FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #65 – “American Sniper” (dir. Clint Eastwood)

Poster for "American Sniper"

This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel take on the challenge and controversy of American Sniper, the tale of SEAL Sniper Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), and a film that is equal parts Iraq war diary and a powerful cultural artifact. And while the film only superficially reminded us of Act of Valor, much like that film, we were quite surprised which side we came down on (38:57).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 8 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is the track, “Full of Sound and Fury“, by Dean Valentine, from the film’s trailer.
  • We mentioned a few films by way of comparison – check out our podcast review of Act of Valor, as well as one of the earliest reviews on the site, for 2009’s The Hurt Locker.
  • CORRECTION: We briefly misstated Chris Kyle’s unofficial kill record as being “over 350″. According to multiple sources (as well as the film itself), the US Navy credits Kyle with 160 confirmed kills – meaning kills that were confirmed by a witness. The larger figure is 255 claimed/unconfirmed kills, with a few other sources listing vaguely higher numbers (“more than twice that”).

Listen above, or download: American Sniper (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #64 – “Inherent Vice” (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

Poster for "Inherent 55Vice"

Glenn and Daniel start off the New Year right with a borderline unhealthy dose of Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Inherent Vice. We both identified this film early-on as a hippie-infused shaggy-dog detective story, but surprisingly, only one of us found this delightful. (33:59).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 7.5/10 (Glenn); 5/10 (Daniel)

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is Sam Cooke‘s original track, “(What A) Wonderful World“, as well as “Never My Love” by The Association, both from the film’s soundtrack.
  • The film mentions a [fictitious] blacklisted actor – in the film, this actor is played by real-life actor Jack Kelly, who was never blacklisted in real life. The film shows Kelly’s alter ego in a real-life 1962 anti-communist propaganda short film, Red Nightmare. You can watch this 28-minute film in its entirety on YouTube – the scene featured in the film begins at 18:31.
  • The term “inherent vice” is obliquely explained in the film as “whatever can’t be avoided” in the context of insurance – glass breaking, chocolate melting, etc. But the term originates from library and archival science, referring to the material constraints of preservation activities. For example, cellulose acetate film will degrade over time due to chemical instability.
  • Check out our review of Anderson’s previous film, The Master.
  • In the genre of “drug-addled protagonist goes on a confusing detective odyssey”, there was one bit of comedy that came to mind, but didn’t come up on the podcast. And that was a wonderful recurring sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Look, known as “The Surprising Adventures of Sir Digby Chicken Caesar”. You can find all of these sketches on YouTube – check out the first one here.

Listen above, or download: Inherent Vice (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #63 – “The Interview” (dir. Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg) (bonus episode)

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Glenn and Daniel just couldn’t resist shooting their mouths off in the face of two regimes – both Kim and Rogen/Goldberg. Tune in for this special end-of-the-year bonus episode as we discuss The Interview, the Sony hack, the DPRK regime, and whether it was really all worth it. You already know the answer, but it’s a fun conversation nonetheless (24:55).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: N/A out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is Katy Perry‘s “Firework”. Duh.
  • You can find metsuken‘s comment in the Asian-American subreddit – we only discussed a portion of it, but it’s a good read overall.

Listen above, or download: The Interview (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #62 – “Unbroken” (dir. Angelina Jolie), “Foxcatcher” (dir. Bennett Miller)

Poster for "Unbroken"

Tomorrow, our intrepid podcasters Glenn and Daniel venture to an actual theater to check out The Interview. But we don’t expect we’ll have nearly as much to say as we did about two end-of-the-year awards contenders. First, we experience our first Angelina Jolie-directed film, the WWII survival drama, Unbroken. Then we venture into a refreshingly dark and complex take on the sports genre, Foxcatcher, featuring a terrifying and transformative performance from Steve Carell. Strap in and enjoy this holiday double-header – we certainly did! (57:44)

May contain NSFW language.

Still from "Foxcatcher"

FilmWonk rating (Unbroken): 4 out of 10
FilmWonk rating (Foxcatcher): Daniel – 10/10, Glenn – 9/10

Show notes:

  • [02:27] Review: Unbroken
  • [13:31] Spoilers: Unbroken
  • [26:35] Review: Foxcatcher
  • [39:45] Spoilers: Foxcatcher
  • [56:09] Holiday blooper. We’re not proud.
  • Music for tonight’s episode is the track “Miracles” by Coldplay, from the soundtrack to Unbroken, followed by “Fame” by David Bowie, from the Foxcatcher soundtrack.
  • We referred to Kate Winslet‘s delightful self-parody on Extras. You can watch her scenes in full here, and the part where she talks about her motivation for making an award-worthy film starts at 03:19.
  • As Daniel noted, the future of wrestling at the Olympics is somewhat in doubt. Under new cost-cutting rules, the IOC has adopted a system where 25 “core sports” would continue indefinitely at future Olympics – but “non-core” sports would be selected on a year-by-year basis. Wrestling was originally a core sport, but after the 2012 Olympics in London, the IOC voted to make wrestling a non-core sport. In September 2013, wrestling won the bid as a non-core sport, so it will appear in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
  • Mark Schultz did indeed go on to fight at UFC 9.

Listen above, or download: Unbroken, Foxcatcher (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

Foxcatcher, Unbroken, Angelina Jolie, Steve Carell, Jack O’Connell, Miyavi, Domhnall Gleeson, Movies, Podcast

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #61 – “Wild” (dir. Jean-Marc Vallée)

Poster for "Wild"

This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel tackle the latest emotional journey from Oprah‘s Book Club, Wild, featuring the Pacific Crest Trail hike of memoirist Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon), as rendered by the director of last year’s triumphant Dallas Buyers Club. The result is a mixed bag of triumphant trail experiences and an uneven backstory – we liked, but didn’t love it. (26:58)

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 6 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is a pair of Simon and Garfunkel songs from the film’s soundtrack, “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)” and “Homeward Bound“.
  • Minor correction: Nick Hornby wrote the novel for About a Boy, but not the screenplay for the film.
  • As promised, I fact-checked the Hollywood age shenanigans, and it turns out they were even worse than we thought. We can pardon the film somewhat, given its reliance on flashbacks, but as of this writing, Laura Dern is 47, and Reese Witherspoon is 38. That’s a 9-year age difference between mother and daughter.
  • As we mentioned, Cheryl Strayed‘s memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, was published in 2012, roughly 17 years after her hike. Interestingly, the book’s publication led to Strayed finding her long-lost half-sister.

Listen above, or download: Wild (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #60 – “Force Majeure” (dir. Ruben Östlund)

Poster for "Force Majeure"

This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel tackle a wondrous dilemma of heroism, masculinity, and unexpectedly hilarious drone flying in Force Majeure, a Swedish family dramedy set in a ski resort in the French Alps. Note that our review contains spoilers for Julia Loktev‘s 2012 film, The Loneliest Planet, for reasons that should quickly become clear (45:00).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 8 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is Antonio Vivaldi‘s “Summer” (from “The Four Seasons”), as performed live by Norwegian soloist Mari Silje Samuelsen.
  • Check out the film’s excellent trailer here:
  • The MS Estonia is indeed a well-known maritime disaster in Sweden. This large ferry boat was crossing the Baltic Sea from Talinn, Estonia to Stockholm in 1994, and capsized and ultimately sank in a storm. Of the 900+ passengers aboard, only 138 survived, most of whom were young, strong males. About 650 of the passengers were estimated to have been trapped in the ship when it sank.
  • On the subject of Tomas bringing along his iPhone when he runs away, a story from Seattle comes to mind, wherein an armed robber points a gun into the face of a bus passenger who is staring at his phone. In an instant, the passenger shoves the gun away, then springs out of his seat to shove the robber away down the aisle. As he gets up to shove with one hand, he can clearly be seen to put his phone away in his pocket with the other. This is a perfect example of someone “acting on instinct” – an instinct that, in this moment, included the familiar muscle memory of holstering his phone. You can see the entire incident on video here.

Listen above, or download: Force Majeure (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #59 – “Citizenfour” (dir. Laura Poitras)

Poster for "Citizenfour"

This week on the podcast, [redacted] and [redacted] tiptoe across the line of national security as we assess the curious case of Edward Snowden, and the rather slow documentary that was made of it (28:56).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 5 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is two spy-friendly tracks. First is “Operation Dinner Out (Rothrock Remix)“, by Harry Gregson-Williams, from the original soundtrack to Tony Scott‘s Spy Game. And finally, there’s the perennial Bourne end-credits track, “Extreme Ways” by Moby.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt will indeed play Snowden in Oliver Stone‘s next film (source).
  • Stay tuned at the end for our soundcheck, which should be taken as satire only. Seriously. We don’t joke around about our jokes.
  • Correction: Alex Gibney‘s We Steal Secrets is only 16 minutes longer than Citizenfour.

Listen above, or download: Citizenfour (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)