A Series of Unfortunate Events

November 10, 2017

This is a discussion about the books, movie and Netflix series. We kept clear of any spoilers beyond Book 4: The Miserable Mill.

Sharon and I are big fans of all three versions, though the movie has suffered a barrage of disapproval from both readers and general audiences over the years and singularly failed to achieve continuation. 

The show, however, has garnered pretty much universal praise. We talk about the differences in approach across all mediums. 

Guests

Kaoru Negisa and Debbie Morse of Sequentially Yours

Tyler Pollock

Devin York

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The Fifth Element

November 3, 2017

One of my favourite movies of 1997, this crazed sci-fi space opera is something of a cult favourite. Never popular enough to be considered a classic, and clearly disliked by many people it is nonetheless beloved by its ardent fans, as well as being a consistently reference-quality example for home cinema enthusiasts.

This was a commissioned show from Marc Lucksch

Guest

Neil Taylor of TheKiddogg

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Night, Dawn, Day & Land of the Dead

October 27, 2017

This show was recorded in the autumn of 2016 less than a year before George A. Romero passed away. A listener named Innes Clatworthy made a generous donation and I asked him if he'd like us to do a show as a thank you. He asked for one of the Romero zombie films. Never one to do things by halves we covered the first and best four.

I've already fielded questions as to why Survival and Diary aren't on this list but it boils down to three reasons; 1, the show is already 2h 45m long, 2, they don't really fit with the first four and 3, we don't like either of them one little bit, so we have nothing to say about them. 

In fact quite a lot of this episode is about unseating the original Dawn of the Dead, from its throne of "Best Zombie Movie" and highlighting the qualities of Land and Day in particular. 

That being said, what we know as a zombie in pop culture would be very different today were it not for at least the first two, astonishingly influential films (as well as some legal rights mumbo jumbo).

So get your machete's ready (chainsaws are heavy, noisy, fuel-dependent, and more likely to kill the wielder than a zombie) and let's start exploring the bleak, shuffling landscapes inhabited largely by the Living Dead. 

Guests:

Kaoru Negisa & Debbie Morse of Sequentially Yours

Brendan Agnew of Cinapse

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Coraline

October 20, 2017

[School of Movies 2017]

A commissioned show from Joel Robinson, this is the first of the LAIKA studio movies. 

Written by Neil Gaiman of Sandman fame, Coraline is the story of a girl dissatisfied with her boring parents and finding her way into a strange pocket universe, and a mirror of her new house, itself containing a woman who claims to be her "Other Mother".

This film has, what I like to call a "Twisted sumptuousness", and Sharon and I delve into the many details hidden throughout.

Next Week: George A. Romero's Night, Dawn, Day *and* Land of the Living Dead. 

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The Golden Compass/Northern Lights

October 13, 2017

This is part post-mortem on the 2007 movie, The Golden Compass and why it failed in such dismal fashion. It’s not terrible, just underachieving, bland, patronising and not really *about* anything.

Our show is also an exploration of the rich and weighty book by Philip Pullman, which is called Northern Lights in England. It is one of the most special pieces of literature to Sharon and I, we named our daughter after the lead protagonist and had been awaiting the movie with Harry Potter levels of excitement. So, you will have it outlined with pin-sharp clarity, how the makers of the movie abjectly refused to capture the spirit of the book, as we bring that unrealised world to life through examination. 

You will encounter some amazing music, some stirring readings from the audiobook by Pullman himself and you will leave with a far clearer understanding of the pitfalls of bringing literature to the big screen.

This episode is released just before the new book set in Lyra’s world hits store shelves. It is called The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, and is naturally exciting fans. For those of you wishing to dig deeper, however, your first port of call should be to work your way through the original book, Northern Lights, and then move on to its follow-up; The Subtle Knife. It will never be a movie, but good lord is it a gripping read. 

Guests

Iain Hopwood

Megan Hopwood

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Blade Runner

October 6, 2017

[School of Movies 2017]

Here's a short, and by no means exhaustive list of entertainment works influenced by this one movie... 

RoboCop, Akira, Back to the Future Part II, Ghost in the Shell, The Fifth Element, The Matrix, Futurama, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, I, Robot, Minority Report, Serenity, WALL-E, Battlestar Galactica, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Prometheus, District 9, Alex + Ada, Almost Human, Black Mirror, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Dredd, Chappie, Her, Ex-Machina, Valerian and Westworld.

This episode we discuss Ridley Scott's ponderous, flawed, but hugely impactful and striking vision of the future, and musing on the nature of humanity, accompanied by Vangelis, and one of the greatest scores ever put to film.

We steer clear of speculation about 2049 and that follow-up will get a full show in time.

Guests

Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg

Collin Miller of The Cinema Cephalopod 

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IT: Chapter 1

September 22, 2017

[School of Movies 2017]

The follow-up to our extensive discussion on the source novel and the 1990 miniseries, this is the show all about the 2017 movie. 

The original show can be found on the School of Everything Else podcast feed

One of the most immediately and wildly successful horror films of all time, this has been one of the standout experiences of 2017. In the show we discuss why some people declassify it as horror, the many levels of applicability within the text to all kinds of social problems and just exactly why clowns scare the shit out of most people.  

And we will be back in Derry as soon as the next movie (in what's likely to be an unexpectedly broad franchise) drops. 

Guests:

Brendan Agnew of Cinapse

Kaoru Negisa and Debbie Morse of Sequentially Yours

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The Room

September 15, 2017

[School of Movies 2017]

At long last, after years of preparation, we bring you a truly epic three hour show all about one of the worst movies ever made.

It's an exercise in absurdity, as unprepared actors are thrown in front of a camera and made to chew out abysmal dialogue, wrestle with characters that make no sense, get stuck in loops of expressing the same, contrary thoughts out loud, and all to please the ringmaster, Mr Tommy Wiseau, an extraordinary man, and by all accounts a nightmare to work with. 

There are the most appallingly awkward pauses, inexplicable games of football, and expressions that sound like they never came out of a human being before or since (or during). It's also compulsively quotable as a result. 

It is operatic in its farcical mishandling of every aspect of filmmaking, and we are going to take you through each second of this feast of silliness, just in time for The Disaster Artist, a film about its troubled construction, starring James Franco and based on the hugely entertaining book by the long suffering Greg Sestero who plays Mark. 

With us, we have Jason "Chewie" Slate, Aaron LaCluyze and Bill Bloodworth of Monday Night Magic and Random Discard.

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

September 1, 2017
[School of Movies 2017]
 For our 200th movie episode we celebrate the occasion by taking on another immensely challenging film, not because it's a mixed bag that's hard to place, but because it's pretty much perfectly crafted, very personal to us, dauntingly important and critically acclaimed. So we had to somehow shed new light on a masterpiece. This is why we put things like this off.
Paschal Dooley commissioned this one to match his prior request of Hero, and it forms another part in the trilogy of epic, Chinese wuxia ("wushu") period piece films featuring the amazingly beautiful Zhang Ziyi.
 
This time, Ang Lee takes what he learned from the interpersonal drama of The Ice Storm and the Jane Austen propriety of Sense and Sensibility to convey a drama surrounding two couples. One middle-aged and regretful of time misspent and one young and fearful of lives that almost certainly will not bring them what they want. And then there's fighting, glorious martial arts with weightless wire-work, choreographed by the master himself, Yuen Woo-ping. 
 
Next week; Bojack Horseman. We recommend at least watching Season 1 on Netflix. 
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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

August 25, 2017
[School of Movies 2017]
This was a commission from Chris Finik and turned out to be one of our most challenging shows. I was ill and having to energise myself on sugar, caffeine and enthusiasm while painkillers did their work, but more specifically we were dealing with a movie that is on the surface a silly mess, unlovable and mostly forgotten. We had to find the elements of quality in a mismanaged, overambitious yet underachieving project which ended the careers of a promising director (Stephen Norrington, the man behind Blade and little else) and a legendary actor, Shaun Connery. 

Also we haven't seen most of the rest of the cast in the interim years either, but that's what happens when you throw 22% of your budget ($17 million) at one actor and find yourself short on what is obviously an ensemble film. This also serves as a weirdly specific prototype for Marvel's Avengers movie which came out nine years later in 2012. 

So join us for ourr 199th movie covered as we go on a voyage with these men who aren't very extraoriary, certainly not gentle and the best of their number is a woman (notably the only person in the film without a Y-chromasome.) 

Next week, something far, far more accomplished; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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