Sunday, July 24, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Rewind: Filmation's Star Trek

With Star Trek Beyond in theaters now, we once again get to spend some time with the original Star Trek crew, albeit in their rebooted forms. There was a time, however -- between when the original TV show was cancelled in 1979 and the first Star Trek movie hit theaters in '79 -- that the only way to see  the Enterprise's first family onscreen in new adventures was via the two-season animated series produced by Filmation which aired on NBC. Given that the show will also be coming to blu-ray soon, I though this was a perfect chance to re-link to my piece on it from a few years ago. Click below to read my take!

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Zaki's Review: Star Trek Beyond

As you know, I absolutely loved Paramount's Star Trek reboot in 2009. Loved it. As directed by J.J. Abrams, the film did the trick of rescuing the moribund Trek franchise from obsolescence by taking it back to its roots and adding a healthy dose of action movie swagger to the mix. And while I wasn't as enamored of the 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, I still looked forward to another Trek feature arriving shortly, as has been the case every couple of years since the 1980s, to wash away the taste of a bad movie with a good one. To, as Dr. McCoy might say, "turn death into a fighting chance to live."

Enter: Star Trek Beyond.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: The Ghostbusters Reboot!

The MoveFilm boys are back with their thoughts on one of the most anticipated and most divisive movies of the year: Ghostbusters! Yes, now that the Paul Feig-directed reboot of the '80s property is actually in theaters, we can discuss it from an informed perspective. Listen in to hear our takes, what we liked, what we didn't like, and where we'd like to see things go next. But that's not all! Hear Brian's thoughts on the Netflix original series Stranger Things, as well as quick takes on Star Trek Beyond, and my interview with writer-director Matt Ross about his new film Captain Fantastic, plus the usual Hollywood Headlines and Star Wars news you've come to expect. You can hear it all 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, July 18, 2016

Watch the Latest The Magnificent Seven Trailer!

I really dug our first look at Antoine Fuqua's upcoming remake/reboot of MGM's The Magnificent Seven franchise when I saw the trailer last April, and with the film due to hit theaters in a few short months, it looks they're moving the marketing campaign into "drive." To wit, the brand new one-sheet to the right, and the full trailer below. With Denzel Washington headed up an all-star cast (in a western, one of my favorite genres, no less), this one is still looking very cool, and should be a fun distraction during the fall. That said, I'm still holding out hope that the movie itself (which will have the final score composed by the late James Horner) finds a way to incorporate Elmer Bernstein's iconic theme music from the original film.

Straight From Trump's Ghost Writer...

The New Yorker posted an interview with Tony Schwartz, the man who ghost wrote Donald Trump's best-seller The Art of the Deal in the '80s, upon which much of the Trump mystique has been built. And Schwartz minces no words in his appraisal of the presumptive GOP nominee for president:
“I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”
You'd think there's nothing more to be said, but there's more here.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: Kenner's The Real Ghostbusters Action Figures

Wrapping up Ghostbusters week here at Zaki's Corner, with the reboot film finally in theaters after several torturous decades in development hell, I thought it might be helpful to take a look back at the reason Sony was so bound and determined to bring the Ghostbusters franchise roaring back: merchandising! From the mid-'80s into the early-'90s, you'd have had to look far and wide to find a store that wasn't stocking some manner of Ghostbusters-related merch, and the action figures from Kenner based on the Real Ghostbusters animated show did a lot of the heavy lifting thereto. There have been several toy revivals by different companies since, but the Kenner assortment was more expansive than any of them.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Looking Back at the Ghostbusters Franchise

Bustin' makes me feel good! With the storied action-comedy Ghostbusters franchise heading back to theaters this weekend via the remake/reboot directed by Paul Feig and starring an all-star roster of some of the funniest females on the planet (read my "thumbs up" review here), I decided to hop in the Nostalgia Theater time machine and reminisce with my good pal, award-winning TV writer Sameer Gardezi (Modern Family, Aliens in America), about our mutual lifelong affinity for all things Ghostbusters, be it the movies, the action figures, the animated cartoon show(s), or the breakfast cereal! 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.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Random Thought

Check This Out

This is a student from the first class I ever taught, eleven years ago at San Jose State University. So proud of her!

Zaki's Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

I think it's fair to say that director Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters from 1984 enjoys a level of adoration that's probably disproportionate to the film itself. Now, that's not say it isn't a great film. If you read my retro review, you can see all the ways it just works. However, if it weren't for the massive merchandising apparatus that sprang up in its wake, with an entire generation coming of age watching the animated cartoon show while playing with the action figures in between chugs of Ecto Cooler, Ghostbusters '84 would be a well-regarded '80s comedy like Stripes or Caddyshack, and that's it. Which would be fine, by the way.

But of course, that's not the case. Instead, Ghostbusters has enjoyed an extended pop culture half-life that's made it an IP that's just as valuable to the corporation that owns it (Sony) as it is to the folks who grew up with it, which in turn has led up to this moment. And while another Ghostbusters film has been in perpetual development practically since the second one hit theaters in summer of '89, it was only after Bridesmaids and The Heat director Paul Feig replaced Reitman and announced that he was going to (gasp) ignore the previous films, and (choke) populate his main cast with women that comments sections across the Internet nearly collapsed under the weight of bilious manboys forced to deal with a changing world.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Random Thought

Zaki's Retro Review: Ghostbusters (1984)

With the impending release of director Paul Feig's reboot of the Ghostbusters property, this seemed as good a time as any to look back at the 1984 original that got the whole thing started. Viewed today, with the benefit of thirty-plus years of hindsight and full knowledge of the vast multimedia franchise that accumulated in its wake, it's next to impossible to look at that first flick in a vacuum. Certainly as someone who was five years old when it was released and came of age fully ensconced in its various appendages -- whether humming the song by Ray Parker, Jr, playing with the action figures, or eating the breakfast cereal -- Ghostbusters wasn't merely a movie, but a movement.

But at the heart of it all was the vision of co-writer/co-creator Dan Aykroyd, who dreamed up the concept thanks to his longtime affinity for all things supernatural, and got Columbia Pictures onboard to back it. Aykroyd had, by the early '80s, become well know as a comedic force to be reckoned with thanks to his long tenure on Saturday Night Live as well as his big screen success alongside John Belushi in John Landis' The Blues Brothers. And while his initial idea for Ghostbusters was quite a bit different from what it eventually became, the central premise of working class heroes disposing of ghosts survived all the way to its finished form.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Random Thought

Nostalgia Theater Rewind: Filmation's Ghostbusters!

You may have noticed I took some time off from blogging this past week. I figured with the Independence Day holiday I'd take some time to charge the motor up again. And now that I'm back I have some fun content planned for the coming week to tie in with the impending release of Sony's Ghostbusters reboot on Thursday. To get the process started, let's hop back in time and look at the Ghostbusters animated show from the mid-'90s. No, not that Ghostbusters animated show, the FAKE Ghostbusters show -- which was actually the REAL Ghostbusters show. Confused? Don't worry, I explain it all in my Nostalgia Theater article from 2011.

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Recommend Reading

On the issue of police violence and violence against police comes a remarkably cogent and insightful piece by Leon Wolf at Redstate.com, a website that's about as conservative as they come. Says he:
As the child of white parents who grew up in the rural panhandle of Texas, I was taught that police were there to help, any time I had a problem I should go to them. I should always follow their orders and show them the utmost respect. No one is more important and helpful to your community than the police.  
Now imagine, for a minute, that your parents instead grew up as black people in the 50s or 60s in one of the many areas where police were often the agents of - let's call it what it was - white oppression. How might that have changed, for understandable reasons, the way not only those people but also their children and their children's children interact with the police? More importantly, how might it impact the belief that police will ever be held accountable for abuses of their power?
Ultimately all this proves is that this is a complicated problem that requires complex thinking to solve it. The whole thing is well worth a read.

When Haters Want You Down, Turn The Music Up!

Watch what happened when some Islamophobic idiots showed up to try and picket the Eid festival in Anaheim this past week:



Come On Everybody, Listen to John Cena!

Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd say, but I have a feeling you'll be hard-pressed to disagree with me after watching the vid below:

Hmmm...


Sunday, July 03, 2016

Recommended Reading

While the election of Barack Obama has been a source of enormous pride for many in the black community, there's another aspect of his election that's been extremely disconcerting, which is the unhinged racism and overt disrespect the first black president has elicited among not only the electorate, but those elected officials serving alongside him in government. As such, the last eight years have been emotionally fraught for the black community as they watched the level of racially-tinged disrespect not only intensify, but one of the key proponents of that disrespect become the presidential standard-bearer for one of the major parties. Read this piece at CNN by John Blake that examines what the black community won't miss about the Obama years.

Nostalgia Theater: Filmation's Tarzan

Just under three years ago, with Disney's big budget bomb The Lone Ranger in theaters, I used this space to discuss the animated Lone Ranger series produced by Filmation in the 1970s. Well, with a similar big screen offering for fellow classic character Tarzan now in mulitplexes, I thought I'd take a look back at the time the Jungle Lord too got the Filmation treatment. Premiering on CBS in fall of '76, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle dispensed with the general perception of the character as a monosyllabic galoot in favor of the educated adventurer that was in the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. Here's the intro:

Friday, July 01, 2016

Zaki's Review: The Legend of Tarzan

It's been a rough couple of years for Edgar Rice Burroughs.

First the late pulp author's "John Carter of Mars" series got a belated big screen adaptation from Disney in 2012 that flopped so spectacularly (unfairly, I'd argue) that the phrase "another John Carter" has practically become the accepted vernacular for any movie where a massive budget coupled with audience apathy has entirely predictable, disastrous results at the box office. In that sense (and somewhat ironically), Warner Bros.' The Legend of Tarzan, the newest screen incarnation of Burroughs most well-known creation, is betraying all the telltale signs of being, yep, another John Carter.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Recommended Reading

Matt Taibbi has his own piece up responding to that Atlantic article by Jonathan Rauch I linked to a week ago, in which Taibbi takes issue with the contention that democracy itself is the problem with our politics as opposed to the actors inhabiting it. Says he:
Donald Trump is dangerous because as president, he'd likely have little respect for law. But a gang of people whose metaphor for society is "We are the white cells, voters are the disease" is comparably scary in its own banal, less click-generating way.  
These self-congratulating congoscenti could have looked at the events of the last year and wondered why people were so angry with them, and what they could do to make government work better for the population.  
Instead, their first instinct is to dismiss voter concerns as baseless, neurotic bigotry and to assume that the solution is to give Washington bureaucrats even more leeway to blow off the public. In the absurdist comedy that is American political life, this is the ultimate anti-solution to the unrest of the last year, the mathematically perfect wrong ending.
Read the rest from Taibbi here.

Sully: Eastwood & Hanks' True Life Tale

Dramatizing the 2009 "miracle on the hudson" that saw an airliner land on the Hudson River with zero loss of life after two engines failed, the upcoming film Sully stars Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, and is directed by Clint Eastwood. When the project was first announced, I wondered if there was enough "meat" in the story to sustain a feature-length runtime the first trailer for the October release looks like it may have found an interesting "in" to the story, and it sure looks like Sully will be a quintessential fall, movie with another terrific performance from Hanks in the cards. Watch it below:

From The Onion...

Reince Priebus Smiles, Shakes Head While Flipping Through Old Briefing On GOP’s Plans For 2016
WASHINGTON—Breaking into a smile as he read the words “inclusiveness” and “young voters,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus couldn’t help but shake his head in amusement Wednesday while flipping through an 18-month-old briefing on the Republican Party’s plans for the 2016 election, sources reported. “Oh man, I completely forgot we came up with this whole 20-point program for how we would appeal to Latinos,” said Priebus, chuckling to himself as he thought back on the two years’ worth of meetings that resulted in a detailed strategy of embracing immigration reform, countering the Democrats’ “war on women” rhetoric, and running on a “positive agenda” of hope and tolerance, which he and other GOP leaders had calculated would put their party’s candidate on the best possible footing for this year’s presidential contest. “Wow, and there are our favorable assessments of Jeb Bush and Scott Walker! Boy, oh boy, that really takes me back. You know, all things considered, this was a pretty solid plan for taking back the White House. Oh well.” Priebus went on to state that the briefing wasn’t a complete waste, noting that the section on enacting voting restrictions to subdue minority turnout was still fully usable.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Oliver on Brexit

Funny stuff from John Oliver as he lays out the aftermath of last week's Brexit vote in the UK:

The MovieFilm Podcast: Talking Independence Day: Resurgence!

Welcome (back) to Earth! Brian and Zaki anticipate the fourth of July by discussing director Roland Emmerich's Independence Day: Resurgence, the Fox sequel that's either twenty years in the making or about seventeen years too late, depending on your point-of-view. But that's not all: We also have quick takes on the new "Ultimate Edition" of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Warner Bros.' The Legend of Tarzan, the latest attempt to reboot the classic Jungle Lord for the big screen. In addition, get our thoughts on the new theme song for Ghostbusters remake, reactions to the first trailer for Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, and some news on Star Wars: Rogue One. Lots to listen to as we head into the long weekend, and you can hear it all 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.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Recommended Reading

With "Brexit" eating up much of the conversation over the past few days as folks try to make sense of the UK public's decision to leave the European Union via referendum this past Thursday, Politico runs down the myriad of ways that British PM David Cameron fumbled the ball on the way to this decision. It's equal parts comical and -- given the potential consequences -- tragic.

Nostalgia Theater: TV's Fantastic Voyage!

Fantastic Voyage began its life as 1966 science-fiction feature directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Stephen Boyd & Raquel Welch. The film, which boasted a novelization written by none other than Isaac Asimov, follows a team of experts who are shrunk to microscopic size along with a space age submarine called the Proteus and injected into the body of a comatose scientist to repair damage to his brain from the inside. The kitschy premise was enough to make the film a medium-sized hit when it was released. Here's the trailer, by the way:

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.

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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: