The Fear of God: The Monkey’s Paw

4 Jul

In this episode, Reed and Nathan discuss W.W. Jacobs’ short story The Monkey’s Paw.

On Sex, Marriage, and the Movies, by Esther O’Reilly

3 Jul

When it comes to sexuality in the movies, many conservative Christians tend to err on the side of extreme caution. Some might use a service like VidAngel to filter out sexual content, while others prefer to skip a given film/show entirely. Rather than making case-by-case judgment calls based on the extent or context of specific scenes, they simply cut the Gordian knot: If it has something sexual in it, it can’t be good, end of story.

As a rule of thumb, this certainly has merit. Few films were ever improved by adding a sexual scene. Pick one at random, and you can safely bet it will be heavy on indulgence, light on edification. Hollywood’s track record in this department does not impress, to say the least.

But already, I know there are some people who would be uncomfortable with my wording just there. “Few? What do you mean? Why not just say ‘no’?” If I say Hollywood gets sex wrong more often than not, some may ask, “What would it mean to get it right?”

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Trilogy Anatomy: Before Midnight, by Tober Corrigan

2 Jul

Upon being asked after the release of the Dark Knight if he had a third installment planned, Christopher Nolan replied with asking ironically how many good third movies there were. Of course, Nolan eventually did complete his trilogy, whether it being against his better judgment or not depending on who one talks to. Throughout movie history, the essential functions of the third film in a series have either been as a fitting and satisfactory end to a particular storyline (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King), a disappointing but nevertheless conclusive entry (Godfather III), or a debacle so big as to necessitate a reset to the franchise (Superman III/Spiderman 3, etc., etc.). In anticipation of another highly-anticipated third film, War for the Planet of the Apes, this weekly series will cover famous third films, infamous third films and otherwise, exploring how trilogy-enders or other types of third films have functioned in relation to its series.

Popularly referred to as the least financially successful movie series of all time, Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy has had a strange and intriguing history. Starting in 1995 on a modest budget (though, honestly, all three have had modest budgets), Linklater—along with stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, all co-writers for the three movies—told a simple but charming story of Jesse and Celine, who meet in Europe and spend the evening together along ancient streets and with idiosyncratic characters. Before Sunrise didn’t make much money, but the film resonated enough with the three main collaborators to result in a sequel nine years later, Before Sunset, no one saw coming. Just as watchable and unpredictable as the first one, plus some added poignancy by way of nostalgia, Sunset made similar amounts of money, but with a heap of critical acclaim. It was a touching end to the story of Jesse and Celine.

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Art and Entertainment, by Bob Connally

1 Jul

“I’ve never really liked Steven Spielberg,” said my film studies professor. I had heard this before. Usually it was from people who were about the age I was at the time, 20. Their reasons why always seemed to boil down to his mainstream popularity. These were the same kids who would label any band that more than five people liked “sellouts.” So I wasn’t expecting anything new or profound to follow that statement. But his explanation surprised me. “It’s not that he isn’t a talented filmmaker. He most definitely is. It’s that the enemy is never from within in his films. It’s always from without.” I had liked or loved most of Spielberg’s work and this didn’t change my opinion of him one bit, but I knew my professor wasn’t wrong. It was the first time I had heard a reasoned, valid explanation for why a person did not like the world’s most famous living movie director. It was refreshing and he turned out to be far and away my favorite film studies teacher.

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Puppet Masters, by Reed Lackey

29 Jun

In the very specific niche realm of horror documentary, there are few voices as compelling or effective as Rodney Ascher. His previous documentaries, Room 237 and (especially) The Nightmare were innovative and compelling examinations of not only what frightens us, but why it frightens us.

His directorial voice was therefore a natural for Shudder’s new original series (its first original content) called Primal Screen. The series focuses on the early and elemental encounters viewing audiences have with horror cinema and how those encounters can dramatically influence their most basic fears and – perhaps – the very direction of their lives.

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Minisode 103: Vulnerability

29 Jun

In this minisode, Tyler talks about depression, loneliness, and suicide.

Joy Ride, by Bob Connally

29 Jun

Edgar Wright’s excellent new film Baby Driver wastes no time pulling its audience in and sending us off on a thrilling ride. In one of the better scenes to open any movie in a very long time, we meet a young man named Baby (Ansel Elgort, The Fault in Our Stars) as he sits behind the wheel of a car outside of an Atlanta bank. While his associates (Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, and Jon Bernthal) are inside pulling off a heist Baby waits in the car with his headphones on listening to the pulse pounding rock anthem Bellbottoms by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. As the others pile back into the car the song serves as the soundtrack to his masterful getaway driving.

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Black Belt Horror, by Reed Lackey

27 Jun

“Chuck Norris vs Michael Myers”

It sounds at first like a fan film: the ultimate exercise in absurd alternate universes imaginings. But the difference here is that this film exists. It was made more than 30 years ago.

Directed by Michael Miller, Silent Rage could have housed exactly the tag line above. Because essentially the film combines the elements of schlocky 80s Chuck Norris action films with the horror stylistics perfected by John Carpenter in the first Halloween film.

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The Fear of God: Zodiac

27 Jun

In this episode, Reed and Nathan discuss David Fincher’s Zodiac.

Salty Cinema: Tim K

26 Jun

Director, Tim K, talks about climbing the ladder from lowly production assistant to big-budget commercial director, what it was like working at Funny Or Die during it’s infancy, the panic attack he had directing his first super bowl spot, and being inspired by Jonathan Glazer.