Nine Years of Movie Blogging

Go go gadget holy sh*t! I’ve just been reminded that today marks my ninth year of blogging with WordPress! (If you want to read something quaint, here’s the review that began it all.)

Some time ago, maybe circa 2013-14, I jokingly commented to someone that I’d be doing this for a decade. Well, that’s actually doable now. I’ve been really happy about how this blog has helped me focus on the craft of writing, despite the fact I probably abandoned my original goal (to write columns with word counts that adhered to proper AP style) within the first year or two. Or was that the first post? Either way, after awhile I’ve come to realize that this platform lends itself more to free form writing. I’m not a website. I’m a blog, and a pretty obscure one at that!

In year nine of what is probably going to be an arbitrary number of them, I notice several major areas of improvement for myself. Namely, in the self-promotion department. I am awful at it! In fact I’ve been so proud of my avoidance of Twitter for all these years. But I reluctantly admit now that that strategy hasn’t really helped me. It’s also worth noting my Letterboxd profile desperately needs attention as well. It’s pretty much stagnated since I first opened it up sometime last fall.

When it comes to content, I have major blind spots in terms of genres, major names, and eras. I used to run a weekly feature called Throwback Thursday (yeah, what an original name, right??) and that would be an opportunity for me to dive back into films of the past. It’s possible that feature makes a return, either in its original form or some slightly tweaked version.

Whatever the changes that are to come and that have taken place over the years, one thing has remained true: it is because of the friends and followers I have had for nearly a DECADE that has kept my motivation going. I can’t overstate what it has meant to have people reading these obscure scribblings. It may be 10 years next July, but I’m not considering that the end of my journey. I hope you’ll still be following along. 

Year in Review: 2018 on Thomas J! (Part 1 of 2)

It has been some time since I went overboard and put together one of these long-winded end-of-year summaries; I think the last time I did anything like this was when I last “hosted” my own little version of the Academy Awards presentation — circa 2016, I think? Long-time readers remember this annual feature as The DigiBread Awards — this was back in the day when the site was Digital Shortbread, a name that I changed in January of 2017, mostly out of a feeling that too many people thought I was trying to start a bakery or confectionery or something.

I would like to take this time to thank my incredible (and patient) readers for staying aboard this choo-choo train, slowly but surely chugging along. This year has been the least active year I have had since beginning the site seven years ago, yet here we are — at the precipice of another. Proud of being able to see things through when the going got tough. And though it saddens me to see so many familiar faces disappearing, that is how life works. There is a thing called change, and while I am not quite ready to move on yet from this, I understand why others have. Blogging is a really time-consuming activity that can easily become a grind.

Now that we have all of the mush out of the way, here is a month-by-month breakdown of what went down on Thomas J in 2018. But so as to not completely overwhelm, I am breaking this . . . break-down into two parts. This post includes reviews posted from January until June. Part 2 will feature reviews done July through December.


January

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Oh yeah, that’s right! I took January off. Writer’s block reared its ugly head early, despite a few pickings that looked quite good (Molly’s Game, the directorial début of the master of walk-and-talk-scenes Aaron Sorkin; the profusely praised Call Me By Your Name expanded wide; also Mom and Dad, a whacko-sounding genre film featuring Nic Cage and Selma Blair as parents who “maniacally turn on their children while in the grip of a mysterious 24-hour frenzy;” and The Insult racked up impressive critical ratings but I never had a chance to seek it out).

February

And now Thomas J shows some signs of life. Two new reviews. A few Oscar predictions. (You can check those out as part of my monthly round-up right here.)

The Commuter: a decent post-Taken Liam Neeson thriller that offered the same kinds of thrills fans have come to expect from the actor-director (Jaume Collett-Serra) tandem, albeit on a more mellow level. You may not get any memorably threatening lines delivered over the phone here, but there is a pretty cool song by Cosima (“Unnamed”) that pops up in a passenger’s headphones/as part of the soundtrack. So that was cool.

 

The Cloverfield Paradox: Man, this thing really wasn’t very good. But you know what? I am just as not-very-good at going back to give things a second chance. I ripped this supposed franchise-expanding chapter a new black hole, but I probably went too hard on it. No, I didn’t? Well that’s good to know. Now I don’t have to go back!

 

March

On the positive side, March was the month that delivered Annihilation*. I was fortunate to catch Alex Garland’s follow-up to his exciting début (the high-concept sci fi trip from 2014, Ex Machina) in theaters. So I thank March for that. Unfortunately, March also saw the passing of iconic physicist Stephen Hawking. I was actually quite saddened by that loss, so I wrote a tribute to him.

Annihilation: from my review — “The best of Annihilation plays upon the deepest recesses of the mind, opening the floodgates for extrapolation and interpretation.” Further, I add (in a typically sensationalist way) that “Annihilation is the reason why I love not only going to the movies, but writing about my experiences with them as well. I felt transformed by this.”

 

 

Unsane: A heady, twisty-turvy psychological thriller that benefits from star Claire Foy’s strong turn. This was my introduction to the British actress, playing a young woman fearing for her safety after her stalker appears to have tracked her down at a mental institution. Given that director Steven Soderbergh decided to shoot the film on an iPhone, I’m sure more people will remember how the film was made rather than what it was about. And while the grainy quality of the picture at times was indeed a distraction, I was pretty impressed with the amount of tension that was wrung out of the narrative.

One and Not Done: With the 2017-’18 college basketball season coming to a close, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about this 30 for 30 film, which explores the career of collegiate basketball coach and gadfly John Calipari. If you consider yourself a college basketball fan, this is mandatory viewing.

 

 

April

April showers bring . . . what’s this? Awesome horror debuts? That’s right, folks. Everyone’s favorite Office drone puts on a brave and bearded face in his very first horror feature. April showers also bring: a bunch of crap. (Rampage; Blumhouse Presents: Truth or Who Cares**; the hilariously poorly titled The Humanity Bureau, etc . . . )

A Quiet Place: narratively taut, effectively tense and occasionally terrifying and featuring an innately likable family doing their best to survive in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by creatures that hunt by sound, A Quiet Place announced John Krasinski as a stud of a first-time horror director. Though I really need to stop using that phraseology. The guy has made movies before, but this one really hit in a big way with critics and audiences alike. Good for him, he deserved it.

 

Isle of Dogs: who can resist a Wes Anderson movie — one rendered in stop-motion and about man’s best friend, no less? I adored Isle of Dogs. It was exactly what I expected — even if there is a bit more of that ” . . .as well as for worse” starting to subtly creep in. Anderson is an incredibly visually inventive storyteller, but comedy-wise he is rather predictable. (I say that now; he could prove me wrong by making something entirely different in his next film. Somehow I doubt it, and I will welcome it all the same. Charming is Wes Anderson’s middle name.)

May

Another mini blogging vacation. This was a planned break. I barely saw any movies this month***, however I did manage to see Tully, a sweet but hardly sentimental drama about a single mom trying to make ends meet. While it featured a great Charlize Theron as Marlo, alongside an equally fascinating Mackenzie Davis as the title character — a night nanny named Tully — the film, written by Diablo Cody, concluded in such a bizarre way that I thought took a lot away from the authenticity that made the rest of the film so engrossing.)

June

Found me playing a little catch-up.

Deadpool 2: did you see Deadpool 1? There you go. (At least I was able to prevent Ryan Reynolds from dominating my review this time.)

 

 

 

Solo: A Star Wars Story: not everyone wanted a Solo spinoff. But we got one, oh boy did we ever get one! Alden Ehrenreich bravely stepped into the cynical shoes of Harrison Ford’s bad-boy space cargo pilot, and while it wasn’t the performance of the decade — I realize no one’s hanging posters of Ehrenreich on their bedroom walls — he surprised me with his confidence. This movie was really a lot of fun and you’re just a party-pooper if you resisted the Force on principle. Come on! Like this thing as much as me!!!!!

Tag: a fairly inconsequential movie but far from a waste of time, this based-on-a-true-story action/comedy finds a group of adult friends wildly devoted to perpetuating their favorite childhood game. From my review — “A bromantic occasion in the vein of The Hangover, yet somehow even less “culturally, aesthetically and/or historically significant,” this is the kind of entertainment that goes down GREAT with buttered popcorn (or even unbuttered . . . if you’re weird).”

Stay tuned for Part 2 . . . 


* correction, March was actually when i published my reaction. The film came out February 23, and given its really limited run in theaters, it is highly unlikely I actually waited until March to see it.
** ACTUALLY TITLED TRUTH OR DARE, BUT SERIOUSLY . . . WHO CARES? 
*** FORGOT ABOUT INFINITY WAR, OF COURSE. 

Avery

Release: Thursday, November 15, 2018

→Starbucks/my house

Written by: fate, apparently

Directed by: meteorological patterns, a.k.a. Winter Storm Avery

Avery is a little independent drama that showed up in northeastern New Jersey/Pennsylvania, seemingly out of nowhere. With the potential to drop anything from 4 to 7 inches of early-season crud as well as freezing rain/ice accumulations of up to another quarter-inch, it’s perhaps too early a reminder of what we all went through last season, when back-to-back storms that dumped at least a foot each hit the northeastern US and rendered millions without power and heating for up to a week. Avery may well be a quality storm, but man is it ill-timed. I’ve only now exhausted the last of my Halloween candy.

In a common refrain heard all over town today, this is indeed, bullshit.

At least this isn’t 2011, when “Snowtober” brought an unexpected early Christmas present — and by early I mean, a winter storm predating Halloween that year. I wasn’t living in the Garden State at the time, but I’ve heard the stories — of the juxtaposition of orange pumpkins against pillows of snow, of tree branches snapping all the way down the line on Cobblestone Lane, resulting from the unique, combined weight of snow and leaves that still had yet to fall. Sagas of multi-day power-outages and of dedicated parents driving their kids to neighborhoods that still had power to keep the spirit of trick-or-treating alive. I heard that a town called Peru, in Massachusetts, received a whopping 32 inches in that one storm.

Crazy, right? But what does any of this have to do with movies, you ask? I guess nothing, at least not directly. This snow does, however, mean I will not be risking my safety to drive to the theater to see Steve McQueen’s Widows tonight. That’s assuming Cinépolis stays open through the weather, too. So unfortunately I will have to delay on that review, and a couple others as well (like Beautiful Boy, Boy Erased, and Overlord — yikes!).

Despite all the inconvenience (woe as me, I can’t see the movies that I want to!) I would like to thank Avery for forcing me to stay put tonight and actually, for once, watch a movie at home. Maybe even in front of a fire. With hot chocolate. (Marshmallows?) So in anticipation of the bullshit that is to come I went to a Red Box kiosk last night and, would ya know, they have that crazy-looking, Nic Cage-starring Mandy in their collection! (And that got me to thinking, too; what was the last movie that I watched via Red Box and then also reviewed? It has been some time, I think since last September when I checked out British war drama Their Finest.) So with any luck I will have my reaction to another bat-shit Nic Cage flick in the coming days. I am pretty hungry to get to that, seeing as the reviews on it have largely been raves. There have been some savage rips of it as well, and that only further intrigues me.

But first, time to shovel the driveway. Damn it.


Have you seen Mandy? What about any of the other aforementioned movies? Any suggestions on what I should see first? 

Month in Review: August ’17

To encourage a bit more variety in my blogging posts and to help distance this site from the one of old, I’m installing this monthly post where I summarize the previous month’s activity in a wraparound that will hopefully give people the chance to go back and find stuff they might have missed, as well as keep them apprised of any changes or news that happened that month.

First of all, I’d like to give an acknowledgement to the victims of the ridiculous storm that slammed not once but twice into the Texas-Louisiana coast over the last week, almost 12 years from the day since the costliest natural disaster in American history gutted New Orleans. The images coming out of Houston and the surrounding areas are going to be difficult to shake, harrowing reminders of our increasingly tenuous relationship with Mother Nature. Those images, like the ones below, only serve to heighten the urgency in documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth and its sequel, which was recently released into theaters this past month to a chorus of crickets.

On a lighter note, August offered an interesting collection of theater trips for me. I visited Dunkirk (twice, once with my dad), traveled to Berlin with Charlize Theron and to the Deep South with . . . Daniel Craig (?!). I rekindled my disdain for The Circle in a belated review, while inadvertently stumbling upon one of my favorites of the entire year in Brigsby Bear. Loved, loved, loved, loved that movie. So much so, I gave it only my third HIGH FIVE of the year.

August found me once again dodging my responsibilities to my 2017 Blindspot challenge. Apologies to those who may have been anticipating a review for I Love You Philip Morris. I will make it up to you this month with a look back at QT’s Reservoir Dogs. And yes, I did just say Reservoir Dogs is on my Blindspot list.

Don’t judge.


New Posts

New Releases: Dunkirk; Atomic Blonde; Logan Lucky; The Circle; Brigsby Bear

Movie News

I’ve been pretty impressed with the number of actors and Generally Famous Faces who have contributed their own money to victims of Hurricane/Tropical Depression Harvey. I can only hope the money will be put to good use.

A bittersweet farewell to acclaimed director Tobe Hooper, whose original Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspired nightmares in everyone but me, apparently.

↓The Speculation Section It is early, yes, but Oscar buzz has returned and I for one am excited. Which movie is going to receive all the accolades, which ones are going to pull surprises and which ones are going to play the role of the unloved red-headed stepchild at the 90th Academy Awards next February? Christopher Nolan’s latest is among the most obvious of multi-Oscar heavyweights, though you also should not count out Wonder Woman or War for the Planet of the Apes either. It’s an unfair world and I know Brigsby Bear doesn’t have a shot in hell, but IMO it’s right up there as one of the year’s greatest treasures.

But what about those that we still don’t know anything about? What if I told you that not only was a movie starring Adam Sandler up for consideration this year, but that the star himself is as well? How hard would you laugh? (How much would I blame you?) The movie is called The Meyerowitz Stories (New & Selected) and will drop into theaters this October. Meanwhile, Guillermo del Toro apparently has something good cooking with his seriously cool-titled The Shape of Water, with early word pegging it as potentially the Pan’s Labyrinth director’s best work to date. Alexander Payne (Sideways; Nebraska) is due for a new release this season as well and he already has a lot of critics in his corner with Downsizing, a “social satire in which a guy realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself.” Honey, I just shrunk Matt Damon.

Blogging Updates 

Recent additions to my Netflix queue that you may see reviewed sometime in the near future*: What Happened to Monday?; The Number 23; To the Bone; Okja; Oklahoma City; The Discovery; The Most Hated Woman in America; Abattoir; Chasing Coral; The Wailing; Deidra and Laney Rob a Train. 

* To make things interesting, I’ll turn this over to you guys — of those titles, I’ll take and review the top three most popular choices. But this will only work if I get enough feedback. So don’t be shy! Weigh in with your thoughts about which Netflix flick I should tackle first, second and third!

Photo credits: http://www.pbs.org; http://www.time.com; http://www.nbcnews.com; http://www.abcnews.go.com 

Month in Review: July ’17

To encourage a bit more variety in my blogging posts and to help distance this site from the one of old, I’m installing this monthly post where I summarize the previous month’s activity in a wraparound that will hopefully give people the chance to go back and find stuff they might have missed, as well as keep them apprised of any changes or news that happened that month.

After another discombobulated period, I’m pleased to announce I will be getting back on track re: regular posting schedules. July was another hot and creatively bankrupt month for me, despite the deafening Dunkirk experience and Atomic Blonde rocking much of my face off.

Because I’m a selective sports fan, I always try to find something interesting to watch . . . . besides baseball. Because baseball isn’t interesting. And the season is 162 games long. You could watch your children grow up during that time. In order to cope, over the last three weeks I’ve sat through another Tour de France, but this time I actually really got into it. I started to study race strategy, even though the final result was more predictable than a Nicholas Sparks movie. British cyclist Chris Froome, riding for Team Sky, won his third straight TDF, and his fifth since 2013, effectively ensconcing himself amongst the sport’s all-time greats, though from what I understand the debate over whether he’s reached Eddie Merckx-levels of dominance will continue to rage. Still, there was some drama along the way, with a few nasty crashes in the mountain stages and a controversial decision to DQ fan favorite Peter Sagan early in the race.

Well aware that I’m playing to an increasingly small crowd here, let me flip the switch and get back into the blogging stuff that matters. Thomas J is about movies, first and foremost. So here’s what’s been going on around here over the last month.


New Posts

New Releases: Spider-man: Homecoming; The Beguiled; War for the Planet of the Apes

Blindspot Selection: Swingers (1996)

Movie News

The last couple of days have brought some sad news with the passing of Sam Shepard and Jeanne Moreau (the former I have had some experience with in his involvement in Jeff Nichols’ Mud and Midnight Special; the latter I am sorry to say I have never heard of until now).

Time to poll the sports nation: who’s going to see the Tom Brady/’Deflategate’ movie? (And for the cineastes, will we get a biopic or something broader? Who frikkin gets to play Roger Goodell? And the Golden Boy himself?) Would this be something you might watch if you’re not a sports fan?

Speaking of which, I want to pitch the Colin Kaepernik movie. His controversial decision to kneel during the National Anthem throughout the 2016-17 season has led to an off-season of unprecedented black-balling on behalf of virtually every NFL owner. Owners who seem to be okay with allowing wife-beaters and dog-killers back in but not those who actively embrace their Constitutionally-protected rights. The talented quarterback’s inability to find work is inextricably linked to his speaking out against police brutality against African-Americans, rather than any statistical concerns many seem to be pointing to. For the director, I’d like Peter Berg. The patriotic furor it caused seems to be right in his wheelhouse.

Blogging News

When the power went out on the night I was seated in Dunkirk, all I could do was smirk. This had been the film I had been looking forward to for some time, and one that found me doing the unthinkable and paying $20 for an IMAX ticket. “Where’s the bloody Royal Air Force?!” More like, where’s my bloody review for the thing.

Congratulations to my longtime friend Zoë of The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger for successfully making the transition from South Africa to London! Exciting times ahead. Best of luck to you guys.

Technically this July I celebrated my sixth year of “flying with WordPress.” A big shout-out to this excellent host. And for continuing to make it affordable. And, of course, for the more-than-half-a-decade of readership you all have given me. Thank you so very much.


What movie(s) are YOU looking forward to catching this August? 

Month in Review: June ’17

To encourage a bit more variety in my blogging posts and to help distance this site from the one of old, I’m installing this monthly post where I summarize the previous month’s activity in a wraparound that will hopefully give people the chance to go back and find stuff they might have missed, as well as keep them apprised of any changes or news that happened that month.

Blah. Here in the Northern hemisphere, it’s been officially summer for about two weeks. That means going to work in jeans and a long sleeve shirt is officially a pain in the ass. It also means heat exhaustion, and me not yet adjusting to nice face-melting 90° weather (that’s 32° for you Celsius people) (plus humidity) which means me sitting here bringing you the weekend weather report rather than anything new on the movie front.

But I’ll again fall back on my usual little lazy structure here to hopefully give everyone a head’s up as to what’s been going on this month (i.e. not a whole hell of a lot, other than finishing out the remains of a fairly underwhelming 2017 NBA Finals, but I won’t bore you with those details).


New Posts

Reviews: Wonder Woman; It Comes at Night; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Movie News

Dunkirk. We are less than a month away from Dunkirk. “When 400,000 men couldn’t get home, home came to them,” blah blah blah. Promotional cheesiness notwithstanding, I am fucking excited about the prospect of seeing this one on an IMAX-sized screen. And didn’t I just read something the other day that suggested Nolan’s somehow topped The Dark Knight?

A trailer has recently dropped for the remake of Jumanji, but you won’t see any promotional material for that garbajjj over here folks. Sorry, but I’ve already seen Johnny Depp and Hugh Jackman tarnish memories from my (admittedly relatively recent) childhood; I’m not letting my images of a bearded Robin Williams get stomped on by the Rock. As much as I admire what Dwayne Johnson’s been able to do post-wrestling, enough already. The homogeneity needs to stop.

More Big Movie News. New trailers seem to drop every day for the upcoming Blade Runner sequel. I’m treading carefully here, for as good as the cast is and as crafty as the studio has been with precisely what information they’re making available for public consumption, I haven’t quite been sold on this notion of further extending something so iconic. But as we have seen from Denis Villeneuve so far, Blade Runner 2049 is starting to look like it might be another Ridley Scott-to-James Cameron transition, more Aliens sequel than an Alien³ terdquel.  Hope with me, people. It’s time to live.

Meanwhile, the positive buzz for the ‘Apes’ sequel, War for the Planet of them, has really started to pick up. “Apes together strong; ape-fanboys together stronger!!!”

Of course, anyone who’s been reading me for any amount of time is aware that I also like my films indie, more independent sometimes even than Donald Trump’s twittering fingers. The end of June brings us closer to the release dates of a couple titles I have been keeping an eye on since the beginning of the year, with the Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara-starring drama/fantasy A Ghost Story set to drop Friday, July 7, and Charlize Theron goes full-on Atomic Blonde at the end of the month (Friday, the 28th). (Thanks as always to my friends over at Assholes Watching Movies, who are always keeping me apprised of stuff like that, by the way. They really do a great job of doing festival coverage, it’s amazing.)

Blogging News

Yes, yes I did indeed go see Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. The night it came out, in a packed house. Which was genuinely a lot of fun. The movie, in terms of entertainment value, was pretty much beyond compare, and pretty much from start to finish. My brain did another cramp-thing again and so I’ve stalled, but look for a piece on that sometime in the coming week.

Some other things are coming down the pipe as well. I wasn’t able to deliver June’s Blindspot review in time, so I will have that up in the next several days too. Here’s a little insight into being me: once that post has been up on the site for a few days and it’s gotten all (or at least the vast majority) of the traffic that I think it’s going to receive, I’m going to back-date the post so it’ll be stamped for the month of June. Because I hate things when they are out of place. I hate when, apparently, not even a blog is all neat and tidy. For chrissake. So, sorry to people in advance who may miss that post because it ends up getting buried in the WP Reader.

Here’s my Zoe-Will-Be-Proud-of-Me Corner. I finished reading Andy Weir’s The Martian this week. I flew through that pretty quickly because, let’s face it, it was every bit worth the hype it had received. I’ll need to go back and re-watch Mark Watney in the film, but I’m feeling that, for the first time in a long while, both book and movie are on par with one another. They each offer their own experiences. I won’t say anymore, but damn. Was I glad I finally got around to that book. An excellent, excellent read. Highly recommended. Next up on my list is Stephen Fry’s The Liar (1991).

Any who. Long story short, yes. Still going conservative on the posts, but look for a few out this week (I hope). Now that the NBA season is over (it’s real, because the NBA Awards Ceremony — yes that absolutely has just become a thing this year — is now over as well), I guess it’s time to start scrutinizing the world’s top cyclists to see who’s blood doping in this year’s Tour de France. After all, there’s always one. Right?


How has everyone been lately, by the way? It feels like it has been awhile. 

Month in Review: May ’17

To encourage a bit more variety in my blogging posts and to help distance this site from the one of old, I’m installing this monthly post where I summarize the previous month’s activity in a wraparound that will hopefully give people the chance to go back and find stuff they might have missed, as well as keep them apprised of any changes or news that happened that month.

May came and went with bad weather and even worse playoff basketball. The month flashed by despite the slog it’s been getting to the 2017 NBA Finals (hooray for Cleveland-Golden State 3!!!), and I suppose that was helped in part due to the third annual Decades Blogathon that was hosted by myself and a longtime friend of this site, Mark of Three Rows Back. If you guys happened to miss out on the action, be sure to scope the menus up top and find the Decades Blogathons, listed by year.


New Posts

Reviews: zero (first time in my blogging history since 2012/’13)

Blindspot Selection: What About Bob? (1991)

Other posts: Casting Call! Bloggers wanted for the Decades Blogathon ’17!Decades Blogathon — Still time to be part of something great!; the Decades blogathon (see above menu for a complete listing); Decades Blogathon — 12 Angry Men (1957)

Movie News

I’m going to just try and plead the fifth on this one; I really have done a poor job staying abreast of movie-related news in the last several weeks. All of my brainpower has been devoted to computing just how many points the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors have amassed in the 2017 NBA Playoffs. It’s been a video game of a post-season, for better as well as for worse. It’s the kind of post-season a film could be made about, so there. There’s some movie news. Maybe it’ll manifest in the form of a new ESPN 30-for-30 film. History is being made, by the way. First time in NBA history that the same Finals match-up has recurred three years in a row.

Blogging News

May was different for another reason. I found myself caught up in a one-man writer’s strike that saw a serious decrease in the amount of new content throughout the month. For awhile it was frustrating, having lost that mojo. It began with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. How do you review a movie that is exactly the same as the original without repeating yourself? I guess you comment on the virtues of Kurt Russell being a new addition, but I was largely unimpressed how he ended up turning into a CGI-ed Nerds Rope. Then, before I knew it, everyone was hating on Alien: Covenant, so I’ve been keeping my giddy enthusiasm for it under wraps.

The Circle was too horrible to comprehend, especially when you have Tom Hanks and Emma Watson starring and another chance to see that one kid from Boyhood act again. Good lord that movie was terrible. Then there was The Lost City of Z, an old-fashioned exploration film which I quite enjoyed but struggled to come up with words. Might still do that one. What else? Oh yeah — Ghost in the Shell, a documentary tribute to Leonard Nimoy called For the Love of Spock, and War Machine are still on the back-burner. We’ll see about those too.

I’m not exactly sure why I’m telling you all this, but maybe in some way I find it therapeutic to explain what happened this month. It was really odd. I haven’t ever had my confidence shaken like this before, writer’s block that just wouldn’t go away. But it’s happened before and I’m sure it’ll happen again.

All of this is to say that my posting schedule could continue to be minimal — at least up until the release of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, which looks really promising. With any luck that movie can shake some of the cobwebs out of my brain and we’ll be back on track.

As always, thanks so much for the visits you give my page! Until next time . . .

Month in Review: March ’17

To encourage a bit more variety in my blogging posts and to help distance this site from the one of old, I’m installing this monthly post where I summarize the previous month’s activity in a wraparound that will hopefully give people the chance to go back and find stuff they might have missed, as well as keep them apprised of any changes or news that happened that month.

March has found me pretty distracted with basketball. And that’s kind of a shame because I really wish I could have spent more time sitting through more naff movies in empty theaters. To remedy the situation I have been hunting through Netflix and finding quite a few indie titles I have been meaning to watch for sometime, so that’s been nice.

But between the NCAA tournament coming down to the wire (congrats to Coach Frank Martin and the South Carolina Gamecocks for their first Final Four appearance) and stressing out about whether we’ll see LeBron James and Steph Curry squaring off in the NBA Finals for a record-breaking third straight year, I haven’t been around on the blogs much. I apologize. Nonetheless, here’s a rundown of what’s been going on around here in the last month.


New Posts

Reviews: Logan; Get Out; The White Helmets; Table 19; I don’t feel at home in this world anymore.; Trash Fire; The Belko Experiment; I Am Not a Serial Killer; Life (2017) 

Blindspot Selection: Trainspotting (1996)

Other posts: #OscarsQuiteUnpredictable

Movie News

I’m basically going ape over the brand new War for the Planet of the Apes trailer. So have a lot of people. Because what it advertises looks freaking awesome. Bring on July 14!

It looks as though Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson are reuniting for an upcoming fashion drama, “set in the couture world of 1950s London. The story illuminates the life behind the curtain of an uncompromising dressmaker commissioned by royalty and high society.” I’m not particularly interested in the subject matter, I have to say, but when PTA and DDL are involved, chances are I’ll become invested. Somehow. The still untitled project is slated for a Christmas 2017 release.

Blogging News

Since it is now April, I think now is as good a time as any to remind everyone that we are roughly a month away from the third annual Decades Blogathon, an event hosted by myself and Mark from Three Rows Back. We have hosted the event every May, so there’s some time to go still but this is just to remind you that that’s still on the horizon and if you are interested in participating, please let either one of us know as soon as possible. Remember, we take 18 entries (plus the two provided by us) so the spots can go quickly.

Month in Review: February ’17

To encourage a bit more variety in my blogging posts and to help distance this site from the one of old, I’m installing this monthly post where I summarize the previous month’s activity in a wraparound that will hopefully give people the chance to go back and find stuff they might have missed, as well as keep them apprised of any changes or news that happened that month.

What an interesting February it has been. In terms of cinematic events, it has been a month enveloped in controversy. But would we have it any other way? It gives us writers something to do other than complain about predictability and shameless campaign politics. So here’s what has happened on this site in the last four weeks.


New Posts

Reviews: 20th Century Women; Gold; Hidden Figures; John Wick: Chapter 2; The Founder; Blue Jay; A Cure for Wellness; They Look Like People

Blindspot Selection: Alive (1993)

Other posts: Blindspot Update!

Movie News

The 89th Academy Awards went off without a hitch. Wait a minute, I think I got the wrong envelope . . . I will be posting about it later this week (likely tomorrow, Thursday, March 2). You won’t want to miss it.

Sam Worthington shacks up with Octavia Spencer and Tim McGraw in the get-your-hankies-ready religious drama The Shack this Friday. Count me out; I’ll be watching Logan.

And speaking of which, word on the street is that the final chapter in the storied history of the Wolverine (a.k.a. Hugh Jackman’s real identity) is a true game-changer. I have let Logan sneak up on me as I’ve never been the hugest of X-Men fans but I can’t help but feel a little antsy about this one.

Meanwhile, enthusiasm has begun building in earnest for the release of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, with the world premiere of the film’s second trailer debuting on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night. Mark your calendars. May 5th is coming quickly.

Blogging News

A few new blogs have made their way into my view this past month and they come highly recommended by me. Flicks & Pieces,  Films etc., KeithLovesMovies, Psychology of Film and Celluloid in Seattle are all new corners of the blogging world to me. If any of these are new to you, I encourage you to give them a look.

Month in Review: January ’17

To encourage a bit more variety in my blogging posts and to help distance this site from the one of old, I’m installing this monthly post where I summarize the previous month’s activity in a wraparound that will hopefully give people the chance to go back and find stuff they might have missed, as well as keep them apprised of any changes or news that happened that month.

Speaking of which, I apologize for the length of and/or the information dump in this post — what a month it has been, eh?


New Posts

Reviews: Divines; Why Him?; Passengers; Lion; Silence; Live By Night; Lost in London (Live); Wiener-Dog; Patriots Day; Split

Blindspot Selection: Defiance (2009) 

Other posts: Just a Quick Thought: Netflix purges 30-for-30?; my Blindspot 2017 listThomas J welcome/orientation page; #OscarsSoPredictable

Movie News

Ben Affleck bails on his standalone Batman project . . . . as director, that is.

Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown join the cast of Marvel’s Black Panther.

More sad news as related to celebrity deaths, with the passing of John Hurt, Miguel Ferrer, Mary Tyler Moore, among others . . .

Blogging News 

“Hm, ‘T-h-o-m-a-s J,’ that’s a weird way to spell Digital Shortbread, but okay.”

Yes, indeed I have overhauled the blog in an effort to better reflect my goals as a blogger and to give a new lease on the life of this URL. More perceptive readers will have noticed that that has still not changed but it will be soon. (I found that by changing the URL name means necessarily buying out another domain.)

There will be a few tweaks to the site but in general I don’t do well with radical change so you’ll be familiar with the way my reviews are formatted. The rating system I am changing, however. Films will now be scored on a 5-point scale, with 5 indicating an outstanding achievement in whatever genre it happens to be in — I will try my best not to skewer my ratings based on such things but who knows. I might just be in a good mood that day, too.

This site will still prioritize new releases over anything else, so that will remain the focus of Thomas J. I am yet undecided whether to revive old features such as Throwback Thursday or Bite Sized Reviews and/or to turn them into something else or if I’ll abandon those concepts completely. Stay tuned on that . . .

With the complete disappearance of all ESPN Films’ 30-for-30 installments on Netflix I am also unsure if I will feature those documentaries with any degree of regularity this year. They may pop up every now and then but I am going to have to see whether it is worth pursuing that still.


OH — ONE LAST FAVOR: if you do have me listed in your blog roll or anywhere on your site, please change the name to Thomas J, if you would be so kind. I am now forever indebted.