Monday, January 23, 2017

Episode VIII is The Last Jedi

With all the hype about Rogue One, it's easy to forget that, oh yeah, there's another Star Wars flick headed down the pike in December. But even though we've known Episode VIII is on the way for awhile, the folks at Disney have been tight-lipped about the title for this installment of the saga -- until now. As revealed this morning via the graphic below, the next movie is Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

I love this title just for the imagery it conveys and the questions it raises. Is it Luke? Rey? Maybe Luke and then Rey? Does Luke die? Obviously with last year's sad passing of Carrie Fisher throwing into doubt what role Princess/General Leia Organa will play in future films, there's a lot of uncertainty about what to expect next, but at the very least we have a title to keep the speculative fires lit until the first trailer drops in (I assume) a few months.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: Conan's Tonight Show Farewell

Hard to believe, but today marks seven years to the day that Conan O'Brien's abortive, nine-month tenure as host of NBC's Tonight Show came to a close following a heated back-and-forth involving himself, the network, and his predecessor/successor Jay Leno. The events of that imbroglio were dissected in the media, on this blog, and in Bill Carter's terrific 2010 tome The War For Late Night, so I won't bother going into that stuff all over again here. But I did want to share this vid of Conan's closing statement before taking his leave of NBC after twenty-plus years. It's a powerful sentiment that I not only internalized, but that I've done my best to pass on to all the students I've been lucky enough to teach in the years since. Here's the full text of his remarks:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Zaki's Review: xXx: Return of Xander Cage

In today's age of studios looking to turn any dormant IP into a chance for synergized, sequelized glory, I suppose it was inevitable that we'd circle back around to xXx. For those of you too young to remember back to fifteen years, this franchise had its first go from Sony during the summer of '02 as star Vin Diesel's follow-up to his first (and at the time only) Fast & Furious installment. Starring Diesel as extreme sports enthusiast/secret agent Xander Cage, xXx was such a clumsy assemblage of boardroom-concocted "cool" and "edgy" cliches that I referred to it at the time as "Poochie: The Movie."

Though it did well enough at the global till to warrant a follow-up, Diesel bolted in favor of 2004's The Chronicles of Riddick. And while Sony tried to keep the fires lit via 2005's xXx: State of the Union (with Ice Cube in the lead), it didn't land with audiences, which would presumably have been the end, were it not for the sustained success of Universal's Furious franchise (which has its eighth installment dropping in a few weeks) convincing studios that audiences will turn out to watch Diesel play anyone other than his street racer alter ego Dominick Toretto.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

End of the Obama Era

Eight years ago on this exact day I took to my blog to mark the final full day of the George W. Bush presidency, putting it in context with my own growth as a political animal (and a blogger, given that I started posting on this site in frustration the day after President Bush's re-election). But now here we are, two terms later, and I'm once again taking stock of a closing administration -- this time that of Barack Hussein Obama at the end of his last full day as POTUS. For context, this is what I said way back then:

Time Warp

Monday, January 16, 2017

Trumped

Zoned In

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: Popeye and Son -- The Sailor Man Becomes a Family Man

During the '80s, in addition to the trend of de-aging iconic animated characters, another thing we saw a fair amount of was pairing up familiar cartoon heroes with their offspring. There was Pink Panther and Sons in the early part of the decade, and another such example is this gone-in-a-minute show that aired on CBS during the fall of '87. While they'd been kicking around since their introduction in the '30s, the notion of Popeye and Olive Oyl as a romantic pairing was always sort of baffling, and Popeye and Son took things a step further and posited that not only did they get married, but had offspring as well, as the show's intro explains:

Friday, January 13, 2017

Zaki's Review: Live by Night

One of the great Hollywood turnarounds of the last decade-and-change has been Ben Affleck's transformation from frequent punchline in the wake of such seismic duds as Gigli and Jersey Girl into one of the most gifted triple-threats the industry has to offer, with his considerable skills as writer/director/star readily visible in films such as The Town and 2012 Best Picture winner Argo. As such, it was with a certain amount of anticipation that I greeted Affleck's latest, the period crime drama Live by Night, and while it's his least satisfying directorial effort to date, it still bears enough hallmarks of a talented filmmaker not to be dismissed entirely.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Reptilian.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ponchy

Even without the fist bump it would feel like this is about fifteen years past its sell-by date. Is there any audience for a CHiPs movie?


Random Thought

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: Before The X-Files, There Was Kolchak: The Night Stalker!

Kolchak: The Night Stalker is a here-and-gone TV series that aired for twenty episodes in the 1974-'75 season, yet it managed to leave a pretty sizable cultural footprint in its wake, paving the way for several eerie TV offerings including (but not limited to) The X-Files and Supernatural. Before it was even a show, it began its life as a TV movie called The Night Stalker, itself an adaptation of the then-unpublished novel The Kolchak Papers, by Jeff Rice, which aired on January 11, 1971 on ABC.

The premise was simple enough: Rumpled Las Vegas reporter Carl Kolchak is investigating grisly serial killings that turn out to be the work of a vampire. I guess the "vampire" angle was enough to lure in Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis, a veteran of creepy TV, to produce the film, which had The Twilight Zone's Richard Matheson adapting the script. That script garnered the interest of veteran character actor Darren McGavin, who quickly signed on to play Kolchak. All three together led to some televisual alchemy. Watch it below:

Thursday, January 05, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Our Fave Flicks of 2016!

Happy new year! It's a super-sized episode of the show as we take a look back at our top ten favorite flicks from the year just passed. With varied lists that include everything from big budget epics like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Captain America: Civil War to smaller releases like Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Hell or High Water, we go through the reasons why these were the movies that rose to the top for us. Where did we end up ranking them? You'll have to listen to find out!

But that's not all: We also take some time to pay homage to the late, great Carrie Fisher, and postulate on what the passing of Princess Leia Organa might mean for the still-unfolding saga in a galaxy far, far away. 2017 is here, and we couldn't be happier to saddle up for a new year of the show! You can catch it through the embed below or via 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!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Left Shew Politics Podcast, Vol. 1 / Ep. 6

Click below to check out the latest episode of the Left Shew Politics Podcast, hosted by Rick Shew and featuring a panel including yours truly as we take stock of the year that just ended and attempt to make sense of everything that happened, plus make some predictions for what to expect in 2017 as we enter the era of...*sigh*...President Donald Trump. If you dig it, jump over to iTunes and subscribe!

Monday, January 02, 2017

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Cinema Year That Was: Zaki's Flick Picks 2016

Read on to see my personal picks for my favorite cinematic experiences for the calendar year that's now closing. There were some very strong offerings this year, and there are plenty of flicks that just missed the cut, but here's what I ended up putting in my top ten:

2016: The Year in Interviews

As in previous years, 2016 offered me some pretty terrific opportunity to chat with some very interesting folks about their latest projects. For your ease, I've compiled them into a list below. Check them out after the jump!

Russia Grouse

While it's sure looking like Russia was behind the data hack that at least played some part in throwing the election to Donald Trump, Matt Taibbi says, "Not so fast..."

Pretty Much.

Stuck in the Zone

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: The Year in Reviews

I have my "top ten" for the year on track for tomorrow, but in the meantime here's an overview of all the movies I did full reviews during calendar year 2016, with a little blurb from each. This was a big year for me, as I reviewed more flicks than ever before. (This doesn't include retro or archival reviews, of which there were also a few.) Catch them all after the jump!

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Thirty Years of Stand By Me!

For the final Nostalgia Theater show of 2016, I'm joined by standup comedian (and avowed Corey Feldman fan) Zahra Noorbakhsh, host of the hilarious #GoodMuslimBadMuslim Podcast for a fun and freewheeling conversation celebrating the thirty year anniversary of the classic coming-of-age tale Stand By Me, directed by Rob Reiner and based on a novella by Stephen King. The film stars Wil Wheaton, Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, and the late River Phoenix, and in addition to being a formative experience for us both many years ago, it also ended up sparking a fascinating discussion right now about friendship, parenting, and the passage of time. There's lots of insights and lots of laughs to be had as we close out the year, and you can listen to it at 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, December 26, 2016

Why So Serious?

A tweetstorm from me:

Jaded.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Extra: Year in Review 2016

With the year winding down, it's time once again to look back at this year's crop of Nostalgia Theater posts to see which ones rose to the top and were the most popular:

Nostalgia Theater: Christmas With Atari!

It's the most wonderful time of the year! And my vain attempts to procure a Nintendo Classic this year have drawn my mind back to the days of being a kid in the '80s, and feeling my mouth water with all the Christmastime commercials for all the latest video game products...meaning Atari. It's easy to forget now in the age of XBox and whatever new console Nintendo is promoting, but there was a time when having an Atari 2600 was it. The promised land. You'd be the envy of everyone on your block, even when the system had a roster of games that was pretty embarrassing even back then. Ah, simpler times. Anyway, in honor of the day, here's a collection of just some of those TV spots...

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Batman-on-Film.com Podcast: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

One of the things I'm loving about this new age of semi-permanent Star Wars releases coming out is all the great podcast conversations I get to be a part of as a result! Obviously there was my own MovieFilm episode with Brian last Sunday, plus Diffused Congruence with Parvez and Omer, but that's not all! Following our deep dive into all things Star Wars a few weeks ago, I was honored to once again join my friend Rick Shew and his panel of fellow panelists at the Batman-on-Film Podcast earlier this week for a fun and spoiler-filled conversation about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Click the embed below to play it, or download at iTunes!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: Passengers Problems + Damien Chazelle Talks La La Land

In a first for us, it's two episodes in one week for the MovieFilm Podcast! After dissecting Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last time, we have thoughts on Hacksaw Ridge, SilenceThe Founder, and more, and Zaki goes into the ethical issues of new sci-fi romance Passengers, starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. In addition, hear an interview with director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz about their charming musical La La Land, in theaters now.

After that, it's a rundown of trailers: The Mummy! Spider-Man: Homecoming! Fate of the Furious! Blade Runner 2049Transformers: The Last Knight! The Emojie Movie? All that, plus some headlines and other Star Wars news! It's a packed episode to close out 2016, and you can hear it all 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, December 19, 2016

Unpresidented.

Diffused Congruence Podcast: Talking Star Wars With Omer Mozaffar

As we wrap up 2016 at Diffused Congruence, we've once again decided to end the year on a less serious note, and are joined by lecturer and film critic Omer Mozaffar for what's becoming an annual tradition as we have a conversation about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The latest visit to the galaxy far, far away gave us old school Star Wars fans a lot to chew on, from an entertainment, political, and even spiritual perspective, and we spend the hour going deep and wide into this new entry in the storied franchise. To that end, we've invited. Listen to it below, or download at the link. Also, be sure to hit us up at our Facebook page to let us know how we're doing!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story!

This week's release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story means the Force is back in force! To celebrate the occasion, the boys go rogue and dispense with traditional format in favor of a full-on, Star Wars-centric discussion for the full ninety minutes! Listen in as we give our takes on the latest entry of the storied Star Wars franchise, directed by Gareth Edwards and starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, and the voice of James Earl Jones as Darth Vader! We unpack the plot, dissecting the details, opining on the music, picking out the Easter eggs, and just generally giving an unvarnished, spoiler-filled take on what we loved, what we were just okay on, and where we'd like to see things going next as the universe of Star Wars spin-offs continue to expand. It's a deep dive into that very special galaxy far, far away, and you can listen to it all via the embed below, or via 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!

Nostalgia Theater: Yo Yogi! Gets Painfully Hip

Continuing our journey through Hanna-Barbera's periodic attempts at injecting new life into their hoary animated properties by de-aging them, here's Yo Yogi!, which put Yogi Bear down the path that had previously been trod by The Flintsone Kids and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. This one arrived at the tail end of that trend, and as you can tell, it fully embodied the particular late-'80s/early-'90s milieu it emerged from. Here's the intro:

Friday, December 16, 2016

Geekly Podcast: 2016 Best of TV & FILM Special

Had a great time hanging out with Melvin Elliot for the latest episode of his Geekly Podcast! We chatted about some of his favorite movies and TV shows of 2016, and I chimed in where appropriate with some perspectives on his choices. This was a lot of fun for me, and I think you'll enjoy listening to it as well. Check it out at the embed below:

Geekly Podcast - 2016 Best of TV & FILM Special

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The MovieFilm Commentary Track: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Last year at around this time we did a commentary talking through the original 1977 Star Wars (a.k.a. A New Hope), and with this week's impending release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (read my review here), we thought it was a perfect opportunity to fire up yet another commentary track, this time talking through arguably the greatest Star Wars of all time, 1980's The Empire Strikes Back. Whether you queue up your blu-ray and watch along with us, or just listen to the track separately while you drive or exercise, we think you'll find lots to enjoy here, including behind-the-scenes trivia, observations on story points, and our own personal histories with one of our favorite movies of all-time. Listen below or via iTunes or Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (and make sure to write us a review!). Drop us a line at MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page to tell us how we're doing!
 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Zaki's Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Click here to read my review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
“It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.” 
Those words unfold via the iconic opening crawl that comes at the very top of 1977’s Star Wars (it’s been retroactively retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, but to me it’ll always be just Star Wars). And the tantalizing promise of adventure those words offer was powerful enough to capture not only the imagination of that first generation to witness them, but every generation since; their appeal has spanned nearly four decades, seven movies, and mountains of licensed merchandise.

Continue reading at Fandor...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: The Flintstone Kids Go Back to Bedrock

Last week I talked about A Pup Named Scooby Doo, which took the beloved Mystery, Inc. characters and de-aged them. Well, staying in that vein, I thought I'd look at another Hanna-Barbera series that built its premise on "youth-ified" versions of beloved animated mainstays: The Flintstone Kids. Now, The Flintstones first debuted as a primetime animated series in 1960, and by the mid-to-late '80s, they'd become part of the cultural wallpaper. Between Flintstones vitamins, Pebbles cereals, and omnipresent syndicated reruns of the original show and the ten (!!) subsequent spin-offs, everyone knew Fred, Barney, et al.

Friday, December 09, 2016

John Glenn, RIP

Yesterday we got word that astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, and a real life living legend if ever there was on, had passed away at the age of 95. Later that afternoon I was shuffling through Frasier episodes on Netflix and this episode randomly came up. I had completely forgotten that Mr. Glenn had put in a very funny appearance during the show's 2000-2001 season, but the serendipity was just too much not to share this clip with you. Godspeed, Mr. Glenn. Hail, and farewell.

Circle of Comic Book Movie Life

The Perfect Spider-Man Movie?

Sure looks like it might be.

As you know, Spider-Man made his entree into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe via last summer's Captain America: Civil War, but that was just the opening act for the character-sharing arrangement between Marvel Studios (home of the Avengers) and Sony (home of cinematic Spidey). Well, the second part of that arrangement comes via next summer's Spider-Man: Homecoming, which gives the spotlight to the Tom Holland-led reboot of the character, with Robert Downey's Tony Stark along for the ride to make sure it's crystal clear to everyone that, "Hey, seriously! This one really matters! And look! Iron Man!" I like what I see of the Jon Watts directed Homecoming so far, so check it out below. Domestic trailer first, and international one after the jump.

Those Damn, Dirty Apes are Back!

Check out our first trailer for next summer's War for the Planet of the Apes, the third film in Fox's very successful Apes reboot that began with 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. With director Matt Reeves back in the big chair after taking the 2014 sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to new commercial heights, there's a lot to be optimistic about here. For this installment, we once again follow chimp leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) as he navigates the complexities of the burgeoning monkey planet, and human beings (led by a typically nutbar Woody Harrelson) make what may end up being their last stand. Check it out below:

Diffused Congruence Podcast: Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir

For our latest episode we take a break from the headlines to present the uplifting story of Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, her all-star collegiate basketball career and pioneering efforts for Muslim women athletes to play ball professionally while observing the Hijab. Join us as she discusses her love and dedication to basketball, her overall atheltic career, and the exciting new projects she's currently involved with. As always, you can check out the show at the embed below or at this link. As always, send any questions or comments to diffusedcongruence@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Batman-on-Film.Com Podcast: A Star Wars Conversation


That's not all from the Batman-on-Film.com guys! I also joined Rick and the panel for an extended and expansive Star Wars conversation this past weekend as we get psyched for the impending release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story next week. We talk about our favorite and least favorite Star Wars entries, as well as telling our own personal stories of how we fell in love with the franchise. Click the embed below to play it, or download at iTunes!

Listen to "The BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM Podcast - Vol. 2/Ep. 51 - "A STAR WARS Conversation" #1" on Spreaker.

The Batman-on-Film.com Podcast: Talking Lego Batman, Justice League, & More!


Click "play" on the embed below to hear my guest shot this past weekend on the Batman-on-Film.com Podcast, as I joined hosts Bill "Jett" Ramey and Rick Shew, as well as panelists Justin Kowalsky and Ryan Hoss for a spirited and fun conversation about the upcoming Lego Batman movie, Justice League, Ben Affleck's solo The Batman film, and many more things DC Comics. Click here to download at iTunes.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Everybody Hates Chris

Ouch.
Christie hits historic low in latest approval poll
It's a pretty steep drop from being the GOP's prophesied savior four years ago to whatever this is. But hey, he's always got a gig if Trump needs anyone to run and get McDonald's. So, y'know, that's nice.

Recommended Reading

With the Republicans' running the electoral tables one month ago, the opportunity to follow on their long-in-the-pipeline promise to uproot the Affordable Care Act is finally within reach. Of course, there's a difference between campaigning and legislating. The real world consequences of doing away with the ACA just like that means 20 million people benefiting from the law potentially losing their coverage. Clearly this is something that the anti-Obamacare cadre in congress needs to think through beyond bumper sticker slogans. Steve Benen at MSNBC lays out the promises they've made, and the problems ahead:
...while I certainly wish Republicans the best of luck in their endeavor, I’m afraid they’ll soon discover what should be obvious: there is no way to keep these promises. If they repeal the Affordable Care Act, and look for a conservative alternative plan that meets all of the tenets Paul Ryan has now presented, they will fail. If such a policy could exist, GOP officials would’ve come up with it a long time ago.
Read the rest from Benen here.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: A Pup Named Scooby Doo Goes Back in Time

Scooby-Doo has been of the most dependable brands for Hanna-Barbera/Warner Bros. since its debut in 1969, surviving any number of permutations and variations throughout the years. One such refresh of the property happened in fall of 1988, coming on the heels of a general trend in animation aimed at taking beloved characters and "youth-ifying" them. This first reared its head a few years earlier with Muppet Babies and would continue with Hanna-Barbera's own The Flintone Kids, and would finally hit dogtown with A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, a prequel (of sorts) depicting the earliest days of those do-gooder detectives of "Mystery, Inc.":