Movies vs. Capitalism

Movies vs. Capitalism

A movie-rewatch podcast that explores the politics of your favorite films through an anti-capitalist lens. Each episode, hosts Rivka Rivera and Frank Cappello are joined by a special guest for an irreverent yet critical discussion about a film and how it’s *obviously* a scathing indictment of late-stage capitalism. Fight Club? That’s about the degradation of modern consumerism. Office Space? A stark depiction of worker alienation. Antz? An animated kids movie about the military-industrial complex. Movies vs. Capitalism examines the crucial intersection between pop culture and politics — an anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-patriarchal, anti-heteronormative, anti-imperialist analysis of your favorite talking pictures. It’s a middle finger to our rotting institutions and ruling-class proprietors who are slowly driving the human race into extinction. But, like, in a fun way ;)


October 3, 2023 69 mins

Rivka and Frank are joined by Matthew Donovan — founder of The Future Left and co-host of the Neoliberal Hell podcast — to discuss Michael Cimino’s epic and controversial 1980 Western Heaven’s Gate

The group unpacks the film’s depiction of law enforcement aligning itself with property owners in order to violently eradicate the immigrant underclass. They also discuss the film’s infamous and problematic production, and ...

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Rivka and Frank are joined by Jon Shelton, professor of democracy and justice studies at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, for a deep dive on the 1985 classic Back to the Future

In today’s episode, the MVC group discusses the film’s focus on hyper-individualism as it relates to economic mobility. They also critique the character of Doc Brown for his reckless “Silicon Valley-esque” scientific approach, and unpack the ...

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September 5, 2023 97 mins

Rivka and Frank are joined by labor historian Harvey Kaye to discuss the classic 1940 film The Grapes of Wrath

The group discusses how today’s climate crisis bears frightening parallels to the Great Depression’s Dust Bowl, both man-made environmental and economic disasters. They also explore how the film offers a sharp portrayal of bankers and law enforcement, class consciousness and proletarian revolution, and remain...

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August 29, 2023 67 mins

Rivka and Frank are joined by Lever senior editor and reporter Andrew Perez to discuss the existential dread of Paul Schrader’s 2017 climate change drama First Reformed

The group discusses the film’s masterful storytelling and performances, how its fictional villain is a perfect stand-in for real-world villains like Koch Industries, and its gripping portrayal of violent radicalization. 

A rough transcript of the episode is...

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August 22, 2023 90 mins

Rivka and Frank are joined by the host of the Cocktails and Capitalism podcast, Dr. Erika Okamoto, for a deep-dive conversation about James Cameron’s 1997 global smash hit Titanic

The group draws parallels between today’s ecological crisis and the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic, in which a person’s societal rank became a literal death sentence for more than 1,500 travelers and crew members. They also dig into the interna...

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August 15, 2023 65 mins

Rivka and Frank are joined by comedian and podcaster Jamel Johnson to break down the 1983 Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd comedy Trading Places

The team digs into the “nature vs. nurture” debate explored in the film. They also praise the film’s satirical depiction of the crusty upper class, while pointing out the film’s problematic racism and sexism. Finally, Jamel attributes the rise of neoliberalism in the 1980s in par...

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August 8, 2023 60 mins

Rivka and Frank are joined by former Ohio state senator and congressional candidate Nina Turner for a heartfelt discussion about the Denzel Washington health insurance drama John Q

John Q is the story of father and husband John Quincy Archibald who holds an emergency room hostage after learning his health insurance won’t cover his young son’s heart transplant. Even though the film was made in 2002, its message and themes ...

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August 1, 2023 74 mins

Rivka and Frank are joined by filmmaker Jessie Kahnweiler for an off-the-walls discussion of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie

The group unpacks the cultural phenomenon and how its overall message is emblematic of “plastic feminism.” They offer their conflicting feelings about the film’s success: how it is both a win for female filmmakers and an even bigger win for the toy company, Mattel. Jessie also talks about her experience being...

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July 25, 2023 73 mins

Rivka and Frank are joined by TV writer and producer Mike Benner to discuss the classic action movie Robocop

The group discusses how the film’s evil corporation, Omni Consumer Products, serves as a perfect stand-in for consolidated corporate power and greed. They also unpack Verhoeven’s depiction of homoerotic male aggression as a metaphor for capitalist competition, and how the titular character of Robocop has been misap...

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Rivka and Frank are joined by Lever reporter Matthew Cunningham-Cook for an educational (and terrifying) conversation about Stanley Kubrick’s satirical masterpiece Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

The group unpacks the historical parallels between Dr. Strangelove and what actually transpired during the Cold War. Matthew explains how one of the film’s main characters, Brigadier General J...

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Rivka and Frank are joined by Devon Young, organizer and founder of the performance venue Little Secret LA, for a mind-altering conversation about the 2000s stoner comedy Dude, Where’s My Car?

The group discusses the concept of “male amnesia” and how the film’s protagonists, Jesse and Chester, progress through their bizarre adventure as unbiased lumps of clay. While the film remains immensely offensive upon a rewatc...

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July 4, 2023 78 mins

Rivka and Frank are joined by musician, writer, and This Is Revolution podcast host Jason Myles. Jason joins the MVC team for a discussion about the 1984 military drama, A Soldier’s Story, which depicts a racially motivated murder at a Louisiana Army base during World War II. 

The group unpacks how the film (based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play A Soldier’s Play) presents the complex perspectives of the Black community o...

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June 27, 2023 74 mins

Rivka and Frank are joined by comedy writer and podcaster Andrew Ti for an insightful discussion about the 1997 Nickelodeon original movie Good Burger.

The group digs into Good Burger’s central theme of “good capitalism” versus “bad capitalism,” and how the film propagates the myth that some businesses are “nicer” than others. They also unpack the bizarre racial dynamics of a kids movie written by middle-aged white men,...

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June 20, 2023 91 mins

As we celebrate Pride month, Rivka and Frank are joined by actor, director, and educator Wren Mack for a deep-dive conversation about Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s sci-fi masterpiece The Matrix, which has become a meaningful film for the LGBTQ community since its release in 1999. 

The MVC group discusses how The Matrix has been misappropriated by online right-wingers who believe they’ve been “red-pilled,” while completely misu...

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Rivka and Frank are joined by David Sirota to break down the series finale of HBO’s Succession

When it comes to satirizing corporate media and the billionaire oligarchs who run it, no TV series has done it as effectively as Succession. Its depiction of the dysfunctional ultra-wealthy is at times hilarious but also terrifying, sheerly due to the immense power they wield. Now that the show has ended, will it be entered into...

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May 23, 2023 69 mins

Rivka and Frank are joined by political commentator Jessica Burbank to discuss Bong Joon-Ho’s 2019 masterpiece Parasite

The group digs into the themes of class relations, failed solidarity, and elitism that run through the film’s complicated social dynamics. They also break down how the film uses “the smell” as a perfect metaphor for working class disdain, why being stinky in real life is actually a good thing, and how th...

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May 16, 2023 78 mins

Rivka and Frank are joined by filmmaker and activist Robin Johnson to discuss Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s deranged rom-com classic You’ve Got Mail.

The group argues that the movie’s plot is essentially a pro-capitalist psychological thriller about a woman who is manipulated and subdued by her corporate oppressor. The film is emblematic of 90s white liberalism that uses racially coded language and casually jokes about falling ...

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May 9, 2023 76 mins

Rivka and Frank talk with Evan from Left of the Projector, a podcast that explores film with a leftist perspective, to discuss the Wachowskis’ 2005 graphic novel adaptation V for Vendetta

The group discusses the film’s depiction of revolutionary organizing, asking questions like: How is V able to take down the English government all by himself? From where does he get all of his supplies? How did he inspire an entire count...

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May 2, 2023 88 mins

This week, historian Harvey Kaye joins the show for a boisterous discussion of the 1992 live-action musical Newsies. The group questions how it was possible for a major corporate studio like Disney to produce a movie about labor organizing in which police literally punch children in the face. They unpack how the film’s two main characters represent the dichotomy between labor “activists” and “intellectuals.” And Harvey reg...

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April 25, 2023 76 mins

Rivka and Frank are joined by The Lever’s social media manager Jordan Uhl for a humorous yet critical discussion of David Fincher’s 2010 tour de force The Social Network

The group gets into how the film portrays Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as a sharp-witted outcast, even though the real-life Zuckerberg is best described as, “if vanilla pudding was annoying.” They also break down the film’s misogynistic gender politic...

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