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#076 J.J. Abrams: Star Wars: The Force Awakens vs. Mission Impossible III w/ guest Zamar Massey




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare J.J. Abrams’s best and worst rated films, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Mission Impossible III (2006), respectively. Nate’s just there for the exposition, Austin thinks John Boyega is an amateur, and Zamar gets to nerd out for almost two hours.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Night Terrors (1993), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out these interviews with the cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens:


Mission Impossible III Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Agent Ethan Hunt comes into conflict with a dangerous and sadistic arms dealer who threatens his life and his fianceé in response.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.9 | RT 70% C / 69% A
  • Released: 2006
  • Director: J.J. Abrams
  • Writer(s): Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & J.J. Abrams (written by), Bruce Geller (television series)
  • Cinematographer: Dan Mindel (Star Trek, The Amazing Spider-Man)
  • Notable actors: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Maggie Q, Simon Pegg, Eddie Marsan, Laurence Fishburne, Bahar Soomekh, Jeff Chase, Michael Berry Jr., Aaron Paul
  • Budget: $150 million
  • Box office: $397.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • As the production could do nothing about inquisitive crowds watching them while they were filming in Rome, they actually set up a phony second unit a little further away, hired several girls in bikinis and several older women dressed as nuns and pretended to be filming takes for the film, while the main unit got on with their business largely undisturbed.
    • After the success of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Simon Pegg was asked whether he was going to be pursuing a career in Hollywood, to which he laughed and replied “It’s not like I’m going to be in Mission: Impossible III”.
    • With a budget of one hundred fifty million dollars, this is the most expensive movie ever undertaken by a first-time feature film director.
    • Tom Cruise did the vast majority of his own stunts in this film. Most of them were done without major injury. However, he cracked a couple of ribs once when he turned his upper torso too quickly.
    • Special Effects Technician Steven Scott Wheatley sued Paramount Pictures, and Tom Cruise’s production company for gross negligence, after the pyrotechnics in a stunt in which he was involved, went wrong, and he was engulfed in a ball of flame. Wheatley suffered third-degree burns over sixty percent of his body.
    • Joe Carnahan worked on the film for a total of fifteen months before quitting over creative differences with the studio bosses. He even filmed the moment when he quit, as he figured that it signified the end of his Hollywood career. That was not to be the case, however. He came back the following year with the cult hit Smokin’ Aces (2006).
    • At one point, Ricky Gervais was cast in the film as an ally to Ethan Hunt. But due to various production and casting changes, Gervais had to pull out of the film and was replaced by Simon Pegg.
    • In the original script of the opening scene, Brownway was supposed to do the “counting” but J.J. Abrams realized it would be much more dramatic if it was done by Owen Davien (Philip Seymour Hoffman) instead.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Three decades after the Empire’s defeat, a new threat arises in the militant First Order. Stormtrooper defector Finn and spare parts scavenger Rey are caught up in the Resistance’s search for the missing Luke Skywalker.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.1 | RT 93% C / 89% A
  • Released: 2015
  • Director: J.J. Abrams
  • Writer(s): Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt (written by), George Lucas (based on characters created by)
  • Cinematographer: Dan Mindel (Star Trek, The Amazing Spider-Man)
  • Notable actors: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Max von Sydow, Peter Mayhew, Gwendoline Christie, Joonas Suatoma, Pip Andersen, Simon Pegg
  • Budget: $306 million
  • Box office: $2.068 billion
  • Fun Facts:
    • In a real-life parallel to the film Fanboys (2009), Mark Hamill and John Boyega successfully lobbied director J.J. Abrams to allow Star Wars fan Daniel Fleetwood to see the film before official release, as Fleetwood had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and was not expected to live to see the film’s actual release date. Fleetwood was shown the film at a screening in his house, after Disney agreed. Fleetwood died November 10, 2015.
    • Mark Hamill claimed George Lucas nonchalantly told him over lunch a new Star Wars trilogy was going to be made by Disney, and if he did not want to be involved, Luke Skywalker would simply be written out of the script. However, Hamill immediately agreed to reprise the role. Hamill admitted, however, that he pretended to also be nonchalant about it, so it didn’t seem like he was excited for the role. He also said within five seconds Carrie exclaimed she’d do it, and asked if there was a part for her daughter.
    • When Finn and Rey ask if he is THE Han Solo, the reply is “I used to be,” which is a reply Ford regularly uses when fans ask if he is Harrison Ford.
    • The first J.J. Abrams film not to have a musical score by Michael Giacchino. Aptly enough, Giacchino stated in an interview that he would rather hear the music of John Williams in a new Star Wars film, than his own. Giacchino’s name shows up in Episode VII’s credits as a Stormtrooper.
    • The lightsaber battles are choreographed to be distinctly different from the ones in the first and second trilogies. Rather than the flashy, Force-assisted moves in the prequels or the formalized, kendo-like movements of the original trilogy, the fights are staged to appear less rehearsed, and more brutal and realistic. According to John Boyega and others, this was a deliberate choice to reflect the characters’ inexperience with lightsabers as a weapon. Kylo appears to have had little experience in formal dueling, and Finn and Rey pick up lightsabers and use them with no training at all.
    • John Boyega was so nervous and frightened at the prospect of not getting the role, that he didn’t tell his parents that he had been cast until after a cast photo was posted online by the official Star Wars Twitter page.
    • When the first trailer was released, there was much discussion about how it appeared to be getting back to the “grubbiness” (“dirty transporters, second-hand rockets, things that broke”) of Episodes IV-VI, rather than the CGI cleanliness of Episodes I-III. British television star Phill Jupitus revealed in an interview that he “met an effects bloke in Essex, he drinks in my local coffee shop. He said (the makers of the new film) bought every gas-bottled air gun in England when they arrived, because they wanted the Stormtroopers’ guns to have a kick when they fired them. You don’t have to fake it; it looks real.”
    • Only time Harrison Ford has received top billing in a Star Wars film, making him the first non-Jedi character to be credited first.
    • After he was cast, Oscar Isaac revealed to J.J. Abrams that his uncle is a huge Star Wars fan. As a result, arrangements for Isaac’s uncle to visit the film set were made. To the great surprise of Isaac and his uncle, Abrams then asked if he would be interested in appearing in the film as an extra. Isaac’s uncle quickly agreed, and appears as one of the villagers during the opening sequence on Jakku.
    • Kevin Smith and Benedict Cumberbatch visited the set. Smith, infamous for his open and talkative nature, was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and J.J. Abrams had World War II-style propaganda posters titled “Loose Lips Sink Starships” hung up around the set, as a reminder to Smith not to reveal spoilers for the film to the public. True to his word, the only tidbit Smith revealed about his visit was that he cried when he stood on the Millennium Falcon set, as it reminded him of how much he loved Star Wars as a child.
    • While filming in summer 2014, Harrison Ford broke his ankle on the door of the Millennium Falcon. About a year later, J.J. Abrams revealed that he hurt his back while trying to help get Ford out from under the door.
    • J.J. Abrams always wanted General Hux to be played by a young actor. He wanted the character to have a sense of tragedy and the fact that he appears to be too young to be in charge of a murderous group added to that. According to Abrams, the character’s name was created after he noticed an old, abandoned grave site with the name Hux engraved on the stone.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#075 Shane Black: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang vs. Iron Man 3




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Shane Black’s best and worst rated films, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) and Iron Man 3 (2013), respectively. Nate is tired of generic super hero films, Austin talks about RDJ, and they both can’t believe how expensive some of these movies are.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare J.J Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Mission Impossible III (2006), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director Shane Black about Kiss Kiss Bang Bang:


Iron Man 3 Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: When Tony Stark’s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.2 | RT 79% C / 78% A
  • Released: 2013
  • Director: Shane Black
  • Writer(s): Drew Pearce & Shane Black (screenplay by), Stan Lee and Don Heck and Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby (based on the Marvel comic by), Warren Ellis and Adi Granov (based on the “Extremis” mini-series illustrated by)
  • Cinematographer: John Toll (Braveheart, The Last Samurai, Cloud Atlas)
  • Notable actors: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Stephanie Szostak, Paul Bettany, William Sadler, Dale Dickey, Ty Simpkins, Miguel Ferrer, Xueqi Wang, Bingbing Fan
  • Budget: $200 million
  • Box office: $1.215 billion
  • Fun Facts:
    • The first cut was three hours and fifteen minutes long. The final cut was two hours and ten minutes long.
    • (at around 5 mins) Near the beginning of the movie you see Tony Stark strike a mook jong or wing chun wooden dummy. Robert Downey Jr. has been training in Wing Chun for several years under Sifu Eric Oram, and has also used it in Sherlock Holmes (2009). He has also stated he will be testing for his black belt soon.
    • The ring on the Mandarin’s right pinkie is the same one Raza wears in the first Iron Man (2008) film.
    • The idea that “Happy” Hogan’s favorite television show is Downton Abbey (2010), was at the suggestion of Jon Favreau, who is actually a big fan of the British series.
    • The Mandarin bears a tattoo on the back of his neck of Captain America’s shield with an anarchist “A” symbol in the center instead of a star.
    • Robert Downey Jr. pushed to get Gwyneth Paltrow to have some action scenes, and Kevin Feige approved: “We are bored by the damsel in distress. But sometimes we need our hero to be desperate enough in fighting for something, other than just his own life. So, there is fun to be had with ‘Is Pepper in danger, or is she the savior?’ over the course of this movie.”
    • This is the first film in the Iron Man franchise not to be directed by Jon Favreau, who turned down the offer for this movie, in order to direct Magic Kingdom and Jersey Boys (2014). He later admitted that not directing allowed him to have more fun with his character “Happy” Hogan, saying that he was like “a proud grandfather, who doesn’t have to change the diapers, but gets to play with the baby.”
    • The first Iron Man movie to gross over one billion dollars, and the second Marvel movie to reach this mark, with The Avengers (2012) being the first.
    • The first day Robert Downey Jr. and Sir Ben Kingsley met on-set, they snapped a photo together to send to Director, and mutual friend, Sir Richard Attenborough.
    • The film was originally budgeted at one hundred forty million dollars, but after The Avengers (2012) became a huge hit, Marvel Studios and Disney upped it to two hundred million dollars, in order to allow Shane Black to make the best movie he could.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: A murder mystery brings together a private eye, a struggling actress, and a thief masquerading as an actor.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.6 | RT 85% C / 87% A
  • Released: 2005
  • Director: Shane Black
  • Writer(s): Brett Halliday (novel) (in part), Shane Black (screen story), Shane Black (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Michael Barrett (Ted, Bobby, Zookeeper)
  • Notable actors: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bernsen, Dash Mihok, Larry Miller, Rockmond Dunbar, Shannyn Sossamon, Angela Lindvall, Indo Falconer Downey, Ariel Winter
  • Budget: $15 million
  • Box office: $15.8 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • As a sign of support to Robert Downey, Jr.’s recovery from alcohol and drugs, Val Kilmer refused to drink during the entire production.
    • Val Kilmer met Robert Downey, Jr. for the first time at a Hollywood party. A week later, he received the screenplay for this film, and agreed to do it before he’d even finished reading it. Upon agreeing, and much to his delight, he was informed that Downey had already been cast.
    • The film was given a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival.
    • Val Kilmer had to quickly lose the fifty pounds gained for his plump role in Alexander (2004), in order to play his fit GQ character for this film.
    • The film was originally titled “L.A.P.I.”, then “Bang!”, but Val Kilmer suggested to Director Shane Black that “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” would have more appeal.
    • Val Kilmer’s depiction of Gay Perry is generally considered to be the first openly gay character to front a Hollywood action movie.
    • Val Kilmer walked around in a five hundred dollar pair of Louis Vuitton driving shoes, and wore nail varnish, while experimenting with several variations of speech patterns for the role. Kilmer also noted this was done much to his son Jack’s chagrin.
    • Shane Black had been suffering from writer’s block. It ultimately took him over a year and a half to write the script for this film. He then had enormous trouble trying to sell it. His former cachet, as being the highest paid screenwriter, meant nothing when he was shopping his screenplay around. Eventually, he took it to Producer Joel Silver, who gave him his first break back in 1987 when he bought Lethal Weapon.
    • The film grossed far more outside the U.S., accounting for just over seventy percent of the film’s worldwide gross.
    • Co-Producer of the film, Susan Downey (Susan Levin), is Robert Downey, Jr.’s wife.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#074 Spike Lee: Do The Right Thing vs. Da Sweet Blood of Jesus




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Spike Lee’s best and worst rated films, Do The Right Thing (1989) and Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014), respectively. Nate hates vampires, Austin wants to let Spike Lee do his thing, and they both think racism is bad (so brave).

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) and Iron Man 3 (2013), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director Spike Lee about the impact of Do The Right Thing:


Da Sweet Blood of Jesus Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Dr. Hess Green becomes cursed by a mysterious ancient African artifact and is overwhelmed with a newfound thirst for blood. He however is not a vampire. Soon after his transformation he enters into a dangerous romance with Ganja Hightower that questions the very nature of love, addiction, sex, and status.

  • Ratings: IMDb 4.0 | RT 43% C / 17% A
  • Released: 2014
  • Director: Spike Lee
  • Writer(s): Spike Lee (screenplay), Bill Gunn (original screenplay), Vinnie Lewis
  • Cinematographer: Daniel Patterson (Gun Hill Road, Evolution of a Criminal, Out of the Night)
  • Notable actors: Stephen Tyrone Williams, Zaraah Abrahams, Rami Malek, Elvis Nolasco, Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Joie Lee, Felicia Pearson, Jeni Perillo, Katherine Borowitz, Donna Dixon
  • Budget: $1.4 million
  • Box office: N/A
  • Fun Facts:
    • Filming was completed in 16 days.
    • The Kickstarter funded Spike Lee joint Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014) is a modern reinterpretation of Bill Gunn’s cult classic blaxploitation film Ganja & Hess (1973).
    • According to cinematographer Daniel Patterson 90 percent of the film was shot with two and sometimes three cameras rolling simultaneously.
    • Marks the first film appearance of Donna Dixon in 19 years. Dixon retired from acting with her last appearance in a feature film being Nixon, which was released in 1995.

Do The Right Thing Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone’s hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.9 | RT 93% C / 90% A
  • Released: 1989
  • Director: Spike Lee
  • Writer(s): Spike Lee (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Ernest R. Dickerson (Bulletproof, Juice, The Walking Dead)
  • Notable actors: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Spike Lee, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, Paul Benjamin, Frankie Faison, Robin Harris, Joie Lee, Miguel Sandoval, Rick Aiello, John Savage, Samuel L. Jackson, Rosie Perez, Roger Guenveur Smith, Steve White, Martin Lawrence, Leonard L. Thomas, Frank Vincent, Luis Antonio Ramos
  • Budget: $6 million
  • Box office: $37.3 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Spike Lee originally wanted Robert De Niro for the role of Sal (Salvatore Fragione). But De Niro turned down the part, saying that it was too similar to many of the parts he had played in the past. In the end, the part went to Danny Aiello.
    • Spike Lee wrote the script in two weeks.
    • This film was inspired by an actual incident in New York City, where some black youths were chased out of a pizzeria by some white youths in a section of New York City known as Howard Beach.
    • According to Rosie Perez, her face is not shown in her nude scene, because she felt exploited and was crying. She later decided she didn’t mind, and appeared nude again in other movies.
    • Graffiti on the wall behind Mookie and Jade reads “Tawana told the truth” in reference to the Tawana Brawley alleged rape and abduction case of 1987.
    • All of the scenes of the corner men (Robin Harris, Paul Benjamin, and Frankie Faison) were improvised.
    • Martin Lawrence’s feature film debut.
    • The title comes from a Malcolm X quotation that goes, “You’ve got to do the right thing.”
    • The key scene when Danny Aiello and John Turturro talk alone, approximately midway through the film, was partly improvised. The scripted scene ended as the character Smiley approached the window. Everything after that, until the end of the scene, was completely ad-libbed.
    • Radio Raheem’s explanation of the love and hate rings he wears, is an homage to the speech that The Preacher gives in The Night of the Hunter (1955). Robert Mitchum’s preacher has tattoos on his hands that say “Love” and “Hate.”
    • Danny Aiello admitted that he almost turned down the part of Sal when he saw that he’d be playing the owner of a pizzeria, believing it to be a lazy stereotype of Italian-Americans despite the high number of pizzerias that are owned by Italian-Americans.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#073 Danny Boyle: Trainspotting vs. A Life Less Ordinary




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Danny Boyle’s best and worst rated films, Trainspotting (1996) and A Life Less Ordinary (1997), respectively. Nate thinks all UK directors are the same, Austin gets hooked on drugs, and they both have another talk about Mrs. Diaz.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989) and Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with the filmmakers of Trainspotting:


A Life Less Ordinary Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Ewan McGregor stars as a cleaning man in Los Angeles, who takes his boss’ daughter hostage after being fired and replaced by a robot. Two “angels”, who are in charge of human relationships on Earth, offer some unsolicited help to bring this unlikely couple together.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.4 | RT 39% C / 59% A
  • Released: 1997
  • Director: Danny Boyle
  • Writer(s): John Hodge (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Brian Tufano (Billy Elliot, Shallow Grave)
  • Notable actors: Holly Hunter, Delroy Lindo, Dan Hedaya, Cameron Diaz, Ian McNeice, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, K.K. Dodds, Tony Shalhoub, Ian Holm
  • Budget: $12 million
  • Box office: $4.3 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The scene where Robert (Ewan McGregor) almost hits O’Reilly (Holly Hunter), who is laying in the road, was shot backwards and then reversed in post-production.
    • Ewan McGregor sings “Round Are Way” by Oasis. He was a big fan of the band at the time.
    • Although Brad Pitt met with Director Danny Boyle and Producer Andrew Macdonald, the lead part was written with Ewan McGregor specifically in mind.
    • In Gabriel’s (Dan Hedaya’s) final lines, he declares “Amaratus pathum laborium”, which translates as: “Love is a path of labors”.
    • Shot over a period of fifty days.
    • The author of the romantic novel read by Celine (Cameron Diaz) and O’Reilly (Holly Hunter) is Jennifer Hodge. This is the name of the wife of Screenwriter John Hodge.
    • The overhead shot, when Robert is pulling the bag of money along the road with rope, was computer generated.

 


Trainspotting Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Renton, deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene, tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.2 | RT 90% C / 93% A
  • Released: 1996
  • Director: Danny Boyle
  • Writer(s): John Hodge (screenplay), Irvine Welsh (novel)
  • Cinematographer: Brian Tufano (Billy Elliot, Shallow Grave)
  • Notable actors: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner
  • Budget: 1.5 million Euros
  • Box office: 48 million Euros
  • Fun Facts:
    • Danny Boyle used creative methods while directing, necessitated by the film’s low budget. For example, in the scene where Renton shoots a dog with a BB gun and it then goes crazy and attacks its owner, Boyle got the dog to freak out simply by positioning himself just outside of camera range and screaming at it.
    • Ewan McGregor read books about crack and heroin to prepare for the role. He also went to Glasgow and met people from the Calton Athletic Recovery Group, an organisation of recovering heroin addicts. He was taught how to cook up heroin with a spoon using glucose powder. McGregor considered injecting heroin to better understand the character, but eventually decided against it.
    • Kelly Macdonald got the part when the production crew were handing out flyers across Glasgow, for anyone eager to audition. When Danny Boyle first laid eyes on her, in a corridor with a plain hairdo surrounded by many glamorous girls, he knew she was the one. He wanted someone unknown, so no-one would guess a 19-year-old is playing a schoolgirl. Macdonald still has the promotional flyer at home.
    • For the close-up shots of Ewan McGregor injecting himself with heroin, a prosthetic arm was constructed by the make-up department, complete with pulsing veins, smack tracks and small pockets of blood that would appear when the skin was punctured by a hypodermic needle.
    • Although it looks thoroughly off putting, the feces in the Worst Toilet in Scotland scene was actually made from chocolate and smelled quite pleasant.
    • The whole film was shot in just seven and a half weeks.
    • In 2009, Robert Carlyle, who played Begbie, told a BAFTA interviewer that he played Begbie as a closeted gay man whose outbursts of violence were due to his “fear of being outed”. Irvine Welsh, who wrote the movie’s source novel, confirmed that he wrote the Begbie of the book to have an ambiguous sexuality, and agreed with Carlyle’s interpretation of the film’s version of the character.
    • To play the skinny heroin-addicted Renton, Ewan McGregor lost 26 pounds. It only took him two months to reach Renton’s desired size. He achieved this by grilling everything and by drinking wine and gin instead of beer.
    • Due to the skimpy budget, most scenes had to be shot in just one take.
    • Danny Boyle used twins to play the part of baby Dawn, which meant neither of the babies were forced to be in front of the camera for too long. All of the cast used to play with the two babies in between takes so they could break the tension of the often difficult scenes they were about to shoot.

Intro music by Eric Lynch


 


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#072 Francois Truffaut: The 400 Blows vs. Fahrenheit 451




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Francois Truffaut’s best and worst rated films, The 400 Blows (1959) and Fahrenheit 451 (1966), respectively. Nate talks about the fight between the French and Austrian, Austin talks future tech, and they both try to look smart and fail.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting (1996) and A  Life Less Ordinary (1997), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out the first audition director Francois Truffaut did with actor Jean-Pierre Leaud for The 400 Blows:


Fahrenheit 451 Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: In an oppressive future, a fireman whose duty is to destroy all books begins to question his task.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.3 | RT 81% C / 72% A
  • Released: 1966
  • Director: Francois Truffaut
  • Writer(s): Francois Truffaut and Jean-Louis Richard (screenplay), Ray Bradbury (novel), David Rudkin and Helen Scott (additional dialogue)
  • Cinematographer: Nicolas Roeg (Walkabout, Don’t Look Now, The Witches)
  • Notable actors: Julie Christie, Oskar Werner, Cyril Cusack, Anton Diffring, Jeremy Spenser, Alex Scott
  • Budget: $1.5 million
  • Box office: $1 million US
  • Fun Facts:
    • Oskar Werner cut his hair for the final scene to purposely create a continuity error. This was due to his hatred for the director.
    • The film’s credits are spoken, not read, in keeping with the film’s theme of destruction of reading material.
    • According to producer Lewis M. Allen, François Truffaut and Oskar Werner hated each other by the end of filming. For the last two weeks, they didn’t speak to one another.
    • Author Ray Bradbury never did any fact-checking in regards to the title. He asked a fire chief what temperature book paper burned at, and was given the answer “451 degrees Fahrenheit.” He liked the title so much, he didn’t bother to see if it was the correct temperature. Actually, The Chief went to burn an actual book, because he didn’t know the answer when Bradbury asked him; he read the temperature with a thermometer.
    • The location filming of the final sequence with the “Book People” took place in poor weather. It was hoped that the weather would improve for the final days of shooting. Instead, they discovered that it had begun snowing during the night. The filming of the final shots while it was snowing was an unplanned contribution to the film’s memorable ending.
    • François Truffaut said that this was his only film in which he clashed with an actor – Oskar Werner. Truffaut asked Werner to forgo heroics and act with a level of modesty, but Werner chose to play it with arrogance. Truffaut disliked the stilted performance Werner gave and insisted he play it like a monkey discovering books for the first time, sniffing at them, wondering what they are; Werner argued that a science fiction film called for a robotic-like performance.
    • Producer Lewis M. Allen said the studio’s legal department requested that only books in the public domain be shown burning for fear of being sued by offended authors. Director François Truffaut and Allen ignored the request, believing that anyone would be flattered to have their book included.
    • François Truffaut reportedly said that he found science fiction films uninteresting and arbitrary. Because of this, a friend of his told him the story of Ray Bradbury’s novel ‘Fahrenheit 451’. Immediately afterward, Truffaut wanted to make a film from the novel and subsequently spent years raising the financing.

 


The 400 Blows Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Moving story of a young boy who, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.1 | RT 100% C / 94% A
  • Released: 1959
  • Director: Francois Truffaut
  • Writer(s): Francois Truffaut (scenario), Marcel Moussy & Francois Truffaut (adaptation), Marcel Moussy (dialogue)
  • Cinematographer: Henri Decae (Le Samourai, The Boys from Brazil, Elevator to the Gallows)
  • Notable actors: Jean-Pierre Leaud, Claire Maurier, Albert Remy, Guy Decomble, Georges Flamant, Patrick Auffay, Daniel Couturier
  • Budget: N/A
  • Box office: $30.7 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • All the young actors who unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of Antoine were used in the classroom scenes.
    • So pleased with Jean-Pierre Léaud and his screen test (an informal conversation with the film’s director being off-camera), François Truffaut doctored it into the finished film by using fade-outs and substituting his voice with off-camera female psychiatrist’s voice.
    • The English title of the movie “400 Blows” is a gross misinterpretation of the original title. The Finnish and Swedish translations of the title, roughly translatable to “400 practical jokes” are closer to the original meaning, albeit not perfect. The Swedish title: “De 400 slagen” means “The 400 blows” and make no sense. The original title stems from the French expression “Faire les quatre cents coups”, meaning “to live a wild life”, as the main character does. Literal translation of the expression would be “to do the 400 dirty tricks”.
    • Jean-Pierre Leaud’s answers to the questions given to him by the psychologist at the camp near the end of the film were not scripted. Francois Truffaut told Leaud in advance about the scene for what to expect to a certain extent, and did provide some minor coaching when Leaud answered the question in between takes as to what was working and what was not, but at large, Leaud’s answers are unscripted and ad-libbed, per Truffaut’s wishes, who wanted the scene to feel spontaneous and believable.
    • The title of the film comes from the French idiom “faire les quatre cents coups”, meaning “to raise hell”.
    • All spoken lines in the film are dubbed over again by the actors themselves, save for a few minor and trivial parts. For instance, during the last scene, the sound of Antoine’s footsteps was added during editing – the truck that the camera rested upon produced too much noise. Shooting on the streets of Paris, as many films of the French New Wave did, was often hectic and re-dubbing everything allowed François Truffaut to not have to worry about lugging bulky and expensive sound equipment around, and more importantly he would not have to worry about a street scene having too much background noise. This made shooting faster and easier.
    • François Truffaut’s first major motion picture.

Intro music by Eric Lynch


 


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#071 Brian De Palma: Scarface vs. Home Movies




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Brian De Palma’s best and worst rated films, Scarface (1983) and Home Movies (1979), respectively. Nate was bored to death, Austin hates on cinematography, and they both explain what’s happening with the livestreams.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959) and A Gorgeous Girl Like Me (1972), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director Brian De Palma about Scarface:


Home Movies Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Keith Gordon is a creative young man who films the oddball doings of his family and peers.

  • Ratings: IMDb 5.2 | RT N/A C / N/A A
  • Released: 1979
  • Director: Brian De Palma
  • Writer(s): Kim Ambler, Brian De Palma(story), Dana Edelman, Robert Harders, Stephen Le May, Charlie Loventhal, Gloria Norris
  • Cinematographer: James L. Carter (Ladder 49, My Dog Skip, Tuck Everlasting)
  • Notable actors: Nancy Allen, Mary Davenport, Kirk Douglas, Vincent Gardenia, Keith Gordon, Gerrit Graham, Captain Haggerty, Therese Saldana
  • Budget: $400,000
  • Box office: $89,134
  • Fun Facts:
    • Shot by students of De Palma’s Independent Filmmaking course at Sarah Lawrence College. Intended to be a “learn by doing” experience for the students and grad students, the goal was to budget, finance, shoot, and edit the film using primarily students, with De Palma overseeing.
    • Kirk Douglas was brought on after much debate, mostly concerning costs, but Douglas ended up becoming an investor in the film as well.
    • From an interview in the January 1979 issue of Take One, De Palma said the movie was originally budgeted at $50,000, but then went to $100,000, $150,000 and finally settled at a cost he calls “under a million”.
    • Co-Directed by De Palma with a rotating set of student directors; he defined their contribution of roughly 5 percent of the shots in the film.

Scarface Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: In Miami in 1980, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel and succumbs to greed.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.3 | RT 82% C / 93% A
  • Released: 1983
  • Director: Brian De Palma
  • Writer(s): Oliver Stone (screenplay), Armitage Trail (based on the novel by), Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht (1932 screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: John A. Alonzo (Chinatown, Star Trek: Generations, Harold and Maude)
  • Notable actors: Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia, Miriam Colon, F. Murray Abraham, Paul Shenar, Harris Yulin, Angel Salazar, Pepe Serna
  • Budget: $25 million
  • Box office: $65.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • When Scarface (1983) was re-released in theaters in 2003, the studio wanted Brian De Palma to change the soundtrack so that rap songs inspired by the movie could be used. De Palma refused.
    • Oliver Stone wrote this film while fighting a cocaine addiction. He had moved to Paris to be away from a plentiful supply of the drug in the U.S.
    • When director Brian De Palma submitted the film to the MPAA, they gave it an “X rating”. He then made some cuts and resubmitted it a second time; again the film was given an “X rating” (one of the reasons apparently being that Octavio the clown was shot too many times). He yet again made some further cuts and submitted it a third time; yet again it was given an “X”. De Palma refused to cut the film any further to qualify it for an R. He and producer Martin Bregman arranged a hearing with the MPAA. They brought in a panel of experts, including real narcotics officers, who stated that not only was the film an accurate portrayal of real life in the drug underworld, but ultimately it was an anti-drug film, and should be widely seen. This convinced the arbitrators that the third submitted cut of the film deserved an “R rating” by a vote of 18-2. However, De Palma surmised that if the third cut of the film was judged an “R” then the very first cut should have been an “R” as well. He asked the studio if he could release the first cut but was told that he couldn’t. However since the Studio execs really didn’t know the differences between the different cuts that had been submitted, De Palma released the first cut of the film to theaters anyway. It wasn’t until the film had been released on videocassette months later that he confessed that he had released his first unedited and intended version of the film.
    • In the scene where Tony is in the bathtub watching TV, he says to Manny, “Look at dem pelicangs fly.” This line was what Al Pacino practiced with a language coach to get the Cuban accent right.
    • Robert De Niro was offered the lead role but turned it down.
    • The word “yeyo” is used by Tony Montana (Al Pacino) as a slang word for cocaine. This word was not in the script, and was ad-libbed by Pacino during the first drug deal scene (chainsaw scene), and Brian De Palma liked it enough to keep using it throughout the film. Pacino learned the word while learning the Cuban accent.
    • Al Pacino reportedly stated that Tony Montana was one of his favorites of all the characters he’s played.

Intro music by Eric Lynch


 


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#070 Peter Jackson: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King vs. The Lovely Bones w/ guests Hannah Wheeler and Eric Lynch




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Peter Jackson’s best and worst rated films, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) and The Lovely Bones (2009), respectively. The show has its first official livestream on twitch.tv/bwbpod, Hannah watches LOTR for the first time, and Eric tries out his best Gollum impression.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Brian De Palma’s Scarface (1983) and Home Movies (1979), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out the behind the scenes footage from the making of The Fellowship of the Ring:


The Lovely Bones Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family – and her killer – from purgatory. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.7 | RT 31% C / 52% A
  • Released: 2009
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Writer(s): Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson (screenplay), Alice Sebold (novel)
  • Cinematographer: Andrew Lesnie (The Hobbit, King Kong, The Last Airbender)
  • Notable actors: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, Saoirse Ronan, Rose McIver, Christian Ashdale, Reece Ritchie
  • Budget: $65 million
  • Box office: $93.6 billion
  • Fun Facts:
    • For his role as George Harvey, Stanley Tucci had his skin lightened, his chest and arm hair dyed to match his blondish-brown comb-over wig, and wore false teeth to alter his jaw line. He also wore blue contact lenses and a lentil-filled fat suit to widen his girth, all topped off with square-frame eyeglasses, a fake mustache and sideburns. Since Tucci was uncomfortable playing a child molester, he wanted to alter his appearance for the role as much as possible.
    • The mother, Abigail’s, major storyline from the book–her affair with the detective, and her reasons for leaving the family–was filmed, but cut out of the movie.
    • In Alice Sebold’s original novel, a disturbing rape scene is recounted in great detail, an experience that Sebold herself had had as a young woman. Director Peter Jackson chose to omit this section of the story, feeling that the re-enactment of the ordeal would have not just overwhelmed the film, but been too traumatic a sequence for the young Saoirse Ronan to endure. Alice Sebold reportedly disagreed with this omission. Stanley Tucci, for his part, claimed that it was difficult enough for him to play scenes in which George was thinking about molesting Susie, and that he never would have agreed to perform an actual rape scene.
    • The main reason Ryan Gosling quit his role as Jack before filming started, was that during read-through sessions with Peter Jackson and the rest of the cast, he felt that, at 26, he was too young for the role. Jack was supposed to be in his late 30s. Despite repeated assurances from Jackson that he could portray Jack with proper make-up, Gosling insisted that, as a method actor, he would not be able to portray the character well enough, and was finally let go. Mark Wahlberg was brought in only one day before shooting started.
    • Saoirse Ronan landed the role of Susie Salmon based on an audition tape she sent in. They were so impressed by the tape, that no meetings or further auditions were necessary before offering her the lead role in the film.
    • Despite the fact that the violence in the novel had been toned down for the film, Stanley Tucci still had a hard time portraying Mr. Harvey.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron’s army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.9 | RT 95% C / 86% A
  • Released: 2003
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Writer(s): J.R.R. Tolkien (novel), Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Andrew Lesnie (The Hobbit, King Kong, The Last Airbender)
  • Notable actors: Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Alistair Browning, Bernard Hill, Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Harry Sinclair, Liv Tyler, Karl Urban, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, Elijah Wood, Miranda Otto
  • Budget: $94 million
  • Box office: $1.12 billion
  • Fun Facts:
    • The movie made a one thousand four hundred eight percent profit for New Line Studios on their initial outlay.
    • The dead oliphaunt carcass, used in this film, is reportedly the largest prop ever built for a movie. According to members of the Prop Department, Director Peter Jackson still thought it could have been bigger.
    • Andy Serkis and Elijah Wood were each given prop rings by Peter Jackson, used in the movie. They both thought they had the only one.
    • Great caution was taken for the scene where Faramir is dragged back to Minas Tirith on his horse. The filmmakers were afraid that the horse might suddenly start to run, dragging David Wenham behind it, so a release system was built into the saddle. Wenham held a handle in his right hand, and if the horse started to run, he could simply pull it and be released from the stirrup. Fortunately, they ended up not needing it.
    • Each of the cast members was given a gift on their last day of shooting, usually a prop that was significant to their roles. Miranda Otto received one of Eowyn’s dresses and her sword, Liv Tyler received Arwen’s “dying dress”, Orlando Bloom got one of Legolas’ bows.
    • Peter Jackson is arachnophobic, and based the Shelob design on the types of spiders he feared the most.
    • Since John Rhys-Davies suffered constant rashes from wearing the Gimli make-up, the Make-up Department gave him the opportunity to throw his Gimli mask into the fire on his last day of pick-up photography. He didn’t hesitate a moment to grab and burn it.
    • A normal movie averages about two hundred visual effects shots. This film had one thousand four hundred eighty-eight.
    • Horses owned by the production company were placed up for auction to the cast and crew after the film was shot. Viggo Mortensen purchased two horses, the one he rode for most of the film, and one for Liv Tyler’s riding double.
    • The Lord of the Rings trilogy became the most nominated film series in Academy Award history with thirty nominations, surpassing both the Godfather trilogy (twenty-eight) and the Star Wars franchise (twenty-one).
    • To get enough extras for the Battle at the Black Gate, a few hundred members of the New Zealand Army were brought in. They apparently were so enthusiastic during the battle scenes, that they kept breaking the wooden swords and spears they were given.
    • Fans of the film often speculate why the characters didn’t just fly on the giant eagles into Mordor and drop the ring into Mount Doom. This is not, in fact, a plot hole. This was explained in the book, but the filmmakers didn’t think there would have been a need to, because they felt it was obvious why they didn’t do this. The Eye of Sauron would have been a major obstacle. Even Professor Tolkien vetoed the abuse of eagles’ intervention, when presented an early project of a movie from his book, also it is explained that the eagles are very proud creatures, and did not take sides in the War of the Ring until the end, so they would not have assisted.
    • Viggo Mortensen estimates that during the course of filming the entire trilogy and including all takes, he “killed” every stuntman on the production at least fifty times.
    • The final day of filming on the trilogy actually happened over a month after this movie was theatrically released, and three weeks after the 2004 Academy Awards. Peter Jackson arranged to film one final shot of skulls on the floor in the tunnel of the Paths of the Dead, which was included in the Extended Edition DVD. He thought it was funny to be doing filming on a movie that had already won the Best Picture Oscar.
    • It has the highest perfect score at the Academy Awards, with eleven wins out of eleven nominations. Its wins also means that The Lord of the Rings franchise has won every category, for which it was nominated, except one (Best Actor in a Supporting Role).
    • In the scene when Denethor attempts to burn Faramir on the pyre, the pyre could not truly be on fire, because Gandalf’s horse would not go near it. To solve this, the crew reflected a real fire onto a pane of glass in front of the camera, so that it looks as though the pyre is burning.

Intro music by Eric Lynch


 


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#069 Neill Blomkamp: District 9 vs. Elysium




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Neill Blomkamp’s best and worst rated films, District 9 (2009) and Elysium (2013), respectively. Nate becomes a programmer, Austin feels better prepared for the future, and they both want to fight some fookin’ prawns.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 (2009) and Elysium (2013), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director Neill Blomkamp and actor Sharlto Copley about the making of District 9:


Elysium Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: In the year 2154, the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth. A man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.6 | RT 67% C / 58% A
  • Released: 2013
  • Director: Neill Blomkamp
  • Writer(s): Neill Blomkamp
  • Cinematographer: Trent Opaloch (Captain American: Civil War, Chappie)
  • Notable actors: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Brandon Auret, Josh Blacker, Emma Tremblay, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Faran Tahir, Adrian Holmes
  • Budget: $115 million
  • Box office: $286.1 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The biography of John Carlyle displayed by the computer indicates that he was born in 2010, which makes him about 144 years old.
    • When Kruger retrieves the rocket launcher from his vehicle, the name of the agency he is working for is seen– the “Civil Cooperation Bureau.” The South African Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB) was a government-sponsored under cover direct action intelligence agency during the apartheid era.
    • Kruger and his men incorporate numerous Afrikaans slang words into their dialogue. Examples include “Boet,” an informal derivative of “brother,” “Boykie,” meaning “little boy,” and “lekker,” a slang for approval.
    • The main role was first offered to Ninja, a South African rapper, who despite being a fan of District 9 (2009) (he has a D9 tattoo on his inner lip) did not take the role. The role was then offered to rapper Eminem, who also turned it down. So Neill Blomkamp moved on to Matt Damon as his next choice.
    • The line, “Don’t breathe on me… Cover your mouth!” spoken by John Carlyle to the Plant Manager was ad-libbed by William Fichtner.

District 9 Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: An extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who is exposed to their biotechnology.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.0 | RT 90% C / 82% A
  • Released: 2009
  • Director: Neill Blomkamp
  • Writer(s): Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Trent Opaloch (Captain American: Civil War, Chappie)
  • Notable actors: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt, John Sumner, William Allen Young, Nick Blake
  • Budget: $30 million
  • Box office: $210.8 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • After the feature film based on the Halo (2001) video game series (which was to be directed by Neill Blomkamp) fell through, producer Peter Jackson went to Blomkamp and offered him $30 million to make whatever he wanted. The result was District 9 (2009).
    • Around six different endings were created during filming.
    • The language used by the aliens (clicking sounds) was created by rubbing a pumpkin.
    • The first documentary-style film to be nominated for Best Picture Oscar.
    • The title is a nod to a real place and a real incident. District 6 was a mixed race neighborhood of Cape Town which the apartheid government demolished in 1966 to make room for whites.
    • Star Sharlto Copley had not acted before and had no intention of pursuing an acting career. He stumbled into the leading role as director Neill Blomkamp placed him on-camera during the short film.
    • All the shacks in District 9 were actual shacks that exist in a section of Johannesburg which were to be evacuated and the residents moved to better government housing, paralleling the events in the film. Also paralleling, the residents had not actually been moved out before filming began. The only shack that was created solely for filming was Christopher Johnson’s shack.
    • As part of the marketing campaign in North America and the United Kingdom, posters were put up in major cities on bus stops, the sides of buildings, etc., designating areas that were restricted for humans only, with a number to call (866.666.6001 in the U.S., 0207 148 7468 in the U.K.) in order to report non-humans. The title of the film was generally not included, although the URL address for the film’s official website was.
    • The idea of the prawns being obsessed with cat food came from two inspirations. In impoverished areas of Johannesburg, director Neill Blomkamp would see people selling cheese poofs and other snack foods out of large three-foot tall bags and wanted the aliens to have a similar cheap food. The decision to make them cat food came from one of the producers who used canned cat food to bait traps when fishing for prawns in Vancouver.
    • The creatures used in the small fighting arena were meant to be rodents/pests which were aboard the ship.

Intro music: Calm The Fuck Down – Broke For Free / CC BY 3.0