Tag Archives: fantasy

111 – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

The second Fantastic Beasts film, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spin-off series, has numerous pleasures, but makes it hard to appreciate them thanks to a pointlessly convoluted plot and unimaginative character goals. Jude Law stands out, bringing a calm control and gravity to Dumbledore, and Eddie Redmayne, while typically a little irritating, is cast well in the role of a near-autistic, nerdy zoologist who connects far better with animals than people. The question of who the film is aimed at is an interesting one – the animal designs and elements of performance are quite cartoony and broad, and the film as a whole is borne of a world-renowned children’s fantasy series, but in this film alone two infants die, and there’s almost no levity to be found anywhere. Certainly, as a middle child of a forthcoming five-part series (how!?), it’s a bit of a holding pattern, interested primarily in making situations worse so as to provide the foundation for future triumphs.

Two of the film’s love stories provide food for thought; one a bizarre love spell story that, upon the charm being broken, attempts to cast the enchantress – or as we think of her, rapist – as the victim; the other a subtle, quiet, but clear gay romance between Dumbledore and Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald. We disagree on the film’s visual qualities – Mike finds beauty in some shots but more or less everything fails to arouse José – and some of its attempts as charm and humour, but despite our deep, deep reservations about the storytelling and lack of interest in the characters or plot, somehow we’re still keen to see the next one.

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

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

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97 – The House with a Clock in Its Walls

We’re disappointed with The House with a Clock in Its Walls, a children’s horror fantasy that insults its audience’s intelligence by assuming that this is the kind of simplistic shit kids love. We find some aspects of its design to enjoy but for the most part find it close to charm-free and not up to the standards of its stars – though Mike is keen to point out it’s probably director Eli Roth’s best film, which isn’t saying much.

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

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

57 – A Wrinkle in Time

José can’t handle the bad costumes, pap morality, and smug tone. Mike considers the age of the intended audience a mitigating factor but largely agrees. A Wrinkle in Time inclusively opens the big-budget Hollywood fantasy film to new audiences, but while we agree on the positivity of that aim, we find the film flawed and overly simple.

The film invites comparison with The Wizard of Oz, but as José demonstrates, it’s a comparison in which it comes off far worse. Mike fondly remembers the Macaulay Culkin film The Pagemaster and recommends people watch that instead.

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.

46 – The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro’s gorgeous, bizarre monster romance is one of the films dominating the awards conversation, but what do we make of it? We discuss its characterisation, its performances, its cinematography, its relationship with the classic cinema and fairytales from which it builds. We use the word “beautiful” about two hundred times.

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.

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 José 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 José 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.

1 – The Dark Tower

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is a lovely big fresh movie hoping to become a lovely big lucrative franchise. Does it have what it takes? Can we possibly agree on Idris Elba? Is Matthew McConaughey showing his chest off or keeping his shirt on more than usual? What of 4DX, the silly thing where the seats move and poke you and blow air in your ears? And who has better eyebrows than Cara Delevingne?

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.