by D.W. Lundberg

Friday, January 21, 2011


Back on the subject of Knight And Day for a moment, isn't it interesting how our buddy Tom Cruise gets top billing over Cameron Diaz, when Diaz herself is actually the protagonist of the movie? Has anyone else caught onto this?

Remember that a "protagonist" is the lead character of any work of fiction with a "noble goal" – and he or she goes about trying to achieve that goal all through the narrative, though they're blocked from it at regular intervals. The plot hinges entirely on the protagonist (or should), as any decision he or she makes actually drives the story forward. At the end, no matter whether the protagonist achieves that noble goal or not, he or she has been irrevocably changed – not the same person at the wrap-up of the story as they were at the beginning.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Another day, another project.

You ever happen to avoid a particular movie title like the plague just because everyone says it's a gigantic waste of time? And then years later, you happen to catch that same movie on TV, and you stop on it just long enough to have a look, because there's nothing else on? And you sit through it a bit and you wonder, Why did everyone trash talk this movie so badly? It might not be great, but it's surely not the lamentable piece of trash everyone said it was. What's the big deal?

By letting the positive/negative hype factor wash over you like that, two things tend to happen. Either a) those movies everyone hailed as near- masterpieces turn out to be mild-to-major disappointments, or b) those so-called "bombs" don't stink quite as bad as the movie-going public would have you believe.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Well, it hasn't been quite as long as a year – about one month shy, as a matter of fact. But when I officially started this "Best Of The Decade" project last February, I certainly didn't intend on it becoming such a massive undertaking. And I'm here to apologize. It seemed so simple in concept: ten total blog entries, six paragraphs a piece (that's five movie titles, ranked, plus an introductory paragraph per genre) – how hard could that be? A lot harder than it looks, apparently. Especially when you're like me – an attention-deficit, eternally-procrastinating perfectionist, who's always been his own worst critic.

In any case, I appreciate those of you who've stuck around long enough to see this thing through to the finish. It's always baffled me how so few of these "Best Of" lists take the title-by-genre approach, as if our greatest filmmakers only work at the top of their game within specific parameters. And so I set out to exorcise those particular demons, "to tickle my own fancy" as I (so eloquently) put it, just to have my kicks and get it out there, in a forum designed to reach as many eager listeners as possible.

Monday, January 3, 2011





Space battles. Time travel. Journeys into the mystical unknown. The Science-Fiction/Fantasy films of 2000-2009 enjoyed a creative and financial resurgence unlike anything since the late 1970s, when Star Wars and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind ruled at the box office. Avatar, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, and Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest passed $1 billion in worldwide grosses apiece, while Return Of The King took home 2004's Academy Award for Best Picture – the first Fantasy film in history to accomplish such a feat. The best genre titles aren't content to wow us with their Utopian futures and wondrous special effects; they also hold up a mirror to the social, political and philosophical issues of our times. They challenge us. The final frontier, indeed.

The Top Five:

5. Star Trek (J.J. Abrams, 2009)

It might be too early to call it a great film, but J.J. Abrams' blockbuster relaunch of the U.S.S. Enterprise is certainly a great entertainment, which dives headfirst into action and never looks back. Like Batman Begins and Casino Royale before them, Paramount returned to the drawing board to offer a fresh perspective on what gave Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy and the rest such cross-generational appeal in the first place. Trekkies' hardcore devotion to canon, however, made a complete retrofitting next to impossible, so Abrams and screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman busied themselves with a time travel plot that's both obvious and ingenious: obvious, because it's been done before, and ingenious, because the physics at play allow them free reign to tinker with the mythology without seriously uprooting the fan base. With its breathless pacing and candy-gloss textured set design, it makes an admittedly cultish sci-fi phenomenon officially "cool" again. And the cast is perfection.