Join the intrepid trio of Josh, Michael and John as we explore the history of film from the silent era through today’s releases, and from Hollywood to the far reaches of world cinema. Through lively discussion and occasional argument, these three old friends will take the listener on a highly opinionated tour of some of the more obscure recesses of film studies. If, as Alfred Hitchcock was fond of saying, film is life with the boring bits left out, then Vintage Sand will be film study with the boring bits left out. The creators will always approach film from the point of view of the fan, which above anything else defines who we are. From the obscure to the classic and back again, come with us and recall and rejoice in the joys of the big screen.
Vintage Sand Episode 32: The Vintage Sand Guide to Our Favorite Film Books
We know what you’re thinking. How can those Vintage Sand guys be so durned knowledgeable about film and yet still maintain their humility? Well, of course the three of us have seen way too many films over the years, but the truth is that so much of what has shaped our lives as filmgoers has come from reading some of the great books written about film by filmmakers, great critics, and film historians. At Vintage Sand, we’ve never claimed any expertise in film as such. We have tried simply to share our enthusiasm in the hope of opening doors for our listeners regarding our favorite films and perhaps some different and useful ways to watch them.
So, instead of trying to take you to school this time, we’re taking you to the library. The titles we discuss in this episode, as mentioned above, do what film studies does best – open new doors. You’ll find that the books on our list are pretty much free of jargon (the use of the word “liminality” is expressly forbidden), as well as tell-all gossip. For the sake of time and sanity, we’ve omitted fictional works about Hollywood and the process of making movies; West’s The Day of the Locust, Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon, and Terry Southern’s Blue Movie, are some examples that are worth your time along those lines. So dig up your library cards, clean your glasses and come along with us to see why names like David Thomson and Donald Spoto are as important to our lives as film fanatics as names like Kubrick or Hitchcock.
Vintage Sand Episode 31: The Final Countdown: Our Favorite Last Films by Great Directors
"7 Women". "Rio Lobo". "The Other Side of the Wind". "Family Plot". "Buddy Buddy". "Pocketful of Miracles". "A Countess from Hong Kong". Have you even heard of these films, let alone seen them? Yet they stand as the final works, respectively, of John Ford, Howard Hawks, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Frank Capra and Charlie Chaplin. In Episode 31 of the podcast, Team Vintage Sand explores the question of why so many, if not most, of our greatest directors conclude their careers with middling, occasionally atrocious, and almost universally forgettable films.
But do not despair, dear listener; we also travel to France, Sweden, Japan and back home, and across the years from the mid-1930’s to the early years of this century, to give our favorite examples of great directors who ended their careers on a high note. These latter fall into two distinct categories: the majority, where directors were unaware that their most recent effort would serve as their final statement, and those rare cases where the artists involved knew that it would be their last word as an artist and acted accordingly. It’s a great mix of films, so come along for the ride and hope with us that "Inland Empire" will not be David Lynch’s final feature, that "An Officer and a Spy" will not be Roman Polanski’s last word, and that if Tarantino stops at ten, as he has promised, that the next one will be better than the last few.
Vintage Sand Episode 30: Hidden Gems, Volume II
Back in the Before Time, we did a long-ago episode (#11, if you're playing along at home) where we each chose one film to discuss that we thought had been unjustly overlooked by time and the madding crowd. At the time, we promised/threatened to go down this path again and take you, loyal listeners, into some more dark and obscure corners of film history. So enjoy Episode 30, Hidden Gems Volume II, where John, Michael and Josh take a closer look at three very different films: a broad satire from the early 70's by a first-time director about to become a small-screen legend; a sweet, low-key, oddball comedy by a brilliant director who never could find his place in Hollywood; and a comedy-drama by a skilled craftsman of a director based on a book by one of our greatest modern novelists. And by the way, how do you get ice cream out of velour upholstery?
Vintage Sand Episode 29: Home Movies: The Best of 2020
It was a year, and an Oscars ceremony, unlike any other in memory. That being said, there were definitely many films, both big and small, that we think will stand the test of time and which folks may still be watching 50 years from now. So join us for the ride as we explore some of 2020’s most memorable films, from Nomadland to Palm Springs and from Da 5 Bloods to Minari; it’s our Journal of the Plague year. Whatever our feelings about the films of 2020, though, Episode 29 is a cause for celebration for us. It is the first time in 14 months that John, Michael and I were able to record the episode live and together in the same room. All due respect and love to the makers of Zoom, which allowed us to continue the podcast through this miserable year, but this was a reminder of why we started Vintage Sand in the first place and why we so enjoy creating it. We hope that the joy we felt in really working together again will be contagious for our fans, and that you will all stay safe and take care. As Fern says, we’ll see you down the road.
Vintage Sand Episode 28: Everybody Knows the Score
Welcome to Episode 28 of Vintage Sand, your Film History podcast. In this episode, Everybody Knows the Score, we explore some of the best soundtracks in the history of film. For our purposes this time out, we are focusing strictly on non-diagetic (“background”) music written for instruments and/or voice for a particular film. So we are not focusing on…
• …songs written for a soundtrack. This rules out both musicals and collections ranging from Isaac Hayes’ music for Shaft to Aimee Mann’s original songs for Magnolia.
• …curated collections of songs by various artists. We call this the T-Bone Burnett Rule. Choosing songs for a film is an art in itself, and such directors as Scorsese, Tarantino, both our favorite Andersons and the Coen Brothers are among the masters. A worthy endeavor if done well, but another art form entirely.
• …collections of classical pieces by one composer (Manhattan, for example) or multiple composers (think 2001 and The Tree of Life)
So we range from Golden Age Hollywood masters like Max Steiner, Dmitri Tiomkin and Franz Waxman, all the way through the best work being done today, from Alexandre Desplat and Carter Burwell to Reznor/ Ross and Jonny Greenwood. We also try to establish that the collaboration between director and composer can be among the most crucial in making bad films good and good ones classics. So don’t be surprised if a lot of work that these partnerships produced appears among our faves: Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock, John Williams and Steven Spielberg/George Lucas, Nino Rota and Francis Coppola, Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone and Danny Elfman and Tim Burton, to name but a few. Fair warning—between our atrocious humming skills and copyright issues, you may not hear much actual music. But you will surely know the score.
Vintage Sand Episode 27: Director's Cut: Bong Jun-ho
Team Vintage Sand returns with Bong Jun-ho: Director’s Cut, our study of the director who, following last year’s Oscars, may now properly be called one of the world’s most important filmmakers. While "Parasite" brought him Oscars, a Palme d’Or and international fame, Bong has been making his brilliant, iconoclastic films for nearly two decades. As we examine all seven of Bong’s feature films, several things become clear. The first is that he is a true poet of dislocation. South Korea has transformed from a relatively sleepy backwater to late-capitalist tech powerhouse in only a couple of decades. While the nation appears prosperous from the outside, Bong’s films directly and implicitly tell the story of what the sudden change has meant in terms of economic insecurity, fracturing family relationships and a general mistrust and lack of respect for those in authority. But what makes Bong truly unique is that he may be the most adept director in history at making sudden and frequent tonal shifts feel organic to his stories. Working in a multitude of genres, from social and ecological allegory to police procedurals to late Hitchcock to monster films, he is somehow able to skip from intensity to lightness and back again without missing a beat. In his first feature, 2002’s "Barking Dogs Don’t Bite", the apartment super says, “Who would ever imagine that someone would live under a building?” After watching "Parasite"’s incredible twist featuring another man living under a building, we salute Bong with the same word that that half-crazed, creditor-dodging, knife-wielding soul repeats constantly: Respect!