10/31/2006

All Movie Talk, Episode 5

Posted in Episodes at 5:00 am by Sam

Show contents, with start times:

  • Top 6: The Horror of the Unseen (1:30)
  • Trivia Question: Horror Musical Motifs (25:37)
  • Controversial Take: The Village (27:13)
  • Series Spotlight: James Bond, Part 3 (35:00)
  • Good Bad Movie: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (50:46)
  • Closing: Trivia Answer, Thanks, Preview of Next Week (59:58)

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Show Notes:

Top 6: The Horror of the Unseen

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

Sam references The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), a drama about a Hollywood producer that includes a subplot that mirrors the real life story of the making of one of his Top 6 picks.

Trivia Question: Horror Musical Motifs

We have a three-for-one deal this week when it comes to our trivia question. All three of our mystery movies are classic horror films. OK, maybe at least one of them isn’t a classic, but they’re all certainly famous. Despite his obvious talent at production, Sam has no formal training as a sound engineer.

Controversial Take: The Village

Sam feels that M. Night Shyamalan’s 2004 film The Village is a good movie, though not up to the par of Shyamalan’s earlier films like The Sixth Sense (1999) or Unbreakable (2000). He feels the characters and pacing are compelling, while Stephen believes the movie has a few good moments but is ultimately brought down by bad dialogue. They both agree that the cinematography by Roger Deakins is top-notch.

Beyond his personal enjoyment of the movie, Sam believes the film functions as an interesting parable about isolationism and immigration. In this view, the closed nature of the village is a metaphor about what can happen when nations isolate themselves from others — a recurring theme in American history. Stephen agrees the movie may have a point, but it’s not told in an interesting way.

Series Spotlight: James Bond, Part 3

This segment is an installment of our continuing discussion about the James Bond film series. See Episode 3 and Episode 4 to hear about the earlier episodes of the series.

  • The tenth James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), is the first Albert R. Broccoli produced on his own. Probably it was one of Bond’s last chances to prove financially viable without Sean Connery, but it turns out to be a critical and commercial success and revitalizes the series.
  • The Spy Who Loved Me is the first Bond film to have an original screenplay. Blofeld was slated to return, but a legal dispute with Kevin McClory, who owned the screen rights to the character, puts a stop to that.
  • The film also marks the first of two screen appearances by Jaws, the steel-toothed henchman played by Richard Kiel.
  • Jaws returns in Moonraker (1979), the second of two ignominious low points in the series. Moonraker has its moments but is largely a campy, over-the-top parody of itself that launches Bond into outer space.
  • Moonraker, however, sets records for Bond at the box office. Despite this, producer Albert Broccoli recognizes it as a creative mistake and decides to return Bond to his more grounded roots in For Your Eyes Only (1981), one of the best films of the series.
  • Bernard Lee, who played the character of M, Bond’s boss, in the first 11 movies is left uncast in For Your Eyes Only, following the actor’s death. Future Bond films would cast Robert Brown in the role.
  • For Your Eyes Only marks the series’ last appearance by Blofeld, unnamed but clearly intended to be the Blofeld character.
  • Octopussy (1983) has some silly moments but is also a strong series entry with a sharp edge to it. It opens months before Kevin McClory’s competing remake of Thunderball, called Never Say Never Again.
  • Never Say Never Again (1983) is good, though not great, but is weird because it lacks the usual series trademarks, including the infamous James Bond theme music. It does, however, feature the return of Sean Connery to the role he swore he’d never do again.
  • A View To a Kill (1985), Roger Moore’s last Bond movie, is a weak one, though Sam has a soft spot for it. The film also marks the last appearance of Lois Maxwell, who had played Moneypenny in every official Bond movie to date.
  • James Bond will return in Episode 6, when we cover the Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan years.

Good Bad Movie: Halloween III: Season of the Witch

So you know Stonehenge? What if a mad scientist stole it and used it to build evil Halloween masks that shoot snake lasers? Sounds terrifying? No? How about incomprehensible and unintentionally hilarious? We think so too. Halloween III is one of the more entertaining bad movies out there. Witness how clever editing can help you escape from impossible situations.

 
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20 Comments »

  1. Dave (130) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    Oh man, this looks like some good stuff today. Can’t wait to listen. Stupid work.

  2. Nyperold (116) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    I think the mad scientist hired Carmen Sandiego, or at least one of her henchmen.

  3. wintermute (157) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    I think you edited this together in the wrong order.

    During the “top 6″, you discuss horror being more personal than comedy, and comment that you’ve already mentioned this.

    Then, when talking about The Village (I think; maybe it was Hallowe’en III - it was a few hours ago), you mention it, and it’s clearly for the first time. I found it slightly jarring.

    But other than that, an excellent episode.

  4. Jaguar (22) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 6:45 pm

    You know, I think this was the first time I knew the answer to the trivia question! Although, I should have gotten last week’s Orson Wells movie trivia question.

    I remember seeing a View to A Kill when I was a kid. I pretty sure I saw it in the theater at 7 years old. The most riveting scene for me was when James Bond was carring the girl down from the burning building on the ladder. My eyes were fixed on the screen and my heart was pounding. And the music! Wow, I was scared to death. And then, James Bond slipped on the ladder! My heart just about jumped out of the mouth! I watch it now, and it’s not nearly as suspenseful, but seeing it at that age, man, I was terrified.

  5. Jaguar (22) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 6:48 pm

    Oh yeah, when I saw A View to a Kill, I didn’t understand why Zorin was laughing when he was killing all those people (or why he was all happy when San Francisco was about to be destroyed). That was a detraction from the movie for me, until years later when I realized the obvious fact… he was crazy!

  6. Sam (405) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    Jaguar: Ha! It’s funny how we perceive things as kids. What made an impression on me was how upset Mom was by how crazy he was. Mental illness makes supervillains that much more disturbing (of course, supervillains are all crazy anyway, but you know what I mean), and it’s a complication that doesn’t fit well in the Bond universe.

    That burning building rescue scene, by the way, is exactly what I was talking about when I said the John Barry score gives certain scenes an emotional weight they don’t deserve. I mean, seriously, that scene is so cheesy and manipulative, and it all hinges on saving a woman who has proven so annoying by that point that we’d just as soon see her fry to a crisp. And yet, that scene still has power, attributable entirely, I’m sure, to the music.

  7. Stephen (221) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 10:35 pm

    Dave: This is why you need to get an iPod, so that you can just download our show automatically before you go to work in the morning. Then you can listen at work.

  8. Randy (21) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    Really great show. Loved the halloween theme.
    About The Village…I enjoyed it up until the twist. First with the monsters, then after the secret of the village is revealed. I mean, couldn’t it have been done better? And the dialouge does sound a bit contrived.
    As a James Bond fan,I am really enjoying the history lessons here. You rock Sam.
    I have not seen Halloween III yet, but I just may have to now.

  9. 10Kan (7) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 11:33 pm

    That guy in the dog/bear costume in The Shining was the scariest thing in the whole film for me. I still shudder whenever I see that part. In addition to the horror of the unseen, there’s also, I believe, the horror of the unfathomable.

    (Spoilers for The Ring follow)

    For instance, in The Ring, the single remake of the new wave Japanese horror films that I’ve actually seen, I never noticed a particularly good reason that the malevolent supernatural entity went around spreading death and woe. It wasn’t because of any particular wrongs visited upon it, though that’s what the protagonists thought for a while, nor did it appear to enjoy killing people in the way that Freddy Kreuger so clearly relishes his work. It just punished people who didn’t follow its vague, arbitrary rules. Much in the way that the unseen horror grows by not being seen, the unfathomable horror comes from the realization that the spook or monster doesn’t have any sort of justification, sane or otherwise, for the mayhem it causes. It’s just a mind with neither human reason nor human emotion, coldly following its chaotic whims.

  10. Grishny (156) said,

    November 1, 2006 at 10:41 am

    I don’t have a whole lot to say, as I’m not one who goes in for horror movies and only enjoys the occasional “dark” drama or action flick. But I am a fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s work, and so far, I’ve seen all of his films but the first, and enjoyed each one of them on some level.

    I’m with Sam on The Village. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Somehow, I just don’t “get” Stephen’s problem with the dialogue. It’s been a year or so since I saw it, but to my recollection the way the characters spoke sounded perfectly natural, given their surroundings and “tech level.” I thought Phoenix’s portrayal of his character was spot-on, especially contrasting it with his previous work on Shyamalan’s Signs.

    I’ve never seen The Shining, though I read the book when I was in high school. I don’t remember anything about a guy in a bear suit.

  11. Dave (130) said,

    November 1, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    Stephen: It wouldn’t help if I had an iPod, I still couldn’t listen to the podcast at work. I can’t listen to anything at work over headphones, because then I wouldn’t hear people coming up behind me and somebody would catch me wasting my entire day posting at AMT and reading about Star Wars on Wikipedia.

    So anyway, I finally got to listen to the podcast, and as I predicted, it rocked. Best so far in my opinion. I think you guys kind of missed some potential when discussing The Village, though, but what I can’t figure out is if you could have discussed it better without giving away the “twists”. But I’m gonna try now anyway.

    Stephen really fixated on the dialogue as his main point of rebuttal, but for me the dialogue didn’t bother me too much. Sure it was kind of silly, but I was willing to let it go because the movie was pretty atmospheric and seemed to be building to something. My main problem with the movie is that what it was building to was completely idiotic and not at all believeable. It’s the same problem I had with Signs (Shyamalan’s previous film) although The Village ends up being a much worse movie in my eyes because it simple wasn’t as engaging as Signs was and the twist at the end was even more destructive to my suspension of disbelief.

    I guess one question I have for everybody is, do you think an otherwise good movie can be completely ruined by a bad ending? I think it can, if it’s obvious that the point of the movie is to build to this super amazing twist ending, and the ending just falls flat. If your payoff isn’t any good, then why did I just spend two hours watching the stuff that was only there as a build-up for it?

    I think Sam would argue that the point of The Village wasn’t to build to the twist ending (and at least in the case of the “second” twist, I believe I’ve heard him say he didn’t even think it was a “twist” until sometime later). I think regardless of whether that’s true or not, though, Shyamalan has sort of painted himself into a corner by having his first batch of movies all hinge on a twist ending of some sort, thus making people come into his films with pre-concieved notions. If you’re waiting all movie for the twist, and the twist disappoints you, you’re probably not going to like the movie.

    Personally, I can say I like Signs and dislike The Village, but my main dislike about both of them is the ending. I think the ending of Signs is completely ridiculous and anti-climactic in the extreme, while the ending of The Village is also ridiculous and destroys any sense of believeability I had about the film. The difference is that I still think Signs is a good movie overall because the part of the movie that *isn’t* the ending is still a chillingly effective thriller. However, no part of The Village is as good as pretty much any part of Signs, and so when the big twist falls flat, the rest of the movie collapses under its own weighty pretentions.

    Now I know someone is going to tell me I missed the point of Signs if I thought it was supposed to be “just” a thriller, so let me point out that I get that the “real” point of Signs has nothing to do with aliens attacking Earth and everything to do with the restoration of one man’s faith. The problem is, the movie doesn’t work for me on *that* level either, partly because I don’t buy into the theology behind the message, and partly because THE ENDING IS STILL COMPLETELY RETARDED EITHER WAY.

  12. Dave (130) said,

    November 1, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    Also, RE: Moonraker vs Golden Gun:

    While The Man with the Golden Gun may be more uniformly bad than Moonraker, I still say Moonraker’s complete and utter destruction of one of the best Bond villains ever (Jaws) and totally ridiculous space sequences not only overshadow the one or two *good* parts of the film, they are more than enough to make the film as a whole so utterly terrible that I can’t help but call it the worst of the Bond series.

    Here’s a thought experiment for you. If someone had never seen a Bond movie before and didn’t know much about Bond at all, and decided to see one of these two movies as his first Bond experience, which would you *rather* he see? In other words, which movie would do more to misinform and turn off a prospective Bond fan? I think it’s Moonraker. I’d rather our hypothetical first-timer watch Golden Gun, because at least I wouldn’t have to spend time explaining how most Bond movies don’t have freaking laser gun fights.

  13. Sam (405) said,

    November 1, 2006 at 2:20 pm

    Huh. If anything, Dave, I think your thought experiment reinforces the point for me. Because however stupid the laser gun fight is in the world of James Bond, it’s not nearly as bad on its own. If we could divorce Moonraker from James Bond entirely, we’d have a cheesy sci-fi flick that, let’s face it, really isn’t any cheesier than The Last Starfighter and The Black Hole, movies which are not enduring but are fondly remembered by the kids of that generation.

    The unforgivable crime of Moonraker is to thrust that cheesy sci-fi stuff upon the world that gave us the gritty spy adventures of From Russia With Love and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I think if you take somebody who has no prior attachment to Bond and show that person Moonraker, it would come off as, while not good, far less of an atrocity.

    Whereas Golden Gun is boring for anybody.

    Not to press the point: I wouldn’t have, except that I think your thought experiment is flawed, not necessarily your conclusions. It’s kind of a silly debate, because the one thing we do agree on is that these are the two worst and possibly only bad Bond movies. Splitting the hairs is just a matter of personal taste.

  14. Dave (130) said,

    November 1, 2006 at 3:22 pm

    Well, I think you actually missed the point of the thought experiment. The point wasn’t “Which would the non-Bond fan like better” but “which would you rather have them watch as an introduction to Bond.” And you admitted that Moonraker is more egregious in its treatment of the Bond universe. So I win. QED.

  15. Sam (405) said,

    November 1, 2006 at 5:02 pm

    wintermute: I fixed the episode by editing out the “as I think we’ve mentioned before on this show” remark. It may still be awkward, but it’s an improvement.

  16. Grishny (156) said,

    November 1, 2006 at 6:03 pm

    Last night my wife and I rented and watched Mission Impossible 3. I’m not going to post any comments on how I feel about the merits of the movie; I’m posting because having watched it only a few hours after listening to the podcast, I was struck by the contrasts between some of the plot elements in MI3 (and I suppose the MI movie series in general) and the James Bond arc that’s been the topic of the last few AMT shows.

    One of the main plot points of MI3 is how super spy Ethan Hunt handles having someone he cares about put in danger because of his job. This reminded me of Sam’s comments on how the death of Bond’s wife affected that character in those movies.

    Another thing that comes to mind is how the character of the villain is handled. I thought Philip Seymour Hoffman made a chillingly effective villain, and maybe part of it was that there were no Bond-like death-trap scenes, no careful explanations of his evil plans and then leaving the hero to die (i.e. escape). In the one scene where he has Hunt at his mercy, he doesn’t taunt him or tell him anything, or even inflict pain… just carefully manipulates the situation to inflict as much emotional and mental anguish on Hunt as he possibly can. It chilled me to watch it.

  17. Sam (405) said,

    November 1, 2006 at 6:18 pm

    Grishny, you may have happened upon one of the reasons the Mission: Impossible movies have so disappointed me. It does indeed seem like they’d rather be Bond than the television series they’re allegedly based on. The problem is, Ethan Hunt ain’t no James Bond, and who needs another one anyway, when the Mission: Impossible television series is such a rich, fantastic dynamic to try to recreate on the big screen?

    For my money, M:I3 is easily the best of the three, partly because it tries harder than any of the others to be what M:I is supposed to be (the sequence in the Vatican is the right flavor), and partly because — as you say — Philip Seymour Hoffman is just fantastic in it. Though the personal angle with Hunt’s wife isn’t much in the spirit of M:I, I do think it works.

    But the movie still feels a lot like The Ethan Hunt Show, and I suppose the franchise will always feel that way so long as Tom Cruise’s expensive price tag is in there sucking up the spotlight. How about an actual team-based sting kind of a movie that M:I fans have been clamoring for all along? Let Bond be Bond, and M:I be M:I.

  18. Ellmyruh (20) said,

    November 2, 2006 at 3:33 am

    I’m going to go out on a wild limb here and guess that the unnamed friend Sam referred to in the bit about Moonraker was Dave. That was exactly the way Dave says, “STUFF.”

    I have one complaint about the show: I listen to it Wednesday mornings, but then what do I do about the rest of the week? For that matter, I think you should just do a live show every day from, oh, 6:45 to 7:45 a.m. Pacific time.

  19. Sam (405) said,

    November 2, 2006 at 9:36 am

    That was Dave, yes. On the other hand, the wording was probably mine.

  20. ThePhan (128) said,

    November 3, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    Okay, I listened to most of this in my car so my comments are fewer and less structured, but here they are before I forget more of them..

    -I didn’t know the third musical theme, but I actually watch very few horror movies because I have a problem with gore. Gives me gruesome death dreams and such. And on the “ha” vs. “ma” thing… I typed in “ki ki ki ha ha ha” to Google and it didn’t give me much of anything besides Japanese pages. (And asking if I meant “kiki ki ha haha.”) But then neither did “ki ki ki ma ma ma.”

    -I really liked The Village, but I don’t have a good enough reason that I can argue with anyone that it was a good movie. I just really liked it. I didn’t even notice the stilted dialogue, to be completely honest, which, yes, is weird. I guess I just sort of automatically slid into their odd little world.

    Um. Actually, those are the comments I have. I shouldn’t listen to this in my car again, I forget all my thoughts.

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