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  1. 1. Does Network belong on the AFI list?

    • Hey, I’m watching that!
      8
    • Meh, change the channel.
      2

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  • Poll closed on 09/06/19 at 07:00 AM

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Amy & Paul surf through 1976's Sidney Lumet TV news satire Network! They explore how writer Paddy Chayefsky came up through the TV trenches, listen to modern media figures who took inspiration from Howard Beale, and ask if the film has become too real to work as satire. Plus: Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany talks about what it was like to reprise the Diana Christensen role onstage.

If you haven't seen Lawrence Of Arabia, what do you think it's about? Call the Unspooled voicemail line at 747-666-5824 with your answer! Follow us on Twitter @Unspooled, get more info at unspooledpod.com and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts. Photo credit: Kim Troxall

This episode is brought to you by M&Ms Hazelnut and Hawthorne Men’s Products (www.hawthorne.co code: UNSPOOLED).

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I love this movie...the concept, the way it's presented, everything. Plus Peter Finch is one of my favorites. BUT...the way every character gets their own cathartic schpiel, I can't help but think about Bob Odenkirk saying (as guidance counselor Moe Phelps) "All acting is is jumping up and down and screaming a lot." It's a funny and unfair distillation of the acting profession...but it's not necessarily incorrect. So I think you HAVE to take in Network as satire. Otherwise, despite its prescience, it's a little much.

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2 hours ago, Crummy Scrimmage said:

I love this movie...the concept, the way it's presented, everything. Plus Peter Finch is one of my favorites. BUT...the way every character gets their own cathartic schpiel, I can't help but think about Bob Odenkirk saying (as guidance counselor Moe Phelps) "All acting is is jumping up and down and screaming a lot." It's a funny and unfair distillation of the acting profession...but it's not necessarily incorrect. So I think you HAVE to take in Network as satire. Otherwise, despite its prescience, it's a little much.

Honestly, I think that is more Paddy Chayefsky's fault than the actors. Sometimes he can't resist making the subtext text.

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3 hours ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

Honestly, I think that is more Paddy Chayefsky's fault than the actors. Sometimes he can't resist making the subtext text.

Oh, no doubt. But there is some egregious overacting from everyone. If it's taken as satire though, then all the over-the-top stuff fits. I was responding to the take in the podcast (I think it was from Paul) that this movie might not be meant as satire. I think you have to take it as satire...otherwise it has issues.

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4 hours ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

Honestly, I think that is more Paddy Chayefsky's fault than the actors. Sometimes he can't resist making the subtext text.

Ah that's exactly what I was trying to put my finger on about why I wasn't as into this as everyone. It just spells everything right out. I called it "ranty" in my Letterboxd review, and in the end, I found it a bit too much. (Not a real knock, I do think it's a very good movie. I just find it a little tiresome.)

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35 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Ah that's exactly what I was trying to put my finger on about why I wasn't as into this as everyone. It just spells everything right out. I called it "ranty" in my Letterboxd review, and in the end, I found it a bit too much. (Not a real knock, I do think it's a very good movie. I just find it a little tiresome.)

Yeah, it fell down a few pegs for me after this recent rewatch. I still think it's worthy of staying on the AFI 100 (seems pretty essential to see at least once), but some of the didactic writing hurts, and I don't find the Holden-Dunaway romantic subplot at all convincing.

But the acting and Lumet's direction are pretty great, and of course the themes of the movie are evergreen.

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I hadn't watched this since circa 2000, which made me pause and think about how different the media landscape felt back then. A reflection on the consequence of the consolidation of news outlets and the overt commercialization of news* that probably favored my re-viewing of the movie. Well, commercialization, unless the message is to push a worldview, favorable by the corporate owner's.

Not that TV news was necessarily an august institution that wasn't already subscribed to the philosophy of "if it bleeds, it leads." And it isn't like print news didn't have its yellow journalism era going even further back. But man...

 

 

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Just to throw out some points (some where it felt like I was just seeing a different movie than Paul & Amy)

Dianne's premature orgasms were symbolic of the younger generation's need for instant gratification.

Dianne's constant taking of the show... well, that's was literal text in a monologue from Max - there's no "there" there, inside of Dianne or her generation. She has concept nor concern for reality (which might be fine for programming, but news is supposed to be describing facts, because facts are important for, well, making decisions based on reality).

She only knows how to conceptualize the world through fiction she's seen on TV (admittedly, I can see how one see this as a weakness of the film, a jeremiad about how the next generation is worse, as given by every generation prior).

While Dianne seems un-real inside, Duvall seems like the really ruthless one (in terms of corporate execs he would be the new, young guard. Maybe not young to a young viewer, but for a corporation).

Finch's character could be compared to other fictional characters, where the cause of the rage doesn't seem illegitimate, but isn't well thought out and can go off the rails easily. 

The older generation, though in some ways respectable in some ways, are complacent and enabling of the worst behaviors of the next generation - sometimes for infatuation, sometimes for prideful, power games, that blow up in their face.

Since it sounded like Paul & Amy were really sympathetic to Dianne's character and supportive of the young in the movie, I feel the need to ask how other people read these characters.

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Paul & Amy-- "This film really is about how the old must make way for the new." 

Also Paul & Amy-- "Film these days! Not like how they used to be in the good ol' days. Makes me want to cry. We're just dead."

😂

(I kid! I love!)

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One more memory about Network.

A few years back, I was a teacher-coach for the high school Speech team. I was coaching a student in his Dramatic Monologue, and after pointing him to several sources, he selected Howard Beale from Network. He did a pretty good job of it, too, if I can humbly say, and on the day of the Speech contest, he delivered a rousing speech on the theatre stage. Perhaps he channeled a little bit too much from Beale's frustrated rage, as in a pique of unrehearsed passion, he flung the stool he had used across the stage. Luckily, it wasn't into the audience at all, but unluckily, it chipped the wall of the host school's newly refurbished theater. He got a silver award for the speech and a request for a public apology to the host school's Drama class. He accepted both, but we will always wonder if it was supposed to be a gold.   

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On 8/29/2019 at 6:50 AM, Cameron H. said:

 

If you haven't seen Lawrence Of Arabia, what do you think it's about?

A four hour PSA on the importance of motorcycle safety.

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On 8/30/2019 at 9:30 AM, DannytheWall said:

Paul & Amy-- "This film really is about how the old must make way for the new." 

I guess the issue I had with their take on it, the film says nothing positive about the new taking over, and they seemed to think it was all fine.

On 8/30/2019 at 9:30 AM, DannytheWall said:

Also Paul & Amy-- "Film these days! Not like how they used to be in the good ol' days. Makes me want to cry. We're just dead."

Heh. Whenever I hear them say, "movies today," I always end up thinking, "I feel like I'm watching very different movies." - admittedly recent releases make up very little of my yearly watches.

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8 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

Heh. Whenever I hear them say, "movies today," I always end up thinking, "I feel like I'm watching very different movies." - admittedly recent releases make up very little of my yearly watches.

The thing is that they are really only watching the BEST movies from the old days (or at least those widely considered the best). There was plenty of forgettable crap in the 50s, 60s, 70s too, it's just that . . . it's been forgotten.

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59 minutes ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

The thing is that they are really only watching the BEST movies from the old days (or at least those widely considered the best). There was plenty of forgettable crap in the 50s, 60s, 70s too, it's just that . . . it's been forgotten.

Probably even more of it. B-movies were much more of a thing back in the day. I think I remember hearing something about every feature film getting paired with a B-movie, along with the newsreel and such. Paul and Amy have a case of what experts call Survivorship Bias if they really believe that.

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Random thing: I haven't called into the voicemail yet because I usually either skipped an episode about something I didn't watch and missed the one for next week, or I listened to the new episode too late to call in. But this time I can't call in because I've already seen Lawrence of Arabia and know exactly what it's about.

 

*Kicks dirt*

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9 hours ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

The thing is that they are really only watching the BEST movies from the old days (or at least those widely considered the best). There was plenty of forgettable crap in the 50s, 60s, 70s too, it's just that . . . it's been forgotten.

Yeah, I guess it wasn't clear in my word choice, but even most of the movies I watch from today feel like they're describing very different movies than what I'm seeing. The "admittedly small number are recent movies," was meant more as a caveat. A small, biased selection process might be heavily skewing stuff. Though they could just be doing the opposite - forgetting about the number of movies today that also don't fall into the trends their describing. 

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8 hours ago, CaptainAmazing said:

Probably even more of it. B-movies were much more of a thing back in the day. I think I remember hearing something about every feature film getting paired with a B-movie, along with the newsreel and such. Paul and Amy have a case of what experts call Survivorship Bias if they really believe that.

To my knowledge, b-movies were called that, because they were the b-movie in the double-feature.

The equivalence to that now would probably be, direct-to-video.  errr, I mean, direct to streaming, but without it being a given that meant low quality that direct to video meant in the 80s.

 

 

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