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With the world the way it is, it’s no wonder we spend so much of our time watching television and movies. From sci-fi flicks like Star Trek, to unscripted reality shows like Queer Eye, to comedy dramas like Schitt’s Creek, we are basking in the very best distractions.

Netflix, Inc.

Tom Cruise's seventh Mission: Impossible installment has been one of the few huge Hollywood productions trying to to figure out how to film during the pandemic. Cruise has been in the news lately for blowing up at his crew for breaking COVID protocols, and now he's back in the news for… buying COVID enforcement robots?

And: Could front porches be just the right "magical intermediate zone" to keep communities connecting during a time of social distancing?

And finally: Nicolas Cage is hosting a documentary series on Netflix called History of Swear Words. Normally I'd try to give you a little more context here, but I feel like that first sentence pretty much covers it.

Johannes Gärtner / flickr creative commons

Nietzsche called Richard Wagner "a volcanic eruption of the total undivided artistic capacity of nature itself," and Thomas Mann said he was "probably the greatest talent in the entire history of art."

More than a thousand movies have Wagner on their soundtracks, including classic scenes from Apocalypse Now, The Blues Brothers, Bugs Bunny cartoons, and Charlie Chaplin.

But, there's a reason Woody Allen says too much of Wagner's music gives him "the urge to conquer Poland." Wagner is nothing if not a problematic figure. As the new book Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music puts it, "An artist who might have rivaled Shakespeare in universal reach is undone by an ideology of hate."

Marc Tavernier / flickr creative commons

2020 was ... not great.

But, from a pop culture point of view, it wasn't so bad either. I mean, we got the Hamilton movie, The Queen's Gambit, the final season of Schitt's Creek, David Byrne's American Utopia, the Borat sequel, "WAP," I May Destroy You, Tiger King, two new Taylor Swift albums, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom...

The list goes on.

This hour, The Nose looks back at the year in pop culture that was 2020.

Netflix, Inc.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is George C. Wolfe's film adaptation of the August Wilson play. It stars Viola Davis in the title role and Chadwick Boseman in his final film performance, and it's available to stream on Netflix.

Christopher Nolan's Tenet was the first tentpole movie to be released in theaters during the pandemic. It did okay business (it's currently the third-highest grossing film of 2020), but nothing like what Warner Bros. would've hoped for in a normal time. It's still in theaters, and it's now available to buy on physical disc or from digital platforms. It will be available to rent digitally in January.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

2001: A Space Odyssey. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. A Clockwork Orange. The Shining. Full Metal Jacket. Spartacus. Eyes Wide Shut.

This hour, a careful consideration of the filmmaker Steven Spielberg called "the best in history": Stanley Kubrick.

Netflix, Inc.

Mank is David Fincher's feature film portrayal of the writing of Citizen Kane. Gary Oldman plays the title character and Kane screenwriter, Herman J. Mankiewicz. Mank hit Netflix last Friday, and it's already got lots of Oscar buzz.

The Godfather: Part III is a movie that was actually nominated for seven Oscars 30 years ago (it didn't win any), and it's the third film in a series that had already won nine Academy Awards, including two Best Pictures. Part III, though, has always been thought of relatively poorly. And so, for its 30th anniversary this month, Francis Ford Coppola has rejiggered it and rereleased it as The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. This new version is four minutes shorter, starts with a different scene, ends slightly differently ... and is ultimately the same movie.

HBO

Warner Bros. announced Thursday that all of its movies for all of 2021 will be available to stream on HBO Max the same day they debut in cinemas. The movie theater chains see this as "doomsday for the theatrical experience."

And: Three strange, metal monoliths having been discovered in recent weeks, one each in Utah, Romania, and California. The ones in Utah and Romania have since disappeared, and the one in Utah had stood undiscovered for at least four years before it was found.

Finally: The Undoing is a six-part HBO miniseries starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. Its finale aired Sunday.

Trevor / flickr creative commons

As we were preparing for our show on underdogs, I kept saying that we shouldn’t overlook the fact that, often, to be an underdog in the first place, you have to be relatively bad at the thing you’re an underdog about.

The more we talked about it, the more I found myself making the case that losers and losing are fascinating.

And they are. There’s a whole podcast about political candidates who lost. We romanticize losers in movies and TV and songs and stories.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment

A hard-boiled private eye, a glamorous blond, and a hapless drifter all sit at a bar on the seamy side of town. It's night, the streets are wet, the shadows are long. They each nurse a drink to the notes of a mournful saxophone and a lonely piano. Smoke from the cigarettes swirls in the darkness.

We all know classic noir when we see it and hear it and read it; yet, we don't really know how to define the dark plots that expose humanity in all its moral ambiguity and loneliness.

Apple

The world has an Alex Trebek-shaped hole in it. Which raises a question: Who should fill said hole?

Billie Eilish has a new single out this week, which got The Nose thinking about her now-in-limbo James Bond theme song, which got The Nose thinking about James Bond theme songs in general.

And: Ted Lasso is a half-hour comedy series on AppleTV+. It stars Jason Sudeikis as the title character, and it's based on a character Sudeikis developed in 2013 for a series of promos for NBC Sports's Premier League coverage, of all things.

Netflix, Inc.

Since nothing has really been going on lately, we figured we'd do an hour about the week in pop culture, as usual.

The Nose is sad to see Sean Connery go. But it's glad to see John Mulaney on SNL again.

And: The Queen's Gambit is Netflix's new limited series adaptation of the Walter Tevis novel of the same name.

Amazon.com, Inc.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (on Amazon Prime) is a sequel to 2006's Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Sacha Baron Cohen returns as the titular character.

And: The Trial of the Chicago 7 (on Netflix) is Aaron Sorkin's film depiction of the 1969 trial of Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Bobby Seale. Here, Baron Cohen plays Hoffman.

Shudder

It's our annual Halloween special! For this year, the script kind of wrote itself. We look at the way our current, actual horror is likely to affect our future fictional horror through the lens of the genre's past distinct historical eras.

Plus: A new study that seems to say that horror fans were better prepared for the pandemic than the wimpy rest of us were.

And: Every year on this show, for no particular reason, we look specifically at some classic horror movie that's celebrating its 40th anniversary. Two years ago, it was Halloween. Last year, it was Alien. This year, it's Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

Ruth Hartnup / flickr creative commons

We wake up to coffee from a pod, listen to music through our EarPods from our iPods, drive our Smart cars and Fiats and other increasingly pod-shaped vehicles, wash our clothes using Tide pods, and while we wait for the clothes to dry, we listen to our favorite podcast through our AirPods from our HomePod. Sound about right?

HBO

It has come to The Nose's attention that you can rent an entire movie theater out for just $99 and have yourself a slightly less pandemic-panicky moviegoing experience. Which got us thinking about, just, going to the movies. Remember going to the movies?

And then: "Which of the Hollywood Chrises is the worst Hollywood Chris?" is a question the internet has been grappling with recently. As with all things internet, there's now a bit of a controversy.

And: David Byrne's American Utopia is Spike Lee's HBO movie version of Byrne's American Utopia Broadway show, which is a theater version of Byrne's American Utopia tour, which Byrne did in support of his album, American Utopia.

FX Productions, LLC

Undoubtedly, the thing that will most be remembered from Wednesday night's vice presidential debate is the fly that landed on Mike Pence's hair... and then stay there for more than two minutes. The Nose isn't sure what to make of that, exactly, but things are definitely being made of it.

And: Fargo is an anthology that premiered on FX in 2014. It's inspired by the Coen brothers' 1996 film. The fourth season, which is airing now, stars Chris Rock, Jessie Buckley, and Jason Schwartzman, and it's set in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1950.

Netflix, Inc.

It's been over 100 years since the first cartoons were drawn by hand. Since then, the form has delved into everything from sex and drugs to racial inequality and war crimes. Even the tamest, G-rated cartoons have often found ways of slipping in adult humor past the eyes of younger viewers.

Cartoons have been the vehicle for government propaganda, social change, and political satire. Some have been boycotted and even banned for their content while others have been deemed masterpieces and praised by critics for their bold message and style.

Showtime

The Nose had planned to discuss The Danish Girl star Eddie Redmayne standing up for J.K. Rowling and Rolling Stone updating their "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.

But then some news broke overnight.

Perhaps fittingly, though, The Nose watched Showtime's new miniseries, The Comey Rule, this week.

Johannes Gärtner / flickr creative commons

Nietzsche called Richard Wagner "a volcanic eruption of the total undivided artistic capacity of nature itself," and Thomas Mann said he was "probably the greatest talent in the entire history of art."

More than a thousand movies have Wagner on their soundtracks, including classic scenes from Apocalypse Now, The Blues Brothers, Bugs Bunny cartoons, and Charlie Chaplin.

But, there's a reason Woody Allen says too much of Wagner's music gives him "the urge to conquer Poland." Wagner is nothing if not a problematic figure. As the new book Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music puts it, "An artist who might have rivaled Shakespeare in universal reach is undone by an ideology of hate."

Pop TV

The Nose has been contemplating covering the controversy around the The Ellen DeGeneres Show literally for months now. The show returned with a new season of new episodes this week, and Ellen addressed allegations of a toxic work environment in her monologue.

And: The CBC series Schitt's Creek has been endorsed on any number of Noses over the years, but we've never actually covered it. But then, after it won literally ever Emmy in the comedy category on Sunday (a feat no show has ever before achieved), we decided that this week had to be the week.

Gage Skidmore / flickr creative commons

Bill Murray has starred in some of our favorite movies of the last few decades: Caddyshack, Stripes, Tootsie, Ghostbusters, Scrooged, What About Bob?, Groundhog Day, Ed Wood, Space Jam, Lost in Translation, all the Wes Anderson films, and so many more.

He doesn't like managers or agents, and, rumor has it, he once agreed to play Garfield because he thought it was a Coen brothers film. (It wasn't.)

And now, Bill Murray is 70 (!) years old.

Netflix, Inc.

Kim Kardashian and other celebrities "froze" their Facebook and Instagram accounts for one day this week "to protest the spread of hate speech and misinformation on those platforms." Meanwhile, Kardashian's husband had the strange sort of week that we've maybe grown to expect from him, but seemingly with more public peeing in it than we're maybe used to.

And: Cuties (Mignonnes in the original French) is the feature film debut of Senegalese-French writer and director Maïmouna Doucouré. The movie's release on Netflix has been controversial, to say the least.

Netflix, Inc.

It's been a week of ending things, really. Keeping Up with the Kardashians is ending after 20 seasons. Diana Rigg -- Emma Peel on The Avengers and Lady Olenna on Game of Thrones, among many other things -- died at 82. And, of course, people are trying to end the whole world with their gender reveal parties.

And then there's I'm Thinking of Ending Things. It's Charlie Kaufman's first movie for Netflix, and it stars Jesse Plemons and Jessie Buckley. It's based on Iain Reid's novel of the same name, which makes it the first movie Kaufman's ever directed not from his own original screenplay.

VHS Will Not Die

Sep 9, 2020
Carlos Mejia / Connecticut Public Radio

Tracking, rewinding, ejecting, collecting -- VHS broke ground in home entertainment like never before. The culture of VHS and its enormous best friend, the VCR, were kings of consumer media for decades. Despite the last VCR and VHS being manufactured just four years ago, videotapes are still consumed, collected, and in some cases, sold(!) across the country. But why?

United Artists Releasing

Carole Baskin is going to appear on Dancing with the Stars. And with that, I've typed the least surprising opening sentence in the history of Nose posts.

And: When Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure came out in 1989, Alex Winter (Bill) was 23 and Keanu Reeves (Ted) was 24. Winter and Reeves are now 55 and 56, respectively, but that seems to be no reason not to put out a third Bill & Ted movie, 29 years after the second one. Bill & Ted Face the Music is now available on all your video-on-demand platforms.

And speaking of sequels to classic 1980s teen movies, the first two seasons of Cobra Kai have moved from YouTube to Netflix (who will produce a third season) and they've found a new audience.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

2001: A Space Odyssey. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. A Clockwork Orange. The Shining. Full Metal Jacket. Spartacus. Eyes Wide Shut.

This hour, a careful consideration of the filmmaker Steven Spielberg called "the best in history": Stanley Kubrick.

Netflix, Inc.

This week, the NBA, the WBNA, MLB, MLS, tennis, and eventually the NHL all postponed games and matches in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

And: A Tweet listing the "Top 7 Warning Signs In a Man's Bookshelf" -- including "Too Much Hemingway," you see -- caused a bit of a fuss on the Twitter.

Atlantic Records

The No. 1 song in the country -- "WAP" by Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion -- seems to make just one concession to commercial decorum: its acronym title, which I won't be spelling out for you here. It's being called the "gloriously filthy song of the summer" and subversive "in almost every way, even as it plays with the limits of explicit expression."

Speaking of troublesome songs: Does The Band's classic "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" belong in the same category as bits of culture like Song of the South and Gone with the Wind?

And finally: Has it turned out that Kevin Costner's 1997 box office bomb, The Postman, is "the most accurate dystopian movie?"

NEON Rated, LLC

The Nose is worried about movie theaters. The pandemic has done such damage to the industry that Hollywood has started treating the U.S. as a second-run market. And now the Paramount Consent Decrees have ended. (We're not exactly sure what that means, but it's not good.) Is the future of movie theaters... Walmart drive-ins?

And: She Dies Tomorrow is a horror-comedy-thriller written and directed by Amy Seimetz. It was supposed to premiere at this year's South by Southwest, which was canceled. She Dies Tomorrow is out now on video on demand platforms.

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