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.


Summit Entertainment

Bella is the new girl in town, and Twilight waits a full hour before revealing to her what the rest of us knew from the moment he strode pale-faced into the school cafeteria: the quiet, glowering boy in her grade is a vampire. It's the skin, it's the brooding look, it's the magnificently gelled hair, it's the slo-mo entrance. Dead giveaways. He doesn't talk to anybody, ever, but, alas, he locks into Bella's gaze, and she smolders for the rest of the film, usually in tight shots that alternate with close-ups of his burning unrest.

Director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown) sees the humor in the portrayal, and her whiffs of wit carry a long, slow setup. When the vampire, Edward, is seated in biology class -- still brooding, ever brooding -- Hardwicke positions a stuffed bird on the shelf behind him, spreading its wings so they seem to be attached to the scruff of his neck. In Magnolia, P.T. Anderson used a caduceus painted on a back wall to make the sad boy genius in the foreground even more angelic, even more Falconetti-esque, and in Twilight Hardwicke evokes genuine, giddy laughter with the shots of first one wing, then two, the pair growing in prominence as Edward senses Bella's approach through the bio-science doorway.

“It's a dangerous thing to confuse children with angels.”

But Edward is not, in fact, happy to see her. He holds his head low like the reluctant angel in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire. This blue-lipped, aggressively plucked boy is not a reluctant angel, of course, but a reluctant vampire smitten by the girl who should be his prey.

Therein lies his conflict, and therein lies hers, and from the two a familiar story emerges: love at first sight needs no justification; opposites attract; beautiful people attract; dangerous boys attract bold girls who, in time, will benefit from the protection provided by their speed, strength, mystique, and wisdom (or, here, telepathy). Protection from what? It matters not; girls need protecting. From reckless drivers. Rival vampires. What have you.

But -- here's the rub -- if the boy loses control of himself in the heat of passion he could destroy her. She has an intoxicating scent. She's filled with blood-red deliciousness. Perhaps he would not retract his teeth were they ever to take hold. It's the story of a thousand romances, of two thousand movie teens who struggle against chastity, and it's a story not altogether different from that of poor Peter Parker who cannot declare his love for whatshername because certain ne'er-do-wells would then use her as Spider-Man bait. In short, nothing attracts boys like somebody else's letter jacket. But in this case, the ne'er-do-well is Edward himself. Stuff that duality into your Spidey tights, Peter.

Continue Reading

It's quick summary week in the Elsewhere department:

Ishika Mohan / Fox Searchlight / Lol Crawley
Left: Danny Boyle in India. Right: JimMyron Ross and Tarra Riggs in Ballast.

On this edition of the Plastic Podcast, Robert Davis first talks with Danny Boyle about his new film, Slumdog Millionaire. Among other things, they chat about what drew him to the project, his impression of India, working with his co-director Loveleen Tandan, his strategy for editing multiple timelines, and the film's surprising depiction of torture — over a game show.

Then Rob talks with Lance Hammer whose debut film, Ballast, is moving gradually around the country. They talk about the music he almost added, the eye of an art director, the impact of Godard and the Dardenne brothers on the film, the way he gleaned dialogue from his extensive, "architectural" process of rehearsal and improvisation, and the tone of the Mississippi delta.

0:00 Intro
3:09 Interview: Danny Boyle on Slumdog Millionaire
17:24 Interview: Lance Hammer on Ballast
33:43 Outro

Further Reading and Listening

Update: 15 December 2008
Excerpts from the interview with Lance Hammer appear at

Colin Powell Reacts to Obama Victory:

More video clips:


Listen, people. Can't Wellington the Wiggly Worm and Booker T. Bluebird live together in peace?

Google is constantly updating and tinkering with its search algorithms, and most of the time we never notice. The service is a black box, and what goes on inside is anybody's guess.

But I've noticed something in the last week that's going to affect the way I type queries. About a decade ago (cripes), I picked up the habit from Robot Wisdom, the granddaddy of all blogs, of searching for a phrase by typing periods between the words instead of the more common way of surrounding the phrase with quotation marks. It's much easier to touch-type


"three one two"

especially when you're searching for two phrases at once, which I sometimes do when I'm looking up lyrics, bits of dialogue, or something I remember from a news article. Typing quotation marks requires pressing shift and moving your hands, but periods are easy. And until very recently, the results were identical.

This no doubt exploited some quirk of Google's punctuation handling, and I can see that there aren't many people who do this, so the side effect was bound to disappear at some point. I'm just surprised it has lasted this long. I'm sure this latest change includes lots of invisible improvements that we'll all grow accustomed to without realizing it, so I won't complain that this now produces different results from this.

Time to retrain my fingers.

Some advice for people who talk to exit pollsters:

Little more than three years ago, the greatest engineering disaster since Chernobyl according to one expert occurred in the city of New Orleans, blamed by three different teams of investigators on misfeasance and malfeasance by an agency of the United States federal government. ["a system in name only" says the Corps' own report.]

Not a word about it in this presidential campaign. It didn't happen. We dreamed it. They must have dreamed it down there.

Not a word. Why? No, not evil. Not malice. Not any of that good stuff. You and I know the reason, ladies and gentlemen: it didn't show up in the polls.

The candidates decided what to talk about based on what people in the polls say they're concerned about, and it wasn't even in the top ten. So, you know, I don't care whether you vote or not. It's no skin off any part of my anatomy. But I will say this: if you are going to some place on Tuesday and you're going behind a little curtain and you're casting what you think will be a secret ballot. And you then decide, the minute you leave that private booth, to go out and talk to a total stranger and tell him how you voted, how much money you make, and what religion you are, just make sure when he asks what demographic group you belong to, you say "genius."

Harry Shearer

Does the Army Corps of Engineers have a project near you?