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Cows in the field
69 minutes | Jan 21, 2022
55. Spider-man 2 (w/ Sam Adams)
Come swing through the streets of Manhattan with us and Sam Adams (Slate) as we discuss Sam Raimi's melancholic and reflective Spider-Man 2! We talk about the film's major themes of grief and the burden of heroism, as well as Sam Raimi's view of humanity as fundamentally decent. We consider the film in light of the tragedy of 9/11 and how it highlights the heroic in all of us. We also marvel at how a big budget superhero film manages to have a climactic finale that consists mostly of two guys reflecting on how they have to give up their dreams in the pursuit of a greater good. Look out for guest appearances by the guy from the Tenet trailer and Chad Kroeger of Nickelback! Read Sam's piece on Spider-Man 2! Follow Sam on Twitter! Follow us on Twitter! MERCH!
85 minutes | Jan 7, 2022
54. The Matrix Resurrections (w/ David Chalmers)
It's time to go back to the Matrix! Join us and David Chalmers (Professor of Philosophy at NYU) to discuss the fourth Matrix film, and distinguish what we like and don't about its meta- and first-order narrative interpretations. We bring in past and future guest Emily VanDerWerff to provide some broader context about the film and what makes it great, before turning to discuss whether what happens in a simulation is real and whether we can live a good life in a simulation. We also consider whether we are computer programs, what obligations we might have to computer programs, and the nature of human/computer program sex and procreation inside of the Matrix. Buy Chalmers' new book Reality+! Justin's review of The Matrix Resurrections Emily VanDerWerff on The Matrix Resurrections and trauma
106 minutes | Dec 31, 2021
Bonus Episode: Revisiting Forrest Gump (1994)
We don't have a new New Year's episode for you, but we do have a classic episode of us battling to the death over whether Forrest Gump is a good movie. We hope you enjoy this discussion and may you celebrate the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 more joyously than Lieutenant Dan does in this movie. We'll be back with The Matrix Resurrections next week!
85 minutes | Dec 17, 2021
53. A Charlie Brown Christmas (w/ Emily VanDerWerff)
It’s the coldest time of the year, which means we need community more than ever to help us stay warm and remind us of the ongoing project of humanity and our part in it. So consider us the luckiest Peanuts on block, since we get to welcome back Emily VanDerWerff (Vox & Arden Podcast)! We talk about endings, opportunities for renewal, and the melancholy that comes with our experiences of the holidays. We also delve into our personal religious beliefs (or lack thereof) and how they interact with our feelings about Christmas and choosing our communities. And, of course, no conversation about Charlie Brown would be complete without a discussion about Charles Schulz and his complex feelings about Christmas and droopy trees. So, don't be blockhead -- hitch a ride on our sleigh and recite the annunciation to the shepherds with us! Read Emily on the modern family! Follow Emily on Twitter!
106 minutes | Dec 10, 2021
52. Eyes Wide Shut (w/ Carly Severn)
It's the holiday season, and what better way to start than with a veritable Christmas classic, Stanley Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut! We sit down with Carly Severn (KQED San Francisco) to discuss noble lies in relationships and society, Tom and Nicole's challenging (and, ultimately destructive) performances, and the interrelations between power, anonymity, powerlessness, and nakedness. Along the way, we explore how social structures prop up divisions and reinforce fantasies that may be either ruinous or essential to the well-functioning of our social lives. So, bring your mask and cloak, don't forget the password (Fidelio), and join us at the Somerton Estate for a Christmas celebration like none other!
70 minutes | Nov 26, 2021
51. 12 Monkeys (w/ Barry Lam)
This week we are joined by Barry Lam (Professor of Philosophy at Vassar College and host of HiPhi Nation) to discuss Terry Gilliam's manic time travel science fiction masterpiece, 12 Monkeys! We explore how the film manifests the philosopher David Lewis's theory of time travel, while also depicting the madness of foreknowledge and the futility of attempting to change what's already happened. We discuss the possibility of closed causal loops, the challenges of political activism, pandemic tie-ins, and how the film uses Brad Pitt as a spokesperson for Gen-X dissatisfaction (something he would more famously go on to embody in Fight Club a few years later). So climb aboard this nightmare train to madness and keep an eye out for hamsters! This episode is sponsored by Paramount Pictures' THE DEEP HOUSE, now available On Digital and On Demand! When a young couple sets out to explore a house at the bottom of a lake, they discover a sinister presence. Can they escape the underwater house of horrors before it's too late? Buy or Rent THE DEEP HOUSE today to find out! Unrated.
80 minutes | Nov 12, 2021
50. Sunshine (w/ Vishal Dave)
Join us on an interstellar journey with friend Vishal Dave as we attempt to reignite the dying sun -- it's Danny Boyle's unfairly overlooked 2007 sci-fi masterpiece, Sunshine! We discuss the ethics of self-sacrifice and the nature of embarking on a journey of no return. We ponder the enormity of the universe and what it might do to someone to confront that head on -- how might facing the limits of human knowledge and exploration affect the individual? Religious readings and humanity's need for spirituality are also discussed in the context of our increasingly secularized society. Don't miss this epic adventure!
84 minutes | Oct 29, 2021
49. Dune (w/ John DeVore)
We sit down with fellow Dune-head John DeVore to discuss two DUNE movies -- David Lynch's 1984 troubled masterpiece, and Denis Villeneuve's 2021 re-imagining of Arrakis. Can Villeneuve's film live up to the inevitable hype? How do the two films capture the mystical weirdness of the book? What is that weird spider-person in the Harkonnen's palace? Join us as we drink the juice of Sapho and ride a spice maggot into the folds of space and beyond! Follow @JohnDeVore on Twitter! Read John on Dune here: https://medium.com/humungus/this-scene-in-dune-screwed-me-up-in-the-head-26cc68cd4b4d https://johndevore.medium.com/?p=6dbf9a9fddad https://decider.com/2017/06/23/dune-david-lynch-john-devore/
88 minutes | Oct 15, 2021
48. Punch Drunk Love (w/ Sean Burke)
Join us on the harmonium as we revisit Paul Thomas Anderson's (not-)musical tragicomedy Punch Drunk Love with Sean Burke (Founding Partner, Whistler Partners). We discuss how Adam Sandler embodies the awkwardness and anxiety of male adolescence, and how Anderson mixes color and sound to create an overwhelming kaleidoscope of social panic, rage and repression, and fear of public humiliation. Yet, underneath it all, we find a simple and pure love story -- perhaps one of the most hopeful in recent memory -- yet one that also depicts love in all its complexity and difficulty. Where does this gem rank in your list of Paul Thomas Anderson films??
91 minutes | Oct 1, 2021
47. In the Line of Fire (w/ Bilge Ebiri)
Bilge Ebiri (New York Magazine / Vulture) returns to talk with us about this classic nineties Wolfgang Petersen conspiracy thriller that pits an aging Secret Service Agent (Clint Eastwood) against an anarchistic terrorist (John Malkovich) intent on assassinating the President. We reflect on how the movie reflects cautiously on Eastwood's broad career, regret and second chances, and consider the virtue of sacrificing oneself in defense of democratic institutions (flawed as they may be in practice). Along the way, we wonder about duty and growing old, as well as give due praise to John Malkovich and interrogate the social conventions of winking. Read Bilge at Vulture; follow @BilgeEbiri on Twitter!
58 minutes | Sep 17, 2021
46. The Mummy & The Mummy Returns
The cows journey to Hamunaptra to find some ancient artifacts, and along the way revisit perhaps Brendan Fraser's most famous works. Laura confesses her love for Brendan Fraser and Justin confesses his love for Arnold Vosloo, and attempts to make the case that the Mummy is a misunderstood villain. The cows enjoy the dual parallel love stories and show appreciation for the depiction of a healthy, loving, relationship between characters Rick and Evelyn, and definitely do not discuss a certain questionable CGI Scorpion King.
58 minutes | Sep 3, 2021
45. George of the Jungle
Have you ever seen two cows swing through the trees? We talk about Brendan Fraser's ultimate committed performance as George of the Jungle in this most silly and juvenile and heartfelt movie. We wonder about heroic fools, praise the film's strategy of giving the central arc to Ursula, and comment on the film's questionable presupposition of human language learning. Along the way, Justin reveals his ignorance about children's movies and Laura pens her love letter to Brendan Fraser.
58 minutes | Aug 27, 2021
44. Encino Man
The cows begin their Frassersance mini-series with this wonderful curio of the 90s, about a pair of high school dorks (Sean Astin and Pauly Shore) who find a frozen caveman (Brendan Fraser) in their backyard. We discuss the film as an adoption story, and explore what parents can learn from the innocence of their children. We also dig into Pauly Shore's character Stoney Brown, who embodies the atelic ideals of striving just to be, rather than to accomplish. Don't wheeze the jah-uiceeee!
96 minutes | Aug 13, 2021
43. Office Space (w/ Robert and Sheryl Khoo)
We are joined this week by special guests Robert and Sheryl Khoo (parents of a co-host of this very podcast) to talk about Mike Judge's TPS-ridden middle-class satire, Office Space! We talk about our experiences working within soul-crushing bureaucracies, and also the surprising upsides of meetings. We consider the case for Lumbergh and the plight of the middle manager, and wonder whether it is possible to earn a living within a capitalist economy without losing yourself in the process. And we evaluate the movie and Peter Gibbons' plight with the hindsight of the ongoing computer science boom, which likely would have found programmers like Peter earning millions and sipping Maui Thais on a beach with Milton.
93 minutes | Jul 30, 2021
42. Rounders (w/ Anders Schoubye)
We sit down at the poker table with Anders Schoubye to discuss perhaps the greatest poker movie ever, confronting our true calling, and what the movie gets right, and wrong, about poker and gambling. Who is team Damon and who is team Teddy KGB? Tune in to find out!
56 minutes | Jul 16, 2021
41. The Last Days of Disco (w/ Whit Stillman)
We are joined by the writer, director, and producer of The Last Days of Disco, Whit Stillman, to talk about his film, his fascination with complex female friendships and group social life generally, as well as the appeal of shaggy narratives. Whit regales us with stories that inspired the film, his experience with disco, his days in publishing, and getting to know George Plimpton. If you haven’t seen The Last Days of Disco, you should check it out now! It’s truly a wonderful film and Whit is a hilarious and humble and articulate person. We hope you enjoy this special episode!
124 minutes | Jul 2, 2021
40. Ali (w/ Blake Howard)
We get into the ring with Blake Howard (One Heat Minute Productions) to discuss Michael Mann's incredible biopic of Muhammad Ali. Despite being a major box office failure, we make the case for revisiting this stunning and complex portrayal of the greatest boxer as he transitions from brash fighter to heroic inspiration for a social movement. We explore how Michael Mann and his astounding cast and crew (including a career-defining performance by Will Smith) manage to simultaneously humanize and glorify Ali without glossing over the details of his complex life and relationships. Where does Ali rank on your list of all time biopics??
80 minutes | Jun 18, 2021
39. Tampopo (w/ Nick Riggle)
Join us for a noodle-filled extravaganza as we dig into Tampopo with Nick Riggle (Philosophy, University of San Diego). We explore the interrelations between film and cuisine, and why ramen makes an ideal subject for a food film combining elements of both high art and (so-called) low art. Our love of Guy Fieri comes up more than once as we wonder about the role of the film's many zany side vignettes and how they are used to celebrate pure aesthetic values, while Nick unpacks what it is to be awesome and teaches us how to suck just a bit less in life.
71 minutes | Jun 4, 2021
38. Inception (w/ Tom Shone)
The cows are joined by author and film critic Tom Shone (The Nolan Variations) to discuss Christopher Nolan's epic dream-heist blockbuster, Inception. We discuss Nolan's obsessions with knowledge and self-deception and his ambivalent obsession with fantasy and escapism. We explore the film's central premise -- that the cinematic experience is akin to a shared dream -- and how Nolan weaves the premise into the the core of Inception through repetition and intentional plot holes. And we finally close with a celebration of Inception's oft-overlooked emotional centerpiece -- its many-layered ending, which combines reconciliations with goodbyes and renewals of hope.
105 minutes | May 21, 2021
37. Amadeus (w/ Edward Lewis)
The cows are joined by friend Edward Lewis to revisit one of the greatest films of all time, the shortest three hour movie, Milos Foreman's Amadeus. We witness genius through Salieri's eyes, marvel at his ability to appreciate and translate the beauty of Mozart's music to the uninitiated, and resign ourselves to our own mediocrities. We also discuss the relationship between historical accuracy and authenticity, and how it achieves ecstatic truth through fabrication. And we ponder the renewing possibilities of confession and absolution. This movie is not to be missed!!
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