Nicholas Ragovis / AKA Doctor_Nick, victor of the Bald Move Fantasy Football League, has come to claim his spoils; a commissioned podcast! He has a great film for us, the 2006 German film The Lives of Others. Written and directed by Henckel von Donnersmarck, the movie offers a look into the brutal repression and paranoia of the East German State Police during the 80s, and the effects it had on the lives of those that had to live under it. But there is hope in the form of a Stasi captain that has to confront his own conscious and humanity during an assignment to monitor an esteemed playwright. This movie has us thinking about totalitarian regimes past, current, and future, the strength of the human spirit, and how we as citizens need to keep the hands of the joyless off the levers of state power.
Jim and A.Ron saw Alita: Battle Angel tonight, and declare it a mess, albeit a beautiful, groundbreaking one in terms of effects work. This feels like the first half of the third part of a movie trilogy; everything is mysterious, nothing makes sense, the world is being built hastily and right in front of our eyes, and the movie ends right at the beginning of what promised to be a kick ass third act. But if you want to see what state of the art CG looks like in 2019, this is a shining $170 million example.
We took a look at the latest Netflix original, High Flying Bird. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and shot on an iPhone 8, it tells the tale of NBA management squeezing the players for a reduced share of profits during a labor dispute, and one high profile sports agent that is caught in the middle. It works on the level of a heist film; instead of smooth talking con-man Danny Ocean, we have smooth talking agent Ray Burke. Instead of boosting millions off of a ruthless billionaire casino owner, we’re negotiating for millions off ruthless billionaire team owners. But it also works as a commentary on the power dynamics of labor in general, and on a meta level, the film industry itself. It’s a well made, well-acted, gorgeous film, and it’s final act is as thought provoking as it is fun to watch unfold.
Jim and A.Ron have seen The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and it’s almost if not just as good as the first one. Father/son relational dynamics take a back seat to big bro/little sis dynamics for the sequel, but Everything Remains Awesome. This movie is bright, colorful, funny, inventive, and packs a lot of heart. Go see it unless your inner child is dead and your heart is gripped by icy black despair. In which case I’d recommend The Lego Batman Movie, instead.
Special thanks to Hatorian, who by right of conquest in the Bald Move Fantasy Football leagues has won his prize; a commissioned podcast of his choice. He has chosen wisely, selecting the classic 1994 prison/drama/inspirational The Shawshank Redemption. This is a nearly perfect piece of filmmaking, with a confidence in pacing and direction from Frank Darabont matched by the nuanced work of the film’s two leads, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. We had a lot of fun watching and discussing this one Hatorian. Hopefully, it won’t be the longest podcast of your life…
Jim and A.Ron checked out the latest Netflix original film, “Velvet Buzzsaw”. Directed by Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. It functions well enough as a horror story, a farcical look at art criticism, as well as an introspective look at the creative process and the related critical process. We have quibbles here and there, but the film looks great, has some inventive/gruesome deaths, and the main cast has a lot of fun being terrible people.
Jim and I have seen the new Netflix original movie, “Polar”. Based on a graphic novel of the same name, “Polar” is an ultraviolent revenge flick combining elements from “John Wick”, “Crank”, and “Sin City” with an engaging and energetic performance from Mads Mikkelsen as anaaginh hitman. Unfortunately, it’s also a tonal mess, careening from slap stick humor to gory horror and back again, never sure of when to take itself seriously and commit to a point of view.
Jim and I missed Aquaman when it first washed up on our shores late last year, but we were lured in by general positive reviews and the massive audience and bank it’s pulling in. What did we think? Unfortunately, while it is clearly the second best DCU film after Wonderwoman, in our opinion it’s not nearly that good, and is still trying to play catch up to their more marvelous competition. Like a lot of these DC properties, it feels equally rushed and bloated, as if they stuffed three Aquaman movies into one. Any one act of this movie would have made an excellent installment of a kickass Aquaman trilogy, given a chance to breathe and establish their characters our connection to them.
Woof. Jim and I really, really wanted to like Glass, the sequel to the terrific Unbreakable, and the surprisingly good / sneaky amazing Split. And it should work. Bruce Willis, Samuel Jackson, and Anya Joy Taylor are good, and James McAvoy does more incredible work as the Horde. But the script is just about the laziest damn thing we’ve ever seen. Tons of plotholes, characters succeeding not because of their brilliance but others’ stupidity, and Shyamalan indulging the worst of his third act instincts torpedo any chance this movie had to kickstart a new cinematic universe, which is it’s plain ambition. It’s a genuine disappointment, ya’ll.
We have seen Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and declare it to be one of, if not the best Spider-Men movies of all time. Amazingly fun, incredibly inspiring, spectacularly stylish, and endlessly imaginative, Spider-Verse expands the franchise in entirely new directions while maintaining the magic that makes Spider-Man great; the moral obligations of an average person who is blessed with great power.