Month: May 2016

Criterion Close-Up 39: The War Room (1993) and Politics in Film

Aaron is joined by Keith Enright for a discussion of politics, new and old, through the lens of The War Room (1993), the behind-the scenes 1992 Clinton campaign documentary. We go into depth about the backroom politics and how those are what defines the campaign, but are usually far from the public eye. We contrast the politics of today and yesterday by looking the current affairs and Robert Drew’s Primary.

The Magic Lantern: Episode 021 – The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

It’s been a long time since I have been as immediately taken with a film the way I was with Isao Takahata’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013). We don’t often feature films that are this new on the show. Typically, for a movie to make its way into our personal canons it is something we frequently have to live with for a while, decades even. The fact that this was such an easy choice for me is a testament to the film’s beauty and emotional resonance. From the first frame of the first viewing, I was in love with the art and the story and knew I was watching something that will be a beloved classic for generations to come. It’s a story that is practically as old as Japan itself, but in Takahata’s deft hands it feels as fresh and exciting as when I first discovered the power of cinema. If you are of a fan of Studio Ghibli, animation in general, or just beautifully rendered stories of what it means to be human, this film is a must see. I can’t recommend it enough.

What you’ll find in this episode: Ericca makes me make the impossible decision between Takahata and Miyazaki, I make her make the impossible choice between red and blue toilet paper, the struggles of young girls in medieval Japan versus twentieth century Virginia, the pain of losing someone and being the one left behind and just how angry Ericca was at me by the time we got to the end of the film.

– Cole

Links and Recommendations:
Check out The Tale of the Princess Kaguya on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of World of Tomorrow.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Grave of the Fireflies.
The official site of The Ghibli Museum.
A nice collection of Japanese folk tales.

Criterion Close-Up 38: The Manchurian Candidate

Mark, Aaron and Paul Cobb look at John Frankenheimer’s political thriller, The Manchurian Candidate. We explore the originality and how it influenced other paranoia films, how it spoke to the spirit of the 1960s, as a satire towards McCarthyism, and how it has remained relevant throughout the years.

GTGM Episode 27: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

Jamie and Doug finally score tickets to a sold out Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers show at a small club in New Jersey. After a suicide/murder attempt (and only 2 songs) the show is cancelled and they are given tickets to an upcoming show. Sadly, that show is cancelled because Jamie’s favorite member of the band, keyboardist Rawhide was killed by an alien spider.

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Criterion Close-Up 37: Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Mark and Aaron fly back to 1939 to discuss Howard Hawks’ classic Only Angels Have Wings. We evaluate the special effects, how the film built suspense, the context of aviation in the late 1930s, and later films that embody a similar masculinity. We also reveal the winner of our Don Hertzfeldt contest and talk about region free players.

The Magic Lantern: Episode 020 – The Vanishing

How far are you willing to go? In George Sluizer’s The Vanishing (1988), Rex makes the ultimate choice to follow the trail of the disappeared Saskia until the eternal uncertainty of her fate can be resolved. Few endings in modern memory can match that resolution. Skip the dumbed down (and made by the same director!) American version and instead opt for this masterpiece of suspense and surprise. Stanley Kubrick famously said it was the scariest thing he’d ever seen. I hope you are on the edge of your seat whether this is your first or twentieth time to watch this indelible take on interrupted lives and the terrible intersection of fate and chance.

What you’ll find in this episode: how Ericca terrorized her mother, misremembering a film that made a huge impression, why you should never trust men with beards but no mustaches, whether knowing a film’s ending makes a difference, and who–Cole or Ericca–would give up first in the search for a killer.

– Ericca

Links and Recommendations:
Check out The Vanishing on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of And Soon the Darkness.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Winter’s Bone.
What A Man’s Facial Hair Says About Him, According To A Beard Scholar
Director George Sluizer on the film

GTGM Episode 26: Troop Beverly Hills (1989)

Jamie and Doug’s pirate-themed band just got their first gig…despite having no talent and being unable to play any song but Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

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