Ruminations Episode V: Disappointment

Everything is Terrible in Episode V of Ruminations! When writing about our last episode, I quoted T.S. Eliot since cruel, cruel April brought us the ending of two of our favorite franchises. Little did I know how cruel it would actually be! Another Eliot quote is appropriate now (this one the conclusion to The Hollow Men):

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.

Whimper to its conclusion Game of Thrones did–and its lackluster finale takes up the full first half of our episode–but it wasn’t alone in its dullness. The live action Aladdin remake and the much-hyped John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum, released in back-to-back weekends, were also quite lame, to put it mildly. To top off this whirlwind of recent mediocrity, a bit of (potentially) soul-crushing Star Wars news also leaked this week. When will the suffering end?

Avenger: Endgame was pop culture’s only saving grace and we gladly left it out of our lamentations (until, ya know, the end of our episode, when we decided to actually talk about it. Oops?)

Listen and complain along with us! And, as always, SPOILERS!

Episode V Show Notes

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Ruminations Episode IV: Endgame of Thrones

For the fourth episode of the Ruminations Podcast, we discuss the long-awaited endings of our beloved Game of Thrones and The Avengers. (“April is the cruelest month,” as Eliot said.) We recorded hours before the premiere of GoT’s 8th season, but we spend more time talking about the past 7 seasons anyway, so it’s not outdated yet! (One of Chris’s predictions has already come true! Psst. It involves dragons.) For both our GoT and MCU discussions, SPOILERS GALORE!

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The maestro speaks: Ennio Morricone on life and music (via OUPblog)

I recently wrote a blog post on the legendary Ennio Morricone for my day job, quoting tidbits from the new book Ennio Morricone: In His Own Words and accompanying each excerpt with clips of some of the composer’s best-known cinematic cues:

Over his esteemed six decade career, Italian composer Ennio Morricone has scored hundreds of movies across numerous genres, most famously the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone. Many of his most iconic musical cues—to name just three, the coyote-like “wah-wah” of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, the haunting harmonica from Once Upon a Time in the West, and the distinct oboe of The Mission—have transcended their films to cement their place in popular culture, referenced in cartoons and commercials, played at sporting events, and even performed by metal bands in concert. Additionally, today’s English-speaking audiences may be familiar with some lesser known pieces from Morricone’s early career in Italy due to their inclusion in recent Quentin Tarantino movies.

Please read the whole piece (and listen to the Spotify playlist) on the OUPblog.

(The views expressed on this website are the blogger’s and do not represent the views of his employer.)

    • – FLIPP

Ruminations Episode III Show Notes

Quo Vadis (1951)
– The opening scene of Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) entering Rome is one of the main inspirations for the opening of the Coen brothers’ 1950s Hollywood-set caper, Hail, Caesar!.
– Peter Ustinov’s Nero is one of cinema’s great villains, and one whose “genius” (to use his word) is immensely under-appreciated. As referenced in the podcast, Nero is all about the theatrics, composing while being pampered, “composing while he sings” at a party, and dramatically unveiling his plans for a new palatial complex, one that would replace much of Rome, leading to…
– The Great Fire of Rome (which also involves some imperial singing.)
– Christ speaks to St. Peter (Finlay Currie) on the road outside of Rome, saying through a child that he will be “crucified a second time” in Rome. Realizing what this means, Peter returns to the city to inspire the Christians about to be killed in the arena, ultimately leading to his own condemnation and crucifixion.

Kingdom of Heaven (2005) 
– The Crusades, which occurred over two centuries, can be difficult to follow. Here is a brief summary of all 9 Crusades, plus the “People’s” and “Children’s” Crusades.
– This article breaks down all the differences between the maligned theatrical cut and the 45-minutes-longer director’s cut.
– Harry Gregson-Williams’ incredible score is by far the best part of this movie. Here is all 3 hours of it.
– Godfrey (Liam Neeson) sardonically tells Balian (Orlando Bloom) and the Hospitaller (David Thewlis) that he once fought 2 days with an arrow through his testicle.
– Leprous King Baldwin’s face is finally revealed when Sibylla (Eva Green) mournfully looks on her dead brother’s corpse and removes his mask. The music playing over this scene is “Vide Cor Meum,” an aria composed by Patrick Cassidy for Ridley Scott’s earlier film Hannibal.
This speech by the Hospitaller destroys the aura of the film as it’s chock full of modern convictions about the dangers of zealous religious beliefs.
– After the Muslim army has taken Jerusalem, Saladin shows his respect for the Christians when he sees that a crucifix has been thrown to the floor. He respectfully picks it up and puts it back on a table, an act that had modern Middle Eastern filmgoers rising to their feet.
Game of Thrones‘ Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont) appears at the film’s end as Richard the Lionheart. Here, Balian repeats the line “You…continue until they speak something else” regarding the way to the Holy Land.

The Young Pope (2016-2017)
– We debated the nature of Lenny Belardo’s flawed-but-holy character, which can be perfectly summed up by this line from Guardians of the Galaxy. For the sake of time (because the entire show can basically be posted here), below are a few clips to get a taste of Pius XIII and the humor of this glorious, insane series:
All Along the Watchtower
Ketchikan, Alaska!
The Pope’s snack
The Pope as Banksy
The kangaroo
LMFAO
Pius XIII enters–nay, is carried into–the Sistine Chapel
The Pope vs. the Prime Minister
The Africa speech and Halo
The Popes offer some advice

Honorable Mentions
Ben-Hur: We liked, but didn’t love, Ben-Hur, the 1959 Best Picture winner that also won 10 other Oscars including a Best Actor award for Charlton Heston. The rowing scenes are cool (Steve rowed in high school) and its famed chariot race lives up to its reputation–with one major caveat: we’d seen it all before in 1999’s Star War Episode I: The Phantom Menace. (George Lucas blatantly ripped it off for his podrace sequence, but as 7-year-olds, did we really know any better?) And, oh, look, it’s Peter from Quo Vadis, here playing Balthazar, one of the three wise men.
The Passion of the Christ: Mel Gibson’s magnum opus is bloodier than any movie version of Christ’s crucifixion that’s come before it and will probably come after it. Whatever you want to say about Gibson’s personal life, The Passion of the Christ is a profound piece of cinema; Jim Caviezal’s performance is a godsend (pun intended) and the movie was a roaring success despite its ultra-violence. For at least a decade, it was the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever, making over $600 million at the box office. Lastly, more movies should have characters speaking Aramaic and Latin.
The Passion of Joan of Arc: Steve watched the 24fps version of Carl Th. Dreyer’s 1928 masterpiece, which has French subtitles and is accompanied by Richard Einhorn’s 1994 oratorio, “Visions of Light.” Chris, on the other hand, watched the slower 20fps Danish version, which is accompanied by a more low-key piano score by Mie Yanashita that better fits Dreyer’s vision of the movie. This review compares the two versions. (Incredible fact: the long-lost Danish version was discovered in the closet of an abandoned mental hospital in Oslo, Norway in 1981.)
Rome Open City: There aren’t too many clips on YouTube, but here is one of the 1945 film’s most famous scenes, in which a woman is gunned down by Nazi soldiers.
Spotlight: 2015’s Best Picture winner is still (unfortunately) relevant. Trailer here.
Doubt: John Patrick Shanley’s 2008 adaptation of his own play has fantastic performances from 3 Oscar winners and also Amy Adams, all of whom were nominated for Academy Awards. This includes Viola Davis, who only appeared in a single scene (and it’s flippin’ great). Steve reviewed Doubt way, way back when he first started this blog, which can be found here. (Please be kind, it was his first ever review.)

Podcast Mentions
– In his ranting(s) about Pope Francis, Chris mentioned the Taylor Marshall Show, a superb podcast by Dr. Taylor Marshall, a former Episcopalian priest who converted to Catholicism and has 8 children. Dr. Marshall has several informative YouTube videos on the current crisis in the Catholic Church, all definitely worth watching.
– Steve mentioned the exponentially lower-brow SSEU Podcast, which initially started out as a podcast based on another podcast but has now morphed into a bunch of Twitter friends interviewing one another about movies, joking about stool samples, and reading poetry about gas station food. (Full disclosure: Steve appeared on Episode 8, The Cactus and the Giant, which also had some pretty good show notes.) Their last episode was a direct inspiration for this one.

Image credit:
Poster for Quo Vadis, 1951 / Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Ruminations Episode III: Catholic Films Through the Ages

In honor of Lent, we are back to discuss three Catholic themed movies for our third episode. (Well, not all of them are movies, and not all of them are Catholic, but we explain what we mean by that in the podcast.) We tried to think outside the box on this one, focusing our discussion on three ages of Catholicism: antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times.

Below are show notes with a bunch of clips, and they’re all worth checking out. Seriously. We hope you enjoy!

Episode III Show Notes

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2019 Oscar Predictions

In lieu of show notes for Ruminations Episode II, here are my predictions for tomorrow night’s “Blah-scars” ceremony:

Best Picture
Black Panther

BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Roma
A Star Is Born
Vice

Actor in a Leading Role
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Actress in a Leading Role
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams, Vice
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice

Directing
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Paweł Pawlikowski, Cold War
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice

Adapted Screenplay
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
BlacKkKlansman, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee
Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins
A Star Is Born, Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters

Original Screenplay
The Favourite, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
First Reformed, Paul Schrader
Green Book, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
Vice, Adam McKay

Foreign Language Film
Capernaum, Lebanon
Cold War, Poland
Never Look Away, Germany
Roma, Mexico
Shoplifters, Japan

Animated Feature
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Original Score
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
If Beale Street Could Talk
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns

Original Song
“All the Stars,” Black Panther
“I’ll Fight,” RBG
“The Place Where Lost Things Go,” Mary Poppins Returns
“Shallow,” A Star Is Born
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Documentary Short
Black Sheep
End Game
Lifeboat
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence.

Cinematography
Cold War, Lukasz Zal
The Favourite, Robbie Ryan
Never Look Away, Caleb Deschanel
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
A Star Is Born, Matthew Libatique

Best Documentary Feature
Free Solo
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons
RBG

Production Design
Black Panther
The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns
Roma

Sound Mixing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
Roma
A Star Is Born

Costume Design
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Black Panther
The Favourite
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Queen of Scots

Film Editing
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Vice

Sound Editing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Quiet Place
Roma

Animated Short Film
Animal Behavior
Bao
Late Afternoon
One Small Step
Weekends

Live Action Short
Detainment
Fauve
Marguerite
Mother
Skin

Makeup and Hairstyling
Border
Mary Queen of Scots
Vice

Visual Effects
Avengers: Infinity War
Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story

Featured Image credit: 1956 Green Book cover, New York Public Library. CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Ruminations Episode II: The Blah-scars

We were planning on letting the Disney episode sit for a while before recording a second episode. However, we decided at the last minute to rant a little bit about the 8 Best Picture nominees before the 2019 Oscars this Sunday renders them moot. Apart from one movie that the both of us really enjoyed, the nominees are overall quite blah. Hopefully, the ceremony will make up for their mediocrity. (HA! Couldn’t keep a straight face there!) Of course it won’t!

The 8 nominations are (in order of discussion):

A Star is Born
BlackkKlansman
Roma
The Favourite
Vice
Bohemian Rhapsody
Black Panther
Green Book

2019 Oscar Predictions

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