic Billy Wilder comedy Some Like It Hot, celebrating 60 years since its release on March 29,1959. Joining us is Sam Noland, our Movie of the Week columnist. In this discussion, we cover the background and legacy of the film, which stars Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis. Afterward, we dive into the plot of the film with clips and our own double entendres.
If there’s one adjective I typically abhor when it comes to describing films, it’s “cute.” Cute, to my disgruntled ears, comes off as cheap, lazy, and non-descriptive. It’s a broad word that doesn’t really get to the meat of one’s feelings beyond the surface level. It’s a deflection term, often used to describe the exterior of a film while avoiding anything specific, intellectual, or meaningful. It’s an inoffensive word, certainly; there’s really no sense in getting mad about its overuse beyond my (admittedly) overbearingly high literary standards. But I still find it ceaselessly grating. What exactly does it mean to be “cute” anyway? It looks nice? A squeaky-clean disposition? Positive vibes? Good morals? It’s a placeholder word when others fail you.
Originating from the German Expressionist movement of the early 20th century, film noir is a corner of cinema often reduced to a shallow microcosm of its time period. It’s a genre that has been worked in ever since the 1930s, but the most common association with noir is made to the stylish, studio-mandated crime dramas of the 1940s. Production-code-overseen stories of bitter detectives, steely romantic interests, and Tommy Gun-toting gangsters punctuating every sentence with “See?” are typically conjured up when thinking of the prototypical noir story, but there’s a distinct tonal influence hovering over these films, setting them apart from other thrillers. This is the compelling narrative underpinning the Criterion Channel’s choice for our 8th Movie of the Week.
Shazam! is probably the last film a lot of superhero movie fans expected from the expanded cinematic universe of DC stories, which have recently taken a turn for the colorful and fantastical with Aquaman, as well as the dynamic and righteous Wonder Woman. Unlike those entries into the ever-growing mythology of live-action gods and heroes, this new film from oft-horror director David F. Sandberg is a heartfelt family comedy with an authentically “teen” edge, boasting far more angst to chew on than its closest rival, Spider-Man: Homecoming.
In the light of day, the American prairie is an open and endless field of grass. Landscapes of the Old West stretch on for miles, and the golden plains evoke a warm, welcoming feeling. But at night, the howling wind creeps in through the windows. Candles flicker and the once open country becomes a claustrophobic nightmare, where nature speaks and shrieks. This is the visage first-time director Emma Tammi captures in The Wind, a psychological western-horror hybrid with haunting elements that work separately, but never coalesce into something truly frightening.
This week, we’re dedicating the majority of the show to reviewing the new horror film Us, the second feature by director Jordan Peele after his 2017 debut Get Out. We’ll be discussing the film entirely spoiler-free for the first half of this review, then after a fairly obvious spoiler warning, we’ll be digging deep into the secrets, meanings, and interpretations we had after our first watch. Plus, we kick off the episode with a brief review of Yardie, the first feature film directed by Idris Elba.
In 2001, the four members of the 1980s rock band Mötley Crüe chronicled their drug and sex laden escapades in a tell-all book entitled The Dirt. It was far more about sex and drugs than it was rock ‘n’ roll; detailing stories of trashed hotel rooms, struggles with addiction, and personal pitfalls over the sake of living the rockstar life doled out in absolute chaos. The film incarnation is, unfortunately, much of the same. Netflix’s adaptation of the tumultuous, vile story of Mötley Crüe never finds the right tone and ultimately hits all the wrong notes.
It’s been half a century since the significant culminating events of the Space Race, and the film landscape is making good on celebrating this milestone. 2018 saw several high-profile releases for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, plus there was the debut of First Man, Damien Chazelle’s fantastic Neil Armstrong biopic. And even more recently, there was the 2019 IMAX release of Apollo 11, Todd Douglas Miller’s fascinating documentary. Not to be outdone, the Criterion Collection recently offered the acclaimed documentary For All Mankind to early subscribers of their approaching streaming service.
Special guest Sam Noland joins us for a triple review of Triple Frontier, a new “soldier-heist” film debuting on Netflix and starring Ben Affleck and Oscar Isaac. We’re also getting emotional over the new teen romance dramedy Five Feet Apartstarring Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse. Stick around for even more reviews, including the new sci-fi release Captive State, After Life from Ricky Gervais, and The Mustang, now in limited release.
Captive State has a lot going for it: a talented cast and crew, a solid visual and narrative aesthetic, and an interesting premise rife with potential to explore the faith we bestow upon our leaders. It deeply saddens me, then, to report that the film misses nearly every opportunity to create something meaningful, original, or memorable. It fails to deliver on any of the promises it makes from the outset and winds up feeling like a wholly unrewarding chore to watch.
The Criterion Collection is often revered (rightfully so) for bringing well-deserved attention to the more obscure, lesser-known corners of cinema history. They have highlighted great films that — whether due to poor accessibility or popularity — have been largely forgotten, and those interested enough to take advantage of the opportunity are typically better off as a result. Their sixth movie of the week, available exclusively to charter subscribers of The Criterion Channel, is a prime example of their knack for worthwhile curation and restoration, and it also serves as an exciting sneak peek into a title not yet released on physical media.
Though it is not based on a young adult novel, despite what my brain might tell me (Side note: it’s all the more confusing because they made a novelization and released it at the end of 2018), Five Feet Apart is centered around Stella Grant (Richardson), a bright, motivated teenager who cannot live her fullest life due to the limitations of her cystic fibrosis (CF) diagnosis.
For every fan of cinema, there’s one film that changes everything. It reworks your system. Gives you a new lease on life. Or, perhaps in less dramatic terms, it reroutes your perception of film in general. These rare movies give you a totally new understanding of the art form and can show you what this wondrous medium can do. They provide unforgettable epiphanies and serve as luxurious early showcases for how authentic, inviting, delicate, invigorating, and downright humane cinema can truly be.
Spring is in the air, and so is Captain Marvel. We’re flying higher, further, and faster in our review of the new Marvel superhero film starring Brie Larson, and joining us is special guest Kimber Myers of the LA Times. We also discuss Leaving Neverland, a new HBO documentary from Sundance about the sexual abuse allegations of Michael Jackson, as well as some other new releases like The Aftermath, The Kid, and one new TV series on TBS starring Steve Buscemi, Daniel Radcliffe and many others in Miracle Workers.
At one point in The Kid, a new western directed by Vincent D’Onofrio, someone utters the tremendously bold statement, “It only matters the story they tell when you’re gone.” With all due respect to real-life outlaw “Billy the Kid,” you probably deserve the story this film decides to tell about you.
For their fifth Movie of the Week, the Criterion Channel has decided to highlight Charles Burnett’s career with his third feature film, To Sleep with Anger, released on October 12, 1990. The familial drama tells the story of Harry (Danny Glover), a mysterious drifter from the Deep South who takes up a temporary residence in the home of an old acquaintance named Gideon (Paul Butler) and his wife Suzie (Mary Alice), as well as their extended family.
Keeping your emotions in check means maintaining a semblance of control. Don’t be hysterical, don’t lose your cool, don’t show your feelings or risk being called weak. This is what the titular Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson) is struggling with when we first meet her training on the planet Hala, far from the Earth we know in more ways than one.
Special guest Cory Woodroof joins us for a quick Oscars 2019 recap, plus we dig into the recent controversy surrounding Steven Spielberg and Netflix. Our main review is Greta, a new thriller from director and co-writer Neil Jordan starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Isabelle Huppert, and Maika Monroe. We also discuss the new IMAX documentary Apollo 11, which just hit limited release along with Gaspar Noé’s dance horror Climax. Last up is The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind on Netflix, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s directorial debut, which he also stars in alongside Maxwell Simba.
For our debut episode of a bonus series we’re calling Extra Milestone, Sam Noland joins us as we celebrate the 85th anniversary of Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night, which was released on February 22, 1934 and stars Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Largely hailed as the first screwball comedy and an early precursor to the modern rom-com, this is one film you’ll definitely want to cross off your cinematic bucket list, or perhaps revisit.
For their fourth Movie of the Week, Criterion Channel has wisely decided to highlight Andrei Tarkovsky, one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Any one of Tarkovsky’s seven feature-length films released between 1962 and 1986 would make for an excellent showcase of his talent, but it’s only natural that the final choice would be what is perhaps his most talked about film: Stalker. Released in Russia during the spring of 1979 (and a few years later in the U.S.), the film has become a favorite among cinephiles, as well as an undoubtable influence on sci-fi and arthouse fans alike.