The Terminator is one of my favorite movies. When my Windy City pals Adam Kempenarr and Josh Larsen announced the other week that they would make writer-director James Cameron’s low-budget, high-concept sci-fi classic the subject of one of their “Sacred Cow” reviews, I knew that the likelihood that Josh—a critic who generally seems to dislike action films, with the bizarre exception of the Fast & the Furious franchise, which to me represents the genre at its most derivative and least inspired—would rain on it. He hates Predator, people! Predator! A film I saw last year at the Library of Congress!
So I took action. To paraphrase Al Capone, you can get farther with a kind word and a quote from The Terminator than you can with a kind word alone. And the threatening voice mail I left for Josh opened last week’s episode.
It was a true pleasure to be on Filmspotting again, this time in a World’s Finest-style team-up with my Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon. Glen is “unauthor” (his joke, people) of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography and author the just-published, even-better The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture. Host Adam Kempenaar invited the two of us to join him for this episode’s Top Five segment, Superman/Batman Movie Moments. Adam and Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips reviewed Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in the show’s first segment. They didn’t like it any more than I did.
There’s always at least one thing in my notes that I forget to say when I’m on a podcast/radio show, and this time it was a big one: In my No. 1 Superman/Batman scene, the Lois Lane/Superman patio interview from Superman ’78, the big guy actually volunteers to the Daily Planet reporter that he can’t see through lead. Hey world! I know I seem invulnerable, but I do have a few exploitable weaknesses which I shall now reveal!
It’s been a few years since I sat in on an episode of Filmspotting, the great Chicago-based radio show and podcast devoted to dissection of movies new and old, famous and obscure, foreign and domestic. But now I can reveal that earlier this week, founding host Adam Kempenaar sent me a highly classified diplomatic cable inviting me to join him an regular co-host Josh Larsen for the Top Five segment of this week’s SPECTRE-themed show, devoted to Favorite Bond Things. I regret only that I did not refer to Diana Rigg’s character from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by her full name, Contessa Teresa Di Vincenzo.
Brady Corbet & Mati Diop
My review of Simon Killer, writer/director Antonio Campos’s second feature film, is in the Village Voice today. Total Recall joke deleted, but the Blow-Up and Taxi Driver and Rushmore allusions (and the Rush Hour 3 joke!) remain. Film critics are terrible people. Read it here. Continue reading
Bruce Springsteen announced U.S. tour dates this morning. He’ll be here in DC on April Fool’s Day. So I’ll just get this over with: Bruuuuuuuce!
Thank you. And now, let us proceed.
When The Boss announced the title and release date of his forthcoming album Wrecking Ball last week, I just couldn’t see past its abysmal cover, an area in which he has been a career offender. I noted that Wrecking Ball is also the title of a very fine Emmylou Harris album from 1995. Dana Stevens, Slate’s superb film critic, noticed that too.
(When I was on the Filmspotting podcast the week after Stevens, I tried to say how much I admire her writing and how honored I was to follow her on the show, but it came out wrong. I apologize for that, Ma’am.)
Anyway, we exchanged a few Tweets about that title. “Title re-use doesn’t infringe copyright, but it’s crass,” Stevens wrote. I pointed out that Emmylou got the title from Neil Young, whose song “Wrecking Ball” (from his 1989 album Freedom) Emmylou covered on her album Wrecking Ball. Got all that?
“If Bruce covers the Neil Young song on this record, then the nab is vindicated,” Stevens concluded. Continue reading
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! The new episode of Filmspotting, wherein Adam Kempenaar let me sit in to talk about Alexander Payne‘s The Descendants with him and then revisit the very first Top Five topic ever discussed on the the show — Movies About Movies — is available for your listening pleasure. Don’t go trampling any Wal-Mart greeters to death tomorrow morning in your pursuit of holiday bargains, now.
I’ve written at least 150 concert reviews like this one for the Washington Post in the last five years. The format is very short: 250 to 300 words is your usual allotment; sometimes more, but usually not. I’m not crazy about the level of compression that requires, but it does keep you in the happy position of having more opinions than space.
I was thinking about this for the last couple of weeks as I prepared for one of the most exciting jobs that’s ever come my way: the chance to guest-cohost my favorite podcast, Filmspotting, which I’ve praised here before. (You can listen to the episode here or get it from iTunes here. The co-hosts of the episodes immediately prior to mine were two of the sharpest film critics in the game, my friend Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune and Dana Stevens from Slate, whose writing I’ve long admired. So, you know, no pressure!) I don’t have much on-air experience yet, so I haven’t developed an awareness of how many seconds I need to express an idea verbally. But I do know broad/podcast media is very unforgiving of contemplative pauses and of digression, both of which are characteristic of the way I talk in real life. Continue reading
"I hear you guys are having a little debt ceiling problem. Don't MAKE me hurl this shield. It's vibranium. Harder than unobtanium."
Well now! This doesn’t happen to me every week.
Filmspotting is a weekly podcast offering substantive, informed discussion of current and vintage cinema, produced out of Chicago — specifically, out of the WBEZ studios on Navy Pier where This American Life, one of my other must-listen podcasts, used to operate before they packed off to New York City. Of the four podcasts I consider to be appointment listening each week (the appointment is usually with my running shoes), it’s probably my favorite.
So naturally I was over the moon when Adam Kempenaar, the show’s sleep-abjuring founding co-host, invited me to call in to discuss CAPTAIN AMERICA. I expect he only did this to placate me for not winning the Wrath of Kahn edition of Massacre Theatre a couple of weeks ago. Which was wise of him, because as David O. Selznick once observed, revenge is a dish best served cold. And it is very cold in Chicago. Except for the last couple of months. Continue reading