Leo Grin

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Bored with the Good: The Ennobling Fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien Part 4

It seems hard to remember now that there was a time when the American counterculture embraced J.R.R. Tolkien and his masterpiece. Groovy dudes in pipe-weed jerkins yelling “Go Go Gandalf,” walls covered with graffiti proclaiming “Frodo Lives!”, and election-year “Gandalf

The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists

I used to think I was a fan of the genre known today as fantasy, and specifically the subgenres of High Fantasy and Sword-and-Sorcery. This was due to a number of factors. A childhood imagination dominated by Dungeons & Dragons.

Ronald Reagan and the Optimistic Cinema of the 1980s

Living in California and having as friends many artists, writers, and poets (all of them, to a one, blissfully, unreflectively liberal), I often have the opportunity to hear them wax poetic about the Golden Age of their lives: the late

How TV Shows Get Ruined: 'Human Target'

At the urging of a friend, I recently plowed through all twelve episodes of the first season of the Fox action/adventure series Human Target (2010) on DVD. He thought I’d like it, and he was right. Loosely based off of

Netflix, Redbox, and the Future of Hollywood

Over the last year I watched an interesting mini-social experiment play out: my sixty-something parents trying out Netflix. The company’s now-famous little red envelopes first gained fame around the time the dot-com boom went bust in early 2000. Video rental

A Tale of Three 'True Grits'

When the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, announced that they were going to remake True Grit, it sparked all of the usual arguments about the merits and demerits of such undertakings. The first film, released in 1969, sits in the

Top 5: Christmas Crooners

There’s been a dearth of Yuletide material here at Big Hollywood this month, so as The Most Wonderful Day of the Year draws nigh, let’s spend some time saluting the five men whose voices echo most strongly through the Christmas

Top 5: Blu-rays for Christmas

Yesterday I walked into my local supermarket to find they already had a massive Christmas tree up ornamented with gift cards. Yes, it’s quickly approaching “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and that means gifts to buy, preferably before

Top 5: Actors Who've Become Hams

We’ve all watched well-known, highly regarded actors for the umpteenth time on screen — perhaps even raucously enjoying both their performance and the movie — and thought about how painfully derivative and self-referential they’ve become. Somewhere along the way, over

Top 5: Actors We Trust

In the Age of the Hollywood Sucker Punch, betting your time and dollars on movies and TV is more perilous than ever. As often as not, you can expect to fork over $20-$40 at the theater expecting to laugh, cry,

Top 5: Most Anticipated Movies for Fall-Winter 2010

A good argument can be made that the period 2000-2009 was the single worst decade for movies in Hollywood history. Unfortunately, judging by what we’ve seen so far in 2010, the next decade could conceivably dip even lower into mediocrity.

Bring On 'The Expendables': I Was a Teenage 'Expendable'

Rumor has it that Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables marks a return to the glory days of 1980s action mayhem and pro-American machismo. Its appearance on the cultural horizon has certainly stirred up memories of my mid-Eighties, Midwestern suburban adolescence. It

Death of the Movie Star: Overpaid and Overrated

Pop quiz: what do the following movies have in common? Gone with the Wind (1939), Star Wars (1977), The Sound of Music (1965), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), The Ten Commandments (1956), Titanic (1997), Jaws (1975), Doctor Zhivago (1965), The Exorcist

WE LOVE PIXAR: The Pixar Rules

AUTHOR UPDATE: It’s been brought to my attention by a commenter that this excellent article on Pixar in the June issue of Wired magazine, written by Jonah Lehrer, begins by riffing off of the exact same William Goldman quote that