July 31, 2015


The Mission: Impossible films constitute a rather curious franchise.  They are not meant to showcase a sprawling narrative, nor do they necessarily give us 20 years of insight on the evolution of a particular genre.  Instead, the series seems to exist solely as a bellwether for the career of its producer and star, Tom Cruise.

In this sense, Mission: Impossible II reflects the mind of a Hollywood demigod at his mid-career apex, matched perfectly to high-flying and unabashedly self-congratulatory vibe of American culture in the year 2000.  It's a nonstop smirkfest posted at the last mile marker of a decades-long highway of persona-driven action cinema, timed precisely to the moment when the comic book bubble began to emerge and starring the only actor who could afford to ignore the changing of the guard.

[Our apologies for the tinny audio quality this week.  A rogue nation was tapping our channel, so we had to initiate ghost protocol.  We'll be back to normal in the next episode.]

Mission: Impossible II (2000)
Directed by John Woo
Produced by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner
Story by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga
Screenplay by Robert Towne
Based on the TV series Mission: Impossible created by Bruce Geller
Starring Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Ving Rhames, Richard Roxburgh, Brendan Gleeson, and Anthony Hopkins

July 17, 2015


Two lines of blue text...a fade to black, then a blast of trumpets...a stylized title card swoops into view, comprised of two words that seem like they were always meant to be together.

This is how all Star Wars journeys begin.  Where it goes from there, however, depends on the viewer.  Episode IV: A New Hope paints a broad canvas of space fantasy, specific enough in its details - weird aliens, bickering robots, utility pouches for days - and yet vague enough - a terrifying black-masked enforcer, an unseen force that "surrounds us" - full of both the epic bombast and flimsy, obvious kitsch that make it the perfect testing ground for budding imaginations.

For our one-year anniversary show, we go back to where Star Wars began for the both of us, and consider its place now in a cultural universe that it conquered and remade in its own image.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Written and directed by George Lucas
Produced by Gary Kurtz
Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Alec Guinness, and James Earl Jones

Check out the rest of our series on the Star Wars saga:
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Episode IV: A New Hope
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Solo: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Star Wars: Clone Wars
Star Wars Holiday Special
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure

July 3, 2015

Episode 30 - D2: THE MIGHTY DUCKS

Disney's Mighty Ducks franchise re-invented the moribund "ragtag youth sports" genre for the 1990s, sanding off the edges of the protean and profane Bad News Bears and kid-ifying the wild wooliness of adult entertainments like Slap Shot and Bull Durham.

But of the many lessons children learned from the most lovable peewee hockey team in Minnesota - believing in yourself, working hard, and being true to who you are - none of them could boast the incredible stakes introduced in the second film, which doused the series' inspirational fire with a can of jingoistic kerosene.

Just in time for the 4th of July, special guest Lindsay Marie Mead joins us to look back at how D2: The Mighty Ducks and Team USA imprinted our minds with formative images of national pride, ethnic and regional stereotypes, and amazing female goaltenders who only get to play for 30 seconds of an entire tournament.

D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)
Directed by Sam Weisman
Produced by Jon Avnet and Jordan Kerner
Written by Steven Brill
Starring Emilio Estevez, Kathryn Erbe, Carsten Norgaard, Joshua Jackson, and Kenan Thompson