When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, it might just be because Thessaly’s pulled it to Earth, wreaking all sorts of havoc on the ground. This Paul and AJ learn in the latest installment of our year-long Four-Color Flashback analyzing Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, this time focusing on Vol. V – A Game of You. Joining the boys again are Wanna Cook? authors K. Dale Koontz and Ensley F. Guffey, who have much insight to offer on Gaiman’s depiction of transgender character Wanda, artist Shawn McManus’ use of the classic nine-panel layout, and, uh, polar bears. Add to this many Wizard of Oz illusions and discussions of identity, and you’ve got something we promise makes sense. Sort of. Plus, the gang riffs on Comic-Con, including the unveiling of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.
Just taking a guess here, but you probably don’t want to go to Hell. Probably don’t want to rule it, either. And neither does Lucifer, the original fallen angel himself, which sets in motion the events of The Sandman: Vol IV – Season of Mists. Pop culture academics (and Wanna Cook? authors) K. Dale Koontz and Ensley F. Guffey join Paul and AJ for another installment of their Four-Color Flashback series exploring Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. The gang finds much to discuss, whether it be the assortment of mythological envoys sent to The Dreaming, Dream’s reunion with one-time lover Nada, or even, uh, the Merkin. Plus, Dale and Ensley went to Slayage, which was the opposite of Hell. Though the squirrels might beg to differ.
Next: we’ll be chatting about independent film and local business with Kurtiss Hare of Akron, Ohio’s brand new Nightlight Cinema.
You ever have that dream where Paul and AJ are discussing the greatest comic book of all time in ten spoiler-free monthly installments? Yeah, us too: beginning with this episode, the boys bring the Four-Color Flashback feature to the show, dissecting Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman through the rest of the year. Friend of the show (at this point, he’s more of a lover) Eric Sipple joins us for a discussion of The Sandman: Vol. I – Preludes & Nocturnes. The great tale of Morpheus, lord of dreams, gets its start in a fashion that’s not always representative of what it would become (DC superheroes), but the gang is on hand to point out all the ways in which it is uniquely Sandman (a horror story about stories). Plus, Amazon’s a little icky and Marvel has a prime opportunity for diversity with Iron Fist.
Next: despite the words that come tumbling out of AJ’s idiot mouth, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not next week’s episode. We’ll force him to come up with something.
Last week, we brought you our favorite movies of last year (finally saw Inside Llewyn Davis, by the way, and yes, it would have made the cut). This week, we change channels to focus on TV. We’re doing things a little differently this time out, with separate top 10 lists for new shows and returning favorites. Though there were a lot of new shows I enjoyed over the past year, I’ll admit I couldn’t stretch them to 10; instead, I’ve got 8, while Paul’s just crazy enough to have a full 10.
As always, there are shows we couldn’t get around to: I haven’t seen Rectify, Top of the Lake, Broadchurch, or The Wrong Mans, all of which I’d hoped to see in time for this list. Oh, and to absolve him of all guilt, I should mention that Paul has never seen Breaking Bad. Wait, I don’t think that absolves him.
PAUL: 10. HANNIBAL (NBC)
I wasn’t particularly interested in a television adaptation of the Thomas Harris characters. But names like Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, and Bryan Fuller pulled me in. It’s one of the most visually stunning and hauntingly…haunting shows ever to make it to network television. It’s also one of the most shockingly violent and grotesque. All positives in my book. But I can’t put it any higher on my list because it’s crushingly depressing.
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!
PAUL: 10. WARM BODIES (dir. Jonathan Levine)
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)
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.
It has long been foretold by mad prophets clinging to their tattered robes, wild eyes staring at the heavens: “HE WILL RETURN!” As blood-red clouds gather on the horizon and lightning cracks the sky in two, he descends on his rainbow death unicorn. Jason Tabrys licks a lollipop made of skulls, dragging behind him Jeremy R! Hudson, who claws at the earth in a futile attempt to avoid his fate. That’s right: the BastardCast duo lays siege to Gobbledygeek this week, gods of mischief exploding chaos all over what is normally such a tight, well-ordered show. Ahem. Jason and Jeremy join Paul and AJ to talk angry badgers (whom AJ is the victim of), The Walking Dead (which AJ is insufferable about), and the state of the comic book industry (wherein AJ is not particularly victimized nor offensive, rather they all have a thoughtful, fascinating conversation sure to enrich your understanding of the quintessentially American business of show). Plus, badgers, did I mention badgers? There are badgers.
Next: badgers. Or, alternatively, Thor: The Dark World.
THE END IS NIGH! Of Gobbledyween 2013, that is. And possibly of the world, if Big Haagen has its way in The Stuff. That’s right, the final film of this year’s horror movie marathon is none other than 1985’s The Stuff, about a sentient yogurt-like substance that wants to turn you into a zombified consumer. Or, if you believe guest Greg Sahadachny, it’s all about gay panic and the AIDS crisis, man. Which, I mean, if you’ve seen the Stuff in The Stuff…well, enough is enough. Plus, Paul went to a So You Think You Can Dance show and the gang pours out a pint of the Stuff for Lou Reed.
Next: THE RETURN OF SUPER DIVA JASON TABRYS! And this time he’s bringing BastardCast co-host Jeremy R. Hudson with him!
The penultimate week of Gobbledyween has arrived, and while that is indeed cause for national (nay, international) mourning, don’t worry: to make the most of it, Paul and AJ have two movies for you this week. Well, okay, they’re really kind of the same movie, but don’t look a gift vampire in the fangs or whatever. This week, the boys take a look at what they both agree is the best vampire movie ever made, the 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In. Five years on, the film has lost none of its haunting beauty. They’ve also got some love for its 2010 American remake Let Me In, which is very similar but also with some significant differences which change the story entirely. It’s a vampiric twofer, and hey, you know what? You deserve it. Plus, months late, AJ finally caves to peer pressure and watches Orange Is the New Black.
Next: Gobbledyween comes to its thrilling conclusion with–wait for it–The Stuff. The Debatable Podcast host and friend of the show Greg Sahadachny joins and probably doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into.
Gobbledyween week three is here, and I hope you’ve got an empty stomach, because we’re about to load you up on barbecue, sausages, and yes, head cheese. Paul and AJ take a look back at Tobe Hooper’s 1974 endurance test The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. As usual, they have a difference of opinion. What they can agree on that there’s a lot of screaming, the wackiest bunch of hillbillies this side of Beverly Hills, and actually not a lot of onscreen violence. Oh, and Ed Gein was a pretty messed-up guy. Plus, Paul is chilled and delighted by the first issue of Afterlife with Archie.
Next: Gobbledyween takes a turn toward the vampiric with Let the Right One In.
After our adventures with clown dolls, Reagan-era values, and disgusting eating habits with Poltergeist, Gobbledyween continues on with ghosts of a different sort in Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners. Paul and AJ are joined by frequent guest/utter masochist Eric Sipple to discuss the underrated 1996 horror-comedy, yet another cult classic which Universal botched, moving it from a perfect Halloween release date to a summer during which it had to contend with Independence Day. The boys are happy to discover that it holds up, that its elaborate special effects are still impressive, and that it’s actually pretty damn disturbing. How well Jackson balances the darker stuff with some very broad laughs is another matter, and here’s another: does that opening scene need to exist? We have the answer. Plus, Paul almost died! For real! Not an imaginary story!
Next: rev your chainsaws and put on your prettiest skin-mask, boys and girls, because Gobbledyween is taking a look back at the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre.