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*1/2 (out of ****)

At first, the title of CBS’ new three-camera seems like a more honest moniker of many sitcoms. “This is the story of people who, although they might resemble some of your friends in various ways, lead much more fun, attractive lives than you do.” Instead, it’s the show’s gimmick. “This is the story of six people, in different romantic phases of their lives, who are jealous of their friend’s romantic phases.” Yikes. As a gimmick, I doubt its ability to last for five seasons and a movie (Of course, people said that about How I Met Your Mother for its entire duration, and that’s a show I still feel forced to defend). But look at it as a description of the characters on the show – the show that CBS is hoping you return to every Monday for the foreseeable future. Sure, I’ve been a little jealous of people who are more single than me, or even less single than me, but it’s a fleeting thought at most. This is what brings these people together, if not in their fictional world, then in the world we and the show runners live in. That’s not a good start for a show that already started with one foot in the critical grave, what with it being a three-camera sitcom and all.


It certainly lives up to its current three-camera colleagues, in all of the worst ways. Hacky, tired, boring, shallow, unoriginal. In a lot of ways, it resembles this review. “If they don’t have to come with original ideas, then why should I?” ask both the creators of the show, knowing that CBS doesn’t have very high quality standards, and myself, who finds it more and more difficult to give these shows even a fraction of the time it takes to write about something worthwhile, like SO MUCH of the television that’s on today.


Allow me to give you an example of what to expect, in case you’re still on the verge of watching. Kevin Connolly (E from Entourage, who you’ll be surprised by how little you missed) and his wife forget their anniversary. So the next night, E invites all of their friends over for a surprise party. With me so far? Pretty standard sitcom shit. Her car pulls in the driveway. The guests turn off the lights, ready to scream “Surprise.” She comes in and, with the lights still off, tells her husband she knows how to spice up their dull sex life. After a few seconds, someone mercifully turns on the lights to reveal E’s wife on her knees, about to perform oral sex. On her husband. In front of everyone they know. And he knew they were there. What the fuck? What the fucking fuck? Is marriage such a desperate sex vacuum that you have to resort to getting blowbies in front of all your friends? Or are we supposed to think that this guy, the normalish, grounded, main character of the show, is this much of a fucking creep? Either way, it remains horriblest, horriblest garbage.

- Ryan Haley

CountDown: Raging Bull


The fans demanded it. The friends already did it. Here’s an extended Raging Bull conversation, because, come one– ten minutes to talk about Raging Bull?


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PopFilter Editorial


Why Aren’t You Watching Hannibal?

The other day, I was thinking about the popfilter podcast, a little show I produce with my dear friends Ryan and Mike. Approximately 240 popfilters ago, we had to watch the pilot episode of a show called Hannibal on NBC. My expectations were perfectly low, or so I thought at the time. I hadn’t yet fallen in love with The Mad Milkman and Lawrence Fishbourne was just that dude from The Matrix. What I got out of the pilot was enough to completely impress me and even keep me hanging around for a while. I sort of fell off the train about halfway through the season but never forgot about the show.

And now I am here to tell you one thing: watch this fucking show. I do not enjoy procedurals, I do not love major network hour-long dramas and I kind of just generally don’t like television. But what this show is able to get away with is mesmerizing. The performances of the leads alone should be enough to get you watching, but if they aren’t, be sure to see how intensely real they are able to get with human flesh, organs and buckets of blood.

To begin with, watching Mads Mikkelsen play the titular reserved psychopath is a fucking delight. His ability to play it so-cool-it’s-actually-campy-but-somehow-still-very-cool is amazing. He gets by as Dr. Lecter with more than just creepy smiles and scary rants. He plays off his adversaries with a cunning and charm that we expect but in such a sweet concert with brutality and methodical sadism that you have to wonder how it’s possible for one actor to swing so wildly in so many directions and continue not to miss.

“Come on! It’s still! How could you miss that?!” – My dad to me at T-ball practice.

And while The Mad Milkman deserves whatever accolades he may receive, a lot of the credit for his performance and overall tone of the show needs to go to the writers, and specifically show creator Brian Fuller. This show could have been another hacky, bullshit remake of a classic work of art that we didn’t ask for and don’t need. Instead, in this group’s careful hands, the characters have been given time to breathe. Motives are being established, destroyed and rebuilt in a more interesting and different way. Revenge is being plotted, discovered, acted upon and stopped. This show is a living, breathing thing that happens to revolve around a well-known cinematic character, instead of a cash grab by a desperate network trying to do whatever it can to get some attention for itself.

And that leads me to NBC itself. When you hear that a major network is doing an hour long cop show about the origins of Hannibal Lecter, you probably think something like, “wow, I hope it’s not NBC because they’ll hire a bunch of boring people and make a boring show that bores me to my boring fucking core”. And while you would normally be right, in this instance, NBC is proving that it has some fucking balls. In the last episode of this show, two different bodies came spilling out of two different dead horses. AND they showed you, in unflinching detail, how to cut someone’s chest open, crack their ribs and get a real nice view of their heart. AND THEN a bird flew out of a dead ladies open chest cavity! What! Sorry to go all Chris Farley, but this show is fucking bananas, And the fact that NBC is doing this, speaks volumes about how seriously ready they might be to get back in the game.

That’s fucking neat. This show is fucking bonkers.

So earlier, I had mentioned that I kind of fell off the wagon of this show during the first season. I’m busy. So sue me. But when I decided to come back, I was worried that I may have missed some things. And while I was right about having missed things, it didn’t matter. This show is better when you watch religiously, but it’s not crucial that you do. Every episode stands on it’s own and every plotline develops in a way that works as it’s own compelling mini-movie. Believe me when I say that you can just jump into this one and be thoroughly entertained, considerably more than you would be watching almost any other show on television.

This show may not be perfect, but you still need to watch it. And if you like Sleepy Hollow because of it’s “too good to be true” campiness while still telling a story, you’re going to love this shit. The show’s tongue is in its cheek when it needs to be but takes itself tremendously seriously at the exact same time you do. I am entirely unsure of how they do it, but they manage to get inside the brain of the viewer and mirror thoughts and opinions in ways that feel completely natural yet uncommon in the current television landscape.

See above: Current television landscape.

So please, unless your answer to the title of this essay is “I am, you asshole”, you need to start watching Hannibal. If you don’t do it for me, do it for yourself. You’re sure to thank yourself as soon as yourself realizes exactly what you’ve done for yourself.


With Love,

Jason R. Noble




**1/2 (out of ****)




Hearing the pitch for Turn a year or so ago was both exciting and scary. Exciting, because it’s pretty dope, as it tells the story of America’s first spy ring, a group of people who infiltrated the British army for one George Washington. It was scary, for a couple of reasons. One, is the Rome rule, which states that sometimes shows, no matter how good they are, need to just go away because its network can’t afford the budget that period pieces demand. Two, because it’s from AMC, a channel I just can’t sell my stock in, no matter how many Low Winter Suns they give us make it seem like Mad Men and Breaking Bad were just examples of a new channel getting luckier than any other channel in history, as opposed to the standards we could expect from the future. Walking Dead’s popularity aside, it’s not a good show, not to mention the fairly forgettable Hell on Wheels (is that even still on?), Rubicon, and The Killing. Regardless of your feelings on any of those shows, you’d be hard pressed to put them in the same category as Mad Men and Breaking Bad. So Turn, in a way, has more pressure on it than any other show that’s premiered in 2014 so far: it doesn’t just have to take the place of Breaking Bad (Breaking Bad!!!!), but also prove that AMC is capable of producing something that can do that. Turn doesn’t destroy our faith in AMC, but it does swiftly move all of that pressure to whatever AMC’s next show will be. Oddly enough, AMC had the rights to air Rectify, one of the few shows of any network over the last five years or so that can stand-up to MM or BB, but they decided to give it to The Sundance Channel, a channel they own, to help them kick start their run of original programming. It backfired a teense, as AMC can’t find a hit, and The Sundance Channel just had a year (along with The Returned and Top of the Lake) with a batting average we haven’t seen since…well, since AMC premiered Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Whoops.


Most shows, particularly network shows, have an easy time of setting up what they do. Comedies show off how different and similar their casts are to each other, and then throw them into mildly wacky premises until the characters run out of steam. Dramas show off their setting (typically a workplace, typically a hospital or crime fighting unit of some sort), and then choose a tone (think House as opposed to Grey’s Anatomy). Off-network shows, especially one with a premise so juicy, don’t necessarily have it so easy, or have it a lot easier, depending on how you look at it. With fewer episodes needed from each season, and often times, fewer seasons needed, off-network shows can tell their stories and bounce, assuming they can stay on the air that long. That means that the pilot for Turn doesn’t have to do all of the horrible, hacky things that network shows have to do. They can just begin their story. Network pilots often have too much to do, which can make them feel loud and annoying. But Turn, with less to do, just feels boring – boring in a way that makes me think that pilots are damned if you do, damned if you don’t, and maybe I’ll just never see a good pilot again.


The biggest problem is that we get a main character (played by Jamie Bell) that almost needs to be boring. Otherwise, he probably wouldn’t have landed in all of the situations that lead the story to begin. He’s pulled back and forth by Blues and Reds, and keeps a low-profile so neither side gets pissed off. This (slowly) kick starts the story, but it also shows us that we’re going to be following a guy whose actions are dictated by the situations he’s in, as opposed to his actions dictating the situation, which is inherently more interesting. War is some crazy ass shit, and it steals the character away from any one man, forcing him to work as a small part of a human machine, but still. We’ve gotten rich characters from war stories before. And without the budget or the time to stage something like Saving Private Ryan’s beach invasion (a segment that is necessary to that movie, thanks to its severe lack of character depth), those strong character moments are imperative for Turn. The first show is by no means bad, but it offers no way of grasping onto this character. This makes it almost impossible to grasp on to this story, or feel the need to tune in later to see how these relationships develop.


There’s a chance that Turn is doing a particularly slow burn, and it demands that you judge it by its first season, not its first episode. That’s totally understandable, but here’s the thing: I would also recommend you judge Rectify by its first season, and not its pilot, but its pilot is good enough to force you to watch the rest of the series. See how that works? As I said earlier, these off-network pilots have a far shorter checklist than their network counterparts, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing on their checklist. Better luck next time, AMC, and if this isn’t the next Breaking Bad, at least it’s not the next Low Winter Sun. 


- Ryan Haley

Top Ten – Sidekicks Who Steal the Show

Sidekicks Who Steal the Show

To be clear, these aren’t necessarily the best sidekicks of all time…though that would be a good list…OK that’s definitely coming up at a later point. But THIS list is for the sidekicks that are arguably better than the hero or protagonist, the ones who totally steal the show.  These are the characters you wish would have more lines or maybe even a spin off because they’re just so much more interesting, compelling, hilarious or whatever than the main guy we’re supposed to care about.


Short Round - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Temple of Doom

Children of the 80’s lost their little minds when their favorite swashbuckling professor showed up in the second installment with a smart mouthed kid in tow.  Everyone knows on all adventuring teams need a little kid to squeeze through tight spaces and make hilarious quips. While Indy is busy making eyes at the screech owl in the blonde wig and turning into a zombie, Short Round basically just spends the whole movie kicking ass and saving the day.  He single handedly escapes from his super evil slavery prison (in like a tenth of the time it took Batman BTW) and heads back into the center of the evil cult  like a boss to snap Indy out of his trance right before Willie takes the lava dip. I mean he’s a kid who grew up driving a cab in Shanghai, he’s got street cred for days and an adorable accent that won’t quit. I for one think Lucas and Co. owe us the Short Round Saturday morning  cartoon.   “Hey Dr. Jones, no time for love! We’ve got company.”


Garth Algar – Wayne’s World


It may be Wayne’s world but it’s totally Garth’s movie. Just look at the facts; he drives the Mirth Mobile, he’s the genius behind Baberham Lincoln, and he finally got his pubes this year! Plus he can do a really bitching dance to “Foxy”…at least he can in his head and that’ll probably translate into a real life skill. Garth sometimes gets overexcited and needs to take his Ritalin but that’s the sign of genius not cowardice, the dude can really wail on the drums. It takes a real man to be comfortable enough with his sexuality to admit to getting aroused when Bugs Bunny dons Drag. We’re all thinking it but he’s the only one with the balls to say it out loud.

 Jay & Silent Bob – Clerks/Mallrats/Chasing Amy/Dogma/

Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back/Clerks 2

Jay and Silent Bob

While you can make the argument that Silent Bob is actually the sidekick to Jay, I’m considering the dynamic duo here as one because fuck off it’s my list that’s why. These guys are always around to provide levity and unexpected insight to whatever slacker friend happens to be whining at the moment in Smith’s Universe of stoners with a monopoly on angst. With Jay’s provocative rhymes and stories and Silent Bob’s steady serene presence they seem almost as spiritual prophets for the modern age, ministering wisdom to the cynical Generation X. They shed the light on what’s really important to friends worried about the little things and act as the literal glue in the New Jersey saga. Also the only sidekicks on this list to actually get their own movie, officially making “snootchie bootchies” the most popular catchphrase ever.


Walter Sobchak – The Big Lebowski


“Better” is a relative term in this case. Had The Dude not allowed the hair-trigger rageaholic Walter to tag along and completely fuck everything up maybe poor Donnie would have lived and who knows how things would have turned out? Boring that’s how. Let’s face it, things working out perfectly does not a compelling movie make. And what Walter lacks in common sense and say discretion, he more than makes up for in personality and enthusiasm…traits The Dude doesn’t exactly have in spades. It takes a certain kind of man whose convictions about the rules of the game are so strong he’ll pull a gun to make his point. When Walter barks out “Smokey this is not ‘Nam, this bowling there are rules…MARK IT ZERO!” it’s done with such flair and commitment he makes it seem an almost noble stance rather than the ravings of an asshole.

 Kato – Green Hornet

green hornet

I don’t think I even need to defend this one. He clearly does all the actual crime fighting while the rich kid gets the cool name and all the credit. Would the Green Hornet even be a thing without Kato? Short answer:  no.

Hermione Granger – Harry Potter


He may be the Boy Who Lived, but Hermione comes out of 7 book s and 8 movies as the very obvious Queen of Magic and Common Sense. Despite her Muggle upbringing she masters everything quicker than her already magic-familiar classmates because she’s basically the smartest person in the world. Smart enough to figure out the big secret of how to stop Voldemort and like save the world forever before he even knew it himself! She’s not at all afraid to use dark magics and questionable actions when she deems it necessary…I mean let’s not forget she kept a person alive in a jar for a year for spreading rumors about her bestie. That kind of shit would have kept Harry up a night for moths but this is the girl who set a teacher on fire when she was 11, she is a stone cold, badass bitch. And that bitch is the power behind the Potter throne.

 Cosmo Brown – Singing in the Rain

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It’s the curse of the rom-com to have the most boring male leads.  And let’s be honest here, Singing in the Rain is an Oscar winning classic of a rom-com.  In order for mass audiences of women to actually want to bone the main guy he apparently needs to be stripped of anything other than good looks and a modicum of charisma. All the witty and quirky traits that makes characters interesting but might be a turn off to some gets pushed off to the wacky best friend so he can make clever comments and perform silly plot devices. Cosmo Brown is the king of this niche. Gene Kelly moons and swoons but Brown dazzles with charm and hilarity. He is a slapstick master of the highest degree with a face made of rubber and sarcasm. Donal O’Connor’s iconic number “Make ‘em Laugh” is so enduing that “quirky” “indie” rom-com darling Joseph Gordon Levitt did a pitch perfect rendition as his Saturday Night Live monologue and to explain the bowtie.


Sam/Merry/Pip – Lord Of The Rings


Seriously what does Frodo even bring to the table here? If the Hobbits ever got a spinoff (and dear lord what I would pay to see that happen…they could even use “They’re taking the Hobbits to Isengard” as the theme…) he would be the boring one who’s story line we had to suffer through until Merry and Pip showed up and did something funny.  I mean I know he had to carry the entire fate of Middle Earth on his tiny shoulders or whatever, but come on man show us something that resembles a personality. Can you imagine if Sam and the rest didn’t decide to follow Frodo and it was just him and the grim gang trudging along to Mordor? I would rather watch an entire movie about Sam planning out the week’s meals (Po-tay-toes EVERY DAY!) than a LOTR movie where Frodo is the only Hobbit.

 Cameron Frye – Ferris Bueller

Cameron Frye


I read a quote once that said we all grew up wanting to be Ferris but probably ended up being Cameron instead…that either just made you laugh or completely depressed you and there’s your Ferris or Cameron litmus test. Ferris may be charming and confident and everything we wished we were, but there’s not one person who doesn’t identify with Cameron’s struggle. And thus we love him, because we are him.


Duckie  – Pretty in Pink

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He’s #1 here because Duckie was the entire inspiration for this list. As a best friend and sidekick he’s got it all: style, sass, and an eternally burning love for one Andie Walsh who completely does not deserve him. His brilliant rendition of Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” is the second best part of the whole movie, and that’s only second to his freaking dope shoes. Why wasn’t it just the Duckie movie?? Other than an amazingly mohawked Annie Potts, everyone else in this flick is a total asshole…which was the whole point of the movie when John Hughes wrote it! It was supposed to end with Andie realizing how douchey her rich kid crush was for succumbing to peer pressure and dumping her ass just because his smarmy friend told him to. And that John Cryer was the absolute cutest he was ever going to be and had been there for her the whole time and they’d kiss and yay happy ending. But little Miss Molly Ringwold didn’t want her character to end up with the geek and had Hughes change it forever cementing the survival-of-the-fittest social structure of 80’s teenagers. Duckie didn’t deserve that and neither did America. – AS



PopFilter Podcast 142


It’s the Sausage Show! Over the last two months, the friends have been taking segments of their podcast and throwing them in the trash, never to be heard again. Well, we’ve found them all and put them together in this one crazy show. Featuring reviews of the new Metronomy album, the HBO/British show Doll and Em, and Raging Bull!




** (out of ****)




Hulu and Netflix shows are fun to review because I can use the amount of shows I watch in a row as a determinate of how good they are. I’m typically very happy when there’s only one terrible episode of a network show to review, because most of them are so stinky, but with online “channels,” I can stop whenever I want. It turns out this isn’t the best gauge, however, as Deadbeat isn’t the worst show I’ve ever reviewed – it might not even be a bad show – but I couldn’t wait for the first episode to be over, much less watch more of the nine other episodes that were available to me. Well, fuck. Now I have to come up with other shit to say about the show.


When a show has character issues, we usually think that means it has no characters, or its characters are all two-dimensional. This is a problem, obviously, but it’s not a solution to make your characters (or in this case, character) three dimensional by giving him the same hacky traits and line-delivery-methods, that we were tired of five years ago. I don’t mind that Deadbeat‘s budget is obviously low, or they don’t have a ton of money to spend on special effects. I expect it when I go to watch a show produced for a website. But that does put a little more emphasis on the things that you can make better for free, like tighter scripts, better jokes, and a fresher lead performance. That, I do expect, at least if you’re going to get me to watch more than one.


Deadbeat tells the story of Kevin, an overweight-slacker-loser-pothead-tells-it-like-it-is-tactless-rude-but-still-sweet-when-he-needs-to-be. He plays one of the most cliched character tropes of our time: Stoner with a Heart of Gold. The trope doesn’t need to smoke weed, he (almost always a he) just needs to display the sort of ambition and worldview that a stereotypical movie/TV stoner would. So this show is Stoner with a Heart of Gold is also a medium who can see ghosts and help them with whatever bullshit they need to do to get our purgatory and get to heaven. So it’s not a premise we’ve necessarily seen before, but it is a character we’ve seen a billion times placed in a scenario we’ve seen a billion times.


Kevin is played by Tyler Labine, who comes with his own fanbase, thanks to Dale and Tucker Vs Evil, and to lesser extent, Reaper. And to a much, much lesser extent, Animal Practice. And throughout all of these roles, Labine has probably worked up something of a go-to persona. Unfortunately, there’s not enough go-to in the basket, yet, and it feels too much like a character we’ve seen before, and have long since grown tired of. I’m not saying this entire trope needs to be thrown out, but Labine needs to, either through improv or the script, find ways to tweak Kevin. His persona can even stay in tact. Typically with things like this, Kevin = Tyler, and Tyler = Kevin, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Tyler Labine could be the most boring person in the world, but that doesn’t matter to us. We’re not watching Tyler, we’re watching Kevin.


It’s not that the plotlines, or little “missions” that Kevin has to go on each episode, are bad. It’s that the showrunners don’t care about them. That’s not the story they want to tell. They want to have a guy that they think is funny interact with wacky characters, and make a show that gets you to laugh out loud. And that’s fine. The missions don’t have to be the most interesting part of the show. But what that means is that Tyler and the writers have less time to get this character and these laughs figured out. And just because all ten episodes were placed on Hulu at the same time, don’t think that means that they didn’t have time to figure it out. Don’t think that the only way people can get better at their jobs is if they have dicks on the internet yelling complaints at them every week. It’s still totally possible, even without your help.


- Ryan Haley

CountDown: AntiHeroes


What makes a hero a Hero? And what’s the dividing line between a Hero, an AntiHero, and a villain? To get to the boot– fuck this. IN this week’s CountDown the friends scream at each other their top 5 personal favorite AntiHeroes. You know the drill!



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Review us on iTunes!


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It seems like the Weekend Update hosts don’t have to do a whole lot else on the rest of the show, so when Cicely Strong was given the job, I was happy for her, but sad for me, because we were going to lose the show’s strongest character creator. She doesn’t have any great impressions, or characters that are wacky enough to get their own movie, but she’s perfect at taking a plain ol’, regular-ass person, and giving them an authentic twang, and the perfect amount of crazy that makes you want to know more, as opposed to wanting to see them less. Although she has had her weeks where she’s really just the WU anchor, this week gave Strong a few great roles. None, however, were better than this one, as half of a honky, dog-owning couple  (they have real kids too, but don’t seem to give a shit). What starts as a commercial for healthier dog food, turns into every fight I’ve ever been in with every girlfriend I’ve ever had, not to mention every fight I’ve ever seen any couple have. Rogen makes for a pretty good straight man, but it’s Strong’s knowledge of how hard to push and pull the Crazy Lever that makes this the shining moment of the night. – RH


No one NEEDS to know what mofongo is. All you need to know is that David Ortiz digs on this shit real hard. This impression is not just good; it’s completely whacky. I don’t personally know David Ortiz, but his take on how to eat and how to do a commercial is mezmorizing. Add to that the fact that his solution for depression it to be “not sad”, and you’ve got yourself a perfect four minutes of Weekend Update absuridty. – JRN


You know how Ryan was just saying that Cecily Strong going to Weekend Update was both awesome and a giant bummer? Well, he was. And I agree. Fortunately, however, this week gave her plenty to do, with this skit being the height. Everyone has a family member that they might be embarrassed of, but here Cecily creates a character that is easy to be worried about while she is straight up defending you. Now, no one necessarily knew that Rogan’s character was a dick slurper, but Cecily’s insistance on two main facts make this skit perfect. To begin with, he only did it once. Oh, that’s not enough? Fine, the dude he did it to was asleep. Problem solved, or so her character thinks. There is a depth here that is rarely seen on television, let alone SNL. Bravo, Cecily. This was your week. – JRN



Just minutes after giving one his best SNL performances of his career, as Boston Red Sock David Ortiz, Kenan Thompson sucked all of the good will he had just earned out of the room with this steaming pile. Devoid of jokes, or a sensible premise, or an anchoring impression or performance, Undercover Sharpton becomes one of the biggest head scratchers of the the season so far. It’s hard to imagine what convinced…anyone, really, that this was a good idea. – RH


I guess I was supposed to be annyoed by this character, but come on. This “funny” voice made my fucking skin crawl. That, coupled with the fact that this dude simply refused to say or do anything funny, makes me wonder why this one even aired. What’s even more frightening to consider, however, is the fact that something got cut in order for this shit to make it to the final show. I shudder to think what kind of Satan’s jizz that garbage was. – JRN

The List

The List Presents:

Top Ten Pretentious Moments in Modern Music

I know that The Decemberists are a divisive band. Some people love their intensity and use of often long forgotten instrumentation. Other people hate their pretentious faces because every pretentious thing they do is painfully and pretentiously stuffed with pretension. I am in the first camp and, much to the infuriation of the opposition, love their pretentious little faces. It got me thinking that, while they might be the current whipping boys of this topic, they are certainly not alone. With that in mind, I present to you, in no particular order, the 10 times that modern music has been perfectly pretentious.

Naming an Album “Picaresque” (The Decemberists)

This may be an easy one to pick on, but it’s a curious choice by the band. One would assume, knowing this band at all, that a concept album following a silly and dishonest character would follow. Unbelievably, however, the band just makes a rad album full of good music. I guess they just want people to know that they know the word “picaresque”. Pretentious? Yes. Terrific album? Absolutely.

“Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back” (Deerhoof)

This song is fucking banana splits. To begin with, all your hear is a bouncing basket ball. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a very odd guitar riff and minimalist lyrics start trickling in. There is no regard for time or time signatures, the lyrical content is purely absurd and everything about this song is a general mess. Unfortunately, it is all tied together that you have to marvel at the ability of this band to take such a lofty and pretentious idea and turn it into something much more.

“The Grey Album” and All of the Ensuing Madness (DJ Danger Mouse)

I remember when this came out and blew the pants off of people’s minds. You did what?! With who?! You so crazy, DJ Danger Mouse! And yes, this is a loftily ambitious project, lauded with an appropriate amount of praise. What I have a hard time with is the fact that Danger Mouse was surprised when his shit got fucked. “What do you mean I can’t just mash two incredibly famous things together without permission?”, he would say in his stupidest voice. This album lead to a serious debate about right of first use and freedom of speech, so while this particular album may not be the most pretentious, the righteous indignance and disregard for others give this album a hearty boost of pretension.

“The Mariner’s Revenge Song” (The Decemberists)

Oh, where are we to begin with this one? Calling someone a ‘rake and roustabout’? Check. Talking about a ‘magistrate’ and ‘urchins in the street’? Check. Some vague references to consumption? Double check. This is a 9 minute masterpiece involving revenge, heartbreak and justice. It’s also one of the most arrogant, pretentious and amazing songs released in the last 20 years.

“American Idiot” (Green Day)

I know that this one might fall more under the category of “hubris” or “blind ambition”, but the pretentiousness is here, and in spades. First of all, this little punk band from San Francisco has TWO songs that tip just over NINE MINUTES. That’s ridiculous. Then there’s the whole “punk rock concept album”. And don’t forget the fact that they made this thing into a full blown fucking Broadway stage show. And if you think that wasn’t the idea the entire time, you’re a bit of a dolt. You can’t deny how good this album is, but you also can’t deny the salty pretension that’s all over the face of this one.

The Music Video for “Two Weeks” (Grizzly Bear)

These guys are like the Beach Boys on acid. Which is insane, because the Beach Boys dropped a shit ton of acid. And while this song has all the sweet harmonies, soaring melodies and classical arrangements of a Beach Boys song, the video is an oddly pretentious look at how cool these guys think they are. Those big, bug eyes and holy spirit-esque light pouring out from their every pour all point to a group of dude who may be just a touch too big for their (presumably very tight) britches.

“Kid A” (Radiohead)

This entire album is a bit pretentious, but this song in particular is full of self-important garbage. From a band that you thought you liked, comes a song that’s just layered synths and mumbled gibberish! Hooray! And the worst part? They claimed to be doing all of this shit to save their beloved rock and roll. If that’s not stinky, sweaty pretension, I don’t know what is.

“The Rake’s Song” (The Decemberists)

This is the most pretentious moment on a concept album that is riddled with them. The song is about the narrator of the album and how his wife died birthing their fourth child and how he killed the other three to be free. Here are the highlights:

- His four children are named Charlotte, Dawn, Isaiah and Myfanwy

- He kills his three children by feeding them foxglove, drowning and physically beating and then burning the body.

- He discusses his idea for murder while rhyming the words pest and divest.

Again, this is an incredible song, just admittedly dripping in sweet, dark pretension.

“Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust” (Sigur Ros)

To begin, this is a phenomenal album. Okay, that’s out of the way. Originally, this album was going to be in English, which would have been a departure for the band. They then decided to translate it back to Icelandic, which makes sense because that’s where they’re from. Now for the pretentious: some of the songs remained in English, others were translated fully to Icelandic, others still were a mash of the two and some songs were sung in their signature “Vonlenska”, otherwise known as a complete gibberish language that is used to compliment the aesthetic and feel of the melodies and music. Let that sink in and get back to me.

“Reflektor” (Arcade Fire)

For a band that has built up a lot of goodwill over the years with excellent albums, they dropped this bloated, stinking turd on the world. The charm of this band is their passion, their power and their raw ability to attack something so hard you fucking feel it in your dick. This album is polished and tidy that all of the charm of “Funeral” is gone and replaced with the fun of being stabbed in the neck with a number two pencil. The problem is that the band started believing their own hype, and since this album was unbelievably critically and commercially successful, it hurts me to think about how much further down the pretentious rabbit hole this band might fall.


And there you have it. Stay tuned next week when the list returns to start chipping away at the back half of the best album of the 90′s. Until then, stay stupid.


With Love,

Jason R. Noble

PopFilter Podcast 141


This week, the friends wrap up their Bunuel blind spot with Belle de Jour, and fight Ryan’s childhood by watching Last Action Hero. Also, reviews of HBO’s new show Silicon Valley and the new-to-Blu Ray Double Indemnity.

Listen, Fellas, I Don’t Get It Either – The Real Housewives Of….

In 2006, Bravo started airing The Real Housewives of Orange County, a sculpted reality series that follows a group of wealthy, ostensibly beautiful women who are all friends because of their shared interests in money, plastic surgery, and day-drinking on weekday afternoons, when they are least likely to be faced with the grotesque sight of any Poors.  The show was apparently so successful that the network felt it necessary to create nearly identical iterations in New York, Atlanta, New Jersey, D.C., Miami, Beverly Hills, Vancouver, France, Melbourne, and Athens. Some of these were less successful than others, but they’ve all managed to garner some kind of an audience. By “some kind,” I obviously mean droves of chicks who just can’t seem to get enough.

That chick in the middle isn’t even on the show anymore — she’s been replaced with her ex-boyfriend’s new blonde.

Why Chicks Love It

Surprisingly, many of the cast members on these shows are actually intelligent, successful women with legitimate, impressive careers. There are lawyers, journalists, real estate agents, entrepreneurs, and the like. These aren’t exactly careers you can just dabble in as a hobby and suddenly discover one day that you’ve accidentally made a name for yourself. It didn’t even work that way for Elle Woods — there were multiple montages of her studying real hard in Legally Blonde, okay? Yet, despite all their intelligence and education, they’re still concerned with the label inside their dress, the size of the rock on their finger, and which of their backstabbing whore friends called them a bitch this week. So, see?? If intelligent, successful women are also petty and superficial, then it’s totally okay for normal girls to feed into the same  bitch-pack mentality! It’s proof positive that they don’t have to be “better than that” because there is no better than that. This is just how females are intrinsically — perpetually worried about who is the prettiest and who has the best stuff and whether or not they have a handsome man to validate their lives. Chicks want to watch chicks be shitty to other chicks on TV because it gives them permission to (continue to) be shitty to other chicks in real life and still call those other chicks their BFFs.

One of these women is a practicing attorney. And one of them is NeNe Leakes.

Why It’s So Very, Very Bad

If the previous paragraph didn’t convince you, let me explain further. Just being a female in this world is as close to living in Westeros as a real live human being can get. In my 32 years on this planet, I’ve witnessed some of the most heinous girl on girl crime imaginable, from shit talking and backstabbing to creating and pretending to be fake online boyfriends (oh the naivete of the 90s) just to ultimately crush their friends’ hearts. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been guilty of some of it myself — in the Game of Cunts, you win or you die and everyone must play. When I was a kid, there were three other girls in my neighborhood that I played together with all the time. One day, one of these girls, “Suzy,” decided she didn’t like another one of these girls, “Betsy.” She somehow convinced me and the remaining girl that we should cut Betsy out completely from all of our playdates. I don’t remember the details now, but I’m sure we weren’t kind about it as Betsy’s mom eventually organized a tea with all of us and our respective mothers to see what we could do to correct the situation. It was a lot like a mafia sit down between feuding families, but there were petits fours and way more pleases and thank yous. It was a child’s version of the exact same shit you see happening on any given episode of any one of these Real Housewives shows right after the episode where someone called someone else a bitch and threw a drink in her face. The only real difference is that I was about 11. These are grown women — women with apparent intelligence and successful careers — who still cling desperately to the High School Mean Girl mentality. They pump their bodies full of plastic and chemicals and botulism (never forget, Ladies, that that’s exactly what Botox is) and paint their faces with shellac and a trowel, then wear the sluttiest, skimpiest dress and the tallest, thinnest heels they can find in order to attend a social event on a fucking Wednesday night, all for the sole purpose of confronting their ex-bestie for being a bitch and a whore.  And millions of women tune in each week to bear witness to these inane displays because these women are supposed to be who all women want to be. They’re vacuous and self-centered and really contribute nothing of value to the greater good of humanity, but OH MAN, the clothes! And the shoes and the jewelry! And the cars and the husbands! ALL THE THINGS!

If I’m to believe what Bravo is selling, that all women, deep down, really just want to be the grownup version of Homecoming Queen, then I’m going to need to see something else. Something like The Real Justices of the Supreme Court, where Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor get into hair-pulling slap fights because GOD KNOWS that Ginsburg bitch looks like the type to tell you to your face that your Supreme Court Justice robes look really good on you, then call Sandra Day O’Connor that night to let her know that she missed out on how fat your earrings made you look.

Just kidding — these women are all my heroes and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is precisely the kind of “bitch” I aspire to be.



In which we review the films opening this weekend, just based on the trailer, to 100 percent accuracy.


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AKA: $$$$

REVIEW: Kids are idiots. At least that’s what movie studios and parents think when they assume kids will love a sequel to the most forgotten CGI cartoon of the new millennium. Also, they’re idiots because they will probably like it. There’s silly voices, bright colors, fart jokes, singing, brig colors, singing, jokes they don’t get not because they’re adult but because they’re not really jokes. What more could they want? I’m sure this movie will try to teach kids about the importance of family, and going where you’re not comfortable and blah blah blah. Hopefully the kids realize that’s all bullshit and walk out of the theater.

SPOILER: Apparently, Rio 2 assumes kids are going to LOVE the Cats reference. Because everyone knows kids love old Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals.

RATING: *(out of ****)



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AKA: Moneyer Ballier

REVIEW: Very not hot on the heels of another sports movie determined to show that the drama off the field is just as exciting as that on the field, Draft Day mediocrely and meekly shuffles into theaters this week. In his attempt at a Costnaissance, Kevin’s Realized he can’t only make movies ripping of Liam Neeson, and now he’s going for the Brad Pitt move. Maybe next month we’ll see him a Southern father raging against the uncaring cruelty of nature and life while wife attempts to bring grace into their children’s lives. Or maybe he’ll make a follow up wo this, mixing his two new paths, called Draft Day 2: Another Day to Draft where he holds everybody up at gunpoint until he can decide which college players HE wants goddamnit. This movie is dumb.

SPOILER: Breakout role for nobody.

RATING: **(out of ****)

CountDown: Ultimate Soundtrack Mixtape


Movies, at best, have one good song. And their songs everyone knows, from watching the movie over, and over, and over again. SO when you’re on a long ass road trip with your boring ass friends, pop in the Ultimate Soundtrack Mixtape– guaranteed to make you all sing your guts out.


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This is going to be a rough fight against SNL this week. Anna Kendrick’s episode was filled – I mean, FILLED – with music. She sang, she danced, she sang and danced some more – and some of it was decent. But we bring you these skits through Hulu, which doesn’t have, or want to have, the rights to any of that music. So if you watched the show on Hulu, it seemed very short, and very Kendrick-lite. So, without further adieu, Jason and I present the “Best and Worst of what Hulu has allowed us  to see from this week’s SNL.” We’ll probably just stick with the original title. Let’s start with a musical skit that actually made it on screen. Apparently this is a recurring bit, but I’ve never seen it before, so I got to freshly enjoy the batshit, before I get annoyed with it the next time I see it. I don’t know if it’s making fun of our ignorance of other cultures, or the ignorance of other cultures, but who cares? Anna Kendrick and cups, right? – RH


I’m not sure who got this on, but here is another example of why Kyle Mooney needs to be on SNL. If you watched the entire show, there were some highs and more than a couple lows. But nothing, and I mean abso-fucking-lutely nothing is funnier, both in context and out, than “two poos in a pod”. And if that wasn’t enough, Beck Bennett has two lines and kills them both. This is what I want from my SNL. – JRN


These reccuring characters are difficult for me. On the one hand, they make fun of how terrible Fox News is. On the other hand, duh. It’s terrible. Can I please have some jokes? This week, they decided to answer my question with a resounding ‘yes’, and the results were not bad. In truth, this skit makes the hit list because of how fucking terrific it made Anna Kendrick look. Her time on screen was small but her character was great and if she was reading off a cue card, you would never know. And for a host, that is a spectacular feat. – JRN




SNL has been regularly giving all of the girls a moment or two to sing and dance about things girls think are funny. Most of them have been pretty good, like the song about hooking up in your childhood bedroom on Thanksgiving, but this one was pretty fucking lame. The song wasn’t good, and the premise barely held together. Apparently, this group of women fly to exotic places, fill up on exotic dongs, and then one minute later, fly home. Super – RH


Fucking stop it. Just fucking stop it. This guy wasn’t funny once, and now this is the fourth or fifth time we go back to this well? And for as awesome as the Fox and Friends skit was for Anna Kendrick, this one was equally bad. In fact, this skit has never made a host look anything better than incompetent. Fuck you, principal Frye. Fuck you a bunch. – JRN

Top Ten – Movie Urban Legends

Movie Urban Legends



It was just like any other night for James Bond, he makes an entrance in a swanky casino, foils the cheating scheme of an International criminal, and takes the guy’s secretary to bed as his reward.  But next thing you know Oddjob knocks him out cold and when he comes to pretty Jill Masterson  has been suffocated to death by being covered in gold paint…actually that’s not really too far out of the ordinary for Bond either. But it is out of the ordinary for say, reality. That’s not how breathing works, it’s just science. Yet ever since 1964 people have sworn up and down that that wasn’t just your run of the mill disposable Bond Girl death, but the actual dead body of actress Shirley Eaton who shared her character’s gruesomely gilded demise. I literally just read YouTube comments stubbornly insisting she died for real making the movie written this year. The fact that Eaton only acted for a handful of years after Goldfinger then disappeared from the public eye couldn’t have helped, I give 60’s audiences a pass for that one but not Millenials with the entire freaking internet at their fingertips.  The easily-verifiable truth is she’s very much alive to this day; it’s just not nearly as exciting a story to have an actress quit Hollywood for her family as it is for one to be dipped in gold preserved as a Bond Girl for all eternity.

The Poltergeist Trilogy


Poltergeist is the classic tale about a bunch of ghosts so pissed off at the construction on top of their graves they take to killing the family living inside. So you would imagine the people spending months working in a movie telling that story would know better than to use real human skeletons as props. You would be wrong. And thus is the beginning of the fatal Poltergeist curse that claimed four lives of the course of three movies. Veteran actors Will Samson and Julian Beck portrayed the good and evil spirits respectively in the second film, and both died shortly after its theatrical release. Dominique Dunn was strangled to death by her boyfriend shortly after her first turn as older daughter and panty flasher Dana Freely. And poor little Heather O’Rourke who played adorably creepy Carol Anne in all three films was only 12 when she died suddenly of septic shock shortly before the wrap of the third. Looks like the spirits finally got that delicious life force of hers.


The Crow

The Crow

It’s true Brandon Lee tragically died while filming The Crow, thus cementing himself forever as the Goth River Phoenix. While shooting a scene a prop gun misfired and Lee took a dummy round to the chest with the same force of a real bullet. But contrary to mythology the actual death footage isn’t part if the movie, it’s fairly obvious they finished the last few scenes with Lee’s stunt double using as much obscured view as possible. Less easy to explain away is the rumor that Lee was killed by the same Chinese Mafia who were responsible for his father Bruce Lee’s suspicious death, as retribution for exposing martial arts secrets…which incidentally sounds like a way better movie.

Three Men and a Baby

Three Men and a Baby

You’re just minding your own business, watching the hijinks three, wacky bachelors struggle to take care of an infant when HOLY SHIT WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT CREEPY THING?!?!?! Why in the middle of a light-hearted 80’s romp is there a terrifyingly evil looking little boy staring at me through the camera like he wants to eat my soul? Oh because a nine-year old boy killed himself with a shotgun in the house the movie was filmed in of course ,everyone on the internet knows that. Except he didn’t. The movie was actually filmed on a sound stage not a real house. What looks like Damien himself is actually a cardboard cutout of Ted Danson that was used in scenes cut from the final version of the film. So we can all go back to regular viewings of this beloved classic now…or you know, just let it slip back into obscurity.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones

In arguably the most famous scene of the Indiana Jones franchise our hero is backed against the wall by a skilled sword fighter. As the bad guy tries to intimidate with intricate moves and war cries, Indy looks at him tiredly and shoots him dead because ‘aint nobody got time for that. Turns out the brilliance of that gag was all because Harrison Ford had diarrhea. True story. Some bad Tunsian food or something gave him dysentery while on location, yet he was still expected to film a three page action scene where he heroically snatches the sword with his sweet whip skills. Ford suggested he just shoot the sucker and call it a day. {Insert Han shot first joke here}

The Lion King/ The Rescuers/The Little Mermaid

Lion KingLittle Mermaid Penis


You know you’re a 90’s kid if you spent hours trying to get these happy shiny classics paused just right on the VCR to giggle over dirty Disney. Everyone knows when Simba does the life-is-so-hard emo flop, dust particles rise into the air to spell SEX…and if you didn’t know there’s always that friend who just has to prove it to you. And while the official explanation is rumored to actually be planted by special effects team as a signature spelling S-F-X, I couldn’t find a single reputable Disney source stating as such, just a bunch of internet speculation. Similar story with the apparently penis-obsessed The Little Mermaid. Rumor had it a disgruntled animator inserted a rather phallic spire to the underwater castle but tons of poorly cited blogs claim the guy came forward to say it was a coincidental product of an all-nighter rather than a fuck you on his way out the door. But there’s no explaining away the flash of very non-animated boobies in The Rescuers that would’ve shocked Miss Bianca and Bernard had they turned around at the right moment. It’s such a blatant gaffe Disney blew the whistle on itself, three days after the 1999 home movie re-release millions of copies were recalled. Which of course only drives up the sales on e-bay for that  vintage original pre-recall VHS copy you’ve been holding onto all these years.The Rescuers

 The Wizard of Oz


Because it’s been beloved and tolerated for it’s really no surprise the number of rumors and legends about the classic top almost any other film. Some are completely true, for example the shabby coat worn by Professor Marvel when he meets Dorothy was bought from a thrift store for its second-hand appearance but upon closer inspection truthfully was very coincidentally owned by the book’s author Frank L. Baum. And Buddy Ebson was indeed initially cast as the Tin Man but had to quit when he contracted a deadly lung infection from the silver aluminum mixed into the original body paint.  But did a depressed munchkin really commit suicide by hanging right there onscreen as the gang skips merrily past? Not a chance. Digitally re-mastered footage very clearly shows that the vague shape seemingly swinging is actually a large emu, one of the film’s many animal cast members. And generations of stoners were heartbroken when Pink Floyd stated they did not purposefully sync up Dark Side of the Moon with the film. Or maybe they just didn’t want to be known as friends of Dorothy…



This one’s so old it may actually be the original urban legend of the silver screen. Lush and overblown classic of the MGM golden era, Ben-Hur was the most expensive film of its time and the most dangerous. They racked up an unknown number of human and animal deaths filming the climactic chariot race, all in the name of authenticity in Le Cinema. The most spectacular death of all was the stunt double for big bad Messala who is said to have been a little too committed to the craft and actually died while filming the spectacular antagonist-killing crash. A juicy little rumor hints the fatal shot was purposefully left in by the director against the wishes of the grieving widow. But is it true? It’s a bit murky because there’s more than one Ben Hur, specifically four theatrical releases as of 2003. So while Chuck Heston’s autobiography swears up and down nobody was seriously injured on his watch that doesn’t preclude earlier versions. The 1929 film had an actual death toll so alarming they completely replaced all race footage originally shot in Italy for a tamer reshoot in California, because it’s impossible to race half-assedly in Italy I guess.

The Omen

The Omen

Lightning only strikes once…unless of course you’re involved in an unlucky movie about Satan and possibly cursed by him. Three times in fact while shooting, three different planes carrying actors and producers of the film were struck by lightning. And once a Gregory Peck came thisclose to getting on a plane that ended up crashing and killing everyone on board. Director Richard Donner had the misfortune of not only getting hit by a car during production but being in a hotel bombed by the IRA. Basically Satan got pissed these guys were making light of his presence and tortured everyone involved. In the most obviously prophetic scenario, special effects artist John Richardson, who had created the scene where the photographer gets beheaded, was in a tragic car accident with his girlfriend – she was beheaded. **whispers scarily** Legend has it as Richardson crawled away from the crash he saw a road sign for the town of Ommen, 66.6km. **ooowoooooo**

The Shining

The Shining

Kubrick is a filmmaker who knows how to get attention, whatever you opinions on his movies you have to give him that. His legendary attention to detail and habit of leaving damn near everything up to interpretation are the perfect conditions for the very craziest of myths and theories surrounding his work.  The most bonkers of all claims The Shining is one big allegorical confession from the filmmaker about his involvement in faking the 1966 Moon landing. Seriously there are people who believe this. There are entire books and documentaries hysterically pointing to hundreds of “signs” all throughout the movie. Obviously Kubrick denies the whole thing which only fuels the conspiracy because there’s nothing nut jobs love more than a cover-up! I’d list the evidence but if you honestly believe the Moon landing was fabricated for TV you deserve to have Buzz Aldrin ambush you at work and punch you in the face. – AS



PopFilter Podcast 140


The three friends make their way through their Luis Bunuel blind spot, this week watching and reviewing Viridiana. Also, reviews of Surviving Jack and the new John Frusciante album. Top that off with the Mount Rushmore of TV Dads, and maybe an entry or two into the PopFilter Hall of Fame, and you got yourself a show.


Email us to get your opinion on the show:

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP


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In which we review the films opening this weekend, just based on the trailer, to 100 percent accuracy.


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AKA: Avengers 1.3 (The Buildup Continues)

REVIEW: Summer comes early with what’s the biggest blockbuster of the year yet, especially since Divergent fizzled int he Hunger Games spot. Captain America: The Winter Soldier sees everyone’s least favorite non-superpowered  cinematic Avenger to center stage riding high on that fact that Marvel can do no wrong in film at this point. Even if they bomb they’ve created a giant safety net on the backs of green giants, golden haired giants, and metal men. The Winter soldier adds nuance to the world, it’s no longer good guys fight absurdly bad bad guy. It asks the question: what do you fight for when the ideals you’ve always stood for are dead? The answer? Vengeance. And because it’s the only thing you know how to do.

SPOILER: Captain America goes on a killing spree as his alter ego- The Winter Soldier.

RATING: ***(out of ****)


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AKA: Bizarro Jude Law

REVIEW: Hopping on the old guys as criminals train before he’s even that old, Jude Law is challenging the world to see more than a pretty face, with great cheek bones and eyes you can drown in. And he doest a fine job as Dom, that irascible scamp the movie demands we love because, well, he’s Jude Law underneath all the awfulness. It’s a bold move to make Dom with zero likable qualities, but the trouble is instead of giving him nuance, they just keep handing him smarmy one-liners to spit out. His regret at not meeting his grandson, doesn’t elicit the sympathy the movie wants it to because it’s literally the only human moment he’s allowed. The old guy from Girls is pretty good as the comic relief.

SPOILER: Look out for Dom Hemingway 2: Good Day to Dom next year

RATING: **(out of ****)

CountDown: Actors Comeback Please


Too often actors go away or get way way way less good as their careers go on. This podcast covers those we’d like to come back to their (talented) roots.



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Popfilter’s Foreign Flick of the Week

In  which Stephanie Reviews a Film from Notmerica


Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In came out in 2008 and directed by Tomas Alfredson. It is the story of a lonely boy named Oskar who befriends a strange girl who moves in next door named Eli. There is something a little different, a little other worldly about Eli. We soon find out that Eli is not like other children, she is in fact, a vampire.

It isn’t a surprise when I say that all the stories we human beings tell, whether they are in a movie, TV show, a novel, or even joke we tell to a friend, they all deal with a certain aspect of our humanity. Monster movies are especially about humanity, because they reveal something about humanity’s fear and purpose. This is ultimately why Twilight sucks donkey balls, because instead of showing vampirism to be a wretched curse, it instead imbues those infected with it superpowers, immortality and the attractiveness of a sex god. It says nothing about what it means to be a human being. Who wouldn’t want to be a vampire if they are just super human?

Especially when they save so much money on body glitter.

Especially when they save so much money on body glitter.

Let the Right One In is not a typical horror/monster movie. But it has a lot to say about the nature of human connections. If I had to put it into a genre, it would be romantic horror.  It’s certainly filmed like a horror movie, using Sweden’s desolate wasteland for a background. The shots are filled with snow, not pure white, but somehow tainted. Even the score is filled with hollow, foreboding sounds. But unlike horror films, which can leave an audience tense and uneasy, the way the Alfredson builds the budding relationship between Oskar and Eli lures the audience into a safe place. Take a look at Oskar and Eli’s first scene together:
first scene
They are far away from each other, and she is on a much higher level than he is. This is their first encounter. Now take a look at the next time these two meet:

Here they are much closer together, and they are physically connected through this toy, this innocent gesture of friendship. The very next time these two get together they’re all like:

Here we see the two on the same level, meeting each other as equals.

The time the director allows and the vulnerability of the two child actors allures the audience into the safety that these two come to feel in each other’s presence. The film is called Let the Right One In for a reason. On its surface, it refers to that old lore that a vampire cannot enter a room unless invited. But it has a lot more to say about the manner in which people let others into their little personal bubble. There are many relationships in this film that are huge failures precisely because of an inability to connect and  for one character to be what the other one needs. Oskar’s parents are divorced. A neighborhood couple pay the ultimate price for their inability to connect.  (spoiler alert) It happens because this neighbor man is lashing out at his girlfriend because his best friend was killed by, well, all he knows is that it was a child. After getting yelled at, she runs out into the street only to get attacked by Eli. She gets infected, knows she is all alone in the world and doesn’t want to face this curse alone so she commits suicide via sunlight in the hospital. Her boyfriend gets there just in time to witness the carnage. The scene of her catching on fire, well that doesn’t really do it justice…the scene of the raging inferno of fire and writhing limbs is so incredibly jaw dropping awesome. It’s the big Hollywood moment in the film, if there was one.

But the biggest contrast of good connection/bad connection are associated with Eli. On one hand you have her weird, creepy caretaker. He amounts to nothing more than a bumbling failure of a serial killer. Though he obviously cares for Eli, and even gets jealous of her friendship with Oskar, they aren’t able to do anything for each other. Then you have Oskar. Though he is just a little boy, weaker and with no credit, Eli is still safer with him than she was with this man she called, “papa.” They are more equals, and take care of each other. In one of the final, gruesome scenes in the movie, Eli protects Oskar from his bully tormentors, in something I can’t in good conscious spoil. It’s too clever a set up and too well done to describe, so you filterinos are just going to have to go see for yourselves.
So what does this say about humanity? Let the Right One In is about the human desire and failure of making a connection with another human being. A process that is slow and cannot be forced or exist just because you really want it to. That can lead to letting the wrong one in, which this movie makes no bones about is detrimental. It’s clear when Eli enters a room to show Oskar what happens when she comes in uninvited and she starts hemorrhaging blood from every pore and orafice.
This is a truly remarkable film, with so much there there. They did an American remake called Let Me In with YPF darling Chole Moretz, but it seemed to entirely miss the point of the original for a more flash and bang horror movie, a transition common in American remakes. It was wholly unnecessary, especially because this is a great foreign film that is palatable for American audiences.

Next Week: Brazil’s City Of God


Stephanie Rose