Movie Review – Palm Springs

Palm Springs (2020)
Written by Andy Siara
Directed by Max Barbakow

2020 has been a painful drought when it comes to new films except for a seemingly endless glut of cheaply produced crud. So, when a picture comes along, that did well at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and is garnering a good bit of acclaim, you have my interest. Palm Springs treads familiar territory most notably carved out already by Groundhog Day. Instead of one character, multiple players are caught in a time loop that has them living out the same day repeatedly.

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Movie Review – Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Written by Stanley Kubrick & Frederic Raphael
Directed by Stanley Kubrick

The final film from Stanley Kubrick came twelve years after his previous picture, Full Metal Jacket. The expectations are high, and close friends and family of the director have said he really felt the pressure of making a great film because of the standards he’d set for himself. I never had the privilege of going to a new Kubrick film in the theater, I was eighteen when Eyes Wide Shut was released and hadn’t yet fully developed in my understanding of cinema. From what I read from older film fans & critics, a Kubrick movie was met with humming anticipation. These heightened expectations will inevitably lead to disappointment because they put so much of the viewer’s demands on what the piece of art should be. However, contemporary reevaluations of Eyes Wide Shut have redeemed a beautiful send-off for one of our great masters in the craft.

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Game Review – Villagers

Villagers (2019)
Designed by Haakon Gaarder
Published by Sinister Fish Games

I’ve been quarantining myself during this pandemic since mid-March. I have literally only left my house once a week since then to the grocery store. Otherwise, I am occupying space in my house reading, writing, watching films and playing games. Villagers was a game I backed on Kickstarter back in 2019, primarily out of the beautiful minimalist art style and my love of playing city-building video games. This wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, but I ended up loving it nonetheless. 

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Movie Review – Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Written by Stanley Kubrick, Michael Herr, & Gustav Hasford
Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Full Metal Jacket was seemingly accepted at face value by critics and audiences alike, and this is one of the most baffling moments in Stanley Kubrick’s directorial career. It shouldn’t surprise us though, as A Clockwork Orange was assumed by so many to be the filmmaker’s endorsement of rape and youth violence. Never underestimate people’s ability to not want to put in the work to think about a piece of art beyond its basic presentation. I have known “Chad” types who have quoted Full Metal Jacket with glee, and I can remember the first time I saw it not understanding why they thought this was a movie glorifying the Marine mindset. In the context of Kubrick’s full body of work, this rewatch has helped clarify for me that this is not the “funny” movie those sociopaths seem to think it is.

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Movie Review – The Shining

The Shining (1980)
Written by Stanley Kubrick & Diane Johnson
Directed by Stanley Kubrick

The Shining is usually the first Kubrick film a person sees as it is the most popular and one of the most accessible. It connects with people who like Stephen King (and don’t realize how much Kubrick made this his movie) and fans of horror in general. At some point, the picture became part of a quasi-fandom with Steven Spielberg recreating the Overlook Hotel in Ready Player One, inspiring a fake documentary called Room 237, and having a sequel in the form of the King novel and subsequent Mike Flanagan picture Doctor Sleep. It remains a powerfully affecting horror film that leans into its ambiguity to create an authentic atmosphere of resonant horror.

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Movie Review – Barry Lyndon

Barry Lyndon (1975)
Written & Directed by Stanley Kubrick

I think Stanley Kubrick was one of those rare directors who could dramatically shift tone & aesthetics between films without losing his core themes. On a material level, the differences between A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon is a vast gulf. Sex & violence is still present, but it’s meted out in a much more measured fashion. The goal of Barry Lyndon is to communicate with subtlety, to control the camera to an almost ascetic degree in how it delivers information about the characters & conflict. Kubrick also plays with structure creating two very distinct halves that tell us different things about the same character.

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My Favorite 2000s Summer Blockbusters

The 2000s were a very different decade when it came to the summer blockbuster. Gone was the awe & wonder of Spielbergian pictures, and things became a little darker, edgier. Instead of shooting for PG ratings, it was PG-13 that dominated, movies that were friendly enough for families but with more of an edge. The whole ten-year span felt like Hollywood was trying to figure out a direction that worked, which resulted in very eclectic summers, as you will see by this list. 

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Movie Review – A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Written & Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick has no shortage of controversy in his filmmaking career, and probably the most incendiary of his films is this adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ 1962 satirical novel about a violently out of control youth culture. In reflecting on my rewatch of this movie in the context of Kubrick’s body of work, I think it is shortsighted by people who are offended by the picture to push it aside so brusquely. The director has composed a movie that sits as a discomforting companion piece to Paths of Glory, asking some tough questions and making sure that our contemplation of these inquiries is not an easy task. The most important aspects of our society should be very hard to address and tackle.

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Comic Book Review – The Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus Volume 1

The Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus Volume 1 (2019)
Reprints The Flash #164-191, The Flash: Our Worlds at War, The Flash: Iron Heights, The Flash Secret Files & Origins #3, DC First: Flash and Superman
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Angel Unzueta, Scott Kolins, and Ethan van Sciver

Sometimes you need to be reminded of how damn good an old album, film, or comic book is by returning to them for a re-read. That’s how I felt cracking open this massive tome, taking me back to my college days and reading these issues in fragments thanks to my roommate Keith who was always filling the room with fantastic comics of the day. Where Mark Waid established Wally West as a unique, fully fleshed-out character, Geoff Johns builds the world out around Wally to make a place that feels alive.

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