Mr. Rogers Chills with the Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai… Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Summer is a time to sit outside with a glass of lemonade. Take a hike. Play at the beach. Have a cookout with family and friends. Experience life at its fullest and warmest.

Or, barring that, it’s a great time to sit inside, rip open a bag of Cheetos and watch a 207-minute Japanese film with lots of swords, subtitles and bare rear ends.  Continue reading

Emily Blunt in "A Quiet Place," Jack Black from "Nacho Libre," and Stephen Chow from "Kung Fu Hustle"

You Can Choose the Movies that Define You

Who are you?

No, I’m not asking for an immediate response, so quit shouting at your screen. Who are you, really? Beyond your name. Beyond your social security number.

Oh, we don’t lack for tools to tell us who we are. Myers Briggs tells me one thing. Harry Potter’s sorting hat (and a slew of the hat’s online peers) tells me another. My wife has some definite opinions on the matter. My podcast partner Jake probably does, too, but who cares what Jake thinks?

But defining ourselves—who we are, who we’d like to be—can be tricky to verbalize. And sometimes, movies can do the heavy lifting for us.  Continue reading

Neo from "The Matrix," Cary Grant from "Monkey Business," Robert DeNiro from "The Mission," and Steve Carell from "The 40-Year-Old Virgin"

You Can’t Choose the Movies That Shape You

Movies don’t just give us something to do for a couple hours on a weekend. They can change us, and sometimes profoundly. After Bambi, the number of hunters in America dropped by 50%. After Silence of the Lambs, the FBI saw an increase in female applicants. The images seen in 1930’s All Quiet on the Western Front powerfully influenced many who saw it … including a young theologian named Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The question isn’t whether movies change us. The question is … how?  Continue reading

Thanos from "Avengers: Infinity War" with a Batman mask

Love It or Hate It, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is the Superhero Movie We Deserve

We are here for you, Human Being Who Has Just Watched Avengers: Infinity War.

We know that you probably watched it very recently and that you are in pain. Or, perhaps, you watched it a while ago but the pain has stuck with you. (If you haven’t watched it, we salute you. Thanks for stopping by, curious Internet Wanderer.) Thanos finally took center stage in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, yeah, a couple of things went down. Stuff moved on a downward trajectory. Happenings occurred on multiple occasions. Excrement hit the twirling blades that generally just push air around.  Continue reading

Battle scene from Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One" overlaid with Leonardo DiCaprio from "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Ready Player One is the Dystopian Future We’re Already Ready For

Are you not entertained?

Seriously. You have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo, movie theaters, libraries, laser tag, WhirlyBall and Dart Warz all at your immediate disposal (or close to it). Oh, yeah, and your laptop, iPad, and smartphone filled with enough social media apps and games to last a thousand lifetimes. So let me ask you again: are you not entertained?  Continue reading

Ian McKellan as Gandalf, Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, and Reese Witherspoon as Mrs. Whatsit

Movies (Almost) Always Ruin Books and It’s (At Least) Half Your Fault

“You have to write the book that wants to be written,” A Wrinkle in Time author Madeleine L’Engle once said. “And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

That’s all fine and good, Madeleine, but some of us have bills to pay. It’s all fine and well for you to write the story that needs to be written. But what about when we’re spending $100 million of someone else’s money to tell your story? When execs and accountants are constantly breathing down our necks? When it needs to appeal to a broad, four-quadrant demographic that can never seem to put down its collective phone for one minute?!

What then, Madeleine? Hmmm?  Continue reading