2. You have the freedom to pass on your vegetables, but there are consequences.
That first lesson is central to the plot of “All the President’s Men,” which outlines in sometimes obsessive detail what the life of a journalist entails … both in the sexy appeal of breaking the rules to get the scoop, but also in the mundane minutia of calling, and typing, and research, and calling, and typing, and…
(You get the idea.)
Just as the mundane parts of being a journalist are the equivalent of eating one’s vegetables, I might argue that watching this film is much the same. There is payoff to breaking the rules … but only when you eat your veggies. And to understand cinema and its relationship to the political process (as well as journalism), this movie, a nominee for the 1976 Oscar for Best Picture, is simply required viewing (whether some might consider it dry or not).
Roger Ebert some years ago did a series of reviews of movies he had seen before, but decided to revisit given their general stature or importance to him. He called this series “Great Movies.”
On some subconscious level, I think this was the general area I was trying to slap this particular baseball (my podcast) into … find that sweet spot of the films that matter to people and try to get a solid double out of it. There’s no minimum requirement here in terms of Oscar nods or what have you, but I did want to find the films that people care about … and while doing this, I leave open the possibility that this could well morph into something else. My Ichiro-like metaphor is meant to be “doubly” apt in this way … the sweet spot is subject to change, and therefore so am I.
That said, “Star Wars” is in many ways the perfect fit for The Pursuit of Crappiness, a culturally relevant collection of films with wide critical and public acceptance. Moreover, there’s a lot to digest in these movies and several different directions a conversation can go.
To celebrate the blu ray and digital release of “The Force Awakens,” the seventh film in the series (eighth if you include the somewhat maligned “Clone Wars” animated feature), I got together a bigger group than normal to discuss the film (and eat delicious goodies put together by my wife, Cait). For this episode, I was joined by Twitter personality Alfredo Narvaez, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune reporter Michelle Hunter, and Dash Rip Rock drummer Kyle Melancon — three big fans of the new film and of “Star Wars” in general.
“Spotlight” is an Oscar-winning film about journalism, about spiritualism, about the power of institutions, and about priests molesting children.
That least piece of the equation might be enough to turn people away, but I can tell you two things that might change your mind if you’ve been delaying seeing the movie:
1. This movie doesn’t actually show any of these acts, nor does it very much “hint” at them with visual tricks like closed doors, creepy touches, etc. The victims in the film are largely adults, dealing with the abuse that occurred years prior. In short, the content of the film is itself digestible.
2. The actors (mostly) keep their performances reserved, while the writing and direction are intelligent in their handling of such a sensitive topic. The characters here are not cartoons, nor is the film particularly “preachy” in its intentions. It’s more concerned with telling a story, and doing it respectfully.
That the film succeeds in these matters is to its credit and makes it a worthwhile winner of 2015’s best picture (and a movie I would recommend to anyone).
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is the kind of spectacle that blows up your brain (figuratively) and leaves you an exhausted husk, ready for a nice relaxing stack of tax forms. There’s little patience left for stimuli in the wake of such a film … and this is why it might be easy to dismiss it as a vacuous joyride with little messaging of importance beneath the glossy, absurd exterior.
Indeed, the film is shot gloriously. The visuals are often striking, many times disturbing or graphic, and the pace of the film is completely manic. So it’s a difficult film to process, even on the most basic of “Did I like it?” levels.
On the other hand, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the environmental messaging is not obvious in retrospect, and I’m likewise not going to tell you that the themes invoking feminism are hidden purposefully. They’re right there, plain as day. But the visceral thrills certainly distract.
This is a movie that grows in importance the longer you think on it.
We take a crack at the 2016 Academy Awards in this week’s podcast on “The Pursuit of Crappiness,” as I’m once again joined by my wife, Cait, and this week we welcome good friend Sherri Tarr.
Buckle up for Episode No. 2, in which we offer differing opinions on the general worthiness of “Mad Max: Fury Road,” the performances of the year which sometimes include Brie Larson and sometimes don’t, Chris Rock’s helming of the spectacle that is an awards show when it is almost entirely white, and our own individual picks for best film of the year (Spoiler: we all liked “Spotlight”).
Today I launch my first ever podcast, “The Pursuit of Crappiness,” a (hopefully weekly) pop culture show focusing on movies in particular. Here you’ll hear fans of movies wax poetic about their favorite films, or just films of general importance, popularity, or critical acclaim.
Or we’ll wing it and depart from that completely. We have the freedom to do what we want, woohoo!