Movies On The Radio

Marsha Gordon and Laura Boyes in studio with State of Things Host Frank Stasio.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

"Movies on the Radio" is a series of conversations about the silver screen from The State of Things.

Listeners provide feedback about their favorites and least favorites. Then, Frank Stasio and film experts Laura Boyes and Marsha Gordon take an in-depth look at what moves us at the movies.

Laura Boyes is a film curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art and Marsha Gordon is a film professor at North Carolina State University.

Julie Scott / Wikimedia Commons

Tommy Wiseau’s film “The Room” is a textbook example of a cult movie. It made less than $2000 when it first opened in Los Angeles in 2003, got terrible reviews, and is dubbed by some the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.” Yet years later it became a huge hit.

David Attenborough stands in front of promotional backdrop for "Our Planet" at the series premiere.
Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP

Man versus wild is an enduring theme in film that continues to draw movie-goers to the box office. From the 1998 IMAX epic “Everest” to the solo-survival story in “Cast Away,” movies about nature probe how experiences in nature shape human’s understanding of their own capabilities.

Twentieth Century Fox

From Erin Brokovich's fight for environmental justice to the lush natural world in James Cameron’s “Avatar,” nature and the environment often play a starring role in film.

For the next edition of “Movies On The Radio,” we want to know which film about nature stuck with you the most? Is it Reese Witherspoon’s tough journey in “Wild” or maybe the classic animated film “FernGully: The Last Rainforest?”

Braveheart poster
courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Despite the rise in luxury theatres with gourmet food and drink service, movie theater attendance is on the decline in the United States. Many more Americans are choosing to watch the latest releases at home from the comfort of their own couch. But no matter the size of the screen or the price of the experience, sometimes viewers just cannot make it to the end of a film.

Have you ever paid $10 dollars to see a movie in the theater only to walk out long before the credits? Or cozied up on your couch with all intention to watch the latest streaming movie, but you just couldn’t make it through to the end?

"Lassie Come Home" / MGM

Something in your eye? It’s not your fault, some movies are simply designed to be tearjerkers. On this installment of Movies on the Radio, The State of Things heard from listeners about the films that got the tears flowing.   

Movies On The Radio: Tearjerkers!

Mar 18, 2019
Flickr/Creative Commons

Oh, is there something in your eye? It’s not your fault. Some movies are simply designed to be tearjerkers. 

 Maybe you wailed as a tween over Jack Dawson’s cold “Titanic” death, or needed a tissue to get through a classic like “Steel Magnolias.” Did your lip tremble as Simba and Mufasa frolicked as father and son in “The Lion King” without knowing the tragedy in store? Or is it injustice that elicits sobs when you watch scenes from “The Green Mile” or “Precious?”  

Robert DeNiro in a suit in a casino
Classic Film / Creative Commons https://bit.ly/2TiNL6k

The latest edition of Movies on the Radio is all about gangster, mob and mafia movies. Listeners share their favorite movies focused on the world of crime, from the family business in “Married To The Mob” to the crooked cops in “Training Day.”

komersreal / Creative Commons https://bit.ly/1AHpDp0

We’re going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. The State of Things wants to know about your favorite gangster, mafia, and mob movies for the next edition of Movies On The Radio.

Awards season is in full bloom. The Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and The Oscars all consider “A Star is Born” and “Black Panther” among the best films of 2018.

Clay Enos / Warner Bros Pictures

Films that draw viewers into the gritty highs and lows of the music world are having a big cinematic moment. There is the new head-banging Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” yet another reincarnation of “A Star is Born,” featuring pop icon Lady Gaga, and the forthcoming “Rocketman” that takes on the rise of Elton John.

Alex Bailey / Twentieth Century Fox

Films that draw us into the gritty highs and lows of the music world are having a big cinematic moment. There’s the new head-banging Queen biopic, a film that takes on the rise of Elton John, and yet another reincarnation of “A Star is Born.”

For the next edition of Movies on the Radio, we want to know which movie about musicians resonates most with you? Is it the dark poignancy of “Ray?” The drug and music fueled tour in “Almost Famous?” How about rise and fall of N.W.A. in “Straight Outta Compton?”

Movies on the Radio
Keith Weston / WUNC

From sappy to silly to downright vile, Hollywood has tried for generations to capture the many facets of the American family. Just in time for Thanksgiving, and for this month’s Movies on the Radio program, we asked our listeners for their favorite movies about families. In their choices, listeners often saw a version of their own family struggles splashed across the silver screen.

Bruce Campbell as Ash in 'Evil Dead II.'
Wendy / Creative Commons https://goo.gl/DgesD8

Not all horror movies are scary or spooky. Some films, like “Shaun of the Dead” or “An American Werewolf in London,” actually have a big dose of comedy in them. Others, like “Evil Dead II” or “Troll 2,” play up their campy elements.

'Young Frankenstein' poster
Matthew Nenninger & Tracie Andrews / Creative Commons https://bit.ly/2P9H7Ja

Most horror movies are meant to be spooky and scary...but bad acting or cheap special effects can turn a terrifying tale into campy one. The classic example is “Evil Dead” or a B movie like “Plan 9 From Outer Space.”

Some films blend horror with humor, two genres that some would call opposites. “Shaun of the Dead” and “Young Frankenstein” are two well-known comedy-horror movies.

What happens when the world of fine art and the world of filmmaking meet? This month on Movies on the Radio, The State of Things is not tackling the art of movie-making, but rather the art of making movies about art. 

oil painting of Girl with a Pearl Earring
Johannes Vermeer

Jackson Pollock, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Frida Kahlo: all had rich stories to match their art. And those stories were further dramatized in the aptly-named Hollywood films “Pollock,” “Basquiat,” and “Frida.”

Warner Bros

The best filmmakers can craft a world so vivid viewers can imagine themselves living alongside the characters. Through intricate sets, or the magic of animation, cinema becomes America’s dream machine. 

Touchstone Pictures

Good cinema takes you out of your living room and transports you miles, eons, and even worlds away. And like a good book, the best films can leave you with a deep desire to meet those characters, or even live life for a day in their magical worlds. Think about living out supernatural fantasies within the walls of Hogwarts, hunting an elusive jaguar shark alongside your quirky buddies in a Wes Anderson film, or dodging bullets as a super-human cybercriminal in “The Matrix.”

 

Promotional photo from 1937 screwball comedy 'The Awful Truth' starring actors Irene Dunne and Cary Grant. The actors face away from each other and the scruffy actor dog sits between them.
Columbia Pictures

Film Curator Laura Boyes is a sucker for old romantic movies. But digging for gems from the golden age of cinema also tends to turn up sexist tropes: the two-dimensional secretary, naive blonde and women who flounder without significant male help.

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in 'Roman Holiday'
Classic Film / Flickr - Creative Commons -https://flic.kr/p/VkLRWH

Vacation movies may show off some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, but the most compelling films are the ones that show characters another side of themselves. Take a protagonist out of her usual environment and anything can happen.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show on a theater marquee.
Mark Miller (CC-BY-SA)

 

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” spurred one of the biggest cult movies phenomenons. But the sci-fi musical mashup did not impress at the box office when it opened in 1975. In fact, a Halloween show in New York City and a national rollout of the film was canceled due to terrible reviews. Decades later, the film has been running continuously in movie theaters for longer than any other movie — with many of the showings happening at midnight on weekends.

A promotional poster for the 1959 Douglas Sirk film 'Imitation of Life'
Reynold Brown

This year US consumers are estimated to have spent an average of $180 each for Mother’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation. This month Movies on the Radio gives moms a tribute money can not buy with a show devoted to mothers.

still photo from the film, picturing welles seated at a table and coulouris gesturing with a newspaper
Public Domain

Some films get nothing but love from the critics. They garner five stars, win awards, and spark endless think pieces. But do audiences actually like them? On Movies on the Radio host Frank Stasio speaks with film experts Marsha Gordon, a film professor at North Carolina State University, and Laura Boyes, film curator for the North Carolina Museum of Art, about listener picks for most overrated films.

a picture of young Joan Crawford
From The Last of Mrs. Cheyney trailer

While we're celebrating mothers this month, why not honor the most memorable moms in cinema history?  Who can forget Faye Dunaway's portrayal of Joan Crawford as an abusive tyrant in "Mommie Dearest." 

a still of Tom Hanks from the movie Forrest Gump
Paramount Pictures

The credits roll on the beloved, critically-acclaimed film you just watched, but, you aren't impressed. Confused thoughts flash through your head. Are you out of touch, or missing something? Finally, you settle on the most gratifying option: this movie is just overrated.

photo of sally field and barbara baxley in 'norma rae'
20th Century Fox

For years, critics have contended that Hollywood films leave a lot to be desired when it comes to female representation. Analyses such as the Bechdel test suggest that too often the male-dominated screenwriting world puts women in passive, one-dimensional roles.

20TH CENTURY FOX | DIGITALSPY.COM

Enough with the damsels in distress. For the next installment of Movies On The Radio, we're looking for ladies who pushed the boundaries of what it means to be a woman on the big screen. We're talking smart, strong, three-dimensional characters who can save themselves, thank you very much.

Child actress Shirley Temple in 'Poor Little Rich Girl.'
classic_film (Creative Commons)

Child actors are big players in Hollywood. Shirley Temple is one of the most famous, with 17 feature films under her belt before she turned 10. There are several film stars today who began their acting careers when they were children, like Natalie Portman and Christian Bale.

Child actress Shirley Temple in 'Poor Little Rich Girl.'
classic_film (Creative Commons)

Everyone is familiar with famous child actress Shirley Temple. But there are a lot of other child actors in Hollywood, and there are many movies where the kid steals the show. In the next installment of Movies on the Radio, we're talking about movies featuring child stars.

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