Mark and Aaron are joined by Keith Silva to look at the Coen Brothers’ debut to cap of #Noirvember. The film cannot be viewed without the exploring the context of the Coen library and their successful career to follow, but it stands alone as a debut film that sets the stage for their style. We focus quite a bit on the noir aspect, how they were going for a specific aesthetic that shows their film heritage. We evaluate why this film works, how these neophytes meticulously crafted a slow burning art film at the height of the 1980s mainstream blockbusters.
Mark and Aaron tackle Guillermo Del Toro’s debut film, recently re-released as part of the Trilogía boxset. Cronos is technically in the vampire genre, but even for his first film, has a distinctive Del Toro feel. We get into the character of Jesus Gris, and how Del Toro uses him as a tragic figure that touches on themes of mortality and religion. We also explore Del Toro’s passion and his “Bleak House,” showing that his passion for the medium informs his work.
We let our hair down for Halloween and celebrate the oddity that is Ôbayashi’s House (1977). Dave and Jessica join Mark and Aaron. We agree that House is the most random and the most bonkers “horror” film in existence. Rather than break it down thematically, we celebrate its weirdness by pointing out the WTF moments and the occasions that make us laugh. Warning: this episode has a lot of profanity.
Mark and Aaron cover the Dutch and French horror/suspense classic, The Vanishing. Having experienced this film numerous times before, we are able to explore the foreshadowing and narrative structure that led us on a wild journey to an even wilder ending. We talk about obsession, control, that harrowing ending, and yes, we even get into the American remake.
Mark, Aaron and Eric Ford begin a month of horror with the micro-budget cult classic, Carnival of Souls. We talk about what makes this such an enduring classic that has held up over time, the bizarre story about how it was made, its influences and what it has influenced, and what type of artistic aims the filmmakers tried to reach.
Mark and Aaron are joined by Marcus Pinn to explore the filmography of Jim Jarmusch, beginning with Mystery Train (1989). We explore the triple storyline, the coalescence of the director’s indie experience and arthouse sensibilities, and the film’s sense of place. We then dive into his library and style, and choose our five favorite Jarmusch films.
Mark, Aaron and Scott Nye kick off the first of a seven episode series about French cinema i the 1930s. We give an overview of the decade and some historical context, and discuss the French silent tradition and how that it transitioned to sound. We also get into detail about two important filmmakers, Jacques Feyder and Jean Vigo. Feyder was an important filmmaker in his time, but his works are not as prominent today, whereas Vigo was nearly forgotten in the 1930s and discovered after the war.
We change things up by focusing on a boutique label, Twilight Time, that has found success through a unique business model. Mark and Aaron happen to be big fans, and feel that we have directly contributed towards some of their profits. We talk about the company, their business model, why they have succeeded, and we address some common critiques. We also review a few discs each, and finally count down our favorite Twilight Time titles.
Mark and Aaron are joined by Dave Eves to evaluate the massive Zatoichi serial starring Shintaro Katsu. We explore the character of Zatoichi, and how he’s an unusual type of superhero. We also share tips on the best way to watch the series, whether a little bit at a time or to go on a binge-watch. We evaluate the series as both a piece of art and as pop culture, observing the high and low points.
Mark and Aaron celebrate the Summer Olympics by exploring Downhill Racer, an independent film about the Winter Olympics. We draw parallels to what is portrayed in the Michael Ritchie with the actual sporting events that take place today, including the thrills of victory and the agony of defeat. We discuss the groundbreaking cinematography, the nature of winning in an individual sport and the the enduring legacy of Sundance that began with this film.