Podcast: SJ 213: Modern Family; The Walking Dead; American Housewife; South Park; Will & Grace; Conners; Cool Kids; The Degenerates; Don’t Watch This; White Denim; Bohemian Rhapsody; Halloween

White Background LogoSwanner and Judd talk about Modern Family; The Walking Dead; American Housewife; South Park; Will & Grace; Conners; Cool Kids; The Degenerates; Don’t Watch This; White Denim; Bohemian Rhapsody; Halloween.

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Bohemian Rhapsody

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I am a huge Queen fan and have been looking forward to the Queen biopic for the near-decade that the movie has been in the works. Having gone through multiple issues with actors, directors, and the band itself, the movie has finally been released. Bohemian Rhapsody is directed by Bryan Singer and stars Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. The movie follows the band, with the majority of its focus falling on Freddie, from the time a quiet Freddie Bulsara replaces the leader singer of Smile (Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon), to the point where the band reunites after a rocky hiatus to play the Live Aid concert in 1985.

I was worried going into the movie, knowing the sort of issues involved in its creation. Sacha Baron Cohen felt the movie straight-washed Freddie’s past, and quit over creative differences. The remaining band members thought the movie focused too much on Freddie. Bryan Singer was fired from the film with two weeks left to shoot. While viewing the movie, one of the issues that immediately stood out to me is that songs introduced and used as markers for the band’s signature sound, were completely out of order. Anyone who is a Queen fan is going to recognize this. The band’s look was also taken out of order, particularly Freddie’s costumes, with John Deacon’s hair being the only chronologically correct appearance. Am I being overly particular? Maybe, but no more than any other Queen fan will be.

As I walked out of the theater, I was pleased what I saw – excepting the chronological errors – but as I digested the film, more and more things started to bother me. The move focused on Freddie, but I can’t say that I learned anything about him. He loved a woman named Mary, but we don’t know the dynamic of their relationship or why he loved her the way he did. Freddie fell under the influence of a man named Paul – but the movie did not reveal the fact that Paul was his actual manager and pushed the band into the Euro-disco sound of Hot Space, which the band strongly disliked. We saw Freddie turn to partying and drug use, but it was nothing more than clichéd PG-13 debauchery we’ve seen in other biopics of this type. Everything felt very superficial for a movie that runs 2 hours and 15 minutes.

A movie about a rock band that consisted of a flamboyant, golden-voiced Persian, a dentist, an electrical engineer, and an astrophysicist who created an orchestra with his homemade guitar should have been as unique as the band itself. Instead, the movie is about as formulaic as it comes – which is ironic, given the wonderful rant Mercury has about the detriment of formulas.

Judd: 2 stars

Halloween

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Swanner: On Halloween 1978, a young man named Michael Myers killed three people and terrorized a town until he was caught and put in a mental institution. After 40 years, Michael Myers escapes and makes his way back to Haddonfield Illinois to find his sister Laurie who still resides there. Laurie Strode does not live, she waits. She waits for Michael’s return so she can kill him once and for all. The Boogieman has no idea what waits for him.

Judd: The movie discards all previous sequels and is directly related to the first movie. The idea that Laurie is Michael’s sister is discarded as a myth, and Michael is nothing more than a brutal killer with a singular fixation.  The movie offers many nods to the original, with some callbacks that are obvious, and some not so obvious. All in all, it met my expectations.

Swanner: It met my expectations too. It was nice that they not only brought back Jamie Lee Curtis, but they also brought back Will Patton who was one of the cops that captured Michael originally. The film also takes a different approach. In the other film Michael is the hunter and everyone else is the prey. Here, Laurie has been waiting 40 years for him to come back and she’s ready. My biggest worry going in was that director David Gordon Green and writer Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley were all part of the team that brought “Your Highness” to the big screen. Thankfully my worries were for nothing.

Judd: Jamie Lee Curtis was fantastic, and I liked the way the movie played with the idea that Laurie is a paranoid agoraphobe. Of course, the audience knows all along that she has every right to be paranoid. I also thought it was interesting that Toby Huss and Judy Greer have major roles in the movie, considering that both of them are known more for their comedic chops and animation voiceover work.

Swanner: I was glad to see they made an R rated slasher film. It’s been sad to see the genre go PG-13 over the years. Let’s hope the success of this film will show studios that horror films should be rated R, you can’t have a guy with a butcher knife, killing people off screen with no blood and expect the genre not to suffer. It was nice to be scared again.

Judd: Agreed. Halloween has the same feel and pace, which may be a little slow for today’s audience’s, but the body count is higher to make up for it. Add its John Carpenter’s themes and trademark synth work, and you have a sequel that is worthy of, and just as good as the original.

Swanner: 3 ½ stars

Judd: 3 ½ stars

Podcast: SJ 212: Survivor; This Is Us; Single Parents; American Housewife; South Park; Murphy Brown; The Cool Kids; Will & Grace; The Venture Bros; Joe Rogan: Strange Times; Astronauts, etc; First Man

White Background LogoSwanner and Judd talk about Survivor; This Is Us; Single Parents; American Housewife; South Park; Murphy Brown; The Cool Kids; Will & Grace; The Venture Bros; Joe Rogan: Strange Times; Astronauts, etc; First Man.

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First Man

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Swanner:  First Man follows the life of Neil Armstrong from 1961, where we find him working in the space program, to 1969 when he became the first man to walk on the moon. Ryan Gosling plays Armstrong as a devoted family man till his young daughter dies. After that tragedy we see him pull away from his wife and family to focuses on the Gemini and Apollo missions. Damien Chazelle (La La Land) directs from the script by Josh Singer (Spotlight) based on James R. Hansen’s novel.

I can see that the film wanted to bring focus to how hard it was for the families: with so many astronauts never coming home. Claire Foy plays Armstrong’s wife, Janet. We see her angst, but through most of the movie she’s in a house dress, nervously smoking, with only a few really good scenes. In those scenes she is very good, as is the rest of the supporting cast.

It looks like Chazelle and Singer wanted to show the personal moments for the astronauts, so when it’s time to take off, we’re inside the capsule to see how lonely and frighting it must have been. It was very effective, but for an impatient audience, it caused a lot of stirring in the seats. The film is all about Neil Armstrong and Gosling does a great job with it. I just would have liked to have seen everything just a bit tighter, and bring that 239 minutes down to an edge of your seat 150 minutes.

I do realize that most of the people seeing this film probably weren’t born when the moon landing took place. I remember the day very well. I was barbecuing dinner while my family sat glued to the TV. I grew up in a time where movies and TV were all about space, so it didn’t seem special to me. I do remember the screams of excitement, once Armstrong stepped on to the moon, coming from my house and every other house within shouting distance. I hope the 3rd act of this film gives the same thrill to those young people who only know this story as a chapter in their history books.

Swanner:  3 stars

Goosebumps 2

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Swanner: Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Sam (Caleel Harris) find a book in an old abandoned house while collecting junk. After they open the book, a creepy ventriloquist’s dummy shows up.  The dummy turns out to be Slappy, an evil puppet who wants to make Halloween a nightmare for a small town. Once Sam and Sonny realize Slappy’s evil plan they get Sonny’s sister, Sarah (Madison Iseman) to help save the town.

Based on a Goosebumps book by R.L. Stine, director Ari Sandel and screenwriter Rob Lieber keep up the fun and the scares of Stine’s work. Scary enough to give it some Halloween fun but not too scary to give the intended audience nightmares. The cast is mostly made up of kids and monsters, but they do have a few grown ups: including Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jack Black, Ken Jeong, and Chris Parnell.

As I mentioned, this is a movie made for kids. So, you might find things a bit silly, but I still had fun with the film even as an adult. I will warn you that Slappy is very creepy, and for anyone that finds puppets coming to life as terrifying as I do…just keep breathing, it’s just a movie. Finally, with all the horror films that came out, it’s nice to have this kind of kid friendly fare for the family members that still collect candy every Halloween.

Swanner: 3 stars

Podcast: SJ 211: Survivor; This Is Us; Single Parents; American Housewife; Super Store; Fresh Off the Boat; South Park; Murphy Brown; The Cool Kids; Will & Grace; The Venture Bros; The Sisters Brothers; A Star is Born; Venom; and more!

White Background LogoSwanner and Judd talk about Survivor; This Is Us; Single Parents; American Housewife; Super Store; Fresh Off the Boat; South Park; Murphy Brown; The Cool Kids; Will & Grace; The Venture Bros; The Sisters Brothers; A Star is Born; Venom; and more!.

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