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 104, “The Long Dark Knight of the Soul,” is available for listening or download right here.
The third (last?) major superhero movie of the year has arrived in the form of The Dark Knight Rises. Going into it, AJ was pumped and Paul was basically dreading it; amazingly, the two have united and agreed on something for the first time in what feels like months. They discuss the pay-offs to each character’s arc, the Bane voice and the Batvoice, what political message can be derived from the film, and how often Michael Caine bawls. Plus, AJ talks about seeing Jaws on the big screen and attending a local comic book show, while Paul offers another monumental national update on the state of his health.
Next: the boys discuss the books that were important to them in their formative years.
(Show notes for “The Long Dark Knight of the Soul.”)
Our discussion of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado is available for listening or download right here.
In the aftermath of the shooting in Aurora, which occurred at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, we have decided to do a separate episode on the shooting so as not to trivialize it. Here, we discuss our reaction to the shooting and our thoughts about how it might affect the moviegoing experience.
(Show notes for “Aurora.”)
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.
Gobbledygeek episode 94, “Snow White Seeking a Friend in the Lawless Moonrise Kingdom,” is available for listening or download right here.
Bust out your surfboards and bikinis, boys and girls! Hollywood’s gearing up for its summer movie season, so Paul and AJ discuss the 10 movies they’re most looking forward to, four mutual picks and three solo choices apiece. We cover everything from superhero fare like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises to quirky independents like Moonrise Kingdom and Safety Not Guaranteed. Plus, AJ talks about seeing Casablanca on the big screen, Paul heaps praise on the comics Saga and Prophet, and a retraction is issued in regards to Girls.
Next: So, hey, The Avengers? Yeah, we’re gonna talk about that.
(Show notes for “Snow White Seeking a Friend in the Lawless Moonrise Kingdom.”)