Category Archives: Movies

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Sofia Coppola

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Sofia Coppola’s new movie On the Rocks dropped on Apple TV (and a few theaters, apparently), and with a worldwide pandemic still raging, it felt like a good time to stay in and rewatch her other six movies and talk about her 20-year career so far. So that’s just what Marisa, Sara, Jesse, and Jeremy did in a comprehensive conversation, appreciation, and career overview. The gang’s all here: Bill Murray! Kirsten Dunst! Guilded cages! The birth of Josh Hartnett’s dirtbag cool! Amazing soundtrack cues! Anachronisms! The Godfather Part III! A short-lived MTV series! And more! If you love the current Best Coppola’s work as much as we do, you won’t want to miss this one.

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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: What Makes Us Laugh

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Look, it’s been a long sort-of quarantine for everyone, including your friends at SportsAlcohol.com, and we haven’t all completed the projects we thought would be our silver linings for this extended period of inactivity. For example: Thinking we could all use some laughs during a pretty dark time, a bunch of us recorded a comedy-centric podcast about what makes us laugh, in the vein of our other episodes about what makes us cry or scared in movies and TV. We did this back in the spring, when it seemed like maybe we’d be dealing with a pandemic through the summer. Jesse’s neglect in editing this long but fun-filled episode turned out to be prescient, as it’s now almost six months later, and here we still are, dealing with the pandemic, and maybe still in need of laughs? So happy Election Day 2020, everyone! Here’s Marisa, Jesse, Nathaniel, Sara, Jeremy, and Jon talking about, and analyzing, the kind of comedy (well, mostly comedy) that makes us laugh now, has made us laugh in the past, and we hope will make us laugh again in the future.

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Modern Men: HONEST THIEF and SHITHOUSE

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

I have to get this out of the way: I have no idea why Shithouse is titled Shithouse. I mean, technically I know: The title refers to some kind of frat or residence house on or near a Los Angeles college campus where the movie’s two main characters don’t quite meet. It’s the kind of place where, when Alex (Cooper Raiff) asks about where to find a party on a Friday night, and his asshole roommate Sam (Logan Miller) tells him the big one is at Shithouse, Alex asks if there are any other parties available. There are not. 

Alex is not the kind of guy who particularly wants to go to a place called Shithouse and he’s not the type of guy who would name a movie Shithouse. (This apparently sets him apart from the actor playing him, who wrote and directed the film and likely had at least some input on the title.) Maybe that’s the point, in a movie about Alex trying to get out of both his comfort zone and his freshman-year loneliness (turns out, they may be the same thing). But it’s still a strange gesture for the movie to make, if only because it portends a different, more aggressive and maybe dirtbaggy brand of campus comedy, and Shithouse is one of the most sensitive renderings of college insecurity I’ve ever seen.
Continue reading Modern Men: HONEST THIEF and SHITHOUSE

NYFF58 At-Home Dispatch #3: Michelle Pfeiffer, Scene-Stealing Cats, and More Steve McQueen

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

The problem with doing festival dispatches more or less organized by your watch schedule is that you inevitably wind up feeling like you left something out. This year’s missed opportunity: When I caught up with The Woman Who Ran, it seemed like an obvious companion to The Calming. The latter, as covered here, is about a woman traveling around and retreating into solitude where she can find it. Hong Sang-soo’s The Woman Who Ran is about a woman (Kim Minhee) in a similar state, but with a more socially oriented structure: Spending time apart from her husband for the first time since they were married, she visits three different figures from her past. The scenes are long, chatty, sometimes awkward, and sometimes revealing; the best one only tangentially involves the lead character, as one of her friends has a polite but strained disagreement with a new neighbor about whether it’s reasonable for her to feed stray cats. (Great cat acting forms a punchline that somehow felt unexpected even though it’s the natural endpoint.) It’s less aesthetically pleasing than The Calming, as well as less, well calming, but it also generates some minor, compelling mysteries from these glimpses into the characters’ lives. (It’s also even shorter, at 80 minutes! Lots of below-90 runtimes in this year’s NYFF, as if the programmers knew viewers might be fitting in their viewings into an increasingly tricky jigsaw puzzle of at-home viewing.)
Continue reading NYFF58 At-Home Dispatch #3: Michelle Pfeiffer, Scene-Stealing Cats, and More Steve McQueen

NYFF58 At-Home Dispatch #2: Mangrove and Nomadland

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Neither Nomadland nor Mangrove are set right now, or even just before right now, in 2019, which is where I’ve mentally sorted any otherwise-very-contemporary stories that, naturally, do not feature multiple characters wearing masks and keeping their distance. Nomadland is specifically set during an election year that now feels like the distant past, taking place mostly over the course of 2012. Mangrove is a real-life courtroom drama that takes place in 1970. Yet–big sigh, deep breath, and then maybe another sigh–both of these New York Film Festival entries are plenty appropriate for our current moment, in ways that alternately seem complementary and diametrically opposed. Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland is all about our old friend “economic anxiety,” albeit treated with unusual gentleness, while Steve McQueen’s Mangrove is about the kind of racist, violent police harassment that has inspired countless protests in 2020. Both of them have plenty of opportunities to come across as hamfisted in one way or another, and both of them succeed in ways that are somehow both straightforward and oddly miraculous.
Continue reading NYFF58 At-Home Dispatch #2: Mangrove and Nomadland

ANTEBELLUM raises the question: Is Janelle Monáe a great actor, or just a musical genius?

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Antebellum was supposed to be another big breakthrough for Janelle Monáe. That might seem like an absurd concept for an entertainer who has already put out multiple records, starred in multiple Best Picture nominees, and received of her own nominations for a multitude of awards in various fields. Surely, someone will offer decent odds on her EGOTing sometime in the next four decades. But right now, her film career is still relatively young, and Antebellum represents her first unambiguous starring role. It’s the kind of next step that can only be taken after massive previous successes; last spring, starring in a new socially-conscious horror movie from producers who worked on Get Out and Us seemed like another level up for a rare talent.

As with so many plans, a worldwide pandemic waylaid Monáe’s first leading-lady film. (She previously starred in the second season of Homecoming on TV.) Originally set to debut in April, Antebellum was bumped into August, then scheduled for a VOD-only release in September. Though trailers piqued a lot of curiosity, early reviews have not been kind; some critics have designated it one of the year’s worst, and they’re not wrong. A seemingly provocative dual narrative—one featuring Monáe as Veronica, a successful author in contemporary America, the other where she endures grotesque cruelty as Eden, a slave in the South—turns out to be a pretty facile, even exploitative gimmick story that employs real-life horrors for no greater purpose than to point out that they are, in fact, horrifying. Aiming to blow minds a second time, the movie further points out that racism still exists today. Turns out those Get Out comparisons were extremely unwise.

Notably, there aren’t many reviews that blame Monáe for the film’s shortcomings as a thriller, which makes sense; Antebellum fails on the writing and directing levels before any of its cast has a real chance to salvage it. Live by a hooky concept, die by a hooky concept. At the same time, it’s hard to walk away from this mess thinking that Monáe is a major movie star in waiting. If she’s giving it her best shot, it hasn’t resulted in a compelling performance that powers through bad material. She goes down with the ship. As Eden, she spends a lot of screen time reacting: to the horrors around her, to the unwinnable situation she’s found herself in, and to horrible violence perpetuated against other Black people. That’s the case for her work as Veronica, too. She reacts to microaggressions from white folks, vaguely unsettling hints that something is about to go wrong, and to the more outspoken demeanor of her friend Dawn (Gabourey Sidibe)—giving us scenes where Monáe is reacting to other reactions.
Continue reading ANTEBELLUM raises the question: Is Janelle Monáe a great actor, or just a musical genius?

NYFF58 at Home Dispatch #1: Lovers Rock, Fauna, and The Calming

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

I’ve been attending the New York Film Festival for nearly a decade and, because of various scheduling factors and assignments, I’ve known it largely as a venue for splashy, high-end premieres of one sort or another. Even though many of the NYFF selections typically hit Cannes, Toronto, and/or Venice first, they’ll still, say, be the first place anywhere that shows Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, or Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, or Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, under optimal conditions and maximum excitement. The Irishman is a perfect case in point, not just for the massive hype of a major fall movie shown for the first time, but for a more recent phenomenon: Last year especially, New York Film Fest became a go-to destination for catching movies that otherwise might not play on a big screen near you.

Of course, The Irishman and Marriage Story and the previous year’s Ballad of Buster Scruggs all did get theatrical engagements before their Netflix bows. But they were always tied up in uncertainty over which theaters would agree to Netflix’s shortened-window terms, and whether those theaters would give those movies anything better than token shoebox-auditorium engagements (Netflix seems semi-committed to theatrical releases for its prestige projects, but also reneges on promised splashiness like the thousands of screens that were supposed to show The Irishman). NYFF was a way for nervous cinephiles to make damn well sure they saw these movies on a big screen.

Now those concerns seem downright laughable. Wondering about whether a movie might play on big enough screens so that it might be experienced with a giant crowd of strangers? Ha, that’s pre-pandemic thinking, the concerns of a more innocent age! The New York Film Festival, like all but a very select few and foolhardy film concerns of the past six months, has moved online. The types of marquee features that might typically populate the opening, centerpiece, and closing slots have largely vacated the release calendar entirely, making a smaller, more streaming-friendly festival. Last year boasted the mid-fest world premiere of The Irishman. This year’s opening night? Part of a TV show Steve McQueen did for Amazon.
Continue reading NYFF58 at Home Dispatch #1: Lovers Rock, Fauna, and The Calming

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Bill & Ted & Trilogies

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

To celebrate the recent release of long-awaited trilogy-creator Bill & Ted Face the Music, your pals at SportsAlcohol.com got together to talk about the new Bill & Ted movie, discuss our wide range of opinions of how well it works, and then have a broader discussion about the state and mechanics of movie trilogies these days. What are the best ones? What one-offs have been ruined into trilogies, and what great trilogies have been ruined with a part four? What makes a great trilogy, any? Are there even any? These questions and more are answered by your most excellent participants!

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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: The New Mutants

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Well, after two and a half years of trailers, blown release dates, rumored but nonexistent reshoots, good buzz, bad buzz, and corporate acquisitions, the movie event of the pandemic is finally here: The New Mutants is out in theaters to accidentally close out the X-Men movie series. Improbably enough, four core members of the SportsAlcohol.com brain trust found a way to see this movie safely without press screenings or VOD. (Please don’t go out to even a semi-crowded movie theater to see The New Mutants or anything else; it’s playing at drive-ins, and some theaters are doing private auditorium rentals, if you are so moved.) So naturally, Jesse, Marisa, Nathaniel, and designated X-pert Rob had to get together to discuss this momentous, uh, footnote to X-Men movie history. Consider this the long-delayed sequel to our last X-Men movie episode! And consider it our last episode about the Fox era of X-Men on film… or is it?!?! Consider this your starting buzz for a Magik spinoff in 2022!

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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Top Movies of Summer 1990

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

It’s that time of year again… again! Your pals at SportsAlcohol.com have made an annual trip back 20 years to discuss the biggest summer movies of 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, and 1994. While we’re hotly anticipating our review of Summer 2001 blockbusters to be recorded in 2021, we felt unfinished, moving on from the 1990s with several years left uncovered. So we decided to double up and jump back thirty years for a look at the top box-office earners (and a few others) from summer 1990. Yes, this means you have episodes about 2001 and 1991 to anticipate next summer. And you have a brand-new episode to listen to right now that includes Jesse, Marisa, Becca, Nathaniel, and Jeremy chatting about:

    • Hotshot doctors and lawyers! Like on TV!
    • Future Expendables Arnold, Bruce, and Mel!
    • Sequels back when sequels were mostly bad! (With two fantastic exceptions.)
    • Justice for Demi Moore!
    • The next Batman that wasn’t! Except for a few of us!
    • AND MORE!!!

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