Today is Oscar Night! The “best” movies and actors will be announced, but here at VTAN we like to throw around our own movie awards.
We know you LOVED our Top 5 of 2015, so in the spirit of nostalgia here’s a re-release of last year’s Top 5 episode. It’s presented here as it was, in it’s original form, unedited, not like George Lucas’s bullshit Special Editions!
It makes an excellent companion piece with this year’s Top 5 Episode
Kyle is outta town for two months working with Bill Paxton on a big Hollywood movie. Now Josh is stuck taking Kyle’s girlfriend shoe shopping in his absence. How is that fair? At least he has his burgeoning Periscope addiction to keep him happy…
On Today’s VTAN the lads get on Skype to talk a bit about The Martian, season 19 of South Park and which celebrity deaths would be the saddest. (hint: The correct answer is Paul McCartney).
This episode ends with an exciting cliffhanger that will be resolved next Wednesday on The whyCarly Podcast.
Kyle’s bummed ’cause he can’t tell the difference between Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman.
After an hour on Twitter, discussing everything I liked (and hated) about the premiere with a buncha strangers I decided to come here, stand on my soapbox and rant a bit.
What the fuck, Fox?
The original logline for the show, the basic premise that intrigued me, AND THE WHOLE INTERNET, was: Gotham City before Batman. A police procedural set in the seediest, most corrupt, crime infested city.
The idea was intriguing. “But who would watch a Batman show without Batman?” I heard a ton of people who weren’t hardcore fans of the universe ask.
Smart people. That’s who.
I wanted to see a few good cops trying to go up against a corrupt system, just trying their best when even the highest ranking officials in the city are on the mob’s payroll. I wanted to see characters only tangentially related to Batman because Gotham City itself should’ve been the main character.
I’ll argue that Gotham City is Batman’s true nemesis, more so than any of the Rogue’s Gallery. Gotham killed his parents and Gotham never changes despite all his efforts to clean it up.
Having a dark, gritty series that showcases just how fucked up a place Gotham is would have given us a better appreciation for everything Batman does in his Sisyphean quest for justice.
“But Josh, you foolish asshole,” I hear you screaming. “How do you make that interesting to the average viewer?”.
The same way that DC Comics has been doing it for almost 80 years! Good writing and interesting characters.
They have so much lore to borrow from. They could’ve stolen from the best and it would’ve been completely within their rights. Take a bit from Grant Morrison, a huge chunk of Geoff Johns’ Earth One, add a dash of Scott Snyder for flavour and the makings of an awesome show are apparent right from the start.
Make Thomas and Martha Wayne THE MAIN CHARACTERS.
At least for Season 1. You make Tom an idealistic physician with political aspirations. Everyday when he drives past the Solomon Wayne Court House on his way to work at the Alan Wayne Memorial Hospital he can’t help but feel like the city that his ancestors built is going to hell and he’s doing nothing to stop it. So he runs for mayor hoping to right some wrongs.
Meanwhile Martha Wayne (who in this version was born Martha Arkham) struggles with mental illness. It’s a Gotham urban legend that her father went insane and murdered her mother when she was a girl so the people of Gotham all gossip in hushed tones about how all members of the Arkham family are crazy. Going all the way back to when Jeremiah Arkham built the famed Arkham Asylum for his insane daughter, mental illness is suspected to be heredity in the Arkham bloodline.
Martha’s dependance on Lithium and her dangerous bouts of manic depression are a huge scoop for the gossip magazines and threaten to derail Tom’s mayoral campaign. So she puts on a happy facade and plays the doting wife all the while she’s terrified that her genes have poisoned the mind of her young son who is already displaying sociopathic tendencies that she hides from her husband. She doesn’t want him to see any doctors because if is is diagnosed then she can’t keep living in denial that he’s a normal little boy.
The whole season is about the campaign leading up to election. The mob wants the incumbent Mayor to win and the throughline of the show is a plot to murder Thomas if he wins, but to leave him and his family alone if they can force him to drop out of the race through intimidation, or just steal the election all together.
Jim Gordon, who is still a uniformed cop, is assigned to protection detail. He’s one of many body guards for Thomas and Martha Wayne but most importantly he’s not a boy scout. He’s a bent cop, “on the take”. That’s the way it works in Gotham. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just pragmatic and accepts that he can still do a modicum of good as a member of the police force, but to survive he has to occasionally turn a blind eye on some shady dealings. He spends a lot of time with the family and bonds with Bruce.
Jim and Tom become good friends. They spend a year getting to know each other, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, the audience gets to know him. And Martha.
That way when they’re killed after he wins the election AT THE END OF THE FIRST SEASON we give a shit about it. We’re not just sad because the TV is telling us to be sad and sad music is playing on a close up of a kid with a sad face.
We’ve lost characters we care about.
THEN in the second season Gordon is a detective, he’s personally invested in the case. He DOESN’T WANT to turn a blind eye anymore. He’s gonna solve the murder BY THE BOOK.
This is called character development. Growth.
He’s not just a cookie cutter good guy. He knows that by seeking justice he might even implicate himself, but his guilt just won’t allow him to just let it go.
Now little Bruce’s problems seem to come from the trauma of losing his parents and not inherent mental instability so he continues to go undiagnosed and without the medication and therapy that he needs. His obsession with revenge starts and we see his quest for justice as more of a poor kids delusion and we sympathize with him.
There’s so much potential story and character study here. It’s like ripe fruit begging to be picked and instead we get the exact same origin we’ve seen in film and TV a million times. We get Catwoman witnessing the Wayne’s murder, The Riddler working for GCPD, The Penguin ratting out the mob to Jim Gordon and Poison Ivy namechecked FOR NO FUCKING REASON.
We all love Batman and I guess the guys who created this show thought we’d like the show more if they crammed a whole bunch of nods and references to Batman in THE FIRST GODDAMNED EPISODE.
Remember how much we all LOOOOOOVED it when Anakin Skywalker built Threepio?
What makes Batman so interesting, at least to me, is how ineffectual he is.
He could probably fix the city with his mind and his money, instead he puts on a mask and beats people up. The truth is he creates the villains he fights. If not directly (like Two Face) then by just appealing to the crazies sense of the dramatic. When a psycho criminal sees a guy dressed as a bat, he decides to wear clown make up.
This was my main issue with all the recognizable villains that popped up in the premiere. They shouldn’t exist without Batman.
Last winter Kevin Smith and Paul Dini recorded an episode of one of my favorite podcasts ever: Fatman on Batman. They discussed a dream project of theirs, a TV show (like Smallville), that took place during Bruce Wayne’s youth.
The zeal and pure enthusiasm with which these two dreamers talked about this TV show that would never be, got me really excited. I can’t help but feel that the creative team either heard the show, or the massive fan response on Twitter, and at the last minute scrambled to include as many of those ideas into Gotham as they could.
I was hoping for a more subtle approach.
The show is called Gotham.
Instead they gave us the prequel to Batman Begins: Batman Before.
I’m gonna keep watching because I really want to love this show.
It’s just that so far, there’s seems to be too much Batman in a show that was supposed to be about Gotham City without Batman.
Anyone with even a passing familiarity with me will know that I often throw myself, enthusiastically, into multiple projects that we all know I’ll never follow through with.
Here’s yet another!
A chronicle of the insane (and/or inane) conversations that spring up when playing board games with my friends. We’ve already recorded 4 of these so it’ll be a true testament to my laziness if this is the only one that ever comes out.
On today’s installment: Lord of The Rings Risk!!! The game of global domination with a Middle Earth twist.
“Six sided dice are for PUSSIES!”- Gary Gygax, 1979
Join my friends Kyle, Callie and me as we discuss every bodily function in sweet, intimate detail as well as pop culture, the acceptability of slur words and all the matters of the heart.
If we make more I’ll put ’em on iTunes. For now click here to download or use the built in player above to stream
Josh first met Kyle “K-Hutch” Hutchinson when they both worked at Blockbuster Video. They developed a fast friendship based on Rob Gordon’s 1st Commandment of Social Interaction, “It’s what you like, not what you are like that matters.”
Having few other people in their lives who understand their “language” Kyle and Josh speak to each other in a sort of shorthand code composed of inside jokes and pop culture references.
They spend an inordinate amount of time nostalgically remembering old movies and TV shows constantly trying to one up each other to see who knows more.
Despite no longer working together, they keep their friendship strong by marathon video gaming sessions and special board game nights every time that Josh gets the urge to show up at the door step… uninvited.
I’m about to show everyone the depths of my insanity.
Admittedly I usually am the type to dramatically overreact but let that not allow you to discount the SCIENCE I’m about to drop on your face, INTERNET!
I am a dreamer. Unlike Mötley Crüe, however, I am about to make it evidently clear that my heart is not o’ gold as I switch settings from normal (for Josh at least) to BATSHIT VEHEMENCE.
As a Champion for Imagination I have to speak up.
Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the worst fucking thing to happen to storytelling and should be seen as nothing less than a personal attack, A HATE CRIME EVEN, against storytellers or anyone with enough whimsy to see the inherent value in daydreaming.
Pictured: Hate Crime
In the past I’ve railed against people who “judge books by their covers” and who, in general, form opinions before collecting all the facts. It’s the reason why I’ve suffered through every single goddamned episode of The Big Bang Theory. I feel that it’s the only way to speak with authority when I say that it is THE WORST MOTHERFUCKING SHOW IN HUMAN HISTORY. It’s a right that I have earned through hours of torture at the hands of Chuck “Fuck-me-in-the-eye-hole” Lorre.
Pictured: Hate Crime
But when it comes to the new hashtag@mittymoviedotcom the trailer and the short clip I saw on Ellen today are enough for me to risk absurdity by declaring, sight unseen, that this movie is the slimy afterbirth of a bloody abortion of cinema.
I know you must be thinking, “Tell us how you really feel, Joshie!” and I’ll concede that it may not be completely out of line to call the Hyperbole Police on me, but there is some truth fueling my rage.
The tagline is “A life discovered is better than a life imagined.”
FUCK YOU 20TH CENTURY FOX! FUCK YOU RIGHT IN YOUR FUCKING DRUMS AND SPOTLIGHTS! YOUR FANFARE WILL NEVER AGAIN PRECEDE A STAR WARS MOVIE AND SO I NO LONGER OWE YOU ANY LOYALTY. FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU,
Earlier this year Brad Pitt took my favourite book, tore it to shreds and wiped his ass with the scraps. Whether or not World War Z was a “good” movie is not the issue. He took a ground breaking, genre bending, cerebral and emotionally jarring, global scale masterpiece and churned out a generic ‘spolsion heavy action hero movie.
I don’t care that the plot deviated, my teeth gnash because the “creative minds” behind WWZ completely missed the point of the source material.
I’ve said numerous times that World War Z is not about zombies and these movie producers proved me right.
They took a story about the unpreparedness of world governments when dealing with disaster and the necessity of global cooperation and they turned it into a story about zombies.
More specifically a story about one man’s journey to TREK ACROSS THE GLOBE, REUNITE WITH HIS FAMILY AND SINGLE HANDEDLY SAVE THE WORLD from zombies.
Pictured: Hate Crime
Missing the Damn Point.
Now here comes Mitty, a giant lump of coal in my Christmas stocking.
Missing the Damn Point.
From what I can tell (and the tiny part of me that desperately wants to enjoy this movie hopes I’m way, way wrong) this Mitty movie is about a pathetic schmo who whittles the day away “zoned out” in his daydreams and learns that he needs to step up and have a REAL adventure in order to have a fulfilling life. They’re telling us all that our dreary boring lives aren’t good enough unless we’re jumping out of helicopters or street luging down some Icelandic mountainside.
Ben Stiller himself says “It’s about a daydreamer and a guy who sorta lives in his head and then he’s kinda forced to go out into reality.”
Any half-comatose jughead with a 7th grade education and A FUCKING LIBRARY CARD can tell you that is NOT what this story is about. That is, quite possibly, the exact fucking opposite message that is contained in James Thurber’s FOUR FUCKING PAGE SHORT STORY!
Walter Mitty is a story about a man whose overbearing tyrannical wife leaves him feeling worthless and emasculated. In order to cope he takes comfort in the adventures that he creates in his dreams. The story professes the VALUE OF IMAGINATION.
In this GoogleflixTweetbookXbox4 world I can’t think of a more necessary message we need right now.
Kids today can’t entertain themselves the way they used to. Most adults have forgotten how.
J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst recently released S. an amazing new book with a complex story that seemingly couldn’t possibly have been told in any other medium. ALMOST IMMEDIATELY the Internet is buzzing with “I can’t wait for the movie” and “Is it available for e-readers?” proof that our collective imagination is stagnating.
Every day another remake, adaptation, reboot or comic book movie is greenlit. Netflix is making a Jessica Jones series.
Don’t even get me started on Guardians of the Goddamned Galaxy.
Our lack of imagination makes it impossible for us to accept something we haven’t already seen. It’s the reason a Walter Mitty movie was even made in the first place. Movie studios scoop up the rights to any IP with a built in fanbase because they know they can sell it.
But again, they just don’t seem to be getting it.
Why go to all the trouble of adapting a story if you’re only going to strangle it to death and display it’s hollowed out corpse as your “version of it”?
World War Z would have been fine, and would’ve pissed fewer people off if it had been called Zombie Wars.
Ben Stiller turned 4 pages to 125 minutes. What we’re left with, I’m sure has nothing more than a passing resemblance to its namesake.
He should’ve called it Daydream Believer, licensed that Monkees track for the soundtrack and called it a day.
[note: it’s been almost three months since my last post. depression and poor physical health has made it impossible to motivate myself to write. the outraged fury that this innocuous episode of The Ellen Degeneres Show stirred in ma bellay finally shook me out of my funk. don’t get used to it. i might not be back for another three months]
I don’t say that flippantly, it took me hours of contemplation to make that decision. Don Draper is in the top 3 on the list of my favorite “Double D’s” in the world and I usually take his words as the gospel truth, but in the season 1 finale of Mad Men, Draper gives an awesome speech about nostalgia that I’m starting to interpret in a new way.
He’s pitching an ad campaign for Kodak’s new slide projector. Being that it’s the middle of the 60’s during the U.S./Soviet space race, the muckety mucks at Kodak want to market the sleek curves of their new “wheel projector” as a spaceship. They’re trying to cash in on the NASA zeitgeist. Don Draper puts together an alternative campaign that causes one of the stuffedshirts in the boardroom to burst into tears and run out of the room crying.
He decides they shouldn’t look towards the future to market this product, but rather the past. To use the slide projector as a time machine. To let us catch a glimpse of days gone by.
Up until recently I would’ve agreed. If you asked me I’d have said that looking back into the past is painful and as Draper says, “takes us to a place where we ache to go again… a place where we know we are loved.”
But over the last few days I’ve been swimming in nostalgia and it’s making me happier than I’ve felt in the longest time. And not just happy about old memories but rather happy with myself as I am today.
Now for anyone who doesn’t know me very well, I consider myself to be musically inclined. I sing in the shower a lot and I’m a 10 speed dynamo when it comes to karaoke but I also play a handful of instruments with varying levels of competence.
Here’s me shredding on guitar.
I play a little bit of accordion, drums and piano as well but the first instrument I ever learned, the one that started me on this musical journey nearly 15 years ago was the harmonica.
Yes, ladies, he’s STILL got it… and by “it” I mean cripplingly low confidence and that self deprecating charm that drives the girls wild.
There is exactlyone reason why I, as a child, decided to learn to play the harmonica.
It’s because of Matt, a character from Digimon. More specifically, Matt, my favorite character on the first two seasons of Digimon.
Now he wasn’t the star of the show, he wasn’t the hero. He was always sort of the “second banana”. He had a cool exterior that belied a tumult of emotion contained just under the surface. His mom and dad were divorced and he and his little brother had been split apart as each of them went to live with one of their parents. During their adventures with the Digimon he always worried about his brother’s safety, attempting to be a responsible caretaker, but often having to face the sad reality that he wasn’t well suited for the task. When his younger brother starts to develop a strong bond with the show’s goggle-headed protagonist he gets jealous and further questions his self worth.
He was far too complex a character for what was meant to be a kid’s show but he played the hell outta the harmonica and I always thought he was super cool.
People have told me that it says a great deal about my personality that I don’t ever identify with the main protagonist of any story. If there’s any leading man in any movie, book, TV show, video game or comic, I always see more of myself reflected in the main character’s best friend or sidekick.
It turns out there’s even a name for that ultra important character in literature. It’s the Deuteragonist. He’s the secondary character who shoulders a lot of the burden when it comes to the plot, but he’s not always a hero in the traditional sense. Sometimes he’s a rouge or scoundrel, sometimes he’s just a weaker character who needs the support of the hero to fully develop. Whatever the case I’ve always thought I shared a similar temperament to the Dueteragonists of my favorite stories.
Yes, ladies, he’s STILL got it… and by “it” I mean cripplingly low confidence and that self deprecating charm that drives the girls wild… and a digimon, I suppose.
Now while these characters, for the most part, may not share many personality traits with each other I always identified with them more than I would with the heroes of their respective stories.
I guess I just lack the confidence to consider myself the leading man in the story of my life.
I’m definitely sidekick material though.
Watching Digimon for the first time in almost 15 years has transported me back into the past in a way that has let me see all the ways that I’ve changed in the intervening years.
And all the ways in which I haven’t.
But it’s been nothing but a joy.
I’m not a fan of anime. People are shocked to hear that just like they’re shocked when I say I don’t really like Sci-Fi. They think that just ’cause I’m a geek I like Doctor Who and Star Gate. It’s the closest to racial pigeonholing I’ve ever experienced.
People just expect me to have an interest in things that are considered “geek”. The truth is I couldn’t give a single fuck about Dragon Ball, or Bleach or Gundam and Evangelion. I think Akira sucked balls and Miyazaki is boring. No I don’t looooooveFull Metal Alchemist and I think people who read comic books backwards are a bunch of pretentious jackasses.
I am a self proclaimed geekI I love Star Wars and DC Comics. My thumbprints are concave from decades of videogames. I have toys in my house. But when it comes to anime I just never delved into that word. Ironically it always seemed “too nerdy” for me to get into.
I was an Inbetweener in the schoolboy ecosystem. I occasionally got picked on by some of the more popular kids, but I still would make fun of the guys playing with their Yu-Gi-Oh! cards at lunch.
So as a total anime neophyte, and with nothing to compare it to, I just randomly got sucked into the world of Digimon in 1999 and it was my favourite show for 2 years. Then by that time I mysteriously became more interested in boobs and rock music than cartoons and I stopped watching.
Now that I’m revisiting the series after so long it’s made me feel totally nostalgic but more than anything it has, surprisingly, helped me with my goal of moving forward with my life.
I’ve never been able to think about the future. When I was young I didn’t think I would live a very long life because I couldn’t fathom what I would be like as an old guy. I’ve never really made any plans for the future and have always been sort of ambitionless. My mind functions only in the immediate present and so it’s especially difficult for me to ever hope for the best. If I’m going through a painful emotional experience I literally can’t imagine a time when I’ll no longer feel that way.
But by watching this show that makes me feel the way I did as a child, and then thinking about how different I am today, it makes me wonder for the first time ever what I might be like 15 years from now.
And aside from all the philosophical revelations it’s still just such a damn good show. It holds up so well even after all these years.
At least to me.
So, Don Draper talks about nostalgia as being painful, of making you want to go back and relive better times.
As stupid as it may sound Digimon and the nostalgia I feel for it has made me excited about the future for the first time in recent memory.
For those of you who remember the show fondly, or for those who may have never seen it, here’s a clip from season 1 of Matt playing the blues.
There are 104 episodes in the first 2 seasons of Digimon.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Over the last 2 or 3 weeks I’ve been feeling more and more weak, tired, apathetic, depressed and angry with myself.
It’s such a radical change from how I was feeling when I last posted.
I’ve been having a hard time sleeping.
I thought I had got passed this but the insomnia that was crippling me all winter is back.
Also I feel like I’ve been drinking more than I’m comfortable admitting, but I seem to have developed an immunity to whiskey. I drank a half bottle of Johnnie Walker while I watched almost a whole season of The Sopranos this evening. It doesn’t seem to have had the desired effect.
I don’t know what’s caused this shift in my emotional state.
Actually that’s not entirely true. I know exactly what the cause is. It’s an uncontrollable compulsion to look back and remember some pretty low moments in my life. I can’t stop these negative thoughts and my mind will drift towards painful memories seemingly of its own accord. What I don’t understand is why.
Things have been going better for me than they have in a long time, so why do I feel so shitty?
I have a pretty sweet job that makes me feel like I’m actually contributing to society and making a difference by helping people. So why is it so hard for me to get out of bed and go to work in the morning?
I have a lovely new girlfriend who is such a joy to be around and I feel like she genuinely likes me in spite of all the glaringly obvious reasons not to. So why am I spending so much time and mental energy thinking about the girl who broke my heart even though, by my own admission, I didn’t even want her anymore?
I’ve made so much progress in therapy gaining valuable insight and acquiring new tools to unravel the jumbled up mess in my head. So why can’t I look in the mirror without feeling so damn angry with myself?
I need to sleep.
There’s no two ways about it.
If I don’t start getting some real rest I’m going to collapse in the middle of the street. I might punch a little old lady while waiting in line at the super market or bite the head off someone’s tiny yip-yapping accessory “purse dog”.
I just want to stop feeling this way.
I don’t want to be splayed out on my uncomfortable bed staring at my ceiling at 1AM every night. I don’t want to keep replaying past events in my head over and over, conjecturing the innumerable ways in which things could have gone differently.
I don’t want to be unhappy anymore.
It’s been a Sisyphean effort. A perpetual motion machine of negativity. I get bogged down by all these feelings and then I start feeling ashamed of myself for feeling this way so I feel even worse so it causes more shame.
I need to interrupt this cycle because it’s keeping me up all night and driving me closer and closer to a complete emotional breakdown.
Usually I go back and revise these posts. I write in free flowing streams of consciousness and I have a whole editorial process to try and make them make sense.
Not this time.
If you feel like this post has been self indulgent, whinny, repetitive and nonsensical THEN GO FUCK YOURSELF!!! You knew what you were in for when you came here so quit complaining.
That was uncalled for. I’m clearly delirious and more than a little bit stressed right now.