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#079 Andrew Dominik: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford vs. Killing Them Softly




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Andrew Dominik’s best and worst rated films, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and Killing Them Softly (2012), respectively. Nate oozes over the lighting, Austin tries to get over a cold, and they’re both surprised by how solid both of these films were.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST for our milestone 80th episode where we will compare George Lucas’ Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with actor Ben Mendelsohn and director Andrew Dominik about Killing Them Softly:


Killing Them Softly Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Jackie Cogan is an enforcer hired to restore order after three dumb guys rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.2 | RT 74% C / 44% A
  • Released: 2012
  • Director: Andrew Dominik
  • Writer(s): Andrew Dominik (screenplay), George V. Higgins (based on the novel “Cogan’s Trade” by)
  • Cinematographer: Greig Fraser (Foxcatcher, Rogue One, Zero Dark Thirty)
  • Notable actors: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Vincent Curatola, Ray Liotta, Trevor Long, Max Casella, Sam Shepard, Slaine, Linara Washington
  • Budget: $15 million
  • Box office: $37.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The Turkish former minister of culture found the movie so offensive that he told the press that he wanted the age bar for this movie to be raised from 13 to 18 or, if possible, remove it from the theaters altogether.
    • Originally titled Cogan’s Trade.
    • Richard Jenkins’s character is never seen standing. He is either sitting in his car or sitting on a bar stool.
    • The first feature film to use Kodak’s 500T 5230 film stock.
    • One of the three films that received an “F” CinemaScore from audiences upon their release in 2012, along with The Devil Inside (2012) and Silent House (2011).

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Robert Ford, who’s idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.5 | RT 76% C / 75% A
  • Released: 2007
  • Director: Andrew Dominik
  • Writer(s): Andrew Dominik (screenplay), Ron Hansen (novel)
  • Cinematographer: Roger Deakins (Fargo, No Country For Old Men, Sicario)
  • Notable actors: Brad Pitt, Mary-Louise Parker, Brooklynn Proulx, Dustin Bollinger, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, Jeremy Renner, Sam Shepard, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Schneider, Joel McNichol
  • Budget: $30 million
  • Box office: $15 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Brad Pitt’s personal favorite movie that he has acted in.
    • Of all the films made about Jesse James, his descendants have claimed that this is the most accurate. They were especially enthusiastic about Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck’s performances.
    • Cinematographer Roger Deakins has called the arrival of the train in darkness is one of the high points of his career.
    • According to Andrew Dominik, Brad Pitt’s contract stated that the movie’s name could not be changed.
    • In reality, Jesse James suffered from a syndrome that made him blink much more than the average person. Although it’s mentioned at the start of the film, Brad Pitt barely blinks during most of his scenes.
    • During filming, Sam Shepard was in his 60s and Brad Pitt was in his 40s. The characters they play are supposed to be in their 30s. Casey Affleck was in his early 30s, close to Robert Ford’s age during the epilogue, but much older than Ford’s age during the main plot.
    • Nick Cave’s score was written before the film was shot.
    • The original cut of the movie was nearly four hours long. It was edited down to two hours and forty minutes at the studio’s request. At one point, Pitt and exec producer Ridley Scott put together their own cut. When it tested poorly, they went back to Dominik’s cut. The 4-hour version played at least once, most notably at the Venice Film Festival.
    • A scene at the beginning reveals that half of Jesse James’ left middle finger is missing. The top half of Brad Pitt’s left middle finger was digitally erased in every scene in which his hands appeared.
    • Ron Hansen, writer of the novel, spent about a week on the set. He helped with editing and even had a cameo in the film. During an interview, Hansen lauded Casey Affleck, who he thought added his own perspective to the complicated character of Robert Ford. Hansen then said, “In some ways it feels like he was born to play this role.”
    • When Jesse goes looking for Jim Cummins, he introduces himself as Dick Turpin. A legendary English rogue and highway robber of the 1730s, Turpin was romanticized in English ballads and popular theatre of the 18th and 19th century. Dick Liddil introduces himself as Matt Collins, a play on Mattie Collins, Liddil’s wife.
    • Jeremy Renner was originally considered for the role of Robert Ford. He was rejected as too old.
    • The film had two production designers, Patricia Norris and Richard Hoover. Only one name could be listed in the credits, so both decided to go uncredited.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#078 George Romero: Dawn of the Dead vs. Survival of the Dead w/ guest Spenser Williamson




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare George Romero’s best and worst rated films, Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Survival of the Dead (2009), respectively. Nate hates that dumb teenager, Austin just wants to talk about U2 some more, and Spenser brought his notebook.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and Killing Them Softly (2012), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director George Romero about how he came up with the idea for Dawn of the Dead:


Survival of the Dead Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: On an island off the coast of North America, local residents simultaneously fight a zombie epidemic while hoping for a cure to return their un-dead relatives back to their human state.

  • Ratings: IMDb 4.9 | RT 29% C / 19% A
  • Released: 2009
  • Director: George Romero
  • Writer(s): George Romero
  • Cinematographer: Adam Swica (The Haunting in Connecticut, Diary of the Dead, The Art of the Steal)
  • Notable actors: Alan Van Sprang, Joshua Peace, Hardee T. Lineham, Dru Viergever, Eric Woolfe, Shawn Roberts, Scott Wentworth, Amy Lalonde
  • Budget: $4 million
  • Box office: $386 thousand
  • Fun Facts:
    • The very same horse seen in this film is featured in the pilot of The Walking Dead (2010).
    • This was the least successful film in George A. Romero’s Dead films series.
    • This film marks the first time that a character from a previous Living Dead film returns to star in a sequel, with Alan Van Sprang as Sarge “Nicotine” Crockett having been seen in Diary of the Dead (2007), and also playing Brubaker in Land of the Dead (2005). The only two other times this has come close to happening was Tom Savini reprising his role of Blades from Dawn of the Dead (1978) as a cameo in “Land of the Dead” in zombie form, and Joseph Pilato playing an unnamed police captain in “Dawn of the Dead” returning to play Captain Rhodes in Day of the Dead (1985).
    • The cast are almost all Canadian, the exception being Julian Richings who is from London, England. Thee movie was shot entirely in Canada.

Dawn of the Dead Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.0 | RT 93% C / 90% A
  • Released: 1978
  • Director: George Romero
  • Writer(s): George Romero
  • Cinematographer: Michael Gornick (Creepshow, Day of the Dead, Knightriders)
  • Notable actors: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, Richard France
  • Budget: $1.5 million
  • Box office: $55 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Tom Savini choose the gray color for the zombies’ skin, since Night of the Living Dead (1968) was in B&W and the zombie skin-tone was not depicted. He later said it was a mistake, because many of them ended up looking quite blue on film.
    • The two zombie children who attack Peter in the airport chart house are played by Donna Savini and Mike Savini, the real-life niece and nephew of Tom Savini. These are the only zombies in all of George A. Romero’s “Dead” films that spontaneously run and never do the trademark “Zombie shuffle”.
    • Filming at the Monroeville Mall took place during the winter of 1977-78, with a three-week reprieve during the Christmas shopping season (during which other footage, e.g. the TV studio, was shot). Filming at the mall began around 10 p.m., shortly after the mall closed, and finished at 6 a.m. The mall didn’t open until 9, but at 6 the Music came on and no one knew how to turn it off.
    • Dario Argento was an admirer of George A. Romero’s work, and vice-versa. When Argento heard that Romero was contemplating a sequel to Night of the Living Dead (1968) he insisted that Romero come out to Argento’s native Rome to write the script without distractions. Romero knocked out the script in 3 weeks and, though Argento read the script as it came out, he left all the writing to Romero. Argento also provided most of the film’s soundtrack and, in return for the rights to edit the European version of the film, assisted in raising the necessary funds.
    • Zombie actors took photographs of themselves dressed up in full zombie makeup inside a photo booth on the second floor. They then replaced the sample pictures on the front of the booth with the ghoulish ones.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#077 Tobe Hooper: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre vs. Night Terrors




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Tobe Hooper’s best and worst rated films, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Night Terrors (1993), respectively. Nate is going to have night terrors after watching that movie, Austin wants to know where Zoe went, and they both decide to stay away from cannibalistic murderous families in Texas.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Survival of the Dead (2009), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director Tobe Hooper about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre:


Night Terrors Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A young girl travels to Cairo to visit her father, and becomes unwillingly involved with a bizarre sadomasochistic cult led by the charismatic Paul Chevalier, who is a descendant of the Marquis de Sade.

  • Ratings: IMDb 3.3 | RT N/A % C / 7% A
  • Released: 1993
  • Director: Tobe Hooper
  • Writer(s): Rom Globus, Daniel Matmor
  • Cinematographer: Amnon Salomon (The Mangler, The Milky Way, Infiltration)
  • Notable actors: Robert Englund, Zoe Trilling, Alona Kimhi, Juliano Mer-Khamis, Chandra West, William Finley, Irit Sheleg
  • Budget: N/A
  • Box office: N/A
  • Fun Facts:
    • Director Gerry O’Hara left the project because he didn’t want to shoot a screenplay which envisioned the De Sade character in the eighteenth century.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Two siblings visit their grandfather’s grave in Texas along with three of their friends and are attacked by a family of cannibalistic psychopaths.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.5 | RT 88% C / 82% A
  • Released: 1974
  • Director: Tobe Hooper
  • Writer(s): Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper (screenplay by), Kim Henkel (story by)
  • Cinematographer: Daniel Pearl (Friday the 13th, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem)
  • Notable actors: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, John Dugan
  • Budget: $300 thousand
  • Box office: $30.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Marilyn Burns, whose character was chased by Leatherface through the undergrowth, actually cut herself on the branches quite badly, so a lot of the blood on her body and clothes is real.
    • Director Tobe Hooper claims to have got the idea for the film while standing in the hardware section of a crowded store. While thinking of a way to get out through the crowd, he spotted the chainsaws.
    • Surprisingly, this film is one of the least bloody horror films of all time. This is because Tobe Hooper intended to make the movie for a “PG” rating, by keeping violence moderate, language mild, and having most of the horror implied off-screen rather than shown in great detail onscreen. However, this plan had actually backfired, and made the film even more horrifying. Because despite cutting and repeated submissions, the Ratings Board insisted on an “X” rating, and it wasn’t until the film received the “R” rating when Hooper gave up and released it. Hooper had a similar ratings problem with the sequel.
    • According to John Larroquette, his payment for doing the opening narration was a marijuana joint.
    • Even in his lift boots, Gunnar Hansen could run faster than Marilyn Burns, so he had to do random things when chasing her through the woods (you’ll notice in one head-on shot that he starts slicing up tree branches in the background).
    • Leatherface had “lines” in the script that were gibberish with little side notes indicating what he was trying to say.
    • A still photo, taken during filming of the entire “Sawyer” family posing outside the house as a gag, was found and stolen from the set by a visiting German reporter, who took it back to West Germany with him, and the image of the family eventually became the advertising poster for the first release of the movie in West Germany.
    • The soundtrack contains no sounds from musical instruments (with the exception of some copyrighted music they had the rights to), instead they used sounds an animal would hear inside a slaughterhouse.
    • Tobe Hooper allowed Gunnar Hansen to develop Leatherface as he saw fit, under his supervision. Hansen decided that Leatherface was mentally handicapped and never learned to talk properly, so he went to a school for the mentally handicapped and watched how they moved and listened to them talk to get a feel for the character. He also tried his best to make his portrayal as non-offensive as he could. Many fans including those who are mentally handicapped, say he succeeded.
    • After getting into the old-age makeup, John Dugan decided that he did not ever want to go through the process again, meaning that all the scenes with him had to be filmed in the same session before he could take the makeup off. This entire process took about 36 hours (five of which which took to put the makeup on), during a brutal summer heat wave where the average temperature was over 100 degrees, with a large portion of it spent filming the dinner scene, with him wearing a heavy suit and necktie, sitting in a room filled with dead animals and rotting food with no air conditioning or electric fans. Everyone later recalled that the stench from the rotting food and people’s body odor was so terrible that some crew members passed out or became sick from the smell. Edwin Neal who played the hitch-hiker claimed: “Filming that scene was the worst time of my life . . . and I had been in Vietnam, with people trying to kill me, so I guess that shows how bad it was.”
    • Gunnar Hansen wore three-inch heels so that he was taller than the rest of the cast, but it meant that he had to duck to get through the doorways in the slaughterhouse.
    • Gunnar Hansen said that, during filming, he didn’t get along very well with Paul A. Partain, who played Franklin. A few years later he met Partain again and realized that Partain, a method actor, had simply chosen to stay in character even when not filming. The two remained good friends up to Partain’s death.
    • Due to the low budget, Gunnar Hansen had only one shirt to wear as Leatherface. The shirt had been dyed, so it could not be washed; Hansen had to wear it for four straight weeks of filming in the hot and humid Texas summer. By the end of the shoot, no one wanted to stand near Hansen or sit next to him during breaks to eat lunch because his clothing smelled so bad.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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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