Sunday, 17 October 2021

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Episodes

Stagecoach (1939)

Stagecoach (1939)Director John Ford is the focus of our pairing for the next two episodes! And we begin with the film that brought the Western into the realm of feature films (as opposed to shorts or B-pictures) with the epic tale of class conflict and clashing character that is 1939's "Stagecoach!" Directed by Ford and starring Clair Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Thomas Mitchell (who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Doc Josiah Boone in this film), Louise Platt, George Bancroft, Donald Meek, Berton Churchill, and the first feature appearance of one Mr. John Wayne, this film follows a stagecoach as it travels from Tonto in the Arizona Territory to Lordsburg, New Mexico. With a driver and a Marshall riding shotgun, the passengers of varying social classes cope with threats and setbacks from several sources as they attempt to survive passing through Apache country while Geronimo is reportedly on the warpath! This is the film that created many of the tropes that would become staples for the Western film genre!



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District 9 (2009)

District 9 (2009)The second film in our look at what happens after the aliens arrive on earth takes a much more socially-realistic view and draws its inspiration from South Africa's apartheid in 2009's "District 9!" Directed by Neill Blomkamp and written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, the film is presented partically in documentary style, and focuses on Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley), a mid-level beaurocrat who is chosen to lead the "re-settlement" efforts of the South African government in dealing with the alien species, nicknamed "prawns," who arrived 30 years ago. The film does not sugarcoat the inherent hypocrisy of the government's approach to re-homing the aliens, nor does it shy away from public attitude towards the prawns or how badly they're treated by... well... everyone. This film is a much starker look at how we would likely treat such new residents of our planet, and features an absolutely amazing performance by Copley, who must be credited, at least in part, for the film's four Academy Award nominations! And finally, the trio reveal which two classic westerns will make up their next pairing!



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Alien Nation (1988)

Alien Nation (1988)So many movies deal with aliens coming to Earth, but few look at what happens afterwards, especially if we "adopt" them. That's what this pairing is all about, and we're starting with a forgotten gem out of the '80s, 1988's "Alien Nation!" Directed by Graham Baker, the film follows police detective Matthew Sykes (James Caan), a bigot who seems to hate the "newcomers" more than anything. After his partner is killed by newcomers, he swallows his bigotry and volunteers to be paired with the first newcomer detective, Sam Francisco (Mandy Patinkin), to try to find out who killed his partner. During their investigation, they run across one of the most successful newcomers, William Harcourt (Terrance Stamp), who may or may not have had a hand in several suspicious deaths, human and newcomer alike, that have occurred lately. With an amazing subtext that tackles racism at its worst, this film spawned a short-lived TV series and several made-for-TV movies! It's a wonderful movie that, sadly, did not get the attention it should have when it was released. That's why it's getting some now!



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Scarface (1983)

Scarface (1983)Tony Montana (Al Pacino) was a nobody, a Cuban refugee trapped in a refugee camp. But for the price of a politically-motivated killing, he and his friend Manny (Steven Bauer) were given green cards and released into the streets of Miami, Florida. From there, it was only a matter of time before Tony rose through the criminal ranks, starting with working for mob boss Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia). This gave Sonny the ability to start taking care of his mother and his sister Gina (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). But it also introduced him to Frank's girlfriend, Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer). And between his hunger for power, money, and Elvira, Sonny begins to carve out his own path to glory, a story that never ends well. Directed by Brian De Palma, and co-starring F. Murray Abraham, Paul Shenar, Harris Yulin, and Angel Salazar, this film ends in the only way a real-life criminal fairy tale can end. Plus, the trio reveal which two science fiction classics they'll be turning their attention to for the next pairing!



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Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)In 1972, a pair of robbers attempted to make off with an enormous amount of money from a metropolitan bank. But the bank had almost no money at the time of the robbery. The police arrived before the robbers could escape. The hostages became more than just bystanders. And the fact that the stories depicted in the film actually happened makes 1975's "Dog Day Afternoon" just that much more compelling! Masterfully directed by Sidney Lumet, and starring Al Pacino, John Cazale, Charles Durning, James Broderick, Sully Boyar, Carol Kane, and featuring the first on-screen appearance of Chris Sarandon, this story has so many twists and turns to it, it's a low-key thrill-ride from start to finish! Plus, the trio offer an explanation of the famous "Attica! Attica!" chant, something few in the 21st century will know anything about!



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