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The Hopscotch Friday Podcast

Hopscotch Friday is an informed and impassioned pop culture binge. What does that mean? Well, it means we’ll review stuff and give you a good idea of what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s probably worth a cheeky watch anyway. Importantly, we also give you the *why*. Online we mostly focus on movies and DVDs. But we also like music, games, telly, comics…you name it. If you like what you hear, give us a shout at hopfriday@gmail(.com). Join Stevie and Emmet O'Cuana each week for a bit of pop culture pillow talk.
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Now displaying: 2017

Hopscotch Friday is an informed and impassioned pop culture binge. What does that mean? Well, it means we’ll review stuff and give you a good idea of what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s probably worth a cheeky watch anyway. Importantly, we also give you the *why*. Online we mostly focus on movies and DVDs. But we also like music, games, telly, comics…you name it.

If you like what you hear, give us a shout at hopfriday@gmail(.com).

Join Stevie and Emmet O'Cuana each week for a bit of pop culture pillow talk.

Dec 22, 2017

Here it is, our wrap up of all the things we loved in 2017. Books, films, telly and comic books - we've got our picks of the things we loved, including some we already reviewed here on the pod. 

Hopscotch Friday's year in review

And if you want a sampling of what we discuss in this episode - 

  • Twin Peaks The Return
  • Brooklyn 99
  • The Good Place
  • Colossal
  • Thor Ragnarok
  • Logan Lucky
  • Get Out
  • Logan
  • Ladybird
  • My Favorite Thing is Monsters
  • Giant Days
  • Legion
  • Woman of Substances
  • The Flop House
  • I Don't Even Own A Television
  • My Favorite Murder
  • The Dollop

Happy new year folks - see you in 2018. 

Dec 17, 2017

Star Wars and Paddington - two films that smack of adult nostalgia for their childhoods, now re-marketed to children today. 

Paddington 2

Paddington 2, directed by Paul King, conjures up a sense of Englishness that is at once classic, but also modern. 

It's a charming film that is well worth your time.

The latest Star Wars - which Stevie has not seen, so Emmet is left to be interrogated on its merits - is brought to the screen by Rian Johnson. 

Star Wars The Last Jedi

Instead of heavily relying on the established Star Wars formula, Johnson chooses to highlight the use of those repeated plot threads - temptation by the dark side, a Jedi mentor crippled by failure, a resistance army forced to continually retreat from an evil empire in pursuit - then flips these narratives in interesting ways. 

This is a spoiler free discussion that treats of The Last Jedi's position in relation to the original films - and the whole Star Wars marketing phenomenon. 

 

Dec 10, 2017

Star Wars redefined Hollywood by creating the blockbuster and sfx technology - but does it still work as a continuing story?

And what does it mean for franchises like Star Wars, and Harry Potter, require constant immersion even outside the movie theatre?

Star Wars boring

Dec 3, 2017

The Disaster Artist, directed by James Franco and based on the tell-all memoir by Greg Sestero about his experience of starring in The Room, hits Australian cinemas on December 7. 

And folks - this may be one of the best films of 2017!

The Disaster Artist starring James Franco and Dave Franco

With an all-star cast and a stunning central performance that is more sympathetic recreation than mimicry (Tommy Wiseau being a living cartoon in his own right) - The Disaster Artist has finally made something great out of The Room. 

This week is all about trash cinema meeting the mainstream, but seriously - catch this film. 

Nov 19, 2017

Dr Matt Finch joins the podcast to talk Justice League, Jason Momoa, the DC universe, Jason Momoa, and the impact of the male gaze - and Jason Momoa.

Justice League Ezra Miller The Flash

(pictured - Not Jason Momoa)

This is a spoiler-filled discussion so be warned if you have not yet seen the film. 

But if you're looking for a giddy, rifferific take on the culmination of Zack Snyder's DC movieverse - here it is. 

Nov 12, 2017

How does Stranger Things 2 and Thor Ragnarok evoke the 1980s through the dimly remembered lens of 80s VHS box art, arcade games and teenage hormones?

Stranger Things 2

The Duffer Brothers and Taika Waititi have served up two different kinds of nostalgic reflection on the decade children retreated from the street to the home entertainment room.

Does Stranger Things 2 serve simply as a decent sequel to the surprise Netflix hit - or does it have a responsibility to be all things to all viewers? 

And has Taika cracked the Marvel Movies code with Thor Ragnarok?

Thor Ragnarok

 

Nov 5, 2017

Books! Love 'em - don't have a lot of time to read 'em anymore. 

Blame modern life, or whatever, but a good book takes time and deserves an attentive reader, so no smartphone distractions, or Netflix binge-athons please. 

Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

In the end we packed our bags, stuffed in a few paperbacks, and over a week of sunshine read:

  • Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
  • The Death of Grass by John Christopher
  • Slade House by David Mitchell
  • Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
  • Twisted Clay by Frank Walford

Among others. 

 

Oct 29, 2017

When the likes of David Avocado Wolfe are being regarded as medical experts in place of practicing doctors, what does that mean for the discussion of health?

It's a question that has been on my mind lately, particularly in the social media space where expertise is now diffuse. 

Urine Aid Steven Williams

Screening as part of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, Urine Aid is a documentary all about people who practice urine therapy. These are people looking for answers who have turned their backs on so-called "Western medicine" - so I was interested to learn what lies behind their decision to, well, drink their own piss. 

Finally apologies for the quality of the recording. There were some technical issues on the night that we decided to push through to capture the interview. 

 

Oct 22, 2017

One of the funniest - and best - shows to listen to is The Dollop, an "American history podcast" that sketches the ridiculous and absurd in an at times painfully familiar fashion.  

The Dollop podcast

Comedians Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds are the hosts, and this month they were in town for a number of shows in Melbourne. 

In this episode Stevie interviews Gareth Reynolds ("who has no idea what the topic is going to be about") on how he first got involved with the show, its popularity in Australia - and drawing parallels between history and today. 

Gareth Reynolds

The Dollop also now comes in book form - check out The United States of Absurdity, available from Penguin Random House. 

Oct 8, 2017

How do you review a film with a plot so tightly under wraps?

Well we are giving it a shot. 

Ryan Gosling as blade runner K

Ryan Gosling plays K, a Blade Runner on the trail of his long-missing predecessor Deckard (Harrison Ford).  Mysteries are uncovered, human nature gets yet another shake up - and Roger Deakins serves up some visual excess for your enjoyment. 

Blade Runner 2049 Denis Villeneuve

This is also a movie about making a sequel. Is it possible to follow-on from the sacred cow of genre cinema, Blade Runner - a Citizen Kane for the science fiction set? Villeneuve does not simply try to do so, he makes the film about recycling - or replicating - what has gone before. 

Lot's to think on here - but did we like it? Listen to find out. 

Oct 1, 2017

Inspired by the release of Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Stevie proposed this show should concentrate on how films and television handle morality tales (seeing as churches are more concerned with who is sleeping with whom like institutional Hedy Hoppers....but I digress). 

The Good Place title card

Singling out The Good Place, Lucifer and the second season of Preacher, Stevie and Emmet tackle how pop culture today deals with morality and religion. 

Sadly Star Trek: Discovery gets short shrift, but we'll get back to that sooner rather than later. 

Preacher season 2

Sep 24, 2017

**SPOILERS be here - move on if you do not want to be spoiled**

mother! starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem has been released to confounded review notices and furious audience response - but is this really a film that warrants the controversy?

mother! jennifer lawrence

This week Stevie and Emmet review mother!, discuss the controversy surrounding the film - and Stevie get's stuck in to the very idea of spoilers, particularly where it comes to Aronofsky's film. 

 

Sep 17, 2017

Twin Peaks The Return on Showtime inspired a resurgence of interest in the cult 90's classic television show. Finally fans would get answers to questions like "Where's Annie?" and what happened to "the good Cooper"....or maybe not. 

Twin Peaks The Return cast

This week's interviewee, writer Maura McHugh, has a new book out on the film prequel Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me. Famously booed after its premiere at Cannes, the story of Laura Palmer's last days has become an unexpected cornerstone of the overall series - and The Return. 

Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me by Maura McHugh

In this episode Maura McHugh discusses her interest in Fire Walk With Me, the highs and lows of the new season - including controversial casting choices and Kyle MacLachlan's performance as Dougie Jones - David Lynch's fascination with what lies beneath the surface of polite society - and what does it all mean in the end. 

Sep 16, 2017

Originally posted on our youtube channel, here is a short review of Andy Muschietti's IT starring Bill Skarsgard. 


Sep 10, 2017

Actor and comedian Rob Lloyd pops round to talk about his upcoming one-man show Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Rob Lloyd Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Lloyd discusses how his show adapts the book's themes of Otherness - while retaining the 1950s setting - as well as its continuing relevance in different periods. 

While it was once considered an allegory for Red Under The Beds as time has passed film adaptations continue to reframe the story in relation to whatever social unease happens to be in the ascendant. 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Lloyd also discusses how his career has embraced the storytelling power of science fiction to act as a parable for our times. From his recent appearance at Edinburgh with Who, Me to shows exploring the personal stories we tell using science fiction properties like Star Wars as a prop. 

Rob Lloyd The Heart Awakens

Science fiction, politics, the career of Gabrielle Anwar, and the stories we tell about yourselves that happen to feature lasers and shapeshifting aliens - this episode has it all folks. 

You can learn more about Rob Lloyd here

Sep 3, 2017

Game of Thrones is done and fans will have to wait at least another year for the final season to reach their screens. 

In this week's episode a GoT obsessive and a viewer blissfully free of any attachment to the series react to the events of season seven after a two day binge. 

The Starks - Sansa and Arya

What lies behind the appeal of the television series?

Has fantasy fiction gotten darker to draw in a wider audience and what does that mean for the genre? 

And with the war of the five kings ended - seeing as the kings are all dead and only women are left in positions of power - how does Game of Thrones treat its women characters? 

Can an ice-zombie be an effective villain? 

Spoilers for season 7 - we go deep on this episode. 

Aug 27, 2017

The BBC has done it again. After last year polling film critics on the best films ever made, the Culture team polled 253 writers on film on the movies that make them laugh out loud. 

His Girl Friday - Howard Hawks

Not LOL. Oh no. Because very few of the 100 film titles listed here date from this century

Emmet and Stevie discuss whether this poll represents the best comedies of all time - or the films that have been safely judged by critical consensus. 

Also what did they miss? Here are a few suggestions - including the much-maligned Death to Smoochy.

Death to Smoochy

What did you make of the list - and what films did we also manage to miss? 

Aug 20, 2017

We're talking all things Stephen King this week. Firstly Emmet went out solo to view The Dark Tower, a fantasy epic a decade in the making that's limped into screens with bad press and critical takes. 

The Dark Tower poster

Does the film have a responsibility to be as faithful to the text as King fans wanted - and is it serviceable as a standalone film? 

Then the conversation turns to adapting books to film. 

The Dark Tower - Tom Taylor

Stevie focuses on the anti-fascism besteller The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and how its various adaptations to film interpreted the late Stieg Larsson's vision. 

Emmet returns to King and discusses the author's rejection of Stanley Kubrick's horror classic, with an emphasis on mood and madness instead of gore - The Shining. 

 

Aug 13, 2017

In a week when everything has been pretty terrible, Emmet makes the case for Valérian and Logan Lucky being two films about hope. 

While Luc Besson's spiritual sequel (or response to) The Fifth Element has attracted criticism, is this is misreading of the film's naive sincerity?

Dane De Haan plays Valérian as a young man who has read Romantic Heroes for Dummies, partnered with the far more competent Agent Laureline (‎Cara Delevingne). They chase McGuffins, uncover a conspiracy to destroy the peace enjoyed by humanity's space-faring utopian future - and all the while try to discover the meaning of love. 

It's a film that lives or dies on its appeal to the audience's sense of sentiment. Also, it's very pretty. 

Logan Lucky is a far more recognizable world of working class Americans ground down beneath corporate greed. Our unlikely Robin Hood is Channing Tatum, whose Jimmy Logan conspires with brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and Mellie (Riley Keough) to rob Nascar. All they need is an explosives expert - enter Daniel Craig's wonderful creation Jimmy Bang.

This is another film with heart and soul, skillfully made by Soderbergh while not eschewing emotion. Strongly recommended. 

Aug 13, 2017

First off - apologies for the sound quality in this episode. But as promised in episode Episode 27 here is a mini-episode on Kumail Nanjiani's The Big Sick, directed by Michael Showalter and starring Zoe Kazan and Holly Hunter. 

Here is a romantic comedy with a difference. First it draws on the real life experience of Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon, so the tropes of cinematic romance are skewed with a nice dose of real-life insight. 

On top of that we have an Apatow comedy-stable film that is tighter and less indulgent than the free-form improvisational pictures the producer has previously served up. 

It's also a movie about race that both utilises that in its plot - but does not employ tokenisms. 

 

Aug 7, 2017

This week we take a tour around Spain with Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, and then revisit the cold calculations of murder in 1989 Berlin.

Michael Winterbottom's The Trip to Spain is the third in a series of would-be travelogues that blends reality and farce to excellent effect. Brydon and Coogan play versions of themselves, again musing on death, fame, sex - as well as the passing of David Bowie.

The Trip to Spain Rob Brydon Steve Coogan 
In between driving each other to distraction with dueling impersonations, the pair enjoy amazing food lovingly prepared onscreen and go on yet another literary tour, this time following the foolhardy exploits of Cervantes's Don Quixote. 

Less literary fun is to be had in David Leitch's Cold War espionage thriller Atomic Blonde - although Bowie *does* of course pop up again. This is Berlin after all. 

Atomic Blonde - Charlize Theron James McAvoy

Adapting Antony Johnston and Sam Hart's comic The Coldest City to the big screen, Charlize Theron stars as Lorraine Broughton, an MI6 operative sent to Berlin to recover a McGuffin taken from a murdered former lover by a KGB agent. 

There she encounters James McAvoy's gone-native agent Percival, who clearly knows more than he's letting on, and is tailed by a French agent played by Sofia Boutella. 

Complete with a stormer of a soundtrack of 80s hits, Theron carries the picture with a heady mix of cool glamour and a capacity for savage violence. 

This week Stevie and Emmet also recommend -

Tim Powers's Medusa's Web
Birthright by Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan
Jon Ronson's So You've Been Publicly Shamed

Jul 31, 2017

This week is all about monstrous metaphors and how horror can speak to us.

A Monster Calls - poster

Firstly we review A Monster Calls, starring Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson and impressive young actor Lewis MacDougall.

Adapting Patrick Ness's illustrated novel to the big screen, director J.A. Bayona realizes the allegorical theme of grief for the loss of a loved one with judicious CGI and animated 'fairy tale' sequences.

In this fashion Bayona's film follows in the tradition of horror as metaphor defined by the work of George Romero, who died on 16 July 2017.

Day of the Dead - Bob

Known principally as a zombie movie icon, the Pittsburgh native was also a film-maker committed to the principles of independence. His investment in the locality of Evans City gave an economic burst to the depressed blue-collar region, and it's this ethos of DIY film-making for which Romero deserves more recognition.

From the inevitability of death represented by his zombies, to the deromanticised vampire Martin ("There's no magic") and Ed Harris's modern-day King Arthur in Knight Riders reduced to a Renaissance Fair performer, Romero raised up the ordinary instead of escaping to fantasy.

Jul 23, 2017

Neevon reviews this film adaptation of a 19th century Russian novella, that draws loosely on the Scottish play. 

Lady Macbeth

This episode discusses the application of Shakespeare's themes outside of the plays and the exploration of feminist and class themes in the film.

This is a shorter episode in advance of a bumper show next week - including our tribute to George Romero, and a review of A Monster Calls. 

Lady Macbeth posters

 

Jul 16, 2017

This week Emmet interviews writer Christian Read on his new book Nil-Pray, available from Gestalt Publishing

Nil-Pray by Christian Read

Nil-Pray is the titular city of the dead, where tensions between restless spirits and different species of undead are mounting. Into the middle of this politically fraught situation comes Edmund Carver, a disgraced Waughvian necromancer with a shameful past.

Read discusses how the story fits within the weird fiction canon, the traps of fantasy novel 'worldbuilding', and gives a guided tour to this strange city inhabited by cowboy vampires, zombie slaves, and werewolf berserkers. 

 

Jul 9, 2017

This week we have the return of Edgar Wright with his feature-length adaptation of a music video concept Baby Driver, and the arrival of Spider-Man in the Marvel Universe.

Baby Driver - Ansel Elgort and Lily James

First cab off the rank has Stevie and Emmet discuss whether Wright's technically stunning car heist movie succeeds.

Is this a genuinely original film, or simply a parody of 1970s B-movies?

Spider-Man Homecoming

Next Spider-Man returns to high school with a younger cast and a passing of the torch from Robert Downey Junior's franchise leader Iron Man.

Does the Marvel Studios endorsed webslinger enliven the prospect of an IP relaunched for the third time in fifteen years?

And in next week's episode we will definitely not be talking about superheroes!

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