Ben Pearson: I Saw Ben Schwartz’s Improv Show

Parks and Recreation is one of my favorite shows, and while most people know comedian Ben Schwartz from his excellent work on that series as the hilarious Jean-Ralphio Saperstein, I’m a true Ben Schwartz hipster: I knew about him before he was popular, because I used to see him perform improv shows at Los Angeles’ Upright Citizens Brigade theater when I first moved to L.A. in 2009.

Not long ago, I had the chance to see Schwartz on the UCB stage again in a special show called Snowpants. He leads a group of comedians in an hour of improv comedy, and usually the team is joined by someone who has never done improv before. (J.J. Abrams is a former guest, for example.) The guests and team members were all a mystery until the show began, at which point Schwartz brought out an all-star squad: Thomas Middleditch and Zach Woods (both from Silicon Valley), Horatio Sanz (Saturday Night Live), Katie Dippold (writer of The Heat, Parks and Rec, and Ghostbusters), Gil Ozeri (longtime comedian and Schwartz collaborator), and special guest Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black). To attempt to describe any of the comedic moments that transpired would be doing a disservice to the “of the moment” nature of improv comedy, but suffice it to say that if you ever have the chance to see a Snowpants show, don’t hesitate. Just go.

Hoai-Tran Bui: I’ve Been Watching a Korean TV Show Called Goblin

I’m not a huge k-drama watcher. Back when the k-pop and k-pop wave first exploded back in 2011, I tried watching a few, but found I preferred j-dramas, which were wackier, weirder, and generally more adventurous in their diversity of storylines. K-dramas, I had mistakenly thought, were merely recycled soap operas.

That is, until I watched Goblin, which I can confidently say is the best k-drama I have ever seen. It’s not surprising that the k-drama, which aired earlier this winter, appealed to me — the series is an ambitious fantasy-romance that follows a 900-year-old “Goblin,” (played by a smoldering Gong Yoo from last year’s zombie hit Train to Busan) who was cursed with immortality and spends his days acting as a sort of guardian angel to humans who cross his path. Originally a revered general, he was brought back to life for the love of the people he inspired, but punished with immortality for the thousands he killed on the battlefield. But he’s given an out — when he finds the prophecied “goblin’s bride,” she can end his immortal life. Naturally, once he meets her — a bright and bubbly present-day orphan who can see ghosts named Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go-Eun)  — he falls in love.

Like it sounds, Goblin is a drama of epic ambition and scale, but also of disarming humor and charming moments of romance. Alongside the central romance, there are silly hijinks when the Goblin moves in with a Grim Reaper (Lee Dong Wook) who is after Eun Tak’s life (it’s complicated), and they bond while clumsily trying to hide their inhuman quirks. And then there are profound mundane vignettes surrounding the people that the Goblin saves or the ones that the Grim Reaper sends to the afterlife. Surprisingly for a show that is so centrally a romance, Goblin puts forward many interesting questions about the afterlife, destiny, and faith.

It’s a fairy tale wrapped up in a romantic-comedy, wrapped up in the most beautiful production values I’ve seen in Asian drama territory. Seriously, half of this drama is like watching a slideshow titled “Winter Aesthetic.” I’m on my second rewatch of Goblin, and I haven’t tired of it yet.

Go Flix Yourself Podcast

Ethan Anderton: I’ve Been Recording a Movie Podcast Called Go Flix Yourself

Yes, this is some shameless self-promotion, but if there’s anyone who is going to appreciate a podcast like this, it’s going to be cinephiles like you.

Last year, one of my good friends and I decided to start a podcast inspired by Doug Benson’s popular and hilarious Doug Loves Movies. For those who haven’t heard that podcast, comedian Doug Benson has a few of his stand-up comedy friends, as well as some filmmakers and actors, on every episode, and they talk about the most recent movies they’ve seen and play some movie trivia games. This was something we would listen to in the car all the time, playing along and wishing we could be on the show, knowing we’d never be famous enough to be on it. So we just decided to start our own.

Go Flix Yourself is a tribute podcast of sorts to Doug Loves Movies, but has evolved into being our own thing as well. We still talk about the recent movies we’ve seen and play movie trivia games, but in addition to playing the same kind of games that Doug Benson plays, we’ve created tons of our own as well. Plus, our talk about movies has increased quite a bit since our earlier episodes. Now we usually talk about a couple big movie trailers or entertainment news stories from the week, and we go on strange tangents every now and then.

I’ll admit, this doesn’t sound much different from any other movie podcast out there, but for me, it’s the significantly more casual approach we take with talking about movies that I love. Most movie podcasts are more formal in how they approach their talk, but we’ve tried to create an environment that feels like you’re just having some drinks with your pals at the bar, talking about movies. And that’s because sometimes we are having a couple cocktails. We don’t have any famous comedians, filmmakers or actors on, but we have our friends (some of which are local comedians) come around to help give a ground level angle to consuming movies. We even had an episode with a couple of our friend’s grade school kids!

For me personally, what I love about this show is the variety of tastes that come from the general audience members in our pool of guests. When you write for a site like /Film and engage with “Film Twitter”, it’s easy to lose perspective of how more casual filmgoers see the big picture. With this podcast, not only do we have a couple of cinephiles hosting the show providing a more seasoned frame of reference, but you get homegrown opinions from people who may not be as familiar with the inner workings of the entertainment industry. Plus, we crack a lot of jokes, and I love dominating the movie games.

If you listen in, I’d recommend starting with Episode 40, our Mother’s Day episode, which is by far our favorite. But really anything from Episode 30 forward is where we came back from an extended hiatus and we believe have really hit a stride on the show since then. Listen in, subscribe on iTunes, like our page on Facebook, on and let us know what you think!

Fun Fact: If you haven’t listened to the /Filmcast, then Go Flix Yourself might be the first time you learn about my real name!

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