Sunday, October 19, 2014

Doctor Who - Flatline (S08E09)


Much of this series of Doctor Who seems to have been geared towards doing two things: deconstructing the idea of who The Doctor is, and finally figuring out how to develop Clara Oswald as a character. Both of those strands dovetailed rather nicely in this week's episode, but the latter one was particularly well served. Jenna Coleman has been on the show, either as Clara or as one of her various permutations throughout time, for over two years, but since she was more of a mystery to be solved in her first eight episodes as a Companion, there was rarely any sense that she was a real character. Coleman was always very good, but Clara never really had a strong identity in the way that Rose, Martha, Donna and Amy did. The Doctor's regeneration last year seems to have served as an opportunity for Steven Moffat and his writers to start more or less from scratch with the character, turning her into an assertive and dynamic figure, rather than one who simply delivers rapid-fire dialogue with consummate ease. It's been one of the most promising developments in a very promising run.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Doctor Who - Mummy on the Orient Express (S08E08)


Continuing a (probably) unintentional theme running throughout this series of Doctor Who, "Mummy on the Orient Express" starts out with a number of marks against it. The title is the obvious one, since it's built on a half-serviciable pun that is not quite as egregious as the one in "Robot of Sherwood", but only just, but more damning is the way that it starts out like any old episode. The cold open shows an elderly woman riding on a plush and fancy train getting killed by a horrifying mummy that only she can see, after which the camera pulls back to reveal that the train, despite its Gatsby-esque mid-'20s glamour, is actually traveling through space. Once the credits have played, The Doctor and Clara arrive on that same train, dressed up in their finest suit and elegant evening dress respectively, and reveal that the train is actually The Orient Express (or at least an Orient Express), and it becomes clear that they are going to get drawn into solving the mystery of what the mummy is and why it is killing people.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Shot/Reverse Shot: Comebacks


In light of the news that Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell have signed on to star in the second season of HBO's True Detective, and considering how that show played into the apotheosis of Matthew McConaughey's career resurgence, Joe and I decided to spend this episode of Shot/Reverse Shot talking about comebacks. We talk about comebacks that led to long, successful careers, comebacks that fizzled out almost instantly, and artists who we think deserve at least one more shot at greatness. We also reveal our plan to get hooked on heroin next year, so sorry for spoiling the surprise.

As always, you can stream the podcast using the link below, or preferably (from our point of view) you can subscribe using iTunes. If you choose the later, please rate it and leave a review because it helps us to get more listeners, and also gives us something to obsess over. Speaking of which, you can also Like us on Facebook, assuming that you do.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Doctor Who - Kill The Moon (S08E07)


Despite having one of the silliest titles in recent memory and a premise which, at least initially, seems uninspiring, "Kill The Moon" wound up being one of the most compelling and confrontational episodes that Doctor Who has produced. What looked at first to be a fairly blatant Aliens rip-off (a comparison that wasn't helped by BBC America airing commercials for Alien: Isolation during the breaks) shifted on a dime to become a provocative chamber piece and morality play, then shifted again at the last second to question the very nature of The Doctor himself. If nothing else, it made for a surprising 45 minutes.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Film Review: Under The Skin (2013)


Based, in the loosest possible sense of the word, on a novel by Michael Faber, Jonathan Glazer's Under The Skin is a work of subterfuge, both in terms of its storytelling and its general concept. Narratively, the story is about an alien (Scarlett Johannson) who drives around Scotland looking for single, lonely men to pick up. Once she entices them into her van, and once she has ascertained that they don't have any family who will come looking for them, she takes them back to a farm where she manipulates their sexual desire to 'harvest' them. In order to maintain her disguise, she has to be believably human, something which she is able to do very easily within the confines of the van, but which becomes increasingly difficult and dangerous in almost any other context. It's a film which derives a great deal of tension and unease from placing its lead character in relatively normal situations, then seeing how her discomfort grows more and more palpable.

Doctor Who - The Caretaker (S08E06)


One of the refreshing things about this series of Doctor Who has been the way in which Steven Moffat and his writers have focused primarily on developing the relationship between Clara and the new Doctor. Previous series have done that as well, but they've usually mixed the growth of a new (or, given the overlap between Doctors and Companions, new-ish) friendship with plotlines that try to involve the Companions' families, most notably in the case of Rose's boyfriend Mickey and her mother Jackie. That divided focus made for some great episodes (particularly the heartbreaking "Father's Day", in which Rose got the opportunity to meet the father who had died before she was born) but more often than not it felt like baggage that was unnecessarily added on.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Shot/Reverse Shot - Prequels


Inspired by this great article for The Dissolve by Noel Murray, as well as by the steady stream of prequel projects that are appearing on television and in theatres lately - projects that include, but are not limited to, The Planet of the Apes rebooted franchise, The Hobbit trilogy, Fox's Gotham, NBC's Hannibal, Dracula: Untold, and The Conjuring spin-off Annabelle, which tells the origin story of a fucking doll - Joe and I decided to sit down and talk about prequels. There's inevitably some Star Wars talk, but mostly we talk about the dramatic limitations of most prequels, why the genuinely good ones fight predestination rather than just hitting all the expected beats, and struggle to think of prequels that we'd actually like to see.

As always, you can stream the podcast using the link below, or preferably (from our point of view) you can subscribe using iTunes. If you choose the later, please rate it and leave a review because it helps us to get more listeners, and also gives us something to obsess over. Speaking of which, you can also Like us on Facebook, assuming that you do.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Shot/Reverse Shot - The Alternate 100: Part 7


Part 7 of the Alternate 100 is here and after a few weeks in which Joe and I discussed some pretty dark, bleak films, things remain pretty bleak, if I'm honest. But there's also discussion about Steve Martin, the absurdist tendencies of the Coen Brothers, and the criteria by which Michael Caine chooses his projects.

We're taking a break from the Alternate 100 for a few weeks in order to discuss some other subjects, and also to give us time to revisit some of the films that will be discussed in the last three installments. In the meantime, feel free to revisit the episodes we've recorded so far, or check out what we're done on Letterboxd.

As always, you can stream the podcast using the link below, or preferably (from our point of view) you can subscribe using iTunes. If you choose the later, please rate it and leave a review because it helps us to get more listeners, and also gives us something to obsess over. Speaking of which, you can also Like us on Facebook, assuming that you do.



Monday, September 22, 2014

Doctor Who - Time Heist (S08E05)


Before we get down to the business of discussing this very, very good episode of Doctor Who, I just want to step back and examine an issue that has bothered me about the show in the past, and explain why the last few episodes have managed to sidestep it. A little over a year ago, when reviewing the Season 7 episode "Hide", I wrote about what I have come to think of as The Problem of Perspective, an issue which has plagued the show for years, but came to really dominate the Matt Smith seasons:
The Problem of Perspective is that if every episode is about a life-or-death struggle to save the Earth or the galaxy or the Universe then it gets harder and harder to care with each passing crisis. This is especially problematic where end of season finales are concerned; how can something be a climax when everything leading up to it is just a succession of climaxes? 
The show became too big. It too often revolved around stories in which The Doctor has to save the entire world on a weekly basis, and in so doing it squeezed out the smaller-scale adventures that the original series did so well. I mean, the small stories still involved intergalactic travel, life-and-death decisions and moments of terror, but they were often about trying to save a handful of people or thwart a relatively small scheme. You cared about whether The Doctor succeeded because even the lives of seemingly insignificant beings mattered to him, not because failure meant the end of the Universe.

Shot/Reverse Shot - The Alternate 100: Part 6


With 50 films catalogued and discussed, it's now time for Joe and I to talk about another 50, because that's how this ridiculous project works. We start with an episode that is surprisingly horror-heavy, as the ten films discussed cover J-horror, body horror, Cold War paranoia, the implacable brutality of nature, and the implacable brutality of Anton Newcombe.

This episode also includes the phrase, "You can imagine Frank Miller masturbating", for which I cannot apologise enough.

As always, you can stream the podcast using the link below, or preferably (from our point of view) you can subscribe using iTunes. If you choose the later, please rate it and leave a review because it helps us to get more listeners, and also gives us something to obsess over. Speaking of which, you can also Like us on Facebook, assuming that you do.

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