Category Archives: most anticipated

Review: My Next Guest Needs No Introduction (Episode 1)

In the format of his friend Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Car Getting Coffee, ex-talk show impresario David Letterman is chronicling his post-fame exploits. With the guerilla-style camera tilting up to his desk, Letterman fields a phone call with President Barack Obama to be the inaugural guest on his latest Netflix interview venture. When David politely exchanges goodbyes and hangs up the phone, we see the haggard look of tentative disappointment on his beard-encrusted mug as he immediately jumps to the conclusion that Obama is too preoccupied for his formal, no-frills chat.

Low and behold, Letterman managed to ensnare Obama for an interview in what appears to be a community theater hall that might be the minor venue for a local talent show or bake-sale fundraiser. Best of all, the audience is completely oblivious as to who the guest will be which piques and counterbalances the show’s lean production (two black leather chairs against the backdrop of curtain pulleys).

Strangely, it is quite apropos for Obama to be David’s contemporary since, as Dave winks, they both “left long-term jobs.” Letterman’s line of questions are more about demystifying the cloak-and-dagger secrecy of the White House and how one re-acclimates back to being an American citizen rather than the Alpha and Omega of our government.

Obama is cordial and immensely aboveboard as always about the transition to civilian life but what makes the confab so arresting is how he flips the dynamic and asks Letterman about his journeys after his CBS exile (pilgrimages to Japan and Newfoundland). Even better is how Letterman jokingly retreats from Obama’s curiosity back to his inquisition.

Along with the lighthearted banter (ex. Obama quips about Letterman’s staff along with his “biblical beard”), Obama candidly addresses the economic crisis and two wars he had to juggle when entering the Oval Office. Since they’re tackling provocative issues about social media news feeds, the au courant political climate and Obama’s childhood in Indonesia, the conversation is scintillating. It’s a bit jarring when Letterman pleats the insular format and retraces the Selma march with organizer John Lewis. Much like Letterman’s daily show, the most captivating episodes will hinge on the most captivating of guests in the long run and with an elocutionist like Obama by his side, the biplay is uncommonly strong.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

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Podcast January 6 – The Florida Project and Bright, plus Most Anticipated

Cory and Tristan usher in the new year with a collection of late-end 2017 films, including:

Lady Bird
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Florida Project
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Bright
I Love You, Daddy
Mr. Roosevelt

Their discussion also features two new television premieres – LA to Vegas and 9-1-1. They cap off their day with a brief recap of their most anticipated films of 2018.

Listen in below, and remember to comment responsibly!

Most Anticipated for 2018 (Tristan Edition)

Cory posted his top ten most anticipated of the year yesterday, and here are mine:

10) First Man (10/12)

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If you know me, you know I love astronaut stories. Apollo 13 stands as one of the best films from the ’90s and I raved about last year’s Eugene Cernan documentary The Last Man on the Moon. So when they announced that this biopic would be directed by Damien Chazelle, fresh off the success of La La Land, I was already sold. Throw in his new muse Ryan Gosling as the titular moon lander Neil Armstrong and I’m there on opening night. This could be dry, as many historical dramas are, but I’m a sucker for this stuff. Besides, Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin could steal the show.

9) Tag (6/15)

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Last July, Jeremy Renner broke his arms during a stunt shooting a new film. It must have been something involving the Avengers, no? Well, guess again – it was this strange comedy from newcomer director Jeff Tomsic and featuring an all-star cast including Rashida Jones, Isla Fisher, Ed Helms, Hannibel Burress, Jake Johnson, Leslie Bibb and Jon Hamm. If you’re excited about the impending Game Night, I’m pretty sure this has the same tone. All that’s known so far of the plot is that a group of old classmate friends get together once a year for a massive game of tag that continually escalates, so much so that this edition has them traveling cross-country in a mad, mad, mad, mad rush to win. This could be a lot of fun, though I tend to have a bad nose for comedy, so we’ll see.

Continue reading Most Anticipated for 2018 (Tristan Edition)

Most Anticipated for 2018 (Cory Edition)

10. Mom and Dad- 

He might be a laughingstock to some who consider his al a cart method for choosing projects paycheck gigs but Nicolas Cage rarely sleepwalks through a performance. With B-movies as his unabashed forte, the shackles will be removed for him to be the same uninhibited tornado that he was in Vampire’s Kiss. Brian Taylor’s previous films were the joyously capricious Crank movies which hopscotched between ven diagrams of lunacy. Cage as a deranged father whose prey is his own children is bound to be a monumental tonic for fans who’ve been missing his clenched-jawed, bulging-eye wackiness.

9. Blessed Virgin-

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Paul Verhoeven is the directorial equivalent of Alex Jones. He savors controversy and he addresses taboo subjects about rape revenge, violence and lesbianism with frothing-at-the-mouth vigor. Surely, his tale of a nun experiencing carnal fantasies and sacrilegious nightmares will be a lightning rod for the Catholic church to rally against. Verhoeven isn’t a sadist though. Even the most lurid of his movies (Elle, Black Book and the NC-17 camp classic Showgirls) were interlaced with the black tar of askew levity. Whereas his movies were initially disparaged as misogynistic, he has countervailed his critics by featuring strong female protagonists in his recent work and with such a coveted role, Virginie Efira could be a contender for this year’s award race.

8. Thoroughbreds- 

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I was relatively oblivious to the existence of Anton Yelchin’s penultimate film until I saw a preview for it a month and within that trailer, they quoted it as a successor to Heathers. Anyone who knows me personally knows that Heathers vacillates within my top 3 films of all time. High praise indeed. My farcical appetite is ranked on the bleaker end of gallows humor and any plot that revolves around callous, premeditated murder is typically a pretty dark territory to scope out laughs.

7. Apostle- 

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Indonesian action choreography push the boundaries of where the stunt performers end and the professional actors begin. Although he was aristocratic in Downton Abbey, Dan Stevens displayed a penchant for macabre menace in The Guest. I’m not sure how agile or fleet he is but it will probably be tested with Gareth Evans’ The Raid follow-up where he must rescue his estranged sister for an inculcating cult (led by Michael Sheen in scenery-chewing mode). Many long takes will ensue with Stevens dodging assailants with jagged crucifixion nails and other religious icons that are weaponized for maximum conversion.

6. Isle of Dogs- 

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Having gone on record as being disenchanted with Wes Anderson’s brand of twee whimsy, it might seem like an anomaly for me to be so enthralled with his latest project. The fundamental difference is Anderson’s self-conscious archness is more suited to painstaking stop-motion rather than live-action actors (much like his jaw-dropping adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox). And the storyline around the search for a lost pet is one of universal sentimental appeal which should add heart to an auteur who is usually lacking in the cardiac department. The garbage island in particular has a begrimed, otherworldly visual element that will dazzle the eyeballs. The quirky, matter-of-fact sense of humor might alienate youngsters and tykes but audience of my generation will lap it up.

5. Halloween (2018)- 

John Carpenter’s 1978 babysitter-in-danger picture wasn’t hailed to be the inception of a dwindling horror franchise yet the rampage of Dr. Loomis after Michael Myers continued for several decades past its prime. For me, the original was always an unsettling, slow-burn piece of clockwork but every movie beyond that hasn’t justified what was one of the classier, less bloody slasher epics. The involvement of comedy impresarios David Gordon Green and Danny McBride might cause pauses within the horror community but we underestimated Jordan Peele this past year as well as a pigeonholed pony. Thankfully the duo are retconning the tangled Thorn subplots and Jamie sisterhood of the other films for a tabula rasa with Michael’s murderous resilience. I’m confident that with Carpenter’s blessing, they’ll weave a meritorious follow-up and possibly gain the rights to use Trent Reznor’s terrifically modernized rendition of the synthesizer theme.

4. Backseat- 

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While I wasn’t an acolyte of Adam McKay’s prior excursion into socioeconomic satire The Big Short, the George W. Bush administration was an era that always fascinated me. More than that, the puppeteer behind the scenes, VP Dick Cheney, has remained an enigmatic figure to the American public. Christian Bale is notorious for his weight fluctuations but from the set photos, he seems to be completely incognito as the rotund, wizened Cheney. This could be a flawless companion piece to Oliver Stone’s Oedipal-complex masterstroke W. McKay will undoubtedly be more unflinching and ruthless as to how Cheney coerced the country into the oil conflict and how he manipulated other members of the cabinet through his Halliburton connections. Could be 2018’s answer to Dr. Strangelove.

3. Annihilation- 

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Now that Netflix has acquired the international rights to this title, the film will be accessible in a way that eluded Alex Garland’s brilliant directorial debut Ex Machina. While the trailer is fixated on the gunfire and military hardware of the picture, I expect the film to be much more cerebral (which is the main reason the producers mandated reshoots which were then rebuffed by Garland in favor of the un-altered cut). Not having read the book, I can expect provocative eco-friendly lessons about the blowback from mankind’s mongrelization of Mother Earth. Natalie Portman has been on a consecutive streak of tour-de-force performances and in the genre of science-fiction, she won’t be bedraggled into the wooden doldrums by George Lucas again. While I’m not a fan of adaptations of books with trilogy arcs, if the movie can be retrofitted for a singular experience, it could be a visually transcendent movie on the tier of Fritz Lang or Stanley Kubrick.

2. Creed 2- 

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Usually I’d be apprehensive about a sequel to a spin-off of one of my most beloved franchises. However, the last two entries from the Rocky Balboa arena have been gangbusters and with rumors that Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) might be reprising his role as the pugilist who took away Adonis’ father, the stakes couldn’t be more poignant or vengeful. Rather than another run-of-the-mill opponent, this would culminate the Adonis saga in which he laboring under Apollo’s umbrage and maybe bring justice to his father’s killer. Hopefully Drago won’t be the one-dimensional juggernaut we saw in Rocky IV and he utter more than a few grunting syllables. My biggest fear with this installment- a swan song for Rocky in which Stallone retires the character permanently through an act of vengeance or mortality finally takes its toll. I’d rather my last image of Rocky be his tandem walk with Adonis down the museum steps than laying in a casket.

1. Dragged Across Concrete-

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With police brutality as a national pastime, who better than S. Craig Zahler to pour salt in America’s open wound around corrupt law enforcement? Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn previously collaborated on the lopsided Hacksaw Ridge and now they’re grizzled costars. Both are known for explosive outbursts and with such a timely subject, I don’t doubt the interrogations and inciting incident will be tremendously volatile. Vaughn’s blonde highlights lend his character an Aryan superiority complex. Moreso than the Takeshi Miike ultraviolence, I’m looking forward to Zahler’s novelistic navigation through the Z-grade plot wherein the two reprehensible officers will be given depth beyond their bigotry. Unlike Shane Black buddy action-comedies, these hard-boiled cops won’t be sharing Christmas meals together or going on fishing trips.  Even the curb-stomping title has a pulpy zest to it.

Least anticipated-

The War with Grandpa- Two things that will bring shame to this movie – DeNiro’s continued ruination of his 70’s and 80’s streak and Tim Hill’s assuredly insipid direction. The Weinstein Company banner is a badge of honor in comparison.

Pacific Rim: Uprising- It was only a matter of time before this series became as cinematically incoherent and drab as Michael Bay’s Transformers but already the second one?

Super Troopers 2- Despite the gimmicky stoner release date, does this movie have any reason for being financed? I thought the first movie was an overwhelmingly overrated, lowbrow cult film. Why would a belated comedy sequel redeem it?

 

Twin Peaks: The Return (Episode 1)

I must confess to the fact that I’m a Twin Peaks newcomer. I haven’t seen any of the previous episodes but I’ve been recapped on the Laura Palmer murder mystery and the ensuing oddities from friends. Having said that, I’m still a devout fan of David Lynch’s oeuvre of idiosyncratic surrealism (The Elephant Man, Dune and Blue Velvet being my personal choices for his magnum opuses).

Lynch’s collaborations with Kyle MacLachlan have been a tremendously fruitful marriage of actor and director. Kyle seems to be readily incorporated into Lynch’s brand of bucolic madness. In the intervening 25 years, Agent Dale Cooper has a nefarious doppelganger: a tanned weekend warrior with a mullet and pitch-black irises. Quite the stark contrast to his well-groomed, fastidious image during his stay in Twin Peaks.

Much like his other excursions into dream logic, the dialogue is serpentine with quotable nonsequitirs such as when Dale advises a lodging employee to hire another bouncer, she cryptically replies “It’s a world of truck drivers.” Along with that, the 217-member cast includes a cornucopia of celebrity walk-ons (Ashley Judd, Jane Adams, Matthew Lillard, etc.) and loopy characters (the absentminded neighbor is my favorite).

Lynch can be oblique but he doesn’t alienate the audience with pretentiousness. Within a reconnoitered building, a man is garrisoning a “top-secret” project which is a glass box that seemingly hypnotizes the people around it. How it correlates to the overarching story is still an enigma but when the guard states that his colleague once saw something materialize inside the box, we are anxiously awaiting a phantasmagorical glimpse ourselves.

Emboldened by a slot on Showtime, the show isn’t bound by network censors and therefore, a highly charged, carnal sex scene can occur before a EVP-esque poltergeist can collide through the booth and savagely slaughter the copulating couple. It’s a genuinely scary set piece. Cooper is largely missing from the premiere episode but the plot now pivots on gravitating Cooper back to the wilderness.

The latest incarnation of Twin Peaks is an unassailable success. It proceeds to ferry us back to the land of Lynch’s gonzo imagination and terrifying quirkiness (the deputy chief gains information from messages from a log). To some, it might be a wave of nonsense or a shaggy dog story with no coherent ending. To me and those who grew up on the show, its puzzling structure is chief among its pleasures.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5

Review: Rick & Morty (Season 3, Episode 1)

In what might be the most brilliant piece of counterprogramming for April Fool’s Day, Adult Swim jolted the burgeoning cult of Rick and Morty fans by continuously streaming the season 3 premiere on their website until the stroke of midnight on April 1st. Personally, I had to watch the episode several times because lag caused me to watch piecemeal. What this means is they didn’t anticipate the amount of traffic they’ve received upon the announcement; a testament to the show’s widening audience.

As for the show itself, it’s been over a year since we saw Rick imprisoned in an intergalactic jail for his assorted crimes. Unlike most animated shows which treat continuity rather arbitrarily, Rick and Morty prides itself on not ignoring the consequences of its cliffhangers. The Federation has colonized Earth and Rick is being interrogated by an agent (guest star Nathan Fillion) for his interdimensional secrets.

The funniest part of Fillion’s role is when Rick transferring his consciousness into the agent’s brain and Fillion flaunts a hilarious Rick impersonation (complete with the burps, arrogance and slurred speech pattern). Dan Harmon’s world is not hermetically sealed from pop culture references either with allusions to David Cronenberg and the Hunger Games.

The time paradoxes are surprisingly well-crafted for a comedy show. When one Rick visits another doppelganger to persuade him to devise the portal technology, he flippantly jokes about how his influence on concocting the travel system means the current Rick isn’t the actual creator of it. Pretty cerebral material for what was preceded by a smorgasbord of flatulence gags.

Morty is still the fly in Rick’s ointment as he is constantly sabotaging Rick’s forethought with his irate behavior. During a standoff with Summer and a member of Seal Team Rick, Morty’s interference inadvertently yields a positive result unbeknownst to him. Morty’s role as the albatross around Rick’s neck is still highly amusing.

In the episode’s final moments, the show promises another contortion on nuclear-family bliss when Beth announces she is divorcing Jerry after Jerry issues an ultimatum between him and her father. It might be an example of misdirection but Justin Roiland and Harmon hardly believe in half-measures. They also lampoon the staple of having season-long character arcs with Rick exclaiming that his arc is a search for Szechuan McNugget dipping sauce.

It’s been reported that Roiland and Harmon are having creative differences over the 14-episode run of Season 3 which catalyzed the interminable wait before the official premiere this summer. If they can maintain this level of off-kilter invention and anti-humor, Rick and Morty is displaying no signs of not getting to that Season 9 condiment revelation.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: Crashing (Season 1, Episode 1)

The name Pete Holmes might not ring any bells with people on the outskirts of the New York stand-up circuit but his act certainly resonated with the prolific Fred Decorvoda of comedy, Judd Apatow. When Pete (as a veiled version of himself) is about to spontaneously have sex with his wife on the kitchen floor, he awkwardly makes a joke about “10 CC’s of Dawn” for his hands. From that point onward, the show has established Holmes’ comical persona as a tongue-tied nebbish whose mileage can vary based on your preference for cringe humor.

The half-hour format is optimal for sitcoms like this but the show is not stringently original in its concept. The fact that a comedian’s life is normally a shambles of neurotic setbacks is a trail that was blazed by Seinfeld, Marc maron and most currently, the brilliantly mumblecore stream-of-consciousness of FX’s Louie.

It’s too early in the series to see if the show will escape the vortex of those previous shows but it is intermittently funny and less noxious than Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley. The scene where Holmes interrupts extramarital sex with his wife and Lief, an oblivious art teacher, has been recycled dozens of times.

Since the show itself is on a brittle foundation, the show must rest solely on the supporting cast which is comprised of seasoned clowns like Artie Lange, Sarah Silverman and Jeffrey Ross. Artie’s critique of Holmes’ “set” is scathingly funny when he compares it to his cousin admitting to child molestation.

As such a comedian funneling his pain into a “raw” portion of his act, is pretty stale but the “crash and burn” aftermath is usually ignored. Obviously most of Lange’s autobiographical dialogue has been ad-libbed which probably accounts for why it is so off-the-cuff and generally hilarious about the drug-fueled downturn during his MADTV tribulations. It’s during the slice-of-pizza conversation that the show is lively and unfettered sans the Murphy’s Law contrivances. If the show continues down this lane and abandons the homogeneous plotline, it can be an amiable sleeper.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5