53 – Ready Player One

Ready Player One is a strange beast, crammed full of energy and references on the one hand, amounting to nothing on the other. Jose dislikes it. Mike kind of likes it. To say it’s flawed is understating it, but there are interesting ideas to probe. Who is the film aimed at? How does it have its cake and eat it? Is it making interesting decisions, mistakes, or both simultaneously? What can we make of a film that references other work not as Easter eggs but as the very cloth from which it’s cut?

Mike wishes it was more cutting, more biting, about the ideas it raises and the nerds it seeks to please. Jose just wants it to end.

Also: It was shot in Birmingham! Mike even went to go and see it during filming just one road over from his flat. What he saw was a couple of cars driving, once, and almost nothing else of note. He would never admit that though. As far as he’s concerned, he is best mates with Steven Spielberg.

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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52 – Annihilation

Alex Garland’s curious sci-fi adventure comes to UK cinemas – for one single evening. A theatrical release in the US that Paramount feared wouldn’t make money elsewhere, it’s on Netflix worldwide, but we waited for the special event to see it properly. And it was worth it, its stunning visual design singing on the big screen.

But what did we make of the rest of it? Has it stayed with us? Does it cohere? What would we have liked to have seen more of, what surprised us, what did it do well? No matter what we make of the details, it’s certainly deserving of a second look, and now we can be grateful rather than rueful that Netflix gives us that opportunity.

Also, Mike bangs on for a bit about Ex Machina, Life, Anomalisa, and The Beach, because he can.

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.

51 – You Were Never Really Here

Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here tells a story of vigilante justice with a tapestry of elliptical editing and interwoven flashbacks. We consider its themes, the deliberate way it depicts or conceals violence, the effect of trauma on its protagonist and his need for human connection. It’s a complex, almost ergodic film, that requires attention, rewards visual literacy, and yields great pleasures. We love it.

We also praise Amazon Studios for respecting the theatrical release window, and round off by discussing the recent Oscars.

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.

50 – Lady Bird

We finally get around to seeing the one Best Picture nominee we were missing, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. It’s been highly praised, but has the hype hurt it? We discuss its female-centric twists on coming-of-age teen movies, the mother-daughter relationship, its attitude to sex, and the Everyman Cinema in Birmingham, which we visit for the first time.

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.

49 – Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

We try out Mubi, a curated streaming service that gives you 30 films at any one time, and only 30 days in which to watch them. Our choice is Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, a 1970s Italian satire on police corruption and the politics of power. It leads to discussions on its expressive imagery, its topsy-turvy plot, sexual kinks, peccadillos, and lifestyles, the performance of power and authority, and male jealousy and rage.

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.

48 – I, Tonya

The story of Tonya Harding raises all manner of issues for us to delve into. I, Tonya is a film about class, domestic abuse, celebrity, opportunity, achievement. We examine its visual design and use of competing aspect ratios, its use of direct address to camera, and the conceptualisation of the working class characters and mother-daughter relationship. Mike believes it insists upon Tonya Harding’s fame too heavily, not aware of how she’s only really remembered in the USA. Jose finds its portrayal of working class people uncomfortable. An energetic 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.

47 – Phantom Thread – Second Screening

Mike’s brother Stephen joins us to discuss Phantom Thread in further detail. We look at the power struggle between Alma and Cyril, the visual verticality that contributes to an Academy ratio feel, the film’s relationship to fairytales, the way the score augments the images, and whether the dresses are actually any good and why.

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.