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Showing posts from April, 2017

It Came From the '90s: Janet

This series looks back at the 1990s and its influence on the generation of people who came of age during the decade.

First, a prologue. This post ran here in a slightly different form last year. That was before I'd started the '90s series here, and since then I realized this piece fits well within that framework. I've edited it a little (very little, in fact) and am slotting the revised version into this series. It just seems appropriate; it's looking back at a time when Janet Jackson ruled the airwaves, in this case I'm really focusing on the Rhythm Nation 1814 years, so '89, '90, maybe '91. That album rarely left my tape deck or Walkman, and the videos were ingrained in my memory from repeat viewings on MTV. One thing I didn't edit is the overly precious use of second person in the narrative. When you read "you" here, I'm really talking about me, but also you, or us, or anyone else who loved Janet back then. I'd grown up on her mu…

Reading It, Part 2

Reading It after dark, while the kids are sleeping soundly, has certainly enhanced the horror inherent in King's story of children either being abducted or living in fear of being abducted. Actually, it's the parents' fear that is most palpable throughout, even though they receive comparatively little "screen" time so far (three-hundred pages into the book). The kids understand on some level that they should be scared of the bogeyman terrorizing Derry, but as kids are wont to do they're also attracted to this horror, feeling a need to investigate it/It, to see it/It for themselves.

Following Bill, Ben, Eddie, etc., as they play outside, building dams and avoiding bullies, I can't help but think back to my own childhood. While these tales of childhood take place in the late '50s in the book, and I grew up in the '80s, there seems to be more in common with a child's existence in those decades than there is between the '80s the now. Helicopt…

It Came From the '90s: Nicole Kidman—A Star is Born

This series looks back at the 1990s and its influence on the generation of people who came of age during the decade.

Nicole Kidman rose to prominence in the 1990s, her star shining brighter with each passing year of the decade. This isn't to say she was the most popular actress of the decade—that honor likely goes to one of America's sweethearts, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, or Sandra Bullock—but Kidman's unique talents and serious acting chops came to the forefront during those years in a series of challenging roles. The Australian actress was laying the foundation for a terrific career that continues to this day.

Kidman's started acting in Australian films during the 1980s. On the cusp of the '90s, she drew critical raves with her performance in the tense thriller Dead Calm (1989). Then, alongside her husband Tom Cruise, she starred in the trashy but fun Days of Thunder (1990), the maudlin and forgettable Far and Away (1992), and the confounding classic Eyes Wide Shu…

Iron Fist: A Postmortem

Well, now. Marvel's Iron Fist on Netflix certainly was a major disappointment, wasn't it?

I'm a fan of the Danny Rand character and the mystical martial arts world he inhabits in Marvel Comics, which includes strong supporting cast members like Colleen Wing. I've read a lot of Iron Fist comics, so I was possibly more invested in this series than most people I know. So when the early buzz was terrible, my expectations started to plummet. It's wise to be wary of pre-release reviews, of course, especially in this case when they only screened the first six episodes of a thirteen episode series. Yet, in this instance, those early reviews were accurate. The show is a mess, and not an entertaining, b-movie style mess, but instead a convoluted and boring mess.

The first few episodes were so interminably dull that I seriously contemplating quitting after the second. Things picked up a little after that, with some decent middle episodes. Then it slumped again, then found de…

Writing Roundup: Movie Reviews, a Q&A, and a New Theory

If I never do anything else worthwhile with my life, at least I can say I invented the Unified Theory of Jessica Alba. Put that on my gravestone, please.

I don't know where or how the idea struck, but it hit like a lightning bolt while reviewing the average but mostly forgettable Fantastic Four (2005) for The After Movie Diner.  Before I knew it, I'd formulated the entire theory. Based on an extensive use of the scientific method (i.e., watching movies), it maintains that there are five factors, or aspects, of any Jessica Alba performance that, inexplicably, combine to form something something...well, something. I won't spoil the rest for you; go read the review and find out.

And then read my latest review of another film that also happens to star Alba, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. I really enjoyed the first Sin City and I thought the sequel was a worthy followup. It's not as good as the first, but together they're a fun blast of comic book neo-noir silliness. And

Reading It, Part 1

It's finally happening. I'm going to read it.

See what I did there?

After decades of dancing around this book while being a Stephen King fan and reading a lot of his other books, it's time to finally read It. With the movie hitting theaters this fall, it seems like the perfect time. I only saw parts of the old miniseries and I barely remember it all, beyond Tim Curry's scary clown.

So far, I'm only 55 pages in—only 1,100 more pages to go! As I continue, I hope to occasionally share some random observations along the way. Not reviews, just quick hits. This might take a while, I might not get to write about it often, and I'm not even sure it'll last—although I will finish the book! I think it goes without saying, these posts will be lousy with SPOILERS.

Just a quick introduction to my relationship with the King of Horror. Like many young kids, I was infatuated with King's books and their movie adaptations. I remember devouring Night Shift and Skeleton Cr…