by Steve Carlson

by Simon Abrams by Steve Carlson Podcasts

Bad Idea Podcast | Episode 1

February 7, 2011
200-motels

#1: Lemme Take You to a Show, Whoa-oh Whoa-oh-oh-oh Oh-oh Oh Oh: Frank Zappa on Film Download episode here. Episode Description: Everybody’s got to start somewhere so this first episode is not even close to being topical. The topic du jour is Frank Zappa on film and why watching either 200 Motels or Uncle Meat, mockumentaries-cum-freak-outs starring Frank and the Mothers of Invention, are arguably a unique form of cruel and unusual torture. They’re also unique products of…

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by Steve Carlson Current Film

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole | Zack Snyder

November 10, 2010
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010)

Some directors spend their entire careers switching effortlessly between genres. Zack Snyder does not. He is an action director, and everything he makes emerges as an action film. Clearly he wishes to be seen as a jack of all trades, the kind of guy who can make any movie; he’s hung his name on a horror movie, two highly divergent examples of comic-book cinema, and now, a film populated by talking owls and aimed at children. All of these films,…

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by Steve Carlson Current Film

The Other Guys | Adam McKay

October 5, 2010
The Other Guys (2010)

Will Ferrell is a very funny guy who has been accused of doing a certain type, a type he falls into easily, too often. I prefer to think of his as a coherent body of work. Whether macho man or milquetoast, Ferrell’s characters are tied to each other by the carefully-arranged and precise lives they lead, and by their adverse reaction to shifts in those lives. The slightest upset can send them off into fits of howling anger or surrealistic…

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by Steve Carlson Current Film

Toy Story 3 | Lee Unkrich

July 23, 2010
Toy Story 3 (2010)

“We’re all just trash, waiting to be thrown away…” Consider what it must be like to be a toy in the world of the Toy Story films. It’s all fun and games as long as your owner is of the age where you matter. Every toy, like every human, must know that nothing lasts forever; and as long as you aren’t junked, you’re effectively immortal. This translates to a relatively brief window of happiness sidling into a long dry desert…

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by Steve Carlson Current Film

Splice | Vincenzo Natali

July 19, 2010
Splice (2010)

“What’s the worst that could happen?” The smart viewer, upon hearing this phrase during a film, will cringe. This is always intended as a rhetorical query, yet the asking will invariably summon up the barrel-bottom worst-case scenario that the characters are doing all they can to avoid. This holds especially true if these characters are in a film wherein they’re practically inviting the worst upon themselves by Tampering in God’s Domain—a film like, say, Vincenzo Natali’s creepy-funny sci-fi shock show Splice.…

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by Steve Carlson Current Film

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) | Tom Six

June 1, 2010
The Human Centipede (2010)

The man is pale and severe and gaunt, terribly gaunt. His crisp white lab coat hangs on him as though it has always been there. The stentorian cast of his aged features is impenetrable—he rarely smiles, and when he has cause to try the result is closer to a grimace. Everything about his existence—his house, his workspace, his actions—is clean, measured, precise. This stands in direct contrast to the horrible unnatural desires rumbling and churning just beneath the surface. The…

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by Steve Carlson Current Film

Kick-Ass | Matthew Vaughn

April 20, 2010
Kick-Ass (2010)

The problem with Kick-Ass is that it has too much Kick-Ass in it. That statement could be read a couple of ways, all true. There’s a terrific story and a terrific film in this material—there’s probably several terrific films, truth be told—but for Matthew Vaughn’s version to work like it should, he needed a different protagonist. So what’s wrong with Kick-Ass? Haven’t we all dreamed of righting wrongs, of playing the hero and garnering the admiration of a grateful city? Dave…

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by Steve Carlson Current Film

How to Train Your Dragon | Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois

April 20, 2010
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

How to Train Your Dragon is warm and winning—a real charmer of a family film. Given that it’s a product of Dreamworks Studios, who are more apt to churn out cynical and lazy product replete with lousy pop-culture jokes, this comes as a surprise. But then, they also released Kung Fu Panda, so maybe they’re just trying harder now. The formula for success used by Panda, in fact, is more or less the same that works for Dragon: take some well-worn life…

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