Latest Entries »


By J. Torrey McClain

I have an outsized morbid curiosity.  I am in the midst of reading “Devil in the White City” about the 1893 World’s Fair and the serial killer that lurked just outside its gates.  I definitely enjoyed reading Bill James’s foray into something not related to baseball, “Popular Crime.”  I’ve included several books by criminal profiler John Douglas in my reading list over the last fifteen years.  I wrote about “Green River Killer: A True Detective Story” for  So, those personal facts may color my opinion, but I’m going to go ahead and say that if you’re looking for a true crime podcast, you can’t do any better than the season that “You Must Remember This” devotes to Charles Manson and the murders he and his family committed in the summer of 1969.* (

*However, if you’re looking for runner-ups, I suggest the first season of “Serial” from the producers of “This American Life,” and the ongoing “Criminal” that is part of the Radiotopia podcast network.  I’m sure you’ve already read WAY too much on “Serial,” but I may have to add my own “Hey Listen To This!” post on “Criminal” and several of the other members of Radiotopia.

Host Karina Longworth knows how to tell a story, gives the listener a bunch of great facts and lets you know when she ventures into the realm of speculation and rumor.  Each podcast episode comes with its own blog post that notes the sources Karina uses to edify and explain the years Manson spent living free outside of prison.  She connects Manson to various other figures in Hollywood like Dennis Wilson and Doris Day.  (I must say the Wilson part really intrigued me and got me to add his digital double album, “Pacific Ocean Blue & Bambu” to my music wish list.)  She takes her time telling the story, so the series runs for twelve episodes and each episode is at least a half an hour.  It’s not a rush job, it’s not a sample of one evening in the life, it’s a darn comprehensive look at a specific time and place centered around one of the most sensational and senseless crimes of the century.**

View full article »

You can’t get much funnier these days than the latest from action hero Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and stand-up comedian Kevin Hart.  Next summer they are teaming up in the buddy comedy Central Intelligence.  Both Hart and Johnson have been cranking out movies lately but they rarely miss a step.

In Central Intelligence Hart plays an accountant who reunites with a high school pal who ended up in the CIA, played by Johnson.  And Johnson’s agent decides to bring Hart’s character along for the ride.  It all looks pretty funny.

Central also features Ryan Hansen and Aaron Paul.

Check out Hart and The Rock in this first trailer for Central Intelligence:

Central Intelligence hits theaters June 17, 2016.

C.J. Bunce


The 2012 fairy tale film Snow White and the Huntsman was a pretty fun romp, telling a completely re-imagined version of Grimm’s Snow White story.  Next year most of the cast (no Snow White) is back in The Huntsman – Winter’s War, a version of the Ice Queen tale with one of our favorite actresses, Edge of Tomorrow’s Emily Blunt, as the new antagonist.

Blunt plays the sister of evil queen Ravenna.  Played again by Academy Award winning actress Charlize Theron.  Also returning is Chris Hemsorth as The Huntsman, Nick Frost as Nion, and Sam Claflin as William.  New to the story is Crimson Peak’s Jessica Chastain as the warrior Sara.

Check out this beautifully done trailer for The Huntsman – Winter’s War:

View full article »

by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Last month we offered our review of Guillermo del Toro’s new gothic film, Crimson Peak, raving over its atmosphere and performances.  Since it won’t be released in a home-viewing format for a while yet, how are we supposed to refresh our Crimson Peak fix until then?

Read the movie tie-in novel, of course!

crimson peak cover

Crimson Peak by veteran horror author Nancy Holder is a dead ringer for its onscreen counterpart, offering a scene-by-scene text recreation of the film.  But Holder often goes deeper, offering perspectives from characters not fully expressed on screen, elaborating on the story’s emotional arc, and adding to the haunting atmosphere with her own nuanced, sometimes surprising voice.

If you’ve seen the film, there’s nothing new here.  At times the book feels flat, as if the words alone can’t live up to the actors’ performances, and the author was required to give as close a blow-by-blow account as possible.  But in other moments, Holder’s own prose shines:

It watched the house’s breath scatter the dry leaves that drifted in, drifted by.  The walls were bleeding from fissures in the wallpaper.  Stab wounds, or a razor blade drawn across a vein? Moths flew out; maggots fed.  The mad head of the house was rotting, and night was dragging her wings across the moon, tracing filigree on the floor.  In the attic, more black moths were dancing because it was cold, because it was dark. Because they were hungry.

For the butterfly.

Oooh, shivery!

The biggest challenge here is the same minor plot weakness that caused the film to stumble a bit at the end.  With so much glorious setup, with the fantastic otherworldly intervention of the supernatural–which is what drew us to this story, after all!–Crimson Peak deserves a bigger payoff, a less predictable and mundane explanation for all the horror.  But Holder actually manages the material a little more deftly than it appeared on screen; the pacing is more dread-inducing as she doles it out piecemeal.  We already know what’s happening, and yet the book’s buildup is better than the film’s letdown.  Whatever Holder can’t render as stunningly via prose (del Toro’s visionary ghosts), she makes up for in suspense.

View full article »

You never know which movies will flop or not and which make enough money to merit a sequel.  We previously reviewed Now You See Me here at and although the ending didn’t quite deliver it was still a fun enough flick.  The draw is most likely the diverse cast, and that’s no different for its coming sequel.

Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are back with newcomers Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Radcliffe.  Notably not on the cast list is the original film’s co-lead Isla Fisher.

Here’s the first teaser trailer for Now You See Me 2:

Now You See Me 2 is scheduled for release June 10, 2016.

C.J. Bunce

by J. Torrey McClain

If you read, there’s a great chance you love pop culture in all of its forms. I would bet that most of you really love movies like I do. If you do, I have just the thing for you – Matt Gourley’s podcast “I Was There Too.”

Some of you may know Gourley from his appearance in Volkswagen commercials before VW imploded from within based on emission shenanigans. Others might know him from Superego, a fantastic comedy improv collective that has had episodes like this one devoted to H.R. Giger (voiced by Gourley) animated on YouTube. Others may know him from his other podcasts James Bonding and Pistol Shrimps Radio, his frequent guest appearances on the “Comedy Bang Bang” and “Spontaneanation” podcasts and more still from his hilarious collaboration with Andy Daly on the “Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project.” For those more visually inclined, you may have seen him on “Drunk History,” “Comedy Bang Bang” the television show, or heard his voice as he details the actions of his cat Margaux in the adventures of Margaux the fat guy.

View full article »

NASA space station photo

While we have all been busy here on Earth, the international assemblage of astronauts on the International Space Station have been moving on with their scheduled work week far up and away in Earth’s orbit.  The Expedition 45 crew has been busy this month with biomedical science, Cygnus mission preparations, and routine maintenance.

But this crew is not above letting its fanboy flag fly, donning the Jedi Knight look of Obi-Wan Kenobi, complete with lightsabers, for their NASA expedition poster.  What better way to keep the tie between science fiction and science fact?  You often hear about how many astronauts and NASA engineers and crew were influenced by Star Trek, but clearly Star Wars must have had a similar influence.

Expedition 45 includes flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui, who both have been in space for more than 100 days.  Yui has been working on experiment hardware inside Japan’s Kibo lab module.  Lindgren is conducting research on growing food in space for the Veggie botany experiment.  Commander Scott Kelly is prepping for the December arrival of the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft. View full article »

Arnold Terminator Genisys

Few sci-fi films are as revered as James Cameron’s Terminator and Terminator II: Judgment Day. Judgment Day is regarded by many as one of the greatest sequels to any movie ever made.  Both films made American Film Institute lists and are the kind of movies we can watch hundreds of times and still keep enjoying them.  Two sequels followed, no longer under the direction of Cameron, Terminator III: Rise of the Machines, a worthy but lesser sequel reviewed at here, and the far, far lesser Terminator: Salvation.  So coming into the fourth sequel this past summer with the opening of director Alan Taylor’s Terminator Genisys, expectations by many were low.  But fans of sci-fi and borgs knew a winner when they saw it.

Somehow Terminator Genisys manages to be not only good, but great, and not only that, it manages to equal the punch and excitement of both Terminator and Terminator II.  A pretty big feat that holds its own even off the big screen on the newly released 3D Blu-ray, DVD, and Ultraviolet releases available this month.

Terminator Genisys cast

That’s right, if you love the universe of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sometimes villain, sometimes hero Terminator T-800, you’re going to love this film, which is not only loyal to James Cameron’s originals, it flat-out amps up the sci-fi and takes every element that made the earlier films great and expands them into new, exciting places.  This includes time travel, big action, story twists, casting, acting, and all the cybernetic tech you could hope for.  Adhering to a carefully laid out plan covering two parallel timelines (that we know of), we revisit the first Terminator trip to 1984 and learn about two other time jumps that illustrate Kyle Reese’s important line from the first movie: “The future is not set.  There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”   In fact in Reese’s first conversation with Sarah he made the same point, calling her future “one possible future.”  These seeds planted in the original allow this new story to take off.

View full article »

Finn in Falcon

Just stop watching the Internet, TV, movie trailers.  Stop–if you don’t want to see most of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in snippets before the movie premieres next month.  The cartoon network DisneyXD has released a preview of its own this weekend, sneaking in more footage of the First Order (the new bad guys) and the Resistance (the new good guys).

Watch the new preview, after the break, if you dare!  But don’t expect to find any actual spoilers if you’ve been watching all the other movie and TV trailers and teasers released this year.

Rey Falcon

New scenes in this preview feature Finn, Rey and the new villain General Hux.

View full article »


If you missed this one in the theater earlier this year, now is the time to see what you missed out on.  It’s the big screen release of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a retelling–or more accurately, a total reboot–of the 1960s television series available on Blu-ray tomorrow.  It’s an adaptation in that it takes the framework of the show—an American and a Russian working together as Cold War era spies—yet director Guy Ritchie makes this work stand completely by itself.  The fact that it’s based on a classic series may turn away viewers who may be tired of other remakes of 1960s shows like Get Smart and The Avengers (both of which were good standalone films).  But that would be a great loss, as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is not only as stylish as advertised in our favorite trailer of the year, it’s a classy and smart story and a superb re-creation of the early 1960s.

It’s no surprise that this film relishes its Bond influences–Henry Cavill’s character Napoleon Solo was created by Ian Fleming, the same Ian Fleming that created Bond. Yet the movie is fresh and new.  The story and Cavill’s performance evoke Matt Bomer’s role of stylish and cocky ex-art thief-turned government man on TV’s White Collar. In fact Cavill is a dead ringer for Bomer.  Likely it’s just a coincidence but if you loved White Collar you’ll love this film.  And any doubts you may have as to Cavill’s acting because of the poorly written part he was stuck with in Man of Steel will be wiped away with his confident and suave Solo.  Even better is Armie Hammer’s performance as Illya Kuryakin.  Any doubts you may have as to Hammer’s acting from his lead role in The Lone Ranger will also be wiped away.  Hammer’s performance as a KGB agent in need of some anger management is nuanced and layered.  The idea of putting some Ennio Morricone musical queues behind Hammer and adding a Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry twitch are simply inspired.  This is a great team and a film that sets itself up for an exciting sequel.

Cavill Debicki Man from UNCLE

As commanding a presence as Cavill and Hammer have, they are almost upstaged by the equally important roles played by Alicia Vikander as the German daughter of a rocket scientist and Elizabeth Debicki as the ultimate Bond villain.  The villainy in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is surprisingly as powerful, seething, and fun as any 1960s Bond film.  All of this is a credit to Ritchie’s bankable directorial and writing prowess. A fan of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Ritchie knows how to get the best out of partnerships here, just as he did with his Sherlock Holmes movie series.

View full article »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 752 other followers

%d bloggers like this: