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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

HypeCast: Game of Thrones Midseason Report

        Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. In today's episode, we invite our first-ever guest to hop on the mic. The oft-referenced 'Collin's roommate' Max Teschner joins the guys to talk about the sixth season of HBO's fantasy epic Game of Thrones, a subject all three speakers have plenty to say on. Will we ever see Arya's Dire Wolf again? Is Daenerys actually a villain? Are there any limits to what Podrick can do in the bedroom? All of this and more is answered by our team of decidedly non-experts. Closing out the show, Tyler divulges his wildly incorrect feelings of the movie Swingers, and Collin and Max team up to defeat the evil nonsense that comes pouring from his mouth. Warning: occasional naughty words are contained within... like, more than most weeks. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Podcast Itinerary:
0:00-52:12---Game of Thrones

Thursday, May 26, 2016

HypeCast: The Nice Guys, Neighbors 2, and Last Days in the Desert

        Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. In today's episode, Tyler and Collin both offer effusive praise to the same movie for the fourth time in this still-young calendar year (are they morphing into the same person?). Following in the footsteps of The Witch, Midnight Special and Green Room, The Nice Guys is yet another out-and-out winner from the year 2016. Say what you will about all the other movies coming out this summer, writer/director Shane Black's latest might be your only chance to see a father more offended by sloppy grammar than the time his pre-teen daughter spends around sex workers! Having not yet laughed quite enough, Tyler then ventured out and saw Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, the feminist comedy of our generation that still manages to make time for jokes about how slovenly Seth Rogen is. Finally, Collin checked out Last Days in the Desert, a film the depicts a portion of Jesus' 40-day trial in the desert wherein he is tempted by Satan, and yet is still most interestingly described as 'that movie directed by Gabriel García Márquez's son.' Warning: occasional naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Podcast Itinerary:
The Nice Guys---0:00-32:48
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising---32:49-47:43
Last Days in the Desert---47:44-1:06:26

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Nice Guys (Release Date: 5-20-2016)

        Hi, I'm Collin Sherwood Elwyn, and I'm here to talk to you about a lofty social issue that you've undoubtably been pondering of late; what movies should I pay to actually see in theaters? With streaming services beaming so much media directly into our homes, it's becoming harder and harder for the average person to get up, drive to their local theater, and fork out $12 in order to watch a movie that will be right at their doorstep if they just wait a couple months. There is, however, a remaining sentiment that some movies, wether they star superheroes, dinosaurs, or Vin Diesel, must be seen on the big screen. Hollywood is well aware of this, and over the last decade or so has drastically reduced the production of 'middle ground' movies, aka anything with a budget under 150 million dollars, or without a chance at winning an Oscar. Many have complained about the supposed death of the 'adult movie,' but their disappearance has everything to do with people's growing desire to enjoy their films while parked on the couch. With every dollar we spend at the box office, we cast a vote for big wig executives to make more of that type of movie, which brings me to my plea. Please, if you have any interest at all, vote for The Nice Guys.

        Set in the scuzzy, neon-tinged underbelly of late 70's Los Angeles, the film follows two men who do just about everything in their power to negate the movie's title. We first meet Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), a particularly heavy heavy who, by his own description, beats people up for money. One such business transaction brings him to the home of Holland March (Ryan Gosling), a low-rent Private Eye who's decidedly more adept at cashing his checks than finding his marks. The meeting goes poorly (for Holland anyway), but a series of circumstances find the unlikely pair working together to find a missing porn star who may or may not already be dead. Cue the rapid-fire wise-cracks, gloriously tacky costumes, and rollicking retro soundtrack.

        Only three feature films into his directorial career, Shane Black's stamp of authorship is about as bold as anyone working in movies today. Having made a name for himself by penning the Lethal Weapon series, Black has doggedly remained in his own hyper-specific wheelhouse, even highjacking the Marvel machine for over two hours and morphing Iron Man 3 into yet another smart-alecky buddy cop flick. The one true modulation this one makes to the formula is in its historical setting, and since the 70's has become our generation's default era for the Noir genre, all of that grooviness fits Black like a glove. The zippy camera movements and exhilaratingly hard cuts that have always been featured in his work feel more at home than ever before, and pair seamlessly with the movie's impeccable costume and set design.

        He's also a great director of actors, and The Nice Guys extends his streak of wedging two terrific performances into one movie without ever clogging up the system. Crowe needed this role more than perhaps any active American actor, having squandered much of his good will over the last few years by only accepting the most serious parts imaginable. One wouldn't exactly call him light-hearted here either, but the vibe of the movie and the performances that surround him turn the Oscar winner into an ideal straight man. Gosling couldn't be more crooked if he tried, and while the movie affords him the lion's share of the funniest moments, what he does with the opportunity is astounding. The way he rattles through Black's dialogue is to be admired, but the bigger take away is just how gifted Gosling is as a physical comedian, his innumerable ticks and mannerisms worth the price of admission on their own. Many have already compared his Holland March to a Buster Keaton character, but I'll go less lofty with my comparison, and simply claim that this is the most laughter a hollywood superstar has coaxed with only their movements since Leonardo DiCaprio made that ill-fated crawl across the parking lot in The Wolf of Wall Street. Truth be told, I can't come up with anything negative to say about The Nice Guys; it's engaging, humorous, stylish, and, most importantly, is the most pure, undiluted fun I've had at the flicks in well over a year. This election year, I'll be voting for Shane Black.

Grade: A

Friday, May 20, 2016

HypeCast: Money Monster, Keanu, 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, Tyler and Collin are suffering from Big Summer Movie withdrawal in the wake of Captain America: Civil War. Scrambling around for both answers and meaning on this cold blue orb of ours, Mitchell decides to go see Money Monster, director Jodie Foster's follow-up to the modern masterpiece The Beaver. The film appears to feature George Clooney dancing awkwardly as you can see above, as well as a whole lot of preachiness, just for good measure. A traffic delay turned Collin's flick for the week from Eye in the Sky into Keanu, the Key & Peele 80's-tinted crime comedy about saving the world's most adorable kitten, no matter the cost (Perhaps more importantly, it also prompts a heartwarming story about the time Tyler saw Tim Allen's The Shaggy Dog three times). Then comes Creep, a new pseudo horror flick starring Mark Duplass that you probably won't end up seeing, and About Time, the 2013 romantic comedy starring newly-minted Not-Collin's-Least-Favorite-Actor Domhnall Gleeson. Warning: occasional naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Podcast Itinerary:
0:00-25:25---Money Monster
50:43-1:14:13---About Time (?!?)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool (Release Date: 5-8-2016)

        When all the world has already been conquered, what is there truly left to do? Now entering their third decade of existence, Radiohead has the least to prove of any artist in music today, having dropped one mind-boggling classic after another, largely reinventing themselves with each new release. 2011's The King of Limbs seemed to mark the potential end of their cultural dynasty, but not in the way that certain bands simply loose their edge as they get older. Consisting of only eight tracks and arriving four years after their previous effort (In Rainbows), Limbs felt like a peace offering to fans who still couldn't get enough, but its relative modesty appeared to pump the breaks on years and years worth of likely-exhausting greatness. The five-piece has been absent ever since, but last Sunday, the longest stretch between albums in band's history finally came to an end. Asking wether A Moon Shaped Pool was worth the wait is almost unfair; at this point, we should probably just take whatever Radiohead has to give us and be grateful. That said, it's time to put on your headphones and count your blessings, because the album is tremendous.

        The Oxford extraterrestrials are older than the last time we saw them, with ages ranging from 44-48, and their latest gracefully embraces their ever-greying hair. Where previous Radiohead releases have jumped out of the blocks with sounds either stirringly direct or bracingly esoteric, Pool favors spacious arrangements that prefer to pull rather than push. The churning strings of opener/lead single Burn the Witch belie an album decidedly more fraught and tense than what we have on hand, a notion obliterated by song's space-case follow-up Daydreaming. There's no The National Anthem here, and no Bodysnatchers or Climbing Up the Walls for that matter; the band's latest is content to call the largely elegiac Decks Dark a rock song, precious few other tracks (Ful Stop, Identikit) even daring to bare their teeth. It's hardly a secret that guitarist Johnny Greenwood's apatite for orchestration has grown in the wake of his collaborations with film director Paul Thomas Anderson. On A Moon Shaped Pool said fascinations finally take center stage, and while it would be hard to argue that this is the best disc in the band's storied career, it's almost undoubtably their most immediately lovely.

        It's also their most human since 1995's The Bends. Despite being a single from 2007's In Rainbows, I could never quite come around to the House of Cards. The song opens with lead singer Thom Yorke imploring "I don't wanna be your friend/I just wanna be your lover." The line is a tad clumsy, but over-earnestness isn't the problem so much our elemental disconnect with the author of the sentiment. Yorke has spent years telling us to suck on lemon and warning us of paranoid androids, causing this level of overt openness and vulnerability to ring false in the mouth of such a messianic madman. He doubles down on the notion here, and while much has been made in the wake of the album's release of Yorke's separation from Rachel Owen, his partner of 23 years, chalking all this up to personal heartbreak seems a bit disingenuous. The songsmith has grown more tender with age, as have the sonics of the band he fronts. Don't expect the youthful immediacy of The Bends, the eerie discontent of Hail to the Thief, the reinvigorated bombast of In Rainbows, or the paradigm-altering insanity of Kid AA Moon Shaped Pool is an adult album by an adult band finally willing to let us behind their emotional curtain. They wear their age with acceptance, awareness, and an inspiring level of curiosity, and for those wondering what too them so long to let their guard down, long-gestating album closer reminds us, in utterly ravishing fashion, that True Love Waits.

Grade: A-

Thursday, May 12, 2016

HypeCast: Captain America - Civil War

        Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. In today's episode, we discuss the new Marvel Studios action adventure Captain America: Civil War. The boys are so excited about the first big flick of the summer that Tyler forgets to plug in his microphone, leading to an even more attention-hogging, egomaniacal contribution from Collin than you're already used to! The two somehow wring an hour-and-fifteen minute conversation of out a movie they both would most immediately describe as 'pretty good,' but after watching Batman v Superman fall on its face a few weeks ago, 'pretty good' might as well mean classic. All your favorite heros are back, this time with fewer CGI glowing rocks, but just as many quips and punches. SPIDER-MAN!!! And again, that faint whisper you hear in the background is proud podcast co-host Tyler Mitchell. Warning: occasional naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Podcast Itinerary:
0:00-1:16:06---Captain America: Civil War

Monday, May 9, 2016

Captain America: Civil War (Release Date: 5-6-2016)

        Marvel Studios has always been fairly brilliant in a variety of ways, but 2016 will go down as the year they started gaining real self-awareness. Like the smart-ass A.I. featured in last summer's Avengers: Age of Ultron, figurehead Kevin Feige and his merry band of comic book adapters have assessed the reactions of movie goers to Marvel's not-at-all-pretentiously-titled Phase One and Phase Two, and apparently have no problem with a touch of late-game revisionism. It's an open secret that this film-making collective has a real problem creating compelling villains, and I'm hardly the first to whine about their insistence on including a glowing McGuffin for our heros to wage war over. There's also the unwieldy problem of the individualized movies, wherein singular heros are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, and yet fail to remember to phone numbers of either Bruce Banner or the Stark residence. Captain America: Civil War is both specific and exacting in its refutation of these complaints, and yet still wears the Marvel mission statement proudly across its chest for all to see.

        It also has no problem stealing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's lunch money, and then giving it a swirly for good measure. In a plot you might recognize from Zack Snyder's ill-fated battle royal that hit screens less than a month and a half ago, earth has grown anxious over the presence of her mightiest heros. After the series of catastrophic throw-downs we've witnessed in subsequent films, the United Nations have banded together, and landed on a solution: all superheros must register as such, and may only be deployed when the UN collectively sees fit. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) sees the logic immediately, having been haunted by the demons of his past for several movies now, and implores everyone to sign the paper work. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) could hardly be more opposed, citing an indestructible impulse to save people whenever danger becomes imminent. Their disagreement tears the Avengers apart, rendering the presence of a super-villain irrelevant. The true culprit here is bureaucracy.

        Which isn't to say that Marvel has lost their signature brand of light-hearted fun. Much of what makes Civil War such an out-and-out success is the way it balances heated political discussions with scenes where Scarlett Johansson throws motorcycles at people, and proceeds to do violent gymnastics with giddy exuberance and joyously unrealistic aplomb. As was the case with their Marvel debut Captain America: The Winter Soldier, directors Anthony and Joe Russo imbue the universe with a seriousness that other directors have strayed away from without ever losing track of what makes these flicks such fun, comforting watches. In many ways, the movie plays like a two-and-a-half hour mea culpa for the aforementioned Ultron, a film that promised to bring dire stakes to a universe that had no idea how to deal with them. Describing this as a Captain America movie is straight-up disingenuous: Civil War crams as many of your favorite crime fighters as will fit into its extended runtime, and somehow even the moments that feel utterly shoehorned manage to register.

        Those wondering how a single film could possibly wrangle all of our previously established characters into one narrative while managing to introduce even more are not wrong in their skepticism. On a purely factual level, there are too many players on hand to do all of them justice, and the studio's much-ballyhooed introduction of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is a branding exercise of the purest sort. It's also really damn fun, forming a dichotomy that could easily be used to describe the film at large; not everything here is exactly cohesive, but it's all a blast to watch. The Avengers is certainly the more 'perfect' of the two films, largely because of its sure-minded decision to prioritize characters over anything resembling a juicy plot, but Civil War manages to spin a yarn about 7,349 different superheros that, more or less, makes sense and is consistently engaging. For the first time since The Winter Soldier, banter isn't the defining feature of a Marvel film. My favorite remains Guardians of the Galaxy, which is a roundabout way of saying I have no qualms with these movies' sense of humor. It's just striking and refreshing to see it moved lower down on the totem pole of priority.

        Much has been made of the 6-on-6 battle alluded to in the trailer, but the Russo's deserve credit for their action chops throughout the rest of the feature as well. Often playing out like Jason Bourne for 9-year-olds, the action is kinetic, sweaty, and captured with a jittery urgency. The spacial reasoning is occasionally lacking, but it's still a blast to see these demigods participate in combat that actually has some weight to it. Black Panther in particular, expertly played by series-newcomer Chadwick Boseman, is a blast to watch on the battle field, and is even afforded a proper character arc by the film's bloated runtime. The movie feels even longer than its stated two-and-a-half-hours, and while my engagement was consistent enough to forgive the excess, scenes where Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) teaches The Vision (Paul Bettany) how best to prepare food and speak with cinema's worst Russian accent are probably a bit overkill. But who's counting? Capatin America: Civil War is a near-perfect Marvel experience; almost all your friends are here, they all receive ample screen time, and there are finally actual stakes involved, even if they're mostly just emotional. The studio has crossed their t's, dotted their I's, and made one of their very best movies to date.

Grade: B+

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

HypeCast: Green Room and the State of Modern Thrillers

        Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. In today's episode, Tyler and Collin have only just calmed themselves down enough to talk about Green Room, Jeremy Saulnier's new heart-attack inducing thriller. Those looking for a measured, exacting analysis of the film's occasional faults ought to look elsewhere, because Mitchell and Elwyn are basically gaga over this Punk Kids vs Skinheads blood bath. Simply put, it's one of the best thrillers in years, which parleys into a discussion on the state of the modern thriller, harkening back to their scratchily-recorded first episode, wherein they chatted about recent trends in the action genre. The episode also includes out-dated references to Stanley Tucci eating soup, and Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio sticking a candle up his butt for the sake of art. Warning: occasional naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Podcast Itinerary:
0:00-36:33---Green Room
36:34-1:13:24---The State of Modern Thrillers