Thursday, May 31, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews "Adrift"

Tales of unlikely survival are probably about as old as the concept of tales. Because if you survived a sabertooth tiger attack, the odds are exceptionally good that you’d want to tell your friends about it over the newly invented fire. 

Fortunately, these tales are almost always interesting. “Adrift” tells the real-life story of Tami Oldham, played here by Shailene Woodley (“The Divergent Series”), a young woman traveling the world, in no hurry to get back to San Diego. Along the way she encounters another drifter, Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin, “Journey’s End”), who sails the world because he just plain wants to.

Only the Best #2: The Other Best Picture Winners of 1927/1928

It's the newest podcast from the creators of Critically Acclaimed and Canceled Too Soon! Only the Best reviews every single Oscar-nominated Best Picture, in order, year by year.

You've heard the pilot episode, which covered all the Best Picture nominees from the first-ever Academy Awards. In the second installment, William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold review all the other nominees for Best Picture at the first annual Oscars, the only year in history where the category was split into two.

The nominees include "Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness" (a hunting documentary from the future directors of "King Kong"), "The Crowd" (King Vidor's experimental drama about the plight of the everyman), and "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" (F.W. Murnua's expressionist allegory about the beauty and danger at the heart of a marriage).

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Upgrade'

From Leigh Whannell, the co-creator of "Saw" and "Insidious" comes a new, violent cyberpunk thriller called "Upgrade," starring Logan Marshall-Green ("The Invitation") as a man who loses everything but gains a cybernetic implant that talks to him, gives him superhuman abilities, and guides him on a mission of bloody, morally questionable revenge.

William Bibbiani says the film "puts the 'punk' back into cyberpunk'" and praises Logan Marshall-Green's "astounding" performance, but finds reasons to critique the film's conclusion.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Upgrade" at IGN

Top Photo: BH Tilt / OTL Releasing

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Eight Serious Movies You Can Watch With Your Kids

[The following article was sponsored and assigned by our Patreon subscriber Topher White (The Elder). To learn how to sponsor and assign articles to William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold for publication at Critically Acclaimed, visit our Patreon page.]

As someone who is both a film critic and a parent, I am frequently asked how I intend to indoctrinate my son, now three years old, into the world of film. Surely, my interrogators assume, I am aggressively pushing my son into the world of cinema, and I have a complex game plan as to what films to show him at an early age.

I must confess that I have no such game plan. I will, of course, expose my son to many films as time passes, and I will certainly attempt to show him some of my favorites – I am currently most eager to share “The Wizard of Oz” with him – but I also am sharply cognizant that his personal interests will guide me and not the other way around. At the end of the day, I can't force him to be a “movie person.”

However, should my son decide that he wants to be a bona fide consumer of film like his dad, then I will certainly rise to the challenge, and I will dip deep into my broad cinema-viewing experience to extract the films I feel will appeal to his interests. And, since cinema can be a learning tool, I will also perhaps select some of the following films as examples of non-kiddie films that will spark his intellect and perhaps inflame his mind. Films can lead to higher philosophical and socially conscious discussions, and perhaps the following films will do the trick.

William Bibbiani Asks, "Did Solo: A Star Wars Story Make the Millennium Falcon Horrifying?"

In William Bibbiani's review of "Solo: A Star Wars Story", he critiqued the film's tendency to explain things that the audience already knew, to the point of almost comical redundancy. But there were some surprises as well!

The problem is, one of the biggest surprises in "Solo: A Star Wars Story" has consequences that might, depending on your point of view, make pre-existing elements of the "Star Wars" franchise seem creepy.

William Bibbiani discusses the most disturbing revelation, in SPOILER detail, in his latest article at IGN.

Read: "Did Solo: A Star Wars Story Make the Millennium Falcon Horrifying?"

Top Photo: Disney / Lucasfilm

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #29: The 'Rambo' Movies

We're your best nightmare! This week on Critically Acclaimed, by listener request, we're reviewing every single one of the 'Rambo' movies, starring Sylvester Stallone as a lethal Vietnam veteran who waffles between being anti-war and pro-war, pretty much willy-nilly. 

Plus, reviews of the new releases 'Solo: A Star Wars Story,' 'Mary Shelley,' 'How to Talk to Girls at Parties,' 'In Darkness' and the Amazon mini-series 'Picnic at Hanging Rock.'

Give it a listen!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Double Features: Mary Shelley (2018)

No motion picture exists in a vacuum. Every week on Double Features, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold watch a new release and offer their individual picks for the perfect film to watch right afterwards, illuminating the themes, the artistry and the history of each movie.

This week's new release: "Mary Shelley," the biopic about the author of "Frankenstein," directed by Haifaa al-Mansour and starring Elle Fanning, Douglas Booth and Ben Hardy.

Here's what the critics picked...!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Witney Seibold Reviews 'The Misandrists'

Director Bruce LaBruce's “The Misandrists” is a lesbian hand grenade. It's a raucous clenched fist of queer feminist outrage thrown in the face of anyone who dares to give the patriarchy even the smallest bit of wiggle room. There is no compromise here. In the playfully aggressive punk rock philosophy of “The Misandrists,” all of male-dom is to be dismantled, distrusted and disposed of. This includes men, sex with men, and even small pieces of gender-specific language; the characters all write “womanifestos” for instance. It's angry, it's forthright, it's confrontational, it's sometimes goofy, and it's about time. 

Canceled Too Soon #99: Selfie (2014)

John Cho ("Star Trek") and Karen Gillan ("Avengers: Infinity War") star in SELFIE, a short-lived sitcom inspired by "Pygmalion" and "My Fair Lady," about a self-obsessed social media celebrity who turns to a stick in the mud to get her real life back in order.

This week, William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold are joined by actor Samm Levine, the co-star of "Selfie," who tells behind the scenes stories from the production!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

William Bibbiani & Witney Seibold Review: 'Mary Shelley'

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote one of the most important and influential novels in history, "Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus." Now, she's the subject of a well-intentioned but subpar new biopic, starring Elle Fanning ("The Neon Demon") in the title role.

William Bibbiani calls the film "as dramatically inert as a high school oral book report," and argues that "Mary Shelley deserves better than 'Mary Shelley.'"

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Mary Shelley" at The Wrap

Witney Seibold says the film "has flashes of insight, and glimpses of sensuousness, but ends up in the realm of the purely conventional."

Read: Witney Seibold Reviews "Mary Shelley" at IGN

Top Photo: IFC Films

William Bibbiani Celebrates the "Other" Lucasfilms

Ever since Disney took over Lucasfilm, they have focused on the company's biggest and most popular franchises: "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones." But before the takeover, George Lucas also used Lucasfilm as a springboard for ambitious independent productions and challenging mainstream entertainments, some of which were hits, some of which were flops, but all of which were fascinating.

William Bibbiani guides you through these "other" Lucasfilms in his latest article for IGN.

Top Photos: Lucasfilm

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Solo: A Star Wars Story'

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is the kind of prequel we think about when we think about unnecessary prequels. It's a fill-in-the-blank motion picture, which rigorously catalogues everything we already know about Han Solo from the previous “Star Wars” movies and then works backwards, explaining every little unnecessary detail, and in such a short amount of time that it plays like an extremely elaborate joke.

Critically Acclaimed #28: Green Lantern and The Untouchables

This week on the Critically Acclaimed podcast, William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold review the notorious Ryan Reynolds superhero dud "Green Lantern", and explore why it's the perfect double feature with Brian De Palma's Oscar-winning gangster classic "The Untouchables."

We also review the new Ryan Reynolds superhero comedy "Deadpool 2," the Netflix zombie drama "Cargo," and the latest adaptation of Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451." We also answer your emails about topics ranging from the works of Andrei Tarkovsky to the genius of "Mystery Men." 

Canceled Too Soon #98: Cop Rock (1990)

Steven Bochco may be famous for creating the hit legal television shows "Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law" and "NYPD Blue," but he's infamous for creating "Cop Rock," a television series that combined hard-hitting police drama with campy musical theater. It was one of the biggest pop culture punchlines of the 1990s, and now... it's an episode of Canceled Too Soon!

The Lessons Roger Ebert Taught Me

While studying film in college, there were several authorities I came to respect on the subject. 

There were my hardworking professors, of course, who variously taught me the inner white collar workings of the film industry as it stood in the late 1990s (I hasten to add that most of their lessons remain relevant today). There were David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, who authored one of the most helpful film textbooks I was assigned (Film Art: An Introduction is currently in its eleventh edition; I read the fifth). There were the gloriously snotty cult cineastes at my local video store whose uppity and elitist conversations about the deep cuts of Ray Dennis Steckler were heard to my naïve ear as holy writ. There were the flip and casual pop obsessives writing for “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” whose blasé references to long-forgotten '70s TV oddities inflamed my imagination, and spurred me to learn more about the whole embarrassing map of pop culture in its entirety.

And there was Roger Ebert.