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Showing posts from January, 2018

It Came From the '90s: Second Chances

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

As I rounded the corner, she was walking right at me. Our eyes locked. We were clearly stunned to see each other. The sea of humanity parted, receded, disappeared—students bounding through the crowded halls after the final bell, the cacophony of excitable teenage conversations, all of it, reduced to white noise, then gone, in an instant. While I was rarely confident of anything back then, I was certain of this: in that split second, I knew this was my second chance.

It was my first day home for college break, and that one moment would influence the rest of my summer—and the rest of my life. Suddenly, there was hope. Naomi. It had been two years since we last saw each other. Running into her that afternoon had to be a sign. There we were again, in that same hallway, in that same high school. From the look in her eyes she recognized this second chance also. We talked,…

The Art of Kathryn Bigelow: Parting Shots in Blue Steel and Zero Dark Thirty

The first in what will hopefully be a series of short posts on the films of Kathryn Bigelow—one of the most gifted and unique filmmakers of our time.

Kathryn Bigelow is deservedly celebrated as one of the finest directors of kinetic action working in film today. She's mastered what the director herself has referred to as high-impacting filmmaking, but she's also equally adept at quieter, subtler moments, and that impressive aspect of her work isn't discussed often enough.
The final scenes in Blue Steel (1989) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012) are eerily similar, especially in their staggeringly powerful impact. Both moments feature only one woman in the frame, Jamie Lee Curtis in Blue and Jessica Chastaine in Zero, each utterly broken by the events of the films. Their relentless perseverance—in taking down a serial killer in Blue, or in taking down Osama Bin Laden in Zero—is now depleted, missions are accomplished, and the emotional and psychological toll of it all is finally hi…

Michelle Pfeiffer: Into the Night

Revisiting—or in a few cases, watching for the first time—and celebrating the work of Michelle Pfeiffer, the best actress of my lifetime.
I love Into the Night (1985) so much it's nearly impossible to be objective about it. Truly sublime, the film is lost 1980s classic that rarely gets its due when people are listing greatest films from that decade. John Landis's crowning achievement (yes, better even than Animal House, An American Werewolf in London, The Blues Brothers, and all the rest) is a testament to the power of film to transport us, to make us feel like we're on an adventure with the film's characters. Of course, when one of those characters is portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer, it's all too easy to tag along with her anywhere.

Jeff Goldblum is an unhappy insomniac named Ed Okin whose life is turned upside down one night when Michelle’s beautiful and charming jewel smuggler Diana hops in his car. She's on the run from the Iranians (it's a long story). …

Dolores O'Riordan, 1971–2018

Our pasts are littered with so many obsessions, the kind formed by the passion of youth, some of which stick around, many of which fade over time. Growing up in the Last Golden Age of Rock (i.e., the 1990s), many of my generation's obsessions revolved around music. Some have remained in our hearts forever after, while others drift away. Even those that fade, though, still reside in our hearts—all it takes is hearing a song out of the blue one day, then all of those youthful feelings of loving devotion rush back to the forefront of our hearts and minds.

This happened to me a few weeks ago when I heard "Dreams" and "Zombie" on the radio in a matter of days. Suddenly, I was remembering how that teenage version of myself once bought each of the Cranberries' '90s albums as they were released, played them to death, and, as my mother reminded me yesterday, even had a poster of the band on my bedroom wall.

Dolores O'Riordan, who passed away over the weeken…

Talking Strange Days at The After Movie Diner

Are reading my convoluted thoughts on film and popular culture not enough? Then you're in luck. Jon Cross was kind enough to invite me onto his fabulous podcast The After Movie Diner (a website I've been known to write for now and again). Besides sounding like a sedated thirteen year old boy, I think I acquitted okay here. I don't know if deliberate, contemplative talkers like myself make the best podcast guests, but I know that I had a blast and would love to do it again.

So, hop on over to the Diner and listen to Jon and I dissect Kathryn Bigelow's 1995 neo-noir sci-fi thriller Strange Days. I've been on a massive Bigelow kick lately, revisiting her films when I can. Hopefully I'll write about her work here or at the Diner soon. This film might well be my favorite of hers, although it's nearly impossible to choose between this, Near Dark, Blue Steel, and Point Break. Nevertheless, I love Strange Days enormously. It always hold up to repeat viewings, whic…

Michelle Pfeiffer, the Early Years: B.A.D. Cats

Revisiting—or in a few cases, watching for the first time—and celebrating the work of Michelle Pfeiffer, the best actress of my lifetime.
One of Michelle Pfeiffer's first television gigs was on the aptly named B.A.D. Cats (1980), another late 1970s, early 1980s action drama featuring the era's requisite number of absurd car chase scenes. Think Dukes of Hazzard and Starsky and Hutch, then lower your expectations. Go ahead, keep lowering them. Okay, stop. That's how forgettable this series was.
The two male leads, ex-race car drivers turned LAPD, resemble a second-rate Bo and Luke Duke, one blonde, one brunette, the sort of bland hunks you could find every night of the week on various prime time network fare. For some reason which I can't be bothered to remember now, these two former race car drivers are now LAPD, working for the B.A.D. Cats squad—Burglary Auto Detail, Commercial Auto Thefts. That's a mouthful, I can see why they chose to abbreviate.
Pfeiffer, in onl…