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

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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)

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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)

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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)

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)