Episode 159: Looper (2012)

Welcome back to another in our non-linear, temporally unfixed series “I’d Forgotten How Much I Hate Time Travel”! This week’s entry is “Looper,” the story of a young commercial airline pilot who refuses to give up his dream of constantly flying his plane in loop-the-loops, to the dismay of the stodgy airline “establishment,” as well as the terror of his passengers.  Well, that’s what this movie WOULD have been about if Hollywood could recognize the visionary nature of my spec script and wasn’t run by a bunch of calcified old men . . . well, that’s neither here nor there . . . nor is it now or then, because this movie, directed by Rian Johnson, the fella who brought us “Knives Out” and some space movie or other about yetis or something, dares to ask the question: when Joseph Gordon-Levitt ages thirty years, will he look like Bruce Willis? Spoiler alert: the answer, apparently, is a resounding “yes!” Some might argue that’s not the central issue of this movie, which also deals with some nonsense about time travel as a tool for criminals, telekinesis, and the nature of causality, but really it’s the “growing up to look like Bruce Willis” question that really encapsulates the horror of this movie.  Brace yourselves and give a listen!

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/

Special Episode: Let’s Go To the Drive-In!

“Poogaloo, the Singing Pangolin” will not be heard tonight so we can bring you the following special presentation, brought to you commercial free and in living (auditory) color.  We’re interrupting our current time-travel series for this extra-ultra-mega-super-lifesize-retcin-free episode where Mike and I partake in a classic piece of Americana: the Drive-In Movie! What with living in this time of modern plague it’s still not safe to go to the movie theaters yet so what could be better than cramming the whole family into an SUV, smuggling in easily-spilled snacks and drinks, hooking a tinny-sounding speaker to your window and watching a massive outdoor screen be attacked by moths? Ah, memories! Well, Mike and I happened to be in the same place at the same time (a sadly rare occurrence) and we took the opportunity to see if this cherished cinematic format still exists (it does!) and what was like now, as neither of us had been to a drive-in in far longer than we care to admit.  So after we all go to the lobby, after we all go to the lobby, after we all go to the lobby . . . dammit, sorry, clamber into the car trunk so we can sneak you in with us [disclaimer: you don’t have to do that anymore; they charge by the car, not by the number of passengers].

Poll question: when was the last time (if ever) that you went to a Drive-In Theater and what did you see?

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 158: Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

We’ve got another episode in our “I’d Forgotten How Much I Hate Time Travel” series.  So far we’ve seen time travel mechanisms in the form of weird rotating portals, self-storage lockers and even phone booths.  So the obvious next phase in this progression is . . . a hot tub? Because sure, why not.  In this cinematic gem, we see a trio of friends (and another guy) travel back from the 2000’s to 1986.  Are they there to benefit the human race by trying to remediate the awful aspects of this time in history? Do they go to warn people of the AIDS crisis? Do they want to hasten the end of the Cold War? Do they try to get Americans to avoid the nightmare that was acid-washed jeans? No, they go back to relive a night of hedonistic abandon where they drink, pound down fistfuls of drugs, leap into bed with women they barely know, which they have decided was the high point of their lives.  How depressing is that . . . And via the magic of time travel, they get to re-experience this time in their lives as they try to learn what is best in life (spoiler: it doesn’t involve crushing your enemies) and the true meaning of friendship (which is done without the use of any pastel-colored equines, so clearly this effort is doomed to failure).  We’ve seen one time travel comedy that worked very well.  Is this another? Give a listen and find out!

Poll question: If you could recast any single movie role with any actor you wanted, what role would it be and who would your casting choice be?

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 157: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Continuing in our careful study of spatio-temporal mechanics as depicted in popular cinematic culture, we come to one of the more intriguing scholarly examples from the late nineteen-eighties.  We have before us a meticulously researched opus on the fixed-timeline theory as regards the practical uses of temporal adjustment technology vis a vis academic research as opposed to the more radical theory of temporal manipulation for historical revisionism.  Of course this film is most famous for it’s ground-breaking quantum equation that has led to so much brilliant research:

Be=Excellent 2 Other(each) / Partyon D[ude]

It is almost impossible to judge the impact this equation has had on time travel theory but my esteemed colleague Mike and I will be discussing it herein.  Please join us.  It will be, in my opinion, most triumphant.

New poll question: can you think of a mediocre or even bad movie that has one really great scene or really great performance that almost saves it?

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 156: Primer (2004)

Welcome to this week’s installment of “I’d Forgotten How Much I Hate Time Travel”! Or, if you’re stuck in a causality loop, welcome back to this week’s installment.  Or you will be welcome to this week’s installment when it arrives sometime in your future.  Again.  To paraphrase Calvin, time travel weirds language. This week’s example of time-bending and mind-bending is “Primer,” suggested to us by our great buddy from the Great White North, Vince! Thanks a lot, Vince.  Thank you so very . . . very . . . much.  This is the movie that proves you don’t have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a movie about time travel to hurt your audience’s frontal lobes; this flick was made for about seven thousand smackeroos and it hurts plenty! Are you listening, Christopher Nolan? No, no, of course you’re not, let’s not kid ourselves.  But we hope you’re listening because this is a pretty intriguing film and we’re two darn intriguing guys here to intrigue you intriguingly into intrigue! Words! So give a listen, eager young Time Cadets!

Poll question: if you could own any one prop, set item, or Maguffin from any movie production, what would it be?

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 155: Tenet (2020)

Welcome to a brand new series here at Max, Mike; Movies.  We’re starting “I’d Forgotten How Much I Hate Time Travel” this week . . . or maybe we started it years into the future and it’s only arriving at this point in the timestream, or timecreek, or timepuddle, right now.  But when is now? What is time? Is it a river? Is it made up of “wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff”? Is it a wreath of pretty flowers that smell bad? No, wait, that’s logic.  And how does one travel in time? We all do it forward, at one second per second but we’re also kind of obsessed with the notion that you can travel to the past or the future and we see that in approximately eleven kabillion movies.  But unless I can finally perfect my time machine (which I will, once I can get the giraffe to stop moving around.  Did I mention they all laughed at me at the Academy?), we only have time to discuss a few movies, movies that use time travel as a major narrative device and not some single even to trigger the plot.  Not so much the “welcome to Roman Times!”, more “Quick, back onto the Time Velocipede so we can stop Napoleon from murdering Da Vinci! And make sure Sparky the dog doesn’t get in more mischief!” sort of movie.  We’re starting off with Christopher Nolan’s mind-mangling, anagrammatically-named opus “Tenet,” a movie about . . . look, just listen to the podcast, ‘cause I ain’t trying to explain this thing twice! Enjoy!

Poll question: what sad or touching movie scene, no matter how many times you’ve seen it, still makes you tear up?

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 154: Teahouse of the August Moon (1956)

Well it’s been a long, awkward trip but we’ve arrived at the end of our journey through “Whitewashing,” watching Hollywood repeatedly embarrass itself, and us by casting white actors as non-white characters.  And we close with a doozy, the winner of the coveted Golden Turkey Award for “Most Racially Insensitive Portrayal By A White Person Of a Non-White Person, I Mean, Just Wow, What Were You Thinking?” I’m pretty sure that’s the award, and it went to the legendary Marlon Brando playing an Okinawan man in this Wacky Post-World-War-Two Comedy.  Yes.  A white guy playing an Okinawan guy in post-war Japan.  This has winner written all over it.  But really, how bad could it be? The play this movie was based on not only won a Tony but it also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama! No, I’m not making that up! And it’s starring one of this country’s greatest actors! A myth! A legend! Of course I’m talking about Eddie Albert.  Oh, yeah, and Marlon Brando and Glenn Ford and stuff.  How bad could it be? How bad? How bad . . . how . . . bad.  Give a listen and find out.

Poll question: what movie have you seen that you thought poignant, beautiful, sad or intense that you never need or want to see again?

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 153: The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)

From white people playing Chicanos, we wind our way back to white people playing Asian people here in our penultimate “Whitewashing” episode with Tony Randall as the inscrutable, many-faced, many-accented Dr. Lao.  Yes, THAT Tony Randall, of “Odd Couple” fame.  Just the guy to play an aged Chinese gentleman, wouldn’t you say? This movie is a bit of a strange case, a cross-genre film that starts out looking like a Western and ends up as a fantasy/morality play.  The small town of Abalone (where they’ve probably never seen a shellfish) is languishing while an Evil Rich Guy wants to buy out the town, because he secretly knows that the railroad is coming through and he’s itching to tie all the women of the town to the newly-installed railroad tracks while twirling his moustache.  When suddenly who should show up, riding on a yellow donkey, but the mysterious Dr. Lao, who alternates between some attrocious “Me so solly” pidgin English and sounding like, well, Tony Randall (he also does a terrible French accent and a possibly worse Scottish accent).  Will the wonders of his circus make the townsfolk realize what’s really important in life? Will the one Native American character in this movie get any actual lines? Give a listen and find out!

Poll question: who is the most famous movie actor that you, personally, have ever met? Not just seen across a room or in an elevator but someone you actually spoke to (even if it was just “Hey, that’s my wallet!!”)

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 152: Walk Proud (1979)

Wilkomen, meine Freundinnen und Freunde, to another edition of “Hollywood, What Were You Thinking?” also known as “Whitewashing,” where we watch white actors embarrass themselves, and us, as they try to play non-white characters.  This week, we move to an example of the “gang movie” oeuvre of the 70’s, with Robby “Sure, I Can Play That” Benson playing a Chicano gang member from 1970’s East L.A.  Because sure, if he can play a Native American, a Hassic Jew, and a Disney animated Beast, why can’t he play a Mexican-American? Just slap some skin-darkening makeup on him, shove some brown contact lenses into his eyes and have him do an accent that would make Speedy Gonzalez wince and Robby’s good to go! Not that this movie is devoid of Mexican-American actors! It’s just that nobody thought that the lead should be played by one of them.  Meet Emilio, a member of the Aztecas gang, navigating his way through the world, trying to figure out who he is, all while falling for an Anglo girl who is desperately looking for a personality.  Does Robby rise above this incredibly awkward casting? Is the story enough to make you stop wondering why Robby has blue eyes in one movie and brown eyes in this one? Hop into your big car, low to the ground, and drive up and down the boulevard with us, all day and all night!

Poll question: actually, this is a compound question, containing several sub-questions, because we don’t take the easy way here at Max, Mike; Movies! When you go to the movies, in actual theater (remember those?), do you get snacks or no snacks? Booze or no booze? Do you run for a bathroom break in the middle, or wait? We need to know!

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 151: Tropic Thunder (2008)

Welcome to another episode of “Whitewashing”! Kind of surprising how many of the movies we’ve discussed are comparatively recent, hm? Might make one question how much progress we’ve made.  But this one is . . . a bit odd.  We’re talking about “Tropic Thunder,” a comedy about how hard it is to make movies.  Sure, that’s something we can all sympathize with.  Much of this movie is a series of inside jokes for Hollywood folks and Hollywood obsessives but there’s some actual humor here, and a very interesting cast.  Why is this movie part of this particular series? Uh, well, it’s a bit complicated, very nuanced, it would take a scientist to explain . . . look Robert Downey Jr. spends nearly all of this movie in what is effectively blackface.  His character, an obsessive method actor, is cast as a black character in this movie-within-the-movie and to get into the part, he undergoes a controversial “skin darkening” process.  So the movie seems at least somewhat aware of how problematic that is.  Does it take the opportunity to address the issue? Is it the major focus of the movie? Well, if I tell you that, you wouldn’t need to listen, would you? Sheesh, what were you thinking, asking questions like that . . . Give a listen!

Poll question: Is there any movie that has ever made you laugh so hard that your face hurt? If so, which one?

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/