The Shape of Water: The Past is the Key to the Future

the shape of water

Watching The Shape of Water, I expected a wholly original story based on a simple premise. A woman falls in love with a merman. Instead, Guillermo del Toro’s film has a surprisingly familiar set of themes and ideas. Its originality lies in how it blends three core messages for the viewer to internalize.

The first message: the past is the key to the future. This scaly, unpredictable creature found in the Amazon is implied to be an ancient force of nature far removed from the technological advances of 60s Baltimore. Yet every character wants to use this creature as a device for unlocking the future. A competitive future. A future of scientific discoveries. Even a future of artistic expression.

The second message: the people who will unlock the future are the silent. The unseen. The meek will indeed inherit the earth. Finally, the third message: love is the purest way to unlock the future, bringing about our greatest talents. Love is our purpose.

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Last Flag Flying: When Loving Country is as Easy as Hating It

last flag flying

We’re dependent on the government. We’re dependent on the military. We’re dependent on our soldiers. So when you put your faith and trust into the very entities that hold the key to your survival, it stings all the more when you experience the ugly side of America and war. Especially if you’re a soldier.

Richard Linklater has directed some of my favorite films of all time, so I didn’t hesitate to catch a viewing of his new film Last Flag Flying. It’s a spiritual sequel to The Last Detail, in that it tells a simple road trip story about three aging Vietnam War veterans in 2003.

One of those veterans (“Doc,” played by Steve Carrell) has recently lost his son to the horrors of the Iraq War. His fellow former marines (Sal, played by Bryan Cranston and Mueller, played by Laurence Fishburne) embark on a quest to help Doc bury his son at home in New Hampshire instead of at Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C.

“I’m not going to bury a marine,” Doc says. “I’m just going to bury my son.” If that sounds unpatriotic to you, then Last Flag Flying has you on its allegorical mind.

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Cinemaholics Review: Lady Bird and Murder on the Orient Express

Murder

For the show this week, I’m joined by my regular co-host Will Ashton and special guest Kristen Lopez from Paste Magazine, Film School Rejects, and The Young Folks to review Murder on the Orient Express and Lady Bird, two films that honestly couldn’t be anymore different, but we’ll get to that in the podcast.

We originally recorded the show with Mini Reviews as usual, but sound issues forced us to cut the episode in half (which worked out because the episode had gone on far longer than planned). We’ll do those reviews for CocoLast Flag Flying, and Walking Dead Season 8 next week.

That said, the main show covers two featured reviews at length, no spoilers for either. The first movie is Lady Bird, a wonderful A24 film directed and written by Greta Gerwig that has been topping many “best of 2017” lists already on the minds of critics. It’s yet another Oscar-worthy performance from Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) complemented by a fantastic cast. Murder on the Orient Express is the second review of the show, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot in the adaptation of Agatha Christie’s landmark novel. It’s the classic “whodunnit” modernized for 2017, so be sure to manage your expectations if you’re planning on giving this one a shot.

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Cinemaholics Review: Thor: Ragnarok and Stranger Things 2

Thor

I always feel bad about writing the headlines for these because we reviewed a lot more than Thor: Ragnarok and Stranger Things Season 2. We also talked about WonderstruckThe Killing of a Sacred Deer, and Super Mario Odyssey (a game for once!), in addition to the heavy hitters you want to hear about.

On Thor: Ragnarok, we spent some time debating our opinions on the first two Thor movies, followed by a thorough discussion on this new film. Will Ashton and I had the most disagreement over the film, while Maveryke Hines had an opinion somewhere in the middle. As always, it made for a fantastic debate I’ll be curious to revisit in a few months when the dust has settled. For now, I can safely say that director Taika Waititi should be allowed to do whatever film he wants from now until the end of time.

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Is ‘Blade Runner 2049’ a Masterpiece? — Cinemaholics

Blade Runner

Blade Runner 2049 is out in theaters, and critics have showered the sci-fi sequel with praise, with many calling it a masterpiece. Unfortunately, this didn’t translate to box office success for the film. It opened with an abysmal $31.5 million domestically, far behind the blockbuster’s reported budget of $150 million. Keep this in mind the next time Hollywood tries to blame Rotten Tomatoes for underperforming weekends.

I reviewed Blade Runner 2049 with Will Ashton and Maveryke Hines this week on the show, and it’s spoiler-free, of course. For those of you itching to hear our spoilery thoughts, check the time stamp above to hear when our spoiler section begins. And as always, we reviewed a few other releases you might want to know about.

Will saw The Mountain Between Us, starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba. This is a movie I’ve shown no interest in seeing for myself, and Will’s thoughts only confirm that decision. I talked about The Good Place Season 2 with a preface for checking out the first season, which is now on Netflix (newest episodes on Hulu). And Maveryke saw Long Shot on Netflix, a documentary about how a man on death row had his life saved by an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Seriously.

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‘American Made’ Is Fun, But Not Mandatory — Cinemaholics

American Made

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve shared a Cinemaholics episode here, but in my defense it’s been a traumatic few weeks for me personally. But the show went on despite my time shortages, and we managed to publish review episodes for Kingsman: The Golden Circlemother!, and It since our Fall Movie Preview. You can dig into all those episodes, along with our bonus episode about MoviePass, here.

This week’s show features a thrilling discussion of American Made, starring Tom Cruise and directed by Doug Liman. It’s an episode you don’t want to miss because in addition to reviewing the film with Will Ashton and Maveryke Hines, I had a chance to mini review Battle of the Sexes, one of my favorite films of 2017. Other mini reviews this week include Jerry Before Seinfeld on Netflix, Star Trek Discovery on CBS, and Stronger starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany (another 2017 movie vying for my Top 10 of the year).

There’s a fun surprise for longtime fans halfway through the show. Sam Noland from Part-Time Characters jumped on for a quick intermission, and we tag-teamed some housekeeping for the work he’s doing on that show. And we opened the entire episode with a mini review from one of our listeners on 9/11. If you want to submit your own mini reviews or other feedback, be sure to email us anytime: cinemaholicspodcast (at) gmail.com.

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Good Time and Death Note Review — Cinemaholics

death note

I didn’t have enough time this week to do a formal review of Good Time, but our most recent episode of Cinemaholics sums up my thoughts pretty well. We also tackled Death Note, the Netflix Original Movie based on the anime series. It started out as a mini review, but Will Ashton and I went on for so long talking about it, the review hit feature length. We also talked about Leap! and Brigsby Bear.

This episode debuted our first ever “On Tap” segment. I interviewed Kayleigh Donaldson of Pajiba, and we unpacked the massive Handbook for Mortals controversy surrounding a YA book that supposedly cheated its way to the New York Times Bestseller List, perhaps to shore up a movie deal. It’s a fascinating conversation, and you can learn more about the story Kayleigh worked on about it here.

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