Hughes Day Tuesday: Kirk Honeycutt’s ‘John Hughes: A Life in Film’ (2015) is a solid starter biography (Book review)

C

offee-table books are a risky proposition, as they can lure you in with nice design and colorful photos only for you to later discover that the prose was the least concern of the publishers. Luckily, “John Hughes: A Life in Film” (2015), by film critic and reporter Kirk Honeycutt, puts the writing first, and also features decent design. Since there’s (surprisingly) a dearth of Hughes biographies out there, Hughes superfans will want to have this in their collection, with the caveat that deeper scholarship might be published in the future.

Continue reading “Hughes Day Tuesday: Kirk Honeycutt’s ‘John Hughes: A Life in Film’ (2015) is a solid starter biography (Book review)”

Superhero Saturday: ‘Professor Marston & the Wonder Women’ (2017) chronicles the unusual inspiration behind the icon (Movie review)

T

he creation stories of the three biggest DC heroes all have a notable amount of injustice behind them. “Superman’s” Siegel and Shuster and “Batman’s” Bill Finger were denied credit for decades. But the story behind “Wonder Woman” – where there has never been debate that William Moulton Marston created her – is the weirdest, as chronicled in the biopic “Professor Marston & the Wonder Women” (2017).

Continue reading “Superhero Saturday: ‘Professor Marston & the Wonder Women’ (2017) chronicles the unusual inspiration behind the icon (Movie review)”

PKD flashback: ‘I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick’ by Emmanuel Carrere (1993) (Book review)

F

rench Philip K. Dick mega-fan and novelist Emmanuel Carrere takes one of the most unusual approaches to a biography in “I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick” (1993, with the English translation published in 2004). You’ll want to read Lawrence Sutin’s definitive “Divine Invasions” (1989) first, and then maybe wait a while because Carrere covers a lot of the same ground.

Continue reading “PKD flashback: ‘I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick’ by Emmanuel Carrere (1993) (Book review)”

PKD flashback: ‘Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick’ by Lawrence Sutin (1989) (Book review)

B

eware before you crack open Lawrence Sutin’s “Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick” (1989). It’s considered the elite PKD biography for good reason: Sutin answers every question that’s answerable about Dick. He kind of kills the mystery. (But give it time and then pick up a PKD novel again – it’ll come back.)

Continue reading “PKD flashback: ‘Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick’ by Lawrence Sutin (1989) (Book review)”

Throwback Thursday: Keaton mesmerizes as the shady McDonald’s franchiser in ‘The Founder’ (2017) (Movie review)

I

n giving one of his many great performances of the 2010s, Michael Keaton brings to life one of the most compelling business stories of the mid-20th century: Ray Kroc’s expansion of McDonald’s from a local into a national enterprise. Like all great biopics, “The Founder” (2017) – written by Robert Siegel and directed by John Lee Hancock – is fascinating for its contradictions. Kroc made possible a corporation that now does demonstrable good – providing cheap food and entry-level jobs (a significant number of my most successful friends started at “Mickey Dee’s”).

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Keaton mesmerizes as the shady McDonald’s franchiser in ‘The Founder’ (2017) (Movie review)”

‘Ford v Ferrari’ brings its niche historical subject to 7,000 rpm life (Movie review)

A

side from its wonderful locations and car designs that capture the 1960s, director James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari” (2019) is a sober re-creation of a niche slice of history. He trusts that 24-hour racing at Le Mans and Daytona will be exciting enough to capture and hold the layperson’s attention. He pushes it with the 2-hour, 32-minute run time, but ultimately he’s right. While non-racing-fan moviegoers aren’t likely to tune in to TV coverage of the next 24-race, this sport plays tremendously well in movie form.

Continue reading “‘Ford v Ferrari’ brings its niche historical subject to 7,000 rpm life (Movie review)”

‘The Irishman’ turns a Hoffa bio and mob flick into a meditation on what’s important in life (Movie review)

T

he Irishman” (2019, Netflix) pairs nicely as the back half of a double feature with 1992’s “Hoffa.” That film, which was likewise Oscar-nominated, focuses on Jimmy Hoffa’s creation and popularization of a workers’ union, whereas director Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” digs into the darker corners of the mobsters who circled around Hoffa. Both films are from the point of view of one of Hoffa’s trusted seconds: Danny DeVito’s Bobby Ciaro in “Hoffa” and Robert De Niro’s Frank Sheeran, the titular Irishman.

Continue reading “‘The Irishman’ turns a Hoffa bio and mob flick into a meditation on what’s important in life (Movie review)”

Mamet Monday: ‘Hoffa’ (1992) chronicles the striking rise of the controversial union boss (Movie review)

D

avid Mamet is known for writing con movies, and he sticks to that style even in his biographical/historical tales such as “Hoffa” (1992). Mamet’s worldview that everything is a con of some sort works perfectly for telling the life story of the man who started the Teamsters union. The film also boasts Danny DeVito’s steady direction and calm, almost sad performance as Jimmy Hoffa’s second-in-command; a classic turn by Jack Nicholson in the title role; and many other markers of prestige filmmaking.

Continue reading “Mamet Monday: ‘Hoffa’ (1992) chronicles the striking rise of the controversial union boss (Movie review)”

Mamet Monday: ‘Phil Spector’ (2013) is a Pacino showcase and a bizarre, gripping condemnation of juries without actually showing the jurors (Movie review)

P

hil Spector” (2013), the last film from writer-director David Mamet before what has become the longest filmmaking hiatus of his career, manages to be a compelling murder-trial biopic without digging as far into the case as one would assume. Mamet focuses on building a character portrait of legendary music producer Phil Spector (Al Pacino), someone who is brilliant, strange, mostly off-putting, occasionally terrifying, occasionally kind, and possibly murderous.

Continue reading “Mamet Monday: ‘Phil Spector’ (2013) is a Pacino showcase and a bizarre, gripping condemnation of juries without actually showing the jurors (Movie review)”

Peter Farrelly’s ‘Green Book’ a sweet story of friendship against backdrop of mid-century American racism (Movie review)

W

riter-director Peter Farrelly smooths out the excesses of his filmmaking traits for the surprisingly mainstream and easy-to-like “Green Book” (2018), now back in theaters and also available for home viewing. It’s not as funny as his best films like “Dumb and Dumber” and not as high-concept as the likes of “Stuck on You” and “Shallow Hal.” It’s possibly a crass grab at mainstream and critical acceptance, but it’s hard to quibble with the finished product.

Continue reading “Peter Farrelly’s ‘Green Book’ a sweet story of friendship against backdrop of mid-century American racism (Movie review)”