June 2018 will always be the month I got to finally say this: I talked, face to face, with a director after the exclusive premiere of his new movie.
In all the years I’ve been doing this site, I’ve never been able to say that. But thanks to Denver Comic Con and the generosity of Wolfman’s Got Nards director André Gower, it’s finally true. Denver Comic Con was the site of Wolfman’s Got Nards’ convention debut (it had already played a couple of film festivals), and I was lucky enough to be in the crowd to witness Gower’s delightful love letter back to all the fans, new and old, who turned the 1987 Shane Black/Fred Dekker horror flick Monster Squad into a cult classic. After the post-screening Q&A was cut-off by event organizers, Gower invited everyone in the crowd to carry on the conversation in the hallway outside the room. So, I followed and waited my turn to talk to him.
What I’ll remember the most is the look he gave me when I cited Best Worst Movie, Back in Time, and Unearthed and Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary and said something along the lines of “the world isn’t exactly hurting for fan documentaries these days.” I was building up to a compliment, to ultimately explain how I thought his documentary rose about the fray and was unique in its own way. However, before I got to that point he flinched as if thinking, “Wow, the balls on this guy.”
Note to self: Should there be a next time for this kind of thing, maybe write the questions down first and read them out loud to see how tactful they actually sound.
Thankfully, Gower graciously took the compliment I offered.
And that’s the coolest pop culture thing I experienced in June. Relatedly, the clear highlight of the month was my trip to Denver Comic Con, where I got to see David Tennant and Billie Piper in person, discovered just how thoroughly female-leaning Supernatural fandom is (I mean, I kind of already knew, but now I really know), learned about the making of the Yoda puppet from one of the original Lucasfilm engineers/puppeteers, sat in on Hitchcock and 2001: A Space Odyssey retrospectives, and barely managed to avoid being trampled by the 115,000 people in attendance. OK, that last part wasn’t super amazing, but the rest of the convention was.
While in Denver, I managed to catch a screening of the wonderful Mr. Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? which, while great, is not actually my movie of the month. Wolfman’s Got Nards isn’t either. No, that honor falls to First Reformed, Paul Schrader’s criminally underseen masterpiece starring Ethan Hawke as a priest who does way more than simply lose his faith. But, dangit, I’m getting ahead of myself
Here’s everything I liked last month:
- Adrift– “It’s like Titanic meets Cast Away meets All Is Lost, and I loved it, corny third act twist and all.”
- Upgrade – “Upgrade will at one point or another remind you of Robocop, The Crow, Blade Runner, Death Wish, Her and various other movies, yet never distractingly so. Written and directed by Saw and Insidious scribe Leigh Whannell, Upgrade blends together so many familiar elements into something refreshing and new, the type of kickass action sci-fi that appeals to the 14-year-old in all of us.”
- Hereditary – “An uncommonly unsettling family drama that happens to eventually remember it’s a horror movie and puts Toni Collette through the emotional ringer, transfixing us in the process.”
- First Reformed – More so than anything else I saw last month, First Reformed has stuck with me. While it initially struck me as an effectively subdued character study the full emotional impact didn’t hit me until much later. I keep flashing back to one especially sobering scene which sees Ethan Hawke’s boss giving him the tough love treatment. Part of Hawke’s self-radicalization and despair, the boss argues, is because he doesn’t actually live in the real world. With such a minimal congregation and far too much free time on his hands, he’s a priest who’s allowed himself to view the world in abstract terms instead of hands-on personal ones. He’s never had to concern himself with the commerce side of running a church nor has he done nearly enough to actually engage with the community. See the opening of this article for a hint on why that might resonate with me right now.
- Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – “This movie is an empathy machine released into an age of perpetual outrage. What a revolutionary concept, this whole ‘just be nice and accepting’ thing Fred Rogers did.”
- Wolfman’s Got Nards – “An obvious must-see for Monster Squad fans but also a sneakily effective bit of filmmaking about the joy we take from the pop culture we embrace.”
- Incredibles 2 – “Mr. Mom as a silver age superhero movie with a mildly meta-commentary on the social contract between citizen and hero. Or, you know, just a super fun movie featuring a scene-stealing cute baby.”
- Westworld –
- The Staircase – “The Staircase doesn’t solve a murder mystery, but it masterfully showcases one family’s journey through tragedy and subsequent separation. Any commentary about Southern prejudice or the justice system is ultimately secondary to the far more powerful imagery of weeping daughters who just want their dad back and outraged sisters who just want justice for their sister.”
- GLOW – Awww, the joy of watching a good show turn into a great one. “GLOW’s evolution into becoming the new Orange is the New Black is complete. What began as an enjoyably flawed story about two white girls has turned into a richly rewarding ensemble story about a diverse group of women finding sisterhood together while fighting against the constraints put on them by men. Plus, it’s still so much fun watching them work out their drama through kitschy 80s wrestling.”
- Supernatural– I stopped watching Supernatural halfway through season 12. I was repeatedly told season 13, which is now on Netflix, was a vast improvement and perhaps even one of the better things the show has ever done. Pish-posh. No show in its 13th season can, what, find new creative legs? Nope. Not happening. Not without a significant change to the cast or premise or somet….[Two days later] OMG, I just binged season 13, and it’s amazing! So many thoughts. So many things to say. Can’t do it all here in an article like this. Will have more on this later this week.
WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO IN JULY
MOVIES| The First Purge
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Sorry to Bother You
- Eighth Grade
- Mission Impossible: Fallout
- Teen Titans Go to the Movies
- Three Identical Strangers
TV | Sharp Objects (7/8)
- Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (7/16)
- Trial & Error: Season 2 (7/19)
- Wynonna Earp: Season 3 (7/20)
- Killjoys: Season 5 (7/20)
- Castle Rock (7/25)
What about you? What were your favorite movies and TV shows last month? What can’t you wait to see in July? Let me know in the comments.