Tuesday, 20 February 2018

BLACK PANTHER / THE SHAPE OF WATER - double bill podcast review out now

We review Black Panther first in this review, and our The Shape of Water review starts at 21:11.

What luck did we have with two of our most anticipated films of the year being released in the same week. First up we review Marvel's Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler, which sees T'Challa become king of the advanced but secretive nation of Wakanda, whose privacy is threatened by old and new enemies alike. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira. Secondly we review Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water, a love story story between a mute woman and an amphibious man whose romance is caught up in secretive and violent government plots. Stars Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon.

You can download this episode directly here.

Make sure you subscribe to us on itunes here and leave us a review, as well as following us on twitter and facebook.

Special thanks to Leigh for composing the interlude music played in the middle of this podcast. Check out their posts for this blog here and their own blog Dancing with the Gatekeepers

Monday, 19 February 2018

BLACK PANTHER / THE SHAPE OF WATER - Double Bill podcast review out tomorrow

DVD roundup: Shit releases this week people, sorry edition

Oh wow, what a film. From director Tomas Alfredson, who did the wonderful Let the Right One In, and starring Michael Fassbender, who was mesmerising in Hunger, comes one of our least liked films of 2017 in The Snowman. There has been talk of studio interference with this one, which is a shame because it had the potential to at least me an atmospheric crime drama. Instead, we are left with a lacklustre, intensely boring and shamefully laughable movie which would make even the most ardent thriller fan weep in dejection. Listen to our full podcast review in the player below.

I honestly do not know how this is as highly rated as it is. Aside from its good first episode, the show quickly disintegrated into lazy character motivations and shameful red herrings. And don't even get me started on the absurdity of Bill Pullman's character. The Sinner was one of our lowest rated series of last year, but if you are still tempted to invest your precious time into it, then check out our podcast review of it first in the player below.

Really? This week is really not turning out to be the best for home releases. Sorry guys. While we didn't subject our money to Geostorm, we know a few people that did, and consensus is that the film is shit. Well, laughably so. Like, watch it if you've had enough of your smarts and you need to dumb yourself done for a bit. Like if you've really had enough of thinking for the day. Or you need a good two-minute-hate and you wanna get angry at the fact that something so stupid can be made. Or, like, you know, whatever.

And on to the last film. While criticised as much as the other films of this list, Happy Death Day has that distinction of being, well, kind of average. Mixed responses, you may say. Billed as being Groundhog Day meets Scream, the film at least tries to elevate itself from the staid and dull tropes of many contemporary horrors to include some romantic comedy, but responses to this film seem to put it in the mediocre, so, at least in this weeks selections, makes Happy Death Day the best new home release.

Friday, 16 February 2018

ART IMITATING LIFE: Altered Carbon and Francisco Goya

Warning: contains some spoilers for Altered Carbon.

By the later part of the Altered Carbon, we get know Takeshi Kovacs sister Reileen, who has been quite a big deal, if a shadowy figure, in this futuristic, transhumanist world. In her apartment we get to see the kind of decor tastes that she has, namely flashy weapons and baroque/romantic art. The most noticeable painting featured in the series is Francisco Goya's "Saturn Devouring His Son" (1819-1823), which is featured prominently in key scenes.

The painting depicts the Titan Saturn, who took to eating his children after it was foretold that a child of his would over throw him. Goya's depiction is especially violent, with the gore vividly highlighted against an intense chiaroscuro, the madness in the gods eyes quite frightening. Part of a series of Black Paintings never meant for public view, Goya painted "Saturn Devouring His Son" straight onto the walls of his house, created amidst worry of his own mortality as well the state of his country and loathing of war and religion.

In the context of Rei and her character though, the painting becomes more of a threat. Explaining her job to Takeshi in episode eight, she describes herself as a "titan of industry dealing with the weakness of the flesh", a not so oblique reference to the painting. In the last episode, Rei spouts "I'm going to eat you up" to her brother, solidifying fully her stance as the bad guy. Coupled with the copious weapons in her apartment, we gather quickly that Rei's main mode of working is through forceful violence.

Another way to view the painting is that Rei sees herself as the son getting eating, or rather, the one that got away. Eventually, Saturn's son Jupiter survived and usurped his father as king of the gods. In Altered Carbon, the rich and powerful are seen almost as gods, as they have the money to buy new sleeves and live on indefinitely, and they also live in the clouds, with the Bancroft's living in a huge tower and Rei living in a sadistic flying pleasure palace called Head in the Clouds. Perhaps this is to reference the Olympian gods taking over the terrestrial Titan's, taking their place as the new leaders.

We also see later on in the show Peter Paul Rubens "Saturn Devouring His Son" (1636), suggesting that perhaps the subject matter is more the focus of this symbolism. Dead people's corpses whose original stacks can't use any more are reused by other stacks, a constant devouring of flesh, the body becoming but a "meat prison". We see the rich abuse the poor's bodies, who are not so easily cloned, as well as their own, just for fun or stress management. Either way, the act of consuming flesh to preserve your own existence is a theme that is successfully represented throughout the series, and these paintings provide a nice easter egg.

However, saying that, a part of me finds its extremely frustrating when film and TV insist on putting famous works of art in their productions. Children of Men managed to justify having Michelangelo's "David", but the likes of Calvary broke its suspension of disbelief with its inclusion of Holbein's "The Ambassadors" (which I wrote about here). Altered Carbon is set hundreds of years in the future, but surely these works of art are still protected and revered? Are they to suggest that Madrid's Museo del Prado sold two of its most priceless paintings because the world is more interested in VR hotels? Or perhaps these paintings were stolen, but considering the amount of art we see in the series, including Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss" which Laurens Bancroft owns, that must of been quite a crime spree, and not something to be ignored. Or, perhaps maybe, these are vainglorious rich guys that like to have signifiers of wealth and there's some very profitable forgers out in this world. For me personally, the inclusion of these incredible but hugely famous works of art suspends my disbelief in the show.

Listen to our podcast review of Altered Carbon here.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

ALTERED CARBON - podcast review out now

Based on the book by Richard Morgan, Netflix's Altered Carbon sees cyber-punk mix with film noir in a transhumanist world. Advanced technology means that humans can now download their memories onto disks called "stacks" that implanted in your neck, meaning that your physical body, or your "sleeve", can be easily replaced or cloned. Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) is released from prison after 250 years with a brand new sleeve under the condition that he finds out who tried to kill god-like super-rich Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy). With its interesting ideas and high production value, Altered Carbon certainly looks the part, but how well does its convoluted story hold up over its ten episodes? Also starring Will Yun Lee, Martha Higareda and Chris Conner.

You can download this episode directly here.

Make sure you subscribe to us on itunes here and leave us a review, as well as following us on twitter and facebook.

Monday, 12 February 2018

ALTERED CARBON - podcast review out tomorrow

DVD Roundup: Butt-dialing edition

While no where near the heights of The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie, which were in turns funny, meta and poignant, The Lego Ninjago Movie still provides an entertaining 101 minutes for its primarily younger audience, those of which who are probably familiar with the Ninjago franchise. Containing the usual 4th wall breaking and surrealness you'd expect from Lego movies, it never reaches the emotional depth of the first movie, it tries so much harder then a lot of the lazier kids movies out nowadays. Read Layla's full review here.

I have a lot of love and respect for animated movies, for they truly are a labour of love, and Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman's Loving Vincent really does look like it took a lot of labour and a lot of love in its creation. 65,000 individual oil paintings, all in the style of Van Gogh, painted by 125 painters, took four years to make. While the style is admirable, I always have a little doubt in my mind when people tackle the subject of Van Gogh's death, and his subsequent label as a "suffering artist", as he seems to have become a kind of martyr for art and less of a real person over the years. Still, his work is incredible, and I would be more than happy to watch 65,000 frames of a film in his art style.

Ah, two great actors in Kate Winslet and Idris Elbar come together to make what looks a really very meh film. A romantic melodrama dressed up as a survival epic, The Mountain Between Us is the kind of story that really shouldn't sound as frivolous as it is, but after hearing about its disastrous ending, the masochistic part of myself kind of wants to sit through its sappy Hallmark flavourings.

Hole onto your breeches everyone, there's a new Pokemon movie out! A reboot of the original TV series, young Ash Ketchum is irresponsibly sent out into the world at the tender age of 10 to catch so-called "pocket monsters", some of which are pretty damn ferocious. Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! looks to have better quality animation than its predecessors, but the one thing I get joy out of this film is seeing this clip of a bunch of grown men gasping in horror as a certain pokemon speaks for the first time. What?? No!

Directed and starring Mercedes Grower, Brakes is a low-budget dark comedy about nine couples breaking up. Featuring a lot of improv, Brakes looks itself to be inconsistent, but considering some of the comedic talent in it, namely Steve Oram, Julian Barrett Noel Fielding and Julia Davis, it would definitely be worth a watch for fans of British comedy and nihilistic outlooks on love.