Tag Archives: matt lambourne

Netflix’s Castlevania – finally meeting the gamer’s test

All things Retro video-gaming are en vogue right now. SEGA are putting out games for free via mobile apps, Nintendo is selling as many mini versions of old consoles as they are their latest console, the Switch. Now Netflix revives a lost franchise from the dead, pulling it from the death-grip of gaming’s sleeping giant, Konami. Castlevania is back, and this time it’s a TV show, but does it do enough to seduce Gamers and casual viewers alike? Matt Lambourne, one of Failed Critics’s resident gamers, delves into the darkness to tell you more.

(Note: there will be spoilers!)

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Character Unlock: The Classic Mini Super Turbo Episode

Welcome to this week’s episode of Character Unlock, where hosts John Miller and Andrew Brooker decide to mark the occasion of the recently announced Super Nintendo Classic by dragging back on their guest from February’s Resident Evil episode, fellow Failed Critic Matt Lambourne rejoins the duo.

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Character Unlock: Residential Evil

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And so, as the first month of 2017 comes to a close, the first big video game of the year to make waves has finally arrived. But unlike Resident Evil VII’s intrepid hero, Character Unlock is bringing back-up.

Poached him from his regular seats on both Failed Critics and the Retro Gaming Discussion Show, hosts John Miller and Andrew Brooker enlist the help of Matt Lambourne in their exploration of the Baker Family House.

The gaming trio also wade through the swampy undergrowth of the last week’s gaming news. There’s plenty to talk about: Between theorising the possible ups and downs of a Marvel/Square Enix collaboration, there’s a brief chat on the soon-to-be-released Prey remake, and a trip down memory lane reminiscing on old Namco games in honour of the company’s recently departed founder. Brooker finds himself in Hell as John talks more on his Mass Effect series playthrough and Matt discusses the pitfalls of being a FIFA Ultimate Team player to the detriment of all other games.

In this week’s main feature the team discuss their history with the world renowned Resident Evil series. From its humble beginnings, through its bloated action phase, and finally on to the newest first-person frightener: is it a return to form for the series? Has Resident Evil lost its way entirely? Is it possible to finish the game without staining your trousers? We answer all the burning questions (and a few more) in episode 11 of Character Unlock.

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Failed Critics Podcast: T2: Trainspotting

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Welcome to this week’s podcast as we hold the metaphorical tourniquet and inject you with our audio-skag. No c**t listens to this till we find out what c**t made it.

(That would be Steve Norman, Owen Hughes, Paul Field and Matt Lambourne.)

This week’s main review is T2: Trainspotting; Danny Boyle’s eagerly awaited (loose) adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s sequel to his classic 1996 movie, starring Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle.

Before all of that is this week’s quiz, which follows Owen’s verbal tirade about last week’s booby-prize, the nonsensical British comedy Essex Spacebin, destined to be this year’s Mob Handed. There’s also a chat about the SAG awards as well reviews of Sadako vs Kayako (aka The Ring vs The Grudge), Oscar contender Hidden Figures, Paul’s film of the year, A Man Called Ove, and the resurgent Shin Godzilla.

Join us again next week for what will hopefully be two brand new episodes.

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New to Failed Critics? Try our ‘Best of 2016’ compilation episode!

It’s just gone midnight on Christmas Eve, which means those of you who have managed stay up past your bedtime and wait for Father Christmas can officially open one of your presents early! I’ve got the perfect one for you, right here…

This brand new episode is a three and a half hour long ‘best of’ the Failed Critics Podcast from the past 12 months, all cobbled together into some kind of Christmas TV type compilation episode. There’s all of our favourite bits, including Paul’s famous quizzes, reviews of Mob Handed and Killer Bitch, every single booby-prize that Owen and Steve put each other through, all of our pre-titles and post-credit stingers, and loads more.

It’s not gift wrapped. It’s not store-bought. There’s no receipt so you can’t go and exchange it for any other podcast during the Boxing Day sales. But hopefully it’ll keep you company should you be enduring any agonisingly long car journeys over this festive period.

Merry Christmas all and a happy new year from everyone here at Failed Critics!

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Failed Critics Quizcast: Walk Right In

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You may have noticed that no podcast was published last week. Well, consider this week’s special Quizcast episode our apology. An episode was recorded, but there was no time to edit it between then and this week’s episode – hence why it’s just gone 4.09am and here I am trying to publish in time for people’s commutes on Tuesday!

In our second quizcast of the year, we’re rejoined by the FUTstock podcast’s (previously FUThead) Matt Aguilera and Matt Lambourne after April’s triumph. Making their debuts on the quizcast special are Ben Challoner and Daryl Bar from Sudden Double Deep, the triple bill title podcast.

In a strange turn of events, we actually let Paul Field onto an episode that’s entirely a quiz, despite his wretched run…. But not to worry, we’ve made him host so that Owen Hughes and Steve Norman can compete together as a team – we presume Steve was not aware of Owen’s dismal losing streak in our previous attempts to win this thing.

We’ll be back as normal next week.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Trilogy Trashing Triple Bill

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The Earth still spins, the sun still shines and Hollywood still makes trilogies that nobody in their right mind wants, with Ron Howard’s third Dan Brown adaptation, Inferno, hitting cinemas last weekend.

Rather than expend any amount of energy reviewing the Tom Hanks led mystery thriller, the Failed Critics instead run through a triple bill of film franchises that should have ended before getting to the trilogy stage. Boy, were there plenty to choose from!

With regular host Steve Norman off celebrating his birthday, we drafted in Matt Lambourne to swivel on the comfy high-backed armchair and guide Owen Hughes, Brian Plank and Tony Black through another podcast. There’s no quiz this week, but a discussion about the new Star Wars: Rogue One trailer arose, as did a short summary of this year’s London Film Festival.

In What We’ve Been Watching, the team cover Netflix series Luke Cage and half of their newest feature-length comedy, Mascots. There’s even time for a chat about HBO’s latest smash hit, Westworld, up to episode three (spoiler free!)

Join us again next week as we’re back with a Halloween triple bill, resurrecting the dead… Spooky!

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Failed Critics Podcast: Beavis & Butt-Head Do America (Commentary)

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Uh-huh-huh-huh-uh. Uh-huh-huh-huh-uh. Cool. It’s the second ever Failed Critics commentary!

Think of this podcast as less like an insightful DVD commentary for 90’s comedy Beavis & Butt-Head Do America, and more like a watch-along-with as the team talk over Mike Judge’s cult classic.

Speaking of the team, Steve Norman sits this one out so it’s up to Owen Hughes to host on his lonesome. Thankfully Matt Lambourne returns from last year’s Blair Witch Project commentary podcast, who is also joined by Mike Judge mega-fan Paul Field.

Just like last time, the film was streamed via Netflix UK, so if you want to watch Beavis & Butt-Head Do America underneath our commentary (which is the advisable way to listen to this podcast!), then we’ll tell you exactly when to hit the play button.

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Keanu – A spoilerific review of a film you probably will never see

So I’m a few days into a Las Vegas holiday, I’m already sunburnt and I need something inexpensive to do before I eventually splurge on the Strip in a few days time.

I was advised by my friend Jeanne, who is a Vegas local, that there is a newly-opened, small, but awesome, cinema at a nearby mall. Myself & Mrs L set off with fairly low expectations to see Keanu, a film about a cute kitten who wears a bandana and a gold chain and is in the middle of an ownership dispute between a couple of regular guys and several gangs.

An odd premise, I’ll forgive you for thinking. However, there is a lot to like about this movie. The film is based around Jordan Peele, who plays Rell/Tectonic (we’ll get to the second names later) who has just been dumped by his girlfriend and is going through the clichéd “my life is over” blues, very similar to the start of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Attempting to console Rell is Clarence (aka Shark Tank), played by Keegan-Michael Key, who is en route to Rell for a bit of brotherly love, when Rell hears a strange scratching sound at his door.

He opens the door to find a little kitten, whom unbeknownst to Rell, has just escaped a gangland hit by the Allentown Boys at a local drugs den. Rell instantly snaps out of his depression as he takes on the Kitten as his own and names him Keanu, although there is little offered to explain why he went for that name… It just works however.

Skip forward a couple of weeks, Keanu is fully integrated into Rell’s home and as Clarence’s wife is going away for the weekend with a male neighbour (Errr, wtf?) the boys decide to hit the latest Liam Neeson movie. In the drive home they both get into a debate about which of them is the most lame, or more specifically, the most white in their behavior. Rell is the stereotypical stoner type, however more from a white person’s perspective, he is unemployed, bums around his apartment all day which is adorned in movie posters of his favorite gangsta movies such as New Jack City.

Clarence is blue-collar and as polite as you can imagine and has an unusual penchant for George Michael & Wham, not too dissimilar to Deadpool, however it plays a slightly more significant role in the overall arc of this movie. So they debate who is the most lame and to be fair they are both pretty dull and uninteresting at this stage but as they arrive back at Rell’s place they discover it has been ransacked and Keanu is missing. They approach Rell’s weed dealer, who conveniently lives next door and are able to deduce that the heavies meant to target the dealer and not Rell.

This sends Rell into a rage and he drags Clarence to the strip club where the 17th Street Blips are known to be based (Blips based on a gang bigger the bloods and the crips), however they have no plan whatsoever on how to deal with these guys when they arrive. They are instantly earmarked by Hi-Cee, a female gang member, on arrival due to their clean dress and lack of street cred. This forces the guys to improvise on the spot, and suddenly the movie comes to life as Clarence retorts in hilariously over the top gangsta lingo to try and earn her trust. They demand to see the boss of the gang ,Cheddar (played by Method Man), whom we learn has adopted Keanu as his own, dressed him in the Bandana and Gold Chain as depicted in the movie posters and called him New Jack.

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Cheddar smells that the guys are not what they try to portray, which are heavy-handed gangbangers looking for work, but the guys step it up even further on the mimicking of gang culture, particularly pushed by Rell who is the more angry, cold blooded of the 2 and Cheddar eventually presumes they are the notorious Allentown Boys (or Allentown Niggas as he prefers), the 2 super Assassins from the opening scene of the movie (who are actually also played by Peele & Key).

The guys keep up the act and reveal their gang names as Tectonic & Shark Tank, and ask for Keanu as a mark of respect if they complete a drug sale for Cheddar. The boys take Cheddar’s fledgling gang members (including Hi-Cee) on the job where they demonstrate their faux-deadly skills to hilarious effect, including some Matrix-sequel wall running which is so sloppy that it really took the roof off the cinema with laughs!

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Rell takes Hi-Cee to deliver their merchandise whilst the rest of the crew stay in the Van (Clarence’s all family vehicle) and listen to George Michael. Clarence hilariously spins the lyrical content of songs like Father-Figure and the break up of Wham/Andrew Ridgley’s fading career being a metaphor for George Michael taking him out, and was never seen again. This hilariously results in one of the gang members getting a George Michael tattoo, not even realizing that he isn’t black.

The drug deal is a strange part of the movie, as Rell delivers to Anna Faris (Scary Movie) who is playing herself and the deal eventually goes awry and Hi-Cee pops them all off as they escape with the movie, whilst Rell has to pretend he is unfazed by the carnage. They eventually get back to the strip club and have a celebratory party, the gang fully convinced at this stage that Tectonic & Shark Tank are legit. The boys approach Cheddar, asking for Keanu however he wants more work from them in return.

This sends the boys plan spiraling out of control and they eventually kidnap Keanu and run, but bump into the real Allentown Boys who also want Keanu for themselves. Whilst tied up and about to be dismembered by the Allentown boys, Keanu bites through Rell’s ropes (as he’s been traiedn to scratch pictures of Rell’s ex) and Rell is able to one-up the heavies as they pick through various implements to torture the guys. This ends up with the boys crossing the line of being faux-gangstas as they actually shoot the Allentown Boys in self-defense, but no sooner do they escape, they run in Cheddar’s gang who now know the truth about Tectonic & Shark Tank.

The gang deliver them to Bacon (Luiz Guzman), a Mexican super drug boss whose brother is killed by the Allentown Boys in the opening scene of the movie, and is the real owner of Keanu (actually called Iglesias). Cheddar passes the boys off as the real Allentown Boys whom Bacon has a massive contract out on. Just as it seems all is lost for our protagonists, Cheddar refuses to hand over Keanu/New Jack/Iglesias and a mass shoot out erupts with most of the gang members on both sides dying.

Eventually the film closes out with a car chase between Cheddar, Bacon & Rell who, are all after Keanu. They crash eventually and show down, just as Cheddar appears to have the upper hand as his remaining crew arrive, Hi-Cee reveals herself as an undercover cop and arrests everyone, including Rell & Clarence. However at this point Rell & Hi-Cee have become suitably close enough to warrant a romantic interest and she promises to testify favorably on his behalf, but ultimately they go down for the murder of the Allentown Boys, with Hi-Cee adopting Keanu until Rell gets out.

In summary: This is such an odd movie, because despite it being written and starring two black actors in Peele & Key, the humour is definitely aimed at a white audience, or at a push, a non-urban black audience for lack of a better word.

That in most instances would be a damning critique, but it’s not. It’s actually genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, and whilst the first 15mins I found the protagonists dull, once they start faking it, they’re very entertaining in a hugely Alan Partridge-esque cringeworthy fashion.

Keanu himself doesn’t really feature a whole bunch, but he is the central plot figure that connects the various factions and is really adorable in a combination of real animal acting and a bit of silly CGI. The various factions allure to Keanu is somewhat inexplicable, other than Rell perhaps but you do find yourself falling in love with the little guy whenever he shows up on screen.

It’s a shame this won’t be coming to the UK but I think it’s one that is incredibly hard to market to an audience that has no familiarity to Peele & Key, who are seemingly being pushed as the new Wayans Brothers, in the United States. Hopefully it might make it to streaming sites as a home-only release and it will definitely provide lots of laughs if you enjoy a truly silly comedy with a dash of cuteness for good measure.

Failed Critics Quizcast: Return of the Matt

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Hey listeners, the episode title is a nice little 90’s earworm for you as we party like it’s 1999. It’s our birthday! We’re going to party like it’s our birthday – because, as I mentioned, it is actually our birthday. Today, in fact! The Failed Critics Podcast has hit yet another milestone and reached our fourth birthday. Hip hip…

Usually, it’d be up to the guests (i.e. you) to get the birthday-boys (i.e. us) presents, but it’s cool. We know it’s been a tough year for you and, you know, who really cares about presents at our age, right? I mean, we’re not mad. Sure, a little disappointed but that’s society’s fault. No, really, don’t feel bad. Forget I even mentioned it. Here, we’ve got you something instead.

The first ever (and given the amount of time and effort, the only ever) issue of the Failed Critics Magazine – in a handy to download and read pdf format: FailedCriticsMagIssue001.

There’s articles on Brooker’s favourite films of the year so far; Steve has finally put finger to keyboard on his oft heralded Die Hard concept; and Owen has written a fairly lengthy history on how Failed Critics came to be. It’s only 10 pages long and hopefully will find somebody out there interested in reading it.

We also celebrate on the podcast with a brand new Quizcast! Steve Norman retains his comfortable seat as quizmaster, meaning Carole Petts joins team Failed Critics alongside Owen Hughes. Both Tony Black and Matt Latham return to represent reigning champions Black Hole Media. In a shock twist, Matt Lambourne has switched sides; once a representative of Failed Critics, he now joins his partner in crime, Matt Aguilera, of the Futhead Podcast.

We’ll return to our regular podcast next week, but until then, happy birthday everyone! Thanks for either downloading the podcast or visiting the website over the past four years. We love you all ok bye.

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Failed Critics Podcast: The Hateful Bolshoi Bowie Overdogs

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With the tragic passing of one of British music’s most iconic people earlier this week, our latest episode features a touching tribute to the pioneer that was the Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust, Jareth the Goblin King or just simply ‘David Bowie’. Failed Critics founder and Bowie super-fan, James Diamond, returns for a short emotional farewell to one of the most inspirational figures of this and last century.

We even dug up a clip from an episode we recorded back in 2012 when James went to the inaugural Bowiefest in London and have edited into the post-credits of this week’s podcast.

Elsewhere, Steve Norman hosts with Owen Hughes, Andrew Brooker and Matt Lambourne back for reviews of Quentin Tarantino’s new movie, The Hateful Eight, starring Kurt Russell, Samuel L Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and more. Loads more. More than eight others.

Owen also reviews the fly-on-the-wall documentary Bolshoi Babylon, from the producer of Man On Wire and Searching for Sugarman, about the historic ballet theatre company in Moscow and all of its recent scandals. Meanwhile, Brooker indulges himself with the surfer-cop-classic Point Break in preparation for the imminent remake’s release.

We even took a few minutes to scratch our heads over the Golden Globe categories, never-mind the winners that were announced this past weekend.

Join us again next week for reviews of Creed, Room and The Revenant.

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Failed Critics Podcast in 2015 Recap

As 2015 draws to a close, let’s take a look back over some of the best podcasts we’ve produced over the past 12 months.


JANUARY – The Pod In The Machine

ex machinaIn tandem with the release of Ex Machina, Matt Lambourne joined Steve and I for a special ‘Artificial Intelligence’ themed episode. On top of reviewing Alex Garland’s movie (which would go on to be voted the best British film of 2015 in our Failed Critics Awards this past month) we each chose our favourite movies featuring A.I. in honour of both this and the upcoming releases of Big Hero 6 and Chappie.


 

FEBRUARY – Your Unconventional Desire

50 shadesAs 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.


 

MARCH – Don’t Laugh, We’re Being Cool

?????????????????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!


 

APRIL – Episode 150 and as shambolic as ever

New LogoIf 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.


 

MAY – Mad Critics Fury Podcast

mad max 4Andrew 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.


 

JUNE – Jurassic World & Christopher Lee

Jurassic-World-1With 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.


 

JULY – Small, Bald, Jaundiced Critics

illuminationIn 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.


 

AUGUST – Corridor of Praise: Danny Dyer

dyerAfter 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.


 

SEPTEMBER – Legend, The Visit and Award Winning Comedy

legendWith 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.


 

OCTOBER – In SPECTRE, It’s Columbo

spectre1208141280jpg-398894_1280wInadvertently 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.


 

NOVEMBER – Ronaldo, World Cinema and Listener Questions

NocturnaIn 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!)


 

DECEMBER – Winterval Special 2015

gremlinsEvery 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.

Avengers Minisodes and Age of Ultron – Gerry McAuley, Brian Plank, Leighton, Callum Petch, Tony Black, Carole Petts, Andrew Brooker, Matt Lambourne and Mike Shawcross each joined us for ten individual 15-20minute long “minisodes”, re-evaluating the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe up to and then including Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The Failed Black Wikishuffle Hole Quizcast and The Failed Black Hole Word of Friction Wikishuffle Critics – After we hosted the first ever quiz-only edition of the Failed Critics Podcast – dubbed a ‘Quizcast’ – featuring both Black Hole Cinema and Wikishuffle, back in April, it fell to Tony Black to host the second rendition which also added Word of Nerd and Fan Friction to the mix.

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.

Thanks to everyone who has downloaded or listened to any of our podcasts over the past 12 months. We’re ending the year on a high, having once again made it onto the iTunes Film Fanatics list on their podcasts page, sandwiched between Mark Kermode and the Barbican. You could help make it an even better end to the year by visiting our iTunes page and leaving us a review and/or a rating: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/failed-critics-film-podcast/id522507819?mt=2

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed listening to these podcasts almost as much as I’ve enjoyed making them and you will continue to listen to us throughout the next 12 months too.

Happy New Year all and see you in 2016!

The Best of 2015

You may remember that a few of us here at Failed Critics got together back in July to tell you which five films were topping our list at the midway point through the year. Mad Max: Fury Road appeared to be doing well in the first half of 2015, whereas United Passions had sufficiently pissed off more than one of us to be the most (least?) popular “worst” film of the year.

It occurred to me the other day: How can I keep insisting that you vote in the Failed Critics Awards this year without letting you know how we will be voting?

Therefore, to follow up on July’s article, I caught up with everyone to find out if their top five films have changed at all since then. The short answer is that for most who contributed, not much is different.

Paul's previous top 5 films of 2015
Paul’s top 5 films of 2015 hasn’t changed since July

In fact, Paul Field, not usually one to mince his words, said 2015 had been an “absolute shit house year so far”. Well, quite!

He added: “The Hateful Eight not landing til January, Kill Your Friends disappeared whilst I was on holiday. Fucking shambles.”

There was only one film to break into Paul’s list – and that was a test screening for an incomplete movie (The Comedians Guide to Survival) that isn’t even due out until next year.

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Matt’s top 5 films of the year from back in July

Matt Lambourne concurred with Paul’s comments about 2015 being a “baron year since Mad Max“. Although he did make a few amendments to his previous list (right) when submitting his votes in the end of year awards.

That’s with the proviso, of course, that he can make amendments should Star Wars turn out to be any good.

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Steve stands by his choices – until Star Wars comes out at least

Even podcast host Steve Norman was pretty much in agreement. “Ask me again on Thursday,” he said in reply to my question. Once Star Wars Episode VII finally comes out, it could make a huge different to everyone’s lists.

But Matt seemed confident that our most prolific writer, Andrew Brooker, could “come up with the goods”. Indeed, he is the first to make significant changes to his previous top 5, whilst acknowledging that picking a film from the back half of the year was a tough prospect.

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Brooker’s previous top 5 films

“I’ve seen a lot of old guff the last few months and rarely have I seen anything worth cheering about,” he said, before revealing that Kill Your Friends was a film that ticked all of his boxes.

Describing it as dark, politically incorrect and beautifully acted movie, he emphasised that “it’s really funny and, it’s worth mentioning again, it’s so very dark”. Brooker doesn’t leave us in much doubt about it being one of his films of the year. Take a look at his review below to see why:

The tale of Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult), quite literally murdering his way through the mid-90’s British music industry, whose celluloid inspirations of films like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels oozes from the screen and makes for an amazing hour and a half.  Ok, so it maybe works a little too hard to be offensive, but its source material does the same and it’s that very point that makes it my top film of the last six months. In a day and age where we work so hard to not offend every beautiful and unique snowflake in the world, the brash and brazen way that Kill Your Friends just screams “Fuck you!” at all those people makes it a wonderfully crafted thing of beauty. 

And man, what an amazing soundtrack.

Brooker isn’t the only one of our contributors to make changes to his summer choices. Our resident self-described “hopeless, old-fashioned romantic at heart”, Callum Petch, also finally found the true romance that has been sorely lacking from the cinema for him for a while.

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Callum’s original top 5 choices

He said: “For some utterly bizarre reason, the idea of falling in love with a literal Nazi doesn’t set my heart all aflutter.

“Much like the part in a romantic comedy where the idealistic female lead is about to give up on ever finding real love, in walked Carol to prove that romance isn’t dead after all.”

Having described Carol as the “perfect movie” recently on our podcast, the least we could do was to get Callum to update us in writing on why it’s made such an impact on him:

A film that actually takes the time to build its romance, that imbues the clichés and hallmarks of the romantic drama with genuine life, passion and sincerity, that places great emphasis on physical contact so that every touch carries genuine weight, where the sexual tension is not just palpable but is practically a main character in its own right, impeccably acted by its two leads (Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett), and capable of knifing the viewer in the heart without ever becoming miserable (its ending is one of the most beautiful that I have experienced in a long time). Carol is absolutely the best film of 2015, too perfect to do proper justice to in just 238 words, and I had to take 20 minutes to compose myself in the toilets afterwards to ensure I wouldn’t burst into tears again.

I guess the only person left to share their opinion is.. well.. me.

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Owen’s final vote may look entirely different to his July picks

Whilst I’m fairly certain that when it comes to sending in my own votes for the FC Awards, I’ll omit documentaries and put them into the separate category, I’m still not budging from my top choice. In the upcoming Christmas Special podcast that you can catch next week, I defend choosing Birdman even further. Until then, I’ll have to point out one glaring omission in my original list.

Of those who have already taken the time to tell us what their top 10 films of 2015 are, there are two films consistently placing highly. Predictably, Mad Max is up there, just like it is in our own lists – as is the stunning US drama, Whiplash, which really should have been on my list the first time around.

Whiplash was originally released in the US in 2014, yet didn’t make it to these shores until January. Therefore I feel fully justified in rectifying my list as it is easily one of the best movies of the year. Here’s why:

Back in February, ahead of the Oscars, I put together a short 7 minute preview of Whiplash for Tony Black’s former podcast, Black Hole Cinema [pre-edited audio]. In it, I doubted director Damien Chazelle’s chances of winning too many awards this year, but that it would be a travesty if JK Simmons didn’t pick up a deserving Best Supporting Actor gong. His intense, terrifying and fierce performance as the violently obsessive music maestro, Terence Fletcher, is scarily good. All of his obscene tirades (of which there are plenty) at the ambitious young jazz drummer Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) – and student of the fictional academy, the Shaffer Conservatory – left me quaking in my boots! I don’t think I’ve been quite as close to the edge of my seat as I was during the scenes climactic few moments in any other movie all year. It’s strangely ironic that a film all about performance exceeding art, often ends up being praised a lot for its actors’ performance, but until you see it for yourself, it’s difficult to convey just how impressive they really are.

With our updated selection, picking out the films that we will be voting for before the deadline on Sunday 27th December, hopefully it will give you some inspiration before deciding on your final top 10.

When you’re happy with your choices, just click here to go straight to the submission page and vote in the Failed Critics Awards 2015.

Failed Critics Podcast: The Blair Witch Project (Commentary)

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Never let it be said that the Failed Critics are afraid to try anything new. I mean, it’s only taken us 192 episodes to finally getting around to doing a film commentary.

Andrew Brooker and Matt Lambourne joined hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes for this special episode as together they watch and share their thoughts, opinions, anecdotes and stories about 1999’s pioneering indie found footage horror, The Blair Witch Project, co-written and co-directed by Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick.

As the four failed critics gathered for their unholy ceremony, only Owen knew which film they were going to be watching that night. If you listen closely when it’s revealed, you can hear the lamentations of Brooker who hates the film, the rustle of a jumper as Steve’s shrugging shoulders indicate he has no opinion either way, and then Matt jumps for joy as he prepares to shit himself at one of the scariest films ever made.

The film was streamed via Netflix UK, so if you want to watch the film underneath our commentary, we’ll tell you when to hit play and you can listen along as we try to remain interesting for the whole 80 minutes. Alternatively, the podcast should just work as a normal hour and 20 minutes of general shenanigans and film related chat. What I’m getting at is you don’t need to watch the film to enjoy this week’s podcast, but it will probably help!

If you like the idea or would like to see more of this sort of thing for some of your favourite movies, leave a comment in the box below, send us a tweet or post on our Facebook page. Otherwise, join us again next week as we get back to our regular format.

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