What a Little Mermaid looks like

A happy girl in a mermaid costume lies in the water among the stones on the beach and looks at the mermaid tail. Portrait. Vertical orientation

In my first book, The Imaginary Bomb, I wrote that what the characters looked like was up to you, the reader:

As long as this is a story about the power of imagination, I’m letting you decide what color Bob and Pete’s hair and eyes are, or how tall they are, or the shape of their chins. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for the movie — and even then it’ll be the casting director’s opinion of what these guys should look like.

I thought about that passage as I read some of the reactions to the announcement that Halle Bailey has been cast to play the part of Ariel in Disney’s live-action remake of the animated film The Little Mermaid. Continue reading “What a Little Mermaid looks like”

Screenings: Godzilla King of the Monsters

godzilla king of the monsters

The folks behind the 2014 American film Godzilla and 2017’s Kong: Skull Island have brought forward Godzilla: King of the Monsters, a rousing monster fest that adds Gidorah, Rodan and Mothra – among others – to their ongoing interpretation of the long-popular Japanese kaiju movies.

It’s good to see these old friends and adversaries of the giant fire lizard reinvented for a new generation. This is a faster-paced and dynamic followup to the 2014 entry, which I still consider the second-best Godzilla movie I’ve ever seen. (There is a kaiju-sized spot in my heart for the 1954 Japanese classic that started all of this, Gojira.) The new film punches all the buttons required to satisfy fans not just of this genre but of summer blockbusters in general. Continue reading “Screenings: Godzilla King of the Monsters”

Screenings: Casablanca


Of my three very favorite movies, Casablanca is the most memorable of my group experiences. The Wizard of Oz was a sitting-around-the-TV family experience, and It’s a Wonderful Life was a solitary Christmas-Eve-alone experience, but I saw Casablanca in the Todd Wehr Hall lecture room at Ripon College with more than 100 other students who had never seen it before, this being the early 1970s when seeing a movie from 1942 was a rare and exotic thing. Continue reading “Screenings: Casablanca”

Screenings: Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla

With the imminent release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters next week, I thought I’d revisit the brilliant film produced a couple of years ago by the folks who started all this in the first place, Toho Studios.

A giant sea creature is burrowing up a crowded urban river, tossing boats aside like confetti and generally killing and maiming everyone in its path.

The government calls a meeting. And there, everyone considers forming a committee, which decides to build a coalition, which discusses creating a task force that will develop a report. All along, interchangeable faces earnestly debate the options regarding what should be done. After all this talking about talking about what the government needs to do about the crisis, when the time comes to act or die, no one can make a decision. Continue reading “Screenings: Shin Godzilla”

Screenings: Arrival (2016)

wpb, willow and arrival

Warning – This post is about a crucial plot twist in the movie Arrival. Please don’t read further if you like experiencing a film the way its creators wanted the story to unfold for you.

I mean it. You owe it to yourself to watch the film before you read any further. This is the most sincere and complete spoiler warning I can possibly convey. I don’t want to ruin what, for me, was one of the most delightful surprises I’ve ever experienced watching a film.


Four words change everything. Four words turn the movie Arrival on its head and reveal the meaning of all that has happened and will happen. Four little words.

Continue reading “Screenings: Arrival (2016)”

Screenings: Avengers Endgame

avengers endgame crop

(Mild spoiler alert: If you still haven’t seen the film and don’t want to know a single thing about it, stop reading. I warned ya.)

After the climax of Avengers: Endgame, after the dramatic sacrifice that restored order to the universe and defeated the big bad guy Thanos, I exhaled.

It was a long, shuddering exhalation that shocked me out of myself, because it sounded like someone who was trying to keep from sobbing out loud. I was shocked because, much as I love to lose myself in a story, I very rarely get lost that deeply in the emotion of a story.

It was kind of embarassing! But it’s also a testimony to the power of the story, the performances, and the execution of the production. I not only suspended my disbelief, I became completely immersed in an impossible universe where people with impossible powers live and breathe and struggle and even, eventually, perish – so completely immersed that I was overcome with emotion. Continue reading “Screenings: Avengers Endgame”

10 things I loved about Shazam!

10 things I loved about Shazam

Some of the interaction after I posted my review of the movie Shazam! on a Captain Marvel Facebook group led me to repeating that I really enjoyed the movie. So, when I wrote the review, why did I focus on the couple of things that bugged me?

Here are 10 things I loved about the film. (Again, if you haven’t seen the movie and hate spoilers, we may have an awkward moment if you keep reading.) Continue reading “10 things I loved about Shazam!”