Tag Archives: comedy

54 – Isle of Dogs

Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs is a stop-motion story of the utmost beauty and wit. We discuss its cinematography, compositions, lightness of touch, allegorical relationship to reality, and place in Anderson’s body of work. We also reserve particular praise for Bryan Cranston’s vocal performance and Alexandre Desplat’s score.

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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41 – Downsizing

Mike is in a tailspin of grief. Jose likes Matt Damon and little else. It’s Downsizing, a film that looked good in the trailers. Ostensibly a light satire on middle class life and aspiration, it leads us into discussions of its attempt to weave several themes together, its lack of humour, the way it constructs its worlds, whether its use of stereotypes drifts into offensiveness, and most importantly, how unbelievably tedious it is.

Mike reminisces about the few movies he saw at the cinema that inspired him enough to leave the film for a bit to play on his phone, or just leave. And Sideways is rubbish too.

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.

39 – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Second Screening

Feeling he gave it short shrift the first time, Mike’s keen to revisit Three Billboards, and drags Jose along for the ride. With the clumsy handling of race issues clouding the film less, we pick up on listener feedback that leads us into ruminations on Frances McDormand’s Mildred, particularly her defiance of the misogynist society in which she lives and zealous attitude towards collective responsibility, and whether the character arc of Sam Rockwell’s Dixon truly is a redemptive one.

We also double down on our criticism of the film’s use of derogatory terms, Mike’s been reading about Flannery O’Connor on Wikipedia, and we consider what would have been gained and lost had the film been written and directed by the Coens.

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.

38 – Coco

(Mind out for spoilers, we don’t do a good job of warning of them here. After the plot synopsis at the beginning, expect spoilers throughout.)

Pixar’s extraordinarily vivid, rich Coco tells the story of a young Mexican boy who dreams of life as a musician, stranded in the Land of the Dead. Themes of sacrifice for family, liberation and expression through music, remembrance and commemoration of loved ones and more are explored, and a culture that is typically ignored or stereotyped – or walled off if a certain someone has his way – is allowed to explode onto the cinema screen. It’s as warm, funny, and imaginative as anything you’ll see all year, and we adore it.

Jose is reminded of his dear abuelita. Mike cries.

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.

36 – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

An extraordinary, near-Shakespearian meditation on misdirected rage, guilt and grief, deeply marred by clumsy lunging into a loud theme of racism and a strong sense that the film neither knows nor especially cares about the culture it’s portraying. Frances McDormand excels as the bullish, bellicose, foul-mouthed mother, but the film suffers as it shifts its focus to Sam Rockwell’s stereotypical racist hick. The central premise is brilliant; its treatment is ultimately uneven, and although there are elements we absolutely adore, we can’t get its lurches between tones out of our heads. Rewarding to watch, though, and it would benefit from a second viewing.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or at this link.

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

34 – Jumanji – Welcome to the Jungle

Boy oh boy, there’s a lot to talk about, and the word of the day is denial. Specifically, Mike’s unspoken, subcutaneous, existential denial that 1995’s Jumanji is crucially meaningful to him, because how else can you explain the tension in the air as he grapples with the simple question, “Do you recommend the new Jumanji?” Ironic, really. The new Jumanji depicts characters who are forced to confront harsh truths about themselves, and in doing so forces Mike to confront the fact that he can talk about Jumanji for an hour with very little prompting.

And that new Jumanji provides a surprising amount of food for thought. We discuss how the film uses and satirises videogames, how much it made us laugh, the Jonas Brothers, Mike being a sucker for a happy ending as usual and Jose rolling his eyes, the stereotypes from which the central characters are built, how the film has its sexist cake and eats it, the ways the stars play off each other and suit their roles, aspects of performance, the muddled nature of the world and fundamental change in the characters’ relationship to it, how much harder it is to play videogames than it is to watch films, moviegoers’ over-investment in films from decades past, and last year’s Power Rangers movie.

And it’s a name-heavy edition of the podcast, with Jose getting names wrong left, right, and centre, and a final, authoritative correction of our pronunciation of Jia Zhangke’s name. (Thanks to Sam and Jessy Stafford for their contributions.)

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or at this link.

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

24 – The Disaster Artist

Cinema’s biggest in-joke is dramatised in James Franco’s fan project about the worst film ever made. We discuss the mean-spirited nature of finding films so bad they’re good, the lack of direction in The Disaster Artist, the quality of Franco’s central performance, and why we find the film so self-indulgent.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or at this link.

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