Sunday, March 22, 2015

Shot/Reverse Shot: Shakespeare

With news that a new 300-ified version of Romeo and Juliet is in the works, Matt and I decided to spend this week's episode talking about some of our favourite Shakespeare adaptations. We discuss the reasons why Shakespeare's works lend themselves to many disparate genres and settings, how different actors and directors try to convey the spirit of the works without necessarily adhering to the style, and what are some of our favourite film versions. I also get to talk about Gargoyles for a bit, which is always a treat.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Film Review: Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is just your average, everyday Russian immigrant trying to make a life for herself in America. She cleans apartments alongside her other family members, admires the jewelery and clothing of the people she works for, and plans to sell her eggs so that she can buy a telescope like the one her murdered English father (James D'Arcy) once owned. Unbeknownst to Jupiter, she is the heir to an intergalactic fortune, something which puts her squarely in the middle of a centuries-old rivalry between  Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Titus (Douglas Booth) and Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), three siblings from the Abraxis family, all of whom want to kidnap or kill Jupiter to advance their own agendas. Pursued by various alien bounty hunters, Jupiter falls under the protection of Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a disgraced space cop who also happens to be half-wolf. Together, Jupiter and Caine try to navigate the complex political maneuverings of the Abraxis, as well as the myriad explosions that keep interrupting their halting romance.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Film Review: Big Hero 6 (2014)

Seven years and nearly a dozen movies into what sages will one day call The Age of Marvel, it's pretty easy to spot the tropes that crop up in films produced by Marvel Studios. Chances are that a Marvel film, particularly one launching a new character or set of characters, will revolve around geniuses who have suffered or will suffer some tragic loss, will feature a villain with little of their own personality (unless they're Loki, in which case they'll almost have too much personality), and will probably end with a battle in the sky above a major city. Each film finds ways to differentiate itself from its predecessors, but they tend to follow a fairly well-worn (and immensely lucrative) framework.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Shot/Reverse Shot: Matt and Ed Have Nothing

There's no set theme this week, so Matt and I decided to have a wide-ranging conversation about the death of Terry Pratchett, the recently announced additions to the Ghostbusters universe, and the surprising developments surrounding HBO's The Jinx.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Shot/Reverse Shot: What Does It Take For a Film to Flop?

In the wake of Jupiter Ascending's lackluster performance at the box office, Matt and I spend this episode of Shot/Reverse Shot talking about reasons why films fail, what some of the biggest money-losers of all time are, and the shady world of Hollywood accounting which makes it so hard to tell just how much money a film actually lost.

Film Review: Foxcatcher (2014)

If Foxcatcher wasn't based on real events, it'd work great as an inventive restaging of Billy Wilder's Sunset Blvd. Like the earlier film, Foxcatcher deals with the increasingly strained relationship between a young man (in this case Channing Tatum) and an older patron (Steve Carell) which sees the former being more or less confined to the home of the latter in pursuit of shared glory. Swap out screenwriting for Olympic wrestling and the stories match up so well that you could imagine Wilder and Charles Brackett manipulating the real-life figures behind the scenes.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Shot/Reverse Shot: Parks and Recreation

A somewhat bittersweet episode this week as Matt and I say goodbye to one of our favourite TV series, the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. It's a goodbye that would always have been pretty melancholy, given that Pawnee, Indiana was such a warm and inviting place to visit each week, but which was made even more so by the sudden death of writer and producer Harris Wittels the week before the finale aired. We pay tribute to both, which takes the form of sharing favourite jokes, scenes and episodes.

Movie Journal: February

February was a somewhat lean month for me, moviewise. I watched 31 films in total, all but one of which were first-time viewings. That breaks down into 21 features and 10 shorts. The relative lack of features was mainly caused by the fact that one of the films was nearly eight hours long (ten if you include its followup), so I had to watch that in chunks rather than watching other films. It didn't help that a lot of shows I watched either came back this month (Last Week Tonight) or are in the middle of stellar seasons (The Americans and Broad City and Looking and…). I've also been reading David Mitchell's latest The Bone Clocks, which I've really been enjoying but is a reasonably time consuming endeavour. There's a lot of culture out there, is what I'm saying, and you have to make room for everything somehow.

Below is a list of the ten best films I watched for the first time in February. For the record, the best film I watched overall was my rewatch of Clint Eastwood's majestic Unforgiven.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action

Butter Lamp
In keeping with my desire to actually watch all the short film nominees this year, I'm following up this post on the animated shorts with this one on the live action ones.

This category was as a whole much, much weaker than the animated one, with only two or three films that I'd say were generally good. Below you'll find them ranked from best to Aya.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscar Nominated Short Films: Animation

The Dam Keeper
When I posted my Oscar predictions on Saturday morning, I joked about how I had not seen any of the films nominated for the Short Film categories and so just guessed wildly about which of them would win. I make the same joke every year, and it's more or less as funny each and every time (i.e. mildly). I'm far from proud of my ignorance about these categories, but it remains the case that I rarely get to see any of the nominated films unless they play before a Pixar film or something.

This year, that changed. As I was reading something on Indiewire yesterday, I got pop-up ad say that the short films were available to rent or buy via Vimeo and, after recovering from the shock of encountering the only worthwhile pop-up ad in history, I decided to break my streak and actually watch the damn things. Below are my thoughts on all five nominated films, ranked from best to not quite best, since none of them are bad.