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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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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.

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!

Jul 2, 2017

We discuss Girl Boss from Netflix, Preacher, iZombie and American Gods as adaptations to television - and the return of Twin Peaks. 

Girl Boss - Netflix

Is this the advent of a second 'Golden Age' of television?

Or are we looking at the diversifying of media to cater to all tastes. 

American Gods - Shadow and Laura Moon

Shows discussed in this episode include - 

* Girl Boss
* Braindead
* Designated Survivor
* Preacher
* iZombie
* Hannibal
* American Gods
* Twin Peaks seasons 1/2
* Twin Peaks: The Return

 

Jun 25, 2017

Image by Stevie O'Cuana - Dark Mofo

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?

Image by Stevie O'Cuana - the boat from MONA to Hobart

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

 

Image by Stevie O'Cuana - Dark Mofo Winter Feast


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?"
https://www.instagram.com/p/BG3NavarufP/

 

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.

Jun 18, 2017

Steve Carrell and Kristen Wiig return as the heads of a super(villain) family that everyone loves.

Also there are Minions.

Stevie and Emmet talk about how the film's treatment of blended families gives the slapstick some soul and how Trey Parker's villain, an 80s obsessed former child celebrity desperate to make his fantasies real, feels apt to today.


Despicable Me 3

In the second half of the show Emmet discusses the Nick Broomfield documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me.

While the film examines the theories surrounding the singer Whitney Houston's sexuality and the revelations of drug use, it also features incredible concert footage from Rudi Dolezal that showcases how amazing a performer she was. 

Whitney: Can I Be Me


As always, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter, and give us a rating or review on iTunes

Jun 12, 2017

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

RIP Adam West

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

Jun 4, 2017

Neevon Mohtaji from 2 Dollar Movie Reviews returns to discuss the Armenian genocide drama The Promise

The Promise

Starring Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac, the film has attracted headlines for being a Hollywood production centred on the events of the Armenian holocaust - and for the online protests, particularly on imdb where the film has been downloaded thousands of times to dissuade people from viewing the film. 

Neevon and Emmet discuss the film, as well as the protest's potential for straying into the Streisand Effect by drawing attention to the very events that would be buried. 

The Promise Oscar Isaac and Tom Hollander

As always, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter, as well as iTunes

May 30, 2017

Patty Jenkins has done what Joss Whedon, George Miller, Ivan Reitman and Joel Silver failed to do. 

Make a film about Wonder Woman. 

Wonder Woman

Out in cinemas June 1, we discuss what the film got right, the critical buzz around the project in the last few weeks - and answer the question, is Wonder Woman actually any good?

As always, you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and iTunes - let us know what you think of the show. 

May 28, 2017

Taking a wee break after the recent weeks of sturm and drang for two quieter dramas, before the much belated arrival of Wonder Woman next week, we discuss John Butler's Irish comedy drama Handsome Devils and Mike Mills' semi-autobiographical film 20th Century Women

Handsome Devil movie poster

Handsome Devil is a sweet drama featuring a stand-out performance from Andrew Scott as an English teacher in an Irish boarding school obsessed with sport. 

Ned (Fionn O'Shea) is an alienated student at the school who is excluded because he has no interest in sport. Subjected to homophobic bullying, he creates a sarcastic outsider persona as a defense. When a new boy arrives at the school and becomes Ned's room-mate (Nicholas Galitzine), early resentment between them slowly evolves into a fragile friendship. But what led to Conor, a stunning rugby player, being expelled from his last school - and what will Ned do once he learns his only friend's secret?

20th Century Women

Annette Bening's Oscar snub seems more unbelievable now this film is out in Australia. Heading up a stellar cast including Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig and Billy Crudup, Mike Mills draws on his childhood for this story of a young teenager being raised without a male role model and his strained relationship with his mother. 

Quietly powerful and featuring interesting digressions into the histories of the characters' lives with archive footage, 20th Century Women is a time capsule from a vanished era of Californian optimism and free thought. 

This episode is dedicated to the memories of Roger Moore and Dennis Johnson. 

As always, check us out on Facebook and Twitter @hopscotchfriday, and drop us a rating on iTunes.

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