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John Lichman (#110 of 34)

Lichman & Rizov “Live” at Grassroots Tavern: “Endgame”

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Lichman & Rizov “Live” at Grassroots Tavern: “Endgame”
Lichman & Rizov “Live” at Grassroots Tavern: “Endgame”

Hello. This is Vadim, and this is my final podcast for the foreseeable future with John Lichman, who’s run off to LA to pursue opportunities being Al Gore’s lapdog or something. In his absence, I really don’t have the resources, patience or hosting ability to organize a podcast; nor, honestly, do I have the interest. We’ve run our course for now. So allow me to wax sentimental for a sec.

When we started recording these, they were a joke: me, John and Keith would gather in Grassroots and vent whatever was on our minds. What took a while to figure out was that people would come on and join us: not just friends humoring us, but people we really respected and admired and didn’t necessarily have an excuse to talk to otherwise. It’s been a total blast to have so many people turn a potentially stupid, annoying idea into something that seems to have worked for those who listened to it. (Also, far more of you listened than I can possibly comprehend. Thank you.) If you’re like me (or just generally masochistic), you’re not just overly invested in film criticism; you start to wonder what it sounds like when the writers you admire go off on tangents and share parts of their personality they’re not getting paid for that reveal the ethos that makes their criticism so appealing in the first place. That and a whole bunch of timestamped talking points was what we got, because we were also recording in the middle of the much-remarked-upon Death of Criticism, and that subject seemed to pop up over and over. You just know future grad students writing their dissertations on the death of print media will turn to us as an invaluable snapshot.

Just kidding. Still, I think we got something worthwhile done: we provided an excuse for people to come drink alcohol and call it “podcasting.” Kidding! No OK, really: we started this as a joke and, by the time it was done, I was actually quite proud of it. In the time we recorded it, a lot of stuff changed careerwise for all three of us, generally for the better, and the podcast provided a pleasing sense of continuity during a time of intense change. Thanks to Kevin B. Lee for tirelessly uploading these and generally being a silent partner. In the meantime, enjoy this podcast, featuring some of our most supportive guests, and thanks to everyone who showed, even if it wasn’t clear we knew what we were doing. Vadim Rizov

 

HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 16 (34), “The Racist Mick Ken Loach Podcadst”

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HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 16 (34), “The Racist Mick Ken Loach Podcadst”
HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 16 (34), “The Racist Mick Ken Loach Podcadst”

Hello Philadelphia!

This was the last podcast we did before engaging in a bit of a recording hiatus before our upcoming Oscar Pre-Podcast this week or next, depending on our ability to get in one place. Rather than do a pre-interview with Matt Prigge (Philadelphia Weekly) who was in town to catch Jeanne Dielman at Film Forum, Vadim and I were horribly and painfully hungover. Like seriously, this may have been the worst hangover either of us ever fought through.

Except for myself—that honor would come the following day after a night of karaoke honoring our friend Kevin Lee, whose awful photos you can find here. And yes, I now own my own brand of Shochu: Lichiko Shochu, for when you definitely want to be slurring along words to FallOut Boy songs while vomiting in a bathroom and then discussing relationships with the bouncer before taking a cab back to Greenpoint, forgetting where you live, and wandering around for about twenty-five minutes.

That day was the single worst hangover ever.

Before all that, we pimp out Prigge (pronounced—OMG, world exclusive here—PRE-GG-EH) for thoughts on Taken, we discuss how awesome Mike D’Angelo at Cannes will be (Vadim ranks me at a 52. Matt gives me a 25. I give me 2.) But best of all? This is one of the most insane, ADD-frenetic podcasts we’ve ever had. And it’s horribly racist! Just like director Ken Loach is!

We make fun of dead Jews, the Holocaust, Liam Neeson, lesbianism, hangovers, the ratings system, Emmanuelle the Book, 70s 3D Porn, Snubbed Oscar Songs, do horribly racist M.I.A. impressions, and mock the dead.

So with that note, if you ever see Vadim or myself at the bar, buy us a drink! John Lichman

 

HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 15 (33), “The Iron Mule Podcast”

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HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 15 (33), “The Iron Mule Podcast”
HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 15 (33), “The Iron Mule Podcast”

Hello Greenpoint!

We’re back again after our New Year’s Pubcast/Boys’ Party with a special ode to a newly reborn film festival, originally First Sundays, now The Iron Mule Short Comedy Film Series, hosted by Jay Stern and Victor Varnado.

The duo came on, alongside Iron Mule “producer”/better-than-yours-truly-at-hosting Ray Privett, to talk the history of their rather epic local film series, the retiring of “Monkey” from audience participation shorts, and the horrors of YouTube deleting content they otherwise worked hard on.

We also talked the deaths of Khan, Number 6, and Batman; Left 4 Dead; Ray summing up the podcast in a hilarious nutshell; Victor’s short film Roboto Supremo—with Michel Gondry as the Mayor of Tokyo, natch—and my death.

Yes, it appears while talking during the podcast my body, pickled with various toxic fluids and stuffed with delicious Yakitori Taishi, finally started to break down. Or my eyes were watering. Or maybe I finally learned to cry at films. Who knows.

Join us next time as Matt Prigge (we explain how to say it) watches from the back of Grassroots while Vadim and I suffer from awful hangovers and talk Taken. Until then, if you see either Vadim or myself at the bar, buy us a drink per chance. We’re feeling much better now—and I’m not dead! John Lichman

 

Talking with Michel Ciment

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The day before the premiere of the series “Mavericks and Outsiders: Positif Celebrates American Cinema” (now running through Wednesday, February 4th at the Film Society of Lincoln Center), House contributors Kevin B. Lee, John Lichman, Vadim Rizov, and Keith Uhlich spoke with Positif editor Michel Ciment. The video below was culled from our conversation.

HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 14 (32), “The 2008 Wrap-Up Podcast”

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HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 14 (32), “The 2008 Wrap-Up Podcast”
HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 14 (32), “The 2008 Wrap-Up Podcast”

Hello New Year!

We know you all wait with bated breath for the next time that we gather in bars and shout indiscriminate things at each other about new media, film criticism and Synecdoche. But that was 2008. This is now 2009: year of good times, HOPE, CHANGE, that guy who got elected into office and will totally make everything better within 2 minutes or else we’ll start complaining about it.

Best news: Big Hollywood opened. If you want to see how “The People” think, give this site a gander. Then run screaming as the people also helped make Paul Blart a $34 million opening weekend.

Better news: It’s Sundance!! yayayayayyayay!!

Worse news: It’s Sundance! booooooooooooo!!

Before all that, though, we gathered the best and brightest (i.e. the people we know who’ve been on the show before—and we did email Armond White. Still waiting for that response.) about showing up to the bar and talking about what many kept referring to as “the worst year in film.” There were no stand-outs like There Will Be Blood or Juno, and ’08 was weird in that no real Mainstream or “Alt-Indie” contender showed up until the last part of the year: Gran Torino, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire aka Crash with More Brown People, The Reader and Doubt.

Of course, who better to join us than—*deep breath*—Aaron Hillis (GreenCine Daily) and Andrew Grant (Like Anna Karina’s Sweater), Glenn Kenny (Some Come Running), Michelle Orange (The Village Voice, The Rumpus), Evan Davis (Film Comment), Akiva Gottlieb (Slant Magazine, The Nation), Kenji Fujishima (HND, My Life, at 24 Frames per Second), Ryland Walker Knight (HND, Vinyl Is Heavy), Keith Uhlich and Vadim Rizov (who still doesn’t listen to the full podcast but assumes most of you can do at least 15 minutes.)

Special Guest: Dan Sallitt! (Thanks for the Use of the Hall)

Our oddly epic podcast begins on lists and the critical interpretation of “Why Do We List?” Some navel-gazing about that, but when lists are synonymous with digg baiting people to pointless entries why bother with a year-ender? Aaron points out he had 30 favorite films of ’08 and could make a top 50. (Then again, let’s not forget I rarely leave my apartment and sit in a dark closet streaming the latest in Japanese animation on my laptop.)

We do go into a mildly blasé reproach of ’08 films that made us cry, etc; what touched us this year (appropriately and inappropriately); and we then end on the state of documentaries and Dear Zachary.

We’ve also added intermission and outro music! We’re a real podcast now! And we’re almost one year old!

That means, in two more decades, we’ll be legal to drink at the bar!

So as always, thanks and you’re welcome for being able to hear our fantastically inebriated thoughts on film. If you’re curious, after the recording we went downtown to celebrate Filmcatcher and had a gay old time. And ate delicious salmon cubes from a second party before having to take a taxi home. Happy New Year!

(Also, if you ever see Vadim or myself at the bar, buy us a drink. It’s been nearly a year. Someone—anyone. Do it.) John Lichman

Intermission Music provided by Brandon Intelligator featuring the tracks “There Is No Other Way” and “How The Story Will End.” Our outro is from the wonderfully disbanded The Mean Reds.

 

HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 12 (30), “Film Critics in Peril on a Cliffhanger”

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HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 12 (30), “Film Critics in Peril on a Cliffhanger”
HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 12 (30), “Film Critics in Peril on a Cliffhanger”

What’s shaking California?!!

Flim critics are a dying breed, since they’re either stuck online, being laid off from print publications or going off to Grad School. Dave Hudson himself gathers the tales of woe—this is clearly not the time to be a Journalist, but a perfect time to start digging ditches and hoping for New Deals.

But before all that comes to pass, have a listen to this impromptu podcast we recorded in early December featuring Variety associate editor Peter Debruge, who wrote up the whole “OMG NYC HAS BLOG WRITER” trend last week and quotes most of the people he met with. Of course, it’s also important to mention Peter’s invite was forwarded to a good number of us—I got mine through a third party. Don’t fret, I’m still not a real critic dear listeners.

In addition to Peter, we’ve got a decent crowd for this canned chat: Lauren Wissot (Infamous for Various Reasons), Michael Joshua Rowin (The L Magazine, Stop Smiling); House contributor and Cine File Andrew Schenker, S.T. VanAirsdale (The Reeler, Defamer). There’s a myriad of topics covered in this episode, ranging from the soul of a critic to why the hell someone would turn down work based on their soul. We cover it all—and it basically boils down to the following: some people subscribe to that nasty “Journalism” concept; others believe being a critic means keeping chaste, pure, and being able to lift their nose up to work that others would gladly take from them.

This has been Episode 12, “Film Critics in Peril on a Cliffhanger!” Join us next time and find out the following:

1. Did Vadim make rent for the month? (I think so. But he still needs a roommate.)

2. Did I find work at The Onion? (No, they only hire editorial positions internally and I don’t feel like working for free again.)

3. Really, why are the New York Onion staffers such utter cocks? (We blame their swanky SoHo digs.)

4. Are critics fucked? (Sure.)

5. What’s the difference between a critic and a Journalist? (Who knows! Both are out of work!)

6. Will we focus on The Onion as much as we focus on Armond White? (No. Armond is at least a nice guy on occasion. The Onion’s New York office staff never answer their e-mail.)

And if you see Vadim or myself at the bar, buy us a drink! We’re broke and Dave Patterson’s whole “let’s tax soda and booze” nonsense hurts us! John Lichman

 

HND@Grassroots@Spaghetti Western: Season 2, Episode 11 (28), “Cold Fusion, Cabrini and Jones—One Year Later”

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HND@Grassroots@Spaghetti Western: Season 2, Episode 11 (28), “Cold Fusion, Cabrini and Jones—One Year Later”
HND@Grassroots@Spaghetti Western: Season 2, Episode 11 (28), “Cold Fusion, Cabrini and Jones—One Year Later”

Hello. This is Vadim, taking over just this once on intro duties for reasons which, hopefully, will be clear in a moment. This podcast commemorates the one-year-anniversary of Preston Miller’s Jones, which debuted last December at the dearly departed Pioneer Theater. And now you may quite reasonably ask: what the hell is Jones, and why are we doing a podcast about it?

Here’s the full-disclosure part: Preston’s a friend of ours, and was long before we watched his movie (except for Keith, who first met Preston because of the movie). He’s a podcast veteran, and regular listeners will recognize his lovely accent, but he’s joined us before primarily as color commentary. The subject of this podcast, though, is explicitly Preston’s movie, which John and I have both finally watched and liked greatly. We’re not the only ones: Jones was well-received by Karina Longworth and singled out as the “Self-Distributed Pick” of the month by Amy Taubin in Film Comment. Yet it’s undeniable that Jones got somewhat lost in the shuffle, and that’s a damn shame.

We didn’t do this podcast out of some kind of weird sense of friendly nepotism or as a favor. We did it because we like the movie a lot and believe it deserves to be seen far more widely. You could start by ordering it from Preston’s website. Or not: you could just listen to the podcast, in which we kind of unapologetically delve into the background stories, inspirations and anecdotes surrounding a movie you may well have never seen. It’s still fun, we think. We’re joined by actor Trey Albright, DP Arsenio Assin, musician/all-round-good-guy Leif Fortlouis and actor/ex-cop/old-school personality Cabrini, who is amazing (if you want to listen to his stories—hence the last 20 minutes—first, I wouldn’t blame you.

What I want to stress, in a moment of quite possibly uncharacteristic earnestness, is that Jones is as relevant a topic of discussion as any we’ve covered this year. In a podcast that isn’t up yet, we get into a lengthy discussion with Variety’s Peter Debruge in which, at one point, I express quite possibly misplaced frustration at how one of criticism’s primary tasks—championing the underseen and unknown—is one of the biggest casualties of 2008’s much-discussed Death of Criticism. Consider this, at least in part, an attempt to put this practice into action, one movie at a time. On my HMs for 2005 (which is Jones’ IMDb date, for whatever reason), this ranks higher than, say, Brokeback Mountain or The Wayward Cloud. Jones is a terrific movie, and I’m happy to encourage people to watch it. Or just enjoy the podcast; either way, we hope you get something out of it.

Thanks for listening and, as always, we’re still waiting for someone to buy us a drink. Vadim Rizov

 

HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 9 (27), “The Heeb Film Festival Podcast, or Get Off My Ass, Death!”

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HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 9 (27), “The Heeb Film Festival Podcast, or Get Off My Ass, Death!”
HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 9 (27), “The Heeb Film Festival Podcast, or Get Off My Ass, Death!”

Shalom, Wisconsin!

We finally managed to get Eric Kohn on the podcast after food poisoning (mine) and poor planning kept him off. And what great timing as he’s curated the third annual Heeb Film Festival this weekend at 92nd St. Y’s new location in Tribeca. Best of all, it starts Saturday with a screening of Silver Jew, directed by Michael Tully, who’ll attend a Q&A afterwards. But before all that, he’s here!

Shocking, I know!

Eric discusses the films playing at Heeb and Michael talks a bit about Silver Jew (which is on DVD, too). We also chat about Revolutionary Road expectations, Gran Torino, and I use my demonic powers to predict the death of a certain director after my success with Paul Newman.

Till then, this is Episode 9, “The Heeb Film Festival Podcast, or Get Off My Ass, Death!” If you’re in the NYC area this weekend, go to the Heeb Film Fest! Purchase your tickets here. And if you happen to see Vadim or myself at the bar, buy us a drink!

(Also, Onion, you totally have yet to hire me for Decider. How lame will it be when the guy you picked over me is referencing these podcasts? Super lame. And go to the Heeb Film Fest! And we love Kino International! Forever ever!) John Lichman

 

HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 8 (26), “That’s true, but not what Armond means.”

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HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 8 (26), “That’s true, but not what Armond means.”
HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 8 (26), “That’s true, but not what Armond means.”

Hello Greenpoint!

We’re back again with our official “Best Introductory Segway Ever” and return guest Mike D’Angelo, who came to discuss a film dear to (one of) our hearts: Afterschool.

Vadim hates the film since he has a gigantic chip on his shoulder about being a part of the “YouTube Generation” (yet I’m fairly confident he watches Hulu more than anything else these days), so he and Mike trade a few hundred verbal blows, during which we learn about Antonio Campos’ talk with D’Angelo, namecheck Filmbrain, and contemplate renaming the New York Film Festival as “NYFF” (“knife”). Either way, best modern American film or not? Who knows! Listen and find out!

We (those who attended KNIFE) then try to figure out what The Headless Woman and Bullet in the Head are all about, have our second official “Worst Segway Ever” to A Christmas Tale, the movie with the optional subtitle everyone seems to ignore, and discuss the recurring themes of Arnaud Desplechin.

And though we don’t talk about Meet Dave, we DO discuss Armond White’s insane essay on Soul Man and how it relates to President-Elect Barack Obama. Also, we coin the following phrase to deal with every Armond White piece ever, giving us our episode title:

“That’s true, but not what Armond means.”

(Armond, come on. Please. )

Join us next time when we’ll have two special episodes! In what order, we’ll find out! And if you ever see Vadim or myself at the bar, feel free to buy us a drink! Or pressure The Onion’s New York Decider site to hire me. Grassroots is expensive with no fixed income. John Lichman

 

HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 7 (25), “Oscar (sic) Schindler’s Cock Glove”

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HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 7 (25), “Oscar (sic) Schindler’s Cock Glove”
HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 7 (25), “Oscar (sic) Schindler’s Cock Glove”

Hello Dear Non-Listeners!

We’re back like Death Metal Disco and thrice as evil. But this time, we’re bringing in the big guns—ok, fine, our imported guns—as we recorded on the Fifth of November with Faisal A. Qureshi (Nerve’s Screengrab among other things). As for the annoying buzzing noise during the first ten minutes, that is what happens when your co-host keeps fiddling with his cellphone next to the recording device.

This episode is our minor tribute to the late Michael Crichton. We think back to previous works like Jurassic Park, as well as directorial efforts such as The Great Train Robbery and—shockingly—Runaway. Of course, it all devolves into weird praise for Kirstie Alley, Vadim grumbling about something or other, and me ignoring W. for a second week. At the same time, we learn why Faisal came to a podcast that he wasn’t even aware of! (Kidding.)

Lo, this is Episode 7—“Oscar (sic) Schindler’s Cock Glove.” Thanks again to our guest, who went on with us to our second favorite bar—Holiday Cocktail Lounge—and was pleasantly surprised by the scum-like surroundings we like to inhabit.

Join us next time when Mike D’Angelo comes back to talk Afterschool and if you see either Vadim or me at the bar, please, buy us a drink! And give us jobs if you work for The Onion. John Lichman