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Can't Stop the Movies

Changing Reels Episode 27 – Whip It

In Bliss Cavendar’s small town, winning a beauty pageant is akin to being a star player on the football team.  Though her mother, a former beauty queen, longs for her to follow in her footsteps, Bliss finds her own path when she discovers her love for the sport of roller derby.  Assuming the name “Babe Ruthless” she soon makes waves on the circuit while dealing with the complexities that come with finding oneself.  This week lace up the skates and take a spin with Drew Barrymore’s 2009 film Whip It. We also discuss our short film picks: Hana Wuerker’s When Perri Met Aly and River Finlay’s Luchadora.

Show notes:

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Filed under: 2000's, Podcasts No Comments

Buster’s Mal Heart (2017)

A mountain man known as "Buster" lives off the empty homes of the rich in-between calls to anyone who will listen about the end of the world.  He wasn't always this way, and the man once known as Jonah had a life he cared for.  Sarah Adina Smith wrote the screenplay for and directs Buster's Mal Heart, and stars Rami Malek, DJ Qualls, and Kate Lyn Sheil.

Jonah - also known as "Buster" (Rami Malek) - doesn't have a bad heart, no matter what the title of Sarah Adina Smith's follow-up to The Midnight Swim (tied for best of 2015) might suggest.  At least he wasn't born with a bad heart.  Going to work by night, spending what little time he can spare during the day with his wife Marty (Kate Lyn Sheil) and daughter Roxy (Sukha Belle Potter), Jonah is making the best of a system designed to keep him running in place the rest of his life.

Buster's Mal Heart is a story of heartbreak, one that tells a story of bone-deep oppression and how the lie of the American dream pushes its citizens too far.  I could speculate on just what Jonah is pushed to do, but that would be demeaning to the conditions I see him working in on a night-to-night basis.  Dirty dishes, oblivious bosses, coworkers able to take advantage of his work ethic, a mother-in-law more interested in her granddaughter learning English than spending any time on Spanish.  These are the microaggressions that fill Jonah's existence, feeling like he only has his wife and child to live for, and slowly looking at the cracks of the ceiling keeping him down in the hopes he'll provide a life for them someday.


Patreon Post: 13 Reasons Why the Netflix series “Tape 2, Side A”

I'm back to 13 Reasons Why with the weakest episode to date.  A full shift behind the scenes results in scattered focus and neglected characterization.  But at least Hannah's mother gets a chance to shine in the strongest moments of "Tape 2, Side A".

This podcast is only available for contributors to the Can't Stop the Movies Patreon.  You can reach the post by clicking the above image or this link.

Filed under: 2017, Patreon, Podcasts No Comments

The Shivah: Kosher Edition (2013)

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

There are two questions guiding the gameplay of The Shivah: Kosher Edition (TS:KE moving forward), the remake of the 2006 adventure game The Shivah.  First question, "Why would former synagogue member Jack Lauder leave Rabbi Russell Stone money in his will?"  The second, "Who killed Jack Lauder and why?"  That first question, which has grave implications for who Rabbi Stone is as a person, forms the intriguing web of long-held grudges and questions about the usefulness of faith in initial acts of TS:KE.  The second question brings TS:KE to the sort of bog-standard conspiracy thriller that feels out-of-place in the grounded struggle with faith that comes before.

While TS:KE is grappling with the first question it's excellent.  I was raised on a steady diet of Sierra adventure games with their varying degrees of punishment for using specific items or information in ways that would prevent a no-win state.  TS:KE is considerably more forgiving than those poorly aging titles, and - to my surprise - if you're studious in surveying the information and items available then you can solve the mystery using logical connections made through one of TS:KE's great investigative gameplay tools.


Ghost in the Shell (2017)

In the future, technology has advanced to the point where a human's consciousness can be transferred to an artificial shell.  Major Mira Killian, after suffering severe wounds in an attack, is transferred to a shell.  As she begins experiencing ghostly glitches, she begins to suspect all is not as it seems behind her existence.  Rupert Sanders directs Ghost in the Shell, with the screenplay written by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler, and Ehren Kruger, and stars Scarlett Johansson.

As an opening admission, and one of Ghost in the Shell's least weighty problems, I damn near fell asleep watching it.  I'm not proud of these moments as I pride myself on getting through some of the most grueling endurance tests cinema has to offer.  What hampers Ghost in the Shell the most is a lack of cinematic texture.  The production feels like someone half-remembering different aspects of Blade Runner, the original animated Ghost in the Shell, and that Scarlett Johansson is the go-to United States actress for flippy action scenes.

Shame director Rupert Sanders couldn't even get the flippy bits to have much of an impact.  There's an illuminating side-by-side comparison of the water fight Major Killian (Johansson) has toward the middle of both the live-action version and the original animated.  A standard complaint about modern action movies is that they have too many cuts and that's certainly the case here with about 27 for the live-action and 18 for the animated.  That's not an automatic negative though, and what makes the live-action version so unfulfilling is the monotony of the construction.  There's never a moment Killian's target isn't overwhelmed by the city and his momentary feeling of safety is undercut by the long-shot preparing our eyes for something to emerge from the water.