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)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #66 – “Fifty Shades of Grey” (dir. Sam Taylor-Johnson)

Poster for "Fifty Shades of Grey" movie

This week, Glenn and Daniel watch Fifty Shades of Grey, and find it wanting. Wish there was more to it (27:09).

This episode will unquestionably contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 2 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is Beyoncé‘s remix of “Crazy in Love” from the film’s soundtrack.
  • For some reason, this episode includes spoilers for the 2002 film Identity. Thanks, Daniel.

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

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)