EPISODE 507: PHONING IT IN

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19 Responses

  1. Adam Blount says:

    I’m in no way a fan of this movie but I was surprised at the omission of the Taken phone call. Like Scream, that is one that sorta permeated the larger culture.

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      I thought to include it, but I haven’t actually seen it, so it seemed disingenuous to me. Same with DIAL M FOR MURDER and SORRY, WRONG NUMBER.

      • Adam says:

        You’re not missing much with Taken. People I knew went nuts for it but I didn’t feel like it added anything to the genre or told a particularly interesting story.

        I didn’t think of Dial M but that is a pretty great one. The whole movie turns on that phone call. Essential.

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      I also have not seen Taken.

      – David

  2. Andrew Martin says:

    Great episode, guys! I don’t know if it’s one of the best of all time, but I’ve always loved the phone call between Eduardo and Mark in The Social Network. The line “Do you like being a loser? Do you want to go back to that?” cuts me deep.

  3. Juhani Kenttä says:

    I remember reading that Maria Schneider quote years ago where she said “I felt a little raped” regarding that scene. IIRC, she didn’t explicitly state that anything in the scene wasn’t something mutually agreed upon by all concerned parties but I might be wrong. I felt a little uneasy about it, sure, but to be honest, I didn’t think about it too much. Cut to this past Saturday and my jaw dropped immediately as I saw that headline about Bertolucci’s statements on Twitter.

    People have pointed out that Schneider’s initial comments didn’t initially make much if any news and even Bertolucci’s admittal (that he only felt confident sharing after Schneider’s death) took years to surface. I feel guilty about brushing off her statement as a younger cineaste but I guess it’s a learning curve? One should take allegations more seriously and not turn a blind eye to abusive directors or actors.

  4. Andrew says:

    Ralph feinnes on the phone with Brendan Gleeson in “in Bruges” is pretty memorable

  5. Paul says:

    The crazy, angry, romantic 4-way phone call in It’s A Wonderful Life might be my favourite use of a phone in movies.

    “Mother is on the extension.”

  6. Matthew says:

    Another small addition to throw into the mix. While the main gimmick of Rodrigo Cortés’ Buried is pretty much summed up by its name, the main character’s communication with the surface world is pretty compelling. Not least the phone call shared between himself – a man who knows he is going to die – and his alzheimer’s afflicted mother, who doesn’t quite seem to understand the situation. Really good stuff.

  7. Steve C. says:

    I always liked the phone call between Scatman Crothers and Tony Burton in “The Shining”: “What’s wrong, Dick?”, “Well…they turned out to be completely unreliable assholes.” And that scene from Three Kings was the first time I saw that featured the strangeness of the new technology of cellular phones when Marky Mark finds a cache of phones while held captive and calls his wife. Very surreal moment. That movie would also figure in the “Movies About the Very Recent Past” episode you might do.

  8. Ryan says:

    Method acting can and does sometimes involve manipulating your fellow actor or actress. And I’m fairly confident Hoffman was treating Streep that way for his own manipulation, not hers. He was young and probably didn’t know any other way to call up those emotions. Obviously what Bertolucci and Brando did is another thing altogether and completely appalling.

  9. Steve C. says:

    Another one is that scene from “Goodfellas” when De Niro is at the phone booth waiting to hear about Pesci getting made. It comes at the end of the Layla suite: “He didn’t make it..ah, we had a problem and uh, there was nothin’ we could do about it. He’s gone.” Then De Niro whacks the phone booth for giving him bad news.

  10. Dan Roy says:

    Phones = exposition device. The lead sums up the plot in explicit verbal terms directly to the audience, sometimes with an accompanying montage or flashback. See the climaxes of The Big Sleep and Body Double. Or the similar use of the dictaphone in Double Indemnity.

  11. Ryan Roach says:

    Bet with myself: Tyler will wind up quoting President Muffley saying “well, I’ll tell you what he did…” before the end of the podcast.
    I win!

  12. FictionIsntReal says:

    When you mentioned Silence of the Lambs, my mind immediately went to Hannibal hacking a phone in order to commission the murder of an entire family, and then after his plot is discovered having an amiable phone conversation with the very person he tried to have killed. But the actual content of either phone call was rather mundane (except the bit about how godly it is to kill).

  13. Dan Roy says:

    Storaro: “What Bernardo said later was he would like to apologise to Maria, only because he probably didn’t explain to her at the beginning what was discussed with Brando. Nothing happened during the shooting… I think the journalists are making an issue that is not really an issue. I read that there was a kind of violence made on her but that’s not true. That’s not true at all.”

  14. bob says:

    all we learned this week: Tyler hates Peaches & Herb

  15. Eric says:

    Your top of the show banter about Last Tango in Paris made me think about this article from the Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/08/hollywood-has-ruined-method-acting/494777/

    (ignore the opening bit about Jared Leto… the article gets into the meat of what it wants to really talk about halfway through).

    I’m not sure where exactly I land on these ideas, but Brando is sortof your prototypical method actor. The article talks about how some method actors pursue that form of acting because of the physical and masculine nature of that acting style… which obviously has nothing to do with whether or not it’s good acting.

    You guys talked about how it’s wrong for a director (and by extension within the context of this article) to force someone into a situation without their knowledge because the filmmaker thinks it can produce a better performance.

    Like you guys said on the podcast, I believe that’s pretty ridiculous… the reason for casting is because you are looking for the right professional who can handle what you are looking for. You don’t need to trick or surprise them… if you do, you’ve got the wrong actor or your on a power trip. I think you guys nailed it with the idea of regardless of what shows up on screen, you shouldn’t have to coerce anyone one into a performance, especially if you’re being exploitative (which often comes with a fair amount of sexism). Like you said… these are professional actors. If they can’t give you what you want, then that’s on you.

    That article pretty thoroughly trashes method acting, and I don’t think we should trash that… but I do to agree somewhat that the style has turned into this pseudo-masculine endeavor. If that’s what works for you as an actor or if that’s what you’re drawn to as a director… then hire those types of actors. But don’t trick them into something or not tell them what’s expected of them because you want to be “authentic”. They’re professionals… they’ll let you know what works for them and it’s too easy for that to end up in exploitation. There’s tons of actors that thrive on being “exploited” like that… get your casting right and be honest about what is expected when you are casting… but yea totally agree with you guys… these are professionals and will get you want you want and conversely, it’s on the casting director and creative team to get the right fit.

    Was curious what you guys think about that perspective.

  16. Alexander Miller says:

    First one that came to mind was the conversation Al Pacino has with his wife Chris Sarandon in Dog Day Afternoon, then there’s Black Christmas (ho-ho-ho) and When a Stranger Calls which uses the phone in a more or less similar way. And Joe Pesci wails on Don Rickles with a phone in Casino after getting a ten thousand (not sure about that number) dollar marker from DeNiro.
    Walkie Talkies don’t count, but in the holiday spirit I want to mention “Yipee-ki-yay-mother chunker” from Die Hard.

    Fun Episode, Thanks!

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