DiscoverCows in the field
Cows in the field

Cows in the field

Author: Justin

Subscribed: 5Played: 88
Share

Description

A movie podcast inspired by a Werner Herzog quote, “We have to articulate ourselves, otherwise we would be cows in the field.” Hosted by Justin Khoo (professor of philosophy at MIT) and Laura Khoo (art historian turned fundraiser).
36 Episodes
Reverse
The cows are joined by friend Adam Kane to talk about Tom Cruise's first outing as Ethan Hunt. We discuss what makes spy movies so appealing and fun, and situate the movie in the broader cultural context of the post-Cold War nineties. We explore the weird and wonderful career of Tom Cruise and how he managed to harness Brian DePalma's stylistic flourishes to create one of the tightest, most stressful, spy/heist movies ever. 
Emily VanDerWerff (Vox) joins us to discuss Ari Aster's folk horror masterpiece, Midsommar. We discuss how the film subverts folk horror genre tropes to craft a compelling story about the loss of a relationship, self-discovery, and adoption into a new family. Emily articulates a trans reading of the film, and we discuss how it grapples with the challenge of accommodating our desires for individual autonomy alongside our impulse to find acceptance within a community. Bear suits and Taylor Swift also come up.   Read Emily on Midsommar: https://www.vox.com/culture/21307689/midsommar-trans-review-ending-spoilers Follow Emily on Twitter: https://twitter.com/emilyvdw
True Lies (w/ Van Lathan)

True Lies (w/ Van Lathan)

2021-04-1601:53:34

The cows revisit True Lies with Van Lathan (The Ringer), discussing how James Cameron inverts the hero’s journey to tell a story about a spy struggling to connect emotionally with his wife and kids while saving the day and causing a lot of mayhem and destruction in the process. Is it the best action comedy of all time? Is it Arnold’s best performance? How does its portrayal of terrorism and American militaristic impunity play today? Tune in to find out! Follow Van on social media: @VanLathan Send us a voice message! 
We crack open a few cold ones (figuratively) with Paul Keelan (Cinematic Underdogs) to unpack and disagree about the Oscar-nominated Another Round. How does the film experiment with existentialism, and how does it explore our complicated relationship with alcohol? Is it worthy of being recognized as among the best films of the year, or is it just Old School dressed up with Kierkegaard quotes? We also react to its portrayal of gendered divisions of labor and explore the film's attitude towards its characters. We hope you enjoy this unusually critical episode. Let us know what you think about the film!
We head down to the Big Easy with Nicolas Cage scholar Keith Phipps (author of The Age of Cage: Four Decades of Hollywood Through One Singular Career) to discuss Werner Herzog's hallucinatory tale of a bad cop trying to do the right thing, of addiction in the swamp, of nature's ever-encroaching wildness into our staid lives. We dive deep into Cage and Herzog both, exploring why they make a perfect pair and how their take on Bad Lieutenant differs so radically from Abel Ferrara's original. We consider the possibility of absolution in a godless world and whether we can ever really escape our animalistic impulses -- two themes that seem to perfectly encapsulate the careers of Cage and Herzog. Listen to the end for a breakdown of various scenes and some recommendations of Cage movies to check out next!
The Brood (w/ Jed Shepherd)

The Brood (w/ Jed Shepherd)

2021-03-1201:36:02

Do you suffer from intergenerational trauma that is manifesting itself in physical malformations on your body and raising red flags for your significant others? Then join us and Jed Shepherd (writer/executive producer of Host) to discuss David Cronenberg's self-described "more realistic Kramer vs. Kramer," a film about a couple working through some issues while plagued by demonic children in matching snowsuits. If you haven't seen the movie, listen to the first 13 minutes for our spoiler free pitch for the movie, and then after you've seen it, dive in to talk with us about the nature of body horror and physical media, the terrors of parenthood and why no one in a horror film acts the way you want them to. Along the way, Jed shares his vast knowledge of horror films, and offers up more than a few horrifying recommendations for the unafraid.  
Clueless (w/ Andrea Rosen)

Clueless (w/ Andrea Rosen)

2021-02-2601:34:24

The cows take the 405 to Sherman Oaks with friend Andrea Rosen (Fleming Museum of Art) in this revisit of Amy Heckerling's totally wicked rom-com about modern girl friendships. We discuss the nature of Chers and Karens, how power relations structure what counts as knowledge, and who does and does not count as "clueless." We revisit our past selves in high school, reflect on the linguistics of Valley Girl speak, and laugh about which characters we were and who of them is most smooch-able. Dance along to No Doubt and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, but keep an ear out for some surprise appearances by the Insane Clown Posse and Cannibal Corpse!
The Master (w/ Dan Harris)

The Master (w/ Dan Harris)

2021-02-1201:43:49

The cows are joined this week by Dan Harris (Philosophy, Hunter College) on their journey through past lives to uncover and exorcise a few trillion-year-old traumas. We consider how Paul Thomas Anderson depicts a divided soul across three individuals struggling to find order and humanity in a chaotic, animalistic, world, and explore how trauma and masculinity intertwine to forge vulnerabilities, and even love, between two men whose life trajectories seem pointed in opposite directions. We can't pick just one favorite line, but we do note an homage to Nacho Libre and Anderson's debts to Kubrick and Huston.  [02:55] Dan's Introduction to the Master [09:59] Trauma and war [22:39] Freddie, Lancaster, and masculinity [33:26] Divided souls in Freud and Plato [1:02:32] Cults and demagogues [1:14:34] The significance of the ending [1:28:24] Favorite lines [1:41:08] Outro [1:43:25] Bass traps are not garbage!
We are joined by Kieran Setiya (Philosophy, MIT) to discuss what makes life worth living, what's lost in an infinite time loop, and to what extent flourishing within such a loop is possible. Along the way, we explore grief, the midlife crisis, atelic actions, the Buddhist concept of Saṃsāra, Kierkegaard, female agency in a world dominated by the male perspective, and the metaphysics of time loops and time travel. Supervenience violations and imaginative resistance are considered, as is Bill Murray's career arc and also lessons for our current situation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow Kieran on Twitter: @KieranSetiya Read Kieran on the midlife crisis Listen to Five Questions How many days did Phil relive in the time loop?
Tenet

Tenet

2021-01-2201:20:17

The cows reverse entropy to discuss Christopher Nolan's bewilderingly dense sci-fi masterpiece in this surprise bonus episode. Part one is a spoiler-free pitch for the movie, while part two explores themes and philosophical issues. Justin argues that the movie is a thematic trilogy with Inception and Interstellar about the evolving nature of parenthood, while Laura makes the case that Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) is the emotional core of the movie. Also covered are: what it is like to interact with time-inverted objects/people, the metaphysics of time and free will, and which confidently delivered obscure line is best. Listen to the end for a recreation of a pivotal scene! Justin's diagrams: 1, 2, 3.  Inspirational quote from Ives: "Don't get on the chopper if you can't stop thinking in linear terms."
The cows are visited by longtime San Francisco resident and old friend Robert Pierce to discuss Francis Ford Coppola's 70s paranoia thriller. Situated in the tumultuous transition period of the mid-1970s, the movie captures the cynicism of a generation slowly being engulfed by the temptations of urban renewal and fears of privacy violations. We consider how Coppola and Hackman craft a compelling character study out of a protagonist riddled with contradictions by injecting elements of their own life into the story. We also explore the pragmatics of focal stress and marvel at humans' ability to understand complex nuances of language and film conventions without conscious thought. Episode webpage, including Robert's photos of San Francisco: https://cowspod.wordpress.com/2021/01/15/the-conversation-1974/
Excalibur (w/ Bilge Ebiri)

Excalibur (w/ Bilge Ebiri)

2021-01-0101:20:05

The cows revisit the Arthurian legend with Bilge Ebiri (New York Magazine and Vulture). We discuss how the film weaves together opera and Jungian  archetypes while exploring humanity's complex and often violent relationship with nature, the challenges of self-governance, the allure of a benevolent dictator, and the tragedy befalling the virtuous leader who desires not to lead. Thematic links to the rest of Boorman's filmography are considered, as well as how Excalibur compares with other portrayals of the quest for the Holy Grail. Follow Bilge on Twitter; read Bilge at Vulture!
The cows hit the links with Tim Gilman (WMBR 88.1 FM Boston) to finish off 1996 with a comedy that just might be a bit deeper than it lets on. Why is Happy so angry? Could it be in reaction to the contempt shown by the moneyed elite to the working class, a response that reflects the current rise in popularity of populist demagogues across the world? Or might it be a reflection of his inner turmoil at being terrible at what he loves most? Along the way, we discuss our obligations to care for our elders, property tax rates in Connecticut, the joys of Christopher McDonald as Shooter McGavin, and the worst athlete commercials of all time. 
The cows watched Sofia Coppola's latest and came to very different conclusions, which necessitated an emergency episode to sort it all out. Join us for a maybe autobiographical discussion of the complexities of modern parenting, gendered divisions of cognitive labor, and not losing yourself when asked to shoulder the emotional labor of your friends and family. 
Fargo (w/ Molly Perkins)

Fargo (w/ Molly Perkins)

2020-12-0401:22:30

The cows freeze in Minnesota with friend Molly Perkins in this revisit to the Coen Brothers' 1996 folktale noir. Themes of faith, deception, encountering the inexplicable, Scandinavian roots, and ecstatic truth are all discussed, along with highlights of favorite supporting cast members and a head-to-head comparison of psycho killers Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) and Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem).
Join the two cows on their journey into the world of fantasy basketball-star-crossover vehicles, featuring guest Vishal Dave! It's 1996 and Michael Jordan is fresh back from retirement, ready to take on the Monstars and save the NBA from a bunch of talentless hacks. Is there a tragic emptiness at the core of Space Jam, marked by Jordan's self-destructive quest for dominance? And how does it compare to what might be its polar opposite -- Kazaam, a rapping genie movie about a child who comes to accept the imperfections of his parents, starring the ebullient Shaquille O'Neal? Tune in to find out and dig in to some mid-nineties pop classics! 
The cows are joined by Mattia Acetoso (Italian Literature, Boston College) to discuss the feature debuts of Wes and Paul Thomas Anderson. What might we learn about these original and influential directors' first films? Both movies center around misfits who retreat from a random and often harsh reality to form their own surrogate families and find new ways of living. Along the way, genres are subverted, narratives obfuscated, and souls redeemed.
Scream / The Craft

Scream / The Craft

2020-10-2358:24

The two cows discuss the social complexity of female high school friendships and the sexual politics of teen horror in their reappraisal of these two '96 classics. They explore how cliques can provide social insulation as well as opportunities for emotional manipulation, and consider how the "horror movie rules" encode a Puritanical ethics towards sex and drugs while also aiming to satisfy the male gaze by providing copious instances of such behavior.
Independence Day

Independence Day

2020-10-0901:07:39

The two cows start their journey through 1996 at its blockbuster peak, revisiting Roland Emmerich's game-changing blow everything up alien disaster extravaganza, Independence Day. What made the 1990s such a fertile time for disaster flicks, and what makes ID4 one of the best movie star vehicles ever? The cows also explore neoconservative themes of US military dominance on the world stage, and discuss the case for Randy Quaid being the emotional center of the film. 
The cows take a drive with Abe and Agnes Callard (Philosophy, U. Of Chicago) and Ryan Clark into David Lynch's fantastical and depraved version of Los Angeles. What mysteries will they find in Club Silencio, or on the set of the Sylvia North Story? What explains the continued appeal of Lynch's absurdist masterpiece? How does he deploy narrative and filmic tropes to subvert his audience's expectations and what are we to make of the often frustrating and contradictory results? Follow Agnes on Twitter and read her academic writing here; follow Abe on Twitter and Letterboxd.
loading
Comments 
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store