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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

HypeCast: True Detective, Hannibal, Game of Thrones, and Inside Out

         Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. Today we discuss the tragic cancelation of NBC's Hannibal, and the tragic season premiere of True Detective. The conversation includes Collin's complete and utter ignorance in regards to Mr. Lecter's most recent television incarnation, graphic descriptions of graphic Colin Farrell and his graphic mustache, and quick brush-ups on a couple of subjects were broached in our last pair of podcasts; the season five finale of Game of Thrones, and Pixar's Inside Out. Warning: a few naughty words are contained within (especially when it comes to describing True Detective). Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Podcast Itinerary:
9:40-42:20---True Detective
42:21-1:00:17---Game of Thrones
1:00:18-1:02:24---Inside Out

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hype Starts Here's Summer 2015 Playlist

       Hello, and welcome to Hype Starts Here's 2015 Summer Playlist, a 40-pack of tracks eager to score your neighborhood barbecue or late night house party. Because I am apparently stuck in the year 2005, the songs here have assembled as a double-disc, each made to fit on an old-fashioned blank CD (see: >80 minutes). Brief descriptions of each tune can be found below, while the Spotify playlist is just a click away. Enjoy:

Disc 1:
1. Excuses---The Morning Benders
         That's right, I'm starting yet another Summer Playlist with Excuses. I've perhaps been excessive in my praise of this glorious, sun-soaked anthem, but my priorities are in the right place; I want EVERYONE to hear this song

2. Idle Delilah---Azealia Banks***
        A warm, breezy R&B track that manages to squeeze in Bank's irrefutable skills as a rapper in a loose, free-flowing manner.

3. If You Didn't See Me (Then You Weren't On The Dancefloor)---Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
        Don't let Dancefloor's subtle opening trick you; this is a big, blissful dollop of dance pop goodness, powered by tidal waves of synth.

4. Jackie and Wilson---Hozier
        Turns out there's more to Hozier than wrought despair; J&W is a down-home jam powered by the man's signature croon, and a massive chorus.

5. Ohio---Justice
        Ohio makes you wait for it, setting the stage with warped, echoing vocals before unfurling into a trippy, undulating anthem.

6. Lovers Carvings---Bibio
        Time to take it down a notch; LC is the prized jewel of Bibio's career, a beautiful, ruminating two-parter completely soaked in sunshine and contentment.

7. Don't Wanna Lose---Ex Hex
        Zippy pop punk that wastes no time in getting down to business, Don't Wanna Lose is a two-and-a-half minute blast that's over in the blink of an eye.

8. Jam---A Tribe Called Quest***
        Pratically any Tribe song could fit on a Summer Playlist, but Jam is a party song in the most literal sense, chronicling a night out on the town over a silky smooth beat.

9. 11th Dimension---Julian Casablancas
        This is artifice of the very best kind, a glittering wall of electronica more than capable of taking over the room.

10. Flashed Junk Mind---Milky Chance
        Simple, subtle, and radiating with warmth, FJM is a modest morsel of comfort and nostalgia.

11. Monoliths---Lotus Plaza
        You don't exactly name a song Monoliths if you're not aiming for something big; this Lotus Plaza track won't stop getting bigger and more enveloping, slowly ascending to the heavens.

12. I'm Not Part Of Me---Cloud Nothings
        A steady churning surf rock wonder with a seemingly inexhaustible store of killer hooks stuffed into its four-and-a-half minutes of existence

13. Whorehouse---ceo***
        A kaleidoscopic cacophony of colors, sounds, and motion, Whorehouse is a pop song for maniacs, as jaunty as it is bizarre.

14. 400 Lux---Lorde
        Taking it down several notches, 400 Lux is a sweet, sumptuous ditty that wraps itself all around you without lifting its voice beyond a whisper.

15. Work---Gang Starr***
        I can think of no better way to bring the party back than one of the best beats of DJ Premier's storied carrier, gliding along underneath Guru's braggadocio flow.

16. I'm Always In Love---Wilco
        Wilco is no stranger to grandstanding sing-a-longs, and Love stands among their best, a mid-june jam replete with joyful bombast.

17. Breakers---Local Natives
        From one high-flying chorus to another, Breakers is downright colossal, its rolling drums and irrepressible chants combining into an oceanic expanse.

18. The Soundmaker---Rodrigo y Gabriela
        Just two people slamming away at their acoustic guitars, RodGab slam on the gas from first moment to last, their intertwining axe-work never lass than mesmerizing.

19. It All Feels Right---Washed Out
        We close out Disc One with It All Feels Right, a down-tempo paradise that's hugs ears in the most sincere of embraces.

Disc 2:
1. Huarache Lights---Hot Chip
        Like most everything Hot Chip, HL is a captivating oddball, a dancefloor-bound paean that grows into the best kind of frenzy.

2. Byebye, Big Ocean---A Sunny Day in Glasgow
        A gargantuan shoe gaze epic with layers upon layers of radiant sounds for earbuds to parcel through.

3. King Kunta---Kendrick Lamar***
        The most straight-forward track from Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, Kunta is a leering march and a funky show-stopper rolled into one.

4. Brill Bruisers---The New Pornographers
        Yet another gigantic chorus, because really, isn't that what summer pop songs are all about? BB simply towers, its pastel enormity proving impossible to resist.

5. Evil Eye---Franz Ferdinand***
        Stomping and screaming its way into existence, Evil Eye is as tightly packed as they come, an angular, arresting jam that puts bodies in motion.

6. Turn Around---Mikal Cronin
        Cronin is a disciple of all things gorgeous, packing this four-minute wonder with drums, guitars, violins, and piano that combine into an awfully lovely cocktail.

7. Collard Greens---Schoolboy Q feat. Kendrick Lamar
        A sophomoric house party anthem for the ages, CG gets down and dirty with Q's sordid wordplay, and Lamar's boastful brilliance.

8. Big Decisions---My Morning Jacket
        The banner-carrier from MMJ's 2015 comeback album, The Waterfall, BD is prodigious crowd pleaser tinged with a country-sounding slide guitar.

9. Chateau Lobby 4 (in C for Two Virgins)---Father John Misty***
        Perhaps the most loving song about shared hatred ever written, Chateau is a dazzlingly warm ode to love with a cabinet full of vinegar.

10. Freaky---The Men
        The Men are at their best when they're in full rock-on mode, and Freaky is proof, chugging along on a mammoth riff, and riding off into the sunset.

11. Mind Playing Tricks on Me---Geto Boys***
        Has there ever been a beat less suited for the chosen lyrics? Scarface and friends might be giving into paranoia and hallucinations, but their backing is a buttery as can be.

12. Witness---Will Butler
        A playful number complete with call-and-response vocals and a tempo that refuses to lower the MPH for anything.

13. The Rest is Noise---Jamie XX
        A smaller moment from Jamie XX's brilliant In Colour, this elegant instrumental conveys a myriad of emotions without a single word.

14. Shine Blockas---Big Boi feat. Gucci Mane***
        Quite possibly Big Boi's single greatest moment outside of his Outkast career, SB is a soulful joint stuffed to the brim with swagger. Gucci Mane has never been better.

15. Robson Girl---Mac Demarco
        Slacker guitar pop doesn't get much smoother than this, Demarco's effortless croon wafting above one of the niftiest guitar riffs you'll ever hear.

16. Lost Queen---Pharrell***
        Happy might have taken over the world about a year and a half ago, but LQ stands as my personal favorite cut from 2014's G I R L, sexy, playful and romantic all at once.

17. Until We Can't (Let's Go)---Passion Pit
        Passion Pit is often at their best when at their most cosmically large, a fact that Let's Go makes evident with its swelling verses, and towering chorus.

18. It Ain't Hard To Tell---Nas***
        The closer to the greatest hip hop album of all time, Hard to Tell is the sound of dropping the mic in triumph, a pulse-quickening beat drenched in the lyrical genius that's typical of Illmatic.

19. Supersymmetry---Arcade Fire
        The ravishing closer on Arcade Fire's Reflektor serves the same purpose here; wrapping us up in its warm, graceful arms before bidding us farewell.

Bonus Tracks (AKA Stuff That's Not on Spotify):
1. The Front---Kool A.D. Feat. Toro y Moi & Amaze 88***
        Some beat makers can't quite mellow out all the way down to Kool A.D.'s level, but Toro y Moi groovy track fits him like a glove. Bonus points for Amaze 88's slippery closing verse.

2. Sunday Candy---Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment
        The show-stopping penultimate track from Donnie and the gang's 2015 effort Surf, SC is the sound of deeply felt happiness and love, invading headphones with rousing joy.

***=Contains Explicit Language

Thursday, June 25, 2015

NBA Mock Draft 2015

        About a month and a half ago, I updated the banner on this site to describe its topics as 'Movies, Music, and occasionally TV and Sports.' It was changed to justify my absurd Comparing your Favorite NBA Players to Game of Thrones Characters post, but today, we reach out into something even more ridiculous; my predictions for the lottery of today's NBA draft. Why is this ridiculous, you're probably not asking? Because I've jotted down my own crappy predictions every year for as long as I can remember, and I'm honestly not sure that I've ever even gotten ten of them right (out of the thirty first-round picks). In other words, don't bet a dime on what you're about to read, feel free to laugh at my failure, and please forgive me for straying away from the music and movies that have been this site's bread and butter. Here we go:

1. Minnesota Timberwolves---Karl-Anthony Towns***
        If this isn't right, please stop reading this post right now. I quit.

2. Los Angeles Lakers---Jahlil Okafor
        I'm calling their bluff on all this D'Angelo Russell nonsense. Okafor was the consensus #1 pick all of four months ago. Those Purple and Gold frontrunners won't be able to resist.

3. Philadelphia 76ers---D'Angelo Russell***
        The Sixers desperately need literally everything a point guard, and Russell is widely seen as the best prospect at that position. It's a little obvious for GM Sam Hinkie, but at this point, obvious would be a surprise.

4. New York Knicks---Emmanuel Mudiay
        This pick is impossible. I don't think Phil Jackson has the guts to take the next player on this list, and Mudiay might be the big apple's best chance at a game-changer.

5. Orlando Magic---Kristaps Porzingis
        There couldn't be a team better suited to take Porzingis, the ultimate boom or bust prospect. Orlando is already stacked with young talent; they can afford to take a flyer.

6. Sacramento Kings---Willie Cauley-Stein
         Breaking their annual tradition of selecting a 2-guard they subsequently hardly use, the Kings seem ripe to take yet another player whose personality keeps scaring everyone else away. It's either him or Mario Hezonja.

7. Denver Nuggets---Justice Winslow
         My money is on them trading this pick, if for no other reason than I'd have no idea what to do with it myself. Winslow is likely the best available player; we'll see if they go shopping.

8. Detroit Pistons---Mario Hezonja***
        Chad Ford compared this guy to J.R. Smith, which is a red flag if I've ever seen one. Still, Stan Van Gundy will likely take the best player available, and some have Hezonja even higher.

9. Charlotte Hornets---Stanley Johnson
        The Hornets have been the most active team in the league over the last 48 hours. Johnson is a nice commodity in the sense that many teams would be interested in trading for him, and even if they don't, the Hornets could use a swingman.

10. Miami Heat---Devin Booker***
        He can shoot. Even if Dwayne Wade stays, can you really say that about any other Heat player?

11. Indiana Pacers---Cameron Payne
        Yeah, I don't get it either, but the Pacers appear interested in PG reinforcement despite George Hill's promising 14-15. By any estimation, what they need is offense, and Payne should help.

12. Utah Jazz---Tyus Jones
        Word is the Jazz are shopping PG Trey Burke, and even if that's all shenanigans, there are enough team in this draft looking for a primary ball handler to make the trade prospects juicy.

13. Phoenix Suns---Frank Kaminsky***
        Another pick I assume will be traded at some point, folks are just too hot on Kaminsky to let him fall out of the lottery. This is awfully enticing trade bait

14. Oklahoma City Thunder---Trey Lyles
        Like an alternate universe version of the Magic, the Thunder have enough pieces to take a potential game changer, rather than select a likely rotation player.
***Pictured Player

Wish me luck

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

HypeCast: Ranking Every Pixar Film From Worst to Best

        Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. Today we discuss the many wondrous works of Pixar in the most commonplace and under-appreciative way possible: by ranking them all against each other from worst to best. The conversation features grown men becoming misty-eyed over movies that are supposed to be for kids, a distracting side conversation about the brilliance of Patton Oswalt, and multiple attempts to break the sound barrier that are inspired by disagreements over Wall-eThe Incredibles, and Toy Story 3. Warning: a few naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

*Side note: due to scheduling conflicts, Collin and Tyler were unable to see Inside Out before recording this podcast. They've both had the pleasure of checking it out since, and for the sake of reference, both have the film ranked as Pixar's #8 best. To read Collin's full take on the movie, click here.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Inside Out (Release Date: 6-19-2015)

        When it comes to describing the frequently brilliant output of Pixar Studios, filmgoers generally don’t shy away from superlatives. Wether praising the beauty of their animation, marveling at how their stories appeal to all ages, or being dazzled by their seemingly instinctive knowledge of how to tug on heart strings, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single movie buff who isn’t impressed by their magical twenty year run. One aspect I’d argue is a tad under-discussed is their staggering level of ambition; this is, after all, the same group that dared to spin the first half of their dystopia epic Wall-e into a comedy from the silent film era, not to mention drawing enough tears in first ten minutes of Up to turn California green again. The seemingly effortless manner in which they present their art can often mask the bravery inherent to its undertaking. It’s been three years since their last original film (and five since their last good one), a span that has led audiences to wonder wether these storytelling savants might have finally run out of mold-shattering modern classics. If Inside Out tells us anything, it’s that John Lassiter and friends have heard your complaints loud and clear; Pixar’s latest is their most ambitious entry to date, and it’s not especially close.

        Charting the inner-workings of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, Inside Out employs five personified human emotions as its central characters: Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear, and Sadness. The quintet work together in the control room of the preteen’s brain, each taking the reins in situations that befit their specific paradigms. The team is led by Joy, a radiant Tinker Bell descendant who prioritizes her effect on the girl’s mind to that of the other, more negative emotions. Their steady grip on Riley’s mental state is loosened finger by finger when the girl’s father lands a job in San Francisco, forcing the family to relocate from their beloved Minnesota. A squabble in head quarters finds both Joy and Sadness thrown into the depths of long-term memory and subconsciousness, leaving Riley with only Disgust, Fear, and Anger to navigate her new surroundings until the remainder of the team returns.

        The embodiment of key emotions is far from the only aspect of the human brain that the film seeks to literalize. Memories are imagined as glittering orbs that are harvested and stored according to their importance. Entire islands are erected in the name of Riley’s most prominent interests and intrinsic priorities. There’s even a moment when Joy and Sadness pass through the girl’s abstract thoughts in order to board the Train of Consciousness, on which they sort through boxes labeled ‘facts,’ and, ‘opinions.’ It’s heady stuff, and while Pixar films have always managed to leave a lasting impact on kids and adults alike, Inside Out is their first to do so on two completely disparate levels. The children in my theater appeared genuinely charmed by the picture’s manic physical comedy, as well as concerned during moments of peril, but the divide between their understanding of the film and that of their chaperones was palpable from first frame to last. Kid pics like Shrek and Shark’s Tale have managed this trick on a purely comedic level, but their narratives played the same for grown-ups as they did little ones. Inside Out is essentially two different movies playing at the same time, and the sure-handed way it accomplishes this feat is as bold as it is unique.

        Though I loved charting every movement in the film's endless metaphor, I couldn't help but wonder if children might actually understand the flick better than adults. Those fascinated by the infinite corridors and machinations of the human brain (see: almost everyone) will find it difficult to pay the purest off attention to the narrative at hand, and, like Sadness herself, might prefer to explore the the nooks and cockles of the movie's richly imagined mind. A sturdy amount of my time in the theater was spent wondering what would happen if both Joy and Sadness were lost forever in the subconscious, not to mention the effects of the catastrophic damage they seemingly cause with their every move. Are we witnessing concussions, moments of mental scaring, or just mental growth through destruction of the old guard? It's likely all three and more, and while the film is replete with intellectual intrigue, the mental gymnastics it inspires can sometimes distract from the picture's beating heart, as well as the events at hand.

        If this reads as a complaint that the movie simply has too many strong elements to keep track of in its brisk 94 minute runtime, that's because it is. Inside Out marks Pete Doctor's third Pixar outing to date, and while his latest isn't as visually dynamic as the delightful, imaginative Monster's Inc., or as purely emotional as the heart-breaking, life-affirming Up, it manages to retain all those same elements, and tether them to the studio's most daring entry to date. He deserves the attention shown to studio stablemates John Lassiter, Andrew Stanton, and Brad Bird, and in collaborating with Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley, he might very well have created the first screenplay for an animated feature to be a front runner at the Oscars. This marks the second straight week in which a near-irrefutable crowd pleaser is being judged unfairly against a modern classic, and while comparing Jurassic World to Spielberg's game-changing original strikes me as particularly unreasonable, expecting every movie to be Toy Story or Wall-e is similarly unjust. Inside Out is a mind-bending adventure that will make kids laugh, parents cry, and prompt psychology professors to add a slap-stick comedy film to their syllabi. Don't call it a comeback; Pixar's been here for years.

Grade: A-

Friday, June 19, 2015

HypeCast: Jurassic World and Game of Thrones

        Welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. Today we discuss the box office juggernaut Jurassic World, and in the process discover that one of us has a whole lot more patience for stupid dinosaur movies than the other. Also, we share our thoughts on the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Due to scheduling issues, this podcast was recorded over a week ago, and is thereby filled with wildly incorrect predictions for last Sunday's finale. Feel free to laugh at our idiocy; the Thrones talk starts right around the hour mark. Warning: a few naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here we go!

Podcast Itinerary:
0:00-1:02:39---Jurassic World
1:02:40-1:37:09---Game of Thrones

Monday, June 15, 2015

Jurassic World (Release Date: 6-12-2015)

        Everybody's got a soft spot for one type of movie or another, and mine is the big monster flick. Maybe you love fast cars that perform unreal stunts, or coming-of-age stories about young people finding themselves. Perhaps you're more into based-on-a-true-story biopics, or the druggy surrealism of David Lynch or Terrance Malick. I like all of those things, but if I'm being honest with myself, it's only the Pacific Rim's and Godzilla's of the world that are virtually guaranteed to get my butt in a seat on opening weekend. Jurassic World, which is now finally meeting the world over two decades after Jurassic Park (and 14 years after the franchise's most recent entry, the maligned Jurassic Park III), bets hard on your adoration of the original picture, inundating itself with rampant references and call-backs. Perhaps nostalgia for the 1993 smash truly is powering World's preposterous box office returns (it's made 524.4 million dollars in three days), but I can't help but wonder how many out there are like me, and would just rather see grandly-sized, gloriously imagined hellions roam the earth than watch another superhero punch someone in the face. Level-headed criticism of Jurassic World can be found in abundance on many a site across the web; this article is by someone who was in the bag for this movie all along, like a parent who still thinks their kid is the best player on the team despite all evidence pointing to the contrary. But for those who share my soft spot for all big things that go 'Roar,' this is the review for you.

        Set twenty-two years after the events of the original film (and ignoring the events of the second and third chapters in the franchise altogether), Jurassic World envisions something none of the previous films ever dared; a fully operational and active version of the dino-centric theme park. Though the gates have been open for years now, brothers Gray and Zach (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson, respectively) are only getting their first crack at it now, and only one of the two is even remotely excited. You see, in 2015, snobby, hormonal teenagers like Zach already think of pre-historic enormous lizard monsters as old hat, and would likely rather stay at home and play Call of Duty. Enter Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), a JW higher-up who is pressured by any number of ambitious, oblivious moneymen and scientists to up 'the wow factor.' She commissions the creation of the Indominus Rex, a creature just as preposterously powerful and menacing as its name might suggest. The American tidal wave of stardom known as Chris Pratt is called in for his expert advice on how to handle the creature, but hardly gets three sentences into his lambasting the idea when old Rexy herself makes a break for it, leaving a wake of near-ceaseless carnage behind her.

        Writing that last paragraph was like beating my head against the wall, not because of any tangled plot machinations or avoidance of spoilers, but rather the resistance of adding a snarky comment after every single sentence (seriously, I think my delete button might be broken). There are enough plot holes and faulty logic stored within the screenplay of Jurassic World to make the Fast and Furious movies look like gentlemen of Harvard; hinging an entire Jurassic movie on the diminishing returns of seeing dinosaurs is not only laughably unbelievable, but something of a self-fulfilling meta-prophecy for the movie itself. Additionally, the idea that the original park could turn into a veritable human buffet, only to be subsequently reopened, and run the gambit from wild success to middling returns in a mere 22-year period in a world where the internet exists... not sure about that one. I could go on, but the point I'm making is this; if stupidity and loose ends are issues you simply can't abide, you should run from this film like there's a velociraptor hot on your heels.

        Jurassic World makes Pratt's identity as the 21st century Harrison Ford even more obvious than it was in Guardians of the Galaxy, and while this franchise entry doesn't lean quite as heavily on his particular charms, its throws all kinds of weight into his visage. Chiseled, sun-soaked, caked with just the right amount of dirt, and borrowing his whole wardrobe from Dr. Jones' closet, Pratt is used as a sex symbol in ways that would have been unthinkable as recently as three years ago, when he spent most of his days shining shoes. The film itself is obviously in love with him, and while that aforementioned Marvel outing was undoubtably his star-making turn, this is the first we've seen him in all-out movie-star mode, and he wears it nicely. The rest of the cast plays almost exclusively to extremes: Simpkins as a wide-eyed Spielbergian youth, Robinson as his jaded teen brother, BD Wong as the mad scientist, Vincent D'Onofrio as the military lunatic, and Jake Johnson as comic relief. Only Irrfan Khan's character is written with any sort of emotional/moral dexterity, which is likely why the movie doesn't really know what to do with him.

        The flick does know, however, is what to do with the sky-scraping beasts that are the movie's real draw. What the screenplay (as penned by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly) lacks in dialogue and smarts it more than make up for in structure and reveals, using each animal so judiciously as to keep things fresh throughout its two-plus hour runtime. Many have scoffed at the trailer's depiction of Pratt as a Raptor trainer straight from the mold of Cesar Millan, but the film is careful to display the loose grip his character has over their actions, the pack animals ultimately proving just as dangerous as ever. The Indominus Rex is a bit tougher to sell, and while the film's focus on its self-fashioned Turbo-dino forces all other scaly assailants to the margins for much of the picture, it pays incalculable dividends in the movie's final hour.

       Director Colin Trevorrow, who's only previous feature was the big-hearted indie sci-fi rom-com Safety Not Guaranteed, always seemed like an odd choice for this movie, but its in that last act when Jurassic World stomps on all those doubts like a rampaging tyrannosaurus. Suddenly all the scenes that were merely engaging become impossible to look away from, and all the jokes that sent eyes rolling to the back of heads start landing. Trevorrow and editor Kevin Stitt prioritize pace to masterful effect, their film passing 2+ hours in what feels like 60 minutes all without exhausting the viewer, but its that final chapter where the pedal really hits the floor. It would all seem like too much chaos if it weren't for how cleverly the previous passages have set up the mayhem, planting little seeds here and there that all grow and bloom into a gonzo action bonanza. I wish I could elaborate, but Jurassic World is one of those rare movies where even if the end result is self-evident, the steps it takes to get there are savory enough to merit secrecy. I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff, which is why even the first half of the film played relatively well in my eyes, but the kinetic energy and special effects majesty of the closing passages are another thing altogether. Jurassic World is stupid, clumsy, and riddled with plot holes, and I wanted to watch it again the second the credits rolled.

Grade: B+

Thursday, June 11, 2015

HypeCast: Spy, Tomorrowland, and Recent Comedies

        Welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. Today we discuss the new Melissa McCarthy comedy Spy, as well as recent comedies we've both enjoyed. We also chat about movies Tyler's seen lately, including Tomorrowland and Ryan Gosling's directorial debut Lost River, which Tyler was brave enough to check out. Finally, fiery words of hate come tumbling out of Collin's mouth the moment Jon Faverau's Chef is brought up. Warning: naughty words are contained within, along with a cavalcade of non-P.C. observations. Continue at your own risk. Here we go!

Podcast Itinerary:
0:53-2:13---Lost River
1:01:34-1:20:01-Modern Comedies

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Spy (Release Date: 6-5-2015)

        The first big comedy of the summer is here, and it's being mis-marketed into oblivion. Despite being advertised as a spiritual successor to The Naked Gun and Austin Powers, Spy derives very little humor from its frame work, which it treats with surprising sincerity. There are plenty of knee-slappers on hand, but hardly any aim to lampoon the structure and ideas of your standard Bond/Bourne type action thriller, and the movie itself plays into them liberally. Here's the thing about satires; they have to actually satirize something, and Spy would much rather lovingly recreate the special agent successes of the past than show them in a fun house mirror. It may be a spy flick, and it may be a spoof, but Melissa McCarthy's latest is far from a spy spoof. It's got another target in mind...

        Sharp, capable, and reeking with self-doubt, Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is a C.I.A. agent who's chosen the comfort and safety of the office over the chaos and excitement of the field. She serves as the eyes and ears of one Bradley Fine (Jude Law), a blatant 007 wannabe who's genuinely grateful for Cooper's assistance despite completely ignoring her obvious affections. Their joint effort to track down a beautiful, mysterious Bulgarian woman named Reyna (Rose Byrne) implodes when the enemy reveals her intimate knowledge of the names and faces of almost every central intelligence agent. Grasping for straws, director Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney) decides to deploy Cooper on a mission that is strictly track-and-report in nature, though it's not long before Cooper brazenly disregards the blueprint, making her every move on the fly.

        In case you haven't noticed, Melissa McCarthy is a top-tier movie star at this point, her name alone capable of putting ample butts in seats. While Bridesmaids led her to a (still kinda crazy) Best Supporting Actress nomination, and Identity Crisis, The Heat, and Tammy confirmed that she could co-pilot a big screen success, Spy is the first movie to cast her as both protagonist and title character. She makes the most of the opportunity, largely tabling both the pratfalls and wrong-headed self-aggrandizement that have been her comedy calling card up to now in favor of a much lower key. Her Susan Cooper is a fully-fleshed-out character, evolving from meek workplace drone into a filthy-mouthed badass over the course of two hours without anything ever feeling forced. We've seen McCarthy be the butt of the joke plenty of times by now, and with great success, so it's a joy to see her throw out a few zingers of her own. Her character is often the subject of ridicule, but only from her co-stars who are too pig-headed to observe her many talents. The movie clearly thinks the world of her.

        Spy marks McCarthy's third collaboration with writer/director Paul Feig, a pairing that's proved mutually advantageous ever since Bridesmaids broke out back in 2011. His movies possess a stream-of-consciousness approach to comedy, wherein jokes exist both inside the plot, and peppered around the margins, creating a sort of blissful havoc. Vermin randomly drop from the ceiling, 50 Cent appears out of nowhere; these gags are entirely out of context, and help create some unpredictability in a plot otherwise consisting of familiar machinery. Feig is able to wring plenty of jokes out of the actual narrative on display, but he also prioritizes the movie's action and mystery in a fashion that occasionally gets in the way of the humor. If you wanted to see spines broken and elaborate cover-ups exposed, my guess is you'd have purchased a ticket to another movie, and while adherence to rhetoric affords Feig many a guffaw, it also ensures that he maintains his troubling trend of extended runtimes. His latest could have trimmed at least 15 minutes without any discernible detriment.

        Though that would have likely cut into the time Spy spends positively eviscerating male entitlement and masculine ego, the true target of the film's parody. Many have observed the deplorable role of patriarchy in Mad Max: Fury Road, and Tomorrowland cast one of Hollywood's best known actors to play third fiddle to a couple of girls on the run, but this is by far the most gender-focused offering to hit screens this summer. The men of Spy are consistently boorish and profane, ignoring common sense and jeopardizing delicate situations with their self-assured bravado. They recognize nothing but males who are their superiors, and women they'd like to get their hands on; all other humanoids might as well be invisible. At one point, Janney remarks that a rogue agent is acting like, "a dog that got loose and is now shitting and humping his way through the neighborhood." This is Spy's thesis statement, and the lone true target of its parody.

        Wether it be Peter Serafinowicz's complete disregard for personal space, or Jason Statham's physical embodiment of testosterone, Feig's script contains not a single reasonable male character, and I'm going to go ahead and assume that it's not an accident. It's a welcome surprise in what could have been yet another standard spy movie send-up, but the film occasionally forgets its convictions near the end, which is especially troubling when said convictions are about as subtle as a slap in the face. It gets most of the way there, and in a summer who's highest grossing flick featured a bunch of hopped-up action heros using an under-developed African city as a playground for wanton destruction, I'd say its worth celebrating. Spy is sort of like Susan Cooper herself; clever, imperfect, ambitious, clumsy, and filled to the brim with half-baked ideas. In the end, they both get the job done.

Grade: B

Thursday, June 4, 2015

HypeCast: Actors and Actresses who are 'Just One Hit Away'

        Welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. Today we discuss thespians who are or were 'Just One Hit Away' from becoming house-hold names, perennial Oscar nominees, or both. The episode contains a double man-crush on Miles Teller, a line in the sand regarding Emma Stone, a roommate interruption addressing our smoke alarms, and the two of us claiming we should 'wrap this up' about 57 times before we actually do. Warning: naughty words are contained within, along with a cavalcade of non-P.C. observations. Continue at your own risk. Here we go!