Episode 221: Brought To You By “Transformers 6”

Ben Adams, Peter Fenzel, and Mark Lee overthink The Master, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s relatively slumming-free movie career, the Emmys, and product placement in TV shows.

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18 Comments on “Episode 221: Brought To You By “Transformers 6””

  1. JosephFM #

    To answer the question of the day: I am a Master of Library and Information Studies, at least according the Florida State Univerity. (Also, I’m currently seeking opportunities to demonstrate this mastery in exchange for currency, so if you know of any…)

    Of course, Fenzel’s point about the connotations of words is a good one. Master can mean something like “wise teacher” – but it can also mean “slaveholder”.

    Which leads into the point regarding cults and the movie’s attitude toward the Cause: I actually think that not only does the movie not really damn Lancaster Dodd, it sort of makes him heroic in his drive towards self-creation – he’s noble in his intentions even if he is making it all up. My interpretation of the film is as saying that – in face of the horrors of the 20th century in general and of World War II in particular – it’s only through the invention of things to believe in that we can live. Otherwise, we are like Freddy Quill – dumb rutting animals; slaves to our bodily needs, rather than masters of our selves. It’s sort of Nietzschean – but not quite.

    I think it’s funny that you mention Adam Sandler as a maker of lower-than-lowest-common-denominator schlock, because of course at one point he also starred in…an arty Paul Thomas Anderson movie with Philip Seymour Hoffman.

    I suppose time will only tell if the “serious” Jonah Hill era begins and ends with Moneyball and a couple Duplass Brothers movies.

     
    • LeighH #

      There’s a scene during Dodd’s daughter’s wedding in which Dodd gives an impromptu speech about roping, taming, and training dragons. I think this is meant to be seen as a film-level metaphor for what The Cause is about – they want to rope, tame, and train your unpleasant memories – the source of all unhappiness. But it’s also a good metaphor for the central battle between Dodd and Quill, and this time, the dragon is Quill’s wild spirit that ultimately cannot be controlled. To me it seems like a bit of an indictment about whether the human spirit needs to be controlled at all.

      But I’m just spitballing here. This is a film that warrants a ton of considered discussion, and I was really displeased not to find much on the podcast this week.

       
  2. Pasteur #

    In High School Musical 2′s defense, it *is* the best of the high school musicals.

     
    • Matthew Belinkie #

      You sure about that? In what way does it surpass the original? Okay, it’s got more focus on Sharpay, which is pretty great. But the whole thing risks become Gossip Girl Jr. The original was more focused on the romance, which is what makes it so cute.

       
    • Pasteur #

      I would say it exceeds the original musically and choreographically, even if it the plot falls a little behind. Stronger performances from Corbin Bleu and Lucas Grabeel helped the ensemble numbers in general land better.

      Really, I think what defines HSM2 as special for me is how earnestly it appears to accept its contrivédness. From a production perspective, it’s in the sweet spot of “We have an audience, let’s have some fun” before you reach “We have an audience, we need to pump these out”.

      (The alternative, maybe, is to approach it from a “High School Musical 2 is The Empire Strikes Back” angle, but I’ll need to revisit that later.)

       
    • Pasteur #

      OR:
      Waringa Myjinsa
      Two High School Musicals
      First is romantic but
      not quite surreal

      Second has musically,
      choreographically,
      gesamtkunstwerkily
      stronger appeal.

       
      • Amanda #

        Gesamtkunstwerkily is now my favorite word of the year! Do you speak German (and made it up) or does gesamtkunstwerk actually exist as a word already?

         
  3. Matthew Belinkie #

    On the subject of great, award-winning actors that do horrible movies, I don’t think anyone will ever beat Sir Ben Kingsley. It is staggering the amount of terrible, terrible movies he has been in.

    Also, I will stand up for the Rock and The Tooth Fairy. That movie is by no means the lowest of the low. Yes, it’s a cutesy family comedy. But you know what? Sometimes you have medium-age children, and you want to take them to a movie. It features:
    * A screenplay by the writer of family classics like A League of Their Own and City Slickers
    * A big part for Ricky Gervais collaborator Stephen Merchant
    * A big part for Julie Andrews, perfectly cast as the leader of the tooth fairies

    Is this a great movie? No it is not. But in the sub-genre of “tough guys in emasculating situations,” I will watch The Tooth Fairy before The Pacifier any day of the week (and my love for Vin Diesel is well-documented).

    Off the top of my head, I’m going to propose Jon Voight’s involvement in the live-action Bratz film to be rock bottom.

     
  4. Matthew Belinkie #

    Guys, how can you talk about Paul Giamatti in trashy adrenaline-type movies and NOT mention Shoot ‘Em Up? It’s a hard-R action movie pitting Clive Owen vs. Paul Giamatti, and it’s really great. Giamatti is supposed to be this criminal mastermind, and he gets a ton of scenery-chewing lines: “Guns don’t kill people… but they sure help!”

    I imagine when they cast the part, it was either him or Walken. They’re the only guys who can do self-mocking-but-kind-of-legit menace.

     
    • Ben Adams #

      I SO wanted to mention it, because that movie is truly schlock, but we moved on a little bit too quickly.

       
      • Matthew Belinkie #

        I really enjoyed that movie! It’s self-mocking in the way that Crank is, and the action is staged with a lot of creativity (there’s a shoot out in mid-air, and an AMAZING shootout that takes place WHILE CLIVE OWEN IS HAVING SEX). It doesn’t succeed 100%, but I admire what it’s trying to do.

         
  5. Gab #

    There’s a lot in rhetorical and communications theory about definitions and connotation versus technical, etc. It’s interesting how when you look up something like “cult,” the pejorative subtext doesn’t come across. I kept thinking of the word “feminist” as you were talking, Fenzel. “I advocate feminism, but I’m not a feminist.” I hear that, or various forms of it, quite often, and the whole idea is these people want to distance themselves from the often misguided stereotypes of radical, misandric feminism. Or “liberal.” Words like those can be used just fine, but they often get tossed deliberately with the intent to insult.

    AH!! I was thinking of the same scene the moment you started talking about product placement!!!! It’s from the first one, observe:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjB6r-HDDI0

    Of course, I was thoroughly disappointed that Sherlock and the main cast of The Good Wife missed out. :(

    Also, I feel like that should be a series, “When Good Actors Make Bad Movies.” Lemme add a name to the list of potential episodes: Michael Sheen, for playing a sparkly vampire.

     
    • Matthew Belinkie #

      Or Michael Sheen, playing king of the werewolves (Underworld).

       
      • Gab #

        Or how about Bill Nighy in the same flick?

         
  6. Phil #

    I wish there would have been more talk about The Master on this podcast. I’m not really sure what was overthought…