Saturday, March 30, 2019

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Once Upon a Time in the West'

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

Sergio Leone's 1968 classic “Once Upon a Time in the West” is the purest of his westerns.

With his acclaimed "Man With No Name" films, Leone established what had become the archetypal style and mood for any and all deconstructionist westerns that were to follow for the next few decades (at least up until “Unforgiven” in 1992). As such, the story, the characters, and even certain shots and photography choices feel uncannily familiar even to the uninitiated. It is, wielding American studio dollars, an impeccable, high-profile version of the slightly more ragged films that preceded it.

Movie Trivia Schmoedown Free-For-All 3: Critically Acclaimed Does Trivia LIVE!!!

William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold, Critically Acclaimed themselves, appear in front of a LIVE audience in the ultimate movie trivia competition! Forty players enter, and two of them are Bibbs and Witney, and if you want to know how they stacked up against all this competition you HAVE to watch this epic competition.

Seriously... if you're a fan of Critically Acclaimed, you HAVE to watch this. Trust us.


The Six-Shot: All the 'Bring It On' Movies!

Kirsten Dunst, Gabrielle Union and Eliza Dushku starred in "Bring It On," a slumber party classic about a championship cheerleading squad which learns that, unbeknownst to them, their success was based on plagiarism and cultural appropriation! It's surprisingly smart, thoughtful and funny, and it's considered a minor classic. But while people may remember "Bring It On" fondly, most people don't realize there were SIX movies in the franchise, five of which went straight to video and starred recognizable actors like Rihanna, Felicia Day, Hayden Panettiere and Solange Knowles!

This week on THE SIX-SHOT (a very special episode of THE TWO-SHOT), film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold explore the entire "Bring It On" series to reveal which sequels work and which ones barely seem like real movies!

Give it a listen!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

William Bibbiani Ranks All the Disney Live-Action Remakes!

Disney's lucrative business plan, of remaking all their animated classics in big-budget live-action (or arguably live-action) productions, has led to an extremely uneven series of films! In his latest article for The Wrap, William Bibbiani is ranking every single live-action Disney remake, from the 1994 version of "The Jungle Book" that nobody talks about, to contemporary smashes like "The Jungle Book," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Dumbo!"

Read: William Bibbiani Ranks All the Disney Live-Action Remakes at The Wrap!

Photos: Disney

Critically Acclaimed #72: Us, Larry Cohen, and the Dark Side of the Fox/Disney Merger

Jordan Peele is back with a new horror blockbuster and this time... the evil is "Us." On this week's CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold delve into the film everyone is talking about, the trippy murder mystery "Out of Blue," and the re-release of the 1999 teen cult classic "Cruel Intentions!"

Also this week, William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold look back at the celebrated history of the late genre filmmaker Larry Cohen, and examine the dark underbelly of the Disney/Fox merger that everyone is talking about. Maybe it's NOT such a good thing...

Give it a listen!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Two-Shot: 'Catwoman' and 'Working Girl' with Rachel Cushing!

Rachel "The Crusher" Cushing from The Movie Trivia Schmoedown joins us this week, and she brought the Halle Berry "Catwoman" with her! It's one of the most baffling superhero movies ever made, and the trivia champ helps us dissect everything that works (not much), doesn't work (a lot) and almost works (more than you'd think) about this notorious 2004 disaster of a movie, in an all-new episode of THE TWO-SHOT!

And on the classics front, Rachel Cushing helps William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold introduce and analyze another film about a meek woman, spurned by her wicked boss, who adopts a new identity and finds her power. It's the Oscar-winning Mike Nichols dramedy "Working Girl," starring Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin and Joan Cusack!

Give it a listen!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Canceled Too Soon #141: 'Dead Last' (2001)

A group of rock musicians develop the power to talk to ghosts, and it turns out the ghosts are really, really annoying! That's the premise of "Dead Last," a short-lived and mostly forgotten supernatural comedy series from The WB, from the writers of "Grosse Point Blank" and "High Fidelity," and that's the show our Patreon subscribers wanted us to review in the month of March!

Was "Dead Last" a forgotten gem, or does it deserve to wallow in obscurity? Film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold take a dip into the early 2000s to figure out if this series was... CANCELED TOO SOON!

Give it a listen!

Movie Trivia Schmoedown: Critically Acclaimed vs. The Shirewolves!

William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold take on their fiercest opponents yet in the Movie Trivia Schmoedown: Rachel Cushing and Clarke Wolfe, the champions themselves, The Shirewolves!

In this epic championship match these two teams will push each other to the limit, and the only watch to find out who wins is to watch it below! (Or you could look it up, but how much fun would THAT be?)

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Out of Blue'

Patricia Clarkson plays a detective solving the case of a murdered astrophysicist in "Out of Blue," a new high-minded thriller about the parallels between the investigative and scientific methods, in which every clue makes the universe in which we live more complicated and confusing.

In his review of "Out of Blue" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani praises the film's fleeting moments of philosophical inspirations, but argues that it holds the film back It's "a detached motion picture," Bibbiani argues, "and it's hard to get away with that clinical approach and still adhere to a thriller format."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Out of Blue" at The Wrap

Photo: IFC Films

Thursday, March 21, 2019

William Bibbiani Talks Movie Posters on "All Things Considered"

William Bibbiani guest stars on NPR's "All Things Considered" this week, to talk about the latest posters for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," why they're enduring such harsh criticism, and the role that movie posters play in a marketplace where social media seems to drive the conversation, instead a rectangular piece of art.

Listen: William Bibbiani Talks About the Role Movie Posters Play in the Digital Age on "All Things Considered"

Photo: Sony Pictures

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Critically Acclaimed #70: 'Triple Frontier,' 'Captive State,' 'Wonder Park' and The Best Films of 2014

Film critics make "Best of the Year" list every single year, but time makes fools of us all, and five years later we've changed, the world's changed, and sometimes - in unexpected ways - the films change. 

That's why this week on CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold are revisiting their picks for the Best Films of 2014, re-examining how they feel about those movies, and revealing which films got better (or worse) over time, to come up with a brand new list!

Also this week, Bibbs and Witney review a whole bunch of new releases, including J.C. Chandor's "Triple Frontier," the sci-fi thriller "Captive State," the animated kids fantasy "Wonder Park," the classic Rastafarian crime drama "Babylon," the brand-ew Rastafarian crime drama "Yardie" (directed by Idris Elba!), the quirky fiberoptic heist drama "The Hummingbird Project," and the acclaimed, nearly four-hour drama "An Elephant Sitting Still!"

Give it a listen!

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Two-Shot #2: 'Kangaroo Jack' and 'Wake in Fright'

Men who lack dignity, trapped in the heat-baked wilds of the outback, stranded by financial ruin, taking their aggressions out on a hapless kangaroo. Yeah, that describes the god awful comedy "Kangaroo Jack," but it also describes Ted Kotcheff's harrowing classic "Wake in Fright," a film that was nearly lost to history but recently rediscovered in the unlikeliest of places.

Film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold pit one of the worst movies ever made against one of the best movies ever made, every week on THE TWO-SHOT, and this week's films might be the craziest they've ever done (yes, even crazier than "Jingle All The Way" and "Bicycle Thieves").

Give it a listen!

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Disney's Penguins'

Disney's long and celebrated history of producing nature documentaries continues in "Disney's Penguins," an adorable new documentary narrated by Ed Helms, about a plucky young bird in the Antarctic, struggling to find a mate, raise two kids, and protect them from the many dangers of their environment.

In his review of "Disney's Penguins" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani argues "a film like this is always a major accomplishment, so it feels like a cognitive disconnect when the actual story it tells seems so light and benign."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Disney's Penguins" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Disney

Friday, March 15, 2019

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The Hummingbird Project'

Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgard star in "The Hummingbird Project," a tale of two entrepreneurs whose big moneymaking scheme looks and plays a lot like an elaborate heist. Directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Kim Nguyen ("War Witch"), the film co-stars Salma Hayek and Michael Mando.

In his review of "The Hummingbird Project" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani praises Skarsgard's performance but argues that the film's airy tone "does little to address the film's frustratingly simple conclusions about life, the universe and everything." 

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The Hummingbird Project" at The Wrap

Photo: The Orchard

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Yardie'

Idris Elba makes his feature directorial debut with "Yardie," a DJ noir set in the 1970s, about a young man torn between his pacifist brother's legacy, his drug-dealing occupation, his need for revenge, and his powerful urge to spin the best records in the country!

In his review of "Yardie" at IGN, William Bibbiani calls the film "a skillful and promising debut from Elba," but bemoans that the film's story doesn't quite live up to its impressive period detail and style.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Yardie" at IGN

Photo: StudioCanal

Thursday, March 14, 2019

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Triple Frontier'

Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garret Hedlund and Pedro Pascal star in "Triple Frontier," the new crime/action thriller from acclaimed director J.C. Chandor ("A Most Violent Year"). They play former black ops soldiers who steal a fortune from a drug lord, only to run into impossible problems as they try to escape with their heavy, expensive cargo.

In his review of "Triple Frontier" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani argues that the film is "an ambitious and absorbing above-average thriller with something deeper on its mind, making this sometimes somber journey worthwhile."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Triple Frontier" at The Wrap

Photo: Netflix

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Wonder Park'

A little girl builds an imaginary amusement park with her mother, but when tragedy strikes the family, she has to save the park for real in the animated fantasy "Wonder Park." The features the vocal talents of Brianna Denski, Jennifer Garner, Matthew Broderick, Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Ken Hudson Campbell, Kenan Thompson and Ken Jeong.

In his review of "Wonder Park" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani calls the film "clumsy but amiable," and praises the film's message about "the importance of staying motivated in the wake of tragedy, depression, grief and loneliness."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Wonder Park" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Paramount Animation

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Canceled Too Soon #140: 'RoboCop: The Series' (1994)

Paul Verhoeven's "RoboCop" is one of the respected and celebrated movies of the 1980s, a film that transformed a potentially silly concept into a sharp, exciting, and completely subversive satire of American capitalistic culture. But although everyone loves about the original movie, and most people remember the two sequels and the remake, not everyone knows there was a short-lived live-action "RoboCop" tv series in 1994!

In the latest episode of CANCELED TOO SOON, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold take a look back at this ambitious Canadian television show, which tried to adapt Verhoeven's insidiously satirical sensibilities to family friendly television, keeping the show's edge while toning down the violence. Is it as good as the original? Is it at least as good as "RoboCop 2?" And if nothing else, is it better than "RoboCop 3?"

You'll find out in this exciting, all-new episode! And thank you to our listener "Canadian Keith" for donating this series off of our Amazon Wish List!

Give it a listen!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Critically Acclaimed #70: 'Captain Marvel,' 'The Kid,' 'Gloria Bell' and the Myths of Relatability

Some people in Hollywood and the fanbase at large think characters need to be "relatable" in order to connect to us, but what the heck does "relatable" even mean? And what about all the beloved characters in movies, television and literature that are evil as hell, but who we love anyway? Does "relatability" mean anything, and if so... does it even matter?

This week on CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold have a long debate about what some fans really mean when they criticize films like "Captain Marvel," and what it means when they use buzzwords but don't look deeper at the greater context of cinema.

Plus, Bibbs and Witney review "Captain Marvel," as well as the new indie releases "Gloria Bell" and "The Kid!"

Give it a listen!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Two-Shot #1: 'Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot' and 'All About My Mother'

Sylvester Stallone has had one of the most impressive and, sometimes, embarrassing careers in Hollywood history. But there's no film that's more embarrassing in Sly's IMDb listing than the silly comedy "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot," which pairs the muscly tough guy with Estelle Getty from "Golden Girls," as she humiliates him on every corner of Los Angeles with her overbearing mom gags.

It's considered one of the worst movies of the 1990s, but is it possible that "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot" is actually... good? Or at least not indefensible? And why they heck is it the perfect double feature with Pedro Almodovar's Oscar-winning 1999 classic "All About My Mother?"

You'll find out in the first episode of the CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED podcast spin-off, THE TWO-SHOT! Every week, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold review one of the most notorious movies ever made and find a bonafide classic motion picture that strikes a powerful comparison or contrast!

Give it a listen!

Canceled Too Soon #139: 'Collector's Item' (1957)

Vincent Price and Peter Lorre are two of the most iconic actors in motion picture history, and absolutely legends in the horror genre. So why, oh why, has hardly anybody heard of "Collector's Item," a TV pilot starring Price and Lorre as antique dealers who solve mysteries? Especially since it also co-stars Whitney Blake, the co-creator of the hit TV series "One Day at a Time?"

In this week's episode of Canceled Too Soon, we're going to find out! Film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold dig into the history of this forgotten TV pilot and figure out if it should have gone to series, and whether "Collector's Item" would work as a 21st Century reboot!

Give it a listen!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Captain Marvel'

Vers (Brie Larson), the title character in Anna Boden's and Ryan Fleck's “Captain Marvel,” superficially possess many traits common to her male counterparts throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe (now 21 films deep); that is, she is flip, mildly mouthy, capable in a pinch, occasionally sarcastic, and possessed of a blandly non-specific type of steely determination that has long been the default characteristic of action movie protagonists. Vers is set ever so slightly apart from impish class clowns like Iron Man (and Ant-Man, and Spider-Man, and Dr. Strange and any number of ultra-quippy Marvel protagonists) by her natural, affable, conversational humanity.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Critically Acclaimed #69: 'Drop Zone' and 'The General'

In the 1990s, you were EXTREME or you were NOTHING, and John Badham's skydiving action-thriller "Drop Zone" was definitely something. Wesley Snipes stars as a U.S. Marshal who has to learn extreme sports from Yancy Butler in order to stop an evil Gary Busey from parachuting Michael Jeter into computer labs? 

What the heck kind of movie is that, and why is it the perfect double feature with Buster Keaton's silent Civil War comedy classic, "The General?

You'll find out in this week's CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED! You'll also find out how our podcast is evolving - into TWO separate shows - and what film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold think about Steven Spielberg's proposed rule changes to the Oscars, which would eliminate Netflix Originals from the running.

Plus, you get reviews of the new releases "Greta," "Climax" and "Transit!" Isn't that cool?

Give it a listen!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Greta,' 'Transit' and 'Climax' on KCRW's Press Play!

Wanna hear our critics on the radio? Like, the real radio, not just on podcasts? William Bibbiani was on KCRW's Press Play with Madeleine Brand this week, reviewing the new releases "Greta," "Transit" and "Climax" along with film critic Jacqueline Coley from Rotten Tomatoes!

Give it a listen!

Photo: Universal

Canceled Too Soon #138: 'BlackJack' (1998)

Dolph Lundgren. Man of action. Cinema titan. He-Man and The Punisher himself. And in the failed pilot for "Blackjack," directed by the legendary John Woo ("The Killer," "Face/Off"), he played a bodyguard who's really, really scared of the color white! 

"Blackjack" was an epic action spectacular, when it wasn't a boring slog through the worlds of surrogate parenting and high fashion, but was it... CANCELED TOO SOON? 

Film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold look back at this unlikely failed experiment from two action demigods, to figure out what works, what's ridiculous, and whether it could EVER have actually worked as a television series!

Give it a listen!

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Transit'

Franz Rogowski stars in "Transit," a devastating drama from writer/director Christian Petzold, based on a World War II novel by Anna Seghers. Petzold transposes the action to the present day, where an all-too realistic wave of fascism has overtaken Europe, and stories of mistaken identity and adultery overlap in Marseilles, where every one trying to flee France has taken up (hopefully temporary) residence.

In his review of "Transit" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says Christian Petzold's film "always feels seductively dangerous, as though making it might have been an act of political defiance, and watching it could, with only a few horrible changes to our political climate, be against the law."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Transit" at The Wrap

Photo: Music Box Films