Interjections Podcast July 24 – Pixels, Paper Towns, Southpaw, Mr. Holmes and Spectre

This week was replete with films for Cory and I to mull over in cinemas and our homes. From Pixels to Paper Towns, Cory had a marathon viewing of new releases, including Southpaw and Mr. Holmes. I managed to catch Mr. Holmes and Southpaw earlier in the week as well, so we’re actually on the same page for once! I also viewed Ant-Man and a 15 year old David Mamet film called State and Main (RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman!).

We also cover the usual news of the week, including a discourse on the easy access of original Netflix films and on-demand titles instead of coming to theaters.

Enjoy below!

Editor’s note: Cory and I both realized afterwards that we should have mentioned we posited on the fact that Patrick Stewart would have been a perfect John Watson in Mr. Holmes, if they’d wanted a neat cameo…

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Mission Impossible Retrospective Part 2

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2-
John Woo has been and will always be one of the action directors that I genuflect to. His movies are hyperkinetic extravaganzas with dollops of elegiac poetry (the dove trademark, the slow-motion theatrics, etc.). This is the cardinal reason I was eagerly anticipating this sequel and for what it’s worth, Mission: Impossible 2 is a jaw-dropping, flashy Heroic Bloodshed masterpiece.

The terrorist takeover of the 747 is massively irreverent. When Biocyte engineer Dr. Nekhorvich (Rade Serbedzija) is pummeled in the jugular by “Ethan” and it is revealed to be arch-nemesis Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) in a latex mask, it’s a shattering shock-to-the-system. This gimmick is reiterated again later and once again it swiftly pulls out the rug from under the audience.

Of the remixes of Lalo Schifrin’s immortal main theme, Limp Bizkit’s thrashing version might be my favorite. It quickens the pulse immediately once the data-encrypted sunglasses explode. This is first installment to introduce the hair-raising mainstay of Cruise performing his own perilous stunts such as the mountain solo climbing without a safety net below him. While certainly awe-inspiring, the motorcycle finale is a nail-biter with a casually cool Cruise sidling next to his bike at top speed and firing with expert marksmanship via his rearview mirror.

Thandie Newton’s cat burglar, Nyah, is a sultry femme fatale and she can be aptly described as a more adroit Bond girl. Her cat-and-mouse car chase in Seville is coyly hormonal and her erogenous relationship with Ethan is a cue to Hitchcock’s 1946 Notorious. The chemistry between Cruise and Newton is high-wattage and it anchors the film with an impassioned conflict-of-interest when Nyah is inoculated with the Chimera virus.

Chinatown author Robert Towne isn’t a doltish hack in terms of banter and his screenplay for Mission: Impossible 2 is replete with sly witticisms (“This isn’t Mission: Difficult Mr. Hunt. This is Mission: Impossible. Difficult should be a walk in the park for you.”). Due to this reason, I’ve never been craving wanton destruction during the midpoint stretch where Nyah is infiltrating Ambrose’s compound.

It’s a satisfyingly slow-burn build-up to an absolutely propulsive ending where Cruise and Scott leap from their bikes to pulverize each other to near smithereens on a sandy beach dune. For these eclectic positive qualities, I always found this second enterprise to be the excitingly scorching black sheep of the series with dynamism to spare.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Podcast July 19th – Ant-Man, Trainwreck, Emmy Nominations, and much more

Hey everyone – we have quite a doozy of a podcast this week for you. It’s our longest one yet, and we’re putting in topics as varied as the new novel by Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman, to Amy Schumer’s starring cinematic debut, Trainwreck. Cory saw four other films as well – Ant-Man, Joe Dirt 2, Magic Mike XXL and documentary Death of Superman Lives. Tristan caught two films on Netflix: Before I Disappear and The One I Love. We discuss topics such as counter-programming, Gillian Flynn’s next cinematic adaptation Dark Places, the future of the X-Men film series and TV series like Mr. Robot and Tut.

Check out our podcast below, like us here and on Facebook/Twitter, and hopefully you enjoy this elongated exchange on current entertainment events!

Tristan and Cory (Interjections)

Editor’s note: Tristan erroneously stated that the Tut mini-series is on Starz. It is actually on Spike, which means it’ll be seen by even less people…

True Detective Season 2 Episode 5 Review

Last week people decried the cockamamie contrivance that only the three main players survived a torrential bulletstorm in downtown Los Angeles. To me, it was an indicator that they are included in the detritus whether they’re lying on the ground or not. They are already departed from this plane of existence. Either way, the episode had a ripple effect and as long as the show is causing waves, it’s an excellent sign of its longevity and place in cultural conversation.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the trio are undergoing several self-modifications. It’s startling to see Ray clean shaven and not bleary-eyed with alcoholism. He was in a cocoon of self-loathing and he has emerged with a swagger and a purpose for life but he is still the errand boy of Frank; a role that he seems increasingly uneasy with. I’m glad that the tape-recorder messages to Chad are perpetuating with some regularity.

The fact that there was an empty chair between Ani and the rest of sexual harassment seminar is a pointed character cue for her antisocial behavior. Her confession of an insatiable, nymphomaniacal appetite for penial girth was crudely funny. This season is lucidly cloven between two halves: the investigation of Caspere’s murder leading to the Mexican meth-factory standoff and the non-heroic treatment of the detectives afterwards.

The underlying mystery that continues to haunt Frank throughout the show is the five-million dollars that Ben absconded with and the whereabouts of it now. Tonight’s episode had a throttling David Fincher ambience with the Dust Brothers-esque electronic score playing over Ray’s surveillance of Blake.

Pizzolatto is audacious with how darkly recessive and subterranean he’ll explore. For example, “You could’ve been a scrap job” might be the most nastily vicious that has been uttered on the show but it doesn’t excuse the ultimately untoward storyline with Paul and his closeted affairs. W. Earl Brown would’ve been a more germane candidate for perusal.

Frank might feel qualmish about the term “gangster” and that he was “drafted” into his scurrilous lifestyle but Jordan (Kelly Reilly) wisely ascertains that his nascent prostitution ring has cratered a rift between them. In Lynchian logic, the officers might don sleek, decorated uniforms now but those are veneers over their shackled hearts in which they are doggedly pursuing a case that “nobody cares” about.

In a moment designed for Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, Farrell quietly seizes the powerhouse epiphany that his ex-wife’s rapist was caught weeks ago. While director John Crowley doesn’t savor it long enough, the next scene of Ray brutalizing Dr. Irving Pitlor (Rick Springfield) is his belligerent coping mechanism. That was a blip on an otherwise graceful metamorphosis for the second half of the season. The final shot is a neo-western cliffhanger to the showdown at the O.K. Corral between Frank and Ray.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Vacation Retrospective Part 1

 

Only a week away from the release of the new sequel reboot of the Vacation series on July 29th and now would be the apt time to revisit the zeitgeist when Chevy Chase was a comedy demigod.

NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION-

It might be hard to believe for anyone under 30 but Chevy Chase was the first breakout star from Saturday Night Live. Now he is mired in temperamental controversy with his resignation from Community but he was only on SNL for the maiden season before he embarked on a lucrative film career. His early film success spawned three undisputed comedy classics- Caddyshack, Fletch and National Lampoon’s Vacation.

With the training wheels removed after Caddyshack, Harold Ramis is more polished in his handling of Vacation. No more coming-of-age subplots or unnecessary deviations but some gags lose their luster from repetition (Brinkley cameo, the Holiday Road anthem, etc.). John Hughes’ hospitable, gradually gut-busting script firmly revolves around the Griswold family and their patriarch Clark’s (Chase) rhapsody to have a cross-country adventure en route to the Wally World amusement park.

It’s an understatement that Chase is flawless as the overzealous father Clark. His desperation to provide ecumenical fun to his entire family is congenial and adds a warmth to the normally aloof Chase who usually rises above his stark situations with sardonic asides ala Fletch. He is elated and optimistic over the simplest of mundane rituals – the car trade-in. His Mr. Magoo double-take over his flattened former vehicle is rib-tickling.

The farcical elements of Vacation are a springboard for Murphy’s Law (“Nothing worthwhile is easy”). Despite the contrivances, Vacation is teeming with relatable scenarios of travel (the discordant singalongs, the Augean motels, sightseeing, etc.) and wry Walt Disney satire. Once Clark’s frangible exterior is dispirited by the misadventures, the glint of unhinged mania in Chase’s one-track demeanor is fabulously funny.

Sometimes, the humor is delectably politically incorrect such as when the Griswolds detour through an urban neighborhood that is crime-ridden (Clark’s stab at slang “What it is homes?”), Clark’s adulterous flirtation with the Girl in the Red Ferrari (Christie Brinkley) and an inopportune roof shrine for the deceased Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca). Midway through the film, we are introduced to the recurring character of Cousin Eddie and Randy Quaid is a supremely uncouth foil for Clark insofar as he is not the bread-winner, his mutated gene pool is inbred (one of his daughter was born without a tongue) and routinely supplicates for astronomical loans.

In the pantheon of Chevy Chase pictures, the identifiably hilarious, sprawling Vacation ranks among the best and his knack with slapstick is nonpareil (his scolding of his children with his wife, Ellen’s (Beverly D’Angelo) panties wrapped around his index finger). It has withstood the test of time because everyone can empathize with Clark’s idealistic purview of a generational bonding experience.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Mission Impossible Retrospective Part 1

With Tom Cruise committing his suicide to celluloid (or digital) again for Rogue Nation on July 31st, I thought it would be appropriate to dissect the entries leading up to his latest untenable assignment.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE-
It probably seemed unlikely in 1996 that Tom Cruise, one of the most lionized box office stars, would saddle himself to a franchise when he had a veritable smorgasbord of projects to choose from. And yet five films later with rumors of a sixth installment already unspooling at Paramount Pictures, the espionage brand is at its pinnacle of popularity.

For the first outing, Brian De Palma is the helmsman and it incontrovertibly emblazoned with his hallmarks. A dinner rendezvous where Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is accused of being a double agent is framed with traditional Dutch angles. More than once, he shifts to his most characteristic, neoclassical shot- the POV of a predator in pursuit of their quarry.

De Palma doesn’t overreach into his Hitchcockian worship on this film although the amount of double and triple crosses become absolutely absurd. While it is culpable for the attributes that are synonymous with Mission: Impossible (the latex masks, the gadgetry, the team disavowal), it is also the most tedious of the bunch. Scenes of high-wire tension like the aforementioned combustible-gum escape are showstoppers but they are diamonds hidden within the almost somnambulistic pace and contrivances.

On top of that, Cruise hadn’t quite polished his dashing action chops yet and he often comes across as smarmy in his NOC exchanges with Max (the coquettish cougar Vanessa Redgrave). Judging from these past few paragraphs, it could be construed that I was underwhelmed by this preliminary adventure. On the contrary, the film is redeemed immeasurably by two sequences that are categorized in the annals of action movie history.

The first is the crisply executed harness stunt where Ethan is suspended in a temperature-and-volume-garrisoned room where the slightest sound or rise in heat could trigger an alarm. De Palma wisely ratchets the breathlessness to nearly exhausting lengths with complications from a rat in the ventilation system to a bead of sweat off Ethan’s glass. The second is the Channel Tunnel chase which is still dazzling in its breakneck speed and rear projection for the train.

Yes, it’s mildly disenchanting that the team is dispatched early on (Emilio Estevez’s tech guy Jack Harmon would’ve been an amusingly wiseacre recurring character) and the murder mystery is an inscrutable web of deceit. Nevertheless, the film is urbane, moderately engrossing entertainment of the highest caliber and it spawned the modern-day spy genre.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Interjections Podcast July 12th – San Diego Comic-Con and Minions

Well, Cory and I have been pretty busy this weekend – Comic-Con was thriving this weekend in San Diego, with news about Star Wars, Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad, Batman v Superman, Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Wolverine 3! We couldn’t resist having another podcast to finally cover all the things we’ve learned since Friday. In addition to all the film and franchise news, we also both caught the animated sequel Minions and Cory has a sweet review about instant classic Dope.

Hope you haven’t been inundated with all the podcast majesty, because here we are:

Knowing the right time to talk about movies, music and television