Friday, June 24, 2016

Diffused Congruence: Zarqa Nawaz

For our latest episode we're joined by Zarqa Nawaz, creator of the CBC comedy Little Mosque on the Prairie (the first sitcom to ever focus on the lives of Muslims in the west). During this breezy conversation Zarqa discusses her own entry into the creative arts, how the idea for the show came about and how it got to the air. She also talks about her engaging and very funny book Laughing All the Way to the Mosque: The Misadventures of a Muslim Woman. Listen via the embed below, and as always, send any comments or questions to us at diffusedcongruence@gmail.com or via our Facebook page!

Zaki's Review: Independence Day: Resurgence

I was sixteen years old when Independence Day was released in summer of 1996. I was there on opening day. And I loved it. Man, did I love it. I was absolutely exuberant in my reaction and effusive in my praise. And at the risk of revealing a little too much about myself, you can see all of that on display to an embarrassing degree in my vintage review. Now, while I've revised my estimation of that film slightly (read: a lot) downward in the intervening decades, I've always been able to appreciate it for being a well-crafted bit of summer nonsense.

All this preamble is merely to set the stage for the fact that when it came time to watch Independence Day: Resurgence, the belated sequel to one of Hollywood's primordial mega-blockbusters, that sixteen-year-old was at the forefront of my thoughts. And while this might be retroactively giving myself too much credit, I'd like to believe I'd have been pretty unmoved by director Roland Emmerich's long-in-coming follow-up, which ups the spectacle and CGI whiz-bang, but leaves you longing for the (seriously) subtlety and (I'm not kidding) restraint he practiced with the first one.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Recommended Readings

First go to The Atlantic and read Jonathan Rauch's piece on "How American Politics Went Insane," where he makes a pretty compelling case for where the rot currently eating our politics from the inside started.

Then jump over to New York magazine and read Jonathan Chait's rebuttal to Rauch, where he makes the case that this isn't a "pox on both their houses" situation. Gotta be honest, while I think Rauch raises some good points, I think I'm coming down on Chait's side of this one.

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Remembering TV's The Incredible Hulk

For the latest Nostalgia Theater show I take a look back at one of my favorite TV shows, The Incredible Hulk, which aired on CBS from 1978 to 1982, and has enjoyed a perpetual afterlife through syndicated reruns. The series, developed by Kenneth Johnson and starring Bill Bixby & Lou Ferrigno as the two sides of Dr. David Banner ("Physician. Scientist"), was the first attempt to take a Marvel Comics character seriously in the mainstream, and you can draw a straight line from its successful approach right through to the current age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Joining me for this conversation is former Hulk comic book writer (and TV show superfan) Glenn Greenberg for a fun and fact-filled chat that will leave you feeling anything but anger or outrage. You can catch the show via the embed below, or subscribe at iTunesStitcher RadioTuneIn Radio, or Google Play (and remember to leave a review!). As always, send all questions or comments our way via MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Anton Yelchin, RIP

Anton Yelchin, me, and director Jeremy Saulnier during the Green Room press tour
Wanted to take a moment to acknowledge yesterday's very sad passing of actor Anton Yelchin following a freak accident involving his own car. Although best known as Pavel Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek movies (with his third -- and now final -- turn in next month's Star Trek Beyond), Yelchin had been acting since he was nine, and racked up a whole array of very impressive film and television credits. He was particularly good as the title character in 2007's Charlie Bartlett, and he did a terrific job channelling Michael Biehn as the young Kyle Reese in 2009's Terminator Salvation.

Most recently he'd appeared alongside fellow Trek actor Patrick Stewart in this year's horror thriller Green Room, which I had the chance to interview him about just this past April. In all my time on this blog, this is the first time doing an "in memoriam" on someone I'd actually interacted with, which makes this feel more acutely personal than ever before. We only talked for fifteen or so minutes, but he struck me as very thoughtful and introspective. It was clear he took his craft more seriously than himself. He was a good actor, a good guy, and at age 27 there's no reason to think he wouldn't have had a long and fruitful career stretching well into the future. Just a sad, sad story.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Recommended Reading

A Prairie Home Companion's Garrison Keillor offers his unique perspective on what's at stake for this election if a certain orange-hued troll ascends to the highest office:
His response to the Orlando tragedy is one more clue that this election is different from any other. If Mitt Romney or John McCain had been elected president, you might be disappointed but you wouldn't fear for the fate of the Republic. This time, the Republican Party is nominating a man who resides in the dark depths. He is a thug and he doesn't bother to hide it. The only greatness he knows about is himself.
Read the rest here.

From The Onion...

Satire. Barely. 
U.N. Warns Trump May Be 7 Months Away From Acquiring Nuclear Weapons 
According to an alarming new global risk report published Tuesday by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump may be just seven months away from acquiring nuclear weapons. “A year ago, the threat didn’t seem great enough to warrant serious concern, but at this moment, a nuclear-capable Trump is now a very real and very imminent possibility,” said UNODA high representative Kim Won-soo, adding that the agency’s current projections showed Trump potentially procuring nuclear weapons, as well as advanced ballistic missile technology, as early as January of next year. “The longer we wait to act, the closer he comes to obtaining a nuclear arsenal. The final red line for preventing him from acquiring this devastating capability comes in early November. If he is not properly dealt with before then, there will be no way to stop him from going nuclear.” While U.N. officials said the international community should prepare for the destabilizing effects of Trump acquiring such weapons, they still held out hope that citizens of his nation might yet rise up against him and topple the extremist before he posed a global existential threat.

Nostalgia Theater: Independence Day Action Figures!

Twenty years ago, in summer of '96, the movie to beat at the box office was Fox's Independence Day. And with the sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, hitting theaters later this week, I thought I'd turn the Nostalgia Theater spotlight towards some of the merch that was put out to tie in with the Roland Emmerich-directed alien invasion pic. The toy rights for the film were purchased by then-new (now defunct) toymaker Trendmasters, which had launched two years earlier with toys based on Battlestar Galactica and Godzilla, and they had a whole assortment of aliens, figures, and vehicles ready to go. Here's a TV spot:

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Dr. Sam Beckett Leaps Again!

Earlier this week Late Show host Stephen Colbert roped in Quantum Leap star Scott Bakula for a bit that sees the actor's Quantum character Dr. Sam Beckett drafted into duty to stop a certain presidential campaign before it can start. Funny stuff:

They Will Remember

Timothy Egan at the New York Times takes stock of the sobering historical junction we find ourselves at, staring down the barrel of a presidential candidate who presents an existential thread to this country and her history. As he says, future generations will look back this moment and judge us for the decisions we make.
They will hang their heads in sorrow at the time when the man leading the party of Lincoln suggested that a sitting president was a traitor, somehow sympathetic to Islamic nihilists who slaughter innocent Americans. Trump implied it. Then he banned a newspaper for its headline about it. 
He wasn’t finished, this 70-year-old with the temperament of a 7-year-old. He made no rousing call for unity and courage, no plea for a partisan pause. He said the president must resign, as if it wasn’t an assault rifle easily obtained by a New York-born fanatic that killed 49 people, but the American commander in chief.
It's a sobering litany, to be sure, and there's even more at the link.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hana Ali on the Champ: "My Father Knew Islam is About Peace"

The late, great Muhammad Ali's daughter, Hana Yasmeen Ali, remembers her father and offers what she thinks his likely response would have been to the Orlando shooting tragedy:
Our father would be profoundly saddened and disappointed by the cowardice and heartless displays of inhumanity shown by the so-called Muslim gunman who took the lives of so many innocent people in the name of a religion which has as its very meaning: peace. 
As much as my father loved his faith, he raised us to respect all religions and all people and to judge no one. He taught us that no man has the knowledge and understanding God has, and he often quoted one of his favorite Islamic sayings when teaching us this spiritual lesson. "If all the oceans were ink and all of the trees were pens, it still would not be enough to write the knowledge of God."
Read the rest from Hana here.

The MovieFilm Podcast: Taking Stock of Ninja Turtles and Warcraft

Cowabunga! Strap on your nunchucks and get your pizza on as Brian and I discuss the sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, and why it's ended up disappointing at the box office despite being a much better movie than its predecessor. In addition, they also talk the video game adaptation Warcraft, and offer some thoughts on the planned Ocean's 11 spin-off film and Netflix's upcoming Stranger Things miniseries. All that, plus the usual Star Wars news, listener letters, and witty banter and random digressions you've come to expect. Check out the show via the embed below or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Recommended Reading

Jonathan Chait takes stock of Donald Trump's bloviating, nonsensical response to yesterday's tragic killing spree in Orlando, and arrives at one takeaway:
What Trump calls “political correctness” is simply the presumption that Muslims are mostly peaceful and, in the absence of evidence of hostile intent, have a right to equal treatment. As with most of his policies, Trump has left the details of his plan vague, but its overall contours are clear enough. The plan is to persecute Muslims.
Yep, and we can see it not just from Trump, but the troglodytes that are following in his wake. More here.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Recommended Reading

Robert Reich connects the dots from Donald Trump and our current political moment to its roots in the 1990s and Newt Gingrich's ascension to power on the back of an implicit promise to drive governance to a halt:
Yes, Gingrich scolded Trump for his recent comment about the federal judge. But Gingrich’s approach to politics has been almost as divisive and destructive. After Gingrich became speaker of the House in 1995, Washington was transformed from a place where legislators sought common ground into a war zone. Compromise was replaced by brinkmanship, bargaining by obstruction.
And that's where we've sat ever since. Thanks, Newt. Read the rest here.

Nostalgia Theater: Beverly Hills Teens (or White Privilege: The Series)

Here's an '80s artifact that just feels tone deaf and odd when viewed with thirty years of hindsight. Beverly Hills Teens arrived in syndication in September of 1987 as an ostensible family friendly antidote to all the "good guy vs. bad guy" violence other kids shows like G.I. Joe and He-Man were propagating during that bygone era of magical, toy-fueled kidvid. After all, why export good old-fashioned jingoism to the world when you could just as easily broadcast a universal message of glorious, glorious USA-style decadence. And who better to animate this thing than noted crap factory DiC? Here, watch:

Friday, June 10, 2016

Zaki's Review: Warcraft

Full disclosure: I've never played the Warcraft or World of Warcraft video games. I've never read the novels or comics. I've never played the collectible card game. When it comes to this brand, despite its twenty-plus year presence (a lifetime!) as part of the pop culture ether, I'm a complete neophyte to the Blizzard Entertainment property. I feel like that bit of context might be helpful as I walk you through my utterly baffled reaction to Universal Studios' big budget adaptation directed by Duncan Jones (whose Moon and Source Code I remain a pretty big fan of).

My understanding is that Jones comes to the feature version (which finally arrives after ten long years in the development pipeline) as a longtime fan of the franchise, and that much is surely plain to see. In fact, that may be the very thing that so bogs it down. The film is so steeped in adoration for its source material that I have no doubt the same faithful who've kept the brand alive for all these years will luxuriate in every Easter Egg and snarky aside. But for anyone coming in cold, the mythology is impenetrable, the effects are lackluster, and the performances are mannered to the point of distraction.

Recommended Reading

Jonathan Chait says the last few weeks have made the prospect of a Trump presidency less likely even as they've made that same notion a lot more terrifying. Says he:
...the disintegration and debasement of his internal enemies, many of whom submitted after he belittled them, seems to have only confirmed Trump’s confidence in the soundness of his methods. His megalomania has soared to new heights. “I will give you everything,” he told a crowd of bikers over Memorial Day weekend. “I will give you what you’ve been looking for, for 50 years. I’m the only one.”
Read the rest from Chait here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

INTERVIEW: The Conjuring 2's Madison Wolfe

In only a few short years as an actor, Madison Wolfe has racked up an amazing array of big and small screen credits. From with her debut in 2012's On the Road and The Campaign to her appearances in last year's acclaimed films Trumbo and Joy, she's steadily built up a repertoire of appearances alongside some of biggest names in the industry, including Will Ferrell, Bryan Cranston, and Jennifer Lawrence. Her latest film is this week's much-anticipated horror sequel The Conjuring 2. I had a chance to talk to Madison about about her career so far, how she nabbed her Conjuring role, and what she hopes to accomplish in the future. What follows are some highlights of our chat:

Monday, June 06, 2016

Diffused Congruence: Ramadan Fitness and Fiqh-ness Special!

Welcome to our special Ramadan episode of Diffused Congruence, as Parvez and I are joined by guest Imam Tahir Anwar for some insight into how best to maximize one's spiritual pursuits during the month of Ramadan, and fitness trainer Rehan Jalali on how to make one's morning and evening meals as efficient and healthy as possible so you don't feel ill-effects from the long fasts. We had a great time with both of our guests, and we're confident you'll find a lot to benefit from in these interviews. Send any comments or questions to diffusedcongruence@gmail.com or via our Facebook page!

INTERVIEW: Emilia Clarke on Me Before You and Game of Thrones

The new film Me Before You (now in theaters) marks a bit of a change of pace for Emilia Clarke after the action her antics of last summer's franchise opus Terminator Genisys. The romantic drama, based on the best-seller of the same name by Jojo Moyes, Emilia is Louella "Lou" Clarke, a free-spirited young woman tasked with taking care of Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), a recent victim of a motorcycle accident that has left him quadriplegic

For the actress, the project was a switch from her famed role as the Mother of Dragons on HBO's hugely-successful Game of Thrones. I had a chance to talk to her recently about why Me Before You so appealed to her, how she responds to those that think it puts forth a negative message about the disabled, and more. Read on for some highlights, including her response when I confessed that I've never actually seen Game of Thrones.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Rewind: The Muhammad Ali Cartoon Show

With the passing of legendary athlete Muhammad Ali this Friday, there's been a lot of reflection on the outsized impact the outsized personality had on pop culture above and beyond his prowess in the ring. In addition to starring in several feature films, he also headlined his very own Saturday morning cartoon show, for which he provided his own voice, in the mid-'70s. I looked back at this show in a Nostalgia Theater entry a few years ago, and I figured now was as good a time as any to link back to that one.

Continue reading...

Friday, June 03, 2016

Zaki's Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Click here to read my 2014 review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

You may recall that I wasn't an especially big fan of Paramount's big budget Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot when it hit theaters two summers ago. On top of a whole host of narrative issues, probably my biggest issue with the Michael Bay-produced, Jonathan Liebesman-directed opus was the way it seemed embarrassed of its own premise. As I said at the time:

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: X-Men: Apocalypse + Emilia Clarke on Me Before You

This week the MovieFilm gang dives deep into a spoiler-filled dissection of the latest -- though far from greatest -- entry in Fox's long-running X-Men feature film franchise, Apocalypse (click here to read my full-length review). We get into the story, praise what works, and offer our thoughts on what doesn't. In addition, hear my interview with the delightful Emilia Clarke about her new romantic drama Me Before You as well as her continuing work on Game of Thrones.

All that, plus some thoughts on Disney's Alice Through the Looking Glass flopping over Memorial Day weekend, whether it's a good idea to make a Mary Poppins sequel fifty-plus years after the original, what those reshoot rumors actually mean for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, some Listener Letters, and the usual bits of banter and non sequiturs you've come to expect!

Listen at the embed below or at iTunes(make sure to write a review or leave a star rating!), StitcherTuneIn Radio, or Google Play). You can also drop us a line at MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, or at our our Facebook page to tell us how we're doing!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Richard Hatch Goes Back to Battlestar Galactica

A veteran of almost five decades in the film & television industry, Richard Hatch starred alongside Karl Malden on the final season of The Streets of San Francisco, and has appeared on such seminal series as Dynasty, Murder, She Wrote, The Love Boat, MagGyver, and many more. He’s probably best known for starring as Captain Apollo on the 1970s sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica, created by the late Glen A. Larson, as well as playing Tom Zarek on the show’s 2003 remake. Mr. Hatch joins me on Nostalgia Theater this week to talk about his nearly forty year association with the Battlestar brand, as well as his new project, the upcoming webseries Blade of HonorYou can catch the show via the embed below, or subscribe at iTunesStitcher RadioTuneIn Radio, or Google Play. As always, send all questions or comments our way via MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: Generation X -- The X-Men's First Movie!

Finola Hughes and Jeremy Ratchford head up the mutants of Generation X
X-Men: Apocalypse is sitting atop the box office this weekend (read my review here), and as the ninth X-Men flick in sixteen years, it's easy to look at the Fox superhero franchise as one of those evergreens that's just always been around. But believe it or not, there was actually a time when the X-Men just couldn't catch a break in live action. With a theatrical feature mired in development hell for most of the '90s, Marvel Productions rolled the dice by taking the franchise to primetime in Generation X, the X-Men's very first movie.

Airing on Fox in February of 1996, the Generation X TV movie was intended as a backdoor pilot for a weekly skein, taking its title and premise from the comic series of the same name created by Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo. The comic book was built around two longtime X-Men supporting characters mentoring a new batch of students at Charles Xavier's vaunted school for Gifted Youngsters, and as you can tell from the title, it was a quintessentially '90s book, which the telefilm did a pretty good job of adhering to, I'd say. Here, dig this trailer:

Saturday, May 28, 2016

INTERVIEW: Kate Beckinsale on Love & Friendship

Kate Beckinsale is a performer who has always ably jumped between such bombastic Hollywood fare as Total Recall and her signature Underworld series, and smaller offerings such as her latest project, Love & Friendship. The film, currently in limited release, reunites Beckinsale with writer-director Whit Stillman, with whom she first worked on 1998's Last Days of Disco.

Based on Jane Austen's unfinished novel Lady Susan, Stillman has turned the epistolary prose into a film that not only highlights not only Austen's particular brand of comedy, but Beckinsale as the conniving "Lady" of the title, Susan Vernon, who is at turns devious and alluring as she manipulates friends, family, and acquaintance alike in her search for physical and material contentment.

It's a showcase turn for the actress, and it's clear that she had a great experience reuniting not only with her Last Days director, but also with her co-star form that film, Chloƫ Sevigny, an enthusiasm that was palpable during my conversation with the star during her recent visit to the Bay Area. Read on for some highlights of that chat:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: The Nice Guys + Kate Beckinsale on Love & Friendship

For this week's show we dive in with a brief conversation about writer-director Shane Black's delightful action-comedy The Nice Guys, followed by my interview with actress Kate Beckinsale about her work on the new Jane Austen adaptation Love & Friendship, directed by Whit Stillman. After that, hear our takes on the new trailers for Star Trek Beyond and Ghostbusters, and the upcoming TV remakes/reboots of Lethal Weapon, 24, MacGyver, and Frequency. In addition, we discuss the big shakes up with Warner Bros.' DC Comics movies, why the cast for Thor: Ragnarok has us excited, and why the possible title for Star Wars: Episode VIII might not be so great. As always, you can catch it via the embed below or at iTunes or Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (and make sure to write us a review or leave a star rating!). Like always, you can drop us a line at MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, or at our our Facebook page to tell us how we're doing!

Looking Back at Ghostbusters

We're inching ever closer to the release of Ghostbusters, this summer's reboot of the 1984 comedy classic. Unfortunately the reboot has already been the subject of mild controversy, with some questioning the decision to recast several male roles with female actors and others calling out the sexism behind that criticism. Furthermore, the trailer set an unwanted record as the "most disliked" film trailer in YouTube history.

If you're like me, however, you probably can't help but be a little bit intrigued by the reboot. That's simply because the original Ghostbusters left such a lasting and generally pleasant impression 32 years ago. If the new film captures any of the same comedic flavor, it'll be worth a watch.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Out Now with Aaron and Abe Podcast: The Nice Guys

Been a busy week of podcasting for me! Click "play" on the embed below to hear my guest shot on the latest episode of Out Now With Aaron and Abe, featuring a lot of fun banter, plus an in-depth discussion on The Nice Guys (which you already know I loved). Click here to download at iTunes.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Batman-on-Film.com Podcast: Talkin' BvS, the DCEU, & More

Click "play" on the embed below to hear my guest shot on the Batman-on-Film.com Podcast, as I joined hosts Rick Shew and Bill "Jett" Ramey for a spirited and fun conversation about Batman, Superman, Batman v. Superman, and all things DC Comics. Click here to download at iTunes.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Trump and the Authoritarianism Urge

Interesting vid from Vox on how the rise of Donald Trump can't simply be written off as an isolated phenomenon, but rather the inevitable result of the ideological "sorting" that's been happening in this country for the past several decades:

Star Trek Beyond Trailer Brings the Noise

Our first look at the impending three-quel Star Trek Beyond dropped last December to a mostly muted response. I thought it looked fine, but maybe I'm just an easy mark. I was happy to see stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Karl Urban back as Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, respectively. But a lot of the Internet chatter seemed to center on the foregrounding of motorcycle antics and Beastie Boys music (as if that's a bad thing!), and there sure didn't seem to be a lot of buzz around the Justin Lin-directed flick after that first look.

Well, clearly Paramount is hoping (desperately?) to change the tenor of the conversation in the ramp up to the film's late July release. After all, this is Star Trek's fiftieth anniversary year, and the last thing they need is a movie (thirteenth in the series!) that the fans aren't feeling jazzed about. To that end, the first volley in that effort is the reveal of the full trailer, which hit the web Friday night following a special "fan event" featuring the film's cast and crew orchestrated by the studio to win over hardcore Trek devotees.

Nostalgia Theater: Back to School With X-Men: Evolution

With this week's upcoming release of X-Men: Apocalypse (read my mixed review of that one here), I thought I'd look back at another time the Marvel mutants made their mark in animation. Now, I already discussed the groundbreaking X-Men animated series from the '90s, which I argued is remembered more fondly than it probably deserves, a couple of years ago. But in fall of 2000, mere months after the first X-Men feature film lit the fuse on that still-going movie series, the second X-Men series, X-Men: Evolution made its debut on the now-defunct Kids' WB. Here's the intro:

Friday, May 20, 2016

Zaki's Review: The Nice Guys

Summer movie season is only a few weeks old, but somehow it already feels interminable. As such, the arrival of writer-director Shane Black's The Nice Guys couldn't be a more perfectly-timed tonic to the usual onslaught of CGI mayhem we've come to expect between now and August. In 1987, Black's script for the original Lethal Weapon pretty much cemented the template for the modern "buddy" movie, and it's a testament to its long shadow that so many subsequent films have either emulated or repudiated the Lethal formula of unlikely partners initially bickering and eventually bonding.

It's a formula Black himself put a twist on in his under-seen '05 caper Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and it's a front-and-center once again for this latest offering, a 1970s-set piece that bounces between dark comedy and darker comedy. The Nice Guys stars Russell Crowe as muscle-for-hire Jackson Healy, and Ryan Gosling as a mediocre private investigator named Holland March. When their individual investigations of a case involving a dead porn star, a missing girl, and the Detroit auto industry puts them on the same path, the two are forced to pair up (in great Shane Black tradition).

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Here's the Second Ghostbusters Trailer

As the release date for director Paul Feig's all-female Ghostbusters remake gets closer each day and the existence of said film becomes harder to ignore, we've seen an explosion in the last week or so of the man-baby portion of the Internet that can't abide the thing they loved being different from the way they loved it. I don't really have time for folks like this guy, but I will say that while I didn't think the first trailer was bad, it also didn't really knock my socks off.

It felt like a functional bit of franchise management (which is pretty much what this movie is, anyway). This second trailer gives us some funny bits in addition to the usual bustin' business, and really my only concern is that they not give away all the best jokes in the trailer. I like Kristen Wiig, and while I know she's not everyone's favorite, Leslie Jones is cracking me up in everything I've seen from this. Watch the trailer below, and look for Ghostbusters (starring all women! Aaaargh!) in theaters this July:

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Ten Years Without The West Wing

This past Saturday marked ten years since Aaron Sorkin's seminal series The West Wing left the airwaves on NBC. Starring Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, and many more, the sparkling drama is one of the most honored shows in television history, remains one of my all-time favorites, and I still miss it this many years later. And so, to mark a decade without The West Wing, I turned to my good friend and fellow Wing-nut Zainab F. Chaudary to share our fond memories of the Josiah Bartlet Administration, how we were first introduced to the show, and whether the fantasy world of The West Wing offers some insights into the current political moment we find ourselves in. Check out the show via the embed below, or subscribe via iTunesStitcher Radio, or TuneIn Radio. As always, send all questions or comments our way via MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Recommended Reading

With the battle lines for the presidential campaign becoming more firmly drawn, Jonathan Chait lays out what he thinks the primary attack needs to be against the Donald Trump campaign:
His entire appeal rests on the bedrock of his identity as a successful entrepreneur. The vast wealth Trump claims to have amassed allows him to supposedly fund his own campaign, escaping the influence of fundraisers who control his opponents. His alleged deal-making skill explains why he will be able to improve every trade deal, solve every legislative impasse, and finesse every diplomatic conflict. Trump’s endlessly repeated proposition is that he will take the skills that made him so rich and generously use them to make the country rich. Without that, he’s just a dumber version of Pat Buchanan.
Read more here.

Diffused Congruence: Joe Bradford

For our latest episode we're delighted to be joined by Joe Bradford, Muslim scholar, author, blogger, and entrepreneur. Joe discusses his journey to Islam and experiences studying Islamic law and legal theory in Saudi Arabia. We spent a good amount of time discussing issues related to finance and the current projects he is involved with in that field. We also discuss a recent and very interesting encounter he had with the Ted Cruz campaign! Check it out through the embed below, or via iTunes or Stitcher. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any comments or questions to DiffusedCongruence@gmail.com.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: Ten Years Without The West Wing

Yesterday marked ten years since one of my favorite TV shows of all time, Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing, aired its final episode on NBC. You already know what a big impact the show and its creator have played in shaping my persona, and my ardor for it is unabated even after this many years. I'm currently in the midst of another re-watch of the series now that it's available for streaming on Netflix, and the memories just come flooding back no matter how much time goes by.

More than just presenting likable, intelligent characters we want to know, it gives us a world we really wish we could live in, especially given the horrific, orange-hued turn that real world politicking has taken of late. Anyway, given that this is Nostalgia Theater, you can watch the show's title sequence below (that theme music by Snuffy Walden still gives me chills after all these years), and if you click past the jump, I've re-posted my 2006 reflection The West Wing's final episode:

Friday, May 13, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: Choosing Sides on Captain America: Civil War!

With Captain America: Civil War currently battling atop the box office and breaking records in the process, the MovieFilm gang reconvenes to dissect the latest -- greatest? -- superhero epic from Marvel Studios. But that's not the only topic on the agenda: First Brian talks about his adventures signing comics on Free Comic Book Day, then I offer quick takes on the new financial thriller Money Monster, starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts (read his review here), and Fox's upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse, the ninth film in the studio's long-running series (read his review here), as well as a fascinating interview with the filmmakers behind the scathing upcoming documentary Weiner, which chronicles the fall, rise, and fall of disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner. In addition, we discuss the latest headlines out of Hollywood and the newest round of Star Wars news. As always, you can catch it via the embed below or at iTunes or Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (and make sure to write us a review or leave a star rating!). Like always, you can drop us a line at MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, or at our our Facebook page to tell us how we're doing!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Zaki's Review: Money Monster

As an "I'm mad as hell" screed against the oversight-free excesses of Wall Street bankers, director Jodie Foster's Money Monster certainly arrives at the right historical moment to tap into the same "throw the bums out" exasperation that's helped turn Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign from a longshot into a contender. Director Adam McKay made a similar deep-dive last year in the riveting, angry-making The Big Short, one of my favorites of the year, and there was the potential to do something in a similar vein here.

Unfortunately, Money Monster goes for the low-hanging fruit offered up by being a by-the-numbers potboiler. The kind that will get the audience wound up enough to stay engaged for the hundred minute runtime, but not think about it much past the time they leave the theater. As a result, despite Foster's best efforts to squeeze tension out of the central conflict, it's a tonal mishmash that can't settle on what it's trying to say, and it squanders a lot of the goodwill generated by the tremendous cast headed up by George Clooney and Julia Roberts.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Zaki's Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

Ten years ago I took a shank to X-Men: The Last Stand, a sequel I found so disagreeable that I likened it to "studio-mandated seppuku" (which might have been a bit hyperbolic in hindsight). On the other hand, two years ago I was quite effusive in my praise of X-Men: Days of Future Past, which I called the very best of the Fox series. So, if we're using those two entries as the benchmarks, the goalposts of what to expect from these things, then X-Men: Apocalypse, the ninth film based on Marvel Comics' line of comic books, falls somewhere in the middle: neither as bad as the worst, nor as good as the best. It's just...fine.

Lacking the "All Mutants Unite!" marketing hook that Days of Future past employed to bring together two generations of X-casts (scaling new box office heights in the process), Apocalypse settles back into the "rebooted" timeline begun in 2011's terrific X-Men: First Class, content to fill the gap between one entry and the next without really leaving a mark of its own. Like the just-okay The Wolverine three years ago, it's entirely adequate at keeping the franchise fires lit for Fox (lest the rights revert to Disney/Marvel), while coasting on whatever goodwill audiences have built up over the series' long life.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

From The Onion...

Report: Well, Here We Go
WASHINGTON—With Donald Trump’s two remaining GOP rivals suspending their candidacies and clearing a path for the billionaire businessman to assume the Republican presidential nomination, reports indicated Wednesday that, well, hoo boy, here we go. “So I guess that’s that—we’re off and running here,” said Oregon resident Carl Jacobs, raising his eyebrows and drawing in a deep breath as he echoed the sentiments of millions of Americans across the country who confirmed there’s no turning back now following the real estate mogul’s decisive victory in Indiana and that, boy, this is really just the beginning when you think about it. “The train has left the station, and we are on our way. I guess we just go with it and hold on tight.” Additional reports confirmed that, yeah, better strap in, because—wow—this is actually happening.

Nostalgia Theater: When Captain America Throws His Mighty Shield...

After last week's Nostalgia Theater looking back at the old Iron Man cartoon show from the 1960s, I got a few requests asking when the '60s Captain America 'toon would get the same treatment. And with Captain America: Civil War currently demolishing the box office, and because I'm all about customer service here at the Corner, let's take a look at that one. The truth is, as far as the background of the show goes, everything I said last week is still applicable here.

Like with Iron Man and the other heroes included in the Marvel Super-Heroes syndicated package, Cap got thirteen episodes for his show, with stories all culled from the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby comics from earlier in the decade. They employed limited animation and sound effects, but as far as fidelity to the source, well, it didn't get much closer than this, considering it was the source material.

Check out the intro below, with the super-catchy theme song that lets us know what happens when Captain America throws his mighty shield...

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Zaki's Review: Captain America: Civil War

A little over a month ago, Warner Bros.' execrable, excessive Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice arrived in theaters. As you know if you read my review, that film, with its storyline about the aftermath of a destructive superhero battle leading to a battle of wills between heroes, landed with a resounding thud for me. Perhaps my biggest complaint was how it was doing an end-run around its audience by forcing an emotional investment in its characters and their world that hadn't yet been earned. Well, here we are mere weeks later with Marvel's Captain America: Civil War, covering extremely similar thematic and narrative terrain while doing right exactly what the earlier film did so wrong.

Believe it or not, it was eight years ago this week that the first Iron Man's huge critical and commercial success kicked off the massive multi-franchise edifice that we've come to know as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since then, Marvel Studios has gone from success to success, launching several concurrent series (last summer's delightful Ant-Man was one of my favorites of the year). And with Civil War and the beginning of  their "Phase Three," we see the ultimate expression of the studio's fabled long game. Not only does it pay off plot and character threads we've watched intertwine for the better part of the last decade, it plies our history with those entanglements for maximum impact.