Monday, June 27, 2016

The Personal Canon - Revisited

Last week, we debuted "The Personal Canon," a list of fifty films near and dear to the heart of your Cinema King. For those who missed it, be sure to look at one of the old posts for a fuller justification for how the list came together, and check out the full list below:

1. Duck Soup (1933)
2. Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
3. Citizen Kane (1941)
4. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
5. Casablanca (1942)
6. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
7. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
8. Adam's Rib (1949)
9. Father of the Bride (1950)
10. Stalag 17 (1953)
11. 12 Angry Men (1957)
12. Inherit the Wind (1960)
13. Psycho (1960)
14. Goldfinger (1964)
15. The Godfather (1972)
16. Annie Hall (1977)
17. Star Wars (1977)
18. Superman (1978)
19. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
20. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
21. Batman (1989)
22. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
23. Goodfellas (1990)
24. The Rocketeer (1991)
25. Groundhog Day (1993)
26. Pulp Fiction (1994)
27. Toy Story (1995)
28. The Usual Suspects (1995)
29. Hamlet (1996)
30. The Big Lebowski (1998)
31. The Mummy (1999)
32. American Psycho (2000)
33. Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)
34. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
35. The Incredibles (2004)
36. The Departed (2006)
37. Stranger than Fiction (2006)
38. Charlie Bartlett (2007)
39. No Country for Old Men (2007)
40. Iron Man (2008)
41. The Dark Knight (2008)
42. Taken (2008)
43. Black Swan (2010)
44. Easy A (2010)
45. Inception (2010)
46. Toy Story 3 (2010)
47. Skyfall (2012)
48. Man of Steel (2013)
49. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
50. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

It's been said that the best way to find errors is to submit a manuscript, and in this case it's entirely true. Though I wracked my brain for the fifty, inevitably a few slipped through the cracks, and so I'll address a few "notable omissions" that you the readers identified:
  • Gone With the Wind (1939) - This one's probably on a lot of other people's lists, and it's a cinematic accomplishment, to be sure. But is it more meaningful to me than any of the other movies? I'd have to say no. Remember, this isn't a list of the greatest or most important movies of all time - just the personal favorites of yours truly.
  • A Hard Day's Night (1964) / Scarface (1983) - Never seen them. In fact, these are going to be installments in an upcoming new feature, "How'd He Miss That?!" in which I review movies that you and I are surprised that I've never seen.
  • The Godfather, Part II (1974) / Superman II (1980) - Both of these were on an early draft of the Personal Canon, but I cut them because the original films are already on the list, and I actually do like The Godfather (1972) and Superman (1978) ever so infinitesimally more than their sequels. Furthermore, I tried to avoid putting first films and sequels on the Personal Canon, but in the cases of Toy Story and Star Wars I couldn't choose. In the case of one, I think a future iteration of this list will change in that respect. In other words, the next draft will either have only one Toy Story film or only one Star Wars film. Stay tuned!
  • Taxi Driver (1976) / Raging Bull (1980) / Gangs of New York (2002) / The Aviator (2004) - Great films, to be sure, but some consideration went into this list not being dominated by any one actor/director/genre/era, and while it's certainly true that Martin Scorsese is a god among directors, I had to restrain myself. Even including two of his films, Goodfellas (1990) and The Departed (2006), felt like an indulgence. But how could I choose between those two?
  • Air Force One (1997) - This was my first R-rated movie as a kid, and it holds a special place for me. It's in the caliber of The Rocketeer (1990) and The Mummy (1999), in that I concede your mileage may vary with it but I can't help loving it. No Personal Canon of mine is complete without it.
  • There Will Be Blood (2007) - This is a masterpiece, and I have no excuse for leaving it off the list. In hindsight, I could say that it's very much of a piece with No Country for Old Men (2007) and that of the two from the same year I prefer No Country ever so slightly, but neither you nor I believe it. It'll have to be renegotiated onto the list.
  • Burn After Reading (2008) - I agonized over this one, I really did. For Coen Bros. representation, it was a toss-up between this and The Big Lebowski (1998), and it really could have gone either way. Having just looked at Burn After Reading once again this weekend, maybe the pendulum is shifting. Stay tuned.
  • Literally any superhero movie ever - Look, this entire list could have been superhero movies and Star Wars. Those movies are my bread and butter, occasionally even the reason I get up in the morning. But for the sake of diversity, The Personal Canon should be an accurate representation of who I am as a moviegoer. And while Supermen and Skywalkers are a very significant portion of that, it's not all I am. Indeed, Captain America: Civil War very nearly made it onto this list, but it's too fresh. Let me see how it holds up on home video. Heck, if the "Ultimate Cut" of Batman v Superman (2016) is as good as I'm hearing, maybe it'll supplant Man of Steel (2013).
Long story short, there's more to come with The Personal Canon. In its present state, it demands revision because of a few glaring omissions, but I'm imagining this might be a document to which I come back for the rest of my life, a curated collection of "Me in 50 Filmic Nutshells." Stay tuned, loyal reader: once a stable list exists, we can start running reports on it. Until then, keep dropping those notes about omissions, and feel free to share your Personal Canon!

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Personal Canon - #41-50

This week on "The Cinema King," the moment you've all been waiting for - the debut of what we're calling The Personal Canon. It's a list of fifty films that mean the most to me, for one reason or another. I don't purport that these are necessarily the fifty objectively greatest films of all time or the most important films. They're not even ranked in order of favorite-ness, nor do I suggest that they're better than a film that doesn't appear here. Instead, these are my movies. In fact, you might call them perfect movies - at least, as I define perfection, because these movies don't do anything wrong. They don't miss a beat.

Every day this week, it's ten films in chronological order of release. These are the films that reach the pinnacles and plumb the depths of the human condition. They're films that represent my ideals of the best humanity and the aesthetic community have to offer, films I'd put in a time capsule or a Voyager-esque space probe. They're films I can't wait to introduce to my children, contenting myself in the meanwhile to stop and watch them any time they're on television. They're films that, if someone close to me hasn't seen, I take it upon myself to share with them. I get angry if you haven't seen these, sad for the wasted years you've gone without these. Indeed, for one reason or another, the reason I love movies so much is this collection of fifty movies.

Today, #41-50 take us up through 2015 (jury's still out on 2016, folks).

#41 - #50

41. The Dark Knight (2008)

42. Taken (2008)

43. Black Swan (2010)

44. Easy A (2010)

45. Inception (2010)

46. Toy Story 3 (2010)

47. Skyfall (2012)

48. Man of Steel (2013)

49. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

50. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

That does it, folks, for The Personal Canon. Sound off in the comments - what movies made 2008-2015 are in your personal canon? What'd I miss?

I'll revisit this list in the coming days, weeks, months, and years, letting you know if a new find comes along or if an old favorite falls from grace. I'll do some number-crunching, too, and start to meditate on what the metadata says about me - for example, that more than half are films released within my lifetime. Am I a presentist? Which actor appears most on this list? What else can we learn about The Cinema King?

Stay tuned, true believers! And maybe one of these days we'll get around to posting a movie review or two...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Personal Canon - #31-40

This week on "The Cinema King," the moment you've all been waiting for - the debut of what we're calling The Personal Canon. It's a list of fifty films that mean the most to me, for one reason or another. I don't purport that these are necessarily the fifty objectively greatest films of all time or the most important films. They're not even ranked in order of favorite-ness, nor do I suggest that they're better than a film that doesn't appear here. Instead, these are my movies. In fact, you might call them perfect movies - at least, as I define perfection, because these movies don't do anything wrong. They don't miss a beat.

Every day this week, it's ten films in chronological order of release. These are the films that reach the pinnacles and plumb the depths of the human condition. They're films that represent my ideals of the best humanity and the aesthetic community have to offer, films I'd put in a time capsule or a Voyager-esque space probe. They're films I can't wait to introduce to my children, contenting myself in the meanwhile to stop and watch them any time they're on television. They're films that, if someone close to me hasn't seen, I take it upon myself to share with them. I get angry if you haven't seen these, sad for the wasted years you've gone without these. Indeed, for one reason or another, the reason I love movies so much is this collection of fifty movies.

Today, #31-40 take us up through 2008.

#31 - #40

31. The Mummy (1999)

32. American Psycho (2000)

33. Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

34. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)

35. The Incredibles (2004)

36. The Departed (2006)

37. Stranger than Fiction (2006)

38. Charlie Bartlett (2007)

39. No Country for Old Men (2007)

40. Iron Man (2008)

Come back tomorrow, same Bat-time, for the final ten, and sound off in the comments - what movies made 1999-2008 are in your personal canon? What'd I miss?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Personal Canon - #21-30

This week on "The Cinema King," the moment you've all been waiting for - the debut of what we're calling The Personal Canon. It's a list of fifty films that mean the most to me, for one reason or another. I don't purport that these are necessarily the fifty objectively greatest films of all time or the most important films. They're not even ranked in order of favorite-ness, nor do I suggest that they're better than a film that doesn't appear here. Instead, these are my movies. In fact, you might call them perfect movies - at least, as I define perfection, because these movies don't do anything wrong. They don't miss a beat.

Every day this week, it's ten films in chronological order of release. These are the films that reach the pinnacles and plumb the depths of the human condition. They're films that represent my ideals of the best humanity and the aesthetic community have to offer, films I'd put in a time capsule or a Voyager-esque space probe. They're films I can't wait to introduce to my children, contenting myself in the meanwhile to stop and watch them any time they're on television. They're films that, if someone close to me hasn't seen, I take it upon myself to share with them. I get angry if you haven't seen these, sad for the wasted years you've gone without these. Indeed, for one reason or another, the reason I love movies so much is this collection of fifty movies.

Today, #21-30 take us up through 1998.

#21 - #30

21. Batman (1989)

22. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

23. Goodfellas (1990)

24. The Rocketeer (1991)

25. Groundhog Day (1993)

26. Pulp Fiction (1994)

27. Toy Story (1995)

28. The Usual Suspects (1995)

29. Hamlet (1996)

30. The Big Lebowski (1998)

Come back tomorrow, same Bat-time, for #31-40, and sound off in the comments - what movies made 1981-1998 are in your personal canon? What'd I miss?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Personal Canon - #11-20

This week on "The Cinema King," the moment you've all been waiting for - the debut of what we're calling The Personal Canon. It's a list of fifty films that mean the most to me, for one reason or another. I don't purport that these are necessarily the fifty objectively greatest films of all time or the most important films. They're not even ranked in order of favorite-ness, nor do I suggest that they're better than a film that doesn't appear here. Instead, these are my movies. In fact, you might call them perfect movies - at least, as I define perfection, because these movies don't do anything wrong. They don't miss a beat.

Every day this week, it's ten films in chronological order of release. These are the films that reach the pinnacles and plumb the depths of the human condition. They're films that represent my ideals of the best humanity and the aesthetic community have to offer, films I'd put in a time capsule or a Voyager-esque space probe. They're films I can't wait to introduce to my children, contenting myself in the meanwhile to stop and watch them any time they're on television. They're films that, if someone close to me hasn't seen, I take it upon myself to share with them. I get angry if you haven't seen these, sad for the wasted years you've gone without these. Indeed, for one reason or another, the reason I love movies so much is this collection of fifty movies.

Today, #11-20 take us up through 1981.

#11 - #20

11. 12 Angry Men (1957)

12. Inherit the Wind (1960)

13. Psycho (1960)

14. Goldfinger (1964)

15. The Godfather (1972)

16. Annie Hall (1977)

17. Star Wars (1977)

18. Superman (1978)

19. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

20. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Come back tomorrow, same Bat-time, for #21-30, and sound off in the comments - what movies made 1953-1981 are in your personal canon? What'd I miss?

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Personal Canon - #1-10

This week on "The Cinema King," the moment you've all been waiting for - the debut of what we're calling The Personal Canon. It's a list of fifty films that mean the most to me, for one reason or another. I don't purport that these are necessarily the fifty objectively greatest films of all time or the most important films. They're not even ranked in order of favorite-ness, nor do I suggest that they're better than a film that doesn't appear here. Instead, these are my movies. In fact, you might call them perfect movies - at least, as I define perfection, because these movies don't do anything wrong. They don't miss a beat.

Every day this week, it's ten films in chronological order of release. These are the films that reach the pinnacles and plumb the depths of the human condition. They're films that represent my ideals of the best humanity and the aesthetic community have to offer, films I'd put in a time capsule or a Voyager-esque space probe. They're films I can't wait to introduce to my children, contenting myself in the meanwhile to stop and watch them any time they're on television. They're films that, if someone close to me hasn't seen, I take it upon myself to share with them. I get angry if you haven't seen these, sad for the wasted years you've gone without these. Indeed, for one reason or another, the reason I love movies so much is this collection of fifty movies.

Today, #1-10 take us up through 1953.

#1 - #10

1. Duck Soup (1933)

2. Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

3. Citizen Kane (1941)

4. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

5. Casablanca (1942)

6. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

7. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

8. Adam's Rib (1949)

9. Father of the Bride (1950)

10. Stalag 17 (1953)

Come back tomorrow, same Bat-time, for #11-20, and sound off in the comments - what movies made before 1953 are in your personal canon? What'd I miss?

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Top 10 Foods Your King Snacks on at the Movies

We here at The Cinema King are neither embarrassed nor proud to phone it in this week, amid moving across state lines and starting a new job out in the real world. And so, off the top of our illustrious head, we present “The Top 10 Foods Your King Snacks on at the Movies!” (Disclaimer: snacks may be consumed at the movie theater or in the privacy of one’s own home.)

10. Leftovers (whatever’s on tap)

9. Ice cream (but only at home)

8. Sliced apples

7. Chips with hummus

6. Chips with guacamole

5. Trail mix

4. Grapes (red only)

3. Twizzlers (never Red Vines!)

2. Buncha Crunch

1. Popcorn (with no movie theater butter, please!)

Here endeth the list. How about you? What’s your favorite movie snack? Sound off in the Comments, and come back next week for what is hopefully a more legitimate Cinema King posting. Happy Monday, all!

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Top 10 Movies Denzel Should Remake Next

I’m a few weeks behind the times, but I was reminded this weekend that Denzel Washington is set to star in a remake of The Magnificent Seven, directed by Antoine Fuqua. Did this movie need to be remade? Initially, I’d vote “no,” but the dream team behind Training Day and The Equalizer can, I wager, do little wrong. Indeed, what movie wouldn’t be improved by adding the infectious charisma of Denzel Washington?

Which brings me, of course, to the subject of today’s post: “The Top 10 Movies Denzel Should Remake Next.” Of course, no slights intended to the original performers or films, but it’s a fun exercise to imagine a world in which Denzel stars in every movie.

10. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, starring Denzel as Qui-Gon Jinn
 To be fair, Liam Neeson wasn’t given much to work with in a role that’s really only memorable because Neeson played it. Denzel could bring a great quiet dignity to the role and develop a tender relationship with young Anakin Skywalker.

9. The Da Vinci Code, starring Denzel as Robert Langdon
 Tom Hanks is perfectly serviceable as Langdon, but I think we can all agree it’s not a home-run performance. Denzel would lend palpable genius, innate credibility, and a better haircut to a role that’s roughly analogous to a contemporary Indiana Jones.

8. North by Northwest, starring Denzel as Roger Thornhill
 For my money, the second-best Hitchcock film (after Psycho) needs no revision, since I get an elevated heart rate just thinking about the last time I saw it. But Denzel has carved out a career niche playing men against time, men driven on a mission inflicted upon them. Cary Grant was sufficiently harried, but imagine Denzel out of his element, running from an airplane through a cornfield.

7. Fahrenheit 451, starring Denzel as Guy Montag
 I’m aware that there’s an HBO remake in the offing, likely to address some of the shortcomings of the Truffaut adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s novel, and while I haven’t seen any casting information I submit Denzel for the part of a man whose firm convictions are overturned as his worldview alters dynamically. Gone would be the glassy-eyed stare of Oskar Werner; let Denzel emote his way through this American classic.

6. Harvey, starring Denzel as Elwood P. Dowd
 It’s a fairly kooky concept – presumed insanity in the form of an imaginary giant rabbit friend – but if anyone could make be believe in an invisible bunny, it’s Denzel.

5. Licence to Kill, starring Denzel as James Bond
 I agonized over this one – I’d love to see Denzel as James Bond, even though he’s not British, and I think he’d be more believable as a seasoned Bond than a novice 007, so something like Casino Royale was out. But Denzel as an espionage veteran out for revenge, infiltrating cartels and destroying them from within using little more than his wits? Step aside, Idris Elba – make mine Denzel.

4. 12 Angry Men, starring Denzel as Juror #8
 This perfect film has already been remade once, but something tells me Denzel could do more with the material than Jack Lemmon (who, let’s be fair, is a titan in his own right). If you need to cast a man who can change eleven recalcitrant minds by the force of his own convictions, what about that doesn’t demand Denzel?

3. Dirty Harry, starring Denzel as Harry Callahan
 No one does grizzled like Clint Eastwood, but Denzel has had success in the past playing cops on the edge, law enforcement officers with their own unique codes of justice. I’d love to hear him do the “I know what you’re thinking” speech

2. Casablanca, starring Denzel as Rick Blaine
 It’s horrifyingly inevitable that someone, somewhere will remake what is by most accounts one of the most perfect of the perfect films. So if it must be done, put it in the most capable hands and let Denzel lead. Lost love, garrulous barkeep, cynical yet soft-hearted – Rick is a complicated character, and Denzel has the chops to pull it off. Heck, Denzel could be a lock for any Humphrey Bogart vehicle – The Maltese Falcon, Key Largo, Sabrina, The Caine Mutiny...

1. Batman, starring Denzel as Batman
 I don’t need to say more here, do I?

Sound off in the Comments – what would you like to see Denzel remake?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

We’re eight movies into the X-Men film universe (nine if you count Deadpool, and hey, why not?), and while a fair number of critics are feeling X-fatigue, count me among the X-static – pun intended, because I’m happy about the way that the X-Men film franchise remains static in terms of its formula. With X-Men: Apocalypse, Bryan Singer is back for his fourth X-outing, a continued strong offering which introduces plenty of mutants, action, and character development to bode well as the franchise stands poised to move into double digits.

With Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) ushering his school for mutants into an era of peace, an ancient being known as Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) awakens in Cairo and gathers his four Horsemen – Magneto (Michael Fassbender) among them – to bring about the end of this world. While Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) works to protect the mutants from humanity, it’s up to the next generation of X-Men – Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) – to save the world from the threat of Apocalypse.

With the continuity reconstructed in the wake of Days of Future Past, Singer is free to carve out a path toward the present day with access to the full range of X-characters, regardless of whether they live, die, love, or hate in the other films. There’s something liberating about not knowing precisely whether Magneto is on the side of good or evil in this one, a line which Fassbender embodies even without much dialogue to lean on. Ditto for the introduction of Scott “Cyclops” Summers and Jean Grey, whose courtship (if one can call it that) is only just beginning; we don’t know if they’ll end up the squabbling starter-marriage from X-Men, but Turner and Sheridan are fun to watch and bring the characters to life with some very subtle yet comics-accurate hand gestures (Jean’s fingers on her temple, Scott’s dial-controlled visor).

And for all that X-Men: Apocalypse blusters on about the end of the world and the fate of mutantkind, it’s surprising that the film ends up being rather fun and incredibly human in its very personal scale. Like the Avengers movies, which have found great success in seeing its heroes out of costume, lounging about Stark Tower, X-Men: Apocalypse is at its most engaging when the X-Men recruit Nightcrawler for an impromptu trip to the mall as “a matter of national pride” (though an Avengers film might have showed said trip), or as Cyclops learns to master his abilities. It’s hard to say if there’s a real star in this film, because the X-Men are at their best when the ensemble cast is allowed to share the screen.

If this is the ensemble going forward, the more the better. While McAvoy, Fassbender, and Lawrence continue to powerhouse their way through the prequels, they’ve indicated they might not be back for a fourth outing together. It’d be a shame, to be sure, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the film continue to develop Storm and Jubilee, the latter of whom doesn’t get to display her powers just yet, and Singer’s recent tease that the next film will go to space is extremely promising for the wealth of source material on which he can draw. (Phoenix Redux, anyone?)

There have been some complaints about Apocalypse as an undercooked cliché of a villain, though I think that you need a colossal world-ending event to justify bringing together the X-Men, particularly after the last two prequels have dealt with less cosmic threats and more personal dangers (Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw, though looking to heat up the Cold War, was also a personal foil for Magneto). It is a shame to put an actor as talented as Oscar Isaac beneath all the prosthetics and makeup that go into Apocalypse, but Isaac acquits himself well with the villain’s ego and powers of persuasion. If you want a grounded superhero battle, Captain America: Civil War is still in theaters (and it holds up), but the X-Men demand something more fantastical.

To the heap of well-crafted, Singer-helmed X-titles, I have to add X-Men: Apocalypse, more fun than it promises and just as compelling as its predecessors. The final battle doesn’t leave much room for surprise (how many permutations of averted catastrophe are there?), but the road getting there is as good as anything we’ve seen yet. Singer proves himself the X-King; long may he reign.

X-Men: Apocalypse is rated PG-13 for “sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images.”

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Nice Guys (2016)

After two Iron Man films, Jon Favreau retired to a more personal film with Chef, which seems to have rejuvenated his creative batteries while remaining an entertaining movie in its own right. Likewise, three years after Iron Man 3 it’s Shane Black’s turn to scale back for a smaller film – misplaced, perhaps, in the summer blockbuster season (I can’t help thinking it’d have performed better financially in, say, October), but right up there with Hail, Caesar! in terms of laughs per minute.

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling star as errant private eyes whose paths cross on a missing persons case before the case turns into an apparent murder (or, as it turns out, murders) reaching as high as the head of the Department of Justice (Kim Basinger). It’s a 1970s extravaganza, from the music and locations to the politics and pornography; hat-tip to Angourie Rice as Gosling’s daughter, overeager and spirited despite her father’s protestations.

I’ve been a fan of Shane Black’s going as far back as my first viewing of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and his clever screenplay on The Monster Squad. Of course, the former had a lot to do with Robert Downey Jr. in a starring role, but that has a lot to do with the fact that RDJ is naturally adept at delivering the kind of lines that Black writers – quick-witted, dryly sarcastic, and unapologetically buffoonish when need be. Throw in the buddy cop element (lest we forget, Black screenwrote Lethal Weapon), and you’re well on your way to The Nice Guys.

Another way to put it would be to think of The Nice Guys as “Thomas Pynchon’s Big Lebowski,” juxtaposing the neo-noir aesthetics of the Coen Brothers with Pynchon’s penchant for the absurd, Inherent Vice if it starred a pair of detectives. Yet for all the twists and turns that analogy might lead you to expect, The Nice Guys is never less than straightforward, its mystery meandering but never straying while wrinkling in a nice bit of ambiguity just because the final reel (in brief, is someone lying about the truth of the case?).

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a success because of the unlikely chemistry between the extreme personalities of RDJ and Val Kilmer (the latter in an uproarious turn as Gay Perry), and The Nice Guys continues that pattern by joining Crowe and Gosling in a successful combination of thuggish straight man Crowe and waggish clown Gosling. While Crowe gets in his fair share of punchlines and confident one-liners, it’s Gosling who runs away with the film’s funniest moments (some playing off his daughter, in an entry for “World’s Nuttiest Approach to Parenting”).

Unfortunately, it seems that The Nice Guys is flying under the commercial radar, though critically it’s hovering around 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Perhaps The Nice Guys will find its audience on DVD, and hopefully so because this is a film that is a guaranteed bad-mood-killer. Hail, Caesar! gave me an unending grin on my face, but The Nice Guys goes for the comedic jugular and left me wheezing with laughter throughout much of the picture.

The Nice Guys is rated R for “violence, sexuality, nudity, language and brief drug use.” Definitely a hard R between the violence (gunfights, fistfights, people getting hit with cars and falling off buildings), profanity (F-bombs aplenty), and nudity (topless and nude women in the opening scene and in an extended party scene).