FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #151 – “Booksmart” (dir. Olivia Wilde), SIFF Roundup: “Putin’s Witnesses”, “…Barbarians”

In this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel (with special guest Erika Spoden) conclude this year’s 45th Seattle International Film Festival with a dark dramedy-cum-Socratic dialogue about the relationship and responsiveness of art when it comes to preserving the dark side of history. But enough about Putin’s Witnesses! We’re also seeing a provocative Closing Night selection, and checking out Olivia Wilde‘s directorial debut, Booksmart, the younger sister and older soul to Superbad. (01:11:05)

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating (Putin’s Witnesses): 7/10 (Erika, Daniel), 7.5/10 (Glenn
FilmWonk rating (Booksmart): 7/10 (Erika, Glenn), 8/10 (Daniel)
FilmWonk rating (I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians): 8 out of 10

Show notes:

  • [02:24] Review: Putin’s Witnesses (dir. Vitaly Mansky)
  • [27:41] Review: Booksmart (dir. Olivia Wilde)
  • [41:05] Review: I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians (dir. Radu Jude)
  • Music for this episode is the tracks “Give Up the Funk” by Parliament and “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette, from the Booksmart soundtrack.
  • We referenced a Perry Bible Fellowship comic, “Now Showing“.

Listen above, or download: Putin’s Witnesses, Booksmart, I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

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FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #146 – “Bumblebee” (dir. Travis Knight), “Suspiria” (dir. Luca Guadagnino)

Poster for "Bumblebee"

On this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel fulfill a prior threat to fan-favorite intellectual heavyweight Erika Spoden: to make her review a Transformers film. And with all props to Scene Unseen before us, it’s one that Daniel didn’t even bother to watch. Then we drill into Luca Guadagnino‘s operatic horror remake, Suspiria, a film that we started off uneven and disturbed by, only to talk ourselves into watching it again during the ride home (01:04:36).

May contain NSFW language.

Still from "Suspiria"

FilmWonk rating (Bumblebee): 7.5/10 (Erika), 6.5/10 (Glenn)
FilmWonk rating (Suspiria): 7/10 (Glenn/Daniel), 8.5/10 (Erika)

Show notes:

  • [02:59] Review: Bumblebee
  • [24:39] Review: Suspiria
  • [44:54] Spoilers: Suspiria
  • Music for this episode is the tracks “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears, from the soundtrack for Bumblebee, and “Suspirium” by Thom Yorke‘s excellent score and soundtrack to Suspiria.
  • Correction: Per Wikipedia, the Three Mothers are: Mater Tenebaraum (Mother of Darkness – not death), Mater Lachrymarum (Mother of Tears), and Mater Suspiriorum (Mother of Sighs).

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

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #143 – “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” (dir. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen), “The Front Runner” (dir. Jason Reitman)

In this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel (with special guest Erika Spoden) check out the new Western anthology from the Coen Brothers, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and see whether the true grit of a singing cowboy can stand up against the OTP of Math Chicken and Mamma Owl. Confused? Check it out on Netflix, then come back and listen we drill into all six segments. But first, Glenn and Daniel check out their second Jason Reitman film of this year, The Front Runner, and question how a political drama that ticks so many boxes of personal interest for the both of us can feel like it has so little to say (01:23:21).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating (The Front Runner): 6/10 (Daniel), 4/10 (Glenn)
FilmWonk rating (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs): 9/10 (Erika), 4/10 (Daniel), 8/10 (Glenn)

Show notes:

  • [02:21] Review: The Front Runner
  • [24:38] Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • [37:29] Spoilers: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Music for this episode is the tracks “Little Joe The Wrangler (Çurly Joe)” performed by Tim Blake Nelson and “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings”, performed by Nelson and Willie Watson (of Old Crow Medicine Show), from the soundtrack for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
  • The loosely similar political film Glenn was thinking of during our Front Runner discussion was The Ides of March, directed by and starring George Clooney, and co-written by Clooney, Grant Heslov, and House of Cards creator Beau Willimon. Check out the trailer here.
  • The article we referenced was, “The Blinding Whiteness of The Coen Brothers Wild West”, by Nick Martin of Splinter.

Listen above, or download: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The Front Runner (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #140 – “Five Fingers for Marseilles” (dir. Michael Matthews), “Tully” (dir. Jason Reitman)

In this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel (with special guest Erika Spoden) venture back to another strong Jason Reitman/Diablo Cody team-up from earlier in the year, Tully, a harrowing newborn parenting drama that has unique resonance for one of us at the moment. But first we check out Five Fingers for Marseilles, a South African team’s unique and pulpy take on the American Western genre, out now in limited release in US theaters (67:11).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating (Five Fingers for Marseilles): 5/10 (Daniel), 8/10 (Erika), 7.5/10 (Glenn)
FilmWonk rating (Tully): 9 out of 10

Show notes:

  • [01:37] Review: Five Fingers for Marseilles
  • [21:05] Spoilers: Five Fingers for Marseilles
  • [35:08] Review: Tully
  • [49:50] Spoilers: Tully
  • Music for this episode is the tracks “Tiergarten” by Rufus Wainwright and “Blue” by The Jayhawks, from the soundtrack for Tully.

Listen above, or download: Five Fingers for Marseilles, Tully (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #133 – “American Animals” (dir. Bart Layton), “The Bold, The Corrupt, and the Beautiful” (dir. Yang Ya-che) (SIFF)

***CW: This episode contains discussion of sexual violence.***

In this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel head back to the Seattle International Film Festival to check out the new heist film from director Bart Layton, who wowed them back in 2012 with The Imposter, with special guest Erika Spoden. Then they venture to Taiwan to check out The Bold, The Corrupt, and the Beautiful, a stunning gangster film that somehow merited comparisons to both The Godfather and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (01:15:32).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating (American Animals): 6/10 (Daniel), 7/10 (Erika & Glenn)
FilmWonk rating (The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful): 8.5 out of 10

Show notes:

  • [02:28] Review: American Animals
  • [23:35] Spoilers: American Animals
  • [41:23] Review: The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful
  • [58:03] Spoilers: The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful
  • Music for this episode is the tracks “A Little Less Conversation” by Elvis Presley and “Crucify Your Mind” by Rodriguez, from the soundtrack for American Animals.
  • The Transy Book Heist, the real-life basis for American Animals, is chronicled in detail in a 2015 Vanity Fair article.
  • Check out the excellent trailer for The Bold, The Corrupt, and the Beautiful.
  • The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful was nominated for 7 Golden Horse Awards and won three, including Best Actress for Kara Hui, Best Supporting Actress for Vicky Chen, and Best Picture. It also picked up the Audience Choice Award for the festival.

Listen above, or download: American Animals, The Bold The Corrupt and the Beautiful (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #129 – “The Death of Stalin” (dir. Armando Iannucci), “Maktub”, “Keep the Change” (#SJFF2018)

In this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel are back for two outstanding selections from the Seattle Jewish Film Festival, and take a foray into In the Loop director Armando Iannucci‘s uniquely foul-mouthed and hilarious rendition of the demise of Stalin’s Russia. We are joined once again by special guest Erika Spoden (01:13:18).

May contain NSFW language.

The first round of the Seattle Jewish Film Festival closes today, but they will be back for one more weekend next month, April 14-15. For the complete schedule and tickets, head over to SJFF.

FilmWonk rating (Keep the Change): 8/10 (Glenn, Erika), 9/10 (Daniel)
FilmWonk rating (Maktub): 8 out of 10
FilmWonk rating (The Death of Stalin): 8/10 (Glenn), 9/10 (Daniel, Erika)

Show notes:

  • [01:45] Review: Keep the Change
  • [16:16] Spoilers: Keep the Change
  • [27:26] Review: Maktub
  • [42:37] Spoilers: Maktub
  • [51:53] Review: The Death of Stalin
  • These films didn’t have a lot to choose from, so music for this episode is the traditional Russian folk song, “Korobeiniki” and the Soviet National anthem.
  • It does appear that the earliest version of the “whoever saves a life saves the world” verse – which does indeed appear in the Quran (Surah 5:32) – comes from one of the early texts of Judaism (and apparently is a retelling of the Cain and Abel story in-context). Given that Judaism predated both Christianity and Islam, this makes chronological sense, but the origin and evolution of this phrase is expectedly complicated. Check out this article in Mosaic for more details.
  • We spoke vaguely of persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church under the USSR – none of us are particularly familiar with this period, but apparently
    Khrushchev (Stalin’s successor) stepped up this persecution as soon as he took office.

Listen above, or download: The Death of Stalin, Maktub, Keep the Change (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #128 – “Phantom Thread” (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

Poster for "Phantom Thread"

This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel, along with special guest Erika Spoden, take a very special Oscar week look back at one of the Best Picture contenders we missed last year (and we covered several!), Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread (43:04).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 8.5 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for this episode is the tracks “House of Woodcock” and “For the Hungry Boy”, from the film’s original score by Jonny Greenwood.
  • CORRECTION: We made a reference to the Panama Papers – we were, in fact, thinking of the Paradise Papers. We would simply ignore our misdeed and sweep this errant detail under the rug, but we don’t wish to be like the people featured in these papers.

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