It’s finally happened. We’ve run out of things to say about scary movies for Halloween. It’s a real kick to the shins, it is! Anyhow, in lieu of that and springing from a tangent about horror films, we all talk about the things in film that make us not want to see a movie with no further information needed. No matter how open minded we try to be about these things, there’s always a genre, director, or actor who will stop us in our tracks and make us cry to the heavens “WILL NOT WATCH!” Also we’re planning a creepy high tea for our October episode spooktacular, so check out our latest mini and get ready to be immersed in a movie that has so much atmosphere the gravity eventually crushes the plot and character into a Gothic singularity.
Author Archives: Why Watch
For our extra special forty-seventh episode (sure, why not?), we’re trying something no podcast has surely ever tried before- having two special returning guests to total FIVE white people talking over each other about a movie. It’s okay, though, since three are women and that’s still more than any other podcast has ever had on together at the same time. And what a movie for us all to discuss! We tackle Leigh and special guest Meg’s nostalgic fave, Danny Boyle’s 1997 romantic (?) screwball (??) dark comedy (?!?), A Life Less Ordinary. There’s a lot to chew on here, from Holly Hunter’s boundless enthusiasm for a bizarre role, Cameron Diaz’s questionable character traits, and Ewan McGregor’s, uh, general weird British late 90s mod nonsense. To wash this movie and our suggestions for improving it down, we also made a pretty tart cocktail. And pretty soon, we’ll be spooning it down and asking for more like all the other kids.
Friends, nostalgia is the most dangerous drug and none of us can get enough of it! But, for about forty minutes anyway, Leigh, Brendan, and Chris will doff their nostalgia goggles and discuss times they revisited a movie they loved growing up and later revisited. Will it hold up like so many movies broadcasted incessantly on Comedy Central in the early 90s? Or will it be more like rewatching the 1995 classic Mighty Morphing Power Rangers: The Movie, a feat so deeply upsetting that all you can do is call your parents after and apologize for making them take you to see it? Either way, we get another blast from the past next episode where we tackle a movie from Leigh’s formative years with some friends from our own yesteryears. Rest assured, the goggles will be off for that one.
Nothing says instant chemistry like the classic pairing of a heterosexual woman and a gay man, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of our modern complicated times. And nothing makes a more compelling case for why this premise alone is not enough to hang a story on than 2015’s Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, a movie that’s as wildly unlikable and messy as the millennial burdens at its peanut butter center. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris play an equally juvenile drinking game while discussing the movie’s incomprehensible structure, the gaping black holes of charisma that anchor the story, and how odd it is to call your movie Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List and then not really focus too much on Ely or the No Kiss List. Also there’s a weird public domain rip-off of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” that truly can’t be adequately explained without hearing it.
Finally, an entire episode dedicated to the songs and performances of Tone Loc! Whether it’s “Funky Cold Medina” or showing up for one scene in FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Tone Loc has- oh, wait, never mind. It’s about tone. Tone in cinema. Like movies feeling “big” or “intimate” and the cultural and critical baggage that entails, that kind of thing. Also our upcoming back-to-school movie and a game we’re playing with various nips and mixers to make it a lot more watchable (because boy is it not watchable).
In Hollywood, nothing is a more surefire hit than an adaptation of a book from the 1890s that the majority of your audience probably haven’t read but are maybe familiar with just from cultural osmosis. Once you’ve locked in this successful blockbuster, be sure to alienate fans of the source material by also removing any sort of subtext or metaphor that the original novel had so that no one ends up getting exactly that they want. Mix that all up with some bronze filters and you get 2002’s The Time Machine, directed by the great-grandson of H. G. Wells so you know it’s going to work out! Leigh, Brendan, and Chris drink some era-appropriate cocktails and discuss the plausibility of the time travel itself, the changes made for the movie, and why the Morlocks look so expensive yet so very mediocre. Remember, if you listen to our podcast, by the time you’ve finished you’ll be in THE FUTURE. Truly, there can be no more exciting hook.
Whether telling an impossible ad intellectually-stimulating tale using the realities available to us through science fiction or wringing jokes from a mom wanting to fuck her son who was sent back in time by his elderly scientist friend using wildly unsafe experiments funded by aiding international terrorists, time travel movies have been an important part of film history for decades. As a prelude to our upcoming episode with deals with a certain MACHINE that can travel through TIME, Leigh, Brendan, and Chris discuss their favorite time travels movies, the different kinds of time travel movies, and what makes a compelling time travel movie. Also, we talk about Primer. Anyhow, join us next TIME for a science-fiction romp through the ages you won’t soon forget (not a guarantee).
With all the political turmoil that surrounds us every waking moment of our lives, what better way to forget your troubles than an action movie with Clive Owen and Naomi Watts where, uh, it turns out it’s not really an action movie but a windy conspiracy thriller about how a large untouchable bank is making the entire world miserable just for the sake of profits? Yes, it turns out The International is not the gun-shooting cross-country trip we were made to believe it was by the advertisements, but oh well, we’re committed to this thing now. Join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as they discuss the at-times nebulous plot, the shifting stakes, and whether or not everything would have just ended the same had Clive Owen not done anything at all in the last act. Don’t worry, we’ll do something dumber next time around.
For this mini episode, we decided to do something a little different and play a game that would lead to discussion. Well, it’s kind of a game and kind of a discussion, but not like in the strict sense of either. Well, there are actually aspects of both to it, but- look, we work from a list of capital-I Important Films and ask those amongst us who have NOT seen the movie in question to try their best and guess what the movie is actually about based off what they do know of it. Look, why are you reading this anyway when you could just listen to it? We don’t deviate a WHOLE lot because we also do talk about our upcoming conspiracy thriller movie and what we hope is a sufficiently globe-trotting drink to accompany it. But we’ve never seen this movie, so uh… we’ll see how all that goes!
“I’m here to reap souls and eat peanut butter, and I’m all out of peanut butter!” says Brad Pitt as Death as he shows up at Anthony Hopkins’s door, shortly before macking on his vacant-eyed daughter and mocking old Jamaican ladies. Or something like that. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris pour some classy cocktails and sit through all three hours of this ponderous meditative slog, then discuss the source material, what exactly the movie is trying to say, and why the hell it’s so damned long. At the end of it all, the most important thing to remember is that this podcast is still only about 40% as long as the movie it discusses, and you can’t beat a bargain like that.
With the impending summer movie season upon us all, Leigh, Brendan, and Chris decide to kick it off with a mini episode about when movies make you cry and scared and feel stuff. Mostly the first one, I think because we were all in a certain mood seeing how the movie we’re doing next is a delightful romp about death and life and all that frivolity. Also we prepare a recipe for a classy cocktail that can hopefully get us all through a movie with a three-hour runtime. You can probably all guess what it is without listening to this. No, it’s not Endgame.
As the weather becomes more pleasant and your social media timelines are full of endless memes about how it’s gonna be May, only one thing is on the mind of America- unquestionably, the prom! Whether you’re a high school senior, some sophomore who really shouldn’t be involved in all this anyway, or a lumpy and uncompassionate adult, the prom is probably the thing around which your entire life has revolved. And frankly, that’s all the reasoning Disney needed to make a movie about it, with very little regard for anything else like plot or compelling characters or stakes. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris gear up for the end of the school year by watching and discussing the 2011 teen comedy Prom and drinking a spiked punch to keep their whole high school dance theme going. Listen, won’t you, and relive your own heady prom night (assuming your prom night was a chaste PG affair in your high school’s gym and absolutely NO ONE had sex before, during, or after it).
Disney took an old film of great acclaim
Can you imagine that?
And made a sequel that’s more of the same
Can you imagine that?
New actors but a similar plot
In some ways charming but sort of not
There’s decent choreography but also BMX
What was with those guys biking on the ramps?
When Leigh saw that sequence on a plane she said we had to chat
So we all watched this Poppins pic
Then we recorded this right quick
Can you imagine that?
For this episode, Leigh, Brendan, and Chris discuss a stirring biopic that tells the story of Ethan Hawke’s mother Leslie and the struggles of raising a young child alone while- wait, sorry, it’s not that, it’s Ladyhawke, a very 80s medieval movie with all the perils of a fairy tale adaptation despite not actually being based on any existing one. We talk about the rules of the world, the many paper-thin characters, and oh god that score, that score. In keeping with the duality of the movie, we also have two drinks to accompany it. You may need them both to help you swallow the soundtrack.
Whether you’re a movie maker, a dungeon master, or just some kid who is haphazardly slapping together some Legos without any sort of regard for the instructions and DAMMIT TEDDY THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE TAJ MAHAL DOES THAT LOOK AT ALL LIKE THE TAJ MAHAL TO YOU???, world building is a big thing to consider. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris talk about world building as it relates to movies, from good ones that do it well, bad ones that do it well, and the different ways to dump loads of exposition on your audience without them tuning out to check their TikTok or whatever it is the kids are doing now. We also reveal our upcoming movie, something that traffics heavily in world building itself, and the TWO drinks we’ll make for it because duality is a thing for this movie.
Ladies and gentlemen! We have gathered you all here in the accusing car because there has been a murder! Thankfully, we only lost Johnny Depp, so… don’t strain yourselves trying to work out who may have done it. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris don their mustache guards to discuss 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, directed by / starring / production designed within an inch of its life by Kenneth Branaugh. We discuss the bizarrely convoluted mystery (which is dependent upon 13 people from various countries and relations to a criminal case being assembled in the same place at the same time and all ready to get stabby), the generally great performances, and the reconfiguration of Hercule Poirot into a character who could actually run short distances without getting winded. As always, subscribe or review on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher, and remember that any potential murders you may want to commit are more fun when you invite a bunch of casual acquaintances to join in.
As a prelude to our Mystery March episode (which is a thing we just made up now), Leigh, Brendan, and Chris talk about detectives in pop culture, be they Sherlock Holmes or, uh, other. Also there’s some stuff about whether or not you should be able to solve a mystery while watching / reading it and a lot of stuff with TV procedurals. Anyway, you’ve got two weeks to start growing a ridiculous mustache for our next episode’s mystery movie.
What could possibly be more charming than having a late 19th century duke show up in your Manhattan apartment, offering you all of that 1870s class with none of that 1870s misogyny / racism / chauvinism? Very little aside from perhaps the scent of warm brioche smothered in marmalade and fresh creamery butter, posits James Mangold’s 2001 romcom Kate & Leopold. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris watch their annual Valentine’s Day movie with a drink worthy of a mid-tier budget television commercial and discuss the vague logistics of time travel, the challenges of making a romantic comedy where the guy is from an era before civil rights were a thing, and a case when a director’s cut makes a movie horribly unsettling. We all hope that you out there have a Valentine’s Day less objectionable than this movie, and with 100% less time travel-induced incest.
Because we spent our last mini episode doing our customary new year nothingness, we bumped a discussion about Shakespeare adaptations to this mini episode instead. It still works! Anyway, Leigh leads a group discussion about the various movie versions of Shakespeare plays, be they mostly faithful to the text and setting or something set in a high school with the great sounds of the 90s permeating throughout. We also determine our Valentine’s Day romcom and an appropriately dairy-based drink to go with it, and there’s a lot of bird noises.
Finally, a film adaptation that combines the quiet contemplations of William Shakespeare’s final play with the visual goofiness of Julie Taymor! Taymor brings her trademark sense of “how many effects can you add in post before the screen melts” to this 2010 take on The Tempest, most notable for casting Helen Mirren in the gender-bent role of Prospera and maybe also for covering a naked Ben Whishaw’s junk with a flat Ken doll-esque mound. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris discuss the changes that result from the gender swap, the Caliban problem, and what the fuck is the scene where Ariel is enormous and playing with a ship in the sea while setting it on fire and wait now there’s like three of him??? As always, you can like us at facebook.com/whywatchpodcast and rate us on iTunes and Stitcher. HELL IS EMPTY AND ALL THE DEVILS ARE HEAAAAHHHHH
As is our wont, we were feeling very lazy at the end of the calendar year and just recorded us talking about our favorite and least favorite movies and drinks of 2018. Two weeks from now we’ll be ready to work again, we promise. Happy New Years!
Now that December is well upon us, there’s little better to do than make some sort of hot alcoholic drink and watch pleasant Christmas nonsense while your brain goes into a stupor until 2019. Keeping that in mind, we decided to pick some new vague Christmas nonsense to cover for our annual holiday episode, the Netflix original movie The Christmas Chronicles, which has Kurt Russell as Santa and that’s about all that’s noteworthy here. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris sip their piping-hot Santa Daddies (no, it’s a drink) and discuss Kurt Russell’s admirably entertaining performance, the problems of the Santa mythos in a movie, and those ungodly CGI elves that will forcibly replace the visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads for many a Christmas to come. Anyway, you all might as well relax and drink until Christmas too. Happy holidays!
Now that it’s well past Thanksgiving, we’re at the glorious time of year where Christmas movies are being thrown at the you like some festive, pleasantly bland spaghetti against a wall. Be they movies about journalists who meet a prince on Christmas or bakers who meet a prince on Christmas or kids who meet a fuckable Santa on Christmas, the options abound and yet for the most part aren’t all that good. SO, we said to ourselves, why not try to come up with a pitch for our own Christmas movie and share with the group??? So we did. We’ve got a contemporary follow-up to The Nutcracker, a story about a magical advent calendar that is certainly NOT the same as that Netflix one, and a bunch of people spending the Christmas holiday at a fancy hotel where hijinks ensue. Join us again in two weeks for our festive Christmas special where we’ll tackle one of the aforementioned holiday movies. Start counting down on your magical, life-altering advent calendars!
In a world where supernatural young adult series were flying off the shelves of a Borders near you, your dad’s second-favorite airport novelist thought “Hey, why not more money for Dean Koontz?” Then the director of The Mummy and Van Helsing had a similar thought with the name “Stephen Sommers” in place of Koontz’s, and that’s how we got the underwhelming 2013 supernatural mystery movie Odd Thomas. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris continue their trend of doing semi-spooky movies each November by drinking an Odd Thomas Collins and discussing the movie’s use of translucent snot-demons, the worst-written female character yet encountered, and how the deeply-missed Anton Yelchin was even good in this somehow. As always, you can go online to rate us, like us, and validate us. We promise to be less offensive to your ears than the dialogue in this movie. STUFFIN’! Continue reading
It’s November, and as all these posters of Keira Knightley topped in cotton candy indicate, the Christmas movie season has well and truly begun! When Leigh, Brendan, and Chris sat through The Nutcracker in 3D two years ago, they mentioned a Disney adaptation of the story currently in pre-production. Now, in 2018, this movie has somehow become The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and boy is it somehow both exactly what you’d expect and also not really at all. Fresh out of a screening, the crew try to gather their thoughts as best as they can to discuss the handful of things that did work (Keira Knightley’s bizarre acting choices, the basic idea of the story, the physical production design) and the many things that did not work (uh, most everything else). Join us in two weeks as we dip back into some spooky Autumnal nonsense with a Dean Koontz adaptation and an odd drink. Très chic!
Nothing says “we are in the thick of October, that which is widely considered the spookiest month of the year” like facing your fears, whether they are the loss of a loved one or that one wooden roller coaster you didn’t want that time at the fair or whatever. Well, be sure to safely fasten your overhead bar, because for our annual Halloween Spooktacular we watch the thrilling padded-to-feature-length-from-a-Stephen-King-short-story movie Riding the Bullet. Join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as they discuss this horribly slight story about a college student hitchhiking to see his hospitalized mom one night in 1969 and also there’s ghosts and stuff. We focus on the thing the movie does well (atmosphere?), the things (plural) it does poorly (mostly everything else?), talk about how we’d make this ambling wisp of a movie better, and play a fun new game to create potentially horrible shots. As always, rate us, like us, subscribe to us, and remeber- in the end, nobody lives forever, but we all shine on.
As the spookiest month of the year draws over us like a wet musty towel, Leigh, Brendan, and Chris decide to talk about their favorite atmospheres in movies. From the vibes that excel at bringing you into the world of the movie to the ones that are tied into a specific emotion or time of year, we toss them all about! We’ll be back in two weeks with a more specifically spooky movie (well, sort of spooky sometimes) and a new type of themed cocktail challenge to accompany it. In the meantime as always you can like us on Facebook and rate us on iTunes and Stitcher.
What would you get if you set out to make a sequel to a cult movie that has a tenuous connection to the original movie, a wildly different plot and tone, only half of the same actors, and four or five of the same characters? Well, you’d probably end up with something like 1981’s Shock Treatment, the sort-of-not-quite-sequel to the midnight movie favorite The Rocky Horror Picture Show. See, instead of focusing on old horror movies and glam rock and Americana, Shock Treatment sort of focuses on, um, reality TV before it existed and consumerism and Reaganesque Americana. How will Leigh, Brendan, and Chris pitch a version of this movie that lends coherence and clarity to this ambitious but wildly messy and inconsistent musical? Well, it will involve a discussion over a sour cocktail, so, uh, listen and you’ll get the rest of the answer. HOOPLA!
Autumn seems to have finally descended on Boston (for the time being), but when we recorded this it was very hot and we had all had a busy few weeks so we’re pretty much just telling you what to expect two weeks from now (it’s the not-sequel-but-also-a-sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, spoiler alert). Also Leigh tries to remember the Jeff Wayne musical version of The War of the Worlds, which we haven’t ever really listened to. OH WELL SEE YOU ALL IN TWO WEEKS!
More than perhaps any other filmmaker, Tarsem Singh has masterfully demonstrated that no matter how bad a movie is, it can at least look visually stunning. With such an embarrassment of riches of gorgeous garbage to choose from, we watched his 2011 live-action adaption of the inside cover of an Everworld novel, Immortals. Starring an at-the-time-less-expensive Henry Cavill and an at-the-time-sensible-casting-choice Mickey Rourke, Immortals throws a bunch of mythic nonsense into into a dark gold filter and narratively throws its hands up in apathy. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris discuss the hunky white gods, the murky-yet-appealing aesthetics, and the cruddy characterization while downing cocktails and offering three ideas on how to make this movie at least mildly dramatically coherent. Remember, you too can witness hell by liking Why Did We Watch This on Facebook and rating us on iTunes or Stitcher!