All posts by Jesse

Acting, My Dear Boy: THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE and BLUE BAYOU

In The Eyes of Tammy Faye, a new sort-of biopic about the spouse of disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker, Jessica Chastain gives us the visible-acting works. She does stuff to her voice, taking on a pinched midwestern sing-song, and does stuff to her face, using both her expressiveness and a ton of makeup—the latter used first to emulate the ritual face-slathering undertaken by her subject, and then to replicate the shifting contours of her actual face. It’s an approach that I’ve sensed may be going out of style—at least among some viewers, who are more attuned than ever to the shifty politics of “transforming” actors into shapes, sizes, and bodies (plus, in the not-especially-distant past, races and genders!) that don’t much resemble their own. It’s called acting, sure, but questions nag at these monuments to dedication and, yes, actorly ego: Must the same small pool of beautiful people be tasked with portraying the full range of humanity?
Continue reading Acting, My Dear Boy: THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE and BLUE BAYOU

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Top Movies of Summer 1991

As promised, the SportsAlcohol.com panel of summer movie experts is back and bigger than ever, with no fewer than seven all-star contributors assembling (virtually) to discuss the biggest and not necessarily best movies of summer 1991. The panelists are Marisa, Ben, Nathaniel, Sara, Becca, Jeremy, and Jesse. The movies of summer 1991 include R-rated sci-fi action hits that also generated playground buzz from the preteen crowd; a jetpacked retro superhero; Billy Crystal having a midlife crisis; a whole lotta fire; and Kevin Costner in a mullet. And that’s not all! You’ll also find out how Becca’s dad preferred to watch Backdraft, how Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves changed Marisa’s life, how Boyz n the Hood holds up thirty years later, which beloved blockbuster(s) that Ben actually kinda hates, and more, more, more!

If you love hearing us talk about the movies of summer 1991 and long to hear different combinations of us discussing other summer movies of yore, here’s the complete history of this project:

1990
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001

We are now up to SEVEN (7) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

  • You can subscribe to our podcast using the rss feed.
  • I’m not sure why they allowed it, but we are on iTunes! If you enjoy what you hear, a positive comment and a rating would be great.
  • I don’t really know what Stitcher is, but we are also on Stitcher.
  • SportsAlcohol.com is a proud member of the Aha Radio Network. What is Aha? It’s kind of like Stitcher, but for your car.
  • You can download the mp3 of the Black Widow/Cruella episode here and the streaming-biz discussion episode here
  • Our most recent episode or two will sometimes be available on our Soundcloud. We don’t always have it working right but there’s good stuff there regardless!
  • You can listen to the episode in the player below.

REMINISCENCE shows why Hugh Jackman can’t go back to Wolverine again

Ryan Reynolds is at it again: A new round of press for his new movie Free Guy has meant another parallel round of Reynolds goofing on his former co-star of X-Men Origins: Wolverine—not least because Jackman does quick vocal cameo in the mostly video-game-set comedy. As it happens, Jackman also has a new movie out this month, so his press rounds for Reminiscence have included him discussing how much Reynolds wants to do a Deadpool/Wolverine team-up, and how Jackman doesn’t think that’s in the cards.

Reynolds and Jackman did, of course, team up briefly during that Wolverine prequel that introduced the wisecracking mercenary Wade Wilson, played by Reynolds (as well as the mutated and muted version that re-appears at that film’s misbegotten climax). Since then, Reynolds has resurrected Deadpool as an extremely popular and self-referential R-rated superhero, while Jackman has gone on to make two Wolverine movies that were actually good-to-great. Seems like everything worked out for both of them, but in the spirit of nothing being left alone, it makes sense enough that Reynolds would like a reunion that hitches Deadpool’s insouciant wisecrackery to Wolverine’s gruff irritability. It would probably be a fun and funny variation on the X-Men series that fans would enjoy.

It would also place the sensibilities of two major stars directly at odds. And not necessarily in the usual, familiar buddy-comedy way.
Continue reading REMINISCENCE shows why Hugh Jackman can’t go back to Wolverine again

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Summer Movies of 2001

We’ve recorded a whole lot of podcast episodes here at SportsAlcohol.com, but it’s safe to say our most popular episode format has been our annual exploration of the top summer movies of the past — specifically, 20 years past, which means this year we’ve reached summer 2001. (And also, in a few weeks, 1991, because we’ve expanded to 30-years-ago summers in an attempt to sweep the corners on the entirety of the 1990s.)

The summer movies of 2001 are all about sequels, stars, and bad ideas! So in some ways, it’s a lot like most summer movie seasons; in others, it’s a peek into a different world between the more adult-oriented entertainment of the ’90s and the superhero dominance that was lurking just around the corner. Listen in as Marisa, Nathaniel, Ben, Jesse, and Jeremy talk about our own histories with Vin Diesel, apes, dinos, Lara Croft, so many sequels, and the terrifying genesis of dance party endings. We also try in vain to save the Point Break talk for the next episode.

If you need to catch up before checking out the latest and greatest, here’s the complete history of this project:

1990
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000

We are now up to SEVEN (7) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

  • You can subscribe to our podcast using the rss feed.
  • I’m not sure why they allowed it, but we are on iTunes! If you enjoy what you hear, a positive comment and a rating would be great.
  • I don’t really know what Stitcher is, but we are also on Stitcher.
  • SportsAlcohol.com is a proud member of the Aha Radio Network. What is Aha? It’s kind of like Stitcher, but for your car.
  • You can download the mp3 of the Black Widow/Cruella episode here and the streaming-biz discussion episode here
  • Our most recent episode or two will sometimes be available on our Soundcloud
  • You can listen to the episode in the player below.

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Black Widow & Cruella

This summer has seen the release of two entries in two of Disney’s biggest franchises, both starring major female stars who are both once-and/or-future fake redheads. Doesn’t that seem like enough to warrant a big discussion of Black Widow and Cruella?! Marisa convened a SportsAlcohol.com podcast to discuss how Black Widow fits into both the MCU and ScarJo’s career, and to figure out what the hell is going on with Cruella and why it’s a surprising fit for star Emma Stone.

During our chat, we wound up further discussion the mysterious viewership and economics of the pivot to streaming, which, in true franchise-friendly fashion, we spun out into a separate bonus episode, also available below!

We are now up to SEVEN (7) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

  • You can subscribe to our podcast using the rss feed.
  • I’m not sure why they allowed it, but we are on iTunes! If you enjoy what you hear, a positive comment and a rating would be great.
  • I don’t really know what Stitcher is, but we are also on Stitcher.
  • SportsAlcohol.com is a proud member of the Aha Radio Network. What is Aha? It’s kind of like Stitcher, but for your car.
  • You can download the mp3 of the Black Widow/Cruella episode here and the streaming-biz discussion episode here
  • Our most recent episode or two will sometimes be available on our Soundcloud
  • You can listen to the episodes in the players below.

Black Widow & Cruella:

The Disney Plus Premier Access Experiment:

THE GREEN KNIGHT is a gnarly dorm-room poster I don’t know how to review

Usually, I delight at the opportunity to write about a new movie in a simple new-release-review format, preferably at one of the outlets that care to indulge me in that regard, but sometimes on this website, where I don’t have to pitch my pre-constructed take on a particular film or filmmaker keyed to the zeitgeist, or a more specific demographic than “people who want to read a review of a new movie that they might watch at some point.” Those kinds of essays can be fun to write and turn out wonderfully; sometimes they are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Faced with the opportunity to write what I wanted about The Green Knight, however, I longed for the sense of purpose one can assign the fitting of a square peg into a round hole. For whatever reason, thinking about what to say about The Green Knight has felt like throwing a series of square pegs into the Grand Canyon.

This is not to say that The Green Knight is a film of vast, inimitable, impossible beauty (though it is beautiful). This is also not to say that I at all disliked David Lowery’s take on an Arthurian legend (maybe call it an Arthurish B-side?). For the most part, I liked it quite a lot; am I allowed to just come out and say that in a movie review? There are some parts in the first half-hour where too many characters have too many hushed conversations inside too many dim castles, and I briefly grew drowsy. But even this was weirdly effective, as so much of the rest of the movie plays like an actual dream, during which I was quite lucid, and delighted by the movie’s visual boldness and glorious unpredictability. (Perhaps now is a good time to admit that I was not familiar with this particular oft-told tale.)
Continue reading THE GREEN KNIGHT is a gnarly dorm-room poster I don’t know how to review

THE SUICIDE SQUAD is a gory, beautiful reboot of the same old thing

Here’s one sign among many of how the world of movie franchising has expanded over the past 20 years. It’s not as if there weren’t 20th century sequels—hundreds of ‘em!—but there was a time where the idea of a follow-up to a movie called Suicide Squad, especially one that inspired such mixed reactions, would be a cheap premise for a joke about Hollywood’s bankruptcy. Whaddaya call it, Suicide Squad 2: Still Not Dead? Suicide Squad: This Time We Mean It? Now the central idea behind Suicide Squad, wherein bad guys are forced onto impossible missions with low probability of survival, feels ready-made for sequels. If an actor gets too fussy, kill ‘em off. If the whole thing goes sideways, start over with a new squad. And if people love it, well, no one in comic book movies really stays dead, anyway.

People did not love 2016’s Suicide Squad. It was a mess, taped together by a great concept, the star power of Will Smith, and the allure of the popular DC Comics character Harley Quinn, making her live-action debut. It was then slathered in gluey, trailer-ready pop songs—only this time, the trailer figured out the playlist first and the movie was forced to follow suit. It still made a tonna dough, as Harley Quinn might say, and a sequel was being developed around the same time that James Gunn, director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies over at DC’s rivals Marvel, found himself with some free time. Parent company Disney had recently been tricked into firing him for some untoward old tweets and DC, apparently being the place for reformed villains, scooped him up quickly enough to get the Squad rolling again. (Gunn was since rehired by Disney and Guardians 3 is in the works again.)
Continue reading THE SUICIDE SQUAD is a gory, beautiful reboot of the same old thing

M. Night Shyamalan gets OLD but everyone stays the same age

I was very aware of my heartbeat during Old, a new movie from M. Night Shyamalan, adapted from a graphic novel. A little of this awareness could be attributed to the movie’s free-floating tension, which is not so much punctuated by Shyamalan’s particularly dad-like strain of humor as it is inextricably woven together with it. Most of it could be attributed to the arrythmia that flares up once in a while, usually when I’m seated in a certain position. Our bodies are capable of so much resilience, not least in the field of disguising their essential fragility. Old understands this. It’s about a group of people trapped on a beach where, they eventually realize, their aging is rapidly accelerated. A lifespan of eightysomething years gets compressed into a day and a half, maybe two. This creates an unnerving paradox: The passage of time rapidly heals surface wounds, even substantial ones, into scars. The bodies simply don’t have time to bleed out. Time presses onward. And then, hours later, the bodies fail anyway.

Old is a horror movie, but not always how you’d expect. This is par for the course for Shyamalan, who has worked consistently in genre films since The Sixth Sense became an unexpected smash 22 years ago. That movie cast such a melancholy, spooky, affecting spell that it took a little time for some to catch on to Shyamalan’s deceptively weird rhythms, especially in his characters’ manner of speaking: Stilted phrasings, shoehorned exposition, dad jokes—like a George Lucas character somehow filtered through a hushed therapy session. In Shyamalan’s wilderness years, these clunky qualities proceeded to the foreground of Lady in the Water or The Last Airbender. In his more recent films, they haven’t receded, but Old may be a case of steering into the skid and coming out intact. As it turns out, his peculiar writing style fits near-perfectly for preteen kids, still finding their way with words. The younger characters approach strangers and ask for their names and occupations, at once a wholly believable quirk and a sneaky way of slipping in some of Shyamalan’s beloved expositional directness. As with The Visit, the kids feel like they’re speaking his language, fluently.

Continue reading M. Night Shyamalan gets OLD but everyone stays the same age

SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY is the fucking worst

I don’t know if I believe that a young LeBron James wore a Looney Tunes backpack in 1998. He was 14 then, on top of which those images of Bugs, Wile E. Coyote, and the Tasmanian Devil setting aside their differences in order to dress in contemporary clothing, fold their arms, and stare sardonically out from various mall apparel predated the 1996 release of Space Jam, a project that felt a little bit like That Bugs & Taz Shirt: The Movie (though it was, in reality, That Sneaker Commercial: The Movie). But for a moment in Space Jam: A New Legacy, I felt a little rush of, well, if not personal nostalgia, a pleasurable recognition of something I remembered from real life, not just television. My relationship with Space Jam has ranged from tolerance to irritation over the years, but I can recognize that a lot of people enjoyed seeing a movie starring the Looney Tunes (as well as what appeared to be an animatronic simulation of basketball sensation Michael Jordan) on the big screen. Who am I to disdain a Looney Tunes backpack? It’s scarcely less commercialized than the Looney Tunes PVC figurines I collected as a kid, or the Warner Bros. Studio Store where I excitedly spent the $50 bill I found on the ground when I was 10. I’m not immune to the stupid pleasures of commerce running roughshod over art, having also spent some time as a child getting past the LOL phase of my Looney Tunes appreciation and moved, with nerdy precision, into the cataloging and memorization.

This is all to say that Space Jam: A New Legacy is not as interesting as a backpack where Bugs and Taz are friends and don vaguely hip-hop-inspired streetwear. Backpacks usually have stuff inside of them. Though originally intended for theaters, Space Jam: A New Legacy has an emptiness that seems custom-built for streaming: vaporous, worthless, yet somehow nearly two hours long. That hideous blue-and-white Warner Bros. shield that looks like a specialty logo for a DTV outfit called Warner Faith should have been debuted with this movie. It is a temple of content, which the filmmakers can only visualize as a knockoff of Ralph Breaks the Internet taped over by an unwatchable family sitcom starring LeBron James.
Continue reading SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY is the fucking worst

The SportsAlcohol.com Double Feature Podcast: God Help the Girl + Streets of Fire

An ongoing miniseries within the SportsAlcohol.com podcast dynasty involves Jesse and Ben each picking a movie for the other one to watch, then viewing them both in a single-evening double feature and then podcasting about our reactions. In the past, this miniseries has focused on incongruous matches between business and sci-fi. This summer, we’re reviving the miniseries with more compatible double features, and our first movie trade is about rock and roll. Or is it?! That’s one of the discussion points as we watch Stuart Murdoch’s God Help the Girl and Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire. One is a lover, one is a fighter, but which is which? We talk it out, and also discuss whether God Help the Girl is twee, whether Streets of Fire is coherent, and whether either of these movies deserves their cult. Streets of Fire is on Netflix right now and God Help the Girl is a very affordable DVD, so why not watch along and listen in? (At very least, you should check out the soundtracks!)

We are now up to SEVEN (7) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

  • You can subscribe to our podcast using the rss feed.
  • I’m not sure why they allowed it, but we are on iTunes! If you enjoy what you hear, a positive comment and a rating would be great.
  • I don’t really know what Stitcher is, but we are also on Stitcher.
  • SportsAlcohol.com is a proud member of the Aha Radio Network. What is Aha? It’s kind of like Stitcher, but for your car.
  • You can download the mp3 of this episode directly here
  • Our most recent episode or two will sometimes be available on our Soundcloud
  • You can listen to the episode (and a bunch of great songs!) in the players below.