On this week's Voice Film Club podcast, Voice film editor Alan Scherstuhl and L.A. Weekly film critic Amy Nicholson are joined by the Washington, D.C.-based critic Chris Klimek, a contributor to the Voice, NPR, Washington City Paper, and The Dissolve. (Voice film critic the pod's co-host Stephanie Zacharek is tied up at the Berlin Film Festival this week.) They talk RoboCop and Vampire Academy.
Scherstuhl and Nicholson begin by discussing Vampire Academy, from Mark (Mean Girls) and Daniel (Heathers) Waters. Scherstuhl has a few minor issues with the film, mostly concerning the pacing and narrative structure: the film, he says, feels like "three to six episodes of a really promising show crammed into a feature." On the whole, however, he was pleasantly surprised by the film, which he declares a "great damn time." Nicholson is even more unequivocally positive, expressing a liking for the film's central female friendship and, later in the episode, stating that she thinks "all people should be seeing this film."
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A devoted advocate of Paul Verhoeven's "forward-thinking" 1987 RoboCop, Klimek kicks off the discussion of director José Padilha's bigger-budget remake by comparing it to its predecessor: "This has the sort of relationship to RoboCop '87 that the Chris Nolan Batman movies have to the Tim Burton Batman movies." Nicholson points out a few bright spots in the film - a well-rounded cast, attractive set design - but ultimately describes it as a "lesser RoboCop." Scherstuhl, sharing Klimek's generally ambivalent reaction, agrees with Nicholson about the pedigree of the cast, but adds that it "doesn't mean that [the] strong cast really distinguishes the material at all."
In recommendations, Klimek, on the heels of seeing a production of Richard III in D.C., has some nice things to say about Al Pacino's 1996 documentary, Looking for Richard. Scherstuhl maintains the focus on new releases, giving a hearty endorsement of Ben Wheatley's "grim, strange, hallucinatory, hilarious" A Field in England. And Nicholson, keeping the focus on José Padilha, gives a shout-out to the director's 2010 film, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within.