Tag: titus

ACF#39 The Wild Bunch


This has been a summer of Westerns on the ACF podcast and we are now talking about one of the last great ones: The Wild Bunch, Sam Peckinpah’s answer to John Ford. Peckinpah answers to the epic with tragedy, to foundations with collapse, to the respectability of the railroad that carries The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance with the railroad that carries Gen. Pershing’s men and which the Wild Bunch robs. The Civil War song We will gather at the river, Ford’s favorite Western song, is sung during a terrible, bloody shootout. Agony is Peckinpah’s mood and he displays violence in all its ugliness to give all the moral seriousness of our mortality. His movies are about choosing a noble death.

ACF Middlebrow #12: Comedy & Communism


The new Middlebrow podcast deals with comedy and communism, spurred by the recent movie The Death of Stalin, which Flagg Taylor (@FlaggTaylor) and I both wanted to succeed. Unfortunately, it is a failure. More on this on the podcast, as well as some talk about Milan Kundera, Ilf and Petrov, Solzhenitsyn and Leo Strauss, Vaclav Havel and Vaclav Benda, an English-translation book of whose essays Flagg has just edited, The Long Night of The Watchman. Flagg is also the co-editor, with our friend Carl Scott, of Totalitarianism on Screen, about the great movie The Lives of Others (won the Oscar for Best Foreign Picture in 2006), which dealt with the secret police in Communist East Germany, and which we discussed on the podcast last year. So now we match our conversation on tragedy and communism with one on comedy. Listen, share, and give us a rating/review!

ACF#38: Unforgiven


Happy Fourth, everyone! After the celebrations, I recommend Unforgiven, the last Western, and the movie that first won Clint Eastwood the Oscar–two awards, Best Picture and Best Director, as well as a nomination for Best Actor. This is a very dark movie, but it is a very good movie. It is beautifully shot, but also sober. It is violent, but dignified. It’s a movie about what it takes to establish the equal human rights of all human beings, the human dignity we all sense in the fine words of the Declaration. It deals with the origin of law as we now know it in a sacred law that requires violence to put an end to violence, at least the chaotic violence of the Old West. It is also a reminder of the difference between law and order, which we tend to think of as identical or at least necessarily connected. But the movie shows order is perfectly compatible with treating some people as property, i.e., slavery.

ACF #35: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance


The Great Western series continues. Prof. Marini and I move from the sacred law of the family–The Searchers–to the law of the city: Liberty Valance. We talk about love and law, nature and progress, the desert and the railroad, and the rest of the symbols and structures that stand out in John Ford’s best movie. Listen to our conversation, friends, and please share the podcast. If you prefer iTunes, go here, and please leave us a review/rating. You can also find us on stitcher and on pocketcasts.

ACF#34: The Searchers


Today, I am joined by Prof. John Marini for the first in a series of podcasts on Great Westerns. We start with The Searchers, John Ford’s thematic treatment of the sacred law of the family. American freedom out West and the nature-civilization conflict are treated in parallel in a story that blends comedy and tragedy with an eye to Homer. This is John Wayne’s greatest role and it is an education about human things wrapped into one. Listen and share, friends!

ACF Middlebrow #10: The Last Jedi


New podcast, new ideas, new controversies! This week, Pete Spiliakos and I talk Star Wars. We pick apart The Last Jedi to show you what is expected of competent mediocrity; how hard it is to get plots, characters, their conflicts, and relationships right; and how important it is to do so. We talk about how the audience is supposed to react to various characters and developments, thus connecting emotions to ideas to develop themes about the education of a new generation of leaders. Properly done, TLJ would have been a good story reflecting the innocence and incompetence of Millennials and their confrontation with Boomers who are both mythical and catastrophic. This is what middlebrow art is like — if only we aspire to it…

ACF Middlebrow #9: Justice League


My friend Pete Spiliakos and I bring you a discussion of one of the few truly interesting recent cinematic events, Justice League. This was an example of the conflict between artists and businessmen. Zack Snyder, one of the lonely few examplars of first-rate Hollywood talent, had his work destroyed by a studio Warner Bros / DC hellbent on suicide. Warner had the greatest team in Hollywood working on their superhero movies–Christopher Nolan (as writer and director, also with his brother Jonathan in the writing role) and Zack Snyder. The only men who have any grasp on the epic and the tragic as genres and insights. They also made billions of dollars for the studio. So naturally, the studio destroyed their work. Listen and marvel with us at the good, the bad, and the very bad, and the worse.

ACF#33: Westworld


Two of my academic friends, George Dunn and Jason Eberl, join me for a discussion of Westworld, the HBO sci-fi-Western now premiering its second season. Creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (husband and wife) give us a new version of a Blade Runner future and this is one we recommend. We talk through all sorts of important philosophical insights from Plato to Nietzsche, showing what intelligent writers-directors bring to popular culture and how we can think about our crisis of identity. We end with a discussion of friendship and truth-telling.

ACF Middlebrow #8: A Quiet Place


The podcast’s back with something new. There’s a horror movie atop the American box office; it’s made more than $100 million. What’s rarer still is that it’s for adults. Rarest of all, it dramatizes American middle class parents’ terror of the uncertainty surrounding their kids’ lives and futures. John Krasinski stars and also directed this remarkable success; Scott Beck and Bryan Woods wrote the screenplay (with him) and produced; and Emily Blunt gives the kind of performance that wins Oscars, if the Academy had any judgment. So my friend Pete and I are here to show how the movie reflects on American society and the good that art can do, if but people pay attention to it!

ACF #31: Body Double


The podcast’s going back to Brian De Palma. My friend John Presnall and I are going to defend, from a conservative point of view, De Palma’s most indefensible sex and violence movie, Body Double. De Palma makes porn the mirror of Hollywood (the underground of Hollywood) and brings Hitchcock into the ’80s, with all the new scandals, but the same moralistic intention: Showing how society hides from evil and perpetuates it. De Palma criticizes the all-American ambition for success and popularity in order to defend man’s heroism. However vulgar, we all want to be a man and save the girl and beat the bad guy.

ACF#26: Blade


Let’s talk about black heroes at the movies. Wesley Snipes was one of the last action heroes–remember when American heroes could be working class and villains tech millionaires?–and he reached his peak with Blade, the best Marxist story of a generation, as Pete says. Here’s how Marxist “wake up and smell the exploitation” stories work: Remember The Matrix? Well, we have lots to say in praise of Blade and we continuously connect it to the shocks in American politics now, especially the Bernie-Hillary class conflict.

Mod.pod.: Wallace Stevens, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird


Today, Caitlin and I move to the poetic teaching of Wallace Stevens. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird is one of the puzzling statements in modern American poetry. It reveals the need for a new poetry that can, by image and by reasoning, recall our basic experiences and articulate our humanity in terms of our perennial temptation to make metaphors. The good and bad news Stevens brings is this: our intellect works in the element of the imagination.

Mod.pod: Wallace Stevens, The Idea of Order at Key West


The Modern Poetry Podcast is back. Our own @langevine, Caitlin, joins me to talk about The Idea of Order at Key West, the most beautiful of the poems of Wallace Stevens — American modernist, businessman, winner of the Pulitzer, and the most eminent figure to be pummeled savagely by Hemingway. Next week, we’re publishing our thoughts on 13 ways of looking at a blackbird. Please listen, share, comment, and rate/review us on iTunes.

ACF Middlebrow#5 The Great American Christmas


It’s almost Christmas and here at the American Cinema Foundation, we have a surprise-podcast, part of the series on middlebrow. We’re talking about how American Christmas came to be. My friend — and fellow Ricochet member — Eric Cook has the story for you, I’m just along for the ride. He goes from the Dutch in New Amsterdam to the family bounty Christmas of the ’50s, from New England to Pennsylvania and to the South, and back to Europe, ancient, medieval, and modern to pick up all the strands needed to weave together to make for a Merry Christmas. Listen, comment, and please share!

ACF#19: Blade Runner 2049


This week, Pete and I complete our discussion of Blade Runner. We want especially to attract your attention to the shifts in the questions meant to define humanity. The original film featured replicants who thought they were human; now we see replicants who don’t think they’re human. Questions about soul, the interior, secretive part of the rational, mortal being that we are are replaced by questions of birth and funeral–getting at the family and religion, which define our humanity. We also talk about director Denis Villeneuve, whose previous movie, Arrival, was also very much pro-life.

American Cinema Foundation, Podcast #1


Hello, Ricochet! Here’s the first of my projects through the American Cinema Foundation. I’m planning a weekly podcast talking about movies new and old, as they come into the news. What I want out this series of half-hour discussions is to give people a sense of the depth of thought involved in movies, even in popular movies that do not pretend to be sophisticated. It’s probably going to take me a while to figure out a format that works for an American audience, but I can guarantee that you’ll hear things that make sense as soon as you hear them, but which you haven’t heard before, as well as things that make no sense or seem very obscure.

I’m all about showing what’s serious about the movies I talk about, and so are my friends and guests. I’m hoping to make a bit of a splash, not least so that I find it easier to invite directors and writers on the podcast to talk about what’s worthwhile in American cinema. So please share this wherever you can! I’m grateful for whatever suggestions you can make, if you think they might help me improve the podcast and spread the word about my work here. Ultimately, I want to help people think about movies. Our leisure to a large extent is about movies and series. I’m all about giving people ways to get as much as possible out of the movies they love or even are merely curious about.

Member Post


I have been trying to upload video I took at Titus’s Last Stop meet up last weekend, to YouTube.  I am encountering an error I have never had before.  The video was made with my Panasonic video camera, and I have loads of experience uploading video to my RushBabe49 YouTube site.  I have nearly 40 […]

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