Dodge City (1939) ***

Media Meltdown Podcast: Focus On Film - Episode 16: July 2014 Criterion Titles

Focus On Film Episode 16 is up!
This month Ryan and I were joined by our special guest Alex for a triple threat!!!
Download the MP3 here.
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In this episode:

"Focus On Film Theme" & other music: Daniel Sardella


Almost Famous (2000) *** [Crowe-a-thon Pt. 2]

I found this one to be very overrated. Sure, it was fun, but all the characters was too "nice". The few moments of tension or darkness never felt that threatening, and most of the characters didn't grow much (which I don't necessarily care that much about in films, but Crowe is one of those directors that really seems to aim for that).

I thought Jason Lee was extremely miscast and not believable as a rock star at all, not to mention the band in the film is terrible (total "buttrock"). Philip Seymour Hoffman was the best part of the film and barely had any screen time. The characters and acting overall were just average, as was the film. I can't believe this is so highly regarded.


Dallas Buyer's Club (2013) ***1/2

The Faint 'Doom Abuse' (2014) ****

It's been 6 years (the longest wait between LPs) since The Faint's last album, 'Fasciinatiion', was released. The last album was solid (and oddly enough, their highest charting), but their 2nd weakest so far, sounding a bit too precise and clean for my tastes. 'Media' holds the distinction of being my least favorite LP, but it was also before the band embraced synths and their "darkwave" style, so it really sounds nothing like The Faint.

'Doom Abuse' relies on a traditional guitar/bass/drums setup, but still sprinkles the synths and dancy quality on top of the (sometimes abrasive) punk style. A couple of tracks are very reminiscent of Devo and that's never a bad thing, if it's done properly. 

Every track is catchy, concise and well put together. If I have one qualm, it's that the names of the songs being sung on the choruses can get repetitive and make some of the songs sounds samey, but hey, no one complained about when the Ramones did that.

As a reference point, I'd say 'Doom Abuse' most closely resembles 'Wet From Birth', my second favorite by these boys and even sounds a bit like '(Blank-Wave Arcade)' (my introduction to the band and still my favorite). If you've been with the band up until now, you shouldn't be let down.


The World's End (2013) *** [Take 2 Pt. 2]

This is what I had to say about the film on my first viewing. Not much has changed, except that I actually liked it less (and gave it a 1/2 * less for a rating). After the hour mark is when the film loses all of its steam for me. Too bad.

Django Unchained (2012) *** [Take 2 Pt. 1]

Consider this the inaugural post of what I will refer to as "Take 2's", second viewings of films that underwhelmed me the first time.

This one earns a 1/2 star less this time and retains its distinction as my 2nd least favorite QT film (DEATH PROOF being the bottom of the barrel).

There's plenty of great stuff in this film, but I'll just list the reasons that it gets such a low star rating from a filmmaker I expect a lot from:

  • Overlong (the last 30 mins are largely unnecessary or could have been trimmed).
  • A number of poor (misplaced) music choices.
  • The KKK scene is dumb and unfunny.
  • Some of QT's weakest dialogue.
  • Walton Goggins was not given enough screen time.
  • Franco Nero's (the original and only true Django) cameo was wasted.
  • Quentin's Australian accent is terrible and stupid.

Under The Skin (2013) ****1/2

I feel like I keep saying this, but this is my favorite film of the year so far.


Hit Me (1996) ***

This was a bit of a letdown, but still a very strange and interesting film.

I assumed that I rented it because it was directed by Steven Shainberg (SECRETARY, FUR: AN IMAGINARY PORTRAIT OF DIANE ARBUS), but it was actually because the film is based on a Jim Thompson (The Killer Inside Me, The Grifters, The Getaway) novel called A Swell-Looking Babe (1954), which I have not read.

There are definitely traces of Thompson's style on display (a rainy scene on a rooftop is particularly "noirish"), but overall the tone is not easily distinctive of him (and just weird a lot of the time). I'm interested to read the novel to see how the two compare. At times, this felt like it could have been a Paul Thomas Anderson film (and, coincidentally, it shares 2 actors from 3 of his films and another from THERE WILL BE BLOOD). One thing is for sure - Shainberg is a unique filmmaker - none of the 3 films (of only 4 since 1992!) that I've seen are alike.