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Stories by Matthew Lickona

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 ...

Machete trouble at La Jolla High

People don't get Santiago

Santiago, La Jolla’s Darger of the Hedgerows, lives most of his life in a sanctuary he carved for himself amid the dense trees and underbrush separating a kindly Frenchwoman’s home from the busy street on ...

La Jolla's version of Henry Darger

The corkscrew-childlike inner life of Santiago

A recent exhibition of works by the artist known as Santiago — aka Charlie Chimpo, aka “the Scripps Institute of Oceanography’s Retard Grandson” (a self-applied sobriquet) — during a festival at La Jolla’s Mary Star ...

Meet the new Star Wars, same as the old Star Wars...

That old familiar feeling in this week's new movie releases, including Star Wars: The Last Jedi

That's not entirely fair, of course. This new Star Wars has lots more ladies than usual, and besides, the repeated bits are always given a little tweak here and there. Still, I did have a ...

Kargoyle haunts Normal Heights

Then it's off to be auctioned at Scottsdale

The Kargoyle, a chop-topped 1967 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Funeral Coach of dubious practicality and somewhat mysterious origin, slunk and slithered its way into the Adams Avenue Vons lot in Normal Heights and parked next to me. ...

On top of this little corner of the world

South Encanto has the views

When my friend Jon visits from from the murk and damp of Michigan, he always looks up for what he thinks of as a real San Diego sky: not merely cloudless, not merely blue, but ...

What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?

Outsiders abound in this week’s new movie releases, including The Shape of Water and The Other Side of Hope

What indeed, Elvis? But without war, hate, and myopia, we wouldn’t have the outsiders who drive the drama in so many of our stories. Like the fish-man and the woman with something fishy about her ...

Pixar’s splendid Coco

“Is there sufficient reason for the tears that will inevitably run down my face by the end?”

Smash the American Idol. Still The Voice. America’s Got Talent, but let it stay at home and delight the household and its gods (or at least its ancestors). But what if the household is not ...

Mr. Halfright

The wheelchair encyclopedia of Normal Heights

It’s not his real name, but the name he gave me wasn’t real, either. He’s navigated his dual wheelchairs, one for his luggage and one for himself, with impressive efficiency — and even agility, despite ...

Eighteen is the new fourteen

But putting down my phone is futile

A while back, I sent my collegiate son a text with the following quote from a letter by F. Scott Fitzgerald to his collegiate daughter: “Once one is caught up in the material world, not ...

Spoilers ahead!

A few not-so-shocking giveaways about this week’s new movie releases, including Justice League and Frank Serpico

Okay, people, spoilers ahead. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. Justice League: Aquaman’s powers mostly go unused. BPM: AIDS kills. Frank Serpico: The hero cop of Serpico is a hero cop. Bill Nye: Science Guy: Bill Nye defends ...

Barbarians at heart

The Square is lengthy, sometimes luxuriating in its long takes...to the point of discomfiture

What is The Square? Well, it’s a piece of art, so there are no doubt any number of interpretations. But I’ll hazard a guess: The Square is writer-director Ruben Östlund’s latest salvo against institutions that, ...

That ’70s feeling

This week’s new movie releases look back: Murder on the Orient Express, Last Flag Flying, Novitiate

Novitiate? The Devils. Last Flag Flying? The Last Detail. Murder on the Orient Express? Murder on the Orient Express. No Greater Love? It ain’t exactly Winter Soldier, but it does involve war footage and traumatized ...

What’s in a restaurant name?

How Stake, West Pac Noodle Bar, Moo-Time, Leroy's, Lil Piggy's Bar-B-Q came into being

David Spatafore, the “visionary” and “primary owner” at Blue Bridge Hospitality, goofed with the name of his first restaurant. “We called it MooTown Creamery, and the concept was that we were going to make homemade ...

San Diego County Gestapo drove away farmer

Mikhail Baryshnikov poster: "Don't come back"

The House Where Nobody Lives sits out on Fuerte Drive in El Cajon. Kids sometimes visit at night to scare themselves: “Don’t come back” has been scratched into the black-and-white poster of a shirtless and ...

Starstruck

A plethora of three- and four-star movies in this week’s new releases, including Thor: Ragnarok, The Nile Hilton Incident, Jane, and Tragedy Girls

As the Beast used to say in the old X-Men comic books, “Oh my stars and garters.” (And yes, that’s a cheap way of referencing this week’s comic-book movie release, Thor: Ragnarok. Let’s get back ...

Death, stabby and otherwise

Knives abound in this week’s new movie releases, including 78/52 and Suburbicon

Guns are fun, but when directors really want to paint the screen red, they go for the stabbing, slicing, slashing goodness of blades. And this week sees the opening of 78/52, a documentary about maybe ...

A view of Mexico from the bathtub

Mel Taylor's home on Panorama Drive lot

It was the last undeveloped ocean view lot on La Mesa’s Panorama Drive, and the view was what made artist/designer Mel Taylor bite. The 7000+ square-foot home he nestled against the steep slope features decks ...

Qualcomm wants to be loved

“The genius behind your smartphone’s smart is a San Diego native.”

“Qualcomm: why you love your smartphone,” proclaims the company’s regional ad campaign, the one you may have seen on billboards, at bus stops, or on electric taxi carts around town. Curious: ­an ad campaign that ...

Kid stuff

Children abide (or don’t) in this week’s new movie releases, including The Florida Project and Goodbye Christopher Robin

It’s tough being a kid, especially when Mom is an unemployed stripper. Or a suicidal lover. Or something of a child herself. And then there’s Dad — you know, the distant guy who pushes you ...

From minx to hellcat

The Florida Project: A different sort of Disney movie

“My soul is humbled when I see the way little ones accept their lot,” says Mrs. Cooper at the end of Night of the Hunter. “Lord save little children. The wind blows and the rains ...

Movie multiplicity

Lots of new movie releases, including The Foreigner and Trophy

Suffering Sappho! There certainly are a lot of new movie releases this week! (Yes, that’s Wonder Woman’s catchphrase, chosen in honor of the Wonder Woman origin story biopic Professor Marston & the Wonder Women.) And ...

Consider the lowbrow Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key

A brisk, brusque, bloody, bawdy Italian cheapie

That thundering synthesized flop you hear is Blade Runner 2049 coming in well below industry expectations; guess you people don’t have much use for highbrow, three-hour sci-fi epics that are long on scenery and short ...

Did the Glen Street killing start at El Cajon Oktoberfest?

Death next door

I moved from Normal Heights to La Mesa in 1999, mostly because I wanted a yard for my kids. But also because an old woman was attacked across the street from my house on East ...

DJ Ferny prefers to go manual

Heartfelt '80s music at TJ's Privee Lounge

Green light glows off the stippled white exterior of Priveé Lounge Bar, perched above the Plaza San Angel on Tijuana’s Avenida Sonora. (Just off Boulevard Agua Caliente before the Club Campestre.) Inside is white as ...

The trials and triumphs of women, synthetic and otherwise

This week’s new movie releases include Blade Runner 2049, The Queen of Spain, and The Mountain Between Us

Ryan Gosling may be at the center of Blade Runner 2049, but he’s surrounded by women: his boss at the police station, his opposite number on the corporate side of the investigation, his digital girlfriend, ...

We’ll never be royals...

...but we can watch them on screen in this week’s new releases, including The King’s Choice and Victoria and Abdul

Royals: they’re just like us! King Haakon VII of Norway liked to play hide and seek with his grandchildren and even pretended to have conversations with his grandson’s teddy bear! I mean, he also had ...

Liberty Station gallery shows crossover power of comics

Feeds and is fed by popular culture

“The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” says San Diego Comic Art Gallery manager TJ Shelvin, “are unlike anything else. On the one hand, you’ve got this major machine that it became” — six movies, six TV ...

Victoria and Abdul, out this week

A chat with Shrabani Basu, author of the book on which the film is based

“I think it’s significant,” says Shrabani Basu, “that Queen Victoria, in those days, over 100 years ago, chose to learn Urdu,” the language of a people under her rule. “And that she placed a young ...

I’d have cut off my hands

Drawing Blood — a combination of Breaking Bad, Spinal Tap, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Wally Wood is regarded as one of the great comic-book artists of all time. He was with Mad magazine from the very beginning; he created Daredevil’s red costume; he (probably) drew the Disneyland Memorial Orgy ...

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