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Episode 203 - Perfect Stranger: LIVE!

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I have a beef with the whole Grace backstory.

If Grace, as a young girl, witnessed Ro and her mother burying a body in the back yard... is this really the person she chooses to antagonize for her whole life? The person willing to be, at least, an accessory to murder? For all Grace knows, Ro was the killer, yet Grace slithers around her like Biff from BTTF (Ro is George McFly.) It seems like a normal person would stay as far away from the "murder family" as possible for pretty much their whole life... or at least act a little scared of them... but, no, Grace openly taunts Ro with BARELY veiled innuendo.

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Were people still heavily using AOL Chat and AIM in 2006/2007? I know there was a nostalgia wave last year when AIM was discontinued, but I remember everyone being much more into MySpace and Facebook at the time.

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Just now, muttnik said:

Were people still heavily using AOL Chat and AIM in 2006/2007? I know there was a nostalgia wave last year when AIM was discontinued, but I remember everyone being much more into MySpace and Facebook at the time.

Those years were the birth of facebook... and birth and death of myspace. People were still using AIM, but not like it's heyday in the late 90s/early Naughties. This movie, like a lot of HDTGM, felt like it was written by people who only witnessed people using the internet once but didn't have any first hand experience themselves. 

The talking while typing is so dorky and unnatural.

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6 minutes ago, PollyDarton said:

Those years were the birth of facebook... and birth and death of myspace. People were still using AIM, but not like it's heyday in the late 90s/early Naughties. This movie, like a lot of HDTGM, felt like it was written by people who only witnessed people using the internet once but didn't have any first hand experience themselves. 

The talking while typing is so dorky and unnatural.

Watching someone use the internet once and then repeated viewings of The Net.

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9 hours ago, muttnik said:

Were people still heavily using AOL Chat and AIM in 2006/2007? I know there was a nostalgia wave last year when AIM was discontinued, but I remember everyone being much more into MySpace and Facebook at the time.

I used AIM well into 2014 because it was easier and less stressful for me than Facebook. My friends and I found it particularly useful when we would watch movies "together " even though we were all scattered around the globe. 

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The one thing I still do not understand is why Grace was able to keep blackmailing Ro.  I would think Ro would have done her research.  First yes they killed her father but it was out of self defense.  He was abusing Ro or at least seemed to have a history of it.  Since when the mother attacked and killed the father it was more out of reaction to what was happening and protecting her daughter she committed manslaughter rather than a planned murder.  If it was only manslaughter then the statue of limitations in New York is 5 years, which means Ro and her mother would be immune to Grace's blackmailing before she graduated high school. 

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Correction:

It wasn't just because the gay lover of the Senator clammed up that the story was killed by Halle's editor, he was also a supporter of the senator and killed the story, and then has her take a forced vacation for the heat to die down on the story. Yet it's not like Halle couldn't just put that story in a blog post or anything, especially when this movie was one of the first films to use an interactive marketing campaign that featured fully running blog and Youtube pages for the characters of Rowena, Grace, Mrs. Hill, especially as Rowena was using a pen name for her work at the paper, which not only seem like she got a huge scoop as a unknown reporter.

As for the alternate endings that were shot, I could find nothing as to who was revealed as the killers in them. I assume Hill was actually the killer in one and then Miles maybe as he was shown to have had a relationship with Grace, but there is no confirmation one way or another. One written ending that was confirmed was that had Miles apparently successful in blackmailing Rowena, though I have to assume that was just too much of a bummer ending.

Also in reference to the phrase "Show me a hot woman and I'll show you a man who's tired of sleeping with her," is crasser version of "the grass is always greener" where you see something or someone and wish that was in your life, but for the person who already has that in it, it's old hat and they are maybe looking at you and want what you have.

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9 minutes ago, The_Awesometeer said:

The one thing I still do not understand is why Grace was able to keep blackmailing Ro.  I would think Ro would have done her research.  First yes they killed her father but it was out of self defense.  He was abusing Ro or at least seemed to have a history of it.  Since when the mother attacked and killed the father it was more out of reaction to what was happening and protecting her daughter she committed manslaughter rather than a planned murder.  If it was only manslaughter then the statue of limitations in New York is 5 years, which means Ro and her mother would be immune to Grace's blackmailing before she graduated high school. 

You would have to argue it down to manslaughter to even get to the statute of limitations, because if they had a witness and a body, you can bet a prosecutor is going for a full tilt murder charge. But it doesn't make sense that Halle was giving into the blackmail years after the deed was done, her mom was hospitalized, she knows a bit more about the world, why not just call Grace on her bluff?

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Great show about a not-so-great movie! But I do feel that two very important parts of it were not discussed at all: The fore-shadowing and "post"-shadowing (if you can call it that).

The fore-shadowing was the eye scan the movie started with just before Ro entered the Senator's office, which is of course connected to the big "breakthrough" Miles has later on with the enlarged images of the diluted eyes on the wall at the office. The opening (and closing) credits were actually displayed on top of stylized versions of this scan, too.

The "post"-shadowing happens during the very last seconds of the film, where it seems that someone saw Ro killing Miles from a window across the street, suggesting the cycle of blackmail might not be closed, after all, or maybe that Ro won't get away with her crimes. I actually had to go back and try and figure out if this person was shown before, but no, just some random dude. Weird way to end a weird movie.

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10 hours ago, RyanSz said:

Also in reference to the phrase "Show me a hot woman and I'll show you a man who's tired of sleeping with her," is crasser version of "the grass is always greener" where you see something or someone and wish that was in your life, but for the person who already has that in it, it's old hat and they are maybe looking at you and want what you have.

So, a really weird thing taking up space in my brain is that I've heard the phrase "no matter how attractive a woman is, there's a guy tired of her." The place I heard it was on one of those VH1 comedians joke about the news shows like Best Week Ever or I Love The 90s. The news event I remember it being in was Halle Berry's husband cheating on her. So, I wondered if that was put in there intentionally because those shows were all over the place for a while and it's something Halle Berry or someone writing a Halle Berry movie could easily have seen.

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OK, can we talk about Grace some more...first off, she is linked to a lot of guys in this movie.  There’s Chuck, her boyfriend that she’s “been having problems with” (who lives in Philadelphia), there’s Cameron (aka CSI guy), we saw pictures of her with Miles on his computer, and then there’s Harrison Hill.  Although, given that we know Miles posed as ‘adex’ for Ro, do we know for sure that Grace was actually talking to Harrison Hill or was she getting catfished from Miles?

We also learn that Grace was pregnant.  Do we want to speculate who the father is?  Seems like this might require Maury Povich’s assistance.  Given this film’s penchant for twists, I’m sure they would find a way to make Ro the father of the baby too.

Also it was established early on that Ro and Grace were seemingly good friends and that it was CSI guy cheating on Ro with Grace that fractured the relationship.  So was Grace blackmailing Ro her entire life or was that a recent development?  Also wouldn’t Grace stealing Ro’s man be a better motive for killing her than the tacked on abusive murdered father storyline?

Lastly, how exactly does Grace track down Ro at the beginning of the movie?  She lives in Philadelphia and hasn’t seen Grace in a long time, but just happens to find her celebrating at a random bar in NYC one evening?

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2 hours ago, DrGuts1003 said:

Lastly, how exactly does Grace track down Ro at the beginning of the movie?  She lives in Philadelphia and hasn’t seen Grace in a long time, but just happens to find her celebrating at a random bar in NYC one evening?

The way they refer to the bar ("We'll be at Chumley's ordering copious amounts of drinks on this paper") it seems like it's their regular spot for after-work drinks, so that's not that strange...

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So I know I might be a bit late since the movie has been out for three weeks, but I cannot recommend Ralph Breaks the Internet high enough, it is absolutely incredible. It actually surpasses the original in how it breaks down tropes and pop culture and the animation looks great and an improvement after 6 years, which was a shock considering most animated sequels these days seem to just stay at the same level with their look despite being many years apart *cough* Incredibles 2 *cough*. Yet what made this an utterly great movie was the surprise cameo that I would never have expected in a Disney film.

He's named Hey Nongman as well!

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On 12/7/2018 at 10:34 PM, DrGuts1003 said:

Is it common for people in New York City apartments to leave a spare key for their apartment right outside their door?  I found it odd and unsafe that both Ro and Miles had a key to their place easily accessible for anyone in the building to find.

No, we keep them in our rats. 

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On 12/7/2018 at 4:58 PM, AlmostAGhost said:

I could be totally wrong, because this movie was nonsense, but I think she thought 'trublue' was Bruce Willis and that she was bringing him down for extramarital sexting

 

On 12/7/2018 at 10:50 PM, PollyDarton said:

It's so confusing... she just happened to think that trublu was some random person IMing her the first moment she's online. They text for hours (there's a clock time fade) and we learn later that it is Miles, but Miles had another IM username.  But WHY? What point does any of that serve?

My thing was how they treated IMing as a sexual act... like just the simple act of IMing was some sort of foreplay in and of itself. She had barely spoken to Adex before he says "Are you turned on?"... Turned on? From WHUT?

At some point while they were concocting their plan, Miles suggests that Ro get online and "practice flirting" over the computer before going after Hill, so it seems that Miles set her up to look for some rando to cyber with, and used that as an opportunity to get her to dirty talk to him.

Considering this, combined with his "voice acquisition" software, he was probably in his jack shack listening to Ro's voice enunciate all the dirty talk, having himself a good ol time. 

By the by, if I were starting my message board account today, "Jack Shack" would be my screen name. Maybe "Jack Shaq."

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On 12/7/2018 at 8:06 PM, joshg said:

The thing that jumped out at me was why Halle Berry would leave her cell phone in her coat when she went to the bathroom.

These days, no one ever leaves their cell phone outside of their possession. You go to the bathroom, you take your phone with you. Wasn't that always a thing? Especially if you're trying to frame your boss for murder? 

2007 was prior to the ubiquity of smart phones, and that, to me, is when the phone addiction really took off. Prior to that, most people I knew treated their phones much more causally. Yes, they took their phones out with them, but they'd be much more likely to leave a Nokia flip phone at the table while they went to the bathroom because they wouldn't have been able to look at YouTube while on the john like they can now. 

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On 12/7/2018 at 3:43 AM, DanEngler said:
  Reveal hidden contents

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Did anyone catch that the baby's name is "Rowen" whereas the movie's main character's name is "Rowena?" I don't think anyone on the episode pointed that out.

Sure would hate to think that these folks bought tickets to the podcast taping, watched the movie beforehand, went into labor before they could go to the show, and subconsciously named her child after this horrible movie. 

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I'm guessing that whoever was responsible for the "Bruce Willis: Tulip Expert" article read by the audience member was also responsible for this:

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(credit where credit's due: IMDB trivia)

 

 

 

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Am I crazy or did I see a brief scene of  January Jones testifying against Bruce Willis at the trial as one of the women he cheated with? If so, guess she’s got a thing for ad men!

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Giovanni Ribisi obviously needed to fire whichever agent signed him up for this trash fiesta, but one of the more problematic elements of his character actually turned out in his favor just a few years later. Ted (2012) wasn't a perfect movie by any stretch, but his portrayal there of a warped fanboy trying to kidnap a talking bear to give to his son comes off as far less unsettling than Miles, all despite another use of a wall covered with photos of the object of his obsession. It certainly didn't hurt that Ted featured other elements this film lacked, like a coherent plot, actors who put more than a minimum of effort into their roles, and all of the other things that made A Perfect Stranger a bad movie on so many levels.

download (1).jpg

Edited by ChokeBot
Corrected font and added a little more information for context.

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I can deal with Rowena being a killer, as nonsensical as it was. What really pissed me off about Rowena is that she was a terrible journalist. I've been a journalist for more than 20 years, so bear with me because this is the culmination of years' worth of frustration at how journalists are portrayed in movies and on TV. 

In just the opening scene, Rowena breaks one of the cardinal rules of journalism: We can’t pretend to be someone we’re not in order to get a story. It’s just not allowed. She's also not allowed to hack into a dude's computer and record him without his knowledge. Granted, you can absolutely say that an individual reporter could break the rules, but Rowena brings this story along with Miles to their editor and they’re transparent about how they got the illicit recording of the senator admitting his affair. Miles says it’s legal, but it’s not. Had Rowena recorded the conversation herself on a recording device she brought with her, OK, that’s legal in New York (though she still couldn’t pretend to be an aide; more on that in a sec). You can’t just tap into someone else’s computer and steal private information that way, which is what Miles did to get that recording. In the real world of journalism, there was the infamous Chiquita case in Cincinnati in 1998. A reporter wrote an explosive exposé on Chiquita International that detailed how it secretly controlled a ton of independent banana companies and how its ships had been used to smuggle cocaine. The story was huge news and at first heralded as a great piece of investigative journalism, a story that took its two reporters a year to investigate. But then it came out that one of the reporters hacked into the company’s phone system to get thousands of voicemails upon which he based his reporting. Because he got those voicemails illicitly, the newspaper renounced the story within days and paid Chiquita more than $10 million. No editor anywhere in the U.S. would put their paper in that kind of position, and that’s exactly the position Miles was putting his boss in. 

As for Rowena pretending to be an aid, let's look at the landmark Food Lion case in 1992. In that case, two ABC journalists lied on employment applications, providing false references and lying about their educational and employment backgrounds. Based on those lies, they were hired by the Food Lion grocery store chain and exposed unsafe, unhealthy and illegal practices committed by the store -- including selling old meat so rancid that it had to be cleaned with bleach to mask the odor. Whether the allegations were true didn't ultimately matter because Food Lion sued ABC in federal court. I'll spare you details of the years-long court battle, but long story short: A federal court found the ABC producers had trespassed. Today, any remotely reputable boss in this country would squirm if a journalist failed to identify themselves as a journalist, and not just on employment applications. Sure, someone can say something in public, and if I overhear it, I can absolutely report it. But I can't pretend to be something other than a journalist in order to get info that I then report. It's a no-no.

Some other "oh, COME ON" moments for me: 1) How does a supposedly top-rate journalist have the know-how to apparently be one of the best investigators in the country yet needs a colleague to set up her damn email account?! By 2007, several newspapers had dropped to a few days' publication because the web was, y'know, a THING. BlackBerry had been plaguing us with work emails since 2003, and Apple's iPhone was released in 2007, the year this movie came out. Perfect Stranger treats the Internet as though it's as nascent as did The Net, and that movie came out 11 years earlier. 2) She kisses the guy she's investigating. I'm so sick of every Hollywood depiction of journalists showing them seducing their sources. We can't do it! We'd be fired and banished from the business. It's sticky enough if you start dating a source after you've covered him. You cannot make out with him and then write a story about him. It's way past unethical. 3) There's no way any hard-hitting reporter would leave her phone at the table when she went to the restroom at the restaurant. (I'm referring to the moment Harrison checks her text messages and sees Miles' incriminating note about the computer.) When you're mid-story, you take your phone everywhere. I've interviewed plenty of people in public bathrooms, in my bathtub, crouched at the end of my dad's driveway on Christmas ... (Insert Jason saying, "Brag" right about here.) Cell phones were a pretty big part of our jobs even in the sepia-toned age of 2007. She would not have left it behind. And even if she had, she sure as hell would've noticed Harrison kept it beyond that. He pulls it out midway through their drive home. No friggin' way. I'd have scoured that restaurant from top to bottom by then looking for the thing. I mean, maybe it's possible I'm supposed to believe she wanted him to find the phone ... But I don't see how that would assist in her end game. 

And the final thing is: It feels like this movie was written for a 20-year-old to play the Rowena role. It would have translated better if she had been someone new to the profession making rookie mistakes and being a technological idiot. Instead, Halle Berry is a 41-year-old woman who should, in theory, have some 15-20 years experience by now. She should be a pro but she acts like a newbie. In that sense, the whole thing felt like bad casting. 

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23 hours ago, ChokeBot said:

Giovanni Ribisi obviously needed to fire whichever agent signed him up for this trash fiesta, but one of the more problematic elements of his character actually turned out in his favor just a few years later. Ted (2012) wasn't a perfect movie by any stretch, but his portrayal there of a warped fanboy trying to kidnap a talking bear to give to his son comes off as far less unsettling than Miles, all despite another use of a wall covered with photos of the object of his obsession. It certainly didn't hurt that Ted featured other elements this film lacked, like a coherent plot, actors who put more than a minimum of effort into their roles, and all of the other things that made A Perfect Stranger a bad movie on so many levels.

download (1).jpg

So if Ribisi did this during Perfect Stranger,

That it would have been a better movie?

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This is my first forum post and I'm sorry that it's mostly smartassing around but I reached my breaking point today. So before I go into my correction let me start with the fact that I love the show, period. But after listening to Paul repeatedly calling movies box office hits when they clearly are not for years I just had to chip in my two cents and break down why Perfect Stranger was not a hit.

WARNING: there is math involved but I'll try to keep it as simple as possible.

According to my info (which comes mostly from Screen Junkies' Charting w/ Dan) about 52 % of the domestic gross go back to the studio. Internationally it depends on the specific deals within the different markets but on average about 38 % of the gross go back to the studio. The rest is swallowd by local distributors and theaters.

So, looking at Perfect Stranger we have the following numbers:

Budget: $60,000,000

Domestic gross: $23,984,949

International gross: $49,105,662

Total gross: $73,090,611

 

Now, if you look at the part of the gross the studio actually gets to keep, it looks like this:

Budget: $60,000,000

Net domestic gross: $12,472,173

Net international gross: $18,660,151

Net total gross: $31,132,324

If you compare the budget and the net gross you get a deficit of $28,867,676. So this movie lost a whole chunk of cash.

In short: the movie cost $60 mill to produce, it grossed about $73 mill worldwide of which the studio got to keep around $31 mill and lost about $29 mill. And that's without factoring in marketing and distribution costs. But since this was distributed by Columbia (so, basically Sony) I guess they can write it off somehow.

This is to the best of my knowledge. I'm sure this stuff is way more complex than I explained. But what I'm trying to say is, a movie that barely makes back its budget is not a hit. It should, like, double its budget to get out of the red. Of course this totally ignores home video, rentals, VOD, pre-sales into other markets etc. - I believe at the end of the day Perfect Stranger made a buck or two.

*Please excuse any grammatical mistakes, English is my second language. Thanks and, again: love the show.

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Hey Paul!  As a medical student one week away from exams, I have spent most of my days this week glued to a textbook in the depths of the library.  HOWEVER, I had to rip my tear-crusted, sleep-deprived eyes away from my giant textbook so that I could talk about those Belladonna eyedrops.  Yes, those deadly suckers that June and Jason were skeptical about.  I had just learned about them in class and I just need to set the record straight. 

Firstly, YES, they are real!  Renaissance women used them to make their eyes bigger.  Today, we commonly use a chemical in the Belladonna plant for certain heart issues and motion sickness.  Also, you CAN die of an overdose on the Belladonna eyedrops.  However, I have not come across straight-up Belladonna eyedrops in this modern age (not that I actively look for them).  Perhaps she made them herself?...  Lastly, I want to talk about HOW the poison works because I don't think the writers understand what happens when you OD on something like Belladonna.  It ain't pretty.  We have some rhymes in the medical community for the symptoms of this poison: Red as a beet, hot as a hare, blind as a bat, mad as a hatter.  Oh and constipation.  Like, unbelievably severe constipation.  What a way to kill someone.  Anyway, thanks for a great show!  You guys always make my day brighter after a stressful day in the hospital.  Keep up the good work!

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At the beginning of the film, Ro has that exchange with the metal detector officer where she says her laptop is her ‘security blanket’ and the officer says something like ‘lucky security blanket’ in reply.  Is the implication there that he feels the laptop is lucky because it gets to be in Halle Berry’s lap on a regular basis?  Or did he mean something else?

Also, you establish at the beginning of the film that Ro’s laptop has the ability to record and transmit people’s conversations.  In the 600 endings that they wrote for this movie, why couldn’t they come up with one that had that technology come back into play in the end?  How about this...instead of having the end reveal be the random neighbor witnessing Ro murder Miles, why not have the reveal be that Ro’s boss at the newspaper has heard the whole murder and confession through Ro’s laptop?  You could even make it that he has been investigating Ro this whole time for her father’s murder and turfed her story on the gay politician to get her out of the office for a while.

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