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.”
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.