9/25/2007

All Movie Talk, Episode 52

Posted in Episodes at 5:00 am by Sam

Show contents, with start times:

  • Director Spotlight: Jacques Tati (2:00)
  • Trivia Question: Sequential Madness (15:24)
  • Film Style Spotlight: Modern Westerns (16:28)
  • Series Spotlight: Inspector Clouseau (33:01)
  • Top 6: Movies About Theater Or Television (52:46)
  • How To: Be the Underdog (76:31)
  • Closing: Trivia Answer, Farewell (87:03)

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Show Notes:

Director Spotlight: Jacques Tati

The famous French actor and director Jacques Tati is known primarily for his films in which he stars as the character Monsieur Hulot. A strange, almost silent character (both in the sense that he does not really speak and that he would seem at home in the world of silent film), Hulot occupies an endlessly clever world built with imaginative design and style by Tati. The films achieve comedy by exploiting the artifice of technology and man-made environments. The first three films of the series are set in the countryside, the suburbs, and the city, respectively, and their humor derives primarily from how quaint and arbitrary human lifestyles can be, especially when viewed from certain perspectives. Tati’s keen eye for perspective, for seeing things from just the right points of reference, is an important component of his wonderful gift of comedy.

The M. Hulot films:

Trivia Question: Sequential Madness

One, two, three: It’s not a question so much as a challenge to see if you can come up with a list of movies that have numbers in their titles (sequel numbering not allowed). How high can you go? Can you beat Stephen’s score? What about Sam’s?

Film Style Spotlight: Modern Westerns

The modern western is a darker take on the classic setting. Where the classic western used the frontier to explore themes like heroism and the stabilizing influence of civilization, the modern west is often a place where evil runs rampant and redemption is hard to find. A good place to start a study of this movement is with the films of Sergio Leone, whose “Man With No Name” trilogy begins with 1964’s A Fistful of Dollars.

In addition to making Clint Eastwood — himself a key player in the modern take on the western — a major star, the Leone films imagine a dark and violent west, with no true heroes. Eastwood’s stark antihero is a template character for these films: he plays both sides of a conflict to his own advantage, he fights dirty, and he does whatever it takes to stay alive.

The Wild Bunch (1969) by Sam Peckinpah, is another landmark film in the genre. A movie about the end of the outlaw and the frontier, it’s a film that truly brought the violence of modern films to the western. Gunshots don’t just cause you to fall down dead in Peckinpah’s movie — they make you bleed and moan in pain. Ironically, Peckinpah’s devotion to realism makes his film feel incredibly fresh and new, showing just how much life the genre could have even while the movie seems to herald the western’s end.

Production on westerns slows down considerably after the 1960s. The studio system is over and the studios are producing fewer movies than before, removing the need for so many B western films. What westerns we do see tend to be smaller, personal films: Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971) or John Wayne’s swan song in 1976, The Shootist (directed by Don Siegel, the director of Dirty Harry).

The classical western all but vanishes during this period, and what remains are these films that seem to take their cues from Peckinpah, explicitly about the end of the west. The 1980s marks a real low point for the genre. But in 1990, Dances with Wolves, directed by and starring Kevin Costner, becomes a big hit with critics and audiences, winning the Oscar for Best Picture that year. An epic western in the vein of the classics, it has a more nuanced approach to things like the relationship between the American Army and American Indians. Revisiting the western without being as dark as many revisionist westerns, it signals a possible new direction for the genre.

Just two years later and it is Eastwood who is winning Oscars for Unforgiven (1992), one of the best revisionist westerns about a gunfighter who thinks he has found redemption only to get caught back up in a life he left behind. Dark and gritty, it’s one of the best examples of the modern western.

These two successes bring about a small revival of the genre during the ’90s, producing some fun films like Tombstone (1993), but little else of serious weight. In that sense, the ’90s represent a return to some of the older western ideals: they are silly, fun action movies made for a mass audience.

But just in the last few years we have seen a significant number of westerns. In 2003 there was another Costner epic, Open Range. 2005 brought The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and The Proposition, two little seen but highly regarded westerns. This year we have had a remake of 3:10 to Yuma, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and the upcoming There Will Be Blood.

Series Spotlight: Inspector Clouseau

Do you have a license for that minkey?

A classic film series with a strange pedigree, the Inspector Clouseau movies begin with 1963’s The Pink Panther, directed by Blake Edwards. A comedy about a jewel heist, it introduces the bumbling French inspector played by Peter Sellers as a character secondary to David Niven’s sophisticated jewel thief.

Realizing that Clouseau — a strange, egotistic bumbler who manages to be sort of lovable despite himself — stole the film, the sequel in 1964, A Shot in the Dark, focuses the films on him.

The films in the series:

Top 6: Movies About Theater Or Television

See our separate Top 6 entry for more information about our picks.

How To: Be the Underdog

When you want to beat the rich kids at karate or stop the local teen center from being torn down, you’ll need to play to your strengths as an underdog. Be unconventional, use a montage, and remember that it’s only cheating when they do it.

 
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28 Comments »

  1. Ferrick (140) said,

    September 25, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Sure, give us 20+ extra minutes. You think that makes things better, fixes the fact that you are leaving us?

    You’re dead to me.*

    *After I get around to listening to the episode. Oooh, Clouseau!

  2. wintermute (157) said,

    September 25, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    For the trivia question:

    One Life to Live
    Two Mules for Sister Sara
    Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    Born on the Forth of July
    Nine to Five
    Sixth Sense
    Sinbad of the Seven Seas
    Hard Eight
    Nine Lives
    3:10 to Yuma
    9/11
    Twelve Monkeys
    Thirteen Ghosts
    14 Up
    Fifteen Minutes
    Murder at 1600
    Seventeen
    The Eighteen Claws of Shaolin
    Nineteen Eighty-Four
    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
    21 Up

    I tried to avoid the ones you picked. I may try and extend it later, but that should set the bar for now ;)

  3. Grishny (156) said,

    September 25, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    I stopped the podcats (with a bowl of fresh milk) right after the opening trivia segment and wrote a list, making it as far as 13. As follows:

    One Fine Day
    One, Two, Three!
    The Three Musketeers
    Four Weddings & A Funeral
    The Fifth Element
    Six Days Seven Nights
    Se7en
    Eight Men Out
    Nine Months
    The Ten Commandments
    The Eleventh Hour
    12 Angry Men
    Thirteen

    Many of these are movies I’ve never seen (and don’t intent to), but I swear on my MP3 player’s hard drive that I thought of every one of them on my own before double-checking with IMDB that they were legitimate. Still… no where near as impressive as wintermute’s 21.

  4. wintermute (157) said,

    September 25, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Well, I had a little bit of help from IMDb (I couldn’t remember the full title of #2, and I’d never heard of #18 before, but I could hardly not use it), so I can’t claim full credit. But Sam claims he needed to use IMDB for his #14, so all’s fair, right?

    Also, good picks on your #10 and #12. I’m kicking myself for not picking those now…

  5. wintermute (157) said,

    September 25, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    After 24, it starts getting seriously tricky:

    Catch-22
    The Number 23
    24-Hour Party People
    25 Degrees in Winter
    Twenty-Six Commissars
    The Monster from Galaxy 27
    28 Days Later
    29 Palms
    30 Seconds Over Tokyo
    Lincoln and 31st
    Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould

  6. wintermute (157) said,

    September 25, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Re: Song of the South, in your close-out:

    I saw Song of the South on TV several times as a kid, on broadcast TV (in Britain, for those of you who don’t know). I have to admit, I don’t remember it perfectly, but I’m pretty sure I never picked up on any more racist overtones than are in To Kill a Mockingbird. I can understand that it might be best to market it to film buffs rather than children (A Criterion release rather than a Disney release would probably have the right gravitas) in America, but to me, it always seemed perfectly appropriate as a children’s movie.

    Maybe if I saw it again as an adult, I’d be more inclined to think it’s incredibly racist, though. Hrm. Amazon.co.uk doesn’t seem to carry it, so it’ll be a while before I can find out…

  7. Grishny (156) said,

    September 25, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Well. Let me be the first under this final entry to offer you two a heartfelt and hearty Thank You for the year of dedication and hard work you both put in to create this excellent production. Your enthusiasm and enjoyment of the subject combined with your commitment to research and delving into interesting and sometimes neglected topics have made this podcast more than just a fun listening experience. It’s been educational, and I for one have certainly found my cinematographic horizons broadened by it.

    I’ve already started re-listening to all the episodes from the beginning, and I’m certain I’ll do so again as I continue mining your discussions for years to come for new ideas for things to watch. Thanks for every minute of effort, Stephen and Sam, that put into this. I’m really, really, really going to miss it.

  8. Nyperold (116) said,

    September 25, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    Well, I tried not to use the IMDb or Wikipedia, or titles where the number is an ordinal, but I didn’t leave off titles for having been included on a Top 6 list, so here’s as far as I got:

    It Happened ONE Night
    TWO Weeks To Live
    One, Two, THREE
    The Fantastic FOUR
    The FIVE People You Meet In Heaven
    Category 6: Day of Destruction
    Sinbad of the SEVEN Seas
    Hard Eight
    (special mention to 8 1/2)
    Plan 9 From Outer Space
    The TEN Commandments
    Ocean’s ELEVEN
    12 Angry Men
    THIR13EN Ghosts

  9. Sam (405) said,

    September 25, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    wim: Isn’t “14-Up” actually titled “7+7″? Or was it retitled later?

  10. Ferrick (140) said,

    September 25, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Quiet, Grishny, you suck up. You should hate them for coming into our personal plotlines just to abandon us like the pre-release hyped up fans of Snakes on a Plane. Just loathe them with the rest of us.

    *sniff*

  11. Maryam (14) said,

    September 25, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks for the year of podcasts, guys. Awesome job keeping up with the weekly schedule, and always being entertaining and listenable, and talking about a lot of stuff I never knew.

    Here’s the list I came up with:

    National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1 (It’s not cheating! It’s not a sequel!)
    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    The Third Man
    Four Weddings and a Funeral
    The Fifth Element
    The Sixth Sense
    Seven
    8 Mile
    Nine Months

  12. Stephen (221) said,

    September 25, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    I love this trivia game.

    Thanks everyone for the kind words, but you guys can mainly thank Sam for sticking to the weekly schedule. I don’t think I’ve been very public about how much more work he does on the show than I do, but if you’ve ever wondered how it’s as well put-together as it is, it’s because Sam is one of the most hard-working and dedicated people I know. All those missing show notes are because I’ve slacked off, but we’ve never missed a week in getting shows edited and put up, and that’s all Sam.

    So thanks, Sam, for making this whole thing a reality. It’s been fun.

  13. Jeffrey (84) said,

    September 26, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Congrats Stephen on getting yourself a new job. :-)

  14. Ferrick (140) said,

    September 26, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    I think the only noteable Western from the ’80s was Silverado. At least on the big screen. Wasn’t Lonesome Dove from that decade?

  15. Ferrick (140) said,

    September 26, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
    Two Mules for Sister Sarah
    Three Amigos
    Four Minutes
    Five and Dime
    Sixth Sense
    Magnificent Seven
    Eight Heads in a Duffle
    The Whole Nine Yards
    10
    Ocean’s Eleven
    Twelve Monkeys
    Thirteen
    Saturday the 14th
    15 Minutes
    Sixteen Candles
    Stalag 17
    18 Again
    Nineteen Eighty Four
    20 Mule Team
    21 Up
    Catch-22
    The Number 23
    24 Hours
    25th Hour

    Just a little bit of help. If I got stuck on a number, I would often do a search and other titles would help me think of something I hadn’t looked up. Stalag 17 and The Number 23 were two that I slapped my forehead over because they were so obvious. Although, The Number 23 really shouldn’t be one that is really well known, just recently released.

    I debated putting Three O’Clock High in for The Three Amigos.

  16. Ferrick (140) said,

    September 26, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    I believe that the parallel bar scene is from The Pink Panther Strikes Again and not A Shot in the Dark.

    I’m only pointing this out so I can mention that we did The Pink Panther Strikes Again in high school.

  17. Croc (4) said,

    September 27, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    thank you again for your excellent work ! You guys will be missed, very much.

  18. megsterjules (9) said,

    September 28, 2007 at 10:29 am

    I just wanted to say thanks for a great year of podcasts. I always looked forward to Tuesdays. I have laughed so hard at so many things mentioned, and I feel like I have learned a lot about different styles and directors and films just by listening, so thank you for that!

    Oh, and my sister and I would never have watched ‘Sheena’ if it wasn’t for your good bad movie review!

  19. Ric (21) said,

    October 2, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Thank you Ferrick! For FINALLY realizing what no once else did:

    That there was a VERY FAMOUS move called “10″

    Oy.

  20. Jeffrey (84) said,

    October 5, 2007 at 11:05 am

    For some reason, when you mentioned you were talking about the underdog I thought you meant the dog movie. :-)

  21. Nyperold (116) said,

    October 8, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    So, the real question: Who built this city for Jacques and Hulot?

  22. unck42 (10) said,

    October 10, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks Sam and Stephen for the great podcast. It ha been informative and fun. I have discovered some great films from your recommendations and top 6 lists that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Thanks for your hard work and your sacrifices. I hope that you guys do decide to do some specials in the future. Good luck in your other endevors, and keep us all posted of future plans or shows. By the way, have you guys thought about still having top 6 lists just to discuss on these message boards? I think that would be an awesome idea.

  23. Nyperold (116) said,

    October 12, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    I had that idea, too. To quote my comment on Episode 50:

    “Maybe have Top 6 challenges… and not necessarily explain yourselves in the original post, but in replies. Or possibly just have the challenge in the original post, and reply later.”

    That should be “reply with your lists later.”

  24. Grishny (156) said,

    October 13, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Why wait for something to be implemented here? Why expect Sam and Stephen to organize it, anyway? They’re busy guys. If we head on over to Rinkworks; there’s already an open message forum ripe and waiting for us to start our own Top Six lists whenever and involving whatever we like.

    I’m drawing a line in the… ether. I’ll go to the Rinkworks Message Forum right now and post a Top Six Challenge, I dare you… I double-dog dare you… to come on over there and post your lists. Oh yeah.

    http://www.rinkworks.com/rinkforum

  25. Nyperold (116) said,

    October 14, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Hmm, yeah, that has possibilities. wintermute and I, though not in that order, have posted our lists. Anybody else?

  26. Sam (405) said,

    October 18, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    I really enjoyed that thread, and I hope you keep it up. I was thinking about my own choices for that, but I was so impressed with the titles you all came up with, I don’t know what I have to add. But it’s a fun topic to think about.

    I would also have put Ratatouille on the top.

  27. Grishny (156) said,

    October 18, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    To tell you the truth, I specifically chose that topic with the idea of putting Ratatouille at the top in mind. Then I had to figure out what else I could throw in. :)

  28. LaZorra (60) said,

    November 11, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    So I finally got around to listening to this, and it was very good indeed. I’m going to miss having something entertaining to listen to whilst mucking out stalls at school. ;-) I’m another who would enjoy special episodes.

    I really enjoyed both segments about Westerns, although I still say my favorite ’70s Western is Blazing Saddles. *ducks*

    Anyway, great job, guys. Thanks for all your hard work and your dedication. Not only has it been fun hearing all about the movies, but it’s also been nice to have a couple of Rinkies keeping me company.

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