Friday, May 31, 2019


Check out my "Friday Flicks" review, on Phoenix Magazine online, of Godzilla: King of the Monsters...

Happy Friday everybody!

Friday, May 24, 2019


Happy Friday everybody! Check out my review of the sweet film Ramen Shop... at Phoenix Magazine, where you can also read my interview with Deborah Muller, founder of the T-shirt firm Schmattees.

Monday, May 20, 2019


These identical Randy Johnson figurines...

...were the giveaway loot The Kid and I obtained when we betook ourselves to Chase Field Saturday night to see the Diamondbacks take on San Francisco. It was the decade-and-a-half anniversary of Johnson's perfect game back in 2004, so The Big Unit was there to throw out the first pitch, and his catcher for that game, Robby Hammock, was there to catch it.

The game that followed, alas, wasn't so perfect. Poor Zac Godley had another rough night on the mound for the Snakes, while Madison Bumgarner was at his maddening best for San Fran. It felt like the D-bax were still in the game until the Panda himself, Pablo Sandoval, seemed to stick a fork in them with pinch-hit homer off Matt Andriese in the 8th.

The final was 8-5. Disappointing, but The Kid and I had blast stuffing ourselves with outrageously-priced ballpark food. And we heard a lovely, thrilling a capella performance of the National Anthem by members of the Musical Theatre of, well, Anthem.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


Check out my review, on Phoenix Magazine online, of All is True, with Kenneth Branagh as William Shakespeare.

Have a great weekend one and all!

Monday, May 13, 2019


This past weekend, May 9 through 12, marked the 20th annual Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Palm Springs, California. So The Wife, The Kid and I headed west, me to check out the movies; the ladies to check out the shopping, and all of us to check out some fine dining.

On the way I planned to stop by and visit, and maybe interview, legendary “Naked Bookstore” owner Paul Winer at Quartzsite’s Reader’s Oasis Books…

It turned out, alas, I was two days too late; you can read my story about it here.

But since we were in Quartzsite, we took a minute to visit the grave of the famed camel driver Hi Jolly; here’s me and The Kid at that distinctive monument…

As for the Noir Festival, it offered rare showings of a couple of obscure gems, both in beautiful new 35-millimeter prints (hopefully they’ll both show up soon on TCM). 1956’s The Scarlet Hour

 …starred sultry Carol Ohmart, cheating on her abusive husband James Gregory with sap Tom Tryon; it also featured early scene-stealing by the young Elaine Stritch. And there was the wonderful moment when Gregory, renting a car for some shady business, asked rental guy for “the most inconspicuous car you’ve got." And if all that wasn’t enough, Nat “King” Cole appears in it, and sings. 

Richard Fleischer’s Trapped (1949), which begins like a docu-drama with a stentorian narrator, turns into a good lurid melodrama with just-as-sultry Barbara Payton, in the clinch with Lloyd Bridges as an escaped counterfeiter. Bridges is a brute here, but fabulously dapper; when we first see him he’s brought into the warden’s office at the federal penitentiary, but he looks like he’s dressed for lunch at the Brown Derby. He keeps getting into fights throughout the film, and I wanted him to knock it off, because I hated to see his outfits get messed up.

Caught up with this one belatedly:

Pokemon: Detective PikachuAlmost twenty years ago it fell to me to review, for New Times, one of the animated Pokemon movies. It was an alienating experience, sitting there, watching the incomprehensible action up on the screen, all the while aware that it was perfectly comprehensible to the kids around me in the theatre. Now I’ve seen the franchise’s first live-action feature film, and I’m only slightly less perplexed.

For the uninitiated, a Pokemon—the term derives from “Pocket Monster”—is any of a large selection of strange creatures, variously fuzzy or downy or scaly, featured in Japanese video games and trading cards and toys and TV cartoons and so on. Some of them fly, some swim, others are quadrupedal, with what look like giant cloves of garlic growing out of their backs.

Certainly the most famous is Pikachu, a furry yellow sort-of-cat with red cheeks and a tail that resembles a bolt of electricity. He’s the star of this new film, a mystery set in an alternate reality in which humans and Pokemon co-exist.

The story starts with Tim (Justice Smith), a human kid, traveling to “Ryme City” after hearing of the death of his estranged police detective father. He soon meets his father’s companion Pikachu, here rendered in CGI and voiced by Ryan Reynolds. In a grand film noir tradition, Pikachu’s an amnesiac. The two of them team up with obligatory plucky young reporter Kathryn Newton to probe a convoluted intrigue involving the escape of a powerful dragon/kangaroo/dinosaur-like Pokemon called “Mewtwo” from a research facility.

That’s about as coherently as I can summarize the plot. Besides, if you’re a Pokemon buff you don’t need me to summarize it for you, and if you’re not, you need it even less. All I can say is that it’s an impeccably well-made movie in the modern style, briskly edited and scored, with the CGI seamlessly intermingled with the live-action cast and settings. The nattering of Reynolds is amusing at times, the human leads are likable, and such veteran character actors as Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe turn up in supporting parts. And any movie that gets Bill Nighy a paycheck can’t be all bad.

Saturday, May 11, 2019


Happy Mother's Day to all!

If you still need a place to take Mom for lunch or brunch or dinner, check the May issue of Phoenix Magazine...

...for my "Four Corners" column with some suggestions. From Phoenix Magazine online, you can check out my reviews of the Childsplay production of Schoolhouse Rock Live! at the Herberger, and of Zhang Yimou's remarkable movie Shadow.

Friday, May 3, 2019


Happy Friday everybody! Check out my "Friday Flicks" column this week, online at Phoenix Magazine, for my review of the Ralph Fiennes/David Hare drama The White Crow... well as a preview of this year's Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Palm Springs.

Have a great weekend everybody!