REVIEW: How Hollywood Won the Marriage Equality Battle. And Made a Great Film About It.

I was privileged to attend a screening of The Case Against 8 at LACMA the other night, hosted by the New York Times, followed by a Q&A with the cast and filmmakers. If it isn’t the best documentary I’ve ever seen, it is certainly the most emotional and among the most effective: my head from my eyes to my throat stung and throbbed with the weep-ish feels for most of it.

This is saying a great deal; I’m a real hardass, especially if I feel I’m being in the least bit emotionally manipulated. Manipulation there is in this film, aplenty: the score by Blake Neely grabs and wrings you as much as the words and images on the screen. The superlative editing brings out performances from the cast reminiscent of 70s and early 80s political activist dramas like Silkwood.

Maggie Gyllenhaal

The Golden Age of Television: A Summer of Madness and Sadness

Here’s what you think about HBO’s The Leftovers: You have no idea what to think. It’s the weirdest show outside of Adult Swim or some other willfully esoteric programming segment, if that’s the proper term for it, on a channel few people watch. It’s absolutely fucking weird and as addictive as the relentless smoking by the white-clad members of the show’s nihilistic Guilty Remnant cult.

Most people I’ve spoken to about The Leftovers haven’t made it past the first few episodes. That’s okay: I’m standing outside your window like a Guilty Remnant member, puffing away, waiting mutely, emotionless. You will succumb eventually.

Richard Linklater

REVIEW: ‘Boyhood’ Is a Subdued Portrait of the Modern American Everyman

Ever since he helped lay the foundations for the American indie film with Slackers, Richard Linklater has experimented with narrative form and structure more than any director. In defiance of every dramatic convention, his personal films, such as the Before Sunrise series and Waking Life, have willfully discarded plot in favor of dialogue heavily weighted with dialectic. Slackers, for instance, follows a group of young misfits and bohemians around Austin in a relay of conversations, never lingering on one for more than a few minutes — one character hands off the dialogue to the person he’s speaking to, she shuffles off to the next person, that person picks it up and takes it on to a fourth person, and onward until the film ends.

Like all inventors, Linklater’s experiments have been hit or miss.

Emily Blunt

REVIEW: ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ is a Pastiche of Every Summer Hit Ever

If the Hollywood blockbuster were baby formula, then Tom Cruise’s face would be on the jar. Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow is probably the apex of that Cruisy formula; you name it, it’s in it: Groundhog Day, Saving Private Ryan, X-Men, Robocop, War of the Worlds, Mission: Impossible, Stripes, G.I. Joe, Alien, Looper, et al. And you know what? Just as applesauce is really delicious every now and then, especially when you’re stoned, Edge of Tomorrow is a hell of a lot of fun.

There I go again: I mention ‘cruisy’ and I get all tabloid humor about Tom. I’ve also got L.A. Pride kicking off down the street, and the boom-boom wailing diva bad house music is shaking the hill I live on and infecting me with more gay than usual.

Eva Green in Penny Dreadful

Why ‘Penny Dreadful’ Gallops to the Top of the Class

There are at least fifteen TV shows I follow now. That’s up from one, Six Feet Under, ten years ago. To make room and not spend all of my downtime watching filmed content — I do heave features to track as well — I’ve been ditching some quality shows, namely Girls and Looking; the former is too repetitive and whiny, the latter too cliché for this gay man living in a gay ghetto as it is — I have no interest in walking back from the gym to engage in a conversation with my monitor that I just overheard.

While I admire all of the shows, none of them — not Mad Men, which is about the world I was born into, nor True Detective, which up until now was the most intellectually satisfying — can I say I wish I’d written and created.

Hugh Jakcman

REVIEW: ‘X‑Men’ Hits the Spot

I enjoyed Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past so much that my first reaction was to write that type of non-critique they explicitly tell you not to submit in Cinema Studies 101: “I really, really liked this movie. It was a lot of fun. Everything from the script to the cinematography to the editing was perfect! I mean, for this gender of movie, of course. And Wolverine is in a lot of it, which is awesome because he’s my fave X-Man, and he’s so badass rocking that early-70s swag!”

Indeed, this is more a spinoff Wolverine than an X-Men, although strictly speaking Hugh Jackman would need to be on screen a least fifteen percent more for it to be entirely his as the hero.


REVIEW: ‘Godzilla’ Is a Gripping Shadow Play

One of the benefits of not reading about a film before I see it — or not remembering much about the original on which it is based — is I get to discover the intellectual subtleties as they unfold on screen. There are few subtleties in movies this time of year as the blockbusters roar onto the screen and devastate my mood. Don’t get me wrong: Gareth Edward’s Godzilla isn’t the cerebral delight that Under the Skin is; still, I was delighted that it engaged me on a sensorial level and managed to pop in an amuse bouche or two of thoughtfulness for my mind to chew on while I wiped the extra popcorn butter off my fingers.

‘Subtlety’ must have been the operative word that Edwards and his team carried with them into this epic production — that’s why I’m calling it a shadow play. It is the suggestion of devastation and its aftermath,

REVIEW: ‘The Amazing Spider‑Man 2’ Spins a… Oh, I Can’t Even Be Bothered to Think of a Clever Pun

Dear Mark Webb —

I only just noticed writing the title to this piece how appropriate your last name is to the Marvel franchise you have tried to reboot. The fact I didn’t notice the minute your name came up on the screen at the closing credits shows how little I care. Still, even if my mind was yawning, you affected my post-screening gym workout not one wit.

I do have to apologize for not seeing every frame of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Having earlier been swimming, I got one of those sudden cardio-induced hunger attacks in the middle of the second act — I understand why Karl Lagerfeld advises not to exercise if you want to stay slim. I knew that with an unnecessary running time of nearly two and a half hours, and with a weightlifting session pending, I needed nourishment.

Tom Hardy

REVIEW: Keeping It Together While It Falls Apart in ‘Locke’

I have to admit I was reluctant to see Steven Knight’s Locke for two reasons. The minor one was that I gleaned from the trailer that this was some sort of cerebral Speed (I rarely read about a film before I see it), in which the hero, Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), is forced to keep driving because of a ticking bomb in the trunk — or a ticking bomb somewhere else, or his family is being held hostage — all the while negotiating his/their survival on the car’s speakerphone. It isn’t that, but it sort of is: he is forced to drive, but it is for moral and compassionate reasons, not a life-threatening situation. The major reason I was reluctant to see this: It’s playing on the big, huge screen at the Cinerama Dome at the Arclight Hollywood, which means that if it isn’t a blockbuster — and it isn’t — it’s got to be so genius that it would likely thrust me into an existential funk that would make me want to throw in the towel on my own endeavors.

Johnny Depp

REVIEW — ‘Transcendence’: It Thinks Therefore It Is

I like to say that this is the time of the year when the L.A.’s undertakers, wearing bird-beak masks from the Great Plague, make the rounds of Burbank and Century City ringing their bells outside the studio walls, crying, “Bring out yer dead!” Maybe there is crap all year long and I’m just sensitive to the fact that quality awards fare won’t be around for another six months. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that Wally Pfister’s directorial debut Transcendence is a corpse, DOA before the first ten minutes are over.

The problem certainly isn’t in the way the film looks. Pfister is Christopher Nolan’s DP; image is paramount.