A Good Scare (2011 Oct 31)

As FDR famously declared, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." To that end, we have an entire holiday dedicated to the experience. Haunted houses, once the province of local impresarios who gathered a few friends and opened an amateur ...

The DVD Collector's Lament (2011 Oct 21)

I have amassed what I consider to be a respectable DVD & Blu-Ray collection: about 1300 movie titles and a fair number of TV shows (although not nearly as many). A few years ago, when I moved into my current house, I thought that by the end of 2011, ...

The Anti-Social Network (2011 Oct 11)

My first encounter with the Internet occurred in September 1985. When I started in the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, I was given something called an "e-mail address." Despite being a card-carrying geek, I ...

The Great Netflix Customer Rebellion (2011 Sep 27)

When it comes to Netflix's streaming service, the promise is in the premise, not in the execution. My ideal future movie service would be something that allowed me to box up all my DVDs and not buy another one. I also don't want to have to worry ...

George Lucas: Childhood Rapist? (2011 Sep 19)

Star Wars was not my first love. By the time it came out in 1977, I had already enjoyed flirtations with baseball, astronomy, dinosaurs, and monster movies. I had developed an unrequited crush on Jessica Lange. I had spent countless afternoons ...

The Day that Changed Little (2011 Sep 11)

NOTE: As I was writing this, it occurred to me that so much is being written about 9/11 on its tenth anniversary that there's little (if anything) I can add to the discussion. But, having penned an essay on each anniversary of the day since then (...

Junk Food (2011 Sep 06)

The American appetite for junk food has escalated over the past two decades. When I was a kid in the dark ages of the 1970s, the concept of "fast food" was more a novelty than a necessity. Most of the time when I went out with my mother and ...

Barenaked Actresses (2011 Aug 15)

In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking. But now, heaven knows, anything goes. (Cole Porter)For boys of a certain age (my age, that is), many experienced their first glimpse of the mature, naked female form via Hugh ...

The Halftime Top 10, 2011 Edition (2011 Jul 12)

I started compiling mid-year Top 10 lists a number of years ago, in large part to argue that there are oases in the vast desert of the early-year movie release schedule. Since that first list was posted in July 2004, the landscape hasn't changed much...

Of Thrones and Rings and Seeing the Vision (2011 Jun 22)

Midnight on December 19, 2001. Having missed the press screening due to a clerical error on the part of New Line Cinema, I was waiting impatiently for the movie to start while lounging in a seat near the back of my then-local theater. The seats weren...

They Just Don't Get It (2011 May 31)

I thought it was about time to write a new blog entry, given that it has been more than a month since my last one. The joys of fatherhood and keeping up with an increasingly less-inspired batch of new theatrical releases... At some point, I may even ...

Welcome Back, Doctor (2011 Apr 22)

Once upon a time, the TV show Doctor Who was a cult phenomenon in the United States. Shown at strange hours mostly on PBS stations, the British sci-fi/fantasy show infamous for its (occasional) over-the-top acting and (frequent) bad special effects, ...

The 2011 Nudity Column (2011 Apr 14)

It's not that there isn't nudity in films any more. Quite the contrary; approximately 50% of R-rated movies on average have toplessness, bottomlessness, or something in between. What's different in the '10s is that it's rare for one of the leads to ...

Movies, By Any Other Name (2011 Apr 01)

"James, you take movies too seriously." Those words (or ones nearly like them) were spoken to me 24 years ago by my college girlfriend, Tracie. They were true then and, if anything, they are truer today. Ironically, her theatrical experience (among ...

Abbreviated Day-After Thoughts (2011 Feb 28)

As Meatloaf crooned, "Two out of three ain't bad." Or, to be precise, 13 out of 21 for 62%. My gambit of thinking a pro-The King's Speech surge would carry the film to wins in a number of the lesser categories didn't pay off, but it still won the ...

Superbowl for Women (2011 Feb 26)

The first time I watched an Oscar telecast was during the mid-1970s. I don't remember much about it since it started around my bedtime and finished long after I had drifted off. 35 years ago, the Academy Awards were a different sort of program. To ...

The Time Waster (2011 Feb 05)

You could consider this a product review of Apple's iPad. Kind of.I received an iPad as a Christmas gift, so I have had more than a month to put it through its paces and, while I won't claim to have truly plumbed its depths, I have used it for a ...