"DVD Journal deserves its reputation as the 'New Yorker' of DVD review sites." — Film columnist D.K. Holm, The Aisle View
"A movie is not about what it is about. It is about how it is about it."
"A bad film is an object out there. A good film is a presence in here."
— Roger Ebert
"Afraid? Me? A man who's licked his weight in wild caterpillars?"
— Groucho Marx, Monkey Business
Nora: "I read you were shot five times in the tabloids."
Nick: "It's not true. He didn't come anywhere near my tabloids."
— Myrna Loy and William Powell, The Thin Man
"The cuckoo clock. So long, Holly."
— Orson Welles, The Third Man
"Jack Cole's 'Plastic Man' belongs high on any adult's How to Avoid Prozac list, up there with the best of S.J. Perelman, Laurel and Hardy, Damon Runyon, Tex Avery and the Marx Brothers." Art Spiegelman,
The New Yorker, April 19, '99
"I always dress appropriately and impeccably for all occasions. I would show you a snapshot of myself in a G-string, taken at Simm-La, with a flying wombat, dingo dog and a wily platypus."
Professor Posthlewhistle (W.C. Fields)
Movies (and other shiny objects)
I like, and like to write about, movies. So these pieces, aimed at their venues' various formats and target audiences, run the gamut from review and commentary to simply yours truly chatting (in, one hopes, an entertaining fashion) about releases that I think are worth spending time with. Or, in at least one case, about movies that just make me pig-biting mad.
Alongside my occasional fiction bylines, these are the items that generate the most "fan mail" that I receive. And that's steak and champagne to a guy like me. Keep it coming, and thankya much.
Fwiw, I'm apparently one of RottenTomatoes' "Top Critics," so many of the links below exist there as well, where you can sort them under Fresh, Rotten, and so on.
Update: In occasional posts at my "mostly movies" blog, Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL, I elaborate on some of these pieces, updating and blogifying those that I'd like to revisit. Plus other stuff too, of course. Some popular feature posts there include:
When the editor of DVD Journal — "the most readable and enjoyable DVD site on the Web," as one reader put it, or "wonderful" according to Entertainment Weekly, or #34 on "Men's Journal 100 Best Websites For Guys" (mmm, okay) — invited me to join his crackshot team of columnists, naturally I said Oh hell yeah.
For six years and some half-million words, it was a pleasure to be in their company. Plus, of course, I couldn't complain about getting free DVDs straight from the studios before they hit the streets.
Although DVD Journal is no longer updated as a destination site, its nearly 4,000 reviews remain up online, archiving a decade's worth of enjoyable critique and commentary. I still get email from its readers and am frequently pullquoted on other sites that use the J as a resource. (The New York Film Forum quoting me alongside Roger Ebert was a real "thumbs up" example.) One of the first and finest, it is missed.
- The Abominable Dr. Phibes: Curses! (See also Dr. Phibes Rises Again)
- The Adventures of Robin Hood: In like Flynn. (See also The Adventures of Errol Flynn)
- The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother: Elementary
- Alfie: Caine, birds, what it's all about
- Alice in Wonderland (Jonathan Miller's 1966 version): Drink me
- And Now For Something Completely Different: It's...
- Angels With Dirty Faces: Whaddya hear, whaddya say?
- The Anniversary Party: Leigh, Cumming, no twinkie
- Backbeat: There are places I remember...
- Ballad of a Soldier: Russian, war, what if?
- Bamboozled: Spike, Savion, coon
- Batman: The Movie (1966): Going to camp
- Battlefield Earth: Sigh, fie.
- Beauty and the Beast (La belle et la bête) (1946): Cocteau, don't ya know
- Bedazzled (1967): Hellzaswingin'
- The Best Arbuckle/Keaton Collection: Fatty, meet Buster
- La bête humaine: Those human beasts
- Blood Simple: Coen, Coen, gone
- The Broadway Melody: Give my regards
- The Broadway Theatre Archive series:
- Alice in Wonderland: Carroll, Burton squared, beautiful soup
- Antigone: Anouilh, Sophocles, Bujold
- Fifth of July: Wilson, Talley, chill
- The Glass Menagerie: Hepburn,
- The Iceman Cometh: O'Neill, Robards, Lumet
- King Lear: James Earl Jones and Raul Julia, oh yeah!
- The Royal Family: Kaufman, bagatelle, Barrymores
- The Seagull: Chekhov, Langella, Danner
- The Time of Your Life: Saroyan, Nick's place, Pulitzer
- Working: Studs, Schwartz, subpar
- Mel Brooks:
- Brubaker: Redford, prison, corruption
- Bus Stop: Cowboys and Marilyns
- The Buster Keaton Collection: MGM lyin'
- Buster Keaton, etc.: The Cook and Other Treasures: Together again
- Captain Blood: Alright, my hearties!
- Captain Horatio Hornblower: Gregory Peck holds the Mayo
- Carmen Jones: Grand old opera
- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Mint julips and hot slips
- Cecil B. Demented: John Waters bites the hand
- The Celluloid Closet: Studio man dates
- The Chaplin Collection, Volumes 1 & 2:
- The Chaplin Mutual Comedies: 90th Anniversary Edition: The art of the funny
- Charley Bowers: The Rediscovery of an American Comic Genius: Gonzo before gonzo was cool
- The Chess Player: Mate!
- The Complete Monterey Pop Festival: Janis, Jimi, and other deities
- Copacabana: Groucho, ouch-o
- Count Yorga, Vampire: 1970, L.A., catfood
- Countess Dracula / The Vampire Lovers: Feeling Hammered
- The Cranes Are Flying: Russian, war, crucible
- The Crawling Eye: Brits, "B," killer balloons
- Crossing Delancey: Oy! meets girl
- Curse of the Demon / Night of the Demon: Dana Andrews said prunes / Gave him the runes / And passing them used lots of skills
- The Day the Earth Stood Still: Klaatu barada nikto, baby
- Diary of a Chambermaid: Buñuel's bourgeois bosoms
- The Doctor and the Devils: If I had a Hammer...
- Dogma: Kevin Smith's kumbaya
- Donnie Darko: Dark, darker, Darko
- Donnie Darko: Director's Cut: Sometimes more is less
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932/1941): Hyde and chic
- Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler: From 1922, Fritz Lang's life and crimes of Dr. Mabuse
- Dr. Strangelove: Kubrick's klassic Kold War komedy
- Dracula: The Dark Prince: History bites
- Drive-In Discs: The Giant Gila Monster / The Wasp Woman: Cheese, honk, Boop
- Drôle de drame: What Gaul!
- Ed Wood: Pie plates over Hollywood
- An Evening with Kevin Smith: Silent Bob speaks
- Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux sans visage): Lift and separate
- Fantastic Voyage: Navel maneuvers
- Fiend Without a Face: The great brain robbery
- Forbidden Planet: Yow! Anne Francis and Robby the Robot
- Freaks: One of us, one of us...
- Frenzy: A Hitch knot
- The Front: Pointing fingers
- Funeral in Berlin: Caine, Cold War, counterespionage
- The General / Steamboat Bill Jr.: WWBD?
- Gormenghast: Mervyn's peak
- The Great Escape: Dig it
- The Great Race: Lemmon, Curtis, 2,357 pies
- Ray Harryhausen — "This is Dynamation!"
- The Haunting ('63): In the night, in the dark....
- Häxan / Witchcraft Through the Ages: 1922 Danish diabolism
- Here Comes Mr. Jordan: Heaven can chill a while
- Holmes, Sherlock, movies of:
- Hollywood Shuffle: Townsend, MasterCard, Winky Dinky
- House of Wax: Waxing nostalgic
- House on Haunted Hill (1959) : Price inflation
- Our Man Flint: Double-naught spoof.
See also In Like Flint: Sequel, unequal
- The Innocents: The screw turns
- Invaders from Mars: Green footy pajamas
- It! The Terror from Beyond Space: Rocketmen, Ripleyless, zipperback "Crash"
- I Vampiri: Euro, Bava, bloodwork
- Ivanhoe: Knights in shining amour
- The Jerk: Martinized
- Jersey Girl: Director dad
- Journey to the Center of the Earth: Mason jarred
- Junebug: Family happens
- Kind Hearts and Coronets: All in the family
- King Kong (1933): Long live the Kong
- Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi: Pleasant under Glass
- The Ladykillers (1955): Guinness, no Kenobi
- Lenny: Bruce, Fosse, Hoffman
- Let's Make Love: Marilyn, Yves, argh
- Lost Continent: Not lost enough
- The Lost World: Dinosaurs on the loose in 1925!
- Louisiana Story: Robert Flaherty's black (and white) gold
- The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit: Buttoned down
- The Man in the White Suit: Guinness, extra dry
- Man of Aran: Flaherty's Irish eyes
- The Marx Brothers: Silver Screen Collection: Hooray hooray hooray!
- The Marx Brothers' MGM years:
- M*A*S*H: Altman, blood-n-yuks
- Me & Isaac Newton and Inspirations: Science, art, Apted
- Monsters and Madmen: Four B's in a box
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail: It is a silly place
- Murder by Death: Simon's, silly, sleuths
- Murder, My Sweet: Big gumshoes to fill
- My Life: Keaton, Kidman, kitsch
- Nosferatu: Murnau's German horror classic. What was it about 1922?
(See also Nosferatu: The Gothic Industrial Mix)
- À nous la liberté: A Clair eclair, n'est pas?
- The Oblong Box / Scream and Scream Again: Midnite madness
- October Sky: Upwardly mobile
- Oedipus Rex (1957): A boy and his mother
- Oleanna: Minor Mamet
- The Origins of Film: 1900-1926: From the Library of Congress Video Collection
- Pandora's Box: Our Miss Brooks
- Patton: Good soldiers
- Petulia: Uncommon
- The Phantom of the Opera (1925/29): Won't you come home, Lon Chaney
- Play It Again, Sam: Woody, Diane, Bogey
- The Poe films of Roger Corman:
- The President's Analyst: Spy vs. Spy (repeat as necessary)
- The Public Enemy: Bang bang
- Requiem for a Heavyweight: Sterling Serling
- The Revenge of Frankenstein: There's a light over at the Frankenstein place
- The River: Renoir relaxes
- The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone: Fluids and vapors
- Rope: Hitchcock's theatrical experiment
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead: Alas, poor Stoppard
- Round Midnight: Smoke, connections, jazz
- The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming: It's a Vlad, Vlad, Vlad world
- Saboteur: Hitch, snitch, switch
- Samurai Jack The Premiere Movie: Hie-ya!
- Space Ghost Coast to Coast Volume 1
- The Sea Hawk: Avast ye
- More Peter Sellers:
- Shadow of the Vampire: Lights! Camera! Jugular!
- Shaolin: Wheel of Life: Cirque du Kung Fu
- She Creature: Fish food
- The Sheik / The Son of the Sheik: Valentino Valentino
- Shortbus: Think kink
- Singin' in the Rain: It's a guy thing
- Slapstick Encyclopedia (1909-1929): So many movies, so little disc space
- Slapstick Masters: See, what'd I tell you?
- Smothered: The Censorship Struggles of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: Waist-deep in TV's big muddy
- The Song of Bernadette: And then along comes Mary
- Some Like It Hot: The sweet end of the lollipop
- The Spirit of the Beehive: Spanish class
- Spirits of the Dead: Three Tales of the Macabre by Edgar Allan Poe: Felinni, Malle, Vadim (and that Poe again)
- Stage and Spectacle: Three Films by Jean Renoir (The Golden Coach, French Cancan, Elena and Her Men): All the world's a stage, oui?
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture: "It sucks less now"
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Now that's more like it
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: What I'd really like to do is direct
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: Trek jumps the
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier: Share the pain
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: Guess who's coming to dinner
- Star Trek: First Contact: Assimilated
- The Stunt Man: If God could do the tricks that we can do
- Sunrise (1927): Silent is golden
- Superman III and Superman IV: Asparagus, black licorice, bad sushi
- Sweet Bird of Youth: Tennesseedy
- The Testament of Dr. Mabuse: Puttin' on the Fritz
- The Thing from Another World: When carrots attack
- Things to Come: H.G. Wells explains it all for you
- The Third Man: A slice of Lime
- Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould: Variations on a theme
- This Island Earth: Pulped
- The Three Musketeers (1948): Gene Kelly's royal rascal
- The Time Machine (1960): George Pal's sci-fi adventure favorite
- The Time Machine (2002): Dishwater: 10, common sense: 0
- To Be or Not to Be: Der Führer's face
- To Kill a Mockingbird: The times they are...
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: What submarines are supposed to look like
- 2001: A Space Odyssey: Kubrick's cosmic koan
- Under the Roofs of Paris (Sous les toits de Paris): More René Clair savoir-faire
- The Universal Classic Monster Collection, Series Three:
- The Virgin Spring: Bergman's jiggery-pokery
- The War of the Worlds (1953): Because "skeleton rays" are always cool
- When Worlds Collide: Pal, zoom, doom
- White Heat: Top o' the world
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Singing a happy toon
- The Wicker Man (1973): Murder, pagans, C. Lee
- Wonder Boys: Good choices
- The World's Greatest Lover: Wilder, please
- X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes: Corman, Visine, God (or not)
- Yankee Doodle Dandy: It's a grand old film
- Ziegfeld Follies: Bejeweled, bespangled, bewildering
By request, here are the titles that represent stellar releases from the Criterion Collection.
TV on DVD
- Babylon 5: The Gathering / In the Beginning, then seasons 1,
- Battlestar Galactica Season One, 2.0, and 2.5
- Lost in Space Season 1
- M*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen
- The Outer Limits: The Original Series Seasons 1 and 2
- Star Trek: The Original Series Seasons 1, 2, 3
- Star Trek: The Next Generation Seasons 1,
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Seasons 1,
- Tales of Tomorrow
- The Twilight Zone: Season 1 (The Definitive Edition)
- WKRP in Cincinnati: The Complete First Season
For a while I was a producer and writer for Film.com, which takes a pop-oriented, Entertainment Weekly approach to "movie reviews, TV shows, television listings, DVD releases, independent movies, and celebrity news and gossip." It was a fun gig, mostly on the home video beat.
Striving Under the Influence: A Good Chat with Elvis Mitchell
The Source of 'Outsourced' is Experience, Says Director
David X. Cohen On Futurama: Bender's Big Score
Hail Freedonia! Marx Bros. Classic 'Duck Soup' Gets a 75th Anniversary Celebration
George Carlin: Rebel Without a Pause
The Good News About The Golden Compass
Amy Poehler in ASSSSCAT!, John Lennon with Tom Snyder
Disc Pick of the Week: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Blimey, The Best of British Comedy DVDs
TV on DVD: A New Doctor Who Fan's Guide to Old Doctor Who
War, Revolution, and Guillotines - Danton, Il Generale Della Rovere (The Criterion Collection)
Trafic (The Criterion Collection)
Mr. Thank You and Other Travels With Hiroshi Shimizu (Criterion Eclipse Series)
Dodes'ka-den (The Criterion Collection)
The Lady Vanishes, Sawdust and Tinsel (The Criterion Collection)
The Meridian Collection Launches with The Red Violin and Diva
Chaplin - 15th Anniversary Edition
Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window - The Master Remastered
Under the Radar: Kabluey, Snow Angels, Rest Stop 2
Shoot 'Em Up, Resident Evil, The Tudors, War
Good Luck Chuck, The Ten, Family Guy: Blue Harvest, Saving Sarah Cain
The Last Legion: This Tale of Excalibur Doesn't Cut It
Stardust: On a Claire Danes You Can See Forever
'Once' Worth Seeing Twice, Three Times, or Four
Married With Movies: Sex and the City
The Odd Couple - Paramount Centennial Collection
Breakfast at Tiffany's, Funny Face - Paramount Centennial Collection
Video Views and News: Hulk is Green, Bond is Blu, U.N.C.L.E. is Sweet, and Criterion Too
Something New, Something Blu at The Criterion Collection
Pinocchio - Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition
Kill Bill: If Hattori Hanzo Made Little Shiny Discs
Synecdoche, New York
Capote, In Cold Blood, and Gandhi
The Dark Knight
Casablanca: Ultimate Collector's Edition - Here's Looking at Blu, Kid
Since I left, the site has undergone a full-body makeover and redesign, including behind-the-scenes code changes that altered formatting, broke some links, and made an unknown number of my pieces there vanish into pixel limbo. So while I can't promise that all the links below still work, here's a representative sampling that (so far) have survived the upgrades in some form and fashion: