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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2019) #26!

It’s time for the Scannain podcast!

We’ve got four of a kind this week, as I join Jay Coyle, Grace Duffy and Ronan Doyle to discuss the week in cinema. This week, Jay has watched Experiment in Terror, Booksmart, Metal Heart and Hotel Monterey. Grace has watched Stoker, Night Moves, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Ronan has watched The Front Page, Night and Fog, Ricky and Lemonade. Jay and Ronan have also both watched the latest installment in the Up series. I have watched Anima, Shaft and the entire Toy Story franchise.

In film news, it’s a packed July at the Irish Film Institute, the Lighthouse has a special screening of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Phantom Islands released on Vimeo on Demand, a list of industry experts announced as speaking at the Galway Film Fleadh, and the casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel in the upcoming live action remake of The Little Mermaid.

The top ten:

  1. Child’s Play
  2. Apollo 11
  3. Avengers: Endgame
  4. The Queen’s Corgi
  5. Rocketman
  6. The Secret Lives of Pets II
  7. Men in Black International
  8. Aladdin
  9. Yesterday
  10. Toy Story 4

New releases:

You can listen to the podcast directly here.

Note: Podcast contains spoilers for both Yesterday and Spider-Man: Far From Home.

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137. Toy Story 4 – This Just In (#116)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, This Just In is a subset of The 250 podcast, looking at notable new arrivals on the list of the 250 best movies of all-time, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Josh Cooley’s Toy Story 4.

At time of recording, it was ranked 116th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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“For Infinity… and Beyond…”: In Praise of “Toy Story 2” as the Perfect Sequel…

Ranking films is often a fool’s errand.

I make this argument with no small amount of hypocrisy. Most obviously, I co-host a weekly podcast called The 250, which is dedicated to exploring the Internet Movie Database’s Top 250 Movies of All-Time. Even beyond that, I am guilty of participating in that periodic pleasure of pundits everywhere; the top ten… or forty… or fifty. At the end of every year, I produce a list of my favourite films of the year, whether on the Scannain podcast, on my personal Twitter, or even occasionally on this blog. In my defense, I rationalise that through a desire to draw attention to good films, and accept we can quibble on the order of said film.

At the same time, these lists can often be illuminating in terms of contextualising affection for a particular film, or for gauging the general mood. So when a film appears on a single list, it might be worth checking out if you trust the author. If it appears on multiple lists, it is probably a much stronger recommendation. (The Scannain annual top ten is an eclectic list, but it disparate viewpoints often settle on at least one consensus pick: You Were Never Really Here, Moonlight, Hell or High Water.) It helps to set a level of a particular film’s relative appeal and popularity.

By that measure, Toy Story 2 is generally considered the weakest film its franchise. At time of writing, Toy Story, Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4 all feature on the Internet Movie Database’s Top 250 Movies of All-Time. Toy Story 2 is the lowest ranked entry in the franchise on lists compiled by Variety, Business Insider and The Ringer. It is the ranked as the weakest of the original trilogy on lists compiled by Slant Magazine, Collider and Polygon. None of this amounts to anything that can quantifiably be described as a “backlash.” After all, to be the worst Toy Story movie, a film still has to be pretty good.

However, there is a sense in which Toy Story 2 gets overlooked. There are any number of structural reasons for that. The middle part of a trilogy, picking up immediately after Toy Story but without offering the resolution expected of Toy Story 3, the film is neither a beginning nor an end. It is not an introduction to these characters, and it does not really function as a farewell either. More than that, the film may also be somewhat tarnished by its production history, originally mooted as a straight-to-video release before entering an insanely fast turnaround as a theatrical feature; it is partly why Disney owns Pixar.

Still, this tends to look past what makes Toy Story 2 such a delight. It is in many ways the perfect sequel.

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Non-Review Review: Wreck It Ralph

Wreck It Ralph is a charming animated film, and one with all manner of interesting ideas. It teases a fascinating take on the archetypal children’s movie narrative – the notion that perhaps roles in stories cannot be so easily devolved into “good guy” and “bad guy” stereotypes. It raises all manner of insightful possibilities, drawing on a diverse cast of characters to offer us what amounts to the story of two outcasts dealing with the fact that they don’t necessarily get to be part of narratives that might make them a hero.

Unfortunately, there’s only so far you can bend this sort of hero’s journey before it breaks – or snaps back in your face, if you’re watching a slapstick cartoon. Wreck It Ralph compromises a bit too much in its final act, undermining a lot of what had been its appeal in order to offer a staggeringly conventional ending. It’s a shame, because it’s willingness to subvert so many narrative norms is a large part of the appeal of the film.

Sometimes life isn't two-dimensional...

Sometimes life isn’t two-dimensional…

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Non-Review Review: Brave

Brave is certainly a significant improvement upon Cars 2, even if it doesn’t necessarily measure up the finest films in the Pixar stable. Part of the problem is the sense that, for the first time, the studio is telling a story that isn’t really their own. I know that particular films in the studio’s history owe a great deal to certain influences (The Incredibles to The Fantastic Four, for example), but Brave really feels like the studio is very much trying to put its own take on the conventional “Disney Princess” movie. While the results are certainly interesting, it never feels like Braveis entirely comfortable with itself. While the film is, technically speaking, quite impressive, it does feel like it never quite strikes the right balance.

The right to bear arms…

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Home of the Brave: Is Brave a Pixar Princess Movie?

I have to admit, I’m having a hard time getting too excited about Brave. To be honest, the notion of an original Pixar movie should be a breath of fresh air after the incredibly disappointing Cars 2. The studio is, after all, responsible for quite a few modern classics – those rare cinematic treats that the entire family can sit down and enjoy together. However, despite my deep-biding affection for classics like Wall-E, Up, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles or any of the Toy Story films, I can’t seem to be too concerned about the approaching release of the studio’s latest animated effort. I can’t help but feel that – despite the fact it’s their first film that isn’t a sequel in quite some time – we’ve seen this all before.

Is Brave just a Pixar “princess” movie, the spiritual successor to the long line of Disney “princess” movies?

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Non-Review Review: Finding Nemo

You know, even after all this time, I think that Finding Nemo views with The Incredibles as my favourite Pixar production. I respect and appreciate the sheer artistry and technical skill that went into Wall-E and I think Uprepresents the company’s most mature work to date, but I think Nemo perfectly captures everything that I love about the company – the maturity, the humour, the adventure, the technical skill of it all. Plus it has perhaps the best voice cast of the films.

The life aquatic...

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