The Movies You Absolutely HAVE To Go Into Spoiler-free (Cross Talk Ep. 28)

There are so many ways in which movies can be spoiled for us in this day in age – Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Reddit, and on, and on, and on… Not to mention humans. Humans still are incredibly good at ruining the best of cinema within a matter of sentences. It doesn’t matter if you are watching The Walking Dead or just saw Thor: Ragnarok, it’s a minefield out there creative cuties.

Some people think that etiquette for spoilers lasts within the first hours of a release, others think it is primarily subject to the timeline of digital download and home release, while others come up with deadlines of years and even more arbitrary considerations like when a franchise final closes up.

The truth is, there is no right or wrong here, but Shirley you cannot think that spoiling a movie for someone is going to work out and not expect some hurt feelings and consequences?

And dammit I will call you Shirley if you spoil The Last Jedi for me!

Threads and forums usually make it easy, the subject line will usually exclaim – SPOILERS AHEAD. And still others have rules about what can be said within hallowed digital halls. The challenge really comes from social media, because we can’t draw a policy down for an individual.

People are going to post and share whatever they feel like, as long as it isn’t immoral and illegal, that is.

But with any luck, your humble hosts on Cross Talk are going to give some examples of films that should never be spoiled, films that often are spoiled to this day, and the major repercussions of doing that to your brethren. Hint: it’s nothing good. Because the thing is, dear readers, there are schedules out there, and you can rest assured in the knowledge that you are beholden to the same social etiquette as others are.

If you spoil something, be prepared to have the same happen to you in kind. And I do not write this with malice in my heart, in fact, I wouldn’t wish a spoiler upon my worst enemy. Some movies deserve to be spoiler-free. And yes, I know I’ve mentioned that twice now…

You should just watch the video and see what I mean for yourself. Caution though, there aren’t any spoilers ahead!

All said-and-done, that was episode twenty-eight of Cross Talk! I can now admit that we will probably never be rid of spoilers on the internet. But thankfully, with some consideration, and an evolution of social intelligence, there will become a proper statue of limitations on information sharing – when it comes to pop culture, that is.

And the fact remains, while I haven’t explicitly pointed it out above, film criticism really is a dish best served as a dessert after a meal. You can’t expect to eat your dessert first, now can you? A teenager might defy the odds and have pumpkin pie for dinner, but we all know that they either come around or face dietary issues as they age. And that’s just dark.

Now we want to know what you think! And if you liked this video, please share, comment, and subscribe! I’m out of theories for the day, but this has been Cross Talk and timotheories will be back tomorrow with something melodic.

Tim!

Peek A Boo, I See You (Ghost In The Shell (1995) review)

Deus ex machina are supposed to reveal truths of the world, not leave it covered in darkness. Which is why this film is rather prophetic, and should probably be in the queue for monthly consumption, at a minimum.

 

Ghost In The Shell (1995)

Cast: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Otsuka, Koichi Yamadera, Yutaka Nakano, Tamio Oki, Tessho Genda
Director: Mamoru Oshii
re-released on blu-ray Sep 23, 2014
********* 9/10

IMDB: 8.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, Audience Score 89%
The Guardian: ****/*****

Mamoru Oshii is a Japanese director and screenwriter. He has directed a ton of anime films and television shows, including Urusei Yatsura, Red Spectacles, Ghost in the Shell, Avalon, and Patlabor 2: The Movie. His directorial style has often been detailed in how different it is to most films made in the United States, with visuals being the most important element to him, followed by story, and then characterizations.

The Wachowskis and James Cameron have been in awe of his work for decades, especially with Ghost in the Shell, so I thought it fitting to time my review of the original film with the release of the live-action remake. Because, well, it’s even more relevant today than it was 20+ years ago.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

In 2029, with the advance of cybernetic technology, the human body can be “augmented” or even completely replaced with cybernetic parts. Another significant achievement is the cyberbrain, a mechanical casing for the human brain that allows access to the Internet and other networks. An often-mentioned term is “ghost”, referring to the consciousness inhabiting the body (the “shell”).

Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka) is an assault-team leader for the Public Security Section 9 of “New Port City” in Japan. Following a request from Nakamura (Tessho Genda), chief of Section 6, she successfully assassinates a diplomat of a foreign country to prevent a programmer named Daita (Mitsuru Miyamoto) from defecting.

The Foreign Minister’s interpreter is ghost-hacked, presumably to assassinate VIPs in an upcoming meeting. Believing the perpetrator is the mysterious Puppet Master (Iemasa Kayumi), Kusanagi’s team follows the traced telephone calls that sent the virus. After a chase, they capture a garbage man and a thug. However, both are only ghost-hacked individuals with no clue about the Puppet Master. The investigation again comes to a dead end.

Megatech Body, a “shell” manufacturer with suspected close ties to the government, is hacked and assembles a cybernetic body. The body escapes but is hit by a truck. As Section 9 examines the body, they find a human “ghost” inside its computer brain. Unexpectedly, Nakamura arrives to reclaim the body. He claims that the “ghost” inside the brain is the Puppet Master himself, lured into the body by Section 6. The body reactivates itself, claims to be a sentient being and requests political asylum. After the Puppet Master initiates a brief argument about what constitutes a human, a camouflaged agent accompanying Nakamura starts a diversion and gets away with the body.

Having suspected foul play, Kusanagi’s team is prepared and immediately pursues the agent. Meanwhile, Section 9 researches “Project 2501,” mentioned earlier by the Puppet Master, and finds a connection with Daita, whom Section 6 tries to keep from defecting the country. Facing the discovered information, Daisuke Aramaki (Tamio Oki), chief of Section 9, concludes that Section 6 created the Puppet Master itself for various political purposes. This is why Section 6 is desperately trying to reclaim the body.

Kusanagi follows the car carrying the body to an abandoned building. It is protected by a large walking tank. Anxious to face the Puppet Master’s ghost, Kusanagi engages the tank without backup and is nearly killed. Her partner Batou (Akio Otsuka) arrives in time to save her, and helps connect her brain to the Puppet Master’s.

The Puppet Master explains to Kusanagi that he was created by Section 6. While wandering various networks, he became sentient and began to contemplate his existence. Deciding the essence of humanity is reproduction and mortality, he wants to exist within a physical brain that will eventually die. As he could not escape section 6’s network, he had to download himself into a cybernetic body. Having interacted with Kusanagi (without her knowledge), he believes she is also questioning her humanity, and they have a lot in common. He proposed merging their ghosts, in return, Kusanagi would gain all of his capabilities. Kusanagi agrees to the merge.

Snipers from Section 6 approach the building, intending to destroy the Puppet Master’s and Kusanagi’s brains to cover up Project 2501. The Puppet Master’s shell is destroyed, but Batou shields Kusanagi’s head in time to save her brain. As Section 9 closes in on the site, the snipers retreat.

“Kusanagi” wakes up in a new cyborg child body in Batou’s safehouse. She tells Batou that the entity within her body is neither Kusanagi nor the Puppet Master, but a combination of both. She promises Batou they will meet again, leaves the house and wonders where to go next.

For me, it’s tough not to watch this movie and be reminded of The Matrix. I had the unfortunate experience of watching that movie a great many years before this classic, and the repeated viewings of The Matrix trilogy over the years haven’t helped either. And so, the story is a familiar one, exploring self-identity as we relate to machines in a time when humans and machines have become interchangeable. God praise the internet, amirite? And the timeline is not that far away either, in both the film and reality.

Consciousness, humanity, autonomy, empathy, and mortality are all explored in a relatively short hour and twenty-some minutes. In a time when international corporations have basically done away with national identity too.The ghost in the shell is literally a play on the wandering consciousness that inhabits the meaty husk, and it wants to know if we hear it’s voice.

Pros: Visually compelling and with a message which has allowed it to age far better then films like Blade Runner or Total Recall, Ghost in the Shell is violent, emotional, and poetic to experience.

Cons: The individual characters are difficult to warm up to, but it might just be all of the robot parts they have imbedded.

Runtime: 1 hour 23 minutes

Points of Interest: Motoko’s eye are intentionally animated to not blink very often, giving her a feel of a doll, rather then a human. The title of the manga which inspired the film is written as an homage to the Arthur Koestler work, The Ghost in the Machine.

theories Summarized

So is the 2017 film better than the 1995 one? I’d like to think not, and not for the obvious whitewashing allusions that have been to popular on the internet over the past year or so. In fact, Mamoru Oshii has gone on record to state that the Major may or may not be Japanese, but regardless of her current appearance, her name and body have changed numerous times, and so it is in fact acceptable to have Scarlett Johansson in that role.

But I think the problem is that the anime far better depicts the story at hand, and that the visuals are far more compelling with their mix of traditional drawing and CGI. The Matrix will never be the same for me. And that’s no theory.

And speaking of things that The Matrix tried to wreak… Andre and I have a new Watch Culture video up for your viewing pleasure. Please tell us if you agree that Equilibrium is worth a watch, and if not, your comments are appreciated.

Tim!

Double Agent (Teen Titans: The Judas Contract review)

Animated comic book movies have been around for decades at this point, but I think it’s high time we recognize the efforts of one studio in particular who has consistently show up to play ball.

 

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017)

Cast: Stuart Allan, Jake T. Austin, Taissa Farmiga, Sean Maher, Christina Ricci, Brandon Soo Hoo, Kari Wahlgren, Miguel Ferrer
Director: Sam Liu
re-released on blu-ray April 18, 2017
******** 8/10

IMDB: 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%, Audience Score 71%
The Guardian: n/a

I’ve written about Sam Liu before. He also directed the Batman: The Killing Joke movie which I reviewed last summer, so in order to save some time, I’m going to dive right into the plot summary and then tell you what I think about this most recent DC original animated film.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Five years ago, the original Teen Titans (consisting of Dick Grayson as Robin, Speedy, Kid Flash, Beast Boyand Bumblebee) rescue Princess Starfire of planet Tamaran from her captors sent by her evil older sister Blackfire who had staged a coup and forcibly took the throne. As she is no longer able to return to her world, the Titans offer her a home on Earth as one of them.

In the present, Dick Grayson (now called Nightwing) rejoins the Teen Titans to track down a terrorist cult led by Brother Blood who plans on capturing the team to absorb each of their unique abilities with a machine that he has tested on Jericho (whom his assistant and lover Mother Mayhem quickly shoots afterwards). Brother Blood hires the mercenary Deathstroke to deliver the Titans to him, which he obliges to do for both the money and get revenge on Damian Wayne for foiling his evil plans a few years ago and replacing him as Ra’s al Ghul’s heir before Damian turned against the League of Assassins. Deathstroke monitors the Titans through his double agent Terra, who joined the team a year prior and whom he rescued after her parents turned their whole village against her and tortured her. When Damian grows suspicious of Terra’s behavior and starts tracking her, he is captured by her and Deathstroke, thus revealing her as a spy to Damian.

Terra acts cold and distant towards the otheTitans despite their welcoming attitude, but eventually warms up to them. During the night celebrating her one-year anniversary with the Titans, she shares a tender moment with Beast Boy and kisses him. The next day, Deathstroke kidnaps Blue Beetle at the soup kitchen he works at, Beast Boy at a convention where he thought he would do a podcast with filmmaker Kevin Smith, and Starfire at the apartment shared by her and Nightwing. Dick discovers what happened to the otheTitans and is attacked by Deathstroke. He manages to escape by faking his own death, while Terra captures Raven in Titans‘ Tower.

Deathstroke and Terra bring the Titans to Brother Blood, but since the machine cannot operate properly without a fifth Titan (as Slade had failed to capture Nightwing), Slade hesitantly offers him Terra instead. Brother Blood starts draining the Titans of their powers and ascends to godlike status, but they are rescued by Nightwing. Nightwing and Robin fight Deathstroke, while the rest take on Brother Blood, who has absorbed all of their powers. The two villains are stopped by the intervention of Terra, who is thoroughly hurt and enraged at Slade for his betrayal. Brother Blood is depowered by Raven unleashing her inner fury as a demon and killed by Mother Mayhem, while Deathstroke is buried underneath multiple rocks thrown by Terra. Too ashamed to face her former allies after betraying their trust, Terra decides to bring down the entire area. Beast Boy attempts to assist Terra in escaping the crumbling fortress, but Terra pushes him back and is buried underneath multiple layers of rubble. Beast Boy digs her up, and she dies in his arms.

In the epilogue, Beast Boy goes on Kevin Smith’s podcast and talks about the Titans with the host. He mentions that the team has a “wonderful new member” and that he will always miss Terra.

In a post-credits scene, Jericho is shown to have survived the bullet Mother Mayhem shot at him earlier.

I’ll just come right out and say that this movie is refreshing to watch. There are complex adult relationships portrayed on the screen, some well placed profanity, and while the violence doesn’t overwhelm, it is decidedly more graphic then your average PG-13 fare. Featuring an ensemble cast, and then spending time with each character was a wise movie on the part of DC, because each of characters is developed in such a way that they become more compelling then any live-action counterparts we’ve seen thus far.

Starfire, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, and Deathstroke all have great arcs, and it’s very satisfying to watch Terra meet her end as the revealed Judas of the team.

Pros: The animation, pacing, and storytelling are all top-notch, but as already mentioned, the relationships between characters, especially the romantic ones, are fascinating to watch. The Teens are all so dramatic and appealing to watch.

Cons: There is a decent amount of filler at the beginning of the film, with previous Titans on a mission and the meeting of Starfire. This flashback and the one of Terra’s home life seem out of place and very uncomfortable to watch, especially with the Deathstroke seduction scene. Also, Terra turns too quickly.

Runtime: 1 hour 24 minutes

Points of Interest: Adapted from a Teen Titans series from the 1980s, this story has also been adapted for the Teen Titans animated series of the early 2000s. Beast Boy appears on a podcast with Kevin Smith in the movie, in real life Kevin Smith is a huge comics fan, and has a particular affinity for Batman.

I think that overall the plot with Brother Blood, the contract with Deathstroke, and the hidden mole of Terra gave the movie the steam it needed to make it around the block. It should be celebrated for it’s adventurous and adult themes, even if Deathstroke and Terra have be really weird personal relationship in the background. The leadership tactics of Star Fire, versus old hat exercises from Nightwing.

theories Summarized

With over twenty movies in their catalogue at this point, DC has done an excellent job of adapting some of their best stories for home release, and this Teen Titans story is one of the better ones. Yes you can see a lot of the plot twists from a mile away, but it does such a good job of getting you there, that I think the journey really is the most important part in this case.

Speaking of twists, this week on Watch Culture, Andre and I give a recommendation on 2011’s Source Code, and I bet you’ll enjoy it. That said, I’m out of theories for now.

Tim!

Summer Lovin’ (timotheories July 2017)

As I sit here and write this post late at night, in what is one of the hottest days of summer I have been witness to so many years, I have to wonder. Is it worth it to share this schedule with you creative cuties?

I think the short answer is yes, because it keeps me honest AND provides you with context as to what is coming up each month. It is actually so hot right now though. And the heat is making me crazy. I thought that writing late at night would alleviate some of that heat. But I was wrong.

I feel weird saying this, but I think I hate summer more then I hate winter. And I need A/C in my new house. Speaking of new houses, I am moving at the end of the summer and I’m taking a vacation in two weeks with my lovely girlfriend Mysticque, so July is gonna be a whirlwind of summer lovin’. Because it’ll happen so fast.

*Disclaimer* As always, every week I purchase an album and movie one week ahead of the actual review release and while I have the best intentions, I don’t always get what I want… so if you follow me on instagram (@timotheories) you can actually see what’s coming.

timotheories summarized – July

Stimulating Sundays – (07/02) Cross Talk Ep. 27, (07/09) Sound Culture intro, (07/16) …, (07/23) Brendon Greene interview preview (07/31) Brendon Green interview
Melodic Mondays – (07/03) Vince Staples, (07/10) Calvin Harris, (07/17) …, (07/24) Jay-Z, (07/31) Broken Social Scene
Theatrical Tuesdays – (07/04) T2 Trainspotting, (07/11) Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, (07/18) … (07/25) Kong: Skull Island
Wisdom Wednesdays – (07/05) Nonverbal Communication, (07/12) Interpersonal Communication, (07/19) …, (07/26) Muscle Chow
Timely Thursday – (07/06) timotheories July, (07/13) Art Walk, (07/20) …, (07/27) Moving Your Art

I need to cut back on releasing Cross Talk episodes this month friends, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy our latest episode which we released this past Sunday – movies you love to hate. Man was that a fun episode to record, and I think even more fun to watch!

Also, I’m going to let you in on the latest and greatest on timotheories dot com. Sound Culture, the show where I and sometimes guests, but very often featuring a co-host, talk about albums, and sonic things you should listen to. Brendon Greene is my navigator in this journey.

Speaking of Brendon Greene, that is also who I’ll be interviewing this month. Brendon is the founder of Conscious Collective, and a classical fingerist when it comes to guitar. He is a super interesting guy, so get excited for that!

On top of that, we have tons of albums and movies to review, and I’ll wrap the series on communication basics, but there’ll be some timely posts on the Whyte Ave Art Walk and how to transport your art. Because I’m moving in August… woo-hoo!

theories Summarized

What are you looking for? More content? How about some recommendations on taking care of your diet? I promise that it’ll be awesome though.

And as much as the heat is making me crazy, I have a few theories to share with you, so subscribe to the mailing list, and leave me some feedback! We want to know what you think of our choices for July posts.

Tim!

For The Love Of… Drugs (T2 Trainspotting review)

Against all odds, the protagonist survived the whole ordeal and came out the better for it.

 

T2 Trainspotting (2017)

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Shirley Henderson, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Kelly Macdonald, Anjela Nedyalkova
Director: Danny Boyle
re-released on blu-ray June 27, 2017
******** 8/10

IMDB: 7.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%, Audience Score 82%
The Guardian: ****/*****

Danny Boyle is an English director, producer, and screenwriter; best known for Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, The Beach, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, and Steve Jobs. He has won BAFTA Awards and Academy Awards for his films and generally prefers to keep the genres and ideas he works with separate from each other, but he has dabbled with sequels having now created continuations of story arcs with both 28 Weeks Later and T2 Trainspotting.

Boyle admits that while his films are all over the map, a consistent theme runs through each – about overcoming insurmountable odds. As Dave Chapelle’s impersonation of Rick James would say, heroin is a hell of a drug.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

In the 20 years since Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) stole £16,000 in drug money from his friends he has married and been living in Amsterdam. After going through a divorce which renders him homeless and being diagnosed with ACS, he decides to return to Edinburgh. Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner), still a heroin addict, has lost his construction job and is estranged from his girlfriend, Gail (Shirley Henderson), and son, Fergus. Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller) now abuses cocaine, owns a pub he inherited from his aunt, and engages in blackmail schemes with his Bulgarian dominatrix girlfriend Veronika (Anjela Nedalkova). Francis “Franco” Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is serving a 25-year prison sentence and is denied parole due to his violent temper.

Renton stops by his childhood home, where his father (James Cosmo) tells him of his mother’s death. He visits Spud at his flat, preventing him from committing suicide. Spud initially resents the intervention, but Renton offers to help him out of his addiction, telling him he needs to channel his addiction into something else. Renton then visits Simon at the pub intending to apologise and pay his share of the £16,000. They fight, but ultimately make peace.

Begbie escapes from prison and reunites with his wife and university-bound son, whom he wants to join him in burgling houses. Begbie visits Simon, and learns that Renton has returned. Simon keeps both Begbie and Renton unaware of his contact with the other.

Renton, Simon, and Veronika become partners in various crimes, using the proceeds to renovate the second floor of Simon’s pub into a brothel. They fraudulently apply for an EU business-development loan. Veronika begins an affair with Renton. One of Simon’s blackmail targets reports him to the police and Renton seeks legal advice from his former girlfriend, Diane (Kelly Macdonald), now a solicitor. The proceeds of their crimes are used up in legal fees. A menacing encounter with the owner of a rival brothel intimidates Renton and Simon into abandoning their brothel scheme. Veronika tells Renton and Simon that the business-development loan was approved and they have £100,000.

Begbie and Renton accidentally meet in the toilets of a nightclub, resulting in a chase from which Renton barely escapes. Begbie visits Spud and discovers he has been writing his memoirs, with Veronika’s encouragement. From the pages spread throughout Spud’s apartment, Begbie learns for the first time that Renton had left Spud his £4,000 share of the drug deal earnings. When Veronika stops by, Begbie takes her phone which he uses to trick Mark and Simon into meeting him at Simon’s pub.

Veronika asks Spud to leave with her, promising him half of the £100,000 loan money. He declines, but helps her steal the money by forging Renton’s and Simon’s signatures.

Simon and Renton meet at the pub, and Spud arrives to warn them of Begbie’s trap. Begbie arrives and knocks Simon unconscious. Renton hides upstairs, then falls from the rafters and gets caught in cables, which strangle him. As Begbie attempts to finish killing Renton, Simon revives and uses pepper spray on Begbie. As Begbie retrieves and loads a shotgun, Spud knocks him unconscious with a toilet bowl.

The three leave Begbie trapped in the boot of a car parked outside the prison from which he’d escaped. Veronika returns to Bulgaria with the £100,000. Spud channels his addiction into his writing and begins mending his relationship with Gail and Fergus. As Gail reads his writings, the implied title of the book is “Trainspotting”. Renton and Simon resume their old friendship. Renton moves back into his father’s home and embraces him before going into his bedroom and playing “Lust for Life” on his record player.

While this movie doesn’t have quite the same bite and rawness as its predecessor, it is a pure sequel, with the emotional pull between its ensemble cast and Boyle’s treatment of middle-agedness making this movie a worthy installment and bookend of these burnouts in a far off corner of the world.

Pros: It retreads what preceded in glorious fashion, we are happy to revisit the same characters twenty years later, and while the actors have aged themselves, each of the four leads provides the goods. Begbie and Spud in particular shine.

Cons: The constant references to the first film are a bit jilting at first and only feel necessary upon post-mortem reflection of the plot. I struggle with the limited screen time for both Spud and Begbies estranged wives. The relationship between Renton and Sick Boy feels strained, and not from the twenty years after the betrayal.

Runtime: 1 hour 57 minutes

Points of Interest: Robert Carlyle decided to stay away from his family during filming because he took on so many traits of Begbie. Ewan McGregor and Danny Boyle had a falling out around the time that Leonardo DiCaprio was cast as the lead for The Beach, and only recently reconciled. During filming, the movie was titled Porno, just as the second novel was titled.

Sometimes what follows an opportunity is a betrayal, but fortunately for us this was not the case with T2: Trainspotting. Danny Boyle does continue his theme of having his character overcomes all odds and walk away a better person for it. Realistically, Renton should have died this time around, but as luck would have it, he gets to walk away. It’s a mesmerizing film to watch, and even as it features some caper flick elements towards the end, it makes sense for the story.

theories Summarized

I’ll admit that I had not seen 1996’s Trainspotting until just before viewing this film, so maybe I can’t hold onto the nostalgia as tightly as some other viewers might, but I think in this case it afforded me with the ability to appreciate both films upfront and without the rose-coloured glasses. This is a solid sequel, which no one should feel ashamed in indulging. And unlike drugs, you won’t feel the effects of withdrawal.

But that said, if you are feeling some Watch Culture aches and pains, fear not creative cuties, we have another serving for you below. Enjoy and I’ll see you tomorrow with some wisdom!

Tim!