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 #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)