Monday, June 22, 2015

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #110 - Summer Movie Catch-up: Mad Max, Avengers, Jurassic World & 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.

Given our recent, unexpected hiatus, we wound up missing the releases of several major summer movies we meant to cover in depth. So while this is coming a little later than planned, we have recorded a ‘summer movie catch-up’ episode, in which we share our thoughts on all the films we have been meaning to talk about.

I give some quick thoughts on Spy and Jurassic World – one of which I find to be perhaps the most overrated film I’ve seen in years – before Sean and I launch into longer, more in-depth discussions of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Mad Max: Fury Road, which oddly works as an interesting compare/contrast study in different forms of modern action spectacle.

(Note: This episode was recorded last week, before the release of Pixar’s Inside Out. I haven’t had the chance to review the film yet, but I think it is an outright masterpiece – my favorite Pixar film ever, perhaps – and I look forward to discussing it on next week’s show. It isn’t talked about here, but that doesn’t mean we plan on ignoring it).

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, June 18, 2015

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #109 - E3 2015 Analysis Spectacular!



It’s finally 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.

E3 – the Electronic Entertainment Expo – is underway this week in Los Angeles, bringing with it a flurry of news from all corners of the gaming industry. As we do every year, we have devoted an entire episode to the show, breaking down press briefings from Sony, Microsoft, Bethesda, Nintendo, and more, analyzing all the big announcements, and discussing which games have us the most excited to play in 2015 and beyond.

Enjoy, and come back Monday for next week’s episode, in which we recap the summer movie season to date, with thoughts on Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World, and more!

                                                                



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, May 25, 2015

With Cinemark Theaters no longer masking their screens, I reflect on the depressing state of modern mainstream moviegoing



Earlier today, I took a trip to my family’s local Cinemark theater – the Century 16 in Belmar – to show my brother the glory that is Mad Max: Fury Road. I wish I could say a good time was had by all, because while the film remains spectacular – and only gets deeper, richer, and more rewarding on multiple viewings – the exhibition practice I saw in that multiplex was so heinously incompetent that it has me convinced, more than ever, that the major modern theater chains are completely out of touch with the basics of their trade.

This line of thought was initiated for me a week ago, actually, when I went to see Fury Road for the first time, at the Cinemark Century Boulder, and was astonished to see that the multiplex did not mask the screen for the film’s widescreen aspect ratio (more on what this means in a moment, but in short, it means the film was projected in a ‘letterboxed’ 16x9 ratio, as it would look on a TV display). Even the best theaters make mistakes now and again, of course, and since I had never previously had a bad experience at the Century Boulder, and was so excited to see Fury Road, I shrugged the problem off and rolled with it; the film itself was mesmerizing enough to distract me from the glaring exhibition problem.

But today, at the Century Belmar, the same problem recurred. I was flabbergasted – was this a bizarre coincidence, or was something more sinister afoot? As the trailers began to roll, and it became clear to me they were not going to mask the screen at this theater either, I left the auditorium to investigate, dipping into a few other auditoriums – another screening of Mad Max and one of Tomorrowland – only to find that these screens, too, were left unmasked. A cursory search on Google led me to multiple forums and comment sections where people reported the same problem.

This was no mistake. This was intentional. Cinemark Theaters are, seemingly as policy, no longer masking their screens for anamorphic widescreen movies.

This is a problem. A big problem – and it only reinforces my perception and the perception of many other filmgoers that the theater chains are practicing their trade with an active contempt for the consumer. Whether you are familiar with the implications of this issue or not, this is a problem modern moviegoers should care about. And today, I am going to dive into this issue, and some of the other related issues at stake in modern moviegoing, to shed light on just how bad things should become. At this point, I am simply fed up, and you should be too.

Continue reading after the jump…

Thursday, May 21, 2015

'Mad Men' Greatest Hits - The Top 20 Episodes, Part 4: #5 - #1



On Sunday night, AMC’s Mad Men wrapped up its extraordinary eight-year run. You can read my full review and analysis of the finale here, and now that the series is over, we are spending an entire week bidding farewell to this incredible show by counting down the Top 20 episodes from throughout the run. Things kicked off Monday with #20 - #16, continued Tuesday with #15 - #11, and Wednesday with #10 - #6, and wraps up today with the final five episodes of the countdown.

So without further ado (and, it goes without saying, with spoilers), let us conclude our walk down Mad Men memory lane, with Part 4 of the Mad Men Greatest Hits, after the jump…

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

'Mad Men' Greatest Hits - The Top 20 Episodes, Part 3: #10 - #6



On Sunday night, AMC’s Mad Men wrapped up its extraordinary eight-year run. You can read my full review and analysis of the finale here, and now that the series is over, we are spending an entire week bidding farewell to this incredible show by counting down the Top 20 episodes from throughout the run. Things kicked off Monday with #20 - #16, continued Tuesday with #15 - #11, and will continue tomorrow with one final installment. This is Part 3, with #10 - #6 on the countdown.

So without further ado (and, it goes without saying, with spoilers), let us continue our walk down Mad Men memory lane, with Part 3 of the Mad Men Greatest Hits, after the jump…

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

'Mad Men' Greatest Hits - The Top 20 Episodes, Part 2: #15 - #11



On Sunday night, AMC’s Mad Men wrapped up its extraordinary eight-year run. You can read my full review and analysis of the finale here, and now that the series is over, we are spending an entire week bidding farewell to this incredible show by counting down the Top 20 episodes from throughout the run. Things kicked off yesterday with #20 - #16, and will continue through Thursday with two more installments. This is Part 2, with #15 - #11 on the countdown.

So without further ado (and, it goes without saying, with spoilers), let us continue our walk down Mad Men memory lane, with Part 2 of the Mad Men Greatest Hits, after the jump…

Monday, May 18, 2015

'Mad Men' Greatest Hits - The Top 20 Episodes, Part 1: #20 - #16



Last night, AMC’s Mad Men wrapped up its extraordinary eight-year run. You can read my full review and analysis of the finale here, and now that the series is over, it is time to celebrate its life by looking back at the very best of what Mad Men was.

One of the things I always loved about this series was that, in a period of intense TV serialization, Matthew Weiner and company always took things episode by episode. There are obviously serialized plots and character arcs that extend within and between seasons, but Mad Men existed and thrived on individual episodes, each existing to tell a particular story or explore a single set of themes, and because of that, it was an incredibly powerful, fascinating, and fun show to watch every week.

With that in mind, I have spent the last few weeks revisiting the series’ very best episodes. I ruled out the possibility of doing a Top 10 list almost immediately, as there are simply too many great ones to choose from. A Top 20 list seemed quite a bit more manageable, and because these episodes are so wonderful, and because I love writing about Mad Men more than any other show, I have spread the Top 20 over the course of four separate pieces, to be published over the next four days. I did not quite write a full essay on each of these hours, as I did for each installment when they were airing (in the seasons I reviewed), but I wanted to revisit them in at least a certain amount of depth, as that is the least these terrific episodes of television deserve.

So today will be Part 1 of the ‘Mad Men Greatest Hits,’ with #20 through #16 on the countdown. I’ll be back tomorrow with #15 - #11, and throughout the week until we get to #1. Another special retrospective piece will publish after the countdown finishes, on Friday.

So without further ado (and, it goes without saying, with spoilers), let us begin our walk down Mad Men memory lane, with Part 1 of the Mad Men Greatest Hits, after the jump…