The M&M Report: “Hail, Caesar!”

Caesar.jpgDevin and I asked our friend Kevin Werner to rejoin us for a screening and discussion of “Hail, Caesar!” We enjoyed it, even if we weren’t quite sure and didn’t quite agree on what it all means.


Don’t forget, you can now subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and download the feed directly into the podcast app of your choice. New episodes should show up on your feed immediately and on iTunes within a day or two of release. Subscribe away!

Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening.

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“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: Shifting Sands

Biden

As I wrote when The Late Show with Stephen Colbert premiered last Tuesday — was it really such a short time ago? — late-night shows are evolving creatures. To judge them on their first episode is the equivalent of evaluating a new employee on his first day of work. To judge them after two weeks still isn’t entirely fair, but the nine Late Show episodes that have aired so far give a slightly more accurate picture of what the appeals and setbacks of this show are, might be and could become.

The standard caveat with the analysis that follows: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert will almost certainly look very different in six months’ time. Many of the people involved with making the show likely already have a sense of its flaws, even if they haven’t come up with practical fixes yet. These opinions are subject to change without warning.

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“Avengers: Age of Ultron”: Do Less

Avengers

Age of Ultron is a fine title, but I might have called the Avengers sequel Age of A Lot. There’s a lot happening in this movie. A lot of characters, a lot of intersecting storylines, a lot of pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo, a lot of special effects, a lot of action, a lot of incident, a lot of a lot. Meanwhile, in short supply: imagination, variation, respite.

I enjoyed watching it, but I haven’t really enjoyed thinking about it afterwards. Mostly because I’m not sure my brain can handle the convoluted machinations that drive nearly every scene of this ultra- (ultron?)-long, ultra-confusing behemoth. It doesn’t need a little less talk and a lot more action – it needs a little less of all of the above.

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The M&M Report, Episode 32: When Hollywood Meets Reality

Bert Cooper

Listen to this week’s episode here.

This week on The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I discuss the recent controversy involving Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday’s assertion that Hollywood movies contribute to the culture that allowed an incident like last Friday’s shooting at UCSB to take place. We talked about Seth Rogen’s unfortunate response to the piece and debated whether Hornaday’s arguments of causation were valid and productive.

After that, we reviewed Jon Favreau’s food dramedy Chef, which made us very hungry indeed.

Finally, we took a look back at the first part of the final season of AMC’s Mad Men. We couldn’t come to a consensus on the musical number in the season finale, but we liked the rest of it quite a bit.

Come back soon for our thoughts on Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad, summer movies and much more. Thanks for listening!

Click through for the time breakdown.

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“Chef”: Well Seasoned

Chef

Jon Favreau’s Chef is bloated at times and bites off more than it can chew, but it’s a frequently sumptuous and fully fleshed-out meal with side dishes as potent and satisfying as the main entree. The seasoning is exquisite, the presentation is dazzling and you’ll leave the theater full and content.

Now that’s enough food metaphors for one review, right?

After a lengthy foray into blockbuster filmmaking with the Iron Man franchise and the regrettable Cowboys and Aliens, multi-hyphenate filmmaker Favreau returns to his roots with this low-budget, star-studded, light-fare dramedy that indulges some of the director’s passions and incorporates many of his favorite famous actors. The movie doesn’t always make the best use of these supporting players, but Favreau’s finely tuned performance and the affecting relationship between his character, Chef Carl Casper, and his adolescent son Percy (EmJay Anthony) keep the film afloat.

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“Her”: Future Awe

Her

In writer-director Spike Jonze’s Her, Joaquin Phoenix plays the man some of us might turn out to be in twenty or thirty years. Burdened by the constant bombardment of “connection” and “engagement,” Theodore Twombley is perpetually alone, at least in his own mind. Even though he knows his life is stuck in neutral, he feels too threatened by his own sorrows to make any meaningful strides in the right direction. But technology hasn’t hollowed him out. In fact, Theodore radiates empathy and compassion, even when he doesn’t know where or how to direct it.

That’s the contradiction at the heart of this marvelous film, a richly imagined exploration of the nature of relationships and a study in the futility of rejecting technological progress. Her offers a vision of the future that’s both radically different from our world and very much the same. Theodore’s central quandary – is my relationship with an artificially intelligent operating system “real”? – is just a logical extension of our own uncertainty about knowing and connecting with others. As we place our trust in manmade machines that take on lives of their own, we’re simply transferring the central questions of human existence into a more palatable outlet. In the not-so-distant future of Her, those central questions remain the same, even though they’ve evolved on the surface.

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The M&M Report, Episode 19: She

Girls

Listen to Episode 19 of The M&M Report here.

This week on The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I talked about two pieces of entertainment with female-centric titles: HBO’s Girls and Spike Jonze’s Her. It’s only fitting that we also brought in two women to talk with us!

First, The Eagle news assistant Lindsay Sandoval joined us to discuss the new season of Girls, the strange appeal of Adam Driver and the validity of the controversies surrounding the show.

After that, we welcomed The Eagle student life editor Chloe Johnson to discuss the romantic drama Her, the first film both written and directed by Spike Jonze. All three of us like the movie and recommend you see it instead of choosing from the January trash heap (That Awkward Moment and Labor Day, just to name two).

Next week, we’re happy to finally welcome The Eagle sports editor Eric Saltzman to talk about the Super Bowl, the Olympics and whatever else is on our minds.

In the meantime, make sure to listen to Chloe’s first appearance on Episode 8 of the podcast. Until next week…thanks for listening!

Click through for the time breakdown.

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