For Those Who Don’t Speak Spy: The Case for “World is Not Enough”

Chanukah 2000 was a pivotal moment in my life. One of those fulcrums in the space-time continuum. I remember it vividly. My family was in Memphis, Tennessee visiting my cousin. The trip marked my first time in Memphis, which would spark an interest and appreciation for the blues and Elvis Presley that would stretch well into later years; motivating more trips to the heart of the mid-South and grizzly versions of “Heartbreak Hotel” at karaoke bars across the nation. In addition to those very cultural pillars established that Chanukah, I received two gifts that would mold my childhood and shape much of my adolescence and adulthood. We don’t really do gifts anymore on Chanukah, and I appreciate that, because that’s not what the holiday is about, but as a kid, I would not complain, for Chanukah in 1998 I received two video games for my then-brand-new N64. The first was… Read More…

Watch a REAL Love Story this Valentine’s Day: “Cut me, Mick!”

There is some sort of holiday this Friday, I’m told. And in an attempt to get some views on my blog for writing something topical, I’m gonna weigh in on Hallmark’s most polarizing holiday. I could use this opportunity to whine about 23 years of lonely 14ths of February, but I don’t need to go all Anakin Skywalker on you, because that’s on me, not you. What I can do for you, though, is make a suggestion on what to watch, for, no doubt, you are likely fiddling around right now trying to figure out what you’re going to do on Valentine’s Day with your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend or that cutie that sits next to you in your Arts and Humanities class or, that bottle of wine or that fifth of whiskey that you’ve been saving for a special night alone. Many of you will pick a festive movie to… Read More…

Fortune OR Glory: The Case for “Temple of Doom”

This past Wednesday was Steven Spielberg’s birthday. I’m not gonna go on here and ramble about how this gentleman has affected my life, because I think that, for any aspiring filmmaker, that need not be explained. The guy turned 67. Sixty-seven! Yet, I stop myself from calling him old, because to have that kind of body of work at 67 is just ridiculous, even for Steven Spielberg; the kind of body of work that makes 67 continue to feel like 27. I guess a sizable bank account helps, too. As a birthday gift to Mr. Spielberg, I thought I’d write a piece defending one of his most divisive of films: “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”. This is one of those films that the internet likes to tear apart. The General Internet Consensus (GIC) tends to be: “Temple of Doom” is a weak film with silly, non-believable action sequences,… Read More…

Corinthian Leather: A Fond, Gas-Guzzling Reminiscence of Shag-Luxury

It’s funny what passes for luxury when you’re a kid. In 1973, we visited my Uncle Bob and his family in Winter Haven, Florida and I couldn’t believe they had a fountain in their backyard.  Along with so many in-ground pools, lizards running all over the yards was added the magic of my grandma’s mobile home park three miles away where they actually had adult bikes with three wheels! Moving into our new house that same summer, I was amazed to see that each of the kids’ rooms had its own color scheme of shag carpeting—pink, green, orange and yellow.  My parents’ room was a deep blue shag and the family room was a tasteful blend of all of the colors listed above. But what made me know we had really arrived was the plastic rake that the previous owners had left behind to tend the fluorescent blades of carpeting…. Read More…

5 Great Horror Movies You’ve Never Heard Of – Mungo Scared!

It’s that time of year. Halloween is just around the cor—well, down the hall a bit. It’s time to connect with the true spirit of the holiday, which like all holidays, has been corrupted by outside influences…like Christmas was before people muddied it with a religious message. Halloween is not about costume parties and candy; it’s about turning off your lights, putting in a movie and having the wits scared out of you. Horror movies as a genre can be frustrating. Edgar Allen Poe was able to combine the dark, nightmarish ideas of comic books with high art. This combination allowed one young boy in particular (who thought he was an intellectual) to indulge his dark fantasy sensibility with the pretense that he was engaging his own artistic muse.  My years of self-discovery have revealed that I can no more argue Poe’s symbolism than I can conjugate Chinese verbs, but… Read More…

1980’s Court-Jesters During Crisis: Airplane, The Blues Brothers and Caddyshack

As Kale Davidoff wrote yesterday of true perspective when looking at movies, I was reminded of the recent success of Argo, this year’s Best Picture, as it brought the paralysis of the Iran-Hostage crisis fully back to our collective frontal lobe.  It was the story of a heroic rescue that Jimmy Carter couldn’t use in his re-election bid . Instead, the ill-fated rescue involving the helicopter-crash was also Carter’s. The real magic of Argo (with its sci-fi movie pitch creating the smokescreen for the rescue) is its absurdity.  Add-in the muppet-balcony comments from John Goodman and Alan Arkin cross-cutting while we’re going through cinematic hell at the airport check station and the humor seems more poignant. This irony may have been part of the reason behind the staying power of three comedies from the summer of the hostage crisis. Try it sometime.  Walk into a bar, a driving range or… Read More…

Comic Con Rookie: Stan Lee, The Walking Dead, Lois Lane and “The Last Train to Clarksville”

Somewhere between good dad and voyeur-geek you’ll find me.  The 24th Motor City Comic Con was this weekend at the local expo center and my son was interested.  No big surprise.  The popularity of the new generation The Avengers, The Dark Knight coupled with my generation’s Star Wars fan-base and going back another generation to Star Trek and Dr. Who, there was something for everyone there.  I’d never gone, not really liking crowds or costumed folks sneaking up on me.  But I agreed. The bigger surprise was that my daughter and her friend wanted to go.   Two guests were the reason that the attendance jumped from 18,000 last year to 30,000 this year.  90 year-old Stan Lee and 44 year-old, but relatively unknown until he started bow-hunting zombies, Norman Reedus.  The father of Marvel Comics was only there on Saturday and we were going on Sunday due to various… Read More…

Bigfoot, Leonard Nimoy and Fears of the Dark: “In Search Of”

It’s what kept my curtains closed each evening–even on the 2nd floor of a relatively safe suburban neighborhood, far from the Pacific Northwest the natural habitat of sasquatch and, most recently, teenage vampires. On the eve of Leonard Nimoy’s return for another installment as the logical Mr. Spock in Star Trek Into Darkness, I am reminded of that cool, calculating, “It’s not logical, Jim” voice taking me through the late 1970’s show,  In Search Of. As a natural segue from Bob Phillips’s blog on Tuesday analyzing the staying-power of the Star Trek franchise, I was reminded of Nimoy’s H.A.L.-like presence that always made me nervous with those reruns of the space-opera I’d watch on Detroit’s Channel 50.  Psychologists have long compared the Super Ego of Spock to James Kirk’s impulsive galaxy and bed-jumping behavior. Spock was always that logical voice that I didn’t really want to listen to.  He was… Read More…

Oscar Rubber-Necking: Some Favorite Head-Shakers (with New Podcast)

We ran this post last year, but it still holds true today–unfortunately.  Take a listen to a 2014 Podcast with Oscar expert and contributor, Sheri Horwitz. It’s like a family reunion, where the drunk uncle always shows up and upsets everyone’s big plans.  You all look forward to the event, then drive home wondering what happened.   And somehow, you can’t imagine having a reunion without that drunk uncle. Here’s my list of favorite Oscar night annoyances. 1. Red Carpet Silly Questions:  Beyond the usual “Who are you wearing?” this slow train-wreck involving screaming bleachers and limousines moving at 3 miles per week is spear-headed by pretty people who seem so over-the-top enthused to be talking to the celebrities that if Robert Downey, Jr. would actually do what his eye-rolling indicates and invoke Bobby Knight’s “Any more stupid questions?” I’d consider the evening a triumph, even before we get to…… Read More…