Episode 193: The Rutles: All You Need is Cash (1978)

Well, we’ve been mucking about with some obscure band named after a mis-spelled bug in our series “Ladies and Gentlemen . . . the Beatles!” but now we’re getting to the real deal, a documentary that covers perhaps the greatest, most famous band in all the universe: the Rutles. Who can forget how merely the mention of those four names Dirk, Stig, Barry, and Nasty could set mobs of teenagers screaming incoherently until the riot police had to be called in.  Directed and starring that award-watching documentarian Eric Idle, this movie tells us of the unfathomable impact the Rutles had on the music world. And it is no way, shape, or form a parody mockumentary of the Beatles, documentaries in general, or anything else that could be milked for a cheap laugh.  Absolutely not. I’m surprised you’d even suggest such a thing. Go sit over there and think about what you’ve done. Go on, now. And while you’re thinking, give a listen and join Max and Mike: far from home and far from talented.

Seriously, it’s the trousers.

Poll question: what obscure or at least lesser-known comic book character absolutely NEEDS their own movie?

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Episode 192: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)

For this week’s entry in our “Ladies and Gentlemen … the Beatles!” series we have yet another Beatles jukebox movie, similar in some sense to last week’s “Across the Universe,” in that it has a number of characters whose names are taken from Beatles songs (Billy Sheers, Mr. Kite, the Hendersons, Strawberry Fields and many, many . . . MANY more) singing many, many Beatles songs. Be warned: this movie was nominated by the Golden Turkey Awards as “Worst Musical Film Of All Time” BUT I should point out that this movie does include Donald Pleasance, Steve Martin, and Alice Cooper and a genuine plethora of baffling guest stars in its final shot. Most importantly, I think it is safe to say this movie offers you the only opportunity you will probably get in your entire life to watch Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler attempt to strangle Peter Frampton.  Surely that alone is worth the price of admission. So does this movie offer a lot of goofy fun, or does it make us cry out “Come home, ‘Across the Universe’! All is forgiven!” Give a listen and find out.

Poll question: what musician or band’s music would you make a jukebox musical out of? Can it be done well? Is this even a good idea?

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Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

Episode 191: Across the Universe (2007)

Well, now I’m sorry I used up all the dopey Beatles song references in the entry for “Help!” because if any movie invites them, it’s “Across the Universe.” This Beatles jukebox movie is from director Julie Taymor, perhaps best known as the director of the Broadway version of “The Lion King”.  Filled with some . . . interesting visual choices and musical interpretation, this movie is at its heart a love story set in the exciting and disturbing location of late 1960’s Greenwich Village, where the counter-culture is in full swing. Jude (as in “hey”) and Lucy (as in “the sky with diamonds”) meet and fall in love, surrounded by what are presumed to be colorful characters like Max (as in silver hammer), Prudence (as in dear), Sadie (as in . . . you know what? Look up the damn songs). They meet strange and wild characters like Dr. Robert and Mr. Kite (get it? Get it?! GET IT??!!!!) and often break into apparently apropos Beatles songs when the occasion calls for it. Spoiler alert: whatever else this movie is, it is not subtle. Come listen and find out if it’s anything else!

Poll question: what is your favorite parody movie? Not just a comedy but a parody of a specific movie or type of movie?

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Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

Episode 190: Yesterday (2019)

Now we come to a rather disturbing entry in our “Ladies and Gentlemen . . . the Beatles!” series. “Yesterday” asks the question: what if nearly everyone on Earth forgot that Herman’s Hermits ever existed? It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s just a movie, please don’t panic. We really didn’t mean to trigger anyone . . . but what were we expecting? What sort of nightmarish hellscape would we be stuck with without the loving, beatific guidance of Herman’s Hermit’s? How would we know how lovely a daughter Mrs. Brown had? What cataclysmic effects on society would this have? Well, fortunately this sort of speculation can remain confined to nightmares, as this romantic comedy actually asks the question “What if suddenly you were the only person in the world who had ever heard of the Beatles?” Yes, what if no one else had ever heard the songs “Bungalow Bill,” “Mean Mr. Mustard” or “Her Majesty’s A Very Nice Girl”? Oh, and probably some others as well. Well, tune in and find out what this, the first indie movie to actually license Beatles’ songs, has to say about it.

Poll question: if you could strike one movie or franchise from the memories of everyone and be sure it’d never show up ever, which would it be?

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ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

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Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

Episode 189: Good Ol’ Freda (2013)

And here we are with the second episode in our series “Ladies and Gentlemen . . . the Beatles!” and I’m guessing most of you are asking yourselves: was Freda the quiet Beatle or the cute Beatle? Well, you’re both wrong (both of our listeners!) because (brace yourself for a shock) none of the Beatles were named Freda! I know, right? I was stunned too! The titular Freda refers to Freda Kelly who served as the official President of the Beatles Fan club in Liverpool for the entirety of the band’s existence.  This documentary presents her story and her unique perspective on the Lads Liverpudlian, a story that she didn’t tell for almost fifty years. Working directly for Brian Epstein, Freda saw John, Paul, George and Ringo (and Pete) when they were just local boys playing at the Cavern and was with them through their astounding rise to fame and to the sad dissolution of the band.  She answered their fan mail, brought them their paychecks, got them to sign all sorts of things, and kept their secrets. Give a listen and find out if this is just another tired old tale or a genuinely interesting story.

Poll question: what action movie cliché punches the biggest hole in your suspension of disbelief? People walking away from explosions? People diving unharmed through a plate glass window?

George Floyd Memorial Fund:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

Episode 188: Help! (1965)

Welcome, our most groovy listeners! Let us take you down to Strawberry Fields, via Penny Lane; hey, Jude, you’re falling behind! Are you not feeling well? Do you need a little help from your friends? Should we call Dr. Robert? Do you want to hold my hand as we go? As you may have guessed from this so-subtle introduction, we’re starting a swinging, woodly-poodly new series featuring movies by, about, and inspired by that famous musical combo . . . Herman’s Hermits! That’s right . . . no, no, that’s entirely wrong. Sadly, I don’t believe Herman or the Hermits ever made it to the silver screen, more’s the pity.  No, the name of the series sums it up: “Ladies and Gentlemen . . . the Beatles!” We’ll be checking out some of the films of the Lads from Liverpool, as well as documentaries about them, fictionalized versions of them, and movies that I assume are supposed to be tributes to them, but . . . well, wait and see.  We’re starting off with the second movie the Four Mop Tops made themselves, the zany farce “Help!” Is it zany? Is it farcical? Are the Beatles in it? I can assure you that the answer to at least one of those questions is “yes.” Give a listen and find out which one!

Poll question: what subject matter do you think is most lacking in movie theaters? What area has Hollywood not explored enough?

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ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

Episode 187: CODA (2021)

And so we come to the close of our “Now Streaming in a Room Near You” series, and what a wild ride it’s been. Yes? No? Anyone? I know I said last week’s episode was the last in our series; I’m sorry, I just had to throw THEM off my trail. You understand. Well, we’re closing out with a film nominated for Best Picture this year, “CODA,” which, much to my disappointment, is NOT the origin story of everyone’s favorite tiny green Jedi master.  Apparently, the spelling is quite different but I’m sure I was not the only one confused by this one-letter difference. Excuse me? Ah. Mike has just assured me that I am, in fact, the only person in all of known time and space who found this confusing. Well. There it is.  So, this movie is actually about a Child Of Deaf Adults . . . oh! I see what they did there! NOW I get . . . what? Yes, sorry, I’ll get on with it.  CODA is the moving story of Ruby Rossi, the only hearing person in her family of four, and the rising conflict between her desire to be her family’s link to the hearing world and her own growing love of singing. This movie is actually a remake of an earlier French movie (which we will mention within) but unlike that film, CODA has only deaf actors portraying deaf characters.  Kind of a shame that this is something we need to congratulate them on, rather than something that’s simply obvious, but so it goes. Give a listen, and try to control your disappointment at the utter lack of Jedi masters in this movie. Really, would that have been such a big deal . . . ok, ok, I’ll stop.

Poll question: can you think of a “perfect” movie musical, one with NO bad songs at all? If so, what is it? Stage adaptations are fine but we’re not talking about the actual stage show, just the movie.

George Floyd Memorial Fund:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

Episode 186: Finch (2021)

Welcome to the final episode in our “Now Streaming in a Room Near You” series. This week, “Finch” asks the question: “Hey, remember how great Tom Hanks was in that movie when he was all alone except for a deflated volleyball? And he talked to it and stuff? Well how great would it be if the volleyball could actually talk back? Mind-blowing, right?” Ok, that’s a bit of an oversimplification; “Finch” is a post-Apocalyptic story and Tom Hanks is the Last Man on Earth . . . or more accurately the Last Man in St. Louis…That We Know Of.  It’s just him, his dog . . . and a couple of adorable robots, one of which can talk.  So, it’s your typical post-apocalyptic-buddy-road-trip-environmental-message-robot  movies. Man, you can’t throw a rock without hitting one of those, am I right? And once again, the producers went to Tom Hanks and said “Tom. Buddy. Pal. We got this movie and it’s a little heavy. Would you mind carrying it?” “Geez, guys, I dunno, I did that once and I’m still pretty tired from it.” “No, no, this’ll be different! You’ll have help!” “Oh, great, so I get a co-star?” “Sure… kinda.” “What do you mean, ‘kinda’?” “Uh, well, another actor will be involved …“ “Yes?” “They just won’t exactly be on-screen with you, that’s all.” “… I’m co-starring with a special effect, aren’t I.” “… Yes, yes you are.” “Guys, why would I want to … is … is that a moving van full of money pulling up to the house? With a big Apple logo on it?” “Yuppers!” “Sigh. Fine, when do I show up?”

[The preceding is a completely accurate recreation of how Apple studios asked Tom Hanks to be in “Finch”. And by “completely accurate,” I mean that’s how it happened in my head, which as far as I’m concerned is the same thing]

Poll question: do you prefer your science fiction all post-apocalypty, with mankind struggling to survive and rebuild, possibly with a dystopia or two thrown in, or do you prefer the whole “the stars my destination” route, with humanity making our way into the galaxy in shiny, shiny spaceships and meeting aliens who ask “Kiss? What is kiss? Show me kiss!”

George Floyd Memorial Fund:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

Episode 185: The Deep House (2021)

Hey, welcome! Glad you’ve chosen Max, Mike; Movies as your real estate agency! We’ve got a great little property to show you this week: it’s one of our “Now Streaming in a Room Near You” models and it’s a real steal.  Location? Just the best: right in the South of France! I know, right? How is this beauty still on the market? Well, we’ve got a real motivated seller, because this house is underwater.  Excuse me? Oh, uh, no, I’m not talking about the mortgage. I mean the house is actually underwater, or as we call it, lakefront property! Ok, more accurately it’s lake bottom property, oh, say, 30 meters down; that’s about 100 feet American. Man, that metric system, am I right? How’s that? Well, sure, you’re gonna get your water in the basement with this little handyman’s dream.  Yes, and in the kitchen. And the bedrooms.  And pretty much the rest of the house. But you won’t believe how well-preserved this beauty is! Seriously, you really won’t believe it . . . And the water is guaranteed to be French! You know how much people pay for French water? I tell ya! Other problems? Well, I won’t lie to you; we’re not like those OTHER real estate agents, we’ll play it straight with you.  The wiring in the place could stand a bit of an upgrade.  The kitchen is charming, mind you, but it could stand a little updating. Oh, and you may here some people mumbling something about an ancient evil stirred from some dark place to cast its dread shadow upon the earth, or some gossip about something not being dead that can eternal lie, but that’s really just local color.  So, shall we talk financing?

Poll question: What is your favorite movie about religion or that has a religious theme or setting?

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ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

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Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

Episode 184: The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)

Gentles!
We pray you now, to our podcast give ear,
Sweet Apple offers Shakespeare to us here!
Denzel will don the mantle of the Scot
A king, but every inch? I’faith, ‘tis not!
The Brothers Coen now split, one stands alone
To build a castle hewed from filmic stone.
His goodly wife McDormand treads the boards
A wondrous soundtrack, movie full well-scored!
Join Mike and his most humble counsel Max
To watch this boldest of the streaming acts!

[Exeunt, pursued by Bumpy]

Poll question: Has Hollywood finally erased the “stigma” of TV, meaning, is there still a perceived lesser quality to productions on tv or do movies still reign supreme? Do we “look down” on tv, expect less from it than movies, that kind of thing?

George Floyd Memorial Fund:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/