James Gray’s Ad Astra is a stirring, soulful space odyssey in the tradition of 2001, Sunshine, and Interstellar—but its real antecedent is Apocalypse Now. My NPR review is mes Gray’s Ad Astra is a stirring, plausible space odyssey in the tradition of 2001, Sunshine, and Interstellar—but its real antecedent is Apocalypse Now. My NPR review is here.
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Today’s Pop Culture Happy Hour is a special one for me because Jess Reedy summoned me to huddle with Barry Hardymon, Katie Pressley, and host Stephen Thompson on The Goldfinch — John Crowley’s new film adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt that remains far afield of my usual bailiwicks of fisticuffs and rocketships. Plus I get to shout out Meow Wolf, perhaps the highlight of my visit to New Mexico last week.
My abiding love and respect for the work of Bruce Springsteen is a matter of public record and of a couple dozen records. But I must report to you that Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha’s new movie Blinded by the Light, about how The Boss inspired Pakistani-British journalist Sarfraz Manzoor to pursue his dream of becoming a writer despite the poverty and racism that surrounded him in Margaret Thatcher’s England, is the jazz-handsy Springsteen jukebox musical that Springsteen on Broadway was supposed to protect us from. It boasts some wonderful performances, though, as well as a previously unreleased Springsteen song that at one point was going to appear on the soundtrack of… Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Huh.
Anyway, my NPR review of Blinded by the Light is here.
Yesterday's exciting episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour featured Linda Holmes' triumphant return to the host chair after the triumphant publication of her debut novel. Hooray! In a deleted scene, I asked the panel—my forever Fast & Furious viewing-mate Linda, my sister-from-another-mother Daisy Rosario, and new friend Christina Tucker of the Unfriendly Black Hotties podcast—if I was the only one of use suffering from what I am loath to call "Johnson Fatigue."
Yes, came the three ladies' reply. It's just you. So be it! This was an especially fun episode. My review of Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is right here.
Our Pop Culture Happy Hour dissection of Quentin Tarantino's ninth picture gave me the opportunity to be on a panel with Monica Castillo, a fellow Eugene O'Neill National Critics Institute fellow and someone with whom I'd not previously had the pleasure of speaking, though we have friends and colleagues in common. A fun episode. After some deliberation, we elected to avoid any in-depth discussion of the ending of the film.
Look, all of the Fast & Furious movies have stolen their best bits from better movies, but when the new double-ampersand sidebar flick Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw actually had its cyborg villain, Brixton Lorr (Idris Elba) get orders from an unseen superior to try to turn heroes Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) over to the Dark Side, I still managed to be surprised. My NPR review is here.
The Bruin—the Westwood cinema where Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate) goes to see herself in the Dean Martin-starring spy spoof The Wrecking Crew midway through Quentin Tarantino's new Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood—is where I saw Ocean's 11 (the Soderbergh-Clooney-Pitt one, not the the Dean Martin one) in 2001 and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003. I must've seen at least a few other movies there, but those are the two I remember.
I like QT's new picture a whole lot. My NPR review awaits you.
Halfway through another summer packed with sequels and reboots and brand IP extensions, it give me no pleasure, none at all, to have to tell you that Stuber, an action comedy from an “original” screenplay and starring two very talented and appealing comic actors in Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani… is just Collateral, only not as good. My NPR review is here. Ugh! I feel terrible!