Grand Budapest Hotel – Northwest Podcast Network review

Tyler and Angela Wilson discuss the latest Wes Anderson film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Stylistically, the film is exactly what you’d expect from the guy who made “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “Moonrise Kingdom.” Story wise, Tyler and Angela think Anderson is entering brave new territory. Listen in as they discuss the first great movie of 2014!

Grand Budapest Hotel poster

The (Hopefully) Final Word on Cinema 2013 *Updated Top 20 List*

The (Hopefully) Final Word on Cinema 2013 *Updated Top 20 List*

The Oscars waited until March 2014 to crown the best movies and performances of 2013. With “12 Years a Slave” taking home Best Picture, we can all move on to discuss the cinematic landscape of the new year.

Almost.

Sunday’s Academy Awards proved to be a respectful, if predictable, selection of the year’s best films. In my Predictions column for the Coeur d’Alene Press I correctly predicted 22 of the 24 winners, a personal best that matters little when you consider how many categories were perceived “locks” weeks before the actual ceremony. Blast those pesky short film categories for ruining my perfection!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “12 Years a Slave” is a worthy Best Picture winner, more so than recent Hollywood heartwarmers like “The King’s Speech,” “Argo” and “The Artist.” It’s an important film that will literally be taught in classrooms, but it’s also an impeccably made piece of filmmaking.

Most Xtreme Primates – Better than Winter Sports

Most Xtreme Primates – Better than Winter Sports

It’s Sunday afternoon, the kids are napping, and I’m primed for some exciting Olympic coverage courtesy of NBC. I’m ready to see dangerous aerial stunts, bone-crushing rink action and crumbling Russian hotel rooms.

I turn on the TV, and I get cross-country skiing. Really? It looks like a great aerobic exercise, but I want to see some real action.

Luckily, Netflix Streaming always has my back. Looking for something to fill my disappointment, I found a little-seen masterpiece that delivers genuine winter mountain thrills.

I’m talking about “MXP: Most Xtreme Primate.”

Yes, the third installment of the epic, ape-on-snow sports series that began with 2000’s “MVP: Most Valuable Primate.”

The Jonah Show Episode #2 – Movies Jonah Saw in 2013

Spring of The Rock and Six Other Movies

The Jonah Show breaks from the regular format (episode 2!!!) for Jonah Anderson to rank his 10 Favorite Movies of 2013. Interestingly, Jonah saw exactly 10 movies in 2013. Perfect for a Top 10 List! How will all those Rock movies compare? Listen in to find out.

Audio note: There is a baby making noises in the background of this podcast. Just pretend it’s adorable.

The Rock in Pain and Gain

You Don’t Know ‘Mitt’ – Documentary review

You Don’t Know ‘Mitt’ – Documentary review

Not too long ago, a guy named Mitt Romney was the second most talked about guy in America (after Justin Bieber, of course).  Then he lost a Presidential election, and everybody forgot about him

The new Netflix documentary, “Mitt,” will not only remind you of the man who almost led the most powerful country in the world, it will make you question whether you ever really knew him in the first place.

No love for comedy (ever) at the Oscars

No love for comedy (ever) at the Oscars

There are plenty of absurd trends associated with the Academy Awards, and even casual moviegoers know that, historically, Oscar rarely “gets it right.”

Great movies often lose out to industry crowd pleasers, with “Argo” and “The Artist” as the most recent examples of Best Picture winners that won for reasons outside their technical and storytelling merits.

I’ve exhausted myself talking about those movies in the past, but a greater problem within the Academy and with the awards-season in general is how comedies and comedic performers are routinely disregarded as inferior to the dramatic counterparts.

Even with an expanded Best Picture category (this year’s lineup includes nine films), good comedies rarely earn accolades.

Some will skirt the argument by saying movies like “American Hustle,” “Nebraska” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” have comedic elements. They do, but those movies come with weightier issues boiling under the laughs.

I’m talking about straight comedy – movies that deliver consistent laughs throughout its running time. Award-contending comedies tend to drop the comedy at some point and jump into issues of love, loss and blah, blah, blah.

Sustained comedy is a tough task, and you certainly can’t rely on popular box office success as a guide for which movies succeed in this regard. “The Hangover Part III” and “Grown Ups 2” both made more than $100 million at the domestic box office, and those are just terrible.

That being said, there is critical consensus on the year’s most successful comedies, and in the case of “The Heat” and “This is the End,” there are box office numbers to back that consensus. And if you count humor-centric animated films like “Frozen,” “Monsters University” and “Despicable Me 2,” there are plenty of popular and critic-approved movies to go along with more under-the-radar or forgotten entries, like “The World’s End,” “In a World…” and “Enough Said.”

Widely regarded as a second-rate awards show, the Golden Globes at least include a “Best Musical or Comedy” category in their slate. This year’s nominees demonstrate the Globes’ faulty logic in selecting films though, counting “Her,” “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” in the comedy category when all (especially “Her”) could contend in the drama category.

And better to leave “The Tourist” debacle of 2010 for another conversation.

In the case of Best Picture, you can often argue the year’s dramas outweigh the successful comedies when whittling a top contenders list down to just nine or 10 movies. It would be an embarrassment if, say, “The Heat” took the place of “12 Years a Slave” in the category.

But what about all the beloved comedic performances ignored throughout the years?  Peter Sellers, Gene Wilder and Bill Murray, just to name a few, were nominated a few times (often for dramatic roles), but their iconic comedic performances have come up Oscar-short. You could point to pages of examples, but I’ll rest my argument on the fact that “Groundhog Day,” one of the best movies of the 1990s, received zero Oscar nominations, not even a bone thrown in the classic “throw-them-a-bone” category of Best Original Screenplay.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle for comedies trying to break into the Academy Awards, and the reason dramatic films with elements of comedy have more success, is the very subjectivity of the genre. I’ve been derided more than a few times for recommending the R-rated “This is the End,” and some people think I’m crazy to suggest that sequences in “The Wolf of Wall Street” are supposed to be funny.

Comedy is subjective, and people laugh at different things. That probably explains the box office love for “Grown Ups 2,” but I refuse to accept that sorry conclusion.

I’m not asking for a total overhaul. Just a little more consideration for the movies that offer escape and provide much-needed levity to casual moviegoers. Perhaps the Academy can add a Best Comedy or Best Comedic Performance category. They added Animated Feature because of audience and industry demand, so it’s not out of the question.

As long as they don’t give Adam Sandler the first award.

Shocking ‘Act of Killing’ unlike any other documentary

Shocking ‘Act of Killing’ unlike any other documentary

This year’s Academy Award nominations produced the typical assortment of surprises and omissions, with “American Hustle,” “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” leading the list of major contenders.

While many of the year’s most celebrated films are still screening at local theaters, the lineup of nominated films available for home consumption is pretty slim… except for the lineup of Documentary Feature nominees.

Four of the five Documentary nominees are available for streaming on Netflix Instant, including:

–       “Cutie and the Boxer” – A Sundance Film Festival winner about the marriage between artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara.

–       “Dirty Wars” – An expansion of journalist Jeremy Scahill’s investigation of covert military operations in recent U.S. conflicts.

–       “The Square” – Netflix-acquired documentary following six protesters against the backdrop of the Egyptian revolution.

–       “The Act of Killing” – Former “gangsters” in an Indonesian death squad recount the ways they tortured and killed dissenters in the 1960s.

“The Act of Killing” is widely regarded as the Oscar frontrunner and for good reason. In addition to the disturbing recollections of admitted murderers, the film also invites these men to reenact their mass killing methods onscreen. Most shockingly, the men embrace the opportunity as they recreate death and torture sequences in the style of their favorite movie genres (old gangster films, music and dance routines).

Some within the regime eventually admit to their group’s wrongdoing, telling stories of the murders that have haunted them. Others worry that by depicting their victims as innocents, they are undermining the glory of their still-in-power regime.

The film’s most fascinating subject, Anwar Congo, shows little remorse for his actions, until he struggles to portray one of his victims being tortured and killed. It is his eventual reaction to the footage that leads “The Act of Killing” into uncharted territory.

Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, “The Act of Killing” is horrific-but-essential viewing. In its structure and subject matter, there isn’t any documentary quite like it, making it all the more deserving of Oscar gold.

The fifth documentary nominee, “20 Feet from Stardom,” is a more lighthearted affair about backup singers to the world’s most popular musical acts. While not available on Netflix Instant, you can rent the film on disc or digitally.

Best Movies of 2013 – Part 2 – #5-1

The Top FIVE movies of 2013 – these were the ones Tyler and Angela really loved. Listen to their discussion, and don’t forget about the first part of this episode – the bottom half of our Top 10 Lists HERE.

The Wolf of Wall Street image

Best Movies of 2013 – Part 1 – #10-6

Tyler and Angela reveal their favorite movies of 2013. First up, the bottom half of their lists, numbers 10-6, which includes movies about singers, monsters and a nice helping of Matthew McConaughey. Hey, be sure to check out the top half of their lists, Numbers 5-1, HERE.

12 Years a Slave image

Early year movie favorites

Prestige movie season is upon us, but that doesn’t mean we should forget about the good movies that came out in the first 10 months of the year. Listen to Angela and Tyler discuss some of the favorite movies of the year so far, including:
“Before Midnight,” “Mud,” “The World’s End,” “Gravity,” “Captain Phillips,” and “Monsters University.”

UPDATE: Tyler stupidly forgot to mention a few other movies worth discussing, but was obviously too lazy to record another session:
“Upstream Color,” “This is the End,” “West of Memphis,” “We Steal Secrets” and “Spring Breakers.”

Best of 2013 Gravity