Domestic Disturbance belongs to a genre largely abandoned by Hollywood in the last couple of decades - the glossy, star-driven adult-oriented thriller. It's not a particularly good one, but watching it got me musing on how even mediocrities can gain a strange nostalgia through time. Spoilers, though there's not much to spoil. Hell, I'll probably have forgotten what I was writing about by the end of the review.   12-year-old Danny Morrison (Matt O'Leary) is struggling with watching his mother (Teri Polo) get remarried to rich and charming but cold Rick Barnes (Vince Vaughn), even more so than Danny's father, Frank (John Travolta). But this escalates massively when a mysterious old buddy of Rick's (Steve Buscemi) comes into town... and Danny witnesses Rick murder the stranger. But nobody believes Danny, except his father, who starts doing some amateur investigating of his own. If that sounds exactly like a thou sand other thrillers and episodes-of-the-week of TV

Academy Awards 2019 Last-Minute Thoughts and Predictions

INTRO STUFF* *this was my placeholder for an intro I was going to come back and write. It now serves as the entire introduction. BEST PICTURE This year's slate is maybe the most interesting slate in years. (As distinct from "best".) For one thing, it's a truly eclectic mix both of genres and qualities.  There's finally a Comic-Book Superhero movie in the mix for the first time.  Spike Lee toned things down just enough for the Academy to not be scared of him.  The obligatory gay period drama was actually a bugnuts crazy awesome comedy.   The other gay period drama was actually a cover band concert video interspersed with "dramatic" scenes that amounted to Walk Hard minus the jokes, all directed (ish) by a man who got kicked out of Hollywood (ish) for raping too many teens. (Or at least getting caught. (Ish)).  A slow, black-and-white, foreign-language drama got a bunch of nominations despite being from the hated-by-Hollywood Netfli


Widows  opens with an intensely intimate moment - a husband and wife, together for decades, sharing a quiet morning. Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis), Chicago teacher's union delegate, and Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson), thief, passionately kiss and hold each other in bed. It then slam-cuts to a violent, botched heist where Harry and his crew desperately try to evade the gunfire of both the gang they robbed and the cops. Director Steve McQueen, cowriter Gillian Flynn, and editor Joe Walker intercut the heist-gone-horribly-wrong with brief but vivid sketches of the robbers with their wives. Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) owns and runs a clothing store, but is constantly broke because her husband Carlos wastes all the money from his jobs and her store on gambling.  Cut to a car chase, spectacularly captured entirely from within the escape van.  Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) stays home and lives to enjoy her husband Florek's money, and him when he isn't abusive. Cut to th

Hereditary [2018]

After the rather abysmal showing for the genre in the 'aughts, horror has made a major resurgence in the last decade. Part of the trend has been for some of the small, artsier indies getting surprisingly wide releases and marketing budgets, The VVitch and It Comes At Night being two of the most prominent examples. They've gotten somewhat mixed reactions - some appreciate the slow-burn, intellectual approach, while others are put off by the lack of distinct jump-scares or other genre staples, to the point that some argue they aren't horror films. (They are.) The VVitch , ultimately, made solid money for such an arty, low-budget film and is generally well-regarded, while It Comes at Night was widely rejected by audiences. Hereditary joins this group, and, at least initially, seems to have found greater success than even The VVitch , though it remains to be seen how it ultimately fares. Writer / director Ari Aster, in his debut feature, meticulously crafts a grim, mor

Hulk [2003]

We're gonna have to watch that temper of yours. The third era of superhero films struggled with the question of what a superhero movie was. It's an important business question, after all: if you're dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into exploiting these properties, how do you distill it into a formula?  Given studios' inherent chasing of formula, Ang Lee remains one of the most intriguing choices for director of a superhero film. In 2003, he was known primarily for dramas exploring repression, notably in the West in Sense and Sensibility  and The Ice Storm ; even his great action epic, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon , found its' real dramatic power in the unleashing of repression -- particularly in the tragic final revelations that are unveiled too late. But if there's one superhero he was suited for, it was the Hulk -- a man who turned into a monster when his rage overtook him. And Lee, being an outsider approaching the genre, figured out the gr

Spider-Man [2002]

By 2002, the superhero genre was making a solid recovery. Blade  had done well, but it was 2000's X-Men  that really jump-started it. Not only did it more than double Blade' s financial success, cracking the box office top ten for the year, but it was a genuine step forward for the genre. Without sacrificing the powers and silliness inherent to the genre (mostly), it effectively grounded superhero films in the best way: by connecting it to powerful real-world themes, something only The Crow  had really managed effectively before. It was a compelling exploration of a group of people downtrodden and excluded from society, working as a metaphor for racism, homophobia, or anything else of the sort. The characters, too, for all their wild abilities, felt like real humans, albeit larger-than-life ones. It was a comic-book movie that relied less on style than on strong writing and acting, even if it did have a solid smattering of style to boot. But if X-Men  started the engine,