Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. The temperature is going to drop this week, so it must be heavyweight season at the movie theater. The hollow ground of summer guilty pleasures are resting now, and the big guns are coming out. Oscar-caliber performances! Latex-smothered actors! Envy! Steve McQueen! The time is now to remember sleep is only an option and you could be watching a movie instead of closing your eyes.
How do I know that? I've watched 14 movies these past ten days. Eight documentaries and six new film. Why? Screenings galore with the award season firing up. Documentaries overload due to the prestigious honor of serving on the Joe Williams Documentary Committee at the St. Louis International Film Festival, which wraps up this week. If you see a sleeping critic in row H, seat 4, that may be me. Don't decline my seat please.
Let's start talking as a I download more coffee and play some Radiohead.
Spidey Going Back to Sony?
Thanks a lot, Venom. The Tom Hardy movie that I thought was a mess with too much humor may cause Sony to rethink their deal with Marvel for the rights of Spider Man, whom Kevin Feige and company have made into something that doesn't stink like rotten meat (remember Spider Man 3?!) Venom is a big hit, has two more movies in Hardy's deal, and could create a duel with new Spidey fella, Tom Holland. I don't like this because Marvel is just too good and Sony doesn't make quality comic book films anymore. Venom made money, but that doesn't mean switch up the agreement. Don't be like a baseball General Manager making decisions just to look good. Be smarter. Keep shaking hands with Feige and Marvel.
Ray Donovan is Stone Cold
There was a scene during Sunday's episode of Showtime's long-running series about a Boston-bred fixer (Liev Schreiber) that summed up the entire series. Ray is shopping in a hardware store and receives two calls. The first is from his daughter, who he was most recently semi-estranged from, and she tells him that she is engaged. With a stoned eye search party from one side of the aisle to the other, Ray acts like she just told him the car's oil got changed. Then Ray's brother calls, telling the elder bro that his imprisoned father (Jon Voight) just had a heart attack. Once again, an expressionless Ray just reacts as if he was told that the football game didn't have any bleacher seats left. Oh, and he's also at the hardware store finding supplies to get rid of a dead body.
That is Ray Donovan in a single scene. A good, if not great, series.
Meet Ronnie Coleman: Hercules, Robocop, and The Terminator rolled into one
Confession: When I was young, I collected bodybuilding magazines. Since the action figures I collected were built like Spartan warriors, I couldn't get enough of these outrageously built human beings. I wondered how they got so big, how they fit through doorways, and what their life was like. What exactly existed behind the mounds and layers of muscle? With the new Netflix documentary, Ronnie Coleman: The King, I found out. Life is hard for these guys.
Coleman was Mr. Olympia a record eight times, and his success sprang up in 1999, when he first won the medal, which is the equivalent of an Oscar for an actor and World Series trophy for a baseball player. He won it eight straight years before losing out and drifting from the sport. Look up Coleman on the net, and you will see how ridiculous this guy looked. He wasn't just a freak of nature. He was a planet of muscles. Shoulders had extra shoulders on top. And he was a cop for over a decade.
All of that came with a price, though, and the best part of the documentary takes place with the modern day Ronnie, who has endured countless back surgeries and can't walk on his own. Despite his physical predicament, he still trains with heavy weights, and is happy with a big family. Popping pills and using a walker so he doesn't walk like a bent rod, Coleman has plenty of money and isn't competing anymore. He simply can't stop lifting. He loves it too much, and the doc explores the various costs of his profession. A sad but true tale about the cost of a prestigious profession, one where you don't get hit, yet destroy your body.
The Film Critic Badge Of Honor
This time of year isn't easy for me. Along with driving for Uber and writing countless articles for KSDK and St. Louis Game Time, as noted earlier, I am watching too many movies. That is because in a month our group, St. Louis Film Critics Association, is doing our annual awards voting. Over 20 categories and a big deal, because the list is shared with other film critic groups and the movie studios. Being a part of this group of critics is a true honor. People like Max Foizey, Lynn Venhaus, Carl Middleman, Jim Batts, Jim Tudor, and Cate Marquis. Many others. Screeners come in the mail, theater screenings are attended, and the race is on to see as much as you can. At times, it can be a tiring exercise in producing new ways to say a film is good or bad. At every moment, though, I know how cool of a spot I am in. The cinematic playground I am on. Trading reviews and thoughts with people I now think of as friends and inspiring allies. I love watching, dissecting, and finding new things in the movies.
Example: I watched Steve McQueen's Widows tonight, which comes out on Nov. 16. After getting home from the screening, I pounded out a 1,000 words on it. Like a beam of lightning. It just flew out of me! Movies are a constant coliseum of possibility for me. They could be average or unworthy, but at the same time, I may leave the theater changed, transported, or just lifted up. Few things can give you that. Go see a movie. Sleep later.
Quick Thoughts Before I Brew More Coffee
*If it's okay with everyone else, can people stop bringing young babies into theaters where R-rated movies are playing? How do they get in and what is going through that mother's mind? Yikes.
*When should we expect the Josh Hawley Story: Oh No We Didn't in theaters or on Showtime, where Donald Trump satire is a year-round ordeal?
*If you haven't watched Fightworld on Netflix, what is wrong with you? Stop watching Grey's Anatomy and watch Frank Grillo's documentary.
*I hate seeing a trailer for a movie that isn't coming out for 10 months. Terrible tease there.
*Then again, since it is less than six months away now, I will take an Avengers: Everyone Dies...Sorta trailer anytime now.
*There will no more 24/7 HBO Boxing shows. I am mad about this.
*Why does everyone on NBC's This Is Us always look so good? I love the show, but the makeup is too on point. Mandy Moore rolls over in bed with perfect makeup? Sterling K. Brown never has to mess with his goatee?! We never see the men grooming! Network television. Take a cue from this season's opening episode of Ray Donovan. Beard, natty sweater, and overall dishevelment. That's authentic.
*What is Vin Diesel doing right now during his three year break from making Fast & The Furious movies? Work, bro.
*If I had one actor that I'd love to drive around in my Uber, it would be Bobby Cannavale. Great actor, but also someone who just seems funny and real. Come on, Bobby.
That's all I got. Until next time, drink more coffee and watch more movies.