ACF #4 — “Psycho”

 

Welcome to the fourth episode of the American Cinema Foundation movie podcast! Today, I am joined by my friend and Ricochet compeer @stsalieriericcook. Eric Cook is a history teacher in a charter school in North Carolina, an organist in a church, and a builder of pipe organs, actually. One of Ricochet’s eccentric scholar-gentlemen, with an all-American upbringing in the working classes of Western Pennsylvania and a sometimes nostalgic, sometimes angry respect for the dignity of work, which is not faring well in our times. He also scores silent films–this is his BluRay of the 1922 movie Timothy’s quest–and leads the Ivy Leaf Orchestra!

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On this latest episode, the Substandard unravels The Mummy and questions the feasibility of a Dark Universe. But what other Extended Universes would we like to see? A Garry Marshall Universe, of course! JVL praises Rafa Nadal, Vic enjoys Virgin America, and Sonny rants against avocado toast, all on this week’s Substandard.

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“Inherit the Wind” Comes Back Home to the Bible Belt

 

Inherit the Wind, a drama by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, tells a highly fictionalized version of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. In the real trial, The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, a substitute high school teacher was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which prohibited teaching human evolution in state-funded schools. But it was not a trial of real facts – it was a phony case manufactured by the American Civil Liberties Union.

When the Butler Act passed, the ACLU lost no time peppering the state with pamphlets offering to defend anyone who violated the Act. The problem was: the Act went unenforced – and was widely understood to be a symbolic political gesture. In fact, Tennessee had another statute that required public schools to use a specific science textbook that did teach human evolution. So, if the ACLU was ever going to challenge the Act in court, they had to manufacture the facts themselves.

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ACF#3 Gran Torino

 

The movie podcast is back! @flaggtaylor and I are talking about the film Gran Torino, about Clint Eastwood’s last turn as actor-director, and his last great character, Walt Kowalski, an American with a legacy. We’ve got lots to say about who he is and how he deals with the world around him, what he says about America and what Americans are meant to learn from his story. It’s something we should have recorded during the election — it’s one of the few movies about making America great again that’s both serious, popular, and compelling.

This is the essay I mention in the podcast, over on National Review, about Clint Eastwood as a teacher Americans should learn from, about civic responsibility and manliness. And this is the book I mention on the podcast: Totalitarianism on Screen, about The Lives of Others, the great movie about East German communism. Flagg edited it and wrote it with our common friend Carl Eric Scott — who will also join me on the podcast as soon as I can get hold of him.

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Carousels vs. Roller Coasters: The Message of Demolition

 

“People these days don’t want carousels, they want roller coasters that turn you upside down and make you puke.” At some point in Demolition, an old man says this, the cri de coeur of the movie. Romance being replaced by fear, the last thing that makes people who have no past feel alive.

That’s what Demolition itself has to deal with — reaching people is becoming unusually hard. They’re always looking elsewhere; they’re yearning and their minds are strangely dissociated. So the movie puts to work every obvious metaphor it can. Indie movies are often too earnest, but this one has a way of stating the blunt facts of screwed-up lives that might give people a chance to become aware of themselves, of their brokenness, and of the direction they need to consider. It’s directed by M. Jean-Marc Vallee, an interesting Canadian director who has a chance at a Hollywood career and whom I recommend to the curious among you. Vallee was nominated for Dallas Buyers Club and directed the classy movie The Young Victoria. This time, however, he wants to tell you something about life not making sense.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss President Trump making good on his promise to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord and the liberal hysteria that followed. They’re also analyzing the very close run-off election between John Ossoff and Karen Handel in a normally red district in Georgia. And they express their disgust with Kathy Griffin as she plays the victim following the fierce bipartisan backlash in response to her photo stunt depicting her holding President Trump’s bloody head.

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In this latest micro-episode, the Substandard salutes our military and our favorite war movies. Sonny Bunch loves Inglourious Basterds and … Aliens? Vic and JVL remember meeting R. Lee Ermey, who explained how he landed the role of a lifetime in Full Metal Jacket. All on the latest Substandard!

The Substandard is sponsored by the Dollar Shave Club. Get their $5 starter box (a $15 value!) with free shipping by visiting dollarshaveclub.com/substandard.

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Kathy Griffin Wants Attention Again; Update: Griffin Apologizes

 
Photo Credit: TMZ.

D-list comic Kathy Griffin is transitioning to ISIS-inspired prop comedy. In a photo shoot, likely leaked to TMZ by Griffin herself, she is shown holding an effigy of President Donald Trump — in the form of his severed, bloody head.

Griffin’s attack on Trump is the latest in her desperate cries for attention. While hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve with Anderson Cooper, she regularly drops the F-bomb live and once groped and pretended to fellate her co-host. She televised a public pap smear before a cheering crowd and mocked Jesus during an Emmy acceptance speech. Griffin has been banned from “Ellen,” “The Tonight Show,” and “The View,” among others.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud Defense Secretary James Mattis for telling CBS News that he doesn’t lose sleep over anything but makes other people lose sleep. They also scratch their heads over Jared Kushner allegedly discussing a secret communications channel with Moscow during the Trump transition and wonder why a real estate guy is dealing with national security. They shudder a bit as Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says people wouldn’t leave the house if they knew what he knows about terrorism. And they are not exactly teary as they discuss the death of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.

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Guy Buys Movie Ticket, Internet Outraged

 

A Brooklyn movie theater recently scheduled a special screening of Wonder Woman open only to women. Cinema/dining chain Alamo Drafthouse said on their website, “Apologies, gentlemen, but we’re embracing our girl power and saying ‘No Guys Allowed’ for several special shows at the Alamo Downtown Brooklyn. And when we say ‘Women (and people who identify as women) only,’ we mean it.”

Movie fan (and my Conservatarians podcast partner-in-crime) Stephen Miller decided he wanted to see a new superhero flick, so he bought a ticket online. Upon sharing this rather mundane act, the Internet exploded, as is its wont.

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Gregg Allman, RIP

 

This Memorial Day weekend sees the passing of Gregg Allman, co-found of The Allman Brothers Band. The specific causes have not yet been announced. The articles I am seeing so far note that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 1999 and had a liver transplant in 2010.

In lieu of a more thorough discussion of his career, I will direct you to my post from February on the 45th anniversary of The Allman Brothers Band’s Eat a Peach. I may add more in the comments as time allows.

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