‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ at 50

line up-for Sonny-FN copy

I’m in the main auditorium at the AFI Silver in suburban Maryland when the curtains close on the big screen while the lights dim, but don’t extinguish entirely. A warbling, haunting tune burbles out of the speakers: The overture for 2001: A Space Odyssey serves as both a warning to those still milling about outside the theater and a tone-setting piece of music, an unsettling jingle that signals scope of the picture we’re about to see.

‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ Review

Ant-Man and the Wasp

I’m not entirely sure I could recall for you the plot of the first Ant-Man film. There was something about a thief played by Paul Rudd stealing a suit that makes him small from a scientist played by Michael Douglas who had a daughter played by Evangeline Lilly and also the aforementioned characters wanted to stop Michael Douglas’s work from falling into the hands of the congressman from House of Cards, who was evil because capitalism.

‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’ Review

This essay discusses plot points of Sicario: Day of the Soldado, including some moments near the end.

Sicario was refreshingly blunt in its nihilistic realism: it was a film about people moving through a broken world they knew they couldn’t set right but could at least gain some measure of control over. And while Sicario: Day of the Soldado has its moments, where it goes most wrong in its failure to live up to the example its predecessor set.

‘The Incredibles 2’ Review

The Incredibles 2

The Incredibles is that rare Pixar movie that doesn’t feel as if it were designed to rip your heart out and devastate you. It has nothing like the opening montage of Up, during which we experience the ups and downs of a shared life full of love in just a few minutes; nothing like the moment near the end of Toy Story 3, when it seems as if our heroes are about to end up where all toys end up; nothing like Bing Bong’s self-negation in Inside Out.

Critical Inclusions

There has been much discussion of a recent USC study suggesting that film critics, as a group, are disproportionately white and male. You could quibble with methodology (some say Rotten Tomatoes is a useful, easy-to-access measuring stick but far from comprehensive; I think it’s a fair cross-section of the critical community) if you wanted to, but, honestly, it feels pretty accurate to me. Women, non-white writers, and, as I have noted elsewhere, conservatives, are pretty underrepresented in the world of film criticism.

‘Ocean’s 8’ Review

Ocean's 8

Ocean’s 8 is almost certainly the best date movie of the year: It’s a clever heist movie that’s deeply amusing and features the most entertaining and attractive collection of actresses collected in one spot in a great many years. Men and women alike will find plenty to love. Word of mouth is going to be great. I promise you this: It’s going to be a huge hit. See it now before one of your colleagues spoils the ending.

New Substandard, Plus a Book Recommendation

The latest Substandard is here; we spend about the first half of the show kibitzing, the second half of the show half-assing our way through some extra Solo: A Star Wars Story thoughts. Not necessarily our best episode; the embed is at the bottom of the post if I haven’t turned you off entirely. But one …