Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

With the help of the best CGI effects money can buy, director Taika Waititi’s phenomenal entry in the Marvel Universe manages to hit all the right notes while never feeling overstuffed nor overstaying its welcome. Somewhere between an 1980s arcade game and a graphic novel come to life, along with shades of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,”…

Night on Earth (1991)

Admittedly I’m not a big Jim Marmusch fan, but I don’t quite see what everybody sees when it comes to this 1991 cult classic. The setup is intriguing, following five encounters between cab drivers and their passengers at the same time in five different cities, but once the novelty wears off, the threads that hold…

Rifftrax: “I Believe in Santa Claus” (2015)

A personal early childhood favorite of mine, Christian Gion’ s deeply peculiar French family musical delighted me to no end as a young child, but has a litany of questionable moments and an inappropriate sensibility that baffles me as an adult. Originally released as “J’ai rencontré le Père Noël,” the Rifftrax addresses the English dubbed…

Rifftrax: “Fun in Balloon Land” (2014)

It’s rare to find a movie quite like 1965’s “Fun in Balloon Land.” There’s barely a story there, and literally half the movie consists of cable-news-level coverage of a local Thanksgiving parade. Ostensibly it’s supposed to represent a child’s dream escapade into the titular dreamscape, but there’s no narrative thread to be found here. The…

Rifftrax: “The Room” (2009)

Tommy Wiseau’s surreal, baffling and staggering incoherent 2003 drama was just made to be given the Rifftrax treatment. There’s not a single thing about the movie and its central narrative that works, and the Rifftrax gang sounds delighted to be handed something so rife for snarky commentary. From the incomprehensible titular performance by Wiseau, to…

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

A classic Christmas special for a reason, this 45-minute celebration of the holiday season help set the standard against which other, similar specials are measured. Burl Ives makes for the perfect narrator and performer for this charming, beautifully realized fable, following the titular character on his quest to find the value within himself. With an…

Weiner (2016)

It’s something of a minor miracle that this movie even exists. Documenting Anthony Weiner’s attempted comeback of a New York mayoral run following his career-damaging sexting scandal, with Weiner’s full (and frankly, baffling) participation, it instead becomes the portrait of a career ending before your eyes. With fascinating participants and media figures (not the least…

Craig Ferguson: Tickle Fight (2017)

More amusing than laugh-out-loud funny, this latest comedy special from Netflix is entertaining for sure, but there are very few stand-out moments or notable one-liners. I can’t offer any perspective or context on Craig Ferguson’s overall style of humor and how this special fits in, but I found him more charming than hilarious, which is…

Community (Season 3) (2011-12)

The third season of Dan Harmon’s unique network sitcom is a bit weaker than the first two, but given how strong they were it’s not exactly a huge step down. Some of Harmon’s grasp of the show seems to have slipped, with extended diatribes about pillow forts and nostalgia-tinged video games, which, while amusing, tend…

Janet Jackson – The Velvet Rope (1997)

Like many of Janet Jackson’s albums, there’s a tremendous core of first-rate pop and R&B at the heart of this album… which is compromised by her repeated insistence on meandering interludes and occasional filler songs that only seem to be included to pad out the running time. That’s a shame, because “The Velvet Rope” is…

Get Out (2017)

Coming seemingly out of nowhere, Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” is likely unprecedented in cinema history: A story excoriating white racism against black people that acknowledges social issues without succumbing to facile conclusions, written and directed by a black man whose vision is clearly not compromised. But even beyond that distinction, the movie itself is absolutely…

Adele – 25 (2015)

When this follow-up to her record-breaking second album “21” was first released, part of me was disappointed. While the songs are solid and have strong melodies, and of course Adele’s voice is compelling and powerful, I felt like there was something missing. While I still hold that perspective I will say that the album is…