Decidedly less pulpy and more sobering than its grindhouse name implies, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot stuffs existential drama into a B-movie premise to mixed results. Sam Elliot plays Calvin Barr, a stony tracker who must sit on the fact that he assassinated Adolf Hitler half a lifetime ago. Nowadays, Calvin haunts a local dive, drinking two fingers of cheap whiskey, bending the ear of George the bartender. Read More
“What is love if not a helpless acceptance of our lover’s shortcomings?” the powerful music drama A Star is Born asks. The tragic romance shared between career musician Jackson Maine and up-and-comer Ally at the center of A Star is Born is a refreshingly raw cinematic punch to the stomach. Seasoned with somber specificity, the film’s dramatic twists of the knife are fastened sharply to the beating hearts of its potent characters. We experience joy alongside them. We grieve with them. Their hardship pains us just as we celebrate their victories, small and large. From writing a song drunkenly on the sidewalk to belting it out live to a packed crowd, A Star is Born tends to the moments the define their characters’ lives, all the while holding its audience emotionally hostage to their often ill-conceived impulses. Read More
Sam Elliot‘s baritone has taken on an almost mythic quality. Be it his narration of the Coen Bros cult hit The Big Lebowski or his iconic “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner” ad campaign, everyone knows the distinction growl of the California native with a classic Southern Drawl. And we haven’t even brought up his iconic mustache yet. Of late, Elliot has undergone a twilight career resurrection, offering a number of standout performances in smart, sensitive independent drama, including his excellent co-star role in Paul Weitz’s Grandma, but perhaps none is more personal than his turn in Brett Haley‘s The Hero.
Semi-charmed The Good Dinosaur is slight Pixar but nonetheless a small triumph of wonder and good-nature. Its lack of the distinct creativity that so often characterizes Pixar’s products is overshadowed by a big heart and a resplendent aesthetic palette. Even though the narrative is admittedly quaint, thinly plotted and largely derivative (The Good Dinosaur is essentially a mild repackaging of The Lion King), the overwhelming sense of goodness emanating from the center of Pixar’s 16th feature film had it strike poignant blows at my admittedly exposed softer spots. As Pixar is known to do. Read More
“Time passes – that’s for sure” – an Eileen Myles quote that opens the film Grandma and could have just as easily come spilling from the churlish mouth of Lily Tomlin’s titular character. After all, Tomlin’s Elle Reid is no stranger to her own passing time. In her words, “I’m rapidly approaching 50” (Elle’s deadpan is matched only by her sense of irony – Tomlin has around rounded her third quarter-century.) Her thick sheen of sarcasm is persistently cutting and deeply riotous and between the sharp writing and Tomlin’s pitch-perfect comic timing, there’s many good reasons to see Grandma. Forget that Tomlin’s name will be thrown all up and down the Oscar buzz aisle because award or no, her presence here is absolutely aces. Read More