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Episode 181: Hell or High Water

12 Jan

In this episode, Tyler and Reed discuss David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water and Sam Raimi’s A Simple Plan.

Light My Path, by Tyler Smith

8 Jan

I recently discovered the work of artist Owen Klaas. He is a painter who sells his work through his company Fiendish Thingies. When I first saw his paintings, I was astounded. These pieces were dark and moody, and seemed to owe a lot to the German Expressionist films of the 1920s. They were primarily landscapes, featuring bare, ragged trees, angular mountains, and lonely paths winding through the darkness. It’s what the world would be like through the eyes of Dr. Caligari.

And yet these paintings were not altogether hopeless. They did not seem to be mere exercises in a melancholy, eerie tone. Were they simply that, I don’t think I’d have looked twice; I’d have noted the unique visual quality and moved on. However, there was something about Klaas’ work that grabbed me. Within most of the paintings, in the midst of harsh and drab landscapes, there was often a single element that stood out; a splash of color or vitality that broke up the isolated sadness of this world.

This was most clear to me in his piece “Light My Path”. In it, we have a large, ominous full moon shining down on a mountainous forest. In a clearing, however, we have a lone tree, leafless and skeletal. This tree grows next to a narrow path that winds its way towards the far off mountains. Hanging just above the path, from the lowest branch on the tree, is a lantern. It is lit, but doesn’t seem to give off much light. Just enough to illuminate this specific section of the path, it would seem.

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Episode 180: Sully

5 Jan

In this episode, Tyler and Robert discuss Clint Eastwood’s Sully and Paul Greengrass’ United 93.

Happy 2017!

1 Jan

And so we continue with my inexplicable tradition of ringing in the New Year by listing some of the notable movies that are now ten years old. This year, however, this is particularly poignant for me, because my wife and I moved to Los Angeles in January of 2007. It was also the same year that I started podcasting over at Battleship Pretension.

Little did I know at the time that 2007 would be one of the best movie years of my lifetime, with no less than four absolute masterpieces being released over the course of the year (see if you can guess what they are!).

The following movies are now officially 10 years old. Happy New Year!

BREACH
GHOST RIDER
BLACK SNAKE MOAN
ZODIAC
300
SHOOTER
THE LOOKOUT
GRINDHOUSE
HOT FUZZ
SPIDER-MAN 3
KNOCKED UP
RATATOUILLE
SICKO
TRANSFORMERS
RESCUE DAWN
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
SUNSHINE
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
SUPERBAD
3:10 TO YUMA
EASTERN PROMISES
IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH
INTO THE WILD
THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD
THE DARJEELING LIMITED
MICHAEL CLAYTON
GONE BABY GONE
AMERICAN GANGSTER
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
ENCHANTED
THE MIST
JUNO
ATONEMENT
I AM LEGEND
CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR
SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Minisode 96: Around the World in 80 Days

29 Dec

In this minisode, Tyler and Josh discuss Michael Anderson’s Around the World in 80 Days, the Best Picture of 1956.

The Sacramental Void in Evangelical Film, by Esther O’Reilly

27 Dec

One of the salient features of a particular kind of film marketed explicitly to evangelical Christians is the use of what Tyler Smith calls “the emblem.” Among other characteristics, it typifies what Tyler has classified under the umbrella of “Christian social drama” in his master’s thesis. Examples of this genre include movies like Fireproof, Courageous, War Room, God’s Not Dead, and Do You Believe. The form of the emblem varies from movie to movie, but consistently, there’s some monument or object that represents the characters’ commitment to family and faith.

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Complex Honesty, by Tyler Smith

23 Dec

It’s easy to classify J.A. Bayona’s beautiful new film A Monster Calls as just another family movie about grief and sadness, like Bridge to Terabithia or Where the Wild Things Are. But, while those films are perfectly good, it would be wrong to do so. That would be too simple, and A Monster Calls is not a simple film. Quite the opposite, in fact, as on its surface it would seem to be about loss, but is at its heart about something much deeper, something more complex. This is a film about honesty, truth, and the often contradictory nature of both. Not exactly light material, and Bayona – directing from a script by Patrick Ness, adapting his own novel – chooses not to attempt an artificial lightness. Instead, he embraces the feelings of its main character; namely a deep sadness and a need for escape.

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Minisode 95: The Bridge on the River Kwai

22 Dec

In this minisode, Tyler and Josh discuss the Best Picture of 1957, David Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Memories and Mysteries: Non-Linear Storytelling in Film, by Tyler Smith

21 Dec

Every dramatic writer understands the vitality of the three-act structure. The importance of rising action, character arcs, obstacles, conflict, and the eventual climax as key elements in effective emotional storytelling cannot be overstated. Many of the most beloved films have strictly adhered to this formula and, in doing so, provided their own arguments for why it has shown itself to be so sturdy over the years. For a writer or a director to attempt to subvert basic storytelling elements like this is to flirt with the potential confusion and alienation of his audience.

And yet there have been many filmmakers over the years that have come to understand the stylistic and emotional potential of unconventional storytelling. At the very least, this can serve the very practical function of forcing the audience to try to more actively engage in the film they’re watching, lest they lose track of the story thread. In reformatting even the most straightforward story, the filmmaker requires the audience to approach what could be very familiar material from a different angle, which can ultimately affect the thematic meaning they take from the film. However, to engage in non-linear storytelling simply for the sake of attempting something different is to run the risk of overcomplicating the story and frustrating the audience. Ultimately, if a filmmaker chooses to abandon more conventional narrative choices – such as the three-act structure and a chronological timeline – he must have a reason beyond simple novelty.

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Episode 179: Christian Social Drama

16 Dec

In this episode, Tyler and Josh discuss the emerging genre of Christian Social Drama.

EPISODE BREAKDOWN
00:00:44- Intro, Bob Connally’s reviews, The Fear of God, Salty Cinema, Rogue One
00:03:55- Tyler’s paper
00:06:20- What is genre?
00:16:35- Christian Social Drama
01:07:10- Episode wrap-up