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‘Dune: Part Two,’ a Desert Epic for the Ages

March 5, 2024
Notes
Transcript
On this week’s episode Sonny Bunch (The Bulwark), Alyssa Rosenberg (The Washington Post), and Peter Suderman (Reason) discuss Ian Bogost’s essay at The Atlantic suggesting the 4K revolution is a bit of a scam. Then they review Dune: Part Two, the second half of Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic novel. Make sure to swing by Friday for our bonus episode on Vulture’s ranking of the 100 greatest action sequences. And if you enjoyed this episode, share it with a friend!
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 this Tuesday’s across the movie aisle presented by Bulwark Plus. I am your host Sunny Bunch, Culture editor of the Bulwark, and I’m joined as always by the award winning Alyssa of the Washington Post and Peter Sutterman of Reason Magazine. Unless, Peter, how are you today?
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:24

    I’m Danny.
  • Speaker 3
    0:00:26

    I am happy to be talking about movies with friends.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:29

    First up, in controversies and controversies, is your TV lying to you? That is one of the propositions by Ian Bogost in an article for the Atlantic titled Your TV is too good for you. Four k resolution is a sham. Bold. That’s a bold headline.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:44

    Not entirely inaccurate though. Here are some absolutely true facts from the piece. Alright. So first off, most cable networks and over the air broadcasts are not transmitting in four k. It’s ten eighty p standard high def.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:56

    Now most TVs will do a little upscaling, you know, but for you to improve that resolution, dramatically, you’re gonna need to get a different source. Right? It’s it we’re we’re basically dealing with the standard broadcast format that has accompanied the first wave of mass market HD TVs back in the early aunts. Alright. So second off, many of us have TVs positioned in ways that do not allow us to really take advantage of four k as opposed to ten eighty p.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:23

    If you have your couch twelve feet from your TV as many folks tend to, you’re probably not gonna be able to tell the difference between standard HD and four k. The ideal location is something like one point five x, the size of your screen. So if you have a sixty five inch screen, you want your seat to be something like eight feet away, seven and a half, eight feet away, and at eye level. I just wanna say for the record, that’s exactly how my TV is set up in my room because I’m a good I’m a good boy. I pay attention to what they say on the internet.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:51

    I can’t tell you how many homes I walk into these days where the TV is, like, mounted over a fireplace And it’s like fifteen feet away from the couches. It’s so it’s the hypotenuse of this of this right angle triangle is like twenty feet. Who knows? How far away it is. Also, that just like can’t be comfortable to watch TV.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:10

    I just imagine these people, like, craning their necks up the whole time to watch, you know, sports or whatever. Sounds awful. Last but not least, there are some questions related to the quality of four k streams. Some of the streamers are better than others, but the simple fact of the matter is that even the best four k streams are going to be wildly compressed to say bandwidth. The difference between watching something like Oppenheimer on a four k UHD disc and on Peacock is fairly large.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:37

    It’s just a there’s a big difference there. I will say anecdotally that I find streaming sports delivers a much better image than either the Spectrum cable, which I used to have and got rid of. Or, the over the air broadcast. Right? Many Netflix originals look pretty good.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:52

    They look pretty pretty good when they’re when they’re streamed. They gotta give Netflix credit, on that stuff. Certainly, they look better than their counterparts on Amazon or peacock. I’m fascinated by all of these questions because of the big arguments against theaters these days is, well, I got this nice TV anyway. So why bother going to theaters?
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:09

    And also because I get the sense that most people aren’t actually paying that much attention to what’s on the screen anyway. Right? There’s a reason that more than half of Americans under the age of thirty watch TV with subtitles on. And it’s not just because of weird mixing issues, though we can discuss that. It’s so they can kind of dip back and forth between looking at their looking at the TV.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:28

    They look at the TV. They see what it was they’re talking about. Okay. Go back to my phone back and forth back and forth forever because nobody has an attention span anymore. Peter, are you annoyed that he ignored the most important part of any home theater setup, having seventeen different speakers arrayed perfectly, measured distance, coordinated with the TV and your center channel just to mimic the sound shape of Adobe Atmos auditorium.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:55

    So I counted
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:57

    the other day because I’d forgotten exactly how many speakers I have that are part of my main home theater system setup.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:04

    You have wait. Wait. I just wanna pause here for a second. You have so many speakers set up in your that you have forgotten precisely how many speakers you have. Is that is that what you’re telling?
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:13

    Part of
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:14

    your problems. Speakers that are taller than I am.
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:15

    Yeah. Part of the problem is I have two completely different sets of speakers. One that is a two channel only set of speakers that has monoblock two power amps, and it it’s really only for listening to music. There’s also a pre amp and a a phono preamp and a a tube deck weirdly, which is a kind of an unusual thing to have. And that system doesn’t in any way touch the home theater system.
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:40

    So you you can’t play movies out of it and so that’s some other stuff. But then I have all these other speakers that you can listen to music out of them and I I do sometimes, but are part of the the home theater system, and it’s it’s nine speakers plus a subwoofer, which is a pretty good amount of speakers. I think I definitely could have more But, but work, but nine is is not so bad. I look, I I like it. He’s in bogus a lot.
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:04

    Actually, he’s he’s a very fun writer. And I I appreciate this article for the kind of dry trolling of it. Right? It’s definitely designed to kind of like poke at someone like me who really cares about home theater equipment a lot. Has has my television positioned almost exactly one point five x from like the ideal viewing slot, you know, the I it is raised up a little bit, but I think that’s actually fine.
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:29

    Like, when you go to a, like, movie theaters for years, like, the whole point of it was that you craned your neck just a little bit. It’s not like way high in the air though. It’s just a little tiny bit of a a lift. But I have a I have some responses to his article. And numb number one is Who watches broadcast?
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:48

    Like, what? What? For what? I I watch it when I have to learn about the news And I frankly just don’t care if Jake Tapper is in four k or not. I care.
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:58

    If his hair looks good, it always does and, like, whether he’s, if he’s telling me that the republic is melting down or not, often it is. Otherwise, you should be watching criterian discs on four k. They have fifty percent off sales all the time. They just had one last week. Like, just just buy the the four k discs, guys.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:16

    It’s not that hard. Number two, his complaint about the TVs being set up improperly is I I accept that. Like, that’s correct. But that’s not the TV’s fault. That’s the user’s fault.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:30

    Right? Like, If you if your TV is in the wrong spot, then that’s your problem. And you should put your TV in a in the right spot. But the other the thing he leaves out here is, yeah, sure. Okay.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:43

    You go to suburban, whatever, like, places where, I don’t know, sunny lives. And people have big living rooms and and fireplaces that they hang their televisions over. But in real America, That’s not how it is. And by real America, I mean, where I live.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:58

    Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:59

    Wait. Wait. Hold on. I’m sorry. You’re trying to suggest to me that real America is the DC townhouse versus the, one story ranch, style home in the sub not quite the suburbs of that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:13

    No.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:13

    No. No. They’re not much closer
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:14

    to real America than you, Mr. Suterman.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:17

    Can I also just say that Peter Suterman has a very nice fireplace and I will not reveal everything I know about his fireplace because it would embarrass him, but he does have a very nice fireplace? So It’s
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:27

    a nice mental piece. But you can’t actually put any fire in it. We tried. That was that was not gonna work. Look, no.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:32

    I’m not actually even talking about row houses. I am talking about tiny one bedroom apartments populated by young professionals of the type that are springing up all over my neighborhood that I walk by every day. A lot of these are one bedroom apartments that are five hundred and fifty square feet. Like, the vet TV is not going to be very far from your face no matter where you put it. And in fact, I I mean, I’m I’m joking a little bit.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:59

    But that type of arrangement isn’t is quite common, especially in big cities. And I walk by these little tiny one bedrooms that are being put up all over the city. Every day, I do a lot of walking. And I I look into people’s living rooms because there’s only two rooms in these apartments. To be clear.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:16

    There’s a living room that also has the kitchen and a bedroom. And sometimes it’s not even really two rooms. It’s like there’s a little partition between them. And it’s not quite a hundred percent, but it’s far more common than not to have at least a fifty five if not a sixty five inch television in these little tiny one bedroom apartments, and those TVs are almost always correctly placed. People don’t mount them because they don’t expect to be in those in those apartments more than a couple of years.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:42

    They’ve got a little couch and a little TV stand and it’s right at eye level and it’s, you know, seven or eight feet away from them And they just, like, that’s they’re sitting to hang out place in their apartment, and that is extremely common, and those folks have four k televisions that they are that are correctly positioned based on how far the based on the size of the room and how far away from them they are. The the final thing I would just say is even if even if you buy all of these complaints, that’s not a reason not to pick up a four k TV, but also In ten years, all of this is going to be moot because the vision pro and stuff like this, and I’m I’m joking a little bit because I’m but I’m not joking. If you talk to anybody who has purchased an an Apple Vision Pro already, they will tell you that by far, the best use case so far is watching movies immersively and that the the the that just watching a two dimensional or sort of kind of three d in the sort of three d style of like watching Avatar two in three d.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:42

    Like watching movies immersively on the Apple Vision Pro, everyone says that it is just an absolute transformational experience that people just, like, that’s the thing. They show their friends. People just prefer to lose theirs. They’re like, whoa. I’ve never seen it like this before.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:57

    It’s just like I’m in it. Right? And that sort of thing is just going to become much more common. Maybe it’s not going to become the the norm for all three of us on this podcast, but I I really think that that is like people are underrating VR as a as a movie watching experience and as a way to replicate going to a space with a gigantic screen and an incredible sound system.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:20

    Alyssa, my main takeaway from Peter’s talk here is that sad single people already have a good setup and will have a better setup once the Vision Pro becomes because the Vision Pro isn’t is ultimately an isolating thing. It is not not a thing that you you watch with friends. It’s not a thing you we talk about going to movies with friends and talking about it here on the show. And, like, even when we go separately, we’re still in a room. But the idea of the Vision Pro is to isolate.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:50

    That’s an isolation thing. And the one bedroom apartment, unless you are lucky enough to live with, you know, a loved one or whatever. That that’s an isolation thing. It’s I got my little pod. I got my little pod, and I’m gonna get my postmates delivered to me.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:03

    And hopefully, the machine doesn’t break down and stop bringing me things because, then I’ll starve. Like, I’m I he’s he’s he’s he’s describing dystopia. That’s dystopia. Alyssa. Save us.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:17

    Before I save us guys can I make confession?
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:20

    Yes. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:21

    So my television is one that my husband and I inherited from the guys who owned the condo that we lived in before our house. I did not pick it out. At the time it was mounted on the wall above a fireplace. I don’t know the number of feet my couch is placed away from my television.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:43

    I I mean,
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:44

    that’s we use a Sonos Soundbar. I’m aware that you are all gonna disown me from this podcast And as a result, I just wanna say how much I love spending almost five years making episodes with you, but the truth had to come out some
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:59

    What kind of TV? Is it is it a four k TV or is it a ten eighty p what are what kind of TV you got there? Do you even know? Do you know the brand? The size?
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:07

    I can go look it up. It’s sixty five inches. It is not four k. It’s at least nine years old.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:12

    I believe, actually, it is a four k television. I believe it’s an early four
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:16

    k television. I believe it’s
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:16

    an early four k television. It’s not an OLED. It’s whatever was the, top led, LED technology that wasn’t OLED at back in, like, the right around the transition between plasma, to OLED. So it was the the other thing that was in circulation. LED.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:34

    There was a just
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:35

    just LED, I guess, before Qleds, Qleds. Oh, that’s right. Which are which I don’t like We’re
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:40

    getting we’re getting in the weeds. It doesn’t really matter here. But I I I I but pretty sure this actually
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:45

    is a four k TV.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:46

    Here’s But so I’m basically, like, I’m the sort of normie television owner who like, probably is committing all of the sins. You know, I I don’t own a four k player. But now that I know that my TV probably is four k. Maybe I’ll get one. We have held off on upgrading in part because our children are, especially my son, are basically, like, the human incarnations of Calvin and Hobbs, and we wanna wait until they’re not gonna destroy, like, an OLED to get an OLED.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:16

    But, yeah, I commit a lot of these sins. And, I mean, maybe this is an argument against spending so much money on these televisions, but the price on them is also coming down fairly rapidly as far as I can tell. And so to a certain extent, I don’t really care if my TV is just too good for me. It mostly seems like an opportunity to educate people about, like, what their TVs can do for them and encourage them to buy a four k player, shop the criterion collection. You know, tweak the setting that’s gonna make things better But, yeah, my my TV is a, you know, the thing that my husband and I use to watch Tokyo of Ice and Shogan and to shower kids cars, And sometimes to watch other things, but a lot of my transcendent, viewing experiences happen in theaters.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:01

    And both of those things are communal in a different way. And that’s great. I will, you know, I will try to do better so you guys don’t actually boot me off the podcast. But,
  • Speaker 3
    0:14:14

    You can always come and watch a movie here, Alyssa. You’re all
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:17

    gonna have to give that. It’s magical.
  • Speaker 3
    0:14:19

    Golden ticket, universal invitation.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:21

    Here’s the thing though. I and this is why I think the the the article we’re discussing here is basically right. We in this sense, which is that most people don’t actually understand how their TVs work or what they’re getting. They just turn they turn it on, and they’re like, I wanna watch HBO Max, and whatever they see is fine for them. Like, I’ll be honest.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:43

    I how do I put this without sounding deranged? I care a lot about It’s okay. I care I care a lot about how my how the image on my TV looks. And, even I will sometimes have trouble telling the difference between a four k disc with the full HDR thing going and, you know, in Dolby vision with Dolby Atmos and, you know, I can I can tweak the settings and see some minor differences, but I I don’t get, as much out of this as some people do? That said, that said, I look, there’s a reason I buy a lot of, home movies on discs and that’s because I cannot stand how a lot of stuff looks on streaming.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:25

    I don’t like the compression of the the colors. There’s always these banding effects. Everything looks It just slightly junky. It looks like watching, an up converted DVD on my on my old, you know, Bluray player or something. I don’t like how it looks.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:41

    I like how I like how the uncompressed or the less compressed versions of these things look. And I’m I’m willing to pay a little more for that. I think most people aren’t. I don’t I I like, this is this is why my big my grand theory on customer behavior is that people don’t actually care about how things look. They care about, cost and getting them quickly and and instantly.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:02

    Right? This is why, streaming has defeated home video is because people just wanna watch something. They don’t really care how it looks.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:11

    I I agree with that. And and as much as I, like, started by, like, saying, oh, four k discs are the thing. Why would you watch anything else? I I watch a ton of streaming. I buy many fewer discs than I used to.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:22

    And I don’t think that the difference between a four k stream and a four k disc is large enough that most people will care, and that’s fine, actually. It’s it just that doesn’t bother me. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:34

    And I mean, I also think that’s true so many kinds of consumer technology. Right? I mean, do most people actually know how to use the multiple cameras on the higher end iPhones in the sort of maximally interesting way to produce the best possible photography. Absolutely not. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:51

    I mean, it’s cool that the camera will do a lot of the correction for you and just sort of capture more information and make your images better. But nobody Bulwark around being like, you know, the iPhone is too good for that grandma who’s just, like, taking some pictures of her kids. You know, I mean, we’re being sold all sorts of, like, You know, I don’t optimize my dishwasher to, like, the absolute max that I possibly could.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:13

    Oh, man. Have you ever gotten on the dishwasher forums where people so mad about how everyone doesn’t optimize the the the the settings on their dishwasher properly.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:22

    They’re like, that’s why My husband was our I mean, should confess also that, like, the reason I don’t optimize our dishwasher is because my husband does the dishes and therefore is the person who knows everything about our dishwasher. But, I mean, All of our consumer technology is too good for us to a certain extent. And I suspect that sort of the cost benefit ratio on TV is actually less bad. Than on some of the other things that we spend a lot of money on.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:46

    The the one thing I I wanna say here as we close out though is that listeners to this podcast will care about this and and you you guys should if you are listening to this podcast, you like movies, I assume, and you you think of the, like, you lick the art of movies. And one thing that I think even people who know a lot about movies, who watch a lot of movies underrate, is just how much time filmmakers spend futzing with incredibly small details of image quality. If you guys remember that Brad Pitt science fiction movie ad ass that came out in, late summer twenty nineteen. I believe we watched it for the podcast. With a crazed monkey.
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:23

    Yeah. With a crazed monkey and the sad problems, Tommy Lee. Sat dad.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:27

    Sat dadstroke.
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:28

    Actually, it’s a it’s a beautiful movie. And that movie was serially delayed. James Gray gave an interview at one point during the delay process where he talked about sitting in a room for six months with a laser pointer. Just going over shots and just circling little tiny this corner of this shot, this color on this on this part of this object in this shot has to has to be different. And then they would go and they would change it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:54

    And it was six hundred shots, and that’s what he spent six months of his life doing. Was just obsessing over every little tiny detail. Now not every single production is production is quite that obsessively crafted. At the same time, even movies that don’t look all that great. There’s somebody who’s sitting there doing the color timing and doing the post production try and make this stuff look really, really, really good spending even doing the pre production, like picking the the exact right lens and really thinking about how this stuff is gonna at how the lens and the light are gonna interact and, you know, with the different type textures that are on the screen.
  • Speaker 3
    0:19:29

    And if you’re not setting up your television properly, you are missing a lot of that. And that is that’s one reason that’s an argument for the the theatrical experience, especially at a place like the Alamo, which does their projection properly, but it is also, like, respect the film and respect the filmmakers and the time they spent on it because they really care that is something they see and that they want you to see.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:53

    Yeah. Alright. So what do we think is the four k resolution revolution. A controversy or a controversy. I don’t I don’t know about this one, guys.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:01

    I don’t know about this exit question. I’d I I couldn’t really think of a way
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:04

    to cap it. Peter, Oh, I’ve already moved on to eight k. Okay. Lisa.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:09

    It’s a controversy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:11

    It’s a controversy. I guess. Again, my main takeaway here is that, like, most people don’t actually care at all about any of this. And I I hope that the people listening to this, do, Peter. I’m, you know, we’ll see.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:23

    We’ll see. Get some angry feedback here. Alright. Make sure to swing by Bulwark Plus on Friday. For action packed bonus episode, it’s gonna be a fun one.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:30

    And now on to the main event. Dune part two, picking up right where Dune part one left off. We follow Paul Madiba trades into the desert wastes with his pregnant mother, the lady Jessica, and the fremen who are led by the worshipful Stilgar, and the suspicious, shawning. Paul must learn the ways of the desert so as to defeat the hateful Harkonins who have retaken the planet of arrakis with the backing of the emperor and they gotta get the spice flowing. Gotta get the spice flowing because that’s where the money comes from.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:00

    Don’t ask too many questions about the spice. Just know that it has to flow. Paul, sees visions of himself leading a galactic jihad bodies in the billions, following to his wrathful fremen hordes, as they spread, the word of the Lisa Al Gayib across the universe. These visions terrify him. He he hopes to avoid fulfilling this destiny by insisting that the fremen must be led by one of their own.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:23

    They gotta, you gotta get a you’re a fremen in the lead there to retake Iraq arrakis from the Harkonin. Yada yada yada. Oops. Turns out you gotta you gotta do that global g that galactic jihad. Otherwise, none of it none of it can happen.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:36

    Alright. So here’s here’s the good. Dune part two is properly epic in scope and scale. It calls to mind the sweeping desert vistas of Lawrence of Arabia, and the massive armies of something like two towers or, you know, the big battles of brave hearts, something like that. If you like your movies big, this is a big, big movie, all capital letters there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:57

    The the performances are also fantastic across the board. Look, Harb Hobbier Bardem, Estilgar, sells the fanaticism of the fremen believers with a sort of joyously silly seriousness that makes you understand how Paul could could lead, again, the galactic jihad. The character’s just written perfectly. It’s performed delightfully. I I love everything.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:19

    Every moment that Stilgar is on the screen, I enjoyed. And every time he wasn’t on the screen, I was like, where’s Stilgar? What’s he doing? I don’t I don’t, I have issues with what they have done with the character of Shoney in this film, but Zendaya herself sells the idea of fremen doubt with aplum. And it kills me.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:37

    It kills me to say this. It absolutely kills me to say this, but Timothy Shalame is pretty great as Paul. There’s a moment about two thirds in where he gives this big speech about discarding the old ways and how they have to follow him to victory. And it’s the first time I’ve ever thought to myself. Oh, I get it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:53

    I get it. I see why he is a movie star. Damn it. That said, for all the epic scope and grandeur of some of the big desert warfare, this is this is a movie that has difficulty tying the action spectacle to big emotional moments. There’s nothing in June part two that compares the moment in June part one where the atreides clan that has been snuck attack, and they see the Harkon forces streaking toward them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:19

    And then Bernie Hallock cracks his first smile as the bagpipes go and the men go to arms and they’re rushing into a suicidal charge. That moment is, like, Awesome. That moment is awesome, and there’s just nothing quite like that. This is in part due to the paper thin nature of the Harkonins and the emperor. The struggle in Dune part two is almost entirely internal.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:40

    It is Paul’s. It is Paul’s and Paul’s alone. He must decide the path to take these people on, how best serve and save them. And the movie is very clearly uncomfortable with the optics of all this. The, you know, the whole white savior thing, lots of people discussing that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:54

    And we, you know, we could talk about whether or not that this is actually, you know, whatever. We could talk about that. The there’s a reason closing shot of this film is on Zendaya riding away from Paul rather than as happens in the book, her kind of accepting her role as concubine in his closest adviser. On the whole, I liked I liked the movie a lot. Look, I like this movie.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:15

    I enjoyed watching it in the theater. It is it is, you know, blow you away big, and I I even if I like the first slightly better, this is still a ton of fun to watch. It is properly epic, though slightly monochromatic. And I do I’m gonna go see it again. I I didn’t so I didn’t see it in a proper imax.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:33

    I saw it on, like, the cinemark what their x d screen, whatever their whatever their big screen is that isn’t IMAX. That’s where we saw it at our press screening. It’s not quite half a movie like the first, but it does end in a way that is not entirely conclusive. There is a holy war to come. There’s gonna be consequences of that Holy War.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:52

    And I I have a feeling we’re gonna get to see it after these this opening box office weekend, but, you know, we’ll see. Alyssa, what did you make of Dune part two?
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:01

    I enjoyed it a lot. My my friend, Patrick T Brown, tweeted. June part one is greater better than June part two, but it’s nice to see a tent pole blockbuster hit the four major quadrants pro life, pro geoengineering, pro experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs pro freedom fighters. And part of what I enjoy about, the sort of resurgence of Dune is how little it maps onto our present political moment. And I’m sure there will be takes about June.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:30

    They may be so
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:31

    many takes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:31

    So many takes. They will be slower to emerge than the Marvinheimer takes just because not as many people are seeing it, although I think it what doubled the box office of the first one. So that’s a good sign. But I just I appreciate some I I appreciate being in the universe that Frank Kerbert and Danny Vennu have created for us here in part because it is just so different from the moment that we’re in right now. And I think this movie does, you know, a really beautiful job of putting you not just in that political world, but in the physical world.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:09

    Right? I mean, I think being of sometimes gets slammed as this person who’s only interested in this kind of pulverizing maximalism. But I think part of what’s really strong about this movie is the sort of small scale intimate work and in the close physical spaces. Right? I mean, you know, taking Paul and Lady Jessica inside, you know, this from and siege, right, where you have, you know, this very specific architecture, the center of communal space, the sort of holy water that is sort of this reservoir of, you know, basically of, like, the water in dead from its bodies.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:47

    The water of life. Yes. You know, again, you have the sort of the temple setting in the south where you see, you know, Lady Jessica undergoing the, like, this ritual spice agony where Paul is later, you have all the, you know, the tents, for example, that you see get inflated, and all of these sort of intense close ups on Paul and Chania as they’re having these big discussions about their relationship and this political movement, which are inextricable, but also just in this sort of inevitable tragic tension. You know, you have Jessica ensconced in this palinquin on the back of a giant sand worm. And so you have these, you know, sort of all this, these closed spaces, these tight little spaces And being you’ve just cares a lot about human relations.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:39

    Right? I mean, we’re gonna, you know, be talk watching and talking about arrival together in about a month. And know, that’s a movie that again is about the impact of sort of this intense maximalism, both in, you know, this the physical arrival of huge alien crafts with seismic impact and geo, you know, geopolitical relationships that plays out in the form of, you know, a fundamentally small scale human drama, the question of, you know, this matters to us because it implicates how two people decide to have a baby and what happens to that baby when she grows up. Right? So that that slam on vinuv really doesn’t make sense to me in general, and also just does not make sense in the context of this movie.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:24

    And I’m I would be curious to know what the two of you thought of the Jack position between the sort of intimacy with which the movie treats like Paul and the Freeman and Jessica and the way it treats the Harkonins, and I’m rereading Dune right now, and the Harkonins are cartoons in Herbert’s you know, in Herbert’s novel. Right? And it’s it is interesting that the movie has sort of moved away from the you know, sort of evil homoeroticism of the harkonens in the novel. But this movie feels to a certain extent a little bit unbalanced because you get so little You know, I mean, the harkins are just pure evil. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:05

    They’re nazi. They’re, like, nazi gladiators who murder their sex slaves and are, like, super into knife play. You know, it helps. I think it helps a lot that you see Princess Sarah Longwell as a person and not just as the person who’s sort of providing, you know, epigrams at the beginning of all the chapters of June, and it also helps that she’s played by Florence Pugh, who is wonderful and who I adore. But there is a sort of emotional imbalance in the movie.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:37

    And I thought kinda I mean, I can’t help but find out all the harkins and stuff sort of aesthetically goofy. And I I I’m curious how that came across to both of you.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:48

    Peter, I’ll I’ll I’ll kick it to you in just one second. I just wanna say this is kinda what I mean when I say that the the movie is it’s almost unconcerned with the Harkonins. It this movie, I think, gives real short drift to all of the political intrigue from from the novel I I I don’t think it’s that interested in the the backroom dealings between the emperor and the Harkonins and everybody else. Because it is so focused on Paul and his decision that that kind of just has to go by the wayside. There The whole thing kind of unspools like prophecy itself.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:24

    Like, this is we we know how this is going to end because Paul has seen it. Right? And, like, even though that is not necessarily how it plays in the books, that is very much how it plays here. There there is no real dramatic tension between, in any of this. I also think Peter, maybe maybe you’ll disagree with me on this, but I also think a lot of the praise for Austin Butler as Faye Raltha is totally overblown.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:48

    I I think he’s a nothing character. It kind of interestingly designed. And, you know, well enough acted, I suppose, but the the character is just a nothing character. Right? People have compared him to Anton Sugar from, no country for old men or Heath Ledger’s Joker.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:04

    And there’s just nothing. There’s nothing there’s nothing that interesting about him. He is just there to be killed by Paul.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:12

    Yeah. And and Leah Sedo, as the, Ben and Jesra, at sent choose to do’s him who, and that character in the book interestingly is, like, Lady Jessica’s predecessor on arrakis, and there’s sort of a preexisting relationship there. Like, Sidot has fewer scenes in the movie and does much more interesting work as this person who’s man who knows an incredibly dangerous situation on behalf of his cynical agenda than Butler does. And I like Butler. Like, I I thought it was pretty great in Elvis, a movie that kinda surprised me in terms of how much I liked it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:42

    I’m really excited to see the bike riders. But, yeah, the idea that this is some kind of masterful performance is a bit of a mystery to me.
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:50

    Peter. So I don’t think you’re wrong that’s that this movie gives short shrift to the Harkonens. At the same time, I think it uses its extremely simplistic, almost cartoonish, cartoonishly evil portrayal of the Harkonens quite well because this is this movie is really focused on three elements. It is focused on the protagonists, the place, and the spectacle. And to some extent, it was simply necessary I assume you I unless you talk about you’ve, reading the book.
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:17

    I Sonny, I believe you have read the book. I’m not sure. This is an incredibly complex book and just one that is has been notoriously difficult to adapt, you know, going back to the failed Jodorowsky adaptation that didn’t happen in the nineteen 70s, David Lynch’s adaptation is a total mess. Even the director’s cut doesn’t make all that much sense just because it’s so it there’s just so much going on here. The sci fi channel version, children, Dune, which adepts a a couple of the books.
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:50

    Is a little bit better just in terms of, like, delivering a bunch of the scenes, but it’s a sci fi channel adaptation. It doesn’t it doesn’t really deliver the the kind of the spectacle that you get from something like this. And so to me, I I think it’s pretty clear what Vianou was trying to do. He wanted to tell an epic love story against the backdrop of an incredible science fiction setting location and then he wanted the spectacle of the worms. And then what he wanted to do that the thing that is that I think is most clever and in some ways most underremarked upon in the reviews I’ve read at least and perhaps I’m just missing a bit of this is that this movie is doing a really interesting job in some ways even more than the book.
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:34

    Of subverting the the hero’s journey. And it’s both incredibly obvious the way it does it and incredibly subtle. You can read this movie as a rah rah, Paul is the hero. Yeah. It’s awesome.
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:45

    He gets powerful and takes revenge. And that’s it. You if that’s the movie you wanna see, I think you can see that movie. And I think There are people out there who are like, yeah, big worms, kill the bad guys. And the Harkonin’s simplistic evil makes that possible because they’re so awful.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:01

    That it, right? So it just sort of makes the the good versus evil narrative easy if that’s what you if that’s what you want. But then if you if you wanna see this, I think, the right way to see this movie, That reveal when Paul learns that he is a harketin, that his mother is the is Baron Harkening’s daughter that that, Baron Harkening is his grandfather. That moment is the key to this movie. Because that is when he embraces his destiny as a bringer of death and destruction.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:33

    He knows what’s going to happen if he accepts his role as a kind of as a messianic political leader. He knows that that it will cause catastrophe that he is not just leading the fremen to freedom. He is leading the world to, to a meltdown, to something horrible. And he accepts that darkness in him. And if you notice the way that that it’s not just the way that that little bit is shot, but the next scene, we get one of these great sort of desert vista, sort of sweeping things where Paul is walking and he’s sort of, like, fuzzy in the background and we’ve seen this we’ve seen those shots before where he’s silhouetted, but now now there is a sort of hooded darkness to him.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:15

    He has He has become he’s become, in some sense, he’s embraced the monster in him. And so this movie uses that Harkin and that that sort of cartoonish archein and evil to tell us that that aspect, some something of that is in Paul. And when he says I’m a harkonin, I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna lead the fremen to
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:38

    We’ll fight like harkonins.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:39

    Right? We’re we’re gonna do this the Harkonin way. The movie is telling us that he is accepting, to that to some extent what he is doing is evil in the Harkonin way. Which is the real bad kind, not the kind that, oh, you know, you can understand their motivations because, you know, everybody’s got it, like, if they think for the hero of their own story. No.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:58

    This is a movie about how, like, He’s he understands that he is accepting an evil choice. And that, to me, came through much more clearly the second time I saw this, in in some ways, it’s sort of previewing some of the and setting up, what I expect we will get in the in the third movie, which I assume will adapt doing messiah. Though it hasn’t been, you know, I guess, green lit, and it’s not always totally clear. And also that is that is how I think Frank Herbert and certainly how his son, Brian Herbert, who continued the series, has always talked about dune and dune Messiah in particular is that these these are stories about the perils of political power, about the problems that come with cults of personality in politics. And Frank Colbert was a speechwriter in Washington DC in the nineteen fifties.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:45

    And if you read the introduction to Dune Messiah, his son talks about how to some extent, this was the this book came about as, from his experiences in Washington, DC, where he saw that politicians had these cults of personality built up around them where they would sort of embrace, oh, this the story that was told about them. They decided to become the legend that their voters and their believers had imagined for them. And that when that happened, bad things followed in in the wake. And this is that story. This is the story of how when you when the the rest of the world says, oh, no.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:21

    This guy is the one who will save us. He is going to be our leader and bring us to salvation. And you at first think, oh, no, that’s not me. I’m just an ordinary person. I just want this, you know, whatever out of life.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:32

    And then when you embrace that, and accept the power, the religious, and the political power that comes from it, you are making a bad choice, and you know you’re making a bad choice, and you’re doing it anyway. And what that is is that’s like being a that’s that’s a harkening thing to do. And so I I I think the movie used that simplistic evilness quite well. And it it does a really masterful job of adapting a book that is really, really, like notoriously difficult to adapt. And it and to do that, it just kind of had to cut a bunch of stuff, and a lot of what it cut was like, the boardroom discussions of the Chome company, you know, to supply issues or whatever.
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:17

    Like, just
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:18

    Yeah. But, I mean, the, like, there there is a there’s a critique of this film that goes, you know, they’re all fighting over Spice, and it’s not at all clear what it actually does or why it matters. Or, like, there’s a there’s a line toward the beginning. It’s like, they need the Spice to do the space travel. And, like, I guess that’s enough.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:35

    I guess, I mean, I guess I guess that matters enough, but it does feel all very it feels very perfunctory and cursory. Again, the the the only real conflict here is within Paul himself. And that’s that’s fine. That’s that is that’s perfectly fine. That’s a good thing to have in a movie is, you know, tension within oneself about you know, what what the right right path is, but, it does it does lead to, I think, some dramatic inertness
  • Speaker 3
    0:39:02

    Well, the it then Overall. It then balances out that. The other side of that is that is the spectacle and this movie does spectacle, like, just, like, very, very few other movies. And even And if I were to name a handful of of movies that do spectacle as well as this from the last ten years, I think most of them would be directed by Debbie Villanoo, and the other one would be Mad Max fury fury Road.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:23

    Yeah. No. I mean, the that early scene with the Harkonins, like, floating up the bluff to get away from the worm or, like, the fight that’s taking place sort of beneath this. What I think is the Spice harvester where it’s like you got you know, Paul and Johnny trying to, like, run around and seek cover that’s continues to move. Yeah.
  • Speaker 3
    0:39:48

    That where Paul catches his first warm. I I’ve now it’s better the second time, and I loved it the first time. And that that is That’s a big part of what I loved about this movie is it’s so big and so loud. It’s so delightfully punishingly loud, a special. And I’ll say I I saw it in an IMAX laser presentation that was the first and then I saw it at one of the medium sized screens at the Alamo draft house, and it’s really loud at the Alamo draft house.
  • Speaker 3
    0:40:17

    So loud that when I was walking outside the building, for the very first time I heard the subwoofer like booming ouch the door, right, from inside. But it’s the difference between seeing at this at the Alamo in a very good, very nicely tuned feeder and seeing it in an an IMAX. The IMAX was almost so loud that I thought it was too loud. It was like pushing my personal limits and I like things to be obnoxiously loud. I kinda loved it, and I love just like this movie’s devotion to absolute maximalist spectacle, like, every fifteen minutes.
  • Speaker 3
    0:40:53

    There’s just the coolest thing I have ever seen again.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:58

    Yeah. It was okay. Alright. So what do we think? Thumbshopper thumbs down on dune part two.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:03

    Peter, I loved it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:41:05

    I’ve seen it twice already. I have tickets for a third show this week. I will probably see it more times after that. Alyssa.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:11

    Thumbs up. Definitely a good parable about not obsessing over what your kid grows up to be because maybe he’ll turn out to be a messiah who’s responsible for the death of sixty billion people.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:24

    Thumbs up. Good move. I enjoyed it. Alright. That is it for today’s show.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:28

    Many thanks to our audio engineer, Jonathan Last, without doing this program, it’s not much I’ll make sure to swing by Bulwark Plus on Friday for our bonus episode. Tell your friends, strong recommendation from a friend is basically the only way Secret Podcast audiences. If you don’t grow, we’ll die. You did not love today’s episode. Please complain to me on Twitter at sunnybahn chungnam and see that it is in fact best show in your podcast feed.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:47

    So you guys on Friday.
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