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American Beauty with Vanessa Gonzalez

This movie is something else. It's played as a quirky slice-of-mid-life-crisis with wacky scenarios interspersed between hot-button topics, and I guess that's exactly what it was in the late '90s, but NOW, in 2018, knowing what we know about its star and speaking how we speak about victims of sexual assault, it's a horror movie that has romantic comedy lighting for some offensive reason. Kevin Spacey plays a manipulative self-centered pedophile who destroys his family and neighbors in...


The Artist with Avery Moore

Say, fellas, I got an idea! What if we take a vaguely creepy story about a vain and jealous man who will destroy himself and everyone around him in a tantrum the minute he's not universally adored, then remove all the dialogue and replace it with sweet music so nobody notices? What's that? We'll need a dog to complete the illusion that he's not a piece of shit? And set the story in Hollywood so the industry will give it awards? Done! Send screeners to the Academy immediately. Sincerely,...


Platoon with Duncan Carson

Oliver Stone's Mary Sue autobiography about being a rich kid voluntarily joining up to fight in America's Dumbest War. The movie throws 75 characters at the screen, then adds 75,000 explodey noises in for good measure, but somehow Oscar-winning screenwriter Stone still can't cover up the clunkiest dialogue he's ever written. The movie is effective in its realism. Unfortunately, that means suffering through the reality of an obnoxious war full of half-crazed, leaderless, extremely un-woke...


Ben-Hur with Andrew Horneman

This movie is EPIC. It defines epic. And it clearly influenced both George Lucas and John Williams, because some of the scenes and score clips are obvious precursors to the Star Wars saga. But is it fun to watch? It was with Andrew, who developed an insta-crush on Charlton Heston's body that sustained him for almost the entire 3 hours and 45 minutes. For me? Well, it's a lot of men, manning around, plus 250% of your recommended daily allowance of Jesus. The movie still holds the record for...


Shakespeare in Love with Brooke Cartus

If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain, this is the Shakespeare movie for you. Stuffed with super obvious callbacks and sitcom plotting, this soft rock movie somehow captured the Academy's heart in a year stuffed with Big Important Dramas. Gwyneth Paltrow got an award for having boobs. Judi Dench got an award for having a face. Tom Stoppard got an award for copy-pasting. And Harvey Weinstein got an award for doing things we'd still rather not think about. Join Brooke and...


Rain Man with Christina Parrish

This movie is authenticity-adjacent. A weirdly world-music-infused score backdrops the story of an all-American road trip with a bad car salesman (played by human-adjacent Tom Cruise) and a quirky superhero (Dustin Hoffman doing an SNL sketch character). At times, the script gestures towards meaning, but for the most part this is "It Happened One Night" with an idiot savant instead of an heiress. Christina Parrish and I tear our hair out trying not to make inappropriate jokes (and, in the...


Argo with Leo Garcia

This episode comes out all sorts of different for some reason (for one thing, I finally figured out how to optimize sound a little bit). Leo and I dive into the most recent winner featured so far on the podcast, Ben Affleck's "I'm going to direct myself being a hero" movie about one interesting side plot of the Iran Hostage Crisis. We dive into some hand-wringing about how you know the good side from the bad side when protests go wild, so that's heavy, but we also talk about jazz funerals...


Chicago with Danny Goodwin

Danny and I dive into a winner that was controversial at the time, but honestly looks pretty smart today. (That NEVER happens!) "Chicago" is a stylish, fun, surprisingly deep look at the corrupting power of fame and the desperate violence of proto-feminism America. It's also a movie about imprisoned women in their underwear produced by Harvey Weinstein, so it's far from perfect, but we enjoy delving into its details. Plus we veer off into talking about "I, Tonya" and a few other relatively...


Gone With the Wind with Eric Nagurney

We knew what we were getting into, kind of, but neither myself nor Eric Nagurney had seen a single frame of Gone with the Wind in our lives, so it was a fresh assault of whitewashed Confederate history, treacly matte paintings, Broadway-style overacting, and whiplashing tonal shifts that lasted FAR longer than even what "4-hour-movie" implies. We hated it. Listen closely, and you'll hear our sanity leave the room at about the 15-minute mark. This isn't a BAD movie. On a technical level it...


On the Waterfront with Pat Dean

A movie that most people know only as a line -- "I coulda been a contender" -- has surprising twists and wrinkles that make it an unusual watch 50+ years later. Fortunately, I have Pat Dean as a co-pilot, and we dig deep into the subtext and meaning of this labor drama while also taking detours to make sure we're okay, we're doing fine, we're not too lonely. It's a surprisingly revealing and tender episode surrounding an even more surprisingly brutal and bleak film. Check it out, and also...


Million Dollar Baby with Pat Sirois

This movie goes in fits and starts. The beginning is cartoon-ish and slow, the middle is full of some of the rawest boxing footage I've ever seen in a film, and the last half hour is a torturous drag through depressingville. Pat Sirois and I try to keep our sanity with all the emotional whiplash, and figure out a couple of True Facts about Clint Eastwood's inner life along the way. This episode is narrated by Morgan Freeman. RED ALERT: This movie was written by Paul Haggis of "Crash" fame...


The Sting with Lisa Friedrich

Lisa and I scratch our heads through one of the most complicated con movies I've ever seen, stuffed with ancillary characters and antiquated references. Paul Newman and Robert Redford are both compelling to watch -- and Redford does A LOT of sprinting in this movie if that's your thing -- but the real stars are the women. Eileen Brennan brings a casual vamp's charm to the rogue's gallery of con men, and Dimitra Arliss coyly plays a diner waitress who's much more than she appears. Other than...


The Great Ziegfeld with Rachel Hall

Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. was still very much a contemporary force in American entertainment when this was made. His late wife Billie Burke even had a hand in the casting of this movie, which was an enormous artistic and financial success for MGM. But what does that all add up to now? This three-hour biopic serves mainly to highlight two things -- that Ziegfeld was a "special effects" genius in his day (costumes and staging) to a degree that still astonishes today, and that his life was a...


Rocky with Mike MacRae

Unless you've actually watched it recently, I guarantee this movie is NOT what you think it is. The star-spangled sequels are so ingrained in our minds that it's weird to revisit the grimy impoverished underdog story that kicked off the mega-franchise. Mike MacRae had never seen the movie, and I THOUGHT I had but it was very different from my memories, so who knows? We both "dinged" along as iconic moments came up, then guffawed in bafflement at the weird scenes nobody talks about anymore:...


It Happened One Night with Micheal Foulk

This movie is the origin of every trope in romantic comedies, road trip movies, AND Bugs Bunny cartoons. Micheal Foulk and I spend a lot of time delighting in the silliness of the plot, and puzzling over the manic depression of the film's main pixie dream boy, played by Clark Gable. It's one of only three films to ever win all "big five" awards: picture, director, actor, actress, writing. It's pretty good, but that accomplishment is probably more a reflection on the competition. There's no...


West Side Story with Chris Cubas

This is easily the most famous and beloved movie we've tackled so far, and it's great! The songs are amazing, the costumes are beautiful, the dancing is quirky and fun, and the plot is ... well. Half of it is great, and surprisingly timely. Chris Cubas (Canceled) and I really enjoyed the Sharks vs Jets plotline and characters. The other half is a limp and hasty romance that's modeled on the dumber aspects of Romeo & Juliet with none of the redeeming qualities of Shakespeare's irony-laden...


Around the World in 80 Days with Melody Shifflet

The only reason this movie is remembered at all is the Disney remake from 2004 starring Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan -- and that movie was a huge flop. Based on a Jules Verne story, this film is adapted to be 1,000% more British, with a wealthy eccentric and miniature sidekick "racing" around the world at a snail's pace to settle a pointless bet with a drawing room full of loathsome bankers. David Niven and some circus performer named Cantinflas (an enormously popular Mexican film star and...


You Can't Take It With You with Ralph Hardesty

Every once in a while, the Academy really gets it right. This Frank Capra movie is waaaay less famous than some of his other, schmaltzier efforts like It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Arsenic and Old Lace, but in my opinion it tops them all with a madcap style that will be recognizable to fans of Frasier as "screwball play gets adapted as blunt social commentary plus a little sex." What elevates this above the rest is the performance of -- not Jimmy Stewart or Lionel...


Out of Africa with Ky Krebs

Ky Krebs and I were all ready to bless the rains down in Africa until this movie bored us nearly to death with its endless picnic sequences and abominably tone-deaf Colonizers. There's simply no way to watch this earnestly in a post-Black Panther world, so we chose to moan and groan and yell at the screen for ... 2 hours and 40 minutes? It was too much. Enjoy the increasingly nasty take-down after the movie and please check out Ky's new album on iTunes (it's self-titled) or his podcast...


Midnight Cowboy with Katie Pengra

I couldn't have asked for a better / worse choice to start the show with. The illustrious Katie Pengra -- who co-hosts a killer Oscar party every year in Austin at Haymaker with her husband -- graciously agrees to sit her pregnant butt down for this trippy and grim journey through a whole lotta nothing. The movie is famous for 1) a Dustin Hoffman line, 2) being an X-rated Best Picture winner ... for a while (it's now officially R), and 3) supposedly lots of sex. There's isn't that much...