Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Importance of Awards and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

If it weren’t for the Emmy Awards, I would never have watched “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

I’ll admit: I barely watched the actual awards show. I stayed long enough to see Henry Winkler earn his first (!) primetime Emmy award (and his wonderful speech*) I also saw two actors from GODLESS win: Merritt Wever and Jeff Daniels. Loved that he thanked his horse.

The next day, I read through the rest of the winners. What struck me was this show on Amazon that won not only Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. In fact, I think it won the most awards of the evening, taking home five trophies.

But what was this show about? My wife and I were intrigued, so we pulled up Amazon and gave it a look.

NOTE: The show is eight episode long. As of this writing, I have not seen the last episode, so I’ll be basing all my thoughts on the first 7 episodes. But that is enough.

Rachel Brosnahan stars as the titular character, Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a Jewish housewife who inadvertently discovers she has a talent for stand-up comedy. The show is set in 1950s New York, and Midge lives with her husband, Joel, and their two kids in an apartment a few floors below her parents’ apartment. Tony Shalhoub plays her father, Abraham, and in a bit of “Whoa, maybe I really am getting old”, her mother is played by Marin Hinkle. You might not know the name, but she starred as Jon Cryer’s ex-wife in “Two and a Half Men.” She’s a mere two years older than me...and she’s a grandmother!

As the show opens, it’s Joel who tries his hand at stand-up. He’s not good, but Midge dutifully takes notes during his performances, compiling a notebook full of ideas and lessons learned. After a particularly bad night in which he bombed, Joel informs Midge he’s leaving her for...his secretary. She gets drunk, wanders the streets, and ends up in The Gaslight Club, the very venue Joel just stank up. She gets up on stage, overcoat covering her nightgown, and proceeds to let it all out. Susie Myerson, playing a worker in the Gaslight, sees what Midge is capable of and convinces her to give stand-up comedy a serious go.

In what could have easily been a rote-type comedy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel vibrates with a joy not seen on the small screen in a long time. It’s a very New York show, complete with lots of Jewishness and talk about the town and society in the 1950s. This historian part of me loved it all. The clothes, the formal dinners, the evident ‘caste-like’ system is portrayed very well.

But what really sends this show over the top is the whip-smart dialogue. This TV show could easily have been adapted to a stage play, but the better comparison is the comedies of the 1930s movies. Think of the Thin Man movies or any of those films where the characters deliver their lines in a rat-a-tat fashion, always with the perfect comeback and precisely the best time. You will, um, marvel at how well these actors do their thing.

Brosnahan is a dream as Midge. Not only does she deliver the normal dialogue well, but when she gets behind the microphone to deliver her stand-up routines, she comes across as a natural. It makes me wonder if she’s ever had any desire or experience being a true stand-up comic. If not, she should definately try.

Tony Shalhoub is hilarious. I laughed out loud multiple times. And the chemistry he has with Hinkle is so palpable that you might wonder if they are not secretly married. Joel’s father is played in a wonderfully over-the-top fashion by Kevin Pollak. I know him best as the third person on Tom Cruise’s legal team in A FEW GOOD MEN, after Demi Moore. He all but steals every scene he’s in.

Every actor in this show is at the top of their game. I rarely binge, but there were a couple of nights when we’d finish one episode and, after a quick check of my watch, rolled right into the next one.

Awards are sometimes derided as things given within a group of people to bolster all those egos. I’ve never thought that. Awards, no matter the group, are intended to showcase good, quality things--in this case, TV shows--and let the world know some examples of good stuff.

I so enjoyed this show...and I never would have likely given it the chance were it not for all those Emmy wins. Well deserved, and highly recommended.

*Henry Winkler, upon winning his first primetime Emmy said, among other things, this fantastic line: “If you stay at the table long enough, the chips comes to you. Tonight, I got to clear the table.”

Let’s hear it for perseverance. And for continuing to show up.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Magnum PI (2018)


As a fan of the TV show CASTLE, I loved that the pilot episode of MAGNUM PI (2018) started with the characters reading the exploits of themselves in a book. It explained how it was we first saw Thomas Magnum in space, skydiving into North Korea.

And served as a teaser for what was a perfectly fine hour of television, especially on a Monday night.

Now, I’m of an age where I remember the original with Tom Selleck. However, I was not an avid watcher of the program. I knew the basics: Magnum was a veteran who lived in Hawaii, had a job as a private investigator, and lived in the home of Robin Masters, a mysterious figure we never saw and the only connection was Higgins, the caretaker of the estate. In the original version, HIggins was played by Texan John Hillerman, doing a great British accent. With Magnum were two pals from his time in Vietnam and they shared in Magnum’s adventures.

Magnum PI 2018 is pretty much the same thing except we get a real British person playing Higgins, Perdita Weeks (sister of Honeysuckle Weeks of Foyle’s War). The gender swap will likely lead to some romantic tension between the two characters. Yes, that will change the dynamic, but that isn’t a bad thing. While I pretty much envision Magnum and Higgins to pair up after awhile, they could always go the route of TV’s ELEMENTARY, where Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson respected each other but never hooked up. It can happen.

The pilot episode showed what was updated and what wasn’t. The coolest thing that was kept was the theme song and the typical 80s-era credits sequence. I dug it. Now, Magnum and his three friends are veterans of Afghanistan. It was when one of their number is kidnapped and killed that Magnum--played by Jay Hernandez--Rick (Zachary Knighton) and TC (Stephen Hill) join forces and bring the bad guys to justice. In addition to the gender swap, Higgins is also former MI-6 (disavowed), so she called in favors to help locate a missing truck, and she kicked some bad guy butt along the way. Natch. The action was fun and over-the-top, but what were you expecting?

I expected a fun, light romp to replace the Monday night vacancy voided by ELEMENTARY last week. Magnum PI might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but as someone who doesn’t remember much of the material from the original, I’m good with the show.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Forty Years with KISS and the Solo Albums

It was forty years ago today…

The year 1978 was dominated by a few things: Star Wars. Comics. KISS. And more Star Wars. Yeah, Star Wars was like a pop cultural supernova that, in my distant memory, seemed all consuming. But KISS was right up there. I have no memory of what or how I first got interested in the band. I suspect it was the comic book--with real KISS blood! For a comic book geek like me, super hero rock stars were right up my alley.

But what was my musical alley? In case you didn’t know, I’m an only child, so I didn’t have any older sibling passing me LPs and telling me to listen. Up until 1978, my music consisted of the Star Wars soundtrack, my parents’ Roger Miller album...and little else. Maybe the Village People. Maybe the Bay City Rollers. So when I dropped the needle on Double Platinum, KISS’s first greatest hits collection, the drums of “Strutter ‘78” greeted my ears and likely shaped much of my musical tastes from that moment on.

The haziness of memory won’t let me remember what order I purchased subsequent albums. But the ones I had were the debut, Alive, Destroyer, and Alive II. Now, the big obstacle for my KISS fandom was the knights in satan’s service stuff. My parents were good, however. They reached what I suspect was some sort of compromise: I could keep listening to KISS, but my purchasing of new albums was limited.

So, by September of 1978, when the four solo albums were released, I suspect I had to pick only one. While my album consumption was limited, I consumed all information about the band I could find. That meant constant trips to U-Totem and 7-Eleven looking for magazines like Circus, Hit Parader, and such. I bought lots of trading cards, both comics, and even a few posters. I had one of those monster posters, measuring at 3 feet by 4 feet on my wall. The fall of 1978 was destined to bring four new albums (!) as well as a TV movie. It was, even looking back now, arguably the high point of KISS fandom...until 1996 when we did it all again.

Which album to get? Well, one was immediately off the table, likely by parental decree. Gene Simmons, the Demon himself, would not be found in my house. The little drip of blood on the cover pretty much secured that fact. Okay, what next? KISS was my first rock band so I had no preconceptions about drummers, but I don’t think I seriously considered Peter’s record. Paul or Ace? Well, being the science fiction fan I was, I think the choice was pretty obvious: I bought Space Ace’s album. Plus, I was a follower: “New York Groove” was on the radio and I wanted that song.

I was a music novice so all the songs were good to me. I had no clue about what Ace was singing about, but that didn’t matter. His album sounded like SF so I was good. Poster on the wall. Album spun over and over.

I have a distinct memory of a friend who lived down the street. He arrived home one day and, as he passed me in his dad’s car, simply put the Gene Simmons record up to the window for me to see. Lucky guy. I think he may have had all four. What never occurred to me at the time was to record the other three albums on cassette. If I had, my history with the solo albums would have been different.

The last new KISS album I was allowed to buy was Unmasked. I did--and still do--love that album. But, for whatever reason, KISS faded from my attention until 1983. Of course, I was fascinated by Lick It Up and the real unmasking, but didn’t purchase the album. It wasn’t until 1988 and the release of Smashes, Thrashes, and Hits reminded me of my first rock and roll love. The girls in my high school group of friends loved the sexiness of Paul, but I remembered fondly the make-up years. It wasn’t until Revenge was released that I picked up my first new KISS CD in over eleven years.

And I never looked back.

Cut to 1997 and the CD remasters. Those are the ones I own. Naturally, the albums that beckoned me most was Music from the Elder (never heard it) and the other three solo albums. By that time, I was nearing thirty, had decades of music listening under my belt, and knew music. What would those albums sound like?

Well, at the time, I immediately gravitated to Paul Stanley. His album was the most KISS-like. It became and has remained my favorite of the four. Gene Simmons was ...interesting, but nothing like I expected, even in 1997. Then there was Peter Criss. By 1997, my other favorite band--Chicago--had planted roots in my life, so I was actually cool with Peter’s record. It wasn’t KISS, but that was okay.

Over these last twenty years, I kept listening to the four solo albums. Paul’s remains my favorite. You can’t argue with the pure rock and roll swagger of this album. “Wouldn’t You LIke to Know Me” is all but perfection. “Tonight You Belong to Me” is the kind of song you’d end a concert with, while “It’s Alright” and “Goodbye” are so good. This might be the first record in which the vocal brilliance of Paul Stanley really shines. Peter’s is now my second favorite. I think Paul’s musical stylings line up perfectly with KISS, so his record sounding KISS-like was a natural. But so was Peter’s. His R&B vibe, complete with brass, was who he was. I have grown to appreciate this album more and more. “You Matter To Me” is a dang fine song. The album is admittedly filled with “Beth”-like songs, but “Easy Thing,” “I Can’t Stop the Rain,” and “Don’t You Let Me Down” are much better songs. And the vibe of “Hooked on Rock ‘n’ Roll” is just plain good old fashioned rock and roll. The same, however, cannot be said about Gene’s. Yes, “Radioactive” is a good song and I really enjoy “Mr. Make Believe” and “See You Tonite” but most of the other songs are just this side of good. He, like Peter, took chances. I applaud him for that, but the material is not to my liking.

Forty years is a long time to be a fan of anything, but I’m really happy to have discovered KISS when I did. Why? Because the solo albums were smack in the middle of it all. What a remarkable, bold feat. Were all the songs good? Nope, but much of the 40 (?) songs were pretty good to gold standards based on the vocalist.

What are some of my favorite songs? I’ve listed some. All of Paul’s, most of Peter’s and Ace’s, and a few from Gene. A few years ago, the PodKISSt folks did a “What if KISS made an album in 1978?” episode and used the solo album songs plus the five studio cuts from Alive II. It remains my favorite single episode. I was fascinated that the top 9 songs were all the same. It’s a great episode by the godfather of all KISS podcasts.

Forty years. Man, has it been that long? Yes and no. Yes because we can look at Paul, Ace, Peter, and Gene and see the years their faces. Heck, all we need to do is look in the mirror and we’ll know it’s been forty years. I was a nine year old boy when I bought Ace’s album. Now, I’m forty nine, and still loving this band.

A memorable moment in my KISS fandom was last year in which I took my son to see his first KISS concert. It all comes full circle.

It’s difficult to escape one’s first love. It gets embedded in our souls like few things rarely can. Star Wars. KISS. Those were the things I loved as a boy in 1978. They are still the things I love in 2018. And the KISS solo albums are a part of that legacy.

Happy anniversary, Paul, Peter, Ace, and Gene. Thanks for making those albums so long ago.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Let Your Creativity Shine: The Inspiring Message of Brad Meltzer

Sometimes, a guy is exactly who he seems to be.

I’ve enjoyed Brad Meltzer’s work as a comic book writer and as the author of adult thrillers. His blend of history and exciting, page-turning books is right up my alley. His latest novel, THE ESCAPE ARTIST, is one of my favorite books of the year and has one of the best hooks I've ever read. Here’s my review. Meltzer is also a fantastic interviewee, especially when he deep dives into the stuff he loves. I wrote about one particular interview back in 2015.

This past Thursday, I finally got to meet Meltzer when came to Houston (at Katy’s Books-a-Million) to promote his latest book, I AM NEIL ARMSTRONG.

It is the latest entry in his series of children’s books featuring heroes from history from which we can learn. The genesis of the ongoing project was to remind his own children who were the real heroes. They were ordinary men and women who sought truth, justice, and to achieve something never before accomplished. Here’s one of the quotes from his website: ““These aren't the stories of famous people. This is what we're all capable of on our very best days.”

It is an admirable goal. It is also one that seems to be seeping through. There were something like eighteen kids there. Most held a copy of one of Meltzer’s books in their hands, and not just the Neil Armstrong book. A few had written him letters or drawn him pictures. All because of the stories he told in his books and were illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos.

Speaking as a Houstonian, I’m very glad Eliopoulos captured the moment when President Kennedy declared the moon as the ultimate goal of the 1960s. You see the background? That’s Houston’s Rice Stadium.

In his his 30-minute talk, Meltzer talked about the genesis of selecting Neil Armstrong. I appreciated his history talk, especially the comment about heroes. In the Depression, when all looked bleak, Superman burst onto the scene. In the months after 9/11, the first Spider-Man movie arrived. I wore my Aquaman shirt (and stood next to a dad wearing a Flash t-shirt) so we had a little of the Justice League present and accounted for.

But heroes don’t always wear capes and tights. Heroes are like Armstrong who did something no other man had ever done. Heroes are Jackie Robinson and Lucille Ball, people who also accomplished things for the first time. And Meltzer—always cognizant of the children sitting on the floor right in front of him—kept reminding them that they could write their own story, be the heroes of their own stories, and make the world a better place. In fact, he uttered a sentence so inspiring I took out my notebook and wrote it down:

“You can use your creativity to put good in the world.”

Frankly, it made me want to get home as soon as possible and work on my stories.

After the talk, we all got back in line and waited for a chance to meet the author, get him to sign anything we brought, and snap a photo with him. The kids went first, of course, and Meltzer treated each one of them like they were the only kid in the store. Actually he did that for everyone, adult and child alike.

In the meantime, I struck up a conversation with some of the folks standing in line around me. All were women, and all were avid readers. We pointed at some of the books lining the shelves and talking about them. We talked about audiobooks. We talked about ereaders like the Kindle (I was the outlier). But there was a funny moment when one of the ladies asked the deadly serious question: do you bend down the corners of pages. Like a rousing chorus, all of them said no. It was so good to stand and chat about books with avid readers. I discussed my books, but like a dunce, I didn’t have any of my business cards with me. [Shakes head] But I got to meet Meltzer, let him know how much I enjoyed his thrillers, his comics, and how glad I am that Scott Brick—my favorite audiobook reader—is the narrator of his adult books.

Let me circle around back to the quote I captured: “You can use your creativity to put good in the world.” Think about that today. Then follow through.

Best News of the Week
Here at the Parker house, we got great news this week. My wife, Vanessa—jewelry artist extraordinaire!—is featured in HoustonVoyage Magazine. Here’s the link with her interview and some spectacular photos of her work. Need a hint at how good her work is? Here you go.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Batman Summer Spectacular 1978

To commemorate the end of summer 2018, let’s take a trip back forty years.

The summer of 1978 was smack dab in the middle of one of my favorite pockets of my life. You see, Star Wars had debuted the year before and it consume much of my imagination. It had awakened in me a love for all things science fiction and I sought out as much as I could, eventually discovering Edgar Rice Burroughs’s A PRINCESS OF MARS. I had discovered the rock and roll superheroes known as KISS through their albums, comics, and trading cards. And every issue of Circus or Hit Parader magazine I could find.

And, of course, there was the constant: comic books. I have memories of certain issues—where I bought them; what kind of day it was—but not all. Interestingly, as summer 2018 wound down, I was drawn to a forty-year-old comic of which I have no memory buying at the time. But I also have no memory of buying it in the years since, so it’s a logical conclusion that my ten-year-old self forked over a dollar bill for this unique issue.

Officially issue fifteen of the DC SPECIAL SERIES, the 1978 Batman Spectacular boasted of 68 pages of content and no ads. In reality, you get to 68 pages by using both interior covers. This issue is a true gem of my favorite era of Batman’s history: the Bronze Age. More or less, the Bronze Age of comics ran from 1970 to 1985. For Batman, the Bronze Age started with the pairing of writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams in the early 70s to the publication of Frank Miller’s seminal THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. In the 1970s, Bruce Wayne moved out of Wayne Manor and the Batcave and took up residence in the Wayne Foundation building. He was a detective, a creature of the night, and, most importantly, still a man. He could be hurt, both emotionally and physically, and he was, including this book.

The Batman Spectacular features three tales. The first, “Hang the Batman,” was written by David V. Reed and pencilled by Mike Nasser. The story centers on the death, by suicide, of a famous author, Archer Beaumont. But Beaumont believed it was possible to communicate from beyond the grave, a belief given new relevance when various signs start popping up around Gotham City. A cryptic note admonishes the Dark Knight Detective to solve Beaumont’s murder or Batman himself will meet death. He investigates, gets into fisticuffs, and, no spoiler here, solves the case.

Reed’s writing is crisp, fast-paced, and typical of the type of story from the 1970s. He provides all the clues the reader needs to solve the crime along with Batman. But it is the visual way Nasser (now Netzer) drew the panels that really set this story apart. His Batman is lithe yet muscular. He rarely treats a single page with traditional panels and borders. He visualizes the entire page as a canvas, seeking out new ways to tell the story. And he gives you interesting angles. I read this tale twice in a row I was so enthralled by his art.

The second story is by Dennis O’Neil and drawn by Michael Golden. It features Batman’s (likely) best nemesis, Ra’s Al Ghul, and Batman’s unwitting and unwanted marriage to Talia, Ra’s’s daughter. O’Neil co-created Ra’s with Neal Adams and this is a perfectly serviceable story, but it seems rather small. Ra’s is best when he’s trying to take over the world or do something for which he sees as right. Here, he’s just trying to steal some diamonds—in a manner fitting a James Bond villain. Golden’s art is as realistic as you could get from art in the 1970s, and helps elevate this story.

O’Neil redeemed himself with the third tale of this issue. Advertised as “Something New..Something Bold!”, “Death Strikes at Midnight and Three” is a Batman story told in prose by O’Neil and illustrated by the great Marshall Rogers. All three artists are fantastic at creating interesting visual storytelling. Rogers drew a series with writer Steve Engelhart many consider to be among the best Batman stories every told. The scenes he draws for O’Neil’s story are, like Nasser’s very visually interesting and almost minimal despite the exquisite detail.

But that’s okay, because the real stars here are O’Neil’s words. Free from a traditional comic book story, O’Neil’s prose is lavish in detail and is spun like a magician. And the details provided give a glimpse of a Batman rarely seen on comic pages. In one scene, Batman confronts a brute who thinks he can best the Caped Crusader. “The Batman shrugged. ‘Take your best shot.’” I loved the noncommittal nature of Batman here, the hero who knows he’ll win, the hero who has confronted countless thugs who think they’ll be the one to take down Batman.

As a writer, I especially appreciated how O’Neil didn’t always conform to proper grammar to paint his pictures with words. “The footfalls stopped. Snick of lighter. Odor of tobacco.” That’s it. Sure, you could write a paragraph, but why when a short few words will do the trick. The way he describes Gotham City is also splendid.

It is a monster sprawled along 25 miles of eastern seaboard, stirring and seething and ever-restless. Eight million human beings live on streets that, if laid end-to-end, would stretch all the way to Tokyo, crammed into thousands of neighborhood from the fire-gutted tenements of Chancreville, where rats nestle in babies’ bedclothes and grandmothers forage in garbage cans,to the penthouses of Manor row, where the cost of a single meal served by liveried servants would support an immigrant family for a year. It is countless chambers and crannies and corners in bars, boats, houses, hotels, elevators, offices, theaters, shacks, tunnels, depots, junkyards, cemeteries, buses, cars, trains, terms, bridges, docks, sewers, parks, jails, mortuaries—the shelters of living and dead, millionaires and bums, fiends and saints.

Napoleon’s armies could search for a lifetime and leave places unseen.

An exceptionally energetic investigator could visit the likely ones in a month.

The Batman had less than sixty minutes.

Come on! You can see that as clear as any artist. O’Neil’s love of old pulp fiction, especially The Shadow, bleeds off the page. And how’s this description of Batman emerging to take on a couple of crooks in front of a movie screen: “The Batman, stark and implacable against the expanse of white, a grim figure congealing from the shadows.” So, so good.

I highly encourage you to seek out this issue. The entire thing has not been republished elsewhere. The Ra’s tale you can find in Tales of the Demon. The prose story is reprinted in The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers and in Batmam: The Greatest Stories Ever Told.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Movies of Summer 2018

 With the arrival of Labor Day, the season of summer movies is over.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I really love summer movies. It is an annual thing for me and (most) of my family to see nearly all the summer movies. The big ones. The tentpole movies. The loud films where you need giant speakers to fully get the experience. Thinking about it, many of my favorite all-time movies debuted in the summer: Star Wars (and Empire and Jedi), Raiders of the Lost Ark (and Temple of Doom and Last Crusade), The Dark Knight (and the entire Christopher Nolan trilogy), When Harry Met Sally, Guardians of the Galaxy (and many other Marvel films), Batman ’89, Die Hard, many Pixar films, and the list could go on. Yeah, that’s a bunch of a certain type of movie, but it’s the kind of movie I love.

Back in mid April 2018, the slate of films to come out in Summer 2018 was massive. Heck, “summer” started on 27 April when Avengers: Infinity War was released. So, to commemorate the end of Summer 2018, I’m going to chat a little about some of my favorite films. They are in chronological order with, ironically, the last one being my favorite. The only ones I haven’t yet seen are CHRISTOPHER ROBIN (likely on Labor Day itself), the Mr. Rogers documentary, and CRAZY RICH ASIANS.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR - Really, what’s not to love? It’s a giant team-up movie with nearly every Marvel hero on screen. And they broke out into various smaller teams, which I always a treat in the comics. Giant spectacle, great action, more humor than you’d expect, and some genuinely heartfelt moments (Spider-Man’s last scene). The audience was also fantastic, with gasps and shouts to the screen.

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY - A perfectly fine film that would have done much better at the box office had it debuted December 2018 rather than a mere six months after last year’s THE LAST JEDI. It was a movie I didn’t particularly want or need, but it was enjoyable. An odd thing to say about a Star Wars movie, but if they keep churning them out, then the sense of “this is an event!” will fade and you’ll just have another Star Wars movie. The reveal at the end, though: great!

INCREDIBLES 2 - Wonderful film! Really, really enjoyed it. Laugh out loud moments and pure domestic emotions all usually within five minutes of each other. THE INCREDIBLES was, arguably, one of the best superhero movies of all time. The sequel doesn’t quite reach that level, but it is heads and shoulders above many, many other superhero films. And the Michael Giancchino soundtrack? Golden! He even leans harder into the James Bond-ian hooks. Funny note here: while driving back home after seeing this film, I commented we only had a week until the next blockbuster. My wife looked at me askance. Nevertheless, the following week, we saw…

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM - And, frankly, have forgotten most of it. The one image instilled in my memory was of the gentle brontosaurus lowing at the departing boat, doomed to die a fiery death. Oh, and Bryce Dallas Howard’s non-high heeled shoes. Other than that, not as exciting as the first Jurassic World movie, and nowhere near as good as the original Jurassic Park.

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP - Three years ago, the first ANT-MAN debuted and it was a breath of fresh air in the superhero genre. A funny one. Intentionally funny. And Paul Rudd was so not like every other chiseled hero out there. Now, with the sequel, it is still a darn good time at the movies. Rudd plays Ant-Man as a real human, with real emotions. The movie is really entertaining with some great laugh out loud moments.

Now, all of those movies are good and ones I really wanted to watch. But there was one movie that was so darn entertaining, thrilling, funny, and more that I actually saw it twice. Moreover, I spent over seven hours listening to director Christopher McQuarrie deep dive about the movie on the Empire podcast. Yes, I’m talking about my favorite movie of the summer…

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT - I’ve already devoted an entire blog about it and another about the McQuarrie interviews. A phenomenal film. The first time, I grinned like a goofball, wholly entertained about what I was watching. The second time, having heard McQuarrie discuss this and that scene, I enjoyed it for the piece of film making it is. And it is still just as enjoyable the second time around. Even the audience for that second viewing—about a dozen or so folks—gasped in wonder at what was transpiring on screen. I’m now looking forward to the DVD where there will be even more behind-the-scenes material…and I’ll get to watch the film a third time.

So, those were my favorite summer movies of 2018. What were yours?