Friday, February 22, 2019


Check out my "Friday Flicks" column, online at Phoenix Magazine, reviewing Shawn Snyder's troubling but funny To Dust... a preview of the Sedona Film Festival, opening February 23 and continuing through March 3.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Monday, February 18, 2019


Happy 89th Anniversary of the Discovery of Pluto!

Here I am hanging out with my pal Percival Lowell...

...who back in 1894 founded Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, site of the planet (or whatever we're calling it now) Pluto's discovery by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh on this date back in 1930. The Kid and I visited Lowell Observatory last month; check out my short article about the place, online at Phoenix Magazine.

Saturday, February 16, 2019


Check out my "Friday Flicks" column on Phoenix Magazine online, featuring reviews of the remarkable Oscar-nominated German saga Never Look Back and Happy Death Day 2U, the sequel to 2017's Happy Death Day.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Friday, February 8, 2019


Opening this weekend:

Whenever the subject of Legos comes up, as it does more and more frequently in popular movie reviewing, I feel the need to mention that I never had Legos as a kid, or particularly wanted them. Nor have I played with them as an adult. Even so, I've enjoyed all of the Lego movies I've seen.

2017's The Lego Batman Movie was my favorite, an on-the-money spoof of torturous, "dark" superhero flicks. But 2014's original The Lego Movie was a charming, funny, unpretentious meditation on conformity versus individualism.

Now we get the sequel to that film, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, directed by Mike Mitchell from a script by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Matthew Fogel, and set, appropriately, five years after the events of The Lego Movie. The locale, once again, is the vast Lego metropolis of Bricksburg. The name has since been changed to "Apocalypseburg," however, after an invasion of cutesy but lethal aliens has reduced the town to dystopian wreckage. Even so, our hero Emmet (Chris Pratt) remains as upbeat and cheerful as ever.

When aliens abduct Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Lego Batman (Will Arnett), and several of Emmet's other friends, taking them to the distant "Systar System," Emmet follows, intent on rescuing them. Along the way, he meets Rex (also Pratt), a tough guy space mercenary—with a crew of dinosaurs!—who helps him summon reserves of gritty resolve.

This is only the beginning of the plot's twists and turns. Like its predecessor, Lego Movie 2 is a dense and complex piece of storytelling. It's almost—though maybe not quite—as seamlessly thought through as the original, yet it flies along with effortless speed and precision.

As before, much of the comedy derives from the limited range of motion available to Lego figures, and there were gags that went over my head. I don't know why, for instance, sequences of numbers appear onscreen when the characters are building some new contraption, but I'm guessing this involves the technical side of Lego-building. There are also endless, and amusing, references to pop culture classics starting with Planet of the Apes and 2001 and carrying on through Jurassic Park and the Lord of the Rings movies up to the most topical industry gossip, and even a quick nod to RBG.

The voice cast also helps, from Pratt's openhearted sweetness as Emmet and his jaunty Kurt Russell-like swagger as Rex, to the tough but soulful heroine of Banks to Arnett's growl as Batman. Most hilarious here is Tiffany Haddish as Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi of the Systar System; her blossoming romance with Batman made me feel protective of both characters.

Check out my "Friday Flicks" column online at Phoenix Magazine, with reviews of What Men Want and The Isle, plus a preview of the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival. Also, check out my review of the Broadway version of Disney's Aladdin, playing through February 17 at Gammage Auditorium.

RIP to brilliant, funny Albert Finney, passed on at 82.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019


Happy New Year everybody! Chinese, that is. Let's hope we all have a happy and prosperous Year of the Pig...

Happy February, also. Check out my Valentine-appropriate "Four Corners" column, in this month's issue of Phoenix Magazine, reviewing four solid date night options.

Friday, February 1, 2019


Check out my review, online at Phoenix Magazine, of And in This Corner: Cassius Clay...

...a co-production of Black Theatre Troupe and Childsplay. Note how I work into it the fact that I once met Muhammad Ali, mostly just because I vainly wanted to mention it. A fuller account of that brief meeting may be read here.

Also check out my review of Peter Jackson's haunting, often horrifying WWI documentary They Shall Not Grow Old.

RIP to the great Dick Miller, passed on at 90. Rest well, Walter Paisley.