listen to me
The best advice I can give about the experience is: Don't try editing sound in GarageBand. Spring for Adobe Audition or something even nicer. Your full head of hair will thank you.
It was a great experience, and I hope to develop my skills as a live-event emcee in the future. Contact me if you have a film event that needs moderating!
czech it out
Also, there was a lot of sausage.
This year I wrote about recent U-M Flint graduate Amir Hekmati, a Marine veteran who was kidnapped and held as a prisoner of the Iranian government for nearly five years until he was released as part of the larger nuclear deal between our two countries. Amir returned home to Flint just as our eventual president was publicly disparaging his family's religion, and just as his hometown was wrestling with a gigantic, self-made public health crisis. To me, Amir's story -- from service to imprisonment to release -- circled many of the larger problems America has had to confront about itself over the last few years. Though he wouldn't grant me an interview owing to his ongoing lawsuit with Iran, I tried to do him justice all the same.
- Downsizing: Alexander Payne's smarmy satire about people who shrink themselves for a better life was like a tiny gag reflex. I coughed up so much bile watching this thing that WBEZ's Milos Stehlik called me a "terrible critic" on air. Milos and I have been friendly before, so I think this was performative on his part, but I can't be sure. (12/21/17)
- Birdboy: The Forgotten Children: A hand-drawn Spanish animated feature destined for all the smart, surly teens dying to cast off their Disney childhoods. (12/14/17)
- I, Tonya: Tonya Harding might be America's ultimate rehab project, but this crackling and disarmingly funny biopic goes a long way toward livening her public image. Plus, reviewing this was a nice reward for being forced to usher all of my sister's ice shows when we were little. (12/9/17)
- Wonder Wheel: A strong candidate for the worst screenplay Woody Allen has ever written, the director's first post-Weinstein release is not the one to make the case for continuing to take this man seriously as an artist. But at least he gave my editor, Glen Weldon, the chance to make a legendary headline pun. (11/30/17)
- Mudbound: Dee Rees delivers a lush, sweeping historical epic that touches the soul of humanity, a rare bit of total honesty in cinema about the Jim Crow South. (11/15/17)
- Mayhem: What should have been just a silly office splatter comedy felt borderline irresponsible coming so soon after yet another round of mass shootings. (11/9/17)
- My Friend Dahmer: America's most notorious cannibal had something approaching a normal childhood, and this film somehow makes the grisliest of subject matter positively compelling. (11/2/17)
- Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold: A lionized author gets her due, and I get to indulge my literary side. (10/26/17)
- BPM: Beats Per Minute: The story of the foundation of ACT UP Paris is a vibrant portrait of warriors fighting for the right to live. (10/19/17)
- The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected): Understood if the upsetting news about Dustin Hoffman will keep you away from Noah Baumbach's latest film, but for Baumbach die-hards like myself, this is a perfect and wildly entertaining distillation of his ethos. (Note: some readers criticized me for a line in this review that they interpreted as anti-Semitic. I respectfully disagree with their assessment.)(10/12/17)
- Faces Places: Agnes Varda is back for more, baby! This delightful documentary about her latest country-spanning art project celebrates age, youth, and just... people. All people. It's a treasure. (10/5/17)
- Lucky: A lovely showcase for Harry Dean Stanton, who died just before this film's premiere. It's OK if the movie never manages to be much more than that. (9/28/17)
- Rat Film: The best documentary of the year was about rats in Baltimore. But not just rats, and not just Baltimore. Everyone, everywhere, and their institutional failings... and also rats. (9/14/17)
- The Unknown Girl: Those rascally Dardenne brothers, making a whodunit mystery just as everyone expects them to crank out another social realist drama! (9/8/17)
- Death Note: Ugh. This movie is dumb enough to disregard without even getting into why it's offensive. (8/24/17)
- California Typewriter: You see, children, before computers there used to be things called "typewriters," and... well, this documentary's historical value seems obvious. Also gives us one last conversation with Sam Shepard. (8/17/17)
- The Glass Castle: I can't explain why an adaptation of the bestselling memoir from the people who made the excellent Short Term 12 unforgivably cheapens the psychological toil of child abuse in order to usher us toward an unearned Hollywood happy ending. All I know is this movie made me angry. (For Uproxx.) (8/10/17)
- In This Corner of the World: An account of life in Hiroshima before, during, and after the atomic bomb, this quiet and haunting anime lingered with me long after I had seen it. (8/10/17)
- Brigsby Bear: TV saves and TV destroys. (7/27/17)
The Untamed: My bemused review of this Mexican film about, in part, tentacle sex provoked some amazing reactions on NPR's Facebook page. (7/20/17)
- Chasing Coral: It's probably too late for our coral reefs, but that won't stop well-meaning documentaries from trying to educate us about their peril. (7/13/17)
- Okja: Giant pig teaches us to love! (6/29/17)
- The Big Sick: Smart about religion, smart about culture, smart about romance, smart about illness. (6/22/17)
- The Beguiled: Sofia Coppola will always be who she is, and if you're cool with that, you'll dig her swooning Civil War chamber drama. (For NPR's Monkey See.) (6/23/17)
- Cars 3: The exhaustion of a franchise that should have ended two films ago races the poignancy of a movie celebrating the act of stepping aside when it's your time to go. (6/15/17)
Buena Vista Social Club: Adios: I regret that I had to file my review for this documentary sequel before I could read the stories about how creative control was wrested away from director Lucy Walker. The backstory goes a long way toward explaining why this film was so unsatisfying. (5/26/17)
- The Commune: Other critics were lukewarm on Thomas Vinterberg's hippiedom time capsule, but I saw a lot of truth in the way the film challenges "traditional" family relationships. (5/18/17)