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Can't Stop the Movies

Changing Reels Episode 23 – The Visitor

The complexities of American life are on our minds today as we dive into the somber side of patriotism.  Exploring the post-9/11 world of Tom McCarthy’s wonderful film The Visitor, we discuss everything ranging from the immigrant experience to the possibility of finding love in the most unexpected places.  We also reflect on the Bush and Obama years, and America’s love of guns, when chatting about our short film selections this week: Charles Stone III’s 8 Years Later…Waaazzzuuppp and Nicolas Lévesque’s In Guns We Trust.

Show notes:

If you like what you hear, or want to offer some constructive criticism, please take a moment to rate our show on iTunes!  If you have a comment on this episode, or want to suggest a film for us to discuss, feel free to contact us via twitter (@ChangingReelsAC), follow us on Facebook and reach out to us by email (  You can also hear our show on SoundCloud or Stitcher!

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Between Us (2017)

Dianne and Henry resist the life other people want for them.  They're living together, unconcerned with marriage, and trying to get by in life.  Their relationship is put to the test as each begins to imagine life without the other, and the thoughts unsaid create fresh tension they might not be mature enough to deal with.  Rafael Palacio Illingworth wrote the screenplay for and directs Between Us, and stars Olivia Thirlby and Ben Feldman.

An upfront admission - I zoned out of Between Us somewhere around the 40-minute mark and had to rewind.  The glacially paced relationship struggles of Dianne (Olivia Thirlby) and Henry (Ben Feldman) were effectively visualized in the first few seconds of Between Us by a stagnant cloud hanging over the couple's living room.  That cloud turned out to be more than an effective metaphor for the couple's stagnation as Between Us plodded from one shot of monotony to the next as overlapping dialogue shares banal observations that theoretically could have saved the relationship.

Rewinding my rental to the last point of Between Us I remembered gave me time to ponder all those criticisms.  I can't recall the last time I've seen a relationship as inert and boring as the one between Dianne and Henry.  Neither one of them have lives, just dramatic conveniences that set up easy conflict points when each meets the living embodiment of what they want from the other.  Henry's inner monologue remembers when he met Dianne and they had oodles of sex, so his temptation comes from Veronica (Analeigh Tipton) who throws orgies and makes electronica in her spare time.  Dianne admires Henry's artistic ambition though laments his ability to do anything with it, so she meets the playwright Liam (Adam Goldberg) who has some of the same ideas as Henry but puts them into practice.


xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

Xander Cage is dead - or so he'd like the world to think.  He went into hiding after his adventure over a decade ago, but circumstances surrounding a NSA tool gone rogue lead to government agents tracking him down to put him back into action.  D.J. Caruso directs xXx: Return of Xander Cage, with the screenplay written by F. Scott Frazier, and stars Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, and Ruby Rose.

Masterclass director Robert Altman made movies that demanded the audience's attention.  He didn't have much patience for the folks who needed to check their watch or refresh their drinks at the concession stand.  Either you were there to watch the movie, or you weren't, and he made movies for folks in the former group with his multiple tight plot threads and intricately webbed dialogue.

You do not need to have the same severe dedication to enjoy xXx: Return of Xander Cage (Return of Xander Cage moving forward) - but to get the most out of it you better do what I did and pay the kind of strict attention that would make Altman proud.  The action in Return of Xander Cage has all the escalation we've come to expect after a solid decade of superhuman clashes or skyscraper car chases.  Director D.J. Caruso doesn't go for the slow build that's bloated those other movies to 2 hour+ run-times.  Return of Xander Cage is the kind of action flick where if you look down, even for a second to take notes, the action will have shifted from a bar fight to motorcycles equipped with skis.  The big kicker?  It all makes sense.


Breath of the Wild (2017)

If this is your first time reading Pixels in Praxis or are averse to spoilers, check out our FAQ before proceeding.

The last time I felt a sense of personal exploration, that I was going to places forgotten or unseen, was when I lived in South Carolina.  I could pick a path in our barely constructed neighborhood to find a shack in the middle of nowhere with a couple of decorations hanging up and nary a sign it had been used in years.  On a more distressing scale, and indicative of the racism of South Carolina, I might visit a friend then walk a couple of miles to find one of the predominantly black churches burned with the skeletal frame remaining.  The landscape of South Carolina told a story with both the good and evil being erased as the neighborhoods sprawled out to take over places that once held some hope for human life.

I felt that melancholy, the longing to preserve a past that will soon be erased, exploring the largely deserted ruins of Hyrule and its surrounding lands in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Breath of the Wild from this point on.)  All these shrines that held the promise of peace were overgrown with bramble and infested with enemies.  Sometimes my best path forward was to try and find a way to avoid disturbing the natural accumulation of danger around these places of power.  Maybe I'd glide overhead, or find some path away from the prying eyes of the moblins who insisted on breaking my tour of the landscape with an indelicately aimed club to my head.


Patreon Preview: 13 Reasons Why the Netflix series “Tape 1, Side A”

The second episode of Can't Stop the Podcast is up on Patreon!  Click on the image above or here to be taken straight to the episode.  I'll be reviewing the first part of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, "Tape 1, Side A."  In this episode, I'll be talking about how the pedigree behind the show achieves a level of critique not possible in the book, the excellent performances bringing the material from the book to new heights, and why my favorite character's presentation is so important.

This is the last episode of Can't Stop the Podcast on 13 Reasons Why which will be available publicly.  I'll be releasing future episodes to the public when starting new topics but, for now, the only way to continue listening to episodes on 13 Reasons Why is to become a backer of the Can't Stop the Movies Patreon.

Thank you all for your support and time listening to these episodes, and look out for more to come!

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