Culture Crash 18-43: Netflix’s Binge-worthy Horror Drama, The Haunting of Hill House

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in entertainment.

It’s the week of Halloween, which means it’s the time of year to get a little spooked. Luckily, Netflix has your back.

Earlier this month, Netflix released The Haunting of Hill House, a 10-episode horror series loosely based on the novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson. The series follows the Crain family; two parents and five children, over the course of multiple timelines. We watch their time spent decades earlier in the Hill House, a creepy old mansion they moved into in an effort to flip the house, and we watch them in the present day. We know from the onset that whatever happened back in that mansion, it wasn’t good, and it still haunts them even now. 

It’s a scary show, and there are moments of pure horror, but mostly, it builds a lot of suspense. It’s also a well-done family drama. It features sibling rivalry, mental illness, drug addiction- it’s like This Is Us crossed with…The Shining.

Where many horror shows can feel like they exist just to gross us out with gore, this show feels created with a purpose. It will suck you in, thrill you, and haunt you. Perfect for a Halloween-week binge-watch.

The Haunting of Hill House is available to stream on Netflix now.

I’m Evan Rook. 

Culture Crash 18-42: The Old Man & the Gun Allows Robert Redford to Age Gracefully

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in entertainment.

Movies with bank heists tend to be action-packed movies full of chase sequences and maybe a dramatic shoot-out. What bank robbery films tend not to be are quiet meditations on aging. But that’s exactly what director David Lowery’s latest film, The Old Man and the Gun set out to be.

The Old Man and the Gun gained some press over the last few months because star Robert Redford announced it would be his final film performance. If that holds true remains to be seen, but if it is, it’s a fitting send-off. Redford stars as an aging bank robber, based on the real-life criminal Forrest Tucker. In the film, Tucker is a gentleman stick-em-up artist, a man who wields a gun at banks before complimenting the tellers, calming their fears, and walking out with a bag of cash. The film also follows his budding romance with Jewel, a similarly-aged woman who is not a bank robber, played by Sissy Spacek.

The Old Man and the Gun features several robbery scenes, but never becomes an action film. The music score is relaxing and the film itself is shot on an old filmstock that makes it look like it came from the 70s.

Lowery is probably not a director most audiences know: he’s responsible for the live-action version of Pete’s Dragon as well as the indie darlings Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and A Ghost Story. At this point in his career, Lowery’s signature move is being incredibly patient. He lets shots linger a longer than most other directors would and allows silence to hold moments together. These two simple strategies make his movies feel warmer, more lived it. It’s a style I love and one that many people would probably describe as boring. Maybe so, but it works here, and it allows Redford and Spacek both the opportunity to display their incredible acting talents, even late in their careers. Spacek turns in a wonderful performance, but ultimately the movie is most interested in giving Redford a graceful send-off far from the worlds of comic books movies or crime thrillers.

The Old Man and the Gun won’t be a box office juggernaut, but it is incredibly charming, and a must-see for lifelong fans of Robert Redford.

I’m Evan Rook. 

18-07 Segment 1: The Graduate, 50 Years Later

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Even after 50 years, The Graduate is a film that has managed to maintain a significant place in American culture for many generations. While its consistent popularity over time could be due to a number of factors, Beverly Gray, author of Seduced By Mrs. Robinson talks with us about some of these elements that she truly felt has made the film so important.

When talking about the impact of this film, Gray believes that it benefits from a few different components. First, many Baby Boomers, herself included, felt that the film addressed some of their own confusion with the world, as kids entering adulthood looking to do something different with their lives than their parents. Not only is this a feeling that the Baby Boomer generation experienced, it is also an universal one that generations growing up today can relate to as well. Other factors that Gray uses to explain this movies impact is the time in which it came about, but also the revolutionary choices made in respect to film.
To hear more about these different elements, listen to Gray further discuss these ideas and check out her book Seduced By Mrs. Robinson.

Guest:

  • Beverly Gray, author of Seduced By Mrs. Robinson

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Culture Crash 17-33: Filmmaking the old-fashioned way

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The digital revolution has changed much of the world around us, including the movies we watch. We explore the virtues of filmmaking the old-fashioned way: on film.

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Culture Crash 17-24: Overcoming Franchise Fatigue

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16-12 Segment 1: Everyone’s a Critic! Why it’s important that you should be

 

You’ve no doubt heard the line “everyone’s a critic!” Our guest is one and thinks we should all be critics of the films, fine art, literature and other pleasures we indulge in. He will talk about why it’s good to be a discerning viewer of the arts, how to be a better critic, how criticism makes us see things in a different light and how it helps us become better at choosing those things in life that bring us beauty and pleasure.

Host: Gary Price. Guest: A.O. Scott, movie critic for the New York Times, author of the book, Better Living Through Criticism: How to think about art, pleasure, beauty and truth

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click here for the transcript