“We Hate Movies” Goes Live: An Interview with the WHM Gang

We Hate Movies

Are there any movies you’ve covered where your mind has changed since you recorded them?

A: We did an episode years ago on Halloween III: Season of the Witch and at the time I really thought it was stupid city. But all these years later, I watch it at least once a year and I firmly believe it’s a much better film than people initially gave it credit for—while also definitely still being stupid city.

C: The only movie that we’ve done that I’ve felt a need to revisit is The Rapture, which is probably one of the weirdest movies we’ve covered thus far. I’m not sure if I think it’s a good movie, but it’s definitely a lot more fascinating than I gave it credit for.

E: I often wish we could re-do episodes. I am sure I’d have a lot of different opinions in 2019 than I did nearly a decade ago! 

S: I can say safely that I’ll never look at Mrs. Doubtfire the same way again. Those nostalgia busters can be a lot of fun. Some of the movies we covered early on are a lot more fun at second glance. Last year after doing a live commentary at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Westchester we wound up hanging out and having some drinks with friends and The Hand happened to be on TV. I don’t think I’ve had that much fun in a long time.

Since the show started, what trends in filmmaking do you find encouraging and which trouble you?

A:  I’m encouraged by the different kinds of stories I’m getting to see on the Big Screen. Inclusion in all art is so damn crucial and it’s high time other people’s stories start reaching a wider audience. I’m discouraged by two things: One, not every weird crime story and serial killer biography needs a 4-to-8 part saga. Sometimes it’s fine to talk about a serial killer for two hours and be done with it. And two, I’ve grown tired of the resurgence of the 1.37:1 aspect ratio. I’ve seen it pop up at least 4 or 5 times in the last couple years and it’s enough already.

C: I’m still stuck right in the middle on the whole Netflix debate because the Academy, the studios, the distributors, and their plethora of mouthpieces don’t really want to confront their own issues. They only want to talk about Netflix ruining the theater experience, but have exactly no interest in copping to their own greed, stubbornness, and antagonistic mood toward artists with original visions that have led to a steep decline in people going out to see movies. Until that happens, you’re not going to see me give Netflix too much shit for doing their own thing while Spielberg’s ilk, who are incapable of making a film that doesn’t cost more than the annual GDP of Moldova, paint themselves as patron saints of cinema.

E: It’s a bummer that everything is a blockbuster CGI thing or a weepy Oscar bait thing now. I miss when we’d have run of the mill thrillers clogging up the theaters.

S: I find whatever the hell Disney thinks it’s doing with these “live action” remakes of their classic cartoon library very depressing. The beauty of all of those animated films is that they (mostly) hold up and that you can just plop a kid down in front a television and they’ll be just as riveted by The Lion King as someone in the 90s was. It’s pretty close to timeless, yet, here we are cynically painting everything in a gray “hyper-realistic” color palette and doing shot-for-shot remakes that suck any joy or imagination out of these experiences for a quick cash grab.

I’m encouraged by how many strong new directors are getting their due and how many of them are women or people of color and just are continuously knocking me on my ass.

Andrew, you’re a curator/programmer in your day job – when you’re programming WHM episodes, do you think about it all as a massive body of work? And do you steer the selections towards certain genres or eras to fill a gap in the library?

A: We all program WHM to be fair. I probably bring the least amount of selections to the table. I don’t want people thinking because I open and close each show that I’m dictating every title these poor bastards watch with me—it’s a team sport. But I don’t think of the two parts of my life as one big thing. I try as hard as I can to keep them separate at all times only because each job gives me something completely different.

With WHM, I get to wallow in stupid, silly, weird movies that, regardless of my show persona, I’m lucky I get to watch and make a semi-living off talking about. But with my curatorial work at the Jacob Burns, it’s my reminder that it’s okay to get a little heady, get a little snobby and watch some really great, important films every once in a while.

Chris, you’re a professional critic, and you seem to be the harshest judge of the films you guys cover – where do you stand on the whole “guilty pleasure” argument? Do they exist?

C: I really liked Aquaman. It borrows heavily from video game visuals and story structure, Arthur’s story arc is predictable and politically irresponsible, the world-building is clunky, and there’s nothing formally challenging about it. The fact that all of this is true and didn’t bother me doesn’t make me feel guilt but curiosity. Why did it work here and not in, say, Captain Marvel, a movie that is politically correct but completely drained of any sense of wonder?

That’s a good question and just brushing the feeling off as “guilty pleasure” allows you to ignore it. The idea of a “guilty pleasure” also suggests that you have a rigid set of standards for what makes a good, great, or enjoyable movie and that one must feel guilt when one betrays those standards, which is complete horseshit.

Stephen, are you still doing comedy outside of WHM?

S: The demands of WHM kind of quashed my other comedy ventures for the moment. The growth we saw on this end really encouraged me to commit more of my time and creative output here and I’ve been really happy with that decision. I miss improv sometimes, but so much of that itch is scratched here and I get to play to a much larger room.

Eric, you’re the only one of the four who does multiple podcasts. How is WHM similar to your other work, how is it different?

E: I think doing anything outside of We Hate Movies will never have that We Hate Movies feel because of the chemistry and knowing what absurd thing to say that’ll tee off Steve or Andrew or Chris. So on Hooked on T.J. Hooker it’ll be me and my longtime friend Ben Worcester and that’s a totally different energy to play off. I doubt I’ll pursue any other podcast working relationships beyond what I have right now. 

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