Tag Archives: Movie Review

Movies and Tea #22 – Somewhere

After the mixed reception to Marie Antoinette returned with Somewhere a film similar in style to Lost In Translation while also working memories of her own childhood growing up on her father’s sets as she here we follow Upcoming badboy Actor Johnny as he reconnects with his daughter Cleo and perhaps in turn finds what’s missing in his own life.

Further Viewing

Wonder Boys
Nowhere
The Rules of Attraction
Jersey Girl
Definitely Maybe
We Bought A Zoo

Music on this episode

Phoenix – Love Like A Sunset Part I
The Police – So Lonely
Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

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Friday Film Club – Balto + Kitten With A Whip

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Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – Balto (1995)

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Loosely based on the true story of a dog of the same name who helped save children in Alaska, Balto has some live action scenes in Central Park of an elderly woman recounting his story and what makes Balto a hero. Most of the movie aside from the beginning and ending is animated filled with not only a group of sled dogs in Alaska but also with a Russian goose called Boris and polar bear brothers Muk and Luk who are terrified of water and of course, Balto who is an outcast and expected to be dangerous because he is half Husky and half wolf. An unexpected grouping but an effectively funny one that gives it the cute and fun adventure with a bit of drama.

Balto is a family adventure animated film. At the same time, it has those added elements of romance between Balto and Jenna where Jenna’s affection is trying to be won over by the top dog called Steele who doesn’t want to admit defeat when he fails at bringing home the medicine to save the children in Nome during the storm. It is a story of triumph, danger, friendship and romance. At the same time, Balto is a character that has to learn to embrace his own differences and use those differences as what helps him to succeed in this journey. Its an inspiring little animated film.

Voiced by some great talent like Kevin Bacon as Balto, Bridget Fonda as Jenna, Bob Hoskins as Steele and Jim Cummings as both Muk and Luk, there’s a lot to love about this film as they bring on some great fun times and totally one that didn’t get its recognition as its release collided with the much more successful Toy Story but that doesn’t stop the greatness that this animated film deserves.

Elwood’s Pick – Kitten With A Whip (1964)

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Despite the S&M title this home invasion thriller is alot less sleazy than the title would have you believe as Ann-Margaret in an attempt to rebrand herself as a serious actor stars as the young runaway Jody who breaks into the house of upcoming politician David (John Forsythe) while his wife is out of town. Initially he attempts to help the young girl as he buys her new clothes and puts her on the bus with money to help her out. Unfortunately for David she just turns up at his house again not only refusing to leave but also bringing with her a group of beatniks who only further throw David’s life into chaos.

For fans of MST3K this might already be a familiar title seeing how it received their peanut gallery treatment but enjoyed in its original form this is actually a pretty effective thriller especially during its first half with David trying to be the good person while Jody soon is revealed to be hiding more than her share of dark secrets and soon is threatening to damage David’s political aspirations by twisting the reality of their situation.

While the first half of the film is fantastic thanks to the strong chemistry between the two leads which is a little lost once Jody’s friends turn up including amatuer philosepher Ron (Peter Brown) and quick to anger Grant (Richard Anderson) and turn the situation from mind games to more physical threats all while you wonder if Beatniks are worse than Hippies as certainly Ron and his musing certainly make you wonder who buys into this tosh. Thankfully you the unclear allegiance of Jody keeps things interesting as your never sure if she trying to help David or if it’s another of her mind games. When we get to the finale the film also randomly shifts location to Tijuana in search of a shady doctor though it really seems to be just an excuse to work in some light titillation via a burlesque club which has nothing to do with the plot as we build to a climactic car chase.

Despite being MST3K fodder this is still a fun throw away watch with some fun twists even if it loses its way in the second half it’s brisk runtime and tight pacing means that it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday Film Club – Tigers Are Not Afraid + The Descent: Part 2

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Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where each week Kim and myself highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)

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Finally getting a theatrical release on the big screen after two years going through film festivals and earning praise from both Guillermo del Toro and Stephen King, Tigers Are Not Afraid is a Mexican fairytale, most often compared to Pan’s Labyrinth with similar tones set in an upsetting reality of the drug wars in Mexico with five orphaned children grouped together to find hope in its dark fairytale of being granted three wishes except all wishes come with its own set of consequences.

Tigers Are Not Afraid pulls together five orphaned children. As we see the main girl Estrella who comes home from school to find her mother is missing, she escapes to the street to eventually find El Shine, a young boy also surviving on the streets with a few other little boys and joins up with them. Hiding on rooftops and alleyways, they strive to survive day by day until one day Shine steals a cell phone belonging to a member of the drug cartel and discovers its contents. As the thug chases after them, the mystery of what is on the cell phone and  desperate situations making Estrella consider using her wishes despite the outcome of the first one. For their survival, this group of kids have to make tough decisions to stay alive.

Issa Lopez, as both director and screenwriter, shows off both great command behind the camera as well her sharp storytelling skills as she tells this dark fairytale. Choosing children with zero acting experience prior to this film and shooting this film in chronological order without showing them the script to capture their genuine reactions, also gives it an edge as the children all capture both their naivety as children but also what the dangerous reality has caused some of them to grow up quickly. Leading the group is El Shine played by Juan Ramon Lopez and Estrella played by Paola Lara who deserve a lot of credit for their heavier roles. With urban legends of hand-drawn tigers running around the scene and being given three wishes, tigers has their own symbol here and meshes into a beautifully touch but tough to watch story of children caught in the drug wars and fairytales that both give them hope but have some costly consequences.

If you didn’t catch this film during its festival circuits, it is definitely worth it to check it out at theatres or at least keep it on your radar.

Elwood’s Pick – The Descent: Part 2

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The Descent was never a film I particularly warmed to despite many critics rushing to herald Neil Marshall as an exciting new voice in horror, even though the original film was much more effective when it was following it’s all female group of cavers trying to find a way out the cave system than when the horror elements kicked in with the whole experience feeling like a poor rehash of the superior What Waits Below. However when it comes to the sequel directed by editor Jon Harris for what is still his sole directing credit here we have a sequel which surpasses the original.

Set two days after the events of the first film with Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) left traumatised and with no memories of what happened. Now recruited by the local shrieff Vaines (Gavan O’Herlihy) to lead a rescue team back into the cave to find the missing members of her group only to soon find themselves being hunted by the Crawlers whose lair they must once more enter.

Wisely ramping up the action than trying to replicate the first film, this in turn makes for a much more fun ride as the group soon find themselves split up after their first encounter with the crawlers and faced with a battle back to the service with caving equipment once more getting put to some very creative uses thanks to the gore quota being ramped up which in turn lends itself to some memorable moments throughout.

Increasing the cave sets from 18 to 30 means we get to explore the world of the Crawlers a lot more in this film, with Harris giving us subtle clues of how their subterranean society works including were they choose to go to the bathroom as Sarah and Deputy Sheriff Elen (Krysten Cummings) get to unfortunately discover for themselves. Much like the first film these sets look fantastic and hard to distinguish from an actual cave system meaning that the feeling of claustrophobia that the first film really nailed.

If like myself you skipped out on this sequel after the first film, this is a film well worth giving a watch, even if you never saw the original as the plot is easy to pick up especially when the film gives you all you need to know in the opening five minutes so why give yourself another reason to never go caving.

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Round Up

The Blade Licking Thieves #54 – The Guys revisit the anime adapation of the arcade classic Fatal Fury

The Asian Cinema Film Club #31 see’s Elwood and Stephen checking out Sammo Hung’s take on The Dirty Dozen while finding time to tap into his inner Rambo as he joins a host of Hong Kong legends as a group of convict soldiers are sent to Vietnam to destroy a secret Ammo dump.

The Feminine Critique – Emily and Christine check out Karyn Kusama’s 2018 crime thriller Destroyer aswell as social media slashers, the subgenre of ghostiness that began with Insidious, 2010’s infuriating Legion, and a glorious mid-dive into Jason Takes Manhattan and Jason Lives

If your yet to discover The Anime Nostalgia Podcast and are a fan of old school anime host provides a fantastic look back at some classic and forgotten anime titles, while even finding the time to solve the mystery of Miami Mike

Elwood recently got to guest on the Blueprint: Review Podcast along with Jason Soto (of the Maniac With a Machete podcast) to discuss the upcoming home releases aswell as reviews of The Incident and Enter the Anime.

If your yet to check out Kim’s debut on The Lambcast #491 make sure you do now as the roundtable discussion looks at Hobbs and Shaw

Friday Film Club: Anastasia + Frog Dreaming

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Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – Anastasia (1997)

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Most definitely a loose adaptation of the legend of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, Anastasia in this animated film takes a more light-hearted take on the story as it adds in fantastical elements to it like a soul-selling sorcerer and talking albino bat on the villain side of things while on the “good” side of the spectrum, because it is a bunch of con men to begin with, adds a little cute dog to the mix and an amnesiac girl to their journey. There’s a lot of comedic moments especially with the villain sidekick Bartok, voiced by Hank Azaria as well as cute elements as well as romance of course. Because..what’s a princess animated film (although non-Disney) without adding a suitor to the mix.

The animated film starts off with eighteen year old Anya (Meg Ryan) who, after an accident during the escape ten years ago, has amnesia and doesn’t remember anything from her youth and her whereabouts and after leaving the orphanage as decided to find her way to Paris except without an exit visa, she is advised to reach out to two con men, Dimitri (John Cusack) and Vladimir (Kelsey Grammar). Surprised by her resemblance to the real Anastasia, they take her to Paris in hopes of getting well-rewarded for returning her to the royal family now in refuge there. While being taught the answers to some of Anastasia due to Dimitri being a young servant when he was a child, he soon realizes that Anya’s memories are slowly coming back as she reunites with her family through the questioning.

Anastasia isn’t a history lesson to say the least. In fact, it’s more of a princess story mixed with humor and adventure. There’s a lot of beautiful romantic bits here between Anya and Dimitri. Anastasia is a beautiful character, whether as amnesiac Anya or the princess Anastasia and that has to do a lot with the beautiful job that Meg Ryan does voicing her. However, the voice cast here is pretty great with John Cusack and Kelsey Grammar mentioned above as well as Hank Azaria who captures Bartok with so many funny moments to make this a really entertaining time. At the same time, the fantastic Angela Lansbury voices Marie, who is Anastasia’s grandmother as well as Christopher Lloyd as the voice of Rasputin, the evil sorcerer whose initial plan ten years ago went array and now wants to make up for it.

Anastasia might be a 1997 animated film but the charm behind it is always there. Visually, the film still is amazing to watch. In terms of soundtrack, the music is beautiful as well as some wonderful songs like Once Upon a December being one of the favorites that captures the scene so well. It truly is a beautiful story fit for both adults and children.

Elwood’s Pick – Frog Dreaming (1985)

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If your a Ozploitation fan then Brian Trenchard Smith will already be a familiar name especially when his filmography made up a large part of Australia’s exploitation scene while also finding time to direct curious family friendly adventures like BMX Bandits which introduced the world to Nicole Kidman and this film which saw him casting Henry Thomas best known for playing Elliot in E.T The Extra Terrestrial who here plays Cody an American boy transplanted to Australia after his parents death to live with his guardian Gaza who essentially lets him run wild in the local community while working on his inventions which often demonstrate MacGyver levels of creativity . When Cody hears of a monster living in the local quary which the locals call “Donkegin” he sets out to discover the truth while recruiting his friend Wendy (Rachel Friend) and her sister to join him on this quest much to the dismay of their parents.

A fun adventure movie which like Stand By Me and The Goonies remembers the innocence and curiosity of youth, something which is often lacking from it’s current day counterparts as nowhere to be found are the smart mouthed kids outsmarting the dumb adults. Instead we get here are a group of kids trying to solve the kid of mystery wrapped up in urban legends that I know all too well from my own rural upbringing were my summers were spent much like Cody terrorising the surrounding countryside and the this simple charm which really makes the film such a fun film for a lazy sunday afternoon viewing.

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Movies and Tea #20 – Lost In Translation

After the success of The Virgin Suicides for her follow up Sofia Coppola drew inspiration from her father filming a real Suntory whiskey commercial with Akira Kurosawa in the 1970’s to crafts a tale which is not only a love letter to Tokyo but also one of two lost souls in a city were neither of them speak the language while generally confounded by the world around them leaving them to dwell on their own personal issues.

It’s a premise which you hardly expect to turn into a huge hit for Coppola not only with critics but more surprisingly with the general movie going audiences who for some reason really warmed to the film.

Further Viewing

Tourism
Her
In The Mood For Love

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
Death In Vegas – Girls
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Just Like Honey

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The Virgin Suicides – Elwood’s Take

The debut feature film from Sofia Coppola, it’s also one which came out of a series of events as after being given a copy of the book by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore which she soon after set about adapting into a script despite not having the rights to the book which were owned by Muse Productions who had already commissioned a script from Nick Gomez. With the rights to the project lapsing amongst issues with Gomez’s script Coppola saw her opportunity to pitch her own script while the book would also make her realise her own desire to be a director knowing how the book should be filmed.

While I consider myself a fan of her films much like Darren Aronofsky’s Pi this is a film which I have always struggled to get into as it suffers the same issues as Jeffrey Eugenides’ source novel though when it comes to the film it’s hard to place were the issues with the film lye as for a debut Coppola shows a lot of confidence behind the camera crafting a distinctive visual style as she paints a picture of suburban tranquillity and white picket fences alongside the dark intentions harboured by the Lisbon girls which they hide under the veil of perfection and as the living fantasy for the boys they leave to try and piece together what ultimately lead to their demise.

Much like Stand By Me Coppola’s debut is a coming of age tale with a dark edge in particular the allure the girl world inhabited by the Lisbon girls a yearning shown through the audience and the boys glances into this world through window or telescopes and it’s a theme established early on when one of the boys is invited to dinner taking the opportunity to root through the girls bathroom with a fascination that makes even the most mundane of items like perfume bottles and sanitary towels seem like sacred and rare objects. While Coppola certainly might have a reoccurring theme of burgeoning femininity throughout her films but here she actually manages to capture the curiosity of adolescent boys about girls and the adult world.

Narrated by Giovanni Ribishi playing an unidentified grown up version of one of the boys it’s made clear from the start that this is a mystery which even as adults they are still trying to figure out why it happened forming a morbid link to their past which still binds them together even though they have gone off to live their own lives. Despite this there is still the hope that when you watch the film that you might discover that missing detail which clarifies the mystery. The use of the narrator equally helps to tie together the multiple memories of the girls allowing characters to slip in and out of the girls lives outside of the main group of boys.

Despite the small budget and being a first time director here Coppola really pulls together an impressive cast from tapping into her own contacts to bring aboard Kathleen Turner who she co-starred alongside in Peggy Sue Got Married while her father Francis passed the script to James Woods the pair providing a much underrated performance as the girls parents. Woods here giving a much more subdue performance than we have come to expect from him while much like Turner its a pitch perfect supporting role that really provides a backbone for the film with Woods playing the mild mannered Science Teacher balancing out his over protective wife. At the same time seeing how they try to deal with the turbulent lives of their daughters from the opening attempted suicide by the youngest daughter Cecilia and the role they possibly played in her actions, while later attempting to protect their other daughters from the pain of the real world by keeping them within the family home. None of which is played with any of the overbearing parent cliches such as while Turner’s character might be a devout Catholic she’s not putting any of the girls into the cupboard of shame.

When it comes to the girls they are sadly undeveloped with the exceptions of the groups wildchild Lux (Dunst) and youngest daughter Cecilia whose role is limited but whose suicide bother her failed attempt which opens the film and her eventual demise serve as the catalysis for the events which follow as a memorable meeting with Danny DeVito’s Psychiatrist pushes for them to explore interactions outside of the family home something that Lux fully embraces along with her burgeoning femininity leads to it’s own impactful moment when she meets the school Lothario Trip Fontaine (Hartnett). The other sisters meanwhile never get the same development so that while they are present they are for the most part interchangable especially given so few moments to shine like the party their parents throw for them in the family basement only to find the boy / girl awkwardness hampers any meaningful interaction.

While the opening to the film is certainly strong it’s around the third act that the film suddenly stumbles and while there are certainly still some charming scenes such as the boys and the Lisben sisters using secret phone calls and messages sent through carefully picked records everything feels too aimless and lacking the flow to really pull the film through and certainly along with the clumsy epilogue to the story which while it might highlight how life continues to move on it just felt like it was causing the film to overstay it’s welcome.

Between this film and her initial short film Lick The Star Coppola is marking herself out as a talent of note, let alone a different breed of director to her father Francis Ford Coppola who comparisons would inevitability be drawn. But while he favoured grand scale epics Sofia showed her an eye for more intimate stories even though she wouldn’t truly nail down her style until her follow up Lost In Translation and while I certainly wished I enjoyed this film it’s at best a film if it’s flaws weren’t so noticeable.

Friday Film Club: Howls Moving Castle + Heavy Metal

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Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick –  Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

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Loosely based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle was Hayao Miyazaki’s follow up to the runaway success of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. Telling the story set in a fictional kingdom filled with both magic and technology as well as a bit of steampunk if you look at the Moving Castle creation, it follows the adventures of a common girl called Sophie who encounters a witch that turns her into an old woman. In turn, she encounters Howl, a wizard who is set out on resisting the war that is going on between the kingdoms. This encounter takes her into Howl’s Moving Castle which turns out to not only be a magical place filled with magical creatures like Calcifer, the fire that runs the castle as well as the portal of doors that can go where Howl had set.

Voiced by Christian Bale (Howl), Jean Simmons (old Sophie), Emily Mortimer (young Sophie), Billy Crystal (Calcifer) and Lauren Bacall (Witch of the Waste), Howl’s Moving Castle is packed with some strong Hollywood talent which reflect well through the final outcome of the film as each character becomes endearing and incredibly fun to watch come to life in each of their roles. As usual, Joe Hisaishi is the mastermind behind the moving soundtrack here and manages to capture all the great moments through sweeping orchestral score. Howl’s Moving Castle is an adventure and a love story packed with anti-war themes as well as the depiction of old age. However, it is the balance between the humor and the drama here that gives each of the character depth as we learn more about the magical Howl, both literally and figuratively, and it goes right down to giving a charming sense of life to a ball of fire.

While not laddened with achievements or considered a classic like Miyazaki’s earlier works, Howl’s Moving Castle has a ragtag team that goes on an adventure, each with their own goals and their own stories. However, it still manages to tug at the heartstrings and deliver some funny and charming moments. While one of the more modern titles from Miyazaki, although its already been 15 years since its release, Howl’s Moving Castle is a worthy title that doesn’t always get mentioned as Miyazaki’s great directorial works and should be.

Elwood’s Pick – Heavy Metal (1981)

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For those of you who recently enjoyed the Netflix anthology series Love, Death and Robots and now find yourself eagerly awaiting the recently announced second season you might want to check out this 1981 animated anthology which served as the inspiration with David Fincher and Tim Miller originally setting out to remake it, only for production issues to see them instead reworking their ideas  Love, Death and Robots.

So for those of you not familiar with the mature comic “Heavy Metal” which the film draws its own inspiration from it’s no doubt a publication best known for its focus on fantasy and sci-fi stories which are presented with a healthy dose of nudity, violence, drugs and erotica. It’s also a comic which interestingly is also owned by Kevin Eastman who lets not forget was also responsible for giving the world the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The film itself is a bumper collection of nine tales tied together by a mysterious green orb called the Loc-Nar which also describes itself as “the sum of all evils” and as we soon discover has been responsible for influencing societies throughout time and space while usually bringing misfortune to those who encounter it. Each story has its own distinctive style from the Sin City style noir of the opening story “Harry Canyon” through to the ultra violent barbarian fantasies of “Den” and “Taarna” which makes it an easy film to get into especially as if you don’t like one story its not long till you move onto a new one.

Directed by Gerald Potterton who is no doubt best known for his work as an animator on arguably the best Beatles movie Yellow Submarine here his style is just as experimental incorporating elements of rotoscoping aswell as a distinctive hand drawn animated style which brings to mind the work of Ralph Bakshi. More so when characters frequently can be found engaging in some form of bad or deviant behavior including (but certainly not limited to) a pair of alien pilots snorting mile long lines of coke off the floor of their spaceship.

While the animation style might look a little dated there is still unquestionably a charm to this hand drawn style of animation and it perfectly suits the stories being told much like the voice cast who might be surprising to see attached to this film and no doubt the result of Ivan Reitman being attached as the producer, but they all really play their roles well with John Candy’s voice work in particular really left me wishing that he had done more voice work as here he really shows a talent for it.

Adding to the action is a classic rock soundtrack which thankfully forgoes the usual obvious choices and instead gives us lesser known tracks from the likes of Cheap Trick, Grand Funk Railroad and Sammy Hagar which really is the kind of soundtrack you want when you open your film with a Corvette being driven out of a spaceship and landing on Earth by it’s astronaut driver (or should that be pilot). Still regardless of the setting of each story the soundtrack somehow works well with the onscreen action, though frustratingly one of the stories being cut due to production delays meant that we lost “Time” by Pink Floyd from the soundtrack.

It’s true that due to the voyeuristic style throughout the film which much like its source material is not something that will suit all tastes, but if you liked the brash style of Sin City you will no doubt find this film very much its kindred spirit. Yes it’s rude, foul mouthed and seemingly devoid of even the most base morals but at the same time it’s so much fun that it’s hard to draw too much of an issue with it’s frequently outlandish world view and for fans of adult animation, especially those who came up through the anime boom of the late 80’s and early 90’s will no doubt get a kick out this one.

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Round Up

Simplistic Reviews return from their recent break to discuss what they did on their summer break, which includes hospital visits that lead to an interaction with Michael Keaton, their top 3 episodes of Black Mirror, some of Quincy Jones’ best hits…on fellow celebrities, and how much they would need to get paid to let a female soccer player kick them in the nethers!
Of course if this wasn’t enough Matt has an interview with the producer of The Ranger Heather Buckley

Asian Cinema Film Club check out Park Chan-Wook’s take on the vampire mythos with Thirst as a priest finds himself inheriting vampirism from a blood transfusion. They also discuss Old school anime collecting, Detective Pikachu, Neon Genesis Evangelion and the changing face of fandom.

The Blade Licking Thieves are looking at Highlander: The Search For Vengeance aswell as sharing thier thoughts on Godzilla: King of the Monsters