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Folks, this may be the best episode of Everyday Liminality that Br. Tito and I have ever produced. I’m not even going to say more. If you haven’t listened yet, check it out, share with a friend, and let us know what you think.

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Have you ever watched a movie from your childhood or revisited a television series that you once loved and found that you were now… a bit underwhelmed? What seemed so great in years past now seems out of touch, maybe even offensive. “How could we watch that? It’s so awful and demeaning!”

Whether its wildly offensive tropes like the use of “black face” or casually offensive side comments about people with mental illness, the values of past productions don’t always match our current ones. In fact, they never do. As time changes, so do our values (to some extent), and so does our tolerance for offensive material.

This is by no means a new problem, but it an important one today. What do we do with our embarrassing past? Some suggest that we remove it, banning or blocking material that is damaging to society. Others suggest that these works need disclaimers and further context. Others simply choose to do nothing, leaving up to the maturity of the audience to decide.

Such is the topic of this week’s episode of Everyday Liminality, the first one of our new season. If you would like to catch up on older episodes, they can be found here. Join us every Tuesday for discussions about art and entertainment in our world today.

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Some movies defy explanation. So against the mainstream, you wonder how it was pushed through production, let alone loved by fanatics. They are, simply put, cult films. This week, Br. Tito and I discuss this strange subgenre of filmmaking and discuss why certain films attract such a devoted audience.

 

YouTube: An inspiring, weird world

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Network television and major production companies can create awe-inspiring works of art, but they are often limited by industry standards, engrained expectations, and bottom lines. Not YouTube. On this platform, creators are in charge, meaning the world gets an incredible mix of informative, inspirational, and weird.

This week on Everyday Liminality, Br. Tito and I discuss the wonders of YouTube and a few of our favorite channels.

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Imagine a world in which everyone is isolated from one another, in which people are so lonely and emotionally stunted that their only place of comfort is found in computers, video games, and anonymous online communication.

Okay. That’s probably not too difficult to imagine. But imagine it in “the future” where we have highly advanced artificial intelligence systems… Now we’re stretching things a bit!

Such is the premise of the 2013 movie Her. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, it is one of the most dynamic, creative, beautiful stories I have ever seen. Moving beyond the question of “is she human” almost immediately, the movie poses a far more interesting question: what actually makes the physical characters “human”? With ever advance in the artificial intelligence’s consciousness, emotion, existential crisis, and even love, there is a challenge to the human characters to reclaim a part of themselves that has been lost to isolation and loneliness, to communicate with one another in the way we were created to do.

Starring Joachim Phoenix, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, and Scarlett Johansson (as the artificial intelligence voice), Her is well-acted and thought-provoking, but is definitely intended for a mature audience. With an R-rating for language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity, it is not exactly family friendly, but then again, most existential questions of our reality aren’t. If you can get passed some of its more graphic features, it is among the most important films of our age.

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In a previous episode, Br. Tito and I discussed some of the greatest sports movies of all time and why we liked them. Given our love for sports, we thought it was a great episode, revealing how important the genre is to cinema. But we made one mistake: we never came to a definitive answer. What is the greatest sports movie of all time. In this episode, we set out to answer that question.

In place of the NCAA tournament championship that would have aired yesterday, we decided to have our own bracket. Picking 32 movies and placing them in four categories, we would have 31 head-to-head matchups to decided it all.

How would this work with only two people, you ask? It wouldn’t. Which is why we called on an old friend of ours to ensure that every game had a winner. It wasn’t always the right choice… but it was definitive. And ultimately, I think we came to the correct choice in the end.

If you’d like to follow along, or fill it out before you listen, our bracket can be found below:

 

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One thing that originally brought Br. Tito and I together how many years ago was our love for the show Scrubs. It is an absolute classic, a longtime favorite of mine since high school. It’s wacky, it’s moving, it’s just absolutely relevant to every situation.

This week, in honor of the heroes that are working in hospitals saving lives, Tito and I decided to devote this week’s Everyday Liminality to the wonder that is the world’s greatest medical show. Hope you enjoy!

[Also, and completely by accident, hours after posting our episode, Zach Braff and Donald Faison, two of the leads in the show, released the first episode of their own “rewatch” podcast of the show. If you’re interested, it’s called “Fake Doctors, Real Friends. Be warned that the language is not appropriate for children.]

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One of the obvious casualties of the coronavirus shutdown is the loss of all sports. No NCAA tournament. No NBA. No NHL. No MLB. No nothing. Because of the immediate health risk to fans, nothing can take place. It has left a void so deep in our lives that ESPN has resorted to showing anything they can to keep fans interesting, including stone skipping, cherry pit spitting, belly flopping, and my personal favorite, “Slippery Stairs.”

But it got Br. Tito and I thinking: why couldn’t sports still be played, even without fans? Just 10 guys on a court, athletes in small numbers spread out on a field. Obviously, there’s a health risk to the athletes, but that’s small. And even more obviously, there’s a financial hit that many would take. But surely there are aways around these things.

No, what we want to suggest is that the reason we have no sports now has nothing to do with the health of the athletes or lost revenue… and everything to do with the importance of the fans. (We’re only partially joking.)

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Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a drill. Over 160,000 people have been infected worldwide with COVID-19, and more than 6000 people have lost their lives. The total number has doubled in 11 days, and is doing so quicker in the United States. We are in the midst of a pandemic with the worst ahead of us.

Two weeks ago, when there were around 50 cases in the United States, Br. Tito and I thought it might be interesting and relevant to talk about one of our favorite movies, the pandemic thriller Contagion. Yesterday, when we finally recorded the episode, our tone was completely different: the movie was an eery reflection of reality.

As you will see when you listen to the episode, there are many things that the creators got absolutely right about such a situation—where a virus comes form, how it spreads, the process for trying to contain it, the fear that surrounds it. In many ways, it is quite prophetic. And yet, there is one glaring difference between what we see on the screen and what we are seeing in our world today: many people still are not taking the situation seriously. Until yesterday, the President of the United States was shaking hands, saying the situation was under control and refusing to take responsibility his administration’s lack of preparedness; major news network were calling the virus a “hoax.” Many see the measures taken by local government and business leaders as an overreaction and inconvenience. Some are going about their normal lives with a sense of invincibility. While the CDC is stressing social distancing and avoiding crowds of more than 10, it was reported that Florida beaches are packed with tourists and spring break visitors. Right now, this virus is spreading at the same rate right in the United States as it is in Italy, a country, I should point out, that is at the point of collapse.

This is not a drill.

Br. Tito and I offer this podcast today to exhort everyone, especially young people, to take this seriously. Stop acting so selfishly and remember that, as Catholics, we have a responsibility to uphold the common good. We who are under the age of 60 may not have a serious risk of dying from this virus, but we do pose a serious risk to those who are over that age, and we most certainly can push the system over its breaking point by causing a spike in cases.

Wash your hands. Avoid crowds. Stay home.

If you’re looking for something to do, how about prayer? We always say that we don’t have enough for it, so here you go. What about reading a book, studying scripture, or learning more about your faith? (I know a guy on YouTube that has some great videos explaining things…) Maybe spend some time with your family, connect with old friends on the phone, or just catch up on some sleep. What we have before is a tremendous opportunity to take a step back and ground ourselves in what truly matters.

The specific virus in Contagion may be a bit different from what we’re experiencing, but the potential reality is the same: fear and misinformation could lead to a collapse of society. It is a cautionary tale. I suggest we take it seriously.

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We like to jump to conclusions. We take a quick look, jog our memory, and move on. It’s not the worst habit to have (it’s a great evolutionary adaptation, actually) but it does leave us drawing incorrect conclusions from time to time.

Such is the case for the movie Knives Out. While most of the characters take a look at the surface and make their judgments, the detective on the case knows that there is more than first appears. He digs deeper and asks more questions because he is not satisfied with the easy answer. He wants to truth.

This week, Br. Tito and I discuss how the movie itself fits the same description. While it appears to be doing one thing and the casual viewer may come to conclusions based on what they see on the surface, there is more to this movie than a simple “who done it”…t

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Let’s be honest: the Academy isn’t always the greatest at picking the “best picture.” This year wasn’t one of those years.

If you are like most people and did not see Parasite, I highly recommend going to see it. It is a beautiful, unsettling film about the effects of poverty that do nothing to romanticize the issue. It lifts the curtain on major issues of class without hiding from difficult questions. Not only is it a wonderful film, it is an important point of discussion for us as Catholics who claim to care for the poor.

As usual, our podcast goes through the whole movie with many spoilers, so hold off if you want to see it. That said, even if you don’t plan on seeing it (might not be for everyone) the podcast offers a great discussion on the topics.

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Okay, so I realize that everyone is always disappointed in the most hyped movie of the year. Super fans will always set expectations too high, demand too much, and will never be happy. Everyone knows this, and no one wants to be a cliche.

But really. Can we all agree that the last The Rise of Skywalker was trash?

Again, not from the super nerdy point of view that such-and-such a character should have done this or that, or that the director didn’t pay enough tribute to some weird thing that happened in a movie 40 years ago. I’m not talking comic-con level bashing. I’m talking about the basic nature of the story telling. It was bad. It was disappointing. It was worth learning from.

Br. Tito and I generally don’t like to be negative on #EverydayLiminality, but there was just no other option with this movie. Let us know what you think.