Friday, May 29, 2009

Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine

Recorded 5/24/09, episode 9 of The Same Dame Podcast features reviews of "Terminator Salvation" and "Angels and Demons." Our friend George Lucas also joins us to talk about the CG Arnold and its termination skills. After that, we recap a Cannes Film Festival we didn't attend and check in on the latest news, including at long last…"Ghostbusters 3."

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast (via iTunes if you like) so you won't miss our next thrilling episode.
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Monday, May 25, 2009


Praise be to the King! In the next couple weeks, Turner Classic Movies will air two essential pieces of filmmaking that you can't get on DVD. While director King Vidor is known largely for his work on sound pictures, the pinnacle of his work came with his two silent-era masterpieces, "The Big Parade" (1925) and "The Crowd" (1928).

First off, tonight at 2:45am, "The Big Parade" caps off TCM's Memorial Day weekend tribute to WWI. If that doesn't knock you on your ass, wait tell you see the triumph of visual storytelling that is "The Crowd," which airs 9pm on Wednesday June 3, as part of a day devoted to Vidor.

It's been four years since these films aired, and while Warner has been promising to release them on DVD soon, they've been promising that for years.
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Know Thine Enemy

A film must understand the nature of its villain. The code it operates by, its physical abilities and limitations, its ultimate goals—all these factors determine the kind of force that our hero will square off against. If the director and screenwriters don't understand these basic principals (or at least make clear that they can't be understood), there's no hope for the audience.

"Terminator Salvation" not only misunderstands its villain, it blatantly contradicts its own descriptions of it. Here is a film so confused about what it's doing that it gives its title twice during the opening credits. We're told one thing in expositional dialogue, but see another when the robotic bad guys come out to fight.

The self-aware computer/machine Skynet (not to be confused with the relatively benign Sky Network in the UK) created robots called Terminators, but a more apropos name would have been "Throwerators." These super-strength robots were created for one task: killing humans. But whenever they get their hands on one, whose neck they could easily break, whose heart they could rip out, whose brain they could squash, whose spine they could snap, they merely throw them against something (usually a wall). And don't get me started on their aim when they actually decide to shoot their laser guns at people.

There's a reason that the first two Terminator movies were primarily chases, and particularly tense ones: If the robot got close enough to its targets, it would kill them. Director McG missed that factor when he designed "Terminator: Salvation's" fight scenes, which are based on hand-to-hand combat against robots undeniably superior in strength. Even if the scenes were well-done (they more often tend toward mediocrity), it would be hard to shake the feeling that apocalyptic prophet John Connor should have died the first time a Terminator grabbed hold of him.

Played by Christian Bale in this installment, Connor has lost all the piss and vinegar of the young lad portrayed by Edward Furlong in "Terminator 2: Judgement Day." He now acts resolutely somber and repeats the same three or four lines of character points without humor or energy. Sure, he's living in a desolate wasteland inhabited by robots who want him dead (incompetence notwithstanding), but come on mate, give us a smile.

Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright proves that not everyone acts like such a mind-numbing spoilsport in the future. Marcus donated his body to science while on death row in 2003. Imagine his surprise when he wakes up in an empty, destroyed Los Angeles in 2018, looking the same age.

Under seige, he meets teenager Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), the character played by Michael Biehn in the first "Terminator." From that film, we know little Kyle will grow up to travel through time to protect and impregnate Connor's mother, assuming the future and/or past don't change. Kyle teaches Marcus about the Skynet robots, and Marcus serves as a father figure to the lad. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: A randomly thrown-in mute girl named Star travels with them as well.

Just when the Reese-Wright relationship starts to get interesting, the film abandons it to propel its nonsensical plot. McG continually loses sight of his film's greatest assets to focus on silliness like Skynet's Holocaust-esque human-transport machine. Skynet is wasting resources to move humans when its only known goal is to kill them. One would think that the resistance would at least investigate why the machines are going through all this trouble. Instead, the humans stand around bored, waiting for another robot attack so they can ineffectively smack the mechanical behemoths who want nothing more than to throw them against walls.
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

SDP08: Where No Podcast Has Gone Before…

Recorded 5/13/09, episode 8 of The Same Dame Podcast is all about "Star Trek." Well…for the first 10 or 15 minutes anyway. It's all about "Star Trek" and the Cannes Film Festival lineup. No, wait…I guess, we talk about other news and review some more movies as well. It's all about "Star Trek," "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," "Rudo y Cursi," "Tyson," the Cannes lineup and other news items. That about sums it up.

But wait! We also have a special guest who chronicled the giants of American cinema and made some iconic masterpieces of his own. He also does a lot of audio commentaries.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast (via iTunes if you like) so you won't miss our next thrilling episode.
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Yacking About 'LOST' for an Hour (SDP 7)

Recorded 5/12/09, this very special episode 7 of The Same Dame Podcast is devoted entirely to "LOST," which airs its fifth season finale Wednesday night. Joined by special guest Jessica Mathews, we go through the twists and turns that define the series, the actors, writers and directors who make it so damn addictive and the mysteries that perplex the shit out of us. We don't know anything about the finale, and we won't spoil it!

This is one of two podcasts this week. The next will follow our usual format.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast (via iTunes if you like) so you won't miss our next thrilling episode.
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Friday, May 8, 2009

In the beginning ...

May has brought us a pair of origin stories for popular movie franchises - in fact, you can tell one of them is an origin story because the word "origin" is right there in the title. See, look: "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," directed by recent Same Dame Podcast guest and professional storyteller Gavin Hood. The second, and much better, origin story unfortunately isn't as clear about its intentions, as the word "origin" is nowhere to be found in the title. It's called "Star Trek."

Oh, and you can also check out semi-recent reviews of "17 Again," "Sleep Dealer" and "Obsessed." Yes, that's right - I saw "Obsessed." I had my reasons.
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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

American Apparel Manufactures Clothing, Irony

Remember a year ago when American Apparel used Woody Allen's image in a billboard, without paying him any endorsement money, and Allen sued? Well that case is on its way to court now, and American Apparel's lawyers have worked up a brilliant defense. Slick lawyer Stuart Slotnick explained it the Associated Press:

Certainly, our belief is that after the various sex scandals that Woody Allen has been associated with, corporate America's desire to have Woody Allen endorse their product is not what he may believe it is.

They also, for some reason, want Mia Farrow and Larry Flynt to testify at the trial.

It's simple, really. Allen is a scandal-ridden loser with no friends. His image would serve no use in an ad campaign. He couldn't sell a special one-of-a-kind 10-disc Blu-ray edition of Annie Hall to Chris Bellamy for $5.

I can't think of any holes in this argument. Oh, except for one thing…

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SDP 6: Landmark Crank Criticism, Russell and Bale On Set and Newspapers

Who could ask for a more amazing podcast than this?

Recorded 4/29/09, Episode 6 of The Same Dame Podcast contains a conversation that will no doubt go down in the history of film criticism. Scholar Ben Zalkind joins us to discuss the artistic achievement of "Crank: High Voltage." You won't find this in-depth conversation anywhere else, folks. And while George Lucas couldn't join us this episode, he did help us digitally simulate what a set with Christian Bale and David O. Russell will be like. We also look at what may be the last gasp of newspapermen in the movies with reviews of "State of Play" and "The Soloist." Oh, and Chris made us review "Sleep Dealer."

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast (via iTunes if you like) so you won't miss our next thrilling episode.

UPDATE: Bellamy and Zalkind's original essay.
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