Saturday, December 29, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #59: The Best Movies of 2018!

It's the end of 2018 and it's been one hell of a good year for movies! This week on the CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED podcast, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold highlight their picks for the very best movies that the year had to offer, across many different genres.

Which film(s) made their #1 spot(s)? What other great films did they pick? And how many did you see or still need to catch up on? It's an overwhelmingly positive episode of CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED with dozens of great movie recommendations, and we hope you enjoy every minute of it!

Give it a listen!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #130: Tarzan (2003)

Before Eric Kripke created the cult favorites "Supernatural" and "Timeless," he turned the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs adventure hero Tarzan into a sexy crime-fightingseries for the WB network! "Tarzan" starred Travis Fimmel ("Vikings"), Sarah Wayne Callies ("The Walking Dead"), Lucy Lawless ("Xena: Warrior Princess") and Mitch Pileggi ("The X-Files")... and it was pulled off the air after only eight measly episodes.

But was "Tarzan"... CANCELED TOO SOON? 

On this week's podcast, William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold look at the history of the pulp hero, including what makes him work, what makes him problematic, and why this particular shirtless, shoeless, bodice-ripping version of the hero never found an audience, despite all the obvious talent involved.

Give it a listen!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Holmes and Watson'

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, the stars of "Talladega Nights" and "Step Brothers," reunite for the first time in a decade in "Holmes and Watson," a broad spoof of the classic Sherlock Holmes character. In the film, Holmes (Ferrell) has to solve the diabolical mystery of a criminal mastermind - who may or may not be his arch-nemesis, Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes) - while negotiating his troubled bromance with his sidekick, Dr. Watson (Reilly). Ewan Cohen directs, Rebecca Hall and Kelly Macdonald co-star.

In his review at IGN, William Bibbiani says "Holmes and Watson" says "the lazy gags, wasted supporting cast and unfocused writing make the film an unfunny chore," and that it doesn't live up to the previous comedy outings of Ferrell and Reilly.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Holmes and Watson" at IGN

Top Photo: Columbia Pictures

Monday, December 24, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #58: 'Treasure Planet' and 'Muppet Treasure Island'

Disney's "Treasure Planet" was one of the most spectacular box office duds in the studio's history, an ambitious adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island," but set in space, with a cast of mostly alien characters. Critics didn't know what to make of it, but is it really as bad as its reputation? And how does it stack up against ANOTHER bizarre adaptation of the same story, the beloved "Muppet Treasure Island?"

You'll find out on this week's CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED! You'll also get reviews of tons of new movies, including "Aquaman," "Bumblebee," "Welcome to Marwen," "Stan & Ollie," "Vice," "They Shall Not Grow Old," "Destroyer" and "On the Basis of Sex," and fond farewells to iconic director Penny Marshall and beloved character actor Donald Moffat!

Give it a listen! 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

William Bibbiani Picks The Best Movies of 2018!

To say that 2018 was a hard year would be an absurd understatement, but as always, the movies were here to guide us. The best films of the year were often insightful, politically charged, and humane works of art that brought difficult stories to life in soul-nourishing ways. There were also some great horror movies, hilariously silly comedies, and a couple of superhero movies that are bound to go down in history as some of the best examples of the genre.

As always, narrowing the list of the best movies of the year is a pointless exercise, so I arbitrarily cut my list off at twenty, and I compensated listed a ton of runners up. I am nothing if not long-winded.

It's also worth nothing that there are a handful of critically acclaimed motion pictures that I still haven't seen, but that I plan to get to at some point in the future, including "Won't You Be My Neighbor?," "The Rider," "Shoplifters" and "Burning." So if you have a favorite film that is nowhere to be seen below, consider the possibility that I haven't seen it yet, and feel free to leave me a comment or tweet at me (@WilliamBibbiani) to make sure I know about it.

Without any further ado, these are my picks for the best movies of 2018!

The Canceled Too Soon Monthly Movie: 'Home for the Holidays' (1972)

Was the TV movie "Home for the Holidays" the first real slasher film? It predates "Black Christmas," so it may be true! And if so, it's an important film to rediscover for horror fans (and Christmas fans) everywhere.

This month on The Canceled Too Soon Monthly Movie, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold dig up this forgotten horror film, starring Sally Field, Jessica Walter, Julie Harris, Eleanor Parker and Walter Brennan, and see just how scary - and just how Christmasy - it really is!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #129: 'Christmas in Tattertown' (1988)

Ralph Bakshi became an animation legend by directing feature films for adult audiences, like "Fritz the Cat," "Wizards" and "Lord of the Rings." But in 1988 he also directed a pilot episode for a Nickelodeon television series called "Christmas in Tattertown," about a young girl who stumbles into a magical land where everything people ever lost come to life. When here doll Muffet comes to life and turns villainous, our hero tries to save the day by introducing Christmas to the animated civilization.

It's an intriguing anecdote in Ralph Bakshi's career, combing his love of early era animation and chaotic outsider storytelling, but was it really CANCELED TOO SOON? William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold explore this failed experiment in early, original Nickelodeon animation in a Christmas episode of the podcast!

Give it a listen!

William Bibbiani's Top 12 Christmas Horror Movies

'Tis the season for love, kindness, and - if you're a horror fan - subversive murders! The tradition of the Christmas horror movies goes back nearly 50 years, and film critic William Bibbiani has seen an awful lot of them, including some films that have never been released in America, and some that still haven't been released on DVD.

In his latest article for IGN, William Bibbiani presents his picks for the 12 must-see Christmas horror movies. You can probably guess that "Gremlins" and "Black Christmas" made the cut, but can you guess which amazing cult films also made the cut?

Read: William Bibbiani's Top 12 Christmas Horror Movies at IGN

Top Photo: Amicus

William Bibbiani Ranks All Eight Adam McKay Movies

Adam McKay has had one of the most interesting careers in Hollywood, rising through the ranks of "Saturday Night Live," directing some of the funniest movies of the century with films like "Anchorman" and "The Other Guys," and then segueing into the realm of pointed political commentary with the Oscar-winning "The Big Short" and the new Dick Cheney biopic "Vice."

In his latest list for The Wrap, William Bibbiani looks over Adam McKay's entire feature directorial career and ranks all eight of his movies, including the straight-to-video re-edit of "Anchorman" that was exclusively available at Best Buy.

Read: William Bibbiani Ranks All Eight Adam McKay Movies at The Wrap

Top Photo: Paramount Pictures

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Randomizer: 'Psych' 5.14 - The Polarizing Express (2010)

In the age of binge watching, it's getting harder and harder to start watching a popular tv series with just some random episode. But we miss that, so we started The Randomizer, a Patreon-exclusive podcast where we find a long-running television show that neither William Bibbiani nor Witney Seibold have seen, and dump them in the deep end with a randomly selected, late season episode!

Could you believe neither Bibbs nor Witney have ever seen "Psych?" We can't either! But it's true, so they're watching the fourteenth episode from the fifth season, "The Polarizing Express," and trying to figure out why this guy is pretending to be psychic and why Tony Cox is throwing snowballs at him.

Joining us is special guest Joelle Monique, from Pajiba and Paste Magazine! She's here to explain everything Bibbs and Witney get wrong about "Psych," and tell us why this comedy crimefighting show has such a huge cult following. (Follow her on Twitter at @JoelleMonique.)

What are you waiting for? Sign up and give it a listen! 

Top Photo: USA

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Randomizer: 'Gilmore Girls' 7.11 - Santa's Secret Stuff (2007)

In the age of binge watching, it's getting harder and harder to start watching a popular tv series with just some random episode. But we miss that, so we started The Randomizer, a Patreon-exclusive podcast where we find a long-running television show that neither William Bibbiani nor Witney Seibold have seen, and dump them in the deep end with a randomly selected, late season episode!

Can you believe neither Bibbs nor Witney have ever seen "Gilmore Girls?" We can't either! But it's true, so they're watching the seventh season episode "Santa's Secret Stuff" (because it's the holidays), and our Patrons can listen in as they try to figure out what's going on, who's related to who, and why everyone's talking so fast.

Joining us is special guest Alonso Duralde from The Wrap, Linoleum Knife and Who Shot Ya?, a longtime "Gilmore Girls" fan who tells our hosts everything they get wrong and explain why this show has such a devoted cult following. (Follow him on Twitter at @ADuralde!)

What are you waiting for? Sign up and give it a listen!

Top Photo: CW

Monday, December 17, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Vice'

Christian Bale stars as former Vice-President Dick Cheney in "Vice," the latest dark social commentary from Oscar-winning filmmaker Adam McKay ("The Big Short"). The film co-stars Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell and Jesse Plemons, as they act out the labyrinthine political machinations of a man who transformed the presidency in ways we may never be able to calculate, without ever becoming the president.

In his review at IGN, William Bibbiani says that "'Vice' has been told with all the caustic wit and self-righteousness that we've come to expect from McKay," praising the film's solid performances and clever storytelling choices, but arguing that the film's lack of sympathy for its protagonists prevents the film from preaching to anyone but the already converted.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Vice" at IGN

Top Photo: Annapurna Pictures

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Witney Seibold Reviews 'A Quiet Passion'

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

Although she remains a giantess in the hearts of poetry aficionados everywhere, making a feature film from the life of Emily Dickinson has been a dodgy proposition. Dickinson, you see, led a very non-cinematic life.

Canceled Too Soon #128: 'Star Command' (1996)

You can learn a lot by watching mediocre television, and the forgotten UPN sci-fi pilot "Star Command" has a heck of a lot to teach us. This "Star Trek" knockoff stars Morgan Fairchild, Jay Underwood and Kelly Hu, and it's so unbelievably generic that it should have been called "Space Show: The Show."

But that doesn't mean it was bad! In fact, "Star Command" may have been CANCELED TOO SOON! In the latest episode of the podcast, William Bibbiani dip back into the "Star Trek" knockoff genre to figure out what "Star Command" was good for, where it would have gone if it lasted, and how virtual reality porn can be used to save the universe.

Give it a listen!

Witney Seibold Reviews 'They Shall Not Grow Old'

In the years since the release of his "Hobbit" movies, director Peter Jackson has been working on a BBC-commissioned documentary about British soldiers who fought in the trenches on the Western Front during World War I. He used the opportunity to explore new technical processes that allowed him to "update" century-old war footage, adding color, sound, 3D effects, and a special digital "blending" technique that increased the frame rate to a modern 24 frames per second. 

At IGN, Witney Seibold talks about the emotional effect of seeing such footage updated, especially just in time for the centennial of the WWI Armistice, but also addresses some potentially sticky ethics involved in such a practice. 

Top Image: Warner Bros. 

Witney Seibold Asks: Did the Events of 'Infinity War' Hurt 'Black Panther's' Oscar Chances?

"Black Panther" is, domestically, the highest-grossing film of 2018, and when it was released back in February there was immediate talk about its potential Oscar chances. As the year progressed - and this happens often - the "buzz" surrounding the film seems to have died down a skosh, even though the affection for the film hasn't seemed to abate one whit. 

At IGN, Witney Seibold looks at the strange ebbing of "Black Panther's" Oscar buzz, addressing the way fantastical superhero films tend to leave the Academy cold, and comparing "Black Panther's" narrative directly to the tale of "Wonder Woman" from just last year. Two superhero films, both revolutionary in their own ways, both surrounded by affection and buzz, and yet both ultimately undone - perhaps - by the events of their direct sequels ("Avengers: Infinity War" and "Justice League" respectively). 

Read: Did the Events of 'Infinity War' Hurt 'Black Panther's' Oscar Chances?

Top Image: Marvel/Disney

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Once Upon a Deadpool'

It could be a cynical cash grab, it could be a high-minded editing experiment, or it could be an earnest desire to reach a larger audience. Whatever the reason, 20th Century Fox decided to re-cut the notably violent and crass "Deadpool 2" to fit into a PG-13 rating, released with some new bookend material. The new film, called "Once Upon a Deadpool," may or may not be a good idea. 

At IGN, though, Witney Seibold explored how the experiment - however bold its intentions - may have failed. He cites that the editing feels choppier and makes the film less dynamic as a whole, despite keeping its good humor intact. He also ponders that neutering Deadpool may have been a commentary on the potential "softening" that superhero properties could potentially undergo after Disney owns them all. 

Read: Witney Seibold Reviews "Once Upon a Deadpool" for IGN

Top Image: 20th Century Fox

Witney Seibold Talks About 'Batman Returns'

Since 2015, Witney Seibold has worked as a projectionist for the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, CA. The New Beverly is a theater devoted to the preservation and pristine presentation of 35mm and 16mm film, celebrating century-old film technology as well as old-fashioned grindhouse theater experience with something approaching a religious reverence. 

The New Beverly 'blog has attracted several high-profile writers and deep-cut film enthusiasts to contribute to its pages, and Witney has managed to work his way into its pages from time to time, writing about films that will play at the New Beverly. 

This month, the New Beverly will be showing "Batman Returns," Tim Burton's dark, twisted, kinky revisitation of his 1989 mega-hit. In his essay for the NewBev, Witney talks about the film's weird designs, its celebration of outsider-hood, and the notion of putting a superhero in a noir universe, a place where heroes typically don't exist. 

Top Image: Warner Bros.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Aquaman'

Jason Momoa is back in "Aquaman," the latest DCEU superhero film. "Aquaman" sends the title hero  across the world on a mission to find an ancient trident, which will prove he's the rightful heir to the throne of Atlantis, and prevent a war between his half-brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson) and the surface world. Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe and Nicole Kidman co-star in a film directed by James Wan ("Furious 7").

In his review of "Aquaman" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani calls the film "a weird and wonderful superhero adventure that strives - and almost succeeds - to be the most epic superhero movie ever made." 

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Aquaman" for The Wrap

Top Photo: Warner Bros.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Bumblebee'

The "Transformers" franchise starts over from scratch with "Bumblebee," a prequel about the alien Volkswagen Beetle who turns into a robot and befriends an amateur teenaged mechanic, played by Hailee Steinfeld. Together they form a close bond and save the world from evil Decepticons who plan to bring their army to Earth.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "Bumblebee" is "the best Transformers movie so far," going back all the way to the animated feature in the 1980s. He praises the film's 1980s throwback sensibilities and lauds the film for successfully re-establishing the live-action series within a more successful mold.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Bumblebee" for The Wrap

Top Photo: Paramount

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Canceled Too Soon & Linoleum Knife Present: Our 12 Favorite Christmas Commercials!

Happy Holidays from Canceled Too Soon and Linoleum Knife! As a special treat for our fans, we've made special bonus episode for everyone on our Patreon page, and everyone can listen, whether or not you contribute!

William Bibbiani, Witney Seibold, Alonso Duralde and Dave White have assembled to share their all-time favorite Christmas commercials, and recall how they played when they first came out, and what weird details we only notice now, as adults.

Head on over to our Patreon page to hear the episode, and head on over to Linoleum Knife to check out their wonderful content! You might want to subscribe over there, because they've got a LOT of exciting bonus episodes exclusively for their Patrons!

Give it a listen!

Top Photo: General Mills

Friday, December 7, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #127: 'Silver Surfer' (1998)

The Silver Surfer is an all-powerful superhero who wanders the cosmos, pondering the biggest philosophical questions imaginable and finding no reason to forgive himself for the atrocities he committed while he was employed by the world-eating deity called Galactus. 

He's one of the weirdest heroes in all of Marvel Comics, so it's pretty weird that he had his own Saturday morning cartoon show, which faithfully adapts the melancholy mythologizing of his comic book series! But they did, and "Silver Surfer" may very well have been CANCELED TOO SOON!

Our MARVELOUS MONTH OF MARVELS, dedicated to failed TV shows based on Marvel superheroes, concludes with this impossibly epic animated series, which painstakingly recreates the iconic art style of Jack Kirby!

Give it a listen!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Mortal Engines'

One thousand years into the future, entire cities roll across the world, fighting and devouring each other. Hera Hilmar stars as Hester Shaw, a mysterious woman who wants to kill the figurehead leader of London, and who teams up with a hapless historian to uncover the secrets of ancient 21st century technology and prevent a giant steampunk war.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "The only rational response to 'Mortal Engines' is 'Wow,'" praising the film's "Miyazakian" imagery and VFX ingenuity, but reserving some critiques for the film's familiar storyline.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Mortal Engines" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Universal