Sunday, July 27, 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.)


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


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.


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:






설국열차 / Seolgungnyeolcha / Snowpiercer


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.


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.