Saturday, August 16, 2014

What Robin Left Us

I was, as were most people, devastated at the news of the suicide of legendary comedian Robin Williams. He was a singular force of happiness in my childhood and on Wednesday, for the first time, Robin Williams made me cry tears that were not of mirth, but of misery.

There is so much to talk about following his passing, and as an advocate for mental health illnesses and treatment I know how important these conversations will be in changing lives - hopefully for the better - and shaping national dialogue about suicide and mental health. Perhaps I may sometime post my own views on the "choice of suicide," one of the most controversial issues which have arisen in the past week (just Google "Robin Williams," or for more extreme dialogue "Matt Walsh Robin Williams," and you'll get just as many opinions as there are links).

But for today, since this is primarily a movie blog, I thought we might look ahead to the five films Robin completed in 2014 and left for us before his heartbreaking death. As Robin's character in Dead Poet's Society said, quoting Walt Whitman, “What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer: That you are here -That life exists.

And what is life but stories? My story, your story, the stories of each person, all intertwined and interacting. So let's listen to the last stories told by one of the great storytellers of our time...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Marvel's Balance Between Super and Stale

This is a condensed and somewhat edited version of a more in-depth article by Andrew Wheeler which can be read in full over at

Guardians Of The Galaxy just enjoyed a very successful week at movie theaters, setting industry records left and right with its box office earnings. The movie also stands at 92% positive reviews on aggregator site RottenTomatoes, joining all previous Marvel Studios movies in receiving predominantly favorable notices.

Marvel Studios is doing very well. In six years and ten movies, it has avoided both critical and commercial disasters, and frustrated naysayers who hailed the demise of the superhero movie at every step. So how does Marvel do it, and can they keep doing it?

2014 Summer Movie Reviews - August

August 1st

CalvaryAfter he is threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest (Brendan Gleeson) must battle the dark forces closing in around him. Also starring Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, and Dylan Moran.

Opening Weekend: $47,149 (from only 4 theaters)
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

Review: Character actor Brendan Gleeson is best known to modern audiences as Maddy-Eye Moody, from the Harry Potter films, but from Braveheart to In Bruges (and so many more fantastic roles before, in-between, and after), few have accomplished as eclectic a career. And few have found themselves in such a profound and engaging film as Gleeson in Calvary. An engrossing exploration into the moral heart of a small Irish town, as seen through the eyes of a seasoned priest, one who has been threatened with murder during a secret confession, the film carries all the emotional weight of the best dramas in recent years. You truly feel a priest's struggle to stand faithfully for good among so much doubt and pointed cynicism. Bolstered by a strong supporting cast, but carried largely by the presence of Gleeson and a sharp, well-written script from writer/director John Michael McDonagh (Ned Kelly), Calvary is an obvious top tier film of the year.
The Final Word: 4/4 - Go buy a ticket, the poster, & the DVD.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

2014 Summer Movie Previews - August

August 1st

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero: When a group of friends enjoying a bachelor cruise in the Caribbean stumble upon a research facility on a remote island, a deadly virus is unleashed. The group must find a way to survive before the flesh eating virus consumes them all.
Trailer here.

Calvary: After he is threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest (Brendan Gleeson) must battle the dark forces closing in around him. Also starring Chris O'Dowd.
Trailer here.

Get On UpA chronicle of James Brown's (Chadwick Boseman) rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history. Also starring Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Nelsan Ellis.
Trailer here.