FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #172 – “Rebuilding Paradise” (dir. Ron Howard)

Poster for "Rebuilding Paradise"

In this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel grapple with a horrific natural disaster that has been exacerbated by inept individual and governmental decisions whose ongoing toll of human tragedy is difficult to fathom.
And they also watch a documentary about the 2018 Camp Fire (29:30).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 6 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Tune in next week for our Tenth Anniversary episode!
  • We mentioned California SB50, which represented multiple failed attempts at increasing housing density in California during 2018. Several more attempts were made to pass the bill in 2019 into early 2020 without any more success.
  • We speculated that the town of Paradise must have experienced some permanent population loss as a result of this disaster (which is only mentioned in passing in the film). According to US Census Bureau estimates, the population went from 26,711 in 2018 to 4,476 in 2019, an estimated population loss of 83%.

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

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #171 – “Palm Springs” (dir. Max Barbakow), “The Old Guard” (dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood)

Poster for "Palm Springs"

On this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel debate the raison d’être of both an all-Wolverine superhero team, as well as romance and human existence itself, with a pair of blockbuster streaming selections, Palm Springs, an outstanding debut from first-time feature director Max Barbakow, and The Old Guard, a graphic novel adaptation which divided us, from Gina Prince-Bythewood (01:08:42).

Still from "The Old Guard"

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating (Palm Springs): 9 out of 10
FilmWonk rating (The Old Guard): 4/10 (Daniel), 6/10 (Glenn)

Show notes:

  • [02:18] Review: Palm Springs
  • [15:27] Spoilers: Palm Springs
  • [32:26] Review: The Old Guard
  • [48:49] Spoilers: The Old Guard
  • CORRECTION: Glenn mispronounced director Max Barbakow’s surname (which we have since learned ends with a ‘v’ sound) when introducing him – we regret the error.
  • CORRECTION: Glenn also mispronounced actor Matthias Schoenaerts‘ name (not for the first time!). Here he is in 2012 with Marion Cotillard, taking us to school. We regret the error and are amused!
  • We slightly overstated Netflix’s original content budget – according to Variety, Netflix will spend $17 billion on original content in 2020.
  • We gave a shout-out to former Amazon Studios Head of Strategy Matthew Ball, who maintains a very interesting (and well-argued) blog on the state of the streaming wars.

Listen above, or download: Palm Springs, The Old Guard (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #170 – “Irresistible” (dir. Jon Stewart), “Da Five Bloods” (dir. Spike Lee)

On this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel debate the merits of Jon Stewart‘s election-year political satire Irresistible, which joins a micro-genre that comes as regularly and tediously as the elections themselves, and which provoked far more knowing nods than belly laughs. Then we spend substantially longer discussing Spike Lee‘s outstanding modern Vietnam War drama (featuring a career-best performance from Delroy Lindo), Da Five Bloods (01:40:29).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating (Irresistible): 6.5 out of 10
FilmWonk rating (Da Five Bloods): 8.5 out of 10

Show notes:

  • [02:10] Review: Irresistible
  • [18:17] Spoilers: Irresistible
  • [33:10] Review: Da Five Bloods
  • [01:01:07] Spoilers: Da Five Bloods
  • Music for this episode is what’s going on.
  • CORRECTION: We referred to the Viet Cong/”VC” and the North Vietnamese Army somewhat interchangeably in our review of Da Five Bloods – while there was a bit of overlap between the two, they were not the same group.
  • CORRECTION: In discussing the history lessons in the dialogue of Da Five Bloods, Glenn mistakenly referred to Milton L. Olive III, an 18-year-old soldier who died heroically in Vietnam (and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor) as “Melvin Olive”.
    We regret the error.
  • CLARIFICATION: During an aside about current events, we referred to a few recent acts of apparent voter suppression, both the long lines in Atlanta, and the polling place closures that were reported in Kentucky for their primary election this past week. While Atlanta is still being investigated, we would editorialize and say that “Governor” Brian Kemp, who “won” his seat by a narrow margin after purging hundreds of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, is not entitled to a presumption of innocence here. However, as of this writing, it appears Kentucky is headed for a record high turnout for an election-year primary, and the early reports on the poll closures lacked additional context on all of the efforts that were made to expand early voting and vote-by-mail in its place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. PolitiFact has a good roundup on the issue, and local newsradio station WFPL has a more detailed explanation on what we know as of this writing about actual turnout and voter experiences on the day, which did include some lines as long as two hours. Bottom line, in our opinion, please feel free to assume that in a post-Shelby world, if it looks like voter suppression, it probably is, and you’ll be correct more often than not. Until federal law reasserts itself to protect our sacrosanct right to vote, the burden of proving good faith is now on our elected officials.
  • Since we recorded, we did read a very interesting essay from Hoai-Tran Bui at /Film, which approaches the film from a Vietnamese perspective: how the Vietnamese are depicted, how it compares and contrasts with previous cinematic depictions, and where it could be improved in her estimation.
    Definitely worth a read:
    ‘Da 5 Bloods’ and the Strange Ghosts of Imperialism, the Vietnam War, and ‘Apocalypse Now’

Listen above, or download: Irresistible, Da Five Bloods (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #169 – “The Vast of Night” (dir. Andrew Patterson), “Holy Motors” (dir. Leos Carax)

Poster for "The Vast of Night"

On this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel head back in time to the age of radio to check out the outstanding small-town sci-fi drama debut from director Andrew Patterson, The Vast of Night (which premieres on Amazon Prime today), and then come almost all the way back to the present day with Leos Carax‘s delightfully wacky 2012 film Holy Motors (54:03).

Still from "Holy Motors"

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating (The Vast of Night): 8/10 (Daniel), 9/10 (Glenn)
FilmWonk rating (Holy Motors): 6/10 (Daniel), 7.5/10 (Glenn)

Show notes:

  • [02:14] Review: The Vast of Night
  • [17:19] Spoilers: The Vast of Night
  • [33:42] Review: Holy Motors
  • Music for this episode can be heard on the AM radio.
  • We mentioned a pair of audio drama podcasts as points of tonal comparison for The Vast of Night:
    • The Message by Mac Rogers (made for the former GE Podcast Theater; shares a feed with another excellent audio drama, LifeAfter)
    • Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
  • Daniel chose Holy Motors from an excellent list from David Sims at The Atlantic, which we may be revisiting again.

Listen above, or download: The Vast of Night, Holy Motors (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #168 – “The Lovebirds” (dir. Michael Showalter), “The Platform” (dir. Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia)

Poster for "The Lovebirds"

[CW: This episode contains discussion of disturbing violent and sexual content.]

On this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel see a parade of talents converge in the delightful new romantic action comedy The Lovebirds, and then descend into the depths of allegorical hell with The Platform. And like Orpheus and Eurydice, we kinda like each other after the experience, but only one of us will make it out again (01:00:51).

Still from "The Platform"

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating (The Lovebirds): 7.5 out of 10
FilmWonk rating (The Platform): 5/10 (Daniel), 8.5/10 (Glenn)

Show notes:

  • [02:01] Review: The Lovebirds
  • [11:53] Spoilers: The Lovebirds
  • [21:17] Review: The Platform
  • [37:04] Spoilers: The Platform
  • Music for this episode is a bit peckish.

Listen above, or download: The Lovebirds, The Platform (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #167 – “Bad Education” (dir. Cory Finley), “Gunpowder Heart” (dir. Camila Urrutia), “NT Live: Frankenstein” (dir. Danny Boyle)

Poster for "Bad Education"

[CW: This episode contains discussion of sexual violence.]

On this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel (with special guest Erika Spoden) are a bit more playful than usual. That’s to say, we’re reviewing a play – specifically, the National Theatre of Great Britain’s 2011 performance of Frankenstein, adapted for the stage by Nick Dear, and directed by Danny Boyle, as recently made available on YouTube for free (you can donate to NT here!), and starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature (as there were two cast versions available!). Then we venture down to Guatemala for a revenge thriller from the SXSW collection on Amazon Prime, Gunpowder Heart from director Camila Urrutia. And finally, we check out a new tale of small-town corruption from HBO Films, Bad Education (01:33:30).

Poster for "National Theatre At Home: Frankenstein"

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating (NT: Frankenstein): 8/10 (Glenn, Daniel), 9/10 (Erika)
FilmWonk rating (Gunpowder Heart): 6.5/10 (Daniel), 7/10 (Glenn, Erika)
FilmWonk rating (Bad Education): 8.5/10 (Glenn, Erika), 8/10 (Daniel)

Show notes:

  • [00:00:30] Review: National Theatre Live presents: Frankenstein
  • [00:24:06] Review: Gunpowder Heart
  • [00:37:44] Spoilers: Gunpowder Heart
  • [00:54:19] Review: Bad Education
  • [01:11:58] Spoilers: Bad Education
  • Music for this episode was working in the lab, late one night.
  • Check out Lisa Liebman‘s article in Vulture about the real people behind then story of Bad Education.

Listen above, or download: NT Live: Frankenstein, Gunpowder Heart, Bad Education (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #166 – “Tigertail” (dir. Alan Yang), “Red Rover” (dir. Shane Belcourt)

Poster for "Tigertail"

On this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel head north of the border and into the quixotic dream of a crowdfunded mission to Mars with Shane Belcourt‘s Red Rover (which is available for streaming Tuesday, May 12), and then check out Master of None co-creator Alan Yang‘s fictionalized take on his parents’ immigrant story from Taiwan, with Tigertail, newly available on Netflix (49:30).

Still from "Red Rover" (2018 film)

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating (Tigertail): 6/10 (Glenn), 4/10 (Daniel)
FilmWonk rating (Red Rover): 7 out of 10

Show notes:

  • [01:17] Review: Tigertail
  • [26:08] Review: Red Rover
  • [41:48] Spoilers: Red Rover
  • The language that is referred to in the Tigertail subtitles as Taiwanese [and it appears in brackets, while Mandarin Chinese appears without them] is also known as Taiwanese Hokkien, and while we picked up on a bit of the linguistic and political subtext in the film, the reality was obviously a bit more complex than could be conveyed in a film in which it was a minor detail.
  • Check out the article from Matter that we excerpted in brief:
    All Dressed Up For Mars and Nowhere to Go” by Elmo Keep

Listen above, or download: Tigertail, Red Rover (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #165 – “Birds of Prey” (dir. Cathy Yan), “Same Boat” (dir. Chris Roberti), “The Way Back” (dir. Gavin O’Connor)

Poster for "Birds of Prey"

On this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel venture back in time with director Chris Roberti to a time when we could all gather aboard a cruise ship and secretly shoot a romantic comedy about time-traveling assassins, with Same Boat, which hits VOD on Tuesday 4/7. We also catch up with Birds of Prey, an impressive return to the brightest and most colorful parts of the DCEU after a whole lot of grimdark, and actor Ben Affleck‘s spotty attempt to do the same, with The Way Back (01:06:21).

Still from "The Way Back"

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating (Birds of Prey): 7/10 (Glenn), 5/10 (Daniel)
FilmWonk rating (Same Boat): 7.5/10 (Glenn), 7/10 (Daniel)
FilmWonk rating (The Way Back): 4 out of 10

Show notes:

  • [02:38] Review: Birds of Prey
  • [22:46] Review: Same Boat
  • [34:13] Spoilers: Same Boat
  • [47:04] Review: The Way Back
  • There is a super-quick spoiler section at the end of the episode for The Way Back. You’ll know it when it comes.
  • Music for this episode is a song that I’ve always maintained is about time-traveling assassins, plus a Barracuda.
  • We mentioned Mick LaSalle‘s scathing review of Birds of Prey from the San Francisco Chronicle – to varying degrees, we did not agree!
  • Stay tuned at the end for an audio artifact that occurred during a break in recording that sounded suspiciously like Daniel threatening to cut off Glenn’s face.

Listen above, or download: Birds of Prey, Same Boat, The Way Back (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #164 – "Blow the Man Down" (dir. Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy), "Lady Macbeth" (dir. William Oldroyd)

Poster for "Blow the Man Down"

On this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel venture back in time to before The Incident when were all still able to go outside, to see Florence Pugh‘s starmaking debut in the uneven Lady Macbeth. Then they check out what will probably be the first of many streaming selections, a seaside crime caper new this weekend on Amazon Prime, Blow the Man Down (57:36).

Still from "Lady Macbeth" (2016 film)

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating (Blow the Man Down): 7.5/10 (Glenn), 5/10 (Daniel)
FilmWonk rating (Lady Macbeth): 7 out of 10

Show notes:

  • [02:46] Review: Lady Macbeth
  • [13:32] Spoilers: Lady Macbeth
  • [38:53] Review: Blow the Man Down
  • [53:28] Spoilers: Blow the Man Down
  • Music for this episode is a pair of shanties.

Listen above, or download: Blow the Man Down, Lady Macbeth (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #163 – “Onward” (dir. Dan Scanlon)

Poster for "Onward"

In this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel roll for initiative with Pixar’s latest foray into the fantastical, Onward (23:51).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 6/10 (Glenn), 8/10 (Daniel)

Show notes:

  • Music for this episode is magic.
  • Stay tuned afterward for an adorable interview.

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