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Thanks for subscribing! You may have a few questions as to what the purpose of this newsletter is. Before we get started, I suppose we should answer those.
What is the purpose of this newsletter?
Wow. You got right to the point there. Fair enough. Well, we're always looking for new ways to push content out into the internet (remember, we did this show for a solid year before anyone listened). All three of us have some background in writing, and while doing the podcast in immensely fun, its improvisational nature sometimes doesn't allow us to fully articulate and plan what we say (as many of you e-mailers and tweeters have noticed ;)). This newsletter will serve as a highlight reel of things we talked about on the podcast lately, a form to push out original content (actual movie reviews, lists, interviews, etc.) and recommend some things we're currently watching. Think of it as our podcast, but for your eyes (and instead of taking 80-minutes to ingest, this will take around 5.)
How often are you going to annoy me with this thing?
Unless there is an overwhelming demand for more e-mails (there won't be), the current plan is to have one issue per month. Think of it as a monthly magazine pushed out by Mad About Movies.
How many times is Richard going to recycle the same jokes about Now You See Me, The Cup, or Draft Day?
An infinite amount of times.
Everybody Wants Some
Jake (Blake Jenner) arrives on campus for his first semester of college in the fall of 1980, a high school baseball big shot ready to embark on the next phase of his life. It’s three days before classes begin and the baseball house is a flurry of activity. All night parties in different settings, girls, and constant competition with his teammates/housemates provide a crash course for Jake on the college lifestyle. Eventually there will be practices, eventually there will be games, eventually there will be classes (maybe?) but for these three days, there’s too much fun to be had to worry about anything else.
I struggled mightily to write a “plot summary” for Everybody Wants Some because there isn’t really much of a plot in play here. That’s not Richard Linklater’s style. Write the characters, find the actors, put them in a room together and the story will come together. Or, more aptly, the lives of the characters will come together and that sense of familiarity with everyday life will sink in. That’s what I love about Dazed and Confused and that’s what propels this “spiritual sequel” forward.
There’s a lot to like about this film but what makes it hum is its authenticity. It doesn’t matter if you went to college in the 80’s (I didn’t), if you were a college athlete (I wasn’t, unless you count my intramural basketball championship which I feel you should), if you had a “traditional” college experience (I didn’t), if you were the “big man on campus” (I wasn’t) or the biggest nerd (now we’re getting somewhere); Linklater understand human experiences so much better than the majority of his contemporaries and he’s able to put that on screen with seeming ease. In short, 15 minutes into Everybody Wants Some, you feel like you KNOW all of the characters. You don’t need any back story and Linklater provides almost none. Instead, he sticks you in a house with a dozen or so guys who all pointedly resemble someone from your past or present. The dork, the poet, the hyper-competitor, the drunk, the screw-up, the psycho, the stoner… But they’re more than just archetypes thanks to the
casting and the way in which Linklater nurtures his characters. For two hours, you feel like you’re hanging out with a group of friends and sort of forget that you’re watching a movie.
A big part of this process is casting the right actors. Linklater has a history of taking relative unknowns and getting great performances out of them and Everybody Wants Some is no different. To pull off the feat of making the audience feel as if we are members of the baseball team, you need actors that don’t pull you out of that reality; faces you might recognize but don’t immediately point to as, “the guy from that thing.” And you need those “relative unknowns” to fully embody the respective character types they’re charged with embodying. Mission accomplished in my book. Jenner will get the lion’s share of the glory, I expect, as he is the face of the film and he does that title justice. But this movie crashes and burns without a total buy-in from the ensemble and I came away thoroughly impressed with all of them. Tyler Hoechlin channels Billy Crudup in both performance and charisma. Glen Powell nails the classic
persona of the “guy who doesn’t care but really cares far more than he’ll ever let on.” Wyatt Russell combines two college tropes into one but makes them both look so very real. I’m half convinced Temple Baker didn’t even know he was filming a movie (and I mean that as a high compliment). I want more
from every single member of this cast. In interviews, Linklater stated that he went out of his way to cast some of these guys in roles opposite from who they really are in order to challenge them. That works beautifully, I think, and results in a feeling of earnestness that sometimes goes missing when you roll out
a bunch of young actors and have them just play themselves. The challenge (or maybe struggle is a better word) gives the characters their respective depth and makes their interactions all the more engrossing.
This takes me back to the plot (or lack thereof). In the hands of a nosy studio, Everybody Wants Some has to be building toward something, probably “the big game.” You can almost write the tagline yourself. “A ragged group of misfits bands together through (insert tragedy or conflict here) to take on their hated rivals”, directed by John Lee Hancock. And that’s fine, no knock on that movie that would probably make a lot more money than Everybody Wants Some. Instead, Linklater insists on making this film concern itself only with the interaction of its incredibly realistic characters in incredibly realistic scenarios over the course of those live-changing- even-though- nothing-really- happens three days. And he nails that. It’s a slice of life film, a remarkably micro film that actually has a lot to say about the macro but leaves it up to the audience to make those connections. Everybody Wants Some ends when classes
begin, an open-ended conclusion that fits narrative perfectly.
Grade: A (Best movie of the year for me thus far)
Rated R for language, brief nudity, drug use, all of the drinking, and general college-level debauchery
5 Lingering Questions on Now You See Me 2: The Second Act
2) Why does Isla Fisher think she’s above this?
Next month brings us a sequel to Now You See Me, a movie—nay, a film—that helped put our podcast on the map. As we gear up for part two, Richard has some questions.
1) Is there any chance Michael Caine remembers doing the first movie?
My favorite thing to think about when I think about the production of this film (and this occurs almost hourly) is thinking about Michael Caine sitting alone in his trailer reading over his lines for the next day and thinking (::Cue Michael Caine Impression::) “You know, this seems vaguely familiar…I think I was in a pretty similar movie to this one at one point. I think it was the early 80s though. Oh boy, what a time. What a time indeed.” as he slowly drifts off into a nap. He’s also wearing pajamas and a sleeping cap when I imagine this. This isn’t important, but it helps.
On the surface, this seems like an admirable decision. Maybe dear Isla saw the finished product of NYSM and thought “You know, I don’t have too much going on career-wise, but I just cannot be involved with that again. Even if I’m contractually obligated for a sequel, I’ll figure out a way out. I’ll get pregnant again or something.” You’d be wrong to assume this though. Because what did Isla do instead? The Brothers Grimsby, which, yes, features her husband, Sacha Baron Cohen, but is also directed by no other than Louis Lettier himself, the visionary behind NYSM. So not only did Isla see the NYSM and enjoy it, she decided to tie herself to its creative head for multiple films. Incredible.
3) Can Jesse Eisenberg endure the 1-2 punch of Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Now You See Me 2: The Second Act?
The only thing worse than these two films are their subtitles. So, in a word, no. Well, maybe. I think Eisenberg is a truly talented actor, he was great in Social Network, Zombieland, The End of the Tour, and Adventureland. But aside from The End of the Tour his last 3 films have been American Ultra, BvS and NYSM. Ouch. I can’t decide if I should tell him to go away for a while or try to get something positive on the ledger quickly.
4) Mark Ruffalo, what are we doing here, bud?
Mark Ruffalo is one of the most respect actors alive. He’s proven time and again (most recently in a phenomenal turn in Spotlight) that he’s an actor of weight, grace, and selflessness. As someone who is a darling of the indie scene, I will never dissuade someone from getting that paper. But, c’mon Mark, you’re in The Avengers. Surely this pays the bills. I grant you maybe thinking NYSM was a cool concept (who doesn’t love heist films AND magicians), but signing up for a second one is on you. George W. Bush is disappointed.
5) Does the entire film take place on a carousel?
We can only hope so.
New to Home Viewing in May
Each month in this space, we’ll take a look at what movies and TV shows you’ll be able to (legally) watch in the comfort of your own home in the coming weeks. I’ll recommend a couple of properties I enjoy, highlight one I haven’t seen but I’m looking forward to checking out, and something I desperately want you to avoid. I’m just doing my part to help you make smart decisions with your precious free time. Am I a hero? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
WHAT I’VE SEEN AND YOU SHOULD, TOO: Deadpool – Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin (Available on Blu-Ray and DVD May 10th)
It’s already raked in $750 million worldwide so chances are you’ve probably already seen Deadpool if ever you intended to do so. But hey, January through April is tough for movie nerds like you (read: “me”) and you deserve to be reminded of the few bright spots that dreary season brought with it. This is the role Ryan Reynolds was born to play and if nothing else, it’s worth a rewatch to catch all the jokes you missed the first time around.
MAY I ALSO RECOMMEND: When Harry Met Sally (1989) – Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan (Available on Amazon Prime)
My all-time favorite “chick flick.” If you’d like to fight, please form an orderly line to the left (where you will be serenaded with Harry Connick, Jr. standards and obviously find peace). I fear When Harry Met Sally has been lost to the younger generations that propagate our listenership so now’s the perfect time to remedy a potential hole in your movie watching education. Billy Crystal might be the B-team teammate for pre-“what the crap happened to you?!” Meg Ryan when you consider her success with American Treasure Tom Hanks. But fear not, as the writing for this film is spectacular and the final scene is date movie iconography. *Swoons just a little*
AND WHY NOT, MAY I ALSO RECOMMEND: Airplane! (1980) – Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen (Available on Amazon Prime)
I intended to write only two recommendations for this debut newsletter but I’m not sure how I could exclude Airplane! from the list and still consider myself a semi-respectable movie watcher. Perhaps the greatest parody of all-time (at least until MacGruber, that is), Airplane! mixes timeless bits with the sort of locked-in-time jokes you just can’t get away with anymore and oh, is it glorious. As a society, we probably should’ve just declared the parody industry over after Airplane! and saved ourselves a ton of painfully embarrassing movie experiences. (I’m looking at you, Meet the Spartans.)
WHAT I HAVEN’T SEEN BUT INTEND TO: 99 Homes – Michael Shannon, Andrew Garfield (Available on Amazon Prime)
I don’t even remember 99 Homes being available in theaters but come Oscar time, there was some light buzz for Michael Shannon and I felt like I’d really missed out. Because you know who’s awesome? MICHAEL SHANNON IS AWESOME. Not watching a Michael Shannon-starrer should be illegal and I plan on getting right with the law as soon as possible.
WHAT I’VE SEEN SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO: Gods of Egypt (2016) – Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler (Available on Blu-Ray and DVD May 31st); Zoolander 2 – Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson (Available on Blu-Ray and DVD May 24th)
I didn’t quite know how to choose between the two worst movies I’ve seen this year so I’m cheating and listing them both. Gods of Egypt is probably a worse movie, what with its painful (actually physically painful) scripting and bizarre casting. But Zoolander 2 actually made me sad, not so much because I love the original (I think it’s fine but not particularly great) or even the leads (I go back and forth on each) but because people who are supposed to be funny thought this movie was funny, while I laughed (mildly) twice. Please don’t see these movies, dear reader; I don’t think you can handle it.
May 3rd – The 5th Wave, Joy, The Choice, The Last Ship Season 2, The Choice, Top Gun (30th Anniversary), Easy Rider (Criterion Collection), Independence Day (20th Anniversary)
May 10th – The Boy, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, The Manhattan Project
May 17th – Orange is the New Black Season 3, The Witch, Dirty Grandpa, Who is Henry Kellerman and Why is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?
May 24th – The Finest Hours, Risen, How to Be Single, The Player (Criterion Collection)
May 31st – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Race, Triple 9, Suits Season 5
NETFLIX - Bring it On, Gary Gulman: It’s About Time, Just Friends, Great Expectations, The Nutty Professor, Pleasantville, Sixteen Candles, Things We Lost in the Fire, To Catch a Thief, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream, The Replacements, Shanghai Knights, Goosebumps, Graceland Season 3, The Last Man on the Moon, Bloodline Season 2, Chef’s Table Season 2, Hell on Wheels Season 5
AMAZON - Humans Season 1, Boardwalk Empire Season 4, True Blood Season 6, Leaving Las Vegas, Goldfinger, Die Another Day, The Spy Who Loved Me, Diamonds Are Forever, Octopussy, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Living Daylights, Never Say Never Again, Ghost World, Hoodlum, Election, Benny and Joon, Bully, The Mod Squad, Sex, Lies and Videotape