FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #58 – “Birdman” (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)

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This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel tackle Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s welcome and unexpected triumph of dark comedy, Birdman. Explore a creative, single-shot world in which art imitates life imitating art, we slightly overuse the word “outstanding,” and a tour de force cast and cinematographer deliver one solid performance and well-staged scene after another (39:15).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 9 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode includes The Animals’ classic, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. A cover of this song performed by Brent Smith appears in the film’s excellent trailer, but that version is unfortunately unavailable.
  • Raymond Carver‘s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love is indeed a real short-story, published in 1981.
  • We referred to a recent episode of the Cracked Podcast – check it out here, and David Wong‘s vaguely self-helpy article that preceded it.
  • In case my non sequitur about Ed Norton’s bird-hair didn’t make sense, here’s a rundown of the random place my mind went.
  • In the final act of Ratatouille, the late, great Peter O’Toole delivers a monologue as the surly food critic Anton Ego. The speech – made of equal parts truth and self-indulgence – is almost an inverted “The Reason You Suck” speech, and goes as follows:

    “In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”

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

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #57 – “Gone Girl” (dir. David Fincher)

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This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel dig into the abiding mystery of David Fincher‘s Gone Girl, based on the novel (and written for the screen) by Gillian Flynn. (38:08)

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 9 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is the understated track “What Have We Done to Each Other?” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, from the film’s score.
  • Check out Tasha Robinson‘s article on the “Strong Female Characters” problem over at The Dissolve.
  • We spoke of the excellent movie trailer work by Mark Woolen, who did the trailer for Gone Girl. Gizmodo did a feature on his work this past week, including past trailers for The Social Network and A Serious Man. Woolen also cut two trailers for upcoming films that we plan to review on the podcast: Birdman and The Theory of Everything. Check out all of his trailers here.
  • CORRECTION: The couple in the Ozarks were Greta (Lola Kirke) and Jeff (Boyd Holbrook). We mistakenly identified Scott McNairy as the actor who played Jeff – he actually played Tommy O’Hara, Amy’s former classmate.

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

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #56 – “The Equalizer” (dir. Antoine Fuqua)

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This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel witness the reunion of Denzel Washington with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua – as well as a return to general badassdom – in The Equalizer. This will be the second film in as many weeks we end up comparing to Taken, and this time, it may not be to the film’s advantage (28:52).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 5.5 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is “Sixteen” by The Heavy, from the film’s soundtrack.
  • The Philadelphia diner painting we referred to is Nighthawks, by Edward Hopper.
  • We referred to the 2000 John Singleton film Shaft, starring Samuel L. Jackson. Check out a Showtime featurette here – gives a good sense of the film.
  • We discussed the slow-motion fights in the 2009 Guy Ritchie version of Sherlock Holmes – check that out here (slow-mo begins at about 1:30).
  • Brace yourself, because we’re about to get our CinemaSins on here. One of the various improvised weapons we see McCall use in the film is a powder-actuated nail gun – i.e. a nail gun that uses gunpowder as its mechanism of propulsion to shoot construction nails. We correctly noted that this is the equivalent of a 22-caliber bullet (in fact, in some cases, actual .22 Short cartridges – minus the bullets – are used to power the mechanism). We found several videos testing the lethality of nail guns at a distance, including one from Mythbusters, and another fairly robust (albeit windy) test from YouTuber pilgrimfarmer. While these videos definitively show that a nail gun powered by compressed air is not an effective distance weapon, we were unable to find a video that demonstrated the same limitation for a powder-actuated tool. And one consistent factor for any type of nail gun is that the safety catch prevents the gun from firing unless it is pressed against a surface – a mechanism that can be easily bypassed by the user, but doesn’t allow for the cool one-handed shooting that McCall pulls off in the film. Don’t try this at home, kids. We’re professional podcasters.
  • With apologies to Ronda Rousey – Glenn’s just not an MMA guy. But he knows who Gina Carano is!

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

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #55 – “A Walk Among the Tombstones” (dir. Scott Frank)

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This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel take a leisurely stroll through a pretty well-executed genre exercise by writer/director Scott Frank (The Lookout). (41:39).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 7 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is Nouela‘s cover of “Black Hole Sun“, from the film’s trailer.
  • Joining us for this week’s episode is Seattle artist Jason B., who will happily sell you a delightful pop-art print (or a mug) of Daniel’s mug here. Check out his other artwork and blog over at Catastrophic Shift. "Office Crazed" by Jason Busse
  • The two detective characters that were name-dropped in the film were Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe (created by Raymond Chandler, whom we mistakenly mentioned instead).
  • The last (and only other) film in which we saw Brian “Astro” Bradley was Earth to Echocheck out our podcast review here.
  • We referred to a recent Cracked article about a convicted drug smuggler, now out of prison, who is now a professional speaker – that was this one, from Brian O’Dea. But we actually mixed in a detail from this article (from an anonymous writer), about how drug dealers are often not the people you expect.
  • We referred to the lackluster success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous – for reference, check out this NPR interview with Dr. Lance Dodes, who claims that AA’s success rate is as low as 5-10%.

Listen above, or download: A Walk Among the Tombstones (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #54 – “Lucy”, “I Origins”

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This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel use roughly 20% of their cerebral capacity to review the new action thriller from Luc Besson, Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson – then have a severe disagreement on the latest from Another Earth-director Mike Cahill, I Origins (58:06).

Editor’s note: Check out Glenn’s written review of I Origins here.

May contain NSFW language.

Still from "I Origins"

FilmWonk rating (Lucy): 7 out of 10
FilmWonk rating (I Origins): 6/10 (Daniel), 8.5/10 (Glenn)

Show notes:

  • (01:41): Lucy
  • (12:24): Spoilers for Lucy
  • (19:56): I Origins
  • (33:39): Spoilers for I Origins
  • Music for tonight’s episode is the track “Rebirth“, by Joseph Bauer/Hi-Finesse, from the theatrical trailer for Lucy, as well as the track “Dust It Off” by The Dø, from the I Origins soundtrack.
  • Trailer spoiler warning: Do yourself a favor and don’t watch the trailer for I Origins. Not only does it reveal major events in the film; it also presents an interpretation of the film that is at odds with at least one of our opinions.
  • Here’s a good roundup of the 10% brain myth from Dr. Steven Novella at the Neurologica Blog. Also, check out a history of the 10% brain myth from Andrew Tarantola at Gizmodo.
  • The hominid fossil Lucy was indeed an Australopithecus afarensis, but we had its location wrong – it was discovered in the Awash Valley in Ethiopia. It’s possible we were thinking of Chauvet Cave in France, where some of the oldest Paleolithic cave paintings in the world were found.
  • According to a December 2013 Harris Interactive poll, 74% of US adults believe in God, and 64% believe in an afterlife.
  • Daniel was correct about India’s biometric database – there are 600 million Indians enrolled as of May 2014.
  • A brief (albeit slightly out-of-date) rundown of Higgs Boson experimentation on Wikipedia, as some increasing confidence levels in 2014: NBCNews (23 June 2014), IFLScience (17 July 2014).
  • Glenn mentioned that Michael Pitt in I Origins looks a bit like Johnny Depp in Secret Window, an obscure and poorly received Stephen King adaptation from 2004 – have a look and decide for yourself!

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

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #53 – “Sex Tape”, “The Purge: Anarchy”

This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel screen a subpar Sex Tape from director Jake Kasdan, and a cast they usually enjoy, including Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, and Rob Lowe. What went so horribly, tragically, erotically wrong with this film? Tune in below – and then stay tuned as we’re joined by FilmWonk’s senior Obscure Film Correspondent, Rebekah O’Brien, who joins us to review The Purge: Anarchy (53:58).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating (Sex Tape): 2 out of 10
FilmWonk rating (The Purge: Anarchy): 7/10 (Daniel and Rebekah), 5/10 (Glenn)

Show notes:

  • (01:57): Sex Tape
  • (14:30): Spoilers for Sex Tape
  • (23:35): The Purge: Anarchy
  • (37:47): Spoilers for The Purge: Anarchy
  • Music for tonight’s episode is the track “Turn It Up” by Ruba, from the Sex Tape soundtrack, and the track “Drink” by Alestorm, which is not on either movie’s soundtrack, but feels anarchy-appropriate.
  • We made a reference to the Streisand effect, a phenomenon whereby an attempt to censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of making that information more widely publicized. Read up on it via the link above.
  • Penile fracture (NSFW, graphic image) is a real thing.
  • Daniel referred to Frédéric Bastiat‘s “Parable of the broken window“.
  • Update: Gizmodo just posted an amusing article about how to get your sex tape off the internet, including via a DMCA takedown notice as we discussed on the podcast.

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

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #52 – “Earth to Echo” (dir. Dave Green)

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This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel take on a found-footage tribute to E.T. with Earth to Echo. With bitter (albeit well-casted) memories of J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 firmly in our heads, this film had a great deal of baggage to overcome. Did it manage to turn nostalgia into a film worth watching on its own merits? Find out below (28:48).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 7 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is the track “21 Flights” by Heavy English, from the film’s soundtrack.

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