Monday, July 18, 2016

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #152 - Reviewing 'Inside,' Talking Pokemon Go, and Celebrating Star Trek's 50th Anniversary


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’re back with a jam-packed episode, as Sean and I offer some thoughts on recent games like Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, or games that are just new to us, like Dishonored, while Jonathan recounts his continued adventures re-watching all of Dragon Ball Z. Later, we try to get our heads around the unprecedented phenomenon that is Pokemon Go, and offer a spoiler-filled review and discussion of Playdead’s outstanding indie game Inside. And finally, with a new Star Trek film upon us and the franchise’s 50th anniversary being marked this year, we offer a Star Trek retrospective, discussing our favorite things about the TV series before counting down all 12 theatrical films from worst to best.

Enjoy!






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, July 14, 2016

Meditations of a Celestial Being: Belated Thoughts on Terrence Malick’s "Knight of Cups"


It was less than a year after the release of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life that we began to learn about the production of the film that would eventually become Knight of Cups. I feel like the film was out there, discussed and speculated upon, for more or less the entire time I was in college, as Malick’s subsequent film, To the Wonder, came and went, and as our knowledge of this project and Malick’s next feature, now titled Weightless, were gradually untangled. Near the end of 2014, in advance of the film’s unveiling at Berlinale, a trailer made its way online. I rewatched it again today, and I contend now, as I did then, that it is one of the more intoxicating, exciting movie trailers I have seen in years. Though I can sometimes feel like a Malick agnostic, my interest in and love for his works ebbing and flowing, this was a film I wanted to make a priority, based on everything we had seen so far.


And then a strange thing happened. The film came and went, from Berlinale to an international release to quietly, a year later in early 2016, an extremely limited theatrical bow in the United States. Few talked about it. Critics mostly scratched their heads or dismissed it. And while Malick’s films have never and will never set the box office on fire, from what I can tell the film grossed less and was seen by a smaller audience than any of the director’s previous features. The film was in theatres so briefly here in Denver that I missed it entirely, to my great regret, and had to wait for the eventual home video release to finally obtain it – and longer still until I found myself in the headspace to sit down and watch it.

What a curious situation. That a director of Malick’s stature, a filmmaker whose early promise and decades-long disappearance made his 21st century films major events in the arthouse and critical communities – think of the sheer size of the discussion surrounding The Thin Red Line, The New World, or The Tree of Life – should have a new film released to such a collective global shrug. And only five years after winning the Palme d’Or, no less. The situation is probably not unprecedented, but it certainly is unexpected.

Continue reading after the jump...

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

List Service – My Top 10 Favorite Criterion Collection Releases



Welcome to List Service, my new column in which I pick a topic, create a countdown, and explore each entry in a bit of detail. This has been in the works for a while, intended to be a new weekly column here on the site, and since this topic turned out to be very timely this week, I figured there was no time like the present to get started. Read on, and let me know what you think of the format, as well as what you’d like to see in future columns, in the comments below.

If you care about film and collect physical media, chances are you have at least a shelf or two devoted to the Criterion Collection, the best distributor of classic and foreign films in North America, and the bedrock of many a cinephile’s home video collection. I certainly have a lot of love for the company – four shelves going on five so far, if you were wondering – and these days, the vast majority of DVDs or Blu-rays I buy tend to be from Criterion. It’s not just that they’ve released definitive editions of many of my favorite films, but that I am constantly being introduced to new, wonderful works from around the world via the collection. They are an absolutely essential resource, and today, I’d like to take a little bit of time to celebrate my favorite releases the company has thus far created.

Now is the right time to think about this, after all, as Barnes and Noble is having their bi-annual 50% off sale on all Criterion DVDs and Blu-rays. This is the time of the year I always play catch-up, buying older and more recent titles alike, and if you have yet to dip your toes into the Collection, now is the time to do so. The 10 titles I have selected below are the ones I would most wholeheartedly recommend, the 10 I treasure most within my own collection. It’s a list that, I should note, is constantly changing for me, not only as new titles come out, but as I purchase and watch releases in my backlog. And there are at least two Criterion titles coming out later this year – Terence Malik’s The New World later this month, and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Dekalog in September – that I would expect might find room on my list if I rewrote it in six months’ time.

As always with these lists, for the sake of variety, I have only one chosen one entry per director. It means there were some very tough cuts here, as I tend to collect all the Criterion editions for my favorite filmmakers, but to better represent the breadth and depth of the collection, I thought this was bet. Also note that this is not a ranking of the quality of the films, necessarily, nor even of my personal preference for them. This is instead a selection of my personal Top 10 favorite ‘releases,’ based on how impressive and essential I find them to be within my own personal collection.

So without further ado, read on after the jump for my Top 10 Favorite Criterion Collection Releases …

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #151 – 2016 Mid-year Review Spectacular!


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.

With six months of 2016 now behind us, it’s a good time to take stock of the year so far – and while it’s been a rough year for humanity in general, it’s been a pretty phenomenal year for video games, and in some ways, we’ve barely even gotten started! What have been our favorite games so far this year? Movies? TV shows? We talk about all of it, and look forward to what we’re most excited for in the back-half of the year. And before the main topic, Jonathan recounts his continued experiences rewatching Dragon Ball Z, his final thoughts on Kirby: Planet Robobot, and his review of Playdead’s stellar new indie masterpiece Inside for the Xbox One, while Sean has finally gone back to catch up with Dishonored on the PS4.

Enjoy!






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, June 27, 2016

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #150 – Celebrating the Nintendo 64 at 20 and Sonic the Hedgehog at 25


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.

In our 150th episode of the podcast, we take a trip down memory lane to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Nintendo 64 and the 25th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog. The N64 was a formative console for both of us, containing some of the greatest games ever made – but also arriving with some major flaws that would prove a sea change for Nintendo. Breaking down its history and impact makes for a fascinating conversation. Sonic the Hedgehog has perhaps an even more complex and convoluted history, given the sheer gap in quality between his best and worst games, but it’s safe to say that if it weren’t for the blue hedgehog, neither of us would be into games the way we are today, and as we look at Sonic’s best and worst moments, it’s hard to feel anything other than overall fondness for Sonic and his strange group of friends. Discussion of Pixar’s Finding Dory, Nintendo’s Kirby: Planet Robobot, and The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine rounds out the episode.

Enjoy!






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.