Ernest Cline’s 2011 dystopian YA novel ‘Ready Player One’ struck a nerve with self-described fanboys, sending readers into a tizzy of nostalgia-fueled nerdgasms. Many gyrated over the book’s overindulgent references to 80s pop culture, from coin-op arcade games to deeply engrained new wave synthpop cuts to the nerdcore iconography of John Hughes films. I personally found the book dull, monotonous and underwritten; reference-laden light reading that worked more as a pop culture checklist than an actual story. Worse yet, Cline’s book functioned as an unchecked celebration of deep-dive fandom in a time where fandom has become hostile, exclusionary and often vile. Read More
Chilly, sardonic and cruel, Cory Finley’s killer debut Thoroughbreds is a narcissistic response to teen thrillers of the 90s. With ice water coursing through its veins, this shocking first feature from Finley serves as a hellish calling card for ripe new talent in Hollywood. A tongue-in-cheek social commentary about class relations masquerading as an unrelenting character study, this austere New England teenage noir manages the angry ennui of a Bret Easton Ellis novel and the cold-blooded disturbia of Michael Lehmann’s Heathers but moves with the sneaky cadence and unsuspecting footsteps of an entirely different beast. Read More
At this year’s Sundance, I skipped Me and Earl and the Dying Girl because, let’s be honest, it’s not a great title. I took in Noah Baumbach’s ruthlessly silly Mistress America instead with Earl playing just a screen over. Had I known it would go on to a standing ovation and stealing US Grand Jury and Dramatic Audience Awards at the fest, I probably would have hung around. Since its premiere, M+E+DG has gone on to become an audience favorite and critical darling throughout the territories its played, holding onto its 100% Rotten Tomato score. Having said that, I still wouldn’t suggest plopping “Dying Girl” into any future movie titles. Still a major turnoff.
Movies based on board games come packed with expectations of shittiness. Hasbro teamed up with Universal just a few years back for the monumentally floppish Battleship. Even with Peter Berg at the helm and a budget that ballooned over 200 million dollars, tanking critical response and disinterested audiences sunk Battleship. The lackies at the Hasbro Studios (which I still can’t believe actually exists) returned to the drawing board to scheme up their next monstrosity. To my, and many like me’s, chagrin, the Has-bros made a smart move. They decided to proceed with a no-name cast, micro-budgeted horror adaptation, because the horror audience en masse isn’t known for being the discerning bunch and so might as well stick it to ’em. The result is Oujia, a puked up mess of uninspired drivel. Read More