We carry on with our appreciation of the late George A. Romero's Living Dead series, and this week we look into 1985's Day of the Dead. With the dead well and truly taking over America, we witness a small group of survivors try and understand their new landscape in an military bunker in Florida. The scientists of this bunker discover that zombies can tentatively be trained to not attack on sight, especially with the case of the docile Bub. However, the soldiers protecting them are having a hard time appreciating this fact, and start becoming more tyrannical within their confines. We discuss in this podcast what we love in Day of the Dead, including Tom Savini's brilliant make up effects, the way Romero writes human's, and how it develops the lore from the first films.
WARNING: spoilers heavily insinuated throughout. Based on the Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbø, and directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In), The Snowman looks into the mysterious murders that are plaguing Oslo and its surrounding areas. What's the connection between them? Divorced women with young children, and a god damn snowman at each crime scene. With Michael Fassbender as alcoholic cop Harry, he teams up with a recently transferred police woman (Rebecca Ferguson) to crack the case. Also starring Toby Jones, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Val Kilmer, we break apart The Snowman and ask why this film has bombed so badly, from the killers motives to the lack of suspects, and especially its lacklustre plot.
We carry on with our Halloween Horror special this month, looking at the zombie films of the late George A. Romero, and this week is the turn of Dawn of the Dead, which came out a full 10 years after Night of the Living Dead. Following a news executive and traffic reporter (Gaylen Ross and David Emge), as well as two S.W.A.T. team members (Ken Foree and Scott Reiniger), they come across an abandoned shopping mall and hope to survive the zombie apocalypse in relative comfort. We discuss the themes of consumerism and wish fulfilment, as well as admiring the more revamped look of the undead, designed by Tom Savini, but really we just use this podcast as an excuse to gush about this brilliant film.
The long awaited sequel to Ridley Scott's iconic 1982 sci-fi noir Blade Runner is now out, this time with Denis Villeneuve directing. Blade Runner 2049 sees Ryan Gosling play this films replicant hunter, who discovers an infeasible secret amongst a set of bones which leads him to seek out the first films blade runner Deckard (Harrison Ford). Visually stunning and with a wonderful synth soundtrack that references Vangelis' original, we discuss the question of why replicants are made to be so human, the holographic principle, and whether, at 2 hours 43 minutes, this film is possibly too long. Co-starring Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Dave Bautista and Jared Leto, we look at the ups and downs of this much celebrated sequel.
We celebrate the legacy of the late great George A. Romero as part of our Halloween Horror month this October, and today we go back to the very beginning with 1968's Night of the Living Dead. Starting the trend for the shuffling, lurching zombie, we discuss what brought us to watch this classic and why we love it, as well as all the details we missed the first time round, as well as its influence on the future of the undead genre.
Riding high off the success of A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Ana Lily Amipour gives us another mash-up with genre's with the dystopian-romantic-thriller The Bad Batch. Starring Suki Waterhouse as Arlen, she is chucked out of a gated community because of some failing. She encounters a bunch of cannibals led by Miami Man (Jason Mamoa) who cut off her arm and leg. She manages to escape an comes across the town of Comfort, but has to make a choice as to how she wants to live the rest of her life. Also starring Jim Carrey, Keanu Reeves Giovanni Ribisi, The Bad Batch is a masterclass in world building, creating a distinctive look that lodge in your brain, but the plot is distinctly thin and pace slow. Are the visuals enough though? Listen to our podcast review to find out.
Read Layla's review of El Topo here.
The sequel to the hugely popular 2015 spy-spoof caper, Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman: The Golden Circle is back with more of the same. Taron Egerton's Eggsy is back living the high life as a gentleman spy dating a Swedish princess, that is until drug cartel leader Poppy (Julianne Moore) decides to blow up all the Kingsman agency's and they are forced to seek out their counterparts in the American agency Statesman. Still as violent and as crude as the first film, does it live up to its own hype? What about the return of Colin Firth and that infamous Glastonbury scene? And what's up with the Elton John cameo?
Maybe one of the most criticised films of the year so far, Darren Aronofsky's Biblical/environmental parable Mother! has divided audiences between those that see it as high art and those that see it as pretentious nonsense. Starring Jennifer Lawrence as the mother and Javier Bardem as Him, we witness the first half of the film delve into Kafka-esque horror when a married couple (Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris) just won't leave their house, to the second half's dream-like, quasi-religious maelstrom. We delve into the films symbolism and question whether Aronofsky's ideas were translated well onto the screen, and is it really as terrible as what Cinemascore would have you believe.
The second adaptation of one of Stephen King's most famous books It has hit cinema's with aplomb, securing the position of biggest opening weekend for a horror film ever. Directed by Andrés Muschietti, this version keeps most of the story intact, except for planting it in the 1980s instead of the 50s, and delivers us the first half of this tale, looking at how these seven kids had to overcome their own fears to defeat the monstrous dancing clown Pennnywise. Starring Bill Skarsgård, Finn Wolfhard and Sophia Lillis, It may provide us a welcome change, as this is clearly a horror story with a solid backbone, but is it really free of the today's cinematic cliché's, and is it even scary? Plus, Richee tells us his own terrifying tale from within the darkness of the cinema screening.
There are many bad Stephen King adaptations, but are there any quite like Spike's television adaptation of The Mist? Based on the short story, a town is befallen by a mysterious mist so opaque you can't see the dangers within. The difference with this version? The mist preys on peoples individual fears. Unfortunately, this version isn't very consistent with its own lore, and adding to that some extremely poor storytelling choices and predictable twists, season one of The Mist provides one of the most lamentable viewing experiences we've had in recent memory.
This week we review Steven Soderbergh's hillybilly heist comedy Logan Lucky, starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig and Riley Keough. A down on his luck father faces his daughter moving away, and is then let go from his mining job. Scheming a plan to rob a bank at a NASCAR stadium, he enlists the help of an explosion expert who is still in prison and a pair of morally righteous brothers. With lively characters and good humour, Logan Lucky never stretches beyond the conventions of a heist movie, but still manages provide an entertain ride.
Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson star together in this road trip buddy caper. The high-jinks and banter all happen against a backdrop of an Eastern European dictator being tried for war crimes at the Hague. Hilarious! While the film is generally competent and the actors capable, the boring plot allows for very little consequence to their actions, and The Hitman's Bodyguard pays more attention to a limp romance plot then to the problem of who is more evil; someone killing the bad guys, or someone protecting them. Co-starring Elodie Yung, Selma Hayek and Gary Oldman, we look into the highs and lows of this summer comedy.
In this slightly spoiler filled podcast (nothing that gives away the ending) we look at David Leitch's Atomic Blond. Based on the comic The Coldest City by Anthony Johnston and Sam Hart, we are taken to 1989 Berlin. The wall hasn't yet come down, but the world's secret service agencies are on high alert after a list containing the names of every agent goes missing. Enter Charlize Theron as Lorraine, MI6's best agent, a striking individual with plenty of fighting skills. Also starring James McAvoy and Sofia Boutella, we break apart this flimsy excuse for an 80s mix-tape and look at how its lack of emotion and gratuitous scenes has unfortunately made one of the most loathsome films of the summer.
Julia Ducournau's feature length debut Raw looks in to the sexual awakening of Justine (Garance Marillier), which coincides nicely with her cannibal urges too. A life long vegetarian, an intense hazing ritual at her new veterinary school unleashes a forbidden lust for human flesh which she finds increasingly hard to disguise, and of which isn't helped along by her older sister Alex (Ella Rumpf). Stylistic and clinical, we argue what the use of cannibal-as-sexual-being metaphor means, and also wonder if the film is too tonally aloof for its own good.
We mention Cannibal Holocaust in this review, Check out our podcast review of that film here.
We have a post-apocalyptic double bill this week, with the requested 2010 Hughes brothers directed The Book of Eli, and survivalist drama Here Alone. First up is Eli, starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis. We look at the role of religion in this film and how they set up the films history, and wonder if maybe some of the roles were miscast and aspects underwritten. Here Alone, directed by Rod Blackhurst and starring Lucy Walters, Adam David Thompson and Gina Piersanti, is a broodier take on the post-apocalypse, focusing more on the survival aspect. While containing an interesting premise and some nice ideas, is the slow pace and frustrating characterisation holding it back?
The Book of Eli was requested by Evan. You can find him on twitter @FromTheWastes and their website here.
We have a double bill episode this week, and first up is Christopher Nolan's historical war film Dunkirk. Telling the story through three different time lines, we look at how the British pulled off Operation Dynamo and evacuated thousands of troops. Starring Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles, and featuring music by Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk is a bleak film, but is it entertaining enough. Next is The Big Sick, a romantic comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani and telling his own real life story of how he met his wife Emily V. Gordon. Kumail has to deal with his Muslim family who want to arrange a marriage for him, but unfortunately his secret girlfriend Emily falls into a coma. Produced by Judd Apatow and also starring Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, we wonder if The Big Sick breaks the mould of romantic comedies.
We discuss Rogue One briefly in this podcast. You can listen to our review of this here.
We mention Layla's article "The Manosphere and Romance" in our review of The Big Sick. You can read that here.
"Apes together strong!" Who'd of thought that a pulpy dystopia from the 60s could create such a dark and immersive prequel trilogy. War for the Planet of the Apes, directed by Matt Reeves, plays it straight in a world where neither the apes nor the humans seem to be winning. Caesar (Andy Serkis) is consumed by the need for revenge when the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) attacks his group. However, he still needs to ensure the survival of his fellow apes when the renegade military imprison them all. Also starring Judy Greer and Amiah Millar, War for the Planet of the Apes infuses ingenious motion capture with a realistic atmosphere to create a smart and contemplative edition to the summer blockbuster.
The third version of Spider-Man in 15 years, Peter Parker makes his first big screen foray into the wider Marvel universe in Jon Watts' Spider-Man: Homecoming. Neglecting the far too familiar origin story, we go straight into Peter's post-Civil War life, where he is hoping to prove his worth as an Avenger to Tony Stark, but he is wary of his more amateur status. Meanwhile, a scrap merchant is bitter at Stark's inadvertent wreaking of his career, so takes on a new identity as the Vulture, who has giant mechanical wings, and sells modified alien tech on the black market. We discuss the possible consequence for the Marvel cinematic universe after Homecoming, plus the change of villain which allows us to delve into a moral grey area. Starring Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., and Michael Keaton.
We discuss Captain America: Civil War in this podcast to. You can listen to our podcast review here.
Netflix are on a role with some of their original programming, and Bong Joon-ho's Okja is no exception. Weaving together different genre's and exploring wildly different tones, from the whimsical to the devastating, Okja looks at an attempt to feed the world, and make a lot of money, with the gigantic super-pig. Teenager Mija (Seo-Hyeon Ahn) has been looking after one of these super-pigs for ten years, and takes it upon herself to rescue her pig when it is taken to be slaughtered. With a high profile cast including Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano and Steven Yeun, Okja is a thought provoking film that forces you too look into the grey areas of animal welfare, big business and capitalism.
Edgar Wright is back and with a distinctly different flavour with this comedy heist thriller Baby Driver. Starring Ansel Elgort as the young getaway driver, all he wants to do is listen to music and drive away west with his girlfriend Debora (Lily James), but he has to pack back his due to crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) and deal with some crazy criminals (Jamie Foxx, Josh Hamm, Eiza González). With an infectious diegetic soundtrack, great performances, and smart script, Baby Driver is a welcome return to cinema for Wright, who has given us the summer film we all deserve.
We mention True Romance is this podcast. Check out our review of that film here.
Written, directed and starring Alice Lowe, while she herself was pregnant, Prevenge is a dark comedy about the taboo subject of prepartum psychosis. Lowe stars as Ruth, whose grieving the death of her partner, and whose unborn daughter is telling her to murder from within the womb. With savage dry wit and an excellent cast, Prevenge is a masterclass in speedy film-making and black humour.
We mention House of Fools in this podcast. You can read Layla's review of season two here.
The official Dark Universe is go with The Mummy, however... its a bit of a non-starter. Tom Cruise stars as Nick Morton, an opportunistic treasure hunter who comes across the grave of long lost Ancient Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who takes it upon herself to bring evil upon the world on her awakening. Also starring Russell Crowe as Dr Jekyll, this franchise based on the classic Universal monsters fails to bring the hype, and also fails to recognise what made those original monsters endearing in the first place. Richee and Layla dissect The Mummy in this episode, and we go into spoilers after the music.
Listen to our review of the original 1932 version of the movie here.
Read Layla's initial trailer speculation post here.
We also mention Train to Busan in this podcast too. Check out our review here.
Amazingly, DC have pulled it out of the bag when it comes to their cinematic universe, with Patty Jenkin's Wonder Woman actually being a pretty good film. While it does play it safe, it is a refreshingly focused film, especially in a franchise that has become known for its rushed pacing. Gal Gadot stars as our titular hero, a naive Amazonian warrior who traverses the landscape of World War I and learns that the humans evil may not be as black and white as she thought. A refreshingly succinct cinematic outing, we discuss the themes and motifs in Wonder Woman, and question how she'll fit into future DC movies.
Based on the classic show from the 90s, Seth Gordon's remake of Baywatch tries to hit the comedic, spoofy heights of 21 Jump Street, but instead meanders amongst its sub par mediocrity as it pays homage. Starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, expect all the things you remember from the TV series, like the red swimsuits, the tacky crime plot, and the slow motion, but its tongue in cheek attitude is undermined by its flat jokes and stretched out running time.
Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is a modern day classic, so how is it that Layla hasn't seen it already? In this Virgin Viewings podcast of this 2008 multi-award winning film, we experience the intense performance of Daniel Day-Lewis as oil man Daniel Plainview, who manipulates the sacred ideas of family and religion for his own capitalist gain. Also starring Paul Dano, Dillon Freasier and Kevin J. O'Connor, we discuss how There Will Be Blood creates its horror-esque atmosphere through its soundtrack and pacing, and how its the ultimate example of the cinematic maxim "show don't tell".