Posts Tagged ‘movies’

The Boiled Leather Audio Moment #12!

November 13, 2017

Moment 12 | Velvet Goldmine

BLAM goes glam! Sean’s going solo for this very special episode of the Boiled Leather Audio Moment, courtesy of a question from Jon A. Scholten, a subscriber at the $10 level. Jon asks about Sean’s frequently documented fascination with Velvet Goldmine, director Todd Haynes’s 1998 work of David Bowie/Iggy Pop fanfic in film form. What is it about this movie that Sean finds so inspiring? Subscribe for just $2 a month to listen in and find out!

BLACK FRIDAY II: HALLOWEEN MIX 2017

October 27, 2017

a new Halloween mix for 2017

plus a revised edition of the original Black Friday mix from 2014

Download links:

2014 / 2017

Tracklisting in the lyrics medatada

Let it surprise you

30 Movies to Watch If You Like ‘Stranger Things’ [or Don’t!]

October 25, 2017

The Last Unicorn (1982)

One of the most beautiful, melancholy, magical, and genuinely adult animated features in American film history. This adaptation of fantasist Peter S. Beagle’s novel comes to us courtesy of Rankin/Bass Productions and Japanese animation studio Topcraft — the former responsible for the stop-motion Christmas classics Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, the latter eventually evolving into Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli. Together, they produced the J.R.R. Tolkien cartoons The Hobbit and The Return of the King, plus this gut-punch of a film, about a unicorn who becomes trapped in the body of a young human woman. With a body-horror subtext worthy of Cronenberg and a ridiculously impressive voice cast (Mia Farrow, Jeff Bridges, Christopher Lee, Angela Lansbury, and Alan Arkin), it’s like a cross between Stranger Things and a story from the Dungeons & Dragons game its characters play.

Paperhouse (1988)

Directed by Bernard Rose — who would later adapt Hellraiser writer-director Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden” into the acclaimed urban-horror film Candyman — this harrowing supernatural/surrealist film centers on an 11-year-old girl who discovers her dreams and drawings are coming to life and consuming her reality. She’s got to figure out how to take charge and reassert control. Paperhouse is what I think of when Stranger Things is at its best.

Let the Right One In (2008)

Recast the relationship between Eleven and Mike Wheeler as a tragedy instead of a heroic fantasy, and you might wind up with this morbid proto-romance between a bullied kid and the young vampire who simultaneously befriends, protects, and uses him. There’s stuff going on here about abuse and loneliness, for characters of all ages, that digs way deeper than anything Stranger Things has done; if Netflix’s series is a 101 entry-level course, this is graduate work.

What should you watch after (or instead of) Stranger Things and its obnoxiously titled second season Stranger Things 2? Whether you like or dislike the show, I think I’ve got you covered with the list of 30 movies I wrote for Vulture.

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’: Breaking Down the New Trailer

October 10, 2017

The Last Jedi occupies the equivalent position in this new trilogy of The Empire Strikes Back, one of the most resolutely downbeat blockbusters ever released. Rian Johnson is no stranger to that bleak emotional palette – the man directed Breaking Bad‘s devastating final-season episode “Ozymandias.” When you add these hints at a heel turn from Rey with those grim fourth-wall-breaking shots of Carrie Fisher’s warrior princess on the verge of death, at the hands of her own son no less, the Dark Side is strong with the result.

Still, this is Star Wars Episode IX, not The Godfather Part II. The new AT-ATs, lightsaber, and little furry cute thing are all in keeping with the franchise’s fun side. Meanwhile, the Finn/Phasma fight and the Falcon flight remind us that from A New Hope‘s Death Star attack run to The Phantom Menace‘s “Duel of the Fates” to Rogue One‘s suicide-squad beach battle, this saga has always blended sci-fi/fantasy with rock-solid action filmmaking.

I wrote about the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer for Rolling Stone.

‘The Punisher’: Everything You Need to Know About Marvel’s Vigilante Antihero

October 4, 2017

Punisher comics have gotten pretty weird over the years
We know what you’re thinking: Gun-toting combat veteran goes kill-crazy against criminals after they murder his family – this concept is pure meat-and-potatoes street-level stuff, right? But we’re talking about superhero comics, folks. After a few decades of near-continuous publication, pretty much every character gets pushed out of his or her comfort zone, and our the Punisher is no exception.

Among his strangest adventures? The Punisher: Purgatory (1998-99), in which the then-dead vigilante was revived to serve as an angelic demon-slayer. The similarly supernatural FrankenCastle arrived a decade later; this knowingly screwball storyline saw the antihero, who had been killed once again, brought back as a Frankenstein-like monster, fighting alongside horror-tinged characters like Morbius the Living Vampire and Man-Thing. (In a word: No.) In 2012, the character got a sci-fi makeover in Space: Punisher – which featured, yes, the Punisher in space, punishing aliens and whatnot.

Years before his character-defining run on the character, Garth Ennis wrote the one-shot Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, which pretty much does what it says on the tin. The 1995 special chronicles a short, bloody alternate timeline in which Castle’s family gets killed in the crossfire of an X-Men/Avengers battle, leading him to slaughter every single superhero and supervillain in the company’s catalog. He eventually turns the gun on himself. But for sheer WTF-itude, nothing beats 1994’s Archie Meets the Punisher, a crossover between Marvel’s bloodiest antihero and Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the rest of the Riverdale gang. Sure, it’s just a footnote in Punisherology, but crazy stunts like this are exactly what brought Archie back to pop-culture prominence over two decades later. A crossover between the Netflix Punisher show and Riverdale doesn’t sound completely out of the question now, does it?

In anticipation of the upcoming Netflix/Jon Bernthal series, I wrote a guide to the Punisher’s many multimedia incarnations for Rolling Stone. One thing this reminded me is that the showrunner is Steve Lightfoot, who was the Ed Burns to Bryan Fuller’s David Simon on Hannibal. That bodes well.

Harry Dean Stanton: 10 Essential Movies

September 18, 2017

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

“I’ve already gone places. I just wanna stay where I am.” Stanton’s role as tired-looking trailer-park owner Carl Rodd in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks prequel was as cryptic as everything else in the film, lasting just a few short minutes and some spare lines of dialogue. But he packs decades of world-weariness into his brief screen time; nobody could turn “It’s just more shit I gotta do now” into a punchline that doubled as a declaration of existential despair. Stanton reprised and expanded the role in Peaks’ astonishing third season this year, cracking jokes about defying death one minute, bearing witness to unspeakable tragedy like an earthbound angel the next – a moving, bonus grace note in a long, legendary career. STC

I consider it one of the great privileges of my career as a writer to have written about Alien and Twin Peaks for Rolling Stone’s list of 10 Essential Harry Dean Stanton Movies.

“It”: Everything You Need to Know About Stephen King’s Killer Clown Story

September 11, 2017

Pennywise is one of modern horror’s greatest monsters
He’s the original killer clown from outer space and the most infamous villain in Stephen King’s bibliography, which is saying something. (All apologies, Randall Flagg.)  Pennywise the Dancing Clown is the form most frequently taken by a malevolent entity that’s been haunting the entire town of Derry, Maine for centuries; it’s lurked beneath the land since it hurtled through the cosmos and crash-landed on Earth from another dimension millennia ago. This shape-shifter can transform into its victims’ worst nightmares, feeding on both their fear and their flesh. Its preferred target: little kids, whose vivid imaginations give it an extensive menu of terrors to choose from. This also explains the monster’s default mode: What kid doesn’t love clowns? (At least before It more or less singlehandedly ruined their image, that is.)

But in addition to being one mean, multifaceted predator, Pennywise has exerted a malign influence on the entire town. He himself – or It Itself – only emerges from hibernation once every 27 years or so for a feeding frenzy that lasts roughly a year to 18 months. But Its presence in the sewers beneath Derry radiates an evil that makes the small town the murder capital of New England … and generates a sort of willful amnesia among the population. Such forgetfulness keeps folks from reflecting on their sleepy burg’s history of atrocities, disasters and mass murders. It also prevents people from connecting the dots when the creature resurfaces and kids start going missing en masse.

Overall, Pennywise combines a killer look and set of powers with one of King’s strongest concepts: a fairy-tale troll that hides out not under a bridge, but an entire city – a ghost that haunts not just one house, but all of them. As our foremost chronicler of small-town American evil, King has a royally good time with the idea.

I wrote a primer on It — the book, the miniseries, the movie, Pennywise, Tim Curry, That Scene, you name it — just in time for the release of the new blockbuster film adaptation for Rolling Stone.

Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on Jaime Lannister’s Next Move

August 19, 2017

If you look at what’s happening in King’s Landing, it seems like Jaime’s gotten everything he wants. They’re in charge, they can be open about their relationship, they can be open about their new child. But in the scene where Cersei tells him she’s pregnant, it’s so deeply unpleasant to watch them interact.

It was very unpleasant. You know this is not a good situation. I mean, I don’t think these people should have any more children!

Jaime knows that this is not necessarily great as well. But if this dream is the one thing you want more than anything your whole life, you can’t help yourself. He experienced it for a second with Myrcella — what it felt like to be a father and have his daughter tell him that she’s happy that he was her dad — but it was taken away from him the second after. Now, the idea that you don’t have to live a lie, you can have a son or daughter and this can be beautiful, he forgets the reality of their situation and he’s happy.

But only for a second. After that, Cersei has to go all Darth Vader and say, “Don’t ever betray me again.” Which is dark. It doesn’t make sense, because he didn’t betray her. He actually came to her and told her about it as soon as he got back. But maybe that’s just because she’s paranoid.

Jaime’s certainly aware of the dangers in both Daenerys and Cersei, and his formative experience as a young man was murdering a king to stop him from burning thousands of innocent people to death. Things haven’t quite gotten to that point, but he’s got to be reliving that, right?

I think there’s a difference between the Mad King and Cersei. What Cersei did was a lot more specific and calculated, and it was aimed at her enemies. The Mad King was just going to take out everyone, and he felt he was going to be able to rise from the ashes as Daenerys did. When Cersei killed the Tyrells and the High Sparrow, it was very gruesome, tough thing she did, but it was very Red Wedding–style. She took out the people who wanted her dead, and she took them out in one ball of flames, but she didn’t take out the whole city. So there is a difference. I’m not justifying it, but I’m saying there’s a difference.

I think that what Jaime just witnessed with Daenerys is more than frightening. He knows that if she goes to King’s Landing with three dragons, when he’s seen what she does with only one, that will be the end of it. He knows that there is no way that they can fight back, or at least they’d need a hundred scorpions. It would just be very difficult.

I was thrilled to speak with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau about Jaime Lannister for the first time in many years for Vulture. He and I also talked about his new prison movie, Shot Caller, which is worth a look.

“Ozark” thoughts, Season One, Episode Four: “Tonight We Improvise”

August 8, 2017

At this point, this willingness to let songs do the heavy lifting is an endemic problem for television. Westworld, Legion, Stranger Things, you name it: They can all take advantage of labels and artists who no longer have record sales to fall back on and must capitalize on any and all other available revenue streams by licensing pretty much any song they choose. I just want them to choose wisely.

I closed my review of Ozark’s fourth episode for Decider by ranting and raving about its lamely unimaginative use of the Rolling Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” from Casino, but the rest of the episode was surprisingly good.

The Top 30 Stephen King Movies, Ranked

August 3, 2017

3. The Dead Zone (1983)

David Cronenberg is the man who made “body horror” a thing; Stephen King’s tales of terror derive much of their power from down-to-earth Americana. An odd couple, to be sure. But the Canadian auteur brings out the best in the story of a New England schoolteacher (professional weirdo Christopher Walken, pitch-perfect) who awakens from a five-year coma with the ability to see the future of anyone he touches. Co-starring Martin Sheen as a blustery, right-wing politician rising to power via blue-collar populism and ready to trigger World War III – imagine that! It’s cerebral but not chilly, complex but compelling – and as eerily prescient as its psychic protagonist.  STC

I wrote about The Dead Zone for Rolling Stone’s very gutsy ranking of Stephen King movie adaptations. The Top 10 is going to throw you for a loop.

‘It’ Star Sophia Lillis on ‘Shocking’ First Encounter With Pennywise, Remake Details

July 20, 2017

This September, Lillis stars in director Andrés Muschietti’s highly anticipated adaptation of horror master Stephen King’s signature work, It. She plays Beverly Marsh, the sole female member of a close-knit gang of teen outcasts called the Loser’s Club. During one long, nightmarish summer, the Losers find themselves face to face with the child-murdering, shape-shifting entity that’s haunted their small town for centuries – a creature that most frequently takes the form of a sinister clown called Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgård.

“We actually weren’t allowed to see him until our scenes, because we wanted the horror to be real,” Lillis recalls. “Everyone had different reactions, but all of us were like, ‘Wow, what did we get ourselves into?’ One look at him, and… you know, he’s a really scary clown that wants to kill us. I was a little bit shocked,” she laughs. “But then he went up to me afterwards and was like, ‘Hi, how’s things?’ He’s really nice, but I didn’t know how to react.”

Lillis had no such trouble connecting with her fellow Losers, who include Jaeden Lieberher as ringleader Bill Denbrough and Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard as class clown Richie Tozier. “I spent all my summer with them, so we got really close. We still keep in touch, send messages to each other.” That closeness helped Lillis connect with her own character. “I relate to Beverly – the way she deals with her emotions, and the way she was around the Losers. I felt that way around the actual actors.”

I wrote a little profile of Sophia Lillis, aka Beverly in the new IT movie, for Rolling Stone.

The 100 Greatest Movies of the Nineties

July 13, 2017

49. Heavenly Creatures (1994) 

Before Peter Jackson took us all to Middle-earth, he brought moviegoers to the mad world of two troubled teenagers – a fictional universe every bit as engrossing as J.R.R. Tolkien’s, but far more romantic and lethal. Based on a true-crime story, the film depicts pre-stardom Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey as Pauline Parker and Juliet Hume, two New Zealand teenagers whose BFF-ship blossoms first into love, then madness and ultimately murder. Jackson’s kinetic camera captures the rapturous swirl of teenage dreams before plunging us into its brutal, bloody endpoint. It’s a beautiful dark twisted fantasy. STC

I wrote about Natural Born Killers, Heavenly Creatures, and The Blair Witch Project for Rolling Stone’s list of The 100 Greatest Movies of the ’90s. My editor David Fear assembled an absolute murderers’ row of writers for this thing — it’s a real treat.

The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 64!

June 30, 2017

Children of Men (A Patreon Production)

The Boiled Leather Audio Hour goes dystopian this month! By the special request of our Patreon supporter Jason, who earned the right to choose a topic for the podcast by subscribing at the $50 level, Sean & Stefan are taking a deep dive into the world of Children of Men, director Alfonso Cuarón’s gripping 2006 political science-fiction film. Starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore and set in a near future where the world has been rocked by an infertility epidemic that has completely ended all childbirths for 18 years and counting, the movie is striking both for its technical virtuosity, particularly during its white-knuckle action sequences, and its emphasis on very human cruelty and empathy. How does its technical prowess affect its message? Where does the storytelling and imagery succeed, and where does it falter? What does its bleak yet ultimately optimistic vision of the future portend for our own grim present? We’ll do our best to answer those questions. Needless to say, spoilers abound!

DOWNLOAD EPISODE 64

Additional links:

Abraham Riesman’s article on the making of the film for Vulture.

Our Patreon page at patreon.com/boiledleatheraudiohour.

Our PayPal donation page (also accessible via boiledleather.com).

Our iTunes page.

Mirror.

Previous episodes.

Podcast RSS feed.

Sean’s blog.

Stefan’s blog.

Delete Your Account, Episode 49.5: The Culture Industry

May 26, 2017

I’m quite pleased to say I was the guest on this week’s subscriber-only edition of the leftist podcast Delete Your Account! Basically, host Kumars Salehi and I are both unhappy with how various factions of the Left talk about art these days, so we tried to come up with a left-wing discussion of politics and pop culture that won’t make you want to kill yourself. We cover Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, The Walking Dead, prestige TV, horror, the Four Worst Types of TV Critics, and more. It’s for Patreon subscriber’s only, so smash that motherfuckin subscribe button and give it a listen!

The 20 Most Essential Jonathan Demme Movies

May 17, 2017

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 

Demme’s ticket to horror-movie immortality, and a well-deserved one at that. This iconic thriller about an FBI agent (Jodie Foster, never better) using a serial killer to catch a serial killer made a superstar out of Anthony Hopkins; compare the actor’s work here to his subsequent turns as the charismatic, cannibalistic Dr. Hannibal Lecter and you can see the director’s sense of less-is-more restraint paying dividends. The film also broke a bloody glass ceiling at the Oscars, too, becoming the only horror movie to date to win Best Picture. But it’s the thoughtful way in which Demme shot the world that our heroine Clarice Starling has to navigate – so many male faces, looming huge in the frame and staring right into her (and our) eyes – that remains Silence’s most pointed commentary on predators and patriarchy. STC

I forgot to link to this when it went up, but Rolling Stone put together a lovely tribute to the work of the late director Jonathan Demme, and I was honored to contribute a few words on The Silence of the Lambs, a great film.

“Fargo” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Three: “The Law of Non-Contradiction”

May 8, 2017

Hawley tapped John Cameron, a longtime collaborator of both the Coens and their old friend Sam Raimi, to helm one of the series most Coen-esque installments ever, which is really saying something. (Un)comfortably ensconced in Los Angeles rather than the upper midwest, Fargo could really bring its Barton Fink/Big Lewbowski A-game, with some of its most explicit shout-outs and hat-tips yet. For example, the “ring for service” bell that never seems to stop ringing, the shot of Gloria reclining on the beach looking out into the sea, the mysterious shoes and the equally mysterious box, the screening room lit by the hazy light of the projector, Tad’s role as a screenwriter whose success in another medium leads him to get in over his head in Hollywood: That’s that Barton Fink feeling, baby, brought to you by filmmakers who understand the feelings of alienation and insecurity they’re supposed to engender in you, not just by people who are trying to coast on the residual goodwill of previous work with throwaway references.

In some places the allusions seem to fold endlessly into one another — Gloria’s motel simultaneously evokes Barton Fink’s hotel, the motel that figures prominently in No Country for Old Men, and the site of the Sioux Falls Massacre from the show’s previous season — to say nothing of cinema’s ur-motel, run by one Norman Bates and his mother. The emotional resonance here is dense, is what I’m saying; unlike some shows I could mention — fuck it, I mean Stranger Things — it’s designed to last beyond the mere fact of recognition. In other words, to paraphrase Barton Fink, it will show you the life of the mind.

Despite not caring fro two prominent aspects of last week’s Fargo, I liked the overall thing quite a bit, and explained why at Decider. (That cameo from you-know-who!)

The 50 Best ‘Star Wars’ Characters of All Time

May 4, 2017

7. Rey

Complaints that The Force Awakens‘ desert-dwelling heroine is just too good at everything she does – pilot, mechanic, Force-wielder, lightsaber duelist, escape artist – ignore two important factors. First, her flashbacks indicate that there’s much more to her mysterious past than meets the eye, and we wouldn’t be surprised if long-buried memories of Jedi training were a part of it. Second, breakout star Daisy Ridley is an absolute joy to watch in the role, a magnetic screen presence who nails moments of mirth and melodrama alike. (The same could be said for her franchise warrior-sister Jyn Erso, who feels as if she’s been cut from the same cloth as Rey.) If she’s the Star Wars Universe’s new chosen one, the good folks at Lucasfilm have chosen wisely. STC

I added a few new entries to Rolling Stone’s list of the best Star Wars characters of all time.

‘The Godfather’ Was Really the First Great Prestige TV Show

April 24, 2017

Not to get all Beavis and Butt-head about it, but bad shows suck because, well, they suck, not because they are insufficiently episodic in structure. This is why calls from the critical community, leading many of the fan conversations on these shows, to eschew unified, serialized storytelling in favor of tight arcs and standalone episodes feel like a misdiagnosis. For one thing, they fail to consider that noticeably self-contained installments of series like Game of Thrones and Girls are as memorable as they are precisely because those shows don’t usually work that way.

These claims fall into the same trap of cinematically minded showrunners who insist that “it’s not TV” by agreeing with them, setting up a false dichotomy between what constitutes the proper use of the medium and what doesn’t. In its maturity, television has proven capable of countless things: TV dramas alone can be as densely serialized as The Wire Season 4, as memorably episodic as Mad Men Season 5, as sweeping as Fargo Season 2, and as sensation-driven as Empire Season 1. Sometimes they can be several things at once; Black Mirror, like its groundbreaking antecedent The Twilight Zone, tells a different story with a different set of characters every single episode, making it simultaneously one of the most movie-like and most episodic shows on television. Saying any of these series is closer or farther away from The One True Way to Make TV obscures the fact that there’s no such thing.

In fact, this array of options, this wide-open landscape of different structures and tones and techniques, is the truest indicator that “prestige TV” is not a contradiction in terms. Problems with the execution aside — and problems with the execution is all they really are — television can do whatever you want it to do at this point, and declaring one approach or the other superior is a procrustean blunder — like arguing The Godfather is less great a film because you can break it down like a television series, if you’re feeling particularly perverse (ahem). If that means some showrunners get to declare their series a double-digit-hour movie, so be it. The proof will be in the pudding, or the cannoli. You can have it both ways. Why wouldn’t you want to try?

What was your favorite episode of The Godfather? “Khartoum”? “The Thunderbolt”? The pilot, “I Believe in America”? I presented a modest proposal about a cinematic classic in order to talk about where all the “no, your TV show isn’t a 73-hour movie” structuralist reprimanding gets us for Thrillist.