Robert Altman gets political again, but in a very different manner to last week's delightfully weird ranting satire. Instead we have a miniseries set against the 1988 Presidential race that may have been satirical in 1988, but we've gone through the looking glass as of late and instead it's just inside baseball. Which doesn't make it any less funny when it's funny, or poignant when it's poignant -- or exploitive when it's exploitive. Tanner '88, written by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, tells the story of a failed campaign in a ripped-from-the-headlines manner involving real political players interacting with Altman's fakes over the course of 11 episodes that are incredibly uneven indvidually, but pretty great as a whole.
This week's episode is a long one solely for the plethora and variety of material we're tasked with talking about. Stan Brahkage was an experimental filmmaker and a long-time film professor at the University of Colorado, who principally focused on non-narrative film. By Brakhage covers work from six decades of his career. With over four hours of material in 26 pieces ranging from 9 seconds to 74 minutes long, there's a lot to digest: a lot to love and some, well, not to.
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George Sluizer's The Vanishing (1988) is that weird psychological thriller that manages to keep its suspense up even as it starts answering the questions of its titular problem early on. It also may be the film with the highest rating on the "Pat and Adam Both Love" Index. So good it only took 4 years for Sluizer himself to ruin it with an American remake.
It's Easter week and Dovetailing with our recent conversation about Monty Python's Life of Brian we talk this week about Martin Scorsese’s 1988 adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis's novel The Last Temptation of Christ.
This is a highly controversial film to say the least, and still one that doesn't come up positively in conversation's about Jesus films in conservative circles. A Christianity Today article on the top 10 Jesus films even lists Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew - a film in which Jesus is a brooding, angry revolutionary made by a Marxist, atheist – while only making a passive negative comment about the “heresy” that is The Last Temptation.
Coming from a religious background that was one of the voices shouting against this film (though thankfully not as violently as the French) I've got a lot to say on the film. Pat does his best to humor me. I knock my fist on my desk a lot. This week's episode is certainly heavier on the philosophical, theological, and intellectual end of the sliding scale of ways Pat and Adam interact.
We talk a bit about the sort of people who get mad about films like this because Pat (as we discussed in the Life of Brian episode) has issues understanding people's lack of understanding. Interestingly, the Archbishop of San Francisco at the time the film came out essentially said the film would be confusing to anyone who didn't know the Gospels well enough. Lack of understanding is always an issue. Be open to other perspectives. Weigh them against what you know to be true, certainly, but still bring them to the scales.
Or don't. Whatever.
Philip Kaufman directs this 1988 adaptation of the "unfilmable" Czech novel by Milan Kundera. Like most unfilmable novels, the film version does little to change it's filmability status. Just because it exists doesn't mean it's existence is justified.
Or so I hear. I've never read the whole novel, but it seems something's missing, or maybe multiple things. Pat felt it, too. It's not a bad film, especially for one that flies from sex scene to sex scene over a backdrop of political upheaval that is itself more interesting than the characters on whom the tale rests.
Daniel Day-Lewis stars and we ruminate on what his famed Method absolutism manifested during filming.
David Cronenberg's 1988 psychological drama is a lot like most of what Cronenberg was doing in the 80's: weird. What The Fly does for physical horror, Dead Ringers does for mental horror (with quite a bit of the physical left in). Jeremy Irons is amazing as twin gynecologists who share enough screen time that I'm beginning to think that Cronenberg modified the machine from The Fly to just make two Ironses.
We here at With Two Brains are excited to be starting a new long term project! Lost in Criterion will feature Pat and Adam and the occasional guest discussing every movie in the ever-growing Criterion Collection in order of their spine numbers.
Our first proper episode will be up on Friday when we'll be discussing Jean Renoir's 1937 classic The Grand Illusion, but to kick things off we've got a special Christmas episode with a special Christmas guest!
Our old friend Andy Heney joins us for a discussion of the Christmas classic Die Hard! Listen below or on iTunes! We look forward to you joining us for our Sisyphean task in the coming weeks, months, and years.