00:00 - 13:10 - INTROS. Tucker has finished reading the Library of America compilation of Pauline Kael's writing, and he talks a little about quite a lot of her reviews but the one I wanted to pull out and highlight this section he mentioned from her review of Deer Hunter from the New Yorker (special thanks to Seth Hurley for his help on getting this quote from the NY site). Here, she talks about the scene in the bar immediately before the Vietnam section of the film:
"The five hunters drive back down to Welsh's bar, and there, follows a scene that is possibly too clever: fat, baby-faced Welsh plays a Chopin nocturne, and the other listen attentively. It's a moment of communion before the parting of ways. The music is lovely, and if one of the men - the amiable nonentity Axel, perhaps - had only fallen asleep this scene might have been as great as it wants to be. But with all of the demonstrating their innate sensitivity, showing us that beer sloshers' savage breasts are soothed by music and that their inarticulate feelings go far beyond what they talk about, it's to much like those scenes in which roomfuls of Hitler's lieutenants all swooned to Wagner. And it's a shade too effective, too theatrical, when Cimino cuts from this solemn grace to the noise and hell of Vietnam."
Sean has just read two of David Lynch's books - Lynch on Lynch, wherein he is interviewed by Chris Rodley (who also edited Cronenberg on Cronenberg), and Catching the Big Fish. In keeping with the Pauline Kael fest, here is Lynch talking about how Mel Brooks and Pauline Kael were instrumental in him having a career. past Eraserhead.
"You said The Elephant Man was turned down at a number of studios. How did Brooks get it going?
He made it happen. It wasn't any of us. But Pauline Kael played a part in that. Chris and Eric and I had an office right across from Mel's office at Fox and we wrote another script under his tutelage. We spent maybe two months, you know, writing every day. That script was sent to Paramount. And Pauline Kael had a gig there - because of Warren Beatty or something. She would read things, and advise on them. And I think when she was leaving her post, she said "If you make anything here at Paramount, make the Elephant Man." And I guess this one guy read it over the weekend, and was really moved by it. And so it became a Paramount film."
Also mentioned in this section are Deeper Into Movies, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Going Steady, all by Kael, Cassavettes on Cassavettes, and The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey edited by Martin Scorsese. Also - this video of David Lynch talking about people watching movies on their phones. And we also talk about Ted Demme's stone fucking classic Beautiful Girls, which no one talks about and we have no idea why.
13:11 - 24:08 HOMEWORK. Sean's assignment was The Rules of the Game (1939), directed by Jean Renoir, starring Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost, Marcel Dalio, and Roland Toutain. In this section we talk about the difference in emotional tenor between French movies about class and American movies about class, and this films similarity to Shakespeare's Falstaff. Also mentioned in this section Grand Illusion and The Lower Depths also by Renoir, and a slight detour into a conversation about Five Easy Pieces by Bob Raefelson, The Comedy (which we've discussed here previously), Raefelson's similarities to Hal Ashby, Scorsese's After Hours, and The Iceman Cometh.
24:09 - 37:52 HOMEWORK. Tucker's assignment was The Waaaaaaaaaaaarriors (1979), directed by Walter Goddamn Hill, starring Michael Beck, James Remar, David Patrick Kelly, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, and Lynne Thigpen. In this section, we talk about how Hill learned about action from Sam Peckinpah - particularly the Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs. Also we talk about Walter Hill's approach to race and gender in this film, which is surprisingly sensitive considering how much of the movie has Remar either saying "faggot" or beating the shit out of someone. We love you, Ajax. Tucker talks about those scenes of behavior in movies that permanently stick with you. Also mentioned in this section - Al Pacino in Heat and The Insider, Alien, Night of the Living Dead, Extreme Measures.
37:53 - 48:02 - Sean watched Heaven's Gate (1980), written and directed by Michael Cimino, starring Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, Isabelle Huppert, Jeff Bridges, John Hurt, Sam Waterston, Brad Dourif, Joseph Cotten, Richard Masur, Terry O'Quinn, Mickey Rourke, and Tom Noonan.
We talk about the cruelty to animals in the film, and Tucker mentions the cow scene in Tarvkovsky's Andrei Rublev . There is also a lot of talk about Blues Brothers, 1941, Apocalypse Now, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Empire Strikes Back - all of which could have killed Hollywood because they were all made with insanely huge budgets for their time. And egomania, and the positives and negatives in getting immense, costly, and gigantic movies made.
Also mentioned in this section Jeff Goldblum in Death Wish, Cimino's great Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and more from Pauline Kael - she famously called this movie "piss yellow".
48:03 - 53: 20 - Tucker watched the latest in his series of "movies Nina has not seen", Flight of the Navigator (1986), directed by Randall Kleiser, starring Joey Cramer, Paul Reubens, Veronica Cartright, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Howard Hessman. Tucker talks about how the movie itself is propulsive with kind of no other elements other thant the plot, and we talk about the emotional terriorism of good kid's movies. Also mentioned in this section - Joe Dante's Explorers, Speilberg's E.T, our previous conversation about The Tenant, and the kid's comic Amulet.
53:21 - 1:02:00 - Sean watched the fan-edit of DUNE (1984), written and directed by David Lynch, starring Kyle McLachlan, Sean Young, Francesca Annis, Jurgen Pronchow, Virginia Madsen, Dean Stockwell, Brad Dourif, Max Von Sydow, Sting, like 900 other people. Officially called Dune: The Third Stage Edition, this can be found pretty much everywhere but I'm not going to link to a torrent site here because I'm sure someone will yell at me for it. You own it on dvd, see the weird version with extra knife fights for free if you can use google.
Tucker talks about actually reading Frank Herbert's Dune last year, which Sean needs to fucking read already. Also we don't talk about it - if you can, read up about Ridley Scott's attempt to bring Dune to the screen after working on Alien, which has been lost to history because everyone loves the idea of the pre-Alien version of Dune filmed by Jodorowsky. That version, which is the source introduction between Dan O'Bannon, Chris Foss, HR Giger, and Moebius - without whose meeting we would not have had Alien, the American Heavy Metal magazine, or even if you want to go there, modern cyberpunk - and had planned involvement by Pink Floyd, Orson Welles, David Carradine, Mick Jagger, Charlotte Rampling, Alain Delon, and Salvador Dali. All of that sounds really fucking awesome, but it's also kind of the movie that stoned people think is a great idea for who should work on Dune while driving to buy a pizza at 1 in the morning. I, personally, have a lot of the things I love about comics, film, and science fiction defined by those guys meeting and working together when they did, and I am happy they did. But there is almost no way this film would have been anything but a debacle. The fact that it's the "before they were famous" source of so much great stuff, doesn't mean that it should be regarded as anything higher than the Beatles version of the Lord of the Rings that Tolkien refused to happen.
The Ridley Scott version, which he talks about on the Blade Runner making of documentary and has spoken about in interviews, was being developed immediately after Alien. The film was stuck briefly, as Scott was developing it first, and Hampton Fancher's Blade Runner script script as something he could work on in the future. Ridley Scotts brother had died unexpectedly, and because Dune was having problems, he dove into work on Blade Runner because he didn't want to do anything but work. But Scott's conception of a Dune film might have been the true lost masterpiece. Scott had wanted to go toe-to-toe with George Lucas, because he loved Star Wars (and 2001, the two science fiction films that convinced him to take Alien), but felt that he could outdo it. That competitive element would have made the movie great on it's own, but more than that, Scott has talked about the primary influence on the film was the no-bullshit documentary influenced approach to guerilla terrorism of Pontecorvo's Battle of Algiers. Which, that is why young Ridley Scott is the genius that he was. Because Dune, even in Lynch's very weird film, is always approached as a huge familial epic in the vein of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. While it is like those things, it's also a nasty story about a cell of people who murder other people because of religion and revenge.
Also mentioned in this section - Dario Argento's Deep Red, James Cameron's Avatar, and, Dark Knight Rises.
1:02:01 - 1:05:56 - Tucker watched Neccesary Roughness (1991), directed by Scott Bagoti, starring Scott Bakula, Sinbad, Jason Bateman, Robert Loggia, Hector Elizondo, Larry Miller, and Kathy Ireland.
In this section we talk about how amazing Larry Miler is, and a lot of talk about Major League, which we kind of discover through talking about it that it is a pretty damn solid movie that has been ruined by constant airings on tv with a lot of great actors, characters, and jokes. Also Tucker brings up Bob Uecker's immortal "Juuuust a bit outside." See also - the first Harold and Kumar, the South Park movie, Spys Like Us, Wedding Crashers, Airplane, I used to love all those movies.
1:05:57 - 1:10:43 - Sean watched the Twin Peaks Pilot / "Northwest Passage" (1990), directed by David Lynch and written by Lynch and Mark Frost. Starring Kyle McLachlan, Ray Wise, Grace Zabraskie, Sheryl Lee, Jack Nance, Frank Silva, Lara Flyn Boyle, and like 30 other people.And he also watched the european cut of it, the different section of which can be seen on youtube.
Sean found the vhs in a box, and pretty much came to it really fascinated to watch it with awareness of how Lynch made it in mind. This is kind fo the weird thing about film books, you end up not watching your favorites by the director newly empowered by your knowledge of how they did it. You watch the weird outliers because those have the best stories. Tucker talks about how ridiculous transcendental meditation is, and Sean brings up the theatrically released Man From U.N.C.L.E. movies like The Karate Killers. Sometimes they run those on TMC, if you catch one of them on, watch the shit out of it, will blow your mnd.
1:10:44 - 1:16:17 - Tucker watched Casa De Mi Padre (2012), directed by Matt Piedmont, starring Will Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Genesis Rodriguez, Efren Ramirez, and Nick Offerman. In this section we talk about parody movies, how hard it is to cut a joke when you get attached to it, Will Ferrell being a pretty amazing melodramatic actor. Also mentioned in this section - the desert episode of The Mighty Boosh and John Landis' Three Amigos.
1:16:18 - 1:22:57 - Sean watched Prince of Darkness (1987), written and directed by our patron saint John Carpenter, starring Donald Pleasance, Dennis Dun, Jameson Parker, Victor Wong, Lisa Blount, Peter Jason, and Alice Cooper. Score by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth.
This section has our greatest podcast moment yet, where Tucker asks "Sean, do you actually know this or are you basing this on what John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness told you?".
Aside fom that, Sean talks about why he thinks this movie is considered a lesser Carpenter movie - and it's because it's not shot by Dean Cundey, it's shot by Gary B. Kibbe, and there is a really unfortunate makeup towards the end.
Also mentioned in this section - Exorcist III, John Carpenter's Vampires, Big Trouble in Little China, that great Predator 2 weapons poster, and the other parts of Carpenter's Apocalypse Trilogy: The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness.
1:22:58 - 1:33:45 - And finally, Tucker watched Safe House (2012), directed by Daniel Espinosa, starring Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Sam Shepard, Robert Patrick, Vera Farminga, Reuben Blades, and Brendan Gleeson. Tucker talks about watching movies about people who are showing that they are constantly doing a good job, and how taxing that is. And how that relates to realism, or "realism". We also talk about how Ryan Reynolds is actually a pretty charming actor, at least sometimes. And Denzel as a constantly fascinating screen presence without devolving into 00s-era Harrison Ford.
Also mentioned in this section - Blade Trinity, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Ted, Green Lantern, Flight, the Tony Scott version of Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, the Bourne movies, Haywire, Wolverine: Origins, and Definitely Maybe.
Also, TFO shoutout, go read Joe McCulloch's great piece on Tony Scott's True Romance and Jack Kirby on MUBI. Go do it RIGHT NOW.
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Come back next week, where our homework assignments will be The Lady From Shanghai and The Vanishing. And the week after... BILLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.