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.”
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.”
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.
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.
I don’t do very well with catch-up projects on TV shows and movies. Oh, I’ll binge through a bunch of episodes if I’m behind on a show. I just finished off the last five episodes of Manifest last week, after NBC renewed it. (That reminds me: Renew The Rookie any time now, ABC.) Up next are Doom Patrol, Arrow and The Flash.
But when it comes to catching up for a refresher, I’m not often successful. For instance, I didn’t rewatch the previous seven seasons of Game of Thrones before Season 8 began. And I won’t have watched all of the Marvel movies again — not even the three Avengers films — before seeing Avengers: Endgame this week.
There are too many TV shows and movies that I haven’t watched to devote that time to stuff I’ve already seen. Killing Eve, for instance. Star Trek: Discovery. The second seasons of Westworld, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. There’s that new Ultraman series on Netflix. That reminds me, I also haven’t watched Season 3 of Queer Eye. There are so many more. Oh, and the show I’m probably most embarrassed never to have watched: Breaking Bad. Yeah, that’s right.
Ask me to name my favorite TV shows of all time and Deadwood would be one of the three I list. Yet with each passing year, my memories of the series fade. I could go back any time and watch the show on HBO GO, but haven’t done so. There’s too much other TV to watch now, and I can’t keep with it. Adding an old favorite to the mix would just complicate matters.
But now, Deadwood fans are finally getting the ending we were deprived of 13 years ago. Unfortunately, it won’t be the finale we really wanted. It’s not a full fourth season. It won’t even be the two movies that series creator David Milch and HBO once agreed to. This will be whatever Milch (with the help of True Detective‘s Nic Pizzolatto) could distill into one two-hour movie which takes places years after we last saw Seth Bullock, Al Swearengen, and so many other residents of Deadwood, South Dakota.
My movie calendar is probably way off, but it feels like 2019 is finally beginning at the movies. Oscars season ended almost two weeks ago and Captain Marvel represents the first big blockbuster release of the year. (Sorry, Alita: Battle Angel.) So there’s finally reason to be excited.
Plenty of other films have been released since Jan. 1, and I still need to catch up on a few of them. But it’s also time to write some movie reviews again. I’ve really fallen off during the past few months because I didn’t have an outlet — forgetting that I’ll always have this blog.
So I did write up a review for Captain Marvel, which you can read here. If you’d like an audio version, we also recorded some back-and-forth reaction for the Amusement Park Podcast. I’m hoping this helps me scrape off some rust and gets me back into regularly writing about movies again. More on that with some fun news after the first of this week’s links.