Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Week in Silver: 20 Years a Critic Edition

Today, September 27, represents the 20th anniversary of the release of Extreme Measures, the Hugh Grant/Gene Hackman medical thriller, directed by Michael Apted, from 1996. This anniversary has gone completely un-remarked upon on movie sites and Film Twitter, and for good reason- it’s a totally forgettable movie with a generic title, which took a half-hearted stab at caring about medical ethics but was otherwise a nondescript flop. If it’s remembered at all, it’s as not one of the better films in the career catalog of its director or either of its stars.

I remember Extreme Measures for another reason: It was the first movie I ever reviewed in print.

It was my freshman year of college at Brandeis, and after taking a stab at writing sports articles for the student newspaper, The Justice and realizing that that entailed writing profiles of track and field competitors and game stories about volleyball, I decided to try the arts section instead, and was made aware for the first time of a wonderful thing called “press screenings.” I went into Boston, saw the screening — at the old Copley Place theater, I think — and reviewed it for the Justice that week (the archive of the actual review is lost to multiple server upgrades and thus to history, although I probably have the paper copy somewhere in either my basement or my parents’.)

It’s been 20 years and I never really stopped. I reviewed another movie and then another, and soon I was an arts columnist and later arts editor of the Justice. As years passed, my movie reviews would appear, in addition to The Justice and my own various blogs, at Hot Movie Ticket, American Dreamer Filmworks, The Trend/Trend Leader, Patch, EntertainmentTell/TechnologyTell, Patch again, Fox 29, Broad Street Review and Splice Today.

Reviewing movies has never been my primary job — there aren’t a lot of people left who can say that it is — but I do consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to do it, and quite an accomplishment that I’ve been able to convince multiple for-profit enterprises, including AOL and News Corp., to pay me money to see and write about movies. I’ve thankfully been able to continue doing this into adulthood, and through marriage and fatherhood as well.

So thank you so much to everyone who’s been reading all this time, or even for part of this time. Here’s to 20 more years, and if I ever get to the point where I’m no longer appreciative that I get to do this, then I’ll stop. But not until then. You can read all of my reviews since 2008-  all the ones with live links, anyway- at my Rotten Tomatoes page.

Speaking of movie reviews: I reviewed Snowden and Bridget Jones’ Baby, as well as Author: The JT Leroy Story and Eight Days a Week, all for Splice Today. The Leroy story includes some quotes from an interview I did with the director.

At Farm Dog Productions, I wrote about the new Raiders! documentary, which showed at two Philly theaters last week. And I also wrote about the recent Blue Velvet anniversary showing.

Going from film to food, I wrote for Broad Street Review about a pair of new books about Jewish food, and an author talk about them at the Gershman Y.

And at Screenrant:

I eulogize director Curtis Hanson, director of L.A. Confidential. 

Another obituary, for Radio Raheem himself, Bill Nunn.

People are going to die on the next Game of Thrones season.

Margot Robbie is hosting the SNL season premiere.

Jared Leto will join the long list of actors playing Andy Warhol in biopics- except this time it’s an actual biopic of Warhol as opposed to one of his associates.

Michael Giacchino is going to score Rogue One.

Preview of the Ice Cube/Charlie Day comedy Fist Fight.

Spike Lee is reviving She’s Gotta Have It for Netflix.

Jack Bauer could return- but only for a movie that will probably never be made.

And at Blasting News:

– No, that “Brock Turner speaking tour” story isn’t true.

– No, this isn’t the end of the birther controversy.

– Why it’s wrong to use the death of Jose Fernandez to attack Colin Kaepernick.

– Why Keith Olbermann’s return is welcome- but he’s not going to singlehandedly defeat Trump.

The West Wing cast isn’t going to either.

As always, follow me on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

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The Week in Silver: Barack on the Parkway Edition

On Tuesday I went to go see the president of the United States speak, at a rally for Hillary Clinton at Eakins Oval near the Art Museum. It was actually my first time seeing Obama speak in person since he did a rally, also in Philly, back during the 2008 primaries.

It was a usual Obama speech- he had the crowd rapt at attention and eating out of his hand the entire time, chanting various things and cheering the entire 40 minutes he was on stage. The speech made news when Obama said some pointed things about Donald Trump, and also when he praised Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and said that Vice President/Eagles fan Joe Biden had tried to persuade him to “get on the Wentz Wagon.”

It just sort of reenforces what I’ve long felt about the president: He IS the Democrats’ Ronald Reagan. In the sense that, for probably the next 25 years he’ll be the measuring stick by which all other Democratic presidential candidates are measured, and chances are most if not all of the others will come up short. And it’s for many of the same reasons Reagan is beloved by Republicans: His presidency has been successful. He’s a great speaker and orator. He assembled a very specific winning coalition that had been elusive for his party for a long time before he came along. And both his failures and deviations from political orthodoxy have a good chance of being de-emphasized with the passage of time.

This isn’t to say that Hillary Clinton won’t win the election- I assume she will (I HOPE she will!) But Obama is a once-in-a-generation political talent, the likes of whom won’t be seen anytime again soon.

On to the links…

My big story this week is for Tablet magazine’s The Scroll, in honor of the 25th anniversary of my family’s TV show Brooklyn Bridge. I spoke to the legendary Marion Ross, and dug out the letters between my father and the show’s creator, the late Gary David Goldberg. I have no defense or explanation for why I’m wearing a teal Florida Marlins hat in the picture from ’93.

My only complaint about the Obama speech? They didn’t have him ascend the Art Museum steps like Rocky and speak from the top. Sure, the museum made a nice backdrop, but come on! Speaking of Rocky, they’re showing it in Philly (well, Bryn Mawr) on September 21, and I previewed it at Farmdog.

I reviewed Sully at Splice Today.

At Mapquest’s Parachute, a list of Philly’s best venues for local music- aka “Places I’m Too Old to Ever Go to Anymore.”

At Blasting News:

Why “Basket of Deplorables” is actually brilliant politics.

Seven answers to seven questions about Hillary Clinton’s health.

What was off about Ann Coulter’s Comedy Central roast appearance.

And at Screenrant:

I eulogized the late Alexis Arquette. Did you know Arquette played the guy in the bathroom with the gun in Pulp Fiction? I didn’t until this week.

Previewing season 2 of the great Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Can’t wait for this one- Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan and Michelle MacLaren are working on an HBO miniseries about Jonestown.

Looking at Star Trek’s official 50th-anniversary video.

Tenacious D writes a tribute song for Jon Snow.

For old time’s sake I wrote up the latest iPhone announcement.

Could the Walking Dead premiere have more than one death?

And it’s the trailer for Collateral Beauty, which could be the laughingstock film of fall.

As always, follow me on Twitter at @StephenSilver

The Week in Silver: The East Coast Guy Thing Edition

poopemojiI started college 20 years ago this month, which also means that I’ve now been living on the East Coast for two decades (four years in Boston, five in New York/New Jersey and 11 in Philadelphia), and two years longer than I lived in Minnesota.

There are many things different from where I came from and where I ended up, from sports fan behavior to racial/ethnic makeup to cuisine; I’ve written often about these differences over the years. Except for the cold winters- that’s pretty much the same everywhere I’ve lived.

But as the years have passed, there’s one thing I’ve noticed most of all: The way male friendships work. I call it “The East Coast Guy Thing”– the way that groups of male friends in the Eastern U.S. relate to each other- namely, with virtually non-stop insults, teasing and “breaking balls.” Sure, that exists to some degree in other places, but in the Eastern U.S. it’s a whole other animal.

I first noticed this in college, on my freshman hall, and it was jarring, even more than seeing guys from New York who folded their pizza. I continue to see it, even in adulthood, both in workplace and social situations- and even (especially) my annual fantasy football draft, which is typically a six-hour surfeit of insults, trash talk and buffalo wings. You see the “East Coast Guy Thing” all over popular culture, from the The Sopranos to Entourage, where it was a much a part of the show’s identity as fake boobs and bad storytelling.

You grow up a guy on the East Coast, you learn at an early age how to perform, how to think on your feet, how to be ready to answer barbs with even sharper barbs of your own. There’s a reason just about every famous male comedian is from Boston, New York or Philly.

My boys, unlike me, are coming up in that milieu, and while I plan to raise them in many ways in accordance with their half-Minnesotan heritage, I’m glad they’ll have more of a head start when it comes to their native social banter.

On to the links…

At Splice Today I reviewed The Light Between Oceans:

At Farm Dog Productions I looked ahead at the upcoming Ron Howard-directed Beatles documentary. 

At Blasting News:

And at Screenrant:

As always, follow me on Twitter at @StephenSilver.