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School of Movies

Super in-depth analysis of movies (and occasionally TV, and video games). Hosted by veteran podcasters Alex & Sharon Shaw with different guests for round-table chats every week.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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The Rise of Skywalker

[School of Movies 2020] The Star Wars Saga draws to a close for the third and (not) final time. We got to see how J.J. Abrams was at finishing rather than beginning, and my guests and I were presented with the task of somehow making a show that would be satisfying to a lot of different people going through wildly different responses. What we came up with may surprise you. And it culminates in a new way of seeing the Star Wars series in general, which might just be the key to us moving forward.  Guests Jason "Chewie" Slate of The Mana Pool @TheManaPool Voice Actor Alex Eding @AlexEding Brenden Agnew of Cinapse @BLCAgnew Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg @KidDogg

2hr 51mins

3 Jan 2020

Rank #1

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Captain Marvel

[School of Movies 2019] Maybe our most eagerly-awaited, long-time-coming Marvel's of all finally arrives. And to distinguish this show from a LOT of the lukewarm dude-filled discussion about this movie we have four brilliant ladies talking and smiling as much or as little as they like.  We begin with my own list of every male hero in sci-fi, fantasy and superhero movies since the late 70s and an accompanying MUCH SHORTER list of female leads in the same space. After that I shut up as much as I can and let the women explore the themes, details and subtleties.  For everyone who just found it okay, we're hoping we can give you a fresh perspective on a really impactful film for a lot of women.  Guests: Sharon Shaw @cai_boxer Maya Santandrea @mayasantandrea Mackenzie Easton: @KenziePhoenix Debbie Morse @bastet8300 And we are @SchoolOfMovies

2hr 12mins

22 Mar 2019

Rank #2

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The Room

[School of Movies 2017] At long last, after years of preparation, we bring you a truly epic three hour show all about one of the worst movies ever made. It's an exercise in absurdity, as unprepared actors are thrown in front of a camera and made to chew out abysmal dialogue, wrestle with characters that make no sense, get stuck in loops of expressing the same, contrary thoughts out loud, and all to please the ringmaster, Mr Tommy Wiseau, an extraordinary man, and by all accounts a nightmare to work with.  There are the most appallingly awkward pauses, inexplicable games of football, and expressions that sound like they never came out of a human being before or since (or during). It's also compulsively quotable as a result.  It is operatic in its farcical mishandling of every aspect of filmmaking, and we are going to take you through each second of this feast of silliness, just in time for The Disaster Artist, a film about its troubled construction, starring James Franco and based on the hugely entertaining book by the long suffering Greg Sestero who plays Mark.  With us, we have Jason "Chewie" Slate, Aaron LaCluyze and Bill Bloodworth of Monday Night Magic and Random Discard.


15 Sep 2017

Rank #3

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The Shining

[School of Movies 2019] The Kubrick season concludes with arguably his most celebrated film (the only other contender being Space Odyssey). This is the one we set out to talk about, but we had to try our level best to understand the men behind it as we did so. Making this a continuation of our Stephen King adaptations series where we compare the book and film (including IT, Pet Sematary and at some point in the future Stand by Me, Misery, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption). So we watched and talked about everything Kubrick made since 1968, and we read through King's books of The Shining and Doctor Sleep. This really was a grand project and took a lot out of us, but crucially we tried to have fun along the way so it would feel worth it. The end result is a pair of immensely detailed shows, including Doctor Sleep next week, wherein we discuss how these two creators' different outlooks permeate the cinematic story of Daniel Torrance over 39 years.  

2hr 18mins

15 Nov 2019

Rank #4

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The Last Jedi

[School of Movies 2017] The eighth Star wars episode comes roaring onto the big screen. It's upset quite a few fans and delighted many others already. It's the kind of movie that blindsides you the first time so it might be an idea to watch it again.  One thing is for sure, Star Wars will never be the same as it was before. Full spoilers from the beginning, along with a serious think-piece about what this is saying to us.  [NOTE: The first 20 minutes of this show are my YouTube episode on The Last Jedi so if you'd like to see one of the best videos I've ever put together go there and skip to 21.00 on the podcast] [A Positive Analysis] What Star Wars: the Last Jedi Means Guests: Brenden Agnew of Cinapse Kaoru Negisa and Debbie Morse, both of Sequentially Yours Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg 

2hr 28mins

22 Dec 2017

Rank #5

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[School of Movies 2019] This turned out to be one of the most gruelling ordeals for us in terms of lead-up, viewing, preparation, recording and editing. This is an intensely divisive film with smart, decent people who dislike it and smart decent people who love it. And the last thing we want is to divide and clash.  We DO however have to account for how this film made us feel, which is not great at all. Of course we didn't go in hoping to hate it, but what started out as "Okay this isn't bad" descended into "God, get me out of here!" Next Week: Zombieland

1hr 39mins

11 Oct 2019

Rank #6

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Sleepy Hollow

[School of Movies 2019] After the pantsing of Tim Burton with this year's Miss Peregrine main event and Dumbo Quick Review we decided for Halloween to go back to one of our favourites of his.  This one is not very popular, a lot of people consider it a mess, and they're correct, but it's a mess that we enjoy greatly, and one that delighted Lorin who was a first timer here. It's a dark, twisted, witchy, campy, gory mystery and everyone on board seems to be having a great time. Come join us.  Guest: Lorin Grieve:  @VixenVVitch  

1hr 49mins

25 Oct 2019

Rank #7

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The Force Awakens

[School of Movies 2015] Part 1: A film so important and so passionately adored by us that we needed two shows and two groups of guests to fully cover, welcome to part 1 of our Force Awakens show. With us for this first outing in which we discuss Rey, Finn, Ren, Han, Huxx, Snoke and the hugely positive side of this effectively being a retelling of the events of A New Hope. Part 2: The second installment in our epic Force Awakens show brings in three new voices and a Star Destroyer-full of speculation.  We move onto the characters we have not yet covered, as well as talking details and theorizing wildly about later movies in this series as well as talking about how the landscape of Star Wars in cinema has now changed forever.  If you love these shows support their production on patreon. Guests: Jerome McIntosh of GameBurstJames Carter of Cane and RinseParris Lilly of Film TangentJames Batchelor of the Bond and BeyondAlex Eding of Plaid Hat Games

3hr 53mins

21 Dec 2015

Rank #8

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

[School of Movies 2019] This was an unexpected one. We geared up for a Quick Review mere minutes after coming back from the cinema and then stuff just came flooding out. We send that recording to a few people to see if it was Main Event material and they pretty much demanded we get this out for everyone. So we added new sections and recorded a companion piece round-table session with two new guests (being released this week as a Cutting Class episode). Quentin Tarantino's ninth film has made critics very happy (garnering massive positive buzz and 85% freshness) but also provoked a slew of think-pieces about some of the more crass decisions made in filming.  What you've got here is what Sharon and I felt very strongly in the aftermath, before we'd read anything else. 

1hr 29mins

23 Aug 2019

Rank #9

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Black Panther

[School of Movies 2018] Arguably Marvel’s most globally significant movies to date comes roaring into the School of Movies, and have we got a show for you tonight.  We’re talking the stunningly beautiful and invigorating land of Wakanda, its fusion of African cultures, tradition and futurism, the royal family of heroes, the fascinating support cast, the transportive music, the detail and meaning packed into every onscreen element, and maybe the best Marvel villain yet, Eric Killmonger. Guests Brenden Agnew of Cinapse Kaoru Negisa  and Debbie Morse of Sequentially Yours Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst Spencer Leeb of The Death of Subtlety Aquila Edwards @aquilaedwards Eric Jones of Waxing Cinematic Arlington can be found here: https://newcentury.bandcamp.com/album/new-century-arlington

2hr 48mins

2 Mar 2018

Rank #10

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Blade Runner

[School of Movies 2017] Here's a short, and by no means exhaustive list of entertainment works influenced by this one movie...  RoboCop, Akira, Back to the Future Part II, Ghost in the Shell, The Fifth Element, The Matrix, Futurama, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, I, Robot, Minority Report, Serenity, WALL-E, Battlestar Galactica, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Prometheus, District 9, Alex + Ada, Almost Human, Black Mirror, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Dredd, Chappie, Her, Ex-Machina, Valerian and Westworld. This episode we discuss Ridley Scott's ponderous, flawed, but hugely impactful and striking vision of the future, and musing on the nature of humanity, accompanied by Vangelis, and one of the greatest scores ever put to film. We steer clear of speculation about 2049 and that follow-up will get a full show in time. Guests Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg Collin Miller of The Cinema Cephalopod 

2hr 7mins

6 Oct 2017

Rank #11

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Sucker Punch

[School of Movies 2016] In the run-up to Batman V Superman, let's take a dive into the mind of director Zack Snyder. Let's look at how he sees the world, how he sees the human psyche and how he sees women. Prepare for a furious battle of wills as Alex goes in guns blazing to take apart a film he never wants to talk about again, and Lorin Grieve of A Year of Steam defends the movie he loves. Sharon lies somewhere in the middle, but there's a hell of a lot about this that bothers her too. Get some interpretations that the filmmakers definitely didn't consider, and learn how very vague their feelings are on what this story is actually about.  Is this a determined feminist text or something far more clumsy and unintentional? The evidence gets presented in and epic disassembling that hopefully will leave your minds clearer.  Guest: Victoria Grieve  @VixenVVitch  

2hr 51mins

11 Mar 2016

Rank #12

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The Lion King

[School of Movies 2017] This episode will be the deepest single Disney show we will ever do. It weighs in at just under four hours long, so I'd recommend absorbing it in two sessions, unless you have a long drive or a flight. But if you love the film you'll feel like you've died and gone to never-ending Lion Heaven! Daniel Floyd of Extra Credits joins us again to examine this magnificent beast of a film. Disney had taken a year off after Aladdin to develop their next two theatrical, animated projects, a sweeping Broadway musical melodrama, sure to go down in history as one of their greatest achievements (Pocahontas... it didn't) and a fun little movie about lions (which became known as one of their greatest achievements). More than anything else, this movie made Bambi redundant for me. I never much gelled with the little dear, and while the death of his mother did have a shocking impact its repercussions were felt for all of 90 seconds. Lion King spends the rest of the movie either overtly avoiding confronting grief or stepping up to face it. The courageous subject matter, the beautiful animation, the majestic James Earl Jones, the amazing music and brilliant songs put this one at the highest peak for me. This super special episode also includes the debut of the SteamHeart trailer. Guests: Daniel Floyd of Extra Credits

3hr 53mins

10 Feb 2017

Rank #13

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We Need to Talk About Anakin

[School of Everything Else 2018] A very special show where we go back to the Star Wars Prequels and ask ourselves one question; If these were in fact not poorly written films, if they were instead historical documents, then who is responsible, for the eventually tragic actions of Anakin Skywalker? The easy answer is to say Anakin himself, and that we should all be ultimately held accountable for our behaviour, and that's absolutely valid, but there were others who misled him, ignored the danger signs and in fact encouraged some truly unhealthy ways of thinking. It was by no means only Palpatine doing so, he was simply the one to see an angry young man, willing to be used as a weapon.  In this serious look at a truly broken system we re-examine Lucas' Galactic Republic and perform a deep and disturbing psychological autopsy. 

2hr 44mins

16 Feb 2018

Rank #14

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[School of Movies 2020] Throughout this year we will be covering the films of Steven Spielberg in Main Event shows as well as Quick Reviews. And we figured we would start with a bang with a transformative work from 1975 that may not have been the first summer blockbuster, but definitely started the trend of the event movie that everyone goes to see and talks about, one that that grew with Star Wars into what big budget cinema is today. However, this creature feature is really, REALLY strong in so many other ways beyond spectacle, and it was an absolute nightmare to film. We brought in a special guest for his first time on our show, and the enthusiasm just bounced off the walls within our recording session. He will definitely be back. Guest Chris Chipman of The Chipman Bros Tangent @The Chippa

2hr 32mins

10 Jan 2020

Rank #15

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[School of Movies 2018] The second of the Star Wars anthology films emerges a mere five months after The Last Jedi. We are used to that in the era of the MCU but with the galaxy far, far away it feels strange, especially as Rian Johnson's film went out of its way to both evoke the formula of Empire Strikes Back and subvert it wickedly, challenging audiences everywhere, and what Ron Howard's effort delivers is more of a space romp. It's the origin of how Han met Chewie, how Han met Lando, how Han met The Falcon, how Han made the Kessel Run in an average of 13 parsecs, and how certain characters betrayed other ones. This is so prevalent an occurrence it may as well have had the subtitle Solo: No Honor Among Thieves.  And lots and lots of people have enjoyed this movie. And I'm going to lay down some thought-provoking reasons why I wasn't among them. Fortunately we have some lovely guests who can talk about its stronger points.  Guests: Voice Actor Alex Eding Kaoru Negisa and Debbie Morse of Sequentially Yours  

1hr 40mins

1 Jun 2018

Rank #16

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The Lego Movie 2

[School of Movies 2019] We did not expect to be recording on this one so soon. To begin with after watching the movie I thought I could get everything I needed to say into a Quick Review, but Sharon needed to see it and then on the second viewing the layers just kept expanding and expanding outwards until my brain exploded. The first movie was going to be impossible to follow, and yet somehow this one is more meaningful. We ended up talking  with our guests for three hours and I have spent two solid days honing the main release show into the best it possibly can be. The remaining 87 minutes will be available as a bonus podcast, which while meandering makes for some fascinating additional perspective. This one does get pretty dark, introspective, existential and at times fairly bleak. The episode isn't suitable for children, though the movie most definitely is, and both end on a note of re-energising hope for the future. The YouTuber I sample a clip from, where she talks about Star Wars dolls is Jenny Nicholson, whom I urge all of you to subscribe to. She's fantastic!  Guests: Brendan Agnew @BLCAgnew of Cinapse Kaoru Negisa @Moonpanther22 and Debbie Morse @bastet8300 of Sequentially Yours Toby Jungius @TJungius of http://theinquisitivej.tumblr.com/ And we are @SchooloofMovies 

1hr 55mins

22 Feb 2019

Rank #17

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Wonder Woman

[School of Movies 2017] This is a big one, a DC movie that we not only don't hate, but actively love. Wonder Woman is breaking all sorts of new ground and Gal Gadot looks set to be the next universally beloved big screen superhero, joining a fairly small group that includes Reeves as Superman, Maguire as Spider-Man, Downey Jnr. as Iron Man and Evans as Captain America. To mark this occasion we assembled a dream team of Bob Chipman of Geek.com and Laura Kate Dale of letsplayvideogames.comWe spend two and a half hours discussing Diana's debut in solo form, highlighting the best aspects and touching on a few of the flaws. Largely though this is a celebration of a magnificent, empowering, inspiring experience.

2hr 32mins

9 Jun 2017

Rank #18

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The Mummy Returns

[School of Movies 2019] Not long after the 1999 original hit theatres Universal were on the phone to director Stephen Sommers with a basic request; "We need another one". And another one they got.  The creeping mystery and classical style of the first film was left in the sand and instead this is a rip-roaring race against time treasure hunt action spectacular.  This time around we discuss the bonkers reasoning when it comes to putting souls into living bodies, Sommers' obvious adulation of Terminator 2 and how The Mummy series was kind of a prototype Marvel Cinematic Universe.  And as a bonus, this episode includes my Quick Review of the 2017 movie "The Tom Cruise (Featuring a Female Mummy)" which was supposed to launch Universal's Dark Universe. Previously only available on Patreon, this sections starts at the 1h 23m mark.  Guests: James Batchelor  @James_Batchelor of Bond & Beyond Brendan Agnew @BLCAgnew of Cinapse Debbie Morse @bastet8300 of Sequentially Yours And we are @SchoolOfMovies

2hr 10mins

19 Apr 2019

Rank #19

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The Little Mermaid

[School of Movies 2017] We finally his the 90s third renaissance for Disney, and this kicks off a series of two hours plus shows of super detail and perspective on this era. Disney was under new management and after a string of mediocre successes and big failures now aimed to pull themselves out of the doldrums they had settled into following Walt's death. This entailed a storm of creativity with artists being ridden ruthlessly by cold-hearted businessmen. By all rights it shouldn't have produced such wonderful results... but it did.  The Little Mermaid is a story of a human girl born as a mermaid, who just never feels right down under the sea, looking up longingly at our world. The emotional arc of the movie is the barely-seen King Triton getting over his overprotective desire to see his child stay down aith her family, culminating in him letting her go for her own happiness.  Plus it has a Jamaican crab.  Daniel Floyd of Extra Credits and Extra Histories joins us again and you will hear the music of Alan Menken and the late, but indescribably great Howard Ashman.  School of Movies is funded not by advertising, but by Patreon. It's you guys who keep this show going, help us pay our bills and buy more stuff to watch and talk about. So if you get a major kick out of these shows consider throwing a few dollars per month our way: https://www.patreon.com/alexandershaw Guests: Daniel Floyd of Extra Credits

2hr 22mins

13 Jan 2017

Rank #20