Thinner, by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman) (1985)

An intense, suspenseful page-turner from the master of horror, Stephen King published “Thinner” under his pseudonym Richard Bachman, but this is Classic King from the very beginning: The characterizations are remarkably intricate and richly layered, the omniscient narrator’s voice is clear yet nuanced, while the suspense slowly but surely ratchets up until the reader devours…

Arcade Fire – Everything Now (2017)

I’ll confess that I’m not overtly familiar with Arcade Fire (although I do plan to be, after listening to this album), but this latest record from the acclaimed band registers as a lighter-than-usual project, even to a casual fan. The hooks are more immediate and the lyrics, while strong, are not as complicated or ambitious…

Lynne Koplitz: Hormonal Beast (2017)

This new Netflix special is a rarity among live comedy specials, featuring a middle-aged, unmarried woman gleefully relishing having a platform specifically on Netflix, while refusing to base her comedy on either self-deprecation or self-glorifying. Instead, Lynne Koplitz occupies the stage with the presence of a longtime superstar and the excitement of a newcomer, going…

The Guest: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2014)

The 2014 action-horror hybrid’s soundtrack is really a terrific album with its own distinctive lyrics. Most of the songs included are 1980s synth or inspired by it, and there are many standouts like “The Magician” and “Hourglass.” But the real standout is Swedish pop star Annie’s “Anthonio,” which is featured in the movie’s climax and…

Family Guy (Season 12) (2013-14)

A bit disappointing, this twelfth season of Seth MacFarlane’s rough-edged sitcom seems to have lost some of its bite in this season. The writing is pretty tame, not simply in terms of the sort of deliberately shocking comedy the show revels in, but also in terms of the jokes themselves. Everything is a bit muted,…

Vertigo (1958)

I can’t really make up my mind about “Vertigo.” While there are some elements that I think are fantastic, I did find it rather slow-paced and overly complicated. There’s so much going on at all times that it can be difficult to keep it all together, but the pace is languid and rather sluggish, making…

Lucas (1986)

Inspiring and entirely charming, screenwriter David Seltzer’s directorial debut is the type of underdog story that will always find an audience. It uncommonly treats its adolescent subjects as multi-dimensional people who belong to various social circles as opposed to types defined by their interests, and has a pitch-perfect lead performance by Corey Haim. Supporting players…

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

Yet another underwhelming, uninspired latter-day offering from the once-great Tim Burton, this adaptation of the 2011 Ransom Riggs novel is dead on arrival. Burton never really bothers to convince the audience that the story is worth the effort, with a lifeless, aimless plot limping from scene to scene yet somehow feeling overly complicated before arriving…

Arrival (2016)

Sort of like a pretentious version of 1997’s “Contact,” Denis Villeneuve’s science-fiction drama arrives with the seriousness of a Stanley Kubrick genre offering, but the plot and screenplay can’t sustain the humorless tone. Amy Adams is mostly wasted in the lead role, while Jeremy Renner is rather miscast as a milquetoast scientific wiz. Nevertheless the…

Hell and Back (2015)

Tiresome and unpleasant, this R-rated animated comedy has a gorgeous visual look and engaging voice work from an all-star cast, but the script is legitimately execrable. The jokes are lame and the plot is boring, and even at a scant 86 minutes it feels interminable. As a matter of fact, I had to watch it…

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Like many major monster movies, “Kong: Skull Island” has underdeveloped characters, A-list actors not doing much acting, and a script that leaves a lot to be desired. Now, with that out of the way, there’s no denying that this King Kong remake is one hell of a good time. With countless references to “Apocalypse Now,”…

Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (Season 1) (2017)

David Wain’s “Wet Hot American Summer” franchise continues its unlikely expansion with this second Netflix season (following “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp”), which is superior to its predecessor thanks to its fairly straightforward plot. Mind you, that’s not to say that it’s straightforward at all really, but mostly that it’s less convoluted…