Errol Morris

Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Comedy Group Kasper Hauser, David Rakoff Retrospective

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rob Baedeker
Guests: 
James Reichmuth
Guests: 
David Rakoff
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Scott Tobias

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Kasper Hauser: How To Write A Book About Business Without Really Helping

The San Francisco sketch comedy troupe Kasper Hauser is not your average comedy team. They count a lawyer, a writer, a psychiatrist and a Stanford theater professor in their ranks. They get together to write satirical books (like Skymaul and Weddings of the Times), perform the occasional live show, and produce digital content (like their Kasper Hauser podcast and this fake Craigslist page) -- all while working the aforementioned day jobs. Their new collaboration is their own special spin on how to succeed in business, all in a tome you can leave in the bathroom. It's called Earn Your MBA on the Toilet: Unleash Unlimited Power and Wealth from Your Bathroom.

We sat down with half of Kasper Hauser, members Rob Baedeker and James Reichmuth, to talk about being inspired by the "For Dummies" series, their democratic joke-writing process, and the worst fight they've ever had--about a comedy sketch.

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The Dissolve Recommends Summer Films: "Blue Jasmine" and "The Act Of Killing"

Indie-music site Pitchfork expanded into film-criticism this month with its new off-shoot site, The Dissolve. We're joined by The Dissolve's founder and editorial director, Keith Phipps, and editor Scott Tobias, who introduce the new site and recommend their top picks for summer movies.

Keith recommends Woody Allen's new comic drama Blue Jasmine starring Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin, and featuring Louis CK. As Keith explains, the movie offers a terrific character study of a New York City socialite (Blanchett) who is forced to start over without her money or her husband (Baldwin).

And Scott endorses The Act Of Killing, from two of the most revered names in documentary filmmaking, producers Errol Morris and Werner Herzog. The documentary tests the very boundaries of the medium, following a real-life Indonesian deathsquad as they reenact some of their most infamous murders and confront the atrociousness of their deeds.

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David Rakoff: A Retrospective

The author David Rakoff died of cancer nearly a year ago, but his writing continues to provide insight on living a creative life in contemporary America. Best known for his autobiographical essays and his contributions to This American Life, Rakoff always made for a delightful interviewee: open, passionate, and amusing even in his darkest times. In honor of the posthumous release of his last book Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, a novel written entirely in rhyme, we're sharing some highlights from our past conversations with Rakoff.

In these two interviews from 2005 and 2011, Rakoff touches on topics ranging from the virtues of pessimism, writing about Playboy models as a gay man, and the daily grind necessary for a truly creative life.

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The Outshot: "The Long Goodbye"

Elliott Gould may not seem like the hard-boiled noir type, but in 1973, under the direction of Robert Altman, he had that perfect combination of intellect and self-satisfied cool. With Gould playing Raymond Chandler's most famous character, Philip Marlowe, The Long Goodbye explores the powerful narcissism that governed the streets of 1970s Los Angeles.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Big Boi, Catherine O'Hara, and Pop Culture Advice

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Bullseye
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Big Boi
Guests: 
Catherine O'Hara
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder
Guests: 
Justin McElroy
Guests: 
Travis McElroy
Guests: 
Griffin McElroy

It's the final week of MaxFunDrive! Visit maximumfun.org/donate to find out more and support this show.

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Recommendations with Mark Frauenfelder: Bunk and Marijuanamerica

This week's recommendations come from BoingBoing founder and Gweek host Mark Frauenfelder. His first suggestion is Bunk, a game for iOS that makes good use of your vocabulary, your friends, and your ability to convincingly make stuff up. Looking for something to read? He also suggests Marijuanamerica, a new book about a man who tours the US to understand America's love/hate relationship with pot.

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Hip Hop Icon Big Boi: Getting Familiar with Uncharted Territory

The rapper and producer Big Boi has sold over 50 million records as a solo artist and as half of the platinum-selling hip hop duo OutKast. The innovative Atlanta-based group broke out in the mid-1990s with "Rosa Parks" and "Elevators", then followed up with crossover pop hits like "The Way You Move" and "Bombs Over Baghdad".

OutKast found huge commercial success with an experimental brand of hip hop, eschewing old-school samples in favor of new sounds. Big Boi has been the more musically prolific member of the group. He's gone on to produce several solo albums and collaborate with artists across the music spectrum, from fellow ATL-based rapper Ludacris to funk-master George Clinton to the indie rock band Wavves. He's headed out on the nearly 50-city "Shoes for Running" tour to support his newest release, Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors.

Big Boi joins us to talk about the early days recording in an clay-walled basement, coming to terms with fame, and where to go musically when you've hit monumental commercial success.

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Pop Culture Advice from My Brother, My Brother and Me

MaximumFun's own McElroy Brothers provide advice to wayward individuals – some more wayward than others – on their weekly podcast, My Brother, My Brother and Me. This week, they're helping out Bullseye listeners with their pop-culture quandaries. For instance: are you allowed to like dubstep and be from the suburbs?

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Catherine O'Hara on Being Slightly, Perfectly Odd

Catherine O'Hara's work embodies a particularly special brand of comic absurdity. She helped launch SCTV alongside other burgeoning comedy greats like John Candy and Eugene Levy, quit the show, but still moved on to star in blockbuster comedies. She became spiritually possessed in Beetlejuice, played a memorable, anxiety-ridden mother to Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, and became a critical part of Christopher Guest's ensemble mockumentaries, like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show.

More recently, she's been in HBO's critically-acclaimed biopic Temple Grandin and Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, and she'll star in a Fox comedy pilot later this year.

O'Hara talks to us about the difficulties of being a woman in the SCTV writers' room, creating memorable characters with her longtime friend and collaborator Eugene Levy, and her own secret comedic formula.

Oh, and in this outtake, hear about the best boyfriend ever: Dan Akroyd.

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The Outshot: Fast, Cheap & Out of Control

At first, Errol Morris's documentary Fast, Cheap & Out of Control looks like it's about four men and their professional occupations: a lion tamer, a topiarist, a roboticist, a scientist who studies naked mole rats. But the movie is about much more than just weird jobs.

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Special thanks this week to FreeSound.org user juskiddink for the sound effects used during our BoatParty.biz promo.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Benedict Cumberbatch, Errol Morris, Craig Finn

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Benedict Cumberbatch
Guests: 
Errol Morris
Guests: 
Craig Finn
Guests: 
Jason Kottke

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Jason Kottke on Children-by-Mail and a Physics Thought Experiment

Jason Kottke, proprietor of Kottke.org, a collection of some of the most interesting links the internet has to offer, joins us this week to share some all-time internet picks. First, he enlightens us about the practice of sending children through the mail. He also shares a mind-bending physics thought experiment -- if an airplane moves forward on a conveyor belt that's moving in the opposite direction at the same speed, can the airplane take off?

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Benedict Cumberbatch on Heroes and Villains

When Benedict Cumberbatch spoke to us last year, the interview centered on his portrayal of one of the most well-represented heroes in literature -- Sherlock Holmes. Jesse started off their discussion with talk of a more sinister role, however -- Cumberbatch's upcoming portrayal of the Star Trek villain John Harrison. With the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness so far away from the interview's original air date, that part of their chat didn't make the cut. Now that the film's release is a matter of months away, however, it seems a fitting time to revisit it.

Cumberbatch shares his appreciation for the mystery surrounding the new Star Trek film, deconstructs the challenges inherent in bringing a fresh perspective to his interpretation of the legendary detective for the BBC series Sherlock, and details how he emerged from a tremendous trauma with a renewed dedication to living life fully.

Both season one and season two of BBC's Sherlock are available now. You can also stream them online via Netflix and Amazon Instant.

(A alternate cut of this interview originally aired 5/15/12)

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Craig Finn on The Song That Changed My Life

Craig Finn is the lead singer and guitarist for the Brooklyn rock outfit The Hold Steady. Earlier this year, Finn released his debut solo album Clear Heart Full Eyes. This week he tells us about the song that changed his life: The Replacements' "I Will Dare", off their 1984 album Let It Be.

(This segment originally aired 5/15/12)

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Director Errol Morris on Sussing out the Truth

Celebrated director Errol Morris's acclaim is well-earned -- his documentary films are all masterfully executed and extraordinarily compelling. Some of his films, such as The Thin Blue Line
(which ultimately helped secure an innocent man's freedom from prison) drive at an objective truth, while others are more concerned with the unique truths of individuals' experiences.

Errol Morris joined us in 2011 to talk about his film making process, celebrating reality versus fiction, and the enduring popularity of his Miller High Life commercials. Morris's most recent film, Tabloid, and most recent book, A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald are available in stores now.

(This interview originally aired 07/18/11)

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The Outshot: “People Get Ready” by Curtis Mayfield

For The Outshot this week, Jesse basks in the warm, loving glow of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready", and explains exactly why the singer's smiling face hangs on the wall above his son's crib.

If you've got a song that lifts you up like this one does, share the warmth on the MaxFun forum by picking your own Outshot.

(This Outshot originally aired 5/15/12)

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Errol Morris: Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography)

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What does this photograph suggest to you? If I told you that it was taken in South Dakota in 1936 by a man named Arthur Rothstein who was working for the Farm Security Administration, would that impact your answer? This picture was quite a source of social and political controversy in its day as many felt it had been posed to raise sympathy and support for FDR's programs. So what is this work of art, really? A meditation on light and form? Straightforward documentation of farm and weather conditions? Or subtle propaganda?

One man who has a unique talent for getting to the bottom of mysteries like this is filmmaker Errol Morris. His new book, "Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography)", contains a series of essays that investigate the hidden truths behind a series of documentary photographs. Including this one.

The review from the LA Times summarizes it beautifully, saying: "[A]t its core . . ."Believing Is Seeing" is an elegantly conceived and ingeniously constructed work of cultural psycho-anthropology wrapped around a warning about the dangers of drawing inferences about the motives of photographers based on the split-second snapshots of life that they present to us. It's also a cautionary lesson for navigating a world in which, more and more, we fashion our notions of truth from the flickering apparitions dancing before our eyes."

Errol Morris, Director of "Tabloid": Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Errol Morris

Errol Morris is a celebrated director who has documented a wide range of subjects, from warfare in his Academy Award-winning film The Fog of War to your everyday eccentrics in Vernon, Florida.

In his newest film, Tabloid, he chases the truth in the tabloid story of Joyce McKinney. A former beauty queen follows her object of affection, a Mormon missionary, overseas and shakes things up with his alleged kidnapping and sexual assault. Joyce spins her version of the events of several decades and continents in the film, which is woven with interviews with tabloid reporters of the day, her alleged accomplices and contemporaries.

Errol talks to us bringing his subjects eye to eye with his audience using his patented Interrotron, seeking and preserving the truth of the first person narrative, and the work he feels he'll be remembered for (it's not what you think).

Tabloid is theaters now with limited release, and will roll out to more cities nationwide this summer.

Click here for a full transcript of this interview.
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JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program is Errol Morris, who might just be America's most gifted and acclaimed documentarian. His movies include The Fog of War, which won him an Oscar, The Thin Blue Line, which may have saved a man's life, and Gates of Heaven, which, according to the terms of a bet, forced Werner Herzog to eat a shoe live on stage.

Morris's new film is called Tabloid. In part, it's an investigation of narrative; in part, it's an investigation of a curious character. That, of course, has been a theme of Morris's films going all the way back to his first two, Gates of Heaven and Vernon, Florida.

The movie is the story of a former beauty queen named Joyce McKinney who fell in love with a Mormon missionary and followed him on his mission to England, bringing along a pilot, a muscle-building body guard, and a man who can only reasonably be described as a best friend/bondage slave. When she found the object of her affection, she either convinced him to come with her, or kidnapped him, then, either convinced him to sleep with her, or raped him.

The case was a sensation beyond words in the English tabloid culture of the late 1970s. Here's a tabloid reporter named Peter Tory who covered the story at the time for the tabloids in the late 1970s. In this clip from the movie, he explains how Joyce McKinney's misadventures captured the English public's attention.

Errol Morris, welcome to The Sound of Young America.

ERROL MORRIS: Thanks for having me on.

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The Commercials of Errol Morris

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I'm interviewing Errol Morris later today, one of my all-time favorite film makers. Shoot, maybe my #1 all-time favorite film maker. I may have time to ask him about his commercial work, but I thought I'd throw in a couple of pieces here just in case I don't.

Above: "Stay Curious," for PBS. Below, "Olive Loaf," for Miller High Life.

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