Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2013

Let the top 10-a-palooza commence! Over the next couple weeks, Paul and I will be looking back at our favorite things of 2013. First up, films; next week, TV series; and finally, comics. As always, these lists are imperfect and incomplete, reflecting only on what we’ve seen and love at the moment. Or as Paul writes:

I intentionally refer to the films on this list as favorites, not best. I rank films based on how much I enjoyed them, for whatever ephemeral or esoteric reasons unique to me, not on some system of objective filmmaking truths. These are the ten films I liked the most. YMMV.

Regarding omissions, neither of us have been able to see Inside Llewyn Davis, which makes me want to die, but oh well. I also haven’t seen The Great Beauty, Cutie and the Boxer, or The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, among others. Meanwhile, Paul hasn’t gotten around to Her, The Act of Killing, Stories We Tell, Short Term 12, or Blue Jasmine, to name a few.

Here we go!

- AJ

PAUL: 10. WARM BODIES (dir. Jonathan Levine)

warmbodies

The zombie genre is by this point a bloated undead thing feasting on its own rotting flesh. But director Jonathan Levine (50/50) makes this adaptation of Isaac Marion’s novel fresh, fun, and full of life. Yes it’s a (very) thinly veiled Romeo and Juliet pastiche, but the two leads, neo-nerdhunk Nicholas Hoult and Australian beauty Teresa Palmer, are both engaging and committed. Hoult in particular gets praise for being monstrous and vulnerable, and for selling the cheesy-but-hilarious voiceover with nothing more than his eyes. Also, Rob Corddry as a zombie lamenting, “Bitches, man,” is the best comedic line delivery of the year.

AJ: 10. GIMME THE LOOT (dir. Adam Leon)

gimmetheloot

You walk out of Gimme the Loot immediately wanting to know what first-time writer-director Adam Leon is going to do next. His voice is sharp and fresh, chronicling a day in the life of two teenaged petty criminals in a way that feels authentic but never gritty. His Bronx streets are unvarnished, rife with economic and class divisions, but there’s so much damn heart. Newcomers Tashiana Washington and Ty Hickson give performances devoid of pomp or flash; they simply find the souls of these two aimless kids. They’re one of the most affecting screen duos in recent memory, in one of the biggest surprises of the year.

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Listen to Episode 146, “We Are the Only Love-Gods”

muchado

Gobbledygeek episode 146, “We Are the Only Love-Gods,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

This week, Paul and AJ discover that silence is perfectest herald of joy; if they were but little happy, they could say how much. You’re kidding yourself, though, if you thought that meant they would shut up. Nope, there’s plenty of talk about Joss Whedon’s delightful Shakespeare adaptation Much Ado About Nothing, as the boys gush about the cast (Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof together again!), delight in the embellishments and grace notes Whedon has added to the text, and discuss how successfully the film blends Old English with 21st century trappings. Much ado, indeed.

Next: we’re making up for not taking the Fourth of July off by taking next week off, but when we return, we shall be discussing Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim.

(Show notes for “We Are the Only Love-Gods.”)

‘The Cabin in the Woods’ Review: Scary Movie

Saying this upfront: NO SPOILERS. Paul and I have also discussed the film on the show.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A bunch of kids pack into an RV for a weekend of fun, sex, and sexy fun. That they encounter the extremely creepy owner of an ancient gas station on the way does nothing to deter them from their destination: a remote cabin in the woods, owned by one of the kids’ cousins. The place immediately seems a little off, there’s some disturbing stuff in the cellar, someone maybe reads Latin, and eventually bloody mayhem ensues. Though they should know better, each one succumbs to some very stupid behavior for which they will be punished.

This is the set-up for dozens, maybe hundreds, of horror movies. The Cabin in the Woods is something different. When we first meet these kids, they seem like lively, intelligent college students. They don’t seem like they would do some of the dumb things they end up doing. Which seems par for the course for this kind of movie, except The Cabin in the Woods dares to offer a justification as to why the victims would seemingly offer themselves up as fodder. There’s more here than meets the eye. Characters played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford are part of a shadowy organization which makes everything much more complicated. This I guarantee: If you’ve only seen the ads, which paint the movie as your generic Halloween Saw Massacre deal, it is not that. At all.

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Joss Whedon Has Made Another Movie, Apparently

You may have heard of The Avengers, the massive superhero blockbuster that Joss Whedon and his team of magicians have been feverishly working on for a year or two. However, like myself, you may not have known that when one is writing and directing one of the most anticipated comic book films ever made, one also has time to write and direct a totally unrelated film starring about half the people one has ever worked with. Because that’s just what Whedon has done.

The film, entitled Much Ado About Nothing and presumably an adaptation of the Shakespeare play, has completed principal photography without anyone having noticed. For years now, Whedonfolk have spoken of the man’s private Shakespeare readings in hushed tones, and it appears he has wrangled many of them into the movie: Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion, Tom Lenk, Fran Kranz, Reed Diamond, and Clark Gregg have all worked with Whedon before. There’s no word on how the film will be distributed, be it conventionally or, like Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, as another Web venture.

Speaking of Dr. Horrible, this announcement reminds me of how it felt when we were all made aware of that Whedon project: like a beautiful, unexpected present had fallen from the heavens onto our collective doorstep. If you can’t tell, I am excited.

Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture: #10-1

Last night, Paul and I reached the conclusion of our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture. Here are choice excerpts from our top 10′s, but be sure to listen to the whole show to hear everything we said:

#10

PAUL: Calvin & Hobbes (Calvin & Hobbes)

The series was not only the funniest comic strip of all time (and on this point I will brook no dispute), but it was almost the most philosophical, satirical, and thought-provoking.

AJ: Death (The Sandman)

With the usual concepts and presentations of Death’s visage from Western culture so ingrained in my mind, just the idea that Death didn’t have to be gloomy or terrifying, and instead could be a radiant beacon of hope, felt stunningly fresh and bold to me.

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Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture #30-21

On last night’s show, Paul and I continued our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture with #s 30-21. Be sure to listen to the show for our full run-downs, but here are some choice excerpts:

#30

PAUL: Scott Pilgrim (Scott Pilgrim series)

The series is about Scott growing up, about his evolution, and if you as a reader are patient and invested, it absolutely pays off by the end.

AJ: Norma Desmond (Sunset Blvd.)

Norma is a bizarre, grotesque caricature, wanting to hold a funeral for her pet monkey at the film’s beginning and given to lots of other disturbingly narcissistic actions.

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Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture #70-61

Catching up! In episode 17, Paul and I continued our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture with #s 70-61. Be sure to listen to the show for our full run-downs, but here are some choice excerpts:

#70

PAUL: Daniel “Oz” Osbourne (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a series filled to the gills with loquacious and snarky characters, but Oz was unique: he was taciturn and snarky!

AJ: Enid Coleslaw (Ghost World)

Enid is so cynical about everything, from her parents to her friends to the customers at the local diner. She can be hard to like at first, especially because she spends most of the book insulting anyone and everything, but eventually the walls she’s built up start to crumble.

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