Category Archives: Podcasts

357 – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Listen on the players above, Apple Podcasts, Audible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

We’ve seen a lot of the multiverse lately, and Everything Everywhere All at Once brings to it a combination of Gen Z existential angst and mid-life where-did-things-go-wrong woe, in a frantic comic-action-sci-fi wrapper. It’s a lot of things in one, and we discuss as many of them as we can remember, including its campness, puerility, basis in multi-generational immigrant life, film references, endless endings, and much more. It’s full of life and imagination, and despite its unevenness, easy to recommend.

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

356 – Neil Brand Presents Laurel and Hardy

Listen on the players above, Apple Podcasts, Audible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

Listen to our podcast on three of Stan and Ollie’s sound films here.

Composer and musician Neil Brand brings a live show to the Electric Cinema as part of Flatpack Festival – Neil Brand Presents Laurel and Hardy is touring around the country, giving audiences a taste of Stan and Ollie’s work before they were paired together, and showing us what their double act was like before the development of sound cinema. The show culminates in screenings of two of their silent shorts, Big Business and Liberty, accompanied on the piano, of course, by Neil.

It’s a great introduction to both Laurel and Hardy and silent comedy in general, which thrives when accompanied live. Neil’s own passion for the duo, whose films he grew up with, is evident, describing their appeal to him and showing a clip of Stan, a drama he wrote about Stan visiting Ollie on his deathbed. He introduces us to the term “reciprocal destruction”, a term that brilliantly distills something you immediately realise you associate with both Laurel and Hardy and the cartoons their comedy inspired: when someone attacks an opponent, the assailant must then wait for the victim to attack them in return, only then returning fire, each volley increasing in aggression and destructive power, until chaos reigns. And although we take issue with one of the chosen clips, of an early Stan Laurel film that includes a gay stereotype that is used uncritically here to earn laughs, it’s a blip in an accomplished, well-constructed and entertaining show that we recommend you see.

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

355 – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Listen on the players above, Apple Podcasts, Audible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

Marvel’s invasion of the multiverse is now well under way, and in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness this dense network of alternate realities sets the stage for a race to save – what else? – the world. Which world? Dunno. Our world, the most important one, at least, but maybe all the others too.

While director Sam Raimi has history with superhero movies, having helped to bring the genre to a new maturity with his Spider-Man trilogy, it’s his low-budget horror experience he brings to bear on the MCU – there’s more than a little Evil Dead in here. It’s surprising and invigorating, and the low-rent, rough and ready feel it conveys integrates well with the expensive computer-generated embellishments we’re used to from Marvel. Multiverse of Madness is visually dazzling.

Sadly, it’s not dazzling anywhere else, its plot overstuffed, its thematic through lines unsatisfying and problematic. It relies quite heavily on specific knowledge obtained from previous films and television programmes in the series; the less of that context you have, the less this story will mean to you. And magic and the multiverse are quickly becoming the cheap, mechanical get-out clauses they’ve always had the potential to be, rather than thought-through, coherently applied storytelling elements: write yourself into a corner? Make up anything you like! Magic and multiverse can paper over any cracks your plot might have. The result is a disappointingly joyless experience whose visual splendour can only fleetingly distract from some fundamental issues with the story and themes.

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

354 – CODA

Listen on the players above, Apple Podcasts, Audible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is to be believed, CODA, a comedy-drama about the tension caused in a deaf family when the one child who can hear wishes to pursue a career in singing, is the best film of 2021. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is not to be believed, and the fact that a straight-to-video Hallmark film can win the most prestigious award in cinema is a damning indictment of film culture today. Still, taken on its own merits, CODA is perfectly likeable and you’ll enjoy spending time in its company. But really. This isn’t good enough.

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

353 – The Northman

Listen on the players above, Apple Podcasts, Audible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

Writer-director Robert Eggers, who previously wowed us with The Lighthouse, returns in style with a brutal, bloody Viking epic, based on Amleth, the figure in Scandinavian legend that inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s the first of his films to see a wide, mainstream release and large-scale ad campaign to match, and it’s perhaps for that reason that it is in some sense less demanding that its audience put the work in to understand and interpret it – although there remains plenty of room for that, and it’s in a different league to the blockbusters with which it’s competing. It’s a film to put down what you’re doing right now and see at the cinema – it’s vicious, atmospheric, and beautifully shot, and you won’t regret seeing it where it’s meant to be seen.

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

352 – Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Listen on the players above, Apple Podcasts, Audible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

Upon revisiting our podcast on the previous entry in the Harry Potter-adjacent Fantastic Beasts series, The Crimes of Grindelwald, we find that we could virtually have copied and pasted its content for our discussion of The Secrets of Dumbledore. It’s again less than the sum of its parts, a fantasy adventure with some charms, several good performances, but incoherent storytelling, and too little that convinces us to get invested in the characters’ lives and the fate of the world they seek to save.

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

351 – Morbius

Listen on the players above, Apple Podcasts, Audible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

Sony’s Spider-Man Universe has given us a charming Venom origin story, a rather less charming Venom sequel, and now another film about a well-intentioned man inadvertently possessed by something that demands he feed on humans. In Morbius, Jared Leto’s brilliant scientist finds a cure for the blood disease that has tormented him and his best friend throughout their lives – except that it comes with a side of vampirism.

In short, Morbius is not a success. José describes it as what people who claim to hate Marvel, which has produced some very good films, truly do hate. It’s as blunt, CGI-laden and uninvolving as that kind of criticism implies. Mike tries to be fair to it – the hallway bit isn’t too bad – and we agree that there’s one actor to like in it, although we disagree on which one that is. José accuses the film of failing to appreciate that one thing a star should deliver is physical appeal; Mike accuses José of shallowness.

But as fun as it is to tease José, Morbius is not a fun film to have to sit through in order to get to do that. One to avoid.

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

350 – Deep Water

Listen on the players above, Apple Podcasts, Audible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

Director Adrian Lyne, who made the Eighties his erotic, thrilling playground with Flashdance, 9½ Weeks and Fatal Attraction, returns with the erotic thriller Deep Water, his first film in twenty years. Repeatedly delayed and eventually denied a cinema release due to COVID, it’s available on Hulu in the US and Amazon Prime everywhere else, and is easy to recommend – until the last act kicks in.

José contends that Ben Affleck has never been better as the quietly but increasingly jealous husband of a wife who publicly and aggressively displays her unfaithfulness to him – as whom Ana de Armas gives a star-making performance. We discuss their interplay and how it grounds the film, as well as the use of setting and lighting – that dank, grimy shed in which he spends time with his snails, buried within the vision of his perfect mansion, is a wonderfully expressive metaphor for Affleck’s character. We put the film’s mixed reviews down to its abysmal ending, which Mike finds it hard to ignore, but don’t let them put you off enjoying this otherwise fabulously entertaining, extremely watchable thriller.

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

349 – The Worst Person in the World

Listen on the players above, Apple Podcasts, Audible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

A Palme d’Or-nominated millennial comic drama from Norway, whose lead, Renate Reinsve, won Best Actress at Cannes last year, The Worst Person in the World explores universal themes of how to find a direction in life, our expectations of our own lives and others’, falling in and out of love, and how to handle the twists that life throws our way. But it speaks to José and Mike differently.

To the older of us, it’s a great film, one that articulates its themes with complexity and develops its characters expressively. To the younger – a millennial, to whom it should speak more directly – it’s a film that’s difficult to connect to, that occupies an emotional register to which he doesn’t relate. We discuss that register, the ways in which the characters behave and respond to one another, the use of chapters to structure the story and narration to tell some of it, and the imagination and life of certain scenes. Many of The Worst Person in the World‘s qualities are obvious, but we don’t agree on its greatness. As they say in Norway, c’est la vie.

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

348 – X (2022)

Listen on the players above, Apple Podcasts, Audible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

Referential and reverential of classic slashers from decades past, Ti West’s X is likely just the sort of thing the dedicated horror fan wants to see – but to Mike, it’s a pretty unsophisticated and tedious imitation of much better films, and to José, it’s unpleasant, racist, sexist, and ageist. But on the plus side, no film has made him – a man who is decidedly not delighted by being frightened – jump and yell with the kind of regularity and energy that X inspired, which really livened things up for Mike. Unfortunately for you, José won’t be watching it a second time, and if you can’t drag him along, it’s not worth it.

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