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Movies vs. Capitalism

Movies vs. Capitalism

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MOVIES VS. CAPITALISM explores the politics of your favorite films through an anti-capitalist lens. Each episode, hosts Rivka and Frank are joined by a guest for a critical discussion about a film and how it’s obviously a scathing indictment of late-stage capitalism. Examining the crucial intersection between pop culture and politics — and unpacking the ideological messages baked into our favorite movies.
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show series
 
Rivka and Frank are joined by historian and co-host of the American Prestige podcast, Daniel Bessner, to discuss Joe Dante’s 1990 cult classic, Gremlins 2: The New Batch. They explore the film’s anti-capitalist themes, its self-aware satire of franchised movie sequels, and, naturally, which Gremlin has the best politics. The Life & Death of Hollywo…
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Rivka and Frank delve into Bong Joon-ho’s 2013 climate horror thriller, Snowpiercer. They explore how the film's deep Marxist themes make it an ideal choice for discussing class warfare. They also examine the role of collaborators in revolutionary movements, the symbolism of airplanes as reminders of our modern caste system, and why Captain America…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by MVC all-star Harvey Kaye to discuss Michael Moore’s 2009 documentary Capitalism, A Love Story. They talk about the film’s radicalizing potential, its portrayal of the 2008 financial crisis, what Moore could have done better, and Obama. 🤝 TO HEAR THE FULL EPISODE SUBSCRIBE TO OUR PATREON 🤝 www.patreon.com/movies_vs_capi…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by playwright Thalia Sablon for a conversation about the wild 2001 screwball comedy Rat Race. They discuss how the film's celebrity-packed cast represents a dying culture, the shockingly anti-capitalist character arcs, and how the movie may have been an inspiration for Squid Game. Thalia Sablon - Website For next week’s m…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by comedian Kate Willett for a conversation about the 1968 horror classic Rosemary’s Baby. They discuss how the film is an overt metaphor for the domination and control of a woman’s body, Mia Farrow’s incredible performance as a woman being gaslit by her husband and neighbors, and how the film’s generational dynamics mirr…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by investigative reporter, political analyst, and strategist Nomiki Konst to discuss the 1960 revolutionary comedy Never on Sunday. This hidden gem of a film follows a Greek sex worker who makes her own hours and chooses her clients. The trio delves into the film’s themes of alienation from Western culture, its celebratio…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by professional organizer and agit-prop creator Anthony DePice to discuss Christopher Nolan’s 2008 Batman movie The Dark Knight. Is Joker a master organizer? Where was the Gotham Rec Center? Does Alfred ever get a break? All these questions and more on this black-pilled episode. For next week's movie, we'll be watching th…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by comedian Kelly Kaufman, to discuss the 2014 jazz thriller Whiplash. This film is Damian Chazelle’s breakout feature starring JK Simmons and Miles Teller. They talk about abusive power dynamics in the arts, toxic masculinity and the dangers of perfectionism under capitalism. Frank and Rivka also discuss the recent rants…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by theater educator, author, and Executive Artistic Director of Celebration Barn, David Bruin, to discuss the 2011 finance drama Margin Call. The film, which takes place at a fictional investment firm at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, is a fascinating look into the toxic work of finance. They talk about the ins-a…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by actor and educator Julian Elijah Martinez for a conversation about Park Chan-wook’s 2003 masterpiece Oldboy. They discuss the film’s themes of toxic male narcissism and unquenchable vengeance, how the film serves as a metaphor for the violence perpetuated by the carceral system, and how many live Octopi the lead actor …
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Rivka and Frank share their thoughts about the new dystopian war film Civil War, written and directed by Alex Garland. They discuss the film’s seemingly complete lack of politics, other than its cynical view of war correspondents and journalists in general. They also get into the whole “Red vs. Blue” debate, how the film fails to contextualize our …
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Rivka and Frank are joined by actor Kate Eastman for a conversation about Hayao Miyazaki’s 1997 masterpiece Princess Mononoke. They discuss the film’s central theme of environmental equilibrium, the groundbreaking animation, some brief history of feudal Japan, the queer-coded love story, and how Ashitaka is the snack we’ve all been waiting for. Pri…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by writer and director Alex Hare for a conversation about the anti-capitalist banger Little Shop of Horrors. They talk about the musical’s production history and how creators Alan Menken and Howard Ashman set out to write a musical that was critical of capitalist social relations. They also unpack the myriad metaphors of …
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Rivka and Frank are joined by journalist Rebecca Burns for a conversation about Robert Zemeckis’ 1988 masterpiece Who Framed Roger Rabbit. They talk about how the film draws inspiration from Los Angeles’ history, like “The Great Red Car Conspiracy” and the Chavez Ravine. They also discuss how the film’s “Toons” serve as a stand-in for LA’s marginal…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by comedian Jaffer Khan for a conversation about the 1998 Peter Weir / Jim Carrey masterpiece, The Truman Show. They discuss how Truman’s arc serves as a metaphor for radicalization, Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle and the commodification of genuine human experience, and how the film prophesied the self-surveillance…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by journalist and writer Seth Simons for a conversation about the 2021 Nicolas Cage drama Pig. They discuss the film’s central theme of creativity vs. commodification, cooking as one of the most communal forms of art making, the abusive and exploitative nature of the restaurant industry, and whether the character of Dariu…
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Rivka and Frank review the 2024 Academy Awards, AKA The Oscars. They discuss the pro-Palestinian protest outside the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, director Jonathan Glaser’s (somehow) controversial acceptance speech for The Zone of Interest, Emma Stone’s surprise victory, and all of glitz and glam of Hollywood’s biggest night. CeasefireToday.com 5 Ca…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by James Harr, creator of socialist apparel company Comrade Workwear, for a conversation about Mike Judge’s 2006 political satire Idiocracy, which could have offered a critique of the merger of corporate and state power and privatization, but instead seemed more interested in blaming the impoverished for their own lack of…
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Rivka and Frank have an in-depth discussion of Yorgos Lanthimos’ 2023 film Poor Things, the story of Bella Baxter, who receives an experimental brain transplant and embarks on a journey of self-discovery in her new body. They talk about how Bella’s journey embodies the Marxist concept of “dialectical materialism,” how the men in the film represent …
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Rivka and Frank are joined by author, content creator, socialist business proprietor, and host of the Pick Me Up, I'm Scared podcast, Madeline Pendleton to talk about John Woo’s unhinged magnum opus, Face/Off. They unpack the film’s depiction of the carceral system (magnet boots!), the extreme misogyny that runs through the film, and whether Castor…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by returning guest, comedian CJ Koepp, to unpack the 2006 Disney-Pixar animated movie Cars, the story of sentient automobiles grappling with the economic devastation of deindustrialization. They also talk about the filmmakers' bizarre choices to animate their anthropomorphic cars with distinct racial characteristics along…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by actor and writer Erica Bitton for a cautionary discussion of Katherine Heigl’s 2008 romantic comedy 27 Dressess, which serves as essential propaganda for the wedding-industrial complex. They also critique the film’s reductive portrayal of its two lead female characters, and pay homage to rom-com legend Judy Greer. 🤝 SU…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by historian Harvey Kaye for a deep-dive on Tim Robbins’ Depression-era film Cradle Will Rock. The film tells the story of the Federal Theatre Project — a New Deal program that funded public theater productions around the U.S. during the Great Depression — and the reactionary forces that ultimately killed it. Rivka, Frank…
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Rivka and Frank catch up on the TV series The Curse. They also revisit their conversation about Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer in the wake of the Academy Award nominations, unpack Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie’s Oscar snubs, and wonder why Hillary Clinton felt like she needed to weigh in. 🤝 TO HEAR THE FULL EPISODE SUBSCRIBE TO OUR PATREON 🤝 www.…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by artist and YouTube host Matt Strackbein, AKA The Letterhack, for a conversation about Tony Gilroy's 2007 film starring George Clooney, Michael Clayton, the story of a high-priced “legal fixer” who uncovers a deadly conspiracy perpetrated by his law firm’s corporate client. They discuss how Michael Clayton is ultimately…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by filmmakers Abigail Horton and Ryan Dickie to discuss their independent feature film Blow Up My Life, a dark comedy thriller set in the world of corporate pharmaceuticals. Abby and Ryan discuss their inspiration for making the film, and go into detail about the challenges producing and distributing independent film in t…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by author Joe Mayall for a deep (space) conversation about Ridley Scott’s 1979 science fiction and horror classic Alien. They explore how the film served as a warning against the erosion of organized labor in the U.S. during the late ’70s and early ’80s, how the film’s intentional choice to foreground the perspective of f…
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Rivka and Frank chat about the flawed class politics (and flawless vibes) of Emerald Fennell’s new film Saltburn, starring Barry Keoghan and Jacob Elordi. They also critique Julia Roberts’ new Netflix film, Leave the World Behind — a neoliberal apocalypse fever dream. 🤝 SUBSCRIBE TO OUR PATREON 🤝 www.patreon.com/movies_vs_capitalism…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by actor, writer, and educator Wren Mack to discuss the 1992 holiday classic The Muppet Christmas Carol. They break down why this particular adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel has become a staple of the holiday viewing schedule, including Michael Caine’s committed dramatic performance, Miles Gordon and Paul Williams’ sc…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by comedian and actor Melanie Vesey for a cheerful yet critical discussion about Frank Capra’s classic Christmas film starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, It’s A Wonderful Life. They discuss how the film’s depiction of American and liberal idealism may have something to do with its staying power. They also question why …
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Rivka and Frank are joined by actor and comedian Brian Morabito for a heated debate about Ben Stiller’s 2001 comedy set in the world of high fashion, Zoolander, which seems more interested in portraying models as vapid rather than genuinely critiquing the destructive and exploitative fashion industry. 🤝 SUBSCRIBE TO OUR PATREON 🤝 www.patreon.com/mo…
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Rivka and Frank discuss David Fincher’s new hitman movie, The Killer, a thriller that explores the modern gig economy. They also chat about Emma Stone and Nathan Fielder’s new TV series The Curse, the commodification of pop icon Britney Spears and her autobiography The Woman In Me, and whether it’s ethical to enjoy stories about war, like Band of B…
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Rivka and Frank take a break from watching movies to answer questions from listeners! They explain how the cooperative media production structure could supplant the Hollywood studio system, and share some of their favorite personal films — including the ones they still love, despite their terrible politics. They also discuss the recent wave of Holl…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by screenwriter Josh Olson for a discussion of Sidney Lumet and Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 dark satire Network. They unpack the film's depiction the ideological battle between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers, and how the character of TV executive Dianna Christensen remains one of the most important film character…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by television and film writer Karen DiConcetto for a material analysis of a film about materialism: Amy Heckerling’s 1995 teen comedy Clueless. In today’s interview, Rivka, Frank, and Karen celebrate Heckerling’s brilliant script while unpacking the rampant materialism depicted by the film’s Beverly Hills teenagers — and …
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Rivka and Frank are joined by musician, activist, screenwriter, and director Boots Riley for a discussion about his film debut — the 2018 satire set in the world of telemarketing, Sorry to Bother You. Boots talks about his creative process, including his personal experience working in the telemarketing industry. They also discuss the depiction of o…
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Rivka and Frank discuss Martin Scorcese’s epic historical drama, Killers of the Flower Moon. They also chat about reading Karl Marx’s Capital, the gender politics of Netflix’s Fair Play, and the new season of the Apple TV+ series The Morning Show. 🤝 TO HEAR THE FULL EPISODE SUBSCRIBE TO OUR PATREON 🤝 www.patreon.com/movies_vs_capitalism…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by comedian and climate activist CJ Koepp for an analytical discussion about the 2007 animated feature and Jerry Seinfeld vehicle Bee Movie. Rivka, Frank, and CJ unpack the status quo-reinforcing themes of Bee Movie. They also lambast the film for being deeply unfunny, and size it up against the other animated bug movies …
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Rivka and Frank are joined by Francisco Pérez, an activist, educator, and the director of the Center for Popular Economics, who blows the lid off the 1939 movie-musical classic The Wizard of Oz. Francisco explains how L. Frank Baum’s original 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, offered an allegory for U.S. monetary policy and the populist econo…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by Max Epstein, Head of Content for Means TV, a worker-owned streaming service, for an in-depth conversation about Dreamworks’ 1998 film Antz. They talk about the film’s depiction of class consciousness spreading throughout an ant colony, the theme of individualism vs. collectivism, and question if the screenwriter read M…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by Patricia Resnick, screenwriter of the iconic 1980 comedy 9 to 5, for a firsthand conversation about the radical pro-labor film. Patricia describes the history of 9 to 5, including the lived experiences of female office workers she spent time with, and how studio executives were afraid to make a movie about three women …
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Rivka and Frank chat about the HBO documentary series Telemarketers, the return of reality TV series Love is Blind and Survivor, the cultural impact of the Kardashians, the historical narrative podcast Blowback, and more. 🤝 TO HEAR THE FULL EPISODE SUBSCRIBE TO OUR PATREON 🤝 www.patreon.com/movies_vs_capitalism…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by Matthew Donovan — founder of The Future Left and co-host of the Neoliberal Hell podcast — to discuss Michael Cimino’s epic 1980 Western Heaven’s Gate. They discuss the film’s depiction of law enforcement aligning itself with property owners in order to violently eradicate the immigrant underclass, the dichotomy of the …
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Rivka and Frank are joined by Jon Shelton, professor of democracy and justice studies at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, for a conversation about the 1985 classic sci-fi comedy classic, Back to the Future. They explore the film’s focus on hyper-individualism as it relates to economic mobility, and critique the character of Doc Brown for his Sili…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by labor historian Harvey Kaye to discuss the classic 1940 film The Grapes of Wrath, and how today’s climate crisis bears frightening parallels to the Great Depression’s Dust Bowl, both man-made environmental and economic disasters. They also explore the film's portrayal of bankers and law enforcement, class consciousness…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by journalist Andrew Perez to discuss the existential dread of Paul Schrader’s 2017 climate change drama First Reformed. They discuss the film’s masterful storytelling and performances, how its fictional villain is a perfect stand-in for real-world villains like Koch Industries, and its realistic portrayal of radicalizati…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by the host of the Cocktails and Capitalism podcast, Dr. Erika Okamoto, for a deep (ocean) dive conversation about James Cameron’s 1997 global smash hit Titanic. They discuss the parallels between today’s ecological crisis and the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, in which a person’s societal rank became a literal death senten…
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Rivka and Frank are joined by comedian Jamel Johnson to talk about the 1983 Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd comedy Trading Places. They explore the film's central theme of “nature vs. nurture” debate explored in the film, and its satirical depiction of the crusty upper class. Jamel also attributes the rise of neoliberalism in the 1980s in part to the …
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