Monday, March 16, 2015

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #105 - Dragon Ball Xenoverse, Hotline Miami 2, Persona 5 Trailer & More!



It’s time…finally…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.

The last two months have been busy for both myself and Sean, and coupled with a lack of compelling topics during February, the show entered an unintended hiatus these last few weeks. That’s never our intention, of course, and as this week’s episode hopefully reflects, we’re happy to be back, and we’re committed to getting episodes out on more of a regular basis in the weeks and months to come.

That means that today’s episode is sort of a ‘cleaning house’ installment. We swap some fun stories, discuss some recent news in gaming and film – including the much-anticipated Persona 5 trailer and the announcement of Sony and Marvel’s new Spider-Man deal – and finally offer opinions on two recent video games in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number and Dragon Ball Xenoverse. It’s a fun, freewheeling sort of episode, and it gets us back on track for a number of exciting topics we have planned for the next few weeks.

Enjoy!



                                                                   



If you have questions, comments, or concerns about The Weekly Stuff, or would like to write in to the podcast to have your questions read on the show, please e-mail dinochow@jonathanlack.com.

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, January 26, 2015

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #104 - The State of the New-Generation Gaming Consoles



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.

It’s been a little over a year since the respective launches of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – topics we’ve covered in depth over the life of this podcast – and with that in mind, and coming off what was a pretty rough year for video games overall, we check in with the state of this new generation of home consoles (including Nintendo’s Wii U) to discuss where things have improved, where they’ve stayed the same, and what needs to continue changing as we march forward with 2015. Some follow-up from last year’s best of 2014 discussion, thoughts on the Halo 5 Multiplayer beta, and more round out the episode.

Enjoy! 

 




If you have questions, comments, or concerns about The Weekly Stuff, or would like to write in to the podcast to have your questions read on the show, please e-mail dinochow@jonathanlack.com.

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.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Celebrating the landmark impact of Isao Takahata's "Horus, Prince of the Sun" and a wonderful new DVD release


If you are a fan of Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki, or Studio Ghibli, or of animation in general, or Japanese cinema on the whole, or even world film history in its broadest strokes, there is no DVD in recent times more important and revelatory than Discotek Media’s release of Horus, Prince of the Sun.

The film, a Toei animated feature from 1968, was the feature directorial debut of Takahata – who would go on to craft such landmarks as Grave of the Fireflies and the recent, Oscar-nominated The Tale of Princess Kaguya and was animated by a team of soon-to-be giants including, but certainly not limited to, Hayao Miyazaki. Were it merely the inception point of so many significant careers, the film would certainly deserve some attention, but Horus is so much more than that. As Daniel Thomas MacInnes argues on one of the disc’s two audio commentaries, Horus may well be Japanese animation’s Citizen Kane, the defining moment in which ‘anime’ transcended the limitations of Western influence and proved itself a force of intense artistic and intellectual power.

I had heard of the film many times before, a constant fixture in research I have done on Takahata and Miyazaki; yet until Discotek’s recent DVD release – which arrived at the tail-end of 2014, with minimal attention or fanfare – I had never had the chance to see it, for this is the first time Horus has been made commercially available in the United States. It is a cause for immense celebration. This is a jaw-dropping film, a stunning work of radical power and unbridled cinematic passion that remains a wonder to behold 46 years after its theatrical release. To watch it is to see the history of modern anime unfold; all the potential of Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki, and the industry as a whole is contained within Horus’ brief yet dense 82 minutes, and now that I have seen it, it is clear to me that no appraisal of either man’s careers, let alone the last five decades of Japanese animation, can be undertaken without seeing and discussing Horus. It is that sort of milestone, and to finally see it is like uncovering a long-buried treasure.

That this film has finally been brought to North American audiences is significant no matter what, but the work done by Discotek on this release is so exemplary that I feel it warrants further attention. With terrific video quality and a thoroughly researched, expertly compiled slate of extras, Discotek has crafted a DVD package worthy of the film’s underexplored legacy. It is easily one of the most exhilarating and essential home video releases I have come across in months, from any corner of the cinematic world, and since I have barely seen the DVD discussed online, even in places I should think might highlight it, I wanted to take the time to talk about this release in some detail. It truly is an invaluable archive.

Continue reading after the jump…

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #103 - The Top 10 Video Games of 2014



After an unexpected hiatus, The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman is back for our first episode of the new year! As always, this is a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, video gaming, and television, and you can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link.

For our debut episode of 2015, we take a look back at the year in gaming that was 2014, with our individual picks for the Top 10 best video games of the year. This is always one of our favorite topics to do, and with largely different lists this year, it turns out there were more great games these past twelve months than either of us necessarily expected.

The gaming countdown takes up the majority of this week’s episode, but we also found some time to discuss The Hobbit trilogy one last time, with our thoughts on The Battle of the Five Armies and, more importantly, how we view the trilogy as a whole now that it’s completed.

And as we often do, this week’s show ends with a bit of Doctor Who discussion, as we talk about our thoughts on 2014’s Christmas Special, “Last Christmas.”

Enjoy!




If you have questions, comments, or concerns about The Weekly Stuff, or would like to write in to the podcast to have your questions read on the show, please e-mail dinochow@jonathanlack.com.

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.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Review: Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice" delivers an intense cinematic high



This review was originally published on December 10th, and has been re-posted for the film's wide release this weekend. I also discussed the film at length in my Top 10 Films of 2014 list, where I named Inherent Vice the best film of the year. 

Is it possible to love a movie and have no idea what the hell any of it is about? Paul Thomas Anderson’s wonderful, woozy, delightfully confounding Inherent Vice seems tailor-made to test such a strange cinematic paradox. After a single, hopelessly inadequate viewing, I could sooner learn and explain quantum physics than I could untangle the labyrinthine depths of the film’s drug-addled narrative web – and I could not have felt any more elated by the experience. Inherent Vice is an absolute embarrassment of riches, an assortment of gorgeous photography, evocative production design, beautifully haunting music, and more terrific performances than one film should be able to contain, all adding up to an immersive ride so dizzyingly unique that, even at two-and-a-half hours, I never wanted it to end.

In a sense, it doesn’t – this is the sort of film that exists far beyond the confines of the theatre (or DVD screener, as it were for me), a movie that hits you with its full, thoroughly beguiling force and then lingers, evolving and transforming into something increasingly different, challenging, and fascinating the more one ponders it. Paul Thomas Anderson has long since proved himself a master at making films where the surface is only one small part of the experience; here, the surface just happens to be richer and more rewarding than just about any film in recent memory. What is Inherent Vice? I’m not sure, but I know that I adore it – and that any and all reactions I offer towards it now are only going to evolve in the months and years to come.

Continue reading after the jump…

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Birdman," "Inherent Vice," "Under the Skin" score big in Denver Film Critics Society's 2014 Nominations



The Denver Film Critics Society, of which I am a member, announced its nominations for our annual awards this afternoon, and I’m excited to share them with you. Voting in these awards is an exciting, intriguing process for me. Over the last few days, I shared all of my ‘Dream’ nominations in each of the categories the Academy Awards recognizes, and I like that my participation in the DFCS means I can apply those thoughts beyond the realms of the hypothetical. Awards are of course silly and arbitrary on some level, but I like being able to recognize different elements of film craft this way, and it’s especially interesting, when voting with the rest of the DFCS, to see what stuck out to my peers over the past 12 months.

I always find breaking down our nominations to be a fascinating exercise. I’ll admit…when I got the e-mail earlier today announcing what we had nominated, I had a pretty broad smile on my face, because many more of my ‘pet’ nominees showed up here than I could have expected. A big showing for Inherent Vice (including the fantastic Katherine Waterston), recognition for Under the Skin in every category where it belongs, some love for foreign titles The Tale of Princess Kaguya and Two Days One Night…those are all the kinds of nominees I know I’m personally passionate about, but didn’t necessarily expect the group as a whole to be enthusiastic about. But here they are, and overall, I think it’s a really solid set of nominees. There are oddities to be found, of course – I haven’t seen another critic’s group embrace American Sniper this wholeheartedly – but I like the overall mix of titles and nominees, and I’m interested to see which films come out on top.

The Denver Film Critics Society will announce our award winners on January 12th. For now, take a look below at the full list of nominees, along with some of my own musings on various categories (including which pick I intend to vote for in the final round).

See all the nominees after the jump…

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My 'Dream' Academy Award Nominations - Part 4: Best Picture, Screenplay, and Director




As explained onThursday, I’m kicking off 2015 with a look back at the best individual achievements of 2014. As Academy Award voters fill out their own ballots this week, I’m doing the same in this hypothetical exercise, where I offer my own ‘dream’ nominations for nearly all the Oscar categories. These posts will go up over the course of four days. The first focused on the majority of the ‘Craft’ categories, including Cinematography and Production Design, the second discussed the Music and Sound categories, and the third ran down all the Acting nominations. Today, we’re finishing things up with thoughts on Best Director, Screenplay, Picture, and more. Enjoy!

Read my ‘Dream’ Academy Award Nominations Part 4 after the jump…