Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Podcast: What Are You Watching?

Well, it looks like I’m just another asshole who started a movie podcast. For two years, my best friend and filmmaking partner, Nick Dostal, has been on my ass about starting a film podcast. I rejected the idea for all the obvious reasons, market saturation and time commitment being two major ones. But my biggest drawback was that I didn’t want Nick and I to just talk about how cool movies are. If we were going to talk movies, then we were going to talk about the genuine emotion we feel toward them.

Why is Terminator 2 one of Nick’s Top 10 Films of All Time? Why will I weep every time I watch Phantom Thread? Sure, we love these movies as movies, but beyond that, these films and countless others have touched us deeply, for incredibly personal reasons. So, my number one rule for the podcast was that we always tell the truth. And if Nick and I ever have something personal to say about a movie we love, then we should seriously consider disclosing it.

That’s What Are You Watching? A movie podcast where Nick and I will talk all things film, but as indie filmmakers, and as two people whose psyches are forever linked to cinema. Nick and I are as close as brothers (he even played me in our latest movie, I Am Alive), and we’re really excited to bring our friendship to the podcast as well.

The podcast will cover similar territory as this blog, but they’ll be two separate things; I’ll still be posting on here! On the podcast, we’re going to do fun lists, director breakdowns, character actor deep dives, and episodes about the films that inspire us as filmmakers. What Are You Watching? will be available most anywhere you listen to podcasts, and we’ll be releasing new episodes every Thursday.

And look, here’s the thing. I’ve been running this blog since September 2007, and I’ve met a ton of incredible people along the way. So many of you have been so supportive of this blog and my films, and if you like podcasts, I hope you’ll give us a listen. Nick and I take this shit very seriously, and we always promise to keep the podcast fun, engaging, and emotional. And I apologize for slacking lately on new blog posts and blog comments on other sites. I’ve been drowning in Oscar movies and podcast maintenance, but everything seems to have leveled out now.

Thanks again to everyone, we hope you like the show!

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  1. Great pilot episode! You're good at this! Can't wait for more!

    1. Thanks so much, we really appreciate you listening and commenting here!

  2. Loved these, always fascinating to hear what's shifted around over the years and can't wait to catch the next one. Have been doing a lot of thinking about my own as of late...

    10. Chinatown (though this could be Wake in Fright, which you'd LOVE)
    9. Magnolia
    8. The Seventh Seal
    7. The Travelling Players / The Hunters (one day Criterion will hop off their ass and release Angel's films)
    6. Once Upon a Time in America
    5. The Holy Mountain
    4. Hiroshima, mon amour (the film that inspires my own work the most, by far)
    3. Andrei Rublev
    2. The Life & Death of Col. Blimp (you've got now idea how tightly it has you until the gut punches start flying)
    1. Marketa Lazarova (its just... 'free')

    and of the 2010s...
    10. Avengers: Endgame (not in a thousand years could I have guessed this when I went into the theater the first of several times)
    9. Toy Story 3
    8. Before Midnight
    7. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (that ending.)
    6. Shame (thanks ;)
    5. Horse Money
    4. Gotta Light? (because parts of it play like if The Tree of Life was pure evil)
    3. Incendies
    2. Once Upon a Time in....Anatolia (although Cliff Booth would have solved it a lot sooner)
    1. The Turin Horse (bc Tarr shouldn't have to be a bridesmaid forever)

    1. Dude you have such eclectic taste, I've always been so impressed by it. You've given me a lot of great recommendations here (I'll start with Wake in Fright). Love that Shame and Incendies made your decade list! And thanks so much for listening to the episodes, we really appreciate it!

    2. Finished Wake in Fright. I get what he was going for with the kangaroo hunt (Kotcheff is a vegetarian and I assume was trying to showcase the injustices of these hunts...) but fuck, that was tough to watch.

    3. Indeed, gruelling sequence but it hits the picture at just the right time. And yes Kotcheff's filming of kangaroo hunts in such a matter-of-fact way helped expose them to the general public and get them illegalised in the following years. He also tells a story of sabotaging the hunters' trucks once they had enough footage so the hunt would stop. And a young Martin Scorsese was apparently elated watching that kangaroo scene for the first time that the crew went all the way.

      I just think Wake in Fright is such a precise, unrelenting slow-burn up the sulphur trail of human sanity that has rocked me to the core time and again, a companion piece to Deliverance in some ways (which barely missed the list too, btw).

      And forget eclectic taste I'm beyond impressed you got on that film so fast! Ik I've reccomended them before but I'd suggest you hunt down 'Eternity and a Day' or 'Landscape in the Mist' before tackling the longer Angelopoulos films.

      Linklater episode was great by the way. The Before Trilogy will live forever and you both had a lot of insightful things to say!

    4. I can't lie, I was fucking mad when that scene started. I don't ever get on my high horse about this stuff, but I've been a vegetarian for 14 years so that was rough to watch. But then I calmed down and knew there had to be a reason Kotcheff did this, and once the film was done, I was so pleased to find bits of trivia like the ones you mentioned in your comment. Sometimes you have to go to extremes to incite change. I dig that.

      Thanks for the rec, I'm really happy I watched it. And thanks for listening to the podcast!

  3. Having just listened to both episodes so far..., I'm glad you're doing a podcast as I still don't have an official all-time best of list at the moment while my 2010s list I'm planning to do in a couple of years (Waves I'm planning to watch in a week or 2 as there's a bunch of A24 films on Showtimes right now) just to get it right as there's a lot to catch up on. Even with the film's this year.

    Definitely will listen to the next episode.

    1. Thank you so much for listening! We're publishing an episode tomorrow on Linklater... I've always loved hearing your thoughts on him. And it's so cool that A24 and Showtime are doing a thing right now. I rewatched Waves last night actually; melts my damn heart. I hope you have a chance to check it out!

    2. Having just listened to your Richard Linklater episode, here is my list as of right now though I have yet to see both Last Flag Flying and Where'd You Go, Bernadette at the moment. I just recently re-watched School of Rock and saw it with my 15-month old nephew who had seen it weeks before and LOVES this film. He just loves the music and energy of it as it reminded the reaction my late younger sister had for the film.

      I really liked Me and Orson Welles as I think Angus MacKay really captured the nuances of Orson Welles as it is a film about a young man learning about art and the idea of acting as I love what Zac Efron did.

      Why no discussion for Bernie and SubUrbia as I really liked those films a lot? The former as this witty black comedy and the latter was a film that I connected with in my 20s because of that air of uncertainty of what is going to happen. It's a bleak film but still engaging.

    3. Thanks so much for listening! Honestly have no idea why we passed over Bernie and SubUrbia, because I love both of those two. I addressed failing to mention Bernie in the bonus episode. I guess we were just moving too damn fast.

      And I have rewatched School of Rock since and I enjoy it much more now. So cool that your nephew likes it!

    4. I just listened to your streaming recommendations and Patriots Day might be one of the few films by Peter Berg I like along with The Rundown and I also listened to your piece on films based on plays. A film I just saw recently is Nicolas Roeg's Insignificance which I liked a lot as it was based on a play by Terry Johnson and the casting is great as you have Gary Busey, Tony Curtis, and Theresa Russell playing famous figures who aren't named with Michael Emil as another famous figure from the 1950s. It's a weird but enthralling film as I'm hoping to see more from Roeg from the 1970s to the 1980s as I have seen a few of films. Another filmmaker I think you overlooked as it regards to filmmakers who can create films out of plays is Orson Welles. Chimes at Midnight which is based on Falstaff I think is one of his best work as I just love the insanity of it and the conflict over loyalty and such. I really liked it a lot.

    5. Thanks so much for listening. Those are two great calls there. I've been wanting to check out Insignificance and Chimes at Midnight for ages, and now shall be the time.

    6. Hey man I watched both and really dug them! There's so much to Welles, I need to dedicate a month to his films and really study them.

  4. John from twitter here!
    Love both lists, Alex! For your Best of 2010s, I was CERTAIN you would have You Were Never Really Here, that was the big surprise for me. Loved your Phantom Thread inclusion the most, what a film! You and Nick have some awesome picks, some overlap in my top 30.
    Any close runner ups, like 11-15?

    1. Hey John! YWNRH would definitely be my 11. That and Rust and Bone were neck and neck. Others I loved... Boyhood, Dogtooth, Gaspar Noe's Love, Incendies, Magic Mike, Spring Breakers, The Irishman, The Master, Warrior... just off the top of my head :)

      Nick's 11 would definitely be La La Land.

    2. oh nice! It's funny, I think I've got YWNRH and Drive neck and neck for 10 or 11 haha.

      As for some picks I don't see often on these end of decade lists, Ex Machina and A Ghost Story are in my Top 3 or 5. :)

    3. Ohhhhh! Ha fucking ha! Before I correct that grievous error let me just say, thank you so much for listening, John! I was shocked when Alex didn't have You Were Never Really Here on his list too! Glad you liked our picks. Close runners up for 11-15, off the top of my head would be... Clouds of Sils Maria, Blue Valentine, Black Swan, Mississippi Grind and Whiplash. No offense to La La Land (I'm just not a musical person)

    4. Loved A Ghost Story. There's a cool story coming up in a future episode about that movie.

    5. Hey John, "Unknown" is Nick! (Blogger has been a pain about commenting recently.) A Ghost Story is definitely high on my list too.

  5. I just got done listening to the first two episodes and i really enjoyed them. I love listening to podcasts, and especially movie podcasts, while driving or playing video games and will definitely add this one to the rotation. I already know you have a great taste in movies, Alex, but Nick really seems to know what he is talking about as well. I loved both of your lists as well. Great picks all around. As someone with an unconventional favorite movie myself, i love that Blow is Nicks number one movie. I need to watch that one again now. It's been years. This also inspired me to revisit my own top 10 again. It changes all the time, but for now this is it.

    10. Halloween (1978)
    9. The Thin Red Line (1999)
    8. Psycho (1960)
    7. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
    6. Heat (1995)
    5. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
    4. Zodiac (2007)
    3. The Shining (1980)
    2. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
    1. Collateral (2004)

    Honorable mentions goes to In Bruges (2008), No Country for Old Men (2007), Hot Fuzz (2007), Rocky (1976) and GoodFellas (1990).

    Again, this list changes all the time for me so on any other day most of them could have been shuffled around. The only one that usually never changes is Collateral at number 1. That movie just came out at the perfect time for me. Everything about it just clicks for me from the directing to the performances to the music. It's probably the movie i have watched the most times in my life.

    1. Henrik, this is incredible! Thank you so much for listening and posting your lists here. We’re both so happy that you enjoyed listening.

      I LOVE every movie on your list, that is a great collection of movies. My one tidbit about Collateral (a movie I love) is that Michael Mann is one of the best directors to record commentary tracks. And for whatever reason, his commentary for Collateral isn’t even listed as a special feature on my DVD. But it’s on there! I learned SO much more about that movie from Mann’s commentary. Maybe you’ve already heard it, but if not, I’d recommend checking it out!

    2. That's strange that it isn't listed on your DVD. I don't remember if it was on my DVD, but it is listed on my blu-ray at least and i have listened to it several times. It's one of my favorite commentary tracks. I could listen to Michael Mann talk about making movies for days.

    3. Nice! I should have assumed that you had listened to it haha. I love his tracks as well. Would LOVE one for The Insider.

  6. Now as for top 10 movies from the 2010's. This was a lot tougher to me. I really liked both of your lists again, but there was surprisingly little overlap with my own. There were a lot on them i still haven't checked out yet though like Rust and Bone, Waves and The Three of Life. But for right now mine would be this.

    10. The Shape of Water (2017)
    9. Whiplash (2014)
    8. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
    7. Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)
    6. The Master (2012)
    5. Her (2014)
    4. Parasite (2019)
    3. Gone Girl (2014)
    2. Drive (2011)
    1. The Social Network (2010)

    Honorable mentions: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), Shoplifters (2018), Uncut Gems (2019), Arrival (2016) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019).

    This was a good decade, but overall i feel it's weaker than both the 00's and the 90's. While i really like all the movies i listed, i don't really feel that passionate for the latter half of my list. Most of them could be switched around or traded for something else like the movies in my honorable mentions.

    I'll listen to the Linklater episode another time, but i really enjoyed these first two episodes so far. I subscribed on Spotify so keep the episodes coming.

    1. Really like both lists you got going!
      Got some overlap with Social Network, Master, Drive, Whiplash and Her with my top 10/15.
      Only one I haven't caught is Shoplifters, love the 2049 inclusion!

    2. (Henrik, that’s Nick who replied as Anonymous. Blogger has been pissy about comments lately, but that’s him!)

      Another incredible list. I think a rather easy case could be made that The Social Network is the movie of the 2010s. It could very well be remembered that way, which is so funny to me, because it’s the first year of the decade. I love every movie you listed here. I actually rewatched Gone Girl a few weeks for the first time in years and that thing still cooks.

      Thanks so much for subscribing, we really hope you like the new episodes!

    3. You should definitely check out Shoplifters then, Nick. It's a beautiful movie. I kinda regret not putting it on my top 10. The more i think about it, the more i like it.

      I feel like The Social Network is even more relevant now than it was back in 2010. I remember when i first watched i thought it was just okay, but over the years it has just kept growing and growing on me. I wonder if Fincher and Sorkin would ever consider doing a sequel now with everything that has been going on with Facebook lately. I bet they could make a very interesting movie out of it.

    4. I vaguely remember some Hollywood trade mumblings about sequel talk for that movie. With both Fincher and Sorkin involved. Who knows how much validity there were to the rumors, but I would watch the hell out of that movie.

  7. John here! (hopefully this google account option works for commenting)
    Really enjoyed the Linklater breakdown, I am in big agreement of Everybody wants some! A hidden gem that hopefully will be rediscovered in the coming years, probably got lost with some poor marketing.
    Just rewatched Boyhood a few weeks ago, it holds up beautifully and I've got to get on the Before trilogy and Tape now! I also loved the idea that "life awaits" as a big theme to a lot of his work.
    If I can recommend any conversations, maybe 5 or 10 favorite horror films of the 2010s?

    1. Hey John! I need to watch Boyhood again actually. It's been a few years. And I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the Before series and Tape. Some great work there.

      And that horror list will be hard because, well, Nick is a big fat lovely baby when it comes to horror movies, so I don't think he's seen too many of them haha. But I just watched Goodnight Mommy and that movie is fucking scary and GREAT.

    2. Oh yeah Mommy is definitely a freaky one! I think the same filmmakers made The Lodge which thoroughly creeped me out for a while lol

    3. Same here! I actually liked The Lodge. And it was the last movie I saw in the theater. UGH.

  8. This is so cool! Welcome to the podcasting world!

    1. Thank you so much! I've always loved Across the Universe. It was fun to be a guest on there way back when!

  9. I just had to come back and say i loved the latest episode on memorable theater going experiences. That story about seeing Far From Heaven in a porno theater had me laughing so hard i woke my girlfriend. What an experience that must have been.

    1. Thanks man! I'm so happy you dug that episode and that story. When we have my dad on, I'll have him tell the whole story. I still can't believe I found that movie theater; I'll never forgot that damn night haha.

  10. Hi Alex!
    It's been a long time since we last spoke, but I still think of you often. So glad you found a friend (Nick) to enjoy films with! We are all well and healthy and hope you and yours are as well. You may have to make a "Pandemic under a Megalomaniac" movie someday...this world is so weird now... Much love and success to you. Will have to watch "I Am Alive"! Lynne Travis

    1. Hey Lynne! Thanks so much for stopping by! I actually talked about Corrin in episode five of the podcast :)

      Hope you're well!

  11. Just listened to the fifth episode though my attention span got lost a bit when I just read the news of Chadwick Boseman's passing which I'm in shock right now. Fuck 2020.

    Anyways, I enjoyed the story about Ali as I liked those experiences as I did a piece about some of my favorite movie experiences minus mentions on Tarantino and Lost in Translation with a list about my worst film-going experiences.

    The one recent screening I didn't mention in the list relates to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood which was a melancholic experience as my dad had passed almost a month prior to the screening I went to. I watched the film and I thought about him a lot as he was living in those times as I'm sure he would've LOVED this film. The music, the TV westerns, and the culture of the time. It was a very bittersweet moment for seeing that film.

    1. Oh man, I'm so sorry about your dad. And I completely hear you about those bittersweet moments in seeing a new movie we like. Wishing we could share it with the ones we lost.

      That post of yours is great. I'll comment on there soon, sorry I haven't been there as much lately, this pod is taking up so much of my time!

  12. Whoa I’ve been gone for a while, haven’t I? Super excited about the new podcast!

    1. Welcome back! Really appreciate you giving the podcast a listen!

  13. If someone had entirely missed movies in the 2010s, here are ten I would select as a starting point, in chronological order:

    The Social Network
    Margaret (only the long cut)
    The Tree of Life
    Inside Llewyn Davis
    Boyhood (my favorite above all)
    Manchester by the Sea

    Honorable Mentions: Another Year, Incendies, The Deep Blue Sea, A Separation, The Master, Stories We Tell, Whiplash, A Ghost Story, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, First Reformed, Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood, Pain and Glory.

    This is just too punishing an exercise, which means it was a good decade.

    1. LOVE that list. And your last sentence is so true, it's punishing to do this stuff. I genuinely either really enjoy or flat out love all of the movies you chose. I rewatched Arrival recently and connected to that one in a completely new way. Such emotional power.

    2. I made that comment right before listening to your and Nick's podcast, because I didn't want to be influenced. Both of you named other movies I love. I was thrilled you had Waves high on your list. I've been encouraging people to see it all year, and I suspect Trey Edward Shults is really going to happen in the coming decade. He just gets better and better. I also got leads on a couple I have not made it to yet, such as Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines.

      There is a lot in the world that is not encouraging today, but movies are in good shape, if you look in the right places. Some of the old masters are still doing important work in their seventies or older, and every year there are special new voices to hear.

    3. Waves! Love any praise for that film, and I'm with you on TES... I'm watching his career carefully. I actually need to give his second film a rewatch, because it didn't do a ton for me on my first viewing. Need to go back and study the details.

  14. Solid blog. Consider my picks as an icebreaker:

    1. Harold & Maude
    2. Persona
    3. Landscape in the Mist (I second the shout-out to Angelopoulos above)
    4. 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould
    5. Come & See
    6. My 20th Century (Just got restored & I got no problem putting it this high)
    7. Werckmeister Harmonies
    8. Europa Europa
    9. Stranger than Paradise
    10. The Crying Game

    1. Lore (German/Aussie co-production...race for second, as far as I care)
    2. Certified Copy
    3. Nocturama
    4. Beyond the Hills
    5. Burning
    6. Border
    7. Moonlight
    8. Ad Astra
    9. By the Time It Gets Dark (if you're looking for a non-Weerasethakul Thai film)
    10. Norman (with Richard Gere)

    1. My 20th Century is a gorgeous, visionary film. Great picks. Will have to check out Lore!

    2. Great reccomendations for #WomenMakeFilm! Jeanne Dielman is such a towering work of cinema and I remember loving Wanda! (The Meetings of Anna is also superb from Akerman, as are her documentary works) Show some love for The Ascent too ;)

    3. Alec, those are incredible picks. Need to check out the ones I haven't seen. Really appreciate seeing Ad Astra crack the top 10 of the 2010s.

      Mark, I HAVE to get to The Ascent. You've been talking about that one for years. I promise I will soon.

  15. "Why is Terminator 2 one of Nick’s Top 10 Films of All Time? Why will I weep every time I watch Phantom Thread?"
    Funny anecdote: when I first saw Magnolia and Boogie Nights, I had to devour every interview PT gave. And then I found one that hit me square in the heart. “My film education really came from watching other movies. There’s a scary mentality, I think, in film schools…I walked into a film class about screenwriting and the opening line was, ‘If you’re here to write ‘Terminator 2‘ just leave now.'” And so Anderson thought, “What if I do want to write Terminator 2? Terminator 2‘s a pretty awesome movie.” That's when he stole my heart.

    Anyways, I will definitely check this podcast out!

    1. I love that story! I remember reading that years ago but had forgotten it. Yeah, exactly, I couldn't agree more. And thanks so much for checking out the pod!