Welcome to the Failed Critics Podcast as we review The Fate of the Furious, the eighth entry in the Fast & Furious series.
It’s an emotional rollercoaster this week. Tears have been shed about the noticeably absent (and some would even say crucial) member of the team, whose mere presence is what has made the previous entries so entertaining, so absorbing, and so full of heart and character. Alas, even without Owen around, Steve Norman, Callum Petch and James Diamond soldier on regardless.
After quite literally years of podcasting, and uncountable hours of work going into it – the Failed Critics Film Podcast has reached its 250th episode! We know it’s just three or four blokes who have gotten to know each other quite well over the past five years, talking about films, but we’re pretty proud of it and hope that you enjoy listening to our little show as much as we’ve enjoyed reaching this milestone. If you think we show any promise at all, please subscribe and spread the word.
The Failed Critics Podcast – Episode 250: The Human Cinematipede
Yes, for this very special edition, we’ve gone all retro. Hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes managed to convince both founding members James Diamond and Gerry McAuley to come out of retirement for old times’ sake.
Our rather serendipitous main release review this week is The Lego Batman Movie; a convenient call back to our review on the 100th episode. In fact, most things here are call-backs to past episodes, as you may notice from the featured image and bumf above, taken from the very first podcast published way back on the 25 April 2012.
However, some things never change. There’s still a quiz to kick us off (with added questions and catch-ups that I’m sure you’re all dying to hear about) and we end with the recommendations. One in particular which will no doubt crush you on this Valentine’s Day. What We’ve Been Watching has as eclectic a mix as ever: Owen watches Hearts of Darkness, the “best film about a film”; James explains why Brent: Life on the Road was such a disappointment; Steve is impressed by yet another Jack O’Connell performance in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken; and Gerry squanches all over Rick and Morty.
Thanks to everybody who has downloaded this podcast – or any of our podcasts. Your support, feedback and kind comments have been the motivation for us to keep doing this. Who knows what we’ll be doing in another 250 episodes, but we hope you’ll still be listening – and hope you still find us idiots entertaining to listen to.
He’s old, he’s cranky, and he’s got a legion of followers that adore everything he does.
At least one of those comments should give you a clue that I am of course referring to John Carpenter and not our special guest, James Diamond.
(When has James ever been known to be cranky?)
One of the few well documented benefits of not being awarded an Oscar is that it allows a person the privilege of being received in our illustrious Corridor of Praise. And James was only too willing to help Owen Hughes and Steve Norman to induct the celebrated genre auteur.
At least we assume it was James. It sounded like James. It looked like James(‘s Skype profile). He did spend the whole episode tied to his chair, just to be on the safe side, but was still able to run through Carpenter’s career like the pro that he is. We look at where it all began with Dark Star and Halloween, through his triumphant 80’s phase and the not-so-triumphant later movies.
Also on this episode, we discuss the Academy Award nominated Spotlight, with Owen proclaiming it as one of the greatest films he’s ever seen. Speaking of awards, there was room on the episode for a quick butchers at the Screen Actors Guild recipients and a short Carpenter themed quiz, with either Owen or Steve nudging ever closer to subjecting the other to yet more horrible movies.
Join us again next week as Chris Wallace and Brian Plank return to review the latest British sitcom to get a movie adaptation, Dad’s Army.
As Fifty Shades of Grey hit the big screen in February, we invited Matt Lambourne and (for the first time ever) Paul Field onto the podcast to review the not-so-erotic erotic-thriller. It was almost left up to Paul to review the movie on his own as both Steve and I welched and Matt did his best to ruin Valentine’s Day. The podcast also featured reviews of two other new releases, with Will Smith’s con-film Focus and the sci-fi indie movie Predestination.
Quickly becoming one of our favourite guests on the show within just three months, Andrew Brooker was invited back onto the podcast again to discuss Neill Blomkamp’s latest action thriller, Chappie. Also joining us that week was Jack Stewart – then of Not This Again fame, but now one part of the Wikishuffle trio. It’s fair to say that there were some mixed opinions about this new release!
If you’re actually a fan of the Failed Critics Podcast, then April 2015 was quite the month for you as we put out 15 individual episodes, including a five-hour long triple-triple bill podcast with Matt Lambourne, Andrew Brooker and Paul Field, to celebrate reaching a pretty incredible milestone of 150 episodes. It was also the episode where we debuted our new logo and theme tune, which was a remix of the old tune by professional musician James Yuill.
Andrew Brooker was back on the podcast as we reviewed the film that would go on to win first place in our Top 10 of 2015 list at the awards, Mad Max: Fury Road. From the way Brooker and Jackson Tyler reacted to it back then, it’s hardly surprising it had such a lasting impact. This was also the podcast that saw us change our opening quiz format for the first time to some degree of success, as I made up a few Albert Pyun film descriptions.
With the legendary Sir Christopher Lee passing away, it seemed somewhat fitting that we had our resident horror expert on the podcast that week in Mike Shawcross. We paid tribute to the iconic film star, as well as reviewing the biggest film of the year, Jurassic World.
In our first podcast of the second half of 2015, Callum Petch joined us to review one of the highest grossing movies of the year, Minions. We also had some-time guest writer Nick Lay join us for review of yet more low-budget indie movies. We also ranted once again about another Spider-Man reboot news.
After much persuading by Paul Field, the ‘slice’, he convinced us to dedicate and entire episode to the work of British actor Danny Dyer … and it turned out to be our most downloaded podcast of the entire year! A lot of work went into it, with Paul watching every Dyer film in existence. We even got professional stand-up comedian James Mullinger to appear on the show, as well as an interview with film producer Jonathan Sothcott, who co-authored the book The Films of Danny Dyer with Mullinger.
With Steve on a week’s break, Jack Stewart was back on the podcast – but this time in the host’s chair. Phil Sharman (also from Wikishuffle) appeared on this episode, fresh after the pair of them won Best Comedy Podcast at the UK Podcaster Awards. Andrew Brooker also helped join in the collective sigh of disappointment at Legend, starring Tom Hardy and Tom Hardy.
Inadvertently spawning a new catchphrase, my review of a Columbo TV movie (that Steve forced me to watch) led to ‘it’s Columbo’ causing a few chuckles amongst our guests. Both Tony Black (of Pick A Flick and The X-Cast fame) and Brian Plank helped us to review the latest James Bond film and somewhat underwhelming SPECTRE.
In a re-hash of an idea we tried out in 2014, we invited listeners to send questions in to us and our guests for the episode (and world cinema aficionados) Liam and Andrew Alcock. We also discussed the new Cristiano Ronaldo documentary that had just been released, as well as lesser known international movies Nocturna, Green Butchers and Train of Life (yeah, I hadn’t heard of them either!)
Every October, we have a Halloween special podcast. In April, we celebrate the “birthday” for Failed Critics. In December, of course we always have a Christmas special episode. It was the last of the year that both Steve and I were on (as he missed the end of year awards and I was booted off the Star Wars: The Force Awakens episode) so why not listen to both of us (plus Andrew Brooker and Brian Plank) spread some Christmas cheer!
Some others not mentioned above:
Field & Mullinger’s Underground Nights: Fred’s Pocket – Although I didn’t appear on this podcast, I am its Producer and Editor! Paul Field and James Mullinger started off their new podcast series with a look at their favourite Canadian films and interview WolfCop director Lowell Dean.
TV Specials: 2.5, (S3, Ep1) and (S3, Ep2) – In 2016 we’ll be hosting our first Netflix Original podcast, but earlier this year we hosted three TV specials, including episode 2.5 with Paul Field and Andrew Brooker, which reviewed Entourage: The Movie, and then again with episode 3 split into two parts. James Diamond (founder of Failed Critics) and Matt Latham (creator of The Bottle Episode) joined us in part 1 for a chat about the Emmy’s and in part 2 to talk more generally about our favourite TV shows.
The Blair Witch Project (Commentary) – Less of an actual film commentary and more like a watch-along (as I tried to explain on my blog), Steve, Matt, Brooker and I all watched cult 90’s found-footage phenomenon The Blair Witch Project and released our running dialogue as an episode people could either listen to whilst watching the film themselves, or just as a stand alone podcast. We’ll be trying it again at some point in the new year. If there’s any suggestions as to what we should watch next, leave a comment in the box below!
2016 is already shaping up to be another successful year for us. The first three months of podcasts have been scheduled and we’ve got two Corridor of Praise episodes lined up, our usual Oscars special, a world cinema triple bill, episode number 200 (!!) and of course all of the big releases including Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Hateful Eight, Creed and loads of others too.
When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground. But the game of the Failed Critics Podcast is a bit more accommodating and has more of a flexible work-life balance. Plus it has much less incest too.
This episode is part two of our third TV Special podcast, featuring Owen Hughes as host in place of Steve Norman. As in part one, Owen is joined by Matt Latham from The Bottle Episode and Failed Critics founder James Diamond.
With the Emmy’s chat firmly done and dusted, the team move onto answering some tough, insightful and deeply ponderous questions such as “what TV show did you used to hate but now really like”, and “what is the best new TV show of the year”. You know, the sort of questions you just don’t hear anybody else deal with.
We’ll be back to our regular output next week with Steve returning to hosting duties as we review Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.
The Failed Critics TV Special revolution will not be televised, brother. Although, it will still be a conveniently downloadable audio podcast. No change there, then.
However, what is different, for our third TV Special episode, there’s no Steve Norman. Instead, Owen Hughes leapt into Steve’s upholstered velvet host’s chair whilst it was still warm, swivelled himself around, and read questions from the teleprompter to our special guests for this episode. Owen was joined by both Matt Latham from the TV blog and podcast, The Bottle Episode, and returning to us like the prodigal son, former head-honcho at FC HQ, James Diamond, now co-running the Diamond and Human podcast.
With so much content to get through, you may consider saving this episode and box-set binging later in the week with the release of Part Two. Going massively over-time and blowing the entire Failed Critics Entertainment Budget on one two-part special, we just had so much to talk about that we’ve had to split our TV Special in half. In part one, we have our Primetime Emmy Award themed quiz, inspired by the recent announcement of the nominations for the 67th annual awards and our reactions to them. And to give you a taste of what’s to come in part two, the trio also respond to the first question asked of them, “what is the best ongoing show of 2015?” Spoiler: it wasn’t Masked Spooner.
Join us again later in the week for less Emmy’s chat and more Q&A’s, and the team each pitch an idea for a TV show that they’d like to see brought back from the dead.
Hello everyone. I usually write these in the third person, like a pretentious wrestler or someone with a personality disorder, but I’m dropping the charade this one time to say thank you for listening to this podcast, and any others that you’ve happened upon over the last two-and-a-bit years.
I’m moving on for the time being to focus on other projects, but Failed Critics will always be very special to me, and I hope to come back in some shape or form at some point in the future. In the meantime though, I’m leaving it in the more than capable hands of Steve, Owen, and Carole, and it’s typical that I choose to leave just when we’ve finally got the sound quality sorted!
I honestly think this is one of our best podcasts to date. Not only do I try and steal all the limelight and attention with the most drawn out exit in history, but we even manage to fit in reviews on The Expendables 3 and Condorman, the highest stakes the quiz has ever seen, and a Triple Bill updating our first ever episode choices of ‘Desert Island Digital Versatile Discs’.
Just over two-and-a-half years ago I started yet another blog that, like the previous ones, would inevitably hold my interest for a month or so until I got distracted by some new shiny things. I started it with the lofty ambition of watching all of the IMDB Top 250 films, and generally trying to fill the gaps in my cinematic tastes and knowledge.
On one hand it was a categorical failure, as I’m still well over 70 films away from completing the set. However, if the underlying aim was to get me watching and writing more about film, and to put me in touch with an online community of some of the loveliest film fans in existence, then colour me a winner (as well as a sentimental old fool). Besides, any top 250 film list that doesn’t contain a single Powell/Pressburger picture isn’t worth the pixels it’s displaying on.
And that’s why I’m really quite sad about moving on. While Failed Critics has been online I’ve doubled the number of kids at home, moved house to accommodate said kids, and found myself in the rare and privileged position of developing a career that I not only enjoy, but am actually quite good at. Something eventually had to give, and although I’m going to miss this place I know I’m leaving it in the very capable hands of our podcast’s own Owen Hughes, Steve Norman, and Carole Petts; as well as a loose collection of brilliant writers – all of whom have been brilliant to read and elevated the site far beyond what I ever hoped to achieve on my own.
I’ve had some fantastic experiences while running the site, attending the Prometheus premiere (and becoming life-long mates with Jason Flemyng and Benny Wong); watching a weekend of David Bowie films at the ICA; and a couple of great years at the Glasgow Film Festival where I got to feel like a ‘proper’ critic for two weeks. I’d like to thank everyone I’ve ever spoken to about film on Twitter, and everyone who has ever read an article on the site or downloaded the podcast. Every single one of those page views or downloads has made this mid-thirties man inordinately happy.
I’ll still be watching films, talking about them on Twitter, and keeping my Letterboxd ratings up-to-date. And maybe in time I’ll even get around to popping back on the podcast, or helping run the annual awards. For now though, please continue to visit the site and support the brilliant work Owen has already been doing while I’ve been otherwise engaged. I can’t wait to see what he does with the place.
Until then, let me leave you with my ten (sort of) favourite films that I saw for the first time while running the site. I think they sum up the era pretty well.
The Raid/The Raid 2
One of the earliest films we reviewed for the podcast back in 2012, and the opening still fills me with nostalgic glee. I only need to see that blue Sony Pictures Classics title card to be transported back to the John Woo/Chow Yun Fat Hong Kong action films of the late 80s/early 90s, but The Raid follows up on this promise and was the most fun I had in a cinema that year. The sequel (out on DVD next week) is a completely different, but just as impressive beast. Not many films had such a unanimous affect on the podcast team.
The Lego Movie
Currently sat at the top of my 2014 ‘Best of’ list, and it’s going to take something pretty special to budge it. I can’t imagine that I would have made a beeline to see it on the preview weekend if I hadn’t been running a film site, let alone paying to see it again the following week. But Christopher Miller and Phil Lord’s anarchic, brave, and playful animation is so funny that I don’t care how much of an advert it is.
The Before films
In an early podcast, I remember Gerry McAuley almost blowing a gasket over how much he hated Before Sunrise, the Richard Linklater film starring a young and gloriously pretentious Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. At roughly the same time we had an argument over (500) Days of Summer, which he enjoyed and I felt was trite, overwhelmingly kooky, and horribly shallow. I then went and watched Before Sunrise, and very quickly followed it up with Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. Much like Mia Wallace suggests everyone is either a Beatles or a Stones fan in Pulp Fiction, I have a theory that you’re either a (500) Days of Summer or a Before… fan. Pick a side.
In the weeks running up to our Stanley Kubrick podcast special I was l living and breathing Kubrick. Already my favourite director, I relished the chance to revisit some of my favourites (A Clockwork Orange, Dr Strangelove, 2001) as well as delve into a few that I had missed (Paths of Glory, The Killing, Lolita). It was this recommendation from Owen though that completely blew me away that week. Barry Lyndon’s episodic nature and purposely static action may not be to everyone’s taste, but I was utterly bewitched by this gorgeous and entertaining masterpiece.
My Neighbour Totoro/Grave of the Fireflies
Before I started Failed Critics I had never seen a Studio Ghibli film. Let that sink in. Then in our second podcast we had a Triple Bill of Films with Child Protagonists, and Gerry chose (I think) both My Neighbour Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies, released as a double bill in 1988. During their recent theatrical rerelease I took my daughter to see My Neighbour Totoro as the first film that she really watched at the cinema (great hipster credentials for the future!), but chose to watch Grave of the Fireflies on my own. Which was lucky as I basically sobbed non-stop through most of it. Simply the finest anti-war film I’ve seen, and up there with Life is Beautiful in terms of raw emotional reactions I’ve had to films.
Another brutal punch-to-the-stomach of a film. I saw this as part of Bowiefest and, while the Thin White Duke makes an appearance in concert and his music forms the soundtrack, the star is Natja Brunckhorst, who plays the titular character. Based on the real life memoirs of a 14-year-old drug addict and sexually exploited child, it is an incredibly stark and realistic portrayal of 1980s Berlin. As hard-hitting as it gets.
This was our first ever ‘Best Film of the Year’ winner, and is still the touchstone for the podcast team in terms of how to do a comic book film. If we have a catchphrase on the podcast, it’s probably “this is one of the best comic book/action films since Avengers”, and it’s easy to see why it gets so much love. A brilliantly warm and funny script from director Joss Whedon, pitch-perfect performances from all (particularly Robert Downey Jnr and Tom Hiddlestone), and the sense that Marvel are risking everything and succeeding on such an ambitious project. I’ll never tire of watching this film.
This French comedy really shouldn’t work. ‘Immigrant and petty thief somehow ends up with a job looking after a millionaire paraplegic, and hilarity ensues’ sounds like an Adam Sandler movie pitch that Awesome-O would come up with in the seminal South Park episode. But this film above all others is the only one still undefeated in terms of my recommending it to people and their enjoying it. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love it?
Rust and Bone
I’m a big fan of naturalistic French sex/relationship dramas, so when this film combined that genre with an incredible performance from Marion Cottilard and a brilliant soundtrack it seemed destined to be my favourite film of 2012. A story of violence, redemption, and killer whales dancing to Katy Perry’s Firework, and if that doesn’t make you want to watch it then I give up. Oh wait, I already am.
The Act of Killing
In my view not only the best film of last year, but simply one of the most important films ever made. This Indonesian documentary looked into a brutal and horrifying era of that country’s history, but rather than presenting the facts of the genocide that occurred in the 1960s the film gives the perpetrators of mass murder the opportunity to discuss and recreate their crimes in their favourite cinematic styles. What could have been a horribly crass piece of filmmaking ends up making the viewer look directly into the abyss of the darkest aspects of human behaviour. Essential viewing.
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