“Iron Man 3”: Third Time’s the Charm

Iron Man 3

After a major stumble with Iron Man 2 and an enjoyable resurgence in The Avengers, the Iron Man brand is fully back on track with director Shane Black’s zippy, witty Iron Man 3.

And yes, I chose the easiest possible title for this blog post.

(No spoilers until the end of the post, and they’re clearly marked.)

Continue reading

“The Great Gatsby”: Chaos Theory


Here’s the easiest way to describe the experience of watching The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann’s spectacularly colorful reinterpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic Great American Novel. Have you ever heard a DJ remix one of your favorite songs? It’s long, repetitive and kind of weird, but once in a while a portion of that great song pops out and hits you in a way that makes you think, “Hmmm….maybe this DJ kind of knows what he’s doing.” Then the thing bleeps and bloops for five more minutes, and you reconsider. When the remix ends, you think to yourself, “Well, I never need to hear that again. I’ll just listen to the original song next time.”

Continue reading

“Dancing with the Stars”: I like it. So what?


There are so many reasons to dislike ABC’s long-running competition series Dancing with the Stars. It’s over-the-top, often wildly so. It’s blatantly manipulative and aggressively formulaic. Co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet is a robot. The show fetishizes competitors’ injuries. The title is a misnomer (the “Stars” part, anyway). The rules are arbitrary.

And yet? I like it. And I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Continue reading

The (Many) Pleasures of the Silver Screen

Beverly Hills Cop, Before Sunrise, Ocean’s Eleven. What do these three movies have in common?

They all delighted me.

Watching these three movies in the past week was an interesting study in the different ways that a movie can be “effective” (one of those nonsense movie-critic words that doesn’t mean anything, but don’t worry, I’ll elaborate). Before Sunrise charmed me with its simplicity and directness, while Beverly Hills Cop had me giggling from the moment Eddie Murphy, as the singular cop Axel Foley, opened his mouth to speak. The pleasures of Ocean’s Eleven came from the contrast between its relaxed superstar actors and the intricate plotting of its narrative.

This is why I love movies. No two are alike – the good ones, anyway.

Continue reading

5 Ways ‘Nashville’ Let Me Down

I enjoyed the Nashville pilot. It featured several terrific performances, a potent Tennessee atmosphere and the best original music on television in recent memory. Callie Khouri’s ABC drama drew plaudits for focusing on female characters and exploring the underside of the complex country music industry.

The pilot also hinted at some soapier tendencies that threatened to undermine the more interesting ideas. Eighteen episodes later, the show has fallen prey to the tendencies of a more conventional network soap, and often a poorly executed one. Here are five ways the show has failed to deliver on its promise.

Continue reading