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Stories by Matthew Lickona

Is RoboCop's Omnicorp really Apple?

Short answer: no, of course not. Apple doesn't manufacture weapons systems. But we have to think about SEO, you know? Because of Google. Which Omnicorp isn't, either. Longer answer: Hilariously, sort of, maybe! Or at ...

Aching loins, lonely heart

Brian got married “around age 28. We had Anthony about two years afterwards and had Adriana in ’94.” Though he didn’t relish the thought of being “50 years old and worrying about [my daughter’s] virginity,” ...

All About Shailene

Watch your back, J-Law.

Y'all have seen All About Eve, right? [Um, if you haven't, spoilers ahead.] It's a classic backstage story of a fame-hungry woman who decides that her best bet is to learn how to act. But ...

Philip Seymour Hoffman: one more loss

Of course, the real tragedy is the addiction and death. But there is also this: Hoffman could have been truly amazing in that great will-o-the-wisp of films, the adaptation of John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy ...

Dear Doritos: You're welcome!

Is it possible no one's done this yet?

So over at Vanity Fair, there's a story about how Jennifer Lawrence's fondness for Doritos on the set of American Hustle resulted in some...wardrobe difficulties. Particularly when it came to this big lady-kiss scene in ...

Behold Oscar's shorts

Little ones

Another Oscar season, another opportunity to wonder aloud why it is that, in this age of supposedly dwindling attention spans, there has not been an explosion of interest in the short-film form. Tired of formulaic ...

Interview with Gimme Shelter writer-director Ron Krauss and Several Sources Shelter founder Kathy DiFiore

In 2009, filmmaker Ron Krauss (Puppies for Sale, Alien Hunter) paid a visit to his brother in New Jersey. While there, he learned about a shelter for young mothers, just a mile away. He decided ...

Dept. of Digital Correction

Everybody is oohing and aahing over this bit from Fight Club where Tyler Durden has been digitally edited out. Well and good. But when are they going to edit the rabbit into Harvey?

Robert Downey Jr.: A consideration

Deeper and deeper we go into the cinematic void that is January. The stygian emptiness is so encompassing by now that we must ask ourselves pointless, unanswerable questions just to keep going. So: will 2014 ...

Interview with The Legend of Hercules star Kellan Lutz

Because every demigod needs an origin story.

The Legend of Hercules is the first of this year's two Hercules films. The second, due in July, will star Dwayne Johnson, a suitably gigantic actor for the part of the original strongman. But Kellan ...

The digital divide of Her

Better than reality

At first glance, you might be tempted to think that Spike Jonze’s latest film is titled Her because it’s about her: Samantha, the sentient operating system (fetchingly voiced by Scarlett Johansson), who is purchased, befriended, ...

Film idea: Press junket with three fallen titans

So, over at Mr. Marks' Wolf of Wall Street review, the conversation has turned, as it does, to "Whatever happened to Robert De Niro?" For the longest time, my answer to that question has been, ...

Strong female characters

There has been some hubbub about director Peter Jackson's decision to inject "feminine energy" into his Hobbit adaptation through the inclusion of Tauriel, a lady elf. I thought it a lame decision in a movie ...

The cruelest month

It’s hard out there for a film critic. It’s especially hard right now — January. People say, “Happy New Year.” People think of new beginnings and better times. A chance to slough off the encrusted ...

Wise to the Hustle

Don't kid yourself.

I’m not sure American Hustle is the best picture of the year. I’m not even sure if it’s my favorite picture of the year. But I’m pretty sure it brought me more oh-hell-yes pleasure than ...

There be (lots of) dragons

A consideration of sources.

The hobbit in The Hobbit may get the title, but it's pretty clear by now that the real star of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy is the dragon Smaug. This isn't exactly surprising; Jackson's roots are ...

The Hobbit's unreal things

There be dragons

My favorite moment in The Desolation of Smaug, part two of Peter Jackson’s epic expansion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s children’s book The Hobbit, came when the titular hobbit and his thirteen dwarvish companions were buried under ...

"So you see, Dr. Jones, it really is a small world after all."

Surely someone's done this already.

I mean, why else would Disney buy the aging Indiana Jones franchise unless Indy was close to discovering the truth?!?

The movie critic's measuring stick

Richard Brody's top 10 list is not the same as mine, which is fine, but also interesting.

I overheard a fellow critic at a screening recently saying what a terrible year it had been for movies. His conversational fellows seemed to agree. I haven't been playing the critical game long enough to ...

Jesus Christ. At the movies?

Spoilers ahead, folks. I need to see Gravity again before I can really go after my co-critic for his dismissal of a film that actually manages to dramatize the Christian notion of being “born again” ...

Paul Walker is dead, no word on The Fast & the Furious film franchise

"Oh, my God," said my friend, staring at her smartphone. "Paul Walker died in a fiery crash." For a split-second, it registered as maybe a joke. Paul Walker? The star of the Fast & Furious ...

Spike Lee's Oldboy lacks the original’s creepy heart

Spike Lee’s remake of Chan-wook Park’s celebrated tale of a man who is mysteriously imprisoned and then just as mysteriously released has plenty of spattered brain matter and sadistic gut-punches. What it lacks is the ...

Interview with Bruno Gunn and Meta Golding, the actors who play Brutus and Enobaria in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Capitol is the villain

The stakes-raising gambit that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire plays in order to surpass the original Hunger Games is this: after Katniss's rebel-tinged victory in the 74th Games, President Snow decides to make the 75th ...

Life during wartime

A new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, has found that in 2012, the mean level of gun violence in PG-13 films exceeded the level of gun violence in R-rated films. That’s just gun violence ...

Thor: The Dark World party game

In case you're bored after the movie

Here's how to play: Thor: The Dark World steals from a lot of films. Like, a lot. Pick one of them. Then, change one of the famous lines from that film to make it into ...

Interview with Anchorman actor and comedian David Koechner

Champ Kind returns to San Diego for three nights at the American Comedy Company

David Koechner is probably best known for playing San Diego sportscaster Champ Kind in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Michael Scott's obnoxious friend Todd Packer on The Office. Personally, I'm very fond of ...

New releases opening this week: 12 Years a Slave, Ender's Game, and more

Everybody loves 12 Years a Slave. Well, almost everybody. Look, I know what you're thinking. "Oh, Marks is just a contrarian from the School of Armond White. Of course he's not going to like a ...

Opening Shot: All Is Lost

Because a good opening shot tells you something, like a good opening sentence

The image above is actually the film's second opening shot. It's the opening of chapter one in the story. What comes before is a prologue. The prologue opens with a shot of an utterly calm ...

New releases opening this week: Bad Grandpa, The Counselor, and more

Never mind the middlebrow

Poor Scott. Forced to damn Bad Grandpa with faint praise. Only three stars, alas. For any other franchise save Marty Movies Inc., that would be high praise. Here, there is the unmistakable pungency of disappointment. ...

The Grinch helpfully illustrates the fortunes of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Tom Clancy's corpse is barely cold, and already they're pissing on his creation

So word has just come that Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has been bumped from a Christmas Day release date to...mid-January. Thank you, Mr. Grinch, for making it clear just what that means. Judging from the ...

Trailer Park: Captain America: Winter Soldier

a.k.a. Iron Man Lite

Not too much to say here, except maybe that this looks like a pretty terrible superhero movie and maybe a pretty good spy thriller, except for the godawful music. I mean, I enjoyed being a ...

The good old days

No, seriously: the good old days

The image above is taken from a Paramount Pictures ad that ran in Vanity Fair back in February of 1920. (The magazine is running a bunch of its old content on its website in celebration ...

Opening shot: The Counselor

Because a good opening shot tells you something, just like a good opening sentence

So, here you have a straight path, Route 54. But if you turn from the straight path, you wind up in Juarez, Mexico. What's in Juarez? Why drugs and drug violence, of course. And what ...

Trailer Park: That Awkward Moment

Actually, it's more of an "end that trend" bit, but still.

So, first up: this trailer is red-band for a reason. Proceed with caution. Right, then. For a few years in a child's life, any reference to poop or pee is inherently hilarious. The reference can ...

Interview with A.C.O.D. star Adam Scott

The man is everywhere these days.

Matthew Lickona: What did the script do right that attracted you to this project? Adam Scott: I thought it was really funny. I thought it was kind of a new, untapped genre — the divorce ...

Captain Phillips: Unacceptable exceptionalism

We've all got bosses.

If you can get past the bombastic score and the wavering, seasick camera and what is perhaps the hackiest, laziest opening-scene conversation of the year, you might find something remarkable in Captain Phillips: a quietly ...

The brutal spectacle of You Will Be My Son

A family thing

You can’t choose your family,” goes the old saying. You Will Be My Son tells the story of what may happen when you try. It’s not a surprising story, but it is a satisfying one. ...

Mutual wounds

Destin Cretton’s award-winning Sundance short film, Short Term 12, gets a feature-length expansion.

Soul death

Interview with Afternoon Delight writer-director Jill Soloway

Matthew Lickona: How did you pitch this film? Jill Soloway: A mom rescues a stripper and realizes that she’s the one who needs rescuing. ML: So Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) is the mom in that sentence, ...

Modern English Society

Ah, raised stakes. Is there any movie you can’t weaken, even as you seek to ratchet up the significance and tension of the crisis at hand? My top-of-the-head answer for favorite film of Summer 2013 ...

Pacific Rim's sense of fun

Godzilla vs. Mechas

Hey, did you hear the one about how the foreign market now accounts for 75 percent of the take on big studio releases? How ’bout the one where China, Japan, and the U.K. are the ...

The Long Ranger

Silver — hey-o!

The list of things that are terrible about The Lone Ranger is long. Reading a complete version might take longer than the film itself (a murderous 2 hours and 20 minutes). It might also be ...

Before Midnight: For starters, you’re crazy

Modern Greek drama

As Before Midnight draws near to its titular hour, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) gets a mid-argument chance to make a list of his beloved Celine’s (July Delpy) flaws. “Well, for starters, you’re fucking crazy,” he begins ...

Dammit, Jim

Boldly going nostalgic

Star Trek into Darkness is a showcase for director J.J. Abrams at his most J.J. Abrams-y. Do you identify Abrams by his fondness for lens flares? You will not be disappointed. Lens Flare spends enough ...

The "great" character

Gatsby née Gatz

Anyone who’s seen the screamy, thudding trailers for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby knows that it is not a paint-by-numbers cinematic re-presentation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s elegant, economic novel. The numbers are there, of course: ...

Lumbering Man

More metal mancrush

Iron Man 3 is, like its hero Tony Stark at the outset and Stark’s girlfriend Pepper Potts at another point in the story, a hot mess. It does what third installments tend to do: revisit ...

Malick’s (un)romantic musings

The world is poisoned and so are we.

"Why do we come back down?” asks Marina (Olga Kurylenko) in Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder. Why, after mounting to transcendence, do we sink back willy-nilly into everything we sought to transcend? To take an ...

Shut up, racist

Black in blue

Television veteran Chadwick Boseman gives a fine, canny performance in 42 as Jackie Robinson, the man who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Well, except for when he talks ...

Impossible Germany

Lore: History by the losers

Lore is a loser’s history of World War II, a less fantastical, more moving post-apocalyptic wasteland film out of Australia than the one that starred Mel Gibson back in 1979. Less fantastical because it’s set ...

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