This week we’re talking about Kubo and the Two Strings, a stop-motion film that blew both of us away. Kubo and the Two Strings comes to us from the studio Laika, who previously created Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. We did our best to not spoil anything from the plot of this movie, because we want all of you to go see it. It’s absolutely gorgeous. We talk a little about our own experiences with stop-motion animation, and some surprise casting coups of a mid-1990s book adaptation.
Then, it’s on to the incredible feat that is stop-motion animation in general, and what Kubo and the Two Strings accomplishes with animating fur, and the way the layers of the movie (stop-motion techniques plus CGI backgrounds and colouring) work together to create a magical effect. Here’s the production video we reference several times in the podcast. As you can see, deranged is an apt descriptor for the dedication of these artists, craftspeople, and film makers.
Our next topic is the cast and casting of the film. We agreed that Charlize Theron was doing what she does best in our post-Furiosa world, and that Matthew McConaughey is ideally suited to a dim-witted beetle with unearned bravado. We wondered why the great George Takei was on the poster when he didn’t have more than a couple of lines. The casting of three white actors in the main roles in this Japanese story rankled me while watching the film. Here’s what the director of the film, Travis Knight had to say on the casting choices made for the film.
Also, I somehow completely missed that the Irish actor who voiced Kubo, Art Parkinson, is (was—you need to zig zag!) actually Rickon from Game of Thrones. Not sure how I read his Wikipedia page and didn’t catch that, but there you have it. Jeff does have an eyebrow raise for Rooney Mara, already a participant in a whitewashed film controversy, for accepting another role that fits that bill. A telling quote from that article? “I really hate, hate, hate that I am on that side of the whitewashing conversation. I really do. I don’t ever want to be on that side of it again.” – Rooney Mara, February 22, 2016. OK, then. The full trailer for Kubo and the Two Strings can be seen here if you aren’t convinced by us, but we really, really recommend taking the time to see this beautiful film.
In our second segment, we take a look back at the summer movies of 2016. The state of the summer blockbuster is such that Jeff counted 20+ movies that could qualify in the category, and together, he and I saw quite a few of them. He poses the question: have we reached a time of Peak Blockbuster in popular culture? We talk about movies we didn’t love (like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Star Trek: Beyond). We also talk about movies we skipped for various reasons (why did you have to do us like that, Suicide Squad, why?), and the ever-increasing role trusted critical voices play in our movie selection. Our combined enthusiasm for Captain America: Civil War brings back all sorts of good feelings, and we remind you all of this glorious scene:
We close the show with Kool-aid picks as usual. Jeff is up first and is very much here for all the good things happening on BoJack Horseman. He is particularly impressed with the latest season and its ability to tackle deep, dark stuff through talking animals. Here is a link to the podcast I mentioned from The Hollywood Reporter with Michael Eisner.
This week, I’m finishing off the uneven, but ultimately enjoyable Downton Abbey, and the final season pulled at my cold heart enough for me to recommend it to you all. While the plots on that show were sometimes terrible, the hats, coats, and locations remained among the most beautiful on television for the 7 season run of the series. Thanks for that, Downton.
We said that Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice came out in February, but it actually came out in March. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Thanks so much for joining us this week! Don’t want to miss an episode? Go ahead and subscribe on iTunes or on Google Play! Check back on September 15th for our next episode, all about the Emmys (and hear our reactions to the nominations here)!