The Untenable Podcast, A Very Special Episode 128: Fear and Loathing in the USA

The one with hypocrisy, false equivalencies, bad analogies, whataboutism, receipts

and party over country.

Finally, after the first 100 plus days of the new administration, a fracas in the USA took place, and Mike goads Jay off into a rant about manners and supremacists.

 

Intro song:  “Capital G” Nine Inch Nails (start at second verse, end after third verse)

Outro song: “Weak and Powerless” A Perfect Circle

Untenable Podcast, Mixtape #15 – Long Live the Chief [Episode 17 ReMix]

The one with dystopian pres…futures.

In this single episode remix, Mike and Jay revisit an early episode and a discussion about fiction and fact and all things dystopic.

http://soundcloud.com/untenpod/untenable-podcast-mixtape-15-long-live-the-chief-episode-17-remix

 

Song 1: “Chief Don’t Run” Jidenna

Song 2: “Bulletproof Love” Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad ft. Method Man

Song 3: “Good Man” Raphael Saadiq

Song 4: “Arsonist’s Lullabye” Hozier

Episode Remixed: Episode 17: Background Install

 

The Untenable Podcast MiniSode: Colossal Reaction Cast

The one with the existential kaiju.

In this week’s episode, Jay flies solo and talks about his reactions to Nacho Vigalondo’s latest film, Colossal.

 

We’re still here…Somewhere

Thank you for those who still stick with us, even in the absence of a weekly blog update. And another grateful thank you to new listeners: THANK YOU.

Mike and I have been quite busy lately with personal stuff, but we do our best to record new content every week. Hopefully, once I’m settled after an upcoming move, more blog content will come (let’s be honest, I’ve said that more written content is coming, beyond the weekly episode launch, but at this point who knows what’s really gonna happen. Ya dig?).

Thanks again folks! Mike and I will do our best to become more active again on the social networks, so if you can, come see us: @untenablepod on Twitter; untenablepod on Instagram, and on Facebook as well.

Laters!

– J

 

P.S. – Oh, and, uh, check this out. 😉

Return of 31 Days of Our Favorite Horror: Housebound

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Housebound (2014)  Dir. Gerard Johnstone

I have to just come right out and say it: Housebound was a fun ride, reminiscent of earlier Peter Jackson. This movie reminded me in not only tone, but in overall execution, of Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners. It is coincidental for me that I made that comparison as I was watching, only to research and find out that the film is also from New Zealand. But I will say that over there is a keen sense of humor and macabre sensibilities that I highly dig.

This was another combination of Reddit Recommendation and personal recommendation. The cover art on Netflix did not exactly entice me, and the summary also did little to lure me in to watch. But I added it to my list of movies to watch and write about for this month. And I’m really glad that I did. My enjoyment of this movie comes primarily from the interactions of the family involved, the delinquent daughter, the doting and snooping mom, and the silent and agreeable stepdad. The daughter is more than emo, she’s just pissed at the world, primarily because her father left the family and became wealthy and started a new family. She has fond memories of her childhood, but at that moment, she seemed to shut down to the world. And at first, it seemed as if the problems somehow created the new problems experienced once she was sentenced to house arrest after trying to steal an ATM. Her minor crime and her overall shitty attitude seemed to have created a series of disturbances within the house. Typical creepy house type stuff, things going bump in the daytime and night time.

And what is also fun about this movie is that it goes from a basic haunted house movie to a whodunnit movie. There is an interesting history to the house, of course, and it’s not a typical resolution to the house’s past and the situations it creates. It also introduces some quirky characters who at first just seem as passing characters, created to introduce plot elements and then it seemed that they would just leave. But no, thankfully they come back around and really enrich the narrative in ways that feed the narrative’s creativity and fun. The best addition is the security officer tasked with monitoring the home, and his love for paranormal investigation. His investigation leads to the shift from haunted house to murder mystery. And another trope that this movie uses to great effect is the “misunderstood hermit” who in this movie is believed to have murdered someone in his family. He’s the guy neighborhood kids make up stories about, trying to scare each other and eventually daring each other to go and harass by trespassing onto hermit’s property.

I don’t want to go too far into the summary of the movie, but I will say that there is a nice vibe that blends the fun and macabre very well. The movie has some genuinely tense moments, some unnerving moments, and a balance of moments of levity and genuine emotion. While not a straight up horror, there are some gory moments, although not over the top. But more importantly the relationships and the stakes set through the relationships are believable and fun to experience. Give Housebound  a try if you’re looking for something to watch on Halloween. Never mind the bumps in the walls though.

Return of 31 Days of Our Favorite Horror: Pontypool

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Pontypool  (2008)  Dir. Bruce McDonald

I was going to save Pontypool for Halloween day, considering that the movie is, for the most part, presented as a filmed play, and had its origins as a novel that was then adapted into a movie. The film also takes place in a static location, a local radio station in Pontypool, Ontario, Canada, and has a resemblance to the infamous radio play presentation of Orson Welle’s production of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. This is because the drama unfolds primarily offscreen from the main narrative that takes place in radio station. The first thing I thought was “Oh, this has an Orson Wells kind of thing…” And because the primary action takes place offscreen, we get to let our imaginations run amok with the action taking place outside of our awareness.

The story is rather simple, a disgraced shock jock, Grant Mazzy, played by veteran badass and character actor Stephen McHattie, who is relegated to a small market radio station in Pontypool. It’s not the type of market share audience he’s used to catering to, and he’s kinda pissed that he has sunk so low as to do local radio when he was previously a king of syndicated radio. His producer and phone screener think he’s all bark and no bite, until he is chastised for trying to oversell one news story and under sell a developing story. He barks at them, stating that he knows how to draw an audience and that they should be grateful that he deigns to work for them. But then he realizes that he should watch his words when the once-marginalized developing story of a traffic incident has metastasized into a full scale event in the making. The “eye in the sky” traffic reporter is mocked on air by Mazzy, and later becomes the true eyes for the situation. This shift sets Mazzy in his place and he learns to show a modicum of respect for those he works with, even though the traffic reporter is a guy in his car, parked atop a hill and mixing a helicopter sound effect for good measure.

What works about this movie is how trim and efficient the narrative is, operating in a minimalist environment, a tight collection of players who react to a growing threat outside, only able to react and not affect any change. They are relatively helpless for most of the movie, and it is only until the perceived source of the problem shows up. He unloads a massive amount of exposition, but it is completely welcomed and necessary, considering the dearth of details up to that point. This character, Dr. Mendez, whose medical practice is initially identified as the locus of this emerging event, initially described as an explosion born out of a riot. This is later thought to be a biological virus, but Dr. Mendez reveals that the root cause of the riots and the violent outbreaks around the city as a verbal virus. The virus is rooted in the linguistic structure of communication and words, thereby implanting itself in any iteration of commonly used words, leading to a self-destructive pattern of violence as the linguistic virus seeks to continue itself.

The notion of a virus that is not biological in nature, but one that is just as destructive is to me one of the freshest takes on the viral outbreak concept. If there’s more non-traditional outbreak stories, I need to find them. I mean, consider how much we rely on speech and linguistic patterns to effectively communicate. Our brains can decipher variations, but after a while, it can be overwhelming to rely solely on that aspect. In this doomsday scenario, a very basic form of communication is reduced to gibberish and eventual violence and death. The eventual “solutions” found for the people trapped in the radio station are interesting and give a touch of hope. But the audio epilogues aren’t as reassuring. Deciding to put this on Hallow’s Eve or on Halloween was a tough decision, but it shouldn’t be a tough decision to watch  Pontypool. Killing is kissing, kissing is killing.

Return of 31 Days of Our Favorite Horror: Honeymoon

honeymoon_2014_poster.jpg

Honeymoon (2014)  Dir. Leigh Janiak

Honeymoon initially caught my attention because I had recently read that its director, Leigh Janiak, was selected to create a reboot of 1996’s The Craft. A woman helming a female-centric supernatural-horror title from the 90s makes sense. I wasn’t necessarily a fan of it, but I have fond memories watching it with friends. After watching Honeymoon, I am looking forward to a darker take on the material. This movie was yet another personal recommendation from a friend, someone whose opinions on horror film that I trust. This title did not disappoint.

Honeymoon is pretty much exactly what you would expect the setting to be, a honeymoon for a young couple, Bea and Paul. It begins normally enough, playful and fun. I was even, “Oh no. Found footage…” Though I was wrong, and I’m glad that it went into a traditional narrative mode. As I said, it started fun, even showing us video footage of the wedding video where one key phrase is uttered, and plays an important role later. But as these movies always turn, shit gets weird when the outsiders go looking for something in town. Right away they are greeted with acrimony from the owner of a local diner, who happens to be childhood friends with the new bride. He is aggressive towards them at first, until the owner recognizes Bea and the two awkwardly try to catch up. When the owner’s wife walks in, she starts to give off a chill and order the owner to get back to work. The new couple go back to their cottage and as nighttime settles in, things get fun.

In the middle of the night, Bea goes missing. She just gets up out of bed and disappears. This kickstarts a progression of unsettling exchanges between the two, once close and affectionate couple. She is eventually found in the woods by her anxious husband, only to continue questioning her and push her to answer why she left. She pushes him away and tells him that it was a nightmare and she sleepwalked. Over the course of the next few days, she becomes more erratic and distant from Paul, and he is desperate to find out what is wrong with his wife.

This movie was so fun because it not only has some really odd and unsettling moments, but it plays on the fears of sci-fi-horror greats like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Invaders from Mars. These two specifically deal with paranoia based in identity and concerns with identity. We’re not sure if anything is actually wrong with Bea, I mean, it could be Paul who is the problem. The assumption is that Bea is the problem, probably because we’re used to blaming erratic behavior from a female as her biological imperative. This movie plays with the expectations and tropes of paranoia thrillers, quite nicely, in my opinion. And the little clues throughout pay off and don’t feel forced when a reveal is made. For some, it may be too gross to watch, and for others it might be exactly what was expected. I recommend this flick because it has fun as an examination of marriage and all that it entails, as well as general human nature, specifically the nature of trust.