Monday, July 28, 2014

Shot/Reverse Shot: The Alternate 100 - Part 3


We're really cooking with gas now. As we speed through the Shot/Reverse Shot Alternate 100, we talk about Hollywood's historical and contemporary squeamishness when it comes to depicting inter-racial relationships, the ephemeral and symbiotic relationship between a director and a composer, and take time to share our weird, disparate memories of the year 1997, and how they may or may not relate to visions of past dystopias.

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.

Film Review: A Most Wanted Man (2014)


John le Carré's fiction is marked by a key contrast between his methodical plotting and the sweaty desperation of his characters. The spies that populate his novels are often middle-managers trying to achieve a small victory in a conflict in which they no longer believe, and who sacrifice their chance to be a whole person in the pursuit of a greater good. They live only half a life by agreeing to look through the windows of people living their own. One of the reasons that Martin Ritt's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold remains the definitive feature film adaptation of le Carré's work is that it manages to create an air of tragic inevitability, a sense that there are forces at work that will crush the characters no matter what they do, while also imbuing its characters with a faint yet potent belief that maybe they'll be the ones to escape a situation that has already claimed so many lives.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Film Review: Begin Again (2013)


Writer-director John Carney had a surprise hit in 2007 with his lovely, lo-fi romance Once, in which a man and a woman (Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová) fall in love while composing music together. It was a thoroughly charming and winning story - one that was given extra resonance when the two leads fell in love in real life and toured together as The Swell Season - that felt like a scruffy, raw debut album, the kind that people fall madly in love to. If Once was Carney's "Funeral", then Begin Again is his "Neon Bible"; a slicker, more polished sophomore effort that has much the same romanticism that its predecessor had, but lacks that sense of intimacy.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Film Review: Jodorowsky's Dune (2013)


Making a film is such a difficult, complicated process that it's a wonder most films get made at all. So many things can (and often do) go wrong at every stage of production, from last-minute changes in casting to loss of financing, that if you were to compare the number of films that were successfully made since the dawn of cinema to the number of films that weren't, the second number would be vastly larger than the first. As such, there are literally thousands of "what if" scenarios out there of films that could have existed but, for one reason or another, never came to fruition. Whether it's Orson Welles' Heart of Darkness, Francis Ford Coppola's Megalopolis, or Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, the central appeal of these films remains the same: An unfulfilled promise that we can imagine, sometimes aided by storyboards or test footage, but will never see properly realised.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Shot/Reverse Shot: The Alternate 100 - Part 2


Continuing our quest to celebrate films that don't get enough attention from the likes of IMDb and the BFI, the latest installment of the Shot/Reverse Shot: Alternate 100 finds us talking about lesser known works by directors like John Huston and Robert Wise, while also discussing the rules of how to make a monster movie, and pitching possibly the most depressing film-to-videogame adaptations ever.

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, July 14, 2014

Shot/Reverse Shot: Separating Art from the Artist


Inspired in part by Gary Oldman's controversial interview in Playboy, this week finds Joe and I talking about artists whose work we respect or even love, even though they may have committed crimes or hold views that we disagree with on moral or political grounds. It's a touch more serious than our usual subject matter, but we still somehow found time to wonder whether or not Rolf Harris is more similar to Caravaggio than most people give him credit for.

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.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Shot/Reverse Shot: Community Redux Redux


We're not the most prolific of podcasters, though we are hoping to change that in the near future in the hopes of completing our Alternate 100 project, and a large part of that is because we often record episodes in advance, then take a while getting round to editing them. This approach caught up to us in a big way with this episode, which initially was a simple discussion of Community's fifth and - at the time - presumably final season. Mere days after we recorded it, assuming that this would be the last we'd hear of Dan Harmon's frequently brilliant show, news broke that Yahoo (Yahoo!) had picked up the show for an incredibly unlikely sixth season. Rather than scrap the whole episode, we recorded a new intro and outro discussing the last minute renewal, which serve as bookends to a discussion about a strange, difficult season of television.

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.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Film Review: Life Itself (2014)


The first time I remember reading one of Roger Ebert's reviews was when I was in my first year of University in early 2005. It wasn't a review of a current release, but one of George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, and it made a pretty big impression on me. Mostly, this was because it featured a ton of plot details which probably would have bothered me had I not already seen the film, and did piss off a friend of mine who read the review without seeing the film first. But it also stuck with me because it was unlike any film review I'd read before. It was less a review of the film itself than of the screening Ebert attended, and of the broader culture in which the film was made. It was also unabashedly personal, and offered a pointed critique of a wrongheaded certification system which allowed young children to see acts of horrific violence purely because there was no nudity in Romero's film. It was a man speaking his mind, plainly and forcefully, and it was a mind I returned to countless times over the next decade.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Half-Time Top Ten

Blue Ruin
Now that we're halfway through the year, it seems like the perfect time to look back and take stock of how the year in film has unfolded thus far. It's been a surprisingly strong start, with a nice mix of smart blockbusters and entertaining indies, and while I've got high hopes for the rest of the year - Inherent Vice can't get here soon enough! - I wouldn't be heartbroken if this ended up being my Top 10 for the entire year. As far as an assessment of the year, this would be a "keep up the good work" for 2014.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Film Review: They Came Together (2014)


Molly (Amy Poehler) is a funny, smart, beautiful woman who just can't catch a break when it comes to love. Joel (Paul Rudd) is a funny, smart, non-threateningly handsome and just Jewish-looking enough man who discovers that his girlfriend (Cobie Smulders) is cheating on him at the very moment that he proposes to her. New York is a city in the North-Eastern part of the United States of America, and it's also a character in this film. They seem perfect for each other, except Molly owns a small candy shop and Joel works for a big candy corporation that plans to put her out of business. New York seems pretty indifferent to the whole thing, to be honest. Will their obvious chemistry and love of fiction books overcome their slight differences, possibly after a break-up at the end of Act Two and a near-miss wedding to a clearly unsuitable other person? If only there was an entire genre of formulaic movies that we could consult to get the answers!

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