Cinecast Episode 163 – The Jesus Camp of Comic Book Movies

 
By audience request, a special welcome to FilmJunk’s Jay Cheel (also of The Documentary Blog) as he drops by the virtual studio for this cinecast episode to help level the playing field on our SPOILER quite divided impressions of Kick-Ass. Of course Matt Gamble is here to help with that discussion as well representing the comic-nerd side of the equation. We are also in the midst of the Minneapolis Film Festival, so there is be some talk on that cinematic smörgåsbord as well as a critical mention of the 6 hour road-show edition of British TV mini Red Riding Trilogy. The usual DVD picks and other bits of movie related banter, including must-see Aussie noir, The Square, a break down on the Howard Stern saga known as Private Parts and Earth Day visual extravaganza Oceans. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to listen the show; we are glad to have you along and welcome feedback and other forms of kick-assery in the comments section..


To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_163.mp3

 
 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…


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IN-HOUSE BUSINESS:
Guess the Grosses Contest


MAIN REVIEWS:
Kick-Ass (David’s review) / (Kurt’s review)


OTHER REVIEWS:
Red Riding Trilogy (Andrew’s review)
The Square (Kurt’s review)
Cell 211 (Andrew’s review)


WHAT ELSE WE WATCHED:
Private Parts
Oceans


DVD PICKS:

Andrew:
Uncertainty
(IMDb)

        Kurt:
Mammoth
(Marina’s review)

        Matt:
Crazy Heart
(Andrew’s review)

        Jay:
Xena (season 1)
(IMDb)


 
 

BLU RAY:

Andrew:
Young Victoria
(Marina’s review)

        Kurt:
Summer Hours
(IMDb)

        Matt:
Drawn Together
(IMDb)

        Jay:
Minority Report
(IMDb)


also Lovely Bones


OTHER DVDs NOW AVAILABLE:

Ex Drummer
35 Shots of Rum
Avatar
44 Inch Chest

Vivre sa vie [Criterion Blu-ray] Battleship Potemkin [Blu-ray] Basketball Diaries [Blu-ray] Fist of Legend [Blu-ray]


OTHER STUFF MENTIONED:
Prom Night in Mississippi (IMDb)
Switchbladecomb
Vincent Gallo on Howard Stern (thanks to listener, Arnold, for the heads up!)
Howard Stern on 9/11/01


NEXT WEEK:


PRIVATE COMMENTS or QUESTIONS?
Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, or email us:
feedback@rowthree.com (general)
andrew.james@rowthree.com
kurt@rowthree.com

 

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Antho42
Guest

Kurt, out of curiosity, did Andrews's Netflix Watch Instantly worked in Canada?

kurt
Guest

Antho, I still haven't tried. You'll here it here when I do though.

rot
Guest

Matt clearly didn't watch CNN's Anderson Cooper go sans-cage with great whites for his latest Planet in Peril segment. I have no idea what it had to do with either the planet or news, but in the segment he talks about how little biologists know about the great white shark, sort of hammering home the stupidity of the act. Surprised Herzog hasn't tried to mount one.

rot
Guest

Like Jay, given the choice between something being sincerely straightforward in how it approaches its subject and one that uses the subject anecdotally in some authorial conceit, I will almost always go for the sincere interest in the subject. It doesn't mean I will always like the subject, I am not as interested in comic books as Jay so Spiderman doesn't do much for me, but given the choice between Raimi's take on the subject and Millar's, I will go for Raimi. Rarely are these exercises in style as ponderous as they may think they are, as they are shallowly about method not content.

Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead play as entertainment, with the meta qualities tacked on, you don't need them to enjoy the experience. Having not seen Kick-Ass, I can't really comment on whether Kurt is right in making the comparison… must you get the meta conceits of the film in order to enjoy it? Matt compares it to Lethal Weapon in which case I would think the conceits are hardly conceits, more harmless winks, not aspiring to anything more than a light ribbing of the genre (do people dissect Lethal Weapon?). it either plays directly or indirectly, or proportionally one way or the other more so. If it plays directly, than I would be more interested in it (were the subject not comic book superheroes).

Antho42
Guest

Yesterday, I saw True Romance for the first time. Even though it is not Tarantino's best, man the movie is really good. What the heck happen to Christian Slater? With his minimal screen time, Gary Oldman still manages to steal the show. The funny thing is that the relationship between Slater and Arquete is very similar to the relationship between Nicholas Cage and Hit-Girl.

Antho42
Guest

Tom Sizemore, what a waste of good character acting, talent. Went from being in landmark films in the 1990's, to being in nothing.

rot
Guest

hearing over and over the way we all approach films you start to identify tendencies of propriety each of us carries with us. Kurt will generally not accept something too visibly pandering unless it is used ironically (Jay's valid point of Fantastic Four subverting comic geek expectation, but because its done accidentally, without the visible irony, that would probably not work for Kurt). Although we differ on interests, Jay and I share a similar sense of propriety with regards to how much intellectualizing is required to enjoy a film. The sense of propriety I get from Andrew is not so much about method, he can take a pretty large swath from straight-up melodrama, Pride and Prejudice, to biting satire, Behind the Mask, but I think he has some fairly clear limits to what he is able to tolerate politically and as to the likability of the characters in the story (kind of wear your heart on your sleeve). And Matt is as geek as they come, his sense of propriety tends to raise up with tacitly experienced art films that do not require anything intellectual (I think they are usually derided as bullshit). Although you do love Haneke, which makes me think you are almost human.

rot
Guest

wow I should really listen to the show completely before commenting… Edgar Wright question answered.

Kurt
Guest

I offer Raimi's "THE QUICK AND THE DEAD" of him being rather ironic. I think there are fun ironies in Maguire's performance, the intentional over-the-top dorky moment in #2 "Rain Drops Keep Falling on my Head" song. and others. Apparently the ironic jokes (dancing, etc.) threw a lot of people off Spiderman3, but I've not caught up with that one yet.

Kurt
Guest

@Antho42, Christian Slater did a couple Uwe Boll films, some arty very indie films and finally, just recently a direct to DVD Stephen King movie with Wes Bently.

I agree on True Romance, it is a case for an auteur screenwriter, because despite Tony Scotts direction, the Tarantinoness of that screenplay comes though. It's got one of the best supporting casts ever (period!).

Kurt
Guest

And, I'm not sure if Rot or Cheel are implying that if I can get enjoyment out of films that aspire to the genre and take the piss out of genre conventions (i.e. ironic and meta-pleasures are a big draw), that I don't enjoy excellent earnest dramas and other films. I just think that both can comfortably exist in the world. I like all kinds of cinematic foods, and will not shy away from a sugar bon-bon like Kick-Ass, just because it's not 'deep.'

And I don't think that Observe&Report is any deeper, it just is darker.

Jay C.
Guest

Observe & Report isn't any deeper, it's just simply better.

rot
Guest

I was just saying we all have thresholds and soft spots, and you more often than not are willing to forgive a film any of its failings on the strengths of its meta-qualities (i.e. Southland Tales) whereas I, and I think Jay, won't go that far. The reverse of that is I will forgive a film any sort of deficiency of craft or thematic depth if it reaches me on a tacit emotional level (i.e. Avatar)

I am not saying you ONLY enjoy meta films, just out of the group of us you are most likely to come to such a film's defense. Not saying anything new here, I don't think. It would be the same with how Andrew gravitates towards films that have strong cinematography, not saying every film of this ilk works for him, but more often that not he will be the person of the group of us calling attention to that attribute. Matt is Mr. Source Material, seriously its incredible how much he talks about the arcane knowledge of films and how that comes to add to the defense of said film. Jay is a big proponent of keep it old school, and has a threshold for irony, like the Simpsons Movie 🙂

rot
Guest

I really didn't like Observe & Report. Tried to hard to be subversive.

rot
Guest

also awesome show guys, and for the first time I am going to use the show notes for the Stern/Gallo interview link.

Henrik
Guest

I'm scared to listen to this, because I sympathize with neither Kurt nor Jays point of view, and I imagine I would spent the whole show gritting my teeth and pulling my hair!

Antho42
Guest

Henrik, you should give it a listen. It turns out that Matt Gamble and Kurt like the film for almost the opposite reasons.

kurt
Guest

Except that Matt is on the fundy side of the Jesus Camp analogy, I'm on the secular snob side.

rus in chicago
Guest

I listen to both filmjunk and row three podcast before seeing Kickass last night and I think Jay and Wintle need to improve their argument that Observe and Report is a so much better satirical example.

First, I think the film starts out very well and is an excellent example of setting the mood and explaining were this film is going. The voice over and shot construction echo Jay’s favorite Spiderman, yet, the art direction and locations give it a grittier feel that shows this is a different take on that type film. Jay keeps talking about the satirical elements being the only thing propping up this film and that it’s a nerd fantasy but I question Jay’s rational and common sense; the satirical elements are well constructed to the point I think the average viewer will wholly see their place. I mean, the references to Spiderman are very obvious, yet work within the context of this film. The row houses and streets are an “American Splendor” version of the locations in Spiderman. The Spiderman tag line, “with great power comes great responsibility” is hacked and reused. In this way, Jay’s thinking a wider audience well not see these elements is a commentary on his opinion of audiences and not the film’s construction.

I really have no idea why the row three nerds want to run away from the film’s comedy. I got some laughs, and yes, a lot of them were tied to the juxtaposition between this film and other superhero films, and nerd fantasy. I don’t understand why that is bad, all comedies choose an angle. Observe and Report used “pushed the envelope” humor, Borat uses fake documentary exposing average Americans racism humor.

Observe and Report’s problems (and there are not many) are the same problems Jay criticizes Kickass for. O & R has periods of armature lighting and camerawork to a greater extent (or equal too) Kickass. Jay can claim it’s the style of the film but he knows it is a reflection of budget issues and a large practical location; mall and parking lot. I cannot see how anyone can prove O & R’s fight scenes are any better than Kickass, it’s a push at best. O & R’s over the top ending has a man being hit by a 357 magnum and being hosted up, carried to the police station, and the shooter leaving without any questioning and telling the cops to F-off. Really Jay, Wintle? that is the example you are using to bring down Kickass and its ending.

Jay keeps talking about how Kickass doesn’t riff on what would truly happen if a common person tries to become a superhero, let’s see:

Goofy costume and being laughed at by criminals, check

Getting almost killed, check

Using his popularity to get some ass, check

Being scared about death and giving up, check

I think they covered all the basics. To say they don’t do any of this exploration is false.

Jay has talked in both podcasts about Kickass forgoing it’s believability and resorting to typical comic book actions. He states that the lead in Kickass gets his own super powers which allow him to do super things. This is false as after Kickass gets out of the hospital he is never in an over-the-top physical confrontation were he does anything beyond enduring more punches. Jay makes it appear that he can leap over buildings which he still can’t do as he has a scene where he is unable to follow Hit Girl from rooftop to rooftop. I really don’t think the dead nerve ending criticism is enough to discredit the film. I also don’t believe it is thrown in and forgotten as there had to be something that allowed Kickass to be able to continue. If you want to criticizes the film on that level then talk about the scene were the filmmakers make fun of the fact Kickass has to learn to use a high tech. jet pack in 4 minutes.

Now I can see if Jay didn’t like the lead actor how that will flavor his entire experience. I for one think the guy did a solid job displaying the nerdy puppy dog face and awkward avenger affectively. McLovin’s problem was one of make-up as the person applying that pancake should never work again.

Last thing I want to mention is “je ne sais quoi”. I feel Jay did not get the “je ne sais quoi” of this film and resorts to criticizing others for “putting” something in to the film that is not there. I think we can all admit, like the meaning of the term itself, this is an unknowable thing and very hard to debate. But in the world of film it is very important as it is one of the few artforms were it has a huge effect. Film is a combination of light and shadow, noise and words, that exist in a time and place. That mixture can produce a certain ”je ne sais quoi” that is hard to put your finger on. This is the same “je ne sais quoi” Jay talks about when defending films like Escape from LA and Prince of Darkness. I’m surprise he cannot admit it might exist here for others.

Mike Rot
Member

If Observe & Report is the parallel to Kick-Ass then I am definitely not interested. The comedy is too obvious, straining to be dark.

Kurt
Guest

"Film is a combination of light and shadow, noise and words, that exist in a time and place. That mixture can produce a certain ”je ne sais quoi” that is hard to put your finger on. This is the same “je ne sais quoi” Jay talks about when defending films like Escape from LA and Prince of Darkness. I’m surprise he cannot admit it might exist here for others."

I like this, and it is especially true for savvy genre films, of which I believe Kick-Ass belongs to.

Kurt
Guest

….Also, this sort of inflection/flavour/mentality also goes a long way to enjoying THE LOSERS.

rus in chicago
Guest

you had to ruin it kurt! I saw kickass and the losers back to back last night. I think you are giving the losers to much credit, that film is pure fluff and nothing more. its only commentary ion genre is its "fun and sexy". I hope and expect the expendables to have some commentary / satire on the genre, wrapped around the balls out fun!

Kurt
Guest

Oh, I thought all the waving American flags, the lapel pin on Jason Patric's suit, and the general lack-a-daisical nature (cutting out the glue between scenes, the over-kill pop music). I'm sure it is a little intentional. The Losers is sort of the nadir of action movies taking themselves seriously, but still I had a load of fun with it.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

I'm still in the middle of listening to the Kick-Ass review (I know, I'm behind, but I just finally got to Kick-Ass late last week), but I wanted to thank Kurt for mentioning The Square. Looks like you've got more of a review of it in the next Cinecast, so I'll listen to that in a bit, but I happened to have this on in the car today while taking the long way home and kind of half-thinking about stopping off to see a film, and thought, hey, I wonder if this Square thing that Kurt is talking about is playing here. Looked it up while driving (at a stop light, really! Maybe…) and the only theatre it's playing it is one that I was about half a mile away from at the time, and the next showing was in forty-five minutes. That was all so serendipitous I figured it had to be a sign, so I went to see it, and really enjoyed it.

Also, re: Red Riding. I commented briefly on Andrew's review, but hearing the discussion here made me think of a few more things. I see where Andrew is coming from regarding the melodramatic side plots involving the characters taking away from the mystery plot, and I definitely felt that at times; I thought in 1974, the romance that developed between Garfield and Hall progressed way too rapidly to be believable. On the other hand, that film was the most visceral of the three, and Garfield was great in it, and I'm always glad to see Hall, so I mostly (mostly, but not completely) forgave it.

I actually thought 1980 was quite good. I guess I never had the expectation going in that all three were going to be about the same case, or about child abduction in general – I just thought that they were going to be shapshots of the same small-town police department in three different eras, with some connection between them, and I think that's more right, actually. I quite liked that the second one picked up the police corruption angle that was just hinted at in the first one and ran with that as the main story instead of the child abductions; I thought that was an interesting and unexpected turn, yet it made sense. And I thought that while the affair with his coworker was perhaps a bit overplayed (I'd have to look at my notes to remember what I really though; it's been a while), it was thematically linked with the main plot – as in, he's supposed to be the upstanding guy trusted to investigate police corruption, yet he's living this double life in private. The two plots seemed to parallel each other to me in a way that they apparently didn't for you. Also, I really like Paddy Considine. The third one was where it fell apart for me, partially because as you mentioned it just ties things up a little too nicely and obviously, but also because I was mentally done with the kidnapping plot from the first one, and the third one felt like a step back in plot development. I would rather have had a completely new case as the main focus rather than a retread of the original one.

re: Kick-Ass; still listening, but this is a really great conversation! It's interesting because it seems to highlight more than most discussions what pleases each of you in films, and what displeases you. For the record, I mostly agree with Matt and Kurt. 🙂

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

Oh, and they did show the short film Spider before The Square in the theatre. I wish they'd do that more often with short films in general, same director or not.

Henrik
Guest

Just saw Kick-Ass, and I think I fall on Jays side for the most part. I thought the movie was alright, but in no way a satire, it's just post-modern. It reminded me alot of Scream. Scream to me was a horror movie where the characters just talked alot about other horror movies. Kick-Ass is the same. It in no way approaches something like Funny Games, that comparison is way off, Kick-Ass is basically just a post-modern version of Spider-Man.

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