A Dialogue on Movies, Books and More

Archive for the ‘Daily Life’ Category

Episode 20 – End of the Year!

Well, it is now 2012, but we recorded our latest podcast last year, when we were all relaxed and unwound after the holidays and some time off (for those of us working…).  Maybe it was just me, but I could pretty much only find stories that were basically lists, so this episode is relatively laid back and free from any real heated debate.  In fact, one might say that we… bantered.  Ha, ha.  Don’t worry, that bit of lame humor is 2011 leftovers.  This year, the three of us are going to up our game, move to our own site, get some cooler theme music, get back to blogging as well as podcasting, and change some other stuff that our team isn’t ready to unveil yet.

So.  Here is what we talk about in Episode 20 – End of the Year!

Also, I gave reviews of:

Justin mentioned a book he’s reading, Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside.

And Matt got a puppy, so be jealous!

Advertisements

Episode 14: In Which Zoe Disgracefully Brings Up a Reality Star

Hullo, Daylight Savers!

Last week I posted and it was Halloween(ish), now it’s Daylight Savings…  From now on, I’m only posting on holidays / special occasions with proper nouns.

Monday, we recorded Episode 14 and I lead the discussion.  In retrospect I feel like my topics were weak compared with Matt’s and other random news articles we’ve bickered about, but I won’t know unless someone points it out.  Check it out and prove me right or wrong: Episode 14.

Justin scoffed at Paranormal Activity and I was let down by In Time.

Then I brought up Kim Kardashian’s divorce and how it’s being used for a good cause by pro gay marriage / GLBTQ organizations / George Takei based on an article at The Wrap.  Matt brought up some pretty sleazy statistics on the short-lived marriage.

We tried to ruminate on an article about Gen Xers not being slackers, but it turns out, we’re not sure what defines generations…

And I found an article where really smart scientists put their formidable minds to improving boarding times

Tomorrow, we record a new podcast!

As ever, let us know how we’re doing.  Or send us a crazy news article, a funny video, some movie/show we “must see” or whatever.  Feedback is good, unless it’s coming from microphones.

P.S. Why do these links always turn up in stupid colors?

A Letter From The Management

Dear Loyal Fans,

As you can see, there is no dialogue for this week. For one, we just couldn’t think of a decent topic that we were both in the mood to discuss. The other reason is that I have been super busy over the last couple of days. This past weekend was Alumni Weekend for Miami University and I got roped into playing in the Alumni Marching band. I will say this, it was a good time and I got to meet some really cool people, including a wonderful lady named Kay who played the Trombone. This was her 61st reunion. I know, amazing right? For being 80 some years old Kay had some spunk and still could march better than the rest of the group. I hope that at my 61st reunion I am still that spry. So it was a good time filled with some great people and the opportunity to play my second game ever of Broomball. This was probably a mistake since I think I made more contact with the ice than the actual ball. I think the lower part of my body is just one giant bruise at the moment. It was a still a fun time.

Another reason for the busy last couple of days is my best friend returned from Brussels where she was doing an internship. So I went to pick her up from the airport and spent a bit of time catching up. So, as you can see, it was a busy/exhausting couple of days. We will be back next week with more of our hilarious banter (you know you enjoy it). Stay tuned this week for a solo post from yours truly. It should be up on Thursday. I hope you all have a wonderful evening and I will see you all next week.

Sincerely

The Slacker (aka Justin)

ITAS: A Favorite Pasttime

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

I have been very, very bad at doing my part to put up solo posts on our blog.

I have decided to rectify the situation by coming up with a topic that I’m passionate about, and I came up with the lovely topic grace a my friend and fellow blogger Kit (@kitembleton).  Plus, I was just telling her how I like shout-outs, so it would be mean not to a) acknowledge her help in me arriving at my topic and b) shouting out.

The topic is pretty simple, and yet, twofold.  Because I am an elegant lady.

So in case you aren’t dorky enough to know what ITAS stands for, it’s “Inside the Actors Studio,” a lovely program that is aired on BRAVO and has been since 1994–that’s almost old enough to get drafted, if you think 1994 wasn’t so long ago.  There are many reasons why I love this program so much, but the crux of it is this: It is part of a course of study for masters candidates at a drama program in New York City.  MFA Students all come and sit in a lovely auditorium and watch their dean, James Lipton, interview accomplished actors about everything.  He “starts at the beginning.  Where were you born?” and then he moves through childhood, getting the acting bug, school, early career, well-known career / fame, and then sometimes into other areas, like transitioning into directing, stand-up, celebrity, and personal troubles.  He doesn’t shy away from bad behavior or regrettable decisions, but he is eminently respectful and non-judgmental.

For those of you who don’t know, the Actors Studio is an actual institution, not a clever title for the seminar / tv program.  It is a non-profit that was founded in Manhattan in 1947 by a group including Elia Kazan.  It is a place to study using a particular theory of acting called the Stanislavski method and it has an artistic director and a president as well as students and members.  To give you a hint of its prestige, its current presidents are Ellen Burstyn, Al Pacino and Harvey Keitel, and some former artistic directors include Estelle Parsons and Lee Strasbourg, among the most famous acting teachers there have been in America.  Included in the alumna are a lot of really impressive individuals, but just to name a few who are both members and former students, in alphabetical order: Bee Arthur, Alec Baldwin, Anne Bancroft, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Robert De Niro, Bruce Dern, John Goodman, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Hopper, Cloris Leachman, Sidney Lumet, Norman Mailer, Jack Nicholson, Sidney Poitier, Christopher Walken, Eli Wallach, Gene Wilder, Tennessee Williams and Joanne Woodward.  Among a newer generation are Sean Penn and Bradley Cooper.

The show gets mocked a lot because James Lipton has this insane gravity to him, but he is also cheesy and he tends toward melodrama now and then with his praise.  Try this parody.  This, I don’t mind, for a number of reasons.  One, it’s good to flatter someone you’re both trying to interview and coax into teaching acting students something about acting, what it means to be successful, and how to handle a spotlight on you instead of your work.  Two, it makes good television.  Three, he has an incredible sense of humor about it, and even let Will Ferrell, who’s imitated (aka mocked) him on “SNL,” turn the tables on him when he was on the program.  The interview has a standard pattern and I could probably recite the questions that appear over and over again; as time has gone on, Lipton himself has also observed what he calls “common themes,” the most prominent one in his mind being divorced parents.  He is genuinely curious and also tells the actors what others have said about them, both in print (reviews, interviews, etc.) and in person to him when they appeared on the program.

I think it’s extraordinary, but my favorite part is that almost every episode I’ve watched, I felt as though, for the most part, I was seeing the real person, and not The Star or just their persona.  For the older actors, it’s sometimes easier I think because they’re long-established, more like royalty; they have less pressing fears about perceptions and the paparazzi.  The only exception that comes to mind is Meryl Streep, who is both entirely natural and somehow vaguely disingenuous–or that was my feeling.  Whether it’s paranoia or truth, can’t tell you.  What I love is the surprise of finding out who’s really shy (Renee Zellweger); who is incredibly passionate about being an actor, so much so that I kind of choked up (I’m looking at you, mostly-former bad boys Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Robert Downey Jr and Russell Crowe); and who’s really just very calm and even-keeled in real life (mostly the girls: Hilary Swank, Amy Poehler, Laura Linney, Halle Berry and Jennifer Connolly); and who was surprisingly engaging, hilarious and touching (Ralph Fiennes and Diane Lane come to mind).

Now, I never seem to catch them on BRAVO.  I admit, I find most of them on YouTube and legitimately IMDb has a few episodes available.  Why cheat, if I love it so much?  The answer is simple: Netflix doesn’t offer full seasons.  You can get discs of like “the best men” sorts of things, but not straight up seasons.  Shame on them, really!

The show is mesmerizing.  Sometimes people are precisely who you know they’re going to be–like Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Williams, Denis Leary, Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie–but there’s always a surprise.  And they swear, and are honest about things that a lot of times actors don’t really get to discuss in the world of sound bites.  I love this sort of thing even more than I love watching The Hollywood Reporter‘s roundtables of the forerunners of Emmy nominees (by female/male and by drama/comedy) and then Oscar nominees (roundtables female/male and co-ed panels).  All of this I find at THR‘s site or again at YouTube.  It’s the chance to see actors among other actors, to be offered a series of insights that I can’t find even on my favorite interview programs like “Chelsea Lately” and “Jimmy Fallon” even though I love both shows because they engage and pull playfulness and ease out of their guests.

For anyone who’s never watched, I would go with some actor you think is a total crazy wing-nut douche rocket and watch them.  Try on Tom Cruise, for example.  Or, you could go the other way and watch someone like Michelle Pfeiffer, and remember that she’s worked an awful lot for you to usually only think of Hairspray.  (Not that I don’t love it, ’cause I do, but it’s no Scarface.)  And then, once you’re hooked to the gills, watch the people you just can’t imagine the movies without, like Barbra Steisand and Morgan Freeman and Robert Redford.  Watch all of that, and tell me you’re not moved.  Tell me you don’t like each person just a little bit more for hearing them talk about things unrelated to PR campaigns and deflecting questions about their sex lives.  Tell me you don’t think it’s great to see who shows up in suits, who dances and plays piano and sings, who bonds with Lipton over his favorite things (that would be flying and tattoos), and what each actor’s favorite curse word is.  Which they say.  Thank you, British people, for saying the C-word on BRAVO (another shout out).

You might learn something, watching the bullshit of celebrity not really anywhere in sight.  You might learn something, listening to someone you think of as A Star or A Celebrity or A Famous Action Star and learn how hard they studied, how they choose their parts, their hardships, how it felt to work with other actors and directors, and how grateful they are for the work.  You might feel a strange envy or yearning in you, to love something with such depth, with such complicated feelings.  You might wish you could boil down everything you love about this world and all the people in it and say you basically drink that boiled brew every day of your life because all of that makes up your job.  You might, just might, even remember to give actors some credit for being more than good bodies and symmetrical faces that make you a little flushed in the face, and wonder if by worshipping constructions of beauty and success, we’ve blown through every boundary of privacy and decency and made actors into people forced to parody themselves even to get a cup of coffee, so that in turn (vicious cycle!) you don’t respect them, not really.

I want you to wonder if you could do that.  Could you do that?  Think about the indignity of women and men needing to construct a public personality which they can never escape thanks to telephoto lenses and gossip rags and acceptable behavior (which is not new for actors, don’t mistake me).  Think about the horror of having photographs taken of your babies, your family, your cars and your house every day of your life.  Think about the terror that would grip you at the thought of how boxed in you are by this persona you’ve been made to adapt; think of the terror of trying a new genre, trying theatre, or dating or marrying someone.  Now think about how much you would have to really, really fucking love what you do to put up with that, forever.

Okay, or you’re a greedy asshole who’s basically a sociopath anyway.  But I’m not talking about you, because you’ve never been nor will you ever be a guest on “Inside the Actors Studio” being asked by James Lipton what your favorite sound or noise is.  So you can suck it, wanna-bes and celebrities.  Or you’re a fine enough actor, but you’re a complete and utter waste of space without ethics, common sense or any understanding of sincerity…

Don’t worry, I’m not dumb or naive enough to paint ALL working actors with one brush, NOOOO WAY.  I’m simply pointing out that the people who grace “ITAS” have worthwhile things to say and you might be impressed and learn something.  Let’s face it, talentless hacks with no personality or too much personality and no talent aren’t invited to the show.  Even people in your head you’re thinking, “Yeah, Zoe, I’m on IMDb looking at the list of guests and I’m thinking… THAT GUY sucks balls,” here’s my answer.  Nicolas Cage.  Yeah, he has spent the last, oh, almost decade making some truly useless films, but before that, he was incredible.  May I present in order of appearance: Peggy Sue Got Married, Raising Arizona, Moonstruck, Guarding Tess, Leaving Lass Vegas and Adaptation.  Tell me any of these movies sucked, and I will probably slap you in the face, even if I don’t mean to / would never otherwise want to.

I just want you to know, I relished writing that.  Doesn’t make me $12 million and won’t even if I count cumulatively the second before I die, but damn, do I feel passion about words the way some people feel passion about performing.  Grab onto that thing you love, whether it’s numbers, words, cars, stocks, a basketball or a cutting board, and dive into it, don’t forget why you love it.  Be a little envious that it probably won’t make you tons of dollar dollar bills or known by like 99% of the world on sight.  But then just add things up, write something, build an engine, trade some stocks, shoot some hoops and make some dinner, and think about how if the world were a little different, someone would want to put you on a stage and respectfully listen to you talk about how you first decided you want to be an accountant / copy editor / mechanic / gym teacher.

Coming Soon!

Justin: Hello everyone

Zoe: Hola!

Justin: So, there really is no topic for today and this will most likely be a short post. However, we wanted to let everyone know of some changes going on at Idle Banter.

Zoe: That’s right. The first change is we are moving our dialogues to Monday. This shouldn’t be too difficult to get used to since we can’t seem to hit Sundays and usually post on Mondays anyway. Like right now, for instance. We figure that we are usually busy over the weekend that finding the time Sunday evening to put something together is difficult. So from now on the dialogues will happen on Monday.

Justin: Exactly. We are also looking at ways to come up with new ideas for the posts. Our current thought is to pick a genre a week. Watch a few movies throughout the week of that genre and then bring it back to a discussion the following Monday. So if you have a genre you would like us to watch, let us know.

Zoe: It doesn’t have to be something like “Drama.” You could really like zombie movies from Japan and want us to watch a few. We are always open to suggestions. The only stipulation is we have to be able to get them from Netflix, Netflix Instant, or our local libraries.  (Or one of us has to own them.)

Justin: Also, as always we are throwing around the idea of a biweekly podcast. If this were to occur we would do a written dialogue one week and then the next week put up a podcast and so on and so on. The podcast would be a little different than our dialogue. We would talk more about upcoming movies, new releases on DVD, possibly a tech corner, general movie news and so on.

Zoe: So what you are saying is there might actually be a structure to it.

Justin: Compared to what we do now, it will defiantly be structured.

Zoe: Fair enough.

Justin: Now I just have to get my friend on board with the idea of being our tech manager. We shall see how that goes. (Matt E. if you are reading this, get ready for the discussion.) So those are some of the changes coming hopefully starting next week. This week will probably be an off week for Zoe and me as we work out the plan. So there will probably not be a solo post either.

Zoe: Has there actually been one in the last couple of weeks?

Justin: Yeah we are slackers aren’t we? Anything you want to bring up before we take this break?

Zoe: Yeah I actually wanted to talk about the movie Hanna which I saw with my husband.  It was a very interesting premise and I thought it was different visually than a lot of action movies.  That makes sense, since the director, Joe Wright, has previously done Pride & Prejudice and Atonement.  It was a good empowerment piece, but more about being a young kid growing up.  I really liked Olivia Williams as the mother that Hanna encounters on her journey, smart and open-minded and gentle–much different than the cold or calculating characters she plays sometimes.

Justin: I thought it was excellent as well and enjoyed it a lot.  Also, before we go I wanted to share this with our audience. I found this while stumbling around the Internet one day.

The rest of the collection can be found HERE. Finally, to all the other Doctor Who fans out there, just a friendly reminder that the new season starts this Saturday. So excited.

Zoe: Wow, you are such a nerd. Anyway on that note we shall see you next week and remember if you have a genre you like. Give us a shout out in the comments section.

Justin: Adios!

E.T. No Phone Home!

Sorry gang, there will be no post today like promised. I was going to do a kick ass post on Batman to follow up on this weeks Dialogue. Unfortunately due to a minor slip up while fishing today, I dropped my phone into the lake. I was able to retrieve said phone, however, it is currently not working. I will be working on fixing that issue tonight rather than writing a post. Sorry gang. Hopefully next week I can get the post up. I’ve only had the idea for a good 3 weeks now. Anyway, hope you all have a great weekend, even though you don’t have this wonderful blog to read. Take care

Different Time Zones

Hey everyone, sorry about not putting this up sooner. Due to scheduling conflicts, this week’s dialogue has been cancelled. On Sunday evening both Zoe and I had prior plans so we were going to push it back to Monday evening. However, Monday evening I had a meeting for an alumni chapter that I am part of the board for. That took forever and a day, so we moved it to tonight. Unfortunately, tonight Zoe is getting ready for a work trip to her hometown of Chicago. So it is important that she gets everything done she needs to get done before she takes off tomorrow. This is what happens when the authors live on opposite ends of the US. I know you are all very disappointed, but don’t worry you still have my solo post for this week to look forward to.

Wait why are you all leaving? Come on my posts aren’t that bad……

Anyway, tune in later this week for my solo post and then this coming Monday (Zoe gets back late Sunday night) for a dialogue about character actors where Zoe defends her stance to me of why Nicholas Cage is a decent actor. Not sure she will convince me. He sure hasn’t. (Don’t tell her I said that.)