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The life of a repo man is intense, which is why we invited friend Toby Levers to join us to talk about Alex Cox's punk rock satire Repo Man! We discuss the film's influence and influences, as well as how it manages to mash together genres in a style all of its own, fashioning the spirit of suburban punk on to a social critique of ex-hippy middle class malaise and the inherent contradictions of rebellion. We chew on the obscure wisdom of Miller (played by the magnificent Tracey Walter) before riding away into the night in a glowing green Chevy Malibu.  Follow us on Twitter! Buy a piece of Cows memorabilia on Threadless! Find us on the web!
It is with clear eyes and love in our hearts that we dive into this classic football parable from the aughts with friend and returning guest Edward Lewis. We discuss the role of suffering in achievement, the paradox of youth, and the cycles that shackle us to our communities. We think about regret and expectation, and above all share our love for the film, which has since been eclipsed by the TV show of the same name. Come toss the football and punt when you should go for a touchdown, it's Friday Night Lights!
64. Top Gun (w/ Sean Burns)

64. Top Gun (w/ Sean Burns)


We stuff into a tiny F14 cockpit with Sean Burns (WBUR’s The ARTery) and fly into the danger zone to discuss why Top Gun is a sports film that forges a new American myth with dazzling imagery and zero subtlety. We consider the view that Tom Cruise is America's son and get into the trenches with Kelly McGillis to unpack their love triangle with Val Kilmer's Iceman. Also discussed: the effects of g-forces on the human body, what our callsigns would be, and why 80s American jingoism is quaint and endearing. Take my breath away why don't you??? Let's go! 
Not to be downers, but, everything alive must die. This is something the kids from David Robert Mitchell's devastating horror film must come to terms with, as they are stalked by a demonic entity that, no matter where they are, is constantly walking towards them. We sit down with Alison Willmore (Vulture / New York Magazine) to discuss how the film works as an allegory for social class, capitalism, personal trauma, sexual politics, and manages to channel both existential dread and the experience of a panic attack all at once. We wonder how to avoid the creature, what its scariest incarnation is, and whether a tale this bleak can have a happy ending after all...
We sit down with Nicolas Cage expert Keith Phipps (author of The Age of Cage) to discuss the second highest grossing film of Cage's career (second only to its sequel). We consider the point at which this film lands in the arc of Cage's career, and how he draws on his well of acting experience to craft a character that blends elements of conspiratorial mania and fifth grade boy scout energy, selling the four-quadrant appeal of a movie about treasure hunting and historical preservation to both children and adults alike. We wonder what makes the film's portrayal of patriotism appealing and then explore what could have been for Cage, concluding with some recommended overlooked Cage films to explore!  Follow Keith on Twitter! Follow us on Twitter! Buy merch!
Have you ever wondered whether a famous painting contained a clue to a mystery that, once revealed, would upend the world as we know it? Well, you're in luck because in this episode we dive into The Da Vinci Code with museum expert and curator Andrea Rosen! We explore the tough questions of whether to reveal the lie at the center of Catholicism or just go on living your life because no one would care, and then discuss the film's art historical bonafides, whether Robert Langdon is a good professor, and whether this film, which has been mostly forgotten, deserves a dusting off and revisit!
Join us and Katie Walsh (LA Times, Miami Nice) for one night in L.A. as we journey through deserted streets with a meek cabbie dreamer (Jamie Foxx) and his assassin fare (Tom Cruise). We discuss cities and alienation, indecision and action, order and chaos, psychopaths and empaths, coyotes and subways. We gush about Cruise and Foxx playing against type, and wonder about how taxi drivers manage to keep all those streets straight. You might be surprised to find out where this Michael Mann film stacks up in his filmography for Katie, someone who hosts a podcast about another Michael Mann film (Miami Vice), but you won't be surprised to learn that Laura loves the leanness of this ode to the city at night.
Join us for a spoiler-free celebration of the very best films of 2021! We discuss our nominees and winners in the following categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (non-gendered, pick 2), Best Supporting Actor (same thing), Best Score, Best Scene, and Most Overrated. Each film can win in only one category, so the stakes have never been higher! Tune in for the suspense, stay for the coveted, career-defining, awards. Justin's ranking of 2021 films
Join us and Matt Belenky (Movie Talk Podcast) to dive headfirst into Paul Verhoven’s classic 90s erotic thriller! We try to figure out what happened and why, and then explore how the film dissolves boundaries between Sharon Stone / Catherine Trammell and Nick Curran / audience member. We consider the possibility that the film is simultaneously exploitative and empowering, and lavish in its many unnecessary Americana details. Finally, we get to the bottom of why this was the peak time for ice picks.
What does it mean to say that a movie is so bad it's good? Is Twilight (2008) such a movie? We sit down with Matt Strohl (Philosophy, University of Montana), author of the new book "Why It's OK To Love Bad Movies", to talk about what it means to love and appreciate the beauty of bad films, and why bad movie love is an important and often overlooked mode of engaging with films. Along the way, we discuss the social aspirations of taste, what makes "Twilight" a potentially conventionally bad film and why those 'flaws' also contribute to its artistic achievement. Matt catalogs the various wide-ranging literary references embedded in the films and argues, contra the standard view that they push a conservative viewpoint about sex and marriage, that they are actually incredibly horny. We hope you'll join us to give this much maligned film a second chance! 
How should we feel about and how should we engage with art made by immoral artists? We consider these questions in the context of The Usual Suspects along with Erich Hatala Matthes (Wellesley), whose new book on the topic (Drawing the Line: What to Do with the Work of Immoral Artists from Museums to the Movies) provides a philosophical guide to the complexities of these challenging issues. We consider whether the film's aesthetic value is diminished by the behavior of its creators, and discuss why, considered on its own, there's a lot to recommend this tightly-wound neo-noir. So join us to think through the question yourself, and return to this 90s classic that reignited Hollywood's obsession with twist endings. Bryan Singer's Accusers Speak Out (The Atlantic) The sexual assault allegations against Kevin Spacey span decades. Here’s what we know. (Vox)
Come swing through the streets of Manhattan with us and Sam Adams (Slate) as we discuss Sam Raimi's melancholic and reflective Spider-Man 2! We talk about the film's major themes of grief and the burden of heroism, as well as Sam Raimi's view of humanity as fundamentally decent. We consider the film in light of the tragedy of 9/11 and how it highlights the heroic in all of us. We also marvel at how a big budget superhero film manages to have a climactic finale that consists mostly of two guys reflecting on how they have to give up their dreams in the pursuit of a greater good. Look out for guest appearances by the guy from the Tenet trailer and Chad Kroeger of Nickelback! Read Sam's piece on Spider-Man 2! Follow Sam on Twitter! Follow us on Twitter! MERCH! 
It's time to go back to the Matrix! Join us and David Chalmers (Professor of Philosophy at NYU) to discuss the fourth Matrix film, and distinguish what we like and don't about its meta- and first-order narrative interpretations. We bring in past and future guest Emily VanDerWerff to provide some broader context about the film and what makes it great, before turning to discuss whether what happens in a simulation is real and whether we can live a good life in a simulation. We also consider whether we are computer programs, what obligations we might have to computer programs, and the nature of human/computer program sex and procreation inside of the Matrix. Buy Chalmers' new book Reality+! Justin's review of The Matrix Resurrections Emily VanDerWerff on The Matrix Resurrections and trauma
We don't have a new New Year's episode for you, but we do have a classic episode of us battling to the death over whether Forrest Gump is a good movie. We hope you enjoy this discussion and may you celebrate the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 more joyously than Lieutenant Dan does in this movie. We'll be back with The Matrix Resurrections next week!
It’s the coldest time of the year, which means we need community more than ever to help us stay warm and remind us of the ongoing project of humanity and our part in it. So consider us the luckiest Peanuts on block, since we get to welcome back Emily VanDerWerff (Vox & Arden Podcast)! We talk about endings, opportunities for renewal, and the melancholy that comes with our experiences of the holidays. We also delve into our personal religious beliefs (or lack thereof) and how they interact with our feelings about Christmas and choosing our communities. And, of course, no conversation about Charlie Brown would be complete without a discussion about Charles Schulz and his complex feelings about Christmas and droopy trees. So, don't be blockhead -- hitch a ride on our sleigh and recite the annunciation to the shepherds with us! Read Emily on the modern family! Follow Emily on Twitter!
It's the holiday season, and what better way to start than with a veritable Christmas classic, Stanley Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut! We sit down with Carly Severn (KQED San Francisco) to discuss noble lies in relationships and society, Tom and Nicole's challenging (and, ultimately destructive) performances, and the interrelations between power, anonymity, powerlessness, and nakedness. Along the way, we explore how social structures prop up divisions and reinforce fantasies that may be either ruinous or essential to the well-functioning of our social lives. So, bring your mask and cloak, don't forget the password (Fidelio), and join us at the Somerton Estate for a Christmas celebration like none other!   
This week we are joined by Barry Lam (Professor of Philosophy at Vassar College and host of HiPhi Nation) to discuss Terry Gilliam's manic time travel science fiction masterpiece, 12 Monkeys! We explore how the film manifests the philosopher David Lewis's theory of time travel, while also depicting the madness of foreknowledge and the futility of attempting to change what's already happened. We discuss the possibility of closed causal loops, the challenges of political activism, pandemic tie-ins, and how the film uses Brad Pitt as a spokesperson for Gen-X dissatisfaction (something he would more famously go on to embody in Fight Club a few years later). So climb aboard this nightmare train to madness and keep an eye out for hamsters! This episode is sponsored by Paramount Pictures' THE DEEP HOUSE, now available On Digital and On Demand! When a young couple sets out to explore a house at the bottom of a lake, they discover a sinister presence. Can they escape the underwater house of horrors before it's too late? Buy or Rent THE DEEP HOUSE today to find out! Unrated.
Join us on an interstellar journey with friend Vishal Dave as we attempt to reignite the dying sun -- it's Danny Boyle's unfairly overlooked 2007 sci-fi masterpiece, Sunshine! We discuss the ethics of self-sacrifice and the nature of embarking on a journey of no return. We ponder the enormity of the universe and what it might do to someone to confront that head on -- how might facing the limits of human knowledge and exploration affect the individual? Religious readings and humanity's need for spirituality are also discussed in the context of our increasingly secularized society. Don't miss this epic adventure!
49. Dune (w/ John DeVore)

49. Dune (w/ John DeVore)


We sit down with fellow Dune-head John DeVore to discuss two DUNE movies -- David Lynch's 1984 troubled masterpiece, and Denis Villeneuve's 2021 re-imagining of Arrakis. Can Villeneuve's film live up to the inevitable hype? How do the two films capture the mystical weirdness of the book? What is that weird spider-person in the Harkonnen's palace? Join us as we drink the juice of Sapho and ride a spice maggot into the folds of space and beyond! Follow @JohnDeVore on Twitter! Read John on Dune here: 
Join us on the harmonium as we revisit Paul Thomas Anderson's (not-)musical tragicomedy Punch Drunk Love with Sean Burke (Founding Partner, Whistler Partners). We discuss how Adam Sandler embodies the awkwardness and anxiety of male adolescence, and how Anderson mixes color and sound to create an overwhelming kaleidoscope of social panic, rage and repression, and fear of public humiliation. Yet, underneath it all, we find a simple and pure love story -- perhaps one of the most hopeful in recent memory -- yet one that also depicts love in all its complexity and difficulty. Where does this gem rank in your list of Paul Thomas Anderson films??
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