Goodbye, 2017

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I couldn’t let 2017 slip away without indulging one more look back at the year in pop culture. Here are a few things that brought me joy. (And here are a few more.)

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The M&M Report: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

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Kevin Werner rejoins the podcast as a special Missouri correspondent to debate Three  Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri with me and Devin. This was fun.

Listen here. And subscribe.

The M&M Report: “The Edge of Seventeen” and “Manchester by the Sea”

On this episode of The M&M Report, Devin and I discuss two movies we both really enjoyed — well, perhaps that’s a strong word. Both tackle tough subjects in unsentimental fashion. But we found plenty to recommend in both.

Timecodes

The Edge of Seventeen: 0:00-12:55

Manchester by the Sea: 12:55-End (Spoilers a few minutes in)

Listen here. And please subscribe!

PROGRAMMING NOTE: We’ve made a behind-the-scenes change. If you haven’t done so already, you need to RE-SUBSCRIBE to the podcast on iTunes or the podcast provider of your choice in order to receive new episodes in your feed. We know this extra step is, but we’re excited about what it means for the future of the podcast. Tell your friends! (And if you’ve already done it once, no need to do it again.)

The M&M Report, Episode 24: Rear D-tective

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Click here to listen to Episode 24 of The M&M Report.

Spring break is over, and The M&M Report is back! This week, Devin Mitchell and I discussed and debated Fox’s little-seen, critically acclaimed comedy Enlisted. Is the show on par with the best of network comedy, or is it merely a promising freshman with room to grow? We attempted to answer these questions and more.

After that, Devin and I returned to True Detective. We discussed the first four episodes a few weeks ago, and now we’ve got thoughts on the first season as a whole. Bonus: we make our dream picks for the cast of season 2.

Next week, we’ll be back with more pop culture commentary. Thanks for listening!

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“True Detective”: Flat Circles, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose

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If there’s an Emmy for starting conversations and stirring debates, True Detective has it in the bag.

The first season of True Detective, HBO’s eight-part anthology series set in the Louisiana bayou and starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, became such a lightning rod for the first few months of 2014 that the final episode, which aired on Sunday night, could not possibly have lived up to the anticipation and enthusiasm. When the series began, much of the praise was focused on the performances, with McConaughey cementing his recent cinematic resurgence and Harrelson quietly matching him in sheer intensity and charisma. By the end, the discussions had shifted to issues of race, gender, serialized storytelling and thematic priorities.

The show’s merits are a separate, though related, issue. The finale confirmed that series writer Nic Pizzollatto was far less interested in constructing and then unraveling an intricate mystery than he was in observing the evolution of two characters over nearly two tumultuous decades. For fans who were hoping for and expecting a mythologically charged payoff, the result must have seemed disappointing. But for people who were content to dig into the opposing moral philosophies and questionable fashion choices of Detectives Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Harrelson), the season delivered.

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The M&M Report, Episode 21: Existentialism, Man

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Listen to Episode 21 of The M&M Report here.

This week on The M&M Report, Devin and I looked at the two shows that serve as bookends for Girls on HBO’s Sunday night lineup. True Detective and Looking are both worth your time if you’re looking for relatively new shows to start watching, and we discussed their merits as well some of the criticisms that have been leveled against each.

After that, we went to the movies to discuss Philomena, perhaps the most obscure of this year’s nine nominees for Best Picture at the Oscars. We both liked the film with some reservations, but we enjoyed discussing it nonetheless.

Next week, we’ll be tackling the subject that has had people at AU and around the nation buzzing with enthusiasm: the Netflix drama House of Cards. Special guest Leah Dolittle will join us to discuss what the show does right and wrong, and why it’s become so popular in such a short amount of time. Devin and I will also review the first week of Jimmy Fallon’s stint as host of The Tonight Show.

Until next time…thanks for listening!

Click through for the time breakdown.

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“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”: Planting the Seeds of Revolution

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(Note: This review contains spoilers for the first movie but nothing major for the sequel.)

The Hunger Games movies represent a rarity among Hollywood franchises: uncommonly intelligent and socially conscious, littered with terrific performances and supported by unobtrusive special effects. Director Gary Ross’ original is far from perfect, but it provides a compelling introduction to a post-apocalyptic world rife with commentary that rings true in our present moment, and Jennifer Lawrence’s capable lead performance provides an unconventional and appealing lens for exploring media manipulation, reality television constructs, cultures of violence and oppressive powers. Though Ross’ directorial ineptitude skewers the numerous action sequences and the PG-13 rating limits the onscreen bloodshed to the point of desensitization, The Hunger Games asks questions that other blockbusters, especially ones based on popular novels for young people, wouldn’t dare touch.

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