First episode impressions: ‘The Alienist’ and ‘Bellevue’

Television dropped two new murder mysteries this week, and both are worthy additions to the decade’s most popular genre worldwide. They’re quite different from each other, with “The Alienist” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays, TNT) set in 1890s New York City and “Bellevue” (10 p.m. Eastern Tuesdays, WGN) set in present-day rural Ontario, although both have the hook of transgendered people being the victims, and both explore links between old and new cases. Both premiere episodes stand out from their brethren in different ways while conforming to the grim mood we’ve come to expect ever since “The Killing” premiered.

Continue reading “First episode impressions: ‘The Alienist’ and ‘Bellevue’”

‘Blade Runner 2049’ is gorgeous … and slooooow

“Blade Runner 2049” (2017) – now available via Redbox and streaming – brings us back into the world of the 1982 Ridley Scott classic. It feels like director Denis Villeneuve, who also helmed the overrated “Arrival” (2016) and the excellent “Prisoners” (2013), just wants to play in the sandbox of “Blade Runner,” complete with all the action figures and gadgets. There’s no debating that this is a gorgeous film, but every scene is twice as long as it needs to be for story purposes, and the characters are nearly copies (give me credit for avoiding the “replicant” pun) from the original, starting with blade runner K (Ryan Gosling) standing in for Deckard (Harrison Ford). If you just want to soak up the “BR” vibe again, you’ll be in heaven; if you expect new sci-fi themes or ideas, you’ll be let down.

Continue reading “‘Blade Runner 2049’ is gorgeous … and slooooow”

‘The Post’ fondly recalls the old days of a respected press, war protests

One of my bosses encouraged us to attend “The Post” (2017) – which recently got a wide theatrical release – to rekindle our passion for newspapering. The film encourages some of that spirit, no doubt, but overall it left me sad. It’s a great movie about the Washington Post’s decision to publish highlights of the Top Secret Pentagon Papers in 1971, very much a welcome addition to the pantheon of journalism movies, but Steven Spielberg’s entry feels curiously out of time more so than, say, 2015’s “Spotlight.”

Continue reading “‘The Post’ fondly recalls the old days of a respected press, war protests”

Michael’s top 20 films of 2017

There were a lot of great films in 2017. So many, in fact, that this year I have decided to do a top 20 list instead of my usual top 10. It means more writing, but trust me, this is a problem any movie buff loves to have.

2017 was a good year for superheros and small indie films, for action and drama and comedy alike, sometimes all within the same movie.

So, what was the best? Let’s get to it!

Continue reading “Michael’s top 20 films of 2017”

‘It’ taps into ’80s nostalgia, but is short on scares

The 2017 “It” remake – now available from Redbox — is the most Stephen Kingy Stephen King adaptation to hit the screen in a long time, as the interactions between the heroic nerds and villainous bullies are palpable, and a lot of the action with titular clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) and other monsters feels like King’s words brought to life with modern special effects – something not possible in the 1990 TV miniseries.

Continue reading “‘It’ taps into ’80s nostalgia, but is short on scares”

‘Valerian’ flashback: ‘The Complete Collection, Volume 1’

Looking for a “Valerian” fix after last year’s movie, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” I’m delving into the comics that started it all, by Frenchmen Pierre Christin (writer) and Jean-Claude Mezieres (pencils and inks). “The Complete Collection, Volume 1” includes “Bad Dreams” (1967), “The City of Shifting Waters”/“Earth in Flames” (1970) and “The Empire of a Thousand Planets” (1971).

Continue reading “‘Valerian’ flashback: ‘The Complete Collection, Volume 1’”