Illustrations: Carolyn Raship

A fable about the great state of Texas

I am at the age where I forget things and then, later, remember them again. Some of the things that slip my mind and return were told to me when I was a child by adults who were also at the age where they forgot things and then, later, remembered them again.

Here are some recent memories that I’m fairly certain are not, in fact, dreams: He’d sing along to Fats Domino on the record player in the living room as she put away the dishes, and when his church-choir tenor cracked at the lyric about love’s sweet melody, the…


Photo: Disney

First off, I am not a cynic…

Let’s play “the glad game.” The rules are simple, just re-read the name of the game. I’ll go first: I am glad you’re reading this essay. I’m glad I walked 10,000 steps today. I am glad the world isn’t as bad as it could be. I mean, it’s not great but it could be worse?

Right?

The 18th-century philosopher and theologian Gottfried Leibniz famously said that this world is the best of all possible worlds, a statement that gives God far too much credit. Leibniz must have been insufferable at parties but his basic point is an omnipotent, all-powerful, and…


Photo: Universal Pictures

It’s not about seniors. That movie is called ‘Fort Lauderdale.’

By the time the credits roll on M. Night Shyamalan’s Old, you’ll feel like you’ve aged decades, which is also sort of the plot. In this new supernatural thriller, vacationers are trapped on a cursed beach where children grow into adults before the eyes of their wrinkling, greying parents.

The scare scenes include the wildly creepy pregnancy of a suddenly teenage six-year-old and a bonkers sequence I call “Quasimodo, Instagram hottie.” The movie doesn’t always add up: not everyone ages at the same rate and when they do age, they look like theater kids wearing old-age makeup. …


Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key in ‘Schmigadoon!’
Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key in ‘Schmigadoon!’
Photo: Apple+

*Breaks out into song*

Hello, friend. My name is John. Usually, this column is where I write about streaming content that I hope you would enjoy watching. I know your time is valuable and I like to be of service. But I’m going to write something a little different this time because I’ve discovered a new show on Apple+ that I’m fairly certain was made for John DeVore and only John DeVore.

I think everyone should watch this new show but I cannot say, with confidence, that it is something that everyone will like, especially those of you who are not John DeVore.

When…


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

It’s a depressing masterpiece!

Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi drama A.I. Artificial Intelligence was misunderstood when it came out in 2001, specifically by me. The movie started life as a Stanley Kubrick project that he personally gave to Spielberg, who directed it after Kubrick’s death. At the time I thought it was too sentimental and not cerebral or frightening, like 2001: A Space Odyssey.

There didn’t seem to be enough of Kubrick’s fear of technology and his dim view of humanity in A.I., and too much of Spielberg’s sweeping spectacle.

But I recently rewatched it and I was wrong. The movie is grim. It’s also far…


Nina Simone performs in the documentary ‘Summer of Soul’
Nina Simone performs in the documentary ‘Summer of Soul’
Photo: Hulu

The new Hulu doc reinvents 1969

I love concert movies: Stop Making Sense, The Last Waltz, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. The new documentary Summer of Soul is one of the best examples of that genre, and one of the best movies of 2021. It is political and emotional, and the music is transcendent.

The directorial debut of ‘The Roots’ drummer Questlove, Summer of Soul tells the story of the Harlem Cultural Festival, six weeks of live soul, gospel, and funk during the tumultuous summer of 1969 that has been nearly forgotten while another concert that year — Woodstock — attained historic status. …


Photo: TriStar Pictures

It’s not a very good action flick, but he’s great

The best Rutger Hauer movie is Blade Runner, which stars Harrison Ford as a futuristic cop but the blonde, blue-eyed Dutch actor steals every scene he is in as a dying, soulful android who wants to be human.

The second best Rutger Hauer movie is The Hitcher, a thriller from 1986 where he plays a charismatic homicidal maniac stalking C. Thomas Howell. I saw both of these movies on videotape in the 80s, and I distinctly remember my mother being blown away by The Hitcher, which was genuinely scary.

The third best Rutger Hauer movie is 1989’s Blind Fury, a…


Photo by Rahul S on Unsplash

His name rhymes with Beff Jezos

Over the past nine days, two billionaires have successfully launched themselves into space. These privately-funded, all-civilian suborbital flights are historic and controversial.

Some people are pissed off by these displays of treasure. For many, space is for explorers and scientists, not tourists.

These men are blasting themselves skyward on the world’s most expensive sports cars but back on Earth, millions stare at medical bills they can’t pay. Workers are on strike demanding fair wages. Unprecedented droughts and floods threaten farms and cities.

While the superrich like Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson enjoy brief moments of weightlessness the rest of humanity…


Photo: HBO

I mean, it’s fine. Okay?

Mare of Eastttown, the last buzzy HBO show, was a murder mystery about a dead young woman that takes place in a sinister working-class Pennsylvania town. The White Lotus, HBO’s new must-watch series, is also about a dead young woman but it takes place in a goofy luxury hotel in paradise.

The blue-collar drama was gloomy and ugly, an everyday person tragedy but the show about vacation is sunny and soulless, a satire that tickles instead of bites. The only thing these two class-based hour-long sagas have in common is formerly living women. …


Photo: Neon

He plays a heartbroken hermit in this wonderfully odd new film

Michael Sarnoski’s Pig plays a game of bait-and-switch. At first, this movie starring a subdued Nic Cage as a strange loner promises lots of action and revenge but then delivers a moody character study about grief.

If you squint, Pig is almost a parody of the popular action movie plot where a lonely man with very specific talents is inspired to kick ass because really bad guys have kidnapped someone dear to him, like a dog or a daughter.

Only it’s not funny. There are a few offbeat notes but this is a funeral, where people whisper about loss. The…

John DeVore

Writer/editor. CONAN, Esquire, Sirius XM. 2X James Beard Award winner. I created Humungus, a blog about movies, TV & feelings.

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