Issue #8 -- Brian's 5 favorite Christmas Movies -- Richard's Oscar Preview Preview -- What's New in Streaming? -- Monthly Recommends
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What up, MAMFAM!
We’re out of 2016, we took the first month of 2017 off from the newsletter because…because we’re our own boss, you don’t own us!*
Not only did EVERYONE die in 2016, but it wasn’t exactly off-the-charts in terms of a preponderance of great cinema, so here’s to 2017, hopefully our collective worlds get rocked.
*But seriously we’re super sorry, it’s just been a super hectic time in our careers both on-and-off mic and we, quite frankly, just didn’t have time to piece something together. Again, super sorry, we love all of you!

2006 in 2017

I feel like year end lists and even awards tend to be too close to the action to accurately represent and categorize a year in film. Only through the prism of history can the context of a year's films fully begin to be understood. Let's take a look back at the year 2006 in film. It's a year notable for a lot of films: The Departed, Casino Royale, Children of Men, Borat, The Prestige, and--of course--X-Men: The Last Stand, the crown-jewel of the X-Men series (It's definitely the best X-Men film directed by Brett Ratner). 

What are some favorites of yours from 2006, and what would your DEFINITIVE film of that year be?

For me, 2006 is a weird year for film. The early 2000's were, in my mind, pretty bleak in terms of both quality and quantity but did give us some awesome blockbusters (the Lord of the Rings movies, Spider-Man, Batman Begins, the first few Harry Potters, etc.). The presence of those films sort of covers over the general disappointment of the film slate as a whole during that time. 2007-2010, then, was like an athlete hitting his/her stride and just dominating the league. Great awards-y movies, great blockbusters, deep rosters for the big studios, and high quality indie fare. Then 2006 is just kinda sitting the gap, like your quiet, quirky coworker who comes to Happy Hour every week but never really says anything, just seems content to be along for the ride. A small handful of excellent films (those you mentioned and a couple others) but also not just a whole lot of truly awful films (though this year did bring us Date Movie, Scary Movie 4, and Benchwarmers all within a few months of each other and somehow we survived). A lot of middle of the road movies. 

In the moment, I thought The Departed was far and away the best movie of 2006 and I will forever reject the notion that it should've been docked points for being a remake of a Korean movie no one has ever seen. Stupid argument. Was The Departed the best movie Scorsese has ever made? Of course not but it's still an incredible film that gets a viewing out of me at least once a year. 10 years on, however, the BEST film of the year is, I think quite clearly, Children of Men. I remember being very high on this one at the time and the long tracking scene that everyone remembers now is maybe THE shot of the decade. But it wasn't until I had some distance and a rewatch or two under my belt before I really grasped what a triumph that movie is. It probably deserves an episode from us at some point if for no other reason than it represents one of maybe three times in movie history that Clive Owen is actually sort of likable. I'd still have Departed as the second best movie of the year. 

Beyond those two, my mind goes to Casino Royale (the first good Bond in a very long time), The Prestige (gets better by the year), Blood Diamond, Pan's Labyrinth, Little Miss Sunshine (which has a FAR larger sphere of influence than anyone could've possibly imagined at the time), and Spike Lee's Inside Man (good year for Clive Owen). For your out of the box consideration, and this probably falls more towards guilty pleasure rather than actual good movie...I really, truly love the movie Accepted, which is a very stupid thing to admit but I am nothing if not honest. Not sure what exactly it is about that movie that gets me but I would guess at least three times a year I pop in the DVD or get sucked into a showing on FX or something and I always laugh. I apologize for my neanderthal brain. 

I've never seen Accepted, but as you know I'm very high on young-Jonah Hill so I'll have to give it a whirl. Little Miss Sunshine is a great movie that spawned a ton of great and a ton of terrible mumble-core films. This was a HUGE year for Clive Owen, but neither part really carried much momentum for him, oddly (what up to The Knick, tho!). The Prestige and The Devil Wears Prada have both kept an audience over the last 10 years, and I think will go down as some of the best of that year. Here's an interesting one though: What do we do with Borat? Borat is no doubt a completely unique film--both in terms of where it was willing to go w/ comedy and on the style it was filmed in--and was also, in this humble podcasters opinion, the best performance of 2006 (SBC actually fooled real people into thinking he WAS Borat--what defines better acting than that?), but it's also a movie that FEELS like 2006 (SBC's subsequent career perhaps has a lot to do with that). It's a monumental achievement though, you can't take that away from it.

Inside Man is a total favorite of mine and I think is an oddly forgotten film in the Denzel oeuvre. He's so freaking boss in that movie. It's also a testament to Spike Lee's insane talents as a filmmaker which makes the rest of his career oddly maddening. 

If I were to re-rank the Top 5 of 2006 10 years later, it would go as follows:

5. Borat
4. Inside Man
3. Little Miss Sunshine
2. The Departed
1. Pan's Labyrinth 

Accepted concludes with an impassioned speech from Justin Long of all people and it's oddly affecting. And Jonah Hill is basically doing prep work for Superbad, like I actually think he took this role with the idea that it would let him test out material for Superbad. 

Can we talk about Clive Owen for a second? Because I don't get it. What does he do, exactly, that makes him popular? Even in movies of his I love, I've never come out and thought, "Man, I gotta get me some more of that Clive Owen!" 

Borat is a difficult movie to properly analyze. As you noted, its impact at the time was HUGE and it's a wholly unique experience. But it feels like a movie that was past its expiration date by like February of 2007. Just immediately bordering on irrelevance. At the time I thought the first 45 minutes were SO FREAKING FUNNY and by the time we got to the naked wrestling I was over it. I'm not sure if I've revisited it since it came out on DVD, honestly. For me, SBC is the human personification of an SNL bit. He's very talented and range-y but I've had my fill after about 10 minutes. Isla Fisher is a saint for dealing with him on a daily basis. 

I think I'd have most of your top 5 ranked somewhere between 6-10 on my own list. I'd go:

5. Blood Diamond
4. The Prestige
3. Casino Royale
2. The Departed
1. Children of Men
Guest Column: Geek 101's Ariel Rada on Batman Comics
Introduction by Brian Gill:

This weekend brings Batman back into our lives, albeit in a less serious format. I imagine there will be far less branding taking place in The Lego Batman Movie than we saw in BvS (at least, I hope so as I don’t want to explain why Batman is a sociopath to my kid). Still, though, it’s Batman on screen without Zack Snyder interfering and that’s always something to get excited about. I love Batman; he’s easily my favorite superhero of all-time and I imagine that’s a very typical stance. For some time now, I’ve wanted to find a way into the Batman graphic novel universe but seeing as I’ve never been a comic reader, I didn’t know where to start. As such, I asked our friend Ariel Rada of the Geek101 podcast to put together a list of the best Batman books to aid newbies (like me) and veterans alike in navigating the vast landscape of the Batman Comic Universe. 

Greatest Batman Comics by Ariel Rada
Honorable Mention

Batman vs. Predator
Do you really need an explanation as to why this is amazing?
Batman: Court of Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
Despite its recency (2012), Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s New 52 Batman run stands with the best of the caped crusader’s escapades. This team brought together a story steeped in Bat mythology contrasted with energetic visuals made famous in titles like Spawn.  
The opening volume of their run, Court of Owls, introduces Batman to an enemy entrenched in the very Gotham City shadows he was made in. The Court of Owls challenges the notion that Gotham is “Batman’s Town” and watching Bats struggle against the wave provides true comic book fun.
The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Characters like Batman have been around for so long that they’ve been written into every type of story under the sun. He’s squared up against the mob, taken on serial killers, fought colorful characters, developed forbidden romances, forged partnerships, cracked mysteries and been stumped. However, only The Long Halloween has the courage to incorporate all these elements into one story.  
Comic book legend Jeph Loeb sends Batman on a yearlong journey to capture the elusive “Holiday Killer” while circumnavigating the mafia, his rogue’s gallery, and a complicated relationship with Selina Kyle. Tim Sale’s art is unique and stylized but perfect for Batman and the dark tone that surrounds Gotham amongst an unsolved killing spree. TLH is also famous as being the main inspiration behind Nolan’s film, The Dark Knight. The two are perhaps the best pair of Batman stories told.
Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair
Batman: Hush, like many books on this list, incorporates a plethora of DC Comics characters to tell a very Batman story. Hush brings in new players with old favorites like Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and even Superman. The aforementioned Jeph Loeb teams up with comic book dynamo Jim Lee to deliver a complex story with electric visuals and double page spreads that’ll make you cry.  
This story involves nearly the entirety of the Batman character list but never feels bogged down or over stuffed. It borrows classic Batman imagery and infuses them with life as it asks a head scratching question, who is Hush?
Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli, Richmond Lewis
Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One (the superior Frank Miller Batman story IMO) is the original “rehashed origin story”. It was introduced as a modern retelling of the Batman story that ended up as an instant classic. Year One gives us a young and eager Batman opposite a freshly relocated Jim Gordon as they attempt to do the impossible, clean up Gotham City.  
Year One is a simple, earth toned book that gives us a glimpse of the guardians of Gotham City introducing themselves to each other and the town they have since dedicated and sacrificed their lives to protect. Batman: Year One remains the greatest product of the story that begins with the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
It also serves as inspiration for Nolan’s first Batman film, Batman Begins.
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, Brian Bollard, and John Higgins
The notion that a hero is only as good as his villain is perhaps more true for the Batman than any other character in fiction. After all, without his impressive rogue’s gallery Batman is just a rich psychopath who dresses up in black and assaults people with military grade weaponry…

Anyway, Batman’s greatest villain is none other than the clown prince of crime, the Joker. A mysterious figure in the DC canon, the Joker is silly yet completely despicable. In The Killing Joke, Alan Moore took the Joker a step forward, creating a true ruthless psychopath the likes of which no writer dared imagine.  
Moore stretches the Joker’s present self in both directions by tracing back his tragic beginnings and establishing his most heinous act. Bollard’s illustrations carve insanity into Joker’s every wrinkle and John Higgins’ brilliant use of colors make every frame pop (seriously take a real look at how he handles each frame).

The Killing Joke gives us a glimpse of true depravity, the sort of dark depths behind a criminal mind that haven’t been reached since Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter. This book establishes the Joker as all of comic book’s greatest villain and it remains unmatched to this day.
New to Home Viewing in February

Each month in this space, we 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 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.
Into the Wild (2007) – Emile Hirsch, Kristen Stewart, Hal Holbrook
One of my five favorite books of all-time is also one of my favorite films of the last decade. Chris McCandless’s treacherous trek into the Alaskan wilderness is hauntingly and brilliantly brought to life via the combination of Hirsch’s greatest performance and Penn’s greatest directorial effort. McCandless himself is an incredibly divisive person as I’ve never met a soul who has read Into the Wild and doesn’t have a REAL opinion on the man and the film plays into that discussion. See the movie and read the book, too!
Edge of 17 (2016) – Haley Steinfeld, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson
The first half of Edge of 17 was one of the more enjoyable experiences I had in a theater last year. The back half became a bit grating for me as the protagonist borders on becoming the kind of teenager you mute on Twitter. Regardless, Steinfeld is spectacular in her role and would’ve gotten an Oscar nomination from me were I so blessed as to have a vote. Harrelson, too, is fantastic and represents one of the most underrated performances of the year.
Loving (2016) – Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Will Dalton (Available on Blu-Ray and DVD February 7th)
I tried multiple times to see Loving during its theatrical run. The story is so incredibly important, the actors are great, and Jeff Nichols is one of my three favorite directors. I really tried, you guys. On one occasion, I drove 30 minutes to a theater only to have the manager inform me they had “accidentally deleted the film.” HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN? All that to say, I’m stoked to finally get a chance to see this one, although considering the subject matter, perhaps “stoked” is the wrong word.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016) – Joe Alwyn, Garrett Hedlund, Steve Martin (Available on Blu-Ray and DVD February 14th)
Sometimes you see a bad movie and you want everyone in your circle to see that movie so you can all talk about how bad it is. Sometimes you see a bad movie and you think, “If a genie granted me three wishes, I would use one of them to make sure no one else ever watches this movie.” Billy Lynn is the latter. This movie is offensive on virtually every level and represents some of the laziest filmmaking I have experienced in the four years we’ve been doing this podcast.
(Check out our discussion of this trainwreck here. I promise it is more enjoyable than the movie itself.
February 7th Almost Christmas, American Pastoral, King Kong Ultimate Edition, Dirty Dancing 30th Anniversary Edition, Postcards from the Edge, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
February 14thOne Million Years B.C., Bleed for This
February 21stHacksaw Ridge, Manchester By the Sea, Nocturnal Animals, Ghost in the Shell, Bad Santa 2
February 28thDr. Strange, Allied, The Before Trilogy, Moonlight
NETFLIX – American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson, Babe 1-2, The Blair Witch Project, Chef’s Table Season 3, Contact, Corpse Bride, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2, Finding Dory, Frequency Season 1, Girl Meets World Season 3, Invincible, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Magic Mike, Michael Bolton’s Big Sexy Valentine’s Day Special, Mike Birbiglia: Thank God for Jokes, Milk, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Project X, Sausage Party, Silver Streak, Superbad, Twilight
AMAZON – 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Americans Season 4, Captain Fantastic, Escape from Alcatraz, The Firm, Forces of Nature, Hook, Hoosiers, Margin Call, Payback, Pretty in Pink, Rob Roy, The Running Man, Sabrina, Soapdish, Teen Wolf, Thelma & Louise
Monthly Recommends
Brian Gill
Supergirl: Season 1 - Netflix
Sometimes you need a light, easy break from serious TV and that's exactly what Supergirl is
Kent Garrison
Beware the Slenderman - HBO
Learn about the mystery of the slender man, and good luck falling asleep!
Richard Bardon
Bill Burr - Walk Your Way Out - Netflix
For my money, the funniest man in the stand up game in 2017.
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