72 – Sicario 2: Soldado

We only thought of it in this way after we finished the podcast, but Sicario 2 is the best movie for watching on a plane we’ve ever seen. It’s pacey, entertaining, catchy, and entirely insubstantial. José discusses some issues he has with the film, including how many Mexicans it’s happy to kill while keeping every American alive, and the lack of tension in scenes that are crying out for it – Mike agrees with everything José says and knows he should have a problem with this stuff but just doesn’t. We agree that it’s a joy to see so much of Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, and when they share the screen there’s a special feeling, but the conscience that Emily Blunt brought to the first film is perhaps lacking here.

It doesn’t live up to the first Sicario – and really, how could it – but it’s good, rough, dark fun.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

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71 – Hereditary – Second Screening

We go deep on Hereditary, occult/folk horror, and indeed horror in a wider perspective with guest contributor and horror guru (Mike’s words) Dr. Matt Denny from the University of Warwick, a film scholar with a particular interest in precisely the milieu Hereditary occupies. (He’s also a former student of José’s who was an undergrad alongside Mike, so it’s not all down to his credentials.) He brings an insightful and informed perspective to the film, picking up the baton where Mike and José dropped it in the previous podcast, and running off with it.

We consider what the occult subgenre is, what makes such stories interesting and where Hereditary in particular digresses from them, and the effects that has. Matt offers a historical perspective on the treatment of women in horror and how the film puts forth a muddled version of that, and the influence of Kubrick (in particular The Shining) on the film. We consider Mike’s dislike of how the film hides information or clues behind codes, and Matt suggests that this is really just a function of how this type of film works – and indeed how the occult works. And is it reasonable that Mike associates the occult film with British cinema in particular?

All this and more in a fascinating discussion.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

70 – Hereditary

Perhaps we lack the specific horror fundamentals that would open Hereditary up to us, but we find it a muddled, almost adolescent film – a particular disappointment given it’s also an engrossing family drama with a brilliant central performance from Toni Collette. Our conversation includes considerations of the compositions and props, including repeated imagery of miniature models of the family’s home, and complaints that it feels as though we’re deliberately being withheld a clear explanation of what the hell is going on by a writer-director who’s keen to seem smarter than us. In its cruel and brutal treatment and imagery of women, José finds the film misogynist, which reminds Mike of It Follows, which he found misogynist. And José spends a few moments decrying The Exorcist, why not.

Everything we discuss is a significant plot spoiler as the film operates on revelation and surprise, so make sure you either know or don’t care what happens before listening.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

69 – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World returns with The Orphanage and A Monster Calls director J. A. Bayona in charge, transforming the colourful knockabout thrills of the previous instalment into a volcano disaster-cum-Gothic horror film. We both love the heightened drama of the mansion half of the film and how Bayona finds new life in what has, over the last 25 years, somehow become somewhat stale imagery of reanimated dinosaurs. José adores the casting of Geraldine Chaplin and Mike finds the reduced importance of love stories a positive thing. And seeing businessmen get killed is always fun. Cracking movie. Hugely enjoyable.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

68 – Ocean’s 8

The all-female reboot of the Ocean’s franchise sees Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett leading a team of women to infiltrate and rob the Met Gala. We discuss how the heist failed to meet our expectations, the weak integration of Ocean’s personal motivation, and the underwhelming displays of glamour, but we find things to like, including Anne Hathaway’s performance in particular and how the film depicts the characters eating. But ultimately we’re left with the question: If a woman can’t get the job directing a film like this, just what is she allowed to direct?

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

67 – 2001: A Space Odyssey

A classic returns to cinemas for its 50th anniversary and we receive it in rather a muted fashion. José’s never seen it on the big screen and Mike’s never seen it at all, so it’s an interesting experience for both, but both come away with reservations.

Much of the discussion revolves around context. 2001: A Space Odyssey was first released in 1968 and our repeated use of the phrase “of its time” becomes a coded criticism as much as an honest descriptor – the film simply doesn’t work today as well, or in the same ways, as it did half a century ago. We discuss its editing, novelty value, depiction of the future and technology and more, perhaps unfortunately but probably unavoidably never being able to escape the historical lens. It’s true to say that we’re both very glad we took the opportunity to see it, but both left feeling that while its influence is even more tangible than one could imagine and its legacy is not in question, its greatness is today a touch overstated.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

66 – Solo: A Star Wars Story

We find much to mull over in Solo, which José finds the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back and Mike finds overlong and depressingly dull. Our discussions take in the merits and flaws of the film’s visual design, its relationship to the saga’s history and fans, Ron Howard’s earnestness, the way the film builds a lawless world to develop and reconfigure Han Solo, and how on Earth an $84m opening weekend is considered a flop. One thing’s for sure: Rush is a great film.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.