Airborne (dir. by Rob Bowman)


1993’s Airborne is a guilty pleasure kind of film for me. It’s not a spectacular film by any means, but it has just about everything I adore from the 1990s.. Hockey, Rollerblades, Music, and a fun cast. Sometime last year, I was able to rent it off of Amazon, but it’s no longer available. I’m assuming it will eventually make the move over to HBO Max, but in the meantime, it’s available for rental on Youtube.

Airborne was Director Rob Bowman’s first feature after working on such shows as Star Trek: The Next Generation and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. He’d later go on to become a producer/director on The X-Files before eventually directing the first motion picture for the series, X-Files: Fight the Future. He’s since directed Reign of Fire and produced the ABC detective comedy, Castle.

Airborne is the tale of Mitchell Goosen (Shane McDermott, Swan’s Crossing), a kid who loves surfing and rollerblading more than anything. When his parents win a trip to Australia for six months, they send Mitchell to live with his cousin in Cincinnati. Of course, he’s a little out of place, but his cousin Wiley (Seth Green, Without a Paddle) tries to make things a little easier for Mitch.  Mitch’s laid back surfer attitude is a hit with the ladies, but the guys aren’t really liking his style. Jeff (Chris Conrad, The Next Karate Kid) has it out for Mitch, especially when Mitch meets Nikki (Brittany Powell, Fled) and costs Jeff’s hockey team a win against the annoying prep squad. Punishment for losing the hockey game is pretty messed up by high school standards, with the usual pranks laid out for both Mitch and Wiley.  Will Mitch be able to adjust to Cincinnati life, make new friends and live without his surfboard? I enjoyed the way Mitch finds a solution to his problem that fit his style.

There’s not a lot to say about the casting here. Among the leads, there’s a lot of young talent that went on to greater work. Some other notable faces are Jack Black (Jumanji: The Next Level), Alanna Ubach (Bombshell), and Jacob Vargas (Devil). They round out the cast well, but you don’t get to know too much about them.

Being 1993, Airborne took place just as the Internet was getting really started. This meant that outside of playing a Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis after homework was done, you went outside and played something like Stickball, skateboarding, basketball, street hockey or rollerblading. I think the nostalgia of it all is what brings me back to Airborne over time (especially now with so many limits on going outside). The rollerblading scenes in the film are great for the time period, thanks in part to Team Rollerblade. We have close-ups of riding, along with action shots that capture all of the intensity of riding in traffic. Stunt skaters slide under trucks, down along stairs , leap over cars and make some great moves in the big race.

Airborne is not without some cheesy moments. The music, while fun, is very dated. It’s the same kind of music you’d expect from 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Cool as Ice. The film has a number of filler scenes where Mitch is lost in a musical montage. Some tracks include the classic Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy”. and Jeremy Jordan’s “My Love is Good Enough”. There’s not a whole lot to be said about it. It was the Nineties. Additionally, it would be cool to find out what happened to Mitch after the six months. Did he decide to stay in Ohio for a while? Did he return to his parents, but still keep in touch with everyone on the skate crew? I suppose Mitchell Goosen’s future is left somewhere in the fan fiction world.

Overall, Airborne is a time capsule of a film, focusing on a time just before the Internet captivated everyone and going outside to play was the norm. It’s a good watch if you have a few hours to burn.

The Films of 2020: Artemis Fowl (dir by Kenneth Branagh)

What exactly is Artemis Fowl about?

Basically, it opens with news reports about the home of millionaire businessman Artemis Fowl (Colin Farrell) being raided by the police and the discovery that Fowl has apparently been stealing ancient artifacts from across the world.  A bearded man named Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad) is arrested at the house and is interrogated by …. someone.  I guess he’s being interrogated by an intelligence agency, I don’t know.  Mulch explains that he’s a dwarf and that he’s about to tell a story that will prove that magic exists which …. okay, I guess.

The story is about Artemis Fowl’s 12 year-old son, who is also named Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw).  The younger Artemis Foul is a criminal mastermind, just like his father, and he wears a suit and dark glasses and basically, he looks like a 12 year-old who dressed up like one of the Men In Black for Halloween.  Artemis Fowl the younger is investigating the disappearance of Artemis Fowl the older which leads to a search for a missing magical object.  Somehow, it all involves faeries and other magical figures. Judi Dench pops up a few times, looking stern.  There’s a lot of chase scenes and a few fight scenes, none of which really make much of an impression.

The plot of Artemis Fowl is pretty much impossible to follow, especially if you haven’t read (or, in my case, recently reread) the books on which the film is based.  A huge part of the problem is that the film itself doesn’t really develop any sort of individual personality.  For a film about a 12 year-old wearing a suit and concocting criminal schemes, Artemis Fowl is surprisingly bland.  It feels like a collection of scenes from other YA adaptations.  We get the slow motion fight scenes.  We get the magical scenes that feel as if they were lifted from a lesser entry from the Harry Potter series.  Indeed, a huge chunk of the film seems to be made up of discarded scenes from director Kenneth Branagh’s previous excursion into the world of fantasy and vaguely defined magic, Thor.  The film moves quickly but since nothing interesting or unusual is happening, you find yourself wishing that maybe the film would slow down for a just a minute or two and spend a bit of time exploring the world in which the two Artemis Fowls live.  It’s a remarkably undetailed fantasy world that Artemis Fowl presents us with.  I spent the majority of the movie wondering whether Judi Dench was supposed to be an elf or a faerie.  One of the great actress, Dench spends the entire film wearing pointed ears and looking rather annoyed.

Much like Dolittle, Artemis Fowl ends with the promise of more cinematic adventures, though it’s doubtful that promise will actually be fulfilled.  Also — and again like Dolittle — it’s hard not to feel that Artemis Fowl would have worked much better as an animated film than as a live action spectacular.  Unfortunately, Artemis Fowl is just too bland and borderline incoherent to really make much of a lasting impression.

The Films of 2020: Dolittle (dir by Stephen Gaghan)

Dolittle tells the story of Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey, Jr.), the eccentric doctor who can talk to the animals and who hasn’t had much use for humans ever since the tragic death of his wife, Lily (Kasia Smutniak).  Dolittle would be happy to just spend his entire life locked away in his estate, talking to Poly the Parrot (voice of Emma Thompson) and Chee-Chee the Gorilla (voice of Rami Malek) and all of the other animals but Dolitle has to eventually leave his home because otherwise, there wouldn’t be a movie.

When Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) is mysteriously taken ill, only Dolittle can save her.  Dolittle quickly realizes that the Queen has been poisoned and that the only cure for the poison is to be found on a tree that’s located on an island that no one has ever seen before.  Soon, Dolittle and the animals are sailing in search of the island.  Accompanying them is Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett), a sensitive teen who hates to hunt and who hopes to become Dolittle’s apprentice.  Pursuing Dolittle is the evil Dr. Blair Mudfly (Michael Sheen), who went to college with Dolittle and who is in cahoots with the conspirators who are trying to do away with Queen Victoria.

Got all of that?  I hope so because we haven’t even gotten to the dragon with a set of bagpipes crammed up her ass.  Yes, you read that correctly.

Last year, Dolittle was one of the few major studio productions to actually get a wide release before COVID-19 closed down all the theaters.  It was released in January, which is traditionally the time when studios release the films that they hope everyone will have forgotten about by the time April rolls around.  January is traditionally the month when studios release the films that they know aren’t any good.  And, indeed, the reviews of Dolittle were overwhelmingly negative.  Not only did the critics hate Dolittle but audiences were also rather unenthusiastic and the film bombed at the box office.  Indeed, under normal circumstances, the reaction to Dolittle and its subsequent box office failure would be considered one of the year’s biggest disasters.  However, 2020 was a year of disasters.  Compared to everything else that ended up happening over the past 12 months, Dolittle’s lukewarm reception seems almost quaint now.

Earlier today, I finally watched Dolittle on HBOMax.  I was expecting the film to be terrible but it’s actually not quite as bad as I had been led to believe.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  Dolittle has a ton of problems.  The tone is all over the place as the film tries to mix cartoonish humor with thrilling adventure in a style that owes more to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise than it does to Dr. Dolittle.  Despite a few self-consciously manic moments, Robert Downey, Jr. seems remarkably bored in the lead role.  Many of the jokes fall flat and the awkward attempts to shoehorn the usual message of “be true to yourself” into the film just felt awkward.  That said, the CGI animals were cute enough to hold my interest and that’s really the most important thing when it comes to a film like Dolittle.  Cute animals — even computer generated ones — help to make up for a lot of flaws.

Dolittle’s final scene hints at a sequel or even a franchise.  Considering the reaction to the first film, I doubt we’ll get a second.  I do think Dr. Dolittle could make for an enjoyable PIXAR film but it might be time to give the live action adaptations a rest.

The Online Film Critics Society Honors Nomadland

Nomadland chalked up yet another victory today as it was named Best Picture by the Online Film Critics Society.

Check out all of the OFCS winners below:

Best Picture
1. Nomadland
2. Da 5 Bloods
3. Promising Young Woman
4. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
5. First Cow
6. Minari
7. Sound of Metal
8. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
9. Soul
10. The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Animated Feature
Over the Moon
The Wolf House

Best Director
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods
Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Steven Yeun – Minari

Best Actress
Jessie Buckley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

Best Supporting Actor
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chadwick Boseman – Da 5 Bloods
Bill Murray – On the Rocks
Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Olivia Colman – The Father
Talia Ryder – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Youn Yuh-jung – Minari

Best Original Screenplay
Da 5 Bloods – Danny Bilson, Paul Demeo, Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee
Minari – Lee Isaac Chung
Never Rarely Sometimes Always – Eliza Hittman
Promising Young Woman – Emerald Fennell
The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Aaron Sorkin

Best Adapted Screenplay
First Cow – Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
I’m Thinking of Ending Things – Charlie Kaufman
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Nomadland – Chloé Zhao
One Night in Miami – Kemp Powers

Best Editing
Da 5 Bloods – Adam Gough
Mank – Kirk Baxter
Nomadland – Chloé Zhao
Tenet – Jennifer Lame
The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Alan Baumgarten

Best Cinematography
Da 5 Bloods – Newton Thomas Sigel
First Cow – Christopher Blauvelt
Mank – Erik Messerschmidt
Nomadland – Joshua James Richards
Tenet – Hoyte Van Hoytema

Best Original Score
Da 5 Bloods – Terence Blanchard
Mank – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Minari – Emile Mosseri
Soul – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Tenet – Ludwig Goransson

Best Debut Feature
Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Regina King – One Night in Miami
Darius Marder – Sound of Metal
Andrew Patterson – The Vast of Night

Best Film Not in the English Language
Another Round (Denmark)
Bacurau (Brazil)
Collective (Romania)
La Llorona (Guatemala)
Minari (United States)

Best Documentary
Boys State
Dick Johnson Is Dead
The Painter and the Thief

Technical Achievement Awards
Sound of Metal – Sound Design
Emma. – Costume Design
Tenet – Visual Effects
Mank – Production Design
The Invisible Man – Visual Effects

(This award is for the best films released outside the United States in 2020 that were not released in the United States during the eligibility period.)
A Beast in Love (Japan)
The Disciple (India)
Ghosts (Turkey)
Mogul Mowgli (United Kingdom)
New Order (Mexico)
Notturno (Italy)
Rocks (United Kingdom)
Saint Maud (United Kingdom)
Summer of 85 (France)
Undine (Germany)

Rob Bottin (Makeup Artist)
David Byrne (Composer)
Jane Fonda (Actor)
Jean-Luc Godard (Director)
Frederick Wiseman (Documentarian)

“Small Axe” — Director Steve McQueen created a series of films for the small screen that rivals the best of the theatrical features of the year, that can be seen individually and yet work together to explore a cultural experience largely unseen on big screens, television, or streaming to date.
Distributor Kino Lorber for being the first company to offer virtual film distribution as a way to help independent theaters during the pandemic through the Kino Marquee.
Kudos to the independent theater entities that participated in presenting “Virtual Cinema” when forced to close due to the pandemic. Films that otherwise may not have been seen were made available through online platforms, with ticket prices shared by the distributor with the theater.

Parting Really Is Such Sweet Sorrow : Colin Lidston’s “The Age Of Elves” #5

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Okay, fair enough, in purely chronological terms it may have only encompassed a handful of days, and in purely geographic terms it may have only taken us from Baltimore to Milwaukee and back again, but it certainly feels like we’ve been on quite a journey with the nerd/outcast clique at the heart of Colin Lidston’s sublime The Age Of Elves series from Paper Rocket Mini Comics, and in purely emotional terms it’s fair to say that we have — and so it’s only fitting, as this remarkably heartfelt, but decidedly unvarnished, look at the lives of high school “geeks” comes to a close, that the focus is squarely on Sara, the most fleshed-out character of the group and our “entry point” as readers from word go. Yes, this is an ensemble-cast story after a fashion, but it’s really been her story all along, and as such hers is the only…

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The AFI Has Announced Their Top Ten Films Of The Year!

The American Film Institute (the AFI) have announced their picks for the top ten American films of 2020.  The AFI is generally seen as being one of the most reliable of the Oscar precursors.  If a movie appears in its top ten list, there’s a good chance that it will also be nominated for Best Picture.  It’s not an exact science, of course.  There will usually be one or two films that manage to land a nomination without getting any recognition from the AFI.  But if a film is a major contneder, it will probably also appear on the AFI list.

(Last year, Parasite was not eligible for the AFI’s top ten because it was a Korean film but it still received a “special award.  This year’s special award goes to Hamilton, which I don’t think is considered to be Oscar eligible.  If the AFI really wanted to make an impact, they could have given the special award to Small Axe and restarted that whole “Is it a movie or a miniseries” debate from December.)

Here are the AFI’s top ten:

Da 5 Bloods
Judas And The Black Messiah
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
One Night In Miami…
Sound Of Metal
The Trial Of The Chicago 7


Here Are The Nominations of the North Texas Film Critics Association

The North Texas Film Critics Association announced their nominations for the best of 2020 yesterday.

Their nominations have some interesting quirks.  Even though they mostly nominated the usual suspects, they did also find time to nominate J.K. Simmons for Palm Springs.  They also showed Mank a bit more love than it’s been getting from the other critics groups.  North Texas is a far more weed-friendly than a lot of people realize and these nominations have a nice, mellow, let’s do whatever we want vibe to them.

The winners will be announced on November 26th!

The Trial of the Chicago 7
Promising Young Woman

Steven Yeun – Minari
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman

Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
David Fincher – Mank

Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Bill Murray – On the Rocks
JK Simmons – Palm Springs

Youn Yuh-jung – Minari
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Film
Ellen Burstyn – Pieces of a Woman

Hoyte Van Hoytema – Tenet
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland
Erik Messerschmidt – Mank

The Life Ahead (Italy)
Minari (Korea)
The Mole Agent (Chile)

All In: The Fight for Democracy
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution

Over the Moon

Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Film
Jessie Buckley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Linda May – Nomadland

The Trial of the Chicago 7
Da 5 Bloods
The Glorias

The Kansas City Film Critics Honor Both Nomadland and Promising Young Woman

Award season continues!

Yesterday, the Kansas City Film Critics announced their picks for the best of 2020.  Over the course of the awards season so far, Nomadland has dominated, with the occasional victory for a film like Promising Young Woman or Minari.  The Kansas City Film Critics ended up giving their best picture award to two films — Nomadland and Promising Young Woman.

In the history of the Oscars, there’s never been a tie for best picture.  Actually, considering that they now do ranked-choice voting for Best Picture, I don’t suppose there ever will be.  Still, wouldn’t it be nice if that happened occasionally?  Like both Moonlight and La La Land could have gone home with a Best Picture Oscar.  EVERYONE’S A WINNER!  Of course, it’ll never happen.  Someone will have to go home the loser.  Oh well.

Anyway, here’s the winners from Kansas City!  I assume this is the Kansas City that’s in Missouri as opposed to the Kansas City in Kansas.  Speaking of strange city names, did you know that there’s a Little New York, Texas?  It’s true!

Best Picture
Winners: Nomadland & Promising Young Woman (TIE)

Best Director
Winner: Chloe Zhao – Nomadland
Runner-Up: Aaron Sorkin – The Trial Of The Chicago 7

Best Actor
Winner: Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Runner-Up: Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Actress
Winner: Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman
Runner-Up: Frances McDormand – Nomadland

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Leslie Odom, Jr. – One Night in Miami
Runner-Up: Paul Raci – Sound of Metal

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Youn Yuh-Jung – Minari
Runner-Up: Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Original Screenplay
Winner: Promising Young Woman
Runner-Up: The Trial Of The Chicago 7

Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner: Nomadland
Runner-Up: I’m Thinking Of Ending Things

Best Cinematography
Winner: The Vast Of Night
Runner-Up: Mank

Best Animated Film
Winner: Wolfwalkers
Runner-Up: Soul

Best Foreign Language Film
Winner: Another Round
Runners-Up: 76, Bacurau & The Life Ahead

Best Documentary
Winner: The Dissident
Runner-Up: Crip Camp

Vince Koehler Award For Best SciFi/Horror/Fantasy
Winner: The Invisible Man
Runner-Up: The Vast Of Night

Tom Poe Award For Best LBGTQ Film
Winner: Kajillionaire
Runner-Up: The Prom

Little New York, Texas

Music Video of the Day: How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us by R.E.M. (1997, directed by Lance Bangs)

This song is from one of R.E.M.’s more underrated efforts, New Adventures in Hi-Fi.  As to what the song is actually about, there are many differing interpretations.  That’s kind of the par for the course when it comes to R.E.M.  The most frequent interpretation that I’ve seen is that Michael Stipe is singing about himself and all of the things that he wants that are unattainable.  Or it could be that Michael is actually singing about all of us and saying that no one will ever get what they want.  I’ve read at least one message board post that claimed that this was yet another song about the death of Kurt Cobain.

The music video was directed by Lance Bangs, who is still directing music videos to this day and who is married to Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney.  Bangs was also heavily involved with MTV’s Jackass, a show that changed the culture for better or worse.  Incidentally, Lance Bangs does not appear to be related to Lester Bangs.