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Glen Weldon

Glen Weldon is a regular panelist on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He also reviews books and movies for NPR.org and is a contributor to NPR's pop culture blog Monkey See, where he posts weekly about comics and comics culture.

Over the course of his career, he has spent time as a theater critic, a science writer, an oral historian, a writing teacher, a bookstore clerk, a PR flack, a seriously terrible marine biologist and a slightly better-than-average competitive swimmer.

Weldon is the author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, a cultural history of the iconic character. His fiction and criticism have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Slate, Story, McSweeney's, The Dallas Morning News, Washington City Paper and many other publications. He is the recipient of an NEA Arts Journalism Fellowship, a Ragdale Writing Fellowship and a PEW Fellowship in the Arts for Fiction.

Fall is often the most intense movie season of all. Awards contenders begin to come into focus after the Toronto International Film Festival, while comedies and thrillers continue to hit screens. We got to see a lot of upcoming films at TIFF — below you'll find write-ups of 15 movies we really enjoyed and a heads-up about nearly 40 notable releases.

Let's get the cheap lazy jokes out of the way at the top:

It's Catch Me if You Can on Geritol.

It's The Great Train Robbery (Seniors Discount Fare).

It's The (All-You-Can Eat) Italian (Pasta-Buffet) Job. Okay. Enough.

What writer/director David Lowery's The Old Man & the Gun actually turns out to be, of course, is exactly what it looks like: a defiantly unhurried and genially old-fashioned cops-and-robbers yarn, built around a wry, wistful central performance from Robert Redford.

In interviews, Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen have said that what attracted them to the project that became Forever, a slyly surreal 8-episode series premiering on Amazon Prime today, was the prospect of telling a complete story about the same characters over or an extended period of time — and then dropping them.

As you read this, the NPR Movies team is settling into their seats in movie theaters across downtown Toronto. For the next week, we'll be sitting in those seats or ones very similar to them, in the dark, taking furious notes, as we each power through marathon sessions of movie-watching.

Science fiction often offers us cautionary tales about the role technology may play in humanity's future, but Ray Bradbury's 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 isn't content to merely caution. It shrieks. It wails. It pulls out its hair, gnashes its teeth and rends its garments. It grabs us by the lapels and shakes us, screaming dire threats. It's ... unsubtle.

Not so very long ago, everyone agreed when Summer Movie Season kicked off. There was no subjectivity involved. It was dictated by the calendar: Memorial Day weekend meant the arrival of the big tentpole movies that would proceed to bust blocks over the course of the sultry summer months. Simple.

In 1938, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster — two Jewish kids from Cleveland who were reading the alarming news coming out of Europe — created precisely the hero necessary to put things right: an impossibly strong and nigh-invulnerable paragon of virtue and butt-kicking they called Superman. He could have ended Hitler's advance with a snap of his fingers — and he definitely would have, if only he weren't a creature of pure fantasy.

In the not-so-wee, not-so-small hours of the morning Tuesday — 8:30-ish a.m. Eastern Time — a superhero film earned itself an Oscar nomination.

That wasn't so unusual, really. The superhero film genre has been with us for almost 40 years now — dating from that momentous December 1978 day when Superman: The Movie busted its very first blocks — and superhero movies have racked up lots of nominations, and a few wins, over that time.

... For visual effects.

For sound editing and/or mixing (LOTS of those).

For hair and makeup.

We're scattered to the winds this week, so we thought we'd dig one of our favorite episodes from last year out of the vault — the one in which we took a first look at two then-new broadcast television shows that continue to impress: This is Us on NBC, and Speechless on ABC.

Updated 1:25a.m. ET

The 2017 Emmy Awards were broadcast Sunday night on CBS. Below is the list of nominees and winners. (Winners are in bold italics.)

Outstanding comedy series

  • "Atlanta" (FX)
  • "Black-ish" (ABC)
  • "Master of None" (Netflix)
  • "Modern Family" (ABC)
  • "Silicon Valley" (HBO)
  • "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Netflix)
  • "Veep" (HBO)

We're recapping Season 7 of HBO's Game of Thrones here on Monkey See. We'll try to turn them around overnight, so look for them first thing on Mondays. And of course: Spoilers abound.

Linda Holmes is in Los Angeles, NPR's Stephen Thompson and I are in D.C., and we're joined by the fantastic Brittany Luse of the highly recommended The Nod podcast, among a great deal of other things.

HBO's Insecure is one of those shows we were surprised to learn we haven't already devoted a segment to. Several of us gave its first season some shout-outs in our What's-Making-Us-Happy segments last year, but we haven't ever sat down to unpack it as a team. This episode, we correct that.

Linda Holmes hosts from L.A. again, joining regular panelists Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon and our fourth chair this week, Slate's own Aisha Harris.

The topic: Luc Besson's gleefully schlocky, years-in-the-making science fiction ... epic? ... Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

This week, our intrepid host Linda Holmes calls in from L.A., where she's attending the Television Critics' Association press tour, to host a discussion of the filthy, freewheeling and very, very funny Girls Trip. She's joined by regular panelist Stephen Thompson, Code Switch's Gene Demby, and special guest Aisha Harris from Slate.

Updated 10:57 a.m.

Updated 9:53 a.m.

Updated 9:25 a.m.

When the nominees for the 2017 Academy Awards were announced this morning, La La Land racked up 14 nods, tying records held by Titanic and All About Eve.

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