Tag Archives: michael ian black

Black On Stallone

Only a few short weeks ago, you were living in blissful ignorance. You had no idea that you needed comedian, writer and actor Michael Ian Black talking the films of Sylvester Stallone. But now that you know such a thing exists, you can’t go on without it in your life. Smash that subscribe button, people.

With Rochelle now firmly embedded as Hi4H co-host, we kick off this episode with Rochelle and Lee looking back at some of the key films of this month. These include Darren Aronofsky’s divisive mother!, comic book sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the Stephen King adaptation It, and Australian comedy That’s Not Me.

Lee then ducks off to Skype to chat with Michael Ian Black about the films of Sylvester Stallone! Michael’s reasons for picking Stallone, and his interpretation of what Sly’s films are really about, is a must-listen. Whether you rate Stallone or dismiss him, chances are you’re going to come away from this episode with a new appreciation of the Italian Stallion.

Here’s that Stallone cameo in Staying Alive we mention in the show. What exactly is going on here?

Further reading:

  • You can google all the various mother! interpretations, but Darren Aronofsky’s own take on what the film means can be read here. And an interesting rebuttal from The New Yorker’s Richard Brody can be read here.
  • And speaking of mother!, one thing Lee got massively wrong was citing Rachel Weisz as being the woman in the opening. A number of people had seemingly confirmed this as being fact, but it turns out the first face we see belongs to Canadian actress Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse. Which pretty much destroys the whole theory that spun out from that assumption.
  • If you’d like to know more about that scene we mention from It – the one in the book that does not appear in the film – there’s a good rundown of it all here.
  • Michael briefly mentions Stallone starring in a softcore porn film. That would be the 1970’s The Party At Kitty and Stud’s (later renamed Italian Stallion to cash in on Stallone’s stardom), and the story behind the film is outlined in this piece.
  • More details on the Godfather Part III film that Paramount wanted Stallone to write, direct and star in can be found here.
  • And here’s this great in-depth interview with Stallone during the promotion of the 2015 Rocky spinoff Creed, looking back at the origins of the series and of Stallone’s career in general.

Outro music: “Eye of the Tiger”, written by Frankie Sullivan & Jim Peterik and performed by Survivor, from Rocky III (1982)

The latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Michael Ian Black talking the films of Sylvester Stallone, can be heard on Stitcher Smart Radio, subscribed to on iTunes, or downloaded/streamed directly from our website.

From Atlanta, GA to Melbourne, VIC.

Hell Is For Hyphenates – September 2017

Michael Ian Black joins us to talk the films of Sylvester Stallone!

We kick off this month by looking back at some of the key new releases, including Darren Aronofsky’s allegorical and grammatically-troubled mother! (00:50), Matthew Vaughan’s action sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle (05:49), Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of the Stephen King classic It (09:32), and the popular Australian indie comedy That’s Not Me (13:57).

Lee then talks with this month’s guest, actor and writer Michael Ian Black (Wet Hot American SummerEdThis Is 40Another Period), to look at the films of writer/director/actor Sylvester Stallone. Stallone’s reputation as a muscle-bound 1980s action hero belies his work behind the camera, with a filmography that’s far more complex and thoughtful than he is often credited with. Michael takes us through this varied and fascinating career, and reveals his theory on what Sly’s films are really about (17:16).

Rochelle then rejoins the show to wrap up the episode and give her thoughts on Stallone’s filmography and the discussion with Michael. (55:16)

The Sylvester Stallone Cheat Sheet

Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double feature that will not only make for a great evening’s viewing, but will bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode lands…

ROCKY II (1979) and ROCKY BALBOA (2006)

If you’ve never seen a Rocky film, this double still works surprisingly well in isolation. Rocky II, like nearly all the Rocky films, kicks off with a Previously On montage, so you get a good idea of what you missed in the previous film. Stallone wrote all the Rocky films, but II was his first entry in the franchise as director, and he doesn’t venture too far from the style that John G Avildsen established in the original. There are some differences, and these differences highlight Stallone’s interests: he’s clearly influenced by vérité of New Hollywood, and yet these are still films about ordinary people becoming extraordinary. Throughout the big fight, Stallone lowers the camera so the fighters go from humans to heroes, towering above us. It’s deft work from Stallone so early in his career. When you’re done with Rocky II, put on Rocky Balboa. This was the big comeback for both Stallone and his character, 16 years after the series had seemingly wrapped up. For a film that’s all about a boxer from the ’70s coming up against a boxer in the ’00s, it has the feel of a director from the ’70s trying to hold onto what worked once before in a Hollywood that’s long-since moved on to greener pastures. But the film works; Rocky’s still got it, and so does Stallone.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen Rocky II, check out Paradise Alley (1978). This was the first film Stallone ever wrote, and after the phenomenal success of the first Rocky, he was given the chance to direct it. The story of a low-rent hustler who convinces his brother to become a wrestler so they can make some fast cash is a pretty fascinating entry in the Stallone canon. If you can’t get or have already seen Rocky Balboa, check out Rambo (2008). In a two-year period, Stallone revisited his two most iconic characters with unsentimental postscripts. The lack of Roman numerals suggests that, as with Rocky Balboa, this was designed to be the final entry. There’s not as much solemn introspection in Rambo, but that makes it all the more profound: Rocky’s world may be long gone, but John Rambo’s remains. The conflicts of the past take on new yet similar guises, and those who try to help are quickly forgotten. But most importantly, it’s crazy violent yo!

The Hidden Gem: Want to see something off the beaten path, a title rarely mentioned when people talk about the films of Sylvester Stallone? Then you should probably check out Staying Alive (1983). Chances are you’ve forgotten that Stallone directed the sequel to Saturday Night Fever (1977) – yeah, the BeeGees film with John Travolta – because it’s one of those facts that seems impossible to grasp onto, regardless of how many times you’ve heard it or even seen the film itself. But it happened. And if you want to see Stallone directing something that doesn’t involve high-stakes combat sports or the graphic shooting of faceless bad guys, this is something you really need to see.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Michael Ian Black talking the films of Sylvester Stallone, will be released on 30 September 2017.

Our Next Hyphenate Michael Ian Black

Actor, comedian, writer and Hi4H September 2017 guest host Michael Ian Black

Going on both merit and popularity, Michael Ian Black ranks high above the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, motion-induced blindness, the chemical methylisoborneol and the second Men In Black film, as one of our greatest ever MIBs. Top three, easy.

He wrote and starred in the long-running sketch comedy show The State; he played the entrepreneurial bowling alley employee Phil Stubbs in the hit sitcom Ed; he was – and is – McKinley in the cult film Wet Hot American Summer (2001) and its recent Netflix prequel and sequel series.

You’ll also have seen him in films such as This Is 40 (2012) and They Came Together (2014), and in TV shows including Another Period, The Jim Gaffigan Show, Inside Amy Schumer, Maron, Reno 911!, and more besides. With Simon Pegg, he co-wrote the 2008 film Run Fatboy Run. In 2006, he both wrote and directed the 2006 comedy The Pleasure of Your Company (aka Wedding Daze) starring Jason Biggs and Isla Fisher. He’s also a prolific TV presenter, author and comedian, though we’re going to stop now because this bio is getting out of hand.

But of course, you know him best from his upcoming role of a lifetime: this month’s guest host of Hell Is For Hyphenates!

So which filmmaker has he chosen to talk about on the show?

Cue Bill Conti’s Gonna Fly Now and run up those Philly Museum of Art steps, because it’s none other than Sylvester Stallone!

We all know the Stallone origin story: he was an aspiring actor who took matters into his own hands and wrote himself the role of a lifetime with 1976’s Rocky.

Rocky made him an instant star, but Stallone continued to work behind the scenes, writing numerous films and directing many of them: he debuted as director with Paradise Alley (1978), directed four out of the six Rocky films, made the Saturday Night Fever sequel Staying Alive (1983), directed 2008’s Rambo, and launched a new franchise with 2010’s The Expendables.

So what is it about Stallone the Filmmaker that so appeals to Michael? Join us on September 30 when we find out!

Be sure to subscribe now so you don’t miss the episode. Find us on iTunes, Stitcher Smart Radio, or whichever platform on which you prefer to listen to podcasts, except for the ones we’re not on.

Our next filmmaker of the month, Sylvester Stallone