Episode 114: Cars 2 (2011)

Welcome back to another edition of “Pixar Pix,” where we talk about the highs and lows, the hills and valleys, the pork and beans of one of the Great Animation Houses.  This week: cars.  You know, here in my car I feel safest of all     .  I can lock all my doors. It’s the only way to live.  In cars.  Well, with all due respect to Gary Numan, this movie may give the lie to that sentiment.  Yes, this week we’re taking on “Cars 2,” the sequel to . . . ok, you can figure that one out.  One of the first movies to come out of Pixar after it had been assimilated by Disney, this film is generally considered to be one of the . . . less spectacular efforts of Pixar and the last one to be directed by founder John Lasseter.  Enter a world where vehicles rule the earth and there are no humans in sight . . . or ARE THERE? Give a listen, hear what we think (and smell what we imagine) and also enjoy our ravings, I mean, the TRUTH about the terrifying secret of the world of . . . Cars 2.

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Episode 113: Toy Story 2 (1999)

So a few weeks ago we talked about Pixar’s masterpiece “Toy Story” as part of our “90’s” discussion and this made us realize (help us) that we had made a grave error by bothering to discuss any movie (please, call someone) other than those crafted by the geniuses at Pixar, which is now a part of that (the Disney troupers won’t let us go) most benevolent, kindly, and munificent family company, Disney (please, they’ve bolted electrified mouse ears to our skulls.  It hurts.  It hurts so much).  So we’ve started a brand new series that we’re calling “Pixar Pix” (mike can’t stop crying) dedicated to praising those magical and lovely artists (I can’t feel my legs any more) at Pixar.  We love you, Pixar. We don’t deserve to watch your glorious creations (please please please please help us help us).

Ok, in all seriousness we’ve decided to take a look at a number of the Pixar creations of the last twenty years or so.  We’ll be talking about the ones that are great and the ones that are . . . well, let’s face it, not so great.  Even Pixar can’t churn out nothing but winners, and we’ll be talking about that.  But we’re starting out with “Toy Story 2”, the sequel to what was effectively a surprise home run for Pixar’s first time at bat.  How does the sequel hold up? Are we talking “Godfather II” here or “Daddy Day Camp”? Give a listen and see if you agree with our notional notions.  To the podcast and beyond!

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Episode 112: Fargo (1996)

Oh, cripes, don’tcha know, we’re here for one last go-around with “In Ancient Times: The 90’s,” and I’ll tell ya that for free, oh yah, those nice Coen boys, Joel and Ethan, they’ve done it up real nice, you betcha.  While them Coen fellas may have done ok with their earlier flickers like “Raising Arizona,” “Blood Simple,” and “Barton Fink,” this was one of their first major hits, y’know, that the kids liked, garnering them a passel of Oscar nods and even a couple of wins.  Featuring a rather quirky script, a remarkable cast, and the inviting location of Minnesota in the middle of winter, if nothing else this movie really gives you a picture of the Twin Cities and Minnesota over all (such nice folks up in Brainerd, oh yah).  So hop on I90, but remember there’s construction around exit 41 so stay in the far left lane, make sure you’re careful of the flash ice, and then tuck into your favorite hotdish with a nice side of ludefisk and join us, oh yah? Or don’t.  Either way’s fine, don’t wantcha to go out of your way or nothin’.  No, no really, it’s fine. But take some ludefisk with you before you go.  Yah, no, I insist.

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Episode 111: Ed Wood (1994)

Transvestites! We need transvestites! Wait, no, that’s not it . . . listeners! We need listeners! And here you are, we hope, at Max, Mike; Movies in our penultimate episode of our extended run of “In Ancient Times: the 90’s.” This week we’re taking a look at one of Tim Burton’s more . . . eccentric film choices.  And that’s saying something.  The guy has done movies about a twisted afterlife (more than once, if you think about it), science-fiction based trading cards (remember “Mars Attacks!”? No? Good), and Steven Sondheim musicals.  But in 1994 he decided the world needed to hear the tale of Edward D. Wood, Jr., a director from the 50’s and 60’s who has been proclaimed the “Worst Director of all Time.”  This is the man who brought us “Bride of the Monster,” “Glen or Glenda” and of course, the science fiction extravaganza “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” This is the man whose movies never made a dime.  This is the man who thought giving Swedish wrestler Tor Johnson speaking roles was a good idea. This is the man that Tim Burton thought needed a biopic, and more than that, a biopic filmed entirely in black and white. In 1994.  To be fair, this movie actually won two Oscars! How? Why? Is it worth watching? And who is this Mike person anyway? For the answer to these and other questions, slip into your favorite angora sweater and give a listen.

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Episode 110: Groundhog Day (1993)

Hello, campers, and welcome to another Max, Mike; Movies entry in our series “In Ancient Times: the 90’s.” This week we’re discussing one of the shamefully few movies that celebrate our country’s most beloved and ancient holiday: Groundhog Day. Ah, the happy childhood memories . . . singing Groundhog carols, sipping traditional Nyquil-and-maraschino-cherry-juice punch, carving the stuffed groundhog at dinner, choosing which one of us would be sacrificed to appease the merciless Spirit of Winter . . . good times, good times. I’m sure you all have similar memories that wake you screaming in the night. Strangely, these beloved traditions aren’t even touched upon in this Harold Ramis film, starring Bill Murray, Andie McDowell, and, for reasons known only to the gods, Chris Elliott. A unique comedy, with an often-copied plot, this film asks the question “What would you do if you woke up to the same day, over and over again?” Give a listen and see what Mike and I would do, if we had an eternity of the same day (hint: Mike’s answer involves thumbtacks, Pokemon, and creamed herring).

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Episode 109: Pulp Fiction (1994)

[Interior shot, an old model Dodge Dart. Max, Mike sitting side by side, wearing black suits. Mike is driving. The radio is playing Ray Stevens’ “The Streak”]
Max: Hey, there’s a Jack-in-the-Box. You wanna get some drive-through?
Mike: You know what they call a Jack-in-the-Box in France?
Max: They don’t call it Jack-in-the-Box?
Mike: No, man, they call it Jacques-in-Le-Box.
Max: Huh. Interesting. Let’s talk about that for twenty minutes and then get involved in a seriously violent action sequence.
Mike: Ok, but take your shoes and socks off first.

Yes, for this week’s entry in “In Ancient Times: the 90’s” is Quentin Tarantino’s breakout, Oscar-nominated picture “Pulp Fiction,” the movie that lives on in ten thousand internet memes. Maybe you love Tarantino, maybe you hate him, but you certainly remember him. How do we feel about him? Give a listen and find out!

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Episode 108: Rushmore (1998)

Welcome once again to Max, Mike; Movies as we delve into the antediluvian mysteries of “In Ancient Times: the 90’s”, a time so ancient that it’s really, really old.  Today’s installment concerns “Rushmore,” the award-winning documentary about the creation of one of America’s most famous monuments honoring some of our greatest presidents.  Located in South Dakota . . . hm? What’s that? Oh . . . really? The movie is an early Wes Anderson film? I don’t get it; what does quirky, distinctive director Wes Anderson have to do with Mount . . . oh.  Huh.  So, what did I watch then? Ok, hang on . . .
[93 minutes later]
So, “Rushmore”! Wes Anderson’s second film! Which I knew because I watched it! Seriously, while this is very early in Mr. Anderson’s career, well, you can really see, hear, and smell the Wes Anderson-ness of this movie all over the place, and not just because you can see him building his ensemble cast members that he loves to use: Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, one or more of the Wilson brothers . . . Is there quirky music? Strange overhead camera shots? Just how Andersonian is this early attempt? Give a listen and maybe, just maybe we’ll tell you [spoiler alert: we totally tell you]

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Episode 107: Toy Story (1995)

Ah, “In Ancient Times: the 90’s” The 1990’s . . . who truly remembers the events of such a distant time? Did we live in caves? Did dinosaurs walk the earth? Did we drive cars powered by our feet while yelling “yabba-dabba-doo”? Of course we did.  We all know we did.  But the 90’s was also the time before the rise of the Pixar Empire.  Believe it or not, there was a time when Pixar was almost unknown; the only people who knew it were those pathetic nerds who went to every animation festival I could find . . . I mean, that they could find.  Other people.  Not me.  Certainly not.  Yes, Pixar was known then as that weird animation studio who had the absurd idea that you could make interesting animation using those new-fangled electronic computational devices (they’re just a fad, you know).  That is, until that fateful day in 1995 when the first full-length computer-animated feature film was released: “Toy Story.” On that day, everything changed.  Up became down.  Blue became Thursday. Cowboys and spacemen living together . . . mass hysteria!  And the unstoppable engine of innovation (and cash juggernaut) that was Pixar Studios rose to take its place among the animation giants . . . until it was bought by Disney and everything had to have nine sequels.  But how does this, their first opus, hold up after a quarter of a century? Give a listen and pick up what we’re putting down (and then please put it back down; it’s there for a reason, thank you very much).

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Episode 106: Magnolia (1999)

Ahhh, magnolias. The flower that signifies spring; a symbol of hope, beauty and hundreds of frogs showering down from the heavens. Wait, what? Oh yes. Frogs. Lots and lots of frogs. Because how else would you tie together such divergent stories of; lives gone wrong, kid tv stars who never really grow up, toxic masculinity gurus and cops who lose their guns at crime scenes? No better way, we say! And we say a lot. This week in the continuing saga of “Ancient History: The 90s,” we delve deep into Paul Thomas Anderson’s film of fractured lives. Haven’t heard of it? We’re not surprised but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out. The ensemble cast alone is worth a look: William H. Macy, Tom Cruise, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Jason Robards and even a short stint by Patton Oswalt. It’s one of those big, ensemble cast kind of movies and we warn you: it is long. Three hours long. But does it feel like it? Does the movie drag, does it work, does it take out the trash once a week without you having to nag it over and over and over again? That last one, I admit, it does not. But it’s going to if it knows what’s good for it. Regardless of what we think, there is one thing that makes this movie worth watching: proof that, when he really puts his mind to it, when he actually -tries-, Tom Cruise can be a good actor. No, really. This is not Bumpy the Wonder Pony typing this, making things up in hopes of getting a nice, juicy carrot. Oh no, it is the truth. Probably. So, tune in, won’t we and find out about this film with the frogs.

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Episode 105: Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Hello, children! Hello! Welcome to Uncle Max, Uncle Mike; Uncle Movies! Yaaay! We’ve got a super delightful, fun story for you this week about a funny man who lives in a cave with his wacky friends when one day a little girl comes to ask him some oh-so-important questions about her friend Billy and why he murders women and cuts off their skin.  What’s that, Producer Jimmy? We’re fired? Our show’s been cancelled? There are some mean looking men from the FCC here to talk to us about our show? Oh fiddlesticks.
Yeah, so for this week’s “In Ancient Times: the 90’s” we’re talking about a 90’s movie that scared seven kinds of hell out of film audiences, and yours truly, when we saw it.  And yet some of us (me) went back and saw it four times in the theater, despite never being sensible enough to bring a set of adult diapers.  Brrr.  Sadly, I chose this movie so I have no one to blame for my night terrors this week but myself. Jonathan Demme’s “Silence of the Lambs” brought us one of the most iconic cinematic serial killers in history, as well as one of the coolest FBI agents, Clarice Starling, who was the template for Agent Scully of the X-Files (“Nerrrrrrrd!” “Shut up, Mike!”).  Crack open a bottle of Chianti, carve up a heapin’ helpin’ of census taker and join us for our discussion of this movie, which I will be participating in from under my blanket fort.

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