Junk Food Dinner Podcast: Episode #49

Put on your glasses, nerd, because episode 49 of Junk Food Dinner is here!

This week in honor of National Reading Month, we're kicking off a three-episode series of shows dedicated to three of our favorite authors. Starting things off, we'll be taking a look at three films based on the work of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Up first, a man becomes "unstuck in time" and simultaneously experiences his past, present and future in the surreal Slaughterhouse-Five from 1972 directed by George Roy Hill and starring Michael Sacks.

Then, Jerry Lewis and Madeline Kahn are malformed alien twins sent to Earth to solve its problems in the goofy 1982 comedy Slapstick (of Another Kind)(from the brilliant mind who brought you Baby Geniuses).

And finally, Bruce Willis, Nick Nolte and Albert Finney lead an all-star cast in a quirky look at Midwestern life in 1999's Breakfast of Champions.

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  1. Another fun show. I haven't seen BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS yet, but from your guy's description, even though the general opinion was negative, I actually think I might really like it. I like playful, stylized, wordy, and imaginatively experimental stuff. For instance, taking the exact doodle/drawing from the book and using it literally where it was suppose to be in the book's description, sounds like a fun and novel idea to me. And Alan Rudolph is no amateur new comer, he goes way back (he was Altman's protégé), and has made a ton of movies over the years, including some pretty interesting looking ones too like; EQUINOX, TROUBLE IN MIND with Divine, MADE IN HEAVEN, CHOOSE ME, ENDANGERED SPECIES and a bunch of others.

    And you guys should definitely check out MOTHER NIGHT on your own at some point. Keith Gordon is a majorly overlooked American filmmaker of his generation. His WAKING THE DEAD is a masterpiece! And no, it's not a zombie movie. I actually got to talk to him through email several years ago, after he bought a DVDR from me online. He's a great guy, and I actually asked him about that scene in BACK TO SCHOOL where they are discussing interpretations of Vonnegut for a class assignment, and then Dangerfield's character reveals that he has got Vonnegut himself to come over and set them straight. Gordon, as an actor at that point in his career, then opens the door and in walks Vonnegut himself. This is ironic of course since Gordon went on to make MOTHER NIGHT. He said that it was just a pretty neat ironic coincidence and that he was too nervous to talk much to Vonnegut on the set that day.

    Next year, you guys should consider a J.G. Ballard show, one of my favorite writers. You could do HOME, THE ATROCITY EXHIBITION, and LOW-FLYING AIRCRAFT; or substitute in Cronenberg's CRASH for one of those if you really want to (although I'd definitely keep HOME), and you might be able to even do Vincenzo Natali's HIGH RISE by that point. Personally, if I win the lottery, I'm going to the jungle and making a film out of THE CRYSTAL WORLD myself.

    Oh yeah, a "Sequels In Space" theme show idea was on my list of suggestions as well. But please don't forget about CRITTERS 4 and LEPRECHAUN 4, my personal favorite "in space" sequels. And of course there's also AIRPLANE II. Although, it's funny, there aren't really actually all that many when you set down to make a list of them.

  2. @Micheal- I may be the culprit for panning the Alan Rudolph's direction in Breakfast of Champions (BoC) by comparing reviews of George Roy Hill (Slaughter House Five) to Rudolph. Here's an example of the critical response to Rudolph's work on BoC: http://articles.sfgate.com/1999-12-10/entertainment/17708030_1_nolte-scores-kilgore-trout-finney
    I thought it was interesting to compare this with the response to Hill's success in transferring Slaughter House Five to film, as in this review:

    The ironic thing about Rudolph being the protégé of Altman is that Entertainment Weekly described BoC as "a Robert Altman disaster -- a movie so unhinged it practically dares you not to hate it" (http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,64251,00.html).
    As a result of this quote, Rudolph's connection to Altman confuses me, as Altman's work on bringing out the best in actors whose characters are in weird internal dilemmas and unusual social situations, like Brewster McCloud, Short Cuts, or Gosford Park, is one of his key traits. Watching BoC, I wondered why Altman, the Coehn Brothers, or even Mary Harron of American Psycho were not approached. Or perhaps they were approached and just were not interested.

    Yet Rudolph does, as you mention, have a lot of work to his credit. Unfortunately, the only other film of his that I seem to be familiar with is The Moderns, which I also did not like. I can't judge the director on solely two films, as that would be unfair to his accomplished resume.

    And you may actually like the BoC. While reviewing a majority of the reviews, there appears to be a "love-it-or-hate-it" reaction.

    However, I will usher one last warning in repeating that Vonnegut himself stated at the end of the Breakfast of Champions audiobook recording that the film version was "painful to watch" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakfast_of_Champions_(film)).

    By the way, having seen only BoC and Slaughter House Five prior to this episode, I asked that we try out Mother Night instead of BoC when I saw the film list! Considering your acclaim for Mother Night and our experience with BoC, I will definitely check out the former.
    Thanks for listening and for posting!


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