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The Pointless Century is a podcast of informal discussions about literature and film seeking to understand 20th century history and illuminate 21st century politics. Professor Frank Fucile and research assistants Anna Wendorff and Rachel Hamele work their way through comparative studies of canonical works, examples from pop culture, and some cult classics while reflecting on subjects like technology, art, class, race, gender, sexuality, the environment, (as always) war, and (inevitably) fascism.
 
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Episode Notes S4E3: Mayakovsky (pt. 3/3): The Epics TW TW: Suicide /Alexander Billet joins us to discuss the Soviet Futurist-Communist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893 Baghdati – 1930 Moscow). Finally we get to the good stuff. Two speculative war epics, two wild elegies, messages to the future, and assorted screams into the void. The zoomers are all …
 
Episode Notes S4E2: Mayakovsky (pt. 2/3): The Shitposts Alexander Billet joins us to discuss the Soviet Futurist-Communist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893 Baghdati – 1930 Moscow). We consider a couple of his pre-revolutionary futurist poems, and some of his key works from the revolutionary period of February 1917 to February 1923. Anna and Rachel ta…
 
Episode Notes S4 E1: Mayakovsky (pt. 1/3): The Overshares Alexander Billet joins us to discuss the Soviet Futurist-Communist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893 Baghdati – 1930 Moscow). We consider Mayakovsky’s unique status among both modernists and poets; we begin to sketch the cultural milieu of the Russian Empire, Provisional Republic, and Soviet Un…
 
Episode Notes Bonus Episode: Magickal Realist Horror Happy Halloween! Anna and Madalyn gush about Ari Aster; Will talks about Brecht; Frank explains some creepy things he read on the internet; we all love these movies, but there’s reason to be disturbed by the culture that produced them. That’s horror. Hereditary. Dir./Writ. Ari Aster. Perf. Toni C…
 
Episode Notes S3 E6: Doctor Zhivago Anna attempts to remember a book she read last summer; Rachel laments film adaptations again; Frank offers some ideas for propaganda; we all agree that this 1965 anti-Soviet film is a disappointment, but we still find things we can learn from it. Doctor Zhivago. Dir. David Lean. Writ. Robert Bolt. Perf. Omar Shar…
 
Episode Notes S3 E5: Battleship Potemkin / Man with Movie Camera Rachel gets angry about the dramatization of an event from 116 years ago; Anna thinks really hard about shot selection and sequence; Frank swears he isn’t a tankie then recklessly glosses over the birth pangs of the most 20th-century of nations; we all agree that these films are great…
 
Episode Notes S3 E4: Johnny Got His Gun / Pale Horse, Pale Rider *TW: Discussion of severe war wounds and suicide Anna shares her expertise in heavy metal; Rachel describes a book as “peace-y”; Frank complains about Dalton Trumbo’s unwillingness to insert actual communist propaganda into his most explicitly political movie; we all think the 1939 no…
 
Episode Notes S3 E3: Blade / Black Panther Rachel claps while talking about representation; Anna suffers through two more superhero movies; Frank says “critique” far too many times; Leah tolerates us once again; we all appreciate aspects of these films, but Anna and Frank are sure to spend some time raining on parades. Blade. Dir. Stephen Norringto…
 
Episode Notes S3 E2: Nova (1968) by Samuel R. “Chip” Delany Frank forces everyone to read a favorite SF novel of his. Leah joins for her first guest appearance. Correction/clarification:Delany is meticulous about in noting when his novels were written at the end of each manuscript, but Frank is not quite as careful in his discussion of them. Nova w…
 
Episode Notes S2 E8: Under Fire (1916) / J’Accuse! (1919) Rachel considers lib idpol a century ago and an ocean away; Anna continues to prefer novels over movies; Madalyn waxes nostalgic on Franco-Prussian beef; Frank delivers a sermon on water; we all are awed by these works of art but continue to wonder what might be missing. Barbusse, Henri. Und…
 
Episode Notes S2 E7: Wilfred Owen vs. Siegfried Sassoon *TW: graphic descriptions of war incl. homicide, suicide, corpses, etc. Wilfred Owen – “Dulce et Decorum Est”https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46560/dulce-et-decorum-est Siegfried Sassoon – “ ‘Blighters’ ”https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57215/blighters Wilfred Owen – “The Sentry”ht…
 
Episode Notes M, film still feat. Gustaf Gründgens (Nero-Film, 1931)S2 E6: M (1931) / Psycho (1960) *TW: murder, implied sexual assault M. Dir. Fritz Lang. Writ. Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou. Perf. Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Gustaf Gründgens. Nero-Film, 1931. Ménilmontant. Dir. Dimitri Kirsanoff. Perf. Nadia Sibirskaïa, Yolande Beaulieu, Guy Belmon…
 
Episode Notes S2 E5: Sylvia Plath vs. Allen Ginsberg *TW: suicide, self-harm, mental illness Rachel wrestles with long lines; Anna disses silly rhymes; Frank reflects on old times and somehow compares the 90s to the 50s; we all appreciate these lyric efforts to rise above the conformity of the era but find ourselves critiquing both form and philoso…
 
Episode Notes S2 Extra Episode (Anna’s Choice): Wes Anderson In a slightly less depressing episode than usual, Anna tells us about a children’s movie she loves; Madalyn meditates on Steve Zissou; Frank explains how culture makes money sexy; we all agree Wes Anderson’s films are enjoyable, but we admit there aren’t many actual LOLs. Rachel was study…
 
Episode Notes S2 E4: The Monstrous 20s (pt. 2) The Phantom of the Opera. Dir. Rupert Julian. Writ. Gaston Leroux. Prod. Carl Laemmle. Perf. Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin. Universal, 1925. Metropolis. Dir. Fritz Lang. Writ. Thea von Harbou. Perf. Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich. UFA, 1927. The Man Who Laughs. Dir. Paul Leni. Writ. Victor Hugo…
 
Episode Notes S2 E3: The Monstrous 20s (pt. 1) The Penalty. Dir. Wallace Worsley. Writ. Gouverneur Morris. Perf. Lon Chaney. Goldwyn, 1920. Nosferatu. Dir. F.W. Murnau. Perf. Max Schreck, Gustave von Wagenheim, Greta Schröder. JABJ, 1922. Waxworks. Dir. Paul Leni & Leo Birinsky. Writ. Henrik Galeen. Perf. Emil Jannings, Conrad Veidt, Werner Krauss,…
 
Episode Notes S2 E2: Paths of Glory / A Very Long Engagement In our second look at great films of the Great War, Anna enjoys vengeance; Rachel denounces injustice; Frank lectures even more than usual; we continue to ponder the concept of realism in genre film; and we all stare exhausted down the barrel of the gun that is the state.// Watch us on In…
 
Episode Notes S2 E1: The Big Parade / 1917 Rachel dreams of reality; Anna wonders whether anti-war movies are really possible; Frank gives an extended description of 1920s special effects; we all agree that the common vernacular of film has changed immensely in 95 years but still manage to find common threads in the genres and narratives that have …
 
Episode Notes Episode 8: Gustave Moreau vs. Cy Twombly In our season finale, Anna describes 19th century brushstrokes; Rachel gets angry at ten paintings; and Frank tells a story that takes 140 years; we all puzzle over these things people use to decorate museum walls and welcome Madalyn, our new editor and occasional pronunciation coach. Future ep…
 
Episode Notes Episode 7: Novecento (1900) Pt 3 Novecento [1900]. Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci. Perf. Robert De Niro, Gérard Depardieu, Dominique Sanda, Sterling Hayden, Stefania Sandrelli, Donald Sutherland, Burt Lancaster. 20th Century Fox, 1976. *TW: sexual coercion, suicide, excrement In the final installment of a 3-part series, Anna complains about…
 
Episode Notes Episode 6: Mafarka / Novecento (1900) Pt 2 Filippo Tommaso Marinetti – Mafarka the Futurist: An African Novel (Italian novel, France 1909 / Italy 1910) Novecento AKA 1900 (dubbed film, Italy 1976) dir. Bernardo Bertolucci *TW: rape, murder, war, torture, sexual coercion, child sexuality, adult sex, excrement In Part 2 of a 3-part seri…
 
Episode Notes Episode 5: Mafarka / Novecento (1900) Filippo Tommaso Marinetti – Mafarka the Futurist: An African Novel (Italian novel, France 1909 / Italy 1910) Novecento AKA 1900 (dubbed film, Italy 1976) dir. Bernardo Bertolucci *TW: rape, murder, war, torture, child sexuality, adult sex, coercion, excrement In a mere introduction to the topic, F…
 
Episode Notes Episode 4: Amiri Baraka vs. T.S. Eliot T.S. Eliot – “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (poem, 1910/1915)https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/44212/the-love-song-of-j-alfred-prufrock Amiri Baraka – “An Agony. As Now.” (poem, 1964)https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/52777/an-agony-as-now Amiri Baraka – “Dope” (poe…
 
Episode Notes Episode 4: Amiri Baraka vs. T.S. Eliot T.S. Eliot – “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (poem, 1910/1915)https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/44212/the-love-song-of-j-alfred-prufrock Amiri Baraka – “An Agony. As Now.” (poem, 1964)https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/52777/an-agony-as-now Amiri Baraka – “Dope” (poe…
 
Episode Notes Episode 3: ACABx3 Part 2 *TW Do the Right Thing (film, 1989)Thelma & Louise (film, 1991)Queen & Slim (film, 2019) Due to software constraints, this episode was divided into two parts.*TW: murder, rape, sexual coercion In this very special episode, Rachel stresses over what she can and can’t claim to understand; Anna is further disgust…
 
Episode Notes Do the Right Thing (film, 1989)Thelma & Louise (film, 1991)Queen & Slim (film, 2019) In this very special episode, Rachel stresses over what she can and can’t claim to understand; Anna is further disgusted by the film industry patriarchy; Frank haphazardly outlines a century of Black culture and yells more than he probably should; we …
 
Episode Notes Episode 2: Three Jokers Batman (film, 1989)The Dark Knight (film, 2008)Joker (film, 2019) In Part II of our consideration of DC/Warner Bros movies, Anna complains about Christopher Nolan and stares into the void; Rachel mocks pointless rebellion and mindlessly performative fandom; Frank obsesses over various definitions of terrorism; …
 
Episode Notes Episode 1: Wonder Woman / Birds of Prey Wonder Woman (film, 2017)Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (film, 2020) In Part I of our consideration of DC/Warner Bros movies, Rachel rants against the culture industry; Anna ponders the aesthetics of destruction; Frank shoehorns in some history of military te…
 
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