Note: The first episode shown during the Third Quarter 2023 was a rerun of #955 on June 19, 2023.
Episode #960: The Batgirl Apology Tour
First Broadcast: 6/26/23
The Flash! Why did it bomb? Will SAG-AFTRA strike? How is the DGA doing? Is the Batgirl movie really that bad? Who saved Toy Story 2 from oblivion? Do we have pirates to thank for Nosferatu? I just wanna see that Batgirl movie once! Is that too much to ask?
Episode #961: There's Layers
First Broadcast: 7/3/23
Is Asteroid City the most Wes Anderson movie of all Wes Anderson movies? Well, I haven't seen them all, so I couldn't say. People who like Wes Anderson's style seem to like his newest film a lot, while those who aren't into it... well, let's just say they probably won't be buying an Asteroid City lunch box anytime soon. Why do you suppose this film has raised so many hackles, while Moonrise Kingdom, which is unquestionably done in the same style, generated considerably more acclaim? Is it because Moonrise Kingdom's story is relatively more conventional and linear compared to Asteroid City? Is it inevitable for complex movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Weekend, and Citizen Kane to receive negative reactions that are just as strong as their positive reactions? How do the levels of narrative removal in Asteroid City compare to the levels of flashbacks in Passage To Marseilles? How compelling does a narrative need to be to make an audience forget about plot holes, like the "letters of transit" in Casablanca? Is Wes Anderson leaning into his style because audiences might reject something different from him at this point, the way they rejected the one attempt at a feature-length comedy from Alfred Hitchcock (even though there's no shortage of humor in almost all his other films, including Psycho)? Feel free to cogitate on your own analysis!
Episode #962: How Many Monkeys
First Broadcast: 7/17/23
Did you survive this heat we've been having? Paying more attention to that dew point lately? Did you see Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny? How do you think it compares to the other four Indiana Jones movies? How do we get more stories about aging gracefully, or about the torch being passed to the next generation without killing our elders or waiting for them to die out? (Hint, hint, Baby Boomers!) [NOTE: We already know the episode number incorrectly displayed as "961" the first time this aired. This has been corrected for future airings!]
Episode #963: The Future Is Stupid
First Broadcast: 7/24/23
How are the WGA & SAG-AFTRA strikes affecting film & TV production? Wouldn't national single-payer health insurance make everyone less dependent on their jobs to stave off bankruptcy due to medical bills? Are "extreme" weather events getting so common that they can no longer be considered "extreme"? Could all this be viewed as the Earth's way of trying to rid itself of the source of its misery? What kind of people want to replace actors and writers with artificial intelligence? Will Hollywood need AI to watch all its AI-generated content if humans refuse to view it? Does anyone else remember the issue of Cracked magazine (which I originally thought was Mad) that featured the article "Increasing Consumption In Order To Maintain Full Employment"? I don't know if I'll ever have answers to these questions, but that won't stop me from asking them!
Episode #964: Without Spoiling Anything
First Broadcast: 7/31/23
Why did I watch the movie Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One? To see Tom Cruise ride a motorcyle off the top of a mountain and then jump off into the air, of course! Not that I'm a huge fan of Tom Cruise, but I am a fan of actors who do their own stunts--like Jackie Chan or Michelle Yeoh, for example--and Cruise is certainly one of the best stunt men in the business. I'm annoyed that there's still a second part to this film to be released next year, but at least it ended at a point that felt like the end of a chapter, as opposed to the latest Dune or Spider-Verse movies that felt like they ended right in the middle of the story. This film, Andor, and Marvel's Secret Invasion series also all touch on how analog techniques can be used to defeat or evade AI and the types of disinformation that can prevail via digital media--a timely subject, considering how the usage of AI is at the heart of both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes happening right now. If only the various visual effects houses could be unionized in the same way!
Episode #965: Human Existence
First Broadcast: 8/14/23
The Barbie movie is a genuine phenomenon, making over $1 billion worldwide with seemingly no end in sight. There might be many reasons for its success, but chief among them might be what I think is a sincere examination of what it means to be alive, and by extension what it means to be a human being. It's more than what most people might expect from a film that I think many assumed would just be a two-hour commercial for one of the most famous toys in America, but Greta Gerwig (and Noah Baumbach) made this movie just as unique as the toy itself. After all, would G.I. Joe ever receive this philosophical a treatment in a motion picture? I could also mention how hilarious it is that Barbie has irritated so many right-wingers for no good reason, but why let them suck all the oxygen out of the room? We also speculated whether role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons are an experience for boys that's analogous to the role playing many girls do with their Barbie dolls, but I suppose that's a topic for future dissertations. In the meantime, cheers to an excellent film! I hope more directors take chances like that in the future!
Episode #966: Beyond the Scope
First Broadcast: 8/28/23
On August 18, 2023, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled that artworks created by artificial intelligence cannot be copyrighted, because "Human authorship is a bedrock requirement" for copyright. Perhaps this will be a positive development for all the writers and actors who are still on strike, since maybe the studios will be more likely to agree to WGA and SAG-AFTRA demands if hypothetical works by A.I. won't be eligible for copyright protection. That, and studios are saying the strikes are reducing box office by as much as 15%, which sounds surprising when you remeber that Barbie and Oppenheimer together have made over $2 billion at the box office worldwide. Then again, both of those movies did receive some promotion from their casts before the strikes started. Then again, imagine how those two and other movies might be doing if actors were able to talk about them on late-night TV right now? Maybe now is a good time to catch up on some physical media too, especially since Netflix is ending their DVD rental service before the year is over. At least you'd know that the content of your movies wouldn't change when you weren't looking!
Episode #967: A Hush
First Broadcast: 09/11/23
Oppenheimer is a fine film, and it's now the second-highest grossing R-rated movie in box office history (behind only Joker from 2019). Between this and Barbie's runaway success, I hope this leads to Hollywood taking more chances on movies that aren't already part of an existing media franchise somewhere. Of course, the studios will have to resolve the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes first, but that has to happen sooner or later. In the meantime, reminisce with us about Star Wars, Sinistar, and Shadrach, among other things!