Have you ever had a movie or show that you were certain was going to be bad turn out to be something you enjoy? MovieDude Eric and Kent have five each that they wish to share in the final episode of 2014. You can find the actual list on the official Arthouse Legends Tumblr and Facebook pages.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: Best_Surprise_2014.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 2:27pm CDT
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On this short, extra end-of-year episode of Arthouse Legends, MovieDude Eric pontificates on five worst films of 2014 (according to him).

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: Worst_of_2014.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 12:59pm CDT
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In 1983, provocative filmmaker Bob Clark started a collaboration with author Jean Shepherd to bring several of his acclaimed short stories to the silver screen, the most notable one about a young boy whose obsession for a new air rifle would be the catalyst for comedy. But is this film the best gift under the tree or does it deserve a bar of soap in the mouth? Eric, Kent & Lobster bundle up and find out.

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_42.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 10:00am CDT
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Arthouse Legends starts the Holiday Season with an episode that will send you though the back of the theater. In 1988, John McTiernan, hot off the success of Predator, set out to his latest action masterpiece, a film that inadvertantly changed the genre forever, casting comedic actor Bruce Willis as the hard-as-nails New York cop in a Los Angeles skyscraper faced up against a team of terrorists on Christmas Eve with the fate of his estranged wife in the balance. But is this film worthy of the acclaim or does it deserve a swan dive at 40 floors? Eric, Kent & Lobster find out.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_41.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 2:59pm CDT
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By the late 80s, John Hughes became one of the biggest comedic filmmakers of the decade. Known mostly for teenage fare, he decided to make a film squared directly at adults starring two of the funniest men of that era, Steve Martin and John Candy, to tell a story of a family man desperate to get home for Thanksgiving but is stuck with a mild-mannered if clumsy trinket salesman as hilarity ensues. But does this film deserve first class or should it catch the bus? Eric, Kent & Lobster will find out.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_40.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 11:10am CDT
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This was considered THE greatest film ever made for nearly 40 years, a film that shook not just Hollywood, but the entire world of media to the core. Young wunderkind Orson Welles entered Hollywood with bluster and ambition and set out to make a film about the rise and fall of a media magnate not unlike the most powerful mogul at the time. But does the film deserve it's place on the mantle or should it be sent to the incinerator? MovieDude, Kent & Lobster put the pieces of the puzzle together.

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_39.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 8:41am CDT
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In 2001, a relatively young filmmaker named Christopher Nolan created a stir with a film that broke rules of narrative even as he made new ones. The film that did this was Memento, a modern-day crime noir about a man with severe memory loss trying to find his wife's killer. From is unreliable protagonist to it's asynchronous storytelling, Nolan started a legacy that would propell him to being one of Hollywood's most celebrated directors. But does this film deem worth remembering? Eric, Kent & Lobster find out.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_38.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 11:00pm CDT
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In 1939, Frank Capra released his most ambitious film yet about a noble everyman who is called upon to fill the seat of a newly deceased US Senator. In the lead was a relative nobody named James Stewart whose performance would cement the first brick on his path to becoming a cinematic icon. Also for the ride were Jean Simmons and Claude (explitive) Rains* as the film not only became a sensation with critics and audiences, but became one of the most intimidating films for fascist regiemes of the time. But is the film a paradigm of democracy or should it be called to order? Eric, Kent & Lobster have the best seats to the procedings.

*to be explained in the episode

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_37.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 6:00am CDT
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Ending our month-long Arthouse of Horror series the first horror film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Starring Jodie Foster as a young FBI trainee brought in by her superior (Scott Glenn) to gather information on a current serial killer through communicating with one of the most notorious killers in custody. Anthony Hopkins, along with Foster, would win an Oscar for his portrayal as the demented and dangerous cannibal Hannibal Lector. But does this film deserve Fava Beans and a nice Chianti or should it get the hose? Eric, Kent & Lobster investigate.

 

Music: "Long Note Four" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_36.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 2:35pm CDT
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Arthouse of Horror continues as Eric, Kent & Lobster head to dreary Maine to meet up with reknowned author Stephen King and one of his most fascinating characters, a school teacher who recieves a unique gift after coming out of a five-year coma. In the hands of director David Cronenberg and played by the iconic Christopher Walken, The Dead Zone would be a landmark film for all three artists. But does this film transcend it's minimalistic trappings or does the ice break underneath it's heavyweight pedigree?

 

Music: "Long Note Four" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_35.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 6:43am CDT
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By 2008, vampires rule pop culture from literature to film. Adapting a popular Swedish novel, director Tomas Alfredson created a new entry in the lexicon, a story of a bullied young boy who befriends a young-looking vampire, forming a bond that will change his life forever. But does this film deserve the praise and attention it recieved or should it have caught some sun? Eric, Kent & Lobster, under the Arthouse of Horror banner, gear up to find out.

 

Music: "Long Note Four" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_34.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:17pm CDT
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In 1968, Roman Polanski was invited to America to make his first major motion picture. What he chose was a psychological horror film about a young woman whose body may or may not be holding the Antichrist. It would kick off Hollywood's obsession with the occult that would make up most of the horror films of the next decade and would still have a grip on audiences today. 

For the second offering of October's Arthouse of Horror, Eric, Kent & Lobster grab a swanky flat with a great address and join in on the midnight chanting as they discuss Rosemary's Baby.

 

Music: "Long Note Four" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_33.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 11:43am CDT
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In 1979, one movie made everyone scream. Director Ridley Scott took a minimal cast, some state of the art set designs and 2 legendary artists to create a sci-fi/horror hybrid that changed all the rules. The tragic story of a space barge crew that is put in harm's way while scouting a distress call solidified many careers, including a relative newcomer Sigourney Weaver in a role that would become her legacy. But does it deserve it's status as one of the scariest movies ever made, or should it get a face hug? Eric, Kent & Lobster investigate.

Music: "Long Note Four" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_32.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 10:12am CDT
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In 1996, near the height of the independent cinema craze, Joel and Ethan Coen returned to their Midwestern roots with a crime tale so crazy, it could only be true (or was it). Fargo went on to be the highest critically regarded film of that year and was nominated for several awards, winning two for its screenplay and lead actress Frances McDormand. But does the film deserve the ransom money it got away with or should it have been put through the woodchipper? Eric, Kent & Lobster put on their best coats and find out.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_31.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:55pm CDT
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There have been countless movies made about the fall of Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler. But in 2004, German filmmaker Oliver Hirschbiegel released a film based around the last days of Hitler hiding in a bunker in the middle of Berlin. Utilizing character actor Bruno Ganz to play Hitler, the film was praised by critics for its accuracy and daring and became one of the most long-lasting internet memes ever since. But does the film retain it's original power? Eric, Kent & Lobster investigate.

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_30.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 10:40pm CDT
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In 1944, famed filmmaker Billy Wilder teamed up with acclaimed novelist Raymond Chandler to create one of the most controversial crime films of all time about an insurance agent (Fred McMurray) who gets caught up in the scheme of a beautiful married femme fatale (Barbara Stanwyck) to murder her husband. But does this film pay out or should it need more coverage? Eric, Kent & Lobster step away from the ankle bracelet to find out.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_29.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 2:50pm CDT
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For the last year, fans and casual listeners have asked for this one episode. We teased it, we prepared for it, now it is here. The MovieDude Eric, Kent and Lobster are taking on Quentin Tarantino's classic film on it's 20th Anniversary. But is this film worthy of a Five Dollar Milkshake or does it eat our Big Kahuna Burger?

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_28.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 6:58pm CDT
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Her

 

In 2013, Spike Jonze released his latest feature, the first from a script he wrote about a lonely man who begins a romantic relationship with his personal artificial intelligence aparatus. The result was near-universal acclaim that culminated in his first Academy Award for his original screenplay. But did this story deserve such love or should it have been downgraded? Eric, Kent & Lobster have booted up the diagnotics to find out.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_27.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:20am CDT
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On August 11th, 2014, one of the funniest men to ever live had died unexpectedly, sending Hollywood, comedians and an international fanbase reeling from shock and grief. We here at Arthouse Legends were no different, deciding to make a last-minute change to discuss an underappreciated film from the gifted comedian's work: The Terry Gilliam-helmed The Fisher King starring Jeff Bridges, Mercedes Ruhl and Amanda Plummer. Join the quest with the MovieDude Eric, Kent and Lobster as they sort out the reality and the fantasy.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_26.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 12:54pm CDT
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At the height of the silent film era, German visionary Fritz Lang put together the most expensive and epic film product of that time. Set in a dystopian future city where the the prosperous and privilege live on the surface while the poor and desperate live underground and using every technical trick available, the film was harolded internationally, though mercilessly cut to the point of near destruction. But with a newly found print, film historians have preserved the intended vision. But is that vision worth the look or should it have slipped into the wastes of time? Eric, Kent & Lobster dig in to find out.

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_25.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 12:40am CDT
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The 1992 Sundance Class was a springboard for a few talented filmmakers, one being a New Jersey film nerd named Kevin Smith. Shooting a film while clerking at a local convenience store, his brand of off-kilter humor with stirring dialog made him an overnight sensation with the critics. But does his film about two minimum wage slackers worth the admiration or does is it more off-putting than an Eggman? Eric, Kent & Lobster find out.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_24.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 10:00am CDT
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In 1972, young film school wunderkind Francis Ford Coppola assembled one of the finest casts ever to create an epic about a crime family as it transitions from one generation to another. This film's status has been cemented by both it's powerful moments and quotable dialogue and places high nearly every list of great films. But does it deserve the gun or the cannoli? Eric, Kent & Lobster are proud to present this as the season finale of Arthouse Legends.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_23.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 10:00am CDT
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After a horrific stint in Hollywood, French filmmaker Jean Pierre Jeunet returned to Paris to get back to what he did best. For his next project, he tapped up-and-coming international actress Audrey Tautou to play his most fascinating character yet, an innocent young woman with a deep imagination and a newfound love of meddling in the lives of her friends and neighbors. What transpired was an international hit that cemented the status of both the actress and the filmmaker. But does Amelie still hold up as a dream or should it burst into a puddle of obscurity? Eric, Kent & Lobster head to Paris and find out for themselves.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_22.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 10:00am CDT
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Anyone who ever brings up the subject of movies know I’m a geek. I don’t just talk about how awesome a movie is, I discuss scenes, actors, photography, editing, writing and the occasional dolly grip work. I can see 2 seconds of a film and in most cases tell you what movie it is if I’ve seen it before and on occasion even if I haven’t. I watch action, sci-fi, fantasy, comedy and horror along with drama, foreign (and not just Asian), classic and even experimental. I enjoy bad movies if they’re fun, I LOVE great movies even when no one can understand why. And I’m not alone.

Film geeks, like most of geekdom, are misunderstood. We are either seen as those people who worship at the altar of Spielberg and Jackson and love anything mainstream, especially in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genres. Or we are seen as those stuck up snobs who require their movies to be obscure and brooding. Every film must have meaning, usually on concepts of death and/or misery. And there are those who are like that and have every right to enjoy those kinds of films specifically. But most film geeks can easily enjoy both the popcorn flick AND the more serious, themed fare. We can watch classic F.W. Murnau silent films, then jump into a Peter Jackson saga. Film geeks love various entertainments.

Yet many geeks seem to dismiss classic and art house movies in a way that is rather disappointing. They expect either state-of-the-art filmmaking or a nostalgia that brings them back to the wonder of their childhoods. They refuse to look further and see a wide array of worlds that are out there. Familiarity is always the enemy of innovation and refusing to look at the past means to ignore things that might be prevalent in the present. Take Network, a film about the dumbing down of news in order to appease the masses want for distraction. Sound familiar? Or 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film that not only created the template for science fiction films ever since, but has challenged audiences with its non-expository storytelling.

Geeks also need to understand that many of their favorite genres were originally art house (niche) fare, especially in the case of science fiction. Most studios found that such films and shows were only meant to indulge the fantasies of young boys (sorry ladies, they didn’t even think about you back then). Most science fiction movies were made of shoestring budgets meant only to be seen on screens targeted to that demographic (mainly the drive-in theaters).  Even now, the horror genre thrives due to its constant need for innovation to create new scares on very limited resources, which is why many of Hollywood’s A-list filmmakers came from such genres.

One of the things that I have heard from self-proclaimed geeks when it comes to independent and classic film is that they don’t want to be bored by lifeless, self-important storytelling that gives absolutely no entertainment. This is a valid argument because for every good film, there are a ton of bad ones (check your local Redbox if you do not believe me). But that’s not always the case. In fact, films like Oldboy, Pulp Fiction, even 2001 required that people take a leap of faith and watch something completely original and be able to spread word of mouth to become as recognized as they were. Mainstream movies don’t need nearly as much due to the constant marketing required to get interest involved. If you’re not certain that something is for you, watch a trailer, read a synopsis, or simply find someone you trust and ask them.

Geeks, by definition, should be about discovering the new and appreciating both the good and the bad, and not just film geeks. Geekdom is and should always be about appreciating the variety that life gives. There have been over 100 years of films, some that are not as appreciated as they should because of their age. Buster Keaton’s comedy is on par if not more spectacular than Jackie Chan (fact: Chan’s inspiration comes from Keaton). Ernst Lubitsch’s comedies are some of the wittiest and sometimes sexiest films ever made. If you don’t believe me, watch Trouble in Paradise. If you thought The Thing was awesome, watch the original It Came From Outer Space. If you want something disturbing, check out Michael Hanneke’s Funny Games (not the American version). If you want to see something uplifting and genuinely happy, try My Life As A Dog or Amelie. 

I started Arthouse Legends wanting to not only talk about movies that mainstream geeks might not know about, but to stir conversations about these films and others, to open minds to new possibilities and to show that these old or indie films are not simply for the snobs or the chic. That we can talk about them and love or hate these films on their merits and not what others deem them to be. If I have encouraged one person to try a new film, even one I personally don’t like, then I consider the aims of the podcast a success. I am a geek trying to talk to my fellow geeks, hoping you see that art house and classic films are as much geek as giant battling robots and space ships. They take us on a different journey, yet equally as exciting. And I hope you can join us in the conversation.

Category:Commentary -- posted at: 11:30pm CDT
Comments[1]

In 1976, New Hollywood directors have firmly taken over American screens with their evelope-pushing themes and unique characters. One of it's brightest stars, Martin Scorsese, along with screenwriter Paul Schrader and star Robert DeNiro created it's most controversial antihero yet; a Vietnam Vet turned taxi driver who may or may not be losing his sanity. This film made many careers, but does it earn it's fare? Eric, Kent & Lobster hop in to find out.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_21.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:41am CDT
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During the 70s, the biggest name in comedy was Python, a troupe out of England whose slapstick insanity mixed with crude brilliance became an influence worldwide. After the breakout success of their first feature, they prepared for their most ambitious project ever; a comedy set in the Holy Land in the time of Jesus starring the child who was born one manger down from, now grown into the put-upon sad sack named Brian. With jokes that tackle religous zealotry, blind faith and the proper way to write "Romans Go Home", this film made enemies very quickly. But does Eric, Kent and Lobster join that crowd or do they look on the bright side of life?

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_20.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 9:00am CDT
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In 1973, 22-year-old documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple arrived in Harlan, Kentucky to document a coal miner strike that was tied to a film she was working on regarding coal mining unions. What she saw there and for the next year would change the subject of her film and the course of her work. From the picket lines to the kitchen tables, she collected stories and events that would culminate into the definitive vision of labor battles in blue collar America. But which side will Eric, Kent and Lobster be on when they discuss this controversial Oscar winner?

Direct download: AL_19.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 8:39pm CDT
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Billy Wilder & Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first Billy Wilder film I ever saw was Sabrina starring Audrey Hepburn, William Holden and Humphrey Bogart. It wasn’t the most eye-opening film I had seen at the time (Apocalypse Now would do that a couple of years prior), but it was one of the first that subverted my expectations and start my lifelong love of well-made romantic comedies. Sadly, this film didn’t really make much of an impression of me when concerning its director at the time. But going back to it, I realize how much care and concern that he had with those characters, how Sabrina was the light and the anchor in this film. Wilder loved his female characters as much as his males, even when some of the actresses made it very difficult for him in reality.

When I watched Sunset Boulevard for the first time, I was speechless. I was amazed by the narrative twists and turns, the performances, the setting, the direction. Billy Wilder had once again crossed my path, but this time I saw him for his accomplishment in this film. The way that Gloria Swanson’s character seemed to lure the camera to her like a moth to flame, how the framing around the card table both seemed intimate yet illuminated the star-studded cast around that table. And that final glorious shot, the one that could be argued as one of the best final shots ever filmed.

After seeing that, I had to see more. Stalag 17, The Apartment, The Lost Weekend, The Fortune Cookie. These films felt so different from one another that it nearly seemed intimidating going from one film to the other. Then I had seen a film that didn’t just hit me like a boulder, but knocked me out: Ace in the Hole. The irony is that what could be considered his finest work was the one that was least appreciated. In fact, it was long considered lost until 2005 when the Criterion Collection got their mitts on it.

So why does Billy Wilder have such a strong hold over me as a film lover? Why would I dedicate an entire month to discussing his work? If you talk to any film snob or hardcore film lover, Billy Wilder isn’t merely known, but seems to be outright mainstream. Yet you talk to any modern movie goer, this name is lost entirely on people who have never tried his work. We could debate on why older movies aren’t appreciated more, but there’s more to it. Wilder’s films weren’t simply crowd-pleasers, they were statements about modern life as he saw it, the trials by fire and the constant desire to be seen as the heroes of our own story, even when the prevailing evidence goes against that being the case. Wilder wasn’t afraid to do things differently or to play in territories that might be considered risky. His protagonists were usually misfits trying to survive fates worse than death (or at least in their own mind). As a misfit that had seen myself both as hero and villain in my own story, such complexity in characters were a breath of fresh air from white hat/black hat mentality that was prevalent during Wilder’s time and that has not yet gone away even now.

Take Ray Milland’s character in The Lost Weekend; He’s a drunk who knows that he has a serious problem but can’t seem to know how to conquer it over a horrible weekend. One of the finest and most horrific depictions of alcoholism ever filmed during a time where such topics were frowned upon by audiences and the censors. Billy Wilder, along with Milland, understood that in order to understand the plight of this character, you needed not to feel pity but to feel empathy for a character that is pathetic but also slimy.

Even in characters that he wanted to show nothing but contempt for, he was able to show glimpses of humanity. Take the Nazi officer in Stalag 17 who showed respect and straightforwardness with the Allied prisoners of his war camp, though his own feelings were clouded by loss and the pain of exile at their hands.

All of this is visible even without knowing the backstories or the rumors. Wilder’s films are transparent enough to give you enough to know how he feels without it becoming self-congratulatory or vain. In fact, the humility of his films are a trademark towards his craft, the sense that he’s not trying to pull one over on the audience, but let them into to character conflict without obfuscation. In Ace in the Hole, we know Kirk Douglas is a horrible person from the first moment we see him, but we also know he doesn’t want someone’s death on his hands and not merely for the selfish reasons. Yet Wilder doesn’t stop trying to show how horrible the character is. This is probably how he can manage to pull off beginning the film with the narrator’s dead body and still pull off the tension it does through flashback.

More people should know Billy Wilder’s work and should go down in pop culture the same way that Alfred Hitchcock or Steven Spielberg had. His accomplishments towards cinematic history are vital in ways that are as subtle as his films are. I want my contemporaries and newer generations of movie lovers to see that Wilder’s work is timeless and fascinating as any newer film coming out. That these films are as good if not more amazing than the imitators were. In short, Billy Wilder isn’t important enough for just one day, his importance requires a month.

Let #BillyWilderMonth commence.

Category:Commentary -- posted at: 6:00am CDT
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Richard Kelley's Donnie Darko sparked controversy from the moment it was released, dividing critics and film lovers alike with it's otherworldly look and subtext, it's fascination with the physics of time travel and it's iconic mascot Frank. Set in the late 80's, Jake Gyllenhaal's Donnie goes on a personal journey as he tries to understand surreal events going on around him. But is this film worthy of it's cult status or are we just not dedicated to Sparkle Motion? Eric, Kent & Lobster follow the signs.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

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Direct download: AL_18.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:48pm CDT
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In 2000, Taiwanese director Ang Lee returned to China after making a name in American Independant cinema to direct his most ambitious film yet, the adaptation of a popular Chinese book series. Set in a feudal China where warriors can virtually fly and a mysterious green sword holds uncanny power, a saga between a retiring master, his longtime companion and a mysterious young upstart unfolds with both quiet meditation and stunning fight sequences. But does this critical and audience darling pack a mean punch or does it dangle from the trees? Eric, Kent and Lobster are here to investigate.

 

If you like this episode, you can find more of Arthouse Legends on GonnaGeek.com along with other similar geek podcasts. You can also leave comments at feedback@arthouselegends.com or on our Twitter feed @arthouselegends.

Please make sure to leave feedback about the show on your podcast directory, especially on iTunes in order to help us gain more listeners. Thank you.

Direct download: AL_17.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 10:50am CDT
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This has been a post I have been writing for nearly two years, always going back and forth on whether I should finish it or not. This is a rather bold statement and one that needs a bit of clarification, and possibly it’s the one I really didn’t want to start to begin with. Yet with each week I see what passes for a new film review, and not just by the fanboy such as myself, who tries to pass their blog as a synagogue of cinema, it just keeps getting more clear how true the statement is. Film criticism is dead.

 

Since the dawn of commercial art, there have been those who have taken it upon themselves to become experts on the subject, usually because they have a deep affection for the subject. Film critics for the most part came from the theater where a good word could make or break a production. It’s understandable the importance of critical reviews of a show as anyone who has ever had to fork over serious cash in order to see a big production could tell you about. It was important to know that such an investment would be worth it. Film, on the other hand, has always been a relatively cheaper option. The role of the critic wasn’t so much about the investment any more as much as it became about the quality of product.

But over the last thirty years, there have been more choices in art and much of it tailor-fitted to audience demands. The “critic-proof” films started to arrive. Film critics, understanding that these films weren’t meant for any critical recognition (though they would certainly take it if given to them), started to get very snarky, or should I say more snarky than film critics already were. Adam Sandler films were reviewed with the same standard put towards an Oscar contender. And if the critic didn’t, then they would be called out for being a hack.

Should critics be preferential in the films that they chose to review? Does Tyler Perry’s work not merit the attention of critical response? Not at all, but that wasn’t ever the real problem. The problem is that critics didn’t challenge the work, instead deciding to deride the films considered beneath them as excuses to work on comedy skills. They became more interested in their credentials of authority than they were a voice that could communicate both towards the audience and the filmmakers. They would pander to one at the expense of communicating to the other. Rotten Tomatoes became a scoreboard instead of a collaboration of voices.

So I say once again that the authoritative film critic who passes judgment on a piece of art and deems it worthy or unworthy now lives in the dying embers of its last sunset. Film critics and wannabes are seen now more as mere spectacle whose opinions are little more than either affirmation or rebuttal for something they themselves will be seeing either way or have already seen. Film criticism is out. Film conversation is in. And the funny thing is that it has been in for a very long time. It was in when two Chicago film critics took to public access television and offered their thumbs. But the next step didn’t occur until the last decade when podcasting and blogging started to take over.

That’s right; the very thing that diluted the power of the film critic is in fact the very thing that is replacing it, just not in the way it was thought. Social media allowed people to talk about film in a way that was never possible before, they could share their opinions in a way that would create a conversation. Granted, many of those voices are trolls, but those who had something to say about film could find a community that could challenge their thinking, give them more to think about and raise the level of thinking in regards to art. Most film podcasts and YouTube hosts record in groups with varying opinions and thoughts on what they saw, and not just on the critical darlings either. For the first time, horror fans could provide a new look and appreciation for films not appreciated by the critical elite. Oscar-winning films could be taken apart and classics reexamined by guys with a Skype account and a recorder (like a particular podcast I just happen to host, for example).

The old guard understands this. That’s why when two esteemed critics disagreed with each other over a film, they took it to a podcast to settle the dispute. Many are starting to be actively engaged in either their comments section online or creating forums to actively engage in these discussions. Film lovers are no longer stymied by the films that they deem great as long as they can express what it is that they like about that film. I’ve seen someone give a defense to House of the Dead 2 that almost convinced me to give it a shot. Almost.

Is there a risk in all this? Absolutely. Having such an abundance of opinions available can make finding definitive experts in film study very difficult to find. Aspiring filmmakers will have various voices to listen to and very little guidance that can be taken from any of these. But on the flip side, it means that no matter what kind of artistic statement or lack thereof is presented, someone is going to say something good about it.

But in all honesty, film conversationalists need to aspire to understand the art that they are talking about, to be able to convey as clearly as they can what it is that they see and to not rush to judgment before either seeing the product or having taken time to come to a complete opinion, even if to say that you do not have an opinion on it. And it goes without saying to listen and appreciate those opinions that differ from the consensus.

I used to aspire to be a critic when I was in my 20s, to be the next Roger Ebert. But I realize now that I don’t want to be an authority in film, I just want to talk movies, share a few opinions and listen to a few million more. I don’t want to make or break a film, I just want to laugh with the bad ones, contemplate the good ones and try to find something interesting about the ones I absolutely hate. And from the looks of things, I’m not alone.

Category:Commentary -- posted at: 11:40pm CDT
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* Note: This review was written nearly 10 years ago by an eager film lover and writer. I decided not to touch it up as a means of preserving the vitality of that younger me. That and I'm natually lazy.

 

It isn't difficult to see why westerns were one of the most popular genres in cinema history. It has a historical approach, which automatically have an epic feel. There's colorful characters and archtypes, which can be swapped out and retold over and over again (which it has been). Hence, the limitation of the genre. There's only so many times you can play cowboys before you start walking on treaded ground.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly doesn't so much find a new path, but re-examine the old paths and find the moral and social fibers of these characters, then burns the trails to a crisp with style and fury beyond anything we've seen before. Sure, this is epic, but not so much because of the scope of the film, but the scope of the three lead characters.

Interesting we meet Tucco (Eli Wallach in his finest hour), aka The Ugly, first. Tucco is a man of vice and greed, but has a compassionate side that he hides with bravado and wit. Tucco has had a life that leads him to this time and this place. One of the best scenes in the film involves Tucco and his brother, a missionary priest involving how he came to be an outlaw.

Then we meet Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef), The Bad, next. This character is first seen killing a man for money, the man's sons almost for sport. Greed and violence are what he lives for. When he is paid by the man he kills to kill the man who placed the hit in the first place, he has qualms doing so, but not before knowing of a small fortune that said man is trying to hunt down.

And the last one we meet is "Blondie" (Clint Eastwood), obviously The Good, as a bounty hunter who brings Tucco to justice, then sets Tucco free with some fancy shooting. What makes him good? He isn't a law-abiding citizen as much as he's fair to Tucco and Angel Eyes.

These three are in constant war with each other whether it's open war or not. But all three are bound in ways that appeal to their moral strengths. Bad cannot survive without Good and vice-versa. On a metaphysical level, perhaps Angel and "Blondie" represent the devil and the angel, with poor Tucco representing mankind in constant battle between the two forces. Wanting to allow himself to give in to his greed, but being pulled out of evil's hands by his limited conscience.

Of course there's gold involved. Each character wants it for themselves. And to make matters interesting, Tucco knows the graveyard the gold is buried, "Blondie" knows the grave. This is put our characters into play as we follow them through the backgrounds of the end of The Civil War, where Angel hides under the disguise of good. The closer these three characters get to the gold, the more their choices start showing their true natures. One of the more fantastic displays concerns a bridge that Tucco and "Blondie" take upon themselves to blow up to fulfill a Colonel's dying wish. And then there's the graveyard....

Performance-wise, this film is all about Eli Wallach's Tucco, who tries to be bad, but isn't too good at it, but cannot seem to be good enough to be righteous. Wallach is able to get underneath this character and understand what makes him this way with only a handful of scenes that expose his character. Eastwood has the easiest job in playing "Blondie" because he's supposed to be mysterious. Knowing more than that would ruin his character's interest. With Van Cleef, his performance is solid, playing a man that we know just as much about as we do "Blondie", since the few exposition scenes he's portraying an image and not himself, but he slides into scenes with ease, making his evil not so much mustache twirling, but something deeper, more organic.

For Sergio Leone, this is his finest film, taking elements of the mythological western genre, adding his blend of brutal, stone-carved features with faces just as polished. The plains of Italy make for a great environment for his westerns because of their barren feel, almost desperate isolation. There is very little comfort made for these locations where we go. And of course, his camera work for this film is legendary. He uses long, panning shots using the full palate of the screen to isolate and unite characters. Scenes play out longer in his films than others because he allows his characters to feel into their situations rather than make decisions, and understands how to film it so well that you don't even know that much time has passed.

And then there is the matter of composer Ennio Morricone, whose theme for this film is legendary. But that theme is not the most impressive music in the film. During the film's final climax with all three characters about to showdown, the music sets up additional tension as the characters stare each other down for nearly three minues. Not to mention the guitar solos used in lesser scenes which apply a haunting feel to these scenes.

Perhaps if you take away all the metaphors and ideas that come with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, all you would have is another western. But sometimes that's all that's needed to turn something good into something excellent. Even Arch Stanton would agree with me.

Category:Review -- posted at: 2:04pm CDT
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In the late 60's, the western was being replaced as a tentpole of film and television. But before it did, Italian director Sergio Leone created his master opus in the third and final film of his Man with No Name trilogy with star Clint Eastwood. For this nearly three-hour epic, he brought in genre favorite Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach to be his labled trio in a twisted tale of greed, violence and death using the backdrop of the American Civil War. But is this film worth it's weight in stolen gold or is it of the fool's variety? Eric, Kent and Lobster don their panchos and head on out for a look.

This film's review comes from Eric himself, which was originally posted on Yahoo, but is now reposted on the Arthouse Legends Website.

Direct download: AL_16.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 1:42pm CDT
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In the summer of 2012, as Avengers assembled and a Dark Knight (arguably) had risen, critics and audiences headed to a quirky indie comedy about a group of reporters investigating an unusual classified ad seeking a time travel companion called Safety Not Guaranteed. But can this film last the test of time or should it get lost in film history? Eric, Kent and Lobster investigate.

 

If you're looking for more podcasts, head to GonnaGeek.com for even more of our shows and a few others. While you're there, feel free to leave a comment about the show or send us an email to feedback@arthouselegends.com.

Direct download: AL_15.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 12:00am CDT
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The field for the 2013 Academy Awards could not be more eclectic or more polarizing as films that dealt with war, guilt, disease, and singing Wolverines vied for the top honors. But the one that would claim the prize was the very popular and well-respected film about a covert rescue mission in the midst of the Iranian Hostage Crisis called Argo. Directed by often mocked actor turned acclaimed director Ben Affleck, Argo swept the critical praise and made a killing at the box office. But does the film deserve the love or should it need rescuing once more? Eric, Kent & Lobster are here to find out.

Direct download: AL_14.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 12:36am CDT
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60's cinema was in a constant state of flux as the old studio films were competing with televsion. In 1967, Mike Nichols made his sophmore film, The Graduate, which told a modern existential tale of a recent college graduate played by Dustin Hoffman who is caught in perpetual state of indecision about his life and the two women who would complicate things even further. But is this film as seductive now as it was the most iconic films of it's age? Or the sound of silence more preferable? Eric, Kent and Lobster are jumping into the deep end of this counter-culture classic.

(Corrected Audio Glitch 2/7/14)

Direct download: AL_13.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 9:35pm CDT
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Arthouse Legends is back in 2014, but we're traveling back to 1995 when a bunch of hip new European filmmakers made a pact to make "real" movies in a sea of "fake" blockbusters. What ensued was Dogme '95 and it's first sanctioned film was Thomas Vinterberg's family drama The Celebration. The film about dark secrets and lies lit up Cannes that year and was supposed to be the new trend in filmmaking. But is The Celebration still the belle of the ball or are its partying days way behind it?

Eric, Kent & Lobster are here to find out.

Direct download: AL_12.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 2:55pm CDT
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