The Genius of Actor and Comedian Will Ferrell

comedian Will Ferrell

To celebrate his birthday on July 18, revisit the great roles of comedian Will Ferrell. He’s more than just a slapstick comic with a rubbery face. He’s an actor with 104 acting credits in 23 years, and his star isn’t waning. The critics might not be throwing around those four-star reviews any longer, but the legacy of the comedian Will Ferrell doesn’t rely on critical acclaim. If it makes him laugh, he’ll do it. A list of his memorable roles might trigger nostalgic glee: Ron Burgundy in the Anchorman films, Buddy in Elf, Frank in Old School, Brennan in Step Brothers, Mugatu in Zoolander, and the countless comedic turns during his stint at Saturday Night Live. Then there’s a roll call of all the memorably weird scenes where Ferrell has put himself out there more than most actors: He fought a baby in The Campaign, wrestled with a bear in        …read more

Long Live McQueen

McQueen

The new documentary ‘McQueen’ focuses on the brilliant and destructive mind of fashion designer Alexander McQueen. With the recent passing of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade and the important surrounding conversations about mental health and suicide prevention, there’s no time more relevant for a documentary about fashion designer Alexander McQueen. While most fashion documentaries understandably cater to fashion insiders, McQueen appeals to anyone who wants to see the emotional elements and hard work put into creating an empire. Directed by Ian Bonhôte and codirected/written by Peter Ettedgui, the film is told through a five-chapter structure and contains ample footage of the designer’s life, his creative process, and his provocative runway shows as seen through interviews and his personal collection of home videos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO0Gx3E3KJA Lee Alexander McQueen was born in 1969 into a working-class family in East London’s Lewisham district. After leaving school at age 16, he began his career as        …read more

Where Are the Tom Hanks Haters?

Tom Hanks

Calm down, most of the world. We know Tom Hanks is aggressively charming. We live in a fractured culture, where establishing any sort of mass consensus is nearly impossible. Debating who’s the greatest basketball player of all time can get people from Chicago and Cleveland throwing chairs at each other. Bring up poké and you can see otherwise mild-mannered people turn into warring Scottish clans. And politics? Let’s not even start with politics or we’ll be here all day, and half of the people reading this will hate the other half. Instead, let’s discuss something everybody can agree upon: Tom Hanks! He seems like a really nice guy, right? It’s rare to meet a Tom Hanks hater. Born July 9, 1956, the man has built each phase of his career around being likable — goofy comedian of the Big / Turner & Hooch / A League of Their Own days;        …read more

Take a Trip Back to Middle School with the Film 'Eighth Grade'

Eighth Grade

Bo Burnham’s ‘Eighth Grade’ seamlessly captures the stress, awkwardness and vulnerability of being a teenager. Eighth grade is a point in life where you’re no longer a child but not yet a teenager. That period is driven by insecurity, self-discovery and awkward behavior. I find myself aghast at the sight of my eighth grade school photo. My greasy, wavy, untamed hair was parted down the middle, my overgrown eyebrows were begging to be tweezed, and my smile was overcome with a mouthful of metal braces. I wanted boys to notice me, but I was too terrified to interact with them. When I want to revisit these awkward times safely, I often seek out movies set during this transitional period. Films like Welcome to the Dollhouse, Thirteen, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dazed and Confused flawlessly capture the highs and lows of adolescence. Eighth Grade is the next dramedy to        …read more

Superhero 101: Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ahead of ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp,’ take a leap into their comic book origins. We’re living in a superhero movie renaissance, an era where spandex-clothed heroes continually dominate box offices. Or at least it feels that way. With the genre at its height and showing no signs of slowing down, it’s no surprise mainstream audiences have been introduced to more niche heroes in recent years. Case in point: Ant-Man, a lesser-known Marvel hero who now has his own movie franchise despite never having his own long-running comic series. The 2015 release of Ant-Man, starring Paul Rudd, was a bit of a head-scratcher. Of Marvel’s long line of superhero flicks, Ant-Man is probably the most niche to nab his own feature film. Nevertheless, the film performed exceedingly well at the box office, a result that guaranteed Ant-Man a vital role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for years to come. Although Ant-Man        …read more

Roger Ebert's Snarkiest Zero-Star Movie Reviews

Roger Ebert

In honor of Roger Ebert’s birthday, revisit his impassioned reviews of 8 movies he hated most. Born June 18, 1942, Roger Ebert became a household name back in the ’80s and ’90s partly because of his hit TV show with Gene Siskel on which the two critics rated movies “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” He also published movie reviews in the Chicago Sun-Times, and he was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Sadly, he passed away in 2013. With a career that spanned 45 years, Roger Ebert reviewed an estimated 10,000 movies. Most of those movies were graded on a scale from one-half star to four stars, but a select few (only about 60) received zero stars. When that happened, Ebert didn’t hold back his blunt opinions or snarky critiques, making his zero-star reviews a fun read. If you caught my thoughts on The Room,        …read more

Countdown: 7 Most Terrifying Jurassic Park Dinosaurs

Jurassic Park dinosaurs

These are the Jurassic Park dinosaurs that made us race home from theaters to take shelter under the blankets. The mere mention of dinosaurs in movies brings one franchise to mind: Jurassic Park. In 1993 childhood dinosaur dreams were brought to life with Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel, rousing awe and terror. Twenty-five years later, Jurassic Park is still revered for its amazing combination of practical and visual effects, continuously putting FX-heavy films to shame. The sequels don’t hold the greatness of the original’s spare-no-expense mentality, but they all provoke fear of prehistoric beasts that, should they exist today, would make humanity quiver in the face of its own extinction. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park and release of the fifth film in its franchise, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, let’s take a look at the seven most fear-inducing dinosaurs in its history that should make        …read more

From the Pulps to Modern Blockbusters: A Brief History of Noir & Neo-Noir

neo-noir

Max Allan Collins, Christa Faust and Gary Phillips discuss the beginnings of noir and recent developments in neo-noir. Neo-noir (from the Greek neo, which means new; and the French noir, meaning black) is a contemporary dark fiction subgenre with long roots in publishing and film history. It can be found in many different genres, including drama, fantasy, sci-fi and horror. In recent years, we’ve seen it in feature films (Blade Runner 2049, Road to Perdition), TV (Westworld, Better Call Saul) comic books (Southern Bastards, Kill or Be Killed) and novels (Gone Girl, Penny Dreadful). I spoke with Road to Perdition author Max Allan Collins, comic book writer Christa Faust, and crime author Gary Phillips about the ever-popular subgenre. “Noir is a term that derives from the French Série Noire publications,” said Collins, referring to an imprint based in Paris that released hardboiled detective thrillers. Collins credits American writers like James M.        …read more

‘Grease’ Is Still the Word 40 Years Later

Grease anniversary

On the 40th anniversary of ‘Grease,’ take a nostalgic trip back in time. As Grease turns 40 on June 16, 2018, I’ve decided to make myself vulnerable. I’m talking the die-hard-fan, some-people-might-find-this-embarrassing kind of vulnerable here. When Grease came out, I was seven years old. My parents and I waited in a line that went around the block. Standing in lines that long for movies was a new thing. In my short time on this planet, I’d done it twice before. The first time I was four, and the movie was Jaws. The second time I was six, and you can probably guess the film… Star Wars. My parents were either extremely forward-thinking or reckless in choosing what movies I was allowed to see. I go with forward-thinking, as movies always have been and will be a huge part of my life. They make me laugh, cry, escape the negatives,        …read more

M.I.A.: The Art of Defying the System

M.I.A.

Why does the music industry resist artists like M.I.A.? What kind of artist would you prefer: one programmed to perform or one with a strong point of view? Consider, if you will, how many young hopefuls have entered the entertainment industry with nothing more than a dream and a smidgen of talent. They get picked up by someone — a record label, an executive, some famed producer — and this means everything. Getting picked up means family and friends applaud you, enemies from school see your face on the cover of magazines, and a sizable paycheck is in your future. It also means your individuality will be slowly stripped away. “Do you want to be famous, or what? Lose the accent, dress this way, don’t say that, sing this, promote that, suck here…” Such “experts” style and media-train these young hopefuls within an inch of their lives this side of        …read more