Minisode 049: Edge of Tomorrow

In a briefly belated July Donor Pick episode we discuss the time-looping alien-slaughtering action of Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow


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MOVIE REVIEW: The Meg

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.

You Should Be Watching: August 2-8

Welcome to You Should Be Watching, my weekly opportunity to introduce you to a variety of great films, gems of the past and present, available for you to stream from Netflix, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and anywhere else streams are found.

Before I get to the highlights, a bit of news. Arthur Gordon, a fellow member of the Feelin’ Film Discussion Group on Facebook brought it to my awareness that an increasingly large number of films from indie darling studio A24 have shown up on Netflix. A bit of research has revealed that in fact, 29 of them, a full third, are now streaming on the service. Apparently, Netflix has been nabbing them as they leave Amazon Prime, which is good news for those who either don’t have Amazon Prime or hadn’t gotten a chance to see those titles yet.

This week I’m recommending a first visit or revisit to an 80s time-travel comedy cult classic, a fictional drama from the aforementioned A24 studio that offers a surprisingly emotional and heartfelt peek into the life of real-life author David Foster Wallace, and a simple yet brilliant and timeless film from a master Japanese filmmaker that drives to the heart of the father-daughter relationship.

Among the films leaving this week and in the near future from FilmStruck are a collection of titles from Luis Buñuel as well as classics such as Lumet’s Network, Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria and PTA’s Magnolia. Also, Warrior is exiting Amazon Prime August 4.

It’s a new month, so there are a host of great titles that have just been added to all streaming services, everything from old classics like Beau Geste and Touch of Evil to modern hits like the first 2/3 of The Dark Knight trilogy and Children of Men.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

      

Year: 1989

Director: Stephen Herek

Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, Comedy, Music

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin, Dan Shor, Hal Landon Jr., Amy Stock-Poynton, Terry Camilleri, Tony Steedman, Rod Loomis, Bernie Casey, Al Leong, Jane Wiedlin, Robert V. Barron, Clifford David, J. Patrick McNamara, Frazier Bain, Diane Franklin, Kimberley Kates, William Robbins, Steve Shepherd, Anne Machette, Traci Dawn Davis

 

With the recent news that the duo of Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are planning to once again joining forces to bring a third Bill and Ted movie to the big screen and with the sequel being added to FilmStruck to create one of the wildest double features the service has yet produced, now’s a great time to take a trip back to 1989 and Bill and Ted’s first, most excellent adventure. Back to when they were just two unmotivated high schoolers from San Dimas, California who are about to find out that the fate of the world rests on them passing their history class and Ted not getting shipped off to military school.

Despite the film being purely a product of its time, it remains endlessly entertaining and has earned its place as a cult favorite. Bill and Ted have the kind of charismatic chemistry with one another that you can’t help but feel good about, and the fact that they aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed only adds to their charm and hilarity, especially once it comes to interacting with historical characters such as Napoleon, Joan of Arc, and Socrates. The jokes never feel mean spirited, though. George Carlin’s presence as the level-headed straight man who needs them to succeed at their mission further elevates the comedy as well as the drama.


 

The End of the Tour

Year: 2015

Director: James Ponsoldt

Genre: Biography, Drama

Cast: Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Anna Chlumsky, Mamie Gummer, Joan Cusack, Ron Livingston, Mickey Sumner, Becky Ann Baker, Dan John Miller, Stephanie Cotton, Noel Fletcher, Ben Phelps, Punnavith Koy

 

A film that draws an incredible depth of emotion, even for those with no familiarity with David Foster Wallace or his bestselling 1,000+ page novel, Infinite Jest. Donald Margulies’ script along with James Ponsoldt’s direction provides a unique peek into Wallace’s life through the experience of former Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky. We open on Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) discovering that Wallace has committed suicide. We are then brought back to those final days of Wallace’s book tour when Lipsky had the opportunity to interview him for Rolling Stone.

Jason Segel’s performance as Wallace is career-defining. His appearance, mannerisms, soft-spokenness, and abundance of thought-provoking observations and self-awareness make clear that we along with Lipsky are experiencing an encounter with a specific and unique individual. Eisenberg himself is also workmanlike in his performance, subtly revealing the young Lipsky’s fragility and determination. Through their interactions together, Wallace comes across much like Solomon of old, incredibly aware of all the ways we make life meaningless, but still unable to resist its seemingly harmless pleasures and addictions.


 

Late Spring

  

Year: 1949

Director: Yasujirō Ozu

Genre: Drama

Cast: Chishū Ryū, Setsuko Hara, Yumeji Tsukioka, Haruko Sugimura, Hohi Aoki, Jun Usami, Kuniko Miyake, Masao Mishima, Yoshiko Tsubouchi, Yôko Katsuragi, Toyo Takahashi, Jun Tanizaki, Ichirô Shimizu, Youko Benisawa, Manzaburo Umewaka

 

Simple, quiet, intimate, human, brilliant. Yasujirō Ozu’s no-frills approach tells a story that drives at the heart of the relationship between fathers and their daughters through the seasons of life, the sacrifices made and the need to move on. Here we have a young woman, Noriko, played by the captivating Setsuko Hara, who is happy and content to stay home and live with her widower father Shukichi (Chishū Ryū) while he and everyone else are trying to convince her to get married. Being in a post-WWII society where arranged marriages are still common and with Noriko having a friend who married for love and still ended up getting divorced, it’s hard to fault Noriko for just wanting things to stay the same. But we all know life doesn’t work that way.

Ozu deploys a consistency and stability in his camera angles and perspectives. While his style is unique, it does not offer many surprises. His focus is on the characters and the framing which help to relay the emotion of the story he’s telling. And that story packs a wallop of a punch by the time it reaches its conclusion.

 


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

August 4
13 Assassins (2010)

August 15
The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

 

AMAZON PRIME

August 4
Warrior (2011)

 

FILMSTRUCK

August 3
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)
Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
Marty (1955)
The Mission (1986)
Network (1976)

August 4
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)
The Phantom of Liberty (1974)

August 10
Altered States (1980)
The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
Dogtooth (2009)
Falling Down (1993)
Magnolia (1999)
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Them! (1954)

August 12
The Last House on the Left (1972)

August 17
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)
The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982)
Escape from New York (1981)
The Falls (1980)
Hairspray (1988)
A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)

August 20
Frances Ha (2012)

 

HULU

August 31
Across the Universe (2007)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
The ’Burbs (1989)
Clue (1985)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Event Horizon (1997)
Hellboy (2004)
My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989)
Primal Fear (1996)
Rain Man (1988)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Trainspotting (1996)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

The Aviator (2004)
Batman Begins (2005)
Cinderella Man (2005)
The Constant Gardener (2005)
Clerks (1994)
Constantine (2005)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
The Game (1997)
Gran Torino (2008)
Haider (2014)
Hardcore Henry (2015)
Her (2013)
The Informant! (2009)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Out of Sight (1998)
PK (2014)
Serenity (2005)
Song of the Sea (2014)
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Touch of Evil (1958)

 

AMAZON PRIME

Beau Geste (1939)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Children of Men (2006)
Cold War (2018)
The Elephant Man (1980)
Freedom Writers (2007)
Frequency (2000)
High Noon (1952)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Joe (2013)
The Soloist (2009)
Training Day (2001)
United 93 (2006)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Watchmen (2009)

 

FILMSTRUCK

Deathtrap (1982)
Le Cercle Rouge (1970)
The Lusty Men (1952)
Out of the Past (1947)
Tootsie (1982)
The Wind Journeys (2009)

 

HULU

Before We Vanish (2017)
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Cold War (2018)
The Elephant Man (1980)
High Noon (1952)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
The Hurricane (1999)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Joe (2013)
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Lost in Translation (2003)
The Nasty Girl (1990)
Point Break (1991)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The Usual Suspects (1995)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

August 3
Like Father – NETFLIX FILM (2018)

August 5
Paid In Full (2002)

 


Jacob Neff is a film enthusiast living east of Sacramento. In addition to his contributions as an admin of the Feelin’ Film Facebook group and website, he is an active participant in the Letterboxd community, where his film reviews can be found. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with his latest thoughts and shared content.

Episode 116: Independence Day

Happy 4th of July! To celebrate this patriotic American holiday, we are finally getting around to discussing the beloved sci-fi adventure film, Independence Day. Josh from LSG Media’s Science Fiction Film Podcast joins us to as we try to figure out why so many love the cheesy nature of this film, but reject similar dialogue and plots in other movies. Spoiler alert, we definitely talk about “the speech” and even play it, too, so get ready to wipe your eyes and pump your fist!

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:01:30

(Aaron – Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Beirut)
(Patrick – The West Wing Weekly/Aaron Sorkin)
(Josh – Anthropoid, Mr. Nobody)

Independence Day Review – 0:19:06

The Connecting Point – 1:17:39


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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

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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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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

Support us on Patreon & get awesome rewards:

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Episode 114: Incredibles 2

It took us two tries but our second attempt succeeded in producing Episode 114: Incredibles 2. We are joined by returning guest Blaine Grimes (who also joined the show for Episode 36: The Incredibles) for this conversation about Brad Bird’s action-packed, culturally relevant, family superhero extravaganza. A sequel anxiously awaited for 14 years creates a lot expectations. Hear whether we felt the film lived up to ours or not in this fun discussion.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:02:40

(Aaron – Tag)
(Blaine – National Treasure 1 & 2)

Incredibles 2 Review – 0:11:00

The Connecting Point – 1:09:04


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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

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MOVIE REVIEW: Incredibles 2

INCREDIBLES 2 (2018)

1 Hour and 58 Minutes (PG)

Four years before the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off with Iron Man, and one year before Christopher Nolan began his beloved Dark Knight Trilogy with Batman Begins, Pixar entered the genre with a bang, pow, and pop in 2004 by releasing an animated superhero team-up the likes of which audiences had never really seen before. Brad Bird’s family superhero film, The Incredibles, went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and remains to this day the best cinematic version of Marvel’s Fantastic Four (despite not actually being a direct representation of those characters).

Now, fourteen years later, Bird is returning to the world of animation for the first time since 2007 with Incredibles 2, an animated sequel that fans have long desired. Unlike the movie landscape when Bird released his original, though, superhero films have become a powerful box office presence, with many years seeing the release of five or more. The challenge for Incredibles 2 is even bigger as it comes right on the heels of the two highest grossing superhero films of all-time: Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther. The question of whether audiences will embrace yet another superhero film so quickly is a fair one, but I’m ecstatic to say that odds are good because Bird and Pixar have provided us with a sequel that lives up to its title and was worth the 14-year wait.

Incredibles 2 doesn’t skip a beat, picking up immediately after the ending of The Incredibles, with a brand new villain having just emerged from beneath the city and our newly bonded family of heroes poised to take on the threat. But a desire to help sometimes manifests itself in bad decisions, and the Parr’s leave the city in quite a mess while constantly trying to pass off babysitting of Jack-Jack to each other during the ensuing fight. The destruction reminds the world just how dangerous superpowers can be. Aiming to reverse this perception, Winston and Evelyn Deaver (Bod Odenkirk and Catherine Keener) approach the family and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) with a proposal, to make Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) the face of superhero crime fighting and use a combination of their technology and media coverage to help show the world the benefit Supers can bring. As the story goes on (at an incredibly frantic pace), it explores Mr. Incredible’s (Craig T. Nelson) jealousy of Elastigirl’s new role, introduces a new villain who enslaves through the use of video screens, and excites with flurries of extremely well-animated action.

A major side plot of the film revolves around Mr. Incredible’s attempt to become a stay-at-home father for the first time and deal with the challenges of parenthood. Two of his more difficult tasks are trying to connect with his teenage daughter Violet (Sarah Vowell) and discovering the various superhero abilities of his infant son. It’s a big change for Mr. Incredible and many viewers will relate to his experiences. As the film goes on, the familial struggles continue to be front and center, but Bird also has a lot to say about the world around us. His hilarious script is also smart and not only uses our culture’s addiction to video screens as a plot point but makes strong statements about the importance of equality and representation. Some viewers may find it a bit on the nose, but mostly these topics are all handled very subtly and never feel out of place in the narrative.

VERDICT

Reuniting with the Parr family in Incredibles 2 is a technically dazzling, joyful experience for kids and adults alike. Brad Bird’s story is culturally relevant and a lot of fun, but shines brightest when it stays grounded in the ongoing struggle of the Parr’s to find their place in the world and within their family. The Incredibles provide us with a family of heroes who we don’t just root for, but relate to, and even with the wealth of comic books films gracing movie screens in 2018, that is something special. Though it doesn’t quite reach the sharp perfection and emotional depth of its original, Incredibles 2 is the must-see animated film of the year.

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.

Episode 111: Solo-A Star Wars Story

In appropriately numbered Episode 111, we talk all things Han Solo, and we do mean ALL things. With so many origin stories there is plenty to discuss.  We talk about which ones worked, which ones didn’t, where Star Wars spin-off films go from here, and how sometimes it’s okay to just have a little fun at the movies.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:01:10
(Aaron – Star Wars marathon)
(Patrick – Monsters)

Solo: A Star Wars Story Review – 0:19:36

The Connecting Point – 1:23:05


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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

Support us on Patreon & get awesome rewards:

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Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!

Minisode 042: Terminator 2

It’s Judgment Day at Feelin’ Film. Our Patrons voted for us to cover Terminator 2 for May, because nothing celebrates Mother’s Day like talking about Sarah Connor. We honor the genius of this classic and dive into some of the bigger themes it presents like fatherhood and sacrifice. Come with us, if you want to live.


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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

Support us on Patreon & get awesome rewards:

or you can support us through Paypal as well. Select the link below and make your one-time or recurring contribution.

Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!

MOVIE REVIEW: Solo: A Star Wars Story

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (2018)

2 Hours and 15 Minutes (PG-13)

I’ve been on record as worrying quite a bit about Solo: A Star Wars Story (henceforth in this review know as Solo, because a one-word title just makes sense doesn’t it?). The first Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One, significantly underwhelmed me, and here a second prequel was attempting to unnecessarily go back and fill in gaps in the Star Wars timeline. But this time it required the dangerous risk of recasting one of the most iconic characters in movie history. I love Han. We all love Han. And Harrison Ford is Han. So, I’ve been pretty skeptical that Alden Ehrenreich could step into those enormously talented shoes and deliver a compelling enough performance to make us truly believe that he, too, is Han.

But folks… it happened.

It wasn’t right away, though. Solo wastes no time in introducing us to young Han the scoundrel, but despite an exciting chase sequence and Han trying to talk his way out of a pickle, Ehrenreich just wasn’t connecting for me. As the story went on, though, my expectations and presumptions about how young Han should act began to decline and he slowly transformed. When Han meets Lando, I was all in, having witnessed enough smirks, snark, and charm to really believe in this new version of the character. And by the time the credits rolled, I had to repent. Because maybe he’s not perfect, but young Han he is.

The thing to remember first and foremost about Solo is that it’s not a Star Wars saga film and thus doesn’t abide by the same storytelling rules. The question isn’t IF Han will make it out of situations safely, it’s HOW he will make it out. This is an intergalactic heist film and an origin story. Seriously, we learn the origin of EVERYTHING. Han’s lucky dice? Covered. Han’s blaster? That too. The Kessel Run? It’s definitely mentioned. How Han met Lando and Chewie? Of course. And so, so much more. Honestly, it could have been overkill. Maybe for some it will. But for me it struck the perfect balance, giving me depth and insight into a beloved character without ever stopping the plot to draw attention to a reference. All of it was woven seamlessly into the narrative. It made sense, and I loved every single wink and nod to the stories we all know so well.

Another strength of the film is that Solo doesn’t go solo. The film features a host of flat-out wonderful supporting actors and droids. Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) is a fantastic addition to the canon and through her we are able to learn about Han the lover and what kind of woman he’s attracted to. Beckett (Woody Harrelson) provides Han with a mentor of sorts, someone who teaches him tricks of the trade and many life lessons. Then there is Lando, played as perfectly by Donald Glover as you’d expect, showing us how the two young smooth-talking smugglers came to their complicated friendship. The chemistry between Ehrenreich and Glover is definitely present and if I had one gripe it would be that I just wanted more of this duo together. Paul Bettany chews up scenes wonderfully as a bigshot gangster and leader of crime syndicate Crimson Dawn, the perfect subtle villain for a smuggler’s origin story. And L3-37 (yes, that spells “leet”), Lando’s droid, is hilariously liberal while also playing a surprisingly touching role in the tale.

The adventure itself is a ton of fun. Han, as you would expect, gets himself into a situation that involves stealing, smuggling, fancy flying, and generally getting shot at along the way. But it isn’t just fun, it’s a well-written story that thoroughly explains how the swashbuckling rogue became the man who may or may not shoot first, doesn’t trust anyone, and primarily looks out only for himself. All of the action pieces are also wonderfully done, from the big set pieces to the brief one-on-one fight sequences, and the cinematography is just as gorgeous as always. The film’s score stands out, too, with John Powell bringing a hint of his How To Train Your Dragon sound to the familiar Star Wars themes, particularly when the Millennium Falcon is speeding through the galaxy.

VERDICT

Solo: A Star Wars Story is one of the best origin stories ever told. It fills in details for so much of a beloved character that you may be shocked they could cover it all. The action and adventurous tone make for one heck of an enjoyable movie experience and Ehrenreich importantly embodies young Han, growing into the character over the course of the film. Though some may find parts to be cheesy or unnecessarily connected to past films, my expectations were thoroughly surpassed and as the final scene played, I found myself wanting to cheer. Solo is a great example of the kind of light-hearted, fun stories that can be told in this universe and further continues Disney’s fantastic year of blockbusters.

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.