California Literary Review


Much Ado About Joss Whedon


March 8th, 2013

Is Joss Whedon’s biggest year ever taking a second lap?

Singin’ In The Rain: A 60th Anniversary Celebration


July 13th, 2012

It is more than just one of the all-time greats, grouped with the likes of Casablanca and The Wizard Of Oz. Singin’ In The Rain is also an off-the-wall lesson in Hollywood history.

Trailer Watch: Wreck-It Ralph


June 11th, 2012

What sounds funnier: a genre-hopping quest across the video game spectrum by a generic galoot drawn in marshmallowy 3-D, or the same undertaken by an two-dimensional Nintendo relic who looks ludicrously out of place in any world but his own?

In the Therapist’s Chair: Kingdom Hearts and Minecraft


May 2nd, 2012

What makes video games brutal is often their most basic premise.  If you think too long and too hard about exactly what it is you’re doing, a creeping sensation starts to prickle the back of your mind.  If you put yourself in the shoes of your avatar, would you be so gung-ho, would you even be capable of walking out of the front door?

Who’s Laughing Now? – Film and TV Comedy in 2011


December 31st, 2011

And so the clock has run out on 2011. We had some major comedy misfires on the big screen, and relied a lot more than usual on television for laughs. What’s going on here?

Ross Noble and Friends, Cranleigh Arts Centre, England


December 16th, 2011

It showcased all of Noble’s best points: the delight in the ludicrous, the ideas tripping over each other to get out and the revelling in how foolish he may look to an audience. And of course The Voice.

The Weekly Listicle Is Rated NC-17


December 2nd, 2011

Censors save the NC-17 rating for extra special cases, and in practice it feels like much less artificial than, say, PG-13. Something about these films transcended the extremely liberal boundaries of the R rating, and in most cases the reasons are still apparent.

The Weekly Listicle: Some Movies Are About Things


October 14th, 2011

At last, the long-rumored prequel/remake of John Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece The Thing infects theaters across the country. And I mean that in a good way, because I still hope it will be entertaining, despite persistent pangs of common sense. The trailer, at least, sold it as a pretty faithful re-shooting of the original, though no […]

The Weekly Listicle: The Art Of The Heist


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.

Trailer Watch: Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist


August 2nd, 2011

How does Tower Heist look to all you out there? Will it be in-your-face fun from the director of Rush Hour or on-the-nose crud from the director of X-Men: The Last Stand?

Book Review: The Craigslist Murders by Brenda Cullerton


July 26th, 2011

An interior “desecrator” who despises the bored super-rich housewives who can afford her services, she lives amongst people for whom money has dissolved away the real world, and takes her revenge by smashing their heads in with the poker which she carries wrapped in a yoga mat.

I Am NOT An Animal! (But I Play One In The Movies)


May 27th, 2011

Putting animal antics into movies is a perennially popular way to cobble up a goofball family comedy on short notice. This is a distinctly separate practice than merely animating creatures from scratch, which has produced its own wonderful results in the past. Nowadays, however, the line between the two is blurring at an alarming rate, so much so that it scarcely seems worth the trouble of getting real animals to be in live-action movies at all. The increasing intrusion of computer generated animal behavior is really beginning to mar the magic.

The Weekly Listicle: Three Rings Of Circus Movie Mayhem!


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.

Valentine’s Day Fallout, Chapter Two: Love Most Peculiar in My Dog Tulip


February 15th, 2011

It is difficult to describe the feeling that My Dog Tulip leaves in one’s heart once the lights come up. The best answer is that you will probably feel several, which may contradict one another. That, and not really the questionable content, is what makes it a love story for grown-ups.

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


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.

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