Original Content podcast: Hulu’s ‘Happiest Season’ casts fresh characters in a familiar story

“Happiest Season,” a new film on Hulu, feels like a traditional, Christmas-themed romantic comedy — with one important exception.

The movie stars Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis as Abby and Harper, a lesbian couple who are visiting Harper’s parents for the holidays. As they drive back to Harper’s childhood home, she makes a big confession: Despite what she’s told Abby previous, she never actually came out to her parents, which means Abby has to spend five days simultaneously ingratiating herself with Harper’s family while hiding the true nature of their relationship.

As we discuss on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, “Happiest Season” can feel predictable or even formulaic at times. But in some ways, that’s what makes it so worthwhile — it demonstrates how a broad, crowd-pleasing comedy can just happen to star queer characters.

Despite the frequent laugh-out-loud moments, the movie also feels surprisingly honest in its depiction of how hurtful Harper’s secrecy can be,  and it enters surprisingly painful and emotional territory as it approaches the end.

In addition to reviewing “Happiest Season,” we also name our favorite Christmas movies and discuss the news that that Warner Bros. will release its entire 2021 slate (including “Dune” and “The Matrix 4”) on HBO Max at the same time that the movies are released in theaters.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:39 Listener email
2:07 HBO Max discussion
13:15 “Happiest Season” review
34:09 “Happiest Season” spoiler discussion
44:33 Favorite Christmas movies

#entertainment, #happiest-season, #hulu, #media, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: Just don’t watch Netflix’s ‘Holidate’ with your parents

You might think that a new Netflix film called “Holidate” offers holiday-themed romance that’s perfect for a family watch party. You’d be wrong.

The film stars Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey as a pair of strangers who agree (in classic romantic comedy style) to keep each other company on holidays.

And while the movie can’t be completely pigeonholed as a raunchy comedy — it also includes a dash of metatextual commentary, with a healthy dose of undiluted romantic schmaltz — “Holidate” is certainly filled with sexually frank dialogue, and a couple of its biggest set pieces go all-in on gross-out humor. So, and as one of the hosts of the Original Content podcast discovered, watching it with your family can be extremely uncomfortable.

But, assuming you avoid that awkwardness, is it actually funny? Sometimes! A word that comes up repeatedly in our review is “adequate” — Darrell embraced the film’s surprisingly dirty humor, while Anthony and Jordan were at least mildly entertained.

In addition to reviewing “Holidate,” we also discussed the implications of Netflix’s decision to remove “Chappelle’s Show” at Dave Chappelle’s request.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
1:11 Dave Chappelle discussion
13:50 “Holidate” review
37:39 “Holidate” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #holidate, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: ‘The Crown’ introduces its Princess Diana

“The Crown,” Netflix’s lavish historical drama about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, has returned for a fourth season that focuses on Elizabeth’s relationship with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and on Prince Charles’ troubled marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales.

We’ve had conflicting opinions about the show’s past seasons, and the new season hasn’t exactly settled those disagreements, as we explain on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast.

Anthony and (especially) Jordan remain fans of the show, and they found season four to be particularly compelling. Yes, the monarchy is a little ridiculous and “The Crown” does have a tendency to simplify real-world events, but its retelling of the Charles-Diana relationship is heartbreaking, and it also takes the time to show some of the damage wrought by Thatcher’s policies.

Darrell, on the other hand, remains a skeptic, with little patience for all the attention paid to the royal family. He was particularly exasperated by the show’s deviation from historical reality, and by performances (particularly Gillian Anderson as Thatcher) that felt more like cheesy, “Saturday Night Live”-style imitations.

In addition to reviewing the show, we also discuss this week’s announcement that “Wonder Woman 1984” will be premiering in both theaters and on HBO Max on December 25.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:30 “Wonder Woman 1984” discussion
10:45 “The Crown” Season 4 review (mild spoilers)

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts, #the-crown

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Original Content podcast: ‘The Vow’ offers a muddled look at the NXIVM cult

“The Vow” is a fascinating documentary, but we can’t quite recommend it whole-heartedly.

As we discuss on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, HBO’s new docuseries tells the story of NXIVM (pronounced nex-ee-um), a self-improvement company that was subsequently revealed as a sex cult, with its leader Keith Raniere sentenced to 120 years in prison.

The core story is both compelling and horrifying. And “The Vow” features an astonishing amount of footage showing Raniere and other high-level NXIVM members at work — for that reason alone, the series is worth watching for anyone interested in the NXIVM story.

However, it’s also hampered by some unfortunate storytelling choices. For one thing, by parceling the story out over nine hour-long episode, the series often feels unnecessarily drawn out and repetitive.

And by focusing on a handful of high-ranking NXIVM members who subsequently became important whistleblowers and critics (including Mark Vicente, the filmmaker responsible for a great deal of that behind-the-scenes footage), “The Vow” has also opened itself up to criticism that it downplays the stories of Raniere’s true victims and obscures the extent of his crimes (unlike the Starz documentary “Seduced”) .

In addition to reviewing the series, we also discuss the latest Disney+ growth numbers and the new season of “The Bachelorette.”

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Introduction
0:45 Disney+ discussion
7:40 “The Bachelorette” discussion
30:48 “The Vow” review

#entertainment, #hbo, #media, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts, #the-vow

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Original Content podcast: ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is the historical chess drama we need right now

On paper, “The Queen’s Gambit” might not sound like a compelling drama: Based on a novel by Walter Tevis, the Netflix series tells the story of Beth Harmon as she rises through the world of competitive chess, eventually taking on the world champion from the Soviet Union.

But on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, your hosts are unanimous in their love for the series. We talk a bit about some of the flaws (a setup-heavy first episode, the unsatisfying treatment of Beth’s friend Jolene), but for the most part, we’re happy to spend our time praising the show.

Some of that has to do with the period setting — “The Queen’s Gambit” traces Beth’s life through the 1950s and ’60s, with some delightfully retro sets and costumes, along with a clear-eyed approach towards the condescension and sexism that Beth faces in her early matches.

At the same time, it’s Beth (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) who pulls you through all eight episodes as they depict her complex relationship with her foster mother, her struggles with substance abuse and her friendships with other chess players. While Beth has a handful traits you’ll recognize from other difficult geniuses portrayed on-screen, she’s ultimately too complex to boil down to a single idea or logline.

And while you don’t need to know much about chess to enjoy “The Queen’s Gambit,” the show’s focus on character and personality allows it to depict competitive chess in a way that is, in fact, thrilling.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

f you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
4:28 “The Queen’s Gambit” review
34:11 “The Queen’s Gambit” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: Bill Murray’s charm can’t hide the sadness of ‘On the Rocks’

“On the Rocks,” a new film on Apple TV+, focuses on a troubled marriage between Laura (a writer played by Rashida Jones) and Dean (a startup executive played by Marlon Wayans). When Laura begins to suspect Dean of cheating on her, she turns to her father Felix (Bill Murray) for help.

The film reunites Murray with his “Lost in Translation” director Sofia Coppola. It can feel feather-light at times, thanks to his seemingly effortless charm — it’s hard to resist Felix when he’s singing to a bar full of strangers or devouring caviar during an impromptu stakeout. But the script and performances also make it painfully clear that he’s let Laura down as a father, and that her disappointment hasn’t gone away.

As we discuss on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we loved watching beautifully shot footage of Murray and Jones in classic New York City bars and restaurants. We were, however, a bit less satisfied with the ending, which doesn’t really do justice to all the thorny emotional issues that the film raises.

In addition to reviewing “On the Rocks,” we also discuss Netflix’s imminent U.S. price increase and the new trailer for the pandemic thriller “Songbird”.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:35 “Emily in Paris” listener response
4:50 “Songbird” trailer discussion
9:14 Netflix price discussion
15:50 “On the Rocks” review
33:00 “On the Rocks” spoiler discussion

#apple, #apple-tv, #entertainment, #media, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: ‘Lovecraft Country’ is gloriously bonkers

As we tried to recap the first season of HBO’s “Lovecraft Country,” one thing became clear: The show is pretty nuts.

The story begins by sending Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors), his friend Leti Lewis (Jurnee Smolett) and his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) on a road trip across mid-’50s America in search of Tic’s missing father. You might assume that the search will occupy the entire season, or take even longer than that; instead, the initial storyline is wrapped up quickly.

And while there’s a story running through the whole season, most of the episodes are relatively self-contained, offering their own versions on various horror and science fiction tropes. There’s a haunted house episode, an Indiana Jones episode, a time travel episode and more.

The show isn’t perfect — the writing can be clunky, the special effects cheesy and cheap-looking. But at its best, it does an impressive job of mixing increasingly outlandish plots, creepy monsters (with plentiful gore) and a healthy dose of politics.

After all, “Lovecraft Country” (adapted form a book by Matt Ruff) is named after notoriously racist horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, but it focuses almost entirely on Black characters, making the case that old genres can be reinvigorated with diverse casts and a rethinking of political assumptions.

In addition to reviewing the show, the latest episode of the Original Content podcast also includes a discussion of Netflix earnings, the new season of “The Bachelorette” and the end of Quibi.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:36 Netflix discussion
3:18 “The Bachelorette”
6:30 Quibi
14:35 “Lovecraft Country” review
31:32 “Lovecraft Country” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: It’s hard to resist the silliness of ‘Emily in Paris’

“Emily in Paris,” a new series on Netflix, has provoked skeptical responses from actual Parisians who are happy to point out the abundant clichés in its story of a young American (played by Lily Collins) who takes a last-minute transfer to a marketing agency in Paris.

Some fairly obvious culture clash moments ensue, along with equally implausible storylines where Emily’s extremely basic ideas about social media are treated as controversial and groundbreaking by her employer.

And yet, as we discuss on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we actually found the show delightful — or at the very least, highly watchable.

Yes, the show’s Paris is a fantasy, but it’s a fantasy that we’re happy to visit, particularly now. Yes, most of the show’s characters are basically cartoons, but they’re entertaining and fun cartoons. And at the end of the day, we’re all suckers for a slick, escapist romantic comedy, which is exactly what “Emily in Paris” delivers.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:31 “Emily in Paris” review
30:43 “Emily in Paris” spoiler discussion

#emily-in-paris, #entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Enola Holmes’ is thoroughly mediocre

There’s nothing excessively bad about “Enola Holmes,” a new film about Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister Enola. But there’s nothing particularly good, either.

The film was originally planned for a theatrical release from Warner Bros., but Netflix picked it up earlier this year, after the pandemic shuttered theaters around the world.

“Enola Holmes” stars Millie Bobby Brown as titular adolescent detective, along with Henry Cavill as Sherlock, and they’re both … fine? Neither of them seems to be phoning it in, and Cavill is downright charming at times. And although Brown has admitted that she struggled to reacquire her English accent, she brings plenty of energy to her role, which includes plenty of fourth-wall-breaking monologues that fill the audience in on backstory and explain the solutions to not-particularly-puzzling mysteries.

As we explain on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, the film seems competent in virtually every respect, but thoroughly inspired, leaving us underwhelmed by the results — Anthony to the point where he was pacing around the room and wondering about his life choices. But hey, maybe kids will enjoy watching it?

In addition to reviewing the movie, we also discuss Netflix’s recent discussion to cancel “Glow” and “Teenage Bounty Hunters.”

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:37 “Away” listener response
4:04 “Glow”/”Teenage Bounty Hunters” discussion
12:43 “Enola Holmes” review
29:17: “Enola Holmes” spoiler discussion

#enola-holmes, #entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Away’ deftly balances space exploration and human drama

“Away,” a new drama on Netflix, tells the story of the first manned expedition to Mars — Emma Green (played by Hilary Swank) leads an international team of astronauts on the three-year mission, while her husband Matt (Josh Charles) is part of the support team back on Earth.

As we explain on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, the show starts a bit slowly, and its space sequences (particularly an early space walk) aren’t quite as thrilling as we’d hoped.

But “Away” excels at creating compelling human drama — there’s believable tension on the spaceship and in mission control, and pain and guilt on both sides as the astronauts are separated from their loved ones for the long journey to-and-from Mars.

Anthony admitted that before watching, he worried that the show might be a bit too weepy and melodramatic. Instead, he was impressed by the way it made all the storylines feel natural and important, no matter how high or low the stakes. And we also appreciated how the astronauts’ backstories are filled in via flashbacks — the third episode, focused on Chinese astronaut Lu Wang (Vivian Lu), was an early highlight.

In addition to reviewing “Away,” we also caught up on what we’ve been up to since the last regular episode two weeks ago, and we discussed a new Disney+ co-watching feature called GroupWatch.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro/catch-up
5:55 Disney+ discussion
9:19 “Away” review
41:41 “Away” spoiler discussion

#away, #entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: ‘Wireless’ shows off Quibi’s Turnstyle technology

“Wireless” is probably the best showcase so far for Quibi’s Turnstyle technology.

That’s the technology that allows the streaming video app to switch seamlessly between landscape and portrait mode depending on the orientation of your phone. With other Quibi shows, you’re essentially getting two views of the same footage — but with “Wireless” (which is executive produced by Steven Soderbergh), you’re switching between traditional cinematic footage (in landscape) and a view of the protagonist’s phone (in portrait).

In this bonus episode of the Original Content podcast, director Zach Wechter told me that he and his co-writer Jack Seidman wrote the initial script — about a college student played by Tye Sheridan who gets trapped in the snow after a car crash, with only his iPhone to save him — before they decided on the phone-centric format. But when they heard about Turnstyle, “It just felt like a match made in heaven that would allow us to facilitate this idea.”

I wondered whether that required going back and adding a bunch of phone interactions to the story, but said Wechter said, “It was quite the opposite. One thing we found in testing was when the phone plot moved really fast, it would be hard, because there are these two perspectives happening at once.”

So that actually meant “reducing some fo the intriacy of the plot happening on the phone” to ensure that viewers didn’t get lost.

And if you’re wondering which mode to focus on as you watch, Wechter has some simple advice: “Go with your gut.” He said he had a “roadmap” for when he was hoping to nudge viewers to turn their phones — like when there’s a notification sound or Sheridan focuses on his phone — “but I think the most important part of the experience is that we’re not indicating when our viewers turn, that it becomes this sort of passive-but-active viewing experience.”

Wechter described making the show — essentially a feature length film divided into episodes of 10 minutes or less — as shooting “two films that had to dance together” in just 19 days. And he made things even more challenging by insisting that all the phone/FaceTime calls and even the text messages be filmed live, rather than just recording both ends separately.

“When I think about directing and my job, really the most fundamental part of it to me is making the actorss comfortable, and I think that having a scene partner is paramount,” he said. “It was a long conversation about why we couldn’t just have them act off of a recording and shoot it separately — because it took a lot of logistical effort and resources to do it — but it really makes the scenes feel very alive and realistic.”

You can listen to the full interview in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

#entertainment, #media, #mobile, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts, #quibi, #wireless

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Original Content podcast: Disney’s ‘Mulan’ remake is fun, if you can forget the controversy

Disney’s live-action remake of “Mulan” comes with some serious baggage.

First, the film has drawn political controversy for its star’s statements in support of the action Hong Kong police  against protestors, as well as the fact that “Mulan” was filmed, in part, in the Xinjiang region, where the Chinese government has held Muslim ethnic minorities in detention camps.

And although it’s less weighty, it’s also hard to escape the business context: “Mulan” is one of the first big Hollywood blockbusters (along with “Tenet”) to be released after the pandemic shuttered movie theaters around the world. Warner Bros. opted to release “Tenet” in theaters, while Disney is bringing “Mulan” to Disney+ with a hefty price tag of $29.99. (There’s still a theatrical release in some markets, including China.)

On the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we acknowledge all of that context while also doing our best to discuss the merits of the film itself. It’s arguably the best of Disney’s live-action remakes, and it’s certainly gorgeous to watch, with some thrilling action scenes and beautiful landscape shots.

At the same time, Jordan argued that it doesn’t live up to the animated original, and we both agreed that the script can feel sleight and forgettable — particularly in the shadow of those real-world controversies. Plus, it’s hard to justify the current price, unless you’ve got kids who are eager to see it. Otherwise, you can probably wait until December 4, when “Mulan” becomes available to regular Disney+ subscribers.

Before we jump into our review, we also talk about this coming week’s virtual Disrupt conference.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:31 Disrupt preview
6:33 “Mulan” review
35:10 “Mulan” spoiler discussion

#disney, #entertainment, #media, #mulan, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts, #the-walt-disney-co

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Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘High Score’ is a selective tour through video game history

“High Score” is a new Netflix documentary series that looks back at the early years of the video game industry.

Across six episodes, key developers, artists, executives and even players discuss the initial arcade and home console boom, the emergence of Nintendo, the rise of adventure and role-playing games, the battle between Sega and Nintendo, the success and ensuing controversy over fighting games like Mortal Kombat and the development of 3D gameplay in Starfox and Doom.

We review “High Score” on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, which inevitably leads us to get a little wistful our own relationship with these classic games.

For older gamers, the series provides some pleasant jolts of nostalgia, and it’s also a useful primer for anyone who isn’t familiar with the industry’s history. It also taking time to highlight some lesser-known stories, and it’s full of fun touches, like retro animation illustrated moments that weren’t captured on film.

It’s worth remembering, though, that “High Score” focuses on just a few key figures and a few key games, which means that a number of important developments are ignored or only touched on briefly.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:33 “High Score” review

#daily-crunch, #entertainment, #gaming, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: On Netflix’s ‘Selling Sunset’, everyone’s a villain

“Selling Sunset” is the kind reality TV show that doesn’t bother with things like sympathetic or relatable characters.

The Netflix series recently released its third season — which, like the seasons before it, follows the efforts of the largely female staff at a Los Angeles brokerage to sell high-end real estate.

As we explain on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, “Selling Sunset” does make the occasional, perfunctory effort to tug at the heartstrings, but its attention is clearly elsewhere: on the glamorous Hollywood Hills houses up for sale, the ups and downs of the luxury real estate business and especially on the feuds between different factions at the brokerage.

It’s the kind of show where the most compelling and memorable characters are the ones who fully embrace their devilish and dramatic side, denouncing their coworkers at every opportunity and adopting tactics like holding a “Burgers and Botox” event to promote their listings.

For some of us, these superficial delights were enough to make us like the show; for others, it wasn’t. In addition to discussing the series, we also debated Netflix’s new test of a Shuffle Play feature.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:46 Netflix shuffle discussion
6:46 “Selling Sunset” review

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: ‘The Umbrella Academy’ returns for a messy-but-delightful second season

The first season of “The Umbrella Academy” had its flaws, but empathetic portrayals of its seven superhero siblings (all adults bearing the emotional scars of an upbringing under their strict adoptive father Reginald Hargreeves) more than made up for its meandering plot.

In season two, which recently launched on Netflix, the Umbrella Academy has been transported to Dallas in the early 1960s, where the Hargreeves must once again try to repair their familial bonds while also averting a nuclear apocalypse — an apocalypse that they themselves may be causing.

Once again, the show takes a while to get good, with early episodes that keep our heroes apart and take a few too many digressions into the world of the JFK assassination and Jack Ruby. But once the Umbrella Academy is reunited — and especially after they get a chance to confront a younger version their father — the story moves full speed ahead to a spectacular and moving finale.

We have plenty of praise for the show and its delightful musical numbers on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, and even get a little choked up when recapping the final episode. And before we get to our review, we discuss the news that Disney will be releasing “Mulan” on Disney+ next month, for an additional price of $29.99.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:36 “Mulan” discussion
18:03 “Umbrella Academy” review
40:20 “Umbrella Academy” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Say I Do’ offers a wedding-focused twist on the ‘Queer Eye’ formula

Parts of “Say I Do,” a new reality series on Netflix, will feel pretty familiar to fans of the streaming service’s popular reboot of “Queer Eye.”

Like “Queer Eye,” “Say I Do” stars gay men who are experts in a particular field — in this case, interior designer Jeremiah Brent, fashion designer Thai Nguyen and chef Gabriele Bertaccini. In each episode, the trio is given the only-on-reality-TV task of organizing an elaborate wedding in a single week. And usually, just one half of the lucky couple knows about the wedding until a few days before it’s scheduled to take place.

As we explain on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, it’s hard to resist comparisons to “Queer Eye,” particularly since “Queer Eye” creator David Collins is an executive producer on the new show.

But “Say I Do” has its own unique charms. Although its hosts aren’t quite as aggressively charismatic as the Fab Five, the trio won us over quite effectively, thanks to a combination of impressive wedding planning and convincing emotional engagement.

Put another way: Nearly every episode ends with its hosts quietly wiping away tears, and the audience will probably find itself joining in, as “Say I Do”‘s focus on weddings proves to be a reliable template for cathartic conversations.

In addition to our review, we also discuss this year’s Emmys, which saw Netflix receiving a record number of nominations.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:43 Emmy nominations
10:10 “Say I Do” review

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts, #say-i-do

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Original Content podcast: ‘The Old Guard’ is extremely dumb fun

Even though we did a lot of arguing about Netflix’s new action movie “The Old Guard,” we’re mostly in agreement: The movie is both reasonably entertaining and astonishingly stupid.

We didn’t take issue with the basic concept, which sees Charlize Theron leading a small group of immortal mercenaries. But the plotting feels arbitrary and lazy (yes, even by the standard of Hollywood action), with lots of clunky, on-the-nose dialogue — all the more disappointing since the screenplay was adapted by acclaimed comics writer Greg Rucka from the graphic novel he created with artist Leandro Fernández.

The debate, then, was whether “The Old Guard” remained delightful despite its dopiness, or whether the film’s virtues — Theron’s charisma and her commitment to the kinetic action scenes — only made it passably entertaining.

In addition to our review, the latest episode of the Original Content podcast also includes discussions of NBCUniversal’s newly-launched streaming service Peacock, Ted Sarandos’ appointment as co-CEO of Netflix, as well as mini-reviews of “Palm Springs” on Hulu and “Greyhound” on Apple TV+.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:34 Peacock launch discussion
2:21 Ted Sarandos discussion
13:25 “Palm Springs” mini-review
18:20 “Greyhound” mini-review
26:44 “The Old Guard” trailer
43:01 “The Old Guard” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #tc

0

Original Content podcast: ‘Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga’ is a goofy delight

The new Netflix comedy “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”  should win anyone over, even if you’re not a huge Will Ferrell fan and have no idea what Eurovision is.

The film stars Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as the titular Icelandic musical duo, who are pursuing a lifelong dream of winning at the enormous international musical competition. The film features cameo appearances from past Eurovision performers, and it feels less like a parody and more like a celebration — albeit one that fully embraces the insane costumes and over-the-top production numbers.

The Icelandic accents fade in and out, while the script — written by Ferrell and Andrew Steele — can feel a bit by-the-numbers. But it’s all easy to forgive, thanks to the movie’s obvious goofiness.

“The Story of Fire Saga” also benefits from some memorable performances. McAdams, for one, brings a surprising conviction to her dramatic scenes and her (obviously lip synched) songs. The movie’s also a treat for Dan Stevens fans, as the “Legion” actor goes deliciously over-the-top as the Russian singer Alexander Lemtov.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:24 “Eurovision Song Contest” review
22:21 “Eurovision Song Contest” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

0

Original Content podcast: ‘The Politician’ returns for an entertaining but pointless Season 2

When “The Politician” debuted on Netflix last year, it divided the hosts of the Original Content podcast. After season two, we were more united: The show is not good.

To be clear, “The Politician” is still pretty entertaining, thanks to a consistent dedication to packing as many ridiculous plot twists as possible into any given episode. But the glibness of its approach to contemporary politics feels emptier than ever.

As teased at the end of season one, the show has jumped forward a few years from titular politician Payton Hobart’s contentious election for student body president. Payton (played by Ben Platt) is now a student at NYU, and he’s launched a longshot campaign for the seat currently occupied by veteran New York State Senator Dede Standish (Judith Light).

While Platt’s performance remains compelling — especially in the rare moments when he gets a chance to sing — Payton still feels like a teenager playacting as a real politician, and his climate change-focused platform feels only distantly related to the concerns of real-world environmental activists.

Even worse, Payton is sidelined for stretches of the show as its writers become increasingly obsessed with Standish’s complicated love life. Theoretically, there’s nothing wrong with a series that wants to explore non-traditional relationships, but we couldn’t escape the suspicion that they just thought it was hilarious to make Platt, Light and Bette Middler (playing Standish’s chief of staff Hadassah Gold) say the word “throuple” as often as possible.

Before we get to our review, we also discuss our excitement (particularly Anthony’s) after seeing the first trailer for “Foundation,” an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s classic science fiction series coming to Apple TV+ next year.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
1:30 “Foundation” discussion
12:02 “The Politician” review
29:29 “The Politician” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts, #the-politician

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Original Content podcast: ‘Da 5 Bloods’ provides a brutal look back at the Vietnam War

“Da 5 Bloods,” the new Netflix film co-written and directed by Spike Lee, tells the story of four Black veterans who return to Vietnam decades after the war, in search of hidden gold and the body of their long-dead squad leader.

The film seems to straddle several genres, starting out as a drama focused on the relationship between the four older men — but it becomes more of a western as it progresses, and their conversations are increasingly punctuated by brutal violence.

Whatever the genre, “Da 5 Bloods” is openly polemical — emphasizing the war’s lingering scars on both American veterans and Vietnam — and formally audacious. It mixes different visual styles to stunning effect, while also casually demonstrating a superior alternative to the expensive  de-aging effects seen in last year’s big Netflix movie “The Irishman.” And It’s all held together by Delroy Lindo’s magnificent performance as Paul, the “blood” who seems most tormented by his memories of the war.

In addition to reviewing the film, we use the free release of HBO’s “Watchmen” this weekend as an excuse to talk about how much we like the show.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:31 “Watchmen” discussion
5:16 “Da 5 Bloods” review
23:30 “Da 5 Bloods” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

0

Original Content podcast: The new season of ‘Queer Eye’ is exactly what we needed

With everything that’s going on in the world right now, it’s nice to know that we can rely on Netflix’s “Queer Eye” to continue tugging at our heartstrings.

The latest season was filmed during what looks like a sweltering Philadelphia summer, before the COVID-19 pandemic. The basic “Queer Eye” formula hasn’t changed, with the Fab Five once again taking on the task of helping ten individuals up their game in interior design, fashion, cooking, grooming and culture.

But the show proves adept at finding the perfect guests to plug into that template, whether it’s a gay pastor or a struggling dog groomer. It also finds interesting ways to break the formula, and for the Fab Five to reveal more about their personalities and pasts.

More than anything, “Queer Eye” feels like perfect comfort viewing. It returns us to a time when hugs were the perfect way to greet new friends, and convinces us that our personal demons can be defeated — we just someone to point us in the right direction, and maybe buy us some new clothes, too.

In addition to our review, we also discuss the current plans to reopen movie theaters and listener response to our review of “Space Force.”

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter and send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:35 “Space Force” listener response
5:31 Movie theater reopenings
16:24 “Queer Eye” season 5 review
23:57 “Queer Eye” season 5 spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts, #queer-eye

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Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Space Force’ has a rough launch

“Space Force” is a new Netflix series that reunites Steve Carell and Greg Daniels, the star and creative force behind the American version of “The Office.” And there’s an amazing supporting cast along for the ride, including John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Jimmy O. Yang, Fred Willard, Lisa Kudrow and Jane Lynch.

But as we puzzle over on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, all of that only makes the show more disappointing. It’s not quite a disaster — “Space Force” is sporadically entertaining and funny, but never quite as entertaining or as funny as you might hope.

Part of the problem is the show’s attitude towards Trump Administration’s Space Force. While you might expect “Space Force” to focus on skewering the idea of militarizing space, it instead waffles between mild mockery and lukewarm enthusiasm — and in both cases, the organization depicted seems only distantly related to its real-world counterpart.

The show also suffers from centering on the normally delightful Carell’s shouty and grating performance as General Mark R. Naird, the fictional head of the Space Force. And there’s a broader sense that everything was little rushed, since the show was announced barely over a year ago, while Daniels was working on the (far superior) “Upload” for Amazon Prime Video.

Before we get into our review, we also (briefly) discuss our support for the ongoing protests responding to the death of George Floyd.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:26 Protest discussion
4:40 “Space Force” review
27:52 “Space Force” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts, #space-force

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Original Content podcast: ‘The Lovebirds’ has charming leads and not much else

“The Lovebirds” was originally slated for a theatrical release, but with movie theaters closed, Paramount decided to release the film through Netflix instead.

But even without a global pandemic, a Netflix release was probably the right call. As we discuss latest episode of the Original Content podcast, this doesn’t feel like a movie that would have done well in theaters.

It is, to be clear, a funny and watchable, thanks in large part to the charming performances of Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae as a couple who have hit a rough patch in their relationship — right as they’re also embroiled in a murder mystery. (There seems to be a whole subgenre of movies about couples who are inadvertantly caught up in crime stuff.)

The plot, on the other hand, is pretty thin, and it becomes even more perfunctory as the movie tries to wrap everything up at the end. That’s particularly disappointing since “The Lovebirds” reunites Nanjiani with his “Big Sick” director Michael Showalter — do not expect it to be as good as “The Big Sick,” or even close.

Before our review, we also discuss the launch of WarnerMedia’s HBO-and-more streaming service HBO Max.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:25 HBO Max discussion
10:51 “The Lovebirds” review
23:41 “The Lovebirds” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #hbo-max, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts, #the-lovebirds

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Original Content podcast: The new ‘Kimmy Schmidt’ special is pointlessly interactive

In many ways, Netflix’s new “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” special “Kimmy vs. the Reverend” is a delight.

For fans of the show, it’s a chance to catch up with Kimmy (Ellie Kemper), Titus (Titus Burgess) and all their other friends/nemeses on the eve of Kimmy’s wedding to Prince Frederick (Daniel Radcliffe).

Creators Robert Carlock and Tina Fey (along with a team of writers), deliver their usual barrage of delightful jokes, and even if you aren’t fully caught up, the special more-or-less stands on its own, pitting Kimmy against her old captor Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm) as she searches for a hidden bunker of trapped girls.

And if this was just an hour of regular “Kimmy Schmidt,” your Original Content podcast hosts might have nothing but praise. instead, “Kimmy vs. the Reverend” adopts the same interactive format as the “Black Mirror” episode “Bandersnatch,” with viewers moving through a branching narrative based on their own choices.

The new special isn’t quite as maddening as “Bandersnatch,” — the underlying story is stronger, with fewer frustrating dead ends, and the writers play with the format in some fun ways. But it’s still hard to escape the feeling that the interactivity is mostly a pointless distraction.

Before we get to the review, we also discuss the news that HBO Max will be debut Zack Snyder’s legendary (or infamous) cut of “Justice League” and look at how reality TV has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you want to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:42 “Waco” listener response
3:24 “Justice League” discussion
14:04 Reality TV discussion
19:48 “Kimmy vs. the Reverend” review
35:22 “Kimmy vs. the Reverend” spoilers

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Never Have I Ever’ turns teenage pain into comedic bliss

“Never Have I Ever” is a new Netflix comedy created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, loosely based on Kaling’s own teenage years.

The show focuses on Devi (played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), who’s desperately hoping for a good sophomore year after the sudden death of her father — cue the awkward attempts to get a boyfriend, to lose her virginity and to become one of the cool kids at school.

On the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we’re joined by TechCrunch writer Natasha Mascrenhas to review the show. While some of us had some trouble getting into the first episode (the oddball voiceover narration by tennis legend John McEnroe may have been a factor), we all ended up loving it — the inventive humor, the impressive supporting cast and the deft mixing of laughs with emotionally affecting storylines.

We were particularly happy to see an Indian American coming-of-age story that wasn’t solely focused on assimilation, and that didn’t paint Indian culture solely as a repressive force that needs to be escaped. Instead, it suggests that second generation kids can have a more complicated relationship with their immigrant parents’ culture.

We also discuss a recent interview with Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzeberg, in which he blames “everything that has gone wrong” with the service’s launch on coronavirus.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode beaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:46 Quibi discussion
11:44 “Never Have I Ever” review
33:47 “Never Have I Ever” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

0

Original Content podcast: ‘Upload’ is a cheerful show about a nightmarish future

“Upload” feels like a slight, funny show — until you realize that without the jokes, the story would be unwatchably bleak.

The Amazon Prime Video series (created by Greg Daniels of “The Office,” “Parks & Recreation” and the upcoming “Space Force”) takes place in a near future where people can upload digital copies of themselves before they die.

The experience is marketed as a virtual retirement community, but it quickly becomes clear that being trapped in an afterlife run by a for-profit tech company has plenty of pitfalls. That’s doubly true for the show’s protagonist Nathan (played by Robbie Amell), who finds his entire existence controlled by his still-living girlfriend.

As we explain on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we enjoyed the show’s humor and the richness of its worldbuilding. If we had a complaint, it was that the murder mystery plot was fairly perfunctory.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down.
0:00 Intro
0:20 “Upload” review (mild spoilers)
30:11 “Upload” spoiler discussion

#amazon, #amazon-prime-video, #entertainment, #media, #original-content-podcast

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Original Content podcast: Waco offers a surprising look at a real-world tragedy

“Waco,” a Paramount Network series that recently started streaming on Netflix, dramatizes the tragic real-life standoff between the FBI, the ATF and the Branch Davidians.

A couple of your Original Content podcast hosts only had a fuzzy idea of what actually went down in Waco, Texas in 1993. And all of us were  surprised by the depiction of the Branch Davidian cult as creepy and delusional, but not particularly dangerous.

Instead, the show puts much of the blame for what transpired on law enforcement agencies that were becoming increasingly militarized — not to mention eager for positive publicity. While the depiction of law enforcement bungling and brutality was pretty persuasive, we argued about whether the show ended up soft-pedaling the troubling aspects of the Branch Davidians and their leader David Koresh (played by Taylor Kitsch) in the process.

And while we all agreed that it was a compelling story, we were also disappointed that the stellar cast (Michael Shannon, Melissa Benoist, Andrea Riseborough, Shea Whigham, John Leguizamo, Julia Garner and others) weren’t given more memorable characters to portray.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
1:50 “Waco” review (mild real-life spoilers)
25:56 “Waco” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Middleditch & Schwartz’ might change your mind about improv

We’ll admit it: Some of your Original Content podcast hosts are a little skeptical about improvised comedy.

Of course, we can enjoy improv when it’s done well. It’s just that we’ve seen it done less well, often by friends who are so enthusiastic without being particularly funny. And our friends aside, live improv has rarely been translated successfully into an on-screen show or special.

So we had some reservations going into “Middleditch & Schwartz” on Netflix, which consists of three hourlong improv specials. But our doubts were quickly demolished as we watched the mind-bogglingly talented Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”) and Ben Schwartz (“Parks & Recreation”) spin up dizzyingly complex plots based on just a few prompts from the audience, bringing to life dozens of characters and tying everything together into a big comedic climax right as their time is runs out.

And sometimes, the show is even better when things don’t go smoothly — when they’re forced to backpedal out of a narrative dead end, or when they struggle to remember the names of the character they’re playing at a given moment, or the accent they should be using.

Before we get to our review, we also discuss our thoughts on the current battle between NBCUniversal and big movie theater chains, over the studio’s decision to release “Trolls World Tour” directly to video-on-demand and potentially to follow suit with other films.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaksdown:
0:00 Intro
0:30 NBCUniversal news
18:00 “Middleditch and Schwartz” review

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Extraction’ inflicts brutal action on forgettable characters

If you think that action movies generally suffer from an excess of characterization, then “Extraction” is the movie for you.

Almost everything about the film that’s not an action scene is dealt with in a perfunctory way, starting from the sketchy characterization of our hero Tyler Rake (played by Chris Hemsworth) — he’s muscular, good at killing people, has a vague tragedy in his past … and that’s about it.

Yet we know more about Rake than virtually any other character in the film. There’s even less to say about the kidnapped son of a Mumbai drug lord (though actor Rudhraksh Jaiswal gives him an affecting vulnerability), or the rival drug lord responsible for the kidnapping, or the various soldiers/goons who either assist Rake in his rescue mission or (briefly, foolishly) try to stop him.

On the bright side, this minimalist approach to scripting leaves plenty of room for impressive action scenes, particularly a 12-minute chase that’s designed to look like it was shot in a single take. To be clear, the film is just as much a fantasy as any of the Marvel movies directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo (who took on writing and producing duties here), but the approach is very different, with a stunning brutality and kineticism.

Whether that’s enough to make for a satisfying film will probably differ from viewer to viewer. Among your Original Content podcast hosts, Darrell and Anthony had a good time, while Jordan was decidedly underwhelmed.

To decide whether “Extraction” is a movie for you, you can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:20 “Extraction” review
18:31 “Extraction” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #extraction, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: ‘Ozark’ keeps building tension in season three

The Netflix crime drama “Ozark” might not be exactly what you think of when you hear the phrase “high octane.” While there are a few big explosions, there are far more scenes of people talking urgently to each other while filmed in muted tones.

A more apt description might be “high pulse rate.” Once you start following the story of Marty and Wendy Bird (played by Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, respectively), a Chicago couple who have relocated to the Ozarks to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel, you realize how dire their circumstances are, as they get pulled from one desperate conflict to another. And the occasional scenes of grisly violence reminds you of the fate that awaits them if they screw up.

The show has been repeatedly compared to “Breaking Bad” (we even made the comparison in our review of the first season), but by season three, “Ozark” seems to have a different moral arc; instead of giving viewers a straightforward descent into darkness, the show lives in murkier territory, with a sense of one bad choice leading — perhaps inevitably — to another.

In the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, two of your regular hosts are joined by Megan Rose Dickey to express our admiration, recap the season’s complex storylines and argue about whether the Birds’ increasingly cutthroat behavior is forgivable.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
1:00 “Ozark” season 3 review
28:00 “Ozark” season 3 spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #ozark, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: ‘Too Hot to Handle’ might be a work of evil genius

Is “Too Hot to Handle” the dumbest show on Netflix … or the most diabolically brilliant?

The reality TV series brings a group of twentysomethings together on a secluded tropical retreat, then — after a brief getting-to-know-you period — warns them that anything even coming close to sex will result in a reduction of the $100,000 prize. Not only does this force the contestants to wrestle with their own physical desires — it also encourages them to point fingers and police each other’s behavior.

The show is obviously ridiculous (we haven’t even mentioned Lana, the virtual assistant who explains the rules and supposedly monitors everyone’s behavior) and hypocritical. It simultaneously invites you to ogle the hardbodied cast members as they dance around in swimsuits and to judge them for indulging in “meaningless” hookups.

But as we discussed “Too Hot to Handle” on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, another thought occurred to us: Maybe these aren’t just hedonistic morons showcasing the worst parts of their personalities at the encouragement of reality TV producers. Maybe instead, this is a brutally honest documentary capturing how all human beings would behave if we could get away with it.

As you ponder that possibility, you can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:27 Netflix earnings
18:27 “Too Hot to Handle” review
40:48 “Too Hot to Handle” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: ‘Devs’ asks unsettling questions about free will

We discussed our initial impressions of “Devs” on an episode of the Original Content podcast a few weeks ago, shortly after the show launched on FX/Hulu. At the time, we observed that even the show made time for bits of Silicon Valley satire, the mood was mostly one of mystery and dread.

Now that we know the full story, it seemed like a good time to revisit our discussion. If anything, the dread increases over the course of the show’s first and only season, becoming oppressive and overwhelming as writer-director Alex Garland lays out the full implications of a mysterious quantum computing project known as Devs.

Our reactions to the story’s heady philosophical atmosphere varied — Jordan found the whole thing a bit ponderous, while Anthony and Darrell were completely happy to follow Garland into arguments about determinism versus free will, and to debate the implications of the show’s final episode.

At the very least, we all agreed that there’s nothing on television quite like it. Plus, the show features strong performances from Nick Offerman as a tormented tech CEO and Alison Pill as the Devs project’s steely leader.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:18 “Devs” full season review
7:25 “Devs” spoiler discussion

#devs, #entertainment, #hulu, #media, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content: Netflix’s ‘Tigertail’ tells a melancholy immigrant story

“Tigertail,” a new film on Netflix, weaves together the past and the present to tell the life story of Pin-Jui, who we first meet as a Taiwanese boy dreaming of moving to America.

We soon see that he eventually made it to New York. In the present-day sequences, he struggles to connect with his adult daughter Angela, while also reflecting on his past — a past illustrated in vibrant flashbacks that show his hardscrabble childhood, followed by blossoming romance.

In many ways, “Tigertail” marks a more expansive, less funny treatment of the material that writer-director Alan Yang previously covered in an episode of “Master of None,” one that was all about adult children trying to understand their immigrant parents.

Not everything benefits from the feature-length treatment. The contemporary storyline can feel a bit repetitive — particularly in contrast with the richer, more eventful flashbacks — with one montage after another of Pin-Jui and Angela staring glumly into the distance. But the performances are compelling and the relationships feel believably strained.

And it’s rich thematic territory, prompting your Original Content podcast hosts to argue about the value of parental sacrifice, and to reflect on their own family relationships.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:44 “Tigertail” review (mild spoilers)
23:01 “Tigertail” spoiler discussion
47:33 Quibi update

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: ‘The Platform’ offers a gruesome metaphor for capitalism

“The Platform” is not a subtle movie.

That’s true of its approach to horror, with intense, bloody scenes that prompted plenty of screaming and pausing from your hosts at the Original Content podcast. It’s also true of its thematic material — right around the time one of the characters accuses another of being communist, you’ll slap yourself on the forehead and say, “Oh, it’s about capitalism.”

The new Netflix film takes place in a mysterious prison, with two prisoners on each level (they’re randomly rotated each month). Once each day, a platform laden with delicious food is lowered through the prison. If you’re on one of the top levels, you feast. If you’re further down, things are considerably more grim, and can become downright gruesome as the month wears on.

“The Platform” is a hard movie to sit through, and it has other faults, like an irritatingly mystical ending. But it’s certainly memorable, and even admirable in its dedication to fully exploring both the logistical and moral dimensions of its premise.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:27 “The Platform” review
17:29 “The Platform” spoilers

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: ‘Tiger King’ might be the wildest show on Netflix

Netflix’s “Tiger King” is a docuseries focusing on the man who calls himself Joe Exotic — owner of a private park full of tigers and other big cats. We learn in the opening minutes of the first episode that he’s been accused of hiring a contract killer to murder an animal rights activist.

A documentary that was solely about Joe would be pretty memorable on its own, but he’s surrounded by characters who are nearly as colorful, including the operators of several other big cat parks, as well as his nemesis, Carole Baskin.

On the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we’re joined by Jason from the TechCrunch events team to review “Tiger King.” It’s an incredibly addictive and bingeable show, with shocks and twists in virtually every episode.

At the same time, we debate whether the show treats its colorful subjects ethically, and whether anything was lost as the focus shifted from a “Blackfish”-style exposé of large cat owners into something more lurid.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:29 “Tiger King” review
24:56 “Tiger King” spoilers

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: Apple’s ‘Amazing Stories’ is thoroughly unamazing

It’s been two-and-a-half years since the news first broke that Steven Spielberg would be rebooting his ’80s anthology series “Amazing Stories” for Apple’s then-unnamed streaming service.

Now, after some behind-the-scenes drama, “Amazing Stories” has launched on Apple TV+, with the first two segments currently available. The first, “The Cellar,” is a time travel romance, while “The Heat” is a combination ghost story/murder mystery/sports drama.

As we explain on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, it’s hard to tell exactly who this show was made for. Both of the episodes aired so far get pretty goofy, as if the show was made for kids — but they also move into surprisingly dark territory. Both start with familiar setups, then take some surprising twists and turns, but the results aren’t very satisfying.

In the end, it was hard for any of us to muster any enthusiasm for watching the show’s remaining three episodes.

You can listen to our full review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple . You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:

0:00 Intro
0:44 “Amazing Stories” review
25:50 “Amazing Stories” spoiler discussion

#amazing-stories, #apple, #apple-tv, #entertainment, #media, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: ‘Devs’ is a strange and delightful technothriller

Given its name, you might expect “Devs” — which launched earlier this month on the new FX on Hulu — to be a “Silicon Valley”-style sitcom about the tech industry. And there are indeed some delightful moments where “Ex Machina” writer-director Alex Garland pokes fun at San Francisco and tech culture.

But the prevailing mood is one of mystery and dread. The show takes place largely at a fictional quantum computing company called Amaya, run by its brooding CEO Forest (played by Nick Offerman), which employs Lily (Sonoya Mizuno) and her boyfriend Sergei (Karl Glusman) . Amaya is also home to a division known as Devs — a group that’s mysterious enough that most employees don’t even know what the team is working on.

On the latest installment of the Original Content podcast, TechCrunch Events Director Emma Comeau joins us to discuss the three episodes that have aired thus far.

While it’s too early to evaluate how the show will answer its big questions, we’re all fans, thanks to its eerie visuals, impressive performances (particularly from Offerman and Mizuno) and the tantalizing way that it lays out its mysteries — during the spoiler discussion, we spent most of our time puzzling over clues about the ultimate goal of the Devs team.

And although the show is certainly tense, it’s actually something of a relief to spend a few hours worrying about sinister tech companies, rather everything else happening in the world outside.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you want to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:

0:00 Intro
3:26 “Devs” review (mild spoilers)
26:20 “Devs” spoiler review/speculation

#devs, #entertainment, #hulu, #media, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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Original Content podcast: ‘Love is Blind’ adds a touch of reality to a silly premise

Even by the standards of romantic competition reality shows, “Love is Blind” has a doozy of a concept: A group of men and women “date” by talking in pods where they can only hear each other’s voices. In just a little over a week, they’re expected to start proposing marriage to someone who they’ve never seen.

On this week’s episode of the Original Content podcast, we’re joined by TechCrunch marketing director (and reality TV expert) Alexandra Ames to review the just-wrapped first season of the Netflix show. As we explain, the series actually moves beyond its initial high concept pretty quickly — after the first few episodes, the newly-engaged couples leave the pods and to see if their relationships can survive in the real world.

So the show prompted plenty of discussion about relationships and reality TV in general. At the same time, we’re happy to gossip about the most and least interesting couples, and about who left who at the altar.

And we also some thoughts about the choice of Nick and Vanessa Lachey as the hosts. (Hey, at least most of their material appears to have been left on the cutting room floor.)

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:

0:00 Intro
0:59 “Love Is Blind” spoiler-free review
28:12 “Love Is Blind” spoiler discussion

#entertainment, #media, #netflix, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts

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