Connecting With Classics 007: Vertigo

We’ve had this Hitchcock classic circled ever since the film celebrated its 60th anniversary in May 2018. It may be only #9 on AFI’s latest Top 100 list, but checks in at #1 all-time on the Sight & Sound list. Joining us is a special guest, who last year completed the enormous challenge of watching Alfred Hitchcock’s entire filmography. He is Reed Lackey, from the podcast The Fear of God, and one of the biggest Hitchcock fans we know. 

One of the goals for “Connecting With Classics” is listener participation. We will be hosting prize drawings for a poster of the Connecting With Classics movie of their choice plus podcast swag and more at the end of each calendar year. Entries into the drawing can be earned for every episode by watching the film and posting your own review or thoughts about the podcast episode in the comments section of the episode announcement post in our Feelin’ Film Facebook Discussion Group. For listeners who do not wish to be a part of the discussion group, emailing reviews to feelinfilm@gmail.com will also be accepted.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT (2018)

2 Hours and 27 Minutes (R)

Villain Solomon Lane tells Ethan Hunt that the end he’s feared is coming and describes it as “the fallout of all [his] good intentions”. That statement could also apply to Mission: Impossible – Fallout and it’s director, the first ever to return for a second go-around in the series, Christopher McQuarrie. With this direct follow-on to the story events in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, McQuarrie’s aim is clear: he is going for a home run of an action flick while attempting to marry the best parts of the series into a cohesive whole. But you know what they say about good intentions…

The impossible mission that Ethan Hunt (the ageless wizard Tom Cruise) and his crew face now is one of the more straight forward in the series. It revolves mostly around retrieving stolen plutonium to prevent terrorists from launching nuclear attacks. This is not a ground-breaking story concept by any means, but McQuarrie structures the plot in such a way that there are still plenty of smaller motivations in play along the journey while always keeping the “ticking clock” in mind. And, of course, we’re dealing with spies here so this wouldn’t be Mission: Impossible without a double-cross (or two, or three, or… you get the point). One of the biggest strengths of the film is the way in which the story borrows elements from multiple films in the series and weaves them together successfully without making the result feel recycled. There is a through-line of a very personal nature reminiscent of Mission: Impossible III, there is the aforementioned “save the entire world from destruction” big stakes, and there are some wonderfully developed team dynamics that get focused on as well. There are also quite a few callbacks to specific scenes from past movies. Though it remains interesting throughout, the one big knock on the story is how telegraphed it is. If you’ve seen a trailer for the film, you already know how this is going to go and there aren’t many surprises in store for you. Even if you managed to stay trailer free, a very early reveal robs the film of what could have been much more impactful events later on. There are also some workings of the plot that create extremely high senses of danger and emotion in the audience only to later expose that there was no reason to have those emotions in the first place.

Where McQuarrie’s good intentions do manifest into something utterly brilliant is every single one of the film’s action sequences. The film moves fast from one terrific adrenaline-pumping set piece to the next in the best of ways. Whether it’s the early on HALO jump (my personal favorite that had me holding my breath) or the hand-to-hand combat inside of a club bathroom or a motorcycle chase in heavy traffic or the well-documented insanity of Tom Cruise actually climbing onto a helicopter mid-air and then piloting it in a dogfight, the audience is left breathless and physically reeling from the practical effects and stunt work on display. Not to go unmentioned, because it’s a major contributor to these pieces, is the wonderful sound design and use of the score. At times symphonic, at others completely absent, and often just incredibly powerful pops of a bullet or punches of a fist or revs of an engine, the sound in this film greatly enhances the overall experience.

Another aspect of the series that is less frequently mentioned is its humor, and Fallout may just be the best at this. Some of the most hilarious lines come from Hunt’s team of Benji (Simon Pegg), Luther (Ving Rhames), and Director Hundley (Alec Baldwin). But the film’s most interesting relationship, between Agent Walker (Henry Cavill) and Hunt, provides plenty of laughs also, as the two spies spend the majority of their time on screen together in a battle of who has the most testosterone. The results frequently evoke a light-hearted chuckle at just the right moment to provide a brief respite from the film’s intensely driven plot. Last but not least, fan favorite British spy Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) returns and despite seeming less important while being in more scenes, manages to ground the team in a few key emotional moments that would otherwise not have been possible.

VERDICT

Mission: Impossible – Fallout jumped out of the gate to critic claims of being the next action masterpiece. While it does excel in this area, and is certainly one of the decade’s best, technical achievement is not the only aspect of a great film. Fallout’s story is good, but not without hiccups. It’s unfortunate telegraphing of surprises holds it back from being truly special, though it has some tender emotional moments that help offset that small critique. Regardless, the film is a 2.5-hour high octane ride with a master of propulsive action and this generation’s biggest star, resulting in yet another fantastic entry into possibly the best spy film series of all-time. Don’t walk, run like Tom Cruise to the nearest theater and experience this summer’s best blockbuster in the loudest theater with the biggest screen you can.

Rating:


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

ANNOUNCING: Director Battle Month – August 2018

We’ve got something special brewing for the month of August and we’re here to tell you all about it. This next series of upcoming podcast episodes will be ones you can influence directly, so be sure to listen and find out how. We’re very excited for this event and think our listeners are going to enjoy it, too.

Director Battle Month Bracket – DOWNLOAD HERE

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Episode 119: Life is Beautiful

This week officially kicks off what will hopefully be the first of many opportunities for our listeners to have a say in what we talk about on the show. We’re calling these our Premium Picks, where you can “sponsor” a film that you’d like to see covered. Meredith, one of our long time listeners, chose Life is Beautiful, and we have a conversation about this very unique Holocaust film from director, writer, and star Roberto Benigni. 

Life is Beautiful Review – 0:04:08

The Connecting Point – 0:49:59


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Minisode 048: Eighth Grade

Aaron and Don from Every Movie Has a Lesson get together for a chat about rookie director Bo Burnham’s new feature film Eighth Grade. The film is currently generating a lot of buzz and most everyone who has seen this darling indie has loved it – us included. The film stars Elsie Fisher as thirteen-year-old Kayla and follows her as she endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence while making her way through the last week of middle school — the end of her thus far disastrous eighth-grade year. Director/Writer Bo Burnham is most known for his comedy so humor was definitely a big part of the film, but it has an amazing amount of heart and life lessons (Don’s favorite) for us to discuss, as well.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN (2018)

1 Hour and 54 Minutes (PG-13)

Mamma Mia

premiered on the stages of London in 1999, then a little less than 10 years later it graced American movie theatres, so it was only fitting that another 10 years would pass before we were given the next iteration.

A prequel hidden in a sequel, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” picks up with Sophie, the eve before she officially re-opens The Hotel Bella Donna in honor of her mother. As she prepares for the hotel’s opening, The movie is both a prequel and a sequel, the plot is set after the events of the first film but transforms into a montage of the moments that brought Donna (Meryl Streep) to the beautiful Greek island of Kolokairi and Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) to her womb. To show their support of Sophie and to mourn the loss of their friend, Tanya (Christina Baranski) and Rosie (Julia Walters) arrive to bolster Sophie, showing her how her mother’s past will lead to her future.

When the announcement came that they were making a sequel, some audience members had PTSD flashbacks of Pierce Brosnan singing and an impending sense of dread fell over them. Many arrived with low expectations, myself included, but most were strangely delighted by the overwhelming amount of silliness and self-awareness the film provided. The casting of the Young Dynamos was incredibly spot-on, I don’t think they could have chosen better actresses to portray them; Young Donna (Lily James), Young Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn), and Young Rosie (Alexa Davies) brought smiles to everyone’s faces and had instant on-screen chemistry.

Sophie’s potential fathers were a different story, the casting did well enough but it was clear their priorities were to find semi-decent voices attached to pretty faces, not necessarily actors who could physically mimic or grow into their older counterparts. Hugh Skinner managed the nervousness of Young Harry well enough but had too much confidence to truly sell his more anxious behavior. Young Bill (Josh Dylan) barely attempted any type of Scandinavian accent but at least he managed to be beyond charming in a surfer/sailor kind of way, Young Sam (Jeremy Irvine) was one of the bigger disappointments because, while he could sing better than his older counterpart, the lustful romantic personality one would expect to sweep Young Donna off her feet just wasn’t there.

Overall, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is an over the top film, full of unrealistic moments of grandeur, brilliant choreography, a Cher cameo (looking more like Lady Gaga’s rich aunt), and of course an overwhelming amount of ABBA music albeit some of their lesser-known hits. While I feel that more of the songs felt forced into the storyline this time around, I think this film targets a very specific audience. It’s a silly summer film that will leave ABBA lovers feeling like true dancing queens.

PS: If you’ve ever wanted to see Pierce, Colin, and Stellan in glitter spandex then stay through the credits! My my, how can you resist that?

Rating:


Erynne Hundley is Seattle-based writer and freelance film critic, currently writing and editing articles for Essentially Erynne. She prides herself on crafting spoiler-free film reviews that balance franchise history, stylistic approach, script interpretation, and the emotional turmoil the final piece creates. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram for article updates.

Minisode 47: Interview with Director Gus Van Sant and Actress Beth Ditto of Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

Aaron recently had the opportunity to share an interview of Gus Van Sant and Beth Ditto with John from the About to Review podcast. We discuss Gus’ latest film, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, as well as many unique topics brought up by our always interesting guests. This interview is spoiler-free. Enjoy, and be sure to check out John’s podcast when you’re done!


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Minisode 046: Rush

It’s donor pick time, and it looks like we were too fast for our own good, seeing as how we sped right past June and are bringing you that pick a few days into July. Thanks for being forgiving and we hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we do. We’re talking Rush, Ron Howard’s 2013 biopic about the Formula One racing rival between James Hunt and Niki Lauda.


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MOVIE REVIEW: Ant-Man and the Wasp

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (2018)

2 Hours and 5 Minutes (PG-13)

Riding the summer movie coattails of Avengers: Infinity War, the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Ant-Man And The Wasp. Our lovable insect-sized hero is back in the clutches of the law, struggling to learn how to balance being a father, a business owner and a superhero.

Paul Rudd is back as Scott Lang, the Robin Hood-esque burglar, 2 years after his Civil War appearance in Germany. Having stolen his suit to take part in the battle, Scott landed himself on house arrest; his actions also alienated both Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and her father Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), unintentionally making them criminal conspirators. Having been the only person to go “sub-atomic” and survive, emotions are put aside when Dr. Pym and Hope insert themselves back into Scott’s life to extract any subconscious memories he has of his time in the Quantum Realm. Hope and Hank need Scott’s connection to the Quantum Realm in the hopes of saving Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp, who disappeared there decades ago. Hope suits up as “The Wasp” and this duo is back together just in time to face an enemy more powerful than they’ve ever faced. Ghost (Hannah John-Kaman) is an accidental science experiment who molecular instability allows her to phase through objects, coming in handy when she steals Pym technology for her own means.

Peyton Reed returns to the director’s chair for this sequel, bringing with him the same comedic wit and pure joy that was present in the first film. My favorite thing about the Ant-Man films is that the stakes are relatively high, but they’re not nearly as dire as they are in most MCU movies, where it seems like the fate of the entire universe is always at stake. Scott’s adorably dense yet somehow qualified ex-con friends are back,  played by Michael Peña, T.I. and David Dastmalchian, providing off-beat humor without drawing too much attention from the plot. Character growth was present in Hope and Scott, while we got a small glimpse into the past mistakes Dr. Pym made. At times the script felt like it was lacking in some stylistic ways, which could easily be explained by Edgar Wright not joining the team for this film; some of Rudd’s jokes seemed forced and unnatural, a few scenes seemed rushed without being able to fully play out their potential, etc. However, the fight/stunt scenes were well choreographed, the visual effects were blended seamlessly, and I’m still eager to see what Ant-Man and the Wasp get into next.

Once again, Reed has managed to somehow create a comic heist film but on a much larger scale, blending in elements of science fiction and physics, all while still adhering to the rules within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

PS: There are 2 post-credit scenes: the first, I was definitely not ready for but the second is completely useless and there’s no point in waiting for it.

Rating:


Erynne Hundley is Seattle-based writer and freelance film critic, currently writing and editing articles for Essentially Erynne. She prides herself on crafting spoiler-free film reviews that balance franchise history, stylistic approach, script interpretation, and the emotional turmoil the final piece creates. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram for article updates.

Minisode 045: Interview with The Endless Directors, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Indie Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are making a name for themselves with smart, strange, sci-fi, horror films that explore big ideas grounded in emotionally layered characters. Their latest film, The Endless, is available now on Blu-Ray and VOD after a brief theatrical run and is one of the best films of 2018 most have not seen yet. In this interview we talk with Benson and Moorhead about working as a director duo, the challenges and benefits of indie filmmaking, the universe their three films exist in, and we also hear what stories have emotionally impacted them.

Most of this interview can be listened to without seeing the films, but we encourage you to seek out their fantastic filmography to get the most out of this discussion.

Spoiler Section (not major, but light) – 0:29:49

Guests Pick an Emotionally Impactful Film –  0:43:57


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