Monday, October 29, 2018

'Sixteen Candles' Not Enough? How About 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom'?

I'm not sure if I should be pimping 80s All Over so hard, because I am risking you replacing The Movie Breakdown in your podcast listening diet. But the latest episode not only had an insightful argument over Sixteen Candles, but there is an even hotter disagreement over another major movie from May 1984, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

I think both hosts do a great job in arguing their sides. One being it is an ugly and racist movie that has its thrilling moments but a major step down for the series compared to the perfect Raiders of the Lost Ark. The other one being that it is a homage to classic pulp and a great insight into the personal lives of the filmmakers and producers of the time, and aghast, better than Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. They even get a guest to appear and articulate the merits of the movie. It is all really fascinating, and to me shows the value in film criticism is getting different perspectives rather than being convinced one is right.

I recently rewatched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with Everett, and I have to say that I appreciate it a lot more as something that attempted to be very different from the previous movie. It is best seen as a dark fantasy rather than anything grounded in reality. Though the depiction of India is problematic, no matter how you want to frame it.

Since we are talking about Indiana Jones, I must ask: 'What ever happened to Short Round by the time Raider of the Lost Ark happens?" This bothered as a kid ever since I discovered it was a prequel.

'The Movie Breakdown' Podcast Is Not Enough? Check Out the '80's All Over' Podcast

The latest episode of The Movie Breakdown released this morning and I hope you loved or will love it. If you have listened to every episode of our movie review podcast, then you now have many hours that could be filled with another movie review podcast. That is right, as shocking as this may be, Scott and I appear to not be the only two people in the world that talk about movies. One of the very best movie review podcasts is 80s All Over. It is hosted by long-time movie critics and lifetime movie fanatics, Drew McWeeny and Scott Weinberg, They really know their movie history and have some really great insight, plus they have a pretty fun sense of humour.

The series aims to review every major release of the decade that is the 1980s, and their first episode is January 1980, then they go in chronological order from there. I've listened to every episode, and it is great as a nostalgia kick for someone who saw many of these movies as a kid but also great as a pop culture history lesson. Please check out the show, because it is a must-listen for any movie buff.

I would definitely say this works best for the person who loves movies. If you are more of a casual fan or not as aware of film history, you may want to keep Google handle as they assume you know some of the big names of the era. But they are entertaining enough that you'd still get a lot from the show even if you haven't seen too many movies from the 1980s/

The most recent episode is May 1984 and contains a hot debate and argument over the controversial but still beloved Sixteen Candles. The discussion gives a lot of great perspective and allows for two different views of a movie many consider a classic. Check it out and support yet another great podcast. But you know, don't forget us every Monday either.

The Breakdown of Halloween - 'The Grudge', 'Coraline', 'Mom & Dad', 'Train to Busan', and 'Creep 2'

It is almost time for 'Trick or Treating', so that must mean it is our annual special episode The Breakdown of Halloween. Every October we've had a spotlight on a variety of different horror movies, and this year is no different. We have a massive hit from 2004 in the Sarah Michelle Gellar starring The Grudge. We also have a spooky movie for brave kids in the animated feature Coraline. Then we have a Korean zombie flick in Train to Busan. We also review two 2018 indy horror features in Mom & Dad and Creep 2. We also answer a listener's question on what would be good introductory horror movies for someone who hasn't really seen anything from the genre. It was a lot of fun to record and we hope it is a great show for horror fans or even those a little hesitant about the genre. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie buffs.

Reminder that 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 (if you enjoy the show, please help us by giving us a five star review).

No outline. For some reason, the audio player used on our host site changes the length (so the time stamps changes as well) each time it plays. I have no idea how a recorded audio file can suddenly be longer or shorter, yet that is the issue. If you have any idea how to resolve this several year problem then please let us know.

The Grudge *** (CS & SM)
Coraline **** (CS & SM)
Train to Busan *** (CS & SM)
Mom & Dad *** (CS & SM)
Creep 2 *** (CS & SM)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Official Death of the Boba Fett Movie Shows Studios are Starting to Realize the Art of Anticipation

It looks like those Star Wars spin-off may be dead after all. Shortly, after Solo: A Star Wars Story underperformed it was reported they were scrapping all the non-episode movies. Disney denied it being true and said they were still focused on all the projects they greenlit. The word on the street is that Kathleen Kennedy is declaring the Boba Fett movie is dead, and if a big name like that isn't getting a movie then I think it is safe to say A Star Wars Story experiment is done or at least, going on a long hiatus.

As I said back in June, this is a great thing. Episode 9 has a year and half to build anticipation and feel like a big deal and be the primary movie focus of Lucasfilm. This mean whatever follow-up they have for that movie, be it an Episode 10 or a new trilogy set in that world, there should be at least two years for Star Wars fans to build excitement. There are a reasons that Force Awakens, Jurassic World, Incredibles 2 and maybe even Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle were massive smash hits, because there was a long wait since the previous movie and it helped make them into big events.

The studio strategy is to try to strike when the iron is hot and try to get the next instalment out as quickly as possible. It has worked for the Marvel Cinematic Extended Universe, but they also have the advantage of each movie containing different characters and often even have a different style. You may have three Marvel movies in a year but one is about Guardians of the Galaxy and another may have Thor and then another will be Spider-Man, so the feeling of freshness remains. If you get a Jurassic World movie every year or non-stop assembly line of Terminators than audience excitement for them will plummet.

It seems like studios may be catching up on that a bit. Wonder Woman 1984 got moved out of its schedule spot in 2019 and is now a 2020 summer release. That now means that it will be a three year wait before the follow-up to the original Wonder Woman. That is the same amount of time that the original Star Wars trilogy had, and seems like enough time for people to start salivating for the next story again.

Except for the very successful MCEU, it looks like the other studios have got cinematic universes out of their system and no longer have aspiration of two or more interlocking movies a year that will eventually lead to a money-raining-down-from-the-heavens team-up event. One studio has had success with it and evidence points to audiences not really being excited about that happening with anyone else. After the disappointment of Justice League (which to be fair, they really rushed their team-up movie and botched the build  to it), DC now just seems to be focusing on each individual movie and as Wonder Woman proves, even willing to take their time to get it right.

Even if Dark Universe or a Hasbro Shared Universe is still a thing that studios want, it is clear that they are no longer over-confident in the formula being an automatic gold factory and are now taking their time on releasing their movie. We are more likely to see a Bride of Frankenstein or Transformers reboot that is focused on that specific story rather than building towards fifty five spin-offs and a sequel. There likely will be a wait and see approach before production starts on the other movies. We may see actual constraint from studios and a focus on making each movie something their audience wants to see rather than feature-length ads and set ups for the next year.

This doesn't mean a flood of greatness is going to consume us. This model still brings stuff like Venom and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and I haven't liked many Fast and Furious movies despite all of them have a few years space between them. A few year break between sequels doesn't automatically make magic, but it at least should give filmmakers a chance to focus on that specific movie.

Of course, the movie industry is always shifting and every studio is trying to find the best strategy to maximize profits and bring an army of movie-goers to see their latest. Maybe in two weeks, every studio will unveil their latest cinematic universe or we will learn about a series of films that will accumulate with the Terminator, Robocop and Rambo battling the Goonies.

For now, I have some hope that studios are at least learning the value of having a little bit of anticipation.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Hey Ontario, Go Do Some Informed Voting!

If you are residing from Ontario and reading this on October 22, 2018, then I hope you plan or have already done informed voting. I realize the municipal elections are the least glamorous and under reported, but they are actually the most important. These are the elections that directly affect your community and will impact your day to day life. This is also the one you have the most voice for change as it involves your actual city. Sadly, it is also the one with the worst voter turnout and many people seem to miss its relevance and worth.

You may also notice that I have used the word 'informed' a few times. If you don't want to take the time to learn about the candidates and form an actual opinion then you're missing the value and point of voting. Please take some time to watch a debate or quickly look at the platforms to learn about your candidates. Use that knowledge to decide who you support to lead your city forward.

I already voted online this morning. That is right, at least in Brantford you don't even have to leave the house and you can use this thing called the Internet to cast your vote. Your excuse for not voting has diminished even further.

My vote was cast for change. I voted for a new mayor and two new members of council. You may think your city is great as it is, and go for the re-election route. Either way, please take some time to learn about your candidates and then cast your vote.

I also want to add that I did watch both the my ward's council debate and the mayoral debate, and it was nice to see that almost every candidate talked about the importance of diversity and acceptance, and put a big focus on how arts and culture are the life blood of a city. It gave me a whiff of hope that I can have some faith in politics again, and at least in Brantford, we aren't being driven by bigotry and a fear of the 'other.' While taxes was talked about a lot, each one focused more on proper use of taxes rather than just cutting them. The municipal level seems more progressive and open-minded then some of bile we've had to endure at the other recent elections.

Enough of my soapbox, you have some voting to do. Or if you already voted, have yourself an "I voted' congratulatory drink.

When Did You Go Against the Crowd?

Yesterday, I wrote about how heartbreaking it can be for a reviewer to dislike a movie that the consensus is raving about. My point was to show that rarely is the dissenter someone that is trying to stand-out or be a contrarian but rather a crushed movie fan. On the other hand, I take great joy in discovering a shiny gem of a movie when everyone else declared it was trash. I love being able to champion something to a point where someone may take a gamble on it or be willing to give it a second chance.

Roger Ebert is one of my favourite critics that often went against the crowd. He always came from an honest place and was able to eloquently articulate why he saw a movie differently than everyone else. I completely disagree with his thumbs down on classic movies like Full Metal Jacket or Blue Velvet or his praise of stuff like Cop and a Half and Zookeeper, but I respect he dared to give his honest opinion. He liked what he liked.

I mentioned yesterday how I've not been a fan of Academy Award Winning Best Picture, Gladiator. Other major examples of movies that the majority loved that I could not connect with were Smallfoot, Prisoners, American Made, Kong: Skull Island, Blue Caprice, Fury, Eddie the Eagle, Black Mass, and plenty more. Though the biggest bummer was this weekend's Halloween that I am holding to the hope that it just needs a rewatching to shift my mind.

The more fun stuff is loving something that other people don't. The stuff you can champion to give a second or third chance. The significant movies that I enjoyed that others panned have been Hangover Part III, The Lone Ranger, Sex Tape, Annie, The Giver, A Wrinkle in Time, Red Sparrow, Passengers, Snatched, Speed Racer, The Hitman's Bodyguard, and many others.

But enough about my views. You can listen to tons of podcasts and read many reviews to see where I go against the grain.

I want to know what movies did you have a totally different opinion than the majority. What movie did you hate that everyone else seems to love? What movie do you love that everyone else hates? I know there are a few. Everyone has them.

The Breakdown of 'Halloween', 'Bad Times at El Royale', '22 July' and 'The Kindergarten Teacher'

We are reviewing one of the most anticipated movies of the year and maybe even of the last several years in the John Carpenter endorsed sequel in Halloween. We also got some movies that have festival buzz in Paul Greengrass's latest film based on a horrific tragedy in 22 July and as well, a movie about a very disturbed women obsessed with the poetic skills of her 5 year old student in The Kindergarten Teacher. We also review Drew Goddard's latest in stylish thriller Bad Times at the El Royale. After the movie reviews, we discuss if the perception of horror has changed with its recent box office and critical success over the past few years. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other big movie fans.

Reminder that 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 (if you enjoy the show, please help us by giving us a five star review).

No outline. For some reason, the audio player used on our host site changes the length (so the time stamps changes as well) each time it plays. I have no idea how a recorded audio file can suddenly be longer or shorter, yet that is the issue. If you have any idea how to resolve this several year problem then please let us know.

Halloween ** (CS)
22 July *** (CS & SM)
Bad Times at El Royale *** (CS)
The Kindergarten Teacher *** (CS) & ***½ (SM)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

It's More Joyful to Champion Everyone's Trash Than Pan the Crowd Favourite

As I've said for the last five years, there is nothing objective about reviewing movies. The movie review is always and has always been the sole opinion of the person writing or saying it. A movie critic who watches over 200 movies a year and is watching each of those movie with an analytical eyes, should be able to articulate and delve into what makes a particular movie work. A movie review has value when expressed by someone who explains the craft and themes and techniques used that elevated or derailed a picture. As a person who writes reviews and co-hosts a movie review podcast, I obviously think there is a lot worth in critiquing and analyzing art (in this case movies). Movie reviews are important.

But they are still just one person's opinion. This is why I think the Siskel & Ebert format works well (which is why Scott and I borrowed it for The Movie Breakdown podcast), because it is two informed and smart critics putting their two views on a film together for debate and analysis.

If you listen to The Movie Breakdown podcast, you will see that more often than not, Scott and I largely agree on a movie. We have our disagreements like The Predator or Lucy, but often we agree on what works or doesn't. If you look at Rotten Tomatoes, it is clear that for a large portion of the movies, the majority of critics come together with similar opinions on each movie, which is why you'll often see most new releases either have a really high or really low score.

But it is all just opinions. Opinions that can shift depending on the reviewer's mood or the environment the person saw the movie in or who the viewer saw the movie with or how the movie may relate to the viewer's current life. Here is the big kicker, even with professional critics the views of a movie can change over time. Roger Ebert initially gave Unforgiven a two and half star rating, which by his criteria means that he didn't even recommend it. Several years later, he put it in his Great Movie series and bestowed it four stars. The movie was the same both times that he would have watched it, because something in Ebert shifted on his next viewing. Though I would argue that both his reviews have value even if there is a drastic change in how he saw it.

One of the reasons that I love Roger Ebert was that he wasn't afraid to have different views than the consensus. He like Paul Blart Mall Cop and hated Kick-Ass. He also was open to changing his opinions on movies like Blade Runner.

It is with the knowledge that views can shift on a second or third or tenth viewing that I take as solace, I've recently found myself going against the consensus. A movie that has garnered great praise from most critics is one that I cannot recommend and found myself greatly disappointed. It was good enough that I am open to revisit it and feel like my views could drastically improve. Maybe this time my opinion was soured by the people behind me that thought their conversational voices were a whisper and kept them up the entire run time.

Every critic ever has had their moment when they disliked a movie that almost everyone else praised and loved. It comes with being people with their own opinions and views. Sometimes, they revisit the movie and realise that they like it more and other times they never can see what everyone else does.

One thing that I know for sure, is that every review has value and insight. If a critic pans a movie but then several years later writes glowing review for the same movie, both those reviews have worth. They are both a capsule of that moment in time. If the critic is being honest, then both reviews have a worth in dissecting and analyzing that film. Each hold an unshakable truth even with different conclusions.

This is why I don't like the contrarian label. For the most part, I think critics are honest in how they view a film and aren't trying to go against the crowd. It is just inevitable that it will happen sometimes.

In my case, I was utterly bummed that a movie that I was hotly anticipating and had great buzz did not work for me. I hate it when I am not a fan of a film that everyone else is praising. There isn't any joy in panning movies, especially a movie that most feel has great artistic value. A writer is at their best when they are honest, and a review has no worth if the reviewer isn't sharing their true experience.

This is why I get much more joy from when I recommend a movie that the crowd pans. A film that I can challenge isn't as bad as believed and does have worth. I have had much more joy this year going against the grain in recommending A Wrinkle in Time  and Red Sparrow than I do not recommending Halloween. I liked last year being able to declare that Valerian and the City with a Thousand Planets is actually a really fun science fiction adventure. Both Scott and I had a lot of joy admitting we laughed and had a good time with Hangover Part 3.

I can't speak for other critics, but I assume most get a lot more pleasure championing the underdog movie than trashing a highly regarded picture. I have never really seen why people really liked Gladiator, but I'm happier to admit that I have a soft spot for Last Action Hero.

A great movie review is one that is honest and the true views of the reviewers, even if it is one that is incredibly different than almost every other reviewer. But the real fun is when you can champion a movie that is on someone else's worst of the year, and you can say, 'no, this movie deserves another chance.' Maybe one day that other critic will revisit and see that they do like it just a little bit more.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Good Thing That I Don't Charge You For This!

Several months ago, I pitched the idea of starting up a Patreon for the blog and podcast. It was greeted as if I promised a lasagne but farted instead. Actually, that probably would have triggered a response. It was closer to when I expressed interest in a girl in high school: complete silence.

The girls were justified then and my output on this blog proves my readers' apathy for monetizing was right there as well. The Movie Breakdown has been hiatus free for over a year and I am pretty sure we avoided even missing a week for over almost a year now (even the last few times, it was due to the fact my internet was completely down for several days, so we couldn't record the show over Skype). As good as I have been at consistent podcasting, I've been just as dreadful with posting reviews and other articles on here.

I would like to blame it on Danika rampaging during the day and paid client work occupying the quiet moments. While those would be true, I really want to grow my readership here to the point that I can get it to the 'next level' -- whatever that actually means. In order to do that, this site really needs to be a focus again.

My goal going forward is to view this blog as if it does have a Patreon attached, and that there are paying readers expecting daily stuff to read. Hopefully, that will be the motivations to create the consistency that attracts new readers.

I didn't mention that the reader numbers have taken a massive dip the last several months. All the increase in readership and at one time loyal followers seems to have been fireballed. I like to think that this is not the end, and just getting the word groove on again will bring them back or at least bring on some new readers.

What do I want to do on here? Well, the plan is to write a lot more movie reviews (at least everything that I see in theatres). Pop culture is something that has always been a significant topic here, and since I watched so many movies, it will likely be mostly in that area, but I would like to occasionally write about books that I've read and some TV like the terrific A Good Place. A lot more writing about parenting again, because that is a rather major part of my life, so it triggers many topics that I can passionately write about. After that, I'd like to dabble in things that used to be much more common on here a few years ago like politics and social issues, but I also would really like to create more creative writing and humour pieces. The podcast means that it is inevitable that I will most often write about movies with the perspective of being a dad, or at least, that is what I assume.

The big thing is just being more honest. Using the blog as a window to the soul, and allowing myself to be vulnerable on here. I really think that is the key to the very best writing. This allows me to be open when I'm feeling a deep sadness or bouncing around with some uncontrollable anxiety. It also will just be my real thought on the screen in everything like my movie reviews or a daily anecdote about adventures with kids.

Most of all, it just means lots and lots more delicious words in all the forms that takes on here.

Yes, I am aware I've written a piece like this about 40 billion times on here now. Impressive, because I haven't even written that many posts on here.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Breakdown of 'First Man', 'Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween', 'Operation Finale', 'Private Life' and 'Malevolent'

We are halfway through October and we are getting deep into the quality movie season. We've got some great movies to praise this week and maybe more than one could make our 'Best of the 2018' show. This week we review five movies with the big one being the major Oscar contender in the Damien Chazelle directed and Ryan Gosling starring story about Neil Armstrong landing on the moon in First Man. Halloween is almost here, so we've got another horror movie for kids in Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. We also have a horror movie for the older crowd in the paranormal picture Malevolent. The ghosts from the past surface in the thriller of the real life capturing of Adolf Eichmann in Operation Finale. We also have a comedic drama about an older couple trying to get a child in Private Life. As always we had a great time recording the show and we really hope you love it as well. If you do enjoy the show then please help us out by spreading the word to other movie fans.

Reminder that 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 (if you enjoy the show, please help us by giving us a five star review).

The time stamps are still changing every time that I use the player, so it makes a timed outline pointless. Once again, if someone can assist in fixing this issue that would be greatly appreciated.

Question of the Week: What is the scariest moment in a movie you’ve seen?

Send us your answers via email (, on Facebook, or Twitter (@MovieBreakdown1)

Movie Ratings:

Operation Finale **½ (CS & SM)
First Man **** (CS)
Private Life **** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween *** (CS)
Malevolent ** (CS & SM)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

'The Soultangler' Review: Home-made Horror Version of 'Re-Animator'

Four Rating: **
Starring: Kim Kinser, Pierre Deveaux, Louise Millman, Bob Cederberg
Director: Pat Bishow
Screenplay: Pat Bishow, John Bishow, Lance Laurie
Producers: Paula Vlodkowsky
Music by: Hypnolovewheel
Cinematographer: Pat Bishow
Editor: Pat Bishow
Production Company: Amusement Films
Distributed by: AGFA & Bleeding Skull (2018 DVD release)
Genre: Horror
Rated: Unrated - Graphic Violence, Coarse Language, Scary Scenes, Mature Themes, Smoking
Release Date: 1987/ DVD re-release March 13 2018
Run Time: 90 minutes (Director's Cut 62 minutes)

The Soultangler is a 'do it yourself'' style gory horror picture drawing inspiration from stories by H. P. Lovecraft as well as movies about zombies, mad scientists and possessions. It was shot in 1985 by mostly family and friends in Long Island, New York on a meagre budget of $8,000. It's a homemade production by an unseasoned cast and crew driven by passions for splatter and supernatural movies that were very popular at the underground level in the 1980s.

It took until 1987 for the movie to land a home video distributor, an Italian company, that liked the 62 minute cut but felt it needed to be 90 minutes to make it sellable.  Director Pat Bishow ended up adding 30 minutes of 'padding' with expository dialogue explaining the mythology and long scenes of people walking or driving or smoking (it also works as a cigarette ad).. The company then ended up never giving it an official American release, but it was distributed in several other countries including Canada (which is how my podcast co-host, Scott Martin, was able to obtain a VHS copy in the early 2000s).

It has mostly sat in obscurity until this year when the American Genre Film Archive along with restored the film for a special DVD release. Both organizations focus on the restoration, collection, conservation and distribution of genre cinema, and no matter your opinion on a specific movie, each is a piece of art and history that should be preserved. The DVD also marked the first time Bishow could release his original 62 minute cut.

Bishow freely admits on his commentary track that The Soultangler is not a very good movie. The main story is rather derivative to the point that some have accused it of being heavily inspired by Stuart Gordon's cult classic, Re-Animators, but Director Pat Bishow claims this was just a coincidence as filming happened before that movie's release. It also clearly is made by non-professionals with barely community theatre acting, borderline incoherent plotting, clunky attempts at humour, hastily edited sequences, and a plodding pace (especially if you watch the version released in 1987).

What it lacks in polish, it soars with tons of charm and is clearly crafted by people who love horror and cinema. Bishow makes some bold decisions that dip the movie into the bizarre like a dinner scene where the dialogue floats around while non-talking actors have dinner and several hallucination sequences that must resemble a LSD trip.

The real stand-out of the movie is the fun practical gore effects made by George Higham that are not realistic but fit with the zany atmosphere and tone of the picture. The blood actually looks authentic even though squirts out like an overstuffed jelly doughnut. Fans of 1980s gorefests will see some great stuff including a crazy decapitation that looks as good as any other surreal and zany schlock from the time period.

The story follows reporter Kim Castle (Julie Kinser) who starts investigating an eccentric scientist, Dr. Anton Lupesky (Pierre Deveaux who was Bishow's brother-in-law).after a series of women have gone missing (and a few boyfriends left lying around with hammered in heads). We learn Lupesky is a madman who has created a serum called Anphorium that allows the user to transcend reality and inhabit the body of a corpse by entering through the eyes (the windows to our souls, of course). Instead of grave robbing, he decides for much fresher dead bodies.

One doesn't watch a movie like this for the story or characters. The Soultangler's best moments are when it goes completely wacky with stuff like a zombie using his own intestine to choke a guy and a slithering brain with eyeballs. The movie lacks traditional horror staples like scares or tension, but it delivers a few gloriously gory moments.

Unfortunately, the best stuff is spaced out with long stretches of verbal diarrhea and supposed character development. It has a few improvised scenes that give off a school play feel (part of its charm), but adds to the meandering nature of the narrative. I can see this being fun for lovers of the extremely campy and cheap schlock horror, but it is best saved for watching in groups who can joke around until the good bits.

I am glad that I got to experience this movie and the DVD commentary really shows how much affection and love Bishow has for the genre. I am happy this movie has been discovered and restored, but I will be just as happy to never watch it again.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Yet Another Follow-up to an Episode of 'The Movie Breakdown'

This week on The Movie Breakdown we discussed why horror has replaced comedy as the consistent big box office genre hit. I talked about how both have the strength of being communal experiences where you feed off the energy of the crowd that is with you. In the 1980s and 1990s, Airplane and Dumb and Dumber were huge hits because there were joke-a-minutes that you got to share with an audience and part of the fun was hearing that laughter around you. Now, horror has replaced it with people feeding off the tension and enjoy hearing the audience yelp and squeak around you. There is something to being in a room of a tense and scared movie goers.

I had said part of the reason horrors have thrived is that the quality has really increased the last few years with top notch movies like It and Get Out (both made my best of 2017). Meanwhile, comedy quality has taken a dip and you can get much better stuff on TV like superior series The Good Place and Atlanta. There are horror series but most of them still don't offer the chills and wide range of emotions like the best horror movies. I do think comedy has improved rapidly this year with really good movies like Game Night, Blockers, Love, Simon, and Crazy Rich Asians, but some of those movies suffered from the sins of the past.

I forgot to mention on the podcast another thing that I think has hurt comedies. The big things is community and now that aspect has been replaced by people sharing quick YouTube videos by either showing it on their cell to a friend or sharing it on a social media site. Quick clips have become the new form of community comedy, and that is something that isn't as effective with horror.

The movie comedy is nowhere near as popular as it was in the 1980s or 1990s or even the 2000s. But I don't think it is dead. Crazy Rich Asians, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and Ocean's Eight were legit hits and shows that diversifying may be the way for comedies to revitalize. I also think that many of the comedies actually being funny this year will help in starting to see some growth in the genre's popularity again. Of course, we also still have to put up with the upcoming Johnny English Strikes Again and Holmes and Watson so it won't be a quick revival.

Monday, October 08, 2018

The Breakdown of 'A Star is Born', 'Hold the Dark', 'Venom' and 'The Third Eye'

The season of Oscar contenders has arrived, and we are reviewing one of the big contenders this week with Bradley Cooper's directorial debut as he stars alongside Lady Gaga in the classic tale, A Star is Born. We've also got the latest big comic book action picture in Venom. Then we have two Netflix originals in the haunted house horror The Third Eye and Jeremy Saulnier's latest thriller in Hold the Dark. After the movie reviews, we look at the rise of horror in the box office and the fall of comedies, and analyze what may have caused the shift. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other big movie fans.

Reminder that 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 (if you enjoy the show, please help us by giving us a five star review).

The time stamps are still changing every time that I use the player, so it makes a timed outline pointless. Once again, if someone can assist in fixing this issue that would be greatly appreciated.

Question of the Week: What historical figure or event should get its own movie?

Send us your answers via email (, on Facebook, or Twitter (@MovieBreakdown1)

Movie Ratings:

A Star is Born **** (CS)
Hold the Dark ***½ (CS) & **** (SM)
Venom *½ (CS)
The Third Eye *½ (CS) & ** (SM)

Friday, October 05, 2018

Another Follow-Up to This Week's 'The Movie Breakdown'

During my Hell Fest review, I mentioned that while trying to stay awake that I started thinking about how odd there was no other patrons, security or staff in the haunted houses other than the six leads and the killer. I should clarify that I am well aware there was security at the park in the movie. There are a few scenes where a particular security guy tells the characters he can't arrest people for doing their job. At one point security even does try to arrest the killer, though that scene has a whole different issue.

My criticism was only on there not being much staffing inside the attractions. You'd think that such a popular park and one that had a legit history of a girl being murdered inside one of the haunted houses a few years ago, would have way more security or staff inside to make sure things remain safe. 

I know most legit haunted houses have staff in every room and for things like Wonderland, there would be some security around. As far as I know, no one has been murdered at Wonderland Halloween Haunt, yet this movie established right away that this park has had a real murder a few years ago. You'd think it would be good PR to do your best to prevent that kind of thing going forward.

I should also confirm that the lack of security is not the reason that I only have the movie at one and a half stars out of four. The horrible dialogue, paper thin characters, lack of tension, lack of real scares and long stretches of dullness would be the reason.

I think that is now way more than enough talk about Hell Fest. I plan on not mentioning it again except maybe for one particular annual year end show we do.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

'Vice' Trailer Promises the Next Huge Oscar Contender

It was a bit of a shocker when Adam McKay, best known for directing comedies like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Night: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers, and The Other Guys, served up a thoughtful and biting political and social dramedy in The Big Short. His previous comedies where smarter and savvier than many other comedies and were some of the best of the Will Ferrell straight comedies, but nothing from them indicated McKay had a bona fide Oscar contender up his sleeves. The Big Short was a big player during 2015/2016 awards season including winning a Best Adapted Screenplay by McKay and Charles Randolph.

If this trailer is a reflection of the McKay's latest, Vice, then he may have an even bigger Oscar success coming his way. McKay is someone who cares about politics and has a lot of rage about how some events from the past have caused some of the messes that were are in now. Vice looks to be another heavily political and social dramedy that aims to be a crowd-pleaser that makes the message go down easier.

This looks to have style and lots of energy with tons of witty and nuanced humour. But the real stand outs to me are Christian Bale and Sam Rockwell. The make-up and costumes are fantastic, but even without that, both really nail the quirks, mannerisms, and tics of their subject. The conversation between Bale's Dick Cheney and Rockwell's George W. Bush feels like exactly how it would have gone down.

Vice should be bizarre and wacky, but that fits with all the horror stories we heard about Cheney. McKay proved he had the goods in The Big Short, but this may turn out to be his masterpiece. I believe Vice missed all the festivals so it looks like it may take on the awards season by storm despite missing the usual buzz around it. I really hope this one makes the January roll out to Brantford, and if it ends up nabbing all the actor nominations like I expect, I am sure it will.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Who is the New 'Robin Hood' for?

It was a few years ago that Scott and I talked about how almost every major studios had its eyes on a version of a Robin Hood movie. We thought it was little bit of 'recognizable name' insanity where studios were thinking that just because people had heard of Robin Hood that they would come in droves to see another movie about him.

I think it may have been Sony that bought up a pitch that was going to give each of Robin's Merry Men (and Maid Marian) a stand-alone movie that would eventually turn into a massive Avengers-like team-up. We spent most of our time discussing how this plan was like just throwing hundred millions of dollars into a blender.

At the time of the discussion, 2010 wasn't that long ago where Ridley Scott directed and Russell Crowe starred in a Robin Hood that seemed to sneak in and out of theatres to the point that maybe the excited executives forgot we just had a movie about the robber of the rich. Maybe this movies was a thing that nobody really cared about (okay, it was apparently the 26th highest grossing movie of 2010 so not a total bomb, but did you remember it? If so, is it fondly?).

I haven't heard much of the big Robin Hood bonanzas since we discussed the plans, except for Lionsgate who has their Robin Hood movie set for the American Thanksgiving weekend (one of the traditionally biggest box office weekends of the year). At one time this was called Robin Hood: Origins, which was a neon sign of what their plans were initially going forward. Then King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (a planned first movie of a six movie series) bombed at the box office and you could almost hear the air rushing out of the Lionsgate executive lungs.

Now, it is just called Robin Hood and the marketing has felt a little like "let us get this over with as quickly as possible.' Lionsgate hasn't boasted it has a big mega-franchise anymore and probably is just hoping they don't get Gods of Egypted.

Up until now, most of the trailers have been hyping a gritty reboot of the classic story. A movie with big explosions but a more grounded and tougher Robin Hood. It was a movie promising an edge. Now, the latest trailer had arrived and it looks like it is an action comedy with the tongue firmly in cheek. This looks like a goof that is knowingly playing around with the tropes of the genre.

So, I am left asking what is this movie's actual tone? Is it the gritty reboot or the fun romp? My guess, is that executives got nervous with how the movie was tracking and changed gears on the marketing to hope this approach will generate some buzz. But the mystery is if the marketing has been misleading up until now or have they just started lying about the movie?

No matter what this movie ends up being, I am sticking with my stance from a few years ago. Who in the world wants another Robin Hood movie?

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Looking Back and Looking Forward at the 2018 Movie Year

We may only have three months left in the year, but when it comes to movies, this would be considered the start of the second half. These last three months are when the big studios start releasing their award hopefuls and a good portion of the movies are geared more to adults. This is the time when the majority of critics' eventual best of the year movies are released and we get more complex pictures that challenge the viewer. This of the course doesn't mean the last nine months have been a waste and there is a good chance that I've already seen my favourite movie of 2018.

2018 has been an interesting year so far. Last year was one that I considered a really good year for movies with high quality, character-driven horror features like Get Out and It; rejuvenation of the romantic comedy genre in The Big Sick; top level science fiction adventures in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Blade Runner 2049; incredible, thoughtful artistic movies like mother! and The Shape of Waterand beautiful animated features like Coco. Yes, I am missing twenty more movies worth praising from last year. 2018 has also delivered a lot of great pictures, but for long stretches it has felt flat or disappointing.

You can't call 2018 a bad movie year when we've got great mainstream movies like Black Panther, Love, Simon, and A Quiet Place. All three are straight-up crowd-pleasers that deliver goods for their specific genre but also deftly explore real social themes and messages that help elevate the story. They are also are showcases for talented directors (Ryan Coogler, Greg Berlanti, John Krasisnki) that have a style and grace that demonstrate the best of their style of movie.

Then you have smaller independent type films that gained a strong enough following that they expanded to Brantford in movies like Hereditary and Searching. These were movies that had interesting stories but had a bold form of filmmaking and style that were seamlessly integrated into the storytelling. The type of movies that may inspire studios to make similar movies, but will likely never be able to replicate the same experience on the big screen.

Netflix even got some movies right, especially when it came to solid romantic comedies in To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Set It Up, and Sierra Burgess is a Loser.

I have had my fair share of being able to gush about movies. I was really happy that Marvel delivered again with both Avengers: Infinity War and Ant Man and the Wasp being fun and surprisingly emotional movies (I already mentioned Marvel's very best of the year, Black Panther). We got some really great sequels in Incredibles 2, Deadpool 2, Paddington 2, and Mission Impossible - Fallout. Steven Spielberg shows why he is still one of the best at doing heartwarming and fun adventure movies in Ready Player One. There were actually comedies that made me laugh this year with Game Night and Blockers. 2018 was a year that knew how to entertain.

Yet, I have a hard time calling it a great movie year. There hasn't been a lot of horrible theatrical movies (Netflix delivered the most stinkers - ugh, The Open House), but I had a few painful theatrical experiences (looking at you Truth or Dare and The 15:17 to Paris). There has been plenty more movies that turned out to be big disappointments like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom or The Predator rather than outright bad pictures.

The big thing that I noticed is that I ended up recommending a lot less movies this year. I have a decent amount of four star and three and half star movies (maybe a little less than past years), but this has to be the smallest amount of three star movies that I've had since I started writing about movies back in 2012. I consider three star my recommendation point, so that means I've had a lot more near misses as the majority of my movies this year landed at two and half stars. These are not bad movies but not movies that I can full on endorse either. These tend to be movies that have a lot that I liked but didn't come together as a fully recommendable movie.

I am not sure if this means that more movies missed the mark this year than others or that I've suddenly become pickier. Is my two and half stars in 2018 what would have been my bottom of the list three stars in other years? Three stars every other year has been my most plentiful rating for movies that I've reviewed, but this year it is much smaller and below my two star movies and my two and half star movies. Is this year just not delivering as many good movies or am I just getting crustier the longer that I play the critic game? The only way to know is revisiting my three star movies from previous years and see where I land on them now.

2018 still has a strong chance of being a great movie year. The last three months tend to be when the real quality start marching out and there are several movies that I am highly anticipating.

The first real big contender for Oscar glory and a spot on my best of 2018 (so even more glory?) is this weekend's opener A Star is Born. This has lots of festival praise, is a classic story, and has the added bonus of likely having a great soundtrack (something that often gets forgotten when talking about what makes a great movie). Then I only have to wait a week later for one of my favourite directors, Damien Chazelle and one of the best actors going in Ryan Gosling, to serve up the very anticipated First Man. Speaking of a movie that has earned some festival buzz, I am very excited to see the latest Halloween that promises to be more than just a slasher.

It may not have festival buzz but Bad Times at the El Royale looks kind of insane and different, and not something you'd normally get on wide release, so that is enough to be excited. It has had some production issues, including an MIA director, but I still am very interested in seeing Bohemian Rhapsody -- another movie that should have a great soundtrack. There are two exciting looking thrillers that are also tackling some current social issues that also have great directors in Fede Alvarez's (an emerging great genre director) The Girl in the Spider's Web and Steve McQueen (his first since 12 Years a Slave) in Widows.

If big mainstream entertainment is your thing then we still have some exciting typical blockbusters like Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Aquaman.

Then there are the movies that may not make it to Brantford this year but could get a roll-out in January that are worth noting. The very talented Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie get to star in an epic period piece drama in Mary Queen of Scots. There are some really interesting independent thrillers from fascinating directors like David Robert Mitchell's Under the Silver Lake and Karyn Kusama's Destroyer. Then some interesting Oscar contenders with even more interesting filmmakers like Robert Zemeckis' Welcome to Marwen, Joel Edgerton's Boy Erased, Mimi Leder's On the Basis of Sex, Peter Farrelly's Green Book and Jason Reitman's The Front Runner. Even Netflix has something I really want to see in the critically revered movie by Alfonso Cuaron in Roma.

For now, I will say that 2018 has given me a lot to praise. It has even given me more that I am willing or wanting to revisit before the end of the year. The next few months have enough to give me lots of hope that by the end, I will be calling it one of the great years for movies.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Follow-up on This Morning's 'The Movie Breakdown' Discussion of 'Nappily Ever After'

If you have listened to this morning's The Movie Breakdown, then you know that Scott and I did not recommend the (sort of) romantic comedy Nappily Ever After. We both gave it two and half stars out of four so that is a 'passing grade' but we both see three stars and above as our official recommendation (borrowed from Siskel & Ebert who saw a thumbs up as a three star and above movie).

I mentioned that it has a really important message (not letting society dictate your appearance and have physical pride in your race) and Sanaa Lathan is a great lead, but both get drowned out by meandering subplots and a really weak romance storyline (that I never figure out if it was supposed to be the central storyline or part of a bigger story of her finding herself).

The rather important thing that I forgot to mention is that through all its messiness, I did see a very talented and ambitious director in Haifaa Al-Mansour. As Scott noted, she broke into filmmaking with the major film festival winner Wadjda, which is a significant movie because it was the first movie entirely shot in Saudi Arabia and more importantly, the first feature directed by a Saudi Arabian female. It is to my great shame that despite it coming to North America in 2013 that I still haven't seen it.

Nappily Ever After shows signs of a bold and confident filmmaker that has a few scenes where the directing conveys great emotion just through imagery such as when Lathan's Violet shaves her head. The movies biggest problem is that it tries to tackle too many issues and subplots where none get enough time to really leave an impact. I am not sure if this was due to trying to be too faithful of an adaptation of Trish R. Thomas' novel of the same name or just Adam Brooks' and Cee Marcellus' script needing some streamlining.

The comedy in the movie also almost never works. The movie would have been much stronger if it was more dramatic and avoided the broad comedic take on characters like the mother. At this stage, Al-Mansour seems stronger telling serious stories with strong social themes with little bits of wit and light comedic touches. Though to be fair to her, most directors over the last few years seems to have missed the mark on broad slapstick comedy.

What I failed to say on the show and I think is really worth mentioning that even if I am not recommending Nappily Ever After that it was strong enough to get me very interested in seeing what Al-Mansour has next. Her next movie returns to Saudi Arabia with a movie called The Perfect Candidate, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of information available for it. I am really excited to see her grow as a filmmaker and will eagerly look forward to anything she puts out in the future.

She is a filmmaker that has a lot to say. Her future movies could really add to the conversations about women rights, societal perceptions of women and the pressures culture has on gender. Of course, I am open to her tackling any other topic or themes, but she feels like a filmmaker that really wants to tell female empowerment stories.

My last six years writing about movies has taught me that I can find a lot of good and value even if a movie doesn't entirely work (or even those that turn out to be giant stink bombs). It is my job to see talent and creativity and value in movies even those that can be at times a chore to watch. I do think Nappily Ever After is worth checking out even if I do not fully recommend it, but I really do think Haifa A-Mansour has an exciting future in movies.

The Breakdown of 'Night School', 'Smallfoot', 'Hell Fest' 'Nappily Ever After' and 'Quincy'

It is that time of the week again where The Movie Breakdown pops into your day to offer up some movie review goodness. This week we have reviews of five new 2018 releases including the latest Kevin Hart comedy and this time he is teaming up with Tiffany Haddish in Night School. This time of year always has an animated feature and this year we have one with yetis in Smallfoot. You might think we've zoomed back to the 1980s because we also have a teen slasher in Hell Fest. We also have two Netflix originals in a comedy Nappily Ever After and a documentary on a music legend in Quincy. As always we really hope you love the show and if you do, please spread the word to other movie fans.

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The time stamps are still changing every time I use the player, so it makes a timed outline pointless. Once again, if someone can assist in fixing this issue that would be greatly appreciated.

Question of the Week: What movie villain would make a great antihero lead?

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Movie Ratings:

Nappily Ever After **½ (CS & SM)
Night School ** (CS)
Smallfoot **½ (CS)
Hell Fest *½ (CS)
Quincy **½ (CS) & *** (SM)