Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Friday, Mar 14, 2014
This film is clichéd and cloying, a revenge flick measured in RPMs and MPGs vs. anything remotely resembling human emotion. Oh, and the action scenes stink, as well.

It’s an indelible, iconic image: the American muscle car, jacked up and spitting flames, flying down the lonesome highway at blazing speeds, the classic lines and Detroit determined design merging with the horizon to create an icon linked directly into every gear heads waking dreams. As the motor revs and the mufflers growl, the internal combustion engine and its shimmering steel cage become Americana, a symbol for our struggles as a nation, the freedom we fought for, and the Industrial Revolution that made such vehicles the envy of the world.


We are car culture and car culture is us, a bizarre back and forth which avoids the ecologists and economists to provide every living, breathing male (and the occasional gal) with their own individualized gas guzzling transport and an excuse to escape. We romanticize the road, and the means of getting down one, creating a myth which still resonates even in our more green-friendly social confines.


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Friday, Mar 14, 2014
This movie is very funny, and for a comedy, that's everything. What's lying under the surface, however, may be more calculated than clever.

Nothing like busting a few taboos in your directorial debut to indicate you are really serious about your new career decision. Better yet, nothing like aiming low, knowing full well that, if you succeed, most will assume the best is yet to come. Such is the case with Jason Bateman, he of Arrested Development and almost star status, cinematically speaking. While working diligently on rebuilding his post-Hogan Family resume, he’s become a reliable working actor, appearing in such memorable efforts as The Kingdom, Juno, Up in the Air, and Horrible Bosses, among others.


Now, he’s decided to take the reins and return to one of his first loves (he remains the youngest ever Director’s Guild member to helm a project, at age 18) and the result is Bad Words, a decent enough entertainment that wants to be hip and edgy. Instead, it walks a precariously thin line between being ironic and outright racist.


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Friday, Mar 14, 2014
Dark House is lame. What it lacks in scares it more than makes up for in incomprehensible narrative choices

How do you separate the artist from their art? Put another way, if a pedophile makes a movie that you like, does this mean you condone his (or her) despicable behavior off camera? The answer, logically, is no. Both things are separate, just like a great work of literature by a raging alcoholic can be appreciated outside its 100 proof origins. Of course, child molestation is a million miles away from drinking to excess, and yet that’s what faces a film fan every time they take in an effort by Victor Salva. Convicted in the late ‘80s of a terrible crime on the set of something called Clownhouse, he finally reestablished his cinematic credentials with the preposterous abuse allegory Powder as well as the often effective Jeepers Creepers horror franchise. Infusing a new found sense of faith into his prison reform reinvention, it clear he wants to put his past behind him and just make worthwhile movies. Sadly, Dark House is not one of them.


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Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014
The Lunchbox is an enticing debut offering packing a potent flavor that will linger on your tongue.

There was some controversy at the end of 2013 when The Lunchbox was not selected to be India’s nominee for the foreign language film Oscar. It was supplanted by The Good Road, which has not been considered as good and that ended up not making the final short list. While I don’t know if The Lunchbox could have taken home the honors, this debut feature film from Ritesh Batra is a mature effort that will linger on your tongue days after you see it.


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Friday, Mar 7, 2014
While we don't get to see him personally up there amongst the heroes and demons, (Chow's) stamp is all over Journey to the West. It's what makes this flight of fantasy so much escapist fun.

It’s been six years since we last saw Stephen Chow on the big screen. Co-starring in the E.T.-inspired CJ7, it appeared the famed Hong Kong action star had “gone soft,” straying slightly away from the well choreographed cartoon chaos of Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle to channel his inner Spielberg. Fans still found something to enjoy, earning Chow the status of an able auteur. Since then, however, he’s been relatively inactive. Sure, he’s functioned as a producer on a few films, as well as writing one called Jump. But we’ve missed him as a presence on movie screens everywhere. Well, don’t expect Journey to the West to change that. Functioning as Producer, Director, Screenwriter, and Action Choreographer, Chow (along with help from co-director Derek Kwok) has apparently hung up his star shoes…at least, for the time being.


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