We Need to Talk About Fandom

March 15, 2019

[School of Movies 2019]

A long-planned show, following up on "Fan Response" in 2013 which can be found on the School of Everything Else Archive. Things were becoming problematic back then and now, six years later, matters are worse.

This is a show all about examining where we each stand in our fandoms and dispelling the binary, black and white "You are either with us or against us" mentality which has cultivated a climate of extreme feeling that we are bombarded with every day.  It's not about exclusion, it's about reclaiming nuance and being comfortable having mixed feelings.

Contents

0.02: The State of Fandom Now

0.23: The Colour Wheel

1.20: Outside Interference

1.28: Eight Fallacies

1.33: Mixed Feelings

1.36: The Code

1.48:  Working With The Code

1.59: Credits

2.03: What Can We Do?

Guests:

Lorin Grieve @XaviaShandi

Maya Santandrea @mayasantandrea

Kaoru Negisa @Moonpanther22

Debbie Morse @bastet8300

And we are @SchoolOfMovies

The Matrix

March 8, 2019

[School of Movies 2019]

This one has been a phenomenally long time coming. Not only is it a dense and complex movie that's impossible to fully summarise even in our lengthier shows, not only does it mean a huge amount to millions of people, not only is it intrinsically linked with wildly disappointing sequels (whom some claim don't even exist) but it's probably the one movie that got my brain moving the most at the tender age of 19.

That and Fight Club. And like the antics of Tyler Durdan, there are aspects of this film that have not so much 'dated' as they have taken on a horrible new significance over the past twenty years. So this is a show that would have been very different in 1999, in 2004, in 2009 or even in 2014. And I'm willing to bet that in five year's time we'll feel differently again, such is the way the 'Real World' moves. 

So buckle your seat belt, Dorothy, 'cos Kansas is going bye-bye.

Next Week: We Need to Talk About Fandom 

The Good Place

March 1, 2019

[School of Everything Else 2019]

One of the most compulsive and mind-expanding TV shows in recent years, The Good Place is an unfolding exploration of philosophy and morality which takes the brightly coloured appealing form of comedy frozen yogurt. 

If you've not seen it, the best summation is that a woman named Eleanor Shelstrop dies and is welcomed into heaven by a kindly angel-type named Michael, only to realise she shouldn't be there because she's a rotten, selfish wretch and Michael thinks she's a much better person also called Eleanor Shelstrop. Her attempts to not be found out and maybe slip through the net, aided by her soulmate, a nervous Professor of Moral Philosophy named Chidi are just the beginning of an afterlife adventure that questions human behaviour.

In this episode we cover the first three seasons, which are all currently available on Netflix. We have to go full-spoiler because so much keeps getting revealed every season that our discussion would be supremely limited otherwise. 

Next Week: Our long-promised episode on The Matrix is finally here, just in time for its 20th Anniversary. 

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 

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 

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 

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 

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

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. 

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.