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Episode 15. High Noon (1952): Masculine Heroes, the Old West, American “Values,” and Late Oscars

What do you get when you make a film that even John Wayne hated? The classic man-on-his-own Western, High Noon (1952; dir. Fred Zinnemann). This episode, David and Shaun discuss the history of High Noon, it’s treatment of classic Western tropes, its representations of masculinity and religion, and much more! Plus, we have some very late thoughts about the […]


Episode 14. The 2016 Oscars Nominees (a.k.a. GripeFest 2016)

GripeFest 2016 is here! In our 14th episode, Shaun is joined by Rachael Acks to discuss the 2016 Academy Awards. Which movies don’t belong? Which movies are sorely missed? What the heck is wrong with the Oscars this year? Listen to find out what we thing about everything from gender and race issues in the […]


Episode 13. Near Dark (1987; dir. Kathryn Bigelow): The Vampire, the Western, and the Setting Sun

The Vampire, the Western, and the Setting Sun! In our 13th episode, David and Shaun play catch-up on films left over from last year with an intense discussion of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1987 vampire western, Near Dark. Among the subjects under discussion: the cinematography and the western myth, where Near Dark went wrong (and where it veered heavily […]


Episode 12. A Christmas Carol (1951; dir. Brian Desmond Hurst): The Terrors of the Past, Present, and Future

A Christmas Carol (1951) and the Terrors of the Past, Present, and Future! In our final episode of the year, David and Shaun discuss the 1951 classic adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (starring Alastair Sim). We discuss the film’s influence on later adaptations, its approach to Dickens’ classic, its approach to wealth, the performances, and […]


Episode 11. The People Under the Stairs (1991; dir. Wes Craven): Craven’s Legacy and an Unusual Mythic Terror

The People Under the Stairs: Wes Craven’s Legacy and an Unusual Mythic Terror David and Shaun return after an unnecessarily long hiatus to discuss Wes Craven’s work, with special attention to The People Under the Stairs. We cover the film’s history, its mythical themes and imagery, and just what it says about Craven as a director […]


Episode 9. Last Night (1998): Finding the Self in the Canadian Apocalypse

Last Night and finding the self in the Canadian apocalypse. In our 9th episode, we talk about what we’ve been up to for the past month and dive into Don McKellar’s celebrated apocalypse film, Last Night. Given that David is a Canadian and Shaun is an American, we take a look at the film’s Canadianisms, discuss its […]


Episode 8. Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and The Secret of Roan Inish (1994) — the Pastoral and the Child

The Secret of Roan Inish, the pastoral, and the child!! Filling in for David, Jen Zink joins me to discuss the state of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and our main event film, The Secret of Roan Inish (1994). We explore The Secret of Roan Inish‘s treatment of its child protagonist, the conflict between the modern world and the pastoral […]


Episode 7. Jurassic Park (1993) and Jurassic World (2015): Blockbuster Spectacle and Reconstituting the Family

Blockbuster Spectable and Reconstituting the Family! We take our first stab at a blockbuster hit — the incredibly influential Jurassic Park (1993). We discuss the film’s visual effects and influence, its treatment of corporations and family, and the film’s legacy. Plus, we spend a considerable amount of time discussing Jurassic World (2015) and its place within the franchise. We’re also still […]


Episode 6. The Wicker Man (1973) — On Christopher Lee’s Legacy and the Trials of Religion

On Christopher Lee’s Legacy and the Trials of Religion! In this special episode, we talk about the late Christopher Lee and his legacy, from Hammer Horror films to Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. We also take some time to discuss The Wicker Man, one of Lee’s most compelling horror productions, with particular attention to the film’s treatment […]


Episode 5. The Swimmer (1968): The Surreality and Collapse of WASP Culture

The Surreality and Collapse of WASP Culture! In our fifth episode, we discuss what we’ve been watching lately — a little bit of Dredd and Abel Ferrara — and then head back to the 60s to discuss the recently-reappraised Burt Lancaster film, The Swimmer (1968; dir. Frank Perry). We tackle the film’s exploration of age and morality, […]


Episode 4. The Shop Around the Corner (1940): Romantic Fantasies, Cults of Personality, and the Chaos of Capital

Romantic Fantasies, Cults of Personality, and the Chaos of Capital! In our fourth episode, we drop back a decade to discuss Ernst Lubitsch’s The Shop Around the Corner starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan, from the character’s fantasies about romantic relationships to the posturing of its characters to the underlying metaphors and references embodied in the shop. […]


Episode 3. It Follows (2014): Teenage Body Horror, Modern Decay, and It

Teenage Body Horror, Modern Decay, and It! Our third episode is a special one! We jump outside of our normal programming schedule to host an impromptu discussion of David Robert Mitchell’s acclaimed new horror film, It Follows. Special guest Rachael Acks joins us as we explore the film’s underlying sexual mythologies, its treatment of capital, […]


Episode 2. The Wages of Fear (1953): Playing Genre, Masculinity, and the Post-War World

Playing Genre, Masculinity, and the Post-War World! In our second episode, we open by discussing what we’ve been watching, how films “stand the test of time,” and the supposed problem with the Hollywood blockbuster. Plus, there’s a little bonus conversation about the state of horror films since 2000. The main event involves Henri-Georges Clouzot’s suspense […]


Episode 1. Dirty Harry (1971): The Vigilante, the History, and Beginnings

The Vigilante, the History, and Beginnings! In this inaugural episode of Totally Pretentious, David and Shaun introduce the show and discuss the iconic Dirty Harry (1971), from its influence to its underlying mythologies. They also reveal next month’s film, which you can watch along with us! Download Episode 001 (Dirty Harry)(MP3) Show Notes: Dirty Harry (1971) Further Reading: […]