Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 096: Lucy (2014) and Hercules (2014) and Very Good Girls (2014) and Dom Hemingway (2014)

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Episode 095

Welcome to Episode 096 of the MULTI AWARD-WINNING Movie Podcast Weekly, the show where we review at least one new movie that’s in theaters every single Tuesday. In this episode, we bring you Feature Reviews of “Lucy,” “Hercules,” “Very Good Girls” and “Dom Hemingway.” We also bring you our Mini Reviews, a fair amount of our usual bickering, and some movies news and trailer-talk from San Diego Comic-Con 2014. Join us!

Movie Podcast Weekly typically features four hosts (and frequent guests), who give you their verdict on at least one new movie release that’s currently in theaters, mini reviews of what they’ve been watching lately and specialty recommendation segments. New episodes release every single Monday.

SHOW NOTES:

I. Introduction
— New release day: Tuesdays
— MPW cleans house at the Podbody Awards

II. Mini Reviews
Josh: Maleficent, The Saratov Approach and Mormon cinema, Trance
Andy: Texas Killing Fields, The Wire Season 2
Karl: Maleficent, Begin Again (again)
Jason: 17 Miracles, The Real Story: Escape From Alcatraz, True Detection Season 1: Episodes 3 and 4, Eminem AKA, 30 for 30: June 17th, 1994
Karl and Andy: Quantum of Solace
Josh: The Story of Film: Parts 10 and 11

III. Feature Review: LUCY (2014)
Jason = 5.5 ( Rental )
Karl = 8.5 ( Theater / Buy it! )

IV. Feature Review: HERCULES (2014)
Andy = 6 ( Theater / Rental )

V. Feature Review: VERY GOOD GIRLS (2014)
Josh = 7 ( Rental )

VI. Feature Review: DOM HEMINGWAY (2014)
Jason = 6 ( Rental )

VII. Movie News and Trailers
— King Kong prequel
— Tusk trailer
— New Mad Max trailer
—Salt Lake Comic Con
— River of blood in China

VIII. Wrap-Up / Plugs

NEXT WEEK:
We will be reviewing GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and GET ON UP.

Links for this episode:

Horror Movie Podcast: Ep. 021: The Proto-Slasher

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Josh covers streaming movies: Movie Stream Cast

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Special thanks goes out to singer-songwriter Frederick Ingram and the Blue Claw Philharmonic for the use of their music and the voice talents of Midnight Corey Graham from The Electric Chair Podcast, Willis Wheeler from the Terror Troop Podcast and Spike Real for their help with our recommendation segment intros.

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Thank you for listening, and join us again next Monday for Movie Podcast Weekly.

37 thoughts on “Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 096: Lucy (2014) and Hercules (2014) and Very Good Girls (2014) and Dom Hemingway (2014)

  1. I can’t help but feel a little responsible for Jay and Josh’s documentary dispute in this episode. That said I think something good came out of it because it made for an interesting discussion in which several great points were brought up.

    My knowledge of documentaries is pretty limited so you’ll have to forgive my ignorance but it almost seems to me like there are different tiers of this form. On one hand we have the very cinematic and elaborate documentaries which tend to be structured so as to provide a clear and compelling narrative to the audience and which often feature lots of interesting filmmaking techniques and great deal of craft and imagination. Then on the other hand we have the sort of thing made for the history channel which might be about how a castle was built or something. The latter type tend to be pretty unimaginative and rudimentary in their presentation and really exist much more to simply convey information to the audience rather than emotionally effect them. I don’t really think either of these types are better than the other, rather they exist for different purposes maybe? To me “Jodorowky’s Dune” fell somewhere in between these two types. It was very informative and well made but, as Josh pointed out, not particularly unique or imaginative as a film itself. For me the subject matter alone was enough for it to earn a high rating but I can understand somebody being disappointed that this inspiring subject matter wasn’t given an equally inspiring presentation. It did feel almost as though it could have been a DVD extra as much as a theatrical release. Still amazing and fascinating to me though.

    Anyway I would love for Josh to elaborate more on his ideas about documentaries. Does he differentiate between the “domestic documentary” as a rudimentary visual way of delivering information (which isn’t to disregard the hardwork and subtle production elements that must go into even the most basic history channel program) and the “documentary film” as an artistic form? Or is such a delineation spurious or artificial? What does he think the main purpose of a documentary should be? To inform, move, inspire? And what elements of the filmmaking process does he believe to be the most important to the documentary form? Is it enough that the filmmakers capture amazing moments? Or is it the contextualisation of such moments which truly elevates a film? So subject vs context?

    Sorry for so many stupid questions, but I find this kind of thing super fascinating and I love how passionate Josh is about film as an art form.

    – David

    • There are no stupid questions here, David. Just stupid answers by me. Unfortunately, I wasted all of my free time tonight leaving one of those stupid answers below and so have far less time to deal with your far more interesting points. You’re going to have to humor me here, for a minute.

      I think we would all agree that the “History Channel-type” documentary you describe above is more akin, both in style and content, to a television news program than it is to Citizen Kane. But, why? Citizen Kane is based on a real person, some real circumstances, and yet is heralded–73 years after its release–as one of the greatest films of all time. How do people talk about that film? “An ecstasy of light and shadow, of clashing textures and graphic forms.” That is from The New Yorker. Can’t we swing even a little of that cinematic style over to the shite on the History Channel? How do we identify that work? Arch voiceover, bad reenactments, legions of talking heads, ugly camera work, dated graphics, boring presentation of information, lack of basic storytelling ability. This is the Unsolved Mysteries/America’s Most Wanted school of filmmaking. In the states we have shows like 20/20 or 60 Minutes on network television and cable is littered with them: City Confidential, Cold Case Files, Forensic Files, Swamp Murders, Homicide Hunter, The First 48 hours, etc, etc, etc.

      I’m not talking about style over substance here. I’m talking about telling a story in a visually compelling way. You know, the whole reason movies exist in the first place? One of the major tenants of filmmaking is the challenge to filmmakers to “show, don’t tell” and that extends to documentaries as well. That’s because “showing” is what makes the art of film unique, as opposed to the written or aural. Cinema, in its most simple form, is moving pictures. Better to utilize that most basic of filmic concepts and show the audience the story, rather than to simply line up a series of talking heads that are endlessly telling, telling, telling.

      The most important points I could communicate here are that:

      1. Those bad aesthetic elements aren’t inherent to, or necessary for, the honest telling of a true story and …

      2. Any story being presented in a visual medium is going to be improved by quality visuals.

      Sounds obvious when I say it, right? But, for some reason, although many people can understand these basic principles when applied to fictional storytelling, those same people suddenly lose their minds when it comes to non-fiction.

      It reminds me of the episode of the American Office when the dunce accountant Kevin Malone can suddenly do complex math as it is relates to donuts, but immediately loses that skill when said donuts in the equation are swapped out for salads. I feel like Oscar and Angela in that scene as I listen to, otherwise intelligent fiction film critics, get all dumb over non-fiction films.

      On the other end of the spectrum, you have a documentary like The Imposter (2012) http://imdb.to/1lc3o3h that tells a true story in a compelling way by taking an old documentary technique from the Unsolved Mysteries canon (the “re-enactment”) and updating it with fine acting, beautiful sets and costumes, and strongly expressive cinematography. The Imposter is a film that, like Citizen Kane, makes use of light and shadow and texture and form. And none of that takes away from the story. In fact, in many ways, the method of telling is what makes the story so compelling.

      Now, I’m not saying that every documentary can or should be The Imposter, just as not every fictional film can or should be Citizen Kane. A brilliant piece like Man on Wire (2004) utilizes some of the same filmmaking tools, but another film like The Fog of War (2003) may not lend itself to the same dramatics. Some documentary films such as The Bus (1965) demand a verite/direct cinema approach. Some documentary films such as Senna (2010) are best made completely of archival footage while a documentary film such as The Chicago 10 (2007) needed to be completely animated in order to work. A documentary like The Ambassador (2011) or The Square (2013) may be vital as the last bastions of true journalism, while documentaries like The King of Kong (2007) and Young@Heart (2007) are pure entertainment. Some documentary films such as Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) actually require 3D, while the documentary film Collapse (2009) features one guy talking to the camera the entire time–and it works! Some documentary films such as Gimme Shelter (1969) have to invent their own formats (here we see the subjects of the film watching themselves and reacting to what has been filmed). Some documentary films such as Hoop Dreams (1994) require following a subject for 5 years, or in the case of The Up Series (1964-present), 56 years. It is up to the filmmaker to find a style and format through which the story can best be expressed. There is not one right way to do it. I would say that there are many wrong ways to do it, however. For, as completely different as each of the films above is, the thing that they have in common are smart, aggressive filmmakers who are making works that belong in the cinema … not on the History Channel (following Pawn Stars, weekdays at 5) or on a DVD bonus feature.

      What I dislike most is when I see a film that isn’t even trying. That’s just lazy filmmaking. Or sometimes it is novice filmmaking. Because of the misconceptions that abound about the form, it is a genre that a lot of people with absolutely no film experience assume the can easily execute, thinking that all that is needed is to turn on a camera to capture the story. I’m not sure that is something you can do even if you are making a piece of crap History Channel documentary. Kevin Smith’s Clerks isn’t even that simply executed. In fact, not even Jackie Gleason’s The Honeymooners would qualify for that impractically bare bones approach to filmmaking. What a terrible sentiment and recipe for disaster.

      Directing, whether in fiction or non-fiction, is largely about making creative choices–and you probably haven’t made a good film if you haven’t made any creative choices with regard to the telling of your story.

      Jordowsky’s Dune, though a perfectly competent basic, PBS style documentary, appears increasingly feeble as it reveals the great imagination and personal expression of the artist being chronicled. The obvious juxtaposition was hard for me to overcome. I was very interested in the topic, but I was also disappointed that, as you say “this inspiring subject matter wasn’t given an equally inspiring presentation.” But, the presentation is also inoffensive and passable. It is not bad … it is just whatever. It is like the Movie Podcast Weekly logo version of a documentary. Not terrible, but not interesting or special in any way. In fact, much like the MPW logo, the content has to work extra hard to overcome the mediocrity of the form. As you so rightly stated above, Jordorosky’s Dune is more like a behind-the-scenes featurette than something that belongs in the cinema … or even on the History Channel.

      I hope that adequately clears-up my feelings about non-fiction storytelling, David, because I am out of time and brain power for the evening. Thanks again for the interest.

      *PS. Thanks for being my whipping boy in this discussion, History Channel. That’s what you get for stealing Full Metal Jousting, I guess.

      • Josh I really appreciate you taking the time to write such an awesome and enlightening response. This was genuinely fascinating to read and definitely helped me to get a better grasp of your point of view on the subject. Not only that but you included a good number of references to documentaries that I’ve not seen and should add to my list of films to check out!

        Everything you say here rings true when I sit and think about it for more than 5 seconds. It doesn’t make sense that any filmmaker wouldn’t try to do the best that they can with their medium to tell a compelling story, fiction or non-fiction.

        I think a big problem is that people (myself included) are conditioned to associate the term “Documentary” with that thoughtlessly made “television news program” style thing where it’s 100% about the subject and the presentation doesn’t matter. The Documentary is a hard artistic concept to grasp because the subject matter is often so specific that the audience may look past production elements entirely. Like if there’s a documentary about someone’s favourite band, they’re likely to be happy if it has lots of trivia and some rare live performances and they probably won’t even think about it as an actual “film”. I guess it’s easy to be predisposed to give a documentary a free-pass if the subject is something we’re already interested in. It’s difficult for people to separate the subject matter from the actual quality of the film; If we already like something that a documentary is about we’re less likely to sit back and say “Yeah but has anyone even put effort into making this”. It’s like “this bread is mouldy and the mayo’s off but there’s chicken in this sandwich and I like chicken!”.

        All that said, I do think that there’s a place for the History Channel sort of stuff. I really enjoy those kind of shows but more as visual textbooks than anything else. I guess what really sucks is when people hold a Documentary film to a different standard than a fictional film. It’s sad to say but maybe there’s public perception hurdle that this type of film still needs to get over?

        Also I quite like the Movie Podcast Weekly logo, it’s like a History Channel Documentary.

        – David

        • “I really enjoy those kind of shows but more as visual textbooks than anything else. I guess what really sucks is when people hold a Documentary film to a different standard than a fictional film.”

          Is it me or does this seem kind of hypocritical?

          • You have a point, for sure. I just think we’ve been conditioned to expect a boring presentation from these types of productions and it’s not necessary. Again, I’d suggest that the venues in which a film is screened has a big impact on my expectations as a viewer. If it’s supposed to be a movie, let’s see a movie! If it’s simply a audio/visual Wikipedia article, I’d rather catch parts of it on TV while I make myself a sandwich on a lazy Sunday afternoon than in the theater on my only night out or at a film festival I’ve paid hundreds of dollars to travel to.

          • I definitely agree with your point about venue, going back to my original comment about there being several tiers to the documentary form I guess I was subconsciously referring to the differing expectations we feel towards a theatrically released film and a “made-for-TV” feature though that is of course a universal delineation and in no way restricted to documentaries.

            Also I feel that fiction based television is becoming far more cinematic and in a lot of cases of a higher quality than it’s theatrical counterpart so maybe we should hope that the standard televised documentary might also blossom into something more artful?

            Also now I want a sandwich.

          • It’s a great point when you bring TV drama into the equation. The thought that movie stars–especially at the places in their careers that McConaughey and Harrelson are–would ever stoop to starring in a short-run television program, was almost unheard of in years past. So, maybe we’ll see a bright new day for television documentaries. Of course, HBO already releases very fine documentaries as well–albeit, purchased from the film festival marketplace and often run in theaters. It is that damned TV history/news program format that is so persistent and so worn out.

      • Josh, just for you, I think I’ll take a shot at designing logos for MPW and HMP worthy of your praise. I’m not sure if Jay will be happy about this, but hey, it’s free! Maybe they can even be up for a day or two if Jay likes them enough 😉

        • It would be a miracle, but I am in favor of at least creating a “fan art” section of the site for some of the really great submissions we’ve had.

  2. David,

    There is a similar argument in the graphic design field that people seem to agree to disagree on from time to time. What’s more important? Form or function? Generally, if you ask a graphic designer, they’ll say that a balance of both is needed to succeed. In a perfect world, yes, both the aesthetics and functionality of an object would work together in harmony to create something great and wonderful. But really, the truth is that without function, it doesn’t matter how beautiful your work is. If it’s not functional you already failed. Form follows function. Always. In my opinion, the same holds true for film. A film with beautiful aesthetics, but no substance can only go so far. A film with substance but not great aesthetics, even if not great, still is at an advantage. But then again, film is not my field. I’m jus comparing two subjects that I thought related. I’m sure Josh will have plenty to say when he sees this. I’m already protecting myself mentally and emotionally.

    • Wow, this is getting conceptual. Awesome and insightful comment Juan my friend. That’s a very interesting framework to apply to film though personally I find it hard to comprehend where form ends and functionality begins in cinema. Both concepts seem entirely intertwined in my rather feeble mind. If the function of a film is to communicate a certain mood to the audience, then the form (lighting, music choice, photography etc) may very well become a part of that function? Or am I talking out my ass again? Either way I’ll be interested to see Josh’s take on this.

      • You’re right David. If you’re willing to go down the rabbit hole, there is much behind that seemingly simple concept. But know that even though the concepts of function and form can intertwine like you said, they are entirely different entities that can stand on their own, but shouldn’t.

        • Tell me about it man. I used to work in the Graphics department of a signage company and it was pretty much 100% function. Almost no creativity whatsoever involved (although the one or two times I was given free reign to be creative with a “cleaning in progress sign” or a Bob’s Takeaway menu was enough to put me off creativity for life).

          Most of the job just involved typing out HSBC opening times and watching old men try to murder each other with hammers.

    • Juan,
      Your form vs. function comment was excellent (and not just because it seems to support my arguments). I love theory discussions like that. Thanks for bringing the academia to our conversation. You remind me of our co-host on Horror Movie Podcast — Dr. Walking Dead (Kyle Bishop).
      Jason

      • You humble me Jay, but it was nothing really. Anyone who knows even a little about design knows that concept. But I thought it somewhat applied, so I decided to bring it up. I’m nowhere near the level of Kyle Bishop.

    • I appreciate the comparison, Juan, but nobody is talking about form over function. I’m talking about increasing function through form. BTW, if you haven’t seen them, you might really enjoy Gary Hustwit’s films. He does documentaries on things like design and fonts and architecture that are way more interesting than that sounds. They are all streaming on Netflix, I think, and I’d recommend starting with Objectified, based on your background. It’s really fun and fascinating as someone who thinks a lot about how design improves our lives.

      • I know Josh, I just felt like it was somewhat appropriate. But you’re right, ideally you wouldn’t favor one over the other, but have them work together and enhancing one another.

        I am familiar with Gary Hustwit. As a matter of fact, Helvetica was the last movie on graphic design that I watched. Sadly, I haven’t been keeping up with the world of design outside of what I do at work. And in all honesty, despite my love for design itself, I find the design world (the people) to be quite over pretentious. And I’m sure you’ll disagree with me on this, but trust me, I’ve seen plenty to turn me off. Along with art in general, it’s a very self-indulging world where apparently many things matter except your actual skill. And this is a generalization based on personal experience, I’m not damning all artists, so please don’t take it to heart. Anyway, yeah I’ll definitely give those a try. And yes, I agree that the topic of fonts is way more interesting and fascinating than it sounds. There is much history and lots of intricacies behind each font, it’s incredible. I’m glad you’re able to appreciate this Josh. One of my professors is a typographer. She designed the font Cholla. It became quite popular when it came out. Here’s a link to it in case you care to see what it looks like http://www.kontour.com/typefaces_cholla_samples.html

        Alright, enough about design. Sorry I got carried out.

  3. @ David and Juan (and I guess, Josh…)

    Thank you both for braving the comment boards on this debate. ha ha. I was a little caught off-guard during the episode (since it had been quiet for the past week)… but since we’re still “discussing” this, I just want to clarify my sentiments from my previous comment:

    All I was trying to say was — since Josh works in the medium as a director of documentary films, he is keen to details of execution that the average viewer isn’t…

    My comment wasn’t even a criticism! In fact, I complimented Josh in my previous comment, and further acknowledged his abilities and insights.

    I simply wanted to point out that what might be a “deal-breaker” or a criticism for someone with Josh’s experience and background, probably isn’t for the average viewer. The average viewer probably doesn’t even notice some of those finer points of criticism.

    That was the heart of my point.

    Is Josh’s criticism legit? Oh yes! Very legit. … But I felt the need to state this (obvious) point because I want to be careful about potentially steering prospective viewers away from a film that deserves to be seen, despite what might be fairly technical shortcomings…

    Example: Since I’m a songwriter and musician, what if I criticized “Once” or “Begin Again” for some of the finer points of the musicians’ writing or playing? That’s valuable, insightful and legit criticism, indeed. But if someone else says to me: “However Jason, you only noticed those details because you’re a musician yourself; the average, non-musician probably won’t notice such things, so those criticisms don’t necessarily make it a poor film.” I just don’t think I should take offense to someone pointing out that my specialized knowledge might not come into play for the average viewer’s assessment of the film.

    Much love and respect to Josh, David and Juan. Thanks for the debate, Guys.
    Jason

    • That is a TERRIBLE parallel example, Jay. Shameful, really. A much more accurate parallel would be if you knew a film critic who was a somewhat enthusiastic, yet casual fan of horror and that critic said, “I can’t tell any discernible difference in quality between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. In fact, I don’t get why horror fans make any distinction at all when both are classified as horror movies by the people who made them AND both have some scary parts! They are basically the same thing in my standard-issue eyes. They have a horror concept and they both express the concept clearly. You see, I’m too dumb to differentiate a mildly interesting idea in a mediocre film from a game-changing classic of the horror genre. Help me! For the love of all that is holy and right, will somebody help me! Please!” Jason, on this tragic day in film criticism history, it would be your job as a horror critic–nay your duty–to inform this somewhat enthusiastic, yet casual horror fan of the vast distinctions between the two films being discussed. You’d have a strong opinion and you wouldn’t hesitate to express it. And that would be that. Or so it would seem. But, Jason … imagine if, after having given your honest critical opinion as a veritable expert in the genre, that the same (supposed) film critic, always needing to have the last word in any disagreement, snuck out–under the cloak of darkness–to the grimiest, shadowy reaches of the interwebs–the message boards of moviepodcastweekly.com–and wrote of you, “The thing that you interweb users have to understand is that Jason likes horror a lot, so you can’t really take his word on it. That may seem to fly in the face of all logic and conventional wisdom. Heck, I’ll freely admit it: he knows much more about the subject than me! It’s obvious! He’s the founder of three horror podcasts, for crying out loud! In fact, I’d go so far as to compliment Jason and acknowledged his abilities and insights on the matter! But, trust me (for I am one of you) … to the average lay person, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones are quite simply equally enjoyable horror movie experiences. Sure, Jason has some nitpicks of the latter as the virtual horror genius that he is, but that’s my point, really. Don’t you see?! He’s so keenly aware of the finer points of criticism in horror, he can’t just enjoy a great concept as presented in the SIMON scene of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones anymore. No, he wants every movie scare to be the DOOR SLAM from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre! If you think I’m lying, just ask him. Ask him, ‘What do you think the pinnacle of horror filmmaking is?’ and I guarantee you that he’ll say ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ because he says it every time. And the reason he says it every time is clear. It is not just because he loves it and sees it as something other filmmakers in the genre could aspire to, no, he says it is because there just aren’t many other horror movies he can point to in order justify his obviously fringe beliefs. Yes, stick with the populist here, dear interweb users. Stick with me and stick with Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (despite what might be fairly technical shortcomings).” And … scene.

  4. Also, Jay, I’m really glad to hear that you’re still enjoying True Detective. I was also blown away by that action sequence you mentioned and I didn’t even consciously realise it was all one take at first. I just knew that it was shot in such an exciting way that I felt as though I was there. I still can’t get over how great that show is.

    As for my watching this week, I’m up to the last episode of The Wire Season 1 and it has been totally awesome so far. Before I’d ever watched this show or heard you guys talk about it I have to admit I had a slight feeling of trepidation regarding it. All I ever seemed to garner from reviews and such was how “gritty” and “totally like real life” the show was, which is great in a way but also a little off-putting because sometimes “gritty” translates as “no likeable characters and endless shaky cam” and sometimes “real life” can be extremely tedious. Fortunately listening back to episodes of this podcast got my interest piqued and I’m happy it did because so far this show is compelling, very well written, funny in the right places, dramatic in the right places and just handled in a way which doesn’t seem condescending at all. 10/10 so far because I don’t think i can fault it at all.

    Finally, I back up Josh’s recommendation of Alan Partridge, both series of “I’m Alan Partridge” are hilarious!

    • By the way, David: Two things:

      1. Thanks so much for your donation. I would have mentioned it in this episode, but I received it Monday (and we record on Sunday night). You’re the best. That helps us pay for media file hosting space, since our episodes are so lengthy and frequent. MPW and HMP share the same host, and it’s a lot of content each month!

      2. Thanks for backing us up on “True Detective.” I’d like to ask your advice on something… I want to “sell” it to people, but I find it impossibly difficult to talk about it, without revealing important story beats and such. How do you think Josh and I could discuss Season 1 in such a way that we draw people in, without ruining any plot developments.

      Thanks for writing.
      Jason

      • You’re more than welcome Jay and I wish it wasn’t such a meagre sum.

        And how to discuss True Detective without ruining plot developments? Wow, now that is a challenge. I’d just say that it’s like if William Faulkner rewrote Twin Peaks to be more realistic and it was directed by David Fincher and set in the south. Or something?

        Actually it’s a hard show to sell because it’s not really like Dexter or Breaking Bad where the basic concept can be summed up in one effective, impactful sentence. A straight description of the premise comes off sounding kind of cliché: burned out alcoholic cop still obsessed with an old case, who’s willing to break the rules in an attempt to find justice in spite of the institutionalised corruption around him, friction with his partner who’s more of a company man trying to maintain the façade of a happy home life. On paper its text book stuff but what it does that feels so fresh and compelling is to carefully paint each character with such detailed strokes that it ends up being much more a psychological character study than a simple police procedural. It delves deep into themes of obsession, faith, nihilism, hypocrisy and redemption and to borrow from your description of “The Wire” it possesses an almost Novel-esque quality. The characters are just that complex and well-realised and the plot that well constructed.

        I think the reason that it’s hard to talk about on an episode by episode basis is because the show is very conservative with the amount of information it gives us. It sidesteps contrivance by having everything unfold naturally and gradually but in a very compelling and edge-of-your-seat kind of way. I’d suggest trying to focus on the arc of the themes and characters rather than the plot itself when discussing it, because that’s where I feel the shows heart really is. Its momentum is as much about revealing the true natures of it’s protagonists as it is about revealing the mystery of the plot.

        I’ll dwell on this some more though and see if anything else pops into my head.

        – David

  5. One more point and then I swear I’ll shut-up for a while.

    I was kind of surprised by the Arnie-bashing in this episode. Of course he’s not a conventionally great actor but is that really all we want to see in a movie? To me Arnie represents a time when every movie didn’t have to take itself so damned seriously. Dwayne Johnson may be a better actor than Arnie but does he really bring the same unique feel to his movies? Can you name me a Dwayne Johnson vehicle which is anywhere near the same league as the Terminator movies, Total Recall, Predator, Commando, or Jingle All The Way?

    I guess it could be that Arnold is just fortunate to have gotten roles in such iconic movies but I genuinely think there’s a sort of intangible charisma to the guy. Some movies don’t require the highest pedigree of acting chops as much as just a recognisable hunk of meat with an Austrian accent.

    • I love Arnie as The Terminator (as we discussed a couple of weeks back) and yes, he is endearing in general (I also find Keanu Reeves and Jerry Seinfeld endearing), but given the choice, I usually prefer good acting. I think you nailed it when you said that Arnie just lucked-out with some iconic roles. I will give him Total Recall and Twins as well, because I can’t imagine anyone else in those roles just as I can’t imagine anyone but Keanu in The Matrix, The Day the Earth Stood Still, or Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. The Rock simply hasn’t been so lucky with his movie selection. He’s done some great work in some less-known films and had some iconic parts in some terrible films. But, I think he’d actually be far better than Arnie if you dropped him into something like Predator, or Commando, or Kindergarten Cop … or Jingle All the Way, though I don’t want to see either version.

      • What about Pumping Iron? It’s one of my all-time favorites. Josh? Do you not like it? I find it very interesting, the world of bodybuildingI mean. I’m not a bodybuilder myself, but I can appreciate the hard work behind those crazy looking muscles. I think the bodies are beautiful to look at. At least the ones in the documentary. Nowadays it’s too much bulk. They don’t even look human anymore.

        • Yes, Arnold would be very hard to replace in Pumping Iron. Haha. Very good. Actually, I like Arnie in Conan too, so I may have been over-harsh, but he really is pretty terrible as an actor and, who knows, maybe Jason Momoa would have had more luck if he’d been working with John Milius or Richard Fleischer.

          • I don’t think he’s a good actor in the classic sense, but I also think that sometimes bad acting in itself can add variety and texture to cinema so I wouldn’t want any of those films any other way. Just because someone can’t sing doesn’t mean they won’t make a great frontman.

    • Wow, I really don’t like Lana Del Rey but I decided to give this a listen anyway and it’s beautiful!

  6. I will add “17 Miracles” to my Netflix Mail Queue…or maybe “Ephraim’s Rescue” because my wife has not seen that one yet. That may spoil your experiment. I’ll see what I can do. I know I won’t get it watched by Sunday…because I save movies like that for Sunday. I can’t bear to watch them any ole’ day of the week.

    I do agree that Josh is more critical on the way films are made. Not just documentaries, but all films. If I had a nickel for every time Josh says “I didn’t like how a movie was shot…” That being said, I appreciate Josh’s experienced viewpoint. How can you argue with a guy with all that film-making cred? You just have to take it and like it.

    Josh, I think you should accept that your film-making eye is sharper than Jason’s. Jason is okay with ‘talking heads.’ You need more. And frankly I do to, regardless of how compelling the story.

    You guys all have your tastes, biases, and areas of expertise. Jason is an obvious horror movie expert (and he excels at hosting), Karl tends to speak up a lot about actors’ performances, and Andy, well, he’s just a superstar podcaster, apparently.

    When it comes to my tastes and area of expertise, my mom and pop raised me on the oldies. I grew up with Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, etc. I have a soft spot for the classics and often find myself re-watching them and getting all film-snobby with my friends/family: “You call that a romantic comedy, have you even seen ‘Roman Holiday”? Now that’s a romantic comedy!”

    Okay, that was a bit of a tangent. Josh, I see what Jason is saying, but I’d take it as a compliment and an insight into your film viewing preferences. I side with you a lot. Heck, I might even watch “Upstream Color” someday.

    Congrats on the awards! Well deserved.

  7. My “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Review

    “Dawn” was the second feature I watched at our local movie drive-in. The movie didn’t start until midnight, so admittedly I was a bit tired. That being said, I still found myself engaged throughout. A really great film. And again, it should also be noted that I don’t really care for movies about animals–even if they can speak. But I found myself caring for them in this show.

    Jason, I agree that the various sides and opinions were handled well; very cool. I could see where everybody was coming from, which I think is vital for a movie that focuses on conflict and tension between groups. I loved the scene where Koda shows off “human work.” I also appreciated the dimensions added to Gary Oldman’s character as he looked at photos of his past. Those touches alone put this movie world’s ahead of movies like “Avatar” in terms of character and story.

    A few quibbles: I could have used more human drama, more human screen time, and more human charisma. Oldman and Jason Clarke’s characters brought it in the third act, but I wanted it sooner. Again, I don’t care for movies about animals.

    Speaking of Oldman and Clarke, their characters interaction in the final act was the first big misstep in the movie in terms of character interaction believe-ability. I know the writers were just trying to build tension, but it was a failed attempt for me. Clarke’s character handled the situation so poorly–I just couldn’t buy it; and then Oldman’s reaction…nope, I don’t think so.

    All-in-all, great effects, memorable villain, fun soundtrack, and character drama that mostly worked. 8/10 (Theater/Buy it)

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