Episode 170: Martin McDonagh, Ed Asner, and Real American Cheese

Martin McDonagh/Courtesy CBS Films

This week: Playwright & “Seven Psychopaths” filmmaker Martin McDonagh laughs in the face of death… TV legend Ed Asner calls us out… Mary Elizabeth Winstead lists some sobering cinema… ‘5 under 35’ honoree Justin Torres reads from his celebrated novella… New Yorker critic David Denby divines film’s future… and Brendan seeks the real American cheese. Plus, a historic Niagara fall, a crushed dinosaur dream, and a wild new track from Tame Impala.

Icebreaker: Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson, director of the sci-fi hit “Looper,” kicks things off with a hippopottymous joke.

Small Talk: Reyhan Harmanci

Reyhan Harmanci, editor at the culture and news website Buzzfeed, laments the news that Jurassic Park will never exist.

A History Lesson with Booze: A Historic Niagara Fall and “Annie Edson’s Barrel Margarita”

On October 24th, 1903, Annie Edson Taylor packed herself into a barrel and bobbed over America’s most famous waterfall. Learn why… then calm your nerves with this custom cocktail, straight from the source.

“Annie Edson’s Barrel Margarita,” as dropped upon us by Soso Sookram, manager of Shoeless Joe’s in Niagara Falls, ON:

Blend with ice:

  • 4 oz. Lime Mix
  • 1.5 oz. Tequila
  • 1.5 oz. Triple Sec

Pour the mixture into barrel-shaped mug (or best equivalent). Then turn a Coronita bottle upside-down in the mug, allowing the beer to fall and the suds to churn at the bottom of the cocktail. Avoid drinking near precipitous heights.

Guest List: Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead appeared in films like “Bobby” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof” before her breakthrough role as Ramona, for whom Scott Pilgrim fought the world in “Scott Pilgrim Versus the World.” This week she stars in the Sundance hit “Smashed,” about a couple grappling with alcoholism. It takes on a tough subject – and still manages to entertain – so we asked her for a list of other films that do the same.

Etiquette: Ed Asner

Film and TV legend Ed Asner won over legions of fans with his character Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and its socially-oriented spin-off “Lou Grant.” He’s also starred in projects ranging from “Roots” to the animated Pixar hit “Up.” This month, he performs alongside Paul Rudd and Michael Shannon in the Broadway drama “Grace.” Ed fills us in on his new role, then fields some listener etiquette questions… and personal calls.

Eavesdropping: Justin Torres

Writer Justin Torres burst onto the scene last year with his semi-autobiographical novella “We the Animals.” It just came out in paperback, and last week the National Book Foundation named Justin to the prestigious “5 under 35” list. Today we overhear him reading from the book’s opening, in which the protagonist describes his family.

Chattering Class: The State of Cinema

For the last 35 years, as film critic for New York magazine and now the New Yorker, David Denby has chronicled the highs and lows of cinema. The new book, “Do the Movies Have a Future?” assembles some of the best of those essays and reviews. While the title sounds bleak, Denby is still bullish on mainstream movies as the once-and-future-king of American entertainment. He tells Rico why big studio films have become objectively worse, and why he still has hope.

Main Course: American Cheese

It’s officially American Cheese Month – joyeux Noel du fromage! The “holiday’s” designed to promote artisanal cheeses on this side of the Atlantic… but of course the term “american cheese” typically refers to those not-so-artisinal processed orange slabs. Brendan ventured to NYC’s Ideal Cheese Shop — maed the world’s best cheese shop by Forbes — and asked owner Michael Binetti to show off some US cheeses that should be as popular as Kraft Singles.

Guest of Honor: Martin McDonagh

Playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh regularly performs a near-impossible feat: his stories manage to be hilarious, soul-searching, bloody and brilliant. Since the mid ’90s, the Irishman’s plays – including “The Beauty Queene of Leenane” and “The Pillowman” – have regularly made their way to Broadway. In 2005, his film “Six Shooter” won the Oscar for Best Short, and his follow-up feature “In Bruges” nabbed a “Best Screenplay” nomination. This week, he opens his latest twisted hitman caper “Seven Psychopaths,” featuring a crazy talented cast including Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson. Martin tells Rico why we need films about ‘guys with guns’… and why he’s obsessed with cute furry animals.

One For The Road: Tame Impala and “Elephant”

Aussie indie rockers Tame Impala just released their sophomore LP “Lonerism.” We close the show with its bass-heavy single “Elephant” – perfect for a dust-raising dance party in the Sahara… or the Outback.

Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Debussy – “Dialogue du vent et de la mer”

Tortoise – “The Suspension Bridge at Iquaza Falls”

Rolfe Kent – “Citizen Ruth” Theme

Syntaks – “Blue Sunshine”

Lady Gaga – “Telephone” (Instrumental)

Mochipet – “A Beat Never Forgets”

Yulara – “Children of the Pleiades”

Apollo Brown – “Father and Son”

Patrick Doyle – “Inhaling the Virus”

Tokimonster – “Cheese Smoothie”

Cookin On 3 Burners – “Dog Wash”

Tame Impala – “Elephant”