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Thursday, April 28, 2016

HypeCast: The Jungle Book, Midnight Special, and Game of Thrones

        Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. In today's episode, Tyler relays his experience seeing Jon Favreau's new live-action remake of Disney's 1967 animated classic The Jungle Book at a test screening nearly a whole year ago. Collin is very curious to hear about Mitchell's whole experience watching the unfinished product, which is decidedly more interest than he can drum up for the film itself. That's not to say that there's nothing exciting being discussed on today's episode, because the boys each catch up with Mike Jeff Nichols' excellent sci-fi thriller Midnight Special, and also chat about the last Sunday's season premiere of Game of Thrones. Elwyn also fails to make a convincing case for you to watch James Pondsoldt's first feature Smashed despite really enjoying the movie. Better luck next time, I suppose. Warning: occasional naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Podcast Itinerary:
0:00-25:08---The Jungle Book
25:09-48:35---Midnight Special
57:20-1:17:29---Game of Thrones

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Leftovers: January-April 2016

Leftover Movies:
Green Room
        To say that I saw Jeremy Saulnier's new movie Green Room the other day would be the ultimate understatement; simply put, Green Room happened to me, and every muscle in my body is still sore from the experience. Shot in my beloved native Oregon and relishing in its nasty underbelly, the film tells the story of the Ain't Rights, a down-on-their-luck punk band who knowingly accepts a gig at an establishment jam-packed with skinheads, and finds themselves on the wrong end of their relentless wrath. Diving head-first into schlocky horror thrills, the film is bolstered at every turn by Saulnier's exquisite aesthetic eye, and unteachable knack for building unrelenting tension. It's genre-fair through and through, but apparently no one told the cast, highlighted by tremendous performances from Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart, and Joe Cole, but also featuring a deep roster of urgent and immediately believable supporting work. For god's sake, do not take your more violence-weary friends to this flick. Green Room might literally might kill them. It almost ended me.

Midnight Special
        Ok, I'll admit it; I still haven't seen Deadpool and had 'the superhero genre flipped upside down' right in front of me, but I've still got a funny feeling that Midnight Special's take is even more subversive. Director Jeff Nichols has been a filmmaker to watch for so long now that one wonders why we all haven't started watching, and this Spielbergian sci-fi thriller might just be his best yet. Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton star as a pair responsible for the abduction of one Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher), a young boy whose disappearance serves to distress the mysterious religious compound known simply as The Ranch. To tattle on where MS goes from here would cast one as an insufferable spoil-sport, but suffice to say we are in the hands of a deeply inventive filmmaker, one with his fingers firmly on the pulse of both spectacle and emotion. A clear throwback to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Midnight Special is that rare indie that's just as capable of appealing to mass audiences, though a surprisingly tender performance from post-Kylo Ren Adam Driver certainly doesn't hurt.

The VVitch: A New-England Folktale
        By no means have I seen every horror movie ever made. Even some genuine classics have slipped through the cracks of my viewership. And yet, perhaps foolishly, I feel emboldened to make the wily claim that The VVitch can go toe-to-toe with even the most storied fright-fests. In 1630's New-England, a deeply Christian family is pushed out of their modest town for reasons largely unspecified, and forced to live by a leering, seemingly endless woods residing right outside their door. What happens from there is the stuff of your darkest nightmares, presented in a fashion that is at once etherial and clear-eyed, and all the more troublesome for the balance. Featuring astounding performances from a handful of relative unknowns, The VVitch is an examination of faith under duress, and the unthinkable terror of watching everything you ever believed in fall apart at the seams. It's been months now, and I still can't get the debut feature of writer/director Robert Eggers out of my head.

Leftover Music:
Junk by M83
        Before Junk met the world almost a month ago now, all we had was this remarkably odd album cover, forcing fans of M83 to wonder if band leader Anthony Gonzalez was trolling us all. As it turns out, the outright goofiness of the image perfectly befits the aggressive cheesiness of the record, and while it's certainly an adjustment from the star-gazing enormity of the band's heralded Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, a bit of patience reveals an effort that impresses on its own terms. Built almost entirely of shimmering 80's gloss and towering synth drops, Junk plays like a bizarro talent show, including assists from the likes of Beck, Jordan Lawlor, and newly-minted band member Mai Lan. Sure, the soul-searching emotion of the band's previous release is largely absent, but the grandeur is here to stay, tracks like Go and Road Blaster almost begging to be played in front of a boisterous audience. Silliness aside, no one does big and kaleidoscopic quite like these guys.

Lemonade by Beyonce
        If I'm being honest, I've always found Beyonce easier to admire than genuinely enjoy. That all changed last night with the release of Lemonade, her second straight surprise album, 12 tracks and 45 minutes that traverse endless musical landscapes while somehow maintaining thematic unity. The glue between the tracks is largely subsistent of Ms. Knowles relentless rage, the entire first act of the disc consisting of fiery accusations directed toward her husband. Wether this is an exploration of personal history or expertly crafted baiting of a gossip-hungry audience is impossible to know, but sonically there's nothing here to doubt. Animal Collective samples, Jack White guitar solos, Father John Misty songwriting credits, and soulful James Blake piano ballads all exist in unthinkably perfect harmony, never fully distracting from the album's true star. Even the epic Freedom, despite featuring notorious scene stealer Kendrick Lamar, fully belongs to Queen B. Sharp enough to cut diamonds yet intimate enough to inspire introspection, Lemonade is a straight-up accomplishment.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

HypeCast: Summer Movie Preview

        Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. In today's episode, Collin and Tyler preview the ever-expanding slate of summer movies, a blockbuster season that has managed to encroach all the way into mid-April. That's right folks; it's time to talk about sequels, remakes, and wanton cash grabs (hey there, The Angry Birds Movie!). 'Highlights' include super heros being super, fish that are perpetually lost, Jared Leto chasing Heath Ledger's ghost, man children mistaking Ghostbusters for hallowed cinematic ground, Warcraft bringing Window's 98-level technology to the big screen, Kevin Spacey playing a cat, and all your friends lying to you about their allegedly genuine desire to see Sausage Party. However, there is hope amidst the city-leveling chaos; this summer features new flicks from Damien Chazelle, Shane Black, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Jeremy Saulnier, whose new Oregon-set thriller Green Room the boys somehow mistake for an Appalachian Mountains local. Warning: occasional naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Podcast Itinerary:
0:00-11:18---April Releases
11:19-27:25---May Releases
27:26-41:14---June Releases
41:15-50:34---July Releases
50:35-1:02:02---August Releases

Thursday, April 14, 2016

HypeCast: Zootopia, Everybody Wants Some!! and More

        Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. In today's episode, Collin and Tyler finally catch up with a crowd-pleasing box office heavyweight Zootopia... and they're only a month late! Elwyn praises the movie's unpacking of racism, sexism, and classism in modern America, whereas Tyler is a little too old to let a damn bunny teach him how not to be a bigot, and would prefer a Charlie Kaufman movie about cute, fuzzy, prejudiced animals with a more abrupt and soul-crushing final scene. Collin then describes Everybody Wants Some!!, Richard Linklater's sex-n-booze fueled follow-up to Boyhood, and casually claims that all white people look the same. They round out this explosive podcast with a pair of films, Knight of Cups and The Night Before, that receive Mitchell's infamously common film review: 'meh.' Warning: occasional naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Podcast Itinerary:
30:53-54:58---Everybody Wants Some!!
54:59-1:05:52---Knight of Cups
1:05:53-1:19:28---The Night Before

Monday, April 11, 2016

HypeCast: Pee-wee's Big Holiday and other Netflix Picks

        Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. In today's episode, Collin and Tyler celebrate the release of Netflix's third original feature, Pee-Wee's Big Holiday, by not only talking about the film itself, but also pointing out a few other gems currently available on the streaming giant. Tyler's childhood affinity for the work of Mr. Paul Reubens is rewarded by Pee-Wee's latest cross-country trek, which Mitchell is almost too busy laughing about to properly discuss. They then move on to less buzzy features presently available on instant watch, including a couple of genre classics, a still-running television program, a staunch disagreement over all things Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Collin recommending literally the first five of so minutes of Rounders despite disavowing the rest. If today's list doesn't strike you as quite long enough, check out our previous podcast on the very same subject, What to Watch on Netflix. Warning: occasional naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Podcast Itinerary:
0:00-21:06---Pee-Wee's Big Holiday
21:07-1:07:56---Netflix Instant Watch Picks

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Oscar Predictions 2016 (Round One)

        It’s been just over a month since the 87th annual Academy Awards, and you know what that means: It’s time for my obnoxious year-in-advance predictions for the 2017 ceremony! As always, the films are ranked based on the likelihood that they receive a Best Picture nomination, not who I expect to actually win the thing. I’m holding off on trying to guess the entrants in any other category because this exercise is ridiculous enough already without trying to tap the five Sound Design nominees before anything has even come out. Without further ado, here are my undoubtably accurate projections for next year’s Oscars!

1. Silence
        Sure, the hyper-serious subject matter (priests spreading catholicism in seventeenth century Japan) and the impressive cast list (Liam Neeson, Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield) are helpful and all, but this film sits on top for one reason and one reason only; Martin Scorsese movies released near the end of the year literally never miss out on a Best Picture nomination.

2. The Birth of a Nation
        Easily the most talked-about movie coming out of this year's Sundance film festival, the reportedly electric directorial feature debut of lead actor Nate Parker offers the Academy a chance to both shame the original Birth of a Nation, and make some headway against #oscarsowhite.

3. La La Land
         Slience and Nation feel almost assured already; the rest of this list is where the real fun starts. Damien Chazelle made waves a couple years ago with his debut feature Whiplash, and in a season that will undoubtably skew very, very serious, I like the odds of a romantic lark starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

4. War Machine
        A satire of America's war with Afghanistan, War Machine will be debuting on Netflix later this year, and there's little doubt that the streaming giant will crack into Hollywood's biggest night sometime soon. Having up-and-comer David Michôd behind the camera and Brad Pitt in front of it doesn't exactly hurt.

5. Warren Beatty's Untitled Howard Hughes Film
        This movie practically has Best Picture Nominee written across its forehead, but after years of waiting for its completion, I'm less than confident it will ever see the light of day. If it does, please kindly move it up to my #3 slot.

6. Manchester By the Sea
        Though the eternal stalling and ultimate commercial flame-out of Margaret has kept him from receiving any Oscar attention of late, Kenneth Lonergan is a beloved craftsman of small scale drama, and Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams feel like a perfect pair of actors for his brand of storytelling.

7. The Zookeeper's Wife
        Niki Caro's career never really took off like Whale Rider fans predicted, but if she's ever going to crack the line-up, it'll be this year. It doesn't get much more Oscar friendly than Jessica Chastain starring in a movie about the Holocaust.

8. Gold
        Outside of some TV work, Stephen Gaghan has been silent ever since winning an Oscar for his Traffic screenplay, and writing and directing its spiritual sequel Syriana. The guy's got talent, and this tale of the search for gold in the Indonesian jungle (starring Matthew McConaughey) might be his ticket back to the big kids' table.

9. Indignation
        This tale of repression set amidst the Korean War, Indignation lacks both the stars and directing resume that I tend to look for when compiling this list, but it has one huge feather in its cap; people have actually seen it already, and the reviews are fantastic.

10. Loving
        Having already released Midnight Special earlier this year to great critical acclaim, eternally-rising director Jeff Nichols will be back with Loving, a period drama that depicts the struggles of an interracial couple, and might just give Joel Edgerton his first shot at Oscar glory.

11. Robert Zemeckis Untitled WWII Romance
        Robert Zemeckis has yet to make the big Oscar comeback that I personally still see in the cards, and crafting a period drama starring Tom Hanks and Marion Cotillard strikes me as a good bet.

12. The Light Between Oceans
        Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, Place Beyond the Pines) concocts a specific brand of melodrama that seems right in Oscar's wheelhouse. A cast featuring Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz, and reigning Best Supporting Actress Alicia Vikander ensures it will get at least some attention.

13. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
        Ang Lee directing a film about the emotional tolls of the Iraq war should be one of the safest bets on this whole list, but is the Academy really going to embrace a movie starring Vin Diesel and Kristen Stewart? I have my doubts.

14. Free State of Jones
        He might not be a household name of anything, but director Gary Ross has already been nominated four times. A civil war drama starring Matthew McConaughey could lead to his fifth.

15. Story of Your Life
        I can't believe I have an alien invasion flick this high up in my Best Picture predictions, but director Denis Villeneuve is frankly too impressive for voters to keep ignoring, and I love the thought of this being Amy Adams' Oscar winning performance.

Also on the Radar:

16. Nocturnal Animals
17. Passengers
18. The Founder
19. Sully
20. Collateral Beauty
21. Arms and the Dudes
22. The Lost City of Z
23. Moonlight
24. The Girl on the Train
25. Una 
26. American Pastoral 
27. The Promise
28. Deepwater Horizon
29. 20th Century Women
30. A United Kingdom
31. Everybody Wants Some!!
32. True Crimes
33. Finding Dory
34. The Lobster
35. Money Monster
36. Certain Women
37. The Accountant
38. Snowden
39. LBJ
40. Hacksaw Ridge