January 31, 2017


[School of Movies 2017]

A commissioned show from Joel Robinson, this is the first of the LAIKA studio movies. 

Written by Neil Gaiman of Sandman fame, Coraline is the story of a girl dissatisfied with her boring parents and finding her way into a strange pocket universe, and a mirror of her new house, itself containing a woman who claims to be her "Other Mother".

This film has, what I like to call a "Twisted sumptuousness", and Sharon and I delve into the many details hidden throughout.

[School of Movies 2017]
For our 200th movie episode we celebrate the occasion by taking on another immensely challenging film, not because it's a mixed bag that's hard to place, but because it's pretty much perfectly crafted, very personal to us, dauntingly important and critically acclaimed. So we had to somehow shed new light on a masterpiece. This is why we put things like this off.
Paschal Dooley commissioned this one to match his prior request of Hero, and it forms another part in the trilogy of epic, Chinese wuxia ("wushu") period piece films featuring the amazingly beautiful Zhang Ziyi.
This time, Ang Lee takes what he learned from the interpersonal drama of The Ice Storm and the Jane Austen propriety of Sense and Sensibility to convey a drama surrounding two couples. One middle-aged and regretful of time misspent and one young and fearful of lives that almost certainly will not bring them what they want. And then there's fighting, glorious martial arts with weightless wire-work, choreographed by the master himself, Yuen Woo-ping. 
[School of Movies 2017]
This was a commission from Chris Finik and turned out to be one of our most challenging shows. I was ill and having to energise myself on sugar, caffeine and enthusiasm while painkillers did their work, but more specifically we were dealing with a movie that is on the surface a silly mess, unlovable and mostly forgotten. We had to find the elements of quality in a mismanaged, overambitious yet underachieving project which ended the careers of a promising director (Stephen Norrington, the man behind Blade and little else) and a legendary actor, Shaun Connery. 

Also we haven't seen most of the rest of the cast in the interim years either, but that's what happens when you throw 22% of your budget ($17 million) at one actor and find yourself short on what is obviously an ensemble film. This also serves as a weirdly specific prototype for Marvel's Avengers movie which came out nine years later in 2012. 

So join us for ourr 199th movie covered as we go on a voyage with these men who aren't very extraoriary, certainly not gentle and the best of their number is a woman (notably the only person in the film without a Y-chromasome.) 

January 24, 2017

Book of Life

[School of Movies 2017]

A little-seen animated film from 2014, produced by Guillermo del Toro, directed by Jorge Gutierrez, the man behind the award-winning show El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera. This is a celebration of mexican culture, centred around the Day of the Dead, and the Lands of the Remembered and the Forgotten, as much about life as it is about death, and dealing with ancient gods making wagers with one another over the actions of humans. 

Masquerading as a cute, colourful, hyperactive, kid's movie, this in fact has more in common with the work of LAIKA, and slowly, over time, introduces more and more texture and personal touches from its creators who strove to make the art match their beautiful concept work. 

A commission by Abel Savard, who encouraged us with his supporting of this episode to dig deeper and find something really rather wonderful. 

January 22, 2017

L.A. Confidential

[School of Movies 2017]

A commissioned show, but for a film we adore. The only reason it's taken us this long is that L.A. Confidential is as rich and complex and powerful as a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle's Buffalo Trace Bourbon, and frankly... it was intimidating. 

It's a beautifully crafted film noir from 1997 which pretty much sets the bar for the genre from this point on, blending the best elements of the classics with contemporary filmmaking sensibilities, focusing on defying character expectations and showcasing physically expressive acting. 

Featuring career high performances from Russel Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, James Cromwell and David Strathairn, a darkly crooning score by Jerry Goldsmith, and an endlessly quotable script from Brian Helgeland, adapted from the novel by James Elroy.

It's the finest film Curtis Hanson ever made and the fact that Titanic gobbled up all the Oscars for that year is nothing short of a travesty (and I REALLY like Titanic!). 

Enjoy, and especially enjoy the toe-tapping jazz soundtrack. 

January 21, 2017

Watership Down

[School of Movies 2017]

Truly a work of classic British animation, less know outside this island, but a tale of rabbit society in Rural England, just waiting to be discovered.


A horribly misjudged, mercilessly brutal, relentless, casually sadistic massacre of rabbit-kind, made by aloof Brits who don't understand story structure from a source novel thrown together by a man who hates the idea of anyone finding allegory in his work. And a film responsible for irresponsibly traumatising a generation.

You decide... with our help.

A commissioned show sponsored by Jamas Enright.

January 20, 2017

Swiss Army Man

[School of Movies 2017]

This one was an unexpected commission and pushed us well out of our comfort zone. It's an obscure little indie film about being isolated from civilisation, and it has a couple of particularly... provocative ways of illustrating that point.

Many thanks to Dan Mayer for getting this episode made, because I can ASSURE you that without his backing it absolutely would never have happened.

So for better or worse, here's what Sharon and I think of Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe in the movie Swiss Army Man.

Next week, make sure you get hold of a copy of L.A. Confidential in the highest resolution possible. It's an amazing film and you don't want it spoiled before watching. 

Love the shows, kick us a few dollars: https://www.patreon.com/alexandershaw?ty=h

January 16, 2017

The Grand Budapest Hotel

[School of Movies 2017]

This is our first Wes Anderson film and we explore what makes his worlds and characters distinctive. It was commissioned by Tylor Long and Harrison Brockwell. 

You should definitely see the film first. Funny, quirky, rude, unpredictable, sweet, sad, clever and uplifting. It's magnificent. Do not miss this one. It's one of our most personal shows.

January 15, 2017

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

[School of Movies 2017]

This is another commissioned show, and you have Jason Ronson to thank, because we wouldn't have done this movie for a long time, and when we did we would have spent half the time we did, delving beneath the surface. We felt, since we always like to give you guys value for money, that we would go all-out.

And it's not a movie we love, in fact there are elements of it that drive one or both of us up the wall, and we make no bones about its issues. But we also look for what they were attempting, and the reasons why this failed to wrangle a suitable audience upon theatrical release.

Book fans, we have you covered, and Alex Maskill joins us to fact-check the details of the six volumes.

This is also the podcast where I finally explain the "No Anime" rule. If anyone asks for anime in future, this will be the show I point them to.

The Cornetto trilogy will eventually happen. One of them is a little bit patchy for us, but gets better with repeat viewings, kind of like Scott Pilgrim, the other two are among the most perfectly crafted comedies ever made.

And the book to track down and read for the episode we're doing in two weeks is called Transmetropoiltan, Vol. 2: Lust for Life, by Warren Ellis.


Alex Maskill

January 14, 2017


[School of Movies 2017]

In another commissioned show this week we cover the 2002 Chinese blockbuster from the director of The Great Wall.

Loosely (and as we find out that means REALLY loosely) based on a real life assassination attempt on the first emperor of China, this is one of Jet Li's most prestigious appearances. Featuring a trio of assassins played by Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, and the amazing Donnie Yen, this blends serious, historical drama with stunningly photographed, excellently choreographed martial arts.

It's immense in scale, breathtaking in beauty and thought-provoking in story. It's also one of the Zhang Ziyi trilogy of period-set martial arts spectaculars, the other two being House of Flying Daggers by the same director as Hero, Zhang Yimou, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon directed by Ang Li. All three are absolutely worth your viewing time, especially on blu ray.

January 13, 2017

The Thief and the Cobbler

[School of Movies 2017]

This one is pretty special. You will laugh, you will facepalm, your jaw will hit the floor. 

The Thief and the Cobbler, or Arabian Knight, or The Princess and the Cobbler, or Once, OR The Amazing Nasrudin is, to date, the animated movie with the longest production run in history. It was begun in 1964 and released (after a fashion) in 1993... and then again in 1995. 

A cautionary tale for studios and a treasure trove of interest to animation experts, the story within the film itself pales in comparison, in terms of fascination, to its dreadfully staggered road of creation. 

This is the story of one unusual man who dreamed of making the finest animated film the world has ever seen, and what happened when that dream came up against reality.

If you would like to see more about this film (once you've seen the film, because I'm betting you hadn't even heard of it until today) you might want to catch this in-depth documentary *Persistence of Vision*, which features an array of animators and others involved with the making, and in which they are far more complimentary of the film than we are.

January 12, 2017


[School of Movies 2017]

This episode would never have happened without a commission from Jamas Enright who effectively made me go back to a movie I had previously dismissed as an impenetrable mess. 

Terry Gilliam's 1985 dystopia, intended as a satirical black mirror held up against the bureaucracy that had driven him crazy was a box office flop, and if you've seen it you'll understand why. If you haven't you will get a lot more out of it from listening to our show first. 

February 5, 2016


[School of Movies 2016]

Another commissioned show, this one is a heist movie with a stellar cast that we had literally never seen before. It's also rare as unicorn horn in that it's a movie about hacking and tech that DOESN'T make you say "That's not how computers work!"

Requiring some veteran perspective we recruited Alasdair Stuart and Marguerite Kenner. The two of them took us through the myriad details of this now-forgotten treasure.


Alasdair Stuart of Escape Pod

Marguertite Kenner of Cast of Wonders


February 4, 2016

Jumanji + Zathura

[School of Movies 2016]

With all those fantastic beasts rampaging around New York city right now we went back to a movie that turned that concept into big business.
Naturally we read way, WAY too much into the story and turn both this film and its little-seen sequel Zathura into deep, psychological learning experiences for the protagonists.

This is another commissioned show.


Brendan Agnew of Cinapse

February 3, 2016


[School of Movies 2016]

In 1993 Steven Spielberg directed the movie Jurassic Park, adapted from the book by Michael Crichton.

It was a wildly successful family blockbuster.

Immediately all studios began a mad dash to replicate that formula.

Paramount believed they had cracked it with this film in 1995, written by Crichton in 1980, featuring a cast of genuinely talented actors and seemingly going for an Indiana Jones-discovers-King-Solomon's-Mines-with-rabid apes vibe. However, the results, as you will hear, fell so short of Jurassic Park that Congo is barely in the same medium. Less a movie and more a confused 110 minute commercial advertising a product you can't work out but probably has something to do with diamonds or laser guns.

This episodes was commissioned by Maureen Foley (who guests) and Nick, and features Neil Taylor and Brenden Agnew.


Brendan Agnew of Cinapse

Maureen Foley of New Century

Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg


[School of Movies 2016]

On this sad, grim, dark week... here's a stupid movie about cartoon dinosaurs that get smart eating magic cereal!

Obviously we'll get political and angry later on, but right now I think what everyone needs most of all is to laugh together, so here you go.

This animated movie was released on Thanksgiving 1993, produced by Steven Spielberg, surfing the dinosaur craze of his own Jurassic Park, but actually put into production several years before and mismanaged the whole way. It's a higgledy-piggledy mess of half-thought-out ideas and pandering to kids that the meddling executives clearly see as adorable little morons.

It's John Goodman's first voice role, it's confusing and cringe-worthy, sickeningly sweet and occasionally alarmingly horrific for no good reason. It has a song that will stick in your head and not a shred of logic in any of its 72 minute run-time. And this is one of the funniest shows we've done, so kick back, forget about how awful 2016 has been for a little while and let us take you back to a simpler time, 1993.


Harrison Brockwell of Talk Film Society

Brendan Agnew of Cinapse

[School of Movies 2016]

This is our show about the initial three Purge movies (I can assure you of more to come). 

The premise is pretty simple. In an alternate timeline America has ruled that on one night of the year every crime (including murder) is legal. Over time this has done wonders for their economy and is celebrated by the overtly patriotic, the rich and the insanely bloodthirsty, but proves an annually terrifying span of hours for the poor, the homeless and the vulnerable. This premise raises many practical questions which we ask throughout the show. 

We cover, in turn, the home invasion thriller The Purge (2013) and its sequel, dark, urban chaos sci-fi, The Purge: Anarchy (2014), followed by nail-biting political thriller, The Purge: Election Year (2016). 

We are of course releasing this in a time of great unrest for America (and the watching world). We figured rather than placating you with pink, fluffy distractions we'd cover some fairly savage dystopian satire. 

January 31, 2016


[School of Movies 2016]

This is a deep dive into the 1978 classic, that became the model for the slasher sub-genre. It's also a scorching critique of the kind of BAD slasher that came about afterwards when lesser directors than John Carpenter misinterpreted what made this film so effective, such as 1981s Halloween II.

It's also a damning of the repulsive 2007 remake by Rob Zombie, a tonally confused mess of the most horrible things imaginable stirred into an inhuman slop. 

And we finish talking about Jamie Lee Curtis' character Laurie Strode and how the unappreciated seventh film, Halloween H20 presents an excellent evolution and conclusion of Strode's story. 

We are joined by Kaoru Negisa, Debbie Morse and Brendan Agnew for this Carpenter hat-trick for 2016. Check out our shows on The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China too.


Kaoru Negisa of Sequentially Yours

Debbie Morse of Sequentially Yours

Brendan Agnew of Cinapse

January 30, 2016

Blair Witch 1-3

[School of Movies 2016]
The Spooktacular continues as we look at three different ways of telling effectively the same story. 

1999. The Blair Witch Project: An incredibly low budget found footage movie that took the world by storm.

2000. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2: A cash-grab meta-movie slapped together by a confused studio hoping to capitalise on unexpected success.
2016. Blair Witch: An in-world sequel to the original released to immense derision to an audience sick of remakes and reboots.
Sharon and I go in hard and tackle each film in turn. You get the raw responses from the first two as we watch and then account for their craftsmanship and how they make us feel. The third I saw at the cinema a few days before this review and Sharon hadn't heard anything about it so you get to hear about it fresh along with her. Major spoilers for all three in turn so leave off when you don't want to hear what happens. 
We both recommend you see the original, we can't advise seeing the second, as we both found it atrocious, and Alex actually really recommends the third, but with the caveat that most critics panned it so his is the minority experience. 

[School of Movies 2016]

This is the 1975 adaptation of the stage musical written by and co-starring Richard O'Brien. In it, a straight-laced, white-bread American couple end up stuck in a Gothic castle full of strange people, presided over by the outrageous Doctor Frank N. Furter. It's a hilarious, toe-tapping musical which has developed a cult following over the years and means a great deal to a lot of people. It's also a bit of a mess and reviewed terribly when it first came out and bombed. In this episode you'll almost certainly find out new things about this influential oddball. 

This is a birthday present for our dear friend Maureen Foley who has a serious crush on Tim Curry, especially in stockings. 


Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg

Kaoru Negisa of Sequentially Yours

Ian Hopwood of A Year of Steam

Megan Hopwood

January 28, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings

[School of Movies 2016]
This is one of the films of the year. A Japanese fable delivered in stunning stop-motion by American studio LAIKA, the team behind Coraline, ParaNorman and Boxtrolls. 
Every single one of you needs to see it. 
Joining us are animation experts Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse and Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst. Among other things we discuss the climate for animated films and what it takes to make a hit, which this, tragically, despite its beautiful direction, tight, well-delivered script, vibrant, fun characters and playful yet heartrending score, is not. 

Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse

Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst

January 27, 2016

Big Trouble in Little China

[School of Movies 2016]

The second of our commissioned shows, this time we delve into John Carpenter's underappreciated (and downright ignored on release) mythical, gangland, kung-fu adventure Big Trouble in Little China. 

Kurt Russel (clearly having the time of his life) stars as the obnoxiously macho Jack Burton, self-styled cowboy hero who gets caught up in a kidnapping involving an ancient sorcerer, warring gangs and elemental magic he couldn't possibly understand.

We explore the cultural implications of this being made in 1986 and the mooted remake starring The Rock. 


Neil Taylor of TheKiddDogg

Brendan Agnew of Cinapse

Kaoru Negisa of Sequentially Yours

January 26, 2016


[School of Movies 2016]

This is an unexpected episode covering an absolutely batshit mental experimental film from 1974 directed by John Boorman.
It's set in a dystopian future with the standard class divides and extreme violence, but with so many ridiculous decisions in design and direction delivered in an extremely po-faced, allegedly satirical fashion.

Sean Connery is a mean enforcer who was supposed to spend his life running down unruly farmers and molesting the womenfolk, but he goes on a journey to find out who the mysterious Zardoz is. There's a floating stone head, there's boner-fixation, there's people in plastic bags, people with drawn-on moustaches, green bread, psychic powers, and speaking gibberish. Sean Connery wears the pictured costume of gunbelt lingerie with hairy nonchalance and at one point for no reason at all squeezes into a bridal gown.

 It's a film to watch whilst slightly drunk with friends but not heavily stoned on your own.

But first listen to our take on it so you know what to look out for and crucially what the hell is going on! 

January 25, 2016


[School of Movies 2016]

We continue our Shyamalan season with his follow-up to The Sixth Sense, a story about a security guard who realises he's been Super his whole life.
Since this came about in 2000 it was ahead of the age of the superhero and arguably made some in-roads to legitimising the new wave of comic book to screen adaptations. 

Samuel L. Jackson joins Bruce Willis to deliver an everyday hero and a delicate man looking for their places in the world.

This was the first commissioned work we have done, as we were originally only going to cover The Sixth Sense but patreon supporter Nick Grugin rates this as a favourite of his, so you have him to thank for what we came up with.

January 24, 2016

The Sixth Sense

[School of Movies 2016]

This is the first of two episodes covering the brief period of time when M. Night Shyamalan was suddenly an amazing new director. 

Sharon and I go deep into this wonderful, delicate, tense, terrifying, heartbreaking ghost story including some really arresting colour theory. 

January 18, 2016

The Thing

[School of Movies 2016]

John Carpenter's remake of The Thing from Another World, based on the novel Who Goes There was woefully unappreciated on initial release, for reasons we will go into on this show. It has, over the next three decades become a sci-fi pop-culture classic, unblemished by greedy meddling studios desperate to wring every penny from nostalgia. Even the remake/prequel, while slavishly loyal to the aesthetic and tone of this one and not endeavouring to actually be *about* anything isn't all that bad. 

Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse and Neil Taylor of GameBurst consider it one of their all-time favourites and in this show you'll find out why it's still so effective. 

This episode exists thanks to Nick Grugin, one of our patreon sponsors buying us a new mic when ours broke. For that show of generosity and faith in our work we are doing one of our first request shows and if you would like something similar done for something you love then this episode has all the details on how you can sponsor us to do an episode. Our weekly movie podcast will continue to be free for everyone and you can back us on patreon like the other awesome people who support this show, but we're also freelance podcast reviewers now.


Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg

Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse

[School of Movies 2016]

In this episode we talk about the first film from 1996, the sequel from 2016 and the state of Britain post-Brexit. 

It's thematically resonant with current events since the angle of the first movie is "We can succeed together" and the angle of the second seems to be "Look at these pretty, young people as they save the day for America." 

Be sure to check out Bob Chipman's YouTube episode of Really That Good on the first Independence Day, it is superb. 

January 16, 2016

Masters of the Universe

[School of Movies 2016]

This time around Sharon and I take a look at a movie nobody asked for a review of and that most people are either unaware of or just plain dislike. The 1987 attempt to bring He-Man to the big screen.

Eschewing a land of swords and sorcery blended with crazy technology in favour of running around American suburbs at night dressed like utter plonkers this film was presented with the task of making space barbarian He-Man real and relevant to teenagers in the 80s. It fails, but it fails spectacularly and earnestly which, for us is enjoyable to watch. 

So out with the old Masters of the Universe and in with Gwildor, (the exuberant wizard-dwarf), Blade (the guy with the blades), Saurod (the guy who gets killed) and Karg (the over-designed glam metal housecat with a hook for a hand), in with Courtney Cox and in with Kevin! And VERY much in with bored-looking, pleasant-berserker; Dolph Lundgren's He-Man and ranting, gloating, aggressive Frank Langella's Skeletor. 

Whether you have fun watching the movie or not you'll probably have fun with us here.

January 15, 2016


[School of Movies 2016]

This is a troubling film for us. My overriding feeling on leaving the theater was not just being pissed off and disappointed, but angry at many of the decisions taken that will leave general audiences cold to this, and unless it does gangbusters overseas will greatly reduce the chances of a sequel that could correct these oversights.
But then again, the Transformers movies are increasingly more vile and poorly received, yet clean up worldwide and continuously break a billion, so you never know for sure. 

This is a game series and a concept that is important to a great deal of people. It was more important to show everyone else why they should care as well rather than placate fans of the lore. 

Join Sharon and I with Glen Watts as we discuss what went wrong that resulted in a critical mauling. There are still definitely elements we like, but they are bogged down in a lot of stuff we don't, and that people don't respond well to in general.


Glen Watts

January 6, 2016

Sucker Punch

[School of Movies 2016]

In the run-up to Batman V Superman, let's take a dive into the mind of director Zack Snyder. Let's look at how he sees the world, how he sees the human psyche and how he sees women.

Prepare for a furious battle of wills as Alex goes in guns blazing to take apart a film he never wants to talk about again, and Lorin Grieve defends the movie he loves. Sharon lies somewhere in the middle, but there's a hell of a lot about this that bothers her too.

Get some interpretations that the filmmakers definitely didn't consider, and learn how very vague their feelings are on what this story is actually about. 

Is this a determined feminist text or something far more clumsy and unintentional? The evidence gets presented in and epic disassembling that hopefully will leave your minds clearer. 

This happens to be our 150th dedicated movie show.


Doctor Lorin Grieve from Year of Steam

[School of Movies 2016]

We finally come to the dregs of the Marvel cinematic outings. After this it's things like the Hasselhoff Nick Fury, the early Captain Americas and Swamp Thing which barely qualify as movies. 

* Ghost Rider (2007): Nick Cage as eccentric fusion of Spawn and The Mask on a motorbike. 
* Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011): Cage sleepwalks in pursuit of Antichrist. Filmed in a quarry. 
* The Punisher (2004): Thomas Jane plays urban Machiavelli. Travolta never stops being furious. 
* Punisher: War Zone (2008): Ray Stevenson is miserable. Many men are punished. 
* Elektra: (2005) Jennifer Garner stares at lake Tahoe for 90 minutes. Also occasional ninjas. 

If you disagree with any of these assessments and think we are being unfair and need to loudly set us straight our Twitter name is @NotSchoolofMovies

Either way it's a rip-roaring show as we shred these turkeys and prepare for the newest Punisher incarnation in the dark, urban, gritty, realistic, depressing Netflix shows.

January 3, 2016

Flight of Dragons

[School of Movies 2016]

This is a TV special movie from 1982 made by Rankin Bass (Thundercats/The Hobbit/Rudolph). It is essentially a Dungeons & Dragons adventure and very twee and earnest so you're going to have to leave your cynicism at the door. 

It's based on a book of speculative fiction by Peter Dickinson whereby he presents the theories on how dragons might actually have operated and flown. This is woven very loosely into some of the narrative of another book named The Dragon and the George, by Gordon R. Dickson.

This is a movie I grew up with and has been pretty much forgotten by history. It has received minimal home releases, virtually everyone involved in its undocumented production has passed away and now only its scant few fans keep its memory alive.

So in accordance, we brought in newcomers to the film Lorin Grieve (A Year of Steam) and Jerome McIntosh (GameBurst) and went ridiculously deep on it, covering every moment to bring you all along on the adventure. 

We swear quite a bit though, as we have to assess this with adult eyes, so kids are going to have to wait for this one. 

The good news if you're American is that you can rent this on Amazon instant video for $3 (or buy it for $10), the DVD is harder to come by, especially in the UK where you may even have to resort to VHS. 


Lorin Grieve of Year of Steam

Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst

January 2, 2016

Kung Fu Panda

[School of Movies 2016]

This is one of the most special and important animated movies to me. It’s a classic example of being perfectly underestimated. Both the movie and it’s rotund protagonist are anticipated by most to be a goofy, shambolic collection of pratfalls, but both turn out to be so much more.

We discuss what may be the pinnacle of Dreamworks’ animated achievements to date, and to me, certainly rivals the best of Disney, pixar and Studio Ghibli. 


Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst

[School of Movies 2016]

This was recorded at the end of last year because we knew we had the Disney Robin hood show coming up and felt his mythos needed diving into some more. He is, after all, one of Britain's most abiding legends. 

So we chose our favourite Robin Hood movie and ended up talking about how very silly it is instead. Contrived plot, hammy acting and historical inaccuracies out the wazoo, but damn it we love it even more now that it's gotten the School of Movies treatment.

And then Alan Rickman died. 

One of the greatest actors of all time just up and died on us, leaving a bewildered world to pick over his many achievements, one of which was the pantomime villain of a Sheriff in this movie. 


Iain Hopwood of Year of Steam

Megan Hopwood of Tiger's Eye 

February 5, 2015

Scream 1-4

[School of Movies 2015]

For the third and fourth week of our SPOOKtacular we cover the Scream movies. In this one we kick off talking about the hugely influential 1996 original, arguably Wes Craven's best film. 

It's a compelling whodunnit, it features a young, fresh cast you're actually supposed to like and features not only some good teen dialogue but a metatexual dissection of the slasher genre threaded through its core. 

That said, it has a mean streak and some occasional steps over the line of sadism, its impact as a movie in 2015 is entirely different to its initial release, and its influence was arguably more of a negative flooding of the market with cheap teen horror subverting nothing at all, or else entirely missing the point in their attempts to seem clever. 

Following that it's the remaining three; Scream 2 (1997) Scream 3 (2000) and the tediously titled Scre4m (2011).

Each is an example of stretching a premise further until by the fourth it is beyond breaking point. Make sure you listen to the excellent School of Movies live episode on Scream 3 which we riff on repeatedly in this episode. Neil Taylor of GameBurst joins us once again. 

Oh and just FYI; after recording this show we watched the first episode of the Netflix series and hated it.

Sharon and I just guested on the Mana Pool. This is a podcast all about Magic: The Gathering which is obviously going to appeal greatly to some of you but not much to the rest. However they brought us on to talk about the potential Magic movie currently in development. They wanted to know our thoughts on how to make it good. We did our best. It was a great fun show and you guys should check it out, even if it’s just to hear us yammering about movies as usual. Big thanks to Chewie, and Bill, for having us on and Aaron and Mike for co-guesting so enthusiastically with us.

It's their Episode #393 Dated October 22nd 2015: School of Movies Epic Crossover


Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg

[School of Movies 2015]
The first half of this episode covers A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985) A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) and  A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989). 

Horrormeister Neil Taylor of GameBurst joins us to discuss the man of your dreams.

In the second half we cover the attempts to make Freddy into something else, having run him into the ground and becoming the law of diminishing returns when pitched against the kids of Elm Street itself.

First off in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare some folks from out of town uncover his secrets and kill the hell out of him, then Wes Craven imagines a demon taking the form of Freddy and attempting to emerge into the *real* world filled with Hollywood stars and terrible doctors, then he got pitted against lumbering, homicidal immortal Jason in a contest to see how many teenagers they could slaughter and finally he got rebooted by Michael Bay and re-imagined as the sinister, wisecracking rapist that the producers were previously hoping nobody would focus on. 

Our heads hurt from hammering them on the desk. 

If you love these shows support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/alexandershaw

Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg


[Digital Drift 2015]

With the new Fant4stic movie emerging onto the big screen we take a look back on the 2005 version and its 2007 sequel. Were they really all that bad? More to the point, taking the unreleased 1994 Roger Corman version into account, are ALL Fantastic Four movies simply an exercise in keeping the license going rather than in making a superhero family movie that people will love?

This was the last episode of Digital Drift. We rebranded with School of Movies to better explain what we do.

If you love these shows support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/alexandershaw 



January 15, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

[Digital Drift 2015]

We had planned to release The Lost World this week but Mad Max: Fury Road appeared out of nowhere and turned out to be rather special. So we broke suddenly, veered off the road, picked up a couple of passengers and thundered into an epic analysis review. 

We begin with a 45 minute discussion of the original Mad Max trilogy, all of which contain elements that found their way into this new incarnation. You can listen to that without spoiling the new movie, but then go see it and come back for the next act.

I lay down my thoughts on the meta-story that developed upon its release, specifically it’s detractors and the symbolism that layers on as a result. After that we talk long and hard about every aspect of this astonishing and deeply surprising new blockbuster. Surprising both in how the story develops and its sheer quality and fulfilled ambition. This is a film we want absolutely everyone to see. 

If you love these shows support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/alexandershaw


Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse

James Perkins of The Digital Fix

January 9, 2015


[Digital Drift 2015]

As we gear up for Avengers: Age of Ultron, we look back on the only film focusing on one of them that we haven’t yet reviewed.

So let’s delve into Ang Lee’s Hulk, one of the first HUGE Marvel movies and one that strove to be oh-so-grown-up.

If you love these shows support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/alexandershaw

January 8, 2015


[Digital Drift 2015]

Returning to the welcoming bosom of Marvel, Sharon and I take a good hard look at the 2003 attempt at bringing The Man Without Fear to our screens.

Fox rather unwisely competed with Spider-Man at the time, leading to a rather troubled production, hence the hastily cobbled-together millennial rubber bouncy jumping action and the vast disparity between the somewhat nonsensical theatrical edition and the little-seen but more naratively-sound director’s cut.

And then of course there’s Ben Affleck as Matt Murdoch, slaloming between gravely-grim and smirking sex-pest. The costumes which range from the outlandish to party-wear, Michael Clarke Duncan’s show-stealing turn as the Kingpin and yes, that playground fight. We always rather liked this movie.

It was made with comic book geeks in mind and filled with references, winks and nods. The soundtrack is very much of its time and punctuates this podcast and the film has become very dated when held up against modern superhero fare. BUT we don’t think it deserves the scorn heaped upon it. Certainly not enough of a reason to dismiss Affleck as Batman, when this is actually pretty accurate to Frank Miller’s Daredevil.


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