Plastic Podcast

The venerable and exceedingly intermittent Plastic Podcast, which has outlived the two blogs with which it was intertwined, and whose audio archives were difficult to ...

The Plastic Podcast

An audio program about movies. Listen with your iPod or computer.

Plastic Podcast

The venerable and exceedingly intermittent Plastic Podcast, which has outlived the two blogs with which it was intertwined, and whose audio archives were difficult to ...

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Daily Plastic is a Chicago-based movie blog, a collaboration between Robert Davis and J. Robert Parks, the same pair who brought you the wearable movie tote, the razor-thin pencil pocket, and that joke about aardvarks. If you know the whereabouts of the blue Pontiac Tempest that was towed from the Plastic Parking Lot on the evening of August 7th, 2008, or more importantly if you've recovered the red shoebox that was in its trunk, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

Davis was the chief film critic for the late, great Paste Magazine (which lives on now as a website) from 2005 through 2009, and he counts this interview with Claire Denis among his favorite moments. Every once in a while he pops up on Twitter. He's presently sipping puerh in Chicago, even at this hour. Meanwhile, Parks, whose work has appeared in TimeOut Chicago, The Hyde Park Herald, and Paste, is molding unsuspecting, college-aged minds in the aforementioned windy city. Media types are warned to stay clear of his semester-sized field of influence because of the distorting effects that are likely to develop.

The © copyright of all content on Daily Plastic belongs to the respective authors.

James Bridges / Roadside Attractions

When Tim Robbins isn't twitching or faking an accent, I kind of like him. When his characters clinch their jaws or go all crazy in the head, I can't stop thinking, "Now, what's he supposed to be again?" And by the time I uncock my head, I realize that I've missed some important dialogue.

Point is, he's a normal dude in The Lucky Ones, and it makes all the difference. Three American soldiers are on leave from Iraq -- Rachel McAdams, Michael Peña, and Robbins -- and the plot conspires to keep them in the same car as they drive across the US en route to home and loved ones. It helps, therefore, that all three have enjoyable personalities. They're not in the least bit twitchy.

It's clear from the start, from the way these soldiers begrudgingly embark on a road trip in the face of air traffic hiccups, from the way the hand of the screenwriter keeps appearing like the wires on a flying saucer, that the film is a lightweight, quite a change from Neil Burger's previous film, a heavy confection called The Illusionist. But the light touch fits the story, which favors the simple emotional bonding of three people who don't know each other over the trite wartime lessons of movies like Stop-Loss. One of Burger's almost invisible successes is designing his characters as a balanced contrast of ages, genders, and attitudes linked only (only?) by common experience in Iraq and the scars they have to show for it. And a need to get across the country.

The film shifts smoothly between light comedy and light tragedy -- thoughts of suicide are very real one minute but something to chuckle about later -- much more easily than it navigates the hairpin turns of the plot. When you need to plant an RV full of beautiful sex workers at a rest stop, or when you need a tornado to cure a character's impotence, you've lost your purchase as a screenwriter.

But the three road-trippers somehow remain true despite the many elbows in their highway, and even the melancholy ending feels natural and poignant, which half-way through I would have thought to be impossible. The film avoids simple bromides about the war, families, or the soldiers who oscillate between them, yet in a subtle way the conclusion has an attitude toward all three.

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