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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.

You know that joke-ish, brain-teasery thing about the doctor who says "I can't operate on my own son," but you're told the doctor isn't the patient's father, and the answer turns out to be that the doctor is a woman? It works, to the feeble extent it does, because it rests on our unconscious, culturally programmed preconceived notions — the kind of sexist background radiation that bombards us every day. You just assume the doctor is a man, for no clearly definable reason.

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.

Humanity loves nothing more than sorting itself into tidy slots. We do it blithely, ceaselessly, unthinkingly, and then we cling, white-knuckled, to whatever it is we manage to convince ourselves those self-selected categories have to say about us.

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.

The second season of Netflix's American Vandal dropped last Friday. The first season proved a slow-build, under-the-radar, word-of-mouth phenomenon; the second arrived to a devoted and vocal fanbase. Season one was something you started hearing about over the course of weeks and months, from disparate friends and family; full, spoilery reviews of season two were posted at 12:01:01 a.m. last Friday.

What if Merchant-Ivory ... but woke?

What if you took the sumptuous production design of A Room With a View or Howards End — all those bustles and corsets and dickeys and top hats, all those horse-drawn carriages and calling cards and country estates — and invested it with a new sense, and/or sensibility, of this our modern age?

I'll tell you what if. Wash Westmoreland's handsome, achingly well-intentioned and less than lively Colette, is what if.

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.

The cabin in the woods that Jules (Brittany Allen) and Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) head to for their one-year anniversary seems even more murder-y than your standard-issue cabin-in-the-woods, which is saying something. There's a shotgun hanging over the fireplace, a handy ax waiting by the woodpile, a nearby cliff just begging for someone to get pushed over its edge, and a deep, dark lake ideally suited to corpse disposal.

Disenchantment, Matt Groening's new animated series that hits Netflix on Friday, August 17th, does for our mythical past what Futurama did for our imagined future, but it does so in a manner so closely reminiscent of that other show's wryly cynical sci-fi hi-jinks that it could have just as easily been called Pastarama, if that didn't sound quite so much like a seasonal promotion at Olive Garden.

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