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School of Movies

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Super in-depth analysis of movies (and occasionally TV, and video games). Hosted by veteran podcasters Alex & Sharon Shaw with different guests for round-table chats every week.

To get into our hundreds of previous episodes look for the School of Movies Archive and the School of Everything Else Archive. If you can't find a show it will be on one of those.
Super in-depth analysis of movies (and occasionally TV, and video games). Hosted by veteran podcasters Alex & Sharon Shaw with different guests for round-table chats every week.

To get into our hundreds of previous episodes look for the School of Movies Archive and the School of Everything Else Archive. If you can't find a show it will be on one of those. << Show Less
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The Secrets of Dumbledore [School of Movies 2022]
I could just have told you folks not to see this one, but the whole world appears to have gotten the memo on that. I could also have just ignored it, but Harry Potter was important to a LOT of us in the past (and still many now) so a reappraisal of where the hell the Wizarding World sits today, and how we got to this place was in order.
It turned into a lengthy investigation as to just how many things can go wrong and how many problematic people have to be involved with your production before you pull the plug. This one delves into what plot is there, but frankly there's nothing to spoil that ain't already wrecked.
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Snippet of School of Movies: Jurassic Park Hear the reasons why this timeless sci-fi classic still remains a benchmark for practical effects and evergreen film that has yet to become dated. Hear the School of Movies weigh in on Jurassic Park.
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The Secrets of Dumbledore [School of Movies 2022]
I could just have told you folks not to see this one, but the whole world appears to have gotten the memo on that. I could also have just ignored it, but Harry Potter was important to a LOT of us in the past (and still many now) so a reappraisal of where the hell the Wizarding World sits today, and how we got to this place was in order.
It turned into a lengthy investigation as to just how many things can go wrong and how many problematic people have to be involved with your production before you pull the plug. This one delves into what plot is there, but frankly there's nothing to spoil that ain't already wrecked.
The Road to El Dorado [School of Movies 2022]
Back at the turn of the century Dreamworks were going after Disney hard. The first lasting challenge to the mouse monopoly of animated cinema in the west involved a similar hand-drawn traditional style to match their 90s Renaissance. Notably that was a period of amazing achievement following mediocrity, thanks in no small part due to Dreamworks very own Lord Farquaad, Jeffrey Katzenberg.  
The four films in this soon-abandoned endeavour were The Prince of Egypt, which did gangbusters, horse-botherer Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, the box office pirate shipwreck, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, and this one, released in 2000, about a pair of ne-er-do-well conmen finding the fabled lost Aztec city against the disturbing backdrop of the arrival in Mesoamerica of Francisco Cortes. But all of these were releasing at the dawn of the Shrek Age, and they themselves represent a now-fading culture conquered by merciless superior technology.  
Guests:
Mackenzie & Nathan Eastram  @KenziePhoenix @bertnerdtram of Rainbow Connection @MuppetsPod and Video Game: The Movie: The Podcast  @VGTMPodcast
Withnail & I [School of Movies 2022]
A cult British classic made in 1987, set in 1969 and an utter failure at the box office. With the advent of affordable videos in the 1990s this one later became very popular with students who warmed to its story of two out of work actors living in ridiculous squalor. It's insanely quotable and darkly funny if you have the corresponding frequency of humour (I think I'm going to use this term in future. It's not a binary thing and that misconception is used all too often as a limp shield for crappy comedian behaviour).
Richard E. Grant plays Withnail, a persistently drunken, excessively verbose drama queen. Paul McGann play's "I" (whose uncredited name is Marlowe) a mousy, skittish neurotic afraid of being attacked by a hostile world of beefy, aggressive men. 
Together the pair of them borrow Withnail's Uncle Monty's cottage in Penrith and have an impromptu holiday to escape their troubles, only to find they have brought them along too. They are pitiful wretches and we should loathe them, but it's easy to feel sympathy and empathy all the same.
This one deals with some confused issues of unexplored homosexuality and predatory behaviour (fuelled by the writer/director's own unfortunate experiences as a young man), so you may have to bear with it until the full context is unfolded. But it would be entirely understandable if you want to put a pin in this for later.
Secret of NIMH / American Tail / Land Before Time [School of Movies 2022]
A trio of films that are considered by many to be the crowning glories of Don Bluth's oeuvre. He was one of the only serious competitors to Disney in the last two decades of the 20th Century that they had dominated, in terms of what constituted animated cinema in the west. 
We take a documentarian approach to how he started, and cover the flourishing of the next few years, breaking off at their high point, actually beating Disney at the box office. After this it was a slow decline of valiant attempts and disappointing failures, making films that evoked the elegant, classical stylings of Cinderella, Pinocchio and Sleeping Beauty when the public wanted Toy Story, and Disney were experiencing their 90s Renaissance. 
This one gets dark and hard, even more so than you might imagine, if you're familiar with the sometimes disturbing nature of this body of work. But it's utterly fascinating if you can push through that. 
Guest:
Kat Essman @Kat325
Mario Kart [School of Everything Else 2022]
Lunatic eats strange fungus, throws reptile carcases and banana peel out of his car. Everyone cheers! 
One of the most beloved of game series, the racing title that prides itself on accessibility (most of the time) and appeal to all ages, with a consistently high bar of quality (imagine if every Sonic game had that) and a lasting appeal that both piques nostalgia and makes us excited for the future.
What began as a multiplayer sequel to vintage SNES launch title F-Zero became a flagship Nintendo showcase of their core Mario-related characters. We look at the development history and how the series has evolved over thirty years, the gambles that didn't pay off, the elements we now take for granted and the key aspects that make it work so well. 
What's abundantly clear is that everyone has a different favourite and everyone has at least one example in the series that they just bounce off. We eschew discussion on the obscure arcade games, the remote control car for your mansion, and the Switch DLC rollout, as that won't be finished for years, but we DO talk about the phone-based Tour (2019) and its microtransaction-plagued experience.
For this epic show we played through every cup, and tried every multiplayer and battle mode in Super Mario Kart on the SNES (1992), Mario Kart 64 (1997) Super Circuit for GBA (2001) Double Dash for GameCube (2003) DS (2005) Wii (2008) 7 for 3DS (2011) and 8 for Wii U and Switch (2014). And yes, we do talk about Tour for phones (2019).  
The other unexpected and fascinating side of the show to pay particular attention to, which didn't become apparent until the edit is how Nintendo advertised each game over three decades. Their approach and audience changes over time and you can really hear that in the commercials. PLUS the whole thing is peppered with music that will evoke good times. 
Guest:
Nama Chibitty @namathenerd
Bound [School of Movies 2022]

We continue an unexpected year of diving into the back-catalogue of The Wachowskis. Speed Racer is on the way, and this right here is a dark little neo noir about stealing from murderous mobsters.

It's all claustrophobic labyrinthine interiors, black and white, red and green with overtones of German expressionism. Bill Pope the same Director of Photography as the first three Matrix films, Don Davis who likewise handled scoring detail, and Zach Staenberg as editor *and* Joe Pantoliano playing a total dirtbag makes this in many ways feel more like The Matrix than the fourth movie. 

Also this is a steamy lesbian romance and this is VERY not safe for work! 

Guest:

Victoria Luna B. Grieve:  @VixenVVitch
Sing & Sing 2 [School of Movies 2022]

This was unexpected... followed by yet more unexpectation.

When I first saw the teaser trailer for the original film, all the way back in 2016 I thought the dancing pig picture would be inane and perpetually irritating, only to find out from trusted critics that there was way more below the surface. And they were right, I loved it immediately. Ever since then we've been promising to do a show.

So, now we've finally got around to it, as the commission escorted to the front of the line this cheery, toe-tapping, occasionally melancholy film about the drive to perform. And we were surprised yet again with what we found. Not all of it fantastic when scrutinised. 

And since the sequel launched in theatres the same week we recorded I followed up with a completely separate section starting at 1h 2m, detailing to Sharon how the sequel develops on the original. Even though everything we found wasn't peachy-keen we still recommend seeing both movies as they are rather lovely.
Street Fighter [School of Movies 2022]

Picture the scene; It's late 1994 and young teens who have thrown a thousand hadoukens in arcades and on home consoles throughout the early 90s finally get to go to the cinema and see their favourite characters battling in live action.

The casting seems superficially solid. Jean-Claude Van Damme is at the peak of his career path, Raoul Julia was wildly entertaining in the Adams Family movies and The Locomotion... is a catchy tune performed by Australian soap star Kylie Minogue... and we don't recognise most of the others so they must be accomplished martial artists. Surely this one is an easy win. 

In later years this movie became a celebrated campy classic, its often ludicrous lines quoted ad nauseum. Let's look at the experience of actually sitting down and watching it with a critical eye. 

Guests

Hollywoo Actress  Maya Santandrea @Mayasantandrea

Jason "Chewie" Slate @TheManaPool
Akira [School of Movies 2022]

Your eyes do not deceive you, we are doing anime this week. Ironically the only other Main Event show we've done of this ilk is Kiki's Delivery Service, which emerged the year after this film and replaced it as the most expensive Japanese animated cinematically-released production of the era. You wouldn't think it, comparing that sweet tale about an enthusiastic girl who gets burnout in Stockholm to this cyberpunk epic.

As striking today as it was in 1988, this is a film of vital importance that is stunning to witness. A harsh, thrilling journey through an alternate 2019 civilisation on the brink of explosion. Roving gangs of biker clowns make war in the streets as wrinkled old psychic children face down a furious, embittered and hellishly powerful teenage boy. 

If you've never seen it, find the highest quality transfer, turn out the lights and switch off your phone. This is one for the ages.
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