In 1989, Spike Lee’s masterpiece Do the Right Thing premiered at Cannes, kicking off a year of controversy. Film critics blamed any potential race riots on Lee, the Cannes jury awarded Steven Soderbergh’s sex lies and videotape the Palme d’Or, something Spike Lee is still salty about, and then in 1990 came a truly momentous Academy Awards. This week, we take a look at the 62nd Oscars, honoring the films of 1989. This is the year Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture and Do the Right Thing wasn’t even nominated. It’s the year Harvey Weinstein flexed real campaign muscle, guiding My Left Foot stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker to Oscars–something he would lord over women in the industry for decades to come. With Spike Lee once again in contention this year, and up against the Miss Daisy-esque Green Book no less, we examine the narratives and Oscar strategies that took hold in 1990 and continue to impact the Academy Awards today.
Gerard Butler is a fascinating actor. He’s made a career mostly out of B-movie schlock, has garnered a large and loyal following, has jump-started at least one, maybe two, original-idea franchises, and he does it all for less than half what a superhero movie costs. He doesn’t seem overly concerned with his reputation as an actor, yet every character he plays has to be the Absolute! Best! At! Their! Job! This week, we dive into our odd fascination with Gerry B, his terrible movies, and pitch our own idea for a Gerard Butler action thriller. Join us as we laugh our way through Geostorm, Scottish stereotypes, and how this law-school drop out carved his way through post-millennial Hollywood.
Aquaman is a hit. A giant hit, bigger than any DC movie since The Dark Knighttrilogy. So…now what? This week we take a look at Aquaman, the silliest superhero ever made, and what it means for DC going forward. They might not be totally out of the woods yet, but they’ve had a couple legit hits now, and they seem to have a path to making movies people, you know, actually want to see. Join us as we talk Aquaman, that Joker movie no one is quite sure what to make of, and DC’s future and post-grimdark attitude.
2018 has lasted nine million years, but now that it’s almost over, we look back on the year that was and talk about what made a mark during this interminable trash fire year. Which is mainly Disney, dominating the box office and pop culture, and about to swallow even more of the market when they officially merge with Fox in the new year. We talk about how afraid we are of our coming Disney overlords, and how this is probably bad for movies. We also talk Hannah Gadsby, our favorite films of the year, and what we’d like to see in pop culture in 2019.
Did you hear? The celebrity profile is dead. This week, we take a look at the state of the celebrity profile, which despite some truly bad recent profiles, is not actually dead. It’s not even on life support. But celebrity profiles have changed. No longer content to exist as mere fluff pieces, a new generation of profile writers are bringing sharp insight and cultural commentary into the celebrity profile, which some celebrities don’t seem to appreciate (looking at you, Bradley Cooper). Join us as we discuss all things celebrity profile, and what they have to say about us and our current pop cultural moment.
Fans have never been more powerful in pop culture, but with great power comes great responsibility, and fans don’t always use their power for good. This week we discuss fans, fandom, the line between fans and celebrities, con culture, and the corporate co-opting of fan works. The lines are blurred and social media makes it seem like we’re all standing in the same room, but maybe there do still need to be boundaries, as conspiracy theories creep into fandom and make everyone miserable. Fandom is supposed to be fun, so join us while we try to figure out what’s still fun about being a fan in 2018.
Check out Kayleigh’s breakdown of the rom-com adventure Venomhere.
A couple of recent franchise non-starters lead us to discuss the Hollywood franchise machine and why it mostly doesn’t work (except for Marvel). We dive into Robin Hood and The Girl in the Spider’s Web to look at why it’s so hard to launch a franchise and all the ways these movies demonstrate the dangers of franchise filmmaking. Hint: You can’t launch a franchise if your movie sucks. Also, why Robin Hood doesn’t work as a modern parable, and the variable appeal of Scandi Noir and whether or not Lisbeth Salander can be saved from Hollywood’s clutches.
Here is Sarah’s review of The Girl in the Spider’s Web, and here is Kayleigh opining on Ben Mendelsohn’s gig as Hollywood’s favorite evil bureaucrat.
One correction: Your Highness is not a Seth Rogen movie, it’s by David Gordon Green.