98 minutes | Mar 24, 2023
Studio Ghibli Part 1: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
[School of Movies 2023] This has been a long time coming. You've all been so good and respectful when it comes to not bombarding us with requests for anime shows that we decided to treat you collectively, and finally push the button on the one studio whose body of work is the first thing most people think of when it comes to prestigious films in this medium. Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985 and have produced two dozen movies to date. This is the first of a series of shows releasing over this year that will cover all of these. And to do that we have to go back to the source. Hayao Miyazaki was one of the founders, alongside Toshio Suzuki and Isao Takahata, and his is the most singular creative vision, informing upon the direction and philosophy of their art for forty years. Most of this first episode is spent discussing what repeating motifs show up across this body of work, and how much of that ties in with Hayao's worldview. We lightly cover Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro which he directed for Tokyo Movie Shinsha in 1979, and then move on to Nausicaa (1984) which was based on a manga book of his. These led up to the actual official formation of Ghibli in 1985. You will definitely pick up on themes that will be coming back around again and again, and we are honoured to be able to talk about these in lengthy depth, even if we do frequently strike an irreverent tone.
92 minutes | Mar 17, 2023
Dungeons & Dragons: The Cartoon
[School of Everything Else 2023] As the new movie approaches, Sharon and I journey back to one of our favourite childhood animated shows. Beginning in 1983, this was a joint collaboration between Toei Animation in Japan, Marvel Productions in America and DND Entertainment. It was an attempt to string a loose narrative together of a bunch of teenagers transported to a mythical realm full of D&D scenarios, and being given roles in an adventuring party. It was made at a time when everything was episodic and self-contained, performances were insanely earnest and we all learned valuable morals about not judging by appearances. But ultimately, what kept us coming back was a strange sick sort of desperation to see the kids get back home at last... That they never did lends this show a melancholy yet hopeful tone which captured our young hearts. Many thanks to our enthusiastic guest, who is younger than us, but caught the show in reruns in the early 2000s. Guest: Nama Chibitty @namathenerd
110 minutes | Mar 10, 2023
[School of Movies 2023] The first 72 minutes of this one, focusing on the trilogy of feature films from 2002, 2006 and 2010 was originally published on our Patreon bonus feed in early 2020 (the ten year anniversary of seeing them together on the big screen for the last time). Then, unexpectedly filming during the pandemic, the fourth film Jackass Forever emerged, and we were able to follow up with a new section. If you've never gotten into this motley crew of cackling, skateboarding imbeciles throwing themselves into dangerous situations, pranking one another and falling about in hysterics you also won't yet have experienced the unexpected pleasure of gut-laughing through their always enthusiastic, inventive, frequently absolutely disgusting, juvenile and sometimes kind of sweet shenanigans. If you've enjoyed them in the past then this show is going to be a veritable treat.
117 minutes | Mar 3, 2023
Duelling Pinocchios (Part 2)
[School of Movies 2023] The concluding second part of this detailed puppet exploration. We finally reach Guillermo del Toro's exceptional antifascist version of the story wherein things might not be so cut and dried as "Do everything you're told by adults". We also get to bring in discussions of all the other movies we watched along the way, in order to get a better handle on the screen life of this Italian legend. Some of them are lost, hidden gems just waiting to be rediscovered, some of which you should avoid like bubonic plague. You'll also hear about a version from Victoria that even WE didn't know about, in the most surprising of mediums. Guest: Victoria Luna B. Grieve: @VixenVVitch The complete Pinocchiae 1. 1940 (Disney Classic, directed by Ben Sharpsteen & Hamilton Luske) 2. 1996 (Adventures, directed by Steve Barron) 3. 2002 (Creepy Manchild, directed by Roberto Begnigni) 4. 2012 (Italian Animated, directed by Enzo D'Alo) 5. 2019 (Italian Live Action, directed by Matteo Garrone) 6. 2021 (Russian "True Story", directed by Vasiliy Rovenskiy) 7. 2022 (Disney Remake, directed by Robert Zemekis) 8. 2022 (Netflix Stop-Motion, directed by Guillermo del Toro)
121 minutes | Feb 24, 2023
Duelling Pinocchios (Part 1)
[School of Movies 2023] It seems like 2022 was the year of the little wooden boy, with THREE new Pinocchio movies released. There was the Robert Zemekis-helmed live action remake of the Disney classic, Guillermo del Toro's darker, fascist-challenging Netflix stop motion film, and there was the Pauly Shore dub of the Russian one that gained memetic notoriety. So Sharon and I went back and didn't only just watch those three... we pretty much watched every significant Pinocchio movie ever made. And then we brought in Victoria Luna B. Grieve to talk about their different approaches. In this first of two shows we revisit the 2014 recording of Daniel Floyd talking with us about the 1940 original for our Disney Animated Series. Then with Victoria we look at why so many people angrily *loathed* the new Disney incarnation. Next week, Del Toro, Shore, Benigni, Martin Landau, Udo Kier, Napoleon Dynamite, weird noises, strange perverts and the best animated version you've never heard of. Guests: Daniel Floyd of New Frame Plus Victoria Luna B. Grieve: @VixenVVitch
66 minutes | Feb 17, 2023
[School of Movies 2023] I would say you don't have to watch the film to listen to this show. I go deep into the themes and principles of the story, which means talking about the plot at length, but I don't spoil the details of the grisly, violent and scary scenes, thus hopefully preserving a lot of their impact. A brilliant engineer, toy designer winds up the sole caregiver for her niece after a tragic accident. Finding it far too difficult to suddenly incorporate a young person into her life she comes up with the idea of developing the child-sized robot she has been working on, turning it into the ideal companion for a lonely little girl. Inevitably the irresponsibility of this decision leads to the robot sprog going small-scale Skynet. It's a very enjoyable and extremely popular Blumhouse horror with more going on under the rubbery skin.
125 minutes | Feb 10, 2023
Carnage & Morbius
[School of Movies 2023] This is a pair of Patreon After School Club episodes, covering the second and third instalments of the Venomverse. Back in 2018, after I recorded my initial After School Club on the original Venom movie (which was subsequently released like this on the main feed) I outlined its various strengths and weaknesses and what a messy, daft underachievement it was. But then Venom wound up insanely popular, making more than many MCU entries. $856m versus The Eternals sitting un-prettily at $402m. That doesn't necessarily mean Venom is a better film, just that general audiences warmed to it HARD. So there was a big question mark over what might happen if they made the sequel into the film they WANTED to make, rather than what felt like a weirdly compromised first instalment which was clearly reshaped from its original R-rated incarnation. What do you suppose happened with Part 2? And then, the film that nobody wanted with the star that nobody asked for. Quickly bottoming the charts as one of the worst Marvel-adjacent movies ever made, this is a fine example of why the term "Superhero" really shouldn't be applied collectively. They are set in a universe/multiverse of superpowered beings but this is most definitely a science experiment that goes wrong and changes a genius doctor who *used* to help people into a toothy CGI beastie who jumps off rooftops, flies about the city and feels sorry for himself while the investigating police ineptly try to catch him before ultimately giving up. This is the first time I've coined the term "The Venom-Verse", because that's what this is. Nothing of Spider-Man, everything of vestigial comic book villains who swear to be antiheroes at some unspecified point in the future if Sony can get their act together. So welcome to Bat-Scientist Begins (and if we're all very lucky, ends).
117 minutes | Feb 3, 2023
[School of Movies 2023] This is our second attempt at a film that might mean *everything*. We had a go at recording on this 1997 Robert Zemekis sci-fi about attempting to decode alien messages all the way back in 2014. The discussion broke down soon after that opening section which crams a whole universe into our minds. Fortunately for us and you, this became a commissioned show (Many thanks to Executive Producer Matthew A. Seibert) which means we can't set it down or put it off any more. Jodie Foster puts in an astonishing performance as a woman in the grip of lifelong obsession, searching for answers. When her SETI team at the Very Large Array of radio telescope dishes in New Mexico get a long-distance message the entirety of Planet Earth is thrown into a chaotic conflict to establish meaning. Religion and science are put in opposition of one another, with explosive results. Astrophysicist Carl Sagan began conceptualising what would happen to the human race if it came into contact with intelligent life back in the late 70s, which precipitated an eighteen-year production limbo that he would not live to see the end of. Fortunately, Zemekis' film maintained the spirit of what Carl was reaching for.
165 minutes | Jan 27, 2023
Grosse Pointe Blank
[School of Movies 2023] One of our all-time favourites, so little-seen or talked about that it's debatable as to whether we are looking at a Cult Classic or not. And one of the reasons we've held off for so long on talking about this 1997 black comedy about a hitman attending his ten-year high school reunion is that we were waiting for it to be rediscovered. And that hasn't happened, neither has it aged poorly, which is always a concern for comedies. But also we love it on such a level of personal resonance that it has always been a challenge to put into words exactly why. The script zigzags wittily through this green Detroit suburb, the offhand delivery with room for improvisation without ever becoming self-indulgent, the exceptional casting, in particular John and Joan Cusack and Minnie Driver at her zenith, the soundtrack that shows a genuine affinity with 80s music rather than simply playing the pop hits. Also very specifically this was released at a time when nostalgia for that decade was barely even a thing yet. And this is what Commissioned Shows can sometimes accomplish. they give us an imperative to account for ourselves, and a quest to convey to you all why this one is definitely worth your time. No more ducking and weaving, rather like a litter from your high school summoning you to a festival of pain! So, many thanks to 'Executive Producer' of this episode Greg Downing.
113 minutes | Jan 20, 2023
There Will Be Blood
[School of Movies 2023] A commissioned show by Parker. This is our first Paul Thomas Anderson main event show, and it is a grimy, sticky dive into the black heart of the vampiric nature rewarded by pursuing The American Dream to the exclusion of everyone else's success. Daniel Plainview starts out as a grim, silent nobody scratching for silver in California's dirt. He discovers oil down there and rises in power and influence, buying up land cheaply with the full intention of tearing the resources out from under its inhabitants. Daniel appears wildly successful, only to find himself butting heads with other businessmen who provoke his paranoia, an opportunistic imposter and a zealous charlatan of a local pastor obsessed with keeping everyone else's attention on him. Through it all his mostly silent adopted son, H.W. remains the tiny speck of purity in an infernal subterranean ocean of oil and blood.
95 minutes | Jan 13, 2023
The Sea Beast
[School of Movies 2023] A Netflix-distributed animated film about bounty-hunting pirate whalers hunting giant ocean kaiju. A plucky girl trying desperately to live up to the great death of her parents whose ship was borne down to the briny depths. A hardworking himbo on the cusp of questioning exactly why all this loss of life seems to be so necessary to keep civilisation afloat. A desperate sea captain on the verge of retirement watching his work of years come undone and blaming it all on one massive red beastie. Easy comparisons with How to Train Your Dragon have been made, but you have to get under the harpoon-fletched scaly hide of this leviathan to find that it goes to places Dreamworks and Disney won't. This is a Commissioned show for Chris Finik, and it was an absolute pleasure to discover this one on his suggestion.
86 minutes | Jan 6, 2023
The Coen Brothers: Part 1
[School of Movies 2023] This is the start of a Director series that will run throughout the year, focusing on the complete works of Joel and Ethan Coen. Now in their mid-to-late-60s these two have been making quirky, dark films about stolen money and mysterious strangers for forty years. We begin with their first five stories of philandering spouses, struggling artists, uncomfortable criminals, screwball kidnapping and absurd industry. 1984: Blood Simple 1987: Raising Arizona 1990: Miller's Crossing 1991: Barton Fink 1994: The Hudsucker Proxy And we will be back in a month or so, to visit Fargo, Minnesota as they hit their heyday.
158 minutes | Dec 30, 2022
The Fantastic Four
[School of Movies 2022] For years this seminal, game-changing Silver Age comic book has seemed damned-near impossible to adapt into a movie, with all four efforts failing resoundingly at getting major audiences to care about Marvel's First Family. And yet Pixar did it twice with the serial numbers filed off and the clear vision of Brad Bird. So Sharon and I look back on those movies, two that we've covered in the past just based on their own merits (2005 and 2007) and two others whose productions deserve delving into (1994 and 2015), and we compare them against the comic itself from various periods (Lee & Kirby, Byrne, Simonson, Morrison, Waid, Straczynski, Hickman) and not only speculate on how they could fit into the MCU, but celebrate their characters (along with Doom, Silver Surfer and Galactus) in a way that film has been unable to, at least to date. This episode took a hell of a lot of research and is richly prepared for all of you. Our shortlist of recommended reading is as follows... 1. FF #48-52 ('The Coming of Galactus', 'This Man, This Monster', The Black Panther debuts) 2. FF #262 ('The Trial of Reed Richards') 3. FF #334-346 ('Into the Time Stream') 4. 1234 (Limited 4-issue series) 5. Vol. 3 #67 - Vol. 1 502 (4-issue 'Unthinkable' arc) 6. #538-543 ('Civil War') 7. #570-572 ('Solve Everything')
173 minutes | Dec 23, 2022
The Muppet Christmas Carol
[School of Movies 2022] This is a movie we covered already, back in the winter of 2011. But back then I was really just getting warmed up, and it was a comparative show with the Robert Zemekis version from 2009. But huge thanks to my guests back then who always bring the insight; Taylor Nova and Matt Ramsey. This time we delve deep into both the Dickens book and why the Henson version hits all the notes exactly right, as well as the recent and long-awaited restoration of the 1992 film (with the missing song performed by Meredith Braun now back in place) on its thirtieth anniversary. And accompanying us this time are a pair of veritable Muppet experts who run their own dedicated podcast on these ageless furry anarchist entertainers! Settle in for a genuinely epic journey through one of the greatest Yuletides stories ever told, being retold in perhaps the greatest way possible. Guests: Mackenzie Eastram @KenziePhoenix of Rainbow Connection @MuppetsPod Nathan Eastram @bertnerdtram These two also of Video Game: The Movie: The Podcast @VGTMPodcast
140 minutes | Dec 16, 2022
It’s a Wonderful Life
[School of Movies 2022] Perhaps the oldest film we have covered as a Main Event show to date, as well as one of the most significant from that era. Frank Capra's seminal Holiday classic is often dismissed as syrupy fluff by those who haven't yet seen it, or misremembered as light comedy by those who caught it in fragments over the years without sitting down to really take in what it's saying. It's neither of those things, and the greatest tragedy is how searingly relevant this 1946 post-war exercise in picking up the pieces of a nation still is. Sharon and I have been earmarking it for the SOM treatment for many years, but always putting it off as too heavy or too daunting, and also too beloved to cover in any way that wasn't 200% satisfying for all. Luckily Chris Finik came along with a shred choice of Commissioned show, and now you all get to listen to what it sounds like when we pull out all the stops.
162 minutes | Dec 9, 2022
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
[School of Movies 2022] We've been planning Narnia shows for many years. This was a very special book series to me as a child, informing on my worldview and writing. It was also the first long-form live action fantasy series I watched on television, as the BBC production which ran from November 1988 to December 1991 adapted four books over three 6-episode seasons. I always wondered why they stopped at The Silver Chair. Later I began to understand the kind of scope and budgets and potentially thorny territory that the remaining three stories would entail. The quaint, very British project was already more ambitious than anyone would have expected. After that were many long years of waiting for a cinematic incarnation (not counting the insanely cheap and rushed 1979 animated version). The achievement and success of New Line's Lord of the Rings films at the same time as Warner's Harry Potter imbued Disney with a desire to seek out its own epic fantasy series to bring in all the dollars. While compared unfavourably with Weta's perfectly magnificent Rings Trilogy it is frankly amazing that the director of the first two Shrek films was able to achieve something in this 2005 film which both surpassed my experience of reading the book, and even my loftily-soaring imagination of what the events could look, sound and feel like. We will be covering the duet of films that followed in 2008 and 2010 and lingering cancellation of the seven-part series next year. Guest: Nama Chibitty @namathenerd
4 minutes | Dec 6, 2022
Early Commissions 2023
This is a quick lowdown of what we have coming up in the next few weeks, along with official notification that the window for our Early 2023 Commissions Season is opening up right now. So if you have an episode you want crafted by us, the standard price for a film is $150 with video games and TV shows scaling that amount, depending on the hours we will have to invest. Get in touch via Patreon Messenger, Discord, Twitter or email, and have a very happy holidays.
124 minutes | Dec 2, 2022
Superman: The Animated Series
[School of Everything Else 2022] Following the tremendous critical and commercial success of the first ever dedicated animated Batman show, the same creative team turned their eyes to his sunny counterpart, the original, archetypal superhero, the last son of Krypton. It's always more challenging creating a successful, beloved Clark Kent than it is a Bruce Wayne. People like the brooding and the darkness. By contrast it is natural to be mistrusting of someone who purports to be so utterly GOOD all the time. Surely there's an angle. Look how naïve he is. What if he turned bad? Unfortunately this last prospect is the Superman story we keep returning to in pop culture. Because we can understand why someone would wield supreme power as a conquering weapon. This, however is THE definitive Superman. Christopher Reeve is no doubt the most wonderful, memorable, impeccably performed live-action Kal-El, but this show which ran for three seasons from 1996-2000 is most definitely the place to go to find the *context* for Superman. A world based on the comics that the creative team love and have actually read! A rogue's gallery that aren't all just Lex Luthor and General Zod, and the finest Lois Lane we may ever see. This Animated Series is a gift. Guests: Toby Jungius @TJungius of Through the Wind Door Kevin Veighey @KevinTimeGeek86 whose Let's Plays on YouTube can be found here
73 minutes | Nov 25, 2022
[School of Movies 2022] Nine years after his Chronicles, Richard B. Riddick is sat upon his iron throne, the crown hanging heavy, too many pie suppers since he was at his physical peak and too many wenches left in wordless ecstasy, sloughing around his greasy bedsheets. This is the story of how he gets easily tricked, shot in the back, left for dead on a barren planet filled with beasties designed exclusively to kill you, and soon after making a four-legged friend, he becomes beset by not one, but two separate groups of rotten mercenaries. Possibly the yellowest film you will ever witness, Riddick (2013) is what happens when one attempts to return to one's roots after an age of hubris. Does it succeed? Next Week: Superman - The Animated Series.
111 minutes | Nov 18, 2022
The Chronicles of Riddick
[School of Movies 2022] After knocking it out of the park on the first try with Pitch Black, David Twohy and Vin Diesel limbered back up four years later with a complete change of pace, scale and even sci-fi sub-genre. If you look at Pitch Black as The Hobbit, then where they took the series next was their Lord of the Rings. However, there is a world of difference between what went into the expansion and historical goings-on of Professor Tolkein and the Conan-the-Barbarian-in-space that Riddick metamorphosed into. Suddenly, rather than a dangerous prisoner he became the chosen one of a massacred world, destined to avenge his people against a rampaging horde of death-worshipping necromongers! The results of these changes were frequently frustrating and marginally absurd!