So as it becoming custom, we open this episode with an apology for the delay in posting!
2020 has been...eventful. And we are now living in country Victoria after escaping Melbourne's COVID-lockdown.
In a funk of post-move fatigue, we binged five Fast & Furious movies.
Turns out we have a lot to say about these films, from Vin Diesel's self-insert fantasy of an indomitable and virile hero-figure, to Lucas Black aging ten years in a scene, James Wan's prominence in Australian cinema and that bloody plane runway in Fast & Furious 6.
This episode is a real sink and swim effort for any listener who hasn't played the Dragon Age video game series. Emmet reached out to Aimee Hart from Gayming Magazine after reading her article Here's Why You Should Play Dragon Age 2, Like, Right Now.
Following up on Aimee's piece, which identifies a number of ambitious themes featured in the writing for this much maligned game, this episode also touches on the gameplay, choosing the personality for main character Hawke, criticisms of Dragon Age 2, and how it sits with other entries in the franchise Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age: Inquisition.
On and Dragon Age 2 came out 9 years ago, so there are spoilers aplenty in this discussion.
And for fans of the series, here's Emmet's interview with Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir the writing team behind Dragon Age: Blue Wraith, over on Deconstructing Comics.
Booksmart and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, two movies that defy segues and punctuation.
We could try and sell you on how the two films treat of gender from their respective positions of indie movie critical darling and monster global franchise about cars...and spies?
But let's not.
Look we've been drinking some wine you guys.
Well first off spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.
This second collaboration between Marvel and Sony Pictures on Spider-Man is an unexpected conclusion to the events in that film.
In addition to the usual superheroics (with a dash of media commentary), Far From Home also returns the winning cast of classmates for Peter Parker, including Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr and Angourie Rice.
And then we squeeze in the most bingeable of Netflix shows, Stranger Things 3, which goes in hard on the 80s nostalgia.
Us and Russian Doll are two special auteurist productions that defy easy categorisation.
Firstly Jordan Peele's Us delivers on its promise from the first shot of a strange fable about America, with nods to 80s horror. Then Natasha Lyonne's Russian Doll escapes the dangers of an autobiographical warning about the dangers of excess, by becoming an existential fable that soars.
Now only one of us went to see, um, Us, so it's a one-sided discussion, but we're both going this week. So take that as you will.
(Also this interview with 'Us' star Winston Duke by Scroobius Pip is well worth your time http://tiny.cc/edhm4y )
Stephen Merchant's comedy biopic of Paige, WWE star and the first of a new generation of wrestlers - is an absolute treat.
Heartfelt, touching, and very, very funny.
Also Nick Frost and Lena Headey are a revelation as the loving parents of Paige (played to great effect by Florence Pugh.
This is a great flick and well worth your time (also it stars The Rock!).
Apologies for the late episode folks, but it's been quite busy in the O'Cuana household. For one thing Emmet's got a comic out called Faraway, illustrated by Jeferson Sadzinski and Thomas Mauer - learn more about it here https://www.emmetocuana.com/news/2019/2/23/faraway-is-here-away
Stevie, following a binge of Netflix's recent acquisition of You from Lifetime, wanted to know if the show has something to say about onscreen relationships.
In this episode we discuss other examples of emotionally abusive relationships on screen, from You to Gone Girl, and whether these productions represent a shift in how we talk about this topic since the days of the bunny boiler.
(Also Emmet manages to segue the conversation to Supernatural, because of course).
Ok well at least it wasn't a sequel to Bright.
Netflix has claimed some extraordinary viewing numbers over the Xmas season, with 45 million of you streaming Sandra Bullock vehicle Bird Box. Also social media went wild for Charlie Brooker's latest nihilist futurist vision Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (well 1980's futurism - look it makes sense when you watch).
Stevie and Emmet review the two offerings from the streaming service and question just how engaging a Netflix view is against a trip to the cinema - which has a dollar value attached.
Look you've already read the reviews of Robin Hood (2018) - in fact Folding Ideas anticipated almost Emmet's entire review!
He's not bitter but.
Antifa hoodies, Gulf War film tropes in the time of the Crusades and *that* Batman riff - there's lots to talk about here.
Also we visited Real Groovy in Auckland and give the store a shout-out (then rip-off the excellent 'What's in my bag' show from Amoeba).
This episode we talk A Quiet Place - is it a Christian right parable for family values....or just a silly monster movie?
Then we talk season 3 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which begins at the lowest point of Rebecca Bunch's life (brilliantly played by show co-creator Rachel Bloom) and then ends on a cliffhanger that has us eager to see where the show will finish in season 4.
And while you're there....
Driven to his sickbed by a nasty bug, Emmet decided the only thing for it was to read Michael Wolff's surprisingly slim cause de célèbre Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.
Then we talk Guillermo del Toro's aquatic romance The Shape of Water starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer, with Doug Jones as the underwater lover.
Finally the gig that Godspeed You! Black Emperor just hosted in Launceston for MOFO, in partnership with dance troupe The Holy Body Tattoo - which simply had to be seen to be believed (we try to talk about it anyway).
It was very loud.
Next week Neevon returns to discuss Spielberg's The Post.
Is pop culture something we're passionate about - or something we're told to be passionate about?
That's the question we're asking ourselves with this episode, which turns into a recommitment to what Hopscotch Friday was meant to be from the beginning, a show about the things we love.
This week we talk the backlash against critics, toxic fandom and the PR media cycle, as well as:
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.
And if you want a sampling of what we discuss in this episode -
Happy new year folks - see you in 2018.
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?
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?
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.
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.
The Dollop also now comes in book form - check out The United States of Absurdity, available from Penguin Random House.
Actor and comedian Rob Lloyd pops round to talk about his upcoming one-man show 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.
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.
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.
This week a slightly sickly Emmet and Stevie* discuss #DarkMofo.
*courtesy of a chill-inducing swim in the Tasman for Winter Solstice
Art, sex, music and sacrifice - the pagan antics on the island of Tasmania have caused controversy, but is there more going on here than sensationalism?
Despite attending only the tail end of the festival, there was still so much to see within the environs of Hobart, including:
Live performances from Einstürzende Neubauten and the Twin Peaks-inspired music of Xiu Xiu (see more here https://youtu.be/_rrK6UvAkLs)
James Brett's exhibition at MONA The Museum of Everything, which the curator uses to disrupt common understandings on the division between established art and 'outsider art'
And so much great winter food and drink, with Seven Shed's Fuggled Porter earning Emmet's stamp of approval http://www.sevensheds.com/cellar-door
The event also led, predicably to some controversy, giving rise to a letter to the Hobart Mercury that claimed -
"Parents are subjecting their children to a demonic and satanic culture that existed in the Dark Ages. At what cost this unexplained confused weirdness?"
Emmet mentions in passing during the discussion of Dark Mofo's mashing up of paganism and Christianity a William Blake's poem - so here it is:
The Little Vagabond
Dear Mother, dear Mother, the Church is cold,
But the Ale-house is healthy & pleasant & warm;
Besides I can tell where I am use'd well,
Such usage in heaven will never do well.
But if at the Church they would give us some Ale.
And a pleasant fire, our souls to regale;
We'd sing and we'd pray, all the live-long day;
Nor ever once wish from the Church to stray,
Then the Parson might preach & drink & sing.
And we'd be as happy as birds in the spring:
And modest dame Lurch, who is always at Church,
Would not have bandy children nor fasting nor birch.
And God like a father rejoicing to see,
His children as pleasant and happy as he:
Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the Barrel
But kiss him & give him both drink and apparel.
This week we were very sad to learn of the death of actor Adam West.
While his career was indelibly linked to the television adaptation of Bill Finger and Bob Kane's The Batman, West also gave the character a truly iconic introduction to the world.
His Bat was a Pop Art essay in high camp, a performance that creators in comics and movies spent half a century responding to - sometimes aggressively. Glen Weldon, whose book The Caped Crusade we highly recommend, has commemorated the actor here.
In other news from film, we discuss what the critical drubbing received by The Mummy means for the next cab off the studio franchise rank Dark Universe.
Has the 'Marvel Studio formula' succeeded for any other franchise besides Marvel's own? And can it then be considered a formula?
When did movies become advertisements for other movies instead of telling self-contained stories?
As always, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter, and give us a rating or review on iTunes.
It's the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny....again! Lego Batman has Will Arnett's arrogant and conceited Caped Crusader confronted with his greatest fear - and a host of villains from too many movie franchises to count.
Stevie and Emmet discuss the Lego movie series and its blending of marketing and playfulness, the question of how Batman became dark and broody in the first place - and the endless cameos that will have long-term Bat-fans pleasantly surprised.
In A World....where Stevie and Emmet talk trailers: the good, the bad, and the upcoming.
How does studios target certain audiences to sell a picture? What about a movie that is in trouble - can a trailer make the difference in earning primo box office? What about trailers that are nothing like the finished film?
We talk some of our favourites from over the year such as Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Inherent Vice, Watchmen; how the rabidly uncommericial Coen Brothers films have been poorly served by previews for The Big Lebowski, A Serious Man, Hail Caesar!; and we discuss the upcoming Wonder Woman and Edgar Wright's Baby Driver.
As the man said, "L, L, L, you ring my bell."
Stevie and Emmet first discuss the latest X-Men movie, Logan (not for kids, okay), a fitting last stand for Hugh Jackman and Wolverine.
Then, they chat Loving, the civil rights story of Richard and Mildred Loving (played by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga).
Rounding out this week's chat is FX's Legion, again with the X-Men, and the small screen awesomeness and WTF going on there. The colours! So pretty!
Netflix is changing not only how we watch films and television - through its commissioning of original content, the streaming service is raising the bar by introducing a diverse range of content.
Stevie and Emmet discuss how Netflix is changing the game with its revenue model - and review the CW co-production Riverdale and Scott Aukerman's surreal variety show Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special.