Sordid Cinema Podcast

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Sordid Cinema Podcast #585: Ben Stiller’s The Cable Guy is One of the Most Underrated Comedies of the ‘90s.

July 9th, 2021

The Cable Guy Review

He came…He saw…He tormented…

There are plenty of overnight success stories in Hollywood, but none quite like Jim Carey’s rise to fame. After a stint on In Living Color, Carey transitioned to the big screen with Ace Ventura, which became a sleeper hit in the spring of 1994, grossing more than $100 million on a $15 million budget. Carrey followed that up with blockbusters like The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, Batman Forever, and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls— all within a span of two years, helping him become the biggest box office draw in Hollywood. From there, the rubber-faced comic was hired to star in the 1996 black comedy The Cable Guy directed by Ben Stiller and co-starring Matthew Broderick, Leslie Mann, Jack Black. The film opened to a respectable $20 million but ultimately became a box office bomb, weighed down by toxic word of mouth from critics who called it a complete misfire. The bigger story, however, was how much money Carey was paid— the actor received $20 million from Columbia Pictures, as well as a 15% backend, and critics couldn’t wrap their head around why a studio would pay so much for any actor to star in a comedy. 25 years later, however, The Cable Guy has found a huge cult following and is now considered one of the best dark comedies of its time— a multi-faceted parody built around a multitude of movie and television-inspired set pieces and references along with an incredible performance by Jim Carey. And not only was The Cable Guy slightly ahead of its time, with its prophetic look on the future and the internet at large— but The Cable Guy was arguably the flashpoint for the next big generation of comedy, paving the way for the next generation of comedies. On this episode on the Sordid Cinema Podcast, we dive deep into what makes the film special, even after all these years.

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Sordid Cinema Podcast #584: Pull the Wool From Your Eyes to See The Parallax View

July 1st, 2021

Powerful organizations shrouded in secrecy, pulling strings from the shadows, snuffing out all who would dare expose the truth to an unsuspecting populace… It’s hard not to love conspiracy thrillers, and 1970s movie theaters were chock full of them. This week, the Sordid Cinema crew is taking a look at one of the best, the second in director Alan Pakula’s ‘Paranoia’ trilogy, The Parallax View. Clearly taking inspiration from real-life political assassinations, the story features an intrepid reporter investigating a shadowy corporation that appears to be recruiting and training deadly operatives to ‘remove’ political obstacles. But don’t worry about getting bogged down in plot details — there are too many car chases, bar fights, bomb threats, and boat explosions to distract from what’s really happening.

Join Rick, Simon, and Patrick as they explain just what makes The Parallax View such a solid thriller, including the masterful cinematography, excellent staging, and overall likability of star Warren Beatty (even if someone thinks he should have been replaced). But can you trust a film that doesn’t answer all the questions? We may never know exactly what’s goin on, but there’s a lot of fun in trying to figure it out. For all this and more, have a listen!

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Sordid Cinema Podcast #583: Johnnie To’s Drug War

June 22nd, 2021

Drug War (2012) Review

Do you love crime movies but wish they’d just jettison all that junk you don’t really need? You know, love interests? Backstories? Metaphors? Who needs ’em? Johnnie To sure didn’t when he put together 2013’s grim, single-minded Drug War, a movie all three of us found something (or several somethings) to enthuse about. We get into Chinese politics, the (possible) effects of snorting heroin, and consider it as the dark, lower-key anti-mirror of John Woo’s Hard Boiled.

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Sordid Cinema Podcast #582: ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ is an Action Relic Only Gaining in Value With Time

June 10th, 2021

Raiders of the Lost Arc Review

It’s a movie celebrating how they used to make ’em — and yet, they don’t make ’em like Raiders of the Lost Ark anymore. Steven Spielberg’s action masterpiece has aged easily as well as the most valuable cinematic artifacts, showcasing the thrilling combination of a brisk script, daring stunt work, and crisp staging. Oh, and can we forget Harrison Ford’s iconic portrayal of Indiana Jones? Good luck to the next guy who tries to don the fedora. Yes, it’s a film filled to the brim with excellence, from Douglas Slocombe’s searing desert cinematography to Karen Allen’s turn as a feisty boozer with a mean right fist to whoever was in charge of those melting/exploding Nazi heads.

This week sees Rick, Simon, and Patrick put Indy through the wringer once again, as we take a look at what makes Raiders of the Lost Ark so great. Turns out that giant boulder booby traps, ancient tombs filled with deadly snakes, and 1920s circus strong men are just a small part of it. And how does the story structure compare to the James Bond franchise? What are our favorite moments? How can one possibly pick an MVP from such a sterling list of contributors? What — if any — changes would we make to Indiana Jones’ greatest adventure? For all this and more (including finding out which one of us nerds still has an original action figure), have a listen!

Sordid Cinema Podcast Rewind: J.J. Abrams’ Super 8: Personal Filmmaking or Simply Pastiche?

June 7th, 2021

Super 8 Review

After a year of anticipation through teasers, images, and speculation, J. J. Abrams’s third feature Super 8 (featuring his first original screenplay) was released in 2011 to much an overwhelming amount of hype. Fans expected big things while critics seemed out to tear it apart— and it didn’t take long before the film became a source of fierce debate. In episode #276 of the Sordid Cinema Podcast (then called Sound On Sight) Ricky D, Justine Smith and Simon Howell sat down to discuss the sci-fi thriller and settle the score. Or at least they tried. What follows is our review of Super 8 recorded way back on June 11, 2011.

 

Sordid Cinema Podcast #581: Stylish Action Elevates De Palma’s Mission: Impossible

June 3rd, 2021

Mission: Impossible 1996 Film Review

The Mission: Impossible franchise may be more known today for its death-defying stunts and blistering action, but director Brian De Palma brought different sensibilities to the very first production of this longstanding Tom Cruise vehicle. 1996’s Mission: Impossible is a visually breathtaking ode to filmmaking skill over filmmaking spectacle, a spy thriller that eschews bullet fights and car chases for actual sneaking around. Cat-and-mouse surveillance, tense conversations, and hanging from wires are where most of the excitement lies (at least until the mask comes off at the end, revealing the summer blockbuster beneath).

At the 25th anniversary of the film that kicked off a billion-dollar franchise, Rick, Simon, and Patrick weigh in on the dense script, enjoy the stylish Dutch angles and diopter lenses, and debate just who was most responsible for making this film a success. Is this entry really so different from those that followed? How is the franchise doing as a whole? And where does the original Mission: Impossible rank among its sequels? For all this and more, have a listen!

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Sordid Cinema Podcast: Why John Woo’s Hard Boiled is a Masterpiece of Action Filmmaking

May 22nd, 2021

Hard Boiled Review

This week on Sordid Cinema, we travel back to 1992, and for the first time ever on the podcast, we sit down to review a John Woo film. And not just any John Woo film, but arguably one of the single greatest action movies of all time. It’s one of Woo’s masterpieces and along with A Better TomorrowThe Killer, and Bullet in the Head, it helped revolutionize Hong Kong action cinema! That’s right folks, we finally get around to discussing the effortlessly cool Hard Boiled.

It’s safe to say, Hard Boiled is a masterpiece of action filmmaking and the ultimate expression of everything Woo became famous for. It’s perhaps the granddaddy of a genre once known as Heroic Bloodshed (a term invented by Rick Baker) and it boasts one of the greatest set-pieces ever put to celluloid— a legendary explosion of gunfire and pyrotechnics that takes up the film’s final hour.

In this episode, we break down all three major action set-pieces, from the opening tea house sequence which features two iconic shots of Chow Yun Fat to the warehouse raid where Johnny Wong seizes control of the Triad gangs, and to the climactic siege on a hospital involving hundreds of extras including a dozen or so newborns trying to escape while the building around them goes up in flames.

Expect to hear us gush over Woo’s direction, the movie’s famous unbroken three-minute tracking shot, Michael Gibbs soundtrack, and of course, the stellar performances from Tony Leung, Chow Yun Fat, and Philip Kwok as the eyepatch-wearing maniac Mad Dog, who’s acting and stunt work, often is overshadowed by his co-stars.

Sit back, relax and get ready for a wild ride. This might be the most action-packed episode of the Sordid Cinema Podcast yet!

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Sordid Cinema Podcast Rewind: ‘Point Blank’ is One of the Greatest Crime Films

May 16th, 2021

Point Blank (1967) Review

Way back on episode 126 of the Sordid Cinema Podcast, we reviewed John Boorman’s gritty, raw crime drama Point Blank, featuring superb performances by Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson.

The 1967 thriller combines elements of film noir with stylistic touches of the European nouvelle vague and features a fractured timeline (similar to the novel’s non-linear structure), disconcerting narrative rhythms, and a carefully calculated use of film space.

Discussing the film is Ricky D, Simon Howell and former co-host, Ali McKinnon.

Sordid Cinema Podcast #579: Black Coal, Thin Ice

May 15th, 2021

Black Coal, Thin Ice Review

For our first non-English feature in a minute, we take a trip to Heilongjiang Province to dissect Black Coal, Thin Ice, Diao Yinan’s grim 2014 neo-noir. (Its successor, the more widely-seen The Wild Goose Lakemay, or may not be the subject of a future Sordid episode.) We get a little lost in the film’s dense and troubling plot, neon cityscapes, and many acts of cruelty and malice. But hey, at least there are fireworks!

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Sordid Cinema Podcast #578: Excalibur and Arthurian Myth

May 4th, 2021

The legend of King Arthur has never been lacking in cinematic retellings, but none can compare to John Boorman’s gorgeous and thematically faithful Excalibur. From the vast and tangled web of source material, the director of Point Blank and Deliverance distills the epic myth down to iconic imagery backed by theatrical performances from young actors destined to be stars. This week the Sordid Cinema Podcast discusses the fantastic (and fantastical) filmmaking, dives into the lore, and admires the vision of clunky knights and a wily wizard, all bound together by primeval landscapes and a magical sword.

Join Rick, Simon, and Patrick as they debate the effectiveness of green lighting and ADR, compare Excalibur to another movie involving a quest for the Holy Grail, enjoy Nicol Williamson’s sly (and often hilarious) turn as Merlin, mourn the character of Gawain, and show off their knowledge of one of the most famous tales ever told. Whether you think it’s glorious or a little goofy, there’s plenty to love about Excalibur, so have a listen!

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