Friday, September 30, 2016

A Closer Look

And speaking of the blinkered reality many Trump supporters currently find themselves trapped in, here's an amusing segment from Seth Myers' show:

Recommended Reading

In defiance of all evidence to the contrary, many Republicans are stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the reality that they've hitched their ride to a candidate whose manifest unfitness for higher office is demonstrated with stark regularity seemingly every day of the campaign. What can we attribute this to? Jonathan Chait has some thoughts.

Zaki's Review: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Sometimes it feels like the only thing MGM has on offer is James Bond movies and remakes of revered movies from its voluminous back catalogue. From Rollerball to Red Dawn to RoboCop, the celluloid highway of the past few decades is littered with decaying carcasses of roadkill remakes from the once-mighty Lion that landed with the proverbial thud (including the entirely unneeded, entirely DOA Ben-Hur redux just last month). As such, it's easy to look at their latest trip to the reboot well, director Antoine Fuqua's The Magnificent Seven, as yet another cash grab from a desperate studio.

And while it may indeed be that, Fuqua's new vision of the 1960 John Sturgess oater benefits from strong production values and an imminently watchable cast (not to mention comparison with the numerous misbegotten remakes noted above). Worth noting too that the original Seven (itself a very skillful remake of Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai), while an entirely engaging western arriving at the tail end of that genre's cultural dominance, was hardly revolutionary. Instead, Sturgess was able to effectively leverage the mass appeal of a charismatic band of gunfighters fighting the good fight.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Brannon Braga on Star Trek: Enterprise

Star Trek Month concludes at the Nostalgia Theater show! This week, I celebrate fifteen years since the launch of Star Trek: Enterprise, the unfairly-ignored fifth Trek TV series, by chatting with series co-creator and executive producer Brannon Braga. This series tends to get kicked around or ignored by the diehards, but it's a personal favorite of mine nonetheless, and I've made it something of a personal mission to spread awareness of how darn good it ended up being, and hopefully this podcast will do some of the legwork there. I had a blast chatting with Brannon about his initial hopes for the show, where he thinks things went right, where they went wrong. It's a candid and engaging conversation that I think you'll enjoy listening to just as much as I enjoyed participating in it. Check out the episode 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.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I Live-Tweeted the Debate

Last night's debate was certainly a doozy, and while I hadn't intended to do so, I found myself tweeting various comments as the event progressed, so here's my Twitter stream of consciousness about the big throwdown:


Click past the jump for the rest.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Scandals

There's a lot of stuff floating in the ether right now about how a vote for Clinton or Trump is essentially the same thing due to the damaged perceptions both carry with voters. I've said in the past that this is like saying a cut on your hand is the same as cutting off your hand. It's not. And John Oliver makes that case far more eloquently than I with this rundown of Hillary Clinton's scandals versus those of Donald Trump:

Recommended Reading

With tonight's debate one of the last remaining chances to really fundamentally alter the trajectory of what's turning out to a far tighter race than it should be, The New York Times' editorial board makes a pretty sterling case for why Donald Trump absolutely must not win the presidency. Say they:
It is time for others who are still undecided, and perhaps hoping for some dramatic change in our politics and governance, to take a hard look and see Mr. Trump for who he is. They have an obligation to scrutinize his supposed virtues as a refreshing counterpolitician. Otherwise, they could face the consequences of handing the White House to a man far more consumed with himself than with the nation’s well-being.
Read more here.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

From The Onion...

Man, if this doesn't sum up my morning...
Relaxing Tea Better F***ing Work 
SMYRNA, DE—Saying he needed to be transported to a tranquil, untroubled state of calmness pronto, local man Pete McCartin, 29, told reporters Thursday that a fresh-brewed mug of purportedly relaxation-promoting tea had better fucking work. “This shit better soothe the fuck out of me and quick,” said McCartin, adding that the box of Hungarian chamomile blossom and lemon myrtle tea was making some pretty lofty promises with its soft light-blue hues and lotus flowers plastered all over the place, so it sure as shit needed to step the fuck up and put his mind at ease. “I need to start feeling utterly blissful and placid as hell. I want all my cares melted away fucking yesterday. If I’m not fully at peace by the time I finish sipping this cup, I’m going to be so goddamn pissed.” At press time, a scowling McCartin was steeping a second teabag in his mug in an effort to get the feelings of serenity and quietude to hurry the fuck up.

Still Spartacus

In the 1950s, when actor Kirk Douglas as at his absolute peak of power as a Hollywood star, he leveraged that influence to help writer Dalton Trumbo overcome the blacklist finally get work again by recruiting him to pen the sword-and-sandals picture Spartacus

Douglas will be 100 in a few months, but his drive to stand up for the right thing hasn't been dulled by time even a little bit, as evidenced by a new column wherein he uses his own long experience to point out the seriousness of potentially electing a damaging force like Donald Trump to lead this country. Says Douglas:
In my lifetime, American women won the right to vote, and one is finally the candidate of a major political party. An Irish-American Catholic became president. Perhaps, most incredibly, an African-American is our president today.  
The longer I’ve lived, the less I’ve been surprised by the inevitability of change, and how I’ve rejoiced that so many of the changes I’ve seen have been good.  
Yet, I’ve also lived through the horrors of a Great Depression and two World Wars, the second of which was started by a man who promised that he would restore his country it to its former greatness.
Even now, this many years later, he is Spartacus. Read the rest here.

Nostalgia Theater: At Long Last, MacGyver

Looking back at '80s fave MacGyver here in Nostalgia Theater is one of those things I've kept in my back pocket on the off chance that they ever ended up reviving the property for TV or turning it into a movie, so I'd have something to tie it in with. Well, that patience finally paid off with this past Friday's premiere of the MacGyver reboot starring Lucas Till (which I've yet to see, so no comment on that from me, though the early word isn't great), it looks like the time has finally arrived to shine the spotlight on the mulleted man of action from the '80s who could turn chewing gum, a paperclip, and pocket lint into a license to thrill.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: Sully, Snowden, and The Magnificent Seven

With fall movie season upon us, Brian and Zaki are back to offer quick takes on a whole host of new releases, including Clint Eastwood's Sully, Oliver Stone's Snowden, and the new Antoine Fuqua- Denzel Washington pairing, The Magnificent Seven. In addition, get our thoughts on the trailers for the upcoming films Live By Night and Passengers, and listen in as we discuss the passing of director Curtis Hanson and other headlines out of Hollywood, plus check out Zaki's interview with the filmmakers behind the clever new mockumentary Operation Avalanche. It's fun, it's freewheeling, it's about ninety minutes, and you can catch 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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Closer Look

While I think newly-minted Emmy winner John Oliver is the true heir to Jon Stewart's Daily Show legacy (a legacy that, sadly, current host Trevor Noah hasn't done as much with as I'd have liked), Seth Myers of NBC's Late Night comes closest to Jon in the current crowd of nightly talkers. He's been nailing the longform political humor for awhile now, but this "A Closer Look" segment from Monday night's show trashing Donald Trump's treasure trove of birther lies might well be one of his strongest ever. Watch:

Out Now with Aaron & Abe Podcast: Snowden & Blair Witch

Click on the embed below to play my guest shot on the latest episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe, as I join host Aaron Neuwirth and guest Peter Paras for a fun and far-ranging conversation covering new releases Snowden and Blair Witch, plus lots of other tangents and digressions. I had a blast recording with them, as always, and I'm sure you'll enjoy listening as well:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Recommended Reading

Even though the first one is scheduled for Monday evening, Bill Moyers says there's no point in having a debate based on the current model of debate moderation.

Left Shew Politics Podcast, Vol. 1 / Ep. 2

Click below to check out my appearance on the second episode of the all-new Left Shew Politics Podcast, hosted by my bud Rick Shew. And if you're digging the show, click over to iTunes and show some love by hitting subscribe and/or leaving a review!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Diffused Congruence: Cavalcade of Annoyance

We’ve hit the big 4-0! Zaki and Parvez return after a summer hiatus to ruminate on the ISNA Convention, Eid-ul-Adha and animal sacrifices, and the Presidential Election. Expect all of the “unpacking”, analysis, and fun banter you’ve come to enjoy from the show! It’s a rare occurrence for the show that the two of us just get a chance to catch up and share some reflections. We hope you enjoy these episodes as much we do recording them! Listen via the embed below, and as always, send any questions or comments to diffusedcongruence@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: How'd You Do Your Dole Today?

For some reason I woke up this morning with the "How'd You Do Your Dole Today?" jingle from the Dole Food Company during the early '90s rattling around in my head. I have no explanation. Luckily, thanks to the age of Internet wonders in which we live, I was able to find the specific spot online after a hard-target YouTube search of about thirty seconds. Lyrics for this one are by Jeff Nicosia, who also did the world the great service of posting it to the web. The spot aired in pretty regular rotation in '92 during weekday morning and afternoon kidvid hours, which would account for my being exposed to it, and also for why it's taken up permanent residence in the deep recesses of my amygdala. Anyone else remember this?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Zaki's Review: Sully

The 2009 "Miracle on the Hudson" that saw pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger land his US Airways commuter plane on the Hudson river with no fatalities after both of his engines failed is one of those stories where, as soon as it happened, you braced yourself for the inevitable movie version. Worst case scenario was that it would end up on Lifetime or one of the networks for some kind of schlocky movie-of-the-week. By contrast, director Clint Eastwood's Sully, starring Tom Hanks in the title role of the hero pilot, is probably the best case version of how we should see this story on film.

Unlike Robert Zemeckis' gin-soaked, drug-addled Flight from a few years ago, which tackled a similar story but amped up the flaws of its lead character, Sully takes a nonlinear approach to the events up to and after the famed crash (or rather, "water landing," as the characters take pains to point out). This in turn allows for one of the more complex and layered performances from its star, depicting the pilot not only dealing with the sudden onrush of fame and adulation by New Yorkers in desperate need of a hero, but also his own lingering self-doubts as to whether he made the right call following the engines' failure.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Star Trek 50th Anniversary Commentary Track!

Star Trek month continues here at Nostalgia Theater! This week I'm joined by Star Trek comic writer and novelist Glenn Greenberg for a fun and far ranging commentary track conversation as we watch the second pilot of the original Star Trek series, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," which ended up selling the series to NBC. In addition to offering our observations and analyses of what's onscreen, we also cover a lot of our own personal Trek history and examine what it is about the franchise that's made us fans for so long.

You can either pop in your blu-ray or queue the episode up via streaming to watch along with us, or just listen as we chat. Either way, you'll find a lot of fun and interesting info, so settle in, hit "play," and get ready to boldly go! Listen 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.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Path to Victory

Ed Kilgore has looked at recent polling data, and makes a comforting observation at New York Magazine:
Those who have laughed off Donald Trump’s chances while believing his election would represent a turn for the worse in their own lives should be nervous right now.
Read more here.

Welcome Back, Keith

It's been more than four years since Keith Olbermann engaged in the kind of political commentary that was so powerful during its mid-'00s heyday that it upturned the entire editorial direction of his then-home network MSNBC. After departing MSNBC for a brief, ignominious detour at the now-defunct CurrentTV, Mr. "Special Comment" has doled out political talk 140 characters at a time on Twitter.

That changed yesterday with the debut of his new web series via GQ, the first episode of which decries the Donald Trump candidacy in ways that make his condemnations of the Bush administration feel restrained in comparison. If history is our guide, this series too won't be long for this world, but for now check out the first installment below, and here's the text version of the piece with links to all the claims inside.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Deplorable Discourse

This past Friday Hillary Clinton made reference during a fundraiser to the "basket of deplorables" that constitutes much of Donald Trump's base, specifically saying that it's important not to lump in voters with genuine concerns and genuine worries with the racists, bigots, misogynists who the candidate has both courted and done little to distance himself from.

(As it happens, my garage band in high school was also called Basket of Deplorables.)

Anyway, people naturally pounced on the "deplorables" part of the comment, with many calling this Clinton's equivalent of Mitt Romney's infamous "47%" comment four years ago. I don't see it as comparable. To be clear, I think the way she spoke was clumsy and not helpful. However, the underlying assessment wasn't wrong. Were I one of her writers, I probably would have phrased it as something like this:

Zaki's Retro Review: Labyrinth

It’s easy to forget now, given how much of a beloved cult artifact it has since become, but director Jim Henson’s genre-bending fairytale Labyrinth was a sizable disappointment upon its theatrical release thirty years ago. Despite advanced puppet effects, a story shaped with an assist from Star Wars guru George Lucas, and global superstar David Bowie headlining the cast, Labyrinth not only failed to recoup its then-lavish $25-million budget; its failure proved so painful for Henson that the man behind the Muppets would never again step behind the camera before his untimely passing in 1990.

And yet. Thanks largely to Bowie's visually striking Goblin King Jareth, an appealing performance by future Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly, and the charming use of puppets and practical effects to visualize its fantasy landscape, Labyrinth has not only endured, but become exactly the kind of shared multi-generational experience that one would expect from both Henson and Lucas. And with the film returning to theaters for a brief run marking its thirtieth anniversary, there's never been a better time to retrace some steps along its road to becoming a cult classic.

Nostalgia Theater: Losing The Devlin Connection

As you know if you've followed Nostalgia Theater long enough, I have a particular affinity for the "gimmick" detective shows that populated the TV landscape during the 1980s. Obviously some were more successful than others, but that didn't stop the nets from keeping on shaking the trees to see what might fall out. One example of an also-ran in this genre is the short-lived skein The Devlin Connection, which was notable for being the return to series TV for actor Rock Hudson after six seasons on McMillan & Wife in the '70s.

Airing on NBC from October to December of '82, The Devlin Connection was created by John Wilder (who also developed the excellent Centennial miniseries a few years prior), and really it had one of those premises that only makes sense in a TV writer's mind. Hudson was Brian Devlin, a former military officer who's become director of the Los Angeles Performing Arts Center. When he's reunited with son Nick Corsello (Pointman's Jack Scalia), a racquetball pro, the two decide to solve mysteries together. Sure, makes sense to me. Here's the intro:

Friday, September 09, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: Summer Movies in Review, From The Jungle Book to Ben-Hur!

Continuing an annual post-Labor Day tradition at the MovieFilm show, me and Brian reunite after a brief hiatus to look back at the summer's crop of releases big and small. From April's The Jungle Book to last month's Ben-Hur, and almost everything in between, we reexamine the hits, the misses, the should've-been-bigger, and the understandably-flopped from the summer season just ended. But that's not all: Before the main events, we also pause to pay tribute to the late, great Gene Wilder, acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise, and offer our quick takes on some of our recent viewings. 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.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

INTERVIEW: Adam Nimoy on For the Love of Spock

This month marks fifty years since the original Star Trek television series premiered on NBC, inaugurating not only one of the greatest TV series of all time, but one of the most expansive and successful multimedia franchises. To help celebrate this auspicious occasion, director Adam Nimoy, son of the legendary Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock himself, has created an engrossing and emotional new documentary, For the Love of Spock, which pays tribute by examining the world’s relationship with the character—and the filmmaker’s relationship with his dad. Opening today in limited theatrical release and streaming as of Friday, the film features archival footage and rare photographs, plus commentaries and remembrances from William Shatner, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, J.J. Abrams, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, and many more. I had the opportunity to speak with Adam Nimoy about the film and its production, and what follows are some highlights of that chat.

Continue reading at Fandor...

Five Decades in the Final Frontier

It was fifty years ago today that an odd curio entitled "The Man Trap", the debut installment of a brand-new science-fiction series, aired on NBC to little acclaim and even fewer viewers. I wasn't due to arrive on this plane of existence for another decade-and-change, so I can only begin to imagine how the thing was received at the time. No doubt the mix of futuristic spacemen and forbidding monsters seemed to be pointing the way towards something in the mold of recent sci-fi pic Forbidden Planet, while borrowing liberally from the monster-of-the-week formula employed by TV's The Outer Limits which itself had aired (and ended) not too long before.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

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

I was honored to be asked by my friend Rick Shew of the Batman-on-Film Podcast to join him for the debut episode of his new show looking at politics from a left-ward perspective. I had a blast and I'm looking forward to joining him for a future episode! Click below to give a listen to the show:

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: Space Rangers Crashes and Burns

The early '90s were an interesting time for televised science-fiction. The through-the-roof success of Star Trek: The Next Generation in syndication -- garnering ratings that often had it beating a lot of network programming in many markets -- meant that other studios were on the hunt for their very own space series that they could boldly go into the mass-merchandising stratosphere with. Sometimes this paid off, but just as often it didn't, as evidenced by today's focus: The short-lived CBS series Space Rangers. Here's the intro:

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Random Thought