I’ve wanted to write about this series for a while, but I had trouble choosing an ideal entry point. I find the running gags and stylistic touches charming, but the wildly-digressive self-aware tone might take a little getting used to. The featured movies are deliberately esoteric, so it’s been hard to pick one I could be sure most people would have seen. The videos are also chock-full-o-spoilers, so bear that in mind if he’s covering something you haven’t seen. That said, if there’s a movie on the list you’re not sure if you want to see, MwM usually makes a convincing case for why all these films are not just great, but important.
Recently Mikey announced he’d be doing videos on my three favorite movies of the last year: Fury Road, The Force Awakens, and Ex Machina – more mainstream selections than his usual fare. The first video in that series came out last week, and it’s the perfect entry point.
Mikey covers a lot of ground in less than fifteen minutes. After some absurdist callbacks to earlier episodes, he dives into a geeky analysis of techniques George Miller used to evoke the cinematic style of the 80s. From there he moves on to the subtler aspects of Fury Road that frequently come up in my own conversations: the mini-stories told without dialogue, the character beats delivered in a single facial expression, and the dismantling of the traditional three act structure. He even transforms it into a Wes Anderson movie at one point, because Neumann loves whimsy. And at the end of all that showboating, the video concludes with a heartfelt exegesis of the movie’s feminist message.
Fury Road has already been thoroughly mined by the internet take machine, but Mikey manages to deliver a rapid-fire series of eclectic insights in an entertaining way. Even the most jaded pop culture analyst will probably still find something new and delightful here – in the jokes if nowhere else.
So Fury Road is a great entry point. If you’re intrigued, here are some of my other favorites.
Movies with Mikey is a celebration of cinema, and the Hugo episode takes that to its most literal extreme:
I’m pretty tuned in to some common avenues of pop culture analysis, but film history and cinematography are less familiar ground. MwM’s history lessons are always accessible, intelligent, and punctuated with asides and diversions. This is a video about the power of cinema as illustrated by the story of Georges Méliès, the first man who truly believed in film as a medium and I’m not crying you’re crying. Some of the best MwM episodes invite the viewer to take a second look at a movie they may have forgotten or ignored, and if this doesn’t make you want to see Hugo, nothing will. Also, this video did literally make me cry. The history of film is so beautiful, you guys.
Then there’s the Movies with Mikey analysis of Cabin in the Woods. I’ve seen a ton of videos that advertise a fresh take that will like totally change the way you think about a given movie forever. This is the first to actually deliver the promised mind explosion, and it makes me love the movie even more. Interpretive conspiracy theories on the internet usually range from obvious to implausible, but this video just makes me mad that I didn’t notice all this stuff the first time I saw the film.
That role reversal, multi-level subversion junk is usually totally my jam. If a video commentary series can see through the meta-level matrix with this level of clarity, I’m in.
Movies with Mikey offers real insight wrapped up in a magical musical colorful candy shell. It’s a film superfan’s love of movies distilled into a contagious ray of cinematic sunshine and mixed metaphors. If that sounds like your cup of tea, check out one of the videos above or trawl the show’s youtube playlist – you’ll be glad you did.
I’m gonna break the rule of three and post one more. I’m a tireless advocate of the Geena Davis action masterpiece The Long Kiss Goodnight, and this MwM episode was the first time I’d heard anyone else mention it in years. It’s early in the series so the cuts aren’t as tight and the video is mostly a litany of the film’s many triumphs. Warning: this review spoils every major plot point and excerpts the coolest part of every action scene. I’d tell you to watch it yourself first, but it’s streaming nowhere, you can’t buy it on iTunes, and the DVD is $5 new. The Blu-Ray is $8. Nobody cares about this movie… well, nobody but me and Mikey.
That shared excitement is Movies with Mikey’s raison d’être. He believes in movies enough to make an uncaring world care about the Long Kiss Goodnight, and he brings that enthusiasm to everything he covers.
So check out some of his videos, maybe. And get hype for his take on Ex Machina, coming soon to a youtube near you. I know I’ll be watching.