Birdman and Budapest: The Fall Rewind, Part 1


Here’s how I spent the last three months of the year, checking out some celebrated new releases and revisiting some old favorites.

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BP Double Feature: Her (2013)/Logan’s Run (1976)


Do we get the dystopia that we deserve?

While “Her” was largely billed as an offbeat romance (God, help us), at its heart it’s the story of a near future nearly as terrifying as the one that features Skynet and The Terminator, one that seems more than plausible. Indeed, in its version of a future Los Angeles, it’s almost as chilling as Blade Runner’s.

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BP Double Feature: Midnight in Paris (2011)/ Manhattan (1978)

Take the Monet and run?

A lot of critics are praising Midnight in Paris as a return to form for Woody Allen, but it’s hard for me to get behind that assessment. The new release, which I saw last week in New York, is a flight of fancy about an American who journeys back to the Paris of the 1920s. The film was enjoyable enough, but only reinforced in my mind how far Allen’s stature has fallen.

As with many, my entry point with Allen was first Annie Hall, a film I used to show to prospective girlfriends as sort of a test (this may partially explain why I am single), and then Manhattan.  By those lights, Midnight in Paris is a minor work, a toss-off. From what I have read, Allen would likely disagree, but mainly because his view of his process, and of his films themselves, comes off as rather workmanlike.

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BP Double Bill: Ice Age-Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)/Murphy’s Romance (1985)


Like TV dancing contests and Sarah Palin, dinosaurs score in all key demographic categories.

Son, in my day, all you need was a cowboy hat and a smile and the audience was with you.

Son, in my day, all you needed was a cowboy hat and a smile and the audience was yours.

First things first, never write a post that says the hiatus is over and then go on an even longer hiatus.

But there is one defense. Last month, my HDTV went belly up after just three years. (A Toshiba 42HP66 if you are curious) leaving me with little incentive to watch movies, except on my computer–which I find sort of excruciating. TV programs are one thing, movies are another. Even TV shows I love, such as 3o Rock, go down easy on a monitor–but movies, especially now, demand a bigger screen, some panorama, and quality sound.

These days, however, when I go to a real movie theater, it’s usually for my 4-year-old daughter. During the holiday, I took her to see the third Ice Age movie. I had wanted to take her to see Up–Pixar can do little wrong in my eyes–, but reviews on the net suggested it was too violent and somber for her. (And yet the film is called “Up.”)

Now, after 80 minutes of listening to Ray Romano and Queen Latifah play two Woolly Mammoths, I wish I had gone ahead and gambled on Pixar.

But getting to the heart of the matter: The inescapable fact that big-studio pictures are marketing vehicles first. (And if you ever had any doubt, this article in the New Yorker will vaporize it.) And that I am even bother to restate such an obvious notion shows that I am well on my way to becoming the kind of old coot I was always fearful I would become. It’s irresistible to claim that “in my day” things were better–and a true sign of age is when you truly, with all your critical heart, believe it. You’re convinced of it and of the belief that any objective analysis would bear that out. (I can claim the 1970s and the 1990s as “my day” but never mind….)

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How about that Patrick Dempsey?


He’s so suave and rugged, he doesn’t even shave for a wedding. 

Let’s see how the reviews are treating it: Oh, 37 on Metacritic. That’s not good. (Although better than 88 Minutes.) 

Here’s Kyle Smith of the New York Post.

MADE of Honor is something old, it’s something new, it’s something borrowed and it’s something that blows. When Harry and Sally went to see My Best Friend’s Wedding, they could have written a funnier, more original script in the time it takes to eat a box of Milk Duds.

He didn’t like it.