FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #73 – “The Chinese Mayor”, “3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets” (#SIFF2015 review)

Poster for "3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets"

This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel are back at SIFF to review a fascinating documentary about Chinese politics which, as of this recording, you can watch on YouTube right now. No, seriously – go watch it, then listen to our take on it. We follow that up with a documentary on the 2012 shooting death of Jordan Davis, 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets (45:53).

This show may contain NSFW language.

Post for "The Chinese Mayor"

FilmWonk rating (The Chinese Mayor): 6.5/10
FilmWonk rating (3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets): 8/10

Show notes:

  • Per usual, these SIFF-centric episodes are cut and posted quickly, so expect a bit less polish than usual.

Listen above, or download: The Chinese Mayor, 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #72 – “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (dir. Joss Whedon)

This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel return to the Avengers saga – Glenn with his prior 8/10 review, and Daniel with his persistent refusal to get sucked into Marvel’s comic web. Can our heroes ever come to an understanding about the true appeal of comic book films, and more importantly, will Marvel ever learn how to handle a girl-superhero? Stay tuned. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. Or whatever Marvel’s equivalent may be (55:46).

Sorry Cap, this show will contain NSFW language.
Additionally, it will contain spoilers for all of Marvel’s previous films, including (specifically) Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

FilmWonk rating: 8/10 (Glenn), 5/10 (Daniel)

Show notes:

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

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #71 – “True Story” (dir. Rupert Goold)

Poster for "True Story"

This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel learn more about the mystery of Christian Longo and Michael Finkel than they ever wanted to. Enjoy the intense and inexplicable bromance that ensues as we reflect on whether or not strong performances from James Franco and Jonah Hill can redeem such a deeply uncomfortable film (29:20).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 6 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is…the movie’s trailer. Not much soundtrack to be had in this film.
  • Bart Layton‘s 2012 documentary, The Impostor, is a movie we’d recommend over this one (in fact, we did!) – and it is indeed on Netflix streaming as of this writing.
  • Apropos of nothing, here’s a link to Rob Cantor‘s performance of “Shia LaBeouf” Live. As we said… it’s delightful, and will change your life.

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

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #70 – “Furious 7” (dir. James Wan)

Poster for "Furious 7"
This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel bid a fast and furious farewell to both Paul Walker and Justin Lin, bid a mostly positive hello to James Wan, and ponder the future of Hollywood’s biggest, dumbest action franchise that we just can’t get enough of (36:25).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 7.5 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is the film’s opening theme song, “Ride Out” by Kid Ink, Tyga, Wale, YG, and Rich Homie Quan.
  • CORRECTION (kinda): We referred, slightly critically, to the “artifice” of the cars-dropping-from-planes sequence. To be clear, whenever we actually see the actors in the cars, it’s clearly fake, composited from green-screen footage shot elsewhere. So this critique still seems fair, even if that’s also been true of many of the simpler street racing stunts throughout the franchise. But, as one of our astute listeners pointed out, the stunt team actually did jump cars with skydiving cameramen out of airplanes to get the footage. Check out the (pretty awesome) behind-the-scenes featurette here.
  • CORRECTION: Not for the first or last time, I mixed up the names of Luke Evans and Lucas Black. I regret nothing.
  • We referred to a video from The Onion that featured “the 5-year-old screenwriter of ‘Fast Five'” – it’s well worth a look. And Chris Morgan has actually written the last five Fast and Furious scripts – everything from “Tokyo Drift” on.
  • Um, it seems we didn’t mention Kurt Russell at all on this podcast. Just an observation.

Listen above, or download: Furious 7 (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #69 – “Chappie” (dir. Neill Blomkamp)

Poster for "Chappie"

This week, Glenn and Daniel learn that Chappie‘s got stories, that the members of Die Antwoord aren’t half-bad actors, and that Neill Blomkamp isn’t done impressing us, despite his sophomore misstep (50:51).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 7.5 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is “I Fink U Freeky” by Die Antwoord. The video is well worth a look – I was first exposed to it at the OneReel Film Festival in 2013, at which point I commented, “Meth is a hell of a drug.” That opinion is unchanged – but I’ve since developed a pretty high opinion of Yolandi and Ninja‘s skill with theatricality.
  • R20,000,000 ZAR (South African rand) = $1.6 million USD (US dollars). Not a small sum in any case.
  • CORRECTION: Meredith Woerner from io9 referred to this as “a bad movie“, not “a dumb movie”. Our bad.

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

Chappie, Neill Blomkamp, Sharlto Copley, Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel, Ninja, Yo-Landi Visser, Die Antwoord, Sigourney Weaver

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #68 – “The Lazarus Effect” (dir. David Gelb) (spoiler-edition)

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This week, Glenn wishes The Lazarus Effect would’ve just let him rest in peace, while Daniel offers a tepid, contrarian defense, and spoils The Ring for some reason (19:33).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 5.5/10 (Daniel); 2.5/10 (Glenn)

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!, which is better than the movie deserves. I also just noticed George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley are wearing a “CHOOSE LIFE” t-shirt in the video, which is apropos.
  • The horror flick from 2013 that I plugged was indeed Sinister, not Insidious – although they do share a producer. Another fine horror flick I didn’t think of was last year’s Oculus.
  • We mention one our early podcast review of Frozen (the Adam Green horror film, not the Disney film) – check that out here.
  • We were actually drinking Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky bourbon. Solid. They didn’t pay us for the plug; we just like bourbon.

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

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #67 – “Selma” (dir. Ava DuVernay)

Poster for "Selma"

Just in time for the Oscars, Glenn and Daniel take a deep dive into history with Selma, a powerful, dramatic film that gets into uncommon depth on some complex historical issues. Not every speechifying moment of this film landed for us, but all in all, it’s both an artistic triumph and fodder for a fascinating discussion (54:25).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 8 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is the track “Glory” (by Common and John Legend), from the film’s end credits – a choice we had mixed feelings about in the film, but that is no less powerful for it.
  • The 1965 church bombing depicted in the film occurred at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The bombing killed four young black girls and injured 22 others. Although the FBI quickly identified the four co-conspirator Klansmen they believed responsible for the bombing, the first of them, Robert Edward Chambliss, was not charged and convicted until 1977. Two other co-conspirators were charged and convicted much later, in 2001 and 2002 respectively, with Thomas Edwin Blanton, Jr. sentenced to life with the possibility of parole (he remains in an Alabama penitentiary at the age of 84 as of this writing), and Bobby Frank Cherry sent to prison for life, where he died in 2004. The fourth alleged co-conspirator, Herman Frank Cash, died in 1994 and was never charged with the crime.
  • We didn’t do a full review of Lincoln, but the film did make it into Glenn’s Top 10 Films of 2012 – read that entry here.
  • Carmen Ejogo also played Coretta Scott King in the 2001 film Boycott, about the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56, which took place ten years before the events of this film. Not only did this make Ejogo almost perfectly age-appropriate for this role in both films, but she received King’s blessing for the portrayal prior to the 2001 film (and prior to King’s death in 2006).
  • CORRECTION: The Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees citizens the right to vote regardless of the person’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”, was ratified in 1870 – even earlier than we stated. By the time the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, the laws that it struck down had been suppressing the African-American vote for nearly a century after the amendment was ratified.
  • CORRECTION: Jimmie Lee Jackson died in the hospital 8 days after being shot, not a day later as we said. We also mistakenly stated that his killer, former Alabama State Police Corporal James Bonard Fowler had died in 2010 – this is incorrect; Fowler is 81 years old and still alive as of this writing. We were perhaps thinking of Sheriff Jim Clark, who died in 2007.
  • CORRECTION: We mistakenly identified Archbishop Iakovos as a Jewish official; he was actually a Greek Orthodox Primate (the head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America), and he did indeed march at the head of the line, hand-in-hand with MLK during the final Selma-Montomery march, as captured in this photo, which appeared in LIFE Magazine. We regret the error.
  • Daniel mentioned that then-Alabama Governor George Wallace ran “one of the most racist campaigns in modern southern political history” – this is actually a quote from former President Jimmy Carter, referring to Wallace’s second campaign for Governor of Alabama in 1970. Primary sources were hard to come by online, but this book does corroborate the story that Wallace supporters posted several racist ads on his behalf, an example of which is available here, for those with historical interest. In his later years, Wallace publicly recanted his racist beliefs, and asked for the forgiveness of African-Americans – one of the only opposition figures featured in this film who did so.

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