The Lego Movie 2

February 22, 2019

[School of Movies 2019]

We did not expect to be recording on this one so soon. To begin with after watching the movie I thought I could get everything I needed to say into a Quick Review, but Sharon needed to see it and then on the second viewing the layers just kept expanding and expanding outwards until my brain exploded.

The first movie was going to be impossible to follow, and yet somehow this one is more meaningful. We ended up talking  with our guests for three hours and I have spent two solid days honing the main release show into the best it possibly can be. The remaining 87 minutes will be available as a bonus podcast, which while meandering makes for some fascinating additional perspective.

This one does get pretty dark, introspective, existential and at times fairly bleak. The episode isn't suitable for children, though the movie most definitely is, and both end on a note of re-energising hope for the future.

The YouTuber I sample a clip from, where she talks about Star Wars dolls is Jenny Nicholson, whom I urge all of you to subscribe to. She's fantastic! 

Guests:

Brendan Agnew @BLCAgnew of Cinapse  

Kaoru Negisa @Moonpanther22 and

Debbie Morse @bastet8300 of Sequentially Yours  

Toby Jungius @TJungius of http://theinquisitivej.tumblr.com/ 

And we are @SchooloofMovies 

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Crazy Rich Asians

February 15, 2019

[School of Movies 2019]

One of our favourite films of 2018 arrives in style for this vibrant celebration of an exotic culture. This is the biggest Asian-American cast since Joy Luck Club in 1993, and tells a very different story, about a regular young American woman finding out on an innocuous family trip that her boyfriend Nick is crazy rich. 

Now this could have been disastrous viewing for us. Both Sharon and I are automatically suspicious of wealth, if you're a billionaire there's a lot of things you could be doing with your insane level of fortune that could be helping the world, so a movie about obnoxious rich people, either with the viewpoint of "Aren't these people idiotic parasites?" or "Don't you envy their lifestyle?" would have made us puke.

However, director Jon M. Chu (again whose filmography seems designed to repel us, with four Step Up movies, Jem and the Holograms, G.I. Joe Retaliation and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never under his belt) takes a book that might have done exactly the above and along with the help of a fresh and masterful crew and cast re-crafts it into something extraordinary, and down-to-Earth, yet fresh and global-contemporary. It is at its core a very relatable tale of being an outsider and immense family pressure.

And as a special treat we were able to snag one of the supporting cast members, Calvin Wong who plays Peik Lin's adorkable brother PT (the chap with the phone and the heart-hands).  And Calvin was absolutely brilliant to have on, lending us perspective on filming, on Singaporean and Malaysian culture and quite a bit of insight into the finished story. 

Guests:

Calvin Wong:  Follow him on Twitter at @ithayla  

Jesse Ferguson of Recorded Tomorrow @TheDapperDM

 And we are @SchooloofMovies 

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Highlander II

February 8, 2019

[School of Movies 2019]

Five years after the original film lost money, the producers, director and stars were all back with a much higher budget for a Blade Runner-chasing dystopian tale of Connor MacLeod in the future and suddenly Ramirez. In a baffling move they backpedalled on the original premise making all Highlanders in fact (this works best when you say it in a booming B-movie announcer voice) aliens from the planet Zeist!

There are so many problems with this one from the word go that it's a challenge to separate them out. They have a knock-on effect of making things more confusing with a wildly mismatched tone between trying to be taken too seriously and pushing the humour to absurd levels. Nothing makes sense and none of the performances match each other, and the Argentinian shoot was plagued with troubles including crew injuries, ecological disasters and a spiralling budget.

Four years after the sequel lost even more money than the first movie, director Russell Mulcahy went back in for a new edit with reshoots and a forced change of plot to make something called "The Renegade Cut" which was more in-line with the rest of Highlander canon. Wherever this is mentioned online the attitude seems to be "This makes the film finally good." We're here to tell you today that it doesn't.

BUT all that effort ultimately wasn't for nothing because watching either version is unintentionally hilarious, and this podcast was an absolute blast to record.   

Guests:

Jesse Ferguson of Recorded Tomorrow 

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Highlander

February 1, 2019

[School of Movies 2019]

"Transcending history and the world, a tale of souls and swords, eternally retold"... No wait, 

"There can only be one!" 

A good question would of course then be "Why was there more than one?" Because the answer certainly isn't "Money!"

The original Highlander is a sci-fi fantasy that awkwardly mashes together slightly-too-serious delivery with crazy camp ostentatiousness and a kickass Queen soundtrack. Nowhere near enough people have seen it, and we want to help remedy that.  

Back in 2016 we recorded a pair of shows on Highlander which sat in raw form for three years, waiting to be released. Recently, when I began the edit I found myself disappointed by the general lack of energy and meandering nature of the show on the first film (mainly down to me rushing everyone through a running synopsis) yet my guests still said some fascinating things.  

So a week ago I brought them back for a gathering and we did a show on Highlander again. This time for the edit I seamlessly interwove the best bits of the old show with the main body of the new version. Next week you'll get to hear our 2016 episode on Highlander II: The Quickening, which was much more on-point because that film is utterly bananas. 

Guests:

Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg 

Jesse Ferguson of Recorded Tomorrow 

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The Lonely Island

January 25, 2019

[School of Everything Else 2019]

In an unusual turn we're bringing back the Sound of Gonzo format to examine the oeuvre of a comedy rap group. What started out as a series of scrappy Saturday Night Live sketches poking fun at self-serious hip-hop became a symphony of professionally produced music indistinguishable from the premier artists of the age, aside from the fact that the lyrics are all hilarious.

This trio is/was Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, and what we're about to play for you here has the unifying factor of exposing fragile, male egos and the psychosexual neurosis behind them.

If you've never heard of them, if you're well aware of them or if (most likely) you've heard a few of their songs, allow us to go in-depth as we explore the Lonely Island, culminating in their underseen gem of a glamorous mockumentary, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.

1. My Mic Sounds Nice

2. Who Said We’re Whack? 

3. Lazy Sunday

4. Dick in a Box

5. Cool Beans

6. Jizz in my Pants

7. Like a Boss

8. I’m on a Boat

9. We Like Sportz

10. I just Had Sex

11. Mama

12. Jack Sparrow

13. Motherlover

14. The Golden Rule

15. Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie & Clyde

16. Threw it on the Ground

17. After Party

18. Great Day

19. Diaper Money 

20. YOLO

21. Spring Break

22. I Run New York

23. Donkey Roll

24. Turn up the Beef

25. I’m so Humble

26. Equal Rights

27. Hunter the Hungry is Gon’ Eat

28. I’m a Weirdo

29. F**k Off

30. Things in my Jeep

31. Everything is Awesome

32. Incredible Thoughts

33. Semicolons

34. I Don’t Give a Honk

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Robin Williams Season

January 18, 2019

[School of Movies 2019]

Now that we've talked about Good Will Hunting and ensured you guys know how much we love seeing Robin Williams at his best we can take a more critical look at a mixed bag of his work with not one but four films on the slate.

1. Bicentennial Man

2. One Hour Photo

3. License to Wed

4. Mrs Doubtfire

One of them is really surprisingly good and has held up very well for us. One of them is a tonally mismatched mess with some thought-provoking moments, one of them is genuinely wrongheaded and disturbing and caused our greatest ever outburst in the history of this show, and one of them slaloms between having a good message and championing the antics of a madman. 

One thing is certain though; we wish Robin was still here. 

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Good Will Hunting

January 11, 2019

[School of Movies 2019]

Back in late 1997 while Titanic was tearing up the box office around the time it came to pick the nominees for awards season, this small, personal drama was impressing small, personal audiences everywhere.

It's kind of gut-churning to look at the way this was promoted, courting awards left right and centre, all to further Miramax and their manufactured prestige. One of the posters shunted the actors to the left to fill most of the sheet with proclamations of its many accolades. Uncomfortable because of who Miramax was run by but also inappropriate because this is arguably Gus Van Sant's best and most delicate film, it's the serious introduction of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to the world of cinema, and most of all it's debatably the finest dramatic performance in Robin Williams' illustrious career. 

It's exceptionally well-played by a fantastic cast, contains at least four world-class dramatic scenes, and in our discussion of it, considering the subject matter of unseen parental abuse and the havoc it can wreak on developing minds, things got pretty heavy. So this might be a difficult show for some to get through, but I hope the end result is worthwhile.

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Bumblebee

January 4, 2019

[School of Movies 2019]

After eleven years of terrible Michael Bay Transformers movies, which America and then the rest of the world slowly checked out of, leaving the fifth (which actually isn't too bad) to perform below expectations Paramount and Hasbro reshuffled for an inexpensive prequel spin-off movie, which, due to its change in creative team and divorce from those earlier movies is way better.

But it's not just because it lacks the gross fratboy sensibilities of its predecessors, there's actually a really superb film in here which hearkens back to Amblin pictures in the 80s. We brought on a bunch of brains to get to the bottom of this, discovering some deep love for Transformers along the way. 

Guests:

Brendan Agnew of Cinapse  

Theo Leigh of The New Century Multiverse  

Jesse Ferguson of Recorded Tomorrow 

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Into the Spider-Verse

December 28, 2018

[School of Movies 2018]

One of the best films of the year, and one of the best ways to end it. This one has already garnered itself something of a cult following with everyone who has seen it passionately declaring its qualities, but still not nearly enough people seeing it during a December absolutely packed to the gills with high quality blockbusters.

As a major event in comic book movie history this film, produced by Lord and Miller of The Lego Movie has one of the most arresting visual styles in all of cinema. But that's just the first thing you will notice. there's so much more going on under the hood.

So we talk through it, using your questions to us at @SchoolofMovies using the hashtag #SOMhandsup and for this we have a lineup of truly spectacular voices. 

Guests:

Bob Chipman MovieBob  

Hollywoo actress Maya Santandrea

Brendan Agnew of Cinapse   

Kaoru Negisa @Moonpanther22 and

Debbie Morse @bastet8300 of Sequentially Yours  

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Ant-Man and The Wasp

December 21, 2018

[School of Movies 2018]

After the operatic Infinity War we come to an entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that some people needed to see and some people really didn't. 

Honest Trailers really nailed this one when they called it Marvel Season 3, Episode 8. That is what it feels like. And we begin the show with why I left the cinema muttering to myself. "Huh." Not with a question mark, that's a crucial conjuncture. Followed by a chunk of discussion on the stronger points that those who found this welcome and appealing relished.

I kept the cut of the main show hyper-focused to a precise hour, though there is 40 minutes of additional (somewhat meandering) chat that will be available on Patreon for those who want more. 

Guests:

Kaoru Negisa @Moonpanther22 and

Debbie Morse @bastet8300 of Sequentially Yours  

 Collin Miller of The Cinema Cephalopod   

Theo Leigh of The New Century Multiverse 

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