The Irreverent Cineastes Podcast

Two sarcastic and mildly embittered film scholars analyze, appreciate, and excoriate important works of pop culture.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) - The Irreverent Cineastes Podcast Year Four

April 25th, 2019

Jon and Andrew survived the culling of Thanos to return for Year 4 of this, the world’s greatest irreverently cinematic podcast, the Irreverent Cineastes Podcast!  Obviously, we didn’t start small, but with a movie that’s been 10 years in the making – Avengers: Infinity Gauntlet War Part One!  How was it? Does it live up (or down) to its hype?  What worked and what didn’t? And definitely, there were some things that didn’t: where are the Asgardians exactly?  Are the Wakandans the new Gungans? How seriously uncool would that be?  Can we get some consistency on whether Bruce Banner can remember being the Hulk or not? How freaking great was Thanos? Besides discussing these pros and cons, we also chart what got us to this moment both cinematically and culturally, and the unique set of circumstances that could have allowed something as seismic and significant as the Marvel Cinematic Universe to take root (and much of it has to do with the Internet, for better AND worse).  We again discuss the nonsensical tribalism between DC and Marvel fans, while also pointing out what makes this film so empirically superior to something like Justice League, which tried to tell a similar story and failed miserably (and how acknowledging that isn’t the same as rooting for it).  This episode is, of course, dedicated to the half of our audience lost to Thanos’s application of Malthusian economic theory.  We’ll miss the three of you!  Also, spoilers. Hmmm…should have mentioned that sooner, I bet. Explicit language.

Content Advisory: THANOS!  Lots of Thanos!  Marvel vs. DC, the evils of the Internet, the entitlement of fandom, Steppenwolf is still a shaved chipmunk, Captain Marvel, Thomas Malthus, The Red Skull (and why Andrew geeked our for that despite not being a Hydra-sympathizer), Infinity Stones, Gamora, What is and isn’t fridging, Asgardians, the opening scene, the Black Order, superhero fatigue, Loki, the discipline of Marvel and hey, maybe we can have a break when this is all over?  Some of us like to read, you know?

Black Panther (2018) - The Irreverent Cineastes Podcast Year Four

April 25th, 2019

Aw yeah.  So, if there was ever a podcast that justified being longer than the movie itself, it’s this one. Because we wanted all hands on deck, Brooke Edge, Ph.D. rejoins us to offer her scholarly insight to this film.  And frankly, we killed this, analyzing and assessing the film for what it is: not only an absolutely great superhero movie, but also a major step forward in representation and diversity in high-end, blockbuster film.  Andrew particularly shares some fascinating details about his background and how films like this can be contextualized by those who don’t think of themselves as Americans first.  We dig deep into why this worked so well and how it incorporated many different influences, such as hip-hop, post-colonialism, and Shakespeare.  We especially discuss how important a concept like Wakanda can be despite being a fictional and even fantastical space, and naturally go very in depth to the resonance and effectiveness of Killmonger – how he subverts narrative expectation, how his worldview shapes the hero’s, and what good and bad can be learned from the perspective he brings and where it originated from (and how #NakiaWasRight).  Building on that, we also get into how this film positively engaged gender relationships and representation, and how it can serve as a template for employing female characters into male-led blockbuster films.  And not to be outdone, we also criticize some of the conservative backlash the film faced, especially from right-wingers like Ben Shapiro, whose disparaging of the film’s “identity politics” undermines why things can and should be significant and how they can add to a culture and a conversation.  This may have been our best episode ever, so if you’re interested in an in-depth discussion of an important film, check it out! Explicit language.

Content Advisory:  T’Challa, Killmonger, “Eric” Killmonger, really just lots of Killmonger, the Carters, Apeshit, museums, colonialism, T’Chaka’s lazy eye (don’t pretend you didn’t notice it – everyone but Brooke noticed it! WE’RE NOT BAD PEOPLE!), Nakia, Klaue, the Dora Milaje, husbands kneeling before their wives, token beautiful people, Ben Shapiro, the genuine insight of Ben Shapiro’s four-year-old daughter, the writings of Franz Fanon, Afro-futurism, Shakespeare, theater-in-the-round, the CIA,  the City on the Hill, no mentions whatsoever of Octavia E. Butler (that might be our only major oversight, though), and, of course, Wakanda Forever.

King Kong (2005) - The Irreverent Cineastes Year Four

April 25th, 2019

In this episode, Jon and Andrew go toe to toe with Peter Jackson’s version of the Eighth Wonder of the World himself – King Kong! To be honest, it’s not the height that bothered us, but the length.  Of his movie, that is.  (Head out of the gutter, people.)  This was the first episode of our “Ax-To-Grind” series, where we take aim at particular movies from the past that we have some pointed things to say about – those things can be good and bad, and we definitely have more than enough of both with this.  We also contextualize this in terms of how our perceptions of movies like this have changed, in that we used to root for movies like this – that try to make middlebrow popular culture into high art – but nowadays see how that trend may have done more harm than good. Andrew also talks about how he made his own edit of the movie and about what he cut out from it, and Jon throws in some script level revisions he feels would have made the film better. This may have been our funniest episode to date, too, but it’s still packed with our trademark insight – both personal and intellectual.  Just don’t say the word “slobberknocker” around Andrew.  It’s kind of his “Martha” now. Explicit language.

Content Advisory: SLOBBERKNOCKER~! (and how it’s not what Andrew thought it was, speaking of heads-in-gutters), editing Peter Jackson (who couldn’t edit himself if God or Christopher Hitchens came down), the awesomeness of Kong (and Andy Serkis), how not to reference Orson Welles, good ideas on paper, bad ideas in practice, the ethics of portraying Skull Island’s natives, characters reading the screenplay to other characters and making us watch, learning to trust moments, the Erotic Adventures of Jimmy and the First Mate, losing a pet, revisiting The Hobbit, and THERE ARE THREE T-REXES!!!

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017) - The Irreverent Cineastes Year Four

April 25th, 2019

This was the first of our special two-part “Movie Masculinity” episode, where Andrew and Jon each assigned each other a movie that we felt were instructive and distinctive for how the films portrayed masculinity.  Andrew’s choice was Assault on Prison…no, wait…Attack in Penitentiary…that’s not it…what was it again?  Oh right, Brawl in Cell Block 69, I mean 99.  I meant 99!  A prison grindhouse film about a drug mule having to fight his way through multiple prisons to save his family – and one of 2017s overlooked gems - it gave Jon and Andrew ample ammunition to discuss John Carpenter, whose work was an undeniable influence on this, story construction, conflict escalation, narrative detail, fight scenes, and sound effects. We go a little further though, and discuss what can and can’t be learned from its main character’s story, especially how to act when in certain situations and how to make better life decisions for yourself. Also, we get in our seasonal quota of praise for John Wick, because it deserves it. Explicit language. We also discuss, but not endorse, some of the racist terminologies in the film.

Content Advisory: What a face scraped against concrete sounds like, how to channel your anger at your car, naked women in their 40s, the subtlety of a crucifix tattoo on your skull, boxing and the art of taking a punch, balancing racial representation in a film about white people, how easy it is to forget that Vince Vaughn can act, John Carpenter, Smithifying revisited, messing up the movie’s name, and Udo Kier as The Token White Guy.

Laura (1944) - The Irreverent Cineastes Podcast Year Four

April 25th, 2019

This was part two of our “Movie Masculinity” episode, wherein we discuss the film Jon picked, the 1944 film noir classic Laura – famous for its amazing performances, excellent dialogue, and a plot twist that will still blow your mind 75 years later. In addition to emphasizing and analyzing all of those things, however, we also discuss how the character of Waldo Lydecker (played by the unforgettable Clifton Webb) has been a totemic figure for Jon throughout his life as a cautionary example of how NOT to treat people in general and women specifically. Particularly interesting for the present day is how reflective the film is of modern Incel culture, male fragility, patriarchal entitlement, and the awfulness of all three, thus showing these things were issues far before Twitter and Reddit came around. A great and personal discussion of an absolute masterpiece, and we hope you check it out! Explicit language (and horrendous singing).

Content Advisory: Film noir aesthetics, Jon singing Johnny Mercer (which may qualify as a hate crime in certain jurisdictions), Incels and their stupid terminology (“Chad?” Really?), Catastrophizing, knowing you’re in the friendship zone, toxic relationship dynamics, the failed crooning career of Vincent Price, assuming Vincent Price is your murderer, taking a punch like a punk, Hard McHardslab, “Hello Milady,” great policework, being the “Nice Guy,” and Breaking the Cycle.

Movie Masculinity and Toxic Masculinity - Full Episode (Brawl in Cell Block 99/Laura) - The Irreverent Cineastes Podcast Year Four

April 25th, 2019

See the descriptions for the individual entries.  Explicit language. 

Highlander (1986) - The Irreverent Cineastes Podcast Year Four

April 25th, 2019

Jon and Andrew continue their “Axes-to-Grind” series with some films involving swordplay, starting with the (in)famous 80s anti-classic, Highlander. Never has so great an idea produced so terrible a movie…and THEY ONLY GOT WORSE. Much, much worse. Sooooo much worse.  While we do find some bright spots here – Scotland is bonny, Queen is magic, Bob Anderson was a genius, and Clancy Brown will never fade away – we also point out how this movie made almost every bad decision possible and then somehow found new ways to screw up.  For starters, despite being partially set in Scotland, it cast the best-known Scottish actor in history as an Egyptian named “Ramirez.”  All, of course, while casting a nearly blind Frenchman who could barely speak English as its eponymous Scotsman.  Truly, the Burr never had it so bad.  We had a lot of fun roasting this one but also getting into the generational differences that make it a unique artifact of its time and an object lesson for all time.  It really is a great idea, and here’s hoping Chad Stahelski can do it better justice on the next go around. Explicit language.

Content Advisory: Andrew’s Connery impressions (“I’M EGYPTIAN!”), our mutual Christopher Lambert impressions, Christopher Lambert’s “acting,” Christopher Lambert’s “laugh,” Christopher Lambert’s “ability to deliver one-liners,” Christopher Lambert’s “ability to see,”  Christopher Lambert’s career (didn’t forget the quotes there, he’s actually had a career AND was married to Diane Lane), doing backflips while in a sword fight for your life, using rape as a narrative complication (and why that should be avoided), the perils of overdirecting, the “legacy” of Russell Mulcahy, how not to wardrobe your leading man,  bad body-doubling, Jon confusing Frank Frazzetta with the guy who used to own UFC (yes, again), THAT’s the Prize?, consulting the Maltin guide, the narrative potential of good swordplay, google Bob Anderson if you’ve made it this far, and Queen.  

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) - The Irreverent Cineastes Podcast Year Four

April 25th, 2019

Our next sword and sorcery-themed “Ax-to-Grind” was this shocking box-office success of the early 90s, which retold the story of Robin Hood for an audience raised on Tim Burton’s Batman and inured to the consequences and ramifications of rape.  Seriously, this movie has a real, real problem with rape, and we excoriate it for that.  Even the best part of the movie, Alan Rickman’s classic performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham, is all about raping the rape.  Also, hot take, but Kevin Costner is truly terrible - not as terrible as rape, but still terrible. Like, even if you forgive his lack of an English accent – which we did – he’s just staggeringly bad, which we describe as only we can.  We also compare Prince of Thieves to the classic Errol Flynn movie, talk about why this film’s final sword-battle is the epitome of underwhelming (when, you know, it isn’t teasing rape), praise the performance of Morgan Freeman (and even he’s been #MeToo’d), and brutalize the damseling of Marian. But hey, Michael Kamen could really score a movie, so there’s that. Explicit language, some of it about rape – but directed at those portraying it irresponsibly.   

Content Advisory: On behalf of The Irreverent Cineastes Podcast, Andrew and Jon would like to apologize for a glaring omission in this podcast.  At no time during the duration of this work did we adequately spotlight and mock the infamously balding Kevin Costner’s terrible, terrible hairpiece.  That we fell short on properly addressing this pure failure of a follicle replacement is beneath our editorial standards, and we will endeavor in the future to never let such an obvious comedic goldmine go untapped again.  Also: we talk about rape.

Ladyhawke (1985) - The Irreverent Cineastes Podcast Year Four

April 25th, 2019

So this is not really part of our “Axes-to-Grind” series, but more our reactionary “Pallet-cleanser” series, wherein we followed up watching Highlander and Prince of Rapists with an actual good movie that doesn’t get nearly enough respect: Ladyhawke, Richard Donner’s charming medieval fantasy film that is everything the last two films aren’t.  Specifically, it’s endlessly charming, extremely well-filmed, exceptionally well-cast, and expertly written and well-plotted. Also, in contrast to the other two films, its musical score is terrible. (Really, why couldn’t Michael Kamen have done THIS instead?)  We discuss these qualities, including going into the subtle use of plot details that pay off in the narrative, the incredible final sword-battle, and how it deftly handles the subjugation of women in a way that was progressive and ultimately empowering to its female lead.  They don’t make them this way anymore, and they should.  Explicit language.

Content Advisory:  Jon’s somehow failing to come up with the word “couple,” the creepiness and charisma of Rutger Hauer, the beauty of Michelle Pfeiffer, “God, get me out of this,” the power of shame, Matthew Broderick doing Cyrano, Harrison Ford’s diarrhea, Andrew losing his train of thought when thinking about Harrison Ford’s diarrhea, and the epic failure of the film’s musical score. Seriously, raise your hands if you miss the Alan Parsons Project.  Yeah, thought so.    

Swords and Cinema - Full Episode (Highlander/Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves/Ladyhawke) - The Irreverent Cineastes Podcast Year Four

April 25th, 2019

See the descriptions for the individual films. Explicit Language.

Problematic 80s Comedies (Back to the Future/Fast Times at Ridgemont High/Splash/She’s Having a Baby/Revenge of the Nerds) - The Irreverent Cineastes Podcast, Year Four

April 25th, 2019

In our Year 4 finale, our good friend and frequent guest Brooke Edge, Ph.D. fulfills her destiny and becomes discussion leader for this episode, wherein the three of us chose some comedies from the 1980s and discussed how tricky – if not disturbing - some of their mores and messages are in retrospect.  Included in our discussion was Splash, once a huge hit but now boring, regressive towards women, and representative of the dominance of male fantasy narratives; Fast Times at Ridgemont High and how it set the table for 80s teen comedies; Back to the Future and how it unwittingly endorsed aggressive (male) behavior; She’s Having a Baby and how much the cinema of John Hughes doesn’t transcend its era; and, finally, how almost everything about Revenge of the Nerds was wrong (and the dark shadow it cast over Jon’s childhood). That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy these films mind you – we just feel that we all need to better contextualize the things in our past so that we don’t confuse good memories with bad lessons. Well, except for Revenge of the Nerds. You can’t enjoy that. You just can’t. We also discuss Molly Ringwald’s piece in The New Yorker and how it does a superb job demonstrating how to revisit problematic works of the past and find value in them and criticize how those like Bill Maher are wrong to complain about it. A comprehensive addition to our canon, and kudos to Brooke for the terrific job she did holding it together. Explicit language.

Content advisory: Rivers of wokeness, making sure you actually read the thing you’re criticizing, John Hughes’s One-Act career, Kevin Bacon’s stupid, stupid face, Kevin Bacon hitting puberty (any day now!), Alec Baldwin’s ridiculous chest hair, responsibly portraying violence in films, Back to the Future as film of the 80s, yuppies never being more interesting than mermaids, coining “Ashley Madison,” popularizing “Nerds,” Jon’s childhood trauma, arguing the Leia-Han Solo relationship, “sex girls” vs “sex, girls,” forty-year-old teen actors, the highs and lows of 80s needle drops, Jake Ryan as Brett Kavanaugh, nudity in Fast Times, guilty pleasures (NOT THE SAME THING!), finding the humanity in John Bender, Anita Sarkeesian and the importance of balancing enjoyment and inquiry, pop culture as junk food, and feeling the loss of John Candy.