High-Rise (2015, Ben Wheatley, Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller): SPOILER Episode 23

January 12, 2017
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“I don’t work for you. I work for the building”

This week we’re watching Ben Wheatley’s film adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s supposedly "unfilmable" dystopian thriller ‘High-Rise’ and the team are at odds again, though not about Tom “so handsome it hurts” Hiddleston. With Andy occupying Paul’s usual spot on the fence, Paul wonders how anyone could possibly put themselves through this film more than once, while Rachael advocates reading the original novel as a possible way to unlock the film’s appeal. While Andy compares ‘High-Rise’ to the music of The Fall, Paul experiments with a new way of saying Rachael’s name while Rachael tries to find a point of entry, causing everyone else to look for a point of exit! Despite Paul’s hankering for some politically-inspired vandalism, everything remains fairly harmonious until the subject of ‘No Country for Old Men’ comes up.

Elsewhere in two very different features, Rachael takes a dreamy look at the highs and lows of being a Hiddlestoner while Andy plunges headlong into the nightmare world of screen violence.

This week’s scale: Soft, delicious mashed potato or 1980s robot-advertised instant mash

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: SPOILER Episode 22

December 29, 2016
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“Just when you think life can’t possibly get any worse it suddenly does”

This week we’re reading Douglas Adams’ cult sci-fi comedy novel ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. While Paul wonders if anyone anywhere dislikes this book, Rachael tries her best to cast a critical eye over this beloved work by comparing it to the original radio series, while Andy shares his favourite joke of all time with the team (it involves hippos). Paul describes the difficulty of trying to simultaneously cope with jogging, having a mid-life crisis and listening to this audio book, Andy suggests that knocking back a few drinks might help to realign the brain to Adams’ distinctive brand of logic and the naturally squiffy-brained Rachael sets down her very strict rules for discovering more books that mix the mundane with the fantastical.

Elsewhere, Andy takes a look at strange and ludicrous character names in films, Rachael explores the potentially controversial practice of new authors taking on existing series, and both manage to have a pop at James Bond’s sexual politics in the process.

This week’s scale: Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster or Vogon poetry

Mulholland Drive (2001, David Lynch, Naomi Watts, Laura Harring): SPOILER Episode 21

December 15, 2016
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“I hope that I never see that face ever, outside of a dream”

In a first for Spoiler, this week we’re tackling a listener request by watching David Lynch’s neo-noir mystery ‘Mulholland Drive’. In an attempt to disprove his former woodwork teacher’s accusations that he is “easily distracted”, Paul keeps a tight grip on the reins as he leads the team into the labyrinthine world of Lynch’s Los Angeles. Lucid dreamer Rachael ponders whether her connection with the film indicates that she is slightly unhinged, while Andy wonders whether the horror behind Winkie’s could possibly be worse than Billy Ray Cyrus’s line-dancing. As the conversation becomes more complex than the film itself, Paul states his intention to invent a new form of toaster and learn to play the theme tune from ‘Cheers’ on the piano, while Andy and Rachael discuss whether sex and nudity in films is always exploitative and unnecessary.

Elsewhere, Andy take a look at three directors whom he believes bring a greater sense of magic to their films than most mere mortals are capable of doing and the team ruminate on whether magic exists in the real world and what form it might take.

This week’s scale: Not at all satisfied, Slightly satisfied, Neutral, Very satisfied or Extremely satisfied

Humans Season 1 (Gemma Chan, Katherine Parkinson, John Hurt, 2015): SPOILER Episode 20

December 1, 2016
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“I’m watching you”

This week we’re watching series one of Channel 4 and AMC’s sci-fi drama ‘Humans’ and for the first time in months the Spoiler team are a house divided. While Rachael finds the series gripping and thought-provoking to the extent that she spends entire evenings mulling it over, Andy arrives with a laundry list of pernickety issues which he wants to go through “systematically”.  Meanwhile, Paul is still enjoying that marvellous view from the fence.

While the team manage to find some common ground, things get particularly heated in relation to the quality of acting in the series and Rachael and Andy turn in their own auditions for the roles of Mia and Leo respectively. Suspicions are raised that producer Jonny might be conducting a dual affair with both Andy and a home-made Gemma Chan synth and Paul wonders why, with all this talk of robots, no-one has seen fit to mention Metal Mickey.

Elsewhere in a packed show, Rachael reveals her top 5 sympathetic synthetics and Andy takes a look at the underappreciated art of the TV recap sequence. Also, Rachael trails her upcoming Spoiler Score Special, in which she’ll be talking to film and TV composers including Stephen Rennicks, Debbie Wiseman and Deborah Lurie.

This week’s scale: Will we be watching series 2?

 

Withnail & I (Richard E Grant, Paul McGann, 1987): SPOILER Episode 19

November 18, 2016
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“I’m in a park and I’m practically dead”

The Spoiler team are back from holiday but we’re off on holiday again… by mistake. This week we’re watching Bruce Robinson’s “plotless” black comedy ‘Withnail and I’, starring Richard E. Grant, Paul McGann and Richard Griffiths.

While Paul reluctantly recalls his own experiences of squalid living conditions in the 90s, the “far-from-teetotal” Andy confesses his initial confusion with his subsequently beloved home video edition of the film. Rachael sets about translating chunks of public schoolboy Latin and Paul hits a new broadcasting low with a dull conversation about zippo lighters that rivals the late-night ramblings of Camberwell Carrot devotees. The team also imagine an alternative universe where Withnail was played by Kenneth Branagh and ask whether Paul McGann’s character would have been better left nameless.

Elsewhere,the perennially sober Rachael counts down her top 5 movie drunks and, inspired by Richard Griffiths’ performance as Uncle Monty, Andy takes a look at the often uncomfortable relationship between cinema and homosexuality.

This week’s scale: 1953 Margaux or lighter fluid

 

The Breakfast Club (Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, 1985): SPOILER Episode 18

August 11, 2016
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"Screws fall out all the time. The world is an imperfect place"

This week we join the brat pack in John Hughes' 1985 coming of age comedy drama The Breakfast Club.

We discover that this movie is more than just daft haircuts and angry power chords as Paul, who loved The Breakfast Club as a teenager, finds watching it again all these years later a therapeutic experience and he finally accepts he WAS Brian.  Meanwhile, Rachael reveals she was a straight A student and Andy discusses his love/hate relationship with the movie.

Later, Paul decides to dress up as Ally Sheedy, which worries a confused Andy who had a crush on the actress, and, as he unleashes his anger at the makeover of his beloved ("a lovely woman ruined"), Racheal takes a look at some other movie makeover scenes including Grease, She's All That, Pretty In Pink and Muriel's Wedding.

Andycontinues his hot & cold relationship with The Breakfast Club by discussinghis frustration at the ending, and looks at some other movies withdisappointing denouements, including It's a Wonderful Life and the first twoSuperman movies.  And is that a chickendrumstick in Judd Nelson's hand at the end?

We love a bit of movie trivia on Spoiler, and The Breakfast Club is a veritable trivia-fest, as we discover that Rick Moranis, John Cusack and Laura Dern were all in the frame for roles in the movie, that Simple Minds weren't the original choice to record "Don't You Forget About Me", and we even find out the make and model of Brian's pen.

Andwe end this series with another of our fiercely fought music quizzes. Thistime, Andy tests Paul and Rachael's knowledge of 80s movie themes and raisesthe stakes with two specially made mix tapes as prizes: "The Best of the80s" for the winner, and "The Worst of the 80s" for the loser,which they MUST promise to listen to in its entirety, despite it including"Daddy's Home" by Cliff Richard.

This week's scale: The Breakfast Club or School of Rock

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Room by Emma Donoghue (2010 book) and Room (2015 film): SPOILER Episode 17

July 28, 2016
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"When I was small, I only knew small things"

This week we're watching and reading "Room" by Emma Donoghue as we take a look at both the original 2010 book and the 2015 film adaptation starring Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay.

The team approach this powerful story with trepidation, especially Paul who was unable to bear the tension of watching the film from start to finish. Andy and Rachael find themselves feeling so protective towards Jack and Ma that they didn't want to close the book and "leave them on their own".  And as we compare and contrast the book with the movie version, we look at what was lost in the adaptation to the big screen, but also what was gained in the brilliant performances of all the cast,in particular the outstanding Jacob Tremblay.

Meanwhile, inspired by some of the themes in Room, Andy takes a nostalgic look back at a room which played a big part in his life.

This week's scale: Book or Film

Vertigo (1958): SPOILER Episode 16

July 14, 2016
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"I'm not gonna crack up"

This week we're watching Alfred Hitchcock's psychological thriller Vertigo starring Kim Novak and James Stewart.

Hitchcock virgin Paul is confused by the appearance of Gavin Estler from BBC News 24, Andy reveals that Hitchcock was forced to shoot a rubbish alternate ending which thankfully was never used, and the team consider whether the whole thing could have been avoided if the creepy Nuns had just kept the bell tower door locked.

Meanwhile, Rachael lasts a whole 3 minutes before mentioning the soundtrack, which leads her to take a closer look at the work of composer Bernard Herrmann, including his famous score for Hitchcock's Psycho. And Hitchcock fan Andy investigates the Director's penchant for making cameos in his movies.

This week's scale: "Vertigo" the movie or "Vertigo" the 2004 U2 song that represents the modern shame of a once great band who used to pay their taxes

Gladiator (2000): SPOILER Episode 15

June 30, 2016
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"At my signal, unleash hell"

The keyword this week is EPIC as we watch Ridley Scott's Gladiator, and we quickly discover that our very own Rachael actually worked on this movie!  She lets us in on the experience of making a wig for the modest and self-effacing Russell Crowe and decries the lack of credit given to wig makers in movies. 

Paul has been working on his best Maximus Decimus Meridius impression, eulogising Oliver Reed and spotting "The Voice of Iggle Piggle", and the team are mystified at Russell Crowe's Oscar win and come to the conclusion he won it mainly for "squinting a bit". And we hear about a cancelled sequel which would have featured a time travelling Maximus in Vietnam – which Paul swears he hasn't made up.

Meanwhile, Andy's verdict:  "It was good".

Elsewhere in a packed show, Rachael is inspired by one of the famous improvised lines in Gladiator to look at some more unplanned moments in movies, including Pretty Woman, Good Will Hunting and Harry Potter. And Andy is surprised by the appearance of UK comedian Omid Djalili in Gladiator and seeks out some more unexpected appearances of UK television stars in big Hollywood movies, including Leonard Rossiter and Keith Chegwin!

This week's scale:  Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down

Inside No. 9 Series 2: SPOILER Episode 14

June 16, 2016
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"I’m not a dwarf!"

This week we're watching Series 2 of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith's dark comedy anthology Inside No. 9, concentrating first on the wet-your-pants-scary "Séance Time" which had the emotionally available Rachael slamming her laptop shut in terror.

In the second half of the show we move on to discuss perhaps the most talked-about episode of series 2, "The 12 Days of Christine", which has the team waxing lyrical about the outstanding class Sheriden Smith brings to this beautifully written and moving episode.

Later, Paul reveals how he once spent a lunch break stalking Reece Shearsmith through the streets of Nottingham, and the team are horrified by Andy's revelation that he doesn't find fart jokes funny!

Meanwhile, inspired by Inside No. 9's claustrophobic settings, Andy takes a look at other TV shows which have attempted so-called "bottle episodes", including Porridge, One Foot In The Grave, Seinfeld and Red Dwarf.

This week's scale: Laugh or Scream