Guardians of the Galaxy

Wow. Absolutely incredible. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) is another addition to the Marvel Studios franchise and it is fantastic. Seriousness in science-fiction is a spectrum. There’s a sweet spot somewhere in the middle and Guardians of the Galaxy hits it perfectly. 

Chris Pratt and his castmates are great. The eighties soundtrack is fun and relevant to the story. There was heart, humor, action, and a sense of friendship with the characters. I can’t wait for more.

I’ve used a lot of superlatives in this review, but Guardians of the Galaxy might be my favorite science-fiction adventure movie ever. I was completely enthralled. 

Panic Room (2002) is awesome. On the night Meg and Sarah Altman move into their mansion-like brownstone they are greeted with a home invasion. Seeking shelter in the home’s impenetrable panic room, the night becomes a standoff between them and their intruders.

The cast is fantastic. You’ve got the amazing Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, and a young Kristen Stewart. And director David Fincher moves his camera through walls which makes the entire house feel strange and unwelcoming.

If a good film is defined by its ability to stir emotion in its audience, then Panic Room is phenomenal. I found myself feeling anxious and tense even though I’ve seen it before. 

You can watch Panic Room on Netflix.


#215  |  IT’S A DISASTER  |  Todd Berger  |  2013  |  6/28/2013

2012 showed our fascination with the apocalypse across all forms of media. You could probably teach a class called “2012: The Apocalypse in Pop Culture.” Maybe I’ll do that. But It’s a Disaster (2012) is special. It’s a dark comedy about a couples brunch and a massive terrorist attack. Just before they are about to eat, eight characters learn that dirty bombs have detonated in major cities across the country and that a radiation cloud is headed their way.

The film is equal parts relationship drama and survival scenario. The guests react in unique and believable ways. Shane wants to know who was responsible for the attacks, but Hedy just wants to get drunk and dance. It’s a clever movie that asks some important questions about how we would like to spend our last hours.

You can watch It’s a Disaster on Netflix.


The Night of the Hunter

The Night of the Hunter (1955) is about a deranged preacher trying to steal a widow’s fortune from the only people who know where it is hidden: her children. It’s a strange ride that doesn’t always feel tied together, but the tense scenes make up for it. 

Despite being the only film ever directed by Charles Laughton, several modern directors have cited The Night of the Hunter as a big influence. 


True Detective by Douglas Eves

The first season of True Detective (2014) is an enthralling mystery that calls to mind both pulp crime stories and deeper literature. It’s about two detectives hunting a serial killer, but it’s also about religion and what it means to believe in something.

Like Breaking Bad, two strengths of True Detective are slowness and change. The pace makes the high points even higher, and showing the dead-ends of the investigation makes the audience feel the detectives’ frustration. And the first season takes place over seventeen years. How could the characters not change in that amount of time?

True Detective is one of the best tv dramas I’ve seen and I can’t wait for the next installment in the anthology. 


The Conjuring

So many popular horror movies go the exact same way. Young family, new house, malevolent spirits. The Conjuring (2013) is just one more. The ‘everything is fine now’ scene at the end felt painfully forced. It did have some good scares, but I don’t see any reason to watch it again. Also, the word ‘conjuring’ was never used and nothing was actually conjured. 

On another note, don’t fucking talk during movies. And don’t laugh at inappropriate times. You’re pulling everyone around you out of the story. If you’re going to watch a movie, then watch a movie. If you’re going to talk through a movie, then don’t waste someone’s time.

Spoilers. Look out.

The Dirties (2013) is the only film about a school shooting that I can think of. It’s certainly a sensitive subject which is only another reason we should talk about it. In the film, Matt and Owen make a movie for a school project. In the movie, they play detectives who kill the gang members at their school. For Owen, it’s a way to cope with being bullied. For Matt, it’s not real enough. 

It is implied that the character Matt (not the director Matt) cannot tell the difference between his thoughts and reality. But while Matt cannot differentiate movies and reality, neither can the audience. It’s unclear if the movie we’re watching is the one being made by Matt and Owen or a documentary about them making their movie. Matt Johnson the director plays Matt Johnson the character, which only blurs things more. 

The documentary style of the film makes it even better. As far as I can tell, most of the first half is filmed by a classmate named Jared. But I think most of the second half isn’t being filmed at all. The cameras (and us, the audience) are in Matt’s head because he cannot tell the difference between movies and reality. 

It’s as if his delusion makes us a real audience. And the audience is deluded too when they follow a narrative. Even if they know it’s not ‘real,’ they believe the events on screen are connected in some kind of plot. And that delusion sort of makes Matt real.

You can watch The Dirties on Netflix.


Machete Kills

Wow. I hardly have words for this. Machete Kills (2013) is incredible. By introducing elements of science fiction, Machete Kills is basically a violent addition to the Spy Kids franchise. 

Needs more Gaga.

You can watch Machete Kills on Netflix. 



Robert Rodriguez’s Machete is political and hyperviolent. Danny Trejo is perfect for the role of the mythical hero Machete. He is one of the most badass action heroes.