In this spotlight, film critic and author Laremy Legel joins co-hosts Jason Pyle, Karl Huddleston, and Andy Howell of MOVIE PODCAST WEEKLY for a lively and wide-ranging discussion of films and the film industry. Eventually, of course, it devolves into a bitter, bare-knuckle brawl as Jason defends the new del Toro film, Pacific Rim, from, well, everybody else. Then Josh Ligairi drops by for the show’s mini-review segment and talks about eight freakin’ movies before he turns the mic over to someone else! In other words, it’s a typically awesome episode 🙂
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Jason starts the show by going over the numerous highlights of Laremy’s career. (If you’re insecure about your own accomplishments, you may want to fast-forward about five minutes…) After that, things get underway with a discussion of Sharknado, the 2013 film directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, and brought to you by the fine, fine people at The Asylum (remember Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies and 2-Headed Shark Attack? Those are two other gems from their back-catalogue!).
The discussion is pretty engaging as they weigh the questionable merits of this 86-minute shark-tosser. They also take an in-depth look at the science (or complete lack of it) behind the film. For example, from both this episode and the IMDB forum, I learned that you can blow up a tornado by flying right up to it in a helicopter and then hurling a propane tank into the centre; that if you can hold your breath long enough, you can survive in a shark’s stomach for up to 15 minutes before being rescued by someone with a chainsaw; and that hammerhead sharks are the Faberge eggs of the shark world! Oh, and there’s even some ‘bonus science,’ as Karl and Andy reveal that not all sharks actually drown if they stop swimming — yup, apparently that’s a load of crap (thanks, Mythbusters!).
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Anyway, after that, Jason interviews Laremy about his new book, “Film Critic: A Decade Behind the Scenes in the Movie Industry.” They cover some very fertile ground here, as the talk focuses on why audiences today have such low expectations of Hollywood movies, and what this could mean for the future of the film industry.
This discussion encompasses a wide range of subjects, including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, excessively long movie trailers, TV crime shows, Sherlock Holmes, superhero films in general, and two recent Johnny Depp mega-vehicles, one innovative and fun (Pirates of the Caribbean) and the other a pointless corporate money-grab (The Lone Ranger).
Laremy then offers some great advice to writers who want to enter the field of film criticism. He describes some of his own working habits, and then talks about how writers can use social networking and emerging technologies, like podcasting, to promote their work. He also talks about why advertising is like Kryptonite to any creative endeavour (including film criticism), and why direct contributions and crowd-sourcing through organizations like Kickstarter are much better alternatives.
Then, it’s off to the festivals, as Laremy describes the ways in which Sundance, Cannes, and SXSW cater to very different people. You’ll hear some pretty compelling reasons why Sundance may not be the best venue for serious fans or critics, while SXSW and Cannes generally provide a much better fan experience (for one thing, talking and texting during a movie at Cannes are often met with the threat of violence, and so rarely occur).
After that, the talk turns to a very tricky question: what does it take for a film to be considered a ‘masterpiece’? Laremy defines some of the requirements — artistic, intellectual, and cultural — that a film generally requires to attain masterpiece status, and he also makes some interesting comparisons between lists of the greatest movies of all time from AFI and IMDB.com, and how little they overlap with the list of highest-grossing films. Jason then quotes from Laremy’s book the nine films he identified as appearing in all three of these lists. I guarantee that although you’ll probably identify a few of them, you won’t guess them all 😉
I also guarantee that you’ll be shaking your head in amazement at some of the more challenging celebrity interviews that Laremy has conducted. His difficulties with Spike Lee were consistent with what I’ve read about this talented but mercurial director. However, when Laremy describes what Paul (Pee Wee) Reubens did to scuttle a fairly recent interview — well, I just had to laugh!
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After this, the guys wade into Guillermo del Toro’s recent monsterpalooza, Pacific Rim. If you’ve been in a coma for the past few months, here’s the synopsis: the Pacific Ocean becomes a battleground as human-controlled mega-robots defend earth against gargantuan monsters from another dimension (or, as Karl succinctly puts it: “Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots versus Godzilla”).
The conversation gets heated, as Jason defends the movie in the face of overwhelming negativity. Although the vote is unanimous that the film is, of course, visually stunning (a del Toro trademark), it has problems that the other group members (guest Laremy included) simply can’t get past: cliched writing and wooden dialogue; complete absence of plot or character development; giant, intricately designed robots armed with lasers and missiles, controlled by people who would rather use them to punch their enemies in the face in verrrry sloooooww moooootion, instead of deploying said lasers and missiles; simplistic cultural stereotypes; and…well, worst of all… BATHYMETRIC INCONSISTENCIES! (This last one becomes a major discussion point.)
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After Laremy hits the road, Josh joins the gang via Skype for the mini-review segment of the show, and they quickly scope out a wide range of films. Josh starts with a gaggle of eight movies, including Maverick (1994), Field of Dreams (1989), and Identity Thief (2013). The discussion also turns to Kevin Costner’s ambitious (but ultimately unsuccessful) plans to develop 1000 acres of land that he had bought in South Dakota after working on Dances with Wolves way back in 1990.
Jason reviews The Guilt Trip (2012), Sweatshop (2009) (in which he recommends skipping the lame beginning and fast-forwarding to the kills), and a groovy little flick called Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan (2013), which he fully expects to become a cult movie (so, come on, all you online hipsters — make it happen!). Jason concludes with Thale, the 2012 Norwegian film, which he compares (unfavourably) to Let the Right One In.
Karl compares the sequels, Grown Ups 2 (2013), Despicable Me 2 (2013), and Monsters University (2013 — based on 2001’s Monsters, Inc.) to the originals. Then he swivels his thumbs at this years’ The Lone Ranger and The Heat. Will they point skyward? You’ll have to download this episode to find out!
Finally, Andy gives a pretty negative review to Errol Morris’s 2010 documentary, Tabloid, which investigates a strange kidnapping case from 1977. It seems a former Miss Wyoming pageant winner named Joyce McKinney kidnapped a Mormon missionary named Kirk Anderson and, uh, demanded that he assume the missionary position numerous times over the course of three days before he was finally, um, ‘rescued’ from this very bad woman. (Did I mention she was a former beauty pageant winner? — man, I’m so conflicted right now!).
Anyway, Andy is understandably disappointed with the documentary’s unbalanced view of the Mormon religion, since Morris only interviewed people who were pretty biased against it. So, if you plan to watch it, you might also want to check out mormon.org or lds.org to hear both sides 🙂
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Before signing off, Jason mentions that if you want more Movie Podcast goodness, you can head over to HorrorMoviePodcast.com, where they’ve been re-releasing older Weekly Horror Movie Podcast episodes; the latest one is here! And if you want to find out more about Laremy, check out his website or the podcast that he co-hosts with Brad Brevet, Brad ‘n’ Laremy On Movies.
Download the awesomeness here.
[WARNING: Language and Mature Content]
[Original Podcast date: July 15, 2013]
[Runtime: 2 hrs 14 mins]
Cover image for Film Critic: A Decade Behind the Scenes in the Movie Industry: Amazon.com.