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

 
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Monday, Sep 15, 2014
It's quite a long buildup before we get to know the realities of Bob Saginowski's past. Once delivered, however, it's too little, way too late.

You know it’s going to happen; you’re just not sure when. You can sense the story building up to it. So does the performance, measured out in ever increasing indications of suppressed violence. Still, he’s a decent guy. Soft spoken. Kind to animals. Not afraid to be loyal when necessary, while always happy to point out potential pitfalls in other’s knee-jerk reactions and schemes.


And there’s the inferences, the hints at secrets from the past being concealed and realities no longer discussed. This is Bob Saginowski, bartender at a local Brooklyn dive known as Cousin Marv’s. He is played by Tom Hardy, who is the only reason to give the otherwise ordinary crime thriller The Drop a look. The rest of the movie hopes to use the reputation of its writer to lure in the audience, but it won’t work.


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Monday, Sep 15, 2014
Dolphin Tales is one instance where, despite the famous words of W.C. Fields, working with children and animals actually pays off.

W.C. Fields said it best: “Never work with children or animals.” The legendary comedian, who built his entire commercial reputation on a cranky, curmudgeon persona doused generously in various inebriations, understood implicitly that, once you bring a kid or a critter into the mix, you’re no longer the center of attention. Instead, our worship of youth and nature surpasses any desire to pay attention to an adult, or more mature subject matter.


Brats and beasts are scene stealers, and this is clearly the driving force behind the family film Dolphin Tale 2. Granted, this obvious sequel was spurred on by the success of the original 2011 effort, getting a great deal out mileage (and wholesome entertainment) out of Fields’ admonishments. The movie’s desire to confront the darker aspects of the story’s situation makes it more than just another cynical cash grab.


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Monday, Sep 8, 2014
The Last of Robin Hood is relatively harmless. That is also its major flaw, considering the harmful subject matter.

Can a serious movie be made about a May/December romance where one party is in his late ‘40s and the other is only 15? Can the “he”, a former dashing matinee idol (Errol Flynn) who already escaped one accusation of statutory rape really be seen as sympathetic, or even socially acceptable, given his proclivities? Can the “she”, a teenager of suspect talents (Beverly Aadland) be anything other than a victim?


No matter the times or the temperament, no matter a mother who basically pimps her child out for a possibility at fame (and the accompanying fortune) or the studio system and media, which sheepishly look the other way, can a film like this work? The answer, once you’ve seen The Last of Robin Hood, is “No.”


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Friday, Sep 5, 2014
Someday, The Identical will take its rightful place alongside Troll 2, The Room, and Tiptoes as among the most joyfully awful films of all time.

A professional Elvis impersonator teams up with a Pro-Israel propaganda coalition. Together with a wannabe songwriter and his wannabe director son, they create an alternate reality where rock ‘n’ roll was “created” by someone named Drexel Hemsley, the once and could be King. And just like the legitimate legend, this swivel hipped singer has a twin brother, except this one didn’t die at birth.


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Friday, Aug 22, 2014
Is two-thirds of a decent Sin City sequel enough? After nine years of waiting, almost.

They say you can’t capture lightning in a bottle, that a once novel paired with a fresh concept can’t be reused to the same stunning effect a second time around. This is the main critique of sequels, in fact. Whatever made the original hit movie a cultural phenomenon cannot be rediscovered and maintained over a follow-up (or franchise).


So when Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller decided to wait nine long years to revisit their visionary Sin City, many wondered if the near-decade away from their pioneering digital neo-noir would result in something dull and derivative. The answer, luckily, is “No!” Is it as good as the first groundbreaking film? Well…


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