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#062 John Boorman: Deliverance vs. Exorcist II: The Heretic


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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare John Boorman’s best and worst rated films, Deliverance (1972) and Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), respectively. Nate finally rates a film 1/10, Austin is possessed by Pazuzu, and they both squeal like a pig.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein (1974) and Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with the cast of Deliverance:


Exorcist II: The Heretic Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A teenage girl once possessed by a demon finds that it still lurks within her. Meanwhile, a priest investigates the death of the girl’s exorcist.

  • Ratings: IMDb 3.7 | RT 20% C / 13% A
  • Released: 1977
  • Director: John Boorman
  • Writer(s): William Goodhart (written by), John Boorman and Rospo Pallenberg (uncredited)
  • Cinematographer: William A. Fraker (Rosemary’s Baby, Tombstone)
  • Notable actors: Linda Blair, Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher, Max von Sydow, Kitty Winn, Paul Henreid, James Earl Jones, Ned Beatty
  • Budget: $14 million
  • Box office: $30.7 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • William Friedkin, director of the first film, told a story, recalled to by a Warner Bros. executive, at the Chicago Critics Film Festival in April 2013. Studio heads came to the sneak preview of “Exorcist II” in a limo, and told the drivers to go get fast food. They entered the auditorium, and within 10 minutes into the film, an audience member stood up, glanced into the crowd, and proclaimed: “The people who made this piece of shit are in this room!” 10 or 12 other audience members gathered to find the executives. The heads rushed out of the theater and realized that there were no cars to make their escape. They were subsequently chased down the street by a group of angry audience members.
    • The original cast and crew of The Exorcist (1973) were very much opposed to a sequel. William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty actually met to discuss ideas at one point, but when they failed to develop a suitable premise, they abandoned the project. Both Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn turned down repeated offers by the studio, though Blair eventually agreed to return when presented with what she considered a good script. However, according to Blair, due to various rewrites the script ended up a total mess. By that point, however, she was contractually bound to a sequel, and unable to drop out of the project.
    • The original, opening night version of this film was so poorly received that the audience at a theater on Hollywood Blvd. actually threw things at the screen to express their disgust when it was over.
    • Stanley Kubrick turned down the offer to direct. When John Boorman accepted, Kubrick warned him that the only way a sequel to “The Exorcist” would succeed is if it were to be more graphic and horrific than the original.
    • Linda Blair has said that Richard Burton started out sober, but frequently became drunk during the middle and end of filming. She also says that tensions were high among the cast.

Deliverance Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.7 | RT 93% C / 82% A
  • Released: 1972
  • Director: John Boorman
  • Writer(s): James Dickey (screenplay), James Dickey (novel), John Boorman (additional dialogue)
  • Cinematographer: Vilmos Zsigmond (The Deer Hunter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind)
  • Notable actors: Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox, Billy Redden, Bill McKinney, Herbert Coward
  • Budget: $2 million
  • Box office: $46.1 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • In the year after the film’s release, more than 30 people drowned in the Chattooga River while trying to replicate the characters’ adventures.
    • To minimize costs, the production wasn’t insured, and the actors did their own stunts. Jon Voight actually climbed the cliff.
    • The rape scene was filmed in one take, largely because Ned Beatty didn’t want to film it repeatedly.
    • To save costs and add to the realism, local residents were cast in the roles of the hill people.
    • According to director John Boorman, the gas station attendant’s jig during “Dueling Banjos” was unscripted and spontaneous.
    • Burt Reynolds broke his coccyx while going down the rapids when the canoe capsized. Originally, a cloth dummy was used, but it looked too much like a dummy going over a waterfall. While Reynolds recovered, he asked, “How did it look?” Boorman replied, “Like a dummy going over a waterfall.”
    • Much of the film had to have its color desaturated because the river looked too pretty.
    • “Dueling Banjos” was the first scene shot. The rest of the movie was almost entirely shot in sequence.
    • The rape scene as originally scripted consisted mainly of swearing. The “squeal like a pig” phrase was an attempt to “clean up” the scene for TV viewing. John Boorman liked the “cleaner” version, and used it in the film.
    • Much of the dialogue is taken almost verbatim from the source novel.
    • Burt Reynolds breakthrough role, transforming him from an actor to a film superstar.

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


 

The Best and Worst of the Best Podcast is a show where host’s Nate and Austin compare a film director’s best and worst rated movies to see where they went wrong.

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#060 Francis Ford Coppola: The Godfather vs. Tonight for Sure w/ guest Jairo Benavides of “True Bromance Podcast”


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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Francis Ford Coppola’s best and worst rated films, The Godfather (1972) and Tonight for Sure (1962), respectively. Nate experiences one of the worst films he’s ever seen, Austin isn’t a fan of Part III, and Jairo takes on another Coppola.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Sydney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men (1957) and Gloria (1999), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with Francis Ford Coppola about The Godfather:


Tonight for Sure Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: On the Las Vegas strip, two unlikely men rendezvous: Samuel Hill, an ill-kempt desert miner, and Benjamin Jabowski, a John Birch Society dandy from the city.

  • Ratings: IMDb 3.2 | RT N/A C / N/A A
  • Released: 1962
  • Director: Francis Ford Coppola
  • Writer(s): Jerry Shaffer and Francis Ford Coppola (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Jack Hill
  • Notable actors: Karl Schanzer, Don Kenney, Marli Renfro
  • Budget: N/A
  • Box office: N/A
  • Fun Facts:
    • Director Francis Ford Coppola shot the film in a motel room in two days and slept in the same room after filming was done for each day.
    • Cast member Marli Renfro had earlier appeared as Janet Leigh’s nude body double in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960).

The Godfather Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

  • Ratings: IMDb 9.2 | RT 99% C / 98% A
  • Released: 1972
  • Director: Francis Ford Coppola
  • Writer(s): Mario Puza and Francis Ford Coppola (screenplay), Mario Puzo (novel)
  • Cinematographer: Gordon Willis (Annie Hall, All the President’s Men)
  • Notable actors: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard S. Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, Al Lettieri, Diane Keaton, Abe Vigoda, Talia Shire, Gianni Russo, John Cazale
  • Budget: $7 million
  • Box office: $245.1 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Lenny Montana (Luca Brasi) was so nervous about working with Marlon Brando that in the first take of their scene together, he flubbed some lines. Director Francis Ford Coppola liked the genuine nervousness and used it in the final cut. The scenes of Luca practicing his speech were added later.
    • During an early shot of the scene where Vito Corleone returns home and his people carry him up the stairs, Marlon Brando put weights under his body on the bed as a prank, to make it harder to lift him.
    • Animal rights activists protested the horse’s head scene. Francis Ford Coppola told Variety, “There were many people killed in that movie, but everyone worries about the horse. It was the same on the set. When the head arrived, it upset many crew members who are animal lovers, who like little doggies. What they don’t know is that we got the head from a pet food manufacturer who slaughters two hundred horses a day just to feed those little doggies.”
    • Marlon Brando wanted to make Don Corleone “look like a bulldog,” so he stuffed his cheeks with cotton wool for the audition. For the actual filming, he wore a mouthpiece made by a dentist. This appliance is on display in the American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York.
    • James Caan improvised the part where he throws the FBI photographer to the ground. The extra’s frightened reaction is genuine. Caan also came up with the idea of throwing money at the man to make up for breaking his camera. As he put it, “Where I came from, you broke something, you replaced it or repaid the owner.”
    • The scenes in which Enzo comes to visit Vito Corleone in the hospital were shot in reverse, with the outside scene shot first. Gabriele Torrei, the actor who plays Enzo, had never acted in front of a camera before and his nervous shaking, after the car drives away, was real.
    • There was intense friction between Francis Ford Coppola and Paramount, in which [Paramount] frequently tried to have Coppola replaced, citing his inability to stay on schedule, unnecessary expenses, and production and casting errors (Coppola actually completed the film ahead of schedule and budget).
    • Marlon Brando did not memorize most of his lines and read from cue cards during most of the film.
    • The cat held by Marlon Brando in the opening scene was a stray the actor found while on the lot at Paramount, and was not originally called for in the script. So content was the cat that its purring muffled some of Brando’s dialogue, and, as a result, most of his lines had to be looped.
    • The smack that Vito gives Johnny Fontane was not in the script. Marlon Brando improvised the smack and Al Martino’s confused reaction was real. According to James Caan, “Martino didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
    • According to Al Pacino, the tears in Marlon Brando’s eyes were real, in the hospital scene when Michael pledges himself to his father.
    • The scene where Sonny beats up Carlo (Connie’s husband) took four days to shoot and featured more than 700 extras. The use of the garbage can lid was improvised by James Caan.
    • Cinematographer Gordon Willis earned himself the nickname ‘”The Prince of Darkness,” since his sets were so underlit. Paramount executives initially thought that the footage was too dark, until persuaded otherwise by Willis and Francis Ford Coppola that it was to emphasize the shadiness of the Corleone family’s dealings.
    • According to Richard S. Castellano, he defended Gordon Willis during a disagreement Willis was having with Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola got revenge on Castellano by making him do twenty takes of the shots of Clemenza walking up four flight of stairs.

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


 

The Best and Worst of the Best Podcast is a show where host’s Nate and Austin compare a film director’s best and worst rated movies to see where they went wrong.

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#058 Peter Weir: The Truman Show vs. Green Card


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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Peter Weir’s best and worst rated films, The Truman Show (1998) and Green Card (1990), respectively. Nate was completely taken by surprise with every twist and turn of Green Card, Austin hates the French, and they both oggle over Jim Carrey some more.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys (1995) and The Brothers Grimm (2005), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out these interviews with the cast of The Truman Show:


Green Card Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A man wanting to stay in the US enters into a marriage of convenience, but it turns into more than that.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.2 | RT 56% C / 51% A
  • Released: 1990
  • Director: Peter Weir
  • Writer(s): Peter Weir (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Geoffrey Simpson (Shine, The Sessions, Little Women)
  • Notable actors: Gerard Depardieu, Andie MacDowell, Bebe Neuwirth, Gregg Edelman, Robert Prosky
  • Budget: N/A
  • Box office: $29.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Star Andie MacDowell was totally surprised when Peter Weir asked her to gain weight. She had always been asked to do the opposite.
    • First American film for and first film shot in the USA of French actor Gérard Depardieu.
    • The picture was Oscar nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Peter Weir but lost out to Bruce Joel Rubin for Ghost (1990). The film remains Weir’s only ever Oscar nomination for screen-writing. Of Weir’s six nominations [to date, June 2015], four are for directing, and one each for producing and for writing (Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen) the latter being for Green Card (1990).
    • Green Card (1990) was the first cinema movie helmed by director Peter Weir after his critically acclaimed film Dead Poets Society (1989).

The Truman Show Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a television show.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.1 | RT 94% C / 88% A
  • Released: 1998
  • Director: Peter Weir
  • Writer(s): Andrew Niccol (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Peter Biziou (Life of Brian, In the Name of the Father)
  • Notable actors: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Brian Delate, Peter Krause, Ted Raymond, Judy Clayton, Ed Harris, Paul Giamatti, Harry Shearer, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Glass
  • Budget: $60 million
  • Box office: $264.1 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Ed Harris and Jim Carrey never met during filming.
    • In an interview, director Peter Weir stated he wanted to have cameras installed in every theater the film was shown in, having the projectionist at one point cut the power, cut to the viewers, and then cut back to the movie.
    • The Trumania bit, where Truman draws on the mirror with soap and acts strange, was completely improvised by Jim Carrey. In another take, he drew long curly hair and a dress.
    • People on the set were forbidden from uttering phrases from Jim Carrey’s past “silly” movies.
    • In an early scene, a bottle of vitamin D is on on Truman and Meryl’s kitchen table, needed for those without exposure to the (real) sun.
    • According to a 2008 New York Times article, psychologists in Britain and the U.S. reported a number of people experiencing “Truman Syndrome” or “the Truman Show delusion,” the belief that they are the unwitting star of their own reality TV show. Reportedly, many of those afflicted have specifically mentioned the film while in therapy. More recently, on September 16, 2013, the detailed account of one Ohio student who suffered for years from the Truman-Show delusion is documented in the New Yorker magazine article, “Unreality Star,” by Andrew Marantz.
    • The film is studied in Media Ethics courses, particularly focusing on the characters of creator Christof, best friend Marlon and the “prostituting” of Truman’s wife, Meryl.
    • Jim Carrey was Peter Weir’s first choice to play Truman from the outset.

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


 

The Best and Worst of the Best Podcast is a show where host’s Nate and Austin compare a film director’s best and worst rated movies to see where they went wrong.

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#057 Ron Howard: A Beautiful Mind vs. The Dilemma


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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Ron Howard’s best and worst rated films, A Beautiful Mind (2001) and Great Expectations (2011), respectively. Nate wakes up a new person and doesn’t hate the afternoon killer, Austin hates Jennifer Connelly, and Ramsey wished he was invited onto the Tyler Perry episode, his favorite director.

You can find out more about Ramsey’s Road Cinema Reviews show on his Facebook here.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Peter Weir’s The Truman Show (1998) and Green Card (1990), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with Ron Howard discussing A Beautiful Mind:


The Dilemma Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A man discovers that his best friend’s wife is having an affair.

  • Ratings: IMDb 5.3 | RT 24% C / 29% A
  • Released: 2011
  • Director: Ron Howard (Rush, Apollo 13)
  • Writer(s): Allan Loeb (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Salvatore Totino (The Da Vinci Code, Cinderella Man, Frost/Nixon)
  • Notable actors: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Channing Tatum, Queen Latifah, Amy Morton, Chelcie Ross
  • Budget: $70 million
  • Box office: $69.7 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The film’s trailer caused an almighty fuss because of one line where Vince Vaughn’s character says “Electric cars are gay. I mean, not homosexual gay, but my-parents-are-chaperoning-the-dance gay”. Universal contacted the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to see how they felt about it; not surprisingly GLAAD were not keen on it. Sure enough, the trailer attracted a lot of criticism for this one line when it was released, even being publicly criticized by Anderson Cooper. Universal were forced to release a new trailer without the offending line. Ron Howard, however, refused to cut the line from the film itself as he felt it was tantamount to censorship.
    • During shooting in the United Center for the “Shoot the Puck” scene, Kevin James actually made it into the net while practicing for the scene. The extras in the United Center erupted with “Chelsea Dagger” to commemorate his accomplishment.

A Beautiful Mind Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: After John Nash, a brilliant but asocial mathematician, accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.2 | RT 75% C / 93% A
  • Released: 2001
  • Director: Ron Howard (Rush, Apollo 13)
  • Writer(s): Akiva Goldsman (written by), Sylvia Nasar (book)
  • Cinematographer: Roger Deakins (The Shawshank Redemption, No Country for Old Men, Sicario)
  • Notable actors: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Paul Bettany, Adam Goldberg, Josh Lucas, Anthony Rapp, Jason Gray-Stanford, Judd Hirsch
  • Budget: $58 million
  • Box office: $313 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The equations seen on the classroom chalk boards are actual equations written by the real life John Nash.
    • John Nash visited the set, and Russell Crowe said later that he had been fascinated by the way he moved his hands, and he had tried to do the same thing in the movie. He thought it would help him get into the character.
    • Nash’s mutterings after he loses the board game (along the lines of “the game is flawed,” “I had the first move, I should have won”) are in reference to “Game Theory,” the economic theory that John Nash is probably most famous for.
    • The film was shot in sequence in order to help Russell Crowe develop a consistently progressing manner of behavior.
    • The Riemann Hypothesis mentioned throughout the movie is a real and famous problem in mathematics that has gone unsolved (it has not been proved yet) for nearly 150 years. Many other important theories have been proved on the condition that the Riemann Hypothesis holds, hence its importance. In the year 2000, the Clay Mathematics Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts listed the Riemann Hypothesis as one of seven “Millennium Prize Problems” and offered a $1,000,000 reward to the person that proves it.
    • The scene towards the end of the film, where John Nash contemplates drinking tea, is based on a true event when Russell Crowe met the real John Nash. He spent fifteen minutes contemplating whether to drink tea or coffee.
    • To create the “golden” look of the campus scenes early in the film, the filmmakers took a low-contrast stock (Fuji F-400 8582) and exposed it to an orange light before loading it into the camera for shooting.
    • John Nash is shown smoking in the film. In reality, he was a militant anti-smoker.
    • Barnard College professor Dave Bayer served as the math advisor on the film, and also was Russell Crowe’s hand double for the scenes where he is writing equations on windows, etc.

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


 

The Best and Worst of the Best Podcast is a show where host’s Nate and Austin compare a film director’s best and worst rated movies to see where they went wrong.

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#054 Bong Joon-Ho: Memories of Murder vs. Snowpiercer w/ guest Eric Lynch


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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Bong Joon-Ho’s best and worst rated films, Memories of Murder (2003) and Snowpiercer (2013), respectively. Nate wanted to find out who the damn killer was, Austin wants Eric to soar, and Eric has to change his rating on Snowpiercer.

Check back Sunday, March 26 at 7pm PST where we will compare James Wan’s Saw (2004) and Dead Silence (2007), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview of Bong Joon-ho about his film Snowpiercer:


Snowpiercer Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system emerges.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.0 | RT 95% C / 72% A
  • Released: 2013
  • Director: Bong Joon-ho
  • Writer(s): Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterston (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Kyung-pyo Hong (Mother, The Wailing)
  • Notable actors: Chris Evans, Kang-ho Song, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner, Ah-sung Ko, Alison Pill, Luke Pasqualino
  • Budget: $40 million
  • Box office: $86.8 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • There was no other light than the torch itself while the torchlight scene was filmed.
    • Joon-ho Bong had reservations about casting Chris Evans in the lead role because of his muscular physique. He felt that as a resident of the extremely poverty-stricken tail section, Curtis should not be especially physically fit. Costuming and careful camera angles kept Evans’ physique from showing.
    • Chris Evans thought the scene where he slips on a fish was ridiculous. Joon-ho Bong had to persuade him that it is one of his twists.
    • Director Joon-ho Bong explained that the ‘protein block’ from the movie was really made by combining seaweed, tangle, sugar and gelatin. Jamie Bell hated it, while Tilda Swinton liked it.
    • The drawings in the tail section of Snowpiercer were illustrated by Jean-Marc Rochette, the original comic artist of the graphic novel Le Transperceneige.
    • According to the filmmakers, train-babies like Yona developed animalistic hearing skills.
    • Joon-ho Bong first wrote the part of Mason with John C. Reilly in mind, but then adapted the character for Tilda Swinton, though he intentionally left lines of Mason being referred to in the masculine-form in the script, which show up in the movie.

Memories of Murder Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: In a small Korean province in 1986, three detectives struggle with the case of multiple young women being found raped and murdered by an unknown culprit.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.0 | RT 89% C / 93% A
  • Released: 2003
  • Director: Bong Joon-ho
  • Writer(s): Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterston (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Hyung-ku Kim (The Host, The Warrior, Together with You)
  • Notable actors: Kang-ho Song, Sang-kyung Kim, Roe-ha Kim, Jae-ho Song
  • Budget: $2.8 million
  • Box office: $86.8 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Beginning in June 2000, it took Joon-ho Bong a year to write the script for Memories of Murder (2003), yet he has stated that: “For the first six months, I didn’t write a line of the script. I just did research.”
    • Joon-ho Bong has stated that the script for Memories of Murder (2003) was directly influenced by Alan Moore’s comic book From Hell, and that he was also “a bit disappointed with the Hughes brothers’ film of it.”
    • When Kwang-Ho was investigated in the basement of the police station, the two police officers and a suspect watched a TV program while eating their meals. The title of this program is “Soo Sa Ban Jang” which can be loosely interpreted as “Investigation Squad” in English. It was a famous TV detective drama which was aired for almost twenty years. The opening music was also very popular during that time.
    • Despite the film being based on a series of real murders in the Korean provincial town of Hwaeseong during the 1980s, Joon-ho Bong also drew a lot inspiration from a play called ‘Come See Me’ which dramatized the incidents, to the extent that he stated in an interview: “If it weren’t for KIM Gwang-rim’s play [Come See Me], I would have had a lot of problems establishing the structure.” While he also gained the idea for the depiction of the era from the graphic novel ‘From Hell’ by the writer Alan Moore, which was given to Bong by the journalist Tony Rayns as a gift.
    • Director Quentin Tarantino named it, along with Bong’s The Host (2006), as one of his Top 20 favorite movies since 1992.
    • In order to make his character Detective Seo look properly worn-out by the stress of the case, actor Kim Sang-kyung deliberately limited his food intake and slept fewer hours.

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


 

The Best and Worst of the Best Podcast is a show where host’s Nate and Austin compare a film director’s best and worst rated movies to see where they went wrong.

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#052 James Mangold: Walk the Line vs. Knight and Day


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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare James Mangold’s best and worst rated films, Walk the Line (2005) and Knight and Day (2010), respectively. Nate hates afternoon killers, Austin essentially financed Knight and Day, and they both continue their love affair with Joaquin Phoenix.

Check back Sunday, March 26 at 7pm PST where we will compare John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and Phobia (1980), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director James Mangold discussing Knight and Day:


Knight and Day Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A young woman gets mixed up with a disgraced spy who is trying to clear his name.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.3 | RT 52% C / 49% A
  • Released: 2010
  • Director: James Mangold
  • Writer(s): Patrick O’Neill (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Phedon Papamichael (The Pursuit of Happyness, 3:10 to Yuma)
  • Notable actors: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Jordi Molla, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, Falk Hentschel, Marc Blucas, Lennie Loftin, Maggie Grace, Rich Manley, Dale Dye, Celia Weston, Gal Gadot
  • Budget: $117 million
  • Box office: $261.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz did a majority of the stunts on their own. Cruise and Diaz are avid drivers, and have experience in doing sharp turns and 180s.
    • Tom Cruise wanted to do another spy thriller, but he thought Salt (2010) and The Tourist (2010) were too similar to his Mission: Impossible (1996) franchise. He ultimately chose this project once it became an espionage thriller with comic elements.
    • With the exception of Roy Miller falling off during the rooftop chase in Austria, Tom Cruise did most of the running and jumping without any wire works.
    • Chris Tucker, Adam Sandler, and Gerard Butler were all considered for the lead role before Tom Cruise signed on.
    • All the car crashes were recorded on studio lots and digitally imposed in the film.
    • Over twelve writers worked on the film but the Writers Guild of America ruled that only one of them, Patrick O’Neill, should be credited. Some of the other uncredited writers were Scott Frank, Laeta Kalogridis, Ted Griffin, Dana Fox, and Simon Kinberg.
    • Eva Mendes was cast as the female lead when Chris Tucker was attached to the project.

Walk the Line Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: A chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash’s life, from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis, where he recorded alongside Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.9 | RT 82% C / 90% A
  • Released: 2005
  • Director: James Mangold
  • Writer(s): Johnny Cash (book), Gill Dennis & James Mangold (written by), Patrick Carr (book)
  • Cinematographer: Phedon Papamichael (The Pursuit of Happyness, 3:10 to Yuma)
  • Notable actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin,, Dallas Roberts, Dan John Miller, Larry Bagby, Shelby Lynne, Tyler Hilton, Waylon Payne, Shooter Jennings, Sandra Ellis Lafferty
  • Budget: $28 million
  • Box office: $186.4 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • When Cash wakes up on the tour bus, just after the Folsom Prison performance, he walks past guitarist Luther Perkins, who is passed-out with a lit cigarette in his mouth, and puts the cigarette out. Perkins died a few months after the ‘At Folsom Prison’ recording/performance. He fell asleep in his Tennessee home with a lit cigarette in his mouth, and died from injuries sustained in the resulting fire.
    • During one scene Johnny Cash is high and performing “I Got Stripes”, he walks right up to June Carter and glares at her for an uncomfortably long period of time on stage. According to the director, James Mangold, this was unscripted and improvised by the actors. Mangold said that he simply told Joaquin Phoenix to do what he would do in real life if he were angry at his girlfriend and then had to perform on stage with her. Much to Phoenix’s surprise, this backfired and Reese Witherspoon responded to his actions by simply rolling her eyes, and continuing to perform the song. Phoenix later said that her reaction threw him off because his goal had been to make her as uncomfortable as possible on stage.
    • Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon performed all of the songs themselves, without being dubbed. They also learned to play their instruments (guitar and auto-harp, respectively) from scratch.
    • The film was screened for the inmates of Folsom Prison, 38 years after Johnny Cash’s landmark performance.
    • The director said that Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon developed a very codependent relationship during filming. According to him, after the filming wrapped, Phoenix admitted to him that he and Witherspoon had relied on each other so much that they made a secret pact. The deal was that if one of them left or dropped out, the other would leave as well.
    • The scene in which Johnny Cash pulls the sink off the wall was not scripted; Joaquin Phoenix actually pulled it off the wall.

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


 

The Best and Worst of the Best Podcast is a show where host’s Nate and Austin compare a film director’s best and worst rated movies to see where they went wrong.

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#051 Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Amélie vs. Alien: Resurrection


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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s best and worst rated films, Amélie (2001) and Alien: Resurrection (1997), respectively. Nate spoils the entire Alien franchise, Austin got too hyped over  Amélie, and they both just wanted Alien: Resurrection to not exist.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare James Mangold’s Walk the Line (2005) and Knight and Day (2010), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet discussing Amélie:


Alien: Resurrection Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Two centuries after her death, Ellen Ripley is revived as a powerful human/alien hybrid clone who must continue her war against the aliens.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.3 | RT 54% C / 40% A
  • Released: 1997
  • Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  • Writer(s): Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett (characters), Joss Whedon (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Darius Khondji (Se7en, Midnight in Paris)
  • Notable actors: Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman, Gary Dourdan, Michael Wincott, Kim Flowers, Dan Hedaya, J.E. Freeman, Brad Dourif, Raymond Cruz, Leland Orser
  • Budget: $60-75 million
  • Box office: $160.7 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Sigourney Weaver made the behind-the-back half-court basketball shot successfully after 3 weeks of basketball practice, tutored by a basketball coach. Her conversion rate during this time was 1 of overt 6 shots. When the day came to shoot the scene, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet wanted to have the ball dropped in from above, rather than wait for Weaver to sink the shot herself, which “would probably take about 200 takes.” Weaver insisted she could get the shot in herself, and was allowed to do. Though it is commonly said that she sunk the basket on her first attempt, it actually took her endless takes to complete the stunt. Jean-Pierre Juenet gave her one last try to sink the basket before they would give up and use CGI or a second ball. The very next take, Sigourney Weaver successfully managed the trick. Ron Perlman was completely stunned (and thoroughly impressed), and turned directly at the camera and broke character, saying; “Oh my God!” The editors looked at the shot, and decided there was “enough room to get the scissors in.” Weaver was excited about making the shot, but Jeunet was concerned audiences would believe the shot to be faked due to the ball leaving the frame. Upon Weaver’s insistence, he kept the shot as it was. Weaver described the miracle shot as “one of the best moments in her life”, after her wedding day, and the birth of her daughter.
    • Actor Ron Perlman nearly drowned while filming the underwater sequence. At one point, when trying to surface, he hit his head on a sprinkler in the ceiling, knocking him out cold. He was rescued by nearby film crew members.
    • When pre-production was underway, the original ‘Alien Queen’ could not be located and the molds that were used to build the original were damaged beyond usefulness. Fortunately, the original life-size puppet was located… in the personal collection of an avid Alien (1979) fan.
    • The opening shot of Ripley cloned, albeit as a young girl, was based on photographs which Sigourney Weaver had given the special effects crew of herself as a child.
    • Jean-Pierre Jeunet wanted to have a scene where a mosquito stings Ripley, then vanishes into smoke because of her acid blood. Eventually, he dropped the idea after the SFX team told him how much it would cost.
    • Sigourney Weaver signed on to the film largely because of one scene in particular – when Ripley 8 encounters her previous 7 aborted genetic incarnations.

Amélie Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Amélie is an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.4 | RT 89% C / 95% A
  • Released: 2001
  • Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  • Writer(s): Guillaume Laurant and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (scenario), Guillaume Laurant (dialogue)
  • Cinematographer: Bruno Delbonnel (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dark Shadows)
  • Notable actors: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Jamel Debbouze, Dominique Pinon, Yolande Moreau, Maurice Benichou, Michel Robin
  • Budget: $10 million
  • Box office: $173.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Whenever this film was shot on location, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and the crew would clean the area of debris, grime, trash and graffiti, so that the film would match his fantasy more so. This was an especially difficult task when it came time to shoot at the huge train station.
    • The main colors in the film (green, yellow and red) are inspired by the paintings of the Brazilian artist Juarez Machado.
    • The traveling gnome was inspired by a rash of similar pranks played in England and France in the 1990s. In 1997, a French court convicted the leader of Front de Libération des Nains de Jardins (Garden Gnome Liberation Front) of stealing over 150 gnomes. The idea was later used in an advertising campaign for an Internet travel agency.
    • It was in 1974 that Jean-Pierre Jeunet began collecting the memories and events that make up the story of Amélie.
    • Jean-Pierre Jeunet originally wanted Michael Nyman to score the film, but was unable to get him. Someone then gave Jeunet a CD by Yann Tiersen, who composes in a similar minimalist style, but with an extremely quirky, eclectic mix of instruments. Jeunet fell in love with the music and scored the film largely with existing pieces by Tiersen, for which he bought the rights. In addition, Tiersen wrote an original main theme, “La Valse d’Amelie,” which was recorded in numerous variations and used throughout the film.
    • Audrey Tautou doesn’t know how to skip stones; the stone-skipping scenes were made with special effects.
    • With the exception of brief exchanges on the phone at Sacre Coeur and in person in the Deux Moulins; Amélie and Nino do not exchange a single line of dialogue during the course of the entire film.

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


 

The Best and Worst of the Best Podcast is a show where host’s Nate and Austin compare a film director’s best and worst rated movies to see where they went wrong.

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#050 Martin Scorsese: Goodfellas vs. Boxcar Bertha w/ guest Brandon Calvillo of “The Last Job”


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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Martin Scorsese’s best and worst rated films, Goodfellas (1990) and Boxcar Bertha (1972), respectively. Nate really enjoyed the extensive use of banjo music, Austin has a whole side episode dedicated to Leo, and Brandon asks a very simple question about Boxcar Bertha: why?

Brandon has a variety of other content that can be found on his Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Also be sure to check out his recent short film, The Last Job.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie (2001) and Alien: Resurrection (1997), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview of director Martin Scorsese discussing Goodfellas:


Boxcar Bertha Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: During the depression, a union leader and a young woman become criminals to exact revenge on the management of a railroad.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.1 | RT 48% C / 34% A
  • Released: 1972
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Writer(s): Ben L. Reitman (book), Joyce Hooper Corrington & John William Corrington (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: John M. Stephens (Sorcerer, Billy Jack)
  • Notable actors: Barbara Hershey, David Carradine, Barry Primus, Bernie Casey, John Carradine, Victor Argo, Harry Northup
  • Budget: $600 thousand
  • Box office: N/A
  • Fun Facts:
    • After he finished this film, Martin Scorsese screened it for John Cassavetes. Cassavetes, after seeing it, hugged Scorsese and said, “Marty, you’ve just spent a whole year of your life making a piece of shit. It’s a good picture, but you’re better than the people who make this kind of movie. Don’t get hooked into the exploitation market, just try and do something different.” Scorsese’s next film was Mean Streets (1973).
    • David Carradine and Barbara Hershey were a couple at the time of filming.
    • Martin Scorsese personally drew about 500 storyboards for this film
    • The train sequences were shot first and they took about a week. This was done to get the most complicated element of the production, working with a moving train, out of the way first.
    • There was a rumor that Roger Corman’s wife Julie Corman obtained the film rights to the story from Bertha Thompson herself after tracking her down in a San Francisco hotel room; she never actually met Thompson–because Thompson wouldn’t open the door-but that rumor wasn’t true. It may haver been a pre-release publicity stunt or maybe even a trick played on the Cormans by the true owner of the story, author Ben L. Reitman; the afterword in the fourth re-issue of the book “Boxcar Bertha” explained that the book is a work of fiction, and that the character Bertha Thompson was an amalgam of at least three women that Reitman knew, but was mostly modeled on a woman named Retta Toble.

GoodFellas Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.7 | RT 97% C / 97% A
  • Released: 1990
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Writer(s): Nicholas Pileggi (book), Nicholas Pileggi & Martin Scorsese (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Michael Ballhaus (The Departed, Gangs of New York)
  • Notable actors: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Fran Sivero, Tony Darry, Mike Starr, Frank Vincent
  • Budget: $25 million
  • Box office: $46.8 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The now-legendary Steadicam trip through the nightclub kitchen was a happy accident. Scorsese had been denied permission to go through the front, and had to improvise an alternative.
    • In a documentary entitled The Real Goodfella (2006), which aired in the UK, Henry Hill claimed that Robert De Niro would phone him seven to eight times a day to discuss certain things about Jimmy’s character, such as how Jimmy would hold his cigarette, etc.
    • According to the real Henry Hill, whose life was the basis for the book and film, Joe Pesci’s portrayal of Tommy DeSimone was 90% to 99% accurate, with one notable exception; the real Tommy DeSimone was a massively built, strapping man.
    • According to Nicholas Pileggi, some actual mobsters were hired as extras to lend authenticity to scenes. The mobsters gave fake Social Security numbers to Warner Bros. and it is unknown how they received their paychecks.
    • Martin Scorsese first got wind of Nicholas Pileggi’s book “Wiseguy” when he was handed the galley proofs. Although Scorsese had sworn off making another gangster movie, he immediately cold-called the writer and told him, “I’ve been waiting for this book my entire life.” To which Pileggi replied, “I’ve been waiting for this phone call my entire life.”
    • According to Ray Liotta, Martin Scorsese was so involved in every detail of the cast’s wardrobe that he tied Liotta’s tie himself to make sure it was accurate for the film’s setting.
    • Al Pacino was offered the role of Jimmy Conway, but he turned it down due to fears of typecasting. Ironically, that same year Pacino ended up playing an even more stereotyped gangster – Big Boy Caprice in Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy (1990). He admits he regrets this decision.
    • The movie’s line “As far back as I could remember I’ve always wanted to be a gangster.” was voted as the #20 of “The 100 Greatest Movie Lines” by Premiere in 2007.
    • Robert De Niro wanted to use real money for the scene where Jimmy hands out money. The prop master gave De Niro 5,000 dollars of his own money. At the end of each take, no one was allowed to leave the set until all the money was returned and counted.
    • After Joe Pesci’s mother saw the film, she told her son that the movie was good, then asked him if he had to curse so much.
    • Ray Liotta’s mother died of cancer during filming. Liotta says that he used his anger over losing his mother for certain scenes, the pistol-whipping scene in particular.
    • The studio was initially very nervous about the film, due to its extreme violence and language. The film reportedly received the worst preview response in the studio’s history. Scorsese said that “the numbers were so low it was funny.” Nevertheless, the film was released without alteration to overwhelming critical acclaim, cementing Scorsese’s reputation as America’s foremost filmmaker.
    • Although Scorsese and Pileggi collaborated on the screenplay (and received Oscar nominations for doing so), much of the film’s eventual dialogue was improvised by the actors.
    • The dinner scene with Tommy’s mother was almost completely improvised by the actors, including Tommy asking his mother if he could borrow her butcher’s knife and Jimmy’s “hoof” comment.
    • Paul Sorvino wanted to drop out of the role of Paulie, three days before filming began, because he felt that he lacked the cold personality to play the character. He called his agent and asked to be released from the film. Sorvino’s agent told him to think about it for one day before making a final decision. That night, Sorvino looked in the mirror and was frightened by the look on his face. He realized that that look was the look he needed to play Paulie.
    • Tony Darrow who plays Sonny Bunz, the owner of the Bamboo Lounge, worked in the real-life Bamboo Lounge where Henry Hill, and the people, on whom the film’s characters are based, would hang out.

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


 

The Best and Worst of the Best Podcast is a show where host’s Nate and Austin compare a film director’s best and worst rated movies to see where they went wrong.