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Kerri Battles the AFI’s Top 100 — #90: Swing Time

GUYS GUYS GUYS GUYS GUYS. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was this week. After years of only seeing clips here and there of their awesome talent, I was finally going to sit down and watch an honest to goodness, feature length Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers classic! There was no doubt in my mind that there would be lots of cheap puns, cooky misunderstandings, and accidental misrepresentations that are always the bedrock of comedies from this era. There was bound to be crooning and flowing gowns that floated just right while waltzing and tapping. Of course, there was going to be more dancing than one would think humanly possible, too, because FRED AND GINGER, duh! And there would be … misogyny? Degenerate gamblers? BLACKFACE? Ohhh Fred. Say it ain’t so.

NO FRED NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

First, let’s get this premise business out of the way. Fred Astaire plays John “Lucky” Garnett, a dancer/degenerate gambler who shows up two hours late to his own wedding, mostly because he scheduled it at the same time he was expected to be on stage with this dancing troupe. When he finally arrives to ostensibly marry his bride, all the guests have already been sent home and the bride and her father are more than just a bit put out. Lucky promises his bride’s father that he’ll make $25,000 and return to, as I understand it, pay said money to bride’s father in order to marry her. So, in the first five minutes, we’re already treating women as property. Though, for her part, the bride doesn’t appear to be too upset about it. Lucky heads off to New York City to make his fortune and, almost immediately upon his arrival, begins to charmingly lie, cheat, and gamble his way into the heart of young Penny Carroll (Ginger Rogers). Of course, now that they’re in love, Lucky has to figure a way to tell Penny that he’s already engaged. The best he can think of is to just never make $25,000 at one time. That way, he never has to return to marry poor Jilted Bride. Of course, Jilted Bride eventually comes to New York to find her groom. Penny uncovers the truth and, brokenhearted, agrees to marry a Ricky Ricardo wannabe who’s been after her for ages. When Jilted Bride and Lucky finally have a minute to talk, she explains that she only came to the big city to tell Lucky she’s in love with someone else. Realizing he’s free and clear, Lucky runs off to stop Penny’s wedding by … stealing the groom’s pants. That’s actually how the movie ends. Fred Astaire steals Ginger Rogers’ groom’s pants and they decide they can’t get married after all. Then they all laugh about it as the giant “The End” fades in over top of them in ornate script.

RKO Logic right here.

 

Now, before I go any further, let me be clear: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are phenomenal performers. I enjoyed every last minute of the scenes where they sing and/or dance. But that’s about all I enjoyed.

The plot itself was beyond contrived. As a fan of classic movies, I was prepared for a goofy scenario that could have been cleared up in five minutes if you didn’t want to make a movie out of it. But the plot of Swing Time is in a category of supremely stupid all by itself. First, Lucky is late to his own wedding because of the aforementioned scheduling conflict. However, he’s actually made to miss his wedding by the other members of his troupe, who apparently have no talent of their own and realize they will be out of jobs without Lucky’s talent to carry them. They come up with a  scheme to make him so late that the bride will think he didn’t show. Their “clever ruse,” mind you, is to tell Lucky that his pants are lacking cuffs, which is the new style, and get him to agree to let them take the pants to the tailor. Then, while waiting for his pants, they distract him with a rousing game of dice. By the time his pants return, Lucky is so involved in throwing dice with unparalleled grace and panache and winning the hard earned money of his so called friends that he actually forgets that he was supposed to be in a rush to his own wedding. The bride, of course, is only upset until she hears that Lucky is willing to buy her back for what amounts to a princely sum in 1935. By no more than 2 days later, he’s in love – for realsies this time, you guys – to a ginger Ginger who can dance like no other. SOMEONE WAS PAID REAL AMERICAN DOLLARS TO WRITE THIS. Even by the cheese-tastic standards of the day and the fact that they only needed to create excuses for Fred and Ginger to show off their moves, the writers of this script should be ashamed of themselves.

What the writers probably did with their fat studio paychecks.

Even worse than the script itself was the elaborately staged and innovatively filmed 8-minute dance number in which Fred Astaire dons blackface and dances to a song called “Bojangles of Harlem.” Now, again, as a fan of classic movies, I’ve gotten used to the subtly whitewashed level of racism you’ll find in most of them — people of color were, at this point, basically relegated to roles as servants or, if they were lucky,  comedic side kicks. Usually, it’s not that much different from watching any major modern Hollywood movie — if it stars Kate Hudson or Katherine Heigl or some shit, you can bet good money there aren’t going to be many prominent roles for people of color.  This ornate dance number, though, which began with a pair of giant shoe soles made to look like a giant black face — complete with giant red lips — was much more than I expected. It was downright fucking disturbing. You can say, “Those were the times” and “But AL JOLSON” all day long. You’ll still never convince me that someone on the AFI panel in 2007 couldn’t have stopped them all for a moment and said, “Hey, guys, maybe we pick one of the 9 other Fred and Ginger movies that doesn’t involve an uncomfortably long overtly racist dance number. Whaddya say?”

How the AFI panel would react to that statement, I presume.

All in all, Fred and Ginger’s performances were everything I expected and then some. If I hadn’t been so distracted by the fucking blackface, I would have been wildly impressed with Fred’s dancing during those 8 minutes, too. So, without having seen any of them, I say that if you want to watch a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers classic, pick any one but Swing Time.  — KS

 

JULY TV EXTRAVAGANZA

YOU’RE THE WORST

Youre_The_Worst_Poster

**1/2 (out of ****)

 

A commonly used sentence by people trying to find ways to bitch about a movie or TV show is “I didn’t feel like I had anyone to root for.” Who gives a fat flying shit? What you root for is totally irrelevant to both me and the filmmakers of whatever you’re describing. What the person probably means to say is that no one in the film is compelling, which is made even more obvious by the fact that there is no one to root for. I am not rooting for anyone in the movie Sexy Beast, but the characters COMPEL me to want to watch and learn more. I am rooting, however, for the Cleveland Indians to win in Major League 2, but that doesn’t change the fact that the movie isn’t very good. The next time someone tells me that they didn’t have anyone to root for, I’m going to shrug my shoulders, and then ask them what they thought of whatever we’re talking about, because I still have no idea. Either that, or my usual reaction to things, which is to scream at the top of my lungs and pull out clumps of my hair.

 

There is no one to root for in You’re the Worst. It’s on purpose. It’s the story of two awful people who try to give a relationship with each other a go. There are times where their awfulness rises and falls, usually inversely proportionate to each other, but for the most part, they are shitty shits. They are both hard to root for individually, much less root for them to live happily ever after. So, has FX doomed themselves? Why would they purposefully make a show with no one to root for, if it’s guaranteed to be bad?

 

FX hasn’t doomed themselves by giving us two unlikeable characters. They have doomed themselves by making these unlikeable characters boring. It’s a premise that feels like it could be great, until you really think about carrying it out. Two horrible people trying to balance their horribleness together sounds like it could be interesting and funny. But without the deftest of hands, the show would (and does) either constantly reinforce to its audience how terrible these people are, or go too far the other way and make large sweeping attempts to redeem them. The show would have to carve out a little wiggle room directly in between those mindsets, and that’s a lot to ask for. It’s the same problem Don’t Trust the B had with their B. We get it. They’re awful.
The “Next time on…” after the pilot episode actually gave me the biggest glimmer of hope. It shows the couple at the movies, arguing with another couple who told them to shutup. If the show was never more than throwing these two assholes into rom-com tropes, then it might be worthwhile for the show to stick around. It’ll never grow into greatness, but maybe it doesn’t care. Unfortunately, it will need to figure out a way to put a much funnier spin on everything than it has so far.

 

- Ryan Haley

PopFilter Podcast Episode 155

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This week on the PopFilter Podcast, the friends continue building their Rushmore monuments to the Ghostbusters cast. They also discuss Extant, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and the classic sitcom MASH. In the interest of full disclosure, however, they’re mostly excited about all the mountains they’ve been able to dedicate to Ghostbusters.

Check out our KickStarter for awesome prizes!

Email us to get your opinion on the show: contact@yourpopfilter.com

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP

 

Review us on iTunes!

 

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Want to record your own podcast? Check out Phantom48 for all of your electronic and recording needs!

TRAILER TRASH

TRAILER TRASH

In which we review the films opening this weekend, just based on the trailer, to 100 percent accuracy.

SEX TAPE


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REJECTED TAGLINE: For people who LOVED “Hall Pass”

REVIEW: “Sex Tape” is the follow up to “Bad Teacher”, a movie everyone said was ‘pretty decent for a Cameron Diaz movie’, and a ‘huge fucking step down for the Seges.’ By everyone, I of course mean me, because who else calls him the Seges. But let’s get it to catch on, shall we?  The reason I bring up the mixed reviews of “Bad Teacher” is that most people have forgotten it exists, and this movie is a step down from the previous partnership. Normally, Hollywood plays up it’s lack of knowledge of tech for horror, here it attempts to make its ignorance funny. Diaz and Segel have to run around collecting an destroying iPads they’ve given to people. because we all know “THE CLOUD” connect every device we’ve touched at one time. The Evil and Mysterious Cloud works through fingerprints, and that’s why the sex tape is sent to everyone. Technology is really wacky huh? There are some great comedic actors in this movie, and it’s a damn shame no one could improve it by changing the premise and by treating sex like it’s something fun.

SPOILER: You don’t even get to see Skinny Seges’ wang. WTF?

RATING: **(out of ****)

THE PURGE: ANARCHY


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AKA: RICH PEOPLE ARE STILL THE WORST

REVIEW: Gone are the rules and order of the first Purge, this is Purge: Anarchy, where everything gets…anarchical. These aren’t structured murders man, it’s crazy! I think what I love most about this movie is that in the premise of of the Purge, all crime is legal for 12 hours and they still have to specify, “including murder”. As if they didn’t remind everyone they can kill, they’d all just steal and rape like normal people. If the Purge was real, I’d just litter for 12 hours straight. That’s real anarchy! Oh, and the hamfisted class and race commentary is doubled down and even hammier. So if that’s what you really dug the firs time out, not the random murders, then you’ll love the sequel even more.

SPOILER: This is replacing Paranormal Activity as the cheap horror series that has way more sequels than you think. Next up, “The Purge: EcoTerrorism”

RATING: *1/2(out of ****)

CountDown: Emmy Flubby Snubs 2014

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Last week the Emmy nominations were announced. We thought we’d give you a week to ponder the flubs and the snubs (who shouldn’t have been nominated who was insulted by not being nominated) before giving you our opinions on the matters. Because it’s a week later than most of the conversations around this topic, expect deeper analysis and more drinking. Enjoy!

Check out our KickStarter for awesome prizes!

Email us to get your opinion on the show: contact@yourpopfilter.com

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP

 

Review us on iTunes!

 

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Want to record your own podcast? Check out Phantom48 for all of your electronic and recording needs!

JULY TV EXTRAVAGANZA

WELCOME TO SWEDEN / WORKING THE ENGELS

welcome-to-sweden-first-season.21628

*** (out of ****)/ *1/2 (out of ****)

Working-the-Engels-NBC-poster-season-1-2014

Watching NBC’s new summer comedy hour, including Welcome to Sweden and Working the Engels, has convinced me that my job writing about pilots has come to an end. It’s not because I have changed the world, and have clearly expressed – to both fans and networks – all of the ways a pilot can be impressive or horrible. It’s not because I’ve driven myself insane with the amount of exposition, forced characters, and horrible jokes I’ve witnessed since I first started doing this. It’s because NBC’s two shows, when watched back-to-back display everything that can go right and wrong in a pilot. It’s amazing how it is throughout the entire viewing process that Sweden is a quality product, and Engels is an unfixable mess.

What’s so amazing is that they both have the same jobs. They have to do the same things. Why did one work out so well, and the other one fall apart so quickly? There’s three things that need to be introduced in a pilot: the characters, the premise of the show, and the tone. How deftly these three are issues are handled will always tell you the quality of the pilot you’re watching, and sometimes tell you the quality of the show the pilot is for. On the podcast me and the friends will rate pilots, and then unnecessarily predict the rating the show will get in the future. Are we psychic? Do we have special TV powers? No. What we’re doing is grading the clunkiness of these introductions. If a show delivers a great premise, and proves to have a tight grasp about the type of show it is, but klunks out the character introductions, this might make for a mediocre pilot, but you can still see how it will become a good show. So, let’s line these fuckers up.

PREMISE

Again, I don’t care what your premise is. I care how you deliver it. If someone told you the pitch to Cheers or Roseanne or The Simpsons, you’d scream “WHO GIVES A SHIT” right into their fat face. And look how those turned out. It’s not the premise, it’s the delivery. Welcome to Sweden stars Greg (Amy’s brother) Poehler as a guy who quits his wealthy-ass life to move to Sweden, and live with his girlfriend’s family. Does the premise blow you away? No. Does it seem like it can be mined for comedy anyway? Probably, depending on how they do it. Check it:

Scene 1: Main character Bruce decides to move to Sweden.

Scene 2: Bruce arrives in Sweden

Scene 3-the rest: Wacky things happen in Sweden.

Shit, bitch. Of course that’s all you should do. Why would you ever do more? In a comedy? On NBC? What kind of asshole are you that you actually think that you’re capable of doing more, much less should?

And then there’s Working the Engels.

Scene 1: A lawyer (the always underrated Colin Mockery) tells a widow (Andrea Martin!?!) that her husband left her in a ton of debt. Then the widow inexplicably tells the lawyer about all three of her kids, and what they’re doing right now. The kids spend 22 minutes making their way back to their mother and their home town. At this point, we still have no idea what the premise is. By the end, the non-wacky daughter has decided to leave her potentially high-paying lawyer-job, and come work for the family firm, in order to get them out of debt. In a way, it’s the same premise as Sweden’s but we have to waste 22 minutes to figure that out. And by then, we can more accurately scream “who gives a shit?”

CHARACTERS

Bruce is the main character of Welcome to Sweden. He is the one being welcomed to Sweden. Once he arrives in Sweden, he meets each of his girlfriend’s family members, one at a time. He is us! We, as an audience, are also going to Sweden for the first time, and need to be welcomed! Not by everyone all at once, mind you, but one at a time. You know, like how people meet people. Each new character is assigned two traits, one that is obvious and easy to exploit for a quick laugh, and one that isn’t as obvious, and can be mined and explored as the series continues. For instance, Emma (Bruce’s Swedish girlfriend) has an uncle who is obsessed with American pop culture (something that brings about easy jokes), but is also a little weirder than that in some less obvious ways (something for us to learn about later). Characters who just have the obvious trait become immediately stale and boring, while it’s difficult for many people to attach themselves to someone who is all mystery.

Working the Engels introduces all of their characters in an easy-to-digest monologue to open up the show. Is this lazy? Yes. It is used all of the time anyway? Also yes, which makes it hard to pick on Engels too much for that fact alone. But the narration given is such an odd mishmash of convoluted backstory and hacky frontstory that any need to go easy on the show goes right out of the window. I said earlier that the widow Martin mentions each of her kids for no reason, but the reason is obvious. She needs us to know who each one of them is. And because they live far away from each other, and have to come back to their home town to start the premise of the show, they can’t use each other in the first episode to play off of each other, or as their foils. This is a plot point that we could do with a lot less of. It automatically shoots the show in the foot.

How should we start our story?

JUST START YOUR STORY.

But shouldn’t we make them all live far away from each other, so they have to come together in to start the story?

JUST START YOUR STORY.

If you started your story when the story begins (which will hopefully be the beginning of episode 2), then you don’t need the character introduction monologue. We will just watch the characters interact, and go from there. That’s all we need.

TONE

If you’re a fan of the comedies I’m a fan of (Parks and Rec, New Girl, Brooklyn 99, Veep, The Mindy Project), then you’ll recognize Welcome to Sweden’s tone right away. Although both shows are one-camera, Welcome to Sweden feels more like it. Engels is very broad and loud, and without their need to have a narrator explain characters, probably would have felt more at home with a laugh track. But my point isn’t that Welcome to Sweden is higher up my alley than Engels is, thereby making one show good and one show bad. Just like with premise, it isn’t about which tone you choose but about how successful you display it. Sweden is quiet, and dry, and lets their characters tell their jokes. There aren’t major life lessons, and there isn’t a ton of pandering. Engels, however, feels like it passed through dozens of executive’s hands before it finally got to us. It’s so all over the place that it’s hard to give the show too much shit, because if you have no idea what a show was trying to do, how can you say it did it badly? Ultimately, this is what won’t get you that bonus rating on the podcast when we try to predict your future. Premises and characters are easy to tweak and replace, but it takes someone smart and talented to change a show’s tone once it’s already been established. Of course there’s some exceptions, but all signs point to Working the Engels being a frenzied mess for the rest of its five week run.

See? It’s not that hard. Welcome to Sweden tells its story in the way only it can, with a firm grip on its tone and endearing, funny characters.

Working the Engels doesn’t.

 

- Ryan Haley

 

Kerri Battles The AFI’s Top 100: #91 – Sophie’s Choice

 

I have been referencing Sophie’s Choice for jokes for years — probably more than a decade.  It amuses me to no end to compare having to choose just one ice cream topping out of 100 delicious ones to Nazis forcing a mother to choose which of her 2 children will live. What can I say? I’m a sick bastard. But what’s even more amusing is that I’d been making that reference for that long and I’d never actually seen the movie. It never mattered. People always got the joke. No one ever replied to, “Wait, I can only have guac or pico on my burrito? This is worse than Sophie’s Choice!” with, “Who?” This is solid evidence to support my firmly held belief that spoiler alerts are a bullshit expectation for movies that are at least 10 years old. It’s also a good reason to actually watch the thing. If it’s so culturally pervasive that I can make a joke about it without knowing any more about it than that one single plot point, it’s probably worth finding out what else it’s hiding. When all you know going into a movie is that, at some point, some chick named Sophie gets told by Nazis that she must choose which of her children will be exterminated in a concentration camp, you sort of expect a certain thing. Sophie’s Choice was not that thing.

This. You expect this.

Sophie’s Choice is exactly like The Great Gatsby. We have our Nick Carraway — a young writer named Stingo (?? — 2 and a half hours of movie couldn’t explain what the fuck kind of name that is) who has recently relocated from Dixie to Brooklyn to pen his first great novel. Gatsby and Tom Buchanan are rolled into one character, Nathan, ostensibly a biologist at Pfizer with a paranoid mean streak. The place of Daisy is, of course, filled by Sophie, our irresistibly beautiful Polish immigrant bearing an Auschwitz tattoo on her arm. Nathan and Sophie are a fun and eccentric couple who take Stingo under their wing in a city where he knows no one. Stingo falls sort of in love with them both, at first in spite of and then because of their faults. Instead of lavish galas with live bands and flowing liquor, the three have grand days at Coney Island and theme parties for just the three of them. Of course, in the end, it all falls tragically to pieces, as it must, with our young Stingo discovering that neither Sophie nor Nathan were truly who they claimed to be. Really, the only difference is that The Great Gatsby focuses on a social circle who all seem incapable of discovering true happiness under their piles of money and puddles of gin while Sophie’s Choice tells the story of working class people trying to get through the day while coping with the truly horrific traumas they’ve experienced.  Well, that and, instead of epic party scenes, there are flashbacks to concentration camps.

It wasn’t a perfect movie, but it was incredibly magnetizing and engrossing. I will also say that the things about it which I found imperfect were probably due to my own personal hang ups. For example, my issues with Peter MacNicol. It doesn’t matter how many things the man acts in or how many years pass. I’ll never be able to look at this face:

without immediately thinking of this:

followed directly by this:

and then I just feel sad and scared for the rest of the day. And, really, it’s not all Peter MacNicol’s fault. Throughout the full 180+ minutes of Sophie’s Choice, I kept half-expecting him to slip into that really creepy accent from Ghostbusters II. It would have sounded more natural to me than Stingo’s southern drawl because somewhere in my childlike mind, Peter MacNicol is Dr. Janosz Poha, forever and always.

I also have issues with Kevin Kline. First and foremost, I have a hard time reconciling my love for Kevin Kline with my objective knowledge that he made a successful career of playing a boisterous fool in everything. That holds true for Sophie’s Choice, as well. I usually just end up telling myself that, while he might not seem to have a lot of range, Kevin Kline does what he does so very fucking well. It doesn’t matter if I’ve seen it 100 times in 100 starkly different projects because he always nuances the performance in just the right way as to make it seem like the natural fit. At the end of the day, I can live with that. What I can’t live with, though, is the knowledge that his wife of 25 years, Phoebe Cates, has not aged a single day since Fast Times at Ridgemont High was released. It’s apparent that she’s discovered the real Lisle Von Rhuman (played by Isabella Rossellini in the dramatization Death Becomes Her) and has dropped out of the world of Hollywood simply because she’s afraid of anyone taking too much notice. Or, of course, she watched Death Becomes Her as a cautionary tale and realized how easy it would be for her to take a tumble, break her neck, and not die, thus revealing her cosmetic little secret to the rest of the world.

1989 vs. 2011. I’M NOT WRONG.

Still, these are really my issues, not the film’s. And they felt like minor annoyances in the face of the always impeccable THE STREEP. When I wasn’t being distracted by the above or wondering why this movie was two and a half hours long, I was wondering why I never knew that Meryl Streep was really a Polish immigrant. Her performance — the way she naturally stumbled through English, searching out just the right word and making the tiniest of mistakes — you’d think English really was her second language. Of course, we’re talking about THE STREEP here, so there was never any doubt that her performance would be flawless. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, but only THE STREEP took home an Oscar for Best Actress because of fucking course she did. She’s Meryl God Damned Streep. The AFI should be praising every performance. They may as well publish her filmography and call it, “The AFI’s Top Meryl Streep Performances of All Time.” THE STREEP DESERVES IT. — KS

TOP TEN – TOTALLY MESSED UP KIDS MOVIES

TOP TEN – TOTALLY MESSED UP KIDS MOVIES

E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982)

ALL THE TEARS

While it’s touted as a magical family adventure, this right here is the movie that taught me not to trust the government. What’s the point of befriending an Alien if it means a bunch of faceless, evil HazMat suits can just seize your home and do terrifying medical tests on you both? Thanks Obama.

WATERSHIP DOWN (1978)

Probably given to most of us by well-meaning parents who saw the cartoon rabbit on the cover and thought hey my kid loves animals this should shut him up for a couple of hours. Oh you love bunnies? Did you know they’re ALL GOING TO DIE?? You sure as hell do now, this movie makes sure of it in a never-ending series of traumas. Here’s a bunny getting run over by a train, there’s one choking on barbed wire, here’s a whole clan of them led by a floppy-eared dictator going bezerk in a bloodbath of bunny on bunny violence.  It’s like baby’s first nihilist fairy tale – nothing matters because in the end all the fluffy bunnies die and so will you. Now sleep tight!

RETURN TO OZ (1986)


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After so many years of watching the shiny happy original on network TV, lots of families in the 80’s were excited about the new sequel…then systematically creeped out scene by scene. I think the first indication this isn’t going to be as cuddly as the classic comes when Dorothy is locked up in a mental institution. She escapes to Oz just in time to avoid electric shock therapy only to find a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Oh God, then she meets the Wheelers…terrifying rollerblade mutants who made me awkwardly afraid of people in wheelchairs for years. By the time the head-hoarding Princess Mombi locks Dorothy up so she can cut off her head and take it for herself you’re almost de-sensitized to the horror of new Oz. That is until the headless body chases her down the hall of screaming imprisoned heads. Ugh I still have nightmares, no wonder Fairuza Balk grew up with the crazy eyes.

PINOCCHIO (1940)


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I’m convinced this was not a movie created to entertain children so much as really drive home the importance of stranger danger. Because y’know, little kids are always being turned into donkeys and enslaved in salt mines.  Poor Pinnochio has been alive for like ten minutes before being manipulated by the first of many nefarious strangers out to make a buck off the kid’s naiveté. The entire Pleasure Island scene could never be made today, it’s such a wonderfully long sequence of children smoking, drinking and fighting. And cursing! I totally forgot they said “jackass” in this, you’d never see that in Frozen.

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1996)

Frollo creeping on Esmeralda

Frollo creeping on Esmeralda

Many Disney movies leave emotional scars, after all it’s a well-known fact children can only go on adventures after their parents die. But this movie is no mere tear-jerker, it’s a toe-tapping tale of religious extremism, lust and murder. Judge Frollo never really gets his due as one of the most terrifying Disney villains, considering in the very first scene he murders Quasimodo’s mother for being an illegal immigrant and attempts to drop the disabled infant down a well. Later he sings an entire song about how watching Esmerelda dance gives him naughty thoughts, and to cap off his reign of very adult-themed villainy Frollo tries to burn her at the stake because apparently being hot is a sin? Seriously this movie is just built on so many fucked up messages about religion and sexuality, gargoyle sidekick antics can only do so much to lighten the mood here.

WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971)

An eccentric hermit with a penchant for murdering ill-mannered children entraps a group of unsuspecting victims on his palace of horrors. One by one the children are systematically murdered based on their vices by his army of midget slaves. At one point Gene Wilder sings a nursery rhyme while forcing everyone to watch a close up of a chicken getting its head chopped off. These are actual facts about a beloved kid’s movie. The 70’s really have a monopoly on gritty quirkiness and I love ‘em for it,

THE WITCHES (1990)

Witches

Obviously witches are always on the hunt for the delicious blood of children, everyone knows this. What makes this children’s horror movie so effective is the witch isn’t hiding in the woods, she’s in suburbia and at your resort vacation and EVERYWHERE.  And more often than not, the witches come out victorious with bone-chilling antics like imprisoning the little girl in the painting. Sure Luke and his grandmother stop the plot to change all the world’s children into easily-murderable mice. But he’s stuck in rodent form for the rest of his life, and it was made pretty clear grandmas going die soon from the diabet-us. So…happy ending, sorta not really.

LABYRINTH (1986)


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Don’t get me wrong, I love Labyrinth with every fiber of my being. It’s an excellent re-watch at any age and only half that entertainment value lies in the amazement of what gags were aimed at children and realizing exactly where my issues come from. It’s really unsettling just how romantic I thought David Bowie was for trying to get a 15-year-old’s love…by kidnapping her baby brother? But it’s not only the Goblin King’s disturbingly large bulge that stole our childhood innocence, Jim Henson had a hand in giving life to a whole new generation of nightmares.  The way the Firey’s (a.k.a. Demon Flamingoes) went from lighthearted reggae to playing with amputated body parts is beyond unnerving.

THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS MOVIE (1987)

A gang of gross mutated puppet people befriend a lonely kid; no doubt this was supposed to be an edgy and vulgar fantasy adventure for mad for kids to adore and parents despise. What it looks like 27 years later is the story of a bunch of Alien? Mongoloids with “powers” like vomiting on command and occasionally munching people’s toes off. The “adventure” entails the GPK’s being forced into sweatshop labor, partying hardy with bikers at a Road House and being put on death row for being too ugly. You know, typical kid stuff.

WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (1988)

It’s like they set out to make a movie that explained sexuality to children when they animated Jessica Rabbit. Not to mention infidelity! This was probably the first time kids realized sexual affairs were a thing and people hired private investigators to take pictures of them. Even if in this case sex was actually patty-cake, the rhythmic moaning was very instructive. Cut to Christopher Lloyd in his scariest role ever dipping a doe-eyed baby cartoon in what is basically a vat of acid and it’s essentially Scarface Junior. – Amelia Stainmetz

PopFilter Podcast Episode 154

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The friends continue their epic run of Rushmores by deciding who would have been the Ghostbusters if the movie came out in 1995. Will this foursome be better than the original, or 1990′s quartet of Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, and Michael J. Fox? Also, reviews of the new Morrissey album, the new HBO show The Leftovers, Under the Skin, and season one of MASH.

CountDown- Fargo Wrapup

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A thousand apologies for the delay Filterinos! Some technical difficulties occurred at the PopFilter HQ, but all should be well now (Rachel may have poured [not spilled, but straight up poured] coffee on the servers). Some minor electrocution aside, things seems to be working again. Let your hungry earholes feast!

We finally wrap up Fargo discussion! We hinted this would happen in Episode 148, and here’s the proof we’re not liars! We get into the entire run of the series so if you haven’t caught up, probably skip this one for awhile. But it’s great, really splendid stuff. Enjoy!

You may have heard we’re KickStarting! Check out the prizes!

 

Email us to get your opinion on the show: contact@yourpopfilter.com

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP

 

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TRAILER TRASH

TRAILER TRASH

In which we review the films opening this weekend, just based on the trailer, to 100 percent accuracy.

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES


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AKA: OF THE OF THE THE SEQUEL

REVIEW: If people were disappointed there was only a couple of Ape v. Man scenes in Rise, they’ll be excited to learn there’s double that amount. But that still means 2 hours of talking about how similar/different the apes are to to us for 20 minutes of sweet primate on primate action. And if the conversations lead somewhere, or didn’t come off as preachy, the drama of these two struggling societies would be riveting. Instead it comes off as Gary Oldman screaming about the dangers of apes, while the dude from Zero Dark 30 is like “nah man, they’re like us”. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s apes who feel the same. So maybe they are just like us or something? Nah, they’re goddamn dirty apes, and they should be killed.

SPOILER: We might FINALLY see some fighting in the follow up: THE COMING OF THE WAR OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

RATING: **(out of ****)

BOYHOOD


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AKA: They Did What? … Why?

REVIEW: The only thing anyone is talking about in regards to Boyhood is how shitballs crazy an idea it is. Richard Linklater got a little kid and then filmed him every couple of years to truly capture what it’s like for someone to grow up. The other actors all got older too I guess, but really who cares. Ethan Hawke now is just a slightly more grey raspier than Ethan Hawke 12 years ago. But this kid. This little kid who’s lived an insane life where he’s a normal dude 88% of the time, and then he hangs out with Patricia Arquette, Hawke, and Linklater for ten day stints. I hope we see him again after this, though it’s likely Boyhood could become the only thing he’s for which he’s ever known. To act well as a six year old is rare, maybe 5 child actors are actually GOOD actors (and that’s a generous estimate). But to act well at 6, at 8, at 10, 12, 14, 16, 18?  To channel each moment so purely? This kid is the shit. If you don’t like coming of age movies that make the room dusty, and make you think about how you were at all those ages (including how shitty you were at certain ages) this is not the movie for you. And you’re a dummy.

SPOILER: It’s not a documentary.

RATING: ***1/2(out of ****)

JULY TV EXTRAVAGANZA

ALMOST ROYAL

almost royal

*** (out of ****)

 

 

Almost ten years after its release, Borat still has such a grip on its (very) specific genre that it’s still hard to release anything that recalls it. That genre, of course, is “comedies where improvising character actors trick everyday folk into thinking that the actors are not in fact actors but real people just like themselves.” This maybe like saying “it’s hard to release a sci-fi movie with a character named Darth Vader and not get compared to Star Wars,” but this isn’t a genre that Sacha Baron Cohen invented. Perfected? Maybe. Modernized? Definitely. So what does this mean for future entries of the genre?

 

Almost Royal is a BBC America original that follows the 50th and 51st in line for the English crown. Any dumbfuck can be in line for the crown as long as they have the right blood, as opposed to the democratic ways of the United States, where that dumbfuck has to instead have the right money. These particular two dumbfuck are Brittain’s version of celebutantes: selfish, snobby pricks who are famous only because they are royal. Georgie and Poppy’s father’s last wish was that they tour the United States. After he dies, the brother and sister pair, along with a camera crew to mockument their travels, board a plane for the great wide mystery that is the United States. They start in Los Angeles, where they meet Fabio in a grocery store and try out for a soap opera. So far, so America.
The actors who portray Georgie and Poppy aren’t without their skills and charm. They’re quick on their feet, and they’re both able to keep a straight face, even when the normal folk can’t, failing to hide their incredulousness at these blue-blooded bumpkins. Almost Royal, given the premise, is about as funny as it needs to be. Some of the scenes work better than others, almost like it’s a skit show, but they seem to do a pretty good job of editing out the fluff and keeping only the funniest moments. In the end, though, we’ve seen all of this before. Americans and Brits have their stereotypes, and it’s easy to point and laugh at them. Even with the upper hand of knowing that this in fact a mockumentary, Georgie and Poppy make sure to let Brittain have it as much as they give it to America but the show doesn’t seem to have much more on its mind than that, and that’s probably Borat’s fault. Is that fair? Probably not, but it does, once again, give us a chance to blame something on the Kazakhstanians.

- Ryan Haley

 

Popfilter’s Foriegn Flick of the Week

In  which Stephanie Reviews a Film from Notmerica

Japan’s

images

My Neighbor Totoro

or

“The Anti Disney-Princess Fantasy Movie somehow still brought to you by Disney”

 

Okay, that retitle is a little misleading. My Neighbor Totoro is a film by legendary animator and director Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) and released in 1988. It was one of many Miyazaki films that Disney acquired the distribution rights to, because that what happens to popular franchises these days. Under strict instructions not to cut a single scene or reedit in any way, Disney hired American actors, most notably the very talented Fanning sisters, to re dub the movie and it was rereleased in the United States in 1996. Thanks to the acclaim of having a genius Japanese director in part with Disney’s enormous distribution complex, the film became an instant cult classic among film lovers and hipster parents who don’t want to raise their daughters with the kind of values prescribed by some of Disney’s more famous franchises: the Disney Princesses. It is exactly what makes this movie different from your typically Disney movie that makes it so compelling.

My-Neighbor-Totoro-my-neighbor-totoro-27648621-1024-768

Totoro: Too cute and dumb to be menacing.

This movie is of the fantasy genre. It tells the story of two sisters, Satsuko and Mei, who are growing up in a post-war Japan. The film opens with the girls moving to the country with their gentle and supportive father. Some of the most gorgeous animation of the entire film is found in these scenes of the Japanese countryside. Long enough into the first act when you really start to think, “where the hell is the mother?” It is revealed that the girl’s mom is not with them because she is sick in the hospital. Dealing with her illness and subsequent separation from her makes up the main conflict of the story. The fantasy element is introduced when the girls befriend a big, furry, rabbit like forest creature named Totoro.

What truly sets this movie apart from other children’s stories is the way that it incorporates fantasy in the storytelling. Having been a Disney-oholic as a child, I believed that fantasy as it existed in story telling was a portal that provided an escape from the conflicts and drudges of day to day life. I didn’t just believe it, I didn’t see how it could be used any other way. Consider the aforementioned Princess movies. The story of The Little Mermaid where Ariel dreams of living on dry land, a place she knows nothing about, to escape the familiar boring world under the sea.

On land I don't have to deal with my mother's disappearance and a violently angry father the two of which I am sure are not connected in any way.

On land I don’t have to deal with my mother’s disappearance and a violently angry father. The two of which I am sure are not connected in any way.

Now remember Sleeping Beauty, who falls into a coma, which means she was legally brain-dead, and only a kiss from a hot prince can revive her. In The Beauty and the Beast Belle is from a poor, French, hick town where all the filthy ignorant yokels shun her for *gasp* reading books and she is stalked by an obvious rapist.

This man should be in prison.

This man should be in prison.

Belle is kidnapped into a magnificent castle full of books and adorable servants made out of inanimate objects who sing songs and make her an 18 course meal because she was, “a little hungry.” No god-damn wonder she wasn’t in a big hurry to leave. Fantasy has always served as an escape from what is boring, awful, uncomfortable and dangerous. Escapist fantasy is directly linked to what the imagination perceives as a threat. That would make escapist fantasy and the imagination inextricably linked through fear and the imagination’s concept of how to remove the threat causing the fear.

In a move unique to my understanding of the fantastical, My Neighbor Totoro uses the fantasy elements not as an exercise of the imagination or the threats it believes it’s up against, rather these elements exist outside the imagination and serve to pull the main characters out of the fears and threats the imagination conjures up and, ironically, root it in reality. Consider the the most iconic scene of the movie:

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This is where older sister Satsuko meets Totoro (who can only be seen if he wants to be seen) for the first time. One day, the sisters go to their father’s bus stop in a rainstorm to give him an umbrella. It’s getting dark, it’s pouring rain, and it is getting later and later without any sign of their only live-in parent and to boot, they are in the middle of a spooky and unfamiliar forest. Just as Mei falls asleep and the isolation and fear start to set in for Satsuko, this big hulking spirit creature shows up and…just stands there next to her. Had this been an escapist fantasy he might have been some sort of handsome knight come to protect Satsuko and Mei from the evils of the forest, but look into his big dumb eyes; there is no threat, no danger, and dad will be along in a minute. He hands Satsuko a gift, a bamboo leaf full of acorns to plant. Besides the obvious life-cycle metaphor, Totoro gets Satsuko out of her own head and grounds her into what is happening in the present moment. He exists outside of her imagination. He isn’t there to take the girls away to a place without danger, a place where her mother isn’t sick, somewhere where there is no pain and suffering. He exists as a fantastical element here to lure her out of the most frightening place there is (and I think every kid can relate), the place in her imagination where fear lives and grows. He is a fantasy element that enables the characters he presents himself to to live life as it is and not be incapacitated by fear.

As an American moviegoer this movie blew my mind away with possibilities I didn’t know existed in storytelling. Miyazaki is famous for children’s stories that don’t treat children like dumb little bags of money. I honestly can’t wait to go share this movie with my nieces.

-Stephanie Rose

Kerri Battles the AFI’s Top 100 – #92: Goodfellas

I’ve always had a mild obsession with the idea of the Mafia. When I was 13 and we took a family vacation to San Francisco, I couldn’t wait to see Al Cap0ne’s cell at Alcatraz.  In 10th grade English, when my class was assigned a research paper on a topic of our choosing, I wrote about 10 pages on the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. I’ve spent the majority of my life telling my Italian mother that I know she’s keeping our real mob ties a secret from me because she has admitted to an uncle who used to run floating craps games and unofficially changed his name to something that didn’t end in a vowel so my great-grandmother wouldn’t die of shame when she read his name in the police blotter.  So, you know, I’m usually down for a good gangster flick. Goodfellas should be high on my list of all-time favorites. But it’s not. In fact, I’ve thoroughly disliked it every time I’ve seen it before. There’s only one “classic” gangster film that actually loathe more than Goodfellas (I won’t deign to name that one here since it’s not on the list, proving the AFI agrees with me) so I really thought I knew what I was getting into this week. Two and a half hours and one DVD-flip later, I couldn’t have been more surprised. Instead of reaffirming my contempt, the 5th(ish) viewing made me realize that everything I’d hated about Goodfellas before was basically everything that also made it awesome.

I CAN’T BE THE ONLY ONE WHO DOESN’T THINK THIS MOVIE IS FUN TO WATCH. AT. ALL.

In case you only know it by it’s most iconic scenes, Goodfellas is the story of Henry Hill, a half-Irish-half-Italian kid who quits school at the ripe old age of too fucking young in order to begin his illustrious and lengthy career as a criminal. The two and a half hours or so of run time follow the path you’d expect your average gangster flick to take. We begin at humble beginnings, then quickly move to favored protege. We pass through big heists, big hits, girlfriends, a wife, more girlfriends, good times, jail time, and parole until finally we reach the mistake (fact: all criminals make one) that brings it all crumbling down to ruins. The story has been and will be done again and again. But Scorsese did it right. He did it so right that everyone else has been “trying to find inspiration” in Goodfellas ever since, including Marty himself.

The only Scorsese movie that DOESN’T use “Gimme Shelter” as the soundtrack to a badass scene with a lot of drugs and/or crime.

As I’ve already mentioned, the basic story has been done before — ignored kid with a less-than-stellar home life finds a new family in The Family and makes it big, only to ultimately crash and burn. But Goodfellas is based on a true story and, by all knowledgeable accounts, is pretty fucking accurate. Henry Hill was a real life known associate of the Lucchese crime family, took part in the 1978 Lufthansa robbery at JFK Airport that netted over $6 million dollars, then turned state’s witness to avoid getting whacked. All of the characters portrayed in the film are closely based on real people, complete with their psychopathic tendencies and violent jealous streaks. The events, while nipped here and tucked there in true Hollywood fashion for the sake of runtime, are still pretty accurate to life. Scorsese just took the bits of Hill’s life that he found the most interesting and arranged them in such a way that builds a story that feels equally as true. You know where the story is going, but you keep watching because you want to know how and when these odious characters will finally get their due. You want to know exactly how much coke will cause Lorraine Bracco to completely lose her already tenuous grip on her shit. You want to know how and when that Shinebox fiasco is going to come back to bite Joe Pesci in the face… with a bullet. You want to know who Robert De Niro is going to take revenge on when it does. Above all, you want to know who makes the mistake that ruins them all. Well, that, and you want to know if that guy playing Tuddy Cicero is the same guy who played Vito on The Sopranos because you just can’t quite tell ….

So you check the IMDb and, nope, not Vito … just, you know, MICHAEL JACKSON’S ONE-TIME MANAGER. … Also, he played Frankie Sharp of Sharp Records in Wayne’s World, but internet magic failed to conjure a picture of that.

I could never quite put my finger on what I hated most about Goodfellas until yesterday. It wasn’t until the credits rolled on my 5th(ish) viewing that I realized what it was. Goodfellas is the story of the rise and fall of a single crime family, yes, but it’s also an obituary to the Mafia life itself. This film came out in 1990 and portrayed the downfall of the first of the Five Families. The remaining 4 would follow suit by the mid-90s. A quick Google will tell you that 4 of the 5 bosses are currently serving almost comically long sentences. The Legend of the Mafia would have me believe that those bars don’t mean much but, really, when you’re serving an actual, literal 100 year sentence, how much influence can you really have? Let’s face it — The Mafia hasn’t been cool or relevant since John Gotti got pinched and handed life without parole. By the time Tony Soprano started telling us all he thought he got in at the end of the thing, the thing he was talking about  already seemed about as distant and real as dragons. Watching Goodfellas reminds me that it was once a living, breathing organism as real as unicorns (THEY ARE SO). But if we can’t watch it collect tributes and take bets and break kneecaps in the wild anymore, at least Goodfellas can accurately show us what it used to be like. And for that, Scorsese should be commended.


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If you’re between the ages of  about 25 and 35 and don’t 100% get this joke, I’m truly sorry that your childhood just wasn’t that cool. — KS

 

 

JUNE TV EXTRAVAGANZA

MYSTERY GIRLS

mysterygirls

*1/2 (out of ****)

 

Jennie Garth is an American treasure. Hmmm…let’s start over.

 

Jennie Garth is underrated. I’m not saying she’s Television Hall of Fame material. I would say, however, that she’s a poor man’s Christina Applegate, while her current public status seems to be homeless man’s Christina Applegate or dead homeless man’s Christina Applegate. She’s been a dependable ditzy-ish blonde for twenty-five years ago. She’s been the best actor on two moderate hits, Beverly Hills, 90210, a show I grew up on, and What I Like About You, a show I’ve never seen before. The latter show did have Amanda Bynes, who turned out to be a little kooky, so let’s assume Garth is the reason for its success. There was never any rumors about what a horrible actress she was to work with, or how much coke she did that one time in a Mexican prison. The only reason I doubt my feelings on Jennie is how old I was when I first saw her in 90210. Many things were going through my head at the time, least of which was acting criticism.

 

Either based on the roles she’s accepted, or just a general lack of gravitas, Garth never seemed like she could be the sole lead on a show, or make the jump to film (to be fair, Christina Applegate was never able to, and she’s like a rich man’s Jennie Garth). But how close was she to a career where she wasn’t accepting roles on horrible sitcoms on ABC Family? The first decade of her career was dominated by 90210. She was the one of the last original cast members when the show ended its run, along with Steve, David, and fellow Mystery Girls cast member Donna. She could have bailed earlier like everyone else, but the highlights of the work done by the actor who bailed include a couple seasons of Charmed and a guest role on Oz, so it’s not like that was guaranteed success. Plus, she never had the makings of a break-out star. Like I said earlier, Kelly Taylor, and in turn, Jennie Garth, just seemed solid.

 

It wasn’t until the 2002 season until she got What I Like About You, so she spent the season in-between that at 90210 as a semi-regular on The $treet, a show about things no one cares about or remembers. WILAY turned out to be an important moment in her career. Another success could prove that she will be a TV star for the rest of her life. But WILAY was an Amanda Bynes vehicle. The show was built around her rising star, and any number of actresses at the time could have been cast as the older sister. If Garth could spend WILAY’s run showing that she could be more than a comedic version of Kelly Taylor, she could compete/build a report with her castmate, and get her own vehicle. Or the show ends its run and she ends up being thrown into the Lifetime casting pool. Guess what happened.

 

WILAY got canceled in 2006, and in the last 8 years, Garth has bounced from Lifetime Original to Lifetime Original, taking a break only to again appear as Kelly Taylor in order to help the 90210 reboot get off the ground. She might have been the only cast member to agree to come back for any significant amount of time, but I like to think that she was the show’s first, last, and only choice. It couldn’t have been that hard to lock down any other cast member, and yet they chose Jennie. Although it was never that apparent during the show’s peak, Kelly Taylor is 90210, and vice versa, which means she’s an entire generation’s Victoria Principal or Eva Longoria.
Oh, Jennie Garth is currently appearing in a horrible ABC Family TV show called Mystery Girls. Tune in if you miss her being around, and want to watch her deal with what it must be like to have known Tori Spelling for this long, or enjoy watching gay actors portray gay characters as if they lit on fire and pushed off a building.

 

- Ryan Haley

TOP TEN – MOVIES THAT DEFINE SUMMER

TOP TEN – MOVIES THAT DEFINE SUMMER

 

STAND BY ME (1986)

The very best summer movies explore what kind of hijinks kids used to get into when they had an entire season of freedom stretched out ahead of them. You think a group of 12-year-olds could go have an amazing adolescent journey of self-discovery and bonding, free from the watchful gaze of parents today? Hell no, in 2014 at least one of those boys would’ve been micro chipped and geotagged. They never would have made it to that dead body without parents or police keeping them safe from the adventure of a lifetime.

Best Line of the Summer:  “I never had any friends later on, like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?”

CAMP NOWHERE (1994)

Oh man between the generous mixing of plaids and stripes, the JTT knockoff playing the lead, and Christopher Lloyd just being himself, the 90’s are alive and well in this one. The freedom afforded from summer isn’t enough for these little rebels. They stage a fake camp, use their parent’s “tuition money” to buy a bunch of awesome toys and junk and live like the lost boys for the summer. WITH FIREWORKS!!! It’s the ultimate kid fantasy, like running away with a blank check. Though I’m still juvenile enough today that I’d definitely run away for the summer with Andrew Keegan and that bitching leather jacket.

Best Line of the Summer: “Who would think something like this would happen from harmless flares and roman candles?”

DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993)

 
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The nostalgia here is so poignant and relatable, it will make you relive the best night of your teenage life, even if you never actually kissed the girl or got one over on the bully. The first night of High School summer break is a timelessly magical night filled with endless possibilities, and for some students in small towns that apparently includes homo-erotic paddlings and discovering you just want to dance. Not necessarily in that order.

Best Line of the Summer: “I’d like to quit thinking of the present, like right now, as some minor, insignificant preamble to somethin’ else.”

WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER (2001)

 
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Unlike most terrible parodies (Date Movie, Twilight), this sun and bug-juice soaked film uses its self-awareness sparingly. Normally just for excellently timed punchlines so usually it just feels the kind of rad, no-rules camp Janeane Garofalo would run. Wet Hot American Summer is from the crew at The State so you know it’s full of hilarious people, but for every Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler there are some major casting surprises, hello Bradley Cooper’s flaming drama teacher and Christopher Meloni’s shell-shocked Vet turned camp cook. It’s the best camp movie ever because it is literally EVERY camp movie ever, chock full of all the tropes you can handle from the kid who won’t shower to the rag tag sports team beating the generically evil really good team. OK they didn’t actually beat them they just talked about it, which is almost the same thing right?

Best Line of the Summer: “You smell like a burger. I don’t like you anymore.”

THE SANDLOT (1993)

This movie has literally everything that was part of your best childhood summer: good friends, secret clubhouse, defying your parents, complicated plan or project to keep you out of trouble, confronting and befriending a terrifying local villain, sneaking illicit substances, intense competitions, carnival rides, first kiss (with or without coercion) and victory over a fierce rival. It’s like an entire summer in a bottle and it’s going to be entertaining FOR-EV-ER.

Best Line of the Summer: “You’re killing me Smalls!”

THE WACKNESS (2009)


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Not all summers are filled with crazy adventures, sometimes they’re just dull and quiet like life is the rest of the year.  Luke is a recent High School grad selling weed around New York for the summer to pay for college. He also trades it to Ben Kingsley for therapy, it’s a pretty sweet deal for both parties. It’s always surreal to see a Disney channel star do drugs and curse and have sex and all the normal things teenagers do in movies that you only notice if they happen to have been a child actor, but Josh Bell is pitch perfect as a disillusioned city kid dealing with his dysfunctional family and generally shitty summer. Of course he does get to lose his virginity in Fire Island, so it’s not all bad. Plus it’s statistically impossible to have an entirely bad time while The Fresh Prince and DJ jazzy Jeff are playing.

Best Line of the Summer: “In June I graduate. And then I go to my safety school. And then I get a little older. And then I die.”

DO THE RIGHT THING (1989)


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When you think summer it’s usually associated with bodies of water and shady woods, but lots of people can’t escape the asphalt jungle. This Spike Lee joint is unflinching in its discussion of the tough topics, namely racial tension and gross sweat production. Crime rates are known to rise with the temperature, well it’s the hottest day of the year in Brooklyn and you can tell by everyone’s constantly damp pits and dappled foreheads alone that the general discomfort is steadily growing.

Best Line of the Summer: “No. I’m just a struggling Black man trying to keep my dick hard in a cruel and harsh world.”

JAWS (1975)

It has to be included simply because Jaws changed summer forever. No longer was the ocean a safe and relaxing setting for a great summer outing, in fact ALL bodies of water became suspect. The beach scenes are eerie in their familiarity, it could be any one of us paddling out in the water, kicking our feet unsuspectingly as a monster lurks beneath ready to kill at any moment. That music starts to drift into your head and it’s not long before you’re screaming bloody murder about something touching your foot….even though it’s always just seaweed.

Best Line of the Summer: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”

THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1955)

Most tales of summertime center on childhood adventures or teenagers coming of age, but Marilyn Monroe’s iconic upskirt film is all about what gets the adults sweaty. Seven Year Itch is about the season of the summer bachelor, men whose families go on vacation while they slave away in the hot city and try to get into the extramarital panties of single girls all around them. Tom Ewell plays a man determined to stay loyal to his wife but Marilyn Monroe wants to use him for his A/C…gee wiz what’s a guy to do?  It’s ridiculous and campy and really, really funny mainly due to Ewell’s neurotic ramblings and mastery of slapstick. Monroe does her best cooing and perching here too, she’s perfect as the girl who innocently says suggestive things and gets into all sorts of trouble…even though that’s totally not a type of girl who exists in real life.

Best Line of the Summer: “What happened at the office? Well, I shot Mr. Brady in the head, made violent love to Miss Morris and set fire to three hundred thousand copies of Little Women. That’s what happened at the office.’ What can happen at the office?”

THE ENDLESS SUMMER (1966)


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I mean duh, the poster alone has become the straight up icon of the season. It’s by far the most pleasurable documentary to watch; gorgeous scenes of waves crashing and beautiful people cavorting on the most exotic beaches around the world are set against super groovy jams and it’s all just very chill. This movie is also the reason all of your summer memories come back to you as if they’re appearing through a hazy 60’s filter. Science.

Best Line of the Summer: “The only way to avoid a wipeout is to take this wide, stink-bug stance. Spread your legs and hang on till your trunks rip, right up the back.” 

 **Amelia Steinmetz

 

 

PopFilter Podcast Episode 153

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This week on the PopFilter Podcast, the friends all discuss Braid’s latest album “No Coast”, Nymphomaniac Volume 1 and MASH the film. They also build a Mount Rushmore to recast Ghostbusters with the greatest comedic actors from 1985-1990! If that’s not enough for you, I don’t know what your fucking problem is. Seriously.

Email us to get your opinion on the show: contact@yourpopfilter.com

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP

 

Review us on iTunes!

 

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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TRAILER TRASH

TRAILER TRASH

In which we review the films opening this weekend, just based on the trailer, to 100 percent accuracy.

TAMMY


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AKA: Melissa McCarthy and the Great Pigeonhole Caper

REVIEW: This movie isn’t great. McCarthy is charismatic and funny enough to inject some life into it, but at this point she (and the studios) have figured out the audience wants her to be loud and dumb like a lady Chris Farley. And she could be so much more than that, which glimmers through. But the script is so blargh and generic. But on a more important note– this is how you make a fucking trailer sooooooon (that’s a drawn out son, not a drawn out soon). Pick a scene that shows the tone of your movie, get in get out give nothing away. Boom. If there were awards for trailers this would be second to Guardians of the Galaxy, because come on have you seen that shit? It looks awesome. Only one month til Guardians Filterinos!

SPOILER: There’s a lot of jokes about her liking food. Like, I know you expect there to be a lot. But there’s just way more than you’d think. You’re still not imagining enough. More. More than that. You’re close.

RATING: **1/2(out of ****)

EARTH TO ECHO


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AKA: ALIEN BEFRIENDS KIDS 9

REVIEW: Like a family friendlier Super 8, or like a modern day ET, Earth to Echo is like a modern day ET. A group of young kids befriend a cute alien robot who controls metal? And the government is after them? Coem for the hugs and tears, stay because movies are so damn expensive these days and it’d be a waste to walk out now.

SPOILER: Post-credits scene shows this is the first in an Avengers style meet up with Echo, Cloverfield and Mac from Mac & Me.

RATING: **(out of ****)

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The List!!

Best Songs of the 1990′s

Best Songs of 1997

Hey! Look who’s back! And talking! Too! That’s right, after a brief hiatus, The List is back to present you the very best songs of the year 1997. Why the absence, you ask? Well, 1997 happened to be a fucking spectacular year for music. This might be the most challenging year of the decade to pick through and separate the awesome from the totally awesome. But we did it. So I hope you’re fucking happy.

10. “Mo Money Mo Problems” by Notorious BIG

Let’s get super real for a second. This song has one of the catchiest hooks of any rap song AND it’s a pretty heady thing for a rapper to admit that more money lends itself to creating more strife. Unfortunately, the track sucks a fat dick until Biggie jumps on a shows everyone else in 1997 how to rap. He is the sole reason this track made the cut. RIP.

9. “Brick” by Ben Folds Five

Remember when things like abortion were too shocking a private to talk about? And doesn’t that sound like it’s probably the 50’s? Well, it wasn’t. It was 17 years ago, when the song “Brick” made everyone really sad and pensive. And while the shock value is a thing of the past, what remains is a gorgeously composed song with honesty to spare.

8. “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day

Though many a graduating class was sent off into the sunset that is college with this song, it doesn’t deserve all of the shit it gets for being so saccharine. This is Billy Joe we’re talking about. This dude doesn’t write shit like this, and the first time he does, he knocks it out of the fucking park. It’s simple, it’s catchy and will go down in history as Green Day’s equivalent to the Beatles’ “Yesterday”.

7. “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve

Looking back, this may seem a bit like a novelty song with the way it was so furiously overplayed. If you can get past that, however, you will find a song that is bitter, sweet and symphonic. The song deals with the highs and lows of life against a backdrop of music that is so smartly produced you don’t even care that they’re trying to pull at your heartstrings every single second; and that is a feat worthy of praise.

6. “Stereo” by Pavement

If you missed out on Pavement, you can still go back and listen to their music. What you will find is a band that doesn’t give a fuck, has a completely unique style and makes exactly the kind of weird, eclectic music that it wants to. This song is a shining example of how well all of those particular traits can come together and make something amazing.

5. “Everlong” by The Foo Fighters

Aside from having one of the all-time greatest videos, this is an amazingly written, arranged and produced track. Dave Grohl always toes the line between growling and singing, somehow knowing exactly when the push the gas and when to pump the breaks. This song sees him in his prime doing it as well as anyone before or after. If it’s been a little while since you heard it, do yourself a favor and reacquaint yourself with “The Colour and The Shape”, You absolutely will not be sorry that you did.

4. “Dammit” by Blink 182

It’s easy to write this band off as a funny little punk band from San Diego. And while that is totally true, that’s not all they have to offer. With “Dammit”, Mark, Tom and Scott prove to the world that you can pine for the past, brace for the future and still play super duper fast. This song struck a major chord with the shared teenage experience of growing up and will speak to every generation for the same exact reason. Bravo.

3. “Karma Police” by Radiohead

“OK Computer” is not just a great album from 197 or even from the 1990’s. “OK Computer” is in the discussion for greatest album ever. That probably means that some of the songs are good, right? Right. And “Karma Police” is no exception. With a groove so mellow you might mistake it for boring, this track explodes with bitterness and disdain for a planet’s worth of strangers that need to have their lives kept in check. Add to that the best use of the chromatic scale in a piano riff of all time and you have one hell of a fucking track.

2. “Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine” by Modest Mouse

I don’t know what else I can say about Modest Mouse and specifically any track off of “The Lonesome Crowded West”. This is transcendent, it’s brilliant and it’s perfectly composed. It’s powerful, coy and insane. It’s everything I want from a song and it also has Isaac Brock’s asinine delivery and rad vocal timbre. This is one for the record books.

1. “No Surprises” by Radiohead

Remember how I said “OK Computer” is one of the greatest albums ever? Well I wasn’t kidding. This song, the best of an incredibly rich field, is perfection. It never reaches the fever pitch that most Radiohead songs find themselves approaching, but the melody, rhythm and production of this track are beyond reproach. All of that would be enough, but to couple it with the most melancholy lyric sheet of all time, make this not just the best of the year, but one of the best songs ever written. Fuck, 1997 was a good year for some tunes.

 

And there you have it, folks. The infallible list has done it again. In fact, maybe I’ll change the name to The Infallibl;e List from here on out. If you have a problem with that, shoot me a line at jasonnoble@yourpopfilter.com. I assume none of you will email because you know how flawless my list is.
With Love,

Jason R. Noble