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by Bill Gibron

2 Jan 2015


As with any category which includes the descriptive term “underrated”, setting a clear set of standards is often impossible. Indeed, someone out there right now has already perused the list below, taken umbrage with at least a couple of the choices, and is wondering how “anyone” could consider any one of the titles as “underrated”. Perhaps an illustrative explanation is in order.

For someone who watches movies for a living (or what some call “a living”), underrated usually means “underappreciated” or “fell through the cracks”. Such a film stands in contrast to the mainstream mindset that gives the latest Michael Bay bombast a billion dollars at the box office, but can’t see beyond the spectacle to something smaller, more inventive, and artistic. The tag “underrated” can also mean a commercial endeavor poorly handled by the PR and marketing people hired by the studios, their inability to craft a persuasive ad campaign sorely limiting a good movie’s returns.

by Bill Gibron

1 Jan 2015


What was the best film of (insert year here)?

Critics get asked this question a lot. Perhaps too much. Unlike aged steaks, or wine vintages, films often take a while to work their way into your psyche. You struggle with the themes, or you make rash, kneejerk judgments that, later, come back to add a layer of illegitimacy to your otherwise learned opinion.

Then, after 12 months of screenings, after 365 days of streaming links, Oscar PR, studio shilling, and countless combinations of the good, the bad, and the downright dopey, we are asked to wrap things up in a neat little list, a consensus compendium which does something no film reviewer is totally capable of: determining the very best of a varied artform. Can you argue that animation is better or worse than foreign filmmaking? Can horror be part of the discussion when so many of the genre’s examples are rotten, at best?

by Bill Gibron

29 Dec 2014


Of all the lists you’ll be perusing over the course of the next few weeks, this one was, without a doubt, the hardest to make. Not because 2014 was so overloaded with quality product; just the opposite, actually. When you have to leave out terrible titles like Sex Tape, Tammy, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Dumb and Dumber To, The Best of Me, No Good Deed, The Last of Robin Hood, As Above So Below, Are You Here, Let’s Be Cops, The Devil’s Knot, A Haunted House 2, Dark House, The Outsider, Vampire Academy, and I, Frankenstein off your list to make room for the real crap, you know you’re dealing with worst of Hollywood’s hopeless dung heap… and that’s just the ones we were unfortunate enough to see. All around the artform are independent and self-released atrocities just waiting to waste one’s time and make them doubt in the existence of God—or talent.

by Bill Gibron

23 Dec 2014


Christmas—or, in the more PC vernacular, the holiday which occurs sometime in December—is supposed to be a celebration of peace on Earth and goodwill to all humanity. Instead, it usually ends up being a nightmare of unbridled commercialism, long retail shopping lines, endless fattening foodstuffs, and a reminder why you don’t spend more time with your family the other 364 days/11 months out of the year. It’s also a trying time for people suffering with depression, as suicide rates seem to escalate along with partygoers cholesterol and diabetes rates. Part of the problem is entertainment oriented. There are lots of wonderful songs, TV shows, plays, and films which expertly capture the yuletide spirit. But for every classic, for every A Christmas Carol or “White Christmas”, there’s an ‘RXmas or a “Mary, Have You Heard”.p

by Bill Gibron

9 Dec 2014


Over the weekend, in a low key announcement it hoped would fly way under the PR radar, producing studio Paramount announced that Roberto Orci, the director responsible for handling the third film in the newly rebooted Star Trek franchise, had been relieved of his duties. For some, this was expected. Orci is a famed screenwriter, and he’s at least partially responsible (with former writing partner Alex Kurtzman and filmmaker J.J. Abrams) for invigorating the beloved sci-fi series’ stalled fortunes.

On the other hand, he had never directed a feature film before. Also, Orci provoked the anger of Trek Nation by browbeating the fanbase over the affection (or lack thereof) for 2013’s Khan-oriented Into Darkness. It was a gamble. While he said all the right things during the original honeymoon media phase, apparently he was not prepared for an assignment of this magnitude.

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Call For Papers: Celebrating Star Trek's 50th Anniversary

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"To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the hit franchise, PopMatters seeks submissions about Star Trek, including: the TV series, from The Original Series (TOS) to the highly anticipated 2017 new installment; the films, both the originals and the J.J. Abrams reboot; and ancillary materials such as novelizations, comic books, videogames, etc.

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