Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 338, “Ready Player One: Break a Few Easter Eggs”

Gobbledygeek episode 338, “Ready Player One: Break a Few Easter Eggs,” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

Nostalgia, some say, means pain from an old wound. This week, Paul is nursing pain from a fresh wound: his immense disappointment at the way Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One has turned out. Spielberg’s big-screen reworking of the tale of a young boy immersed in a virtual reality game called the OASIS, using pop culture as currency to find freedom, is loud and overwhelming. For someone like Paul, that doesn’t sit well; Arlo, on the other hand, finds himself in the unusual position of defending one of these big dumb movies. The boys discuss crucial changes the film makes that change the story’s intention; whether or not Spielberg’s CG rendering of the OASIS is impressive; the ethical and metatextual implications of certain scenes; and why the book is unfairly derided. Plus, Arlo continues his journey through Disney animation.

Next: it’s that time again. Wesley “Wezzo” Mead stops by to once again discuss Chris Carter’s seminal sci-fi series The X-Files. This time, the gang will discuss season 8, the last pre-revival season to feature David Duchovny as a (semi-)regular.

(Show notes for “Break a Few Easter Eggs.”)

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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)

warmbodies

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)

gimmetheloot

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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On DVD & Blu-Ray, 6/28/11: ‘Sucker Punch,’ ‘Barney’s Version,’ More

SUCKER PUNCH: Extended Cut (DVD/Blu-ray/Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Combo)

Yep, here it is. This is the film that either destroyed any remnants of geek cred I may ever have had, or proved what a brilliant film viewer I really am. Why, you ask? Because, damn it, I liked this Zack Snyder joint. Ostensibly the story of Baby Doll (Emily Browning), an abused young woman put into an institution by her father and scheduled for a lobotomy, who travels to deeper and deeper levels of consciousness on an anime/video game/comic book-inspired quest to free herself and her fellow inmates. Pretty young things in barely-there clothing battling giant robot samurai, fire-breathing dragons, and steam-powered zombie Nazis. Given only that premise, and taking into account Snyder’s penchant for phantasmagoric, speed-ramped action sequences, this could have been a beautiful but vapid piece of hormone and adrenaline-fueled cinematic trash. But, as I infamously explained here, I believe there is much more to it than that. The Extended Cut features an additional 18 minutes of footage, a picture-in-picture commentary with director Snyder, and has been rated R, up from the theatrical PG-13.  – Paul Smith

(Originally reviewed by Paul, and much less favorably by myself, in “Ladylike.”)

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Listen to Episode 47, “The Worlds According To…”

Gobbledygeek episode 47, “The Worlds According To…,” is available for listening or download right here.

Ever wanted to get away? Ever wanted to escape into a world different from your own, if only for a moment? Sure you have. Everyone has. In this week’s episode, Paul and AJ ruminate on which fictional worlds they’d like to live in, even if, as their selections prove, the mortality rate would be fairly high. On our itinerary, there’s Sunnydale, CA; Middle-earth; Toronto (though a very specific Toronto); even Sesame Street. You’ve also got news; upcoming DVD releases; AJ’s reviews of the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost extraterrestrial comedy Paul and Stephen King’s novella collection Full Dark, No Stars; and Paul’s brief look at the Stand by Me 25th Anniversary Blu-ray. And as a bonus, this is the first-ever episode that clocks in at under two hours! Yay!

Next: strong women in fiction.

(Show notes for “The Worlds According To…”)

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost Are…Missing…? (Update)

The Internet in general, and Twitter in particular, have given rise to a bunch of really bizarre celebrity communiques. Jim Carrey went all BOING-crazy, gave the world a view at one of the more interesting celebrity psychodramas in recent memory, and abruptly stopped using Twitter in May. Scott Baio too suffered a meltdown, only where Carrey’s was crazy and hilarious, Baio’s was nasty and vile. Those are just a couple examples; there are many more out there in the Twittersphere.

And then there’s something like the scenario that’s been playing out this morning, which, battling insomnia, I have been following almost from the beginning. You can find a handy collection of all the relevant tweets here, but the rundown is: Two days ago, Simon Pegg woke up to discover his attic door hanging open. Yesterday morning, he woke up to discover it closed. This morning, he was woken by his dog barking at the attic door, which was again open. Five hours ago, he said he was going to go check it out. He hasn’t been heard from since. His close friend and frequent collaborator Nick Frost then asked Simon’s sister Katy to “pop round” to see if everything was all right. That was four hours ago. She hasn’t been heard from since. Nick then tried to call Simon’s home phone, his mobile phone, and Katy’s mobile. He received no answer. When he finished work an hour ago, Nick went around to Simon’s house. He said the front door was open, that it was cold, that he was nervous. Then he said he could hear his mum. If you are not aware, Nick Frost’s mum is dead. He hasn’t been heard from since, not even when Edgar Wright tweeted him.

So either this is a really well-played publicity stunt, or Simon Pegg, Katy Pegg, and Nick Frost are all dead or missing or being held hostage or experiencing some sort of ungodly terrifying supernatural occurrence. Simon and Nick do have a film coming out, the Greg Mottola-helmed sci-fi comedy Paul, but, um…as far as I can tell, that doesn’t involve soul-raping attic demons. As one of my friends posited, they could be part of viral marketing for Paranormal Activity 2, despite none of them being involved. Simon and Nick–and Edgar–have had some pretty memorable Twitter interactions before, such as that time they created Hot Fuzz slashfic. So again, this could all be an elaborate prank. But I don’t know. I’m kind of alarmed. Maybe it’s because I haven’t slept all night.

In any case, I felt this was weird enough to merit a blog post. Updates (hopefully happy ones) sure to come…

UPDATE: As I suspected after the “I can hear my mum” tweet, it was all a joke. Well, I should’ve suspected so all along, but don’t blame my insomnia-riddled brain for taking it too seriously pre-otherworldly contact. So there you go.

Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture: #100-91

On Friday’s show, Paul and I began our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture. We’ve each got our own lists, and last night we revealed our respective #s 100-91. Be sure to listen to the show for our full run-down, but here are our picks with excerpts of what we said:

#100

PAUL: The Companion Cube (Portal)

Your weighted Companion Cube is very faithful, never talks back, and will never stab you, but sadly, it doesn’t really get a happy ending. The Companion Cube’s story is, I’m afraid, a tragedy.

AJ: Charlie Pace (Lost)

Charlie started as a one-hit wonder rock star with a heroin addiction, but along with his good friend Hurley, he quickly became the heart of the show.

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