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.
Gobbledygeek episode 99, “Mars, the Bringer of War,” is available for listening or download right here.
It had to happen sooner or later: the boys discuss John Carter. Do you, like Paul, feel that the film has been unfairly derided and that the media has latched onto its financial failure with too much glee? Or, like AJ, do you feel the film is terrible, filled with dead air, and populated with cardboard characters? Unless you’re looking for someone to be in the rational middle, you’ll find someone in your corner! Why does Paul like it and why does AJ hate it? The boys try to get to the center of the problem, and may or may not wind up psychoanalyzing one another in the process. Plus, Paul gives his thoughts on the first issue of Before Watchmen: Minutemen and AJ reveals his latest paranoid episode.
Next: unbelievably, we have reached 100 episodes. Tune in for a trip down memory lane with the best (and maybe some of the worst) of Gobbledygeek.
(Show notes for “Mars, the Bringer of War.”)
Gobbledygeek episode 98, “What’s Eating Royal Tenenbaum,” is available for listening or download right here.
Hoo boy. Memorial Day musta done something to the boys; they barely remember how to run the show (if they ever knew). But they’ve lazed and stumbled through another episode, all for your listening pleasure! This week, they face another Geek Challenge: Paul has challenged AJ to watch What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and in turn, AJ has challenged Paul to watch The Royal Tenenbaums. Both films are about dysfunctional families trying to reach beyond their ways, which they are very much set in. They’re different films, but it kind of works. One finds ennui in a small rural town; the other, in the sprawling New York home of a special family. One has Johnny Depp back when he was still trying, the other Gene Hackman pre-retirement. At more than one point during the show, one of the boys threatens a throwdown. Plus, AJ talks about Dan Harmon’s firing from Community and his first-ever camping trip; and Paul speaks on Snow White and the Huntsman and the first annual Alabama Phoenix Fest.
Next: John Carter. Prepare for bloodshed.
(Show notes for “What’s Eating Royal Tenenbaum.”)
Gobbledygeek episode 88, “I Ain’t Ridin’ in No Trunk for No Minute, Man,” is available for listening or download right here.
It’s Week Three of Tarantino Month, and that can only mean one thing. Put on your Kangol hat, grab your Raptor bag, and grow some whack-ass facial hair, because it’s Jackie Brown time. Paul and AJ wax rhapsodic about Pam Grier’s badassitude, the mysterious cool of Robert Forster, the brilliant build-up to a perfect pay-off, and of how this might have been the last time Robert De Niro actually cared about acting. Plus, AJ describes the extreme elation and subsequent torture he put himself through by following a big-screen viewing of The Godfather with two Twilight movies; and Paul lambastes the media’s coverage of John Carter.
Next: Rev your engines, boys and girls. Tarantino Month speeds along with Death Proof.
(Show notes for “I Ain’t Ridin’ in No Trunk for No Minute, Man.”)
Gobbledygeek episode 82, “The Secret Wanderlust of John Carter, Who Lives at Home,” is available for listening or download right here.
Spring is about to get sprung (thanks for ruining that, Sir Mix-a-Lot), so Paul and AJ list 20 movies that might be worth your attention in February, March, and April. The films range from charming Japanese anime The Secret World of Arrietty to the very serious Albanian-language The Forgiveness of Blood; to the wacky high seas adventures of The Pirates! Band of Misfits to the Willem Dafoe/Sam Neill Tasmanian tiger (or is it wolf?) movie The Hunter. In between, you’ll find films sappy, thrilling, terrifying, and hilarious. Hopefully. Also, the seeds for a future episode are nefariously planted, and: The Cabin in the Woods is finally coming out!
Next: Just in time for the chocolates and flowers and obnoxious greeting cards of Valentine’s Day, marriage in pop culture.
(Show notes for “The Secret Wanderlust of John Carter, Who Lives at Home.”)