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On this week’s Culturefest, our critics discuss the documentary Queen of Versailles, director Lauren Greenfield’s portrait of opulent excess and financial collapse, and what happens to a family’s dream of constructing the largest private home in the country when the economy tanks. They then discuss Revolution, the new sci-fi drama from J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke and ponder why Americans can’t seem to get enough of the post-apocalypse in our entertainment. Finally, the Gabfesters consider TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz’s blog post about distanced or “unsophisticated” viewership, whether there exists a “wrong” way to watch a movie, and how to properly experience and appreciate art of an earlier age.
Here are some links to the things we discussed this week:
- Lauren Greenfield’s documentary Queen of Versailles.
- Claire Thompson for Grist on Queen of Versailles and the “1 percent.”
- Joe Nocera for the New York Times on the lawsuit against Queen of Versailles director Lauren Greenfield brought by David Siegel, one of the movie's subjects.
- Jared Diamond’s books Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail or Succeed and Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.
- The actor Giancarlo Esposito, star of Revolution and Breaking Bad.
- The actor Billy Burke of the The Twilight Saga movies.
- The post-apocalyptic universes of The Hunger Games, The Walking Dead, and Contagion.
- Revolution creator Eric Kripke and producer J.J. Abrams.
- Brian Stelter’s New York Times story about Revolution in which J.J. Abrams hints at the series’ central narrative principle as distinct from that of his show Lost.
- Troy Patterson on Revolution for Slate.
- Matt Zoller Seitz for Indiewire on viewers distancing themselves from “unsophisticated” movies and his follow-up post in response to readers.
- NPR’s Linda Holmes’ thoughts on “the sophistication problem.”
- John Perich on Zoller Seitz's piece for the blog Overthinking It.
- The 1963 James Bond film From Russia With Love.
- The movies Three Days of the Condor, Goldfinger, Dr. No, Singin’ in the Rain, Sneakers, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
- The Austin Powers trilogy, Mike Meyers’ send-up of the James Bond espionage genre.
- In case you missed it, Slate’s extensive coverage of the 20th anniversary of Sneakers, including Culturefest Episode 208, the Culturebox entries on the 20th anniversary of the movie’s release as well as Stephen Tobolowsky’s memories of making the movie, Nicholas Britell on what makes the movie’s score so great, and Lowen Liu on his attempt to recreate his favorite scene from Sneakers and his explanation of how a bit of Sneakers trivia ended up on a real U.S. intelligence agency uniform.
- The TV series that showcases the ultimate in distanced, heckling viewership, Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Dana’s pick: The Tumblr blog speakcelebrity.tumblr.com, which features celebrities reading poetry, including Al Pacino reading Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 150,” Meryl Streep reading “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson, and Benedict Cumberbatch reading Lewis Caroll’s “Jabberwocky.”
Julia’s pick: The YouTube video “Best Line Delivery of All Time,” starring Giancarlo Esposito.
Stephen’s pick: The newly coined term farmeur to describe the yuppie who is convinced of his agrarian bona fides, and Émile Zola’s 1885 masterpiece Germinal.
Outro: “The Palace of Versailles” by Al Stewart
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This podcast was produced by Dan Pashman. Our intern is Sally Tamarkin.