Jim here! I've been in a horrible funk so I put out the call (or the "Pat" signal) to my dear old friend Patrick Ripoll to stop by for pizza, cannoli and some good old fashioned conversation. We turned on the mics to do what we do best - ramble on about movies. This time we focus on two recent horror releases in particular. David Gordon Green's 2018 sequel HALLOWEEN and Luca Guadagnino's remake of SUSPIRIA. Fair warning, we spoil both so hopefully you've seen them by now, and you probably should.
This month the Director's Club takes a Phantasmic journey through the films of director Don Coscarelli. Coming from the "New Wave of Horror", Coscarelli combined abtract nightmare imagery, a youthful small-town generosity, and an iconic imposing prescence of a Tall Man to create his legendary horror movie "Phantasm", which has become a series unique in the personal touches from its creator and his friends over 25 years. We look at the fascinating qualities of each filim in the series, as well as his other notable films like "Survival Quest", "John Dies at the End", and "Bubba Ho-Tep" (which may be the most insightful look at the King of Rock 'n' Roll on film!)
In this episode we feature one of the first great directors to get his start in early television and the helmer of such classics as "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Seconds", John Frankenheimer. Frankenheimer had an amazing run of films in the sixties that also included "Birdman of Alcatraz" and "Seven Days in May". We talk about how his go-for-broke kinetic style not only took these films to the next level, but lead even his more questionable later films to make for a fascinating discussion. So enjoy the wild journey (including trips by train and blimp) and watch out for birds, bears, beast-men, and Burt Lancaster.
In this episode of the Director's Club, we try to keep pace with the second half of the career of Werner Herzog. It's a journey that moves from examinations of social issues we deal with today to artistry from the dawn of man (presented in 3D, no less!), from the Alaskan wilderness to the hearts of volcanoes to the southernmost part of the Earth itself, and leapfrogs several times over the borders of documentary and fiction filmmaking.
In this episode, the Director's Club takes a journey through the many amazing works of legendary independent filmmaker John Sayles. Joined sporadically by Now Playing Network uber-guru (and Director's Club founder!) Jim Laczkowski, we explore a career filled with complex characters and stories illuminating many kinds of cultures, communities, and social concerns, all while providing a level of quality, honesty, and deep humanism to films ranging from science fiction to children's fable to sports movie, to maybe the ultimate Western mystery about the country's borders and its pasts.
Writer-director Preston Sturges had one of the most incandescent runs of creativity in Hollywood History, making eight remarkable films from 1940 to 1944. In this episode of the Director's Club, we're joined by Jeff Broitman of Fresh Perspective as we take a look at the unique way Sturges could combine screwball visual antics, waterfalls of breathless dialogue, and a continuous sense of comedic innovation, while capturing the absurdity behind the rises and falls of his characters' fortunes.
Jim here, returning for a special conversation with a remarkably talented actor turned director. This is our third time talking and likely not to be our last. Keith Gordon who you might remember from such films as CHRISTINE, DRESSED TO KILL, BACK TO SCHOOL and many more, decided to focus primarily on directing in the late 80s / early 90s. I wanted to have him back on to discuss the experience of directing one of my favorite shows on TV, LEGION, since I couldn't have been more excited about his work on the recent (and divisive) season 2 finale. We then transition into a thorough conversation on overlooked films from the decade of the 90s as well as a brief foray into Keith's favorite Coen Brothers film.
Once in a while a director comes along with such an original and distinctive vision that you can return to his work again and again and continue to discover new depths. Robert Altman is such a director and has inspired us to release our first Director's Club Redux episode. In Part 1, we cover the maverick director's breakout blockbuster M*A*S*H, all the way to his not so blockbuster take on Popeye. In between, we look at his deconstructions of Westerns (McCabe & Mrs. Miller), noirs (The Long Goodbye) and musicals (Nashville), all the way to such uncategorizable gems as 3 Women. We are pleased to welcome back Bill Ackerman, host of the Now Playing Network's Supporting Characters + From The Neighborhood as our guest for this episode.
In this episode, the Director's Club encounters environments from the dephts of the ocean up to the stars as we explore the work of screenwriter, filmmaker, and Riddick Chronicler David Twohy! Helping immensely in our quest is Paul Freitag-Fey, a writer for Daily Grindhouse who showcases underseen films in Chicago at the Comfort Station and streaming hidden gems at http://watchthisthing.net. With him joining in on the journey, we not only point out how Twohy puts inspired twists on genre conventions and has running themes about identity and shifting responsibilities and perspective, but bring up a wealth of other fascinating under-recognized films to check out!
For its 150th episode, the Director's Club takes a Monumental trek through the latter films of John Ford. With the help of Peter Richards from the Chicago Film Discussion Group, we see how through films like his 'Cavalry Trilogy', "The Sun Shines Bright", "The Searchers" and up to "Cheyenne Autumn", Ford's evolving attitudes about race, the West, and the conflict between individuals and community, between truth, sentiment, and myth, found expression in iconic performances, increasingly thoughtful stories, and in the very landscape of Monument Valley itself!
The Directors Club tries to live up to the first part of its name, as in this episode we take a look at two separate directors at once: English filmmaking brothers Martin ("In Bruges") and John Michael ("Calvary") McDonagh. While they haven't officially worked on a film together, there are some fascinating connections of dark humor, empathy, faith, and a desire to subvert expectations that can be found when looking through their films together, from "Second Death" through the award-winning "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Jim here again, sneaking in with a short bonus episode cross-posted with V+V. One of the greatest joys to experience in the fine city of Chicago is sitting down to watch a screening of a classic film at The Music Box Theatre. It has been my favorite movie theater for quite some time and when the opportunity came to talk to the general manager of this theater, I could not have been more thrilled. Ryan Oestreich has a long history with the film industry, particularly film festival programming and theater management. He is now able to combine both of his passions alongside Josh Goldbloom, to put together a film festival that I can't wait to cover this summer: The Cinepocalypse!
Focusing this time on the second half of his career, we take a look at his biggest box office success, his iconic lone samurai warrior Sanjuro, the multiple great performances he got from Toshiro Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai, and his influences on a galaxy far far away. We'll check out the ways his later films astound on multiple levels, how he fell out of favor in the movie business and what led to one of the greatest late-career resurgences in movie history!
Jim and Patrick return for a special episode! First up, we catch you all up on how things have been for the two of us, then we review two movies that we assigned to one another. Patrick assigned MANJI for me and I assigned one of my all-time favorites, TAKE SHELTER. After that, Score Bits begins after a brief intermission and that is definitely a highlight for the both of us. We challenge our sense memory, musical knowledge, and more with this wild take on "Name That Tune" revised as "Name That Movie!" As a birthday present for one of the main reasons for the inception of this podcast, please give it a listen and enjoy the rambling digressions you came to know and love back in the day. Brad and Al will return in a week or so with a traditional episode of course!
Jim here. Former co-host of this here show. More is explained in the intro(s) but I decided to offer up a special bonus treat here for both Director's Club + Voices and Visions alike. I had the pleasure of seeing a very good new film called AND THEN I GO, directed by my first guest Vincent Grashaw. We had a great talk about the inspiration behind the film and his process. Then, I was absolutely honored and thrilled to talk to one of my all-time favorite actresses, Melanie Lynskey (HEAVENLY CREATURES, SHATTERED GLASS, THE INFORMANT!). It was a short but sweet interview with a lot of great insights about being an actress, as well as singing the praises of her incredible career.
We are pleased to welcome back Chicago Film Discussion Group Organizer Peter Richards as we look at the comic and kinetic career of the U.K.’s own Edgar Wright. Best known for his trilogy of genre parodies with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, he’d also bring some wild innovations to his American offerings, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Baby Driver. We’ll discuss them all and decide which ones are worth missing a night at the pub for.
In this episode, the Director's Club takes a trek to Hungary to check out the films of Béla Tarr, whose long shots without cutting, luscious imagery of darkness, deliberate yet poetic camera movements, and stark perspectives of man and nature has sculpted out some of the most unforgettable moments in film. In addition to trying to describe what makes his films so special, we look at how he developed his style over decades (and with the help of several talented collaborators), and we explore the world of "contemplative cinema" of which Tarr's work is a prominent example.
Director's Club delves into the Green Valleys, Stagecoaches, and Long Voyages shown in the works of the legendary director John Ford. With the help of fellow Chicago Film Discussion Group member Peter Richards (who guested on our Terence Malick episode), in Part I of our series we not only look into his classic early films, but lesser-known yet no less fascinating efforts which include silent epics, minimalist treks through the desert, dark foggy nights of the Irish soul, and even comedies starring Will Rogers, and how Ford's genius with a film image and concerns of family, history, and myth flow through them.
It's an action-packed episode of the Director's Club as we look at the works of Andrew Davis. Most well-known as director of "The Fugitive", one of the greatest action movies ever made, we explore his ability to enhance a wide range of films (from those of Samuel Z. Arkoff and Chuck Norris to even Alfred Hitchcock) and how he infuses them with great energy, character and Chicago flavor from his very first movie!
Welcome to the exciting conclusion! The Director's Club / Voices & Visions crossover continues once again! Last year around this time, it was so warm outside, we opened the windows. This time, it was cold & snowy (hence the sound of the heater throughout). But have no fear! Your loyal Chicago film critics are here to carry on the tradition of going back 30 years to cover a year in film that they all grew up with. This episode features a lot of films released from July - December of 1988!