movie reviews

Nomad review at Mountain Xpress

Thanks to his recent acting performances in The Mandalorian and Jack Reacher, Werner Herzog has become something of a cultural meme. His dour expression, dry narration, and nihilistic philosophy makes for great parody when applied to absurdity.

But it can’t be forgotten that Herzog is still a fascinating, distinct filmmaker. His latest documentary, Nomad, is a powerful tribute to writer Bruce Chatwin, whose work and approach to life Herzog admired.

I reviewed the movie for Asheville’s Mountain Xpress:

“‘Chatwin was a writer like no other,’ Herzog says. “He would craft mythical tales into voyages of the mind. In this respect, we found out we were kindred spirits. He as a writer, I as a filmmaker.’

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movie reviews

My Spy review at Mountain Xpress

Dave Bautista is officially a movie star. He demonstrated his comedy talents in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and in Blade Runner 2049, he showed he could be good with dramatic roles.

But successfully headlining a family-friendly action-comedy will take Bautista to another level and he’s done that with the surprisingly fun My Spy, available on Amazon Prime.

I reviewed the movie for Asheville’s Mountain Xpress:

My Spy wouldn’t be nearly as fun without Dave Bautista carrying the entire venture on his formidably muscled shoulders. Any doubters who dismissed Bautista as another pro wrestler trying to be a movie star like Dwayne Johnson were likely silenced by the comic timing he showed in the Guardians of the Galaxy films.

Bautista has continued to use that talent for deadpan humor in comedies like Stuber, and with My Spy, he’s taking the step to family-friendly action star, which elevated the careers of Johnson, Vin Diesel and John Cena. (Bautista is also a producer here, showing he knows this is the right move, balanced with his roles in upcoming spectacles such as Dune, Army of the Dead and a third Guardians movie.)

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movie reviews

The Irishman review at Mountain Xpress

Though it’s definitely part of the cultural conversation right now, I don’t know if I would’ve watched The Irishman over the Thanksgiving holiday if I hadn’t been asked to review it for Mountain Xpress. And would I have seen it at a local theater knowing that I could watch it at home on Netflix?

Considering how long the movie is, I’m grateful that Edwin Arnaudin gave the OK for a longer review in Mountain Xpress. Here’s an excerpt:

“[…] the true achievement is De Niro’s performance, the best work he’s done in many years. Sheeran is torn between friends (and family) and those who provide him a life he never could have imagined, and De Niro makes that emotional pain palpable.

“But perhaps the greatest acting surprise is Pesci, more reserved and quietly powerful than he’s ever been. (Pacino gets all the histrionics, portraying Hoffa’s outsized, bombastic personality.) Russell doesn’t bend people to his will by yelling, punching people or smashing things. He simply wields the fear of what happens to those who cross him or don’t show respect.”

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movie reviews

Joker review at Mountain Xpress

I wrote a Joker review last week, largely transcribing what I said on Ep. 012 of The Podcass.

But I also wrote up a review of the film for Asheville’s Mountain Xpress this week. And given the space restraints of print, it’s often a challenge (one I enjoy) to shorten and distill my thoughts.

“[…] the Joker is very much a comic book character. Though Phillips wants to deny that fact, clothing Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck in 1980s grime and despair and the visual language of early Martin Scorsese films, he can’t avoid the fact that the Joker is best known as Batman’s archnemesis. Allusions are even made to the future existence of the Caped Crusader. Can one exist without the other?

Perhaps the tie-in is fan service intended to placate die-hard comic book fans. But it’s also a concession that this story wouldn’t be distinct without a familiar villain who paints his face with clown makeup and favors purple suits with yellow accessories. Phillips tries to have it both ways.”

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Overzealous Recycling 016: I like that Wookiee

Sad to hear that Peter Mayhew, known largely as the actor who portrayed Chewbacca in five Star Wars films, passed away this week at the age of 71. Yet Mayhew’s death occurring two days before “Star Wars Day” (May the 4th be with you) probably resulted in even more attention and appreciation for his career than it otherwise may have received.

But maybe not. Chewbacca was a beloved, iconic character in the most famous movie franchise of all time (well, until Marvel and the Avengers came along). Mayhew’s death was going to be news. But a community came together online and in person, due to social media and Star Wars Day, to express their affection, which made it just that much more special.

— If you missed the last Overzealous Recycling, you can read it here 

Growing up with Star Wars (though I often recap my love of comic books and superheroes more), Han Solo was the coolest character for me. Roguish, charming, a little bit unethical, but ultimately noble. He wore a slick vest and piloted the best starship in the galaxy. Yet as I got older (and old), I developed more affection for Chewbacca. And not just because I often express myself with roars and grunts too.

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