School of Movies
Ready Player One

Ready Player One

December 4, 2020

[School of Movies 2020]

Way back at the end of 2019 (Remember when we could get right up in each other's faces?) we recorded this show with Victoria Grieve, expecting it to be a riotous session of taking the book and film to task. Things got more complicated than that, as it turns out Victoria really liked certain elements of Spielberg's adaptation (as did many viewers). And then one of the worst migraines I've ever had hit me about twenty minutes into recording.

We decided around that time to do a full-on Spielberg season and didn't realise how it would become the focal point of our 2020, so the raw footage of this one waited to find a final form that would be entertaining and informative and not just footage of me groaning from where I lay under the desk. The edit took several passes, new material and some clips from when We Hate Movies spanked the pants off this one. I'm really proud of the final show as it stands.

And if you LOVE the Ready Player One movie and want to hear more of the positive angle, this week's Patreon bonus Cutting Class episode will be a treat. 

Guests:

Victoria Luna B. Grieve:  @VixenVVitch 

The Adventures of Tintin & The BFG

The Adventures of Tintin & The BFG

November 27, 2020

[School of Movies 2020]

Two Spielberg films that failed to capture the hearts and minds of the cinemagoing public.

The Adventures of Tintin (2011) was his only animated foray, and the only one so far shot on digital rather than film. Made around the time Disney closed down Image Movers Digital because attempting wholly performance-captured films plunges the viewer into the uncanny valley. This one has more in common with Indiana Jones than even the obvious comparisons.

And The BFG, one of the most beloved books from one of the most beloved children's authors. A film that feels several decades too late for contemporary tastes, remains remarkably faithful to the source material and adds to and improves upon it in almost every way that could be marketed to families (it's about giants eating children). Yet it was dismissed by everyone. 

We provide you here with some really solid reasons to track down both of these for a couple of Sunday afternoons worth of fantasy adventure. 

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

November 13, 2020

[School of Movies 2020]

I recall when Crystal Skull came out it was around the time angry dudes on the internet were starting to really pick apart the prequels and why they had been betrayed on the promises made to them by George Lucas (to my shame that's how my movie podcast got started, but at least we'd moved on by week four). So the reception to this massively successful film was conversely very ugly in the fan community. And while we don't usually strive for a balanced argument this one felt like it needed a real examination as to both its faults and qualities.

So we reunited all of the guests from the previous three Indy shows, some of whom love it, some of whom loathe it, and the results make for one of the more fascinating discussions in the Spielberg series. Is this film really all that bad? And if you take a few infamous elements of contention out, what are you left with?

Guests

Chris Chipman of The Chipman Bros Tangent @The Chippa

James Batchelor of Bond and Beyond  @James_Batchelor

Kevin Veighey @GoldenTalesGeek

Catch Me if You Can

Catch Me if You Can

November 6, 2020

[School of Movies 2020]

It's safe to say that right now we all need something relaxing and engaging. Luckily Spielberg is right here for us with this 1960s period piece about a charming teenage confidence trickster, and the straight-laced government agent trying to bring him in.

One of the greatest pleasures of this year-long exploration of Steve's work has been rediscovering just how fantastic this particular movie is, especially in HD. It's stylish and exciting, touching and bittersweet. And since it's based on a true story it's also fascinating to watch how far this kid will push his theatrics. 

Two of the best, most understated performances from both Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, at a very specific turning-point for cinema, accompanied by the coolest of jazzy John Williams scores. Next week we round off our Indiana Jones saga with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Minority Report & War of the Worlds

Minority Report & War of the Worlds

October 16, 2020

[School of Movies 2020]

To date Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise have worked together twice in their careers. And since they were two dark future-shock movies that were released close together in the early 2000s we figured we'd cover them both as a double-bill. 

It's fairly extraordinary what a different world we are seeing here, than just a few years beforehand in the 90s. And in particular the age of terror paranoia of War of the Worlds now feels like a distant memory, what with everything happening at this moment. Like looking back on the cold war during the age of terror. 

So these are both pretty grim, and we decided to pep them up with some fun moments for you, including a look back over Cruises' family-averse portfolio, and rather more talk of penguins than I think *anyone* expected. 

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

October 9, 2020

[School of Movies 2020]

What existed for years as an ongoing project for Stanley Kubrick became one of the only treehouses he let his friend Steven in on. Eventually Stan decided his approach alone could not ideally shape A.I. for the screen, and that this story needed Spielberg to direct. Stan offered to play producer.

And then he died.

So Steven picked up the pre-production art, concepts and development, including the Robin Williams footage directed and recorded by Kubrick himself, abandoned what script existed and wrote one himself for only the second time. He then made a dark fairy-tale about humankind and our robotic children whom we both neglect and abuse. It ends up a requiem for a self-destructive civilization that could not overcome their fear and anger. And at the heart of it is a little robot boy who has been irresponsibly programmed to love one human mother forever. 

Of all of Spielberg's films to give a second chance at absorbing the depths and the shadows and the heartbreak, *this one* may top them all.  

Guests

Chris Chipman of The Chipman Bros Tangent @The Chippa

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

October 3, 2020

[Digital Drift 2015]

The second 2015 re-release from our dino season. You can go back to the separate School of Movies Archive podcast feed that a lot of people don't know about, but it has more than 200 of our pre-2017 shows. On there you'll find our episodes on Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World and at some point in the future we'll tackle Fallen Kingdom. 

This one is a weird and tonally dissonant path, relative to the original masterpiece. We uncover the movie of the book that Michael Crichton was pressured into writing after the success of the first movie, the content of which was largely scrapped for what Sharon magnificently dubs in this episode “Benny Hill with dinosaurs.”

Guests:

Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg

James Perkins of The Digital Fix

Schindler’s List (Hook & Jurassic Park Revisited)

Schindler’s List (Hook & Jurassic Park Revisited)

October 2, 2020

[School of Movies 2020]

A long time ago, around late 2013, Sharon and I recorded a shortish piece on Hook. It was just before Robin Williams passed, and so the file sat in our archive, unreleased, along with the one on Mrs Doubtfire. We just didn't want to be scornful of something he had done during that period of shock and mourning. Eventually in 2015 we combined that section with a new one on the 2003 Peter Pan to make a comparative show, and it did not compare favourably. I put that down to us really liking the Jason Isaacs version and nobody else seemingly giving a stuff. 

Anyway, we went back to Hook for our year of Spielberg, now with the blu ray in hand and a deeper appreciation of Steven's aims. And you know what? We really liked it this time. And this was again before I read up on the weird, staggered production woes this thing had. I can recommend a video called "Yesterworld: The Troubled History of Steven Spielberg's Hook: A Classic That Should Have Been."

We also went back to Jurassic Park to see if it holds up five years on from our Main Event show on it. Turns out not only is it still one of my favourite films of all time, but I found a way to watch it that makes it even better!

And all this is two spoons of sugar to help you prepare for what we have to say about Schindler's List. A film that in 2020 disturbed us to our very core, and left me so shaken that I noticed something in my voice during the edit that I've never heard before. We kept it short so that the heaviness would not overwhelm us or you. And we understand if you would like to skip this one. Hook and Jurassic Park run up to 43 minutes in.   

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park

October 1, 2020

[Digital Drift 2015]

Way back when Jurassic World was released (and we were all excited for what might have been the first really good Jurassic sequel) Digital Drift as this show was known at the time, put out one of our best episodes ever, on the 1993 original. So this is both a re-release and an essential, restored component of the Spielberg season. 

Still as fresh and endlessly entertaining to us as it was decades ago, this film is rarely out of our re-watching rotation, and as such I know it frame by frame and word by word.  We take you through every scene and get to the bottom of why this is such an appealing, evergreen and effective movie. 

Guests:

Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse

James Perkins of The Digital Fix

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

September 25, 2020

[School of Movies 2020]

The man in the hat is back, and this time he's brought his father. What could have been a much goofier, hapless escapade, diffusing the focus of Raiders, turned out to be the most personal journey for Henry Jones, (Junior and Senior).

There's a real thrill to be had from the idea of picking up a search that has spanned thousands of years and racing the Nazis to this immensely symbolic artefact, which itself contains a tricksy definition of what Eternal Life entails. This film is a masterful example of Spielberg being able to keep exhilarating momentum while maintaining a close hand on personal, familial relationships. 

Guests

Chris Chipman of The Chipman Bros Tangent @The Chippa

James Batchelor of Bond and Beyond  @James_Batchelor

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