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

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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.


Every year, the lists. Lists lists lists.

And with each one comes trouble. For example, do we include films that we saw this year or films that were released this year? And how do you define "released?" Rules rules rules.

But more interesting than legalities are the inevitable philosophical problems. For instance, if my list omits a film that many other respected film watchers and blabbermouths have included on their best-of lists, does that mean I didn't like it or didn't see it?

I could answer that question in the accompanying remarks, but even an informative didn't-see-it seems to reinforce the year-end canon, a brick in the wall that keeps out the little movies that few people saw. Bricks. Walls. Slippery slides into oblivion. Make your own metaphor.

There's no solution, of course, but let's see if we can think of a new way to examine the field. Daily Plastic wasn't around last year, but with any luck this will become our tradition: we're going to dig into a number of year-end lists that we find interesting, one by one, day by day, and we'll examine not what they've left out (which will be covered implicitly by our own year-end lists) but by what they've included.

It's "2008 in Negative," not negative as an attitude but negative as a bas-relief.

At the end of the series we'll reveal our own favorites of 2008. I like to eject mine from the movie Jeep as the ball drops on New Year's Eve; my Plastic colleague J. Robert Parks prefers to mull the options well into January. Until then, we'll look at the early birds, the canaries in the mine.

And finally, our own lists:

  • You may have heard that instead of moving on to other things, Jay Leno is staying on at NBC even after they give The Tonight Show to Conan O'Brien. Why? Because they're giving him an hour of prime time every day to continue a show very much like the one he's doing now. I can't imagine this is the future that O'Brien envisioned; see Conan's non-comment.
  • Did you hear about the stage actor in Austria who thought he was sticking himself with a prop knife when actually it was a real one? "He collapsed on stage with blood pouring from his neck and the audience started to applaud the spectacular special effects," says The Telegraph.
  • Sorry, that's not our sort of thing. We're all about movies and such.
  • Oh, who cares. Here's Stephen Fry in five parts:

Continues in parts 2, 3, 4, and 5

You know what would be great? To take Hitler down? And stop the gassing and the conquest and the thing and the guy? Would be an audacious hotshot with the guts to get in there and do it. A guy so good he could do it with one eye tied behind his back. A guy so good he counts his blown-off right-hand as an asset because he can "Heil Hitler" ironically and you can never really call him on it. And I know just the actor to play him.

Stauffenberg hatching his plan.
Stauffenberg selling his plan to Nazis who are starting to question this Third Reich thing, circa 1944.
Stauffenberg psyching himself up for the dangerous mission.
Stauffenberg expressing self-doubt. (deleted scene)
Stauffenberg expressing absolute confidence in the mission and himself.
Stauffenberg upon being told that his paperwork must be signed by the Führer.
Stauffenberg insisting that he blew Hitler up but only after the paperwork was signed.
Stauffenberg, God bless him, expressing outrage that Op Valk was not engaged as planned, wasting the three precious hours that he'd previously gained through ingenuity.
Stauffenberg taking even more charge than he'd taken previously. Must he do everything single-handedly? Time to school these chumps; the only problem is that he lacks a pupil.
Stauffenberg running the German government with an eye toward Berlin.
'Do you think he has a sense of humor?' 'I think his optometrist has a sense of humor.'
Stauffenberg inquiring after the safety of his wife, Frau Stauffenberg.
Stauffenberg coming to the conclusion that Hitler was not blown up and wondering if the mistake was due to faulty depth perception on the part of one of his peers.
Stauffenberg about to be executed but only after naming a name to clarify that the failure was not his but that of Shiva the God of the Wrong Person's Death.
Stauffenberg as remembered by the footnotes of history, steely.

Valkyrie is based on a true story, which I know because the screen says so at the beginning of the film in German. And I know that it says so at the beginning of the film in German because the letters morph into English before they go away. Then we hear the hotshot writing his diary in German, which eventually morphs (audibly) into the English words of Tom Cruise who seems almost frustrated by the cumbersome translation process, as if the hotshot can't be bothered to continue in German when something more serious is at stake. Also: we hear what he writes. Linguistic efficiencies could and will be made.

And the movie's off. A sequence in the middle of the film involves putting a bomb at the Führer's feet, and I quite liked the suspense, even though throughout that stretch I was thinking, "I wish Eddie Izzard were taking down the Führer instead of nervously making a phone call in the background." That's what's nice about this movie. It gives you time to think about what you're seeing. Like: Is Tom Wilkinson speaking only his dependent clauses with a British accent? Is that Peter Cushing back there? And, say, who do you think would win in a peaked-cap face-off between Grand Moff Tarkin, General Zod, and let's say Hitler? That kind of thing.

Then more morphing, this time in the face of the sometimes eye-patched, sometimes digitally walleyed Tom Cruise. It's his steely performance, his 1,000 faces that carry the film, each one revealing a facet of Hotshot Claus von Stauffenberg, each of them determined, each of them steely. If it weren't for that Germano-English text up front, I'd think this guy could probably pull it off. Ice the Führer, engage Operation Valkyrie to gain control of Berlin, gain control of Germany, gain control of Europe, and finally install Field Marshall Goose just in time to put the egg back on the mantel before the Allies arrive to say, "Yo, what the?"

Alas, he had no strafing partner, this hotshot. The rest is footnoted history and symphonic strings.

His wife lived and raised their kids without incident. Did I mention his wife? No matter.

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