Pod, James Pod Podcast: Episode 0020 – ‘For Your Eyes Only’

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Carlin and I are once again at odds as we discuss For Your Eyes Only in this month’s Pod, James Pod episode. Find out if Carlin is allergic to pistachios, how our progress on the book is going, and who’s on our dodgeball practice squads.

Click below to listen or visit us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Mini-Reviews

Paddington

fourstars

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Paddington is unbelievably heartwarming without feeling false or manipulative. Its characters have depth and personality. The world is whimsical without feeling childish. It’s chalk full of gags and visuals that make it feel like a more snuggly version of a Wes Anderson movie. It’s a children’s story about a bear living with a family, but it touches on so many larger themes (immigration, being an orphan, becoming a parent, growing as a family) that it never gets lost in its own silliness or dumbs down its emotional core in the name of “being a children’s movie.”

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The Skeleton Twins

fourstars the-skeleton-twins01

The Skeleton Twins immediately seems like a depressing film, but navigates its way into becoming a poignant, and ultimately uplifting journey. Life sucks, and the more honest we can be about our own problems, secrets, and fears with someone, the happier we are; no matter how hard that may be. That’s what Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig’s characters are going through, as the twins indirectly help each other confront their most challenging issues. Hader and Wiig are solid. They prove that they belong in more dramatic roles. The color palette and directing is impressive. Certain motifs are especially powerful.

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Life Itself

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Life Itself is an impressive documentary that, yes, gives you detailed background of Roger Ebert’s life. But more importantly, it eloquently frames the impact his life had on so many others. Good documentaries always seem to be filmed at just the right place during just the right moments. Life Itself juxtaposes images of Roger in his last days with images from his glory years that give context and meaning to his life much better than if it were done after his death. Even if you’re apathetic toward Roger Ebert’s work, this film will win you over.

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The Imitation Game

threestars

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I feel like my review of The Theory of Everything could also apply toward The Imitation Game. They’re both movies about British geniuses, yet never actually show their characters being a genius. They’re both melodramas with solid, yet predictable leading performances. They both are filled with sweeping, stale visuals. The Imitation Game is a movie focused on Alan Turing’s perceived weirdness. But what’s really weird is that arguably the best material to support that overall theme (the pre-war and post-war periods of his life) was abbreviated. The movie is too abrupt, and fails to make actual connections with an unlikeable lead character. Like TToE, it could have been better served as a mini-series.

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How to Train Your Dragon 2

fourstars how-to-train-your-dragon-2

A surprising sequel that, with added characters, is more emotionally powerful than its predecessor.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

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THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES

 When it’s not dealing with plot, (which is 99% of the time) the emotional beats feel redundant. Simply put, The Hobbit wasn’t material worthy of 3 epically long movies. The Battle of the Five Armies makes that abundantly clear.

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Frank

three_andhalfstars

Michael Fassbender as Frank

Frank is weird. Weird story, weird characters, weird everything. (In a good way) But what made Frank so captivating was knowing that Frank (the leader of the band who wears a fake head for nearly the entire movie) was played by Michael Fassbender. If Frank was played by a no-name, I wouldn’t have been dying to see who was inside. Fassbender simply makes this movie.

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The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 1

three_andhalfstars

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Another final installment of a franchise split out into two movies. Part 1 feels dragged out. It feels like one half of a movie expanded to the length of one complete movie. That’s the biggest hurdle this movie faces. Everything else is carried over from the previous film – a cast more worthy than the source material, capable directing, and good character building.

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Dumb and Dumber To

twostars

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 The film is horrible, and not in a good way. I gave it two stars simply because of how impressed I was that Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels never once felt like they were giving less than 100%. Here are two actors who, 20 years after the first film, have enjoyed both critical and financial success. Their dedication to come back and give their all for this sequel makes it worth seeing. Or at least watching for 5 minutes and then turning off.

Pod, James Pod Podcast: Episode 0019 – ‘Diamonds Are Forever’

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Carlin and I discuss Sean Connery’s second of three farewells to James Bond in Pod, James Pod‘s newest episode covering Diamonds Are Forever. We delve into Proto-Pepper, North Dakota, Moneypenny’s evil streak, and of course, Bambi and Thumper.

Click below to listen or visit us on iTunes or Stitcher.

‘The Theory of Everything’ is better suited for a BBC TV series

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(2014 – Director: James Marsh   Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones)

The Theory of Everything is a movie that never lives up to its potential. Instead, it’s a movie stuck being very ordinary. Read More…

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