Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King – 9/10

His stories in this special are personal, about growing up with immigrant parents in the über-white city of Davis, CA. Funny all the way through with zero lag. Excellent performance. Streaming on Netflix now. 9/10. Advertisements

Top Twenty Movies of All Time

“In a Lonely Place” (1950) – My favorite noir. Deeply flawed protagonist. Watching this, I finally understood why Bogart is great — the range of sensitivity and toughness he portrays is astounding. “Seven Samurai” (1954) – I’m fascinated by the role that warriors play within society, how they’re glorified when needed and shunned when the…

Of Art and Man – “Hacksaw Ridge” 8/10

“Hacksaw Ridge,” directed by Mel Gibson, is streaming on HBO now. If you can hadle gory WWII combat, I recommend it. I’ve read that Beethoven was a dick. He also composed some of the most transcendently beautiful music ever written. Gibson knows how to direct. His war movies, “Braveheart,” “Apocalypto” and “We Were Soldiers” are…

What’s In the Case?

“It’s beautiful.” Belloq says it when he looks into the golden glow of the ark in “Raiders.” Pumpkin says it when he looks into the golden briefcase in “Pulp Fiction.” It seems like whenever the protagonists are at a crucial point in either film, the predominant color the directors use is gold. McGuffin? Grace? Power?…

RIP George A. Romero

It’s sad to lose one’s heroes. I’ll always be a great admirer of Romero’s work. Growing up in L.A., his career was important proof to me that a Latin-American man could create important, socially-relevant works of art and still be successful in business. “Night of the Living Dead” was the first thing I ever saw…

Castlevania (Netflix Series) – 8/10

The world of dark Medieval fantasy is horrendously underrepresented in anime. So are good TV series based on video game properties. Netflix just made a giant leap forward for both with “Castlevania.” It’s no “Berserk,” (my favorite anime series of all time), but the characters in “Castlevania” are at vastly different power levels, and while…

LecterFest 2017

“Manhunter” (1986) started this love-affair we seem to have with Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter and Thomas Harris, the guy who wrote all the novels on which these three films are based. After Kubrick, Michael Mann, the film’s director, is the greatest visual storyteller I know. He reined it in after this testosterone-fuelled magnum opus. Every…

Long Strange Trip – 10/10!

Streaming on Amazon Prime now, this four(!)-hour doc about the band/phenomenon of The Grateful Dead is amazing. I’m not a Grateful Dead guy and never have been. I do think their early albums — American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead — are good, though I find the rest of their discography way too experimental and boring….

MARK LANEGAN BAND – Gargoyle – 8/10. Sounding like a love-child of Leonard Cohen and Iggy Pop, the tireless Lanegan has survived working with bands like Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age and UNKLE to croon his ass off and give you this wonderful alt-goth solo release.

More dreamy than hard, like early Cure or the last two Iggy Pop records. Not a bad song on it. “Blue Blue Sea”‘is my favorite – that synth line is intoxicating. Break out your cigarettes and pour a glass of absinthe. Highly recommended. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNc6t2QAQto&feature=share

Raw 8/10

So gross! And yet it sounds beautiful, looks beautiful…. This French (subtitled) film is set at a veterinary school (stay away animal lovers – unless you also love horror). A young woman student eats raw meat for the first time and — how can I put this delicately — she can’t stop. Simple, elegant, creepy….

The Mephisto Waltz (1971) – 7/10

Superb idea + superb score. A dying pianist uses black magic to swap bodies with a young Juliard dropout. The pianist is played by Curd Jürgens (Stromberg from “The Spy Who Loved Me”), Alan Alda — who plays the dropout (pre- and post-  body-swap) and the incredible JAQUELINE BISSET is the dropout’s wife.  The setting…

Happy Birthday, Elfman!

Happy Memorial Day to everyone, and Happy birthday to Danny Elfman, a composer whose work I’ve enjoyed ever since Oingo Boingo recorded “Ain’t This The Life.”  I worked on the cue sheets on the TV show “Sledgehammer” and had the privilege of listening to his amazing main theme over, and over, and over…. Everyone knows…