Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the first good Spider-Man movie in, uh, 18 months! But it's more than that: A fun, warm, visually astonishing omnibus of Spider-lore that elegantly rebukes reactionary fans whose minds are stuck in 1963. I rarely get worked up over animated films—a blind spot I can neither defend nor explain—but I loved this. Here’s my NPR review.
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It had been too long since I got to appear on a PCHH panel with the great Gene Demby from Code Switch, so I was very happy to find myself sitting beside him for this episode dissecting Creed II, which frustrated each of us in different ways. You can hear the episode below; my review of the movie is here.
Creed II is either an inferior follow-up or a superior one, depending on whether it’s a sequel to Creed or to Rocky IV, respectively. (It’s both.) I sure enjoyed seeing all these characters again, but I am, as I say, disposed to view these movies forgivingly. My review of Creed II is here.
FURTHER READING: My 2015 review of Creed.
We had to do a Pop Culture Happy Hour discussion of Die Hard because it’s holiday time and because the beloved classic turned 30, uh, back in July and because we just had to. I thought I was being punk’d when I got the invitation but I’m so glad it was real. This was the awkward Christmas Eve holiday party/attempted spousal reconciliation I’ve been waiting to be invited to since I was 11 years old. Yippie kai yay, podcast lovers. (My punishingly long Die Hard Dossier is here.)
Luca Guadagnino's new reimagining of the vibrant Dario Argento Italian cult classic Suspiria is is vulgar, shamelessly pretentious, and frequently opaque. But there were also things about about it that I didn’t like. My NPR review is here.
I was delighted as always to join my pals Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and Glen Weldon on Pop Culture Happy Hour to discuss the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man—a movie that, like the new A Star Is Born, I appreciate more the more I think about it. Somehow we managed to avoid re-litigating the great La La Land controversy during this conversation. (My bomb-throwing position: It's good!) When I used the word Weldonian in the studio, Glen nearly tore his rotator cuff making the "cut" gesture, but cooler, more hirsute heads—those of producers Jessica Reedy and Vincent Acovino—prevailed.
During the "What's Making Us Happy" segment I endorse Alec Nevala-Lee's new history Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, of which I'll have a review appearing in the Dallas Morning News shortly. It happens that Nevala-Lee wrote a thoughtful post about First Man and the silly flap among people who haven't seen the movie over the fact that it doesn't depict the planting of the American flag on the lunar surface. I'm glad to share it.
For NPR, I reviewed Venom, which I can't actually prove is a shelved Jim Carrey vehicle from 1997 in which Carrey has now been digitally (and tentacle-y) replaced by Tom Hardy.
But you can't prove that it's not.
Predator, directed by John McTiernan the year before he made Die Hard, has been a favorite film of mine ever since I biked home with the rented VHS cassette (I couldn't persuade my dad to take me, aged 10, to see it in the theater) and watched it three or four times in a weekend. It was the 12th highest-grossing film of 1987, a year when the box office top five was Three Men and a Baby, Fatal Attraction, Beverly Hills Cop II, Good Morning, Vietnam, and Moonstruck. One sequel and four original, not-based-on-preexisting material screenplays. Just in case you need a sense of just how long ago that was.