Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Bonus #6 – Doctor Who: Kinda (Story 119, 1982)


It’s time for another monthly bonus episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, where we will be discussing serials from classic Doctor Who history.

After two wonderful months spent chronicling the adventures of the Fourth Doctor, we jump ahead to the strange reign of the Fifth, played by Peter Davison, and the rocky tenure of producer John Nathan Turner. Kinda, the story we discuss here, is the Fifth Doctor’s third-ever serial, and it is one of the weirdest, wildest, and most unique Doctor Who stories ever told, steeped in dream sequences, surreal imagery, and bizarre plotting that, at the very least, adds up to an extremely memorable story. Is there more than just wackiness on display here? What do we make of Davison’s performance as the Fifth Doctor? And is Adric or Tegan a worse companion? We answer all these questions and more in our in-depth discussion of Kinda.

Stream The Weekly Stuff Bonus #6







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. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

2017 Denver Film Critics Society Awards Winners Announced - "Lady Bird," "Dunkirk" win top honors


The Denver Film Critics Society, of which I am a voting member, has today announced its winners in our 2017 film awards. I wrote about the nominations when they were announced last week, and was very happy with our batch of potential winners. The final victors, which you can read about below, are a pretty damn strong group as well. Our Best Picture award went to Lady Bird, my favorite film of the year, while Best Director went to Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk (I would have preferred this one go to Greta Gerwig, but Dunkirk is an obvious and extraordinary directorial achievement and I cannot fault his win here). Lady Bird also won Best Actress for the wonderful Saoirse Ronan, while Best Actor went to Gary Oldman’s transformative performance in Darkest Hour (I’ll pour one out for the great Harry Dean Stanton, who made our nominations but didn’t win in the competitive field). Supporting Actor wins went to Willem Dafoe and Allison Janney, while screenplay fields split between Jordan Peele’s original Get Out and James Ivory’s adaptation of Call Me By Your Name.

You can see all the award winners below, with nominations repeated for clarity’s sake. All in all, I think our group did a great job this year recognizing what was extraordinary about film in 2017, and our final awards spread the love to a lot of different and diverse places. Read through the full list of winners after the jump…

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #222 – Nintendo Direct, Dragon Ball Beta, and 2018 Year-in-Preview


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 a grab-bag style episode this week, as we cover a week’s worth of news items, including Thursday’s Nintendo Direct announcements, Sean reviews the beta for upcoming fighting game Dragon Ball FighterZ, and Jonathan talks about finally catching up on Pokken Tournament DX for Nintendo Switch. And for our main topic, we preview what’s to come in 2018 in terms of video games, looking at the confirmed games for Spring and discussing what we plan to play and review, and speculating about which games will and won’t come out through the rest of the year. We even play a silly game where we ‘draft’ which games we think won’t make speculated 2018 release dates, just for fun.

Enjoy, and come back for our next Doctor Who bonus podcast this Thursday!

Time Chart:

Intro & Stuff: 0:00:00 – 0:08:19
Sean’s Beta Corner – Dragon Ball FighterZ: 0:08:19 – 0:21:00
Jonathan talks Pokken Tournament DX: 0:21:00 – 0:32:50
News, including Nintendo Direct: 0:32:50 – 1:13:45
2018 Gaming Year-in-Preview: 1:13:45 – 1:46:38

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #222








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.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

2017 Denver Film Critics Society Awards Nominations Announced, led by “Lady Bird,” “Get Out,” “Call Me By Your Name”


Yesterday, the Denver Film Critics Society, of which I am a voting member, announced its awards nominations for our picks in cinema’s best for 2017. There were, as I wrote about with my Top 10 list, an extraordinary number of great films this year, and that has translated to the best group of nominations we have ever had in my years voting with the organization. And I don’t just say that because a surprising number of my pet nominees made it in – I say it because this is an unusually rich awards season that it starting to coalesce in very frustrating, exclusionary ways, and I think our nominations do a relatively good job celebrating the scope, diversity, and totality of the year in film. We’re still missing some crucial categories (like Cinematography, which I lobbied for and got added in 2015, only to see it subsequently removed), and everyone will have nitpicks here and there, but I think on the whole this is a group of nominees we can all be proud of. We will be voting later this week for the final winners, which will be announced next week, and I am very excited to see who and what comes out on top.

For a full list of nominees, followed by a little commentary from me on most of the categories, continue reading after the jump…

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #221 – Holiday Stories, Doctor Who Christmas Special Review & 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.

For our first show back in the new year, we clear the deck with hours of holiday stories, reviews, and chats about games old and new we’ve been playing over the break. Sean talks about his Christmas at sea, with a mini-rant about a library on a cruise ship, while Jonathan reviews some Blu-rays he received as presents, including Twin Peaks: The Return and the new Doctor Who: Shada reconstruction. Sean talks about playing Assassin’s Creed Origins and revisiting Star Wars Jedi Knight II, while Jonathan recounts his weird tradition of playing Papers Please every Christmas, and his journey diving back into the Batman: Arkham series. We cover a few quick pieces of news, and then for our main topic review this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, “Twice Upon a Time,” the last episode written by Steven Moffat and starring Peter Capaldi. It’s the end of the wonderful era, and the start of something very exciting, and we have, as is our wont, a lot to say on the subject.

Enjoy!

Time Chart:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:03:00
Holiday Stories: 0:03:00 – 0:36:49
Holiday Gaming Stories: 0:36:49 – 1:27:00
News: 1:27:00 – 1:49:32
Doctor Who Christmas Special: 1:49:32 – 3:58:04

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #221








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.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Jonathan Lack's Top 10 Films of 2017


No matter where you looked for cinema, 2017 was a great, rich, and varied year for the art of film.

It was most assuredly not a great year for the business or culture of film, and this must be addressed before we get back to the art, for any assessment of 2017 would be grossly incomplete without that consideration. A growing revolution in American culture had a major part of its epicenter in the film industry, as the abuses of a seemingly endless parade of awful, powerful men were revealed, exposing an insidious and systemic rot that has hurt more people and robbed the world of more great careers than we may ever truly understand. Multiple online film coverage outlets and the gatekeepers controlling them were similarly outed, while a major theatre chain whose arms extend into film festivals, distribution, and much of modern film culture was revealed to have a CEO who actively covered up and enabled a serial sexual harasser. No American industry, no segment of American life, has been or will be immune from the #MeToo wave, nor should they be, for this is a systemic cultural cancer that we are all of us, men especially, responsible for recognizing and taking active steps to improving. But the entertainment industry was a major and critical part of this revolution, and will continue to be going forward, and as long as we enjoy and discuss and write about film or television, we must also be vigilant in supporting the voices of those who have been hurt and working, in whatever small or large ways we can, to change and improve our culture going forward.

But as small as it all can seem in the face of such widespread abuse and suffering, let us return to the art. I find it remarkable not only how many truly great films were released in 2017, but in how many places they could be found. From the smallest arthouse to the biggest multiplex, 2017 offered a steady stream of smart and soulful artistic accomplishments. Hollywood’s tentpoles were far better than average, with the creatively resurgent superhero genre having its best year to date – Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman and James Mangold’s Logan both rank among the genre’s greatest entries – while some of our most interesting commercial filmmakers delivered great new experiences, from Matt Reeves’ biblically scaled War for the Planet of the Apes to Steven Soderbergh’s effortlessly charming Logan Lucky. The festival circuit was particularly rich, and I found most of the glut of year-end ‘awards’ films unusually compelling, from Guillermo del Toro’s impossibly sweet The Shape of Water, to Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ insightfully mounted Battle of the Sexes, to Scott Cooper’s thoughtful revisionist Western Hostiles, to Steven Spielberg’s wildly timely and wonderfully performed The Post. Streaming once again gave home to some real gems, like Dee Rees’ piercing period drama Mudbound, and the entire year was peppered with under-the-radar gems like Matt Spicer’s social-media-stalking comedy Ingrid Goes West or the documentary David Lynch: The Art Life, which is one of the great films ever made about the artistic process. And I don’t even know what category it fits in at this point, but John Wick: Chapter 2 kicked an unholy amount of ass.

None of these films are on my Top 10 list.

I found 2017 a particularly competitive year, for all the reasons outlined above. My Top 5 came together pretty quickly, and it then took a lot of watching and rewatching and hand-wringing to whittle down the next 5. But the final list feels like a very good summation of my personal journey through film this year, and it was extremely rewarding to write about each of them for this piece. I have structured this year’s list a little differently than the past, leaning in to my own allergy to brevity and writing a miniature 3-paragaph essay for each movie, with a longer piece for my #1 film. I wanted to lend a little more substance to the list this year, both because I didn’t have the chance to write full reviews of most of these films, and because writing at a more ‘academic’ length simply comes more naturally to me. The result is one of my favorite Top 10 lists I’ve ever had the pleasure to write, and I hope it is one you enjoy.

So without further ado, continue reading after the jump for my Top 10 Films of 2017…

Friday, December 29, 2017

Ranking All 40 of Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who Stories – Part 4: #10 - #1


On April 3rd, 2010, a new era of Doctor Who began with “The Eleventh Hour,” and this week, that era came to an end with “Twice Upon a Time,” the Christmas Special that saw Steven Moffat, Peter Capaldi, and a whole host of other creatives from the era take a bow, handing the reigns off to Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker for the show’s next, exciting step forward.

But with any change comes a chance for reflection, which is what I am doing here. Now that his final episode is out in the world, I am counting down all 40 – count ‘em, forty Doctor Who stories Steven Moffat has contributed, as writer or, in a few rare cases, co-writer, from 2005’s “The Empty Child” to this week’s “Twice Upon a Time.” I watched every single one of these again, took extensive notes, and ranked them from least-favorite to most-favorite.

This series is also a walk down memory lane, as I have included links to my original written reviews and/or the original Weekly Stuff Podcast reviews to every episode (save some of Moffat’s earliest Russell T Davies-era stories, for which the podcast and my site did not yet exist). In some of these original reviews, you will see that my thoughts are either markedly more positive or negative than they are now, which is part of the fun of this project – I’ve been living with, writing about, talking about, and reconsidering these episodes for years now, some for nearly a decade, and trying to put a punctuation note on that progression (for now) is part of what attracted me to this project.

This list will be published in four parts, once a day through the end of the week, with each part containing 10 episodes. I hope you enjoy, and if you would like to listen to these rankings in Podcast form, we did a whole episode for that.

Be sure to catch up with Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 if you haven’t already, and without further ado, let us conclude our journey with Part 4: #10 - #1, coming up after the jump…