2023 Music Reconciled: Water Made Us

Jamila Woods – Water Made Us

Ah, relationships and heartache. Two topics that never seem to grow old in the realm of pop music, and the topics that seem to be most abundant on Jamila Woods’ latest album Water Made Us. To call Water Made Us a concept album feels like a bit of a stretch, but its depictions of break-ups, moving on, and finding yourself lend it to a thematic cohesion at the very least. This was also an attribute of Woods’ last album Legacy! Legacy!, whose songs were inspired by iconic Black cultural figures in varying ways. Though here, she’s turned her gaze inward, and in the process creates something more personal while retaining her inscrutable cool. Continue reading

2023 Music Reconciled: Valley of Heart’s Delight

Margo Cilker – Valley of Heart’s Delight

Well, we’ve once again reached the point in the year that feels like a long slow march toward posting our Top Tens of the year in January. However, as far as December goes each year, I usually take this time to look back at a bunch of albums I haven’t really talked about in reviews or Little Picks on our podcast. Because I’ve been taking a more leisurely approach to reviewing albums, usually in one long monthly or seasonal post, it’s been pretty easy to keep up with talking about the albums that have impressed me this year. However, there have been a few from the last few months that I’ve been enjoying that I haven’t written about yet, and who knows, maybe there’ll be some albums from earlier in the year that I end up checking out and enjoying as various publications’ end-of-the-year lists start to trickle in. Continue reading

The Pick: Notting Hill

We’re back in romantic comedyland, looking once again at Richard Curtis’s wish-fulfillment shenanigans (and another Julia Roberts movie) with a discussion of 1999’s Notting Hill. Even though we split on this one, it’s a fairly cordial conversation full of British accents and debate over the charms (or lack thereof) contained by its co-star Hugh Grant. It may not be a Christmas movie, but it’s still one to put you in that feel-good spirit if you’re willing to just go with its easygoing look at love, fame, and romantic montages. Continue reading

The Pick: The Pelican Brief

Needless to say, the gap between this latest and our last episode hasn’t been all that… brief. It wasn’t helped by the fact that The Pelican Brief is an overwhelming passable but unremarkable film, and one that pales a bit compared to some of the other John Grisham adaptations that were filling multiplexes in the mid-90s. Still, it gives us a chance to dive into Grisham’s fascinating background and the types of movies that his books inspired, even if this one doesn’t entirely adhere to his distinctly Southern flavor. Continue reading

The Pick: Wolf

We end this Shocktober (for the most part) with a movie that’s hard to even categorize as a horror movie, even if it tackles one of the most iconic movie monsters. 1994’s Wolf sees the odd pairing of Mike Nichols’ actor-centric directing with modern-day werewolves and the results are… pretty fun if you’re willing to overlook everything that doesn’t quite work about it. Which is quite a bit. But come on, where else are you going to see Jack Nicholson as a werewolf book editor? Also, if that wasn’t enough, John has fun relying on AI to concoct a version of this movie that stars Robin Williams (surprise, it’s not that great). Continue reading

Shocktober: The Pope’s Exorcist

The Pope’s Exorcist (2023)

The Russell Crowe funny accent era is here and I love it. Just a little while ago, Crowe was cast in Thor: Love and Thunder to play Zeus with the same vaguely English accent he used in Gladiator a couple decades ago. Crowe protested this and eventually got his way by agreeing to shoot every scene in the movie twice, once with a “faux upper-class” accent and once with an hilariously over-the-top, effete Greek accent. Boy, sure sounds like the production of that movie went great, doesn’t it? Anyway, he won in the end and I guess not satisfied with one huge swing, Crowe went and made another one: he gave himself just two months to perfect an Italian accent for The Pope’s Exorcist. And that performance once again elevates an otherwise forgettable film.

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Shocktober Day 14: The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

A few Shocktobers ago, I was particularly taken with the first Conjuring movie, enough that I eventually sought out the sequel, despite not being someone who seeks out horror sequels very frequently. So I was happy to catch up with the Warrens again, even if I’m still very behind on catching up with the larger Conjuring universe that has developed over the past decade. While The Devil Made Me Do It isn’t a complete revitalization of the series or anything (though it does pivot slightly away from ghost stories), it still leaves me curious to check out whatever Annabelle and that Nun are up to, perhaps against my better judgment. Continue reading