Tag Archives: podcasts

On The FringeCasting Couch with Twanna A. Hines

For the fifth consecutive year, I’m running the Washington City Paper’s coverage of the Capital Fringe Festival here in DC, manifest mainly through a blog previously known as Fringe & Purge that we decided this year to rename Fringeworthy. In 2012, I started The Fringe & PurgeCast to accompany that blog; its rebranding this summer forced me to rethink the podcast’s name, too. The Fringe & PurgeCast is dead; long live The FringeCasiting Couch.

I’m not cross-posting most of the stuff I’m doing for Fringeworthy, but I’m going to put up a couple of recent episodes of the podcast that I thought were particularly fun. This one, which I recorded last night with Twanna A. Hines, whose show is called I Füçkèð Your Country, is one of those. The original post is here.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Edge of Tomorrow and Noble Failures

It’s always a thrill to be invited back on Pop Culture Happy Hour. I joined Linda, Stephen, and Glen to talk about Edge of Tomorrow — the best would-be summer blockbuster yet in a year that’s already seen several strong ones — plus noble failures. We agreed on the B topic before Edge of Tomorrow opened to less-than-stellar business, despite near-universal acclaim from critics. I hope we didn’t jinx it, because this is exactly the kind of shrewd, fresh, self-aware big movie that seems to be perennially in danger of extinction.

I’d been summoned to PCHH this time at least in part because of my enduring affection for the 1991 caper comedy/Bruce Willis vanity project Hudson Hawk. This is, to my mind, a creatively successful film that also just happened to lose something north of $50 million in 1991 dollars.

I always over-prepare when I’m invited on a podcast. I came in ready to talk about a few other movies big genre films whose reach exceeded their grasp: Kathryn Bigelow’s ambitious social sci-fi Strange Days, Bryan Singer’s way-emo Superman Returns (to which Man of Steel‘s shrugging, genocidal violence was, I’m convinced, a direct, and stupid, reaction), and Alien 3, the fascinating, troubled sequel that marked David Fincher’s feature debut and that he refuses to talk about to this day. Of those three, only Strange Days was a big money-loser like Hudson Hawk was; the other two did okay but fell short of their aesthetic objectives. Notes on "Strange Days" for Pop Culture Happy Hour.

I’d even jotted down a quote from Roger Ebert’s four-star review of Strange Days to read on the air. Having come from a screening of Steve James’ wonderful documentary Life Itself — about Ebert’s life, career, illness, and death — just hours ago as I’m typing this, I’m doubly sorry I didn’t get to. We didn’t even get to everything I meant to say about Hudson Hawk. Hey, it’s a discussion, not a lecture.

I’ll correct one of those omissions right here: One of Hudson Hawk’s villains, Caesar Mario, is a guy who had a chip on his shoulder because he’s the lesser-known brother of a more famous gangster. This character is played by Frank Stallone. That’s a good casting joke, there.

Recorded but cut for time was an acknowledgment — initiated, would you believe, not by me but by my Pal-for-Life Glen — about Edge of Tomorrow‘s homages to ALIENS both large and small, from the armored power suits to the gender-neutral division of action-hero labors between stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, to the presence of Bill Paxton, doing a hilarious 180-degree inversion of Private Hudson, his panicked, “Game over, Man!” Marine from ALIENS.

Anyway, listen here or find the podcast on iTunes.

FURTHER READING: I wrote about Edge of Tomorrow and blockbuster fatigue, and about PG-13 vs. R-rated cine-violence and about how seeing ALIENS on VHS 400 times as a kid set up expectations that the 2012 ALIEN prequel Prometheus could not possibly satisfy.

Click on any photo to see a beautiful, high-res version.

The Career of Tom Cruise, X-Men, Han Solo, and the Wrath of Cannes. I’m on the Voice Film Club podcast this week.

I had a great time sitting in on this week’s Voice Film Club podcast with my Village Voice editor Alan Scherstuhl and L.A. Weekly film critic Amy Nicholson. Alan invited me on to talk about my essay demanding the death of Han Solo, but before we get to that we have a long chat about the perplexing career of Tom Cruise (working off of Amy’s marvelous cover story about him) and Amy’s review of X-Men: Days of Future Past, which I won’t get to see until tonight. You can hear the podcast below or here.

Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour: More Hobbits and Christmas Music

In "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," Sarah Connor gets militarized.

In “Terminator 2,” onetime victim Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) gets militarized.

Thanks to Pop Culture Happy Hour full-timers Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon, and host Linda Holmes for inviting me back on the podcast this week to talk about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and a subject closer to my heart than that one, Christmas music. Have I mentioned that I’m very interested in Christmas music?

Our dissection of that enervating Hobbit movie feeds into a discussion of second installments, and some of the ones that really work. If you haven’t seen Terminator 2: Judgment Day in a while, there’s no time like the present, Christmas T-minus five. Continue reading

Rosebud the Sled: Spoilers, Considered

1968: Humanity learns the location of the "Planet of the Apes."

1968: Humanity learns the location of the “Planet of the Apes.”

Last year, a brilliant new play premiered at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company called Mr. Burns, a Post-Apocalyptic Play. Everyone who reviewed it told their readers far too much about it. Everyone but me… he said modestly.

The cycle repeated itself when Mr. Burns opened last month at Playwrights Horizons in New York City. So I wrote this for the Village Voice.

The Cavil Over Henry Cavill, and other thoughts on Man of Steel

Wayne Boring Superman

1. Happy to Be Here

I was delighted to sit in on this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, a Very Special Episode we — okay, I — have decided to call “The Cavil Over Henry Cavill.” The A-topic this week was the arrival of Man of Steel, the muscled-up, darkened-down reboot of Superman film franchise that is, we all agree, short on humor. Also short on height. Zing!

Any regular listener to the show will know that Glen Weldon, my pal-for-life and 25 percent of the show’s regular lineup (along with host Linda Holmes and Stephen Thompson and Trey Graham), just spent the better part of two years researching and writing the marvelous Superman: The Unauthorized Biography. I recently ran a freezing cold 12-mile death race wearing a Superman T-shirt, so our credentials are roughly equivalent.

But they didn’t exactly need a second longtime Supes fan. I snuck in by making fun of Henry Cavill’s average-ish height. He is, for the record, exactly as tall as I am if you believe IMDB, an authority on which actor heights seem to be self-reported.

“I think he makes you feel short,” Linda tells me during the show. Continue reading

Wherein I return to Pop Culture Happy Hour, and everyone attempts a Schwarzenegger impression except me.

James Bond, in DR. NO (1962) and SKYFALL (2012).

I was delighted to appear on Pop Culture Happy Hour again last week. (Listen here, you.) The show’s A-topic was movie action heroes, inspired by the publication of Arnold Schwarzengger‘s memoir Total Recall (which I’d only half-read prior to taping, on account of its 624-page girth and the fact I’m reading it in tandem with Salman Rushdie‘s equally substantial memoir Joseph Anton) and, I thought, Taken 2 (which I haven’t seen, and won’t, unless it turns up on Encore Action at 11:30 p.m. on a Tuesday eight months from now).

If they’d asked anyone but me to come discuss this topic, I’d have been crushed like Sarah Connor crushed the T-800’s microprocessor-controlled hyperalloy endoskeleton in a hydraulic press.

It turns out that the first half of Arnold’s book is a lot less annoying than the second half.

Happily, Taken 2 did not come up at all.

624 pages!

I’d come prepared to talk about the evolution of the cinema action hero: How the men (usually) of violence, reluctant or not, whose adventures fill seats around the world grew out of a conflation of the gangster pictures that dominated the 1930s and the westerns of the 40s and 50s. In 1962, James Bond arrives onscreen; by 1969, Bond one-timer George Lazenby is watching Telly Savalas (in his sole appearance as one of the series’ recurring characters, cat-loving Bond nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld) break his neck on a low tree limb during the film’s climactic fight atop a bobbing bobsled (!) and observing, “He’s branched off!” Continue reading