For a documentary about mushrooms, ‘Fantastic Fungi’ is oddly satisfying

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We’re 88Nine’s Justin Barney and Milwaukee Film’s Kpolly. We’re buds, we like cinema — we’re Cinebuds.

This week on the podcast we are talking about the epic new documentary “Fantastic Fungi” – a dazzling new film about the magical world of fungi and their power to heal, sustain and contribute to the regeneration of life on Earth. 

Words by Kpolly

Are we going all Birkenstocks and hacky sacks over here! I mean, sure. But there’s a lot more to this topic than you might initially believe. Not only does the film bring you some white hot factoids about the grand scheme of how fungi relate the planet (ex. every step you take there is 300 miles of fungi below your foot!), but it delivers this info with “Matrix”-like visual effects and sweeping landscapes that will blow you away.

You know that fast-motion thing they do with mushrooms when you see them grow in a couple of seconds? This film is lousy with them. File that under the “oddly satisfying” label…

Brie Larsen provides the voice of the narrator on this mushroom adventure and there are some luminaries such as author Michael Pollan, and THE Tradd Cotter (honestly, I don’t know who that is, but it’s kind of a great name).

If this kind of movie is your thing, we’ll give you some other recommendations for movie-going!

Don’t forget to rate, follow, and share our podcast if you like it. And if you don’t like, please do it anyway.

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Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “Backspin: The Search for Milwaukee’s First Hip-Hop Song,” a six-part exploration of the birth of Milwaukee rap. All episodes are streaming now.

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‘Dolittle’ is horrible, but is it as horrible as everybody says?

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We’re 88Nine’s Justin Barney and Milwaukee Film’s Kpolly. We’re buds, we like cinema — we’re Cinebuds.

Words by Kpolly

This week on Cinebuds we will be discussing Dolittle. Why, you ask? I’ll be honest. I’m not really sure. It just kinda happened and neither of us fought it too hard. It’s like when you walk into a room and you forget why you walked in there…  

“Doolittle” | Courtesy Universal Pictures

Leaving behind Rex Harrison and Eddie Murphy, we now have “Bobby Down” as the titular physician. Dr. John Dolittle lives in solitude behind high walls 19th-century British mansion, surrounded by a variety of exotic animals that he can chat with. When the Queen of England is in trouble he must leave his lavish refuge and embark on a quest with his animal crew.

Clearly a film aimed at children, the movie still has some pretty across-the-board naysayers. One of us gets why. The other one feels like the criticism might be a bit too harsh.  

Is it a go-nowhere failed adventure flick? Or is it “Pirates of the Caribbean” with wise-cracking ostriches? Or is it both?  

We will also let you know, as we have done lately, what else we’ve been watching. God forbid, we go outside once in a while!!

And don’t forget to like, subscribe and share our podcast with your pals.  If you don’t, we’ll be fired and probably have to get real jobs!  

Like what you hear? Subscribe!

Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “Backspin: The Search for Milwaukee’s First Hip-Hop Song,” a six-part exploration of the birth of Milwaukee rap. All episodes are streaming now.

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At the Oscars, ‘Parasite’ makes Best Picture history

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At Sunday’s Oscars, on a night when almost everything went as planned and as usual, the one true surprise came in the biggest moment of all.

Bong Joon-ho, here with interpreter Sharon Choi, won big at Sunday’s Oscars. His film Parasite took best international feature and best picture, and he was recognized for his direction and writing.

For the first time ever, a film in a foreign language won best picture when Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, a comedy-drama-thriller about class and secrets, took the big prize. Bong also won the awards for best director and best original screenplay. He delivered three warm and generous speeches, including one when he won for his directing and thanked fellow nominees Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino for inspiring him and boosting his career, respectively. (He acknowledged Sam Mendes and Todd Phillips, too.) And, while he gave most of his speeches in Korean with interpreter Sharon Choi, when he won the first one, he stopped and noted in English: “This is very first Oscar to South Korea.” The affection in the room for the film was evident every time it was mentioned, as well as in its strong haul of awards (though it absurdly landed not a single nomination for its uniformly excellent cast).

The evening began three and a half hours earlier with a combination of the old and the new: the kind of themed singing-dancing number that used to be the typical Oscars opening, but in the absence of a traditional host, it was performed by the thoroughly modern Janelle Monáe. A version of her own song “Come Alive” was accompanied by dancers dressed in costumes saluting not just nominated films like Joker, but also conspicuously snubbed ones — several of them, but not all, from black filmmakers — including Us, Queen and Slim, Dolemite Is My Name and Midsommar. The monologue that followed, however, was much more creaky and awkward, despite the best efforts of Chris Rock and Steve Martin (the latter of whom regrettably blew the name of best actress nominee Cynthia Erivo).

The awards in general, and the ones this season in general, have been heavily criticized for how white the nominees are, the failure to nominate any women directors in a year when several made highly regarded films, and plenty of other shortfalls in inclusivity. The Academy’s discomfort with that criticism seemed evident: There may not have been a lot of performers of color among the nominees, but there were a lot among the presenters and speakers and performers. Several presenters — as well as Monáe in her opening number — made mention of the limitations at issue, which is the kind of thing that happens when people are placed in a situation they don’t want to ignore but also aren’t there to challenge too much.

One new inclusion was a land acknowledgment — a custom that’s commonly observed in other places, including Canada, at cultural events (I’ve personally seen them at the Toronto International Film Festival). In this case, it was writer-director Taika Waititi, nominated for Jojo Rabbit, who read an acknowledgment of the indigenous people who have lived on the land where the event — in this case, the Academy Awards — takes place. Whether this gesture will be followed up by any action as to the broadening of the Academy’s taste remains, of course, to be seen.

Parasite‘s win for best picture stood out, particularly because almost all of the other awards that had seemed likely to go a particular way did: Legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins won for his work on 1917, the WWI film engineered to look like a continuous shot. Film editing is often a precursor to other big awards, and this year the winners were the editors of racing drama Ford V. Ferrari. Parasite had been expected to win (or at least to contend strongly) in the categories of best international feature film and for Bong Joon-ho’s original screenplay. Waititi was a favorite for best adapted screenplay, which he won.

The acting awards this year had heavy favorites going into the ceremony: Joaquin Phoenix as best actor in Joker, Renee Zellweger as best actress in Judy, Brad Pitt as best supporting actor in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Laura Dern as best supporting actress in Marriage Story. They all won. Most of them said about what you might expect (although Phoenix surprised many of us by adding to his speech about fighting injustice a mention of the cruelty of artificially inseminating cows and then stealing their offspring, while Zellweger listed many of her heroes in a speech that matched his, meander for meander).

The lower-profile (but critical) behind-the-scenes awards were spread across a bunch of films. Best production design went to Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which re-created the late-’70s L.A. landscape and aesthetic with a lot of loving attention. Little Women won its only award of the night for Jacqueline Durran’s costume design, full of beautiful dresses both fancy and not. The transformation of actors into familiar faces from the news won an award for the hair and makeup team from Bombshell. The sound editing award went to Ford v. Ferrari and both sound mixing and visual effects went to 1917.

The non-surprises kept coming: Toy Story 4 won best-animated feature. Best documentary feature was awarded to “American Factory,” which boasts Barack and Michelle Obama as producers and which comes from Netflix. Hair Love, a lovely film about a father learning to do his daughter’s hair for the first time, written and directed by Matthew A. Cherry, won best animated short, and Cherry dedicated the award to Kobe Bryant: “May we all have a second act as great as his was.” Best live-action short film went to The Neighbor’s Window, and best documentary short subject went to Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl).

The nominated best original songs were performed on stage as usual. Introducer Josh Gad had some fun pointing out that Idina Menzel’s name is “pronounced exactly as it’s spelled” (take that, John Travolta) before she performed “Into the Unknown” from Frozen 2. Menzel was joined by some of the singers who have performed the song in other languages in one of the evening’s better innovations. Chrissy Metz performed “I’m Standing With You” from Breakthrough, accompanied by the choir that’s nearly obligatory. Randy Newman performed “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4, and Cynthia Erivo (also nominated for best actress) performed the song “Stand Up (From Harriet),” which, as its title suggests, is from Harriet. Elton John performed “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman, seemingly hamstrung by a bad sound mix.

When they’d all been heard, “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” was victorious. Hildur Guðnadóttir won best original score for her work on Joker.

The musical moment you probably would not have expected — because, really, who could? — was that actor Anthony Ramos introduced Lin-Manuel Miranda; Lin-Manuel Miranda introduced a montage saluting the music used in movies over many decades; and that montage led to Eminem performing the Oscar-winning “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile, to which the audience responded rapturously. It wasn’t an obvious move to throw in that performance, given that it’s not celebrating any kind of round-numbered anniversary; it won at the 2003 ceremony, though Eminem didn’t perform it then.

But it made people happy and got the crowd going like nothing else did all evening except Parasite winning awards, and there’s something to be said for that. Not long after, there was a recap rap from Utkarsh Ambudkar, an actor who appeared this year in Brittany Runs a Marathon, reminding everyone what had happened so far. That’s a lot of rap for an Oscars ceremony.

Last year’s ceremony also went without a host, and it wound up being dominated by the actual wins and losses. That made big nights for Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody, neither of which seemed to excite the crowd, very disappointing. But this year, the fact that there’s good feeling around so many different films — and enormous respect and love for both Parasite and Bong Joon-ho — means that this ceremony fared much better.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Cinebuds break down this year’s Oscar nominees

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We’re 88Nine’s Justin Barney and Milwaukee Film’s Kpolly. We’re buds, we like cinema — we’re Cinebuds.

On this week’s episode, we’re digging into “Marriage Story,” the new film from Noah Baumbach. He’s directed other movies that deal with personal relationships and how those relationships change over time, “Kicking and Screaming,” “Frances Ha,” and “The Meyerowitz Stories” among others.

If you haven’t seen “Marriage Story,” but have been on Twitter, you may have seen a particular scene in which Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson are yelling at each other. We talk about this scene. We talk about the music, (which is done by Randy Newman!) the premise and its nomination for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Marriage Story | Photo courtesy Netflix

And, speaking of the Academy Awards, they are this Sunday! We got Oscar coverage too. For Best Picture we have it down to three tiers.

Long shots: “Ford vs. Ferrari” “Jo Jo Rabbit” and “Little Women”

Middle tier: “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” “Marriage Story”

Most likely: “The Irishman” “1917” “Joker”

??????? (but our favorite): “Parasite”

Plenty of other predictions and hot takes in the pod. Check it below.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

What’s new pussycat? The CatVideoFest returns to Milwaukee this February

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For the past five years, I have failed in my mission to get a slew of office kittens for 88Nine. Luckily, I won’t have to cry over spilled milk because the annual CatVideoFest returns to Milwaukee this February thanks to Milwaukee Film.

Still from CatVideoFest 2020

The annual CatVideoFest returns to Milwaukee’s Oriental Theatre for one night only on Feb. 23. CatVideoFest curates a compilation reel of the latest, best cat videos culled from countless hours of unique submissions and sourced animations, music videos and more. Proceeds from the film will help cats in need in the Milwaukee area. You can learn more and get tickets at the Oriental Theatre’s website.

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Forget the Oscars; the Independent Spirit Awards are where it’s at

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We’re 88Nine’s Justin Barney and Milwaukee Film’s Kpolly. We’re buds, we like cinema — we’re Cinebuds.

On this week’s episode, we’re taking a break from the Oscars to talk about a better alternative that recognizes a wider spectrum of films, isn’t overly influenced by expensive campaigning from major studios and often features great hosts: the Independent Spirit Awards. We run through this year’s nominees, which include “Uncut Gems,” a movie completely ignored by the Oscar’s and totally worthy of all the acclaim.

facebook.com/IndependentSpiritAwards/

Words by Kpolly

The Cinebuds are taking on the establishment, man! The Oscars are dead (actually, we’ll be talking about them, too); Long Live the Independent Spirit Awards!

This week we’ll be talking about the Film Independent Spirit Awards, which will be shown on IFC (The Independent Film Channel) on Feb. 8 this year.  The Spirit Awards started in 1985 to celebrate independent film and bring those stories out into the light. Over the last 35 years the show has grown a stellar reputation (unlike SOME mainstream awards shows that I will not mention…. until you listen to the podcast… then I will mention them often) and has an incredible turnout of talent. There is some overlap in the nominees for the Oscars and the Spirit Awards, but the latter also will have films that you feel like you SHOULD have heard about by now, but haven’t.
  
Look, we love all types of movies. Blockbusters to micro-budget indie character pieces, but there’s something insidious about how those big awards shows dole out their praise (which will translate to more money for those who don’t need it). The shows that truly celebrate the art of movie making are shining a spotlight on more innovative work and bring the attention to brilliant filmmakers who, in most cases, could use the boost.  And, very simply, it gives me more stuff to discover and enjoy, instead of the same 10 celebrities making the same 10 formulas for film.
  
Take a listen to the podcast to hear me nerdily raise my voice about this some more. And we also dig in to some other stuff we’ve been watching or reading or swimming in… etc.

Like what you hear? Subscribe!

Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “Backspin: The Search for Milwaukee’s First Hip-Hop Song,” a six-part exploration of the birth of Milwaukee rap. All episodes are streaming now.

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Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’ celebrates friendship and compassion

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We’re 88Nine’s Justin Barney and Milwaukee Film’s Kpolly. We’re buds, we like cinema — we’re Cinebuds.

On this week’s episode, we dig into Greta Gerwig’s heartfelt adaptation of “Little Women.” Hear our thoughts below.

Little Women

Words by kpolly

Sure, everyone’s out there watching these blockbusters like GIANT DUDES, or BIG FELLAS. Or even that brand new HEFTY GENTS. But, not us. No, we’re gonna talk about LITTLE WOMEN. Deal with it!!

That’s right! This week on Cinebuds we’re talking about Greta Gerwig’s newest film, based on the classic American novel by Louisa May Alcott. The story of the March sisters and their family. The sisters are all living their lives in their own way and bucking conventions all the while. It’s a story with no real villain and a lot of love and friendship and compassion — a nice change.

“Little Women” has been filmed at least six times as a feature film and countless times as a mini-series, made-for-TV film, theatrical production, etc. How will Gerwig’s version set itself apart? The first hint is the stellar cast. Saoirse Ronan plays the best March sister, Jo. You’ve got Laura Dern as the mother. You’ve got Timothée Chalamet as Laurie. And since Meryl Streep is contractually obligated to be in all movies, you’ve got Meryl Streep as their sweetly grumpy Aunt March. Whew!  

The film, while adhering to the time period wonderfully, also has a contemporary feel that the actors bring to it. It makes the film even more relevant than it usually is.  

Do you like your indie literary adaptations with a variety of clever, strong, brave and funny characters who occasionally die of scarlet fever? Listen to the podcast to see if we do, too.

Like what you hear? Subscribe!

Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “Backspin: The Search for Milwaukee’s First Hip-Hop Song,” a six-part exploration of the birth of Milwaukee rap. All episodes are streaming now.

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Which was worse, the Oscars nominations or ‘Cats?’

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We’re 88Nine’s Justin Barney and Milwaukee Film’s Kpolly. We’re buds, we like cinema — we’re Cinebuds.

On this week’s episode, we’re tackling one of the great cinematic oddities of 2019: Tom Hooper’s surreal screen adaptation of “Cats.” Stream the episode below.

“Cats” | Courtesy Universal Pictures

“Cats” is the movie based on the Broadway musical that is based on the collection of poetry called “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by TS Elliot in which a death cult of street cats audition to be chosen to die.

So far, it is sitting at a cool 2.8/10 on IMDB. Critics have called it “deranged” and “too horny.” It is directed by Oscar winning director Tom Hooper, who is famous for directing “The Kings Speech” and “Les Miserables.” Its cast is jam packed with stars of the stage (Judy Dench and Ian McKellen), screen (Idris Elba and Rebel Wilson) and song (Taylor Swift and Jason Derulo). Its music is composed by Andrew Lloyd Weber and, at times is frantic and disturbing. Its CGI is uneven and at times, frightening.

It also might be brilliant. Or just weird. Or an utter failure. Or something else all together. We also give some knee-jerk reactions to the Oscar nominations and ask, “Which was better/worse, the Oscar nominations or ‘Cats?'”

Listen to the pod to hear all the takes.

Like what you hear? Subscribe!

Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “Backspin: The Search for Milwaukee’s First Hip-Hop Song,” a six-part exploration of the birth of Milwaukee rap. All episodes are streaming now.

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Does Adam Sandler deserve an Oscar for ‘Uncut Gems’?

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We’re 88Nine’s Justin Barney and Milwaukee Film’s Kpolly. We’re buds, we like cinema — we’re Cinebuds.

On this week’s episode we’re discussing the heart-racing new thriller “Uncut Gems,” and wading into the debate over Adam Sandler’s Best Actor chances. Stream it below.

“Uncut Gems” is the new fast paced, hectic race, jewelry case, outer space movie from the Safdie Brothers. Fun fact, the Safdie Brothers’ dad worked as a jeweler in New York when they were kids and the main character is based on him and the atmosphere surrounding that type of high stakes career.

And speaking of that character, the main character is played by the one and only, Adam Sandler. The movie has many people calling for Sandler to win Best Actor at the Academy Awards for this performance. Is that what we think? I don’t want to give it away.

What I will say is that this movie is best watched IN A THEATER. There is something about watching something so anxiety ridden that is somehow made better AND worse by being stressed out around a whole bunch of people who are going through the same ride. There were moments here the whole theater let out a giant breath and other times where the whole theater gasped. Either way, go see it in the theater, and listen to what we thought of “Uncut Gems.

Like what you hear? Subscribe!

Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “Backspin: The Search for Milwaukee’s First Hip-Hop Song,” a six-part exploration of the birth of Milwaukee rap. All episodes are streaming now.

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Solve the mystery of which Cinebud didn’t care for ‘Knives Out’

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We’re 88Nine’s Justin Barney and Milwaukee Film’s Kpolly. We’re buds, we like cinema — we’re Cinebuds.

On this week’s episode, we’re weighing in on Rian Johnson’s buzzy who-done-it “Knives Out.” Stream it below.

Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig in “Knives Out” | Lionsgate

“Knives Out” is a classic who-done-it. You’ve got an old house. You’ve got a greedy-backstabbing family. You’ve got twists. You’ve got turns. It’s a stylish romp with an ensemble cast that delivers exactly what you want, and also, what you least expect. Daniel Craig has a dripping Southern accent. Didn’t see that coming. LaKeith Stanfield casts a spell on you and draws you into his every word. More of that, please.

“Knives Out” is directed by Rian Johnson. Johnson has directed stylish thinkers like “Looper” and “Brick.” He has also directed a Star Wars movie (Episode VIII The Last Jedi.) He’s also garnered some indie cred, directing music videos for LCD Soundsystem and The Mountain Goats.

Overall, me and Kpolly had similar impressions of this one, with one of us liking it more than the other. Check the podcast for who loved this who-done-it.

Like what you hear? Subscribe!

Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “Backspin: The Search for Milwaukee’s First Hip-Hop Song,” a six-part exploration of the birth of Milwaukee rap. All episodes are streaming now.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee