The M&M Report: “Us”

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Devin and Mark, along with horror correspondent Kevin Werner, debate and discuss Us, Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out. Listen here.

Listen to Sean Fennessey’s interview with Peele. Read Reggie Ugwu’s profile of Lupita Nyong’o. Ponder Jordan Crucchiola’s interpetation of the ending.

Subscribe to Devin and Kevin’s politics podcast Friendly Fire.

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The M&M Report: Spring Movie Roundup

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It’s been an unusually active year for major motion pictures. Looking at the box office receipts might not tell the whole story — many of this year’s most interesting movies have drawn low grosses, thanks to some combination of weak-willed marketing and ill-considered scheduling.

Money doesn’t tell the whole story, though. Allow The M&M Report to fill in the rest. We’ll walk you through a non-comprehensive list of 2018’s highlights. But first, Devin, let me throw it to you — any theories on why we’ve been so excited to head to the multiplex so far this year?

Devin: Good movies are coming out! People realize that it’s possible for a film released early in the year to be commercially and critically successful. Get Out, which came out February of last year, probably did a lot to shift expectations, but the early months have been underserved relative to the rest of the year for awhile. Maybe there was an outdated perception that good movies didn’t come out during Oscar season? But to some extent this is just speculation.

In any event, I think it’s a positive development, even if all of movies covered here didn’t land in the way Black Panther did. Mark, what do you think is going on? And is there any credence to the idea that the plethora of good films this spring has anything to do with middling television?

Mark: I think it’s always tough to make blanket assertions about The State of Film or The State of TV. But I myself feel more engaged in what’s happening on the big screen right now. As summer movie season has become increasingly engulfed by massive spectacles designed to attract international audiences, the weirder, smaller movies that tend to draw me to the theater get pushed to spring and fall (or to Netflix, but that’s a separate conversation). The increasing fragmentation of the TV landscape means it’s now far easier to be “caught up” on movies worth seeing than it is to be “caught up” on new television that might be worth watching. And you don’t need a plethora of cable subscriptions or passwords from your friends and relatives to go see a movie — it’s hard to beat the simplicity of walking up to a counter and purchasing an immediately redeemable ticket.

I’m pleased about the number of intriguing films from respected or interesting directors that have come out recently, because it’s a reminder to check yourself whenever you’re tempted to utter the phrase, “Movies are bad now.” Rome wasn’t built in a day, and an entire medium doesn’t crumble in one either. Here are a few examples to prove the point.

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The M&M Report: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “The Post”

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West Coast correspondent Erin Vail returns to nerd out with me and Devin over Star Wars: The Last Jedi (0:00-23:20). Then they poke gentle fun at The Post for being, well, not unsubtle (23:20-38:50). Before she leaves, Erin drops a few pop culture recommendations of her own (38:50-end).

For more Erin content, check out her podcast, writing for The Prompt and consistently delightful Twitter feed.

Listen here and subscribe on iTunes and Spotify.

The M&M Report: “Bridge of Spies”

Brooklyn lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) meets with his client Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet agent arrested in the U.S. in DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 PIctures' dramatic thriller BRIDGE OF SPIES, directed by Steven Spielberg.

On this episode of The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I discussed Steven Spielberg’s first spy thriller Bridge of Spies with special guest Matt Dewilde. Disputes ensued!

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

“Jurassic World”: Less Dino, More Problems

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During the climax of Jurassic World, two dinosaurs tear into each other with ferocity and menace. The movie builds to this moment, capturing its CGI spectacle in loving wide shots with Michael Giacchino’s nostalgia-tinged score pumping in the background. But for a few seconds, the camera pans to the movie’s three main characters, who are darting in between the dinosaurs’ legs, scrambling to get out of the way.

I wish they had. Human characters are a necessary component of any movie in which dinosaurs terrorize a theme park full of unsuspecting vacationers. But Jurassic World makes a convincing argument that future installments (of which there will undoubtedly be many) ought to do away with them entirely. The movie squanders good actors and does bad no ones no favors. It seems confident that its characterizations have one or two more dimensions than they actually do. And it’s hard to build up a dino-fueled head of steam when the action periodically pauses for another round of unconvincing dialogue.

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Robin Williams: Wishes Granted, 1951-2014

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Robin Williams, who passed away on Monday, was agile, versatile, quick-witted and almost overwhelmingly boisterous. Energy seemed to flow from everywhere else into him and then back out again in a million tiny, disparate fragments. Even at his most serious, he seemed incapable of turning off the parts of himself that might come across as obnoxious or excessive in the wrong directorial hands. As a performer, he was like a rubber band perpetually on the brink of snapping. Last night, we learned what we already knew but couldn’t bring ourselves to talk about: that metaphor applied to his life as well as his art.

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