Reel Insight #79: Scarlett Johansson

Did you see The Avengers this weekend? Well, if you want more of Black Widow, tune in to hear our discussion on Scarlett Johansson's career, as well as My Week with Marilyn, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, A Dangerous Method, and what we think our special skills would be in order for Nick Fury to recruit us as Avengers.

Give it a listen and email your thoughts to reelinsight[at]gmail[dot]com. We love feedback and we love to read your feedback while casting. Our "theme" music is from Kevin MacLeod with Incompetech. Also, join the Facebook Fan Page and subscribe on iTunes to stay updated. Thanks for listening!

Picks of the Weeks

Rachel's Pick: Match Point - There's something to be said for going into a film completely blind, or with the wrong expectations altogether. All I knew about Match Point was that it was written and directed by Woody Allen, starred ScarJo and Jonathan Rhys Meyers and dealt with tennis at some point in the story. Having seen the posters, I just assumed it was a crappy romantic drama, a more serious twin to the abysmal Wimbledon, perhaps. Maybe if I had known the tagline ("Passion Tempation Obsession") beforehand, I would've been more prepared for this lovely little thriller. To be fair it does start off in the straight romance department as Meyers lusts after his brother-in-law's fiancĂ©e, played by the oh-so-tempting Miss Scarlett. But in the third act, things take an abrupt dark turn, the kind I live for, and I'm happy to say I've found another Woody Allen film I like.

Jess' Pick: A Love Song for Bobby Long - I wanted to like this, and there are quite a few scenes I keep thinking about. But, John Travolta should NOT have had blond/gray hair. And there were a few other things that might have made the movie work, starting with a better script. However, I still liked the concept and parts of the execution. ScarJo is a high school dropout who hasn't seen her mother in ages, and now finds out that she's died. Since her life sucks she goes to check out the house. She has all these memories that she can't confirm or deny and returning to New Orleans has brought back a lot of the people she knew as a kid (confirming memories). She stays with Bobby Long (a former literature professor) and Lawson (Gabriel Macht) who are squatting in her mom's house. They're basically alcoholics that are mooching off ScarJo's mom. They convince her to go back to high school and let the horrible past go. They're odd characters that I would have watched more, but the movie itself doesn't really go anywhere original. The soundtrack is pretty great and I wanted to like this much more than I did.


  1. First of all, thanks for giving me something to listen to during my computer class. I should probably make a habit of listening to podcasts during that class because it makes the period go a whole lot faster!

    Secondly, thanks for the plug! Cabin in the Woods will be playing at our film festival which hits the road in July. Still a long wait but at least it is going to be in cinemas!

    Finally, Scarlett Johansson. Can't say I'm a big fan of hers. Like you say, I don't hate her, but I wouldn't go out to see anything because it has her in it. I'm quite a big fan of Lost in Translation and The Prestige, and did quite like He's Just Not That Into You. Of course, I loved The Avengers. I'm not a huge fan of Woody Allen films (apart from Midnight in Paris), so I can't say I liked Match Point or Vicky Cristina Barcelona much. And yeah, that's Scarlett Johansson from my eyes in a nutshell for you.

    I did have to laugh at what you said about Elle Fanning in We Bought a Zoo. She was nuts. Like, what was wrong with her?

    1. First of all, thank YOU Stevee for our new slogan: Distracting students from their class work since 2010. I can totally see that on a t-shirt. And you're welcome for the plug.

      As for Ms. J (I shorten it that way because I always put too many N's or S's) I've realized since the recording that I never like her by herself. If I find myself digging her work on screen, it's probably because she's got great chemistry with someone else. So I'm wondering if a day will come when I can accept her acting on its own merits and be impressed by her alone.

      Thanks for listening!

  2. Hi Jess and Rachel! Nice work on the Scarlett Johansson podcast. It's interesting to consider her work because I once thought she had a lot of potential as an actress. Ghost World and Lost in Translation showed great promise, and it never really went anywhere. She's been in other good films like The Prestige, but I can't say she was particularly memorable in them.

    I do really enjoy Ghost World, but I can see why it might not work for you, so no big arguments here. You're so right about the Black Dahlia, though. That is a terrible film! It's based loosely on a good book from James Ellroy, and I still can't believe how much they screwed it up. It might be Brian DePalma's worst movie, which is saying a lot.

    1. Thanks, Dan! I'm surprised she hasn't gone on to better work too, but at least she hasn't been pigeon-holed into one character type and she does branch out, from the good girl to the "other" woman to an action star, all of which I find admirable.

  3. My combined favorite/least favorite part of this show was how you two (especially you, Jess) seemed to preface or end each mini-discussion of a ScarJo film with "she wasn't that annoying here" or "she was really annoying here," as if that was her only purpose in film. Obviously, despite the disclaimers at the end ("I don't dislike her, I just wouldn't go out of my way to watch a film.."), you tipped your hands regarding what you really think of her.

    I'm not sure I'll ever think of her as much more than a pretty face and a nice body, but she can be a capable actress. I think she's probably pretty similar to another actor that you two shit on a lot (Keanu Reeves), in that her voice is at once one of her most distinctive features but also the thing that makes her seem like a bad actress. It's distracting and inescapable while also being her hallmark.

    You did kind of get me wanting to rewatch Match Point. Saw it in the theater and dug it, but not to the level that you were raving about it, Rachel.

    Scoop fucking sucks...thankfully, I've blocked much of it from memory.

    Thought you two undersold In Good Company; it's not fantastic, but strays quite a bit from where you think it's headed, is well-written, topical and features pretty solid performances across the board - and I've never really liked Dennis Quaid.

    1. If it makes you feel any better, I give her much more credit NOW for being such a badass in The Avengers :) Seriously though, I don't want to dislike her, and I know she's fully capable and hasn't allowed herself to really be typecast, but I haven't seen the ONE performance that really makes me respect her as an actress just yet. She's been in good movies, but she wasn't the reason they were good.

      However, I would put my feelings toward her way above my feelings for Keanu Reeves, whom I've grown to hate by just looking at his stupid ass face. I always keep a suicide hotline number handy while watching his films these days.

    2. I hear that - I don't really respect her all that much as an actress, either, but there's a difference between that and having my default expectation for her be "annoying." ;)

      I really don't get your Keanu hate. If I ever get on your show again, it will be time for the Keanu episode. Which, sadly I think, means I might never be asked back again...

    3. I hereby decree that Dylan Fields of Man, I Love Films is banished from appearing on the Reel Insight Podcast. (I'm not even holding a board meeting for this shit; I'll just do it on my own.)

      I've had to watch a couple more Reeves films because he just happened to share screen time with our next actress. I'm now scared to go back and watch Speed for fear of hating it because of him.

    4. Ha! I was just thinking we should decree he joins us for our empty episode. I guess that's why we work. However, sorry Dylan, she said it first.

    5. It was a risk I chose to take!


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