Movie review: “Gremlins” (1984)

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“What are they doing in there?!”

“They’re watching Snow White…and they love it.”

Gremlins isn’t a Christmas movie per se and yet it is my favorite Christmas movie, observing all 360 degrees of the holiday season – the warmth of simple pleasures and gathered family as ward against the cold; the balm of home and hearth belying some of its tackier trappings and base consumerism – through an appealingly dark lens while, counterintuitively, still treating the festivities with more heart and care than might your average “Santa is/toys are/elves are real/magic/cute” kiddie tract or “I’ll be home for the holidays” made-for-television romantic schmaltz. Joe Dante’s 1984 hybrid Americana monster movie/comic thriller, in which the improper care of an exotic house pet unwittingly unleashes a destructive plague of mischievous beasties upon an unsuspecting small town, is a savory Christmas confection coated in arsenic and wrapped lovingly in exploding sandpaper. Continue reading “Movie review: “Gremlins” (1984)”

Movie review: “Ready Player One” (2018)

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“People come to The Oasis for all the things they can do, but they stay for all the things they can be.”

Having long since gracefully aged out of the demographic – and unwilling to do more than cursory supporting research – I have little knowledge or interest in whether Ernest Cline’s polarizing bestseller Ready Player One qualifies as a “Young Adult” novel along the lines of lucrative recent “plucky dystopian teens overturn the new world order” franchises The Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, and on past the horizon. In its broad strokes, Cline’s tome, with its laser focus on Eighties nostalgia, seems somehow even more cynically calculated than its fellows. This is arguably the property’s most noteworthy achievement, for all that implies, since broad strokes are what its filmed adaptation seems most keen to deliver. Continue reading “Movie review: “Ready Player One” (2018)”