Matthew Kauffman Smith Archive

Did you know it’s National Midyear Music Award Day?

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June 30, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Every Christmas, my mom, a high school French teacher, would take her seasonal decorations out of storage. She had four wooden blocks, one for each letter of the originally French word Noel. My brother and I had a tradition of our own: reversing the letters to spell the name Leon. My mom would find Leon, sigh, and transform him back into Noel. This cycle repeated itself dozens of times throughout the Advent season. First presented in 2014, and again in 2015, the awards resume this year after I celebrated Take a Yearlong Hiatus Day in 2016. Unbeknownst to my brother […]

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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May 26, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

It’s official: I’m a sucker. I convinced myself that, after watching the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it would be an above-average comic-book-themed movie. I didn’t think it would be a film classic like Citizen Kane, but I thought perhaps it could be the Citizen Kane of movies based on Marvel Comics. It could also just be good-guy-fights-bad-guy , things explode, good guy wins. And I’ll be a sucker again. After all, the first Guardians of the Galaxy showed promise in establishing a hodgepodge of outcasts who band together, earn each other’s trust, and form a semblance […]

Born in China

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April 28, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

If the Academy Award winners were based on cuteness, Born in China would be the runaway winner for best picture, and Mei Mei the baby panda would pretty much win every other category. The latest Earth Day release from Disneynature revels in the cuteness factor of its baby panda, snow leopards, and golden snub-nosed monkeys as they learn to live and survive in the vast China ecosystem. But cuteness only goes so far in life. People eventually yearn for substance, and that bodes true for Born in China. As with its Earth Day documentary predecessors, Disney sacrifices story in favor […]

Designated Survivor

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March 24, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

During the Cold War, the U.S. government, out of fear of the Soviet Union using nuclear weapons, created a position of “designated survivor,” which still exists today. While the president, vice president, members of Congress, and members of the president’s cabinet attend, say, a State of the Union address, one lower-level cabinet member stays away from the scene. Escorted by the Secret Service in presidential fashion, the designated survivor hangs out in an undisclosed location. If all higher-ranking officials perish in a catastrophe, the designated survivor assumes the presidency. When the Capitol Building suffers a horrific attack, everyone ranked higher […]

Not actually a review

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February 24, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Put your proverbial blindfolds on for a minute and ponder the contrast of two movies. Movie A impressed critics enough to earn a cumulative score of 83 on Metacritic and scored two Golden Globe nominations. By contrast, Movie B annoyed critics, earning a paltry score of 40 on Metacritic and earning two nominations for the Razzies, which serve as the anti-Oscars and dole out awards for the worst movies and performances of the year. There always seems to be a movie that racks up nominations but goes home empty-handed. Okay, blindfolds off. Movie A? 20th Century Women. Movie B? Suicide […]

Open Season on Awards

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January 27, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

It’s open season. Not duck season, not deer season. It’s awards season, and you don’t even need a permit to collect your bounty. The next month will bring not only the most prestigious film and music award shows but also some lesser-known—but perhaps more interesting—award shows. By the way, my opening you just read was terrible. Dreadful. Hokey. But it could have easily been an introduction at an awards show. The Golden Globes ushered in 2017 awards season two weeks ago, and the next month will bring not only the most prestigious film and music award shows but also some […]

The Eagle Huntress

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December 29, 2016 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Talented bird whisperers train eagles to help them hunt for food and fur in treacherous, bone-chilling winters. Matthew Kauffman Smith with special guest writer, Ella When I took my daughters to the bank when they were younger, the teller would always offer them a sticker. He or she would offer a Disney princess sticker to my daughters, even though one time I saw Spiderman stickers in another stash that was offered to the boys. Given the option, my girls may have selected the princesses, but there’s a good chance they would have chosen an alternative. Now my girls are old […]

Sharon Jones

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November 25, 2016 Matthew Kauffman Smith

The documentary Miss Sharon Jones is a good place to start discovering Jones, but the following is a mixtape of just 10 of her best recordings. Sharon Jones couldn’t stop singing, even in her final days. Jones, the lead singer of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, died November 18, 2016, at age 60, from pancreatic cancer. According to an interview with bandmate Gabe Roth in the Los Angeles Times, the entire band sat by Jones during her last days. Jones had suffered two strokes in a week, and could no longer speak. But when the band members played the guitar […]

Two Movies: “Suicide Squad” and “Don’t Think Twice”

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October 28, 2016 Matthew Kauffman Smith

When Suicide Squad was about to premiere in metroplexes across the world in early August, comedian Mike Birbiglia tweeted about the decision by the Motion Picture Association of America to give the movie a tame rating. Birbiglia wrote and directed the comedy Don’t Think Twice, which hit the screens two weeks earlier. Birbiglia didn’t understand why the MPAA deemed his movie more offensive. The MPAA is sending a message that it just doesn’t tolerate violence—it celebrates it. Here’s his tweet from August 2016: Mike Birbiglia ‪@birbigs Suicide Squad has machine gun killings and bombings and got a PG-13 rating. ‪@Dontthinkmovie […]

Miss Sharon Jones!

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September 30, 2016 Matthew Kauffman Smith

The only lull that occurs at a Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings concert is when Jones invites audience members onto the stage to dance with her. Most of the time, the chosen few will try too hard to find their 15 seconds of fame as they attempt to overshadow Jones with goofy, ill-advised dance moves. Jones may stand 4 feet 11 inches tall, but it’s impossible for anyone to overshadow her. Jones gave up a music career at some point because “some record label told me I was too fat, too short, black, and old.” Now 60 years old, Jones […]