Surrounded by Enemies: What if Kennedy Survived Dallas? (2013) vs. 11/22/63: A Novel (2012)

October 18, 2013 Alan Caldwell

The date is indelibly etched in the memories of everyone who was alive then: 11/22/63. Until 9/11, it was the most shocking, tragic, unimaginably ghastly national event we had witnessed. In the half-century since, what Boomer hasn’t wondered how the Sixties might have improved if President Kennedy’d had the opportunity to complete two terms in office, and not just 1000 days. Sure, we still got the Beatles and the Apollo mission, and on LBJ’s watch the Civil Rights movement blossomed, but then we got mired in Vietnam and Watergate and even more, horrid assassinations.

The assassination also produced a cottage-industry of JFK-themed films and books, ranging from memoirs to analyses of his life and legacy, but by far the most prevalent have been those that (like Oliver Stone’s JFK) have questioned the Warren Commission’s report, which concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Many of these works also speculate about JFK’s second administration and how it would have changed history.

For this special, bonus-edition Smackdown, we’ve got heavyweight champion Stephen King going mano-a-mano with none other than Señor Smackdown himself, Bryce Zabel. What makes this pairing especially juicy is that, though both contenders are no strangers to producing award-winning popular film/TV entertainment — a remake of King’s Carrie, based on his debut novel, is once again rattling theatergoers — we’re taking a rare detour into the universe of literature. […]

Thoughts on the Dark Night

July 24, 2012 Joe Rassulo

There have been many ridiculous and meaningful thoughts thrown out there about the “dark night” of Friday July 20. Violence, gun control, terrorism and insanity notwithstanding, they all probably make some sense after a few drinks and a lot of inherent frustration and anger about the apparent randomness of the recent violence in a Colorado movie theater.

Still, there are some things that bear mentioning. […]

Dark Skies vs. Dark Skies

March 1, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Our “Dark Skies” has established itself in the minds of a significant number of science fiction fans as a gripping piece of conspiracy drama set in the world of UFOs and abductions. It anchored NBC’s Saturday night “Thrillogy” concept in the 1996 season premiere and starred Eric Close (“Nashville”) and the late film character actor J.T. Walsh (“Sling Blade”). Its main title design won the Emmy award and its pilot screenplay received a Writers Guild nomination. The Syfy Channel aired the entire series multiple times. Since 2010 there’s been a Facebook page where thousands of fans from many different countries push Sony for a TV revival. […]

The Way We See it: Joe Rassulo on the Oscars

February 8, 2012 Joe Rassulo

The Artist is this year’s most talked about and most overrated film. Yes, it’s charming and filled with lovely, touching performances and indelible moments of black and white reveries of movies and times past. It is a wonderful homage to an era long gone. Its obvious relevance to today is its theme of technology leaving many obsolete in its wake. There’s a familiar resonance to the despair many feel in today’s technological storm, which has left so many jobless and even homeless. But the film touches on that theme in a broad, superficial way. “Modern Times” it is not. It’s a singular, gimmicky, almost-silent film that works on every level except one of true substance. And, I believe, a best picture of the year should do more than charm. […]

The Oscar as the Ultimate Smackdown

January 30, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Despite the major studios’ insistence on making primarily mega-budget, tent-pole, comic-book, sequel-remake, monster-alien-scifi films as their bread-and-butter, challenging and compelling original films do get made every year through alternative means. And, despite the harping and complaining we all do, there always seems to be a great crop that bridge the divide and are worth saluting. Those are the kinds of films that the Academy Awards gravitate to as their nominees. […]

What We Thought of The Golden Globes…

January 16, 2012 Movie Smackdown

If Hollywood were some dysfunctional family unit, then Ricky Gervais is the crazy drunk uncle who comes to your house and tells inappropriate jokes that horrify and crack everybody up in equal measure. You don’t know whether to throw him out or tolerate him, until he crosses the line and says something about grandma’s nasty bathroom habits, and when he gets called on it, he’s had too much to drink already, and he storms off to the nearest hotel to sleep it off. Then, the next year, you all assume he should never be re-invited, but the memories have dimmed of the off-color jokes and all you remember is how much fun you had. […]

Spider-Man Gets New Threads

July 14, 2011 Movie Smackdown

Now that re-boots are planned while the last re-boot is finishing its run, it’s back to the beginning for Spider-Man in the new imagining. Because this version known as The Amazing Spider-Man is set in high school, it’s out with old-man Tobey Maguire and in with new-guy Andrew Garfield. Although to be honest, Garfield is like only seven years younger than Maguire and would probably last about five minutes in a real high school before somebody outed him as an undercover cop or something.

But this is Hollywood, so never mind. Along with the new actor, Spidey is getting a new costume. And the new costume is getting its coming out party in this week’s Entertainment Weekly with a cover splash (seen here) and a collection of other photos showing off the new look.

We first got a look at the suit six months ago, so in the carefully orchestrated run up to release, it’s time to throw some more fuel on the fire. It’s all timed for fan boys and girls in anticipation of next week’s trailer premiere and San Diego Comic-Con panel. That trailer is rumored to be first scene by the public in advance of the July 22nd release of Captain America: The First Avenger. […]