288: The one about Contact

Screenshot 2016-04-23 00.25.42

Welcome to episode 288. Today, we watch “Contact”

Dr. Ellie Arroway, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of intelligent aliens, who send plans for a mysterious machine.

Join Scott, Randy, Dunaway, and Ibbott as they drop their ball.


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As usual, a HUGE thanks to Scott Fletcher, the official announcer of Film Sack Central. Hey! Why not leave us a nice review on iTunes if you like the show?

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20 thoughts on “288: The one about Contact

  1. Pingback: 288: The one about Contact - BRIAN DUNAWAY

  2. I’m starting to feel that every time Randy walks into a room, he does a quick headcount and starts demanding to know why there aren’t more women present. We get it! You’re super-vigilant about us being well-represented in movies! Thank you for your ongoing concern.

    Say, you know where women are under-represented? Film Sack. :^D

    Good-natured ribbing, love you guys! Great episode!

        • Agree, nothing wrong with that. It’s always a certain type to even use that word, and they’re not people you really want to throw in with :/.

          • “You’re vocally opposed to sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. and I hate that!” — what I always hear when someone uses “SJW” as an insult.

    • Sphere is the next one coming up, as we also welcome the return of Michael Crichton to the show since the 2014 double whammy of Timeline and Congo!

  3. Here’s the thing when I look around about half the people I see are women. Bit when I watch a movie it’s not even close, that’s a problem

    • Film being an artistic endeavor, can you articulate why that’s a problem from an artistic standpoint? Or are you just parroting what you’ve been told?

      • It’s a problem from an artistic standpoint because art differs from reality to make a point, whether intentionally or unintentionally. If it makes points intentionally (and successfully), it’s probably good art. If it makes points unintentionally (and/or unsuccessfully), it’s probably bad art.

        If your art involves telling a story that differs from reality in that there are barely any women, the point you’re making is that women are unimportant or even undesirable/inferior. At least, that’s the point you’re making unless the absence of women is an intentional plot device or otherwise entirely realistic in the context of the story.

        But if these are not the case, then you’re deviating from reality for no discernible purpose and making an unintentional point, which makes your art sub-par. As well as sexist.

        But you were probably emphasizing that films are artistic in order to make a point like “Nyah, people can make whatever kind of movies they want to!” weren’t you? In which case, don’t bother– we all know that artists can make whatever kind of art they want. That doesn’t make the art beyond criticism.

        • 1. Thank you for replying rationally. This topic often brings out the worst in people, so I appreciate your measured thoughtfulness.

          2. Re: your second paragraph, we don’t get to tell an artist what point he or she is making. To do so is startlingly presumptuous. You’re free to interpret the work, but you can’t speak to an artist’s motivations.

          3. Re: your third paragraph, there are plenty of formal art theories to refute your basic premise here. Didacticism is a legitimate (if antiquated) artistic approach, but it’s most certainly not the *only* approach.

          4. Re: your last paragraph, of course art is subject to criticism. Criticism is analysis. Citing a facet of someone’s work and declaring “a problem” is not analysis, that’s just spouting an opinion (and you know what they say about opinions). Identifying a quality as inherently problematic requires critical legwork.

          You’ve made an insupportable assumption about artists’ motivations here, but hypothetically let’s say you’re right. Let’s say a director’s point is that “women are unimportant or even undesirable/inferior.” We may not like that idea, but our disapproval doesn’t make it “a problem.” In fact, if the director’s crappy worldview has been successfully communicated, then the lack of women in his movie is a resounding success.

          Art doesn’t exist to confirm your worldview, or mine. Art is expression. It doesn’t owe anybody anything. We’re free to criticize it, and even hate it, but when we start constructing moral parameters around it — that’s dangerous. As creative people we absolutely cannot stand for it.

          The best way to contradict a work of art is to create a better one. 🙂

          • PCG, you are confusing intent/motivation with message/point. The former does not determine the latter, which is what my previous comment was all about.

            I can absolutely tell an artist what message his/her work is sending. Obviously I can’t speak for their entire audience, but no critic of art can do so. That’s what art criticism is— describing one’s perception/interpretation of the message in artwork. If you don’t think this practice is legitimate, I have to wonder why you’re listening to a podcast about it.

            Intent, as they say, is not magic. Your work says things, which includes things you didn’t necessarily intend for it to say. But you remain responsible for all of what it says regardless, both artistically and– yes– morally.

            Because why on earth would art be immune to moral criticism on the grounds that it’s “expression”? Since when does expression not have a moral component? To claim otherwise is insulting “creative people,” not flattering them, since it places the expression “Kill all the Jews” on the same level as the expression “Save all the Jews.”

            Now, obviously art can be amoral. Arguably most art is amoral, and its moral dimension isn’t determined by subject– you can paint a picture of Hitler (to continue the theme) without sending a message that the Holocaust was a grand idea. But you can also paint a picture that sends the message that the Holocaust was a terrible idea, and that is– guess what? A moral statement. Just as much as if you’d said out loud “The Holocaust was a terrible idea.” So of course it’s true in reverse as well.

            You can write a book about how black people are animals and forsaken by God. You can draw a comic about how feminists are all witches who worship Satan. You can create a poster depicting gays as pedophiles. This is all art. This is all expression. And it’s bigoted, and bigotry is immoral.

            All of which is more overt, of course, than the message sent by your typical Film Sack action flick. But that doesn’t mean those movies are somehow devoid of moral content. They also send messages– that’s the point of making a movie. That’s the point of making art. If you grant that the messages can be about all sorts of other things, then obviously they can be about morality as well.

            Thanks for the condescending congratulations on my ability to be “rational” about this, btw. That was really the cherry on the mansplaining sundae.

          • “Thanks for the condescending congratulations on my ability to be “rational” about this, btw. That was really the cherry on the mansplaining sundae.”

            My thanks (not “congratulations”) were sincere. If you find admiration or gratitude condescending, consider them withdrawn.

            I guess expressing an opinion that differs from yours is “mansplaining?” Okay.

            Since it only took one rebuttal for you to start name-calling and to satisfy Godwin’s Law, I won’t subject either of us to a response. Kinda sucks, it was shaping up to be an interesting discussion.

            Happy fortunes!

  4. It’s mostly a comment on the nature of the kinds of movies Filmsack tends toward. Action movies are largely male dominated and of the women fill the damsel in distress role. Given that one of the goals of the show has been to see if a movie holds up over time, commenting on the lack of plausible female characters isn’t too far off the mark.

  5. Yeah, I think the movies selected will never have a large female presence and so drawing attention to it can be a little redundant, but it has never bothered me, but then again I have a penis so I don’t think I get a say. You guys to sack fried green tomatoes or something like that.

  6. When available, I’d like to hear the boys Sack movies like “Foxfire”, “Tank Girl”, “Spice World”, and yes…”Showgirls”. Or a straight-up rom-com…anything with Marissa Tomei, Meg Ryan or Tom Hanks. You know, the good 90s rom-coms. I like shoot-em-ups and Ahnold and Stallone too but a woman/centric flick every once in a while might add a bit of diversity.

    “Contact” was a bit of a let down for me in 1997 b/c I think Zemeckis likes to pander to middle-brow audiences with this faith vs science theme and kinda sorta agreeing with both sides and kinda sorta disagreeing with both sides. And b/c Zemeckis likes to load his films with contemporary references this hasn’t aged well. BUT, it does have a lot of heart and therefore makes it watchable anyway. I really like the cast and it got Carl Sagan’s work out there to the masses

  7. My understanding is that the Clinton footage was taken from a press conference where they were discussing the discovery of a rock that was believed to have come from Mars and may have showed signs of microscopic life. Clinton was upset because he did not authorize the use of his image in the film. I understand that Hitler did not give permission either, but he never complained.

  8. Can you guys fix the link on your website. I can’t download this episode, it just opens as a streaming file, and I prefer to download.

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