Living in Cinema’s Craig Kennedy, Ryan Adams and I have rekindled our threeway podcast formerly known as Moviegasm. But we’re in transition and trying to find a name. We don’t have a name we like – we liked that one but thought it was too much of an exclamation point and not enough of a dot dot dot.

Our podcast is going to be in depth discussion of film with a bit on the Oscar race at the beginning.  Check out our latest here where the topics were Compliance and Side by Side. The itunes link is here.

We are currently TAKING QUESTIONS so feel free to submit them in the comments section and we’ll attempt to answer some tomorrow night when we record.


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  • moviewatcher

    What do you think was the better decade for film? The 1990s or the 2000s?

  • Eoin Daly

    What do you guys think of the rumours of Helen Hunt going supporting for The Sessions (If you’ve seen it), do you agree with this decision if it’s true?

  • Watermelons

    What is your favorite Kate Winslet (Little Children, The Holiday) performance?

  • Adam Lewis

    YAY!! What Great news!!! Loved listening to this podcast!

    Hopefully you guys will return to examining different Oscar years again. Would love to hear your takes on 1977.

    This has made my morning!

  • Ryan Adams


  • m7

    Ever since the BP nominees were expanded past 5 films, an animated movie has always received a BP nomination. However, despite the fact that they almost always receive greater critical & box office reception than any of the other nominees, no animated film has yet won a BP Oscar. Do you think this will EVER change?

  • Carlo

    What country besides the usual foreign language heavyweights like France, Spain, Mexico, China, Japan, Canada, Sweden, etc. do you guys think has the most promising and dynamic up-and-coming film industry?

  • Ryan Adams

    South Korea would get my vote. oh wait, was I supposed to answer during the podcast?

    ok, good question. Let me, um… think about it.

    (it is a great question, and in a podcast we can name a country give our reasons. I’m just calling dibs on S Korea.)

  • Julian Walker

    Hello, Sasha. I’ve been following your website for about 3 years as of now and I appreciate the continuous effect that Ryan and yourself pour into this machine. However, to cut to the chase; what really are the odds of Lincoln getting a nomination? It looks like more sentimental bullshit from Spielberg. Not that I mind of course. And yes I am aware that War Horse was nominated last year, however last years nominees were lacking. That lack will not be present in this years nominees, so with titles like The Master, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty how is it possible that Spielberg fans seem to think that it will win anything?

    Also, final question (I know I might be cheating here) but Sasha, since you saw Killing Them Softly earlier this year, what are the odds of it getting nominated for Best Picture? And what are the odds of Ben Mendelsohn getting nominated (He’s got this and Place Beyond the Pines coming up)?

  • julian the emperor

    Carlo: I would say, Denmark, but that would be a very biased answer:)

    But if you look at Denmark’s submissions for the best foreign movie at next years’ Oscars, there are two former winners among them, Susanne Bier and Bille August (who hasn’t made a good film since he won in 1988, I should add, but made five consecutive good ones BEFORE he stroke Oscar gold, only goes to show…) and the third, A Royal Affair (by the prodigious Nikolaj Arcel), is experiencing a rapturous reception worldwide at the moment and could be a real contender (with our local superstar-in-the-making Mads Mikkelsen in the lead).

    Next year, Vinterbergs The Hunt will be a contender. And you might want to check out Von Trier’s The Nymphomaniac when it is released (cum shots, and all), not to forget the upcoming Nicholas Winding Refn movie with the divine Ryan Gosling. Ok, not so much a Danish production, exactly.

    Ok, I’ll stop now. I feel strangely patriotic every time I live abroad. Forgive me.

    Also, you didn’t ask about Oscar prospects specifically. And you didn’t ask me.

  • Jake

    1. Why has 2012 (thus far) felt like such a down year for film in comparison with last year? While there are many intriguing films on the horizon, I feel like the year has offered very few legitimate highlights in its first 8 months. Is this a weak year or are all the studios withholding their best for Oscar season?

    2. Many major directors are releasing big films this year (Ang Lee, P.T. Anderson, Malick, David O. Russell, Bigelow, Tarantino, possibly the perennial Coens.) Which stand the best chances at Oscar and which will fall through the cracks?

    3. Is “Hyde Park on Hudson” a major Oscar player at any level outside the acting categories?

  • Branko Burcksen

    After the release of “The Dark Knight Rises”, do you believe that superhero movies have reached the pinnacle of their merit for critical discussion?

    I say this not only in terms of what chance, if any, it has at the Oscars, but whether superhero movies can probe any further into the themes of heroism they already have. This, in part, comes to mind not just from the completion of Nolan’s trilogy, but from the anime series “Madoka Magica” I saw this year that I believe penetrates the idea of the superhero to its very core. Of course, because it’s a twelve episode anime, that almost no one has heard of, it has very little opportunity to gain traction in any discussion about the very same themes TDK, TDKR and even “Spiderman 2” tackled so well.

    On the other hand, it’s clear from many of Stone’s articles that the biggest issue with the Academy is its inability to take a genre movie outside its comfort zone seriously just because of some traits it utilizes, like men in funny costumes. By the same token, an even large swath of audiences would dismiss “Madoka Magica” just by its incredibly misleading opening song and style of animation. However, I truly believe anyone capable of enjoying both an “Avengers” and a “Tree of Life” can appreciate what this short series has to offer.

    My point is two fold: if you really want to see the merits of the superhero story brought to life so splendidly by Nolan in an anti-superhero superhero story that explores those ideas like no one has before, and put your money where your mouth is in terms of judging the Academy for dismissing certain movies out of hand just because of their bias for certain genres, then “Madoka Magica” is your answer.

    I’ll post my previous comment about this topic below, which gives an introduction to the series and explains where it is available.

  • Mel

    This download does not work in itunes. Says the URL could not be found on the server. I did note the URL it points to when you try to download says 9-20-12 even though the actual episode is 8-20-12. I think there is a problem with the URL. I’d like to be able to download it in itunes so I can listen on my ipod at the gym.

  • Mel

    Yeah, the RSS link generated definitely does not work. Doesn’t work on the webpage either.

  • Branko Burcksen

    In the month leading up to the release of TDKR, I again and again found myself compelled to not just comment on Jim Emerson’s blog, but Mike Mirasol and several others’ about this conclusion to an incredible movie trilogy and the perfect coinciding stateside release of the twelve episode anime series “Madoka Magica”.

    What does a little heard of anime have to do with Batman or any other superhero movie for that matter? “Madoka Magica” is the lastest in a long line of anime from the magical girl genre made most famous in the West by “Sailor Moon.” Superheroes and magical girls share a few significant characteristics in common including strange outfits, living a double life and devotion to protecting the innocent from those who would do evil. Also, like many superhero movies, most magical girl shows are very childish. “Madoka Magica” sets itself apart from the rest of the herd like Nolan’s Batman trilogy by taking the genre down a more serious and darker investigation of what such a life style does to a person. What’s most astonishing about it though is that, after multiply viewings, reading several essays, discussions and comments here and elsewhere, I realized “Madoka Magica” sinks deep into the core of what it means to be a masked hero of justice, and not only tears it down to expose its raw center but escalates the stakes of the game to where the very foundations of what it means to be human are at risk.

    TDK trilogy wipes away the idealism and immaturity of the superhero story like some have done with the Western and the War genre to reflect the more cynical and world weary eye of our current state. You’re very right that the conclusion to the trilogy sways at dangerous intervals between hope and complete despair. At stake is whether hope and good can rise above doubt and hate in our present cynicism without succumbing to despair. Nolan believes we can, but as you point out so well, and what other reviewers like Emerson have analyzed, is how the scale and philosophical quandaries of the movie override the drama.

    By the time “Madoka Magica” reaches the climax of its twelfth episode, it has set up such devastating and monumental conflicts it seems impossible to escape the soul crushing answer the story might dish out. It is able to do this without losing sight of its characters and the emotional development they have gone through. That’s what makes this short series so astonishing. Its characters embody and play out the conflicts and dilemmas of the superhero so well they can strip away so many of the conceits that characterize the superhero like defending the innocent, protecting secret identifies, sacrificing personal desires and straddling the line between good and evil to its very heart and explore the wider implications of the superhero role as to how it relates to the way a person should perceive the world and what human values like love and hope are really worth.

    The cat-like creature, Kyubey, confronts lead character Madoka and her friend Sayaka about making a contract with him to become magical girls in order to hunt witches in exchange for one wish. More lies behind this deal than at first appears of course, but both girls take the wise choice of really thinking about what they want and what it means to be a magical girl. That’s where their veteran witch hunting guide Mami comes in to show them the incredible risks she takes when she took on her role and the personal sacrifices it involved. We’ve seen that side of the superhero illustrated very well by Peter Parker in “Spider Man 2”, but “Madoka Magica” takes a much darker turn, like TDK trilogy in raising the stakes. In fact, the series dares to portray the most dire consequences of devoting a life to fighting evil from the shadows that no superhero movie ever touched, nor likely ever will.

    I believe the lines “With great power comes great responsibility,” and “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see ourself become the villain,” explain the dual dilemmas at the heart of the superhero mythos. By taking on a life of fighting crime, a superhero makes incredible personal sacrifices for their choice. Especially if they lead an ordinary day to day life. In that double life, risking and sacrificing so much while confronting the worst underbellies of society strains the belief that justice and good have any value in the world when a superhero receives so little benefit from their selfless acts.

    Sayaka takes the plunge into the role of the magical girl after wishing to save someone she loves. No sooner than that decision and she’s confronted by another magical girl named Kyoko who harasses her for wasting a wish on another person and taking on the mantle of a magical girl to defend others rather than help herself. In some respects Kyoko takes on the self-preservation argument of Catwoman in TDKR. Sayaka and Kyoko embody that conflict about whether a superhero should use their power for themselves or for others and Kyoko’s rationale makes head way as more truth comes to light.

    Sayaka risks everything for love, and then it falls out of her reach in the most devastating way possible. Even Peter Parker would fall into despair if he realized what she does. Kyoko is able to bear it though because she only looks out for herself. By not worrying about others, she also avoids worrying about what they think or whether they accept her.

    Through Sayaka and Kyoko, “Madoka Magica” confronts the most pressing issues of what it means to become a superhero. If it had done only that, then it would have rapped up the drama of what the best superhero movies have done. However, “Madoka” wants to take it a step farther.

    Madoka stands by, unable to figure out what to do as she watches her friend succumb to despair. All the while the mysterious magical girl Homura goes to whatever lengths she can to prevent Madoka from making a contract with Kyubey and becoming a magical girl. With Madoka and Homura, the series reveals its real hand, the truth behind magical girls and the dilemmas of the superhero begun by Sayaka and Kyoko rise to their most dire and cosmic levels worthy of “2001” and “The Tree of Life”.

    If the inherent idea begun in the story that the only way to survive in a cruel and indifferent world is self-preservation than the climax raises that to the question of what meaning human values like hope and love have in a cold universe. Everything escalates to such a point where human hope and despair become little more than a tool. If you ever wondered what the ultimate identity of a cynical society looked like, “Madoka Magica” has your answer. What’s truly unbelievable though is that it manages to come out the other end without losing sight of the characters as it amps up the scale to its conclusion.

    That’s in no small part thanks to the excellent writing of the show. It’s only possible because of the indifferent logic presented by Kyubey and the truth revealed by Homura that gives the final conflict its emotional weight. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the portrayal of the fractured and distant relationship between Madoka and Homura maybe one of the most endearing friendships ever put on screen. How their relationship figures into the resolution is both one of the most heartbreaking and uplifting elements of the story.

    With all that said, “Madoka Magica” is not for everyone. Much like the superhero genre has its tropes that make it look childish, so does the magical girl genre though much like Nolan’s Batman trilogy, it tries to subvert those elements. Perhaps the most difficult aspect for certain audiences to accept is the series use of a type of Japanese cuteness called “moe”, think “My Little Pony”, that would prevent them from taking what happens seriously despite its dark nature and serious implications. I am of the belief though that anyone capable of enjoying both an “Avengers” and a “Tree of Life” has the capacity to appreciate what “Madoka Magica” tries to accomplish.

    I have brought up this series again and again, not out of devotion to the material, but because of the timing of its release to the superhero movies that have come out this year, and the fact that those whose opinions I respect and read so often continue to raise their views about these movies. I think the discussion of how superhero stories are told now and what they reflect on our current perceptions warrants devoting some attention to “Madoka Magica” for the ideas it brings to the table.

    In all honesty, I believe Zac Bertschy from Anime News Network does a much better job of reviewing this series than I do. He sums it up best in his final review: “If ‘Madoka Magica’ is saying anything, it’s saying that life will absolutely crush you and entropy is inevitable, but there’s reason to hope. That wishing for your loved ones to be safe and fighting for the things you believe in is the most important thing a human being can hope to do, even in the face of all that. If that isn’t a happy ending, then I don’t know what is.”

    I found the promotional material, opening song and closing song for the first two episodes very misleading about the actual tone of the series. (Episode 3 and on ward gets it right.) This AMV (Anime Music Video) does much better job of illustrating feel of the show:

    “Madoka Magica” is available on Hulu and Crunchyroll.

    Zac Bertschy’s reviews can be found here:

  • Mel

    I have found the error. The RSS metadata is pointing itunes to a file at

    But the file is really as

    The difference is the – in front of the 9-20-12.mp3 so itunes is not able to download it.

  • The Great Dane


    A Three-Parter for the three of you:
    1) Which highly-regarded film do you secretly hate? 2) Which generally panned film do secretly love? 3) Which film are you most embarrased about never having seen?

    Think as long back as you want. I would love to know. 🙂

  • The Great Dane

    PS: Name suggestions for the Podcast (some of them are bad, I know):
    The Podfather(s)
    Citizens of Kane
    Movie Trailing
    Film Positive
    Lights, Camera, Discussion!


  • moviewatcher

    Are you Auterists? Do you think that the Director is the ultimate author of his movies?


    Wouldn’t you agree that in narrative films, it’s the screenplay that is at the core of the movie and is what ultimately makes it on to the screen and where most of the greatness comes from (except in Terence Malick movies and the like)?

    I guess my real question is:
    Wouldn’t you agree that writers and under-rated in Hollywood? Nobody knows the names John Logan, Robert Riskin, Charlie Kaufman, Eric Roth and Steven Zaillian. The one writer who is well known is Aaron Sorkin, and even he isn’t that famous…

    I just want to be clear that I’m not trashing directors. I love Woody Allen, Frank Capra, Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan movies. But you will notice that 3 of those are writer/directors… I’ve seen too few Martin Scorsese movies to judge him, but I think with The Aviator and Hugo, I was sold on him as a great Director (will see Raging Bull in the near future, though).

  • moviewatcher

    ^ Btw, when I said “nobody knows”, I mean normal people outside of the film industry don’t know those names. But everyone knows Spielberg, Scorsese, Cameron and even Nolan, now.

  • steve50

    Question: While the Oscars have always been the “big top” of the movie circus, serious film criticism that peaked in the 70s has since been on a steady decline in both audience impact and review quality. Is this because the American movie business is no longer owned by movie makers, but larger parent corporations whose bottom line goals are more easily achieved when an audience has been dumbed-down, similar to political campaigns?

    Second part: If so, what does this trend mean for the future of the business vs the art of cinema – are auteurs doomed as movies move to a more lucrative realm similar to gaming, where eventually the viewer can determine the direction the story will take?

    or am I just paranoid?

  • Is it possible that the Academy will not award Daniel Day-Lewis Best Actor? We saw a little Streep backlash last year and a third Best Actor win for Lewis would put him at most all-time. Given that at least one of the fellow nominees won’t have won an Oscar, will there be a movement toward not voting for DDL?

  • alan of montreal

    With the apparent box office success of Obama’s Dream and the burgeoning right wing film industry, what do you think of the use of film as polemic in contemporary American cinema? Is there really a division along political lines, or is it a false dichotomy? I was shocked (though perhaps I shouldn’t be) to read that one of the producers of Obama’s Dream was also a producer on Schindler’s List. This seems to be very troubling and murky territory we’re entering into these days.

  • Mattoc

    My suggestion/question would be to all three of you. Name 3 films this year that nobody is talking about for awards consideration, but could be a dark horse? Mine would be Iceman.

    Also, FYC – Movie Matters for your podcast name.

  • arjay

    The podcast is in i-tunes, but the new episode won’t download.

    Call it, Craig & Sasha & Ryan & Ted & Alice.

  • Mel

    I found out why it isn’t downloading last night and posted it earlier in the thread. No one has addressed it yet though. So here it is again:

    I have found the error. The RSS metadata is pointing itunes to a file at
    But the file is really at
    The difference is the – in front of the 9-20-12.mp3 so itunes is not able to download it.

  • Mattoc

    Yes, Mel. I noticed your fix yesterday and is correct. I’m not sure why they haven’t fixed it yet.

    I am starting to believe there’s something in the session they don’t want us to hear. I think this may go all the way to the Whitehouse…

  • Mel

    This probably goes so deep the White House doesn’t even know about it…..

  • Mel

    Thanks for fixing it in itunes, guys. I listened during my workout today and it made it fly right by. I will look forward to this every week.

    p.s. I think Ryan mentioned me!
    p.p.s. I love Ryan’s little accent! (I have one too).

  • I’m gone to tell my little brother, that he should also visit this website on regular
    basis to get updated from most recent gossip.

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