Last week, we discussed our favorite TV series of the last year. This week, we turn to the big screen.
PAUL: 10. DJANGO UNCHAINED (dir. Quentin Tarantino)
With Django Unchained, director Quentin Tarantino takes us once more back to a terrible moment in our history, and once again asks us to indulge him his little anachronisms and revisionist revenge fantasies. This time, instead of Nazis and baseball-bat-wielding Jews, we get slavers and bounty-hunting dentists. Set in the pre-Civil War Deep South, Unchained is Tarantino’s homage to the Spaghetti Westerns of Leone and Corbucci, which he prefers to call his Spaghetti Southern. I’ll say that the absence of editor Sally Menke is sharply felt here, though. If I, of all people, notice the nearly three-hour runtime, then there could’ve been some tightening. The cast is great across the board, including a list of hidden cameos longer than my arm (among others, original Django Franco Nero makes an appearance). Jamie Foxx is great in the title role, though I imagine what Will Smith could’ve done with the part, as was the original intent. Leo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, and Walton Goggins all shine in their respective roles. Kerry Washington was reduced to little more than the damsel in distress, however, which is unusual for a Tarantino picture. But the standout here is Christoph Waltz. He is every bit as charmingly heroic and admirable this time as he was charmingly repulsive and hateful in Basterds.
AJ: 10. MOONRISE KINGDOM (dir. Wes Anderson)
Wes Anderson’s films often have a childlike quality about them, whether it be his colorful storybook compositions or the petulance of many of his characters. So it’s fitting that he’s finally made a film about children, one in which the kids are on the run from what’s expected of them and their adult guardians are forced to accept the roles they’ve played in their children’s abandonment of them. Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, both in their first screen acting roles, give perfectly awkward performances. Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman are in their element here, while Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton join the auteur’s troupe with ease. Perhaps most encouragingly, Moonrise Kingdom is the first sign of life in years from Bruce Willis–who, with a movie soon to appear on our lists, proved later in the year that he’s most definitely still kicking–and Edward Norton, two actors who really needed a movie like this.
Four years ago, two films gave the superhero genre a much-needed kick in the pants: Iron Man and The Dark Knight. They were on opposite ends of the spectrum–the former bright and funny, the latter dark and gloomy–but both felt honest, and honesty’s something the genre needed in order to mature. This summer sees the release of two films which seem destined to revitalize the genre yet again, and it’s only fitting that they are The Avengers, the end result of Marvel’s first wave; and The Dark Knight Rises, the last of Christopher Nolan’s Bat-flicks. The Dark Knight Rises is still a couple months off, but just as that one looks like it’s angling to be even darker and more despairing than its predecessors, The Avengers aims to be more colorful, rousing, and exciting than those leading up to it.
Any superhero movie that wants to be even semi-successful has to on some level examine the nature of heroism. When one doesn’t, which was a big problem in the period between Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man (give or take a Batman Begins), you wind up with something like Catwoman or Elektra or Batman & Robin. Marvel’s pre-Avengers efforts, which I’ve mostly enjoyed, have excelled at asking just why each of their heroes feels the need to suit up and take action. With The Avengers, an even bigger question is posed. Why would such disparate people, each with their own sets of skills, hang-ups, and needs, come together to form a team? Writer-director Joss Whedon, a veritable geek god, is the one tasked with providing the answer to that query, and he does so brilliantly.
This isn’t particularly news, seeing as I don’t think anyone has ever had any doubt that he’d end up in the film, but Variety reports that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has officially joined the cast of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Still no word on what character he will be taking on, but rumors have circulated for everyone from the Riddler (not gonna happen) to son-of-a-mobster-man Alberto Falcone, and even sidekick extraordinaire Dick Grayson/Robin (my personal favorite).
The REAL news here though is the possibility of Juno Temple joining the cast as “a street-smart Gotham girl.” Not sure about you, but to me that screams Holly, to go with Anne Hathaway’s Selena Kyle. I’m likin’ this…
UPDATE: Okay, looks like my decision to start trying to post news items on the site has run up against the fluid nature of “facts” on the ol’ intardwebs. Now Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Gordon-Levitt will NOT be playing Falcone. Which means I’m back to praying we’ll get to see him as Dick Grayson.
In 2009, Rocksteady Studios hit it out of the park with their multi-platform phenomenon BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM. Now we get our first official look at gameplay footage to the follow-up, ARKHAM CITY (October 18, 2011 for U.S. Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) in the newest trailer.
Hugo Strange. Two-Face. Harley. Catwoman. Some new Bat-fu moves. And of course… the Joker. All set to the grooves of “Short Change Hero” by The Heavy.
Obviously we haven’t seen the third Bat film yet, or the other 99.9% of this game. But I’d be beyond thrilled if the next Nolanverse entry were half as badass as Arkham Asylum looks to be.
Last night’s Gobbledygeek, “Dream a Little Dream,” is available for listening right here. More GobbledyGaffes(TM), but we do eventually get around to Inception, and whaddaya know, we didn’t drop any spoilers. We did better than we did with Iron Man 2, hard as that is to believe. We do discuss the vaguest of plots, the actors, and heap lavish praise upon Wally Pfister’s cinematography. Paul describes the film as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets The Matrix,” which is pretty apt. We also mention a few movies coming out this fall, and in the bonus hour we continue our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture with #s 70-61.
The seventeenth episode of Gobbledygeek airs live tonight at 10:30 PM EST right here. This week, we’ll be having a spoiler-free discussion of Inception, much as we did with Iron Man 2 earlier in the summer. Paul’s already seen the movie, and I’m seeing it this afternoon; from what I hear, it’s an incredibly dense film, so hopefully we can discuss it without spoilers. Anyway, it’ll be fun to find out!
Then, in the bonus hour, it’s Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture #70-61.
Reminder: Calling into the show is potentially a toll call, but if you’ve got a free Skype account and a free BlogTalkRadio account, you can use the free “Click to Talk” button to call in…for free!
Originally published on April 15, 2010
Director: Michael Lander
Writers: Michael Lander and Ryan O Roy
I went into Peacock as I am rarely able to go into a new movie: Totally blind. Usually when a film stars Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, and Susan Sarandon, I’ll have heard about it. Not so with Peacock. I hadn’t seen the trailer, hadn’t read a review, hadn’t heard a plot summary, hadn’t even heard the title. I knew nothing of its existence. It’s like it appeared out of thin air. Was I making a discovery? Was this some great, underground movie that I’d be able to champion long before it was set loose on the mainstream?