movie reviews

Renee Zellweger’s performance prevents ‘Judy’ from being forgettable biopic

Judy does what most good biopics do, focusing on a particular period of the subject’s life, rather than try to fit an entire life and career into a two-hour story. 

There are flashbacks that show what Judy Garland endured as a young girl, trying to please those who wanted to make her a star at the cost of any sort of normal childhood. Those sequences presume that you know about Garland and her career, which doesn’t seem particularly unreasonable if you’re seeing this movie. If you know Judy Garland was in The Wizard of Oz, that’s probably all you need to get by here. 

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The Podcass 010: Brad Pitt in Space, Cam Newton’s foot, and Rambo in Mexico

Here’s some Podcass for the weekend! (We should’ve gotten it posted before the weekend. Still a work in progress, folks. Eventually, I’ll stop saying that.)

Catching up on some movies, we review Ad Astra (01:51) and Rambo: Last Blood (29:07). In between is my WISE Sports Radio NFL segment (10:24) and a couple of corrections from the last episode (37:06).

Links to a few things mentioned during this episode:

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movie reviews

‘Rambo: Last Blood’ chooses violent fantasy over final word on tragic character

With the title Rambo: Last Blood, you get everything you need to know about this movie. It’s the last stand of John Rambo, a character who already received a fitting ending in 2008’s Rambo.

Sylvester Stallone should’ve just left Rambo on that Arizona ranch, training horses and repairing tractors for the rest of his life. His Vietnam veteran turned virtual superhero finally left war, service to his country, and his self-imposed exile in Thailand behind. But maybe Stallone saw Logan two years ago and thought Rambo could get a final story like that. 

Stallone should’ve left it alone, man. A better version of this story exists in Rambo: Last Blood, but Stallone and the other two writers credited who worked on this script, nor director Adrian Grunberg, aren’t interested in exploring how a man trained to be a weapon can’t escape violence, can’t truly find peace. Maybe he should’ve traveled to Neptune with Brad Pitt. 

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The Podcass 009: Not Podfade Away

Folks, we might be back on schedule. (Well, almost. I’d like The Podcass to post on Tuesdays and Fridays. We’re almost there.)

We break out of “podfade,” recapping our summer absence (3:31), the shutdown of the Amusement Park Podcast (6:55), and a brief fling with an NFL writing gig (15:25). Also, my radio baseball segment (21:00), catching up on what we would’ve talked about over the past four months (30:32), and a handful of sad goodbyes (32:40). Thank you for listening! Please subscribe to The Podcass on Apple Podcasts!

A few links to articles or podcasts that were mentioned during this episode:

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movie reviews

Ad Astra’s beautiful solitude in space creates emotional clarity for Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt in space! Months ago, when I saw a sponsored post for an Ad Astra trailer pop up in my Twitter timeline, I thought Brad Pitt was doing a car commercial, making sure Matthew McConaughey didn’t own that territory. That misperception was quickly corrected once I clicked on the trailer. 

So Brad Pitt is doing his space movie. I forget who wrote this or where I read it, and I would love to give him — or her, but I’m pretty sure it was a “him” — credit for saying that every big actor has to do a space movie in his career. Because it sure seems true. 

George Clooney did Solaris, then Gravity. (Hell, let’s give Sandra Bullock her space movie here too.) Matt Damon had The Martian. McConaughey did Interstellar. Tom Hanks did Apollo 13. Ryan Gosling was in the criminally overlooked First Man last year. (Seriously, what happened there? How is that film not more acclaimed?) 

Can we put Hugh Jackman in The Fountain in this category? Does Mark Wahlberg in Planet of the Apes count? Will Smith in Independence Day?

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The Podcass 008: Breaking the seal

No, this is not a glitch. The Podcass is back! It’s been a long, long time since we’ve played podcast with you, and we missed you. We hope you missed us! But we’ve finally unpacked the microphone, started talking into it and recording.

To break the seal after a long time on the shelf, I’m sharing my segments from the past week on Asheville’s WISE Sports Radio with Pat Ryan.

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When we first saw Spider-Man — in 2001

Apparently, August 1 is Spider-Man Day? Not sure when that decision was made, but the internet tells me it’s because Spider-Man’s debut in Amazing Fantasy #15 was in August 1962.

It’s surely not a coincidence, then, that someone — somewhere — restored the original teaser for the 2001 Spider-Man movie in high-definition for the occasion.

What’s the big deal? Unfortunately, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center are prominently featured in the teaser. After what happened on 9/11, that just couldn’t be shown anymore. The teaser has been available since then, but the quality of the video wasn’t very good — until now.

So if you’ve never seen it, this is the first time Spider-Man appeared on the big screen. It was just enough to ignite excitement for the movie coming the next year:

Superhero movies were still an uphill climb for audiences in 2001, so clever teasers that looked like a different kind of movie were the gateway to win people over. No, this wasn’t a Michael Bay-esque helicopter heist film! It’s Spider-Man!

Anything was now possible! A guy crawling up walls! Swinging through New York City — between those skyscrapers — on his webs! This was no longer something comic book and movie nerds dreamed about for 20-plus years!

Now that we live in an era when four or five superhero movies are released each year, this seems like such a long time ago. Spider-Man has now appeared in 10 live-action films, including Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. It’s always special, but there can only be one first time, right?

And, uh, 18 years ago is indeed a long time ago, Old Man.