Perhaps alone in the Marvel Universe, Black Panther is taken seriously as a political statement, both in the content of its stories and in how the films are produced. Wakanda purports to present an alternate historical condition of Africa had it not been colonized. Mark, Lawrence Ware, Anthony LeBlanc, and Viola Burlew discuss the comics and films, getting into the political … [Read more...] about PMP#146: Black Panther Films and Comics
PMP#144: Androids and Us
Do movie robots want to love us, be us, or kill us? Mark, Lawrence, Sarahlyn, and Al talk through various ethical and narrative problems having to do with the creation of artificial life. We all watched M3GAN and Steve Spielberg's A.I., and also touch on After Yang, Ex Machina, Bicentennial Man, the BBC show Humans, and of course this is an element in classic sci-fi … [Read more...] about PMP#144: Androids and Us
PMP#137: Slashing the “Halloween” Film Franchise
What's the appeal of this 13-film franchise that started with John Carpenter's 1978 film Halloween and has purportedly wrapped up with David Gordon Green's Halloween Ends? Actor/SFX makeup designer/horror podcaster Nathan Shelton joins Mark, Lawrence, and Al to figure out if even all the various filmmakers involved understood what the appeal of that first film was. … [Read more...] about PMP#137: Slashing the “Halloween” Film Franchise
PMP#133: Predator (Films) and Prey
Thanks to the new film Prey by Dan Trachtenberg and Patrick Aison, we now have six films (starting with 1987's Predator) featuring the dreadlocked, camouflaged, infrared-seeing race of alien hunter-jackasses who have apparently been flying around collecting our skulls for 300 years. Thankfully, the new film is good, and adds to the recent spate of Indigenous-centered media, … [Read more...] about PMP#133: Predator (Films) and Prey
PMP#131: Hope for Jordan Peele’s “Nope”
Jordan Peele's launch from a solid comedy base with Key & Peele to the unexpected Get Out was so impressive that he's generated a huge amount of good will that allows him to play the full-on auteur with huge budgets. Did that pay off with his third film, the monster movie Nope? Mark is joined by Lawrence Ware (philosophy prof. and entertainment writer), Sarahlyn Bruck … [Read more...] about PMP#131: Hope for Jordan Peele’s “Nope”
PMP#130: CODA and Deaf Culture
The 2022 Oscar winner for Best Picture was CODA, a story about a musically inclined girl with a deaf family. Kambri Crews, herself a CODA and author of a much darker story about this called Burn Down the Ground, joins your host Mark Linsenmayer, writer Sarahlyn Bruck, and jack-of-many-intellectual-trades Al Baker to talk about how deaf culture interacts with film. Films tend … [Read more...] about PMP#130: CODA and Deaf Culture
PMP#128: Jurassic Shlock
Mark is joined by NY Time entertainment writer/philosophy prof Lawrence Ware, novelist/ex-actor Sarahlyn Bruck, and filmmaker/Remakes, Reboots, and Revivals host Rolando Nieves to discuss the Jurassic Park franchise in light of the new film, Jurassic World: Dominion. Is the mere presence of cool dinosaurs enough to justify a film, or are these actually good films by any … [Read more...] about PMP#128: Jurassic Shlock
PMP#127: You Down with Downton Abbey?
We discuss the appeal of this Julian-Fellowes-penned British historical drama in light of the new film. Is this really "a new era" or just more of the same, and is that bad? Mark is joined by returning guest Jon Lamoreaux (host of The Hustle music podcast), plus a couple: former newscaster Corrinne MacLeod (whom Mark SCANDOLOUSLY went on one date with at age 12) and her … [Read more...] about PMP#127: You Down with Downton Abbey?
PMP#124: What Is Batman?
In light of the recent release of Matt Reeves' film The Batman, we consider the strange alternation of darkness and camp that is Batman. Is he even a super hero? What's with his rogues' gallery? What's with DC's anti-world-building? Your host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by philosophy prof/NY Times entertainment writer Lawrence Ware, improv comedian/educator Anthony … [Read more...] about PMP#124: What Is Batman?
PMP#123: We Are All Jackass
Mark is joined by comedian Matty Goldberg; filmmaker/podcaster Rolando Nieves; and comedy juggler Josh Casey to discuss the Jackass franchise that began in 2000 in light of the new (final?) film Jackass Forever. This is perhaps our sole remaining form of popular entertainment that relies on sheer physicality, without the gamesmanship of sports. What's the appeal of this … [Read more...] about PMP#123: We Are All Jackass
PMP#118: Adapting Agatha Christie
In light of Death on the Nile, we discuss the continuing appearance of the works of the world's most successful mystery writer in film and TV. Mark is joined by repeat guests Sarahlyn Bruck, Al Baker, and Nicole Pometti to discuss the recent Kenneth Branagh films, the Sarah Phelps TV adaptations (like The ABC Murders), the Poirot BBC TV series, and earlier films. We … [Read more...] about PMP#118: Adapting Agatha Christie
PMP#114: The “West Side Story” Story
Did it make sense for Steven Spielberg to remake one of our nation's most beloved musicals (with music by Bernstein and Sondheim!), attempting to fix the parts that did not age well politically? Is the new version a modern classic or a doomed Frankenstein? Your host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by Broadway scholar, theater critic, and actor Ron Fassler; Remakes, Reboots, and … [Read more...] about PMP#114: The “West Side Story” Story
PMP#113: The Matrix Regurgitated
It's a Pretty Much Pop season one reunion, with Brian Hirt and Erica Spyres back with Mark Linsenmayer, plus very special guest Abe Linsenmayer, Mark's adult son. In light of the release of The Matrix Resurrections, we talk through the franchise as a whole. What made the first one remarkable, and does that a bar that any sequel can reach? We talk through the choices that fed … [Read more...] about PMP#113: The Matrix Regurgitated
PMP#110: The Dune Franchise Tries Again
Yes, we have another Dune film, and this time Warner Bros. is serious about a franchise, with at least one sequel planned and a prequel TV series in the works. With thousands of years worth of world building, the books by Frank Herbert and the world now being fleshed out by his son Brian Herbert with Kevin J. Anderson offer more source material than Star Wars for potential … [Read more...] about PMP#110: The Dune Franchise Tries Again
PMP#109: Dueling in Film
In light of the release of The Last Duel (which you needn't have watched), we talk about the trope of the honor-resolving duel in movies and TV. Mark and guest co-host Dylan Casey of The Partially Examined Life are joined by Clif Mark, host of the Good in Theory podcast who wrote his political thesis and a 2018 Aeon article on the history and logic of … [Read more...] about PMP#109: Dueling in Film
PMP#104: King Arthur Reigns O’er Pop Culture
With the recent theatrical release of The Green Knight, Mark and Brian along with Den of Geek's David Crow and the very British Al Baker consider the range of cinematic Arthuriana, including Excalibur (1981), Camelot (1967), King Arthur (2004), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017), First Knight (1995), Sword of the Valiant (1983), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1973), and … [Read more...] about PMP#104: King Arthur Reigns O’er Pop Culture
PMP#101: The “Conjuring” Retroverse
With the release of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Mark, Erica and Brian explore the larger "Conjuring universe" that started with the 2013 James Wan film depicting the fictionalized supernatural investigations of Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). Largely using the plot-generating device of the couple's storehouse of haunted objects, … [Read more...] about PMP#101: The “Conjuring” Retroverse
PMP#100: Directing Comedies w/ Heather Fink
What makes for a good comedy film or show? Funny people reading (or improvising) funny lines, right? WRONG? Mark, Erica, Brian, are joined by Heather Fink to discuss the role of the director in making a comedy (or anything else) actually good. Heather has directed for TV, film, and commercials and spent a lot of time doing sound (a boom operator or sound utility) for … [Read more...] about PMP#100: Directing Comedies w/ Heather Fink
PMP#90: Godzilla vs. Kong vs. All the Kaiju!
Are gynormous monsters ("kaiju") stomping on cities just stupid fun, or do they channel deep fears of our own helplessness? Mark, Erica, and Brian reflect on the MonsterVerse films, plus the history of Godzilla in Japan from the 1954 original to 2016's award-winning Shin Godzilla. Do we care at all about the humans in these films? Are King Kong films too sad? Is there any … [Read more...] about PMP#90: Godzilla vs. Kong vs. All the Kaiju!
PMP#89: The Chicago 7 (and the Aaron Sorkinverse)
In lieu of an Oscars episode, we consider one of the nominated films, The Trial of the Chicago 7, and the career of its writer/director, Aaron Sorkin, which started with A Few Good Men through four TV series (most notably The West Wing), and films like The Social Network, Steve Jobs, and Molly's Game. Brian, Erica, and Mark consider Sorkin's stock recurring characters … [Read more...] about PMP#89: The Chicago 7 (and the Aaron Sorkinverse)