Tag Archives: Glen Weldon

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Atomic Blonde

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The Mondo two-LP blue-and-yellow-vinyl edition of the soundtrack to David Leitch’s stylish Charlize Theron-headlined, set-in-1989 espionage thriller Atomic Blonde that I ordered won’t arrive for several weeks, I’m told. Until then you and I will just have to make do with our extant libraries of New Order, The Clash, A Flock of Seagulls, etc. And with this thrilling recorded-in-one take episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein host Linda Holmes and regular panelists Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon brought me in to talk about how much we all like watching Ms. Theron kick ass. It’s a lot more satisfying that watching her play second-fiddle to some grunting no-talent clown in a tank top.

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 322: Arrival and Seratonin-Boosting Pop Culture

Amy Adams in ARRIVAL

I was delighted as always to join my friends Linda Holmes, Glen Weldon, Stephen Thompson, and Jessica Reedy for this week’s badly-needed Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein no one mentions politics at all because that’s not how we do on this show. Here’s the episode. Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 315: The Magnificent Seven (2016) and Fleabag

Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt star in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures' THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.

Curiously, the lineup for this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour is the same as it ever was last time I was on the show: Host Linda Holmes was once again away living a life of intrigue and excitement, leaving her pal Stephen Thompson to moderate a panel that included regular bloviator Glen Weldon and guest-talkers Tanya Ballard Brown and me. Our topics: The remake of The Magnificent Seven, which I reviewed for NPR, and Fleabag, an Amazon series written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, an English actor of whom I was previously unaware. One of these two items is terrific! Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 307: Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad

SS Group-R

Beloved Pop Culture Happy Hour host Linda Holmes is at the Television Critics Association gathering in Los Angeles this week, so Tanya Ballard Brown and I joined regular panelists Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon for an uncharacteristically reserved episode. By which I mean, neither of the big summer movies we autopsied, Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad, is very good, though the latter is much worse. I had hopes for both of them, because I admire their directors, Paul Greengrass and David Ayer, very much, and I’ve tended to like their work. You know what late-summer release was not a big letdown? Star Trek Beyond. I endorse it. Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 288: Batman v Superman and Objects We Desire

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of JusticeI was happy as always to join Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and my Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon on this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein we perform an autopsy on the rotten corpse of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Based on my defense of Man of Steel on this show three years ago I was, I think, expected to stick up for BvS. I  could not.

Since none of us liked this film — in fact we all disliked it so much that the controversial issue of Henry Cavill’s height never even came up — we decided to broaden the topic to try to pin down the elements that make a would-be action blockbuster work or not work. I forgot to say so on the show, but I wrote about this for Linda two summers ago after helping the staff of The Dissolve, may it rest in peace, to determine the 50 Greatest Summer Blockbusters. Continue reading

I Like Pink Very Much, Lois: Top Five Superman/Batman Movie Moments, on this week’s Filmspotting

Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder in Richard Donner's SUPERMAN (1978).

It was a true pleasure to be on Filmspotting again, this time in a World’s Finest-style team-up with my Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon. Glen is “unauthor” (his joke, people) of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography and author the just-published, even-better The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture. Host Adam Kempenaar invited the two of us to join him for this episode’s Top Five segment, Superman/Batman Movie Moments. Adam and Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips reviewed Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in the show’s first segment. They didn’t like it any more than I did.

There’s always at least one thing in my notes that I forget to say when I’m on a podcast/radio show, and this time it was a big one: In my No. 1 Superman/Batman scene, the Lois Lane/Superman patio interview from Superman ’78, the big guy actually volunteers to the Daily Planet reporter that he can’t see through lead. Hey world! I know I seem invulnerable, but I do have a few exploitable weaknesses which I shall now reveal!
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Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 283: Hail, Caesar! and Backstage Stories

No Dames!

I’m very happy to be on the panel for this week’s Hail, Caesar!-inspired Pop Culture Happy Hour, my first with my Washington City Paper pal Bob Mondello. In it, Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon tells Bob he “beat [him] to the Hamlet punch,” which is a funny phrase, if you think about it.  Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 264: The Martian and How-To Stories

Matt Damon portrays an astronaut who faces seemingly insurmountable odds as he tries to find a way to subsist on a hostile planet.

…wherein I join PCHH host Linda Holmes and regular panelists Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon to talk about where the beloved hit movie fits into director Ridley Scott’s oeuvre and its fidelity to Andy Weir’s novel.

I suggested How-To Stories as a companion topic, since The Martian — in both its incarnations, albeit moreso in prose than onscreen — goes into unusual detail about the stuff its stranded-astronaut hero Mark Watney must do to survive on a planet that (so far we know) does not sustain life. We all struggled to come up with suitable examples of favorite stories in this genre, and to thread the needle between a How-To and a Procedural. I could’ve talked about several different Michael Mann films, but particularly Thief, Manhunter, Heat, or even The Insider. As is often the case, I didn’t think of that until later. Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 255: Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation (Too Many Colons)

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It was my honor to spend, for the second consecutive year, my birthday — well, the eve of my birthday — at NPR with Team PCHH. Here’re my notes and omissions on this thrilling episode.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour, Small Batch Ed. — Terminator: Genisys (sic)

Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Terminator: Genisys" (sic)I Skyped in from the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in beautiful New London, CT to dissect Terminator: Genisys (sic) — the underwhelming reboot of/fourth sequel to one of my favorite movies — with Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon. While I was taking in this movie in the “Luxury Seating” equipped Waterford 9 Cinemas, several of my fellow Critic Fellows, all ladies, were next door enjoying Magic Mike XXL. My proposal for a double feature was summarily rejected.

 

Pop Culture Happy Hour Small-Batch Edition: Mad Max: Fury Road

I was under the mojo-sapping influence of a stomach bug when I joined Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon in the studio for a Small Batch dissection of Mad Max: Fury Road, a film I love.

Readers of my Twitter feed know that matters of hydration are foremost in my mind during DC’s April-to-November summers, what with 2015 being my 24th consecutive year as a runner and all. So while I accepted most of Fury Road‘s fantastical elements without question, the matter of how everyone in the movie didn’t pass out from heat exhaustion after 30 seconds of combat was one I would be disposed to fixate upon even if I hadn’t spent the night prior to the taping on my couch, curled up in the fetal position around a bottle of Gatorade.

And yet it never comes up in our discussion.

How? Professionalism.

I hope I did an okay job of explaining that while Fury Road is essentially one long chase involving dozens of what look to be astonishingly gas-guzzling (but also astonishing, full-stop) vehicles, the film is a marvel of narrative efficiency.

Hear us prattle on here.

Click on any image to open the gallery. These are worth seeing full-res.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Pop-Culture Pariahs

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On this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, I join host Linda Holmes and regular panelists Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon to dissect Joss Whedon’s super-packed super-sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour #235: Nick Hornby’s Funny Girl and Movies Adapted From Books

Patti Smith, Nick Horby, & Elvis Costello.

Patti Smith, Nick Horby, & Elvis Costello.

I was glad as always to join Linda Holmes, Glen Weldon, and – for the first time, for me – Barrie Hardymon on this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. Here are my notes and ephemera from this exciting episode. Some of it is stuff I jotted down to say but forgot or didn’t get the chance, and some of it is stuff I wish in hindsight that I’d been smart or quick enough to say on the fly. I keep pounding so-called smart drinks hoping that I shall one day develop the ability to think at the speed of conversation, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Anyway! I wanted to read this brief passage from Nick Hornby’s new novel Funny Girl, our primary topic of discussion, because I think it encapsulates the spirit of the book succinctly. It’s the first meeting between the book’s heroine, Barbara (who adopts the stage name Sophie Straw), and her agent, Brian:

“I want to be a comedienne,” said Barbara. “I want to be Lucille Ball.”

The desire to act was the bane of Brian’s life. All these beautiful, shapely girls, and half of them didn’t want to appear in calendars, or turn up for openings. They wanted three lines in a BBC play about unwed mothers down coal mines. He didn’t understand the impulse, but he cultivated contacts with producers and casting agents, and sent the girls out for auditions anyway. They were much more malleable once they’d been repeatedly turned down.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour #230: Jupiter Ascending and Chemistry

JUPITER ASCENDING

I was happy as always to join my buddies Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and Glen Weldon on this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein we dissect Jupiter Ascending, the “original” sci-fi epic from auteur siblings Lana and Andy Wachowski from which audiences flocked away in droves last weekend. (I reviewed the film for The Dissolve.) We also try to figure out what people mean when they talk about “chemistry” among performers onscreen. Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour #215: Interstellar and Plausible Space Movies

Keir Dullea in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey."I was happy as always to be the fourth crewmember on this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein regular panelists Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and Glen Weldon discuss Christopher Nolan’s thrilling (to me, anyway) sci-fi opus Interstellar. We also talk about some of the other films that’ve angled for a plausible approach to sending our species beyond what the early rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky called “the cradle of humanity.”

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Pop Culture Happy Hour #203: On Guardians of the Galaxy and So-Bad-It’s-Good

GUARDIANS special ed poster

I was thrilled as always to fill the fourth chair on this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein we discuss the latest — and funniest, and unlikeliest — Marvel Studios blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy. Even I had no idea who any of these characters were when I sat down to watch this thing.

We also discussed the curious, evergreen phenomenon of Things So Bad They Are Good, a complex topic that did not in this case stray too far from the TV movie that inspired this latest iteration of it, Sharknado 2.  Continue reading

Quizzed on Pop Culture Happy Hour’s 200th episode, live!

Audie Cornish and Linda Holmes compete in the Wonder Woman quiz administered by Glen Weldon, June 24, 2014.

Audie Cornish and Linda Holmes compete in the Wonder Woman quiz administered by Glen Weldon, June 24, 2014.

This was my enviable view for most of Pop Culture Happy Hour’s special 200th episode live show at NPR headquarters last month. But I did have the honor of briefly ascending the stage to join All Things Considered film critic (and my Washington City Paper colleague) Bob Mondello in absolutely crushing NPR’s Tanya Ballard Brown and Petra Mayer in the blockbuster movie IMDB plot keyword quiz conceived by PCHH host Linda Holmes. That’s about halfway through the quiz segment of the show, posted today.

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Please Hammer Girl Don’t Hurt ‘Em: The Raid 2 and the Flat Circle of Cinema Violence

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The same weekend I saw both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Raid 2 — prompting this piece for NPR Monkey See — my pal Glen Weldon showed me the mostly-animated G.I. Joe episode of Community. The show got a lot of mileage out of the fact that nobody ever got killed in that war cartoon, wherein an elite American military unit fought a uniformed army of terrorists to a stalemate every 21 minutes using ray guns.  Continue reading

The Cavil Over Henry Cavill, and other thoughts on Man of Steel

Wayne Boring Superman

1. Happy to Be Here

I was delighted to sit in on this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, a Very Special Episode we — okay, I — have decided to call “The Cavil Over Henry Cavill.” The A-topic this week was the arrival of Man of Steel, the muscled-up, darkened-down reboot of Superman film franchise that is, we all agree, short on humor. Also short on height. Zing!

Any regular listener to the show will know that Glen Weldon, my pal-for-life and 25 percent of the show’s regular lineup (along with host Linda Holmes and Stephen Thompson and Trey Graham), just spent the better part of two years researching and writing the marvelous Superman: The Unauthorized Biography. I recently ran a freezing cold 12-mile death race wearing a Superman T-shirt, so our credentials are roughly equivalent.

But they didn’t exactly need a second longtime Supes fan. I snuck in by making fun of Henry Cavill’s average-ish height. He is, for the record, exactly as tall as I am if you believe IMDB, an authority on which actor heights seem to be self-reported.

“I think he makes you feel short,” Linda tells me during the show. Continue reading

“It’s not an S. On my world, it means hope.”

Muddy BuddiesThis photo is from August 15, 2004. My race-partner Steph — HI, STEPH! — and I are competing in the Muddy Buddy running/biking relay race in San Dimas, CA, home of Bill & Ted.

I dug it up because at this time tomorrow I’ll be — I hope — more than halfway through the Tough Mudder, a 10-12 mile military-style obstacle course designed to be a physical and mental trial for all comers, no matter how fit and/or nuts they are. The Muddy Buddy is not all that similar: It’s only half as long as the Tough Mudder, and you’re not made to swim in icy water (they refresh the ice frequently to prevent the water from reaching a comfortable temperature) or run through a lattice of 10,000-volt live wires. (I’m not exaggerating. You can read about the Tough Mudder obstacles here.) But of the races I’ve done, mostly 10ks and 10-milers and half-marathons, it’s the one that most resembles the Mudder.

I’m starting to get nervous.
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