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Stories by Matthew Lickona

"Watch this." (Or maybe don't)

Solo: A Star Wars Story is half a good Star Wars story

I played an awful lot of Star Wars when I was a kid. My snowy backyard in upstate New York was the ice planet Hoth. My jungle gym was The Millennium Falcon. And my best ...

A burlesque extension of the Star Wars universe

The Empire Strips Back aims for the funny familiar

Pulitzer-nominated political cartoonist Jeff Danziger once wrote that he wanted his panels to work like an icicle slipped down your back — funny in a way, but also discomfiting. Laughter tinged with the twinge that ...

Dressing the part, from Atlanta to Vegas to here

Sartorial scientist Pearce Cleaveland helps host Happy Hour poolside at the Pendry

There’s an elevator at the Pendry hotel on Fifth that runs from the underground Oxford Social Club, with its $1500 Saturday night bottle service, up to the ground-floor Lionfish restaurant, home to Eater “Top-50 Young ...

"You're tearing me apart!"

James Dean has nothing on Ryan Reynolds in this week's new movie releases, including Deadpool 2 and The Desert Bride

I've been on about this before, but one of the things that make so many superhero punch-ups so deadly dull is the Toughness Inconsistency Index, which states that the amount of punishment a hero can ...

Post-movie problems

A potentially profitable plight?

Avengers: Infinity War was a long movie: 160 minutes or so. After a long movie, there is often a general rush to the rest room, followed by an increasingly uncomfortable wait among a crowd of ...

The keening whine and thrilling drone of the bagpipes

Weird war music

Bagpipes are mostly synthetic nowadays — reeds, chanters, drones; even the bags are rarely fashioned from animal hide any more. But the sound is still primitive, primal: a single octave plus one, the keening whine ...

Spoiler Alert

The fans have spoken

The Supergoose that Laid the Golden Eggs?

Marks madness

Scott Marks covers the movie front for this week's new releases, including Wildling and Tully

For a while there, Ye Olde new release schedule seemed to be waving a blank white flag of surrender: "Oh, Avengers: Infinity War, we know better than to try to compete with your awesome earning ...

You can't have anything bigger than Infinity

Avengers: Infinity War doesn't leave much room for other new movie releases

This week's big new release is very big: Avengers: Infinity War is here to mash up The Avengers, Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and probably a bunch of other stuff into ...

Horror in the high desert

My dad had this half-finished cabin in Descanso

Last Sunday, I took the 79 up to Julian for a family gathering with friends. I usually take the less-winding 67-78 route, but I was trying to work out a musical round about the French ...

The Sweet Taste of Souls

Flying Dolphin’s first flight

Bee Pedersen can still remember when she saw the thriller Seven in a theater. “We were going to have dinner after, but when we came out, I said, ‘You know, I think I’ve got to ...

Local boys make good

San Diego shines in this week's new movie releases, thanks to The Endless

Look, even Homer nods. So yes, we missed A Quiet Place. Happily, a whole bunch of people found it without our help. Hooray for smart (by all accounts), small-budget horror! You know, like The Endless, ...

The divine cinematographer

The Endless, a lo-fi local treat

A Catholic friend of mine is fond of saying “That’s gonna burn” when he looks back on this or that moment of personal failure. He imagines that when he dies and faces his final judgment, ...

"Are you serious?"

More new movie releases than you can throw a tennis racket at, including Borg vs. McEnroe and Beirut

Well, we tried. We made it to Sgt. Stubby, You Were Never Really Here, Beirut, Baja, Rampage, and Borg vs. McEnroe. Aardvark and Sweet Country should be up before 5 p.m. (UPDATE: Okay, 10 p.m. ...

The remembered dead

Spring Street memorials in La Mesa

The Rodeway Inn at the intersection of Spring and Gateside in south La Mesa burned in 2015. But its freestanding roadside sign still advertises the “new management, complimentary breakfast, and free WiFi” at the “home ...

Tequila is like wine

Finding gold at Patron's Corner

The Easter Bunny slipped a bottle of Fortaleza reposado tequila into the bright blue English watering can that doubled as my wife’s Easter basket this year. He deigned to plunk a bottle of Casa Noble ...

Critter cinema

Animals arrive in this week's new movie releases, including Pandas and Tehran Taboo

Let's start with the big new release: for some reason, there's a rooster in the poster for Blockers, a movie about parents trying to preserve their daughters' virginity. What's that about? (Cue Beavis & Butthead ...

Ready viewer one

This week's new movie releases clear the way for Ready Player One

For a while there, it looked like Steven Spielberg had spun his last spiel — or was getting close to it, anyway. Three years between Munich and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal ...

Bob Balaban gets to be King — the dog

"There’s a thin line dividing us, and it involves the fact that he has more hair than I do."

Actor Bob Balaban has appeared in director Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom. In the delightful and exquisite Isle of Dogs, he plays King, a former dog food commercial star who is ...

St. Patrick's with Clan Welch & Co.

Last year, they posed as Irish Drunks for Trump

“God love him, you can’t have a holiday without Mike,” says Beth Lipski of her uncle, Mike Welch. He’s the one standing in full Tipperary kilt on the greensward of Balboa Park along Sixth Avenue, ...

Why do they call them The Fighting Irish?

“Whiskey in the Jar,” a song about getting drunk, getting laid, and armed conflict

San Diego State University has appointed a task force to make a recommendation about whether or not to keep Monty Montezuma, the school’s Aztec warrior mascot. As of this writing, there has been no corresponding ...

You say "B movie" like it's a bad thing

Lowbrow goodness in this week's new movie releases, including Pacific Rim Uprising and Unsane

Harumph. My fellow critics are comparing Pacific Rim: Uprising to a Transformers movie. I say both action and story are vastly more clear and compelling than Michael Bay's blockbusters. They're saying that it's not as ...

What about the kid?

Youth gets served (or not) in this week's new movie releases, including Loveless and Love, Simon

In Love, Simon, the kid has a problem. In Loveless, the kid is the problem. In The Cured, the kid is a reminder of a problem. In Tomb Raider, the heroine's problem is that she ...

Selling the dream

Hacienda del Corazón is up for sale

The San Diego Film Foundation’s 2018 Oscar Viewing Party was held at the luxurious Hacienda del Corazón in Rancho Santa Fe. On January 5 of last year, it was the Wall Street Journal’s House of ...

A long line for Alice Waters

Fans of all sorts come out to her book signing at Chino Farm

On this particular Sunday, the longest line at the Chino Farm vegetable stand in Rancho Santa Fe is not the one for the pricey produce, or even for the wood-fired Stinging Nettle pizza. Instead, it ...

Wes Anderson retrospective starts March 2

This week's new releases: Red Sparrow, Bombshell, Nostalgia, Deathwish, Mohawk

First, the whimsical, quirky news, or at least the news of the whimsical and quirky: as a run-up to the March 28th release of Wes Anderson's latest, Isle of Dogs, the Digital Gym is running ...

On the fit and very lit body of a gorgeous goddess

You are the lust that keeps me awake at night

San Diego Instagram model Julianne (@juli.annee) has 4.9 million followers on the social-media platform. Her posts regularly receive over 100,000 likes. Julianne favors lingerie and swimsuits and often includes teasing captions with her photos that ...

You’ll have to put on pants

San Diego Film Festival Oscar party helps a human thing

Most years, I watch the Oscars from the comfort of my bed, clad in my finest thrift-store pajamas and swilling El Jimador like they’re going to stop importing tequila when they build Trump’s wall. That ...

People are dirty even when they're clean

The church serves the unclean, untouristy souls that Christ said He came to save

It’s Saturday morning and I’m helping my wife and daughters clean Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Little Italy. It would be purest folly for the church to hire cleaners when they can instead ...

Black Panther joins the Bad Dad Parade

Maybe Star Wars really is our defining cinematic mythology

A couple of weeks back, I wrote about joining Rotten Tomatoes because I liked the idea of a critical conversation — all those informed perspectives, gathered in one place and trading impressions. Last week, I ...

Hey everybody, Black Panther comes out this week

Plus one or two other new movie releases

I came out of the screening for Black Panther unmoved. I like films set in Africa. I like star Chadwick Boseman. I sometimes like director Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan. I like actress ...

Wintry Sisyphus

25 years in Southern California can make a body forget to check the weather

It doesn’t much matter how I came to be in my recent predicament — stranded in the Evanston, Wyoming, Comfort Inn, just over the Utah border, staring out of the second-story window at the parking ...

Academy Award–nominated short films at the Ken

How many of the past winners do you consider to be a great movie?

Ten years ago, the Academy Award for Best Picture went to No Country for Old Men — a solid choice, even though I would have gone with There Will Be Blood. (Not that you asked.) ...

What use UTC has of books

Anyone ever read these?

Books do furnish a room, but not at Pottery Barn in University Town Center. Even the writing desk is piled high with leather travel cases instead of readables. The only exception — the John Derian ...

There are some gems this week

Scott Marks sees a bunch of new releases

It's not a surprise that Scott Marks didn't much care for Fifty Shades Freed, the last chapter in the Fifty Shades trilogy, given what he thought of parts one and two. (Still, the sorry softcore ...

Why I joined Rotten Tomatoes

Big world on a big screen

Over a recent weekend, I listened to the audiobook of Patton Oswalt’s memoir Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film. At one point, the actor and comedian recounts a 1996 trip ...

I want a percentage of the company

Maybe not what UCSD intended for its students

Instagram and social media as we know it won’t last forever.

I can’t work with Mom anymore

From construction worker to fashion photographer

Shea Marie’s mother didn’t plan for her daughter to become a fashion icon any more than she planned for her son Matt Petranovic to become a fashion photographer. It definitely isn’t what they studied at ...

Look back in anger...

...or in hilarity with this week's new film releases, including Hostiles

Truth be told, there's not a lot on the new release front this week for some reason, and what there is has a decidedly backward-looking feel. Hostiles goes back to the settling (read: claiming) of ...

A friendly chat with Christian Bale about Hostiles

Soldier on

In Hostiles, director and cowriter Scott Cooper re-teams with his Out of the Furnace star Christian Bale to tell the story of Captain Joseph J. Blocker, a man of war facing a violent transition — ...

Cinematic vocations

A smattering of career possibilities in this week’s new releases, including 12 Strong and Phantom Thread

When I was just a little boy/ I asked my mother, “What will I be?” A soldier? A sheriff? An actress? A singer? A dressmaker? Que sera, sera, kid. Que sera, sera.

That fat analog sound

My Belles A is "absolutely worth repairing”

Maybe it’s when a man starts to feel a bit broken down and disposable himself that he starts to look around for things that are worth repairing and saving. Things like this Belles A amplifier ...

Wife locks husband in chicken coop

There is a great gulf between us, millions of years wide.

I gave my wife five chickens for Christmas. A friend gave her three more, for a total of eight, which is also the number of children we’ve conceived. (Two made their exitus before being born.) ...

New movie releases for 2018

... including The Commuter and The Post

A dumb train movie. A sweet train movie. A movie about sad old people. A movie about sad young people. A movie about a strong white woman. A movie about a strong black woman. And ...

Top 18 movies of 2017

A list of favorites (as opposed to “bests”)

Looks back over the twisted landscape of 2017. Well, that was weird. Look, if lifelong cinephile Scott Marks can’t manage to put together a Top 10 List for this year, I don’t see why Matthew ...

Read it and reap

Free library boxes in front yards around Altadena/Burlingame

2302 Montclair Street Litterachur: A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace God, etc.: The Shack, by William P. Young Crime: Smokin’ Seventeen, by Janet Evanovich. Sexytimes: none Kidz: Troubling a ...

Beat cancer, publish book. Check.

David Grant Urban uses serial murderer Cleophus Prince

David Grant Urban was a fit 50something who had just finished hiking Mount Whitney when he found a lump on his neck. “I went through cancer treatment with three other people, and they all died,” ...

The year in Reader comments

Never mind who watches the Watchmen — who critiques the critics?

Below, please find the most popular movie reviews of 2017, listed in descending order. It should go without saying that “popular” does not necessarily have any connection with “positive.” That goes double for the comments, ...

Something for everyone this Christmas weekend

All sorts of Christmas goodies in this week’s new movie releases, including Call Me By Your Name and All the Money in the World.

An ode to eros. A screed against greed. A plea for decency. A tribute to decency. A digital update of a board game. A threequel for the Bellas. Daddy issues. Chemical issues. And a trunkful ...

Call Me By Your Name, a frank depiction of desperate teenage longing

It’s not love

“What of [Alcibiades’] beard? Are you not of Homer’s opinion, who says, ‘Youth is most charming when the beard first appears’? And that is now the charm of Alcibiades.” — Socrates, the Protagoras That is ...

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