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All Movie Talk

Welcome to All Movie Talk! In this audio podcast, Samuel Stoddard and Stephen Keller talk about old and new movies, famous directors, historical film movements, movie trivia, and more.

All Movie Talk

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All Movie Talk, Episode 34

Show contents, with start times:

  • Film Buff's Dictionary: High Angle, Low Angle (2:33)
  • Trivia Question: First Feature (8:24)
  • Film Spotlight: Short Cuts (9:11)
  • Top 6: Funniest Movie Titles (29:17)
  • Director Spotlight: Stanley Kubrick, Part 2 (34:09)
  • Closing: Trivia Answer, Preview of Next Week (59:27)
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Show Notes:

Film Buff's Dictionary: High Angle, Low Angle

In addition to the distance the camera appears from a subject, the camera's height relative to the subject is a major decision in shot composition. Normally, the camera appears to be at the eye level of its subjects, and changing this alters the texture of the shot.

A high angle shot is one in which the camera is above the eye level of the characters. These shots diminish the subject, as it appears as though the audience is above the person. Such shots make it easier to see an actor within the environment, and they can be used to make characters appear trapped in their surroundings.

A low angle shot is the opposite: it's when the camera is below the subject's eyeline. These are less common than high angle shots, and as such call more attention to themselves. They are rare in part because they often mean extra work for a film crew, as they must finish ceilings on any sets they build if the director intends to shoot from low angles. They are used largely to illustrate powerful characters.

Trivia Question: First Feature

The very first feature -- a longer film consisting of several reels of film -- was this obscure film.

Film Spotlight: Short Cuts

Short Cuts (1993) is a brilliant film by master director Robert Altman. With a cast list of notable actors too long to list here, it tells a large number of interlocking stories that take place over a few days in Los Angeles.

Based on several stories by Raymond Carver, the film's narrative structure is similar to other Altman films such as Nashville (1975), and it builds to a powerful ending that is fairly unexpected.

It is hard to describe precisely why the movie works so well, except that Altman is absolutely on the top of his game here. The naturalistic, improvisational style he gets from his actors suits the material quite well, and we get the feeling that all of these characters exist. As we watch Short Cuts, we get the very real sense that we're glimpsing the lives of actual people, and not simply scripted characters.

Top 6: Funniest Movie Titles

See our separate Top 6 entry for more information about our picks.

Director Spotlight: Stanley Kubrick, Part 2

In the second part of our discussion about Stanley Kubrick, we examine his filmography, one film at a time:

  • Fear and Desire (1953): A notoriously bad film that Kubrick hated later in his life, it is almost impossible to see legally as Kubrick (and now his estate) owns all the rights to the movie and does not allow it to be seen often.
  • Killer's Kiss (1955): Not a particularly celebrated film, but there are some scenes where the magic of Kubrick's visual style begins to break through.
  • The Killing (1956): A tight, taut heist and generally recognized as Kubrick's first great film. Also the first of his films to be an adaptation.
  • Paths of Glory (1957): A war movie about how cowardice can be relative, it is a great attack on bureaucracy, particularly that of the military. Ultimately the film comes down to a battle of wills between two men, a very Kubrickian sort of theme.
  • Spartacus (1960): The only real big-budget Hollywood epic that Kubrick would tackle, a critically acclaimed picture that Kubrick was not happy with (his poor experience with the production led in part to his relocating to England to finish out his career). We feel that despite the director's unhappiness, it is still a very good film.
  • Lolita (1962): Heavily censored because of its controversial subject matter, Lolita is sort of a minor entry in the director's filmography, but still an effective psychological portrait.
  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964): Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the war room! One of the greatest satires of all time, Strangelove was a parody of the Cold War released at the height of that struggle. Cynical and unflinching in its doomsday logic, this is one of Kubrick's most well-regarded films, a comedy that works on multiple levels.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): Many consider it the greatest science fiction film of all time, but it is not without controversy. The film features several sequences that are essentially incomprehensible, and it appears that this is how Kubrick intended them. Its detractors point out these sequences, while its proponents point out its spectacular visuals and wonderful psychological battle between man and machine.
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971): Another controversial film, Clockwork Orange is about freedom and moral decisions, presented in a manner that is often quite difficult to watch. A real cult favorite for its bizarre, evocative portrait of a dystopian future and the sorts of people that might inhabit it.
  • Barry Lyndon (1975)
  • The Shining (1980)
  • Full Metal Jacket (1987)
  • Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

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