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George Lucas has been talking retirement since 1977. Weary of the mainstream cinema he helped to created, he began saying in interviews that he was planning on getting back to the cinema of his college days, the avant-garde “tone poems” of his U.S.C. short films, or his of his first feature, THX-1138 — even before he returned to feature directing i…
 
Hiatus over! When Mad Max: Fury Road came out in 2015, a 30-year gap since Beyond Thunderdome, its breathless and near-universal reception as — already — one of the greatest movies of the decade and — already — one of the greatest action movies of all-time, automatically erased the two-decade lead-up to the film’s execution and completion, erasing …
 
It’s been a year-end tradition that me, Aaron Smith, and Ted Haycraft usually meet sometime after Christmas but before New Years at an IHOP or Denny’s, recap the year among friends, and eventually get into an argument as to whether Richard Lester is the father of the music video. It happens. Every year. For the second podcasting year, we’ve migrate…
 
After 32 features, Steven Spielberg has finally directed his first full-fledged musical! The director whose camera has visually danced compositionally on screen more than any other for almost 50 years, it all begs the question: Why did it take so long? And what other attempts at the musical form has he made over the years? I’m joined by Ted Haycraf…
 
In his magnificent second book on comics, the great critic Douglas Wolk has synthesized 60 years of continuous storytelling from Marvel Comics authors and declared it, collectively and thusly, the longest, greatest, most sustained narrative in human history — longer than any daily soap opera, Remembrance of Things Past, or the Mahābhārata. From its…
 
Which is your favorite Beatle(s’ documentary about making their last released album, one that ultimately documented simmering tensions that would lead to the band’s breakup within a year)? The Beatles originally planned on following up their White Album recording sessions by getting back to their roots, recording without studio trickery or overdubs…
 
Though comic book writer Alan Moore has officially finished his final projects and begun a well-deserved retirement from the medium of sequential art, he has also full turned his eye to, among other mediums, film — which, at least in adaptations, has treated him poorly. After a cycle of hometown prequel short films, some of which were gathered in t…
 
The workman Master of Horror, John Carpenter’s career has been checkered by commercial successes and, in the midst straight-forward meat/potatoes storytelling, some truly unnerving and unsettling filmmaking. None more than his self-named “Apocalypse Trilogy,” all three of which have been punished with box-office disappointment and eventual reassess…
 
We finally (finally!) have a good cinema version of Dune! Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel has been the beneficiary — often “of a doubt” — of many film adaptation attempts over the years, all trying to nail its details and maximalist world-building, only to be left with the accusation of being “unfilmable.” But was this complex narrative always destined …
 
Our second Ridley Scott episode! With his newest theatrical film, The Last Duel (at least, for two more months, until House of Gucci), already coming and going from theaters despite solid reviews, it became notable that Scott’s first feature film also has “duel” in the title — The Duellists. Ted Haycraft joins this episode to talk Scott’s forgotten…
 
After several delays, the newest James Bond film, No Time to Die, Daniel Craig’s final outing, was finally released. It’s gotten solid reviews, an emotional reaction (from, at least, us), and the most amount of references to what has become considered in the last few years the finest Bond outing: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. On this episode, Bo…
 
During the pandemic, most of us wanted comfort content to get us to sleep. But did we err too far away from fulfilling art, and towards escapism? On this episode Terra Fernandez and I debate a now-36-year-old book that seems to have gained — or maintained — relevance recently in the world of social media, using a debate between George Orwell (and h…
 
Working from home, Jamie Kirkpatrick edited a solid, tight Western script that was proposed to him as “a Wal-Mart movie,” only to realize from the dailies that it was actually turning into a great movie. Months later, after successful reviews from the Venice Film Festival, writer-director Potsy Ponciroli’s Western is in theaters and one of the year…
 
During the pandemic, Austin-based prop master and art director Scott A. Reeder started messing around on TikTok, combining short but entertaining behind-the-scenes tidbits — alongside dad jokes. One-point-five million followers later, this work-based lark has turned into a phenomenon. On this episode, I’m joined by Jacob Gay, a former Evansville na…
 
Del Close was an early member of the Compass Player (later Second City), an early proponent of “Yes, and” improv method, the “Harold” longform improv format, and an unironic “guru” of almost every major comedy player who came out of Chicago into Saturday Night Live into your favorite comedies of the last 40 years. Yet, why isn’t he known to many, o…
 
Every child who was raised post the invention of VCR, post-DVD, post-streaming, developed the same habit, one encouraged by (a) tired and beleaguered parent(s): watching the same dumb, terrible movie, hundreds of times, over, and over, and over. For me and my brother, the movie my parents taped off HBO and left for us, one I count having watch mayb…
 
The kindest, humblest, most talented, best-combo film editor I’ve ever worked with was Mark Yoshikawa. From his humble beginnings assistant-editing for Richard Chew (Star Wars, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), to his rise through the ranks to co-picture editor for Terrence Malick (The New World, Knight of Cups), Yoshikawa’s ascendancy was always m…
 
The last pick in this series of TV G.O.A.T.s is mine and an obvious, modern one: HBO’s The Wire. On this episode, joined by Ted Heycraft, we discuss: - Why a friend’s recommendation of many hours of content, even why the say it a show is “the greatest,” might lead towards a long time before following up; - how the literary social novel survive into…
 
Before Peak TV, what was considered the television medium’s G.O.A.T.? One prominent candidate among TV critics for many years was another British import, this 1986 mini-series from the famed playwright/novelist/screenwriter Dennis Potter. On this episode, joined by Ted Heycraft, we discuss: - Why this TV mini-series works as a deep, literary genre-…
 
Before the advent of the current Peak TV era, television has seen its reputation burnished from the low idiot box cool medium to the novelistic adult venue for sophistication that, in especially the last few years, has been collectively stealing talent from and kicking the ass of its audio/visual counterpart, cinema. How did we get to Peak TV? What…
 
With the existential change to theatrical filmgoing after last year, many filmmakers are doing their own existential rethinks of why they do what they do. In a wide-ranging conversation, writer/director Julio Quintana is on this episode to discuss one of the more popular trilogy of non-fiction books of the last few years: Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapien…
 
After a teenage publishing career of film fandom and criticism, Sam Irvin’s first professional job came on the set of Brian De Palma’s The Fury. Quickly, and for the next few years, he would become De Palma’s assistant and a jack of all trades on movies from Fury to Dressed to Kill, before starting his own directing career and eventually coming bac…
 
Director Jonathan Demme had the reputation as one of the most humanist filmmakers — meaning his films had the ethos of “no one is evil” and everyone had their reasons. In that regard, Rachel Getting Married might have been his masterpiece of this ethos. On today’s episode, I’m joined by the film’s editor, Tim Squyres, in an episode that double as b…
 
Quentin Tarantino's ethos was once described, efficiently, by the online writer Film Crit Hulk thusly: “Never hate a movie.” That ethos never had a better distillation than the film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood except for one joyous example — its novelization. On this episode I’m joined again by Tyler Coates and Ted Haycraft to discuss the expansi…
 
With Charles Grodin’s passing two weeks ago, an appreciation of his under-appreciated career can’t neglect what is most inarguable his finest cinematic (two-)hour(s): Martin Brest’s 1988 buddy comedy co-starring Grodin and Robert De Niro, in his first studio starring comedy role. Ted Haycraft and I are joined by the film’s editor Billy Weber on thi…
 
As an editor and a drummer, I’ve been banging the drum — literally in many instances — about the connection between the two. Director/drummer combos range from Stanley Kubrick to Bob Fosse to Damien Chazelle. On today’s episode I’m joined by Heath Metzger, drummer for the beloved Evansville/Newburgh band Mock Orange, who edits some of the band’s pr…
 
The podcast’s first Pulitzer Prize-winning guest! (/brag), author Glenn Frankel joins me (and, once again, Ted Haycraft) to discuss his new book, the third and final of his trilogy of cowboy movies and the historical era from which they emerged — 1969’s Best Picture Oscar winner and its only X-rated one, Midnight Cowboy. On this episode, we talk: -…
 
The one entry in Michael Mann’s filmography that the director rarely speaks about is his second theatrical feature and his one foray into fantasy, an unfortunate experience both with its production and post-production. On this episode, I’m joined by Ted Haycraft and Lani Gonzalez as we discuss: - why a movie can’t necessarily be categorized as a “m…
 
Deliverance author James Dickey’s final novel, an intense and primal WWII story about a crashed Air Force gunner trying to make his way through the Tokyo firebombing north to Alaska, was published in 1993 and promptly given to top shelf screenplay attempts at this nearly dialogue-free story. The first was in 1996 by David and Janet Peoples, fresh o…
 
Two filmmakers’ filmmakers, ones who both honed their craft in ’60s low-budget B drive-thru movies before achieving gradual and undeniable acclaim, died this past week: Monte Hellman and Richard Rush. I’m joined by Ted Haycraft to discuss Hellman’s most celebrated film and, arguably, Rush’s most interesting one. On this episode we discuss: - how Tw…
 
Though born in Chicago, Budd Boetticher was adopted and raised in Evansville, making him somewhat inarguably its most notable filmmaking resident. Ted Haycraft is back and joined by writer Robert Nott, author of The Films of Budd Boetticher, to discuss the director’s movies with Randolph Scott, and more: - Boetticher’s influence on filmmakers Clint…
 
Famed as the movie that destroyed a studio and an Oscar-winner, writer/director Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate got its reputation replenished with a Criterion edition in 2012. But why do some sophisticated film-viewers still view it as an eye-roll-worthy indulgence? On this episode is Michael Epstein, director of the documentary Final Cut: The Maki…
 
From the stages of Broadway musicals came one of the most adventurous and innovative editorial directors, and that adventurousness peaked with Bob Fosse’s 1979 autobiographical film. On this episode is the esteemed editor Keith Fraase, discussing: - the 8½-inspired sub-genre of directors making autobiographical movies about them making movies; - th…
 
How does a movie get into Netflix’s Top 10, seemingly out of nowhere — especially an indie production? On this episode writer/director Anna Elizabeth James and editor F. Brian Scofield talk their film Deadly Illusions, which recently spent almost a week as the #1 film on Netflix both domestically and internationally. (As of this writing, it’s still…
 
Another cross-over episode! I’m joined by podcaster Ryan Whitten to discuss this new/old cut of the infamous sophomore film from the the creative and once-promising Richard Kelly, a cut first shown and panned by critics at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival before being reedited into a shorter and (supposedly) more coherent domestic version that was pan…
 
Four years before Pulp Fiction set off a trend of quirky, violent crime films in the ’90s, writer/director George Armitage adapted the first of Charles Willeford’s Hoke Moseley novels with this violent, titularly Miami-based gem starring a gorgeous and unhinged Alec Baldwin. On this episode former guests Kyle Smith and Tyler Savage discuss: - this …
 
The best way we thought to celebrate the great writer Mark Harris’s new book Mike Nichols: A Biography, a book about the famed director filled with the instructive anecdotes he used as tools for directing actors, was to find the best examples the public has to those anecdotes in Nichols’ own voice. In the DVD audio commentaries for Who’s Afraid of …
 
Literary-cinematic powers unite! Ted Haycraft is back to talk about this 2013 film, Cormac McCarthy’s follow-up to both his novel and the film of No Country for Old Man, a spec script that quickly garnered director Ridley Scott and a cadre of stars’ participation — and promptly disappointed critics and audiences. On this episode we discuss: - that …
 
Lani Gonzalez is back to discuss her favorite film star and his (un)surprisingly(?) charming 1964 film, Grant’s penultimate screen appearance, also his last starring role, and the willingness for the most debonair branded film-star to finally show silver hair, beard stubble, and an untucked shirt. Also: - the juvenile delinquency of director Ralph …
 
It’s obviously not just the film industry that’s having trouble during the pandemic; the music industry’s working bands have found their main revenue stream of touring currently not an option for this last year. On this episode is Laura Colwell and Stephen Salisbury of the Austin, TX band Sun June, who, between their dreamy “regret pop” and self-di…
 
Crossover episode! Joining this episode are AJ Gonzalez and Bryan Connolly, hosts of The Directors’ Wall podcast, currently going through the filmography of Francis Ford Coppola, to discuss the second half of the filmmaker’s Oklahoma-shot S.E. Hinton adaptations. On this episode we talk: - this “art-house film for teenagers” (that teenagers sadly r…
 
Filmmaker Kyle Smith is back, along with first-time guest co-host and old friend of the show (and me), writer and performer Dustin Levell, to pick and talk one of Saturday Night Live’s founding filmmakers, Tom Schiller, his lone feature film, and its bizarre underground relegation. On this episode, we also discuss: - Schiller’s self-description as …
 
How does one follow-up creating, showrunning, and sticking the landing to The Sopranos, the cultural phenomenon, often thought to be the greatest television show ever, and arguably the spark for our current era of Peak TV? By writing and directing a first feature, an autobiographical coming of age story about a ‘60s band that never made it, and the…
 
As movie theaters across the country are about to go through another metamorphosis point after having been largely empty this last year, now seems as good a time as any to revisit the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama about three workers at a single-screen movie theater in New England. On this episode I’m joined by journalist and former guest, Tyler Co…
 
After Tom Shone convinced Christopher Nolan to participate for the first time in a book about the filmmaker’s career, the writer/director warned Shone that he is “the most visible reclusive director in America.” The result of their collaboration is subtitled The Movies, Mysteries, and Marvels of Christopher Nolan, a book that is one part biography,…
 
It’s been a year-end tradition that me, Aaron Smith, and Ted Haycraft usually meet sometime after Christmas but before New Years at an IHOP or Denny’s, recap the year among friends, and eventually get into an argument as to whether Richard Lester is the father of the music video. It happens. Every year. This year, we’ve migrated away from in-person…
 
Is this 1999 film ripe for a fresh debate, much like Die Hard, on its merits as a Christmas movie? Not really, but filmmaker Kyle Smith is back this week, joined by film editor Rehman Nizar Ali to discuss Stanley Kubrick’s final film. On today’s episode we discuss how the movie changes in viewings throughout the years based on the maturity of ones …
 
It’s rare for a band’s tour documentary to appeal beyond its fanbase. But with Grant Gee’s documentary Meeting People is Easy, it’s even more of a miracle to come near the artistic breadth of Radiohead’s OK Computer, an album which has been periodically voted the greatest of all time since its release in 1997. On today’s episode we talk how Gee man…
 
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