Tag Archives: Jack Black

25 years on, Mars Attacks! is the ultimate Main Character Syndrome comedy

When re-evaluating critical or commercial disappointments, it can happen that artists’ work goes underappreciated because of trends and tastes at the time of its original release, only for the film, album, or artwork to age like fine wine as the world changes its sensibilities. Case in point: Tim Burton’s gleefully chaotic Mars Attacks!, in which humanity at large is incredibly stupid and short-sighted in the face of a potential extinction-level event. Sound familiar?

Mars Attacks! opened to largely middling reviews in December 1996 and commercially bombing domestically. It was unfairly and unfavourably compared by many to Independence Day. The two projects have little in common beyond alien invasion plots, big ensembles, and the same year of release. Independence Day had opened five months earlier, becoming one of the highest-grossing films of all time. It was a no-win situation for Mars Attacks! opening that Christmas season, coming across like a rushed, snarky response to its supposed counterpart film, despite the established (and then still fresh) brand of Burton and a much more star-studded cast…

Full feature for Dazed

Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny (Louis Black/Karen Bernstein, 2016)

A couple of years back, critic-turned-director Gabe Klinger made a film called Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater. Instead of a traditional documentary tour of the respective filmographies of his director subjects, Klinger instead presented a series of extended chats between Linklater and his (perhaps unexpected) friend Benning, the latter being an older filmmaker better known to fans of the experimental and avant-garde. It allowed you to get a sense of Linklater’s ideas as an artist through more laidback means, rather befitting of the nature of his films, as he goes about doing various activities with Benning, such as hiking or playing catch, offering anecdotes to the other artist, instead of delivering filmmaking mantras to camera in an interview set-up.

Flash forward to 2016 and now we have Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny, a biographical portrait of Linklater alone that’s certainly much less innovative in terms of form, and ultimately feels less insightful. The personal connection isn’t lost, though. Dream Is Destiny is co-directed by Louis Black, a founder of the South By Southwest festival that has played host to many of Linklater’s films across his career. Occasional actor Black can also be found in Linklater’s breakthrough film Slacker, credited as Paranoid Paper Reader…

Full review for VODzilla.co