Episode 200 (Part 1) – Batman, Batman, Batman!

What’s this? Our dyspeptic duo has actually produced two hundred episodes? Our Cape-less Crusaders have bivouacked a burgeoning bicentennial of cinematic barbs? Holy milestone! An event like this must have a worthy subject, something grand, something spanning decades, something like . . . a guy who dresses up like a flying Chiroptera and beats up insane snake-clowns! Of course! Yes, we’re taking on the Dark Knight himself: Batman! Which version, you ask? Why, pretty much all of them, of course! In a fit of masochism Mike and I have decided to discuss, converse, and otherwise hobnob about every major screen appearance (well, a lot of them) made by Batman. From the movie serials of the 40’s to the animated series of the 90’s, from Adam West to Michael Keaton to Robert Pattison, no one is immune to our analysis!

Now, there’s a lot to say about this literary/television/cinematic character and by Aunt Harriet’s bloomers, we said a lot of it! So much so that it’s too bat-much for one bat-episode so we’re splitting it up into not one, not two, not three, but four separate bat-episodes. Collect them all! Trade them with your friends! In Chapter One, we cover the Batman movie serials of the 40’s up through the famous/infamous TV show (and movie!) of 1966! Zap! Bow! Bam! Enjoy!

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Episode 199: Singularity (2017)

And we come to the end of our “Focus on: John Cusack” series and a short but wild ride it’s been. Wasn’t “High Fidelity” cool? Didn’t you just love Lloyd Dobler as a character? Wasn’t the Savannah setting in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” intriguing? Yeah . . . welp, that about sums up the series, thanks for joining us! For next time . . . hm? What’s that? THIS week’s movie? 2017’s “Singularity”? Yeeeeaaahhhhh . . . right . . . that one . . . uh . . . sure, I mean, we can talk about it. If you really want to. I mean, John Cusack’s in it . . . pretty much. For some of it. He’s prominently featured in the credits and on the DVD cover, so, ok, this is technically a John Cusack movie. Um. But you know, maybe we could talk more about the actual music choices in “High Fidelity”! Yeah! That’d be cool, right? Like how many of the albums that got mentioned are albums you’ve actually listened to? Let’s do that! Oh. Really? Well, ok, if you insist. I mean, “Singularity” is kind of an interesting indicator of John Cusack’s recent career trajectory. And there’s robots in it. And . . . well, you’d better just give a listen, find out what’s going on. We do need to finish this up.

Poll question: What is your favorite filmic representation of Batman?

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Episode 198: High Fidelity (2000)

And here we are, thundering along in our series “Focus On: John Cusack” with a thundering new thunderous episode featuring “High Fidelity.” Thunderously. Check out this throwback involving Mr. Cusack as a character who owns some business called a “record store” where he sells some sort of ancient music format involving pressed disks made of vinyl. Man, the past was weird. Not like we’d ever see anything like that these days . . . Of course, these “record albums” are not the only focus of the movie, no; adapted from Nick Hornby novel of the same name, the story follows Robb (Cusack) as he endeavors to determine the reason for his history of romantic failures and edges closer to the possibility that, um, maybe it’s not a failing in the women in his life but perhaps with … himself? Nah, can’t be. Also featuring Jack Black and Todd Louiso as two characters you will both enjoy and want to beat with a sock full of quarters. Marvel along with us and ask yourself: how the heck did this Robb guy ever date someone played by Catherine Zeta Jones?

Poll question: besides musicals, what movie do you think has a KILLER soundtrack? Doesn’t have to be a good movie, just a great soundtrack.

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Episode 197: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)

I do declare, this series “Focus On: John Cusack” is giving me the vapors! Someone fetch me a mint julep and an invisible dog! Lord, these flies on their leashes are just everywhere. I do so love those Georgia Bulldogs. And peaches. And, um, sweet iced tea . . . ok, I’m running out of things I know about Georgia, specifically about Savannah, so it’s a darn good thing that this week’s movie, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” is set there, in the early 80’s, based on a novel that is more or less based on a true story. Allegedly. Along with our boy John Cusack, we’ve got an almost unrecognizable Jude Law and (oh boy . . .) Kevin Spacey. Uhhhh . . . but at least the director is . . . oh dear, Clint Eastwood. Hoo boy. Not the most comfortable movie we’ve done. And the story is certainly not the most comfortable but pretty gol durn interesting. Give a listen and see what we think or if we spend the whole time tugging at our shirt collars and making inarticulate sounds of discomfort. Either way, it’s gonna be exciting . . . right?

Poll question: “Based on a true story”: what does that mean to you when you see it before a movie starts? Do you trust a movie more? Less? Hold the film up to a higher standard? Or does it matter at all?

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Episode 196: Say Anything (1989)

Leapin’ Lizards! It’s a brand-spanking-new series! (A spanking! A spanking!) Can your heart stand it? If not, please consult your physician, because we’re worried about you. This time we’re focusing on a selection from the body of work of a specific actor in three separate econo-series; Mike has chosen the first one, I’ll choose the second one, and we’d like YOU, yes YOU, to help us choose the third one! Write in, let us know what film person you think deserves a deep-dive, and maybe even suggest some examples of that person’s work. Please help us! You want me to say it? Ok, I’ll say it: we need you! We’ve always needed you! Please don’t leave us! Don’t marry Ethelbert! Or do marry Ethelbert, but please write in with suggestions!

We’re starting out with Mike’s choice “Focus On: John Cusack” because of all the Cusack’s he is, we think you’ll agree, the John-est. Mike’s leading off with an early film of Mr. C’s: 1989’s “Say Anything” starring many people, as well as a very 80’s soundtrack. Is this just another goofy teen romance or does Herr Cusack bring his A-game and level this baby up a bit? Give a listen and find out. Maybe we’ll even have Don “The Dragon” Wilson break Bumpy’s nose . . . if you’re extra good!

Poll question: what couple from a romantic movie would you most like to check in on twenty or thirty years later to see how they’re doing?

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Episode 195: Head (1968)

Hey, hey, we’re Max, Mike; Movies!/ and people say we Max, Mike; Movies around/But we’re too busy talking about movies/to put anybody down! Hmm . . . ok, maybe that would work better for some other endeavor . . . I dunno, maybe something in the music industry? I should check with Don Kirchner…

Yes, we’ve come to the end of our series “Ladies and Gentlemen…the Beatles!” and what better way to close this out than with an attempt to answer the question “What Hath the Beatles Wrought?” For while their contributions to the music world were legion, the Fab Four did have many, many imitators, including a group so carefully manufactured that they were known as the Pre-Fab Four (even before the Rutles were): the Monkees.  Davy, Mickey, Mike, and Peter, four lads from all over who were not even allowed to play their own instruments on their first two albums (not that they couldn’t play; Don Kirchner just didn’t think they were good enough) were brought together for a sitcom, several albums and, to few people’s recollection, a movie called “Head.” Co-written by Jack Nicholson and featuring cameos by said Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Sonny Liston and (no, this isn’t a typo) Frank Zappa, this psychedelic late-sixties romp was . . . well, it was definitely a movie. Released on film and everything. Is this a Monkee-filled delight, replete with your favorite Monkee hits or is it something else entirely? Give a listen and find out!

Poll question: who is your favorite star who successfully made the jump from tv to movies?

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Episode 194: A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

You know, it’s been a hard podcast series, this “Ladies and Gentlemen… the Beatles!” and Mike and I have working like a pair of canids. We really should be sleeping like a couple of solid chunks of firewood but instead, we find that when we get home, well, we feel all right. Yeah, yeah, yeah! Wait, dang, wrong song. Regardless, this week’s penultimate series entry is the Beatles’ self-made mockumentary about a day in the life of this quartet of Liverpudlians (yes, that’s a real word; don’t dispute me) as the Four Moptops gad about, preparing for a Big Time Live Broadcast, with Paul’s trouble-magnet grandfather in tow. He may be a mixer, but he’s a very clean old man, as is remarked upon many times. Along with the boys tweaking the noses of the Establishment, are, oh, maybe one or two of their songs. Very few. Hardly noticeable, really. How does this first Beatles film outing hold up, almost sixty years later? Well, have yourself a cuppa, get your neb out of that book, and twilk a squeaky at our podcast [warning: that last bit of British slang may be entirely made-up by Max]

Poll question: what is your favorite movie quote? The one you find yourself thinking about or saying out loud the most?

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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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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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