All posts tagged: Movies


The Great Summer Movies: Hold On To Your Butts

It is the summer of 1983. I sit in the River Oaks Theaters with my dad. I watch R2D2 get blasted by a stormtrooper, and I gasp. It’s the summer of 1993. I sit alone in the theater at Chicago Ridge Mall. I watch a Tyrannosaurus Rex attempt to eat an obnoxiously precocious child, and I gasp. It’s 2003. I sit at the AMC Lowes Streets of Woodfield with my fiancé. I watch Laurence Fishburn fight an albino on top of a moving semi truck, and I gasp. It’s 2013. My Father’s Day present is a ticket to watch Kirk and Spock once again attempt to save the galaxy. At some point, I probably gasp. (apologies to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons) I can’t let go of summer movies. It’s still a near-perfect form of escape. Writing about them lets me escape too, a kind of critical nostalgia that lets me pretend I’m participating in a conversation that actually ended decades ago. All those summer afternoons and evenings, escaping into the chilly coccoon of an …


In Memoriam: Harold Ramis (1944-2014)

If you were one of the many (and there were many) who found yourself delving into a list of actor-writer-director Harold Ramis‘ achievements upon hearing of his sudden death yesterday at the age of 69, you may be wondering where all that time went. One minute you were probably minding your own business, the next you were realizing that this seemingly unassuming, nerdy-looking Chicagoan had a hand in at least 10 of the most influential comedic institutions of the last half century. As if we could hold one over the other. Was Ramis best known as a writer, who cut his teeth in the pages of The National Lampoon and on the staff of SCTV before writing or co-writing the likes of National Lampoon’s Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Back to School, Groundhog Day and Analyze This? Was he most accomplished as the director of Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Groundhog Day or Multiplicity? Would he be immortalized for his acting work, whether Russell Zinsky, the withering straight man to Bill Murray’s off-kilter John Winger …

Creator and creation

The Great Summer Movies: It’s Not The Years, Honey, It’s The Mileage

George Lucas has been written off as an emotionless technophile who built a billion-dollar empire on the backs of Ewoks and clones. To be fair, he probably is exactly that. But let us not forget from whence he came—an artsy auteur who transformed into one of the great blockbuster showmen of the late seventies and early eighties. After that, an endless trudge through awfulness (Howard the Duck), more awfulness (Radioland Murders), and yet more awfulness (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace). Today, he’s a semi-retired entertainment magnate who keeps threatening to become an artsy auteur again. Through it all, he’s remained strangely disconnected from his own creations, as though he doesn’t really want to be the overlord of a sci-fi uberfranchise, but feels obligated—as though it’s all somehow out of his control. Maybe it is. The release of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981 arrived in the thick of Lucas’ most fertile period, both in box office receipts and creative success. It’s the centerpiece of an early eighties trifecta that remains unequaled, …