May 252016
 

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I firmly believe that rest is best! Well, in this case, we at Behind the Pop are taking a few weeks off to rejuvenate and reinvigorate the show! We will return on  June 18th, 2016 with all new episodes, a new theme song, and possibly a new format! Woohoo! Seriously though, thank you for all the downloads, reviews and subscriptions. We WILL be turning the microphones back on after a much needed rest! Consider it Season 2. We love all of you. P.S. – The winner of the Amazon gift card knows who they are, make sure to shoot us an email at behindthepoppodcast@gmail.com.

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May 242016
 

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By: Bill Nelson

Welcome back, bad movie fans! It's time for another trip to the pit. Last week we we jumped into the Halloween season with the atrocity that is Darkness Falls. This week, I figured we'd continue the journey of terror and take a look at one of the newer releases on Netflix. Our film this week is the 2013 remake of the Brian de Palma masterpiece, Carrie. For those that care, Carrie was the debut novel of famed horror author Stephen King. It tells the story of Carrie White, a young woman who is tortured at home by her religious fundamentalist mother and abused at school for being different as she comes to grips with her burgeoning telekinetic abilities. King, who had been struggling as an author for some time prior to Carrie's publication had famously tossed the manuscript into the trash only to have it famously saved by his wife Tabitha who prodded him to submit it and the rest, as they say, is history.

While Carrie was both a surprise hit in both the literary and cinematic worlds, it left a lasting legacy in the horror world. While I was inwardly groaning when I read that it was being remade, I held out hope that it would be worthwhile when I discovered that Kimberly Peirce would be directing. Peirce, as the director of Boys Don't Cry, should have been the one to finally make Carrie into a work of terror with the touch of feminism that De Palma's vision hadn't quite captured. Instead we got yet another pointless remake of a famed movie.

To be fair, the remake is about as solid as you can get. Chloe Grace Moretz brings a willowy sadness to the character of Carrie. While she doesn't have the pitiful quality that Sissy Spacek did in the 1976 original, she is believable as the shy, lonely outcast who only wants to belong. She’s perhaps too pretty for the part, but that does little to impede her performance. Moretz's films over the years have largely been hit or miss. Personally, I think she has the potential to be an amazing actress, but thanks to her performance in Let Me In, she keeps getting lumped into roles for overly mature youngsters when her best parts allow her to be a kid and allow the maturity to shine through from there, a la Kick Ass and Dark Shadows. In Carrie she continues this tradition, her fidgets and awkwardness making Carrie feel real and her torment real.

The cast is rounded out by Judy Greer, who does a phenomenal job of playing the caring if slightly two-faced gym teacher Rita Desjardin, and Oscar winner Julianne Moore in the role of Carrie’s mother, Margaret White. Moore does a solid job in the role of the overly religious Margaret, but she's a pale shadow to Piper Laurie's unabashedly insane version of the same character in the original. It’s apparent that the filmmakers toned down the overtly religious Margaret and gave her a more compassionate angle in this version. I actually applaud that effort. It’s obvious that this version of Margaret ultimately believes that she’s trying to save Carrie but it ends up falling flat as we only get two scenes of Margaret without Carrie (though one of them still technically has her in it) to round this character out.

We also can’t ignore the film’s secondary protagonist, Sue Snell, played by the lovely Gabriella Wilde. She carries almost as much screen time as Carrie herself, and though much of the interaction between the two characters was eliminated, she handles her role well. She is given an unnecessary subplot that only comes up once midway through the film and isn’t referenced again until the very end, but beyond that her guilt is ultimately what propels the film forward and she does a decent job of playing the good girl who’s ashamed of giving in to her dark side. Ansel Elgort is appropriately charming as Tommy Ross, Sue’s boyfriend who is cajoled into taking Carrie to the prom. The scenes with him and Carrie are both tender and sweet and Elgort does an admirable job showing how surprised he is that he’s enjoying his time with Carrie. The film doesn’t quite go to the length that the original did and hint at a possible romance between the two characters, but it’s not far off. Finally, cast-wise, there’s Portia Doubleday as Chris Hargenson, our primary antagonist. Chris is the stereotypical spoiled teen taken to an extreme. Doubleday imbues her with a flair that makes it possible to understand why she’s one of the most popular girls in her school while making her raging bitch personality seem genuine. Ultimately, Chris ends up being evil for evil&’s sake instead of having a real progression, but it never feels out of character for her.

Now that I’ve raved about the cast for so long, I’m sure you’re wondering where the ball is going to drop on this film. There’s always something that turns a good film bad, isn’t there? In this case, it’s nothing glamorous. The film isn’t a train wreck and obviously the acting is more than solid. Instead, as is the case for most remakes, the film just isn’t original enough to warrant it’s own existence. While not the pointless endeavor that was Gus Van Sant’s shot for shot remake of Psycho, it’s very close. With the exception of an increased presence of social media that obviously didn’t exist back in 1976, 2013’s Carrie does very little that’s different from its predecessor. In researching the film prior to writing my article I did come across a few things that give me some hope there was a genuine reason for filming this new version of Carrie, though. In virtually all of the film’s marketing it was labeled as Kimberly Peirce’s reimagining of the original film. Since that is obviously not the case you have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The film was pulled from it’s original release date in the spring of 2013 for reshoots and an attempt to cash in on a potentially huge Halloween release. My research indicates that these reshoots were largely studio ordered and are likely what made the film a clone of the original version. If you pay close attention there are moments where we are introduced to characters who appear poised to do something in the film only to have them disappear, such as the boy with the camera in the library. He is in that one scene and doesn’t return again until the final carnage in the gym where he is given an oddly personal death for someone who only had one other scene in the movie. Also, the DVD/Blu-Ray release contains an alternate opening that shows Carrie has been developing her telekinetic abilities since she was very young. It’s small things like this that give me hope that there’s a director’s cut out there that shows us the unique vision that I know Kimberly Peirce is capable of.

Ultimately, though, we have to look at this version of the film and it’s surprisingly decent, just completely unnecessary. Fans of the De Palma version will likely be better served watching it instead (both versions along with the equally pointless sequel are available on Netflix) but if you’ve never seen Carrie before this isn’t a bad version to watch. Just make sure and watch De Palma’s version at some point before you leave this earth.

Stank Ranking ­- – 5/10

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May 222016
 

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In a very special episode of Behind the Pop, your heroes travel back to the 70’s and have an alcohol laden good time with The Nice Guys! After that, we go commercial free and give you a break down of the top 5 Movie Drunks! Will your favorite, lovable drunk maker the list, tune in to find out! Don’t forget to leave an iTunes review for your chance at a $20 Amazon Gift Card. It’s AMAZEBALLS!

Intro Music Courtesy of https://mathgrant.bandcamp.com/track/space-blocks as provided under the Creative Commons License: Attribution, NonCommercial, Sharealike – If this Podcast were to reach commercial status, this theme would be replaced.

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May 152016
 

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This week on Behind the Pop: With nothing new catching our interest, we’re going back in time to 2011 and reviewing what we are calling a Pantheon Film! That’s right, we’re taking on 2011’s Warrior, starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and Nick Nolte! What is a Pantheon Film? It is a film we consider nearly perfect in every aspect. In keeping up with the time travel element, we’re also going to breakdown our top 5 of 2011, which was an amazing year for cinema fans as our lists reflect!

Intro Music Courtesy of https://mathgrant.bandcamp.com/track/space-blocks as provided under the Creative Commons License: Attribution, NonCommercial, Sharealike – If this Podcast were to reach commercial status, this theme would be replaced.

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May 082016
 

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In a special hero versus hero edition of Behind the Pop, your heroes take on Marvel’s interpretation of the Civil War! Well, sort of. After we breakdown the fight between the Cap and Iron Man, we reveal our top 5 fights from comic book movies! And stick around after this special episode for a trashcan theater performance written by Kevin Smith himself! Bonus information: all audio issues have been corrected. Enjoy and remember to review and subscribe!

Intro Music Courtesy of https://mathgrant.bandcamp.com/track/space-blocks as provided under the Creative Commons License: Attribution, NonCommercial, Sharealike – If this Podcast were to reach commercial status, this theme would be replaced.

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May 042016
 

Area-51-Cast

By: Bill Nelson

Welcome back for another round of bad movie sweetness. For those that actually keep up with the article, I apologize for our two week long hiatus. This was beyond control but I assure you everything is finally coming back together for the site to be able to provide the consistently high level of entertainment you’ve come to expect from us. Or, at the very least it won’t get any worse.

Anyway, this week we’re going to take a look at a filmmaker more than a movie. Our flick this week is 2015’s Area 51, written and directed by one Oren Peli. In 2009 Oren Peli was the golden boy of the indie horror scene with his crowd pleasing film Paranormal Activity. Paranormal Activity reignited a fascination with found footage films that had sort of died out with The Blair Witch back in 1999. Even more so, it proved to be a unique way to tell a haunted house story that put us even more in the place of the characters experiencing the scares by putting us behind the filter of a camcorder. While hardly revolutionary, Paranormal Activity proved to be interesting which is more than most independent horror flicks can claim these days. Flash forward 6 years, though, and we see that to date Oren Peli has directed exactly 2 films, the original PA and this week’s movie, Area 51. Hardly the career of a young, up and coming genre director. True, Peli has made a name for himself producing more than directing, but it’s a strange path for the director of one of the biggest horror films in the last 10 years to take. After watching Area 51, I think I’m starting to understand why this is the case. Peli is one of those directors who is gifted with big ideas but not quite talented to pull them off. The end result of Area 51 is this bitter taste of mediocrity with twinges of what could have been laced through.

Here’s the basic premise. Area 51 follows three primary characters: Reid, Darrin, and Ben. The beginning of the movie is actually a series of talking head interviews telling the audience instead of showing them how Reid went through a drastic personality change over the previous three months, going from an outgoing, athletic young man to an obsessed conspiracy theorist, and how these changes lead to the disappearance of the three young men. Then we are shown video footage of the young men at a party, drinking and partying when suddenly Reid disappears from the party during a short black out. He isn’t seen again until the other two are driving home and find him standing in the middle of the road staring off into space.

The movie then jumps forward three months to the weekend they disappeared. We’re shown that Reid has developed an obsession with alien visitation and abduction and has spent the last three months planning to sneak onto the military base known as Area 51 to prove that aliens have visited the planet. The rest of the movie is basically a series of misadventures as the trio tests and plays with their equipment, meets a comely young woman who claims her father was fired from Area 51 for asking too many questions and has documents showing where the secrets are hidden on the base, and finally the break in to the base itself.

The biggest problem with this movie is that it spends too much time spinning its wheels trying to establish a story but since the story is so thin to begin with it basically feels like you’re just watching a bunch of whiny, petulant kids film themselves for an hour. The most interesting part of the whole film, the exploration of Area 51, is also the least developed. We are shown revelations at breakneck speed but there is not time given to flesh them out or tie them back to earlier moments in the story, leaving a feeling like there is no consistent logic within the film.

I have to give props to two scenes in the flick, the white blood scene, where the characters find a lab like room containing several strange objects such as a black chunk of rock that seems to spin and levitate of its own accord and a bowl of white, blood­-like liquid in a bowl under a glass case. The white blood seems to react to the presence of the characters until it finally seems to try to attack them, which causes the rock to suddenly spin out of control and break from it’s container. The second is the saucer like ship they find shortly there after. The ship seems to react to Reid’s touch, opening up and allowing him inside. Once inside, Reid finds strange pod like containers that appear to have once housed living things and discovers that he can see out into the room where his friends are waiting but once he gets out finds that they couldn’t see him. Both of these scenes were likely not difficult to actually accomplish, but they elevate the effects of the movie, which to that point have been minimal at best, and create a certain wow factor. Since there’s no real connection to exactly why these things are important except ‘woo, alien!’ means that they don’t make the film better, though.

If you’re going to make a movie like this you need to spend more time developing the Reid character. After all, he’s the driving force for why the three characters are trying to break into Area 51 in the first place. In other words, we need more than barely five minutes of him partying to establish his original personality and more than talking heads to convince us he’s different. The Reid shown throughout the film doesn’t really seem all that different from the Reid at the beginning. He’s perhaps a little more driven and focused than Party Reid, but, considering how little we actually knew him at the flick’s start, this doesn’t really seem like that drastic a change.

Ultimately, Area 51 has some serious promise. The story needs some tightening to flesh out the remaining characters, particularly Reid, and to give us a reason to care that they’re storming Area 51 than just because. Also, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to tie some of the scares once they get to Area 51 back to things that we as audience members see from watching the video footage that the characters, who are supposedly doing the actual filming, aren’t able to see. Planting the seed for a scare means you get a bigger pay off down the road and don’t have to rely solely on jump scares to rattle your audience. So, to finally put a long story to bed, Area 51 is intriguing at times but comes across as Paranormal Activity’s younger, less interesting step­brother.
Stank Ranking ­- – 8/10

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May 012016
 

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Join your cool cats at Behind the Pop this week as we review Keanu, the Key and Peele film, and break down our top 5 Keanu Reeves movies! Warning to all audiophiles (like myself), we have a couple of degraded auxiliary cables that need to be replaced, so there some moments where you hear some crackling! I apologize in advance, and we will be fixing it for next weeks episode! Thank and much love!

Intro Music Courtesy of https://mathgrant.bandcamp.com/track/space-blocks as provided under the Creative Commons License: Attribution, NonCommercial, Sharealike – If this Podcast were to reach commercial status, this theme would be replaced.

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