Wednesday, September 19, 2012

F This Movie! - The Shawshank Redemption

Patrick and Doug should get busy living or get busy dying.

Download this episode here. (32.7 MB)

Email F This Movie! at fthismoviepodcast(at)

Subscribe to F This Movie! in iTunes

Like F This Movie! on Facebook and follow F This Movie! on Twitter

Also discussed this episode: Punisher: War Zone, The Prestige, Lockout, Bachelorette


  1. Perfect example of why I like The Prestige over The Illusionist: Prestige has actual illusions, while Illusionist cheats with CGI (even more disappointing since Ricky Jay a technical adviser for both movies, and appears in Prestige).

    1. I agree. Anyone who prefers The Illusionist over The Prestige is clearly off their horse. I think The Prestige is the best work Nolan has done, and it's my personal favorite of his. I hope he takes a similar approach sometime in the future.

  2. Like Doug, I saw Punisher: War Zone after the podcast on How Did This Get Made? I must admit I really like that movie. Doug Hutchison is incredibly creepy and disturbing (of course, I understand he's incredibly creepy and disturbing in real life). I actually quite like Dominic West before he becomes Jigsaw. After the transformation he seems to be channeling Nicholson's Joker - never a good idea.

  3. Hey, you know what gives me a fall feeling? Listening to "F This Movie" again after a long summer of very little recreational computer time! And I was pleasantly surprised to see The Shawshank Redemption getting F'ed as it's one of my twenty Top 5 favorite movies! Yep, I'm one of THOSE guys...

    It's funny Doug would say it's a movie people like because it's so critically accepted - if anything I almost feel the need to apologize to "real" film buffs when I say I love it. Not when it first came out in my teens - at that point I figured it was a just plain masterpiece - but now that I've become a bit more than a casual film watcher, I certainly see how movies like The Godfather or even Pulp Fiction are "better" and how The Shawshank Redemption is kind of "cheap" in the ways it makes you love it. Which, not coincidentally, is very much like most Stephen King stories. Tolstoy he may not be, but I could blaze through big, fat books like The Stand, It, Tommyknockers and the whole Dark Tower series in the time it takes to wade through War and Peace. Like The Shawshank Redemption movie, King's stories are not particularly challenging - they're mind candy - and he will never be seen as a "serious" author, but is producing works (whether films, books or whatever) that are so highly consumable and enjoyable a bad thing? (Short answer, "no!"; long answer, "maybe?").

    So why do I love Shawshank? I guess it's one of those situations where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts - it's got so many GOOD moments that it feels like a GREAT movie. No, there isn't anything particularly imaginative or ground-breaking about it, it's just super-solid and hits me in all the right spots even if it is a bit cheap or corny about it sometimes. Like, how can you not be super-happy and satisfied when they meet up at the end - yeah, maybe it would have been more interesting if the moment was more alluded to than actually shown, but fuck it, I was glad to see it.

    Anyway, I've gone on long enough about The Shawshank Redemption (while saying very little - miss me?!) - bottom line is that while it's very difficult to point to specific reasons why I love it, I certainly do, and for whatever reason I'll continue to revisit it every couple years or so.

    Also, just wanted to point out a missed opportunity re your list of prison movies: You should have said Ernest Goes to Jail! I LOL'ed when I imagined you saying that...

    1. Speaking of Stephen King, here's a great list Patrick whipped up (and out) in 2010 about his film adaptations. Enjoy!

    2. Thanks, Doug!

      SOL! Great to have you back. It's always hard to tell who has just drifted away temporarily and who has abandoned us all together. I'm glad you're not in the latter camp.

      Now, Shawshank. First of all, you shouldn't apologize for it being one of your favorite movies, because it's a good movie. Secondly, you should never apologize for any of your favorite movies. We love the things we love because they affect us, and we should never feel sorry for that. There is room in the world for all kinds of movies and all kinds of movies that work, and as soon as we stop recognizing that, we are in trouble. If I'm one of the "real" film buffs to which you refer and I only like these seven Russian movies you've never heard of and can't BELIEVE you could find value in Shawshank, I'm an asshole. Conversely, if you become the guy who thinks that someone who loves seven Russian movies you've never heard of is a pretentious douche and refuse to understand that I might find value in them, you're being the same kind of asshole (for the record, I am not calling you an asshole). Here at F This Movie!, we have a tendency toward more popular entertainment. If that discredits us among more serious "scholars," it is their loss. Education is great. Knowing more is always preferable to knowing less. But no amount of studying can change what hits us in the heart or the gut, and that's what we always try to acknowledge on FTM.

      Also, let's not sell short the idea that there is artistry in creating great populist entertainment. I love Stephen King. LOVE him. And you're right -- that probably loses me some respect in literary circles. Doesn't bother me. If I felt that his books were populist in a way that was cynical or condescending or unintelligent, those circles would have a point. But I don't think those things are true. He makes great mainstream art. So does Steven Spielberg. So does Frank Darabont.

      Except maybe The Mist. Ohhh, The Mist.

      My point is: it's great to have you back, Sol.

    3. Also, I definitely saw Ernest Goes to Jail in a theater on a double bill with Spaced Invaders, which, for some reason, I was DYING to see. I ended up bored out of my mind and don't remember a thing about it. The Ernest movie was better. KnowwhatImeanVern?

    4. Oh yeah, I totally agree - I would never REALLY apologize for what I love (including Stephen King) but every once and awhile might feel a twinge of embarrassment. Like when I tell people I bought Titanic on blu-ray...

      Speaking of favourite movies (that I'm not embarrassed of!) I read your essay on True Romance - really well done, man - a great tribute to the movie and Tony.

      Oh, and thanks Doug - I have read that one - it's a shame King's (awesome) stories so rarely translate well to film though I almost always find something to like about them!

  4. You know what you don't get on Slashfilmcast? Chris Gaines references. Golden! Alright, I'll be nice. I'm not all that interested in Sha-shank (it's a good movie, I like it, that's about all I can say about it, and it's impressive you guys were able to talk about it for as long as you did) but I gotta get into some of this Punisher and Prestige talk.

    Punisher War Zone is a crazy movie and totally worth watching with the right level of expectation, but it sounds like Paul Scheer owes Doug some money. He should have some from all those VH1 shows, as well as Piranha 3D. I'm just saying, it's only fair. It's interesting, because you guys said that Hollywood doesn't know what to do with The Punisher, but I'd even say that Marvel Comics doesn't know what to do with the character, because over the years Marvel has had several Punisher books running at the same time. One book in which he's a goofier, comic-book grounded character bumping elbows with Spider-Man and Moon Knight, and another where he's blowing terrorists into pieces with grenades and where the black ink is so thick on the page that it looks like it was drawn in blood. Their answer seems to be that the Punisher is both of those things. It's just interesting, that's all, that the character lends himself to two completely different interpretations and both work. I agree with Patrick's statement that if the Thomas Jane film had been called something else it would have a bit more love. I proudly (well, defiantly) own it on both blu-ray and have the extended edition on DVD. The extended edition adds a bit more and does make it a better movie, but I still like the theatrical version just fine. And I do have a soft spot for the Dolph Lundgren version from the late 80s. In many ways, that's probably the truest to the tone of the comics at that time.

    And The Prestige is awesome, well acted, written and directed. But it was based on a book, and the book had this KILLER ending that the movie didn't even try to tackle, and that always made me sad, because as good as The Prestige is, the original book ending would have been even better. Without getting too spoilery, it tinkers with what Hugh Jackman's character does by implying that he's achieved a certain brand of immortality, which I'm not sure the film does.

    Oh, and I'll definitely be checking out Lockout. That's, like, such a good Stallone movie, keeping with the theme of prison from this episode. *exaggerated wink*

    1. I recently rewatched the Dolph Lundgren Punisher and had the same thought as with the Thomas Jane one -- change the name (and maybe cut out Chappy Sinclair) and you have a pretty good and INSANELY VIOLENT '80s action movie. The movies continue to disappoint because they don't measure up to the comic book in the right way, since they're still movies about vigilantes killing a lot of people. Just not the right KIND of vigilantes. And not the right KIND of killing. But it's not bad.

      I loved The Punisher when I was 12, because that's when you're supposed to love The Punisher. I got over it. Even the Garth Ennis run (on which a lot of the Thomas Jane movie is based) couldn't win me back with all of its crazy violence (though the sight of the old lady minus her arms and legs was kind of funny).

      Would you mind getting into some detail about the ending of The Prestige in the book? You can tag it with major SPOILER warnings so people who don't want to know don't have to read it. I mean, I guess I could seek the book out and find out for myself, but UGH READING.

    2. The Dolph Lundgren version of "Punisher" (well, Mark Goldblatt directed it but Dolph is what most people remember the movie for, especially those weird shots of him sitting buck-naked in the sewers meditating... the hell?) is my favorite of the three "Punisher" movie adaptations by far. The sequence of Castle firing his big-ass gun at the roof and letting off a primal screeen after blowing a secret casino to smitherins to me is as close to perfect as a movie has gotten "Punisher": loud, violent, but ultimately unable to quench the emptiness inside of Frank.

      It just feels more like a comic book adaptation that, due to production issues (shot in Australia, never released theatrically but with an above-average-for-direct-to-video production values, the star power of post-"Rocky IV" Lundgren, etc.), strikes out on a weirdly "safe" storyline involving ninjas and kidnapped mob heirs that paradoxically humanize the Castle character a little bit compared with two more recent attempts.

      The backstory of Frank Castle's vigilante crusade are handled in a 30-second dream/nightmare sequence (about right for a simplistic one-dimensional character like Punisher) plus I really dig Lous Gossett Jr.'s character trying to save Frank from himself by offering an escape that we all know the character can't accept because, well, he's The Punisher. As a stone-cold Jeroen Krabbé fan ("The Living Daylights," Soderbergh's "King of the Hill," etc.) I love seeing him play a bad guy trying to save his son (a distorted twin/alternate to Frank's situation) in stark-contrast to the no-humanity-whatsoever Asian bad guys. Kudos also to Dennis Dreith for composing a pretty cool military march-style theme song for the character to give him an identity, like Superman has with the John Williams score for the '78 movie, that the 2000's versions substituted for pretty much grunge/hard rock tunes... yuck.

      So, Patrick, since you just saw this recently, does it mean it's 'Heavy Action' bound? I '39-year old wishing he were a 12-year old' '89 "Punisher" fan can dream, can't he? ;-)

    3. Well, I haven't read the Prestige since before the movie was released, so if this doesn't sound 100% accurate to anyone who may have read it, just let me know.


      Again, IF I recall correctly, the story is being told as journal entries by the grandchildren of the magicians, and it is pretty similar to the movie, but in the book the teleportation process invented by Tesla (or Ziggy Stardust) not only teleports the user but also leaves a dead duplicate behind in the original location. Toward the end of the book the Hugh Jackman character uses his cloning process on stage and something goes wrong and it is interrupted, meaning there are now TWO Angiers in the world, the original real one, and the clone who is a sort of incorporeal barely physical version, but who is definitely alive. The original Angier retires from magic and lives the rest of his life sick and seriously physically diminished and eventually dies. The shadowy clone Angier knows that if he can teleport himself back into the dead body, he may have some sort of a future and can be restored, and if not, he'll just die. Then the book cuts to Angier's grandchild reading the journal because it ends there. There are no more entries and it doesn't say if it worked or not. It's been something like 100 years since the last journal entry. The narrator goes to the window and stares into the darkness of the night, toward the old building where her grandfather worked and conducted his experiments, and as she's watching the building and thinking of what she has read, she swears that she sees the figure of a man moving in the shadows.

      What do you guys think?

    4. I think it sounds kind of like the giant squid in Watchmen -- the kind of thing that could work in a book but might not translate to a movie. Thanks for sharing that.

    5. For any of you who have read Flann O'Briens "The Third Policeman" there is a part of a color that of indescribable, when viewed upon, turns your brain to mush. Something like that i think is impossible to translate into film. I'd love to see it though.

    6. Me too. We love ambitious failures here in the F This Movie community. I'd also love to see a movie try to tackle "the brown note."

    7. The thing that blew my mind when i first saw The Prestige was the realisation that Angier's committed suicide once a night for 100 nights (or planned to). That gave a new angle to the character in the movie as he was previously portrayed as the less dedicated to the craft out of the two magicians but 100 suicides is a whole new level above cutting off your finger and swapping lives with your brother. This element made the movie for me (or at least made Jackman's character) and I think combining it with the drowning death of the wife and the misinformation of Caine struck a much deeper note than the suggested book ending.

      Any significant changes to the source material is a risky move, but if you completely understand the rationale behind the original decision (unlike Watchmen) then you can play around with it somewhat.

    8. Now I want to read the novel. Oh, books.

      my 10-12 year old brain never understood the appeal of the Punisher because he felt like a lesser version of Batman (I know, I'm probably wrong, but that's what it felt like). I couldn't do the thing where you like the character but don't like the comic, either. I tried, guys.

  5. I really love The Shawshank Redemption but I find it difficult to talk about without it coming off as douchey. I think the movie is very personal to a lot of viewers because due to the theme and the pacing it allows people to project onto the movie. E.G. it could be about any hardship that a person wants to overcome. It's also a movie that people seem to like to claim as they discovered for themselves - especially if you saw it in theaters or early when it was on video.

    I also find the movie fascinating as part of the filmography of Frank Darabont. You have one end with The Majestic (very optimistic about people/life) The Mist is on the complete opposite end. The Shawshank Redemption seems to reflect Darabont's sensibility as a director - he wants to be this optimistic guy but that's just not who he is so a lot of grimness seeps into his material.

  6. I have only seen "The Shawshank Redemption" once (when it came out) and I found it too long and drawn out. That being said, I really like Frank Darabont as a filmmaker/writer.

    Years ago at a horror convention, I jokingly asked him, "Is the reason why you were taken off the Indiana Jones project was because you wanted to bring Short Round back?"

    He laughed and replied, "Actually no. What it was was that I wanted to tell a story and George only wanted spectacle."

    Don't forget 1994 was also the year of "Wes Craven's New Nightmare," "Ed Wood" and "Natural Born Killers."

    1999 was a great year too, but that's for another discussion.