Tag: american cinema foundation

ACF Critic Series #33: Citizen Kane, Part 2

 

This week, Telly Davidson and I wrap up our conversation on Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane–the tyrannic soul who wants to be loved by everyone, erotic longings that slip the bounds of nature, and the failure of friendship to limit madness. We talk about the problems of love and friendship, but also about politics and media, or how tyranny shows up in the age of Progress.

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ACF Critic Series #32: Citizen Kane

 

For the two-year anniversary of the podcast, here’s Citizen Kane. We talk media moguls and politics; radio, TV, and Trump; democratic reform and the tyrannic soul; Progress and Eros. Here’s, for once, a defense of Orson Welles’s political wit, not movie magic! I talk to Telly Davidson, another of the few conservatives in Hollywood– a critic, author, and man toiling away in production. His most recent book is Culture War about, you guessed it, the ’90s, when the seeds were planted of the whirlwind keeping things interesting now. We’ll talk about it on our next podcast!

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ACF Pomocon #5: Education

 

Today, I interview Spotted Toad, of Twitter fame, about his book on education. He now works in public policy research, a moderately quant guy, as he says–but he was once an idealistic Teach For America kinda guy, who taught the sciences for ten years in public schools in New York and then upstate, among the poor as well as the well to do, in different communities and different periods of the ongoing failure of Progressive education reform. He eventually wrote a lovely, all-American, Emersonian book of reflections on his experience and you can buy it for 99 cents on Amazon as e-book and read it in an afternoon. It’s intelligent and poetic at the same time, devoid of narcissism, and serious about the problems a young teacher faces. This is the sort of conservatism I think we should encourage and so this is me doing my part!

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ACF Critic Series #31 North By Northwest

 

Terry Teachout and I talk about North By Northwest, or marriage in modern America. What would it take for a noir hero, betrayed by a beautiful woman, to make his way from thriller back to romance by way of comedy?

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ACF Critic Series #29: Breaking Bad

 

Here’s my new podcast with Paul Cantor, on the Macbeth of Meth! We talk about The Dark Side Of The American Dream — go buy the book, folks. It’s about tragedy in pop culture, from Huck Finn to The Walking Dead (which we’ll get to next week). We talk about the American Dream — especially the middle-class suburban dream of the post-war era–and what happens when it doesn’t work out. Especially during troubled times, like nowadays, people turn to darker stories and are more interested in the tragic side of life. So all of a sudden mere villains ascend by the path of the anti-hero to the full status of tragic hero, trying to out-American America, so to speak.

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ACF American Masters #7: Ballad of Cable Hogue

 

Prof. John Marini and I wrap up a trilogy on Sam Peckinpah’s westerns with his most comic, least violent picture: The Ballad of Cable Hogue. The only movie he made about a founding also turns out to be his story about dealing with movability, mutability, and mortality in America. Progress is a killer, but human beings can remember their love of the natural, tranquil life. It’s also Peckinpah’s Lockean Western, where labor mixed with nature creates property and leads to a common good for a community!

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ACF Critic Series #28: Never Look Away

 

There is a new Donnersmarck movie, Never Look Away, a brilliant successor to the famous The Lives Of Others, so we are getting the team back together. @FlaggTaylor and Carl Eric Scott join me on the podcast for a long, wide-ranging discussion about art and tyranny, about the relationship between beauty and politics, and what great movies can offer by way of meditation on our search for freedom. Flagg and Carl co-edited the book on Donnersmarck’s marvelous, Oscar-winning debut, The Lives of Others.

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ACF Critic Series #27: Classical Music and Evil

 

Today, I am joined by Theodore Gioia for a conversation on how classical music became the favored soundtrack for evil, villainous masterminds. What happened to classical music in Hollywood! How did we get from classical music ennobling movies and deepening characterization — to Hannibal Lecter murdering people to Bach’s Goldberg variations! We start from his fine essay over at The American Scholar. You can also find more of his essays over at his site!

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ACF Critic Series #21: Katyn

 

Our own @FlaggTaylor and I talk about Andrzej Wajda’s Katyn, his 2007 film about the terrible Soviet slaughter of the Polish officer corps–some 22,000 men — as well as its aftermath. The protagonist is the wife of one of the officers and we follow her through both the Soviet and the Nazi parts of occupied — and dismembered — Poland. We get to see various characters struggling with questions of honor and prudence as the country is being destroyed. Only memory is left to give reasons for hope for future freedom. Krzysztof Penderecki’s music is also worthy of mention.

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Modern Poetry Podcast #6: Wallace Stevens, Of Mere Being

 

Friends, our own @langevine joins me for our third Wallace Stevens conversation, this time a very late poem dealing with the distinction between the beautiful and happiness. Listen, share, and join us in the comments–and we’ve got another one for next week.

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ACF Critic Series #17: Sonny Bunch, Watchmen

 

This week, we’re doing a crossover: Sonny Bunch of the SubBeacon (formerly SubStandard) is joining me to talk about Zack Snyder, the only artist of the superhero blockbuster era, and his greatest achievement, Watchmen, the best superhero movie we have, on its 10th anniversary. Listen, share, and join us in the comments!

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ACF Critic Series #16: Teachout, Out of the Past

 

Second podcast this week–we’re coming up to my birthday, so for a couple of weeks, we’re doing the part of generosity here at the ACF! Today, Terry Teachout and I turn to noir: Out of the Past. Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, and Jane Greer starring in Jacques Tourneur’s directing of the Daniel Mainwaring script. Roy Webb scoring, Nicholas Musuraca shooting. This is one of the peak achievements of noir and we had such fun talking about it. It is beautiful and tragic. It shows small-town life vs. the big city; America vs. south of the border; and the corruption of glamour that makes a chump of a noble man.

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PoMoCon #3: Henry Olsen on our Coalitions

 

Our new political podcast episode, as always, is on the political corruption of the elites. This time, we’re looking at recent elections and the major trends that have led to populism. We have elites who don’t want to represent the electorate. This will not end well, but it will end.

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ACF #23: Blow Out

 

Folks, here’s the completion of my trilogy with John Presnall on liberalism confronted with technological surveillance: Brian De Palma’s Blow Out, which puts together image and sound, Antonioni’s Blow-Up and Coppola’s The Conversation, turning these theoretical studies of art and technology into a practical matter — where does art stand to corrupt politics in our world.

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ACF#22: The Conversation

 

Ok, here’s the next episode in our trilogy on liberalism and the age of technological surveillance. We talked about Antonioni’s Blow-up last week–we’re talking about De Palma’s Blow Out next week. This week, John Presnall and I talk about Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation. We talk about secrecy, the revelation of evil, and the limits of technology in achieving justice for all human beings. Listen, share, and let’s talk in the comments, friends!

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ACF Middlebrow #23: Harold Ramis

 

Pete Spiliakos and I bring you a discussion about The Prophet of Trump, the most successful comedy writer of the ’80s, who just happened to suggest that a vulgar, loud, billionaire real estate developer (Rodney Dangerfield) or a snake-oil salesman who treats women shabbily (Bill Murray) might destroy our conservative and progressive elites. Listen, share, and comment, friends!

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ACF Middlebrow #21: Brooklyn

 

Flagg Taylor and I bring you a movie fit for the festive season — a beautiful piece of selective nostalgia, a story devoid of anything sordid. A girl from Ireland is sent to America in the 1950s, to make something of herself, to find herself a future — to find her path to a decent happiness. You get to see her adventures in Brooklyn and it’s a perfectly Tocquevillian story of America’s many voluntary associations. It was a success and earned three important Oscar nominations, including protagonist Saoirse Ronan’s second actress nomination — she has earned a third meanwhile. I have an introductory essay over at The Federalist and, of course, the podcast for an in-depth, loving conversation about a wonderful movie.

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ACF Middlebrow #20: The Thing

 

Last week, my friend Scott Beauchamp and I talked about the Catholic horror, The Exorcist. This week, we turn to its antithetical double, the scientific horror, in this case, John Carpenter’s The Thing. We talk about body horror and its relation to nihilism, horror of life in its meaningless, destructive quest for reproduction. About science, the cold universe, and fire — the power behind technology. About post-Vietnam manliness retrieving the darkness of the noir detective or the cowboy who cannot live in the community he saves.

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ACF Middlebrow #19: The Exorcist

 

The podcast turns to horror, Catholic and scientific. I am joined by veteran and writer Scott Beauchamp to talk about William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and about Russell Kirk’s views on horror — having read his very humanistic essay on horror in Modern Age. We talk about body horror as a way of confronting evil, of raising existential questions: Is being human special, after all, or just another meaningless accident? Next week, we turn to the scientific horror for comparison–The Thing.

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