Author Archives: Stephen Silver


The Week in Silver: “As the Father of Sons…” Edition

Last week, when the tape surfaced from 2005 of Donald Trump bragging to Billy Bush in rather disgusting terms about his behavior with women- from pursuing married women to sharing his tendency to “grab them by the pussy,” much was made of a couple of things: One, it’s probably the killshot that ends Trump’s presidential campaign. And two, many, many people couldn’t interpret Trump’s comments in any way other than pointing out that they have daughters.

A whole lot of denouncements of Trump included the phrase “as the father of daughters,” while many others described potential victims of the crotch grabbing, or sex crimes in general, as “somebody’s daughter,” or “somebody’s sister” or “somebody’s wife.” The more accurate description, I’d say, is simply “somebody.” That such a thing was actually pointed out, on television and other prominent media outlets, by many people is perhaps a sign that political correctness has done more good than harm.

I was as disgusted by Trump’s comments as everyone else, albeit not especially surprised; this isn’t exactly one of those caught-on-tape scandals that exposes someone as the opposite of what they otherwise claimed to be. Trump’s raging misogyny is been glaringly obvious not only since the start of his campaign, but really for his entire 40-some-odd years as a public figure. No one backing away from Trump only after the Billy Bush tapes has any excuse for not realizing that until now.

In reacting to Trump, I’m not able to play the “as the father of daughters” card, as I only have sons. But I have noticed I’ve been paying attention to, and thinking about, issues related to gender, sexism and feminism a whole lot more in the last few years than I ever did before.

Part of the reason is that these issues are out there at the forefront culturally a whole lot in past 4 or 5 years, and part of it is what I’ve been choosing to read. Some of it is the presidential race between a raving woman-hater and the probable first female president of the United States. But a lot of it also has to do with thinking a lot about my sons, and what type of men I wish and hope for them to one day become.

All of this has led me to notice a lot of things that I probably should have a long time earlier: That a lot of things I know and love in life, from the NFL to the movie criticism world to politics, have huge, endemic problems related to toxic masculinity. That way, way too many people in the world tend to reduce everything from sports to business to political campaigns down to who is a “real man” and “tough” and who is “soft” and “a pussy.” And that women go through and deal with things in life on an everyday basis- from workplace sexual harassment to strange men telling them to smile to serious pressures related to weight and body image- that men in most cases have the luxury of not even needing to think about.

Not to be that faux-woke guy who falsely quotes his precocious kids on Twitter, but I have said to my children, on more than one occasion, to watch the behavior of Donald Trump and always do the exact opposite. I know they’re young, and I know there will be many, many discussions in the future about many more difficult issues than that, but it’s a start. And good advice for us all: Don’t act anything like Donald Trump. And don’t vote for him, either.

On to the links, and a big one this week: My first-ever piece for’s The Cauldron, about the state of the Philadelphia 76ers’ Process Wars, following the departure of Sam Hinkie.

For Splice Today, I reviewed Deepwater Horizon and Masterminds, and then The Birth of a Nation and Girl on the Train.

For, I previewed some local screenings of Robert Altman’s The Player. 

At Screenrant:

Virtual reality is coming to The Simpsons.

Tony Almeida will return on the 24 spinoff.

Christopher Nolan is Hollywood’s highest-paid director.

Netflix makes a deal to help with Oscar eligibility of its films. 

Game of Thrones location news.

… and some casting.

They’re already working on a John Wick 3.

And a Bad Moms spinoff called Bad Dads.

And a movie that sounds like a remake of Oz: The Great and Powerful.

The Shooter TV series is coming in November.

And at Blasting News:

On topic of the above: Why Donald Trump’s viciousness towards women will be his undoing. 

If you’re voting for Trump because you think he’ll “put a stop to” your pet peeves, don’t.

SNL may be off to a great start this year, but they won’t “take down” Trump on their own.

Thoughts on the second presidential debate.

Why I don’t believe the killer clowns are real.

No, Kim Kardashian did not fake her robbery.

On the “Junket Censorship Crisis.”

Why it’s wrong to use Jose Fernandez’s death against Colin Kaepernick. 

Shanah tovah to those celebrating, and as always, follow me on Twitter at @StephenSilver.


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.


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.

The Week in Silver: Purple Pride Edition

3gensAs everyone who knows me knows, we’re a split family sports-wise. I’m from Minnesota, my wife is from Philadelphia. We live in Philadelphia, so it’s mostly all about the Philly teams in our house, and our two sons follow the local teams (Phillies and Eagles, mostly) most closely. But I try to instill some Minnesota love too, especially when we go there.

That’s mostly been the Twins- I’d been to Target Field every year since it opened in 2010, until this year, which I’d say is the right year to skip. But I haven’t historically pushed the Vikings quite as hard, for a variety of reasons, many of them having to do with their best player turning out to have physically abused his child who was the same age as Noah when it happened and Jonah now, and the team backing him every step of the way, including giving him additional money and years.

Still, I always appreciated that the Vikings, led by Brett Favre, had won a blowout playoff victory against the Cowboys on January 17, 2010, two days after Noah’s 11-week-premature birth, even if they’ve yet to win another playoff game since. And with our August visit this year for my mother’s 65th birthday (happy birthday, mom!) coinciding with the preseason, we thought we’d check out the brand new U.S. Bank Stadium- especially after two years of the kids wanting to drive by the construction site every time we were in town.

We had a great time at the game, we saw a win, and the boys cheered while wearing their Teddy Bridgewater and Harrison Smith jerseys, which stood out among a wildly eclectic blend of jerseys at the game (a ton of Jared Allen, a surprising amount of Tommy Kramer, some big mistakes like Christian Ponder and Donovan McNabb (the shirt I was wearing), and even (ugh) lots of Adrian Peterson. I didn’t see, thankfully, any Darren Sharper. It was a great time, and I thought maybe I’ve finally instilled some Purple Pride in my boys after all.

And then today, as our plane was landing… we got the news that Teddy Bridgewater obliterated his knee in practice and is out for the season. So now my boys REALLY know what it’s like to root for the Vikings.

Here’s a tweetstorm with my U.S. Bank Stadium thoughts:

And the links this week:

– At Splice Today, I reviewed Southside With You

– At Broad Street Review, I reviewed Amy Schumer’s new book, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo. I also attended her book signing, which was off the record, though I can say that the two ladies in front of me in line spent 25 minutes talking about The Night Of. episodes that I haven’t watched yet, before one shared her revolutionary plan to give up drinking wine, “except for on weekends.”

– At the Farm Dog Productions blog, I wrote about When Harry Met Sally…, which showed here in Philadelphia last week.

– At Blasting News:

Why Hillary Clinton was wrong to give that “alt-right” speech.

The weird story of that “poll,” from a Canadian energy interest, that showed Trump leading in Pennsylvania.

Why I don’t think there will be a Trump News Channel.

– At Screenrant:

Ray Romano and Chris O’Dowd will star in the Get Shorty TV series, so e.g., i.e., fuck you.

The Angry Birds Movie is getting a sequel.

You can get special 3D glasses for “Rogue One.”

A look at a video essay on why Heath Ledger’s Joker was the best Batman villain.

Jack Ryan will fight ISIS in the new Amazon series.

Tommy Lee Jones almost got The Rock’s part in Fast Five:

And a new look at the most honorable man to ever host The Apprentice, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As always, follow me on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

The Week in Silver: “Going Into Boston” Edition

2dogsThe family and I took a trip up to Boston over the weekend and had a great time visiting friends and family. But on second thought, since we didn’t actually set foot in the city of Boston itself, did we really go to Boston at all?

We spent most of this particular trip in Lexington, Newton and various other Western suburbs, not making to any particular attraction in the city of Boston on this particular trip. Yet, we referred to the trip, for the weeks leading up to it, as “the Boston trip,” and even called people while up there and said “we’re in Boston.”

This used to happen in high school and college; on several occasions I would go visit camp friends in “Chicago,” but actually spend the entire trip in Buffalo Grove, Skokie and Evanston, without ever actually setting foot in the Windy City itself.

I’m sure nobody minds, and I don’t regret anything about any of those visits. But next time we’re up in “Boston”? We’ll make sure we make it to Fenway, the Aquarium and/or Newbury Street.

On to the links:

Big one this week, as my very first piece for Tablet magazine was published. It’s an article 30 years in the making, about the history of the Jewish summer camp sport known as ga-ga. I had a blast interviewing everyone from old camp friends to random people in camp Facebook groups- and am happy to have definitively debunked the whole “Sacha Baron Cohen was a teenaged ga-ga champion” urban legend.

Another one I’m proud of: An essay for CSNPhilly on why there was nothing at all wrong with Phillies fans cheering for Chase Utely.

At Splice Today, I reviewed the two best movies of August: Hell or High Water and War Dogs 

Another new outlet: I’m going to be doing weekly local-in-Philly pop culture pieces for Farm Dog Productions. Here’s the first, previewing last week’s showing of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

For Blasting News:

Why Trump and Breitbart deserve each other

No, Hillary Clinton’s rally crowds aren’t small

Why Rudy Giuliani didn’t “forget” 9/11, what he actually said was much worse

Why I don’t buy that there will ever be a Trump News Channel

And at Screenrant:

– Amy Schumer implied that her Comedy Central show is ending, but clarified the next day that it’s merely going on hiatus.

– Trailer for the new season of You’re the Worst:

– Ah-nuld is the new host of Celebrity Apprentice, and I’ve got a feeling I’ll like him more than the previous guy, whatshisname.

– On the dispute between a group of animators who worked on Sausage Party and the filmmakers, and an update the following day.

– Jim from The Office is the new Jack Ryan.

– Jon Snow speaks (and speaks again)

Game of Thrones Season 7 casting call.

Follow me on Twitter at @StephenSilver, and see all writing archives at the top of this page. ‘Til next time…

The Week in Silver: Fall is Better Than Summer Edition

My son hones his golf game

My son hones his golf game

Here’s an unpopular opinion: Fall is a better season than summer.

Sure, summer is the time of sunshine, of water parks and well-weathered vacations. But what about the fair-skinned among us? I sunburn easily. My time on the beach usually needs to be limited to about two hours. And the sun makes me tired.

The fall, though? It has so many advantages. One can go outside without an overcoat, but also without burns or coma-inducing heat. Football’s underway. Baseball’s into the pennant race/playoff phase. The movies are better than they are in the summer. And when it’s election year, fall means we’re just a little closer to it mercifully being over.

Sure, there are things about summer that I like. Seeing the joy on my kids’ faces at camp, on the beach and on Boardwalk rides is one of my favorite things. There’s nothing like food at the Jersey Shore.

Aside from that? I’m ready for fall, how about you?

On to this week’s links:

At Splice Today, I first reviewed the comedy documentary Can We Take a Joke- which yielded a very nice email from one of its subjects, Jim Norton- and also Sausage Party.

At Blasting News:

– The disgusting tabloid attack on Malia Obama

– The stupidest defenses of Trump’s “Second Amendment People” comment

– Why Putin’s fans on the left and right are all being played for fools:

And at Mapquest’s Parachute, I looked at the best places to watch college football in Philadelphia.

At Screenrant:

A Redditor threatens to sue over Suicide Squad

A list of the ten best non-baseball uses of baseball bats in TV and movies.

Margot Robbie and mimosas

A look at Jack Reacher, Round 2:

Hodor’s death scene in other languages

The end of free Hulu

The casting of Ocean’s 8

Much more to come this week, including my debuts with two new outlets. As always follow me on Twitter at @StephenSilver.