Review: Spidey is “Far From Home,” in a movie that is far from memorable

Spider-Man’s movies, more than any other superhero this side of the DC/Marvel divide, are identified by their villains—how memorable they are, and often the tangible connection they have to the movie’s most memorable scenes.

The one with a tentacled Alfred Molina, and the train battle.

The one with a winged Michael Keaton, and the twist that bares its teeth en route to a high school dance.

The one with a cackling Willem Defoe, and that stupendously horrific metal mask.

In “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” the big bad is the big bowl-headed Mysterio—a fascinatingly zany, stoicly formulaic amalgam played by the consistently zany, never-formulaic Jake Gyllenhaal, who fills his armored suit with the unkillable ambition of a smartass whose plans seemingly depend on being little more than a smartass. Gyllenhaal’s presence is the movie’s cheeky wink in A-list actor form, never less than incredulous and never more than high-concept gag, Continue reading →

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Review: Theron stunningly powers ‘Long Shot,’ in which politicians try to act their age

There’s a lot of unsubtle implication in “Long Shot.” So very many will be turned off by it. I rather think it works in its favor.

The comparable presence of things said and unsaid – many times they’re one in the same – powers the movie’s comedy, its sweet core and the unexpected veracity of its progressive commentary, which provides the political rom-com a greater degree of substance than initially expected to the first third of that trifold description.

The movie is funny. Really funny. And the high levels of enthusiasm forming the foundation of its jokes and romance over roughly two hours, the stuff that makes watching “Long Shot” akin to peering into a warped alternate timeline of our own political reality, ensure the movie is simultaneously a time capsule of starkly 2019 window dressing and an evergreen suggestion of accountability on the part of those whose steady gaining of influence correlates with a slow drying-up of conviction at the well of power. Continue reading →

What 2018’s films taught me

For as long as they’ve existed, movies have been synonymous with entertainment. We sit down in the theater, $6.00 Coke and $7.50 popcorn in hand, with the expectation that we’ll be awed by memorable performances, transcendent storytelling and the latest razzle-dazzle in what special effects have to offer.

But the cinema is also a classroom, a place where we learn things about ourselves and the world around us. Directors, screenwriters, production designers, cinematographers, special effects teams—they’re all artists, yes. They’re also philosophers, psychologists and theorists; people who seek to bring messages through their medium. Like all artists, they aren’t creating something for the sake of creating something. Continue reading →

Review: ‘Widows’ is an increasingly rare caliber of thriller, and bold new territory for Steve McQueen

There’s a scene early in “Widows” – Steve McQueen’s latest and most unorthodoxly mainstream movie – in which Robert Duvall’s aging, racist local statesman tells his son and heir that his new $50,000 painting comes across as mere wallpaper.

Colin Farrell’s Jack Mulligan responds with a nondescript rebuke, as if on a deeper level he doesn’t fully disagree: “It’s art.”

The brief exchange can garner a universal chuckle for those watching in a moviehouse, but one gets the sense that isn’t McQueen’s intention. How we react to the scene, after all, is also a product of our experiences.

Would $50,000 turn our lives around? Is it pocket change? Do we ever dream of being at a place where that sum of money could be spent on a single, needless piece of wall decor? Could we dream of it? Continue reading →

Stan Lee’s impact on someone who never opened a comic book

I had just turned 9 years old when Dad took me to see “Spider-Man 2” at an Indiana movie theater. It was the summer of 2004, and there was little foundation in my mind for what I could expect to marvel at on the big screen, other than the first Spidey movie and a tie-in computer game I spent some time playing a few years prior.

Of course, that didn’t stop me, nor millions of others, from having a hell of a moviegoing experience. In 2018 “Spider-Man 2” still a highlight of the genre—even though its arrival was still early in the era of the superhero movie, when Marvel Cinematic Universe wasn’t yet a part of the Hollywood lexicon.

It was also a movie that led me to an epiphany. Continue reading →

Our Backstory, Season 1: The history and consequences of priest abuse in New Mexico

Trailer: Welcome to “Our Backstory”

From KOB-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico, our investigative team examines, discusses and reports on topics with relevance not only in our state, but across all 50. These are the extra details, extra soundbites and extra tidbits of information that may not have fit into our TV coverage, straight into your ears.

For the latest news from KOB, visit our website.

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Episode 1: A grain in the sands of abuse

For years, abuse by Catholic clergy in one northern New Mexico archdiocese was rampant. We talked to two survivors about their experiences, and confront one of those former priests themselves.

For KOB 4’s original report on Sabine Griego and his victims, click here.

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Episode 2: The court battle

Before reporting on the crisis of priest abuse in New Mexico, we went to court to fight for the unsealing of documents that would become the bedrock of our reporting. An Albuquerque attorney joins us for a discussion on that legal fight.

For more on KOB 4’s court fight, as well as links to other reports in this series on KOB.com, click here.

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Episode 3: An isolated hell – Part 1

In the first of this two-part report, we travel to a town that is small even for New Mexico, and to a lonely abandoned building where unchecked sexual abuse by one man was rampant over 40 years ago.

For KOB 4’s original report on Hacienda de los Muchachos, click here.

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Episode 4: An isolated hell – Part 2

In the second part of this two-part report, we return to the lonely town of Farley, New Mexico, where dozens of boys were abused at an isolated ranch-turned-isolated hell. What, and who, brought an end to it?

For KOB 4’s original report on Hacienda de los Muchachos, click here.

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Episode 5: Not a pedophile, not a priest

In an act of good faith to try and repair its trust with the public, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in late 2017 released a list of what it referred to as 74 credibly accused priests.

A few months later, a pair of lawsuits allege that the list is inaccurate.

For KOB’s original report on this story, click here.

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Episode 6: Who’s to blame?

Hundreds of abused boys and girls swells to hundreds of thousands when you examine the clergy abuse crisis on a national scale. Many of the factors that led to priest abuse in New Mexico parallel trends across the country, and even around the world.

On this series finale of Our Backstory, we talk to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests about the ongoing fight to hold the right people accountable, as well as why a culture change is needed as much as a legal one.

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For the podcast website, click here. 

Review: In gorgeous ‘Blade Runner 2049,’ a new standard for sequels is set

There’s something that feels ironically punctual when experiencing “Blade Runner 2049,” 35 years after the debut of the iconic and innovative original continues to influence pop culture in ways we’ve become accustomed to by now.

Maybe it’s the fact that the long-gestating sequel was always waiting, in spirit, for Denis Villeneuve, like he was some long-awaited prophet whose destiny it was to accomplish the impossible on multiple levels (and accomplish, he has).

It could just be that we’re a little over a year away from when the events of Ridley Scott’s film take place – a bleak, dystopian take on impoverished 2019 Los Angeles that in many ways mirrors the personality some parts of the country have taken on: Desolate and deadly. Continue reading →

Review: For “mother!” Aronofsky trades subtlety for potentially meaningful mayhem

“It affects everyone in a different way,” says a narcissistic Javier Bardem in Darren Aronofsky’s hieroglyphics-filled-cavern of a movie, “mother!”

Yeah. I’ll say.

This is a film that has been nothing if not a bastion for discussion as the Cinematic Year transitions to awards season. “IT” has horrified mainstream audiences for two weeks (as well as satisfied New Line Cinema to the tune of the biggest horror opening ever) and I’d like to think that Paramount picked the week after to release “mother!” in order to provide a different – a VERY different – sort of disturbing experience in the theater. Continue reading →

Review: ‘It’ a thrilling, if flawed, big-budget horror offering

There hasn’t been very much in the way of blockbuster horror lately.

Instead it’s been a tale of two extremes for the genre; either we’ve had the student film-esque, cheap scare formula made popular by Paranormal Activity that resides in cheese territory, or arthouse offerings like It Follows and The Witch with subtext that is sometimes scarier than anything manifested onscreen.

The Conjuring comes closest to representing a compromise of the two sub-genres, with its sense of bigger-scale, crowd-pleasing terror that doesn’t forget about the importance of character. Continue reading →

Review: ‘War’ stunningly caps a monumental ‘Apes’ trilogy

It’s hard to imagine a scenario decades down the road where the modern Planet of the Apes trilogy is neglected to be brought up when discussing the best films of the 2010s.

In an era dominated by the superhero genre, where the merging of smart cinema with popcorn fare yields more misses than bullseyes, these Apes movies – Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn and now War – have managed to strike the most high-wire acts of tonal balances, providing a go-to how-to on how to reboot a classic franchise in the process.

At the same time, it’s elevated Andy Serkis and the potential of motion capture/CGI performances to a higher level of stardom that continues to be underappreciated over the franchise’s run. Continue reading →