Monday, March 26, 2012

Episode 21: The Hunger Games

  • 0:00 - Rush - The Spirit of Radio
  • 0:30 - Intro, "The Hunger Games" discussion
  • 38:05 - What Chris Watched (Jeff, Who Lives at Home, The Pledge, Blast of Silence) 
  • 43:01 - What Matt Watched (Spartacus)
  • 44:39 - What Kat Watched (nothing)
  • 48:42 - What's Next for Celluloid Freaks & Outro
  • 52:05 - Van Halen - Right Now

Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games (2012), dir. Gary Ross

The following review is spoiler free and is meant to be read BEFORE seeing the movie.

Post-apocalyptic fiction can be too serious for its own good and much of it seems superfluous. Most of it is just more of the same. The Hunger Games is one that feels a bit fresh, even if some individual elements (children fighting to the death, authoritarian government, etc.) are tried and true. I never felt like I had seen this story before.

In Panem, in the far future, two children from each of twelve districts are chosen as “tributes” to train and fight to the death in The Capitol until only one survives. This insures that each year, the districts are reminded of how much power The Capitol holds, and that rebellion and resistance would be futile. Donald Sutherland’s president reminds us that having zero survivors would instigate chaos, but having one would inspire hope. A little bit of hope is sometimes all that is needed to keep an oppressed people from trying their hand. And yet, offer up too much hope, they very well may play that hand.

What makes The Hunger Games so great is the craftsmanship of Gary Ross, director of Pleasantville. His sober and serious treatment of the story is what keeps it from going too far overboard. And yet, he understands that he can’t keep this story from being too bleak. Suzanne Collins’ book was already a fantastic narrative, but the screenplay made with Collins, Billy Ray, and Ross, expresses the story for the screen in a way many would have mishandled. It is never heavy-handed, and always interesting.

The story beats are spaced perfectly to avoid any loss of interest. This is a difficult thing to achieve in a movie that runs almost two-and-a-half hours. But the editing and act breaks are executed almost flawlessly. My only gripe is that the fight scenes succumb to rapid and hard-to-follow camera movements, and the finale isn’t handled with deftness like the rest of the story.

But otherwise, we got a better movie than we could have hoped for. Happy Hunger Games!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review: Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2012), dir. Jay Duplass & Mark Duplass

The following review is spoiler free and is meant to be read BEFORE seeing the movie, as opposed to the upcoming podcast episode, which will contain spoilers and an in-depth discussion of this movie

In movies like Hot Fuzz, everything has a meaning and a purpose. Everything is a clue, a joke, or both. In real life, there is no such economy of details. Sometimes things just happen. As a matter of fact, MOST times things just happen. Jeff, Who Lives at Home suggests that there truly is meaning behind the mundane events in one’s life.

We meet Jeff, who is currently obsessing over the idea that everything happens for a reason, while also getting high and accomplishing nothing. We meet Pat and Linda, who are clearly in a marriage that is in a rut. We meet Jeff and Pat’s mother, Sharon, who is unhappy with her situation. We meet people who are not where they want to be in life, and we watch them and discover that their situation is of their own making, and they must make some kind of change in order to get themselves out of it.

In many ways, Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a predictable movie. It is certainly easy to have a vague idea of where it is going, yet there is a certain satisfaction in waiting to see if it does turn out the way it feels like it will, and the way we want it to. And what would be the problem in enjoying something predictable if it were also entertaining and fulfilling. Like last year’s 50/50, Jeff, Who Lives at Home deals with some heavy subject matter in a light way, but that is part of its charm. It doesn’t take too many risks, but it doesn’t falter too much, either.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: 21 Jump Street (2012), dir. Phil Lord & Chris Miller

The following review is spoiler free and is meant to be read BEFORE seeing the movie, as opposed to the upcoming podcast episode, which will contain spoilers and an in-depth discussion of this movie

Good movies can be good for many reasons. Sometimes they connect with a part of your soul; sometimes they pull you in with compelling dramatic tension and wonderful characters; sometimes all they need to do is be very entertaining. 21 Jump Street satisfies that last requirement.

21 Jump Street isn’t concerned with giving us anything more than an entertaining trip to the movie theater, and it thankfully gives us lots of great gags and jokes to keep us entertained for the 100 minute runtime.

Officers Schmidt and Jenko are barely out of the police academy before screwing up a potential arrest and embarrassing themselves. In order to get them out of the way, they are transferred to a formerly defunct undercover division. They are given false identities as brothers and are sent to the high school they used to attend in order to infiltrate a drug ring and find the supplier. And never mind that in real life there would still be teachers and staff working there who would recognize them from seven years ago; that doesn’t matter.

What matters is how funny this movie is. It makes it humor off of subverting stereotypes, or even playing them for all they’re worth, or just having action set-pieces which are so ridiculous, you have no choice to laugh. One of the finest moments is when physics and chemistry seem as if they will follow movie logic, to our main character’s bewilderment. Then, after two times of following real-world laws of science, 21 Jump Street suddenly adheres to movie science to an exaggerated degree, leaving our main characters to express even further bewilderment.

21 Jump Street is not the best movie of the year so far, but it was certainly the most fun.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Episode 20: 21 Jump Street

  • 0:00 - The Clash - Police & Thieves
  • 0:30 - Intro, "21 Jump Street" discussion
  • 19:58 - What Chris Watched (Helvetica, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Tree of Life, Run, Fatboy, Run) 
  • 35:44 - What Kat Watched (How I Met Your Mother, The Kids in the Hall, The Tick, Parks & Recreation)
  • 44:52 - What We'll Watch Next (The Hunger Games) & Outro
  • 52:21 - Cee Lo Green - Fuck You

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Collection Grows

This is my current Blu ray collection! I'm almost at 200. All of my DVDs are elsewhere, but I believe that I have around the same number of DVDs with only three overlapping titles (for the record, they are Raging Bull, Knocked Up, and A History of Violence. I haven't found anybody who wanted those DVDs yet. March 6, my collection will grow by 2 with Game of Thrones: Season One, and The Deer Hunter. Later this month, I will be getting David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.