Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #236 – Deadpool 2 Review, E3 Leaks, and more!


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

This week, we got another major superhero film in Deadpool 2, a surprisingly excellent sequel that is funnier, zanier, and weirdly more heartfelt than the first film, fueled by great performances and excellent direction from David Leitch. We talk about the film in depth, and before that, cover a few recent pieces of news, including a spate of E3 leaks and rumors like Nintendo’s strange potential Pokemon project, while Jonathan gives first impressions on Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux for 3DS and Sean continues his adventures in the literary world of Norse mythology by reading some mythological poetry by J.R.R. Tolkien. 

Enjoy! 

Time Chart:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:03:06
Stuff: 0:03:06 – 0:22:32
News, including E3 leaks: 0:22:32 – 1:02:17
Deadpool 2 Review: 1:02:17 – 1:56:01 

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #236







The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #235 – Revisiting Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

This week, we return to a galaxy far, far away for our next in-depth Star Wars discussion, and after going through all three prequels in previous episodes, we finally arrive at the film that started it all: Star Wars, also known as Episode IV: A New Hope. Unlike the prequels, this film neither demands nor requires a critical reevaluation – it’s great, it’s always been great, and most people who have ever seen a movie agree with that – but there are still plenty of avenues to follow in discussing what makes this such a joyous, singular, perfectly imperfect cinematic revelation, and it makes for a fun chat about one of our favorite movies. Jonathan also talks about his recent trip to Iowa, Sean talks a little more Norse mythology, and we go over some recent Nintendo and Xbox news to round out the episode. 

Enjoy! 

Time Chart:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:03:22
Stuff: 0:03:22 – 0:27:38
News: 0:27:38 – 0:52:13
Revisiting Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope: 0:52:13 – 2:54:16

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #235








The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #234 – God of War Discussion & Donkey Kong Country Retrospective


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

After giving general spoiler-free impressions last week, we dive deep with the new God of War, discussing the story, characters, themes, and gameplay in a wide-ranging discussion that reveals just how much this game has to offer, intellectually, emotionally, and as a major technical achievement. Jonathan also talks about his recent experiences playing through all of the Donkey Kong Country games, from the Super NES games by Rare to Retro Studio’s 2010 reboot, in anticipation of this week’s release of Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze for the Nintendo Switch. Further adventures with the original Japanese version of Yu-Gi-Oh! and Sean’s deep dive into Norse mythology round out the episode. 

Enjoy! 

Time Chart:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:04:56
Stuff: 0:04:56 – 0:21:46
Donkey Kong Country: 0:21:46 – 1:03:23
God of War Spoiler Discussion: 1:03:23 – 2:47:08

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #234







The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #233 – Avengers: Infinity War Review & God of War Impressions


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

Marvel’s biggest movie yet has landed in theaters, and we have a lot to say about the surprisingly great Avengers: Infinity War, a movie that has no right working, and yet somehow works amazingly well on so many levels. The biggest film event of the year would be enough to fill one podcast, of course – and we give the film the same spoiler-filled, in-depth discussion we always do with these movies – but that’s not all going on this week, as Sony launched one of the generation’s very best games in God of War. Neither of us has finished the (very long) game yet, so we just give some general impressions on the world and gameplay, without any spoilers or in-depth plot discussion (more on that next week!), to give some initial thoughts on why this game is such an immense, impressive treat. We also touch on some recent news from Nintendo, make fun of the latest horrible Venom trailer, and somehow go off on a tangent about Romeo & Juliet for 17 minutes, because that’s how we roll here at the Weekly Stuff Podcast. 

Enjoy! 

Time Chart:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:12:58
Stuff: 0:12:58 – 0:30:21
News: 0:30:21 – 1:05:35
God of War Impressions: 1:05:35 – 1:48:29 
Avengers: Infinity War Review: 1:48:29 – 3:18:19 

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #233







The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman is a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #232 – Persona 5 The Animation, Isao Takahata, and Ranking Spider-Man Games


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

We have quite the grab bag for you on the show this week, as we discuss topics as wide-ranging as the passing of beloved Japanese director Isao Takahata, a true pioneer of the medium, to something as silly as Sean ranking all the Spider-Mangames he has ever played to celebrate the release date announcement of Insomniac’s Spider-Man PS4 game. Jonathan also talks about his adventures re-watching Yu-Gi-Oh! in Japanese, Sean gives final thoughts on Far Cry 5, and we talk about the first two episodes of Persona 5 The Animation. We even bring Jonathan’s brother Thomas on to talk about Persona 4 Dancing All Night and the upcoming Persona 3 and dancing spin-offs, given that Thomas is currently #1 in the leaderboards on most P4D songs. 

And on a personal note, I (Jonathan) have some big life news to share on the podcast this week. I talk about it more on the show, but in short, I have been accepted to a PhD program in Film Studies at the University of Iowa, and will be moving later this year to attend. No, it does not mean the end of the podcast, though we’ll probably have to do some experimenting to make the transition from ‘two guys in a room with one mic’ to ‘two guys in two different states over the internet.’ Neither Sean nor I are all that worried – plenty of podcasts record this way! – but it will be a bit of a change, and if you’ve got any tips, we’d be happy to hear them! 

Enjoy! 

Time Chart:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:09:10
Jonathan’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Adventures: 0:09:10 – 0:23:38
Sean on Far Cry 5: 0:23:38 – 0:49:20
Remembering Isao Takahata: 0:49:20 – 0:59:00
Incredibles 2 Trailer: 0:59:00 – 1:03:25
Spider-Man News & Countdown: 1:03:25 – 1:39:13
Persona 5 The Animation: 1:39:13 – 1:55:00
Persona Dancing Games Chat: 1:55:00 – 2:20:31

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #232







The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

In Honor of the Late, Great Isao Takahata, read "Elegy for a Lost Tomorrow," my Thesis on his Films


There are pieces one hopes never to have to write, even when holding onto that hope is holding out against one of life’s simplest inevitabilities. 

Reporting on the death of Isao Takahata, the Studio Ghibli co-founder and Japanese animation titan who passed away today at 82, is one of those pieces. And that sentiment – of holding onto or coming to terms with the futility of a hope that stands opposed to the simple, forceful transience of all existence – is one of those existential quandaries Takahata explored so beautifully, so insightfully, so painfully, so spiritually, in his extraordinary work. 

Though his lifelong friend, co-worker, and fellow Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki is the better known name, with the better known films, I have argued that Isao Takahata and his work are even more important landmarks in the history and development not just of Japanese animation, but world cinema in general. For where Miyazaki is one of the greatest commercial filmmakers the medium has ever known, Takahata is one of the most restlessly innovative, from his younger days as one of the first pioneers of the art we now call ‘anime,’ all the way to his last feature film, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,ameditation on life, death, and everything between experimentally animated to look like moving sketches, its themes of transience mirrored in its profound aesthetics. I have called his first film – The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun– the most important animated film ever made, anywhere in the world, for how boldly it broke with the then-largely-unchallenged Disney models of narrative and aesthetics in animation, and for how eloquently it laid out a future in which commercial animation could be anything it wanted to be, especially at home in Japan. It is an opinion I believe in more strongly the more I study film. This is the man who made animation’s equivalent of Citizen Kane, and neither he nor his work get nearly enough credit for this in the West. 

For my part, Isao Takahata means as much to me as a filmmaker possibly can. I not only love his work dearly, but devoted over a year of my life to researching and writing about them, for my Master’s Thesis at the University of Colorado. The final project, a 200-page tome titled Elegy for a Lost Tomorrow: Representations of Loss in the Works of Isao Takahata, is the work I am proudest of creating, and the one I am closest to, for it was, in essence, a way for me to reconcile the loss of my father and subsequent existential conundrums through a journey with Takahata’s incredible films. I have not done much to share it publicly in the years since it was completed, as I have been working, off and on, with turning it into a book for wider publication. But I want to share with you today a link to download this Thesis, and give everyone interested in this most extraordinary filmmaker a chance to read what is probably one of the longest and most in-depth English-languages assessments of his work that currently exists. I have so much to say about Mr. Takahata, but the most important things have been said here, and I invite you to read it for yourself: 



From the abstract: 

The films of Japanese animation director Isao Takahata are notable for their vivid and complex characters, deep engagement with Japanese history and culture, and for their increasingly bold visual innovation and experimentation over Takahata’s half-century spanning career. Yet these are also films replete with loss, nearly all of Takahata’s theatrical works emotionally and thematically constructed upon foundations of death, transience, and grief. Children dying in the fire-bombings of the Japanese countryside during the Pacific War; a woman reflecting on lost parts of herself as she wanders through distant memories; a celestial daughter born to experience the joy and sorrow of mankind’s transient plane; these are the kinds of stories Takahata tells, and this study is primarily concerned with exploring the heart of absence that exists within each of them. Through close readings of three Takahata features in particular – Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Only Yesterday (1991), and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)– and other films around the periphery, alongside engagement with texts about Japanese spirituality and broader works about the human experience of loss and wandering, this study aims to both trace the core themes of one filmmaker’s career, and to analyze loss as a dynamic and fluid ethereal force. With the animated canvas of Takahata’s films offering a perfect medium upon which to study loss, its hand-crafted, transient form enhancing and challenging the ways in which loss is cinematically analyzed, this study asks readers to reconsider their relationship not only to the moving image, but also to the emotional forces of absence, wonder, and grief. Guided by a series of short interstitial personal remembrances from the author, this study is as much an exploration of emotion and human processing as it is an examination of film and form, crafted with the implicit goal of demonstrating how closely aligned these typically disparate fields of study are within the human mind and heart.

I am deeply heartbroken by this loss – I must confess that the death of a filmmaker has never hit me so hard as this one has. Takahata was a hero to me, and to so many others. That his spirit, wisdom, and artistry will live on through his work, for as long as we watch and study films, is however a powerful consolation. If you have never seen them, now is the time. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Weekly Stuff #231 – Far Cry 5, Ready Player One, and Revisiting Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith


It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link

After revisiting the first two Star Wars Prequels earlier this year, we finally reach the third and final film in the controversial trilogy, and once again give it a thorough critical reevaluation. Revenge of the Sith is a great Star Wars movie, a bleak but rousing trilogy capper with a surprising amount of political resonance today, and it gives us a ton to dive into as we complete our project of revisiting the prequels. We also review some new movies – namely Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One and Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs – and talk a bit about this week’s big game release, Far Cry 5, in a fun, busy, jam-packed episode. 

Enjoy! 

Time Chart:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:03:06
News: 0:03:06 – 0:09:08
Isle of Dogs Review: 0:09:08 – 0:26:00
Ready Player One Review: 0:26:00 – 0:43:46
Far Cry 5 Review: 0:43:46 – 1:02:12
Misc. (Detective Pikachu, Star Wars Rebels, and more): 1:02:12 – 1:21:08
Revisiting Star Wars Episode III: 1:21:08 – 3:46:33

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #231







The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapmanis a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.