Friday, May 26, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Alien: Covenant + Clayne Crawford on A Fighting Season

It's a packed, extra-size episode of the MovieFilm Podcast this week! Hear Zaki's interview (beginning at 44:20) with actor Clayne Crawford of TV's Lethal Weapon to discuss his new film, the compelling war drama A Fighting Season, as well as what it's like to take on Mel Gibson's iconic alter ego. After that, it's on to a spoiler-filled chat about Alien: Covenant, the latest entry in the long-lived Fox sci-fi/horror franchise. Did we like it? Did we loathe it? You'll have to breach the Spoiler Wall to find out! In addition, hear quick takes on movies we've caught recently, brief remembrances to mark the sad passings of former James Bond star Roger Moore and rocker Chris Cornell, and a special round of Star Wars news to mark the franchise's 40th anniversary! 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.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Archival: Star Wars: 20 Years and Still in Force

First published March 27, 1997
Note: With today marking the fortieth anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars, I thought it'd be fun to dip into my personal archives and present the remembrance I wrote for my high school paper, The North Current, on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary, with the Special Edition release still fresh in theaters. I cringe a little while reading this (dig that timely reference to the Flintstones movie!), and I'd like to think my writing has improved in the intervening two decades, but for the completeness' sake, here it is!

It's still hard to believe that its has been twenty years since the Star Wars saga first entered the public arena. During that time, the films and their strange and wonderful assortment of characters have become an indelible part of the collective consciousness. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader, and Princess Leia are all unforgettable characters who have evolved beyond their movie origins and transformed into icons.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

More Moore

Roger Moore, RIP

In a 2015 interview with Fox, Sir Roger Moore, at that point long since retired from his signature role as Ian Fleming’s elegant superspy James Bond 007 and promoting his then-new autobiography One Lucky Bastard, was asked where he'd rank himself among the other actors who've temporarily taken stewardship of the legendary part. "I think a little bit behind George Lazenby I suppose," he offered, referring to the actor who infamously appeared in only one film before bolting.

Continue reading at Legacy.com...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Still Normal.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Totally Normal.

Nostalgia Theater Rewind: Alien Action Figures!

With Alien: Covenant currently sitting atop the box office (read my very mixed review) here, I thought it'd be fun to dive back in time to my entry from a few years ago (just before the release of Prometheus, as it happens) looking at the short-lived line of action figures and accessories from Kenner in the early '90s based on the Fox sci-fi/horror franchise. It was a bygone, magical time when you could turn R-rated movies into family entertainment. Click the link below to check it out!

Continue reading...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Zaki's Review: Alien: Covenant

 Click here to read my 2012 review of Prometheus


Alien: Covenant is a movie all about pondering the nature of existence, yet it can't seem to figure out why it exists.

The original 1979 Alien remains a masterpiece even thirty-eight years out, and I doubt director Ridley Scott could have anticipated back then the evergreen property it would end up becoming for home studio Fox. From then to 2012, the film (which I've previously called "cinematic alchemy" for how perfectly all of its elements just work) spawned five cinematic follow-ups (including two spin-off entries), and with all manner of comic books, action figures, video games, etc. More than that, its titular creature has become one of the most iconic horror icons of the modern (post-Universal Monsters) era.

No small feat, that.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Pain, Part II

The Pain

Nostalgia Theater: King Arthur and the Knights of Justice

As I've mentioned a few times here in Nostalgia Theater, barring a few notable exceptions (I'm looking at you, Batman: The Animated Series), action-adventure kidvid during the early '90s was a real big garbage dump, a veritable Dark Ages where even decent concepts mired in terrible animation and questionable execution. Today's entry, however, was terrible all the way around. I'm talking about King Arthur and the Knights of Justice, a show that proves they've been trying to crack the Arthur myth for modern audiences long before Guy Ritchie and Charlie Hunnam came along.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Zaki's Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

When you think about it, Monty Python kind of ruined the King Arthur story for future generations.

That was the thought that kept running through my mind while watching Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. As Charlie Hunnam’s Arthur descend into the depths to have his fabled encounter with the famed Lady of the Lake and the legendary sword Excalibur. All I could hear in my head was Michael Palin’s politically-minded peasant Dennis exclaiming, “Strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government.”

That observation is neither here nor there, I guess, but I think it does go some ways toward explaining why in the decades since we’ve never gotten an epic, definitive telling of this most classic of fables. John Boorman’s Excalibur in 1981 probably came closest (I’ll set the 1967 musical Camelot to one side), but Hollywood’s fancy tends to lean towards deconstruction rather than devotion, which explains stuff like 1995’s First Knight and 2004’s King Arthur, both of which stripped away the fanciful underpinnings of the Camelot story in favor of “realism.”

Nixon-ish

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Guardians of the Galaxy Starts Summer


It's the start of May, and that means summer movie season is upon us! This week the MovieFilm boys dive in for a spoiler-filled conversation on Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2! The sci-fi actioner starring Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana is the number one film in the country, and we've got lots to say about it! But that's not all, you can also get our thoughts on the new trailers for Wonder Woman, The Dark Tower, and Blade Runner 2049, and hear quick takes on the passing of legendary director Jonathan Demme, word that the Hellboy franchise is getting rebooted, and Tom Cruise's Edge of Tomorrow is getting a sequel -- whether we want one or not. In addition, listen in for the usual Star Wars news, Listener Letters, and other assored banter! 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.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Zaki's Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Read my 2014 review of the first Guardians of the Galaxy here

It’s easy to forget now, but when Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy first arrived in theaters in 2014, it represented something of a departure for the Disney-owned superhero factory in terms of both style and content. The sci-fi caper (written & directed by James Gunn) not only had a fanciful tone and setting that made other properties in the already-expansive Marvel Cinematic Universe (such as Iron Man and Captain America) feel positively sedate by way of comparison, it also leaned heavily on the likability and chemistry of its cast to make the sale to audiences who likely had little-to-no familiarity with a cast of characters that were a deep dive into comic book arcana by even the most diehard fanboy standards.

The MovieFilm Commentary Track: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

May the 4th be with you! The MovieFilm boys celebrate Star Wars day by debuting a brand new commentary track talking through the final leg of the original trilogy, 1983's Return of the Jedi. Whether you queue up your DVD, blu-ray, or digital copy to watch in synch with us, or just want listen separately while you're on the road or exercising, we're pretty sure you'll find lots to enjoy with this one. There's lots of behind-the-scenes stories, some or our own observations on specific plot points, and as always, our own personal histories with the final (or so we thought...) Star Wars flick. 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!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Aladdin, Jurassic World 2, and More!

Lots to discuss in the latest MovieFilm show! First up, hear quick takes from Brian on a host of recent releases he's seen, while Zaki teases his thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 nd brags about finally getting ahold of the impossible-to-find NES Classic! After that, it's on to headlines, with thoughts on Jeff Goldblum returning to the Jurassic franchise, David Fincher taking on an unexpected franchise flick, Robert Zemeckis flirting with directing a superhero picture, and much more, including some fresh new Star Wars news, and our thoughts on the trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle! 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, May 01, 2017

Diffused Congruence: Wajahat Ali on 100 Days of Trump

We're joined once again by journalist, playwright, and raconteur Wajahat Ali for our latest episode. You've probably seen Wajahat all over cable news for the past few months, offering his cogent analyses and humorous insights as he discusses the unfolding Trump administration, and we've got him for a full hour in a far-reaching discussion about President Trump's first 100 days in office, and what lessons we can take from his successes and failures, and we close out the show with a poignant discussion about the state of Muslim activism and the challenges and pitfalls for Muslim activists. 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.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Fabio-less

Nostalgia Theater Commentary Track: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

It's a special episode of the Nostalgia Theater Podcast! After we had such a good time with our special 50th anniversary Star Trek episode last summer, I'm joined once more by frequent friend-of-the-show Glenn Greenberg, former Marvel Comics editor, and writer of many Hulk and Star Trek comics, for what we hope will be the first in a series of commentary tracks talking through the original Trek feature films. First up, 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture. This is a polarizing pic even nearly forty years after its release, but it's nonetheless a nostalgic fave for both Glenn and myself, and we had a lot of fun going through and discussing not only our own reactions to the first big screen Star Trek outing, but also the many behind-the-scenes anecdotes that have been detailed in the years since. If you're any kind of a Trek fan, I think you'll enjoy listening to this one just as much as we did recording it. And stay tuned for our next commentary track: The Wrath of Khan! Click below to listen, 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.

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Steve Wozniak on Science, Technology, and Star Trek

From co-founding Apple Computer in the '70s to his continued work in groundbreaking new technologies right up to the present day, Steve Wozniak is a pioneer in the field of personal computing. His Silicon Valley Comic Con just celebrated its second year, bringing together such diverse luminaries as astronaut Buzz Aldrin and NASA scientists to cast members from TV's The Walking Dead, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and more, the three-day gathering in downtown San Jose showcased the ingenuity and diversity of geek culture via a showcase of colorful costumes, fan favorite productions, and scientific innovation. I had the pleasure of chatting with the spritely and gregarious "Woz" during his recent swing through San Francisco, and we discussed his own roots in geek culture and what he hopes the Silicon Valley Comic Con will become in the future. Click the embed below to listen, 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.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

LV-4/26

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: Filmation's The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show

Last week's post about Tom & Jerry Kids on Fox Kids got me thinking about another cartoon series chronicling the comedic cat and mouse team that debuted exactly ten years earlier on CBS: Filmation's The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show. As we've discussed quite often previously, Filmation was king of kidvid in this era, and so it was an easy sell for MGM to license the dueling duo for a brand-new animated show that would actually be their second made-for-TV series (we'll talk about the first some other time). Check out the intro:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

INTERVIEW: Steve Wozniak on Sci-Fi, Comic Books, and How Star Trek Shaped the Future

From co-founding Apple Computer in the '70s to his continued work in groundbreaking new technologies right up to the present day, Steve Wozniak is a pioneer in the field of personal computing. His current project, however, hopes to meld a love of science fact with the worlds of science fiction and fantasy, with this weekend's second annual Silicon Valley Comic Con.

Bringing together such diverse luminaries as astronaut Buzz Aldrin and NASA scientists to cast members from TV's The Walking Dead, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and more, the three-day gathering in downtown San Jose hopes to showcase the ingenuity and diversity of geek culture via a showcase of colorful costumes, fan favorite productions, and scientific innovation.

I had the pleasure of chatting with the spritely and gregarious "Woz" during his recent swing through San Francisco, and we discussed his own roots in geek culture and what he hopes the Silicon Valley Comic Con will become in the future. Read on for some highlights of our conversation:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: The Fate of The Fate of the Furious

But that's not all for the MovieFilm Podcast this week! We still had more to say, so we hung around a little while longer to offer up our thoughts on the latest (greatest?) entry in Universal's long-running Fast & Furious franchise, The Fate of the Furious, which revved its engines to the tune of a $500 million-plus global opening this past weekend -- the biggest in history. So, how does Vin Diesel's latest "family" adventure play compare to its forerunners? Does the series weather the loss of co-star Paul Walker? How soon before the Rock conquers the world? We ponder all these questions and more in a special Fate of the Furious extra episode of the MovieFilm show! Listen below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. Hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

The MovieFilm Podcast: Star Wars News Galore + More!

The MovieFilm boys are back with their takes on the latest news and new releases! This past weekend brought a whole boatload of Star Wars news out of the famed Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, and we're here with our takes on the first teaser trailer for The Last Jedi, plus word that Star Wars: Rebels is coming to a close, as well as the hints that have been dropped for the franchise's future past 2019's Episode 9. Beyond that, we also have quick thoughts on the new trailers for Thor: Ragnarok and Transformers: The Last Knight, as well as news that Arnold Schwarzenegger's long-developing The Legend of Conan likely won't happen after all. It's a breezy 85 minutes, and you can listen to it all via this link or 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, April 17, 2017

The Batman-on-Film Podcast: Star Wars: The Last Jedi Teaser Reaction

Click the embed below to catch my appearance this past weekend on the latest Batman-on-Film Podcast. This time around host Rick Shew had me join regular panelists Justin Kowalski and Ryan Hoss, and special guest FJ DeSanto for an in-depth geek-out session as we picked apart the first reveal of footage from December's Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I had a great time with this one, and I'm sure you'll enjoy listening to it as well.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: Tom & Jerry Kids Starts Fox Kids

In past installments of Nostalgia Theater I've discussed the propensity from purveyors of kidvid to shrink animated icons down to pint-size. For whatever reason, this trend proliferated for about a five year stretch, and then went away as suddenly as it began. We saw it with the Flintstones and Scooby-Doo on ABC, Yogi Bear on NBC, and then in 1990 Hanna-Barbera did it again with the beloved cat and mouse duo for Tom & Jerry Kids, the very first show to air as part of Fox's kid lineup, and the last of H-B's kiddie-fied cartoons. Here's the intro:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Zaki's Review: The Fate of the Furious

Read my 2013 review of Fast & Furious 6 here

Read my 2015 review of Furious 7 here

Eight movies in, there are relatively few surprises left to be had from Universal’s Fast & Furious films, which is probably fine. Like with any long running series, be it Star Wars or Star Trek or Harry Potter, it’s the thrill of the familiar as much as anything else that has that has audiences lining up for each new installment. And from 2001’s The Fast and the Furious to now, the films’ single defining characteristic has become their chameleonic ability to switch up tones and genres with whiplash rapidity, morphing from “Point Break with street racing” to Ocean’s Eleven-esque heist pictures to glorified superhero movies.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Recommended Reading

Last week saw Majority Leader Mitch McConnell do away with the filibuster for Supreme Court picks as a way to ensure that President Trump's nominee Neil Gorsuch would make it onto the bench. This, of course, was the ultimate endgame of a long con that began just over a year ago when Antonin Scalia unexpectedly passed away and McConnell conspired to deny President Obama his Constitutional duty of picking a new justice, in hopes that Republicans could get their own guy in there instead. Given that this is merely the latest volley in an anti-American onslaught by McConnell, The Washington Post's Dana Milbank has had enough:
By rights, McConnell’s tombstone should say that he presided over the end of the Senate. And I’d add a second line: “He broke America.” No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power.
Read more here.

Tape Thoughts

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: Ernie Doesn't Want to Live on the Moon

Like most kids of my vintage, I grew up watching Sesame Street. Even far away in Saudi Arabia, I formed an early attachment to Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, and I especially consider the songs from that show the first "playlist" of my life. One number in particular that really stayed with me was a melancholy little ditty called "I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon."

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Spin, Spicer, Spin!

My contributions to the #SpicerSpinsMoviePlots hashtag that was trending on Twitter yesterday:

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Recommended Reading

Josh Marshall makes a pretty important observation about the impending Senate showdown over President Trump's SCOTUS nominee, which will very likely prompt a Democratic filibuster and, in turn, an invocation by Mitch McConnell of the so-called "nuclear option" getting rid of the supermajority requirement for the Supreme Court:
Mitch McConnell's historically unprecedented and constitutionally illegitimate decision to block President Obama from nominating anyone a year before he left office was the real nuclear option. The rest is simply fallout.
There's much more at the link, but the key point is that we didn't just suddenly end up here. This is the inevitable result of a path that Republicans chose to place the country on. As such, it's worth understanding the real crux of the story rather than being taken in by a media narrative that Democrats are sacrificing Senate norms to the altar of naked partisanship.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Diffused Congruence: Dr. Ihsan Bagby

For this month's show, we're joined by Dr. Ihsan Bagby, professor of Islamic Law at the University of Kentucky. Listen as he shares the story of his own journey to Islam, as well as his experience working for social equality over the last several decades. 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.


Sunday, April 02, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: The Stars Are Back on NBC!

It's a ritual we've become accustomed to every season. As the TV networks go through the process of rolling out their fall wares, there's inevitably a new campaign they construct the season around. Back in 1993 the big push by NBC was "The Stars Are Back!" to highlight not only the many popular shows the Peacock Network had in their back pocket, but all the big name stars that were returning to the network.

In terms of "popular shows" we had stuff like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Wings, Blossom, and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. And as far as "returning favorites," viewers in 1993 could look forward to John Larroquette (debuting his eponymous sitcom), Bill Cosby (starring in The Cosby Mysteries), and Kelsey Grammer (in the process of transitioning from Cheers to Frasier -- whatever happened to that show?).