Listen to Episode 181, “Knights’ Tales”

seventhexcalibur

Gobbledygeek episode 181, “Knights’ Tales,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Paul and AJ are, you know, they’re…I think the word is “geeks”? Geeks. Yes. And sometimes, they challenge each other. Lord knows they challenge each other. And sometimes such a challenge between geeks is bestowed the rank of Geek Challenge. For the first time in far too long, such a plague has befallen the podcast: AJ challenges Paul to watch the 1957 Ingmar Bergman classic The Seventh Seal; in return, Paul challenges AJ to John Boorman’s 1981 Arthurian epic Excalibur. There is much sadness and mythmaking and fast-and-loose historical accuracies as our knights ride off on a journey of the soul. Plus, Fargo makes for a pretty great TV show and The Superior Spider-Man has reached its blessed end.

Next week: the second installment of this year’s Four-Color Flashback, as the boys discuss the second volume of Neil Gaiman’s The SandmanThe Doll’s House.

(Show notes for “Knights’ Tales.”)

‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ Review: Mc9/11

The Ultimate Gift is the worst movie I’ve ever seen. You probably haven’t heard of it. Good for you. I don’t want to imply that it’s well-made, because it’s not, but there are certainly worse-made movies out there. Little ManDate MovieSpace Mutiny, etc. But The Ultimate Gift is a special brand of awful because it takes a little girl’s cancer and uses it as nothing more than a plot point with which to forward the main character’s journey of self-discovery. Once the main character has supposedly become a better person, the little girl dies and no one really cares. Not sure about you, but to me, that is offensive. Now imagine a movie which does the same, only instead of using a cancer-stricken child, it uses a national tragedy the scope of which is still too large for many Americans to comprehend. Thanks to director Stephen Daldry, screenwriter Eric Roth, and a passel of others, you don’t have to imagine it. They’ve made it. And it’s called Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

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Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2011

Paul and I rambled on and on about our favorites of 2011 in our second season finale, but that isn’t gonna stop us from rambling some more. This is the first in a series of top 10s that will be spread out over the next couple weeks; the rest will concern television, albums, and comic books.

But first, a word about lists. Paul has described my obsession with list-making as a “sickness,” and that’s probably close to the truth. However, even one such as I, beholden to rating and ranking everything known to man, know that these kinds of things are imperfect, to put it lightly. For one, no matter how all-inclusive you try to be, there’s always going to be a movie (or show, or comic, etc.) that you somehow missed; for example, as of this writing, neither Paul nor I have seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Shame, or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, just to name a few. And more importantly, lists are always subject to how their makers feel at the moment they’re making them. Each of our top 10s represent the movies we love right now, and with the exception of our #1 choices, their order could be fluid, changing from day to day, mood to mood.

Right now, though? These are the films we adore, and which we feel exemplify 2011.

~ AJ

PAUL: 10. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (dir. Rupert Wyatt)

The summer blockbuster that was better than any of us had any right to expect. Not only a remarkably capable relaunch/reboot of a beloved but dated franchise, but also just a damned good popcorn flick in its own right. Andy Serkis brings heart and humanity (pun intended) to the “inhuman” protagonist. It’s Pinocchio and Moses and Che Guevara.

AJ: 10. GEORGE HARRISON: LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD (dir. Martin Scorsese)

It has been lazy shorthand for decades to refer to George Harrison as the “quiet Beatle,” and though that might have a kernel of truth to it, the man himself was far more complex. Publicly, he was quiet because he desperately hated fame; professionally, he was quiet during the Beatle years because John and Paul vetoed his material, and later, because he was content with tending to his family and to his garden. Martin Scorsese’s Bob Dylan documentary No Direction Home definitively captured that 60s icon’s brilliance and enigma, and while Living in the Material World doesn’t quite do the same for this 60s icon, it comes close enough. In the first part of this two-part doc, the entire life cycle of The Beatles is rehashed yet again, though considering it’s Scorsese at the helm, it remains of interest. It’s in the second part, however, when things truly come alive. By telling of his unsung career as a film producer, enticing candid stories from a number of those closest to him, and showing private home movies, Scorsese paints a portrait of Harrison as a man perpetually struggling to reconcile his spirituality with his materialism, caught between divinity and mortality.

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On DVD & Blu-ray, 9/13/11: ‘Thor,’ ‘Meek’s Cutoff,’ More

THOR (DVD/Two-Disc Blu-ray,  DVD & Digital Combo/Three-Disc Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Combo)

The penultimate pre-Avengers Marvel franchise hit like a thunderbolt! Well, a severe summer shower at least. Chris Hemsworth (Papa Kirk from Abrams’ Star Trek) plays the titular Thunder God, an impetuous and brash young warrior eager to earn the respect of his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Instead, he reignites a war with his people’s ancient enemies the Frost Giants, and finds himself exiled, penitent and powerless, to Earth. There’s a rushed romance with a sexy scientist (Natalie Portman); a fun but sadly bloodless battle to reclaim his birthright Mjolnir, the literal hammer of the gods; and a final showdown with his half-brother, the once and future God of Mischief. But the real highlights of the film aren’t the action set pieces: Hemsworth is a joy, with the muscles and the cocky but charming smirk; Hopkins chews the scenery appropriately, adding to the Shakespearean vibe director Kenneth Branagh was aiming for; and Tom Hiddleston as Loki steals the show with his wounded-little-boy-in-the-body-of-a-god routine. My earlier review was perhaps a bit glowing for what is probably just a good-not-great summer popcorn film…but then perhaps not. I look forward to watching it again and seeing if the ol’ Asgardian magic can still enchant me like it did before. Paul Smith

(Originally reviewed by Paul and myself in “The Hammer Is His Penis.” Like Paul, I also wrote a review for the blog.)

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Listen to Episode 52, “Geeks of Future Past”

Salvador Dali's "The Persistence of Memory," which inspired everyone from Ingmar Bergman to that kid in school who kept trying to get you to do acid with him.

Gobbledygeek episode 52, “Geeks of Future Past,” is available for listening or download right here.

Let’s say you go back in time and kill your grandfather. This means you were never born, and could never have gone back to murder your sweet ol’ granddad. And more importantly, it means that you wouldn’t be here, about to listen to Gobbledygeek, something I believe we can all agree would be a grave tragedy. This week, Paul and AJ discuss just such a time travel paradox, as well as methods of time travel and time travel’s representations in pop culture. We’ve got the flux capacitor fired up; hop in. Plus: news, AJ’s review of Hereafter, and Formspring questions!

Next: you’ll finally get to hear our fabled True Grit/Black Swan test episode from January since AJ is going on hiatus–er, vacation.

(Show notes for “Geeks of Future Past.”)

Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture: #80-71

Well, better late than never, right? On last Friday’s show, Paul and I continued our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture. We’ve each got our own lists, and on Friday, we revealed our respective #s 80-71. Be sure to listen to the show for our full run-down, but here are our picks with excerpts of what we said:

#80

PAUL: Chief Martin Brody (Jaws)

Falls into one of my favorite categories: the reluctant hero.

AJ: C.C. Baxter (The Apartment)

So many of Billy Wilder’s movies are so cynical, but The Apartment is one of the few where hope is allowed to shine through.

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