The Media Nerds began this week excited about Stephen Colbert’s return to television, but was the excitement warranted? And finally, Apple delivers the set-top box Kenton & Dan have been talking about for years.
Dan reacts to comments from last week’s episode on the (possible) death of radio and ties it in nicely to Monday’s Apple Keynote at WWDC. Kenton does his best Jimmy Iovine, aided by their similar hairstyles.
The Nerds discuss David Letterman’s final Late Show and pay tribute to Kenton’s favourite late night host of all time.
May the Fourth be with you!In this special episode, the Nerds speak with Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda of Blame Society Films. Matt & Aaron are the creative geniuses behind Chad Vader, Beer and Board Games, Game Society Pimps and Welcome to the Basement, among many other things.
For more Blame Society Awesomeness, visit them in all their Internet places:
This week saw the trailer for Adam Sandler’s new video-game-invasion flick Pixels released across the Internet. While Dan & Kenton love the idea of 1980s video game characters coming to life, the minute Sandler and co-star Kevin James hit the screen, the Nerds are filled with feelings of despair and nausea. How do these guys still get to lead summer blockbusters after a string of just awful, AWFUL movies? The Nerds also talk about the new Age of Ultron trailer and the upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront trailer. In the recommendations: YouTube and HBO. Cable TV truly is dead.
Kenton & Dan meet up with Colbert uber fan Sharilyn Johnson once again to talk about her new book, Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. The Nerds mourn the death of the Report over a few pints at the Kings Head Pub while Sharilyn recounts tales from her seeing 13 tapings of the show and meeting Stephen Colbert on several occasions. Stay tuned for special “bonus content” at the end!
Life of Brian is the second feature film written, produced and performed by the Monty Python comedy troupe, the follow up to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It’s not actually a Christmas movie, having been released in August of 1979. Brian stars (of course) Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Michael Palin. I haven’t seen this film in probably 20 years. I don’t remember much about it, but I do remember that at 18 years of age, I considered this to be my favorite Python film, and one of the funniest of all time. Today I rented it on iTunes, but the whole movie is also on YouTube for free. Who knew.
In order to move things along more quickly (and because I’m already behind a night!) I’m going to live blog this one. Here we go!
– Opening Scene: the Three Wise Men visit the wrong baby, in the wrong manger. Terry Jones plays the mother of Brian, who is born on the same day and in the same village as Jesus, hence the confusion. Jones was always my favorite when they dressed as women. His falsetto is so false, it’s hilarious.
– “Blessed are the cheese makers. And the Greek.” – ha!
– Half an hour in and I’m amazed at how quickly this moves, and at how densely packed the comedy is. Every scene is a new sketch, with new characters.
– Spoke too soon. Now we’re into this “People’s Front of Judea” thing. Still funny, but not quite as quick-moving as the first 25 minutes of the film.
– Palin is. Just. Awesome. In one scene he’s an old crazy prisoner shackled to the wall, in the next he’s a speech-impeded Pontius Pilate, defending the honor of his friend Biggus Dickus. Just awesome.
– This whole film is built on the foundation of Palin, Cleese and Idle, who all play multiple roles. Gilliam just has a few bit parts, Chapman plays Brian throughout, and Jones isn’t around much, as he was busy directing the film.
– I’m now at the part where they think Brian is the Messiah. Such clever satire. They make fun of Christianity without actually making fun of Christianity!
– Hey, was that George Harrison?
– It was! Apparently he financed the movie.
– And we finish up with Eric Idle’s classic “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” sung by him, Brian and the other crucify-ees. Perfect ending to an excellent film.
The comedy of Life of Brian is timeless, and absolutely still holds up. It’s so smart for Python to set their first two films in a time and place that doesn’t exist in the modern era of film. Thus, a 35-year-old movie is just as funny and relevant as it was on the day of its release.
Still, not much of a Christmas film. I think my desire to choose “cool, clever and different” film titles for this list is having an unexpected side effect – I’m not really feeling the Christmas spirit! Maybe The Long Kiss Goodnight will change that.
Go (1999) was Doug Liman’s directorial follow-up to Swingers, one of my favorite films of all time. It stars Sarah Polley, Katie Holmes, Jay Mohr, Taye Diggs, Scott Wolfe, Timothy Olyphant, and basically any other young up-and-coming star that 90s Hollywood had to offer. Screenwriter John August follows a Pulp Fiction-style, three-story plot line following four main characters that interact with one another in a highly entertaining fashion. I watched it on Crackle.
The three “tales” of Go all take place on Christmas Eve. Story #1 centers around Ronna (Sarah Polley), a grocery store checkout clerk who can’t pay her rent and is trying to earn extra cash to keep from being evicted. At the tail end of her 20+ hour shift, Adam and Zack (Scott Wolfe & Jay Mohr – we’ll get back to them in a minute) approach Ronna about buying some ecstasy. You see, they usually buy from Ronna’s coworker Simon, (Desmond Askew in an incredible performance – I’ve never seen him in anything else) but she took his shift so he could go to Vegas for the weekend. Ronna agrees to try and find them some drugs; she figures it’ll be an easy way for her to get the rent money she so desperately needs. Ronna attempts to do this by bypassing the middleman and going directly to Simon’s dealer, Todd Gaines (Timothy Olyphant).
Story #2 is my favorite of the film, and somewhat simpler to boil down: is follows the misadventures of Simon and his friends on their trip to Vegas. I’m not even going to describe it further. It’s awesome. Watch it.
Story #3 brings us back to Adam and Zack, two soap opera actors who also happen to be a couple. This story crosses over a lot with Story #1, but depicts the events from a different point of view. William Fichtner and Jane Krakowski both give amazing and hilarious performances here, and Wolfe and Mohr hold their own as well. Whatever happened to Scott Wolfe anyway?
All three stories tie together at the end in a very satisfying way, including the film’s best line: “And then there’s the Family fucking Circus, bottom right-hand corner, just waiting to suck.” In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, I love this movie. It’s up there on my all-time list and I’ve probably seen it 20+ times.
But I have to say, It’s not all that Christmas-y. Sure, you can tell that Christmas is happening around the characters. Even the rave (remember those?) that takes place has a giant, green Santa Claus front and centre. But this film contains none of your typical Christmas themes. Family, generosity, goodwill towards all, there’s nothing. In fact, many of the characters have profound personality flaws and frankly deserve what happens to them. So, don’t watch this if you’re looking to get in a holiday-like mood.
But DO watch it if you want to see a film with great storytelling, amazing acting, hilarious dialogue, insane situations, and a killer soundtrack. It’s even got a pre-EVERYTHING Melissa McCarthy, who I’d completely forgotten was in this. So yeah, this one’s a winner in my books.
Next up: Life of Brian
One week after the tragic death of Robin Williams, Kenton & Dan take some time to reflect on his incredible body of work and the impact that he had on our culture.
Rest in peace, Mr. Williams. The world is a richer place for having known you.