The Big Short is my favorite movie of this year’s awards season.

January 15, 2016 In The News, Pop Culture, Reviews Comments (1) 1385

bigshottrailerThe Big Short is my favorite movie of the 2016 Awards Season*. I feel a little bad saying that, in light of yesterday’s Oscar nominations and their slate of white, white (blonde) faces, and the fact that The Big Short is, well, short on both women and minority actors. But the fact is I watched it through twice, and would happily sit through a third viewing. The film is alternately funny and gutting, the cast is pretty much universally brilliant, and the directing–from Adam McKay, who brought us films like Anchorman, Anchorman 2, and Funny or Die’s The Landlord–is impressive, avant-garde without being distracting, and making a complicated subject accessible.

* Okay, it’s tied with Mad Max: Fury Road, but since that came out over the summer it doesn’t really feel like an Awards Season movie.

Not too accessible, mind you. Despite the sidebar scenes in which celebrities like Selena Gomez, Anthony Bourdain, and Margot Robbie (in a bubble bath) break the fourth wall and explain complicated financial structures in layman’s terms–one of the film’s more unique and amusing contrivances–I frequently found myself leaning in so I could follow the fast-paced dialogue about derivatives, mortgage-backed-securities, credit swaps, and so on.

The Big Short is far from the first film about the 2008 Financial Crisis, but it might be the best combination of sweeping and accessible. Too Big to Fail captured the moves and conversations happening inside the banks and the Federal Reserve, and films like 99 Homes capture the human cost across the nation, but The Big Short takes a wider scope and time period to show the viewer what happened, through the eyes of a handful of professionals who predicted the crash. Continue Reading

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The Babadook: Monster-as-Metaphor, Mostly to the Good

January 28, 2015 Pop Culture, Reviews, Science Fiction & Fantasy Comments (0) 1539

Babadook-shadow

As a kid, I read books about movie monsters. Literal encyclopedias, printed on cheap paper with black and white photos of everything from Ridley Scott’s Alien to the Ymir of 20 Million Miles to Earth, those books and my imagination stood in for the actual movies. This was the mid-80s, remember, before Netflix and on-demand. When I finally watched the movies, they were inevitably inferior to what I’d imagined, the movies far too dull for the fascinating creatures they’d starred.

Each time a new movie monster arrives on the scene, this is the question for me: Will it be cool enough to gain admission to the pantheon that includes Brundlefly and John Carpenter’s anonymous shape-shifting Thing, or will it belong instead on the forgotten ash-heap with Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla and the creature from The Relic?

The Babadook (alternately, “Mister Babadook”) creeps easily into the list of unique and memorable movie monsters, and while I have a few quibbles with the movie that brought him to us, Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, it is unquestionably the best and most original horror film I’ve seen since Let the Right One In. Continue Reading

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