PopCult Podcast – Ali: Fear That Eats the Soul/Far From Heaven

Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows wasn’t considered exceptional at the time of its release but successive generations of filmmakers certainly knew what a fantastic picture it was.

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PopCult Podcast – A Wounded Fawn/In the Mood For Love

Love can be painful in a myriad of ways, whether you’re on a weekend date with a serial killer or feeling yourself growing closer to the spouse of the person your own spouse is having an affair. Damn, it’s complicated.

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My Favorite Films About Love

Brief Encounter (1945)
Written by Noel Coward
Directed by David Lean

David Lean’s breakout film, Brief Encounter, feels so simple, but within this context, he delivers one of the most complex & realistic love stories ever put to film. Laura is a bored English housewife whose shopping trips to a nearby town provide her an escape from the drudgery of suburban life. She meets the virtuous doctor Alec Harvey through an acquaintance, and an unspoken attraction blooms between the two. Laura starts making her trips weekly to meet up with Alec, sharing a cup of tea and some quiet moments together. They are both married, and this fact looms over their encounters, keeping them from crossing certain lines despite feeling pulled toward each other. There is such a beautiful melancholy to this film, an understanding that attraction doesn’t happen conveniently & there is much about it we can’t explain. The rigid social expectations of the time will prevent Laura & Alec from being together. It may be better that they aren’t. There’s a chance that this is an escape for them that, if they were allowed to consummate it, would lose the magic that the restraint provides. Few dramas today handle the complexity of infidelity & attraction outside of marriage in such a nuanced & thoughtful manner. 

Read my full review here.

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Patron Pick – Before Sunrise

This special reward is available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 monthly levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

Before Sunrise (1995)
Written by Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan
Directed by Richard Linklater

I never stepped foot in Europe until 2021, at 40. Although, I did have friends & acquaintances in college who found their way to the small continent, primarily through study abroad programs. So, I don’t know anyone who just floated around Europe for a few months. Yet, director Richard Linklater works his movie magic, and I feel like I know what that would be like after watching Before Sunrise. Beyond the unfamiliar circumstances, there are some universal experiences here. Mainly thinking we know what it means to love a person and coasting on that interpretation or misinterpretation. The pair in this movie lives in limbo, entirely convinced & devoted to this single day of love but also firmly planted in reality, knowing this is a lark, a fun fantasy for a day that cannot last.

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Movie Review – True Romance

True Romance (1993)
Written by Quentin Tarantino
Directed by Tony Scott

While this is a James Gandolfini-centric film series, I acknowledge he has such a minuscule part in True Romance. However, that two-scene appearance managed to stand toe to toe with seasoned film veterans like Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, and others. The film itself has not aged well, in my opinion. There’s a tasteless trans joke and multiple uses of racial slurs. The worst part is that the protagonist is a complete male Mary Sue, able to pull off some of the riskiest maneuvers despite having zero credibility in the criminal element. It’s also a film with big names in minor roles, many of whom get a single scene or just a handful. The fact that Gandolfini could stand out in a movie like this is proof of what an acting talent he was and how he was capable of such great things.

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Patron Pick – Good On Paper

This is a special reward available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 a month levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. They also get to include some of their own thoughts about the movie, if they choose. This Pick comes from Bekah Lindstrom.

Good on Paper (2021)
Written by Iliza Shlesinger
Directed by Kimmy Gatewood

I want to welcome Bekah as our newest patron even though her first pick was…this movie. I can’t say I’ve ever listened to much of stand-up Iliza Shlesinger’s comedy, so I felt neutral about her going into this viewing. In the last decade, I’ve shifted to listening to podcasts hosted by comedians more than listening to their stand-up, so unless someone appears as a guest on one of those, I don’t really know much about their comedic perspective. Good on Paper opens with Ilza playing a version of herself doing stand-up. I found myself chuckling at the bit, a bit of deception as the film would probably have been better as just a comedy special. Instead, we get a tonal mess in its place.

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Movie Review – Green Card

Green Card (1991)
Written & Directed by Peter Weir

“Romantic comedy” is not a film genre necessarily associated with Peter Weir. He certainly has romance in his pictures (see The Year of Living Dangerously, Witness), but this particular style of movie just isn’t what you would expect from him. This is one of the few films that Weir both wrote and directed on his own, and it appears to have been inspired by French actor Gerard Depardieu. Weir wanted to bring Depardieu to an English-speaking audience after the actor was already renowned in popular French cinema. The leading male role in Green Card was explicitly written for the performer, but it didn’t propel him to immense fame in the States. It would be received with a mixed reception by the critics, seen mainly as light fare.

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Movie Review – Moonstruck

Moonstruck (1987)
Written by John Patrick Shanley
Directed by Norman Jewison

Moonstruck was a continuation of what a strong journeyman director Norman Jewison was. This time he tackles a screwball romantic comedy that at once hearkens back to his days making movies with Doris Day yet a more modern feminist take on the genre. He works from a screenplay written by John Patrick Shanley, who would write and direct Joe Versus the Volcano and Doubt. This was Shanley’s first screenwriting gig, but he’d been writing for the theater since the early 1980s. Moonstruck is an enchanted picture, much like Joe Versus the Volcano; it’s a subtly heightened world where the moon can appear exaggeratedly large in the sky and have a magical effect on the people of New York City.

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Movie Review – The African Queen

The African Queen (1951)
Written by John Huston, James Agee, Peter Viertel, and John Collier
Directed by John Huston

Despite his track record of dark, crime-centric movies, John Huston was also a romantic. That was on full display in The African Queen. This wasn’t Huston’s last film with Humphrey Bogart, but it is considered his last great film working with the actor. He was working with a lighter, comedy type of film. Huston also shot on location in Uganda and the Congo. The African Queen was a Technicolor picture that added difficulty to the production. The cameras needed for the Technicolor process were large and somewhat unwieldy. But in an effort for authenticity, Huston refused to shoot most of the picture on a soundstage.

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