Sunday, July 31, 2016

The DC Movie Trailers Make Me...Hopeful?

As you know, I wasn't the biggest fan of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice when it came out earlier this year, and I only disliked the much-hyped "Ultimate Edition" slightly less when it was released last month. As such, I was understandably skeptical about whatever other offerings Warner Bros. has in the pipeline for their "Expanded Universe" of DC Comics-based cinematic offerings. That said, Suicide Squad (which I'm seeing tomorrow) certainly looks promising.

And last week at the San Diego Comic-Con they unveiled our first look at next summer's Wonder Woman, directed by Paty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot & Chris Pine, and next fall's Justice League, starring Ben Affleck, Gadot, and co. and again directed by Man of Steel and BvS helmer Zack Snyder. I gotta say, and maybe I'm setting myself up for a fall here, but they both look pretty darn solid! Jason Momoa as Aquaman looks freakin' sweet! Anyway, check out the vids below and tell me if I'm crazy. Wonder Woman first, and Justice League after the jump.

Recommend Reading

By now you may have heard about Donald Trump's bloviating, hissy-fit reaction to speech given at the DNC by the parents of a slain Muslim soldier. Rather than simply "agree to disagree" while thanking them for their sacrifice, Trump dug in in just about the worst way possible, and once again exposed himself for the petulant bully that he is. Says Vox's Ezra Klein:
Trump’s slander of Ghazala Khan was cruel. It was factually untrue. But it was also deeply, profoundly counterproductive — a man so angry about being cut off in traffic that he crashes his own car in revenge.
On point. Much more here, where Klein recaps the whole imbroglio, and reveals what it says about the GOP's nominee.

Random Thought

Nostalgia Theater: The Original Jason Bourne!

With Jason Bourne in theaters now and marking the return to prominence for the Matt Damon-starring action franchise (though I personally was pretty underwhelmed by it), I thought I'd take a look back this week at the first time author Robert Ludlum's character was brought to the screen, the late '80s TV miniseries adaptation of The Bourne Identity. Starring miniseries maestro Richard Chamberlain (Centennial, Shogun, The Thorn Birds) in the title role of the memory-impaired spy searching for his identity, the production aired on ABC over two consecutive nights in May of '88. Here's a TV spot hyping the movies' impending arrival:

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Diffused Congruence: Nader Khan

Our guest for this episode of the show is renowned singer/songwriter Nader Khan, who tells us about his life's journey, how he ended up choosing the path that he did, and what new projects he has coming up. Also, hear Zaki discuss his trip to Washington DC for the Eid-al-Fitr reception at the White House, as well as other odds and ends. It's a breezy hour-and-change that we're confident you'll enjoy listening to, and you can check it out at the embed below or at this link. As always, send any questions or comments to diffusedcongruence@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Zaki's Review: Jason Bourne

Jason Bourne is back! And, to be honest, I kind of wish he'd stayed away.

Looking back, it's easy to forget how The Bourne Identity flew under the radar when it first hit theaters in the middle of the summer fourteen years ago. Arriving in June of '02 after being delayed nearly a year, the Doug Liman-directed adaptation of Robert Ludlum's bestseller, starring Matt Damon as amnesiac spy Jason Bourne, didn't have a mountain of hype behind it, but it nonetheless managed to more than triple its budget at the global box office on the strength of good word of mouth.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Recommended Reading

John Cassidy of The New Yorker examines President Obama's convention speech last night and points out how it makes about as clear an argument as possible for why the country should reject the Donald Trump philosophy. Here's a highlight:
Almost as much as his words, Obama’s facial expression conveyed astonishment that anyone would take such a man seriously. It wasn’t a disdainful look, exactly—more one that said, “W.T.F., people?” “He suggests America is weak,” the President went on. “He must not hear the billions of men and women and children, from the Baltics to Burma, who still look to America to be the light of freedom and dignity and human rights. He cozies up to Putin, praises Saddam Hussein, and tells the NATO allies that stood by our side after 9/11 that they have to pay up if they want our protection.” He then arrived at a punch line: “America is already great. America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump.”
Read the rest here.

Today in Mixed Metaphors...

Or, as they say in football, nothing but net.

Joltin' Joe

Powerful words from the outgoing veep regarding the Republican nominee: "Think about everything you learned as a child. No matter where you were raised, how can there be pleasure in saying, ‘You're fired?’"

Santos 2016!

Here's what I really want to see tonight at the ‪‎DNC. Literally. I want Jimmy Smits to show up, give this speech, and be the nominee.

One Week Ago...

One week ago today I got to attend a special reception at the White House to celebrate the Eid-al-Fitr holiday alongside President Obama. Needless to say, I was honored and humbled beyond belief to receive the invite, and while a computer meltdown at Southwest Airlines made my actually making it to the event a bit of a coin-toss, actually being there in that amazing building and just feeling all of its history wash over me is something I'll never forget.

The following morning, as I was flying out of our nation's capital, I had a chance to sum up some of the thoughts I had bouncing around my head and post them on my Facebook. What follows is the text of that post:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: 100 Episodes and Beyond!

It's the big 100th episode of the MovieFilm Podcast! 

For this extra-special installment we're joined by special guest (and former co-host) Sean Coyle! After reminiscing about the origins of the show and what led to its creation, Zaki describes his recent invitation to a presidential reception at the White House, and then the gang gets into discussing the latest news and trailers out of Comic-Con, including our first looks at Justice League, Wonder Woman, and Kong: Skull Island. (We also briefly question the need for yet another Vin Diesel xXx movie.)

From there, it's on to the main event: Star Trek Beyond! With the thirteenth Star Trek feature film sitting atop the box office (read my full review here), we get into a deep and spoiler-filled conversation about why you should make time to see the Enterprise's newest voyage. 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, 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 1969 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!

Continue reading...

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.

Continue reading...

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.