California Literary Review

Best Movies

The Weekly Listicle: The Art Of The Heist

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August 12th, 2011

This week, I join forces with Brett Davinger to chronicle some of the best heists, rip-offs, and holdups ever put on screen. So just sit quietly and keep your hands away from the phone, where we can see them. This won’t take long.

Best And Worst Movies Of 2011, Part 1

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July 14th, 2011

We the critics of the Fourth Wall – Julia Rhodes, Brett Davinger, and myself – devote this week to the discussion of our favorite (and least favorite) films released in 2011 so far. After careful consideration, each of us has selected a “Top 3″ and “Bottom 3″ for the year’s first half. Read along and see how our love and hate stack up against your own.

Bloody Sexy Things: Adapting Clive Barker

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June 28th, 2011

Clive Barker has lent his eyes and hands to virtually every medium, from page to the screen to the stage to the canvas to the console. However, film fans know him particularly as a horror master. There is so much undermined material for gifted fantasy filmmakers that perhaps we could dispense with further Candyman sequels and retire the Hellraiser juggernaut with contented hearts, and enjoy a Clive Barker renaissance clad in all new colors.

Day Late, Dollar Short, Solid Gold: “Dear Twilight…”

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June 8th, 2011

Somewhere in the Twilight cutting room, did the thought never stir that they could drag untold ranks of non-Twilight initiates into the theaters merely by cutting fan reactions into the regular trailers? I was working as a movie usher when New Moon came out, and I had grown people stepping out of ticket lines with money outstretched, offering outrageous sums of cash to buy my promotional New Moon t-shirt off my back. And believe me, it was not an excuse to peek at my trout belly. This is for real, people! Star Wars and Harry Potter premieres have nothing on this.

What Is Best In Life? Not Conan 3D, Barring A Miracle

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May 3rd, 2011

Borne on the crest of the wind, I hear already the lamentation of women. Women whose dates have dragged them, possibly by the hair, to the late summer picture show. By now many of you know that Lionsgate will soon release a new film entitled Conan The Barbarian. Most of you will recall a cult classic by the same name from 1982, which was the breakout role of a certain Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Weekly Listicle: Three Rings Of Circus Movie Mayhem!

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April 22nd, 2011

The circus is a complicated enterprise, and its symbolic value in storytelling has many faces. It may tell of freedom and the charm of living as a nomad and artist. It may speak to the weariness of the road, and the ability of a lifestyle to trap those who do not know how to break free. It may celebrate the solidarity of those cast out from society. Or in the end, it may simply deal with the hideous antics of clowns. In any form, the circus plays upon the most fundamental feelings of wonder and fear, and makes children of us all once again.

2011: Armageddon Comes Early To Hopeless Film Geeks

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April 15th, 2011

Before the year is out, we may see all the weirdest and most controversial filmmakers of the age rise from cult obscurity and perpetrate further prime-time shenanigans. If this is so, then the time has come to dig out and review your most private and precious DVD collection – all the offbeat and obscure movies to which you would not subject your friends, family, or significant other to for fear of ridicule and ostracism – searching every beautiful and artfully stylized frame for hidden signs and clues. We, the scholars of the screen, must prepare the world.

The Weekly Listicle: Keeping It Simple With A ROBO-POCALYPSE!

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March 24th, 2011

This week, the big opener of note is the outrageous fantasy action epic Sucker Punch, which promises to blow its target audience away and bewilder the rest of the world. The only undeniable thing we can say now is that Zack Snyder is not planning on going anywhere. He seems pretty comfortable right where he’s […]

The Weekly Listicle: On Adapting The Classics

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March 11th, 2011

With the arrival of Jane Eyre from Sin Nombre director Cary Fukunaga, we see another standard of the English-class bookshelf put to the screen. Mia Wasikowska, lately of Alice In Wonderland, headlines as the eponymous Jane, in a very Gothic-looking version of Charlotte Brontë’s best known novel. As I recall, it is quite a dark […]

Oscars 2011: A Beaten Critic Speaks

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March 1st, 2011

Congratulations to Julia Rhodes for her excellent Oscar picks, which leveled my own, 15 to 9. Perhaps I was unable to keep my mind on what would win awards, instead of what should. Occasionally they were the same, but not consistently enough to save me. I made a few too many votes from the heart, and in the grim light of day I admire and aspire to Julia’s apparently heartless intellect. Can she also pick horses or roulette numbers, one has to wonder? Either way she has a prosperous career ahead.

The Weekly Listicle: A Question Of Identity

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February 18th, 2011

Identity is a wonderful device for deception and suspense in storytelling. In some cases a whole plot hinges on whether or not someone is who they claim to be. The quest for identity, whether inwardly or outwardly direction, may lead to all manner of obsession, danger, and mischief.

The Weekly Listicle: No, We CAN’T Feel The Love Tonight!

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February 10th, 2011

This week, Julia Rhodes and I (Dan Fields) recall a bygone era, when entertainment for kids – specifically the musical accompaniment – got as much attention and thought as anything produced for an adult audience. It’s not meant strictly to pick on Elton John, but he seems an appropriate figurehead for the rather bland trends in children’s movie music today. This is not your typical twentysomething anti-Disney rant. It is a cry of nostalgic woe, and includes a number of selections from pre-downhill-slide Disney. Please enjoy, and remember some songs you might like to track down and show your own kids.

The Weekly Listicle: Ballad Of The Soldier

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January 21st, 2011

This weekend, Peter Weir graces us with The Way Back, a tale of daring escape by prisoners of war. In due fashion this week’s Listicle salutes the soldier in film. From comedy to adventure to stark, sobering drama, soldiers have faced a great deal on the movie screen.

“Let Me In!” Cries A Voice In The Night

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January 11th, 2011

A certain writer for the California Literary Review has thoughtfully distilled a whole year of reviews, reactions, and reflections into two comprehensive and well-researched essays entitled “The 10 Best Movies of 2010″ and “The 10 Worst Movies of 2010.” Having been too shiftless to organize a retrospective list of my own, I take grave exception. One of the most entertaining movies of the year failed to rouse sufficient praise or sufficient scorn in his heart to make either list.

The 10 Best Movies of 2010

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December 31st, 2010

Any year in which a movie this perfect has legitimate competition for Best Film of the Year is an impressive one indeed. Edgar Wright directs a tale of a young man who falls in love (or rather, ‘in lesbians’) with a young woman with baggage, and struggles to defeat those demons to preserve their relationship. That those struggles take the form of elaborately choreographed martial arts duels and giant monsters generated through the power of indie rock is no mere flight of fancy.

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