Diversions

Actor’s wide-ranging genius balanced comedy, drama

Actor’s wide-ranging genius balanced comedy, drama

It’s claimed that Larry Hagman despised I Dream of Jeannie, the hit show in which he starred from 1965 to 1970. It’s a shame if so, because Hagman, who died last weekend at 81, was really good on it. He was likable as Major Anthony “Tony” Nelson, an astronaut who finds a genie in a […]

Stuffing your Turkey Day with some DVDs? Try these tasty treats.

Stuffing your Turkey Day with some DVDs? Try these tasty treats.

There are countless well-loved Christmas movies, but Thanksgiving movies are a rarity. I’m not much of a fan of 1995’s Home for the Holidays, but I often steer people toward What’s Cooking? (2000), Gurinder Chadha’s delightful, too-little-known multi-cultural Turkey Day comedy. In case you’ve already seen it, though, here are a few more Thanksgiving titles: […]

Animated ‘Ralph’ one of genre’s 2012 bests

Animated ‘Ralph’ one of genre’s 2012 bests

When your name is Wreck-It Ralph and you no longer want to wreck things—well, what you got there is an existential drama. The title character in Disney’s computer-animated feature is a burly thug in bibs, with two huge fists which he uses, spitefully, to inflict damage on a building. His counterpart is an insufferably chipper […]

Could your prof be a zombie?

Could your prof be a zombie?

Suppose one day the dead arise and come plodding through the streets, driven by a ghastly, inexplicable compulsion to devour the flesh of the living. Those bitten by these walking corpses soon become mindless, ravenous cannibals themselves. Government fails to contain the plague. Survivors frantically arm themselves, overrun houses or take refuge in shopping malls, […]

Monster mash-up stars season’s usual favorites

Monster mash-up stars season’s usual favorites

October is here at last—my favorite month, when the weather in Arizona at long last cools down, and monster-movie season heats up. This season, animated monster pictures for kids are quite the thing. There are three to choose from in theaters now: Frankenweenie Tim Burton’s gives the boy-and-his-dog movie a macabre but touching spin in […]

McConaughey lethally convincing as ‘Killer Joe’

McConaughey lethally convincing as ‘Killer Joe’

What happens when the hit man you hire to murder your mother falls in love with your younger sister? That’s the major dramatic question of William Friedkin’s new film Killer Joe, opening this weekend at Camelview. The answer isn’t pretty. Chris (Emile Hirsch), a small-potatoes Texas drug dealer, lives with his mother.  His slow-thinking father […]

‘Super-villainy’ as real in life as in film depiction

‘Super-villainy’ as real in life as in film depiction

Just as it was difficult to discuss 2008’s The Dark Knight out of the shadow of the heartbreaking loss of Heath Ledger, so it’s likely to be difficult, for a while at least, to discuss The Dark Knight Rises out of the context of the horror at the multiplex in Colorado. As it happened, I […]

Spider-man spins a new web of intrigue

Spider-man spins a new web of intrigue

Andrew Garfield looks like a spider—a daddy longlegs. That is to say, he looks like a daddy longlegs with the head of a Byronic poet. As the title character in The Amazing Spider-Man, the young actor, who previously made an impression as Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network, commands an inhumanly svelte torso, like a […]

Pixar’s ‘Brave’ no cookie-cutter cutie

Pixar’s ‘Brave’ no cookie-cutter cutie

The newest Disney princess, Merida, loves to ride her horse and shoot arrows, often at the same time. She has wild red curls and a puckish smirk, and she climbs cliffs in a way that I hope the young audience members of Disney/Pixar’s Brave don’t try to imitate. Merida, voiced by Kelly MacDonald, takes after […]