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Showing posts from 2020

HBO Max: Full Breakdown (Plus Five Recommendations You Can Stream Right Now)

At launch, HBO Max, the brand new streaming service from WarnerMedia, is offering 10,000 hours of content. That's an eye-catching number, even if it's not a third of what Netflix offers. But unlike the steady stream of total junk that Netflix spits out every week, HBO Max has many shows and movies that are actually worth watching. 
From popular recent movies to a vast classic film library, from Friends to every show regular old HBO has produced (Sex and the City, the Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Succession, etc.), the number of options is kind of staggering. If you aren't already signed up (if you have HBO, you probably have this too), definitely check it out. 
The website's infrastructure has been largely carried over from HBO Now, HBO's existing standalone streaming service, so it's pretty smooth and easy to use. The organization of all the content is solid, if not spectacular. Emphasized are what are called "HBO Max Hubs," which are dedicated pages for…

Scoob! Review: Scooby Doo's Big Screen Reboot is a Dud

The new film, premiering in people's homes because movie theaters are closed, is an attempt to launch a new shared cinematic universe based on old Hanna-Barbera cartoons. The result is characters from other old shows getting awkardly interpolated in the story of the Mystery Inc gang. Dynomutt and the Blue Falcon (Dynomutt, Dog Wonder) show up, as does DeeDee (Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, whatever that is). The main villain is Dick Dastardly (Wacky Races), who comes complete with some Minions ripoff robot sidekicks and a plan that involves opening a portal to the underworld or something. It's all very incongruous with the classic Scooby formula, in which the supernatural was almost always revealed to be smoke and mirrors. 
The humor is aggressively topical, referencing smartphones and Tinder and Hemsworths. None of it is very funny, least of all a cameo by Simon Cowell. Is he still relevant? 
Like the recent Charlie's Angles reboot, Scoob! drags its source material in…

The Ten Best Songs By Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim's 10 Best Songs 
Today, March 22, is Stephen Sondheim's 90th birthday. In celebration, I thought I would rank the ten best songs with music and lyrics by the greatest musical theater composer there is.

Honorable mentions: "Send in the Clowns," "Not Getting Married," "Sooner or Later," "Loving You," "Ladies Who Lunch," "I Never Do Anything Twice," "The Glamorous Life,""Could I Leave You?," "Putting It Together," "A Weekend in the Country," "Isn't He Something?," "Finishing the Hat"

10. "Too Many Mornings" How much time can we hope that here will be? Not much time, but it's time enough for me. If there's time to look up and see Sally standing at the door, Sally moving to the bed, Sally resting in my arms, with your head against my head.
A beautiful, very sad duet from Follies, where two characters confess their long-held mutual …

Oscar 2020: Who Will Win?

2020 Oscars Predictions and Preview
I was not planning on making Oscar predictions this year because I'm in London for the semester and I have better things to do. But I'm doing laundry and have some time to kill, so I figured I'd give it a shot. While I have not been following awards season as closely this year as in past ones, I did get the closest to it than I've ever been before when I had the opportunity to be in the red carpet viewing area for the BAFTAs last weekend. What a thrill it was seeing all of this year's big players maneuver through the crowded carpet and pose for photos. Renee Zellweger was there, as was Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie, Bong Joon Ho, Quentin Tarantino, Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Saorise Ronan, Florence Pugh, Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach, Laura Dern, Al Pacino and Joaquin Phoenix, all of whom are also Oscar nominees. 

As for what's going to happen this Sunday, I'm not anticipating many surprises. For instance, the ac…

The Ten Best of Films of 2019

Top Ten Films of 2019 10. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Marielle Heller is an incredible director and she's made yet another great film. 
9. Pain and Glory

Pedro Almodovar's deeply felt film is about the difficult process of aging and the painstaking process of creating art. It has one of the year's best endings. 
8. Non-Fiction

Olivier Assayas delivers another very interesting look at the way technology has changed culture and our relationships. This time, it's packaged in a sleek comedy about the affairs of people in the publishing industry.
7. Once Upon a Time in HollywoodI haven't waded into the online discourse about this movie because I truly don't care, but all I know is that I thoroughly loved Quentin Tarantino's carefully crafted ode to a Hollywood that wasn't. 
6. Hustlers

Lorene Scafaria's Hustlers is a very smart and funny crime film that has a lot to say about economic conditions in America. The screenplay is structured in a really e…

Film Versions of "Little Women" Ranked

With Greta Gerwig's new version of Little Women now in theaters, it's time to look back at the versions that have come before. But first, a note on what's not included in this ranking: I'm only ranking the major movie versions, so I'm excluding the lost 1917 British film, the lost 1918 American film, the 1978 TV miniseries starring Susan Dey and William Shatner, the 2005 Broadway musical (but watch this clip of Sutton Foster singing the one good song from the musical), the recent PBS miniseries, or the 2018 modern day movie version. 


4. Little Women (1949)

A Little Women movie lives or dies by its Jo, and unfortunately, June Allyson wasn't a great Jo. Though I'm usually a fan of her work, Allyson's performance here overshoots headstrong and lands on just plain irritating. It's a shame, since all the supporting players have been perfectly cast - including Liz Taylor as Amy, Margaret O'Brien as Beth and Janet Leigh as Meg. Also, this version recycle…