Thursday, August 31, 2017

Conservative or Liberal: You Don't Need to Be One or the Other


My beliefs and politics usually lean heavily towards the left. If I was told that I had to choose between labelling myself conservative or liberal, then liberal it would be. The problem that I have with outright calling myself liberal on the Internet in 2017, is there is a significant portion of people who would then make assumptions about my beliefs or demand that I hold to certain ideas and values. There is a misguided belief that conservatives have to believe one exact way and liberals have to believe another exact way. Both sides see politics and social issues as things that are black and white (in more ways than one). But they aren't. If anything, I would say my "liberalism" comes from my belief that life and politics and social issues are largely shades of grey and there are very few universal truths. 

My time on the Internet has made it clear that many people are very uncomfortable with accepting shades of grey and many want to declare that there is one almighty correct answer for every issue and question in life. It is why often when someone makes the mistake of trying to debate on the Internet that it almost always devolves into somebody pulling out an unrelated incident and using it as evidence that the other person is wrong -- like if a person dares to think cops are right in defending themselves in one specific incident then they must be okay with the time they shot an unarmed man or if you speak out against police brutality then it means you must be sympathetic to every non-white criminal of the past decade. In both cases, that is absurd and ridiculous and false.

Being liberal means I promote progress and diversity, but it doesn't mean I am ashamed of every aspect of my country's past.

I may be liberal, but I did not vote for either the provincial or federal Liberal parties that are in power.

I think black lives matter and there is proof of institutionalized racism, but I do not support everything about Black Lives Matters.

I despise Nazis and the modern rise of white supremacy, but I also disprove many actions by Antifa too.

I think Donald Trump is xenophobic, racist, misogynistic, petty, and unfit to be president, but also do not think his every decision has moved us to the apocalypse.

Hearing people say the word "fake news" drives me crazy, because I think it is a harmful stance that undermines free press. I also think there is both good and bad reporting from liberal and conservative media, and it is important to fact check all news you agree and disagree with.

Political podcasts are a million dollar business, but all have become pandering to politics of their listeners. It is exhausting to hear the verbal gymnastics taken to defend the very hateful and racist alt-right (aka Nazis and white supremacists) but it is just as tiresome to listen to shows that label someone alt-right the moment they are pro-Republican or Conservative policy.

There is a middle ground. Or even, someone has the right to agree sometimes with conservative beliefs but also champion for progress and diversity. The most unfortunate thing to be sprouted out from social media and the most recent American election, is the myth that believing in progress and diversity means you then have to believe in every far left group that has been birthed. On the other end, many wrongfully deride all who vote Republican and Conservative as being opposed to diversity and progress.

We have entered into a phase where some people can be over sensitive. I've often seen people Twitter who are quick to sharpen the pitch forks and scream racism or sexism the moment the right breathes. Not every piece of art or joke or comment was designed to be dissected with the lens of gender or race. Not everything has an agenda or is meant to be an attack. But I also will confess that I am a heterosexual white male, and despite my regular battles with depression and anxiety will concede being those things allows for an easier life than many. One thing 2017 has been pretty clear about and spending 10 minutes on the Internet will prove, sexism and racism is still strong and there is a backlash against progress. Things need to change, even if those pushing for that change could use a sense humour and some more open mindedness too.

My point is that it is complicated. We have pressed a little too hard on the politically correct button, but we also need progress even more. The problem is there are too many people obsessed with being right rather than being willing to understand the other side. It has turned into yelling and frothing and punching rather than trying to figure out why there is this gigantic rift between those who consider themselves conservative and those that consider themselves liberal. To the point that I now consider both pretty irritating and those words to be damaged.

It is why 2017 is the year where writing about politics on here scares me. I largely just ignore Facebook, because 99.9% of what is posted on there causes me to go into fits. It is the first time in my adulthood where I have started to think that as a society we are actively regressing, and there are moments that I am terrified what kind of world I am leaving my children. 

Of course, then I decide to stop thinking about the world as strictly political and take some time to play dress up with my beautiful son and daughter, and I actually get filled with hope and joy and love again. They don't see the world as liberal or conservative, and they don't have a stance on Donald Trump. Yet they somehow have found a way to love and embrace life.

I'm not preaching ignorance here. I do think it is important to be aware of the world. But I think, it is also important to realize this world is complicated and messy and beautiful and exciting and scary and most definitely, hard to define and categorize. The people that live in it are also all those things, and it is okay to not be one or the other. It is okay to not always be right or to at least, confess you don't know about a few things here or there. We are more than how we vote or worship or joke or watch or paint or eat or skip or believe. 

People don't like messy or complicated. This is why we seem to be in a state where you're either liberal or conservative. Republican or Democrat. At least in Canada, we have more than two major parties, even if usually only Liberal or Conservative get voted in (but we have the illusion of more choice). 

You spend 10 minutes on Twitter, and you are to believe you are either politically correct or politically incorrect; pro-choice or pro-life; atheist or religious; think the police are heroes or abusers of power; feminist or misogynist; capitalist or socialist; cat or dog. Guess what. It isn't true. It has never been true. If we can just take five minutes to realize the purpose of debate isn't to be right, but rather to explore different ideas, then maybe we can accept that there isn't just two sides but rather a bountiful field of beliefs and ideas and values. When you start to listen then you start to realize that two people can both believe a women has a right to choose what to do with their body but still think about the issue in very different and complicated ways.

In anything that matters or has real value, you cannot describe your position with one word or label. I realize that makes things a bit more difficult and what it means is that person who disagrees with you or even that person who you think agrees with you, you are going to need to actually talk to them. You have to listen to them. In the end, you probably will not agree with them, because we as human are stubborn and insecure. Maybe, just maybe, you will start seeing them as something far more than just a word and label.

'Courageous' is Awful and I Rejoice


Another summer is coming to an end, so of course that means Scott has once again lost the Summer Box Office Challenge contest, which resulted in him having to review three movies of my choosing. If you listened to this past Monday's Breakdown, you will know that I revealed my picks. To my surprise, it seems like Scott is not going to let the months drag on with the movie reviews this year, as he wants to rip it off like a week old Band-Aid. This means I get to revel in my prize a little earlier this year, and have more time to decide on my picks for when I inevitably win again next year. The first movie Scott has reviewed is the Christian propaganda drama, Courageous, and to my great pleasure, it sounds awful. You can head over to Scott's blog and delight in Scott's obvious pain.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Logan Lucky', 'Death Note', 'The Hitman's Bodyguard', 'The Message from the King;, 'The Bye Bye Man' and Remembering Tobe Hooper


The Breakdown is jam-packed with five reviews of 2017 releases this week that include the highly anticipated adaptation of a popular manga series, Death Note, and the return to filmmaking from auteur Steven Soderbergh in Logan Lucky. We also look at the career of Tobe Hooper and discuss what makes a strong female character. As always if you love the show then please spread the word.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


The Breakdown Outline:

00:56 Logan Lucky review
22:48 Death Note review
40:51 The Hitman's Bodyguard review
51:30 The Message from the King review
1:02:38 The Bye Bye Man review
1:15:20 Remembering Tobe Hooper
1:22:27 What makes a strong female character?
1:27:58 Box office analysis and revealing Christopher's three picks
1:38:57 Trailer reviews: mother!, Molly's GameLast Flag Flying, Death Wish, Tulip Fever 
1:55:35 Review Rundown

Movie Ratings:

Logan Lucky ***½ (CS)
Death Note *½ (CS) & ** (SM)
The Hitman's Bodyguard *** (CS)
The Message from the King *** (CS & SM)
The Bye Bye Man ½* (CS) & * (SM)



Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Atomic Blonde', 'Annabelle: Creation', 'The Dark Tower', 'The Incredible Jessica James', 'Icarus', 'Naked' and Remembering Jerry Lewis


It is a special Thursday episode of the Breakdown. But why are doing two episodes in one week? Well, if you haven't noticed the last month of shows have not had reviews for any new releases. This is due to the fact that we recorded them all before any of the August theatrical or Netflix movies came out. This is due to the fact that I was too busy chasing lobster and not falling off cliffs out in the beautiful Maritimes. I am back now, and it time to catch up on several of the movies that I missed. Today's show we have six reviews of relatively new releases that includes the latest chapter in the horror cinematic universe, Annabelle: Creation, as well as the romantic comedy The Incredible Jessica James, and the cold war actioner, Atomic Blonde. As well, we pay tribute to the comedy icon Jerry Lewis. As always if you enjoy the show, then please spread the word or give us a five star review on iTunes.

As well, both Scott and I apologize for the technical quality of this episode as we had major Skype issues and then some problem with the editing software. It is clunky in a few parts, but we still gab it up about the movies.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


The Breakdown Outline:

1:16 Overview of our last month
16:23 The Incredible Jessica James review
28:47 Atomic Blonde review
42:15 Icarus review
57:55 Annabelle: Creation review
1:12:51 Naked review
1:22:42 The Dark Tower review
1:39:17 Remembering Jerry Lewis
1:48:35 Review Rundown

Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

The Incredible Jessica James ***½ (CS & SM)
Atomic Blonde *** (CS)
Icarus ***½ (CS & SM)
Annabelle: Creation *** (CS)
Naked *½ (CS) & ** (SM)
The Dark Tower ** (CS)




Monday, August 21, 2017

The Breakdown of Genre Filmmakers


One of our favourite episodes of The Breakdown is where we spotlight some incredible talents that may not be as well-known among the casual movie fan. This week it is The Breakdown of Genre Filmmakers, where we look at eight talented directors that specialize in low to mid budget fare that is usually in the genres of horror, thriller or sci-fi. It is a great variety from the very well-known in James Wan, to the absolutely legendary in Wes Craven, to the becoming red hot in Jaume Collett-Serra, to indy director on the rise in Karyn Kusama (pictured), to a South Korean genre-master in Joon-Ho Bong. It will be a great show to give you several movies to put on your "must watch list" and spotlight what is a pretty shining future for some of our favourite genres. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


Breakdown Outline:

00:44 Robert Eggers
14:39 Mike Flanagan
28:33 Karyn Kusama
42:18 James Wan
57:30 Bong Joon-Ho (yes, I realize he is South Korean not Japanese)
1:08:53 Wes Craven
1:20:55 Jaume Collet-Serra
1:32:15 Matthew Vaughn

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks: WINNER

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes $56 50 000
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde $18 286 420
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $564 937 540

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk $50 500 000
6. Annabelle: Creation $35 040 000
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie $24 531 923
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard $21 600 000
Total: $403 358 198

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Breakdown of What We Learned After 200 Episodes


It is the 200th episode of The Breakdown. That is a long time to be doing a podcast, and we have our great listeners to thank for its existence. We have learned a lot doing 200 episodes of a movie review podcast, and how we analyze and discuss movies has changed since our first episode. This week we wanted to give some insights and perspectives that we have garnered over our time doing this show. We will provide some advice on what it takes to make a movie review podcast, but also what we have gotten out of the experience. It is a different type of show for us, and we would really appreciate feedback on how it worked. As always if you enjoyed the show then please spread the word to other movie fans. We both want to thank you for listening to us and being the greatest listeners for 200 episodes.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

NOTE: We were having major Skype issues and it somehow led to losing out on over 30 minutes of the show. We lost the segments "seek out the unknown", "champion over crush", and lost half of "don't sell an actor or filmmaker short", "focus on storytelling over universe building" and "trust your views and opinions" (misses the start of my Lone Ranger epiphany).




Breakdown Outline:

Don't judge a movie by its trailer 1:30 
Watch and read everything 10:13 
Don't sell an actor or filmmaker short 19:52 
Truth about star ratings 23:45
Focus on storytelling over universe building 30:44
Trust your views and opinions 32:49
Admit when you're wrong 40:54
Be flexible 47:06

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes $56 50 000
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde $18 286 420
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $564 937 540

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk $50 500 000
6. Annabelle: Creation $35 040 000
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie $24 531 923
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard
Total: $381 758 198

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Trailer Review Rodeo: 'Death Wish', 'Wonder', 'Suburbicon' and More


Apparently, just because I have irregular internet access and in a new location every three days, the studios do not stop popping out movie trailers. Here are my thoughts on a few of the ones that have arrived the past few weeks.

1. Duck Duck Goose (Spring 2018):



Last year I stated that animated movies were having a huge quality renaissance and many of them rivaled live-action pictures for thought-provoking and creative stories. My claim extended to the belief that this spark for compelling original stories was coming from more than just Disney, Pixar, and Laika and that stuff deemed for kids had lots to offer for adults too. Apparently, it is those other studios' agenda to prove me wrong.

2. The Limehouse Golem (September 1):



The murder mystery thriller is one of those subgenres that I often get excited about despite the finished product often being a bit disappointing. Yet knowing this, here I am ready to dig in for this latest period piece mystery thriller. I love the visual sense that has a gothic feel mixed with a Victorian setting with a color palette that gives it a bit of a dream-like feel. I also love Bill Nighy, and Olivia Cooke seems set to be a huge star. I am always a sucker for blending fictional characters with real-life figures (interested to see how Karl Marx fits in), and the story of a serial killer before Jack the Ripper is an interesting one. This looks like it could be a smart and twisty mystery for adults, and a great start to the fall movie season. Of course, I assume I won't have a chance to see this until it comes to Netflix in a year or so.

3. Wonder (November 17):



Wonder is geared for a big Oscar run, but it seems a little more thoughtful, too focused on authentic characters, and have some real human performances to be labelled Oscar bait. I know this one will make me cry, and sure it may be manipulative, but I sense a lot of the emotions will be earned here. I really like the bits here between the kids, and obviously, Jacob Tremblay is in the hunt for a Best Actor statuette. I think he has a strong chance of at least getting a nomination for a Golden Globe if not an Oscar. Feel-good stories are great when they feel grounded and have a worthwhile story to tell, and everyone here seems ready to give something memorable. My guess is it will be a pretty solid box office performer with the average movie goer, which will be a huge help for it Oscar run. I am looking forward to seeing this one, which is not something I expected before seeing the first two trailers.

4. mother! (September 15):



I'll admit that I don't entirely know what is going on here, except that Jennifer Lawrence's character has a bunch of unwanted strangers in her home and her husband Javier Bardem may not be who she believed. Even if this trailer did not have some great creepy visual, interesting incorporations of some dark fantasy elements, and a top notch cast playing some eerie character, Darren Aronofsky is a director that commands anticipation no matter what movie he is crafting. It his big return to horror that has the same surreal and dark imagery of his terrific Black Swan that makes this one of the can't miss movies of the fall. I just beg my Brantford Cineplex to pick this one up, please.

5. Same Kind of Different as Me (October 20):



So, does Greg Kinnear just do big studio Christian heart tuggers, now? Probably not, I bet he will do small studios ones too.

6. Keep Watching (Fall 2017?):



For a few years, I've heard about The Strangers reboot/sequel, but it now feels like that plan has just been renamed Keep Watching. It has almost the same premise of a group of creepy masked individuals terrorizing a family that has to fight back to survive. Of course, that is also the premise of almost every home invasions movie ever, and with a few exceptions, like the terrific Hush, the movies are indistinguishable. This one also feels like The Strangers because it has a similar eerie answer when the tormentors are asked why they are terrorizing this family, "Because it is fun." Kind of hard to not to see the similarity to "Because you were home." Either way, this feels like something I've seen many times before, and I hope it has something up its sleeve to avoid its generic feel.

7. Goodbye Christopher Robin (October 13): 



I love A.A, Milne's two collection of children's stories Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, because it so wonderfully embodies the mind of an imaginative child with it innocence, naivety, mischief, curiosity, and gentleness. It is a balance of being comforting stories mixed with a sense of adventure. Milne did such an impressive job really getting into the mind of a child, which has helped make it one of the enduring collection of children stories (Disney probably helped a tad too). The upcoming biopic of the famous author is intriguing because it has that sense of wonder and whimsy, but also shows a man traumatized by the war and needing these childhood stories to heal himself. It also has a tender and complicated relationship with his son who ends up being one of the main characters in the stories of Hundred Acre Wood. Domhnall Gleeson is wonderful casting, because he has the dramatic heft to handle those moments of a man wrestling his past but also a natural kind-hearted spirit that shows a man able to write the iconic stories. Margot Robbie has proven to always be terrific as well, so hopefully she is given some substantial scenes. It will be interesting to see how the movie weaves his traumatic history with the creation of the iconic bear. This looks like another one that may earn it tears and be a solid feel gooder this fall. This trailer gives me a lot more anticipation than the first one that at the time made the movie feel a bit more derivative and manipulative.

8. The Hitman's Bodyguard (August 18):



I have really dug the marketing campaign for The Hitman's Bodyguard, and it has a fun Lethal Weapon like action mixed with comedy vibe except this one leans much heavier on comedy. Maybe it is more of a Midnight Run? This time around this trailer seems to be trying to hint that Salma Hayek has a bigger role than past trailers have promised. My feeling is the success of female lead pictures this year has made the studio want to capitalize on that demographic to beef up the box office. My guess, is she is still just a typical wife character that stays at home while the boys play, except she curses way more.

9. Death Wish (November 22):



The original Death Wish came out in 1974, during a time that crime in New York was rising and also many minorities were moving into the city. Those two things don't coincide, but the city was dipping into poverty and the citizens were petrified of crime. The 1970s was a time where there was a great mistrust of government and authority, but one of the big things was the feeling that the police were not doing enough to protect the average citizen from skyrocketing crime. It was movies like Death Wish and Dirty Harry that were playing like visceral fantasies were vigilantes didn't follow the rules and did whatever they could to fight crime. Things have changed a lot since the 1970s, especially that now a lot of the fear surrounds cops abusing their power to kill and the misguided vigilante with a gun who shoots the unarmed black man. It was this change of tide that made me nervous about a Death Wish remake and making me believe the producers behind it were tone death. My fears were increased when Eli Roth was attached, because he has a history of making movies that play on fears of xenophobia and fears of the "other" like Hostel and The Green Inferno. The trailer has now furthered my belief this is a big misstep in the studio constant obsession with using known properties to launch a franchise. The music and tone makes this look like a fun romp action picture, but it is still a white guy with a gun going around executing people and trying to make him look like some kind of hero. Maybe there is some layers and an attempt to make Bruce Willis' character complicated and tormented, but the grindhouse obsessed Roth has never proven to me to be a nuanced and complex storyteller.

10. First They Killed My Father (September 15):



Combination of the notorious out east wifi that I am constantly been battling and the duties of the family tripping father has now made this piece stretch over two days now, so I am going to try to wrap this up soon, so we can all move on with our lives and this avoids being posted a week from my writing this (Saturday morning now). This is clearly one of Netflix's big grabs for that Best Picture Oscar nomination that has eluded them and has already gone to competitor Amazon Studios last year (Manchester by the Sea). I haven't heard a lot of buzz for this even though it looks haunting and powerful without using the token imagery from typical "message" movies. I really like Angeline Jolie's visual sense as a director even if she has a narrative she constantly returns to telling. Loung Ung's memoirs are powerful and I think there is still a lot to be explored during the genocide perpetuated during the rule of the Khmer Rouge. The big issue will be having strong characters and having moments to breath during the heavy and dark material. The colourful a d bright visuals does a lot to set a contrasting tone to the story that will be told.

11. Suburbicon (October 27):



Wifi is driving me crazy and the small living space means I'm trying to create words while trying to ignore varying renditions of 'Let It Go' in between sibling Royal Rumbles, so it is time to tap out on this piece. I needed to say that the George Clooney directed, Coen brother written and Matt Damon starring quirky suburb thriller is right behind The Last Jedi as my most anticipated of the fall. It of course is very different, even if both will have great supporting roles from Oscar Isaac (who will be playing very different characters). The key here is how well Clooney can balance the satirical elements with the man raging against the mob thriller story. This one is brimming with personality and some intriguing characters. But once again, I find myself not entirely confident I'll actually be able to see it this year as it isn't a guarantee to be Brantford bound.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Promoting Scott's Newest Writing Endeavour and My Own Brief Exploration Into My Personal Emotional Warfare


The lesson of the past two week is that wifi is no match for mountains, oceans, and big trees. I had hopes of writing more than my one throwaway piece two weekends ago, but the islands have smote me by making my connection non-existent most hours of the day. I do not have a solid history with islands, as they seem to best me (my Medeba brethren know this well).

If my connection had been better then I would have already promoted the latest writing project by my The Movie Breakdown co-host, Scott Martin, He is still putting up movie reviews over at his Movie a Day Blog (a title that sadly often is not true, but he vows to make it a reality), but he has now started up a new site detailing his daily battles with mental health and anxiety called Ramblings of a Closet Nut Bag. Crippling anxiety and now agoraphobia have been a daily part of Scott's life for the last four years, or also known as his entire time co-hosting The Movie Breakdown, so despite its emotional crush, he has found ways to be productive.

Writing about mental health and having people be open with their own personal struggles is really important. I commend those brave enough to share their personal experiences. I do not think mental health has the same stigma that it once did, but a lot of that is due to people who are willing to really explain how it effects and dictates their days and lives. This is also why I've been drawn to the very talented and funny writer Nathan Rabin, who writes about pop culture and assortment of big creative flops, but has also not shied away from sharing his own compulsive tendencies, battles with depression, and daily warfare with anxiety. It has helped me realize that I am not on an isolated island who has a complicated writing career that is a dream and provider of solace while also a constant source of mind-exploding compulsive obsessive worry and panic attack inducing anxiety.

It has been my great shame that every day my emotions bounce to high blood pressure, painful muscle tension, and chest constricting anxiety to down in the deepest gutter depression despite having joyous children and a wonderful wife. I know, I have no reason to have these emotions, and feel that I have not been able to provide my very best, despite knowing my little cherubs and long-suffering wife deserve so much better. I have the usual panic attacks over where my next client will come from and fighting the dark voices that shame me that I'm not the breadwinner in my family despite being equipped with a penis. I also freak out when the phone rings or I know someone is coming over for a visit or there is the pending doom that is a social gathering on a weekend. I've been labelled a curmudgeon, even though I actually enjoy social interactions, but my anxiety likes to trick me into believing otherwise. Since April, I had many sleepless night and battles with bouncing emotions over this family trip over knowing how hard it is to be away when I am a freelancer (no thing as vacation pay and clients tend leave if gone over a week) and also just because my emotions have made me less flexible with change. Of course, I know the trip is good for me and it has been a grand experience for my family.

I also panic daily over being revealed that I am nothing more than a hack writer trying to delude himself into believing he can create anything that people want to read. Self-doubt and lack of faith in my skills has been something I've known most of my life, yet is then contradicted by a constant need to write and have public exposure. The voices scream constantly over how can I lure in strangers and grow an audience when I know that even most of my family and friends don't even regularly read my stuff (even if there is evidence that hundred and sometimes even thousands of people have read my stuff, thus going against this hourly fear). I obsess daily over my numbers in an attempt to validate myself as someone with talent and value as a writer. Sometimes it works out well when a piece is massively popular, but other times can crash against the rocks when it is revealed that my last two podcasts The Breakdown of Box Office Flops and Breakdown of Totally '80s (two pieces that I put a lot of time and heart into) didn't end up being the hits that I had hoped or imagined. I admit that I've been depressed they did not end up being popular, though if I am honest, they have had a decent amount of listenership for shows lacking new release reviews (plus history shows when I am not posting stuff regularly that the podcast numbers do dip slightly).

Actual facts are not enough to eradicate the cloud of failure that haunts me. It strikes me with lightening that causes daily panic attacks that I often fear are actual heart attacks, and leave me the depressed evening zombie that forces me to dig into the near empty energy vessel to finish client work after the kids are in bed and leave nothing after to maintain the blog that I keep promising will have regular content (and eventually be something that I want to have a large enough audience where I can derive a source of income). I have alluded to all this in past blogs, which is why I feel redundant writing about this now, though I am not sure if I have ever actually admitted fully to this daily war.

I also don't think I have fully admitted that every extended podcast hiatus has been my doing. It has been panic that the show isn't good enough or not worthy of listeners or isn't popular, so why put the energy into it. Or other times, other parts of my career seem to be suffering, so the podcast has been the burden that needs to be released. I regret it every time, and it has never resulted in anything worthwhile. I hope it never happens again, but I never trust myself when guided by fear and self-doubt.

This is why I am thankful for the Scott Martins and Nathan Rabins of the writing world who admit daily anxiety and obsessing over their popularity are struggles that more than myself face. It reminds me the crucial importance of being honest in my own writing and forcing myself to tackle these demons by writing about them when they are at their strongest. Though to be honest, I think all this is probably boring for everyone who isn't me, but at least it provides a reason for why I am often not true to my words when I promise the content will pour flow from the rainbows like Skittles. Though as I opened this piece, a lot of these past few weeks has more to do with my current environment and inability to access the wonders of the Internet.

This is my thank you to Scott for being brave, so please check out his daily blog, and prove it is important to write about mental illness and anxiety. Maybe we can prove there is a community out there that is supporting each other, and that we can manage this nasty emotional stuff to create something beautiful and magical.

Monday, August 07, 2017

The Breakdown of the Totally '80s - 'E.T', 'The Karate Kid', 'Romancing the Stone', 'Tron', 'Conan the Barbarian' and '9 to 5'


I'm a 1980s kid. I was born in 1977, but my impressionable years were spent in the 1980s. I remember when fanny packs and neon shorts were cool and Saturday morning cartoons were how you kicked off the weekend proper. This means there are several movies from that decade that are priceless treasures when it comes to memorable pop culture. But do they hold up? This week Scott and I hop into our DeLorean to answer that question with six big movie reviews, including the biggest movie of the decade in E.T. and lots of Arnold Schwarzenegger without a shirt in Conan the Barbarian. It is a huge show as we immerse ourselves in nostalgia. If you love the show then please help us out by spreading the word to other movie lovers or leave us a five star review on iTunes.

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The Breakdown Outline:

E.T. 2:28
Romancing the Stone 25:05
The Karate Kid 43:11
Conan the Barbarian 1:03:42
9 to 5 1:18:49
Tron 1:35:03
Review Rundown 2:00:13

Rating Rundown:

E.T. **** (CS & SM)
Romancing the Stone **** (CS) & *** (SM)
The Karate Kid **** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
Conan the Barbarian ***½ (CS) & *** (SM)
9 to 5 *** (CS & SM)
Tron ***½ (CS) & *** (SM)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes $56 50 000
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde $18 286 420
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $564 937 540

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk $50 500 000
6. Annabelle: Creation
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie $24 531 923
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard
Total: $346 718 198