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‘Across the Spiderverse’ Is the Best-Looking Movie of the Year (So Far!)

June 6, 2023
Notes
Transcript
On this week’s episode, Sonny Bunch (The Bulwark), Alyssa Rosenberg (The Washington Post), and Peter Suderman (Reason) ask what the future of indie theatrical films looks like if festival purchases continue to crater. Then they talked about one of the best films of the year (so far!), the amazingly inventive and spectacular-looking Spider-Man, which snared all three in its beautiful web. Make sure to swing by Bulwark+ for our bonus episode on Friday about cliffhanger movies. And if you enjoyed this episode, share it with a friend! A recommendation from a friend is the best way to help your favorite podcast grow. 

This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:11

    Welcome back to across the movie aisle presented by Bullwork Plus. I’m your host, Sunny Bunch, call trailer of the Bullwork. I’m joined as always by Elizabeth Rosenberg of the Washington Post, Peter Suiterman of Reason Magazine, Melissa Peter, how are you today?
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:22

    I’m spiffy.
  • Speaker 3
    0:00:24

    I am so happy to be talking about movies friends.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:27

    First up in controversies and controversies, indie filmmakers are kind of freaking out. After decades of big deals at film festivals like Sundance and Berlin, studios big and small are pulling back on high dollar deals that have been handed out willy nilly over the years. A little bit of history here, brief history first because I gotta set the stage. Huge outlays for indie cinema have always been a somewhat risky venture, but that risk used to be lower and the reward used to be much higher. This was back in the whole Weinstein slash Miramax day where their theory of business.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:57

    In the nineties was they would buy up potential low budget hits for, you know, low to mid seven figures. They weren’t spending a ton of money, but they were they were kind of flooding the marketplace with these offers. Sometimes they would recut them in the editing room to make them more palatable from mainstream audiences, sometimes they would just distribute it that mass is, or tweak the ending a little bit, you know. But the point is, they were distributing these relatively cheaply acquired films in the hopes of turning a million dollar investment into a twenty million dollar box office hit or in, you know, rare cases, you get a movie like Shaqola, which was a seventy million dollar hit in the United States. The rare, but it still happened.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:34

    A24, for instance, in the current scene, A24 kind of operates on this business model, though their festival purchases tend to be smaller and their box office returns are in a very routine and meaty, like, seven to ten million dollar range. If you’re making a bell curve of their hits, like, sixty percent of them are in the seven to ten million dollar range. Big sales have largely migrated to the streamers over the last few years. Right? Where Netflix, Apple, and Hulu, are basically all spending big on movies like FairPlay, which Netflix bought.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:05

    This year at Sundance for twenty million. Or Coda, which Apple bought for twenty five million dollars in twenty twenty one and paid off for them with a best picture win at the Oscars or in Palm Springs, right? Which Hulu bought for twenty two million dollars back in twenty twenty. However, the traditional Indie studios, folks like searchlight focus features, others, have become much more gun shy in recent years. In part, that because they are simply getting out spent by the streamers.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:29

    All of which are playing with monopoly money in this game. In further part, it’s because the landscape has shifted very rapidly so that big deals could quickly become big millstones around the next of these studios as when remember when Fox Search bought Nate Parker’s birth of a nation for a then record seventeen point five million dollars in the midst of, you know, Bulwark Lives Matter and everything else. They were like, this is gonna be it. This is gonna be the it’s gonna win Oscars. It’s gonna make so much money.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:54

    This is what the Zeitgeist wants and turns out it’s not because, you know, the the accusations about sexual assault and the directors passed the resurfaced and his inability to handle it and interviews and I mean, it’s just a shaky ground all around. Mostly though, the real problem here is that audiences simply are not going to movies like these in theaters anymore. A movie like Tar makes less than seven million dollars domestically despite being receiving universal critical acclaim, getting a best picture nomination, Nobody went to go see it. I couldn’t remember the last time there was a real breakout sundance hit off the top of my head. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:30

    Even Potentially mainstream friendly movies like the comedy Britney runs a marathon, totally died at the box office. A movie made seven million bucks. The witch is practically an MCU style hit by modern standards. Right? And it made about forty million dollars worldwide for a twenty four.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:45

    After its sundance pickup. Like, the last the last actual genuine mainstream breakout sundance hit, I could remember, you gotta go all the way back to two thousand six with Little Miss Sunshine. Which grossed a hundred million worldwide. Fox searchlight picks it up for ten point five million. Now I’m probably missing movie or two here in in the mix.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:03

    I I don’t know. But the the point is, the audiences simply aren’t there. And we could talk about changing audience patterns all we want just in terms of what people go to the theaters for. Right? We could talk about the rise franchise.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:14

    It’s a big piece in the New York of this week about the MCU and how it has kind of gobbled up all of the space. There’s sequelitis. There’s the ability of horror and horror alone to find a standout spot in the original market space. But really, at least part of the problem here, if we’re being totally honest, is that Sundance has evolved into a thing that showcases movies that appeal to dance audiences and no one else. Like, I’m sorry, is anyone super surprised that the gentrification crime drama a thousand and one died at the box office or that Tiff Darling the inspection, the critically acclaimed movie about a gay man who enlists in the marines to prove he has value grossed the less than half a million bucks in the United States, like If you just describe the loglines of these movies, they feel like parodies that South Park would have come up with in the mid nineteen nineties.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:04

    Now the artistic value of these movies is entirely beside the point. Sometimes they’re great, sometimes they’re not. The simple fact of the matter is if they don’t play with audiences, no one’s going to buy them. None of these movies are playing with audiences, and making movies is expensive It has always been expensive. You only get to make and distribute so many of them if you cannot convince people to pay for them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:25

    It’s a marketplace and like any other marketplace it can be brutally efficient. Alyssa, should anyone be surprised that the indie market is drawing up? And like who who do we blame here? Do we blame the studios for buying a bunch of movies that are never gonna play with audiences? Do we blame audiences for not showing up?
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:41

    What?
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:43

    Oh, boy. Yeah. I mean, look, I think it is not shocking that this is happening, and I wonder if one under discussed factor in this is that in the process of sort of fragmenting the audience, undermining the linear TV model, and moving away from advertising, entertainment industry did itself a disservice in the sense that I think it’s hard to communicate to people that some of this stuff exists. Right? I mean, if you have twenty million people turning in for or whatever, you know, you can advertised to a sort of mass audience repeatedly in a kind of targeted way.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:23

    And so it’s easier to build mass awareness of some of these smaller movies. And, you know, I wonder if streaming has hurt that a little bit. But, yeah, I mean, look, I think the question of how do you make an argument to audiences that these movies are worth seeing and that they’re worth seeing in theaters is a complicated one. I mean, you know, Peter, from hanging out with you, I have learned a lot more about how to appreciate sound in movies. And so when I saw Tar, you know, I was much better prepared to understand how the experience of watching that movie was different for me in a theater than it would have been at home, even in my old house, which, you know, when we bought it, came with a built in surround sound system.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:06

    And so, my ability to understand is like, oh, this is a qualitatively different experience because, you know, the theater system, I can hear sound moving physically the way that Lydia Tar sort of does in her apartment. And that’s just not something that I could get at home. It’s not something I would have understood, ten years ago before we started going to movies. And it’s not necessarily the kind of thing that I think people talk about in reviews or other things very often. And look, I’m guilty of this too.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:35

    Right? Like, I’m guilty of talking about cinema as sort of this, you know, a common experience where we can sort of show this vulnerability. Like, technically, it’s actually useful, I think, to audiences to understand why seeing something in a theater is different than what they can get at home. And why that’s true even in sort of a smaller more adult oriented movie. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:55

    I mean, the article that you talked the New Yorker by Michael Schulman, who also has a really good new book out about the Oscars new ish book. You know, has someone saying in it, like theaters are for spectacle. Right? And I think that studios, critics who care about theaters, you know, cinema lovers in general, actually need to get better at explaining to the audience about what these different kinds of spectacle are and how they’re different. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:21

    I mean, we’ve talked a lot on this podcast about how just the average picture quality has improved a lot at home. Right? I mean, the kind of flat screens that we all have now, even if I have yet to update to the kind of OLED you guys keep telling me about. It’s just vastly better than anything we would have had as kids. But, like, you know, even you, Peter, don’t have quite the sound system that professional, you know, professional commercial theater does.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:49

    And so, you know, I think that if if you want independent cinema and, you know, smaller adult oriented dramas, to have a theatrical future period, helping the audience understand what the qualitative difference is between seeing it in a theater, and home is gonna be really important. And I don’t know how to do that. I don’t quite have the answer. I don’t think it’s like Nicole Kidman walking into, you know, an AMC theater in like a sparkly suit. Sitting there by yourself and being like, we need community.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:17

    It’s gonna do that. Tom Cruz is being like, I jumped off mountain on a motorcycle for you. Might help explain that, but, like, then you would also need Tom Cruise to do that about, like, sort of his, you know, the period when he was doing, like, critically acclaimed stuff, not just trying to kill himself or our attention.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:33

    I do appreciate him trying to kill himself for our attention.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:36

    A hundred percent.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:37

    I’ll go see that in the theater, the fibropic fans.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:40

    The real life you know, action movie where he hunts down Christopher Tennant for taking away his I m x screens.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:46

    Not Christopher.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:47

    I’m sorry. Christopher tenant.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:48

    Yes, sir. My brain is broken. The the real life movie where Tom Cruz, like, goes out and murders Christopher Nolan for taking his iMac screens from him with Oppenheimer, I will also watch you know, amazingly.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:59

    That’s definitely like the movie star drama that I care about from this summer.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:04

    Yeah. It’s gonna be a Tom Cruise, Greta Gerwig, team up. They’re they they’re the Avengers of the theaters. They’re Most
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:11

    Christopher Nolan is the most dangerous kid.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:15

    Peter, I mean, look, here’s here’s the thing. Again, I, like, I empathize with people who want to spend the amount of money it takes to make a movie look good. Right? I empathize with indie filmmakers who need look, Again, making a movie is not cheap, even in an age where cameras have become much cheaper, you know, there’s still all sorts of things that cost money, lights cost money. Craft services cost money.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:40

    Paying actors cost money, believe it or not. They actually wanna get paid. And there’s COVID stuff, and there’s there’s just all sorts of expenses. Making a movie is not cheap. Making a movie is not cheap and people want to recoup their investment so they can keep making more movies.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:53

    Even it’s not like somebody’s making an Indian sundance with the expectation that it’s gonna be a billion dollar grocer. Right? Nobody’s doing that. But they do wanna make enough money to keep making movies and we are in a landscape right now where that is extremely hard to do. It’s just hard to quantify that and to make the money.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:13

    So what’s the endgame here? What’s the actual result? What’s gonna happen?
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:16

    Oh, man. You’re asking me to predict the future? I’m so good
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:19

    at that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:20

    I I know exactly what’s gonna happen, and that’s why I’ve got all of my money tied up in what’s gonna happen in the future. And I’m not gonna tell any of you guys what it’s gonna be because then you would all invest all your money into it in my no. This is I I don’t know what’s gonna happen,
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:33

    but here
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:34

    let me It’s
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:34

    all in birth of a nation stock.
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:37

    Sunny? Don’t make me come through the screen. I think there’s a bunch of things going on here. One is that television is increasingly competing with smaller movies. And the type of people who used to go see Indie films, now watch succession.
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:59

    Right? And like this, you know, one of the sort of like secondary bits of, like, Twitter discussion around succession is wow. There’s sure, like, a huge amount of discussion about succession for a show that not very many people watch. Which is true because it appeals to like a lot of people in the media who tweet a lot. But the type of people who used to go see, you know, nineties Stephen Soderbergh movies before Ocean’s Eleven.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:23

    The type of people who used to go see Weinstein films, Miramax movies. Right? Like the unlimited release in big were urban, big city, like media types, and now they stay home and they watch premium television. And premium television even if you don’t exactly like the trajectory over the last decade or so as as it has expanded, it’s just so much better than it was in nineteen ninety five and so much more culturally relevant and is like taking the place of the of both novels and sort of like cinema about our times that like as like the the storytelling form that elite who like to be on top of what people are talking about wanna talk about. Right?
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:09

    And so television is just you have to, like, you have to put that in this story here and and people aren’t going to see the types of movies that you described, the Sundance films. Right? Like, in part because there’s just a lot of really good, really smartly written stuff that is in most cases or maybe not most. In many cases, slightly better targeted, slightly edgier, slightly more pulpy, slightly more kind of satisfying in a visceral way because there’s more violence or whatever or sex. Right?
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:40

    Like and this is this is just a what has happened with television versus small movies? Television is not displacing Marvel, and it’s not displacing, I don’t know, pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates of the Caribbean might be displacing right? It’s not displacing hundred and fifty million dollar tentpoles, but it really is displacing festival films. And in part because it’s it’s very good, and in part because, like, the the effort to go see it, at a cost to your time and your wallet is just so much smaller.
  • Speaker 3
    0:14:11

    And so look, we have to sort of think about this in the context of these types of films competing with television. But there’s other things happening here too. One of which is Sunny, you read these, like, log lines and were like, these movies are bad and will or maybe not they’re bad. You use Not that they’re bad. I cannot say that they’re real bad.
  • Speaker 3
    0:14:31

    Right. Sure. You said these these films are not gonna connect with audiences. And I think there’s something really true about that, though, like in some sense, I wanna ask you. Like, your argument kinda sounds like it’s the lips.
  • Speaker 3
    0:14:47

    Right? It kinda sounds like that. Is that what you mean?
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:50

    No. I mean Very specifically what I was thinking about when I was when I was thinking about this question is there’s a there’s an episode of South Park that’s basically parodying Sundance. And the the joke in this episode is, like, nobody wants to go see the gay cowboy pudding movie. And, like, that is what, like, every movie that has come out of Sundance, basically, has felt like over the last, I don’t know, four or five years. It feels like there has been a reversion to this sort of thing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:16

    Now look, the other part of this is that very few movies out of these festivals have ever found an audience.
  • Speaker 3
    0:15:23

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:23

    There’s never been a time where, like, twenty movies came out of Sundance and like all of them grossed fifty million dollars and people were like, we gotta go see the gay cowboy putting movie in theaters. Like that’s never happened. So like, I guess my big question is like, alright, you don’t have the big hits anymore. You don’t even really have the small to medium hits. Like, it’s it’s on some level, what is the point of these festivals?
  • Speaker 3
    0:15:47

    The point of the festival is to try and generate buzz that will get people who care about these things to go to the movies, to pay fifteen or twenty dollars plus a babysitting fee or whatever it is that it costs them early because I actually slightly disagree with Alyssa as much as I personally care about the cinematic experience and and the sound and the sort of the and being enveloped in a movie theater, I think that in the heyday of Indy Cinema, the movies that did well did well, yes, because people liked seeing them at at, you know, in in a theater. And, yes, you know, they didn’t have the the home theater experience that you can have now. But they wanted to see them because they wanted to have seen them first because they wanted to be the sort of person who sees that movie before other people. Like, it was a it was signifier and a sort of class identifier that you are the type of person who has seen whatever already, and now that falls to television. That’s your o.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:43

    I stayed up on Sunday night to make sure that I watched the succession finale at nine PM and can talk about it the next day at the office. And that doesn’t exist anymore. Sundance, has used to be that. They used to be the place where that sort of buzz like, that’s literally I mean, that’s what buzz is. Right?
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:00

    Like, that’s when we say the word buzz about movies. It is people wanted to have seen it so they can talk about it, so they can tell other people, so they can be seen as the kind of person who sees it, and Sundance isn’t selling that anymore. They are not effectively making the case that if you see this first, you will be cool. And that’s what they used to do. And they’ve in part because of competition from television and in part because of changing sort of the the types of the movies themselves, they have failed to make that case to elite viewers, and we are now reaping the the consequences of that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:35

    Yeah. I also did either of you read channel letters recent book on Harvey Weinstein. Yeah. No. So I think one of the things that’s interesting in that that provides perhaps some context from the moment we’re we’re in is part of the Harvey Weinstein story was him starting championing, you know, sort of more difficult work.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:56

    Like part of the legend of the Weinstein Brothers is that they, you know, like, they sort of found Quentin Tarantino and championed his work. But the perception over time became that Weinstein really kind of got away from those early interests and ended up championing a lot of stuff that was more sentimental and commercial. And, you know, he was incredibly profligate. But he had a very sort of mixed hit rate. And in fact, you know, his brother Bob, Weinstein’s horror line was what kept the Weinstein Enterprise kind of afloat.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:30

    And so I wondered to a certain extent if the moment we’re in is a product of a historical aberration that never really was kind of ending. Right? I mean, there have always been periods when, you know, independent cinema did better and worse, but this sort of Harvey Weinstein created, you know, myth of Sundance as incubator of, you know, popular indie movies that were then sort of shepherded to big audiences by Weinstein himself is sort of a myth both in the sense that weinstein’s hit ratio was very uneven, and a lot of the movies that he was championing that were popular were not actually that difficult or raw in the sense that we’re talking about some dance movies here. Right? Like, Shakespeare and Love is sort of and, you know, shock a lot too or sort of strong examples of, you know, sort of Sundance movies said with Air quotes as a proxy for Indy that didn’t really fit that model at all.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:27

    We shouldn’t undersell the fact that the Weinsteins were the initial group that went in there and, like, really bit up prices on all of these things. Like, that was a that’s another a real market effect there. It’s just like making it into a real slaughterhouse for some of these smaller distributors who, you know, had experience distributing this sort of thing. They did not have the reach of the Weinstein’s, but they had the expertise, and they’re all kinda gone. Alright.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:55

    So is it a controversy or a controversy that nobody is buying movies at at Sundance anymore, and that the whole indie scene is dying and is gonna gonna go away, and nobody’s gonna make independent movies ever again. It’s just gonna be marvel and succession forever. Deeter.
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:13

    I think it’s not really much of a controversy because something will fill the role that Sundance used to play. There will be interesting, independent, weird cinema, but maybe it won’t be in the movie theaters. Maybe it will be somewhere else.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:28

    Alyssa.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:30

    It’s a non touristy, but it’s a bit of a tragedy, and I really don’t want my entertainment future to be on where I have to watch stuff on, like, school or meta’s dumb AR glasses?
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:40

    It’s it’s a controversy because, you know, if you don’t have the Indy Darlings, making their movies at the Indie festivals, who’s gonna direct the next crop of m who’s how are you who is the m c u gonna absorb into their machine to suck the soul out of? That’s how
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:54

    TikTok influencers. It’s gonna be the TikTokers.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:57

    My understanding is that that’s how the Marvel Machine actually runs is that they find the hottest young indie director possible and then strap them to the machine from the princess bride and steal their essence. And use that to power the Marvel machine. That was actually in Michael Schulman’s story. I don’t you did you guys get to that part? The the soul sucking part?
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:16

    Anyway, Alright. Alright. Make sure to swing by Bulwark Plus for our bonus episode on Cliff Hanger movies, speaking of which, onto the main event. Spider Man across Spiderverse, which is the best looking one half of one movie you’ll see all year long. I guarantee it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:33

    Spoiler ahead, So if you’re worried about this sort of thing, don’t send me a tweet tomorrow. That’s like, why would you talk about this movie that you said you’re gonna be talking about? On the podcast. I get those sometimes. Don’t do it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:47

    Across the Spiderverse picks up where the first one left off kind of. Actually, it starts a little bit before the end of the one. As we get to see what Gwen aka Spiderwoman aka Spider Gwen, though she’s not called that in this movie, that’s a that’s a comics name. And we learned about her tragic backstory, which involves the death of her universe as Peter Parker. Tragic backstories.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:07

    That’s what this movie is about. And it asks a very important question. Does Spider Man need them to become Spider Man? Look, I’m just gonna skip over most of the plot mechanics here usually this is the part of the review where I tell you what happened in the movie, but I’m not gonna do that because it would take me forever because there’s so much going on and there’s so many different characters that if I start reading off character names and character, voice actors, it’s gonna take me forever. Long in the short of it is this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:31

    Spiderwoman is now part of a multidimensional band of spider people who hop around the multiverse, fixing tears and holes, the whole thing doesn’t collapse in on itself when something that was supposed to happen does not happen. And you know what’s supposed to happen all the time to every Spider person? Bad things. Traumatic things. Over and over again, we see Spidermen who watch their uncles die, who watch as police captains are crushed to death by rubble, who watch their loved ones, next snap after the Grain goblin tosses them off of a bridge.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:59

    Miles Morales, who is voiced by Shamik Moore, is we learn a mistake. He was bitten by the spider destined for some other spider person, leaving that spider universe without a spider protector. When Miles learns that he too will have to suffer canonical trauma in order to keep his universe from unraveling, that frankly his father is gonna likely be the one who has to die. He says no and makes a run for it leading to a shocking cliffhanger. And that the film ends on a cliffhanger is not what renders it half a film precisely here.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:28

    The real issue is that this movie does not resolve the fundamental idea at its heart, and that idea is this. Spider bands on higher history in every iteration is guided by trauma. He is a living manifestation of the so called trauma plot. I wanna bring up an essay that Alyssa mentioned a little while back in a previous episode. The case against the trauma plot, which is in the New Yorker, And here is a line from that essay that felt like it was a shot straight out of this movie.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:57

    It felt like this movie was taking this line and making a visual image of it. Here here’s the line, quote, the invocation of trauma promises access to some well guarded bloody chamber. Increasingly though, we feel is at we have entered a rather generic motel room with all the signs of heavy turnover end quote. Again, this is almost a precise shot from the movie where we see each of the spider people standing next to a shadow of a dead loved one. We see we see the trauma play out over and over again.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:25

    It’s the same. It is increasingly generic. It is not that interesting. To gain access to their chamber, it is demanded that Miles make a sacrifice, but he would rather have his father alive and get to spend time with him, then spend time in that generic motel room with Spiderman twenty ninety nine and the rest. It’s a really interesting idea.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:45

    And, like, frankly, it’s far more iconoclastic than anything else Marvel has done with the multiverse concept. It’s real this is actually like a real effort to play with the idea of what it means to exist in multi dimensions at all at the same time, all having slightly different iterations of the same character and idea. Unfortunately, this idea is also incomplete at the end of this movie. There’s no resolution, and I would honestly be very curious to know if the folks at Sony animation even actually really have a resolution, like given that the sequel is scheduled to come out next year, I hope that they do, given that. But knowing a thing or two about how some of these movies are made, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they are still in the writers room trying to work it out.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:29

    Getting hung up on the plot of this movie is beside the point though, as this is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. I mean, it’s just a delightful mashup of animation styles ranging from three d to kind of pencil in ink, punk collage. There’s like a sort of neon watercolor thing going on in the Spider Gwen universe, I I, like, frankly, don’t have the words to describe a lot of what I was seeing in it. But it’s glorious and it’s wonderful, and it’s packed with jokes in the background and foreground alike, I I really just can’t wait to get it on 4K and just go through it frame by frame to see what I missed and what they had kind of packed into all the corners. Of the frame.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:06

    Peter, what did you make of Spider Man across the Spiderverse?
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:10

    I love this movie. I have a particular attachment to Spider Man, like, almost like a childlike emotional no. Not childlike. Going back to my childhood emotional attachment to Spider Man. Like, in the sense that, like, right here in my office as I am podcasting, I am looking at my very first published anything ever in a national publication, which is a letter I wrote and got published in the letters page of amazing Spider Man, back in the nineteen nineties.
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:40

    Right? And so I have, like, a framed copy of this sitting, you know, hanging on the wall in my office from when I was in fourth grade. Because Spider Man has always been really important to me. What I love about this franchise is it takes this idea like it it understands that Spider Man is important to a lot of people. In particular, it’s important to like a very particular, a specific strain of, like, kind of nerdy, kind of awkward dude.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:07

    And then it’s like, but what if what if we could just take the idea of Spider Man and make it accessible to everyone and not just like a of course I see myself in Peter Parker. Of course I do, right? Like I’m I’m I I’m a Peter who’s, like, kind of a nerd and, like, a little bit awkward. It, like, doesn’t quite fit in, but, like, it’s wanted to go into journalism and, like, yes. But what if we could just What this franchise does is it says, okay, that’s great.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:34

    All the Peters in the world can relate to Peter Parker, but what about the Miles’s? And what about the Gwenz? Can we make a Spider movie that says that everybody
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:44

    should be able to relate to Spider
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:44

    Man somehow or another? And like that was the first one, and that’s even more so in some ways, the second one as well. Then you combine that just, you know, that that, like, great idea. With really incredible comic book inspired animation that is often like often takes the art in a really abstract direction that, like, frankly feels like at times like I’m watching a fairly obscure like art film from the nineteen seventies where it’s like, man, is Ralph Back she involved in this? What the hell?
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:16

    Am I except this is a hundred million dollar tent pole summer superhero film. In the era of tentpole superhero movies, and I I like, I frankly can’t believe that this movie exists and how good it is.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:28

    Then, like, there’s just all
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:29

    this other stuff that works on a more kind of discreet and practical level. So there’s this great sequence. The the opening of the movie is so busy. And I almost thought it was gonna be a little too noisy and a little too calamitous. This whole sequence with a Leonardo DaVinci in aspired version of the vulture who just shows up in the like, our timeline and is like, the and and, like, it just, like, what am I watching?
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:55

    I had, like, how can I put all of this together? And then we get to the middle of the movie, and it really it was like, I was like, this is great, but it might be too much. We get to the movie and it slows down. And it actually brings you in with sequences that are much more classically directed and shot. And in particular, there is this very long sequence between Gwen and Miles, our our two spider protagonists.
  • Speaker 3
    0:29:22

    In Miles’s dimension where they meet up again after many years of not having seen each other, and it’s this great tender kind of adolescent love sequence in the middle of this big crazy zany multiversal Spider Man movie. And the fact that the movie not only just manages to pull off the sequence, but has the smarts to say, oh, you know, we’re gonna throw it. A ton of stuff at you at the beginning. And then also, we’re just gonna settle you in for like the most classic teen romance butts in spider vision in, like, in with these shots where they’re, like, hang just sort of hanging upside down, looking at the the New York skyline, and I don’t know. I just like I fell in love with this movie in a way that I haven’t with a big budget movie in a really long time.
  • Speaker 3
    0:30:15

    And I I, like, I I I almost like, I worry that I’m overpraising it, but I don’t think I am. I think this movie is the thing that I wanna see. Big studios produce all the time. And, like, every time I think back about this movie, I look at more, which is rare because every time I think back about it, I see something that worked even better than I thought it did in the theater. I see something that makes other movies trying to connect with a mass audience and trying to do big budget move superhero stuff?
  • Speaker 3
    0:30:43

    Like, it just embarrasses every Marvel movie of the last several years, every multiverse movie that isn’t everything everywhere all at once. It just serves shows you what a paucity of imagination is going into those things and how incredibly conservative they are. And I I have some more thoughts, but I’ll I’ll let alyssa go here. I truly loved this film and I I just like, I’m I’m almost, like, tearing up talking about it because it’s, like, this is it. This is what Spider Man is for, and it’s what movies are for.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:11

    Listen, I wanna I wanna kinda piggyback on something Peter is I think getting at in a in a roundabout way, which is that for a very long time, studios and audiences have demanded that these movies be live action and be made to look realistic. Like, everyone is like, well, you know, anybody can do a cartoon but you want, like, the live action Batman or the live action Spider Man. That’s that’s the real that’s a real movie. And I wonder if this is the start of a very real pushback against the fundamental limitations of that and an embrace of, like well, comic books are an illustrated format. Why not make a movie that reflects that and everything it can be.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:56

    Yeah. And I think that, you know, while Peter was talking, I was thinking about sort of the fight over whether comic books and comic book characters and comic book movies should be recognized as serious art. And that conversation has always seemed to me to sort of take place in a kind of ass backwards fashion. Right? Because you know, they are often about sort of bolting on a retroactive justification.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:23

    It’s like, oh, you know, these aren’t just you know, this isn’t kid’s stuff. There’s actually a metaphor here. You know? I mean, x men are about political radicalism or the Avengers movies are about whether power should be, you know, sort of regulated or concentrated in the hands of people who are themselves basically morally good. And they’re not debates about sort of accomplishment in form and mode.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:50

    Right? They’re not about whether you know, the sort of visual beauty of these stories or the writing or the wit. And the artistic ambition of the Spiderverse movies just knocks that conversation back on its ass. Right? I mean, you know, these are movies where, you know, just the visual accomplishment in multiple forms of animation and sort of creating these visual languages and the way that they play with each other, it’s just a staggering achievement.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:24

    Right? I mean, having, you know, Daniel Coluio’s Hobe Brown and, you know, Miles Morales, together on the same screen in effectively different styles of animation in a way that functions visually and yet underlines, you know, the differences in the characters. That’s what an artistic accomplishment is. Right? It’s it’s excellence in a form of expression that shows you something new.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:51

    And We’ve talked a lot on this show about just a total I feel pardon my language, fucking mediocrity of the visuals in the Marvel Cinematic Universe of late. And, you know, to be reminded, what a comic book movie can be, what artistic achievement in this form can be like. And then to have that wedded to a story and a series of performances that despite not having sort of a world threatening implication, and in fact, I mean, the spot is sort of wandering around threatening to destroy everything. But the movie is about the destruction of sort of Spider Man as an idea. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:30

    And maybe there will be knock on consequences for, you know, their various worlds. But at heart, this is a movie about what it means to be good and what causes people to be good. Right? And I think one of the things that is compelling about the Spider Man origin story or the, you know, the Batman origin story, to a certain extent, is that they’re a story about growing up and about sort of having responsibility knocked into you. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:55

    And there a story about sort of teenage boy recklessness and thoughtlessness and the event that makes someone shoulder responsibility. And, you know, part of what’s interesting about taking away that trauma plot is, you know, it says, what if people are just good? What if people have the impulse to be good? But also, what if it’s harder to be good than the comics suggest. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:23

    And, you know, to a certain extent, this shows up in all of the Spider Man stories about, you know, how do you meet the sort of mundane obligations your life, like, whether you’re showing up to your, you know, your college counseling session or your, you know, date or an obligation for aunt May when you feel this bigger sense of responsibility. But, you know, what if you don’t need trauma to navigate that. What if that in and of itself is a, you know, worthy dilemma and sort of source of a hero’s journey. Right? And then, of course, in this movie, it’s like, what if those mundane obligations are freighted with extra weight because your character is, you know, afro Latino in this case.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:06

    What if, you know, your desire to golf to Princeton and learn about physics is coming up against your mother’s fear that you won’t be appreciated. Or, you know, what does your dad’s promotion mean when he is, you know, a black cop in a city that, you know, when you’re a teenager walking around with Bulwark Lives Matter button on your backpack. And the movie doesn’t dwell on any of this stuff, but it treats ordinary human goodness as an epic journey. And that in and of itself is a kind of moral inquiry that you know, sort of, is ambitious and artistically freighted in a way that the much noisier, you know, superhero movies we’ve had how kind of shied away from or been afraid to engage with too deeply. And, you know, it’s just it’s just so beautifully done here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:52

    I mean, this scene that Peter was talking about with Gwen and Peter yeah. Gwen and Miles, sorry. Clearly, you know. Past tugs at my memory here. You know It’s miles.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:04

    It’s Peter. They’re all Spider Man. We’re all Spider Man.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:07

    Yes. You know, just like walking around on this dome, you know, moving in a way that you know, is only accessible to them because of their superpowers, but that expresses this sort of sense of intensely private shared experience that you can only have when you’re a teenager. I’m, god, it’s just beautiful. It’s just it’s beautiful and it’s moving. And I haven’t even gotten into all of the sort of parent feelings I had while watching this movie.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:38

    But it’s just it is human in the best possible way, and it just I cannot imagine wanting to watch a Marvel movie ever again after this. And, you know, look, My desire for those movies was sort of trending down anyway, but I’m just like I’m done. I’ll watch them for the podcast because it’s, you know, what I do. But, that desire is gone. It just eclipsed.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:01

    I am going to see the flash after we tape this, and I am not looking forward to it. Because I was already, like, kinda shaky on the v lot of the visuals in this just from the ads and trailers. And like, I’m I’m not logging more to Alright. We’re we’re running along here. So let’s let’s wrap it up.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:17

    Peter thumbs up or thumbs down on Spider Man across the Spiderverse.
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:21

    Loved it. My highest possible recommendation for a big budget blockbuster. Alyssa.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:26

    Absolute same. Gonna try and go see it again this weekend.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:30

    Provisional thumbs up, assuming they bring it home in the third. I we cannot forget the Matrix Revolution folks. There we cannot forget what has been done to us in the past. Alright? So you yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:42

    I got my eye on you, Lord Miller. Take care of this. You bring it home. We’ll we’ll see how it goes. Alright.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:50

    That is it for this week’s show. Make sure to swing by We’ll work class for our bonus episode on Friday. Tell your friends, a strong recommendation from a friend is basically the only way to grow podcast audiences. We don’t grow, we’ll die. If you did not love two days episode, please complain to me on Twitter sunny bunch.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:04

    I’m gonna make sure that it is, in fact, the best show in your podcast feed. See you guys next week.
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