Episode 135: 2 True 2 Gritty

The Overthinkers tackle the 2011 Oscar nominations.

Matthew Wrather hosts with Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and John Perich to overthink the 2011 Oscar Nominations. They don’t quite get there, however, and instead veer off into a discussion of drive in movies, digital distribution, piracy, and the low quality of 2010’s mainstream (and prestige) movies.


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14 Comments on “Episode 135: 2 True 2 Gritty”

  1. Sylvia #

    Aside from having “Stranded at the Drive-In” from Grease stuck in my head during the first half of the episode, I thought this episode was pretty great.

    I agree with the point made about Black Swan not being as great within the indie/artistic/horror genre as other movies of the same genre. However, I think that Black Swan is a great Ballet Movie (if we can call that a genre). It actually gives a very fair representation of the world of classical ballet in America, and the mindset of an artist driven mad by the world she inhabits.

    The whole movie is about dichotomies in a very obvious way. The white swan vs the black swan; the good girl vs the bad girl; traditional stagings vs new representations; and perfection vs authenticity.

    Classical ballet is a tradition that is several hundred years old (it can be traced to 1400s Italy, even before it gained fame in the court of the French Sun King) that is meant to celebrate kings and those of the upper class, and to encourage those of lower rank to raise themselves towards the divine. This doesn’t really work in the contemporary world, especially in America. So, there is always a fight to keep ballet relevant to an audience, not just to a dancer.

    Strip away all of Arronofsky’s weird, and you still have two characters who embody what it’s like to try to be a ballet dancer in a world that doesn’t embrace it the way it used to. Natalie Portman’s character tries to bring the romance of ballet into the New York club and fails. Mila Kunis can’t bring herself to admit that she’s a ballet dancer outside of the studio.

    I think all of your critiques of the movie definitely hold true. But as a ballet dancer, Black Swan holds a lot to identify with.


  2. Redem #

    I’d suggest a movie about Chiune Sugihara to star mark Lee

    The man issued japanese visa for Jewish fleeing Nazis in Lithuania saving something like 6000 lifes, I smell oscar gold



    • stokes OTI Staff #

      By the end, when the Japanese government recalled him, Sugihara was literally throwing blank visas to the refugees from the window of a moving train. The human capacity for goodness is inspiring, sometimes. (Of course, you have to counterbalance people like Sugihara with, like, the existence of the holocaust. Which is less inspiring.)


  3. Tulse #

    At its best, the OTI podcast is like listening to a graduate seminar in popular culture studies. At its worst, it’s like listening to drunken undergrad frat boys giggle about girl parts. Lesbian jokes really push it toward the latter.

    Seriously, dudes, get someone who isn’t a straight male on your show, or at least contain yourselves. You’re better than that.


    • fenzel #

      Glad to hear you think we are better than this. We forget sometimes.

      And hey, it isn’t like we don’t try to have women on the podcast. We love having women on the podcast, and we like the balancing effect they have on the conversation. They just haven’t been able to make it lately, due to travel and scheduling.

      I don’t think “straight” is really that relevant, though. I suspect if we had a gay dude on the podcast we’d all get just as silly from time to time. I don’t think the gay guy who would join our podcast would be overly serious or easily offended.

      And I question how much time you’ve spent talking to frat boys. We can be juvenile, sure, but I’ve never thought we resembled frat boys very much. But maybe frat boys are geekier, more scatterbrained, less masculine and way more into puns nowadays than they were when I was in college.


      • Dan #

        Hey! *I* was in a fraternity. The stereotype is just that. Yes, there are fraternities that meet that definition. There are also Ivy League students who meet THAT stereotype.

        My fraternity had a fairly high proportion of theater, music, and liberal arts majors. Our conversations sounded a LOT more like an OTI podcast than they did like “Animal House.”

        Sorry, rant over.


  4. Chris #

    The good folks of Mythbusters long ago disproved the “brown note.”

    I’ve had many sub-optimal movie viewing experiences. For example, pretty much every time I’ve actually gone to the movies and many times when I watched films in my film classes. You would think people would make sure they aren’t sitting in front of somebody and blocking their view, but that would require people to actual be considerate and give a damn about other human beings.


  5. Projektionsfel #

    Well, actually the 180 degree rule has only to do with how the viewer understands the spaces in the film. Spatial recognition, or something. Sometimes the rule is broken on purpose to distract the viewers. What you were probably thinking of, Wrather, was the Kuleshov effect. Its part of the Soviet montage theory.
    In Soviet Russia the montage has gotta have you.


  6. Gab #

    You really don’t want to play Orville Redenbacher, Fenzel, if only BECAUSE you’d be in Indiana. Unless it was a satire or something. (Go Boilermakers, though!)

    Taye Diggs was actually terrible in Equilibrium because the character he was playing was supposed to be emotionless, yet he seemed anything but that. He came across as almost giddy a few times, which was antithetical to the person he was depicting- the guy’s purpose in life was to find and arrest (read: shoot) people with emotion. So while I do love his pearly whites, I thought they were quite out of place.

    Dude, Lee, I agree. Drive-ins are FABULOUS. They’re a dying breed, but I absolutely loved the one near my college. I got to see The Dark Knight there, and How to Train Your Dragon (twice), among others. Highly recommend the rest of you get on it and go to one if you have access.

    I agree that Christian Bale is a phenomenal actor, but when it was announced (last week?) that he’s going to star in The Dark Tower, I grew afraid he’s getting type-cast in two roles. Tortured dude with a health problem or beefy athletic loner. But he has done other things that were very different and wonderful performances. Newsies, yes, but also Little Women and American Psycho and The Prestige. And he even went the disability route (although I wouldn’t quite call it “full retard”) in two older movies, All the Little Animals and The Secret Agent (the latter of which was not all that great as a film, but he was great in it). I guess I’m just rattling off movies now, but my point is I’m growing weary of the grunting guy with a gun or the sickly one with a heart from him- he’s capable of more, and it would be nice to see that. But when it comes to awards for him, I feel like this nomination may be one of those, “We’re sorry we didn’t nominate you before,” moves by the Academy. He deserved something for American Psycho and The Prestige, imo. I haven’t seen it yet, but the type of character he played in The Fighter seems more of the same. Which leads me to…

    I have yet to see Blue Valentine (and really want to!), but I do believe Ryan Gosling is one of the “snuffs” this year, from what I gather on the internets- and it wouldn’t surprise me, for he’s one of those guys that is always brilliant, even if the overall movie is cheesy, at best (::coughPANDORUMcough::). I liked The Social Network and all, but I didn’t think Eisenberg was all that amazing in it- the role was much like Columbus in Zombieland, and I tend to prefer performances that are different and unique for that actor when it comes to acting categories (and I thus agree 100% with Wrather’s opinion about Natalie Portman and Black Swan– great performance, but movie?). Not to say I think Columbus was an Oscar-worthy role, but was it the movie as a whole that got him the nomination this year? I can’t say for sure, I haven’t seen Biutiful or 127 Hours, but I do know I also feel like Bridges’s nomination was another apology-type nod, having seen the movie he’s up for. I think he may take it because of that. Like how Russel Crowe won for Gladiator when he should have won the year before for The Insider, but instead lost to Kevin Spacey for American Beauty. (And then Crowe was overlooked for A Beautiful Mind

    I hate the politics of the Oscars, but they’re simultaneously addicting. And they’re fun to rant about. ^Case in point.^


    • Redem #

      About Taye Diggs performance in equilibrium, the director commentary refer to the character habit of grinning and while I can’t remember if he said it was how the actor was oriented by the director or coming from the actor himself (I think this acknowledgement hint toward the former) Wimmer explain that fact his character somehow his expressive was somehow to have it be creepy because its meant to be detached

      While I don’t think he wasn’t bad, I think he didn’t quite manage to convey expressing himself visualy and being dead emotionally. I think Taye Diggs show in the movie he can do one and the other, but his not quite able to do it at the same time.

      Amusingly enough, the director also underline that Preston his the only one that actually believe in the Lybria syste (and he is the one that take it down none the less) The rebel goes against the system (even if the leadership uses emotional restrain), the leader has emotion and lives in luxury and all the member of his family were off the drug.


      • Gab #

        That makes sense, totally. I had suspected the grins were meant to make him creepy, implying he’s enjoying killing people, but that’s the flaw, right? I mean, he shouldn’t, technically speaking, be enjoying anything in the first place, shouldn’t have an opinion either way- it shouldn’t disgust OR delight him, if he’s operating in that world as an enforcer of the law. He should have been arrested or whatever ages prior for smiling so much. That kind of character, giddy at the sight of blood, occurs in dystopias all the time, totally, but it didn’t work in that context.

        But, like I said, I like Taye Diggs normally. And had that character been in another movie, he would have been awesome.


  7. Dan #

    On the picture quality at drive-ins. The main reason that the image can be fuzzy isn’t the size of the screen. (otherwise, how would IMAX be possible?) The reason is that they are outdoors. And movies tend to be shown right after sunset, which is when the ground (and by ground, I mean “asphalt”) is giving up all the residual heat it’s acquired during the day, which roils the air. If you showed a drive-in movie on the same scale, but inside a climate-controlled stadium, you’d have a great picture.


    • Gab #

      Could it also have to do with the literal atmosphere? As in, you’re outside, so there is more dust in the air as the image travels the distance from projector to screen.


  8. inmate #

    I shall not rate the podcast until you entitle on “Cemetery Ridge”.

    This I swear.


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