Gobbledygeek episode 332, “The Greatest Showman: The Noblest Art (feat. Nate Curtiss),” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.
Come one, come all to The Greatest Showman, Michael Gracey’s musical retelling (or is that reshaping?) of the life of circus impresario P.T. Barnum. Paul and Arlo are joined by first-time guest Nate Curtiss, whose obsession with the film rivals Paul’s well-documented mania. The gang discusses the film’s message of tolerance and inclusion, why it’s a better musical than La La Land, and if it’s a problem that the filmmakers have refashioned Barnum as a beacon of progressivism. Plus, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back (did they ever leave?), which is making some fans unhappy (aren’t they always?); and The Cloverfield Paradox was a surprise post-Super Bowl release on Netflix.
Next: last year’s Four-Color Flashback finally comes to a close, as Kenn Edwards joins us to discuss Y: The Last Man – Vol. 10: Whys and Wherefores.
(Show notes for “The Noblest Art.”)
Gobbledygeek episode 269, “The Air Up There,” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.
When the apocalypse happens, wouldn’t you want to wake up in an underground bunker, shackled to a wall and pricked with a makeshift IV by none other than American screen luminary John Goodman? Well, cult icon-in-the-making Mary Elizabeth Winstead isn’t thrilled by her new circumstances, while the amiably bearded John Gallagher Jr. just wants everyone to get along. Paul and AJ, meanwhile, contemplate 10 Cloverfield Lane‘s connection to 2008’s found footage monster mash Cloverfield, debate its effectiveness as a psychological thriller, and stick up for child killers (wait, no, that’s just Paul). Plus, AJ’s dying. Again.
Next: Four-Color Flashback 2016 kicks off with a look at the first story arc of Matt Wagner’s Grendel, “Devil by the Deed.”
(Show notes for “The Air Up There.”)
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.
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.