This episode we discuss Bruce Brown’s 1971 feature documentary On Any Sunday, its enduring impact on motorcycle enthusiasts around the world and how documentaries have changed over the years. Afterwards, we deliberate on House of Cards, Netflix, Django Unchained and then reveal our next Movie Club pick!
The online retail giant has announced an exclusive deal with Pottermore to include all the Harry Potter novels as e-books in their Kindle Owners’ Lending Library program starting June 19. That means all Amazon Prime subscribers can now check out the Hogwarts saga in e-book form—in addition to tons of other e-books, streaming movies and TV shows and free shipping—at no additional charge. For those keeping score, that’s a lot of stuff for free, with your $79 a year subscription, of course. A pretty good deal, I’d say, except for one thing.
Ever since I bought my iPad late last year, I’ve found myself picking up e-books more and more, and while I’m enjoying the selection that Amazon has in their catalog, non-Kindle owners like me (which I suspect far outnumber Kindle owners) will be locked out of the Harry Potter action. It’s understandable that the company is trying to bolster its Amazon Prime and Kindle efforts, and at some point, I imagine it’ll be “subscribe to Amazon Prime and read/watch/listen to anything for free” for Kindle owners, but I wonder how a move like this might sit with the Department of Justice considering their recent antitrust suit against several major book publishers and Apple in which Amazon was clearly painted as a victim of collusion and price-fixing.
Then again, maybe this is akin to when the Beatles finally allowed their music to be sold digitally through iTunes a couple of years ago. It was a nice thought, but for most fans it was a non-event. Anyone who’s into the books probably bought them from Pottermore already, right? And besides, it’s Harry Potter. That’s sooo last year.
After spending several months getting all of my digital devices in check, I finally got around to the icing on the cake—signing up for iTunes Match.
Ep. 21: It’s Like Jazz
Paul, Robert and Scott talk about this year’s Oscar nominees and other favorites from 2011, including The Descendants, Moneyball and Warrior. Then we go a level deeper with SSX Modern Warfare and Mass Effect 3. Then another level deeper with a tale about LARPing and trip-hop artist Tricky. Then another level deeper with mobile gaming during jury duty. Then we ride the kicks all the way back up through Young Adult and Tree of Life before ultimately ending up at the failings of the Oscars over the years. BRRWWOONNGG.
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Three teenage friends looking for sex get more than they bargained for when they get kidnapped by an ultra-conservative religious group, which then results in a bloody standoff with the ATF. Although billed as a straight horror film, Red State does something that others in the genre rarely do. From the first shot, the film begins building into a gritty, violent look at the underside of radical beliefs and broken ideals. That’s a lot of ground to cover, and for a simple horror flick, Red State aims higher than it probably has any right to, but there’s clearly more going on below the surface. Instead of settling for traditional horror tropes, the film deals in the real world evils of disaffected youth, wild-eyed religious discontent and corrupt government agencies, and it doesn’t pull punches once the bloodletting starts. (While writer/director Kevin Smith has often deflected any sort of political connotations of the film’s title, it’s not hard to connect those dots. To be clear, it’s an indictment of everything and everyone, but right-wingers seem to get it the worst.)
That Kevin Smith could write and direct such a strangely brutal and potentially incendiary film shouldn’t be all that surprising—fans will likely spot a familiar sting in the dialogue—but it is nonetheless. Here Smith is a new filmmaker, checking his usual low-brow raunch after the first fifteen minutes and letting his camera and actors propel the story forward, including Michael Parks as grandfatherly religious crackpot Abin Cooper, Kerry Bishe as the single voice of reason in Cooper clan and John Goodman as conflicted ATF agent who quickly finds himself in a no-win situation. To be fair, there are patches where the narrative feels ham-fisted—Goodman’s final scene, for instance—but what it lacks in precision it makes up with its wrenching left turns. From act to act, you won’t know who to root for (or if you even should) and by the end, you won’t be sure what you’ve just seen. It’s a refreshing challenge, particularly from Smith, and as horror movies go, Red State is far more ambitious than most in recent years.
- Earache Records
- Available now
- Download from iTunes | Amazon
When it comes to rock music, it’s often said that they just don’t make them like they used to, but not if Rival Sons has anything to say about it. On their second full-length album Pressure & Time, the L.A.-based quartet pulls together blues and rock and roll, throws in singer Jay Buchanan’s soulful, soaring vocals and cranks it all up to blistering volumes. Comparisons to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Mountain or even Wolfmother wouldn’t be far off, and the influence of other great artists from decades past is undeniable, but even so, in an era when rock has lost its way, Rival Sons excels at building on that high-powered classic rock sound. The album’s titular track, for instance, uses a four-note passage similar to one found in Zep’s “Out On the Tiles” but gives it a powerful new urgency as the song’s main hook. Other highlights include: “Gypsy Heart” with its funky riffs and backbeats and musings on the wayward lifestyle; “All Over the Road” that, frankly, just makes driving a car sound sexy again; and the glorious, organ-tinged love letter “Only One”.
- 20th Century Fox
- In theaters August 5
When scientist Will Rodman discovers a cure for Alzheimer’s, he also inadvertently triggers an evolutionary leap in his ape test subjects, including a chimp named Caesar. When one of the chimps goes on a deadly rampage in the lab, Will is sent back to the drawing board and told to euthanize all of the animals, but not before whisking Caesar away to his home. There’s a tender subplot with Will’s Alzheimer’s-stricken father, but it mostly serves as a way for us identify with Caesar as he learns how to live as humans do. It’s here where the film succeeds more than expected. Andy Serkis and Weta do a spectacular job of making Caesar and the other primates real characters that are both meant to be sympathetic and yet terrifyingly dangerous. Perhaps the most striking example is a pivotal moment in the film where everything—even time itself, it seems—stops. From that point on, we’re suddenly thrust into an entirely new and uncertain world—a world that belongs to the apes.
- Limbic Software
- Available July 21
- Download from iTunes
It’s dark out, and although a light shines in the distance, a fog of death looms all around you. You decide to make a run for it, and as you get closer to the light, you hear the sound of a plane overhead. When one of the undead appear between you and your sanctuary ahead, you charge forward hoping to slip by unscathed. Just as their cold, clammy hands reach out to grab you, they explode into a cloud of bones and blood—all as if touched by a hand from above.
That scenario—left entirely to your imagination, of course—only plays out at a distance in Zombie Gunship. Your goal: man the high-tech instruments of death aboard an AC-130 gunship to protect the survivors on the ground and keep the hordes of undead from entering the bunker. While monitoring the action though the cold eye of a black-and-white thermal scope, dropping heavy ordinance and watching the bodies fly is a morbid delight.