When Frasier premiered in the fall of 1993 it had massive shoes to fill. That's probably an understatement. Its parent show, Cheers, was a critical and commercial monster in a way that can only happen when there are only three shows for two hundred million people to choose from. It was nominated for almost two hundred Emmys over the course of its eleven-year run, and its series finale aired to 90 million people (40% of the country’s then population) three months before Frasier’s start. So yeah, expectations were pretty high, and Frasier ended up pretty much meeting them all. While never as popular as Cheers (nothing has been as popular as Cheers since Cheers), it was nevertheless a solid commercial hit that carved out its own identity and won more Emmys than its parent show over the course of its own eleven-year run. A lot of that success was rooted in Frasier’s ability as its own, independent show with its own characters and rhythms instead of being Cheers 2.0. Continue Reading →
From De Palma's series launcher on, Cruise has used the tales of Ethan Hunt to ponder the nature of cinema as performance, perception, and manipulation.
The Mission: Impossible movies begin in perhaps the most inauspicious fashion possible: a computer tech, played by Emilio Estevez, watching security camera footage of clandestine crime scene clean-up. One of the men he's watching happens to be Tom Cruise in heavy prosthetics and a wig. It's an odd opening for an eight-film mega-franchise, a globe-trotting stunt spectacular that has attracted some of the world's biggest stars and most interesting actors—America's answer to Bond movies. But as the opening to a Brian De Palma movie, it's a no-brainer. Of course it starts with a dorky guy in a cramped little room watching unappealing CCTV footage of a crime of passion. That's De Palma. Continue Reading →
Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan
Generally speaking, we avoid personalizing our reviews at The Spool. This isn’t the early 2000s. No one needs to know about my journey to my couch to watch Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Season 4. That said, please allow me a brief personal indulgence that I promise will prove illustrious. In an effort to get ahead of deadlines, I watched the season’s six episodes in a day with a plan to write the review the next day. However, by the time I sat down to write that review about 26 hours later, I realized I had to watch the whole thing again. In a day’s time, I had forgotten too much to write a review in good faith. Continue Reading →
Fatal Attraction is an interesting study of how a controversial movie’s takeaway message can completely change, largely because audiences have changed. It’s a stylish, well-crafted film that spawned dozens of lesser imitations, and comes off as totally different when viewed from a 21st-century perspective. The carefully delineated roles of “hero” and “villain” are something murkier: we now understand that protagonist Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) isn’t entirely clear with Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) that their torrid fling is just that, a no-strings-attached encounter that means nothing to him. We see that Alex is done dirty with a script that depicts her as a one-note monster who must be defeated in the name of preserving the nuclear family. When even the YouTube commentariat largely agrees that Dan leads Alex on, you know the tide of public opinion has turned. Continue Reading →