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Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast In November 2020

Despite all that’s happened in 2020, there’s a lot to be thankful for at Now Playing Podcast. This year, we’ve launched our IN FOCUS newsletter, hosted a series of summer watch parties, started up a Letterboxd channel, and we never missed a week of podcasting. That last part is only possible because of the support of our listeners, and so we’re rewarding you in November with a full slate of  new episodes every Tuesday and Friday. This month’s schedule features two all-new retrospectives, a long-requested sci-fi horror series for donors, and a pair of exclusive episodes funded by Podbean patrons.

Here’s a look at everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in November 2020. 

November 3 – The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

John Frankenheimer’s political thriller hits the main podcast feed on Election Day in the United States, and explores a conspiracy involving soldiers reprogrammed as sleeper agents and an attempt to subvert democracy at the highest levels of government. Recognized as one of the 20th century’s best films, The Manchurian Candidate stars Frank Sinatra (back on Now Playing for the first time since The Detective), Angela Lansbury, Laurence Harvey, and Janet Leigh.  

November 6 – 10 Cloverfield Lane

A “spiritual sequel” to 2008’s Cloverfield, the underground bunker thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane is the second installment in Now Playing’s Platinum Level donation series. The film stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a woman hiding in a fallout shelter with John Goodman’s not-quite-stable survivalist; the latter convinced the world is under attack. Listeners supporting the show with a donation of $35 or more will receive all three Cloverfield episodes, as well as the Rosemary’s BabyThe OmenThe Hills Have Eyes, and The Last House on the Left retrospectives.  

November 10 – The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Denzel Washington fronted the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, which hits theaters in the months before the 2004 U.S. presidential election. Directed by Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs), the remake was not a box office smash but received critical acclaim. 

November 13 – The Cloverfield Paradox

Remember when Netflix dropped The Cloverfield Paradox right after the 2018 Super Bowl? It was a stroke of genius from a marketing perspective, but the critical reception was savage. Paradox tells the story of astronauts transported to a parallel universe while conducting a particle accelerator test in space. What does that have to do with Cloverfield? Watch it and then join Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob for the conversation

November 17 – The Craft

“We are the weirdos, mister.” The Craft hit theaters in May 1996, serving as the kickoff to the horror renaissance that would define the latter half of the decade. It helped to have future Scream stars Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich in the cast, alongside Fairuza Balk, Rachel True, Robin Tunney, Breckin Meyer, and Christine Taylor. The film focuses on a coven of teenage witches and the trouble they stir up when casting spells for revenge, power, love, and vanity.  

November 20 – JFK

Oliver Stone’s examination of the events surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s assassination was a massive hit in 1991; but also sparked numerous controversies and blowback in the press, with many accusing the director of distorting history and stirring up conspiracy theories. One thing no one can argue is that JFK has an all-time cast, with Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek, Joe Pesci, Laurie Metcalf, Wayne Knight, John Candy, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Gary Oldman, Sally Kirkland, Bob Gunton, John Larroquette, Donald Sutherland, Ed Asner, Frank Whaley, Lolita Davidovich, and many, many more notable actors appearing on screen. The Now Playing Podcast review of JFK is made possible by listener Sean Ray, who contributed to our Podbean Patron campaign.

November 24 – The Craft Legacy

Actress, producer, and director Zoe Lister-Jones helms The Craft: Legacy, a sequel to the aforementioned supernatural horror flick. In the film, a new quartet – Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, and Zoey Luna – brew up trouble when they dabble in witchcraft. The film hit video-on-demand platforms October 28, so there’s time to catch it before the review drops on November 24.

November 27 – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

What better time to drop Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner than the week of Thanksgiving? The 1967 Best Picture nominee put the national spotlight on race relations and interracial marriage, as Katharine Houghton brings home her black fiancée, Sidney Poitier, to meet her white parents, played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Now Playing Podcast listener “Kyle” chose the review through our Podbean Patron campaign, and it will be served up for patrons on Friday, Nov. 27. 

October 27, 2020 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast In November 2020

The 40-Year-Old Critic – Introduction


40-Year-Old-Arnie-Master-working-CloseUp-2In exactly 40 days I turn 40 years old.

That milestone is not one without heft.  If the actuarial tables for American males are to be believed, I’m likely at least halfway through my time on this planet.  Each day I am probably closer to my death than to my birth.  Now is the time to start measuring life by the things I’ll never do instead of the things I could do.  It’s a time to reflect on what has been and determine what will be for the rest of my days.

The usual things come to mind when I ponder my life thus far:  My loving, supportive, smart, and funny wife, Marjorie.  My long-time best friend, Stuart.  My godparents, who helped raise me and taught me to be analytical.  My sister, who exposed me to literature and deconstructionist themes.  My father, who gave me a cynical view, a strange sense of humor, and a love of classical music.

But what all these people have in common is a strong memory of watching films together; sitting in a dimly lit cinema, absorbed by the images on the screen.

Marjorie and I have seen so many films together that I doubt I could compile a comprehensive list. but a few stand out.  Our first film as a married couple, watched in a midnight release on our honeymoon, was Star Wars:  Attack of the Clones.  The projector broke.  We sat for 3 hours past the planned midnight start time before the movie began.  I can still sing that New Orleans’ theater’s jingle for popcorn and candy, which played on a loop the entire time.

Another memorable movie trip was to see Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset. It was a limited release so we had to drive 4 hours each way just to watch the film, and I was so tired on the return trip we had to get a hotel.

I remember Ocean’s 11 — a movie with such a strong feel-good vibe that it saved our Sunday.  We walked into the theater in the most sour of moods, and left extremely happy.

I remember watching Fight Club on video.  Marjorie was tired so she went to sleep, and the next day all I could talk about was how she had to see that film–the first movie that I felt she and I had to share as a couple versus being able to experience on my own.

Stuart and I have seen films together since 1982.  I remember going with him to see E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Return of the Jedi.  Many more movies followed, but there are standouts. Charlie Sheen’s The Wraith, which we saw hoping for horror but got car races and heavy metal instead.  We hated it at the time, but I later came to love this film for what it was (and the Sherilyn Fenn waterfall scene).  We saw The Gate the weekend it opened, and bemoaned our choice for days.  Not all the movies we watched were terrible — I first saw The Godfather trilogy in Stuart’s Chicago apartment, and he introduced me to Apocalypse Now and Blade Runner as part of a film noir marathon we had together as teens.

For years Stuart and I had a standing Christmas night movie appointment.  He was in town to spend the holiday with family, and so a dinner of Chinese food and a movie viewing was had. Jackie Brown was the most memorable of those Christmas viewings, and we had wildly different reactions to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction follow-up.


But from European Vacation to Jaws 3-D to The Devil’s Rejects, Explorers, JFK, The Lawnmower Man and hundreds more, Stuart and I are still going to movies together.

My sister Susan took me to see my first R-rated film, Beverly Hills Cop.  She also exposed me to many movies I’d have not seen in my youth without her influence, including Ghostbusters and Lady and the Tramp.  She is much older than I, so our movie time together has been sparse, but always memorable, including E.T., Return of the Jedi, and Bridget Jones’ Diary.  (Though she staunchly refused to join me for a Hellraiser marathon.)

Yes, throughout the years my romantic, familial, and friend relationships have all involved, and in some ways been shaped by, movies.  Sometimes there is no quicker way to look into a person’s soul than to ask what films they cherish.  So it seems appropriate that to celebrate my 40th birthday I look back at 40 years of cinema.

Each day, from now until my birthday on September 12th, I will post an article looking back at the one film from each year of my life that impacted me most.  This may not be my favorite film, it may not even be a film I like, but the one that had the longest-lasting impact on me and helped shape my view of the world.

I hope you’ll join me each day as I reflect on my lifetime of cinema.




August 3, 2014 Posted by | 40-Year-Old Critic, Movies, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments