Father. Realtor®. Movie nut. After pestering my parents for their commentary on “Star Wars” when I was four years old, my mind went into a creative frenzy. I’d imagined something entirely different than the actual film, which I didn’t end up seeing until its 1979 re-release at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC. This was my formal introduction to the cinema.
During that long wait, which felt like an eternity to a child, my mind was being molded by more corrosive stuff like “Trilogy of Terror” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, most of which I’d conned various babysitters into letting me watch on television ( I convinced one poor lady that “Jaws” was actually “Moby Dick”).
The folks were pretty strict in that regard, so the less appropriate it was for a kid to watch, the more I was fascinated by it. Horror staples like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”, as well as lesser-known low-budget fare like “Madman”, “Sleepaway Camp” and “Pieces” all ended up sneaking their way into the VHS on a regular basis.
Since then, I’ve developed an obsession with the entire film industry. Even though I watch and review a wide breadth of films these days, my appreciation for the campy, poorly lit micro-budgeters still lends itself to my evolving perspective on movies just as much as the summer blockbusters and Oscar contenders. As I recall my trips to the movie theater, I realize that this stuff is about much more than just a fleeting piece of entertainment.
A couple years ago, I was finally given the opportunity to lend my opinion on films to a publication, The Rogers Revue, with a subsequent run at Reel Film News. It's been both a privilege and a gateway to what we’re doing now. Most of my experience has come from interviewing independent filmmakers, who consistently promote innovation. The filmmaking process is grueling and relatively unforgiving.
Fellow film enthusiast Eddie Pasa and I have created DC Filmdom as a medium for film reviews, discussion, and (inevitably) some debate. And so, the creative frenzy continues.
(Michael is a member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association).
So this psychic hooks up with the FBI to catch a serial killer… oh, you’ve heard this one before? But wait, there’s more. “Solace” is almost a carbon copy of David Fincher’s “Se7en”. Except instead of killing people for their sins, this psycho is mercy-killing the terminally ill. But hold on, here’s the interesting part: […]Read More
It might be a little early in Damien Chazelle’s filmmaking career to call the movie his magnum opus, but “La La Land” has all the signifiers of a modern classic. This reviewer is not easily taken by the movie-musical—in fact, it’s usually the opposite—but I’ve seen it twice now and it only seems to be […]Read More
Reason to watch: Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon Gripping for a stint, but overall curiously pieced together, “Nocturnal Animals” is a decent thriller adapted from the novel “Tony and Susan” by Austin Wright. Having not read the book, I have no doubt that the translation to celluloid was a difficult undertaking—director Tom Ford’s production has its […]Read More
“Certain Women” has no particular plot — a loosely adjoined adaptation of short stories by author Maile Meloy that yields good performances, as expected by Laura Dern and Michelle Williams. It is tailored for pensive audiences yet designed seemingly to be forgotten. It’s atmosphere begins to lose oxygen after the first 40 minutes or so, to be partially resuscitated by Lily Gladstone […]Read More
I spoke with writer/director Ricky Bates, Jr. a couple years back at a screening of his first feature “Excision”, which, at its lightest, is a pitch (and I mean pitch)black comedy. It was one of the more hilarious and twisted interviews I’ve “conducted”…. perfect, I thought, how that film reflected his sensibilities—a coming of age […]Read More
Essentially “John Wick” in a Spaghetti Western, only with a fraction of the body count, this dusty flick leaves us hankering for a bit more “bang” for your buck. Luckily, it’s available for only $5.99 on VOD. The non-committal tone of “In A Valley of Violence” vacillates between Tarantino/Rodriguez and Raimi, grindhouse and campy, yet […]Read More
To keep her diminutive fluorescent-haired race from being devoured by big lumbering Bergens, a young, bubbly Troll named Poppy embarks on a journey to save her friends and put everybody in a fantastic mood. Directed by Walt Dohrn and Mike Mitchell (both involved in the “Shrek” franchise), this movie has fun to spare, though it […]Read More
Early ‘70s Sarasota: Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall) is a local news reporter striving to break from the superficial and exploitative pieces that her boss (Tracy Letts) pushes her to cover. Caught in a purgatory between blossoming and wilting, the awkward journalist, who is afflicted with manic depression (and an inability to socialize to the point […]Read More
THE 11th ANNUAL SPOOKY MOVIE INTERNATIONAL HORROR FILM FESTIVAL October 5-9, 2016 For ten years, October has belonged to the Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival. The festival that brought the DC area such films as THE BABADOOK, EXISTS, TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL, A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, HE NEVER DIED, HOUSEBOUND, and THE FINAL GIRLS–-holds its 11th annual event […]Read More
Originally entitled “The Shower” when I reviewed it at Spooky Movie Festival 2014, this off-kilter outbreak thriller from first-time feature writer/director Alex Drummond comes across with the type of sardonic humor that treads the line between comedy and horror (more often catering to the former). A more than serviceable genre crossover in the vein of “Shaun of the Dead”, […]Read More