Bill and Ted discuss Bill Melendez’s 1965 film “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the beloved TV holiday special written by Charles M. Schulz and starring the Peanuts gang featuring the sweetly melancholic jazz score by Vince Guaraldi. Charlie Brown simply wants to know what Christmas is all about. In his search, he encounters pop psychology, sociology, and rampant consumerism at every turn. Melendez’s short film effortlessly cuts through the cultural clutter of the 1960’s bringing Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip to animated life while providing Charlie Brown, and all of us, with the answer he seeks.
Bill and Ted discuss Wes Anderson’s 2004 film “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” Set against a quirky backdrop populated with colourful characters, the film features Bill Murray as a Jacque Cousteau-esque oceanographer contemplating fatherhood and failure following the death of his long time partner and friend Esteban (Seymour Cassel), who was eaten by the mysterious and possibly nonexistent Jaguar Shark. Ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime, Anderson’s film deals with the nature of perception and its effects on personal insecurities and relationships.
Bill and Ted discuss Frank Capra’s 1944 film “Arsenic and Old Lace” featuring Cary Grant as Mortimer Brewster, a theatre critic who finds unexpected drama of his own tucked away in his aunts’ window seat on Oct 31st in Brooklyn New York when he and his bride come to tell the family the good news of their sudden nuptials. Hoping to quickly skip town for a honeymoon in Niagra Falls, Mortimer and his new wife Elaine (Priscilla Lane) become embroiled in a macabre comedy of errors as Mortimer struggles to contain the situation. This is broad, physical, and at times gallows humour filled with some great performances, even if Grant was unhappy with his own. If you find Capra to be sentimental and overly serious, have no fear; this film is far less sappy and much more on the silly side.
Bill and Ted discuss Jared Hess’ 2004 film “Napoleon Dynamite” featuring Jon Heder as the idiosyncratic, yet endearing, Napoleon Dynamite a high school student navigating friendship and family life in rural small town Idaho. A film that’s as much about being awkward as it is about being honest, a slow burn comedy that is extraordinarily polarizing. People either hate it or love it. Filled with deadpan humor and an abundance of quirky details this is a film that rewards repeat viewings.
For interested listeners, here are the Top Ten Asperger’s and Autism movies compiled by a child psychologist referred to in the podcast. Napoleon Dynamite is number 7 on this list.
Bill and Ted discuss Tim Burton’s 1988 film “Beetlejuice,” featuring Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as the ghosts of newly deceased Adam and Barabra Maitlandas they try to spook the NYC high society Deetzes’ and their Goth daughter Lydia played by Winona Ryder who purchased their house in a sleepy New England town. Failing to frighten the Deetzes on their own, they reluctantly turn to the rogue “bio-exorcist” ghost Beetlejuice played to the hilt by Michael Keaton. Burton merges German expressionist style with upbeat Calypso music in this oddly colourful and straggly up-beat ghost story. Of the film Burton says, “It has elements of horror but it’s not really scary, and it’s funny but not really a comedy.” If you enjoyed this film you may also like these: Ted’s Picks: Defending Your Life (1991), The Frighteners (1996), Corpse Bride (2005)
Bill and Ted discuss Wes Anderson’s 2001 film “The Royal Tenenbaums,” featuring Gene Hackman as the conniving patriarch Royal Tenenbaum with Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow as his adult children Richie, Chas and Margot and Anjelica Huston as their mother Etheline also featuring Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, Seymour Cassel and Kumar Pallana. A quirky movie about life and death, regret and reconciliation amidst an eccentric and eclectic ensemble cast that perfectly embodies the maxim “Family is not a word; it’s a sentence.” If you enjoyed this film you may also like these Ted’s Picks: Home for the Holidays (1995), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Nebraska (2013)
Bill and Ted continue their two-part discussion of director Wes Anderson. The focus of this episode is themes and characters in Anderson’s films Bottle Rocket (1996), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Moonrise Kingdome (2012) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). Looking for other films with offbeat ensemble casts? Here are Ted’s Picks: The Princess Bride (1987), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), Midnight in Paris (2011)
Bill and Ted launch a two-part discussion about auteur director Wes Anderson. The focus of this episode is Anderson’s direction, style and technique. This conversation includes but is not limited to Bottle Rocket (1996), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Moonrise Kingdome (2012) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). Looking for other deeply quirky auteur directors? Here are Ted’s Picks: Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
Bill and Ted discuss Roberto Benigni’s film “La vita è bella,” “Life Is Beautiful,” a sometimes humorous sometimes poignant and touching film about love and family and the effect of the will and imagination in the face of great obstacles: one half romantic comedy, one half family WWII holocaust concentration camp drama. Looking for some non holocaust related films that share this film’s quirky sensibility? Here are Ted’s Picks for more whimsical films with a dark edge dealing with extraordinary strength of will: Forrest Gump (1994), Amelie (2001), Life of Pi (2012)
Bill and Ted discuss Ruben Fleischer’s “Zombieland,” known for its practical Zombie apocalypse survival rules, humorous one-liners, Twinkies, and as might be expected zombies. If you enjoyed this film you may also like these: House (1985), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)