Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 324, “Thor: Ragnarok – Friends from Work”

Gobbledygeek episode 324, “Thor: Ragnarok – Friends from Work,” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

For a return to our regularly scheduled pop culture chatter, Paul and Arlo ride their hammers to the faraway world of Asgard, which is in a spot of trouble. Avenger and heir to the throne Thor Odinson must defend his people from the villainous Hela; along the way, he gets imprisoned by an eccentric weirdo named the Grandmaster and is forced to do battle with the Hulk, his infamous “friend from work.” The boys discuss why Thor: Ragnarok is among the very best the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer, what perspective New Zealander Taika Waititi brings to the franchise, what the film says about immigrants (besides cueing up the perfect Robert Plant wail), and if we’ll ever see Bruce Banner again. Plus, they discuss the pop culture they enjoyed during the show’s hiatus.

Next: in two weeks’ time, Paul and Arlo pick up their Four-Color Flashback exploration of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man with Vol. 8: Kimono Dragons.

(Show notes for “Friends from Work.”)

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Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 228, “The ‘Man Was Not Meant to Meddle’ Medley”

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Gobbledygeek episode 228, “The ‘Man Was Not Meant to Meddle’ Medley,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Killer robots. Mind-controlling witches. Suits of armor from space. Dudes with frosted tips. All of this and so! much! more! is contained within Avengers: Age of Ultron, the highly anticipated sequel to Joss Whedon’s 2012 extravaganza. The reception has been decidedly less rapturous than that which accompanied the first film, so Paul and AJ dig into what works about the movie, what doesn’t, whether or not Whedon goofed up Black Widow, and just how much creative control a filmmaker can have over one of these things. Plus, AJ makes a case for a much smaller film, Seymour: An Introduction.

Next: Paul got AJ a present. Ominous!

(Show notes for “The ‘Man Was Not Meant to Meddle’ Medley.”)

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)

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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)

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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 163, “Trust My Rage (feat. Joseph Lewis)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 163, “Trust My Rage (feat. Joseph Lewis),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

In this super-sized episode, Joseph Lewis, original Gobbler and writer/director of the forthcoming pilot Nowheresville, reunites with Paul and AJ to…well, to sort of act as a referee. You see, Paul and AJ disagree on things sometimes. Actually kind of frequently. And anyway, well, one of them is a kilt-wearing cyclone of rage prone to slaughter, and one of them just so happens to be a pre-pubescent hipster who sparks his ire at every turn. Which is a problem when Paul loves Thor: The Dark World and AJ…doesn’t. Despite shifting alliances, Joe does his best to keep the slaughter at bay as the three of them debate the human characters’ relevance, criticize Heimdall’s watchman abilities, and trip all over themselves praising Tom Hiddleston. Plus, the gang talks comics (The Sandman: Overture and Amazing X-Men) and AJ raves about 12 Years a Slave.

Next: more attempted slaughter.

(Show notes for “Trust My Rage.”)

Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2012

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)

Jamie Foxx in 'Django Unchained'

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)

Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman in 'Moonrise Kingdom'

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.

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‘The Avengers’ Review: Marvel Six-in-One

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.

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‘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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