Richard Curtis perfected the art of the 21st century romantic comedy in “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Notting Hill,” and “Love Actually.” They were witty and sophisticated and had posh British accents that made them seem twice as witty and […]
Maybe it’s just me, but I think this may be the worst idea for a movie intended for children I have heard since the one about the kid bank robber. Does anyone think it makes sense to horrify children just […]
One of my favorite Halloween scenes is the one in “E.T.”
I always enjoy IndieWire’s critics surveys and this is an especially good question: What is your favorite example of a bad movie with a great soundtrack? I was not surprised to find Elizabethtown mentioned by Alissa Wilkenson of Christianity Today. I would […]
Thanks to Betty Jo Tucker for re-broadcasting our Monsters vs. Aliens debate in time for Halloween! I could easily have taken either side in the debate and it was a blast to argue in favor of some of my favorites.
Two of the deleted scenes:
Kids spend too much time staring at screens according to recommendations released today from the American Academy of Pediatrics. “The average 8-year-old spends eight hours a day using various forms of media, and teenagers often surpass 11 hours of media […]
Election day is coming next week, and Mo Rocca (“The Daily Show,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me”) has a new documentary about the state of elections in today’s America, with the backdrop of the 2008 Presidential election. Rocca set […]
Nickelodeon’s new series “The Thundermans” begins this week and you can download an episode for free from iTunes. It’s the story of a superhero family, twins Max and Phoebe, their younger siblings Nora and Billy, and their parents Hank and Barb. […]
The brave, beautiful, and very funny actress Marcia Wallace has died at age 70 after a long battle with breast cancer. I loved her as the receptionist on the old “Bob Newhart Show” and as a guest on 70’s game […]
In Monsterous Holiday a young inventor named Andy reaches out to his neighbor Doctor Frankenstein to help him win the upcoming science fair. But, finding the Doctor not to be at home, he meets the next best thing, Frankenstein’s monster; […]
One of my all-time favorite critics — and one of the nicest guys in this field — is Leonard Maltin. Be sure to check out his new series on YouTube.
Dan Kois has a funny piece in Slate about the use of the word “bad” in so many recent movie titles. I love the movie posters Slate created for retitled classics. Would you see “Jaws” if it was renamed “Bad […]
Really! It looks awesome, doesn’t it?
Just in time for Halloween, one of my very favorite ghost stories has been released in a beautifully restored edition from the wonderful folks at Criterion. It is The Uninvited, starring Ray Milland (“Love Story”) and Ruth Hussey (“The Philadelphia […]
Paul McCartney invites some friends to dance to his new song, “Queenie Eye.” Watch out for: Meryl Streep, Jude Law, Kate Moss, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Chris Pine, and…..?
Tonight on the Hallmark Channel at 8 (7 Central), the wonderful Walden Family Theater has a new movie for the whole family. It is a modern day fairy-tale adventure. The brothers Flynn embark on an international quest to find their […]
The opening night of the first Middleburg film festival was held at the spectacular new Salamander Resort and Bruce Dern was there to present his new film, “Nebraska,” directed by Alexander Payne (“Sideways,” “Election,” “The Descendants”). Dern and the film’s […]
Halloween gives kids a thrilling opportunity to act out their dreams and pretend to be characters with great power. But it can also be scary and even overwhelming for the littlest trick-or-treaters. An introduction to the holiday with videos from […]
Cormac McCarthy’s spare, bleak, and very literary prose has made for some compelling cinema, most effectively in No Country for Old Men and The Road and the adaption of his play for an HBO movie, The Sunset Limited. In his first original […]
I’m very excited to be attending the opening of the first-ever Middleburg Film Festival tonight here in Virginia. Middleburg is the heart of Virginia horse country. It was established in 1787, with land purchased from George Washington’s cousin. Famous for its […]
Aware Guide is a terrific resource for “life-changing media,” with documentaries about the environment, consciousness, health and wellness, social issues, and causes, some free. It’s a very intriguing collection of films you won’t see at the multiplex.
Tonight only — Fathom will make the legendary musical “Merrily We Roll Along” available in theaters across the country. Set over three decades in the entertainment business, the story charts the relationship between three friends Franklin, Mary and Charley. Travelling backwards […]
I’m delighted to announce publication of my newest book, 50 Must-See Movies: Fathers. Earlier volumes in the series include the print and ebook 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and the other 99 cent ebooks 50 Must-See Movies: Mothers and 50 Must-See […]
In 2002 I wrote an article about the messages in magazines for teenage girls. I said that they struck “an uneasy balance between being empowering and being trashy. This is the result of another uneasy balance between their two constituencies, […]
Time Magazine has researched the real story behind “12 Years a Slave,” comparing the film to Northrup’s book and found most of it depicted as Northrup described it. SPOILER ALERT — here are a few of the facts they researched. […]
Scott Jordan Harris is the author of Rosebud Sleds and Horses’ Heads: 50 of Film’s Most Evocative Objects – An Illustrated Journey, a beautifully illustrated tribute to some of the most beloved props and costumes in film history. He writes […]
SpiritClips, a wonderful online resources for uplifting films, is premiering “Four Chaplains,” based on a true story of extraordinary heroism and sacrifice. In 1943, four Army chaplains of different faiths banded together to save military and civilian personnel aboard the […]
Catch the Halloween spirit! George Romero’s zombie classic Night of the Living Dead gets the Rifftrax treatment in theaters on October 24. What could be better than zombies? Zombies plus snarky commentary!
I have been a huge fan of Chiwetel Ejiofor since I first saw him in the 2004 film Dirty Pretty Things. “12 Years a Slave” may be his breakthrough performance, and I hope it encourages audiences to seek out some […]
Washington DC’s National Portrait Gallery is one of my favorite museums, and yesterday I had the great treat of visiting a special exhibit on the history of dance with photos, paintings, drawings, and video. Josephine Baker’s famous banana dance shows […]
Haven’t you always wanted to know which was bigger, the Millennium Falcon or the Starship Enterprise? Take a look at this amazing size comparison chart from Dirk Loechel on DeviantArt.
I was honored to be invited to talk about “Rush” for the Voice of America’s Russian channel!
Watching “12 Years a Slave” is a shattering experience. It shatters any remaining illusions of gracious, chivalrous, Southern plantation life in the pre-Civil War era. They were based on the late 19th century myth-making from the children of slave-owners in […]
In late medieval times, when people first began to divide each other into groups defined by status and power, they began to speak of a “first estate” (the clergy), a “second estate” (the nobility, which also at the time meant […]
At 90 minutes or less and with some sense of its own silly preposterousness, the aging action stars might have made this prison break movie work. But at almost two hours, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger seem a little out […]
The remake of “Carrie” is not a bad movie; it’s just a completely unnecessary one. The 1976 original is a horror classic, directed by Brian de Palma and the first film based on a novel by Stephen King, just 26 years […]
Parents — Here is your chance to help scientists who are studying the impact of screen time on children. No generation has been as saturated with media as this one. Babies learn to play with smartphones and tablets before they […]
Wish I could attend the Tallgrass Film Festival this year — it just keeps getting better, with great documentaries like “Blackfish” and “20 Feet from Stardom” and classics like “Pulp Fiction” and “Airplane!”
Shrek the Musical, the live Broadway show, is now available on a gorgeous Blu-Ray/DVD with all kinds of great behind-the-scenes extras, and I have copies to give away! The cast features Broadway superstars Brian d’Arcy James as the title ogre, […]
First it was a book by William Steig. Then it was a sensationally successful series of animated films, featuring the voice talents of Mike Meyers, Cameron Diaz, and Eddie Murphy. Then it was a blockbuster Broadway smash hit musical starring […]
Pixar’s first ever television special has the “Toy Story” characters (including “Toy Story 3’s” master thespian Mr. Pricklepants, voiced by Timothy Dalton) in a story filled with funny scares and scary fun. Tonight on ABC 8PM (7 Central)
Attention fanboys and fangirls! Tonight on PBS is the sensational story of the real origins of superheroes and the men and women who dreamed them up. Thrilling, insightful, and wildly entertaining — highly recommended.
The 1976 Carrie, based on the Stephen King novel about a bullied girl whose telekinetic powers cause mass destruction after she is humiliated at the prom, is still one of the most unforgettable horror movies of all time. Both Sissy […]
It is great to see girls and their families and teachers talking back to corporations who fail to understand their courage, strength, curiosity, and range of interests.
One of the most acclaimed films of the year is “12 Years a Slave,” opening this week, based on the true story of a free black man sold into slavery. Here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes.
AJ Michalka stars in “Grace Unplugged,” the story of a girl who wants more out of life than singing with her church’s worship band. When she has some success as a pop singer, she has to decide whether secular success […]
What do astronauts think of Gravity? Mark Kelly wrote about his reaction to the George Clooney/Sandra Bullock space movie in the Washington Post. “I’ve spent a total of 55 days in space so I know what to look for, and […]
New York Magazine has a great selection of articles about one of the fastest-growing and most popular categories in publishing, the increasingly inaccurately-named Young Adult genre. Jen Doll writes about loving YA novels in her thirties, quoting my friend Sandie […]
I just want the Roots to play on every song ever.
It started at the very exclusive, men-only (until 1988), Friars Club for comedians, singers, and other performers and show business professionals. They were known for raucous and bawdy humor and in the late 1940’s they held their first “roast,” a dinner […]
It was a special treat to interview my friend Dustin Putman about his new book, The Fright File: 150 Films to See Before Halloween. As horror director Scott Derrickson says on the cover, “Dustin Putman knows the horror genre inside […]
The A.V. Club has a great discussion about the all-time best fictional movie concerts. Of course there are many unforgettable documentaries about real concerts like “Woodstock” and “The Last Waltz.” But what about those left to the imagination in feature […]
Memorable movie villains tend to fall into two categories: volatile and violent or sociopathic and megalomaniac. Both kinds are caricatures, sketched in exaggerated terms to justify our feeling of triumph when the hero prevails. But in “Captain Phillips,” the true […]
William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is the most-filmed play of all time, with dozens of versions and variations from the sublime (the Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann versions, “West Side Story” and “Shakespeare in Love”) to the outlandish (the cute […]
It may be a coincidence that a Russian animation studio decided to make a movie based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the Snow Queen at the same time as Disney’s big-budget feature, “Frozen,” inspired by the same […]
The masterful critic Stanley Kauffman, whose writing career stretched over eight decades, died this week at age 97. Adam Bernstein’s perceptive Kauffman obituary in the Washington Post noted: “He was one of the few critics who could watch a 1997 […]
This week’s release of “Captain Phillips” is based on the real-life story of the 2009 capture of an American merchant ship by Somali pirates. The title character, played by Tom Hanks, was kidnapped by the pirates and held for ransom. […]
Chaz Ebert wrote to Rob Schneider to ask him about a story that was mentioned in many of the tributes to her late husband, Roger Ebert. Roger loathed Schneider’s movie “Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo.” He memorably wrote that the film […]
Alfonso Cuarón told Wired Magazine about the 4 1/2 years he spent making “Gravity.” We had to do the whole film as an animation first. We edited that animation, even with sound, just to make sure the timing worked […]
My very favorite series for kids has a wonderful new collection for Halloween and I have three to give away! Enjoy the ghoulish pleasures and scary delights and ghostly giggles of stories like The Little Old Lady Who Was Not […]
In 1964, director Michael Apted (Coal Miner’s Daughter, Gorky Park, Gorillas in the Mist) was a young researcher on an experimental program called Seven Up!, produced for England’s Granada Television. Taking its cue from the Jesuit maxim “Give me the […]
The Dove-approved Coming Home for Christmas will be available on DVD later this month — here’s an exclusive peek at the trailer.
Fall is here and that means we will start seeing some of the movies the studios are betting on for Oscars, Golden Globes, and Critics Choice Awards. “Gravity” is a critical and box office hit already, just four days after […]
You’ve DVRed the latest episode of your favorite show but haven’t watched it yet. Or you were out of town and haven’t made it to the theater to see the latest blockbuster. There are a lot of arguments on both sides […]
Smithsonian Magazine goes back 8000 years to find out why we eat popcorn at the movies. Popcorn–a name mostly associated with puffed kernels of corn–is actually a strain of corn, characterized by especially starchy kernels with hard kernel walls, which […]
We spend so much time worrying about teaching our children reading and math that we can overlook the importance of teaching them to recognize and handle emotions in themselves and others. So I like the new resources from Emotional ABC’s, […]
Are today’s 20-and 30-somethings the least-parented generation in history, as a character explains in this film? To quote Rosie O’Donnell in “Sleepless in Seattle” about another depressing statistic, “It’s not true, but it feels true.” While the generation that came […]
In space, there is no oxygen and no sound. There is no up or down. Everything is weightless. When you cry, the tears float away instead of running down your cheeks. “Gravity” is one of the once-to-a-generation films that transform […]
To mark the launch of his New album, Paul McCartney will to give his first-ever live Twitter Q&A tomorrow. NEW, his first studio album of brand new solo material in six years, will be released in the US on October […]
I once boarded an airplane and counted a dozen different Tom Clancy books being read in those pre-Kindle days as I walked down the row. On another trip, I flew on four planes and on all four was seated next […]
I’m in Love With a Church Girl is inspired by the true story of writer/director Galley Molina. It stars Ja Rule, Stephen Baldwin, T-Bone, and Michael Madsen, and will be in theaters on October 18. I enjoyed speaking to Galley about […]
Remember Harold the Merman? No, you don’t, because he was dropped from “The Little Mermaid.” But you can see why writer/directors Ron Clements and John Musker were so devoted to him in one of the delicious extras on this week’s […]
DreamWorks Pictures’ “Need for Speed” is a return to the great car culture films of the 1960’s and 70’s, when the authenticity of the world brought a new level of intensity to the action on-screen. Tapping into what makes the […]