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About robtucker63

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  1. robtucker63

    All the President’s Men

    Full disclosure: I haven't listened to the episode yet, but when did that ever stop someone on the internet from giving an an opinion? I wonder if someone's opinion of All the President's Men can be affected by their age. I absolutely love this movie - it's one of a handful that I watch about once a year (others include Pulp Fiction, Mad Max: Fury Road, JFK, Apocalypse Now, Lone Star, The Seven Samurai). Maybe not the greatest movies ever, but ones that hit me on a personal level in some way. I was in elementary school when Watergate happened, but I remember the way it absolutely dominated public conversation. I even remember arguing about whether Nixon was guilty or not with my classmates (I was pro-Nixon at the time). My earliest political memory is my mom watching the Watergate hearings on T.V. during the summer. And I vividly remember Nixon resigning, even though I was only 9 years old. My family was camping in Canada, but we ran into friends who told us Nixon was about to quit. We actually gathered around the car radio to listen to Nixon's farewell. It's hard to understate the way Watergate dominated the public consciousness back then. So I wonder if my enthusiasm for All the President's Men partly grows from my coming of age during and just after Watergate. Plus, I was pretty aware of what happened with Nixon, so I didn't need a lot of background about when I first watched the movie - probably when it first aired on TV, maybe in the late 70s or early 80s? I could see where someone growing up later might not engage with the film quite as much. That said, I still think Pakula does a lot with a very minimalist approach. As some have noted earlier, his storytelling is super-economical, but he manages to give the audience just enough to understand what is going on and to be caught up in the excitement and drama. Credit has to go to Redford and Hoffman too. I noticed when I watched the film last week how spot on their performances are for delivering information through tone of voice, expressions, and body language. Regarding nothing distinguishing the two, I can't agree with that, but notice when Ben Bradlee refers to the pair as "Woodstein." I've read that it was a running joke at the Washington Post for staffers to get the two mixed up.
  2. robtucker63

    City Lights

    This was my first Chaplin film, and I loved it. I’ve seen lots of films by Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, but always resisted Chaplin for some uncertain reason. I think it had to do with the way the Little Tramp character is all over pop culture, and my incorrect view of Chaplin as overly sentimental and sappy. Like Amy, I found myself laughing out loud at City Lights probably more than any other silent comedy I’ve watched. The boxing scene is physical comedy perfection, and every single actor involved does an amazing job. One small observation about the boxing match and its treatment of the Black boxer. It seems a lot of the films I’ve seen from the era either marginalize their Black characters as servants or in similar stereotypical roles, or they present them as minstrel show-like caricatures in an attempt at comedy. It was nice and a little surprising to see the boxer presented as just another character in the scene. City Lights definitely belongs in the AFI top 100.
  3. robtucker63

    Apocalypse Now

    Apocalypse Now. I think Platoon is a great film, but if I'm judging on pure film making it's AN hands down. To me Platoon does a better job of giving a grunt's eye view of the war, which makes sense given Stone's background. I think AN is more about the hubris that got us into Vietnam and the lies and unreality that kept us there for so long.
  4. robtucker63

    Apocalypse Now

    FWIW, I didn't know the history of the making of AN when I first saw the film. I was in high school when it came out, but didn't see until I was in college. And, as I commented above, this is still one of my favorite domestic movies. I think I saw the doc Hearts of Darkness in a theater when it first came out, and I enjoyed it. But I like AN way more. Unspooled so far has really got me thinking about why we like certain movies and dislike others, and why we view some as indispensable classics. I'm roughly a generation older than Paul and Amy. I was introduced to AN in my late teens, when I was becoming a pretty serious film buff. I remember it being one of the first movies I watched thinking that this was serious art, and there were meanings below the surface that I had to think about to understand. I think this is one of the reasons I still hold it in high regard. Compare that Paul's and Amy's reactions to Titanic and E.T. Both saw these movies while relatively young. I can't stand Titanic. My wife and I sat in the theater making fun of it as we watched. And I liked E.T. just fine, but I still think of it as minor Spielberg when compared to Jaws, Close Encounters, Raiders, Private Ryan, etc. So maybe part of our feelings for certain movies has to do with our age when first seeing it and where we are in our journey as film watchers? I mean, I enjoy Paul's and Amy's discussions - I wouldn't listen if I didn't. But as I listened to the AN episode, there were a lot of eye rolls on my part. So maybe it is a generational thing in part. I came to Unspooled as a fan of The Canon and HDTGM. A few years back the AV Club used to review the same podcasts every week, and I think HDTGM was one of them. I mainly listen for the humor. Funny, but during the AN episode I found myself almost imagining Devin's reaction to some of what Amy said about AN, and how he probably would have been able to challenge her on what she was saying. The dynamic for Unspooled is completely different, but that's fine.
  5. robtucker63

    Apocalypse Now

    Loved it when Amy was discussing her affection for movies such as The Princess Bride, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Clueless. These are three personal favorites of mine. But I also consider Apocalypse Now one of my all time-favorite films. The last few years I have used The Princess Bride with my 8th grade English students in our literary elements unit. The main reason I use PB is the kids still love it, even though they were born some two decades after its original release. They especially connect with the humor. Once they get hooked on the film, it's much easier for them to pull apart the plot and analyze the conflict, settings, etc. There really is something timeless about PB.
  6. robtucker63

    Apocalypse Now

    During the decade of the 90s, if you'd asked me what my favorite movie was, I probably would have answered Apocalypse Now. Partly I think it's my affinity for Coppola's films from the 1970s. The Godfather, The Godfather II, The Conversation, even The Outsiders (though it's from '83) are among my all-time favorites. As I've aged, however, I don't think as much in terms of one favorite movie - there are many movies that I'd say were my personal favorites. It seems artificial to narrow it down to one. But Apocalypse Now is still solidly in my personal canon of all-time great films. But honestly, I've always been a little troubled by my affection for the film. I think part of that comes from the violence in Apocalypse Now, and what Coppola and Milius were trying to achieve with it. Then again, one of the themes of the film is probably the human tendency towards violence. Another thing that makes me cringe is the portrayal of the Vietnamese people. Really, the Vietnam War is their story and the war had a much larger impact on their people and culture than on ours. Yet in the film they're pushed into the background and mainly serve as human props for the Americans to react to. For example, the ARVN officer interrogating the wounded prisoner, the people on the sampan murdered by the crew of the PBR, or the wounded NVA soldier finally killed by the Roach. This last person we don't even see - he's simply a voice. Despite all this, Apocalypse Now is still one of the handful of films I watch pretty much once every year. I love Coppola's ability to tell a story visually, and the way he has of communicating thoughts and emotions without much dialogue. His shots can be beautiful and terrifying, often simultaneously. The performances in the film are mostly excellent. I don't think I've seen Martin Sheen do better work. And Brando is, well, Brando, but Coppola finds a way to make his performance work in the context of the film. In my eyes it all adds up to a major work of art, and definitely deserves its place in the AFI top 100. Most of all, I think Apocalypse Now is a perceptive examination of human nature (like its source novel, Conrad's Heart of Darkness). G.D. Spradlin's line that "good does not always triumph," cuts to the heart of what the movie is trying to express.
  7. robtucker63

    Upcoming Episodes

    Excited to see Double Indemnity on the upcoming episode list. One of my favorite film noirs and one of my favorite Billy Wilder films.
  8. robtucker63

    The General

    I love The General, but to me Our Hospitality from 1923 is a better feature-length Keaton film. It runs 70-some minutes. The first section also features a train, though in this movie the train is a bizarre narrow-gauge one that Keaton uses for some great gags. I was delighted Amy and Paul mentioned Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last, probably my favorite silent-era comedy. The giant clock Lloyd dangles from toward the end of the movie was actually a set built on top of a building in downtown L.A. The filmmakers used different camera angles to make it appear Lloyd was hanging over a sheer drop, though he was actually several stories above the roof of the building where the set was built. There are some great YouTube videos showing how the building climbing stunts were done. Watching Safety Last on my T.V. at home still terrifies me, so effective are the stunt and camera work. Incidentally, Cottage Grove, Oregon, where much of The General was shot, was also the location for the final scene in Animal House, when the Deltas attack the homecoming parade.
  9. robtucker63


    I was in my mid-20s when Platoon came out. It was marketed as the first Vietnam War movie told realistically from an infantryman’s point of view, and the media tended to focus on Stone’s experience in the actual war. As several others wrote above, the film did seem to open up a lot of reflection on Vietnam in popular media. I think it was viewed as a game-changing movie when it was released, which may partly account for it being on the AFI list. I think the thematic elements overlap a lot with Full Metal Jacket, though Krubrik uses a lot more dark humor in FMJ. The idea of the price young people pay when trained as soldiers and then put into war. The idea of man’s duel nature - like Joker writing Born to Kill on his helmet, but putting a peace sign on his body armor.
  10. robtucker63

    Episode 163 - Zodiac vs. Shaun of the Dead vs. Magnolia

    I enjoy and admire both Magnolia and Zodiac, but my vote goes to Shaun of the Dead. I am a big fan of Spaced - Pegg’s, Wright’s, and Jessica Hynes’ British T.V. show. It was my introduction to Wright’s ability to meld comedy with different film genre tropes. I’m not a fan of zombie movies, but I love the way Wright and Pegg use the genre to satirize the way we go about our daily routines largely on autopilot, and the way our lives can easily fall into mindless repetition of the routines. Boogie Nights is my favorite PTA film, and it is definitely Canon-worthy. I enjoyed Magnolia, but don’t think it reaches the highs of Boogie Nights. And Zodiac is compelling, but IMHO not as good as Shaun. On a more personal note, I will miss having the Canon to listen to each week. I’ve enjoyed both seasons, and hope that there will be more down the road. Hopefully you will be able to find a permanent co-host soon. I will continue to listen to Unspooled, which is also on my list of weekly must-listens.
  11. robtucker63

    Episode 157 - Grease vs. Hairspray (w/ Adam Egypt Mortimer)

    Without a doubt. I love all three - each one is Canon-worthy.
  12. robtucker63

    Episode 157 - Grease vs. Hairspray (w/ Adam Egypt Mortimer)

    Maybe a Bergman vs. episode? Persona vs. The Seventh Seal? Wild Strawberries vs. Persona?
  13. robtucker63

    Episode 157 - Grease vs. Hairspray (w/ Adam Egypt Mortimer)

    I understand where Amy was coming from in her reluctance to admit Hairspray is camp. It was similar to my reaction when I first saw the movie. It looked and felt like a John Waters' film, but he seemed to be deploying the camp elements in a different, more sincere way. The characters look, act, and speak like John Waters' characters, but it seems like something more is going on. Maybe it's me, but I've always connected with the people in Hairspray in a more heartfelt way than with the characters in Grease. I've always read it as John Waters' sincerity leaking out around the edges of his camp sensibility. I have a similar reaction to Cry-Baby and (maybe) Pecker. I was in high school when Grease came out. I remember thinking it was entertaining, but not particularly well made. My reaction is that Dalton was trying to read too much subtext into it. It's never struck me as a movie about class, but maybe that's my middle-class roots showing. My vote goes solidly for Hairspray.
  14. robtucker63

    Episode 98 - Ghostbusters

    First of all, very happy that the Canon is back. I voted yes for Ghostbusters, though, as Amy argued, I wonder how much my vote was influenced by seeing it in 1984 when I was barely out of my teens. I saw it last year in a theater for the first time since the original release, and I still enjoyed the hell out of it.