The apocalypse comes again in ‘Bird Box,’ and the lesson this time is ‘Don’t look!’ (Movie review)

“Bird Box” (Netflix) is the latest in the trend of apocalyptic thrillers where the end times arrive in a bizarre and sketchily explained fashion, following “It Comes at Night,” “A Quiet Place” and the “Cloverfield” trilogy. It’s easy to call this the visual answer to the audio-based “A Quiet Place.” There, creatures hunt by their sense of hearing; here, the malevolent force invades people’s brains through their visual cortex. It’s the childlike notion of hiding under the covers made into a motion picture: If you can’t see the monster, you’re fine.

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John’s top 10 movies of 2018

The dominant genre of 2018 continued to be superheroes; even with the “X-Men” Universe and DC Extended Universe releasing only one film each, the three Marvel Cinematic Universe movies were impossible to overlook. Still, this was a less blockbustery year than 2017, and by year’s end I had seen at least one really good film in every genre. From a throwback thriller to an arthouse gem, here are my 10 favorite films of 2018.

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‘Juliet, Naked’ a pitch-perfect adaptation of Hornby’s novel about love, regret and music nerdery (Movie review)

Just as I was thinking that 2018 has been a down year for comedies, along comes “Juliet, Naked,” which got a limited release in theaters and is now on home video. It’s the sixth Nick Hornby book to be adapted for the screen, and my personal favorite. (And no, I’m not forgetting “High Fidelity” and “About a Boy.”) Featuring the pitch-perfect cast of Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O’Dowd, it left me misty-eyed with laughter and sadness – sometimes within the same scene – and features a funny yet sober examination of extreme music nerdery.

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Feig’s ‘A Simple Favor’ is a flawed but fascinating departure in his catalog (Movie review)

When we say “the new Paul Feig movie,” something like “A Simple Favor,” now on home video, is not what we’d expect from the co-creator of “Freaks and Geeks” and the director of many subsequent comedies with heart. But, you know, it’s pretty cool that someone can have enough success to break out of the category we’ve put him in – even if we like his work in that category.

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John’s top 10 TV shows of 2018

It’s never before been so hard to pick the 10 best shows of the year, as streaming services deliver strong short series on a regular basis, and cable and network TV have mostly kept pace with the quality. Some staple entries have dropped out of my top 10 not because they got worse but simply because they were supplanted. Here are 10 shows worthy of special mention even in this age of Peak TV.

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Black’s take on the ‘Predator’ saga is a briskly paced blast, but the tone is a bit off (Movie review)

“Iron Man 3” is one of my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, but I’ve heard it criticized for being a Shane Black movie in a genre where that doesn’t fit, and I have a feeling that critique might come up again with “The Predator.” Recently released on home video, this is another fun film from the director, but I admit the tone is off.

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Lee achieves a nice mix of humor and harrowing history in ‘BlacKkKlansman’ (Movie review)

“BlacKkKlansman” continues the trend of films based on true stories – along with the likes of “I, Tonya” and “The Disaster Artist” – that would be labeled as illogically plotted if they were fictional. This Spike Lee joint is the story of Ron Stallworth, not the Steelers player but rather a Colorado Springs detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan as an undercover detective in the 1970s, despite being black.

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‘Christmas Prince’ and its sequel are the weirdest-ever episodes of ‘iZombie’ (Movie reviews)

“iZombie’s” Rose McIver is doing pretty well, at least commercially, on her offseason hiatuses, starring in 2017’s “A Christmas Prince” and this year’s “A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding.” In these Netflix hits, she plays Amber Moore (a long-lost twin sister of Liv?), an American journalist who falls for the prince of Aldovia while on assignment covering the royal succession.

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