Sunday, December 21, 2014

The 12 Picks Of Christmas



Merry Christmas, everyone!  As one of our last podcasts of the year, we decided to share recommendations that we all thought our individual cohosts would like but we've never had the chance to bring up on the show yet.  Each of us picked a book and a movie for the other two hosts and we came up with some great stuff, from the highbrow to Kevin Bacon.

There was a small tech snafu on this one so the end has been a bit truncated; rest assured those responsible have been sacked.

In the spirit of Christmas, we un-sacked them and they made up for it by re-editing the podcast so it's now complete. They also got rid of the John Denver, so we're giving them a bonus. 

Show Notes

  • Amy conflated the name of the Wimsey sequel and its author. It's "The Attenbury Emeralds" by Jill Walsh.
  • If you want to listen to the audio of the Truffaut/Hitchcock interviews, here ya go
  • This is the cover of Rules of Civility to which Joe refers at one point.
  • "Paperman" short film 
  • The Baltimore/D.C. film critic Amy was trying to think of is Stephen Hunter
  • We're assuming this is the Tam Lin cover that Joe doesn't care for much. This other common one seems fairly unobjectionable.


Music:
"The 12 Days of Christmas" - Bob and Doug McKenzie
"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" - Gene Pitney

The Full List of Picks (Below the fold if you're looking at our home page.)


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Episode 33 - Who You Callin' a "Lady" Detective?

Joe's got a cold and sounds like it, Amy's got a cold and sounds perfectly healthy next to Joe. Randy lives in the land of socialized medicine and is fine. 


Joe had the theme for this time around and asked for "lady detectives."



Show notes

Intro Music: "We Used to Be Friends" by The Dandy Warhols
Exit Music: "It's a Shame about Ray" by The Lemonheads 

  • Amy's still working her way through "Transparent" and is trying to get caught up on "Arrow."
  • Randy's watching "The Comeback" but he's not sure if he's ready to talk about it yet.
  • Joe got his vroom on, watching "Fast Five" and "The Fast and Furious 6"
  • Joe's right that Martin Starr, James Franco, and Dave Allen are all Freaks & Geeks alumni who show up in "Veronica Mars." However, an imdb overlap search reveals that Percy Daggs III (Wallace) was "Mathlete #2" in a F&G episode.
  • It is Rob Thomas who's written both of the Veronica Mars books so far: 2014's The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line and 2015's Mr. Kiss and Tell
  • Rob Thomas's non-Veronica Mars book, written prior to the tv show, is Rats Saw God
  • Logan's yellow Nissan was an Xterra:


  • The MOST PRECIOUS COMMERCIAL starring Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard:

On the next episode

Amy asked for "Runners-up." Joe's having us read Walter Tevis's 1981 book Mockingbird, which was nominated for a Nebula but lost to Timescape by Gregory Benford. Randy's happy to have a reason finally to select for the podcast "Fish Tank" which won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2009, but did not win the Palme D'Or which went to "The White Ribbon." I guess director Andrea Arnold will have to console herself with her Best British Film BAFTA.


Where to find the podcast itself and us

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We are also available on the Stitcher app.

Our Twitters:

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Amy
Randy

Monday, December 1, 2014

Quiz Time - Characters Welcome



Joseph delivers a devilish quiz where he gives Randy and Amy the names of two characters and asks them to guess the actor who played both. It's completely unfair!

Where to find the podcast itself and us
We are also available on the Stitcher app.

Our Twitters:

Randy

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Episode 32 - Creation, Not the God Kind

Amy's back. If you're singing a certain Elton John song now, she'll hunt you down and bite your kneecaps.

Randy had the theme for this time around and wanted works that discuss the creation of art.


Show notes

Intro Music: "Ca Plane Pour Moi" by Plastic Bertrand (YouTube)
Exit Music: "A Picture of Dorian Gray" by Television Personalities (YouTube)

  • Amy's recommending, when and if it gets to a theater near you, "What We Do in the Shadows" a vampire mockumentary from New Zealand (trailer)
  • Randy didn't necessarily like, but wants you to watch, "Whiplash" (in theaters now-ish) (imdb)
  • Joseph recommends a documentary about Los Angeles as it's appeared in the movies: "Los Angeles Plays Itself" (available on Netflix streaming and on DVD) 
  • The picture of Dorian Gray that Joe was talking about seeing at the Art Institute of Chicago is by Ivan Albright
  • Amy picked the Plastic Bertrand song because it was used in Ruby Sparks, but in reading up on it was amused to learn that the individual who made his debut as the personality Plastic Bertrand with this song, was actually faking it - the producer of the song sang all the vocals. Somehow that seems almost appropriate for our theme.

On the next episode

Joe wanted "lady detectives" so Randy's giving him Veronica Mars in the eponymous film from earlier this year and Amy's picking The Spellman Files, the first in a series of books by Lisa Lutz.




Where to find the podcast itself and us

Listen at Podomatic

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We are also available on the Stitcher app.

Our Twitters:

Joseph
Amy
Randy

Buffy Rewatch: She Saved The World. A Lot.

Season 5 comes to its brilliant, devastating conclusion in "The Gift".


"She's a hero, you see. She's not like us."


And there you have it.

Xander proposes to Anya. Giles kills Ben. Spike has one of his greatest moments, and then his greatest failure. Willow continues her impressive growth as a witch and saves Tara. And Buffy sacrifices herself to save Dawn and the world.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Buffy Rewatch: Carry That Weight

Glory looks for, and finds, the Key as we set up season 5's endgame.


"You've carried the weight of the world on your shoulders since high school. I know you didn't ask for this. But you do it."


Let's just quickly recap the show putting the pieces in place before the fifth season finale.

In many ways, "Forever" is a more traditional episode dealing with the death of a character than "The Body" was. "The Body" was about shock, but "Forever" is about grief. It's not a great episode, but it has great moments. Angel appears, and has a couple of lovely scenes with Buffy. Xander and Anya have a very nice post-sex chat, where we see Anya really start to grow up. And, best of all, there's a brief moment of Giles listening to Cream and no doubt reliving his and Joyce's "Band Candy" shenanigans. (It's a great moment of private grief, and so very Giles.)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Buffy Rewatch: Mom? Mom? ... Mommy?

A few thoughts on "The Body", the landmark episode in which Buffy's mom dies.


"We're not drawing the object. We're drawing the negative space around the object."


"The Body", for good and bad, is unlike any other episode of BUFFY. Its subject matter - the shock of Joyce's death, as felt separately by Buffy, by Dawn, and by the rest of the Scoobies - allows writer/director Joss Whedon to experiment with structure, tone, direction, and editing. Often, this works. But not always.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Episode 31 - One Order of Scandal, Hold the Olivia Pope.

Episode 31 and we have a guest host! Amy's off galivanting in Europe so we brought in previous guest host Becca Gross.  She chose the theme of Hollywood Scandals, giving us a chance to revel in the dirt of Hollywood past.


Joe's chosen "The Cat's Meow" as the movie, which is a "semi-true story" about a murder that occurred at a star-studded gathering aboard William Randolph Hearst's yacht in 1924.

Randy's picked Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars by Scotty Bowers with Lionel Friedman. It's a dishy account of one man's sexual adventures, and the others he helped arrange, in the Hollywood of the 40s, 50s, and 60s.






Show notes

Intro Music: "TMZ" by Weird Al Yankovic (YouTube)
Exit Music: "Private Eyes " by Hall And Oates (YouTube)

  • Becca and Joseph have been watching and enjoying Arrow, which keeps getting better in it's third season.
  • Randy and Joseph talked a bit of the new USA show Benched, which shows some fun potential and is a good showcase for Eliza Coupe.
  • Joseph recommended the new podcast I Was There Too, where Marr Gourley talks with actors who were in the background of classic film scenes. The first episode has Paul F. Tompkins talking There Will Be Blood, which is a great start.








On the next episode

Amy's back!  Randy had the theme for this time around and we'll be talking Creating Art.

  • Amy chose the 2012 movie Ruby Sparks (Available for digital purchase, but I got it from the library). Paul Dano (coincidentally, from There Will Be Blood, accidentally creates a living person from his novel and things go weird.
  • Joseph chose the 1891 novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (Project Gutenberg link).  Randy is happy it's a short novel this time.



Where to find the podcast itself and us

Listen at Podomatic

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We are also available on the Stitcher app.

Our Twitters:

Joseph
Amy
Randy
Our guest host Becca Gross

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Buffy Rewatch: All Dressed Up In Big Sister's Clothes

The Buffy Rewatch continues, with the eight episodes before Everything Changes Forever.


"So here's how it's gonna work. You're gonna tell me everything you know. Then you're gonna go away."


Let's check in with some key characters of this part of season 5.

Glory

So, we find out that Glory's a god. And that she is sharing a body with Cute Intern Ben. Glory's trying to find the Key to use it to open a portal to hell. Ben's cleaning up her messes. The Knights of Byzantium want to find and destroy the Key to stop Glory. There's a lot going on.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Buffy Rewatch: The Darkness

Let's talk about the first seven episodes of season 5.


"Do you know what a Slayer is?"
"Do you?"


Season 4 of THE WIRE. Season 2 of JUSTIFIED. Season 1 of VERONICA MARS. Season 2 of ALIAS. These are some examples of legendary seasons of great TV show, in which top-notch stories and top-notch storytelling elevate the series and the medium of television itself. (Yes, that's hyperbolic, but come on: season 4 of THE WIRE!)

But for me, the best season of television of all just might be season 5 of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Episode 30 - Shake over ice, strain, and serve with garnish

Episode 30 was deemed to be the "Cocktail" episode by Joe. Alas, this does not mean an in-depth exploration of a middling Tom Cruise movie.

Amy chose as the movie, "The Blue Gardenia" from 1953 starring Anne Baxter and directed by Fritz Lang. Baxter has a night to forget to remember after consuming SIX Polynesian Pearl Divers at the Blue Gardenia supper club.

Randy selected Rebecca Barry's "novel in stories" Later, at the Bar. It "tells the sad and funny tales of the forlorn denizens of Lucy's Tavern, a gathering place and watering hole for the hapless, lonely, and lovelorn."

Show notes

Intro Music: "One Mint Julep" by Ray Charles (YouTube)
Exit Music: "Manhattan (Cha Cha)" by Xavier Cugat & His Orchestra from the album Cugi's Cocktails which is entirely made up of songs inspired by potent potables.
  • Joe's just finished reading and liked Gutenberg's Apprentice.
  • Randy's wowed by "We Are The Best!" a Swedish film about three girls forming a punk rock band
  • In the film we watched, Nat King Cole's performance of "The Blue Gardenia" is used repeatedly. See a clip of him performing in the film on YouTube.
  • Fun fact: In "Django Unchained" the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio orders a "Polynesian Pearl Diver" at one point. This almost certainly is a deliberate homage by Quentin Tarantino to Fritz Lang's film. One intrepid blogger has made and drunk the cocktail.


On the next episode

Amy's gallivanting across Europe (well, just the Netherlands and Poland, really) so Becca Gross will be guest hosting in her stead. Becca got to pick the theme and went for "Hollywood scandals."






















Joe's chosen "The Cat's Meow" as the movie, which is a "semi-true story" about a murder that occurred at a star-studded gathering aboard William Randolph Hearst's yacht in 1924.

Randy's picked Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars by Scotty Bowers with Lionel Friedman. It's a dishy account of one man's sexual adventures, and the others he helped arrange, in the Hollywood of the 40s, 50s, and 60s.


Where to find the podcast itself and us

Listen At Podomatic

Subscribe and rate us at iTunes 

We are also available on the Stitcher app.

Our Twitters:

Joseph
Amy
Randy
Next week's guest host Becca Gross

Thursday, October 23, 2014

QUIZ TIME! Titles, Scrambled and Nested



For this week's quiz, to fit with the nonlinear narrative, Amy quizzed Joe and Randy on some "nonlinear" titles. Basically, two movies went into a blender and a mixed up plot summary and title came out.
  • Sigourney Weaver has the second credit in "The Year of Living Dangerously." But it was Linda Hunt who won Best Supporting Actress for it. (Trivia: to date, she is still the only person who's won an Oscar for playing a character of the opposite sex. Although there could be a valid argument for Hilary Swank in "Boys Don't Cry.") (More trivia: Linda Hunt is actually shorter than Amy. This pleases Amy greatly.)
  • Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni starred together in "Fun With Dick and Jane"
  • The intro and exit music has nothing to do with the theme or the quiz. Amy just really, really likes Queen and "Flash Gordon".

Where to find the podcast itself and us 

The podcast:
Listen at Podomatic.
Subscribe and rate us at iTunes 
We are also available on the Stitcher app.

Our Twitters:
Joseph
Amy
Randy

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Buffy Rewatch: Oops

Getting back to the Buffy Rewatch with the final six episodes of season 4.


"You think you know what's to come, what you are. You haven't even begun."


So, yeah. I kinda lost track of the Buffy Rewatch there for a while.

There was some summer travel, but the real distraction was the release of TWIN PEAKS on blu-ray. I bought it the day it came out, and didn't plan to watch it right away. But I popped in the first disc, just to see how gorgeous it looked on blu-ray, and by the time Pete Martell said "She's dead! Wrapped in plastic!", I was completely hooked again. TWIN PEAKS was my first major TV addiction. It aired when I was in high school, a prime period for falling completely in love with its mysteries, its atmosphere, and its incredible "WTF!" moments.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Episode 29 - Nonlinear Narratives

What? We skipped a blog post for that last episode? HOW DARE WE.

THIS episode is all about nonlinear narratives. Randy came up with this theme, inspired by such movies as "Pulp Fiction" and "Memento."

Joe had us watch "JCVD" starring Jean Claude van Damme as "himself." The narrative jumps back and forth a little bit to heighten suspense and add humor, so it qualifies.

Amy chose The Hours by Michael Cunningham, after Twitter friend @tosyandcosh suggested it. Thanks, Tosy! It intercuts the stories of a different day in the life of three different women at different time periods.

Show notes

Intro Music: "Virginia Woolf" by The Indigo Girls (YouTube)
Exit Music: "Satyagraha" by Philip Glass (used in the film version of The Hours) (YouTube)

On the next episode

"Cocktails"
Amy's chosen "Blue Gardenia" as the movie
Randy's picked Later, at the Bar by Rebecca Barry




Where to find the podcast itself and us

Listen at Podomatic.

Subscribe and rate us at iTunes 


We are also available on the Stitcher app.


Our Twitters:

Joseph

Amy

Randy

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Episode 27 - Alternate Histories



This week we look at alternate histories; Amy chose The Arcanum for the novel and Randy chose Inglorious Basterds for the movie.

Also discussed: 6 Feet Under, Bomb Girls, Manhattan, Mad Men, Gods of Gotham and Arthur & George.

The 6 Feet Under finale sequence we discussed:





The Mitchell & Webb sketch Amy references:



The Rotten Tomatoes interview with Tarantino can be found here.

For the next episode, Amy asked Joe and guest host Diane to be inspired by the Lewis Grizzard book title, "They Tore My Heart Out and Stomped that Sucker Flat." Joe chose We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and Diane chose the 1995 film adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion. 


         


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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Quiz Time #3

Thanks for your patience, folks!  Due to some unforeseen circumstances, we're running late on the main episode. In the meantime it's Randy's turn to bedevil us as he breaks our brains with a quiz involving chapter titles.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Episode 26 - The One Where We Catch The Killer



It's Mystery Week! We plumb into the shadowy figures and devilish plots behind the 1998 movie Zero Effect and the 1997 novel Garnethill

Also discussed:  Boyhood

For the next episode, Joseph chose as a theme "Alternate History." Amy chose Thomas Wheeler's The Arcanum for us to read and Randy chose Inglorious Basterds to watch. 

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Music

Intro: Scooby Doo theme performed by Matthew Sweet



Outro: Oh Sweet Mystery Of Life, performed my Mario Lanza

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Episode 25 - Boys of Summer

Emile Hirsch, Paul Rudd, and Paul Rudd's moustache in David Gordon Green's "Prince Avalanche"
For Amy's chosen theme of "The Summer that Everything Changed," Randy and Joe went dude-centric with their choices, entirely by accident. Randy chose Stephen King's novella "The Body," the basis of the movie "Stand by Me." Joe chose David Gordon Green's 2013 film "Prince Avalanche." 

Also discussed:  Rush (The USA network show), Only Lovers Left Alive, Twin Peaks, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

For the next episode, Randy chose as a theme "Mysteries." Joe chose Denise Mina's Garnethill for us to read and Amy chose Zero Effect to watch. 


Listen at Podomatic

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Show Notes:

For the record, William Goldman has adapted three of Stephen King's works for the Screen: Dreamcatcher, Hearts in Atlantis, and Misery.


Raynold Gideon and Bruce A. Evans are both credited as writing the screenplay for Stand by Me.

The real life wildfires referenced by Joe are known as the Bastrop County Complex fire of 2011

Music
Intro music by The Motels

Exit music by Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo. Explosions in the Sky not only scored the movie, they were the ones who suggested the film to Gordon Green in the first place. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Extra: Quiz Time 2 (First Lines)



It was the best of quizzes, it was the worst of quizzes.

Since it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single podcast in possession of pop culture junkies, must be in want of a good quiz, here's Joe quizzing Amy and Randy about first lines of novels.

The full episode will be up later this week; sorry, there were technical issues.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Robocop (2014)



RoboCop

2014

Directed by:  José Padilha

Written by: Joshua Zetumer


I'll give it points for trying to be about something and trying to be about something current (in this case, the use of drone technology that separates us from the cost of our actions in military and police situations), but this is in the end just another remake with a couple of new wrinkles to enjoy (like having Murphy's family still be around, as well as Gary Oldman as a sympathetic scientist).  Not bad, not great, but a decent Saturday-afternoon-if-it-happens-to-be-on TNT movie.  (The violence is so toothless on it's own, much less compared to the original, that it might as well be a Lazer Tag match.)

2.5/5

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Buffy Rewatch: In Your Eyes

Season 4's storyline gets boring with "The I in Team" and "Goodbye Iowa", but then an old friend visits in "This Year's Girl" and "Who Are You".


"You're not going to kill these people."
"Why not?"
"Because it's wrong."


Watching these four episodes (two pairs of episodes, really) back to back just serves to highlight how uninteresting the main arc of season 4 has become. By the end of "Goodbye Iowa", Maggie Walsh is dead, at the hand of Adam, her Frankenstein's Monster-like creation. The Initiative is in disarray, Riley is completely disillusioned, Adam is on the loose and attempting to recruit assorted demons for his army or whatever, and frankly, no one cares.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Episode 24 - This One Is Stacked!




This week, Libraries and Librarians!  We talk ordering systems, the philosophy of trying to keep everything, how libraries can disappear and of course, how to look fabulous when becoming a librarian in 1990s New York.  The movie was 1995's Party Girl and the book was Alberto Manguel's The Library At Night.

Also discussed:  The Witches Of East End, Obvious Child, The Astronaut Wives Club, From The Earth To The Moon, In The Shadow Of The Moon, Ex Libris, The To-Do List.

For the next episode, Amy chose the theme; we'll be talking "The Summer That Changed Everything."  We'll be watching 2013's Prince Avalanche (which is streaming on Netflix) and reading Stephen King's "The Body" (which is collected in Different Seasons).

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Show Notes:

Amy refers to high heels for books so that they would be the same height on shelves; that was not Johnson but Samuel Pepys, whose library is still maintained at Magdalene College at Cambridge.

I refer to Jorge Luis Borge's at one point and mention a story he wrote about an infinite library.  That is "The Library Of Babel," which is available here.

The essay that Amy references on actors and range & actors who have that one great groove is here.

Intro music:  "Swinging Long," by The Magnetic Fields

Outro music: "Librarian", by Morning Jacket

Monday, July 14, 2014

Extra: Quiz Time 1. On the lips or on the shelves?



As a podcast extra, Amy quizzes Joe and Randy on their knowledge of pulp fiction and cosmetics. Listen to the quiz to test yourself and then check out the answer key.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes


Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

2014

Directed by:  Matt Reeves

Written by: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver


I have a few thoughts:

1.  It's worth going in with no idea how it will end.  It's a very dark movie that doesn't indulge in a happy ending (and really, is there any one of the Apes movies that has what could be called a "happy" ending)?  Try and avoid any major spoilers if you can.

2.  This is walking away with the Visual Effects Oscars.  You never think during the movie about the ape effects, a magnificent achievement for the effects people and for the actors.  Andy Serkis as Ceasar, yes, but also people like Judy Greer, Toby Kebbell and Karin Konoval.  As John Scalzi said in his review, "We’re on the other side of the Uncanny Valley of the Planet of the Apes."

3.  And speaking of that...I'm hard put to think of when the last popular movie in the US was where a lot, if not the majority, of the movie is subtitled.  There are a lot of scenes with the apes talking to each other in SL (and thank you, modern movies, for the shift from hard-to-read white subtitles to much better yellow ones).

4.  The kid (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is pretty good, but the plot thread involving a teenage son kind of goes nowhere.  Does have a great scene where he shares a graphic novel (Charles Burns' Black Hole, of all things) with Maurice.

5.  I like a movie where the villains are pretty sympathetic, and this one delivers in spades.  There's two, both with good reason to not trust the other side and the movie doesn't ignore that.

It's a hell of a movie, one of the best of the year so far and a damn good job building on what was one of my favorite surprises of 2011.  I figure they'll do a third movie, perhaps, to build on the sad inevitability of this one's ending and I can't wait to see it.

4.5/5

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Buffy Rewatch: It's Oh So Quiet

Season four reaches the midway point with "Hush", "Doomed", and "A New Man".


"Well, I guess we have to talk."
"I guess we do."


When I made the schedule for the Buffy Rewatch, I didn't realize just how well these three episodes would work together: all three involve the members of the Initiative and the Scooby gang finding out about each other. "Doomed" and "A New Man" are both solid episodes - I particularly liked seeing Ethan Rayne again in "A New Man", and I loved Spike's discovery in "Doomed" that he can fight, he just can't fight *humans* - but, let's face it: they both pale in comparison to "Hush".

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Episode 23 - Hello, Sailor!



It's an attempt to stay positive as we discuss contrariness in trying to review and talk about things (especially on the Internet) and in that context we went back to things that we have disliked or found generally terrible in attempts to find something good to say about them.  Amy had the book and chose Edith Wharton's 1911 novel Ethan Frome and I chose the 1999 movie The Boondock Saints.  We talk snow imagery, horrid amounts of Willem Dafoe scenery chewing and why Ethan Frome in general is not the best choice to assign to high school students.

Also discussed:  Only Lovers Left Alive, So You Think You Can Dance, The Witches of East End and Under The Skin. 

Next episode, we talk libraries and librarians!  We'll be watching Party Girl and reading Alberto Manguel's The Library At Night.

Listen at Podomatic

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We are also available on the Stitcher app.


Show Notes:

The documentary about The Boondock Saints that I mention is Overnight and is really, really recommended.

We mention Lovecraft in comparison to Wharton at one point and Amy mentions a mash-up of them; I don't think that exisst, so here's Neil Gaiman's mash-up of Lovecraft and Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Emerald. (PDF)

Opening Music: "Mi Chiamano Mimi" from Puccini's "La Boheme," sung by Maria Callas
Closing Music: "James Connolly," Black 47


Our Twitters:

Joseph

Amy

Randy

Snowpiercer

 

설국열차 / Seolgungnyeolcha / Snowpiercer

2014

Directed by:  Bong Joon-ho

Written by: Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterson, adapted from Le Transperceneige by Jacque Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette

The Earth has frozen, due to an accident of humans trying to combat global warming with a q uick fix.  All that is left of humanity rides one train making an eternal circuit of the earth.  Rich people in the front, poor people in the back.  Bing bang boom, there's your setup; you don't need to know much more than that since it's not the journey in this case that's the important part but the reaction of the people in the tail to being penned up for 18 years that this movie is about.  Tensions rise, angers flare and tales of old rebellions spur new actions.

What happens next manages to overcome what could have been a heavy-handed commentary and pulls it off quite deftly due to Bong Joon-ho's deft direction and a passel of good performances.  Tilda Swinton (as the representative of the front of the train to the trail, a sort of fascist minister to the downtrodden) is as great as usual, but there's some notes here from Christopher Evans (as the leader of the tail group) that we haven't seen before.  (Then there's Alison Pill, pulling off a manic little appearance that's a highlight of the movie in how scarily logical it is.)  I somehow had no idea Octavia Spencer is in the movie as well, but was damn happy to see her (there's a bit where she causally cracks a hard-boiled egg on the head of a child that had me laughing far too hard).

While not quite at the level of Mother, this is still some damn fine Bong Joon-ho work.  It can be a little heavy-handed at times but the performances and directing overcome it and this is one of the better post-apocalyptic movies to come along in a while, with an good ending that has the tiniest sliver of hope.

4/5

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Buffy Rewatch: The Riley Problem

Season 4 continues with "The Initiative", "Pangs", and "Something Blue".


"Say. Don't ya just love a picnic?"


We need to talk about Riley.

No, this is not going to be a long-winded defense of the character, and no, it's not going to be a condemnation of him, either. Looking back at the character, almost 15 years later, we know that Riley will only be around for another season, Regardless, Riley's a bit of a dud - but I think I see what the writers were going for.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Buffy Rewatch: Worst Episode Ever.

We get a little deeper into season 4 this week, with "Fear, Itself", "Beer Bad", and "Wild At Heart".


"No, beer bad. Bad, bad beer. What the hell am I saying?"


There are, maybe, a few other contenders for Worst Episode Ever: "I Robot... You Jane" and "Doublemeat Palace" are often cited, and someone recently suggested season 5's "Listening To Fear". But for me, no episode of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER stinks as deeply, completely, terribly, and truly as "Beer Bad".

Monday, June 23, 2014

Episode 22 - "I like my Muffin toasted."



 
Weddings! We read the 1932 novel Cheerful Weather For The Wedding and watched Robert Altman's A Wedding.

Next week: Randy has us choosing stuff we have to struggle to find good things to say about. Joseph chose the movie Boondock Saints and Amy chose the novel Ethan Fromme.


Also discussed this week: Jersey Boys, Midsomer Murders, Pie in the Sky, QI, Rev and Deadwood.

Show Notes: Sorry about the sound of the rain on my side of the conversation.   I didn't mean for it to sound like we were recording in the middle of a Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello movie.


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Intro music: "The Wedding March," by Queen
Outro music:  "Chapel of Love" by Better Midler

Our Twitters:

Joseph

Amy

Randy

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Buffy Rewatch: Ch-ch-ch-changes

Season 4 starts with "The Freshman", "Living Conditions", and "The Harsh Light of Day".


"It's exciting, though, isn't it?"
"Yeah! It's gonna be an adjustment."


Shows have to change to allow the characters to grow. Shows that don't change risk having the audience get bored, as the show repeats the same stories and character beats over and over. On the other hand, shows that change risk having the audience revolt, saying "It's not as good as it used to be!" And I know that there's a segment of the BUFFY fandom that only loves the first three seasons. (But then, there are those of us (aka, "the ones who are correct") who think the show's peak is still a season away.)

BUFFY had to change after season 3 ended, since the gang graduated from high school. The university setting is one of the big changes, but not the only one: Angel and Cordy have moved to LA, so the show will have to establish some new characters (Riley, Professor Walsh) AND reintroduce some old ones (Anya, Spike, Harmony). The beginning of season 4 is, no doubt, an awkward transitional phase - but one that's also absolutely necessary for the show and the characters.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Buffy Rewatch: The End of the Beginning

Season 3 wraps up with "Choices", "The Prom", and "Graduation Day (Parts 1 and 2)".


"Look at you. All dressed up in big sister's clothes."


Here's the thing: endings matter. When you tell a story that spans multiple episodes (or a whole season... or multiple seasons), and you have control over when and how that story ends, the ending itself is important. A great ending can salvage questionable earlier episodes, and a weak ending (no matter how great what came before actually was) can leave viewers frustrated. And I think that's part of the reason why I rank seasons 2 and 5 ahead of season 3: I'm just not a huge fan of "Graduation Day".


Monday, June 9, 2014

Episode 21 - Life After Death



This week we talked life after death!  We watched A Matter of Life and Death and read A Dirty Job.


Also discussed was the season finale of The Americans, a soap opera called The Edge of Night, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Fall, Orange is the New Black and Fargo.

Show Notes:

At one point, I mention the interesting romantic life of Roger Livesey, who played the doctor in A Matter Of Life And Death; his family history is kind of weird and entangled and explained here.

Next week, our theme is Weddings.  Joseph picked the book and we'll be reading 1932's Cheerful Weather for the Wedding.  Randy picked the movie and we'll be watching 1978's A Wedding.


Listen at Podomatic

Subscribe and rate us at iTunes 

We are also available on the Stitcher app.

Intro music: "Every Day A Little Death," by Stephen Sondheim
Outro music:  "Death & Glory," by The Clash

Our Twitters:

Joseph

Amy

Randy

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Buffy Rewatch: Look at me. I'm all fuzzy.

A trio of great episodes: "Doppelgangland", "Enemies", and "Earshot".


"I'm so evil. And skanky. And I think I'm kinda gay."


Have I used the phrase "favorite episode" yet? Let's assume I haven't: "Doppelgangland" is my favorite episode of the series. There is a small handful of episodes are probably better, but I don't think there's an episode of BUFFY that fills me with as much joy as "Doppelgangland" does.