The film, while well-made on a technical level, feels more like a collection of moments than a full and satisfying narrative.
Q. The Actors' Branch of the Motion Picture Academy has denied Rodney Dangerfield's membership application, on the grounds that he has not made a sufficient artistic contribution to deserve it. So he cannot vote in the Oscars. What do you think about this? (Fred Rowley, Wilmette)
A. This is absolutely shameful. The rules require an applicant to submit two important credits, and be nominated and seconded. Dangerfield more than qualifies. In addition to his brilliant contribution to the sitcom sequence on Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" in 1994, Dangerfield has starred in "The Projectionist" (1971) "Caddyshack" (1980), "Easy Money" (1983), "Back to School" (1986, where he had the immortal line, "I'm donating my body to science fiction!") and "Ladybugs" (1992). He has paid his dues. It's time he got some respect.
Q. I think some critic should address the issue of men getting kicked in the genitals in movies. It sometimes seems that every movie has such a scene--even comedies like "Roger Rabbit." Often they are treated as comic relief. Even children are shown getting hurt by blows to the groin. You could do a fascinating show just showing clips from movies showing males getting kicked there. I wonder what would the reaction be if women were routinely shown having their nipples pinched. (Charles Church, Walkertown, N.C.)
A. A similar thought occurred to me while watching the PG-rated "Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book," in which Mowgli, the young hero, employs kicks to the groin on four separate occasions. Apparently Hollywood thinks this is hilarious, although, as any man can tell you, there is nothing funny about it.
Q. I read your column where a reader asked about the fate of all the other people on the subway train when it derails in the movie "Speed" with only Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock and the (dead) train operator accounted for. Your answer was "that's why they call them extras." But I'm not sure that answered the question. I just watched the movie on my laserdisc. Dennis Hopper leads Sandra Bullock (wrapped in explosives) onto the train he begins firing his gun into the air and screaming at the passengers on the subway to evacuate the train, which they do rapidly. As such, the train has no "extras" on it when it derails. (Adam Weisler, Roslyn Heights, N.Y.)
A. That Dennis Hopper! He's all heart.
A video essay about Mortal Engines, as part of Scout Tafoya's ongoing video essay series on maligned masterpieces.
This is the most purely entertaining season of Stranger Things to date.
An interview with the legendary critic J. Hoberman on the release of his book Make My Day.