Author Archives: thenarrativejunkie

Reel Talk Episode 35: Pet Peeves

YEAH! A surprising amount of Pacific Rim talk this week, which allows me to tie this episode to this headbanging track.

This week we bring you another favourite’s favourites, except the opposite, cos we’re talking Pet Peeves! Listen, as Pete hates on natural history peasants, Zhana despises the Stepford Wives of Hollywood, I moan about stating the theme and guest Alistair MacQuarrie loves to hate on unnecessary romance.

Plus: group analysis of Todd Solonz’s Happiness (no, not the one with Will Smith), some nonsense about Inspector Gadget and everyone really likes Jurassic Park. Sound like your thing? Then click the link below OR subscribe on iTunes!

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Web Curation: An Exchange on Iron Man & Assumptions

One of the many, many wonderful things about Badass Digest is how the site demonstrates how, if properly curated, a comments section can make for as good a read as the article itself.

Case in point: this brilliant exchange between commenters ‘rubi-kun’ & ‘fursa_saida’, on how the Iron Man series expresses a general lack of thought about the portrayal of its Middle Eastern/Central Asian subject matter (EDIT: Afghanistan is not in the Middle East and indeed, the problem here is that those two very different regions have been conflated), and in doing so, reinforces a false (and to certain extent, damaging) Western view of an area of the world long-misunderstood.

Here’s the list of comments

Just goes to show – ignorance perpetuates itself, if not corrected.

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Reel Talk Episode 34 – We All Love Keanu

Just one of the many excellent Man of Tai Chi fight scenes.

So! This week features extensive discussion of Keanu Reeves films, given its recording following a Reeves marathon. However, though we all love Keanu, there was some division over his filmography, particularly Point Break and Bill & Ted, which was fairly entertaining. Then onto the week’s excellent news (Shane Black Predator film? YES YES YES) and some chat about a couple bafflingly bad films, in the shape of In the Name of the King and Savages, and one good film: Snowpiercer! Honestly, I think it’s a pretty good show – so why not have a listen?

Or subscribe on iTunes!



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A Moment of Tact

Tact is an underestimated artistic skill.

Art deals with human misery as a matter of course. It depends on conflict after all, and there is a clear preference amongst storytellers for the extremes of human existence where pain is a matter of course. Still, pain is also a difficult thing to convey. Go overboard in your presentation, and you’re likely to end up where Requiem for a Dream did – with images that shock to such an extent that they lose their human scale. The pain inflicted on that movie’s characters in the end is too great. It is so over-emphasised, it loses veracity. This is a common issue in drug-centred narratives (because we tend to overreact in our presentation of the ill-effects of drugs), but the problem is a universal one. If you want an audience to understand the pain of your characters, to tap into the deeper hurt that lies beneath the screams, you need tact.

This is demonstrated perfectly by a single Orange is the New Black scene.

In this scene, Dayanara Diaz (Dascha Polanco) is about to give her boyfriend/guard John Bennett (Matt McGorry) a blowjob. He seems uncomfortable as she undoes his trousers, which I at first interpreted as coming from the problematic nature of a prisoner-guard romance, until that is she takes them down far enough that she uncovers his false leg. She looks at it, and looks up, and the camera takes a darting swing upwards to see Bennett staring, straight ahead, his face so tense and so still. In that look, those few visual seconds, lies a whole world of fear, fear of rejection, fear of the consequences of difference. At that look, my breath caught. The camera snapped back to Diaz. She pauses, and the pause seems to last forever. Then, slowly, gently, she plants a kiss on the thigh of the false leg. And goes back to business.

This is a scene of pain. The fear in Bennett is clear and sharp – the tension he feels immediately transmitted to the viewer. The sense of timing, on part of actors and editors both, functions to hold that tension for the beat it needs to really twist the heartstrings. The gentleness of Diaz in releasing that tension turns an unwinding into a blossoming of feeling. This is a scene of great emotional power, achieved through the smallest movements, and it feels so sincere it breaks the heart.

Such is the worth of artistic tact.

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Reel Talk Episode 32 – Cinema Sinning

An episode built on three talk-chunk-foundations.

1) A discussion of Cinema Sins, a YouTube show that takes a particularly nitpicky approach to deconstructing cinema, following their being roundly criticised on Twitter. Pete and Zhana were calm and measured in their analysis. I was…less so. I hold the same gut-level aversion to that show that I do to The Only Way Is Essex.

2) A review of 22 Jump Street by yours truly! It’s a great film, and I saw it with a great crowd – Ice Cube was all the funnier for the havoc he wreaked on the funnybones of the people behind me.

3) A review of Boyhood by Pete! In which he describes the new Linklater film as a film that perfectly judges how to tell a story set in normal life. Goshdarn but I want to see it now.

So, for all this, plus the entertaining nattering going on between the chunks, why not click the link below OR…subscribe on iTunes.



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Reel Talk Episode 31: Elegantly Bald

Mark Strong is the kind of human being the world is lucky to have.

I on the other hand have a tendency to derail things – hence this podcast, which is mostly composed of tangents. Damn good tangents though! We talk about the politics of Roland Emmerich, the true nature of auteurs, Pete’s existential crises and Zhana’s condescending sex fantasies, indulging in a smorgasbord of topics. So what are you waiting for? Listen at the link below, OR, subscribe on iTunes.

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Reel Talk Episode 30: Tweelapse

I honestly spent about 10 minutes at the beginning of this episode talking about how I stopped saying lush. I really need to get my filter checked.

Otherwise! This week’s main review is of X-Men: Days of Future Past, a movie we all seemed ok with at first, until we started talking about it. Then we suddenly hated it. Weird.

We’ve also got Zhana Kuzmina with the Cannes winners, Peter Flynn with singing and compound nouns and discussion of how delighted John Travolta was to be playing Nicholas Cage, in the 90’s classic Face/Off. For all this and even some more, click the link below, or, subscribe on iTunes.

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Reel Talk Episode 29 – Frozen on Ice…duh

Guess I’m late with the podcast posting again…exams suck you guys. So glad to be done.

Reviews of: Godzilla! With spoilers. Plus some other stuff about the crappiness of the Batman VS Superman title, and other outdated news the internet has thoroughly covered. MOVING ON.

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Reel Talk Episode 28: Batman’s Bum-Chin

Brought up this short film at some point during recording. Not sure if the mention made it in, but I wanted to highlight it regardless because I adore how expressive the deforming quality of the animation is. Just as in my favourite short of the Animatrix (which we also mentioned) ‘World Record’, the warping and twisting of the human form communicates torment in a manner that makes it harsh and visceral, whether it’s the physical strain of Dan Davis’ running, or the psychological agony contained within this family. As their bodies contort, expand and contract, their pain pours off the screen, immediate and harrowing.


So this week we start with discussions of sex-restaurants and end on a review of a Kurt Russell film and somehow these things are not related. Craziness. Otherwise, we criticise Frank for being too normal, fall in love with Johnny Mnemonic, dismiss David S. Goyer, and take bleeding ages to get to the point about Rammstein. Truly, we have ourselves a goddamn show.

Listen to that below, or…subscribe on iTunes!

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Reel Talk Episode 27 – Movie Music Special

In a show of many excellent jams, this one IMO was definitely the jammiest.

This week’s Reel Talk was all about the music! We each picked 5 songs each from the scores of various movies and chatted about what they did for us, with candidates stretching from Donnie Darko (no, we didn’t pick Mad World…for some dumb reason), to Under the Skin, from Nymphomaniac to Attack the Block. It’s definitely a mixed bag, and hopefully some truly great listening. Also Zhana really cannot stand the new Tarzan trailer.

Listen to all this by clicking the link below, OR subscribe on iTunes.

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