The Next Reel Film Podcast
Summary: Subscribe to THE weekly podcast for movie people! Features in-depth reviews of classic films and contemporary hits, with ratings, rankings, and interviews.
In 1934, a little film studio released what they thought would be a minor but fun little film called "It Happened One Night." That film went on to earn 5 Oscar nominations — Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay — and win all 5. It also was an audience favorite and turned that little studio — Columbia Pictures — into one of the major players. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we talk about Frank Capra's wonderful film "It Happened One Night." We talk about how this film, which is generally considered to be the first screwball comedy, was huge in the careers of its two stars, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, even if they didn't think it was a picture worth being in when they were making it. We discuss the supporting players and how Capra often filled his films with great ones — and how some in this film became the basis for various Looney Tune characters. We chat about the great work of Frank Capra but how he really was a director making films for a specific time. And we look at several specific scenes and talk about why they work so well, given the genre, the actors, and the script. It's a wonderful, fun and breezy film. Tune in!
Charles Laughton is most known for his larger than life performances in films from the 30s through the 60s, but he did have one chance to direct which came in the form of 1955's The Night of the Hunter, a film he also co-wrote with James Agee based on the novel by Davis Grubb. Unfortunately for him, the film was a huge flop. Luckily for us, this quirky anomaly of a film has not only survived but has thrived — it is now critically praised and generally considered to be a classic film. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we continue our Couples on the Run series with Laughton's The Night of the Hunter. We talk about our impressions of the film, why it works, and what are some of its potential stumbling blocks in connecting with audiences. We chat about the amazing performances, from Billy Chapin and Sally Jane Bruce playing the two kids on the run to Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish, the three adults heading up the film. We discuss the look of the film and how it contributes to the unique vibe Laughton was going for, whether by using silent film techniques or film noir lighting styles. And we talk about the overall tone of the film — from horror to noir to comedy to fairy tale etc. — and how that helps give the film a unique tone not often seen in films. It truly is a wholly unique and special film, and we have a great time talking about it. Tune in!
The Film Board gathers! It's a full house this week as we take on the latest clawed brawler from Marvel, "The Wolverine." The crew agrees: there are some stunningly beautiful sequences in this film, and while Jackman's Wolverine rarely disappoints, on the whole the film loses steam tragically too early and delivers an ultimately forgettable experience. Steve shares his report on the Atmos experience of "The Wolverine," which may make the film worth seeing on the big screen, if you have such a theater near you. Check out this month's Film Board review for details and plenty, plenty of spoilers!
William Goldman is often credited as the first screenwriter to sell a spec script, meaning he wrote a script without getting paid for it then sold it once he was done with it. It's common in the novel-writing world, but in the late 60s, it was unheard of in the film business. That script was "The Sundance Kid & Butch Cassidy," which legendary producer Richard D. Zanuck, who was running 20th Century Fox at the time, optioned for twice what they were allowed to, knowing it was going to be big. And he was right. We continue our Couples On the Run series with George Roy Hill's 1969 western, "Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid." Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we discuss the place this film has in the western genre and why it remains a classic to this day. We talk about the wonderful performances by Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and how Hill had to fight to get Redford on at the time because he was relatively unknown. We chat about Hill and Conrad Hall, the cinematographer, and what they both brought to the table. And we discuss Burt Bacharach's Oscar-winning turn for his score and song "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," and how well these anachronistic bits worked for us this go around. It's top-notch filmmaking and we love this movie. Tune in!
Quentin Tarantino's first script that he wrote turned out to be one he couldn't get made himself. Lucky for us (or unlucky as some Tarantino fans feel), he managed to get "True Romance" into the hands of Tony Scott. Tony gave it a linear structure and a happy ending and, in our estimation, created a magical fairy tale of a film. We're continuing our "Couples on the Run" series and are thrilled with this week's edition of "True Romance" to the list. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we talk about the origins of the script and its road to becoming the film that it is. We chat about not only the incredible performances throughout the film, but also the amazing, star-studded line-up of actors playing the parts and how much we enjoy them all. We discuss the nature of the violence in the film and how it created quite a stir politically at the time though how, by today's standards, it's not too harsh. And we hit on the crazy Tarantino Universe theory and how this film ties into it. We love this film and have a great time talking about it. Tune in!
Infrequent filmmaker Martin Brest may have directed the box office bombs Gigli and Meet Joe Black, but he also directed the huge critical and commercial successes Beverly Hills Cop and Scent of a Woman. Somewhere in the middle of these films, he made a fantastic action-comedy about a bounty hunter taking a criminal across country to collect his reward. That's right, we're talking about Midnight Run, a part of our Couples on the Run series. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — on this week's episode of The Next Reel as we discuss the actors in this film, particularly Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, Joe Pantoliano, Yaphet Kotto and Dennis Farina, and how they work for us now 25 years after the film first came out — some better than others. We chat about the nature of the action-comedy film, particularly those from the 80s, and how the comedy has fared as time's worn on. We talk about the great script by George Gallo and how it stands out in its genre because of the honestly written characters that are developed well over the course of the story. And we talk about the crew who worked on it with Brest, notably Danny Elfman turning in one of his early great scores that definitely veers away from the wacky. It's a film that holds up well — mostly — and one we have a great time talking about. Listen in!
Stanley Kubrick's 3rd film, "The Killing," was a box office bomb due to a poor release plan from United Artists and virtually no marketing. Luckily, the film was critically praised and has grown in stature since its release in 1956. It's a film noir about a race track heist gone wrong with the fantastic Sterling Hayden leading the charge, and the last film in our Heist series. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we finish this series with Kubrick's early classic. We talk about the story and how revolutionary it was at the time to tell a story that was told out of chronological sequence. We discuss the actors and the roles they play in this great film, particularly Sterling Hayden, Elisha Cook Jr. and Marie Windsor. We talk about the look of the film yet how Kubrick and his cinematographer, Lucien Ballard, were at odds throughout production. And we chat about why this film was so ahead of its time and why it's largely considered an important classic that's worth discussing. It's a great finish to our current Heist series. Listen in!
After director Ron Howard dropped out from "Inside Man" to instead re-team with Russell Crowe on "Cinderella Man," producer Brian Grazer ended up turning to an unlikely director to make this fun heist film — Spike Lee. Give his largest budget and a script that's more of a genre film than anything else Lee's done before, he managed to create a wild heist film with a great twist ending. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we continue our Heist series this week with Lee's 2006 film "Inside Man." We talk about what works in this film and what doesn't work and how this film fits within Lee's body of work. We chat about the pacing of the film and how some elements that are problems for Andy aren't for Pete, but how Pete's problem areas aren't problems for Andy. We chat about several key members of the crew and what they're bringing to the table. And we chat about the perpetual problem Lee seems to have with female characters in his films. We still enjoy the film even with its issues, and we have a great time talking about it this week. Tune in!
The curse is broken! The Film Board gathers and we finally have a movie that all of us like! It's Brad Pitt against the world's nasty plague problem on the show this week and Steve, Andy, and Pete talk about why you should see this film, why you should like this film, and why it's culturally far more relevant than a run of the mill zombie thriller. That's right, we're cutting against the grain this week on The Film Board so check out this film and join us for a chat on Pitt and the world that's out to bite him!
Ben Affleck made a smart move when he decided to start directing films. He had made some bad career moves as an actor and was fizzling out. With his 2007 directorial debut "Gone Baby Gone," he proved he had chops — and that they weren't in acting. He's a great director. With "The Town," his 2010 heist film, he again shows he knows how to write and direct a great film, and can still act as long as he's in the right material. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we continue our Heist Series with Affleck's great bank robber film. We talk about the amazing talent all through the film — Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively, Jon Hamm, Chris Cooper, Pete Postlethwaite, and more — and how they bring this world of robbers to gritty life. We chat about the changes the film went through from the original theatrical cut to the extended cut to the extended cut with alternate ending and how the alterations affected the story. We chat about the nature of the script, adapted from Chuck Hogan's novel "Prince of Thieves," and why it works so effectively even if it is formulaic. And we run through the wide array of reviews — from hating it to loving it — and deliberate on why we think the opinions vary so much with this film. It's a great and fun entry into our Heist Series and one well worth talking about. Listen in!
There's something interesting about heist films because, generally, you're rooting for criminals to pull off a heist and criminals usually aren't who you'd expect to be your protagonist. But watching Roger Donaldson's 2008 heist film The Bank Job, based on the real Baker Street Robbery in London 1971, you can't help but root for Terry Leather and his imperfect gang as they not only rob the bank and pull off one of the biggest scores in London's history, but actually get away with it too. Maybe that's because the people after them are all much worse, and maybe that's because you can't help but side with Terry played wonderfully by Jason Statham. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we start our Heist series with this great movie. We discuss the story and how it fits within the true story — and what truth means in a film based on a true story anyway. We chat about the great cast and the complex script and how it all ties together perfectly. We touch on Donaldson and his career, looking at him as an effective filmmaker. And we discuss the look of the film — the cinematography, the costume design, and the production design — and how it plays an important role in bringing the swinging world of 1971 London to life. It's a fun if raunchy film to start off our series. Tune in!
Woody Allen has made some great films and he's made some stinkers, but he is a man who consistently cranks films out year after year. In 2006, his film "Scoop" happened to have a stage magician in it and, because of that, we felt it was important to include in our series about films made about stage magic in 2006. But paired with the other two films in this series — "The Prestige" and "The Illusionist," this film falls flat. But that doesn't mean we don't have a great time talking about it. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we wrap up our magic series with one of Allen's worst films, "Scoop." We talk about the magic, the murder mystery and the comedy in this film and how none of them particularly stand out. We discuss the actors — Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman, Ian McShane and Woody Allen in particular — and what, if anything, they bring to their roles. And we chat about what works in Allen's films and why this film feels so slight and forgettable. It's not one of our favorites, but we still have a great conversation about it. Tune in!
It's a Very Special Episode for this month's Film Board gathering. Today on the show, Steve Sarmento and Chadd Stoops join Andy Nelson and Pete Wright to take on the great Next Reel Crossover with \*Now You See Me\* — a magical heist film of skeptic proportions. Director Louis Leterrier takes The Four Horsemen Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco and manufactures the epic stage show. Does it hold up to scrutiny? Is this finally the Morgan Freeman/Michael Caine match-up to end all Morgan Freeman/Michael Caine match-ups? Is Mark Ruffalo still super-angry all the time? All these questions, and the answer to whether or not \*you\* are the smartest person in the room on this week's Film Board. Listen in!
2006 was quite the year for movies about stage magicians, and as our series continues, we've decided to focus solely on the 3 films dealing with prestidigitation that came out that year. Neil Burger's The Illusionist came out a few months before Christopher Nolan's The Prestige, but it dealt with an entirely different story. True, they both take place in the world of magicians, but while Nolan's film dealt with a strong professional rivalry, Burger's dealt with an unrequited love and the fight the two lovers struggle through to be together. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we talk about The Illusionist and the magical year of 2006. We chat about the performances in the film — Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell, and Jessica Biel primarily — and how they work for us. We chat about the nature of the ending of the film and how the nature of the end works — or doesn't. We discuss the actual magic tricks performed in the film, all based on actual tricks of the period, and how the CG embellishments actually may detract from the power of the story. And we talk about the cinematography and score and the strengths and weaknesses in them. We have a great time revisiting this film. Tune in!
Right after the amazing success of Batman Begins and right before the brilliance of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan switched gears completely and made a fascinating period piece about two rival magicians duking it out to be the best. The Prestige wasn't the most popular film of his but certainly garnered its share of positive acclaim and audience draw. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we begin the next series on The Next Reel: this time, a series about films that deal with magicians. We start with what we feel is an absolutely amazing film — The Prestige. We talk about the nature of magic tricks as defined within the film — having the pledge, the turn and the prestige — and how the film itself is structured as if it's a magic trick. We discuss the fascinating characters portrayed by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale and the nature of what their characters need to do in order to become the best. We chat about the nature of a film structured in a nonlinear style like this one is, how that ties into the original source novel by Christopher Priest, the nature of the unreliable narrator, and why it all works so well in a film about magicians. And we contemplate the nature of rivalry and how the film not only emphasizes that aspect of competition in everything done by the two principal characters but also by the real-life scientific duelists Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla. The Prestige is a fascinating film that is meticulously structured in a deliberate way so as to create its own magic trick and get the audience every time. We find it extremely effective and have a great time watching it as well as talking about it this week. Check it out!