Episodes
Pulitzer-winning playwright Annie Baker’s filmmaking debut JANET PLANET is sort of a dual coming-of-age story, centering a young girl’s fascination with her single mother who is still figuring out her own place in the world. But it also resists broad statements and neat conclusions, giving us space to unpack our own interpretations of the emotional depths that lie beneath the film’s quiet exterior. Then we bring Lukas Moodysson’s TOGETHER back into the discussion to compare its non-judgmental...
Published 07/16/24
Published 07/16/24
The new JANET PLANET follows a young girl who comes to see the world differently thanks to a succession of people her hippyish single mother brings into their lives, and more specifically into the home they share. Its sense of the fraught sense of intimacy that accompanies cohabitation by family members and lovers brought to mind Lukas Moodysson’s TOGETHER, another film that’s interested in how its characters’ progressive politics overlap and even interfere with their family dynamics. This...
Published 07/09/24
When thinking of a film to pair with INSIDE OUT 2, we purposefully avoided the new Pixar sequel’s 2015 original because the two are so of a piece, delving into the contrasts between them seemed too much like nitpicking. Still, we attempt to make fruitful discussion out of those nitpicks in this week’s conversation about the new film, and perhaps even change one panelist’s opinion of it in the process. Then we bring in the film we actually chose for this pairing, 2012’s BRAVE, which we all...
Published 07/02/24
INSIDE OUT 2 is quite literally built around the emotional experience of being a young girl, but it wasn’t too long ago that this was uncharted territory for Pixar. That’s why rather than comparing the animation studio’s latest sequel to the original, we’re reaching a little further back in the filmography to revisit its first attempt to tell a story about a teenager trying to define her own identity: 2012's BRAVE. Representing some big firsts for Pixar, BRAVE had a fair amount of baggage and...
Published 06/25/24
The new FURIOSA functions as both a prequel and a sequel within the larger mythology of the MAD MAX franchise, and we’re looking at it from both of those angles this week. First, we talk over why George Miller’s latest might have flopped at the box office (prequel fatigue) and why it feels poised to overcome that reputation in due time (it is the rare good prequel). Then we zoom out to bring 1979’s original MAX MAX back into the picture and consider this franchise’s ongoing interest in themes...
Published 06/18/24
There’s a lot of narrative road between 1979’s MAD MAX and the new FURIOSA, but in pursuing George Miller’s decades-spanning franchise back to its starting line, we uncover a lot about what fuels this saga beyond the big, loud cars. For example, there are also big, loud motorcycles. But more importantly, there’s a healthy skepticism toward revenge as motivation, an interest in messianic leaders and hyper-verbal antagonists, and an efficient approach to world-building that prizes the visceral...
Published 06/11/24
Jane Schoenburn’s I SAW THE TV GLOW is a film whose cultural reference points tend to take the form of vibes more than direct nods. But the writer-director's stated inspiration point in DONNIE DARKO can be seen on both the surface — the  recent-past suburban setting, the teenage outcasts struggling to relate to the world around them — and on a deeper level in the protagonists’ slippery grips on reality and their own identity. In the case of I SAW THE TV GLOW, that takes the shape of a trans...
Published 06/04/24
The horror-inflected suburban setting of the new I SAW THE TV GLOW — not to mention writer-director Jane Schoenbrun’s own comments on their inspiration — put us in mind of Richard Kelly’s 2001 cult classic DONNIE DARKO, which also follows a teen protagonist struggling to maintain their grip on reality. We’re joined once again by writer, critic, and friend of the show Emily St. James to discuss how our relationships to both that teen protagonist and the movie named for him have shifted over...
Published 05/28/24
Like the first film in this pairing, Richard Rush’s 1980 oddity THE STUNT MAN, David Leitch’s new THE FALL GUY utilizes the chaos of a film set as the cover for a crime, not to mention the inspiration for both romance and comedy. THE FALL GUY is a bit more straightforward in its crowd-pleasing intentions, though, to both its benefit and detriment, which we talk through in sharing our reactions to the new film. Then we bring THE STUNT MAN back in to compare its overlapping but distinct ideas...
Published 05/21/24
While there are countless movies featuring the work of stunt performers, movies that center the experiences of those performers are much more rare, which is part of what motivated former stunt performer David Leitch to make the new THE FALL GUY. One of the standouts on that short list is Richard Rush’s 1980 genre oddity THE STUNT MAN, which uses the experience of its accidental-stuntie protagonist to blur the lines between post-Vietnam reality and moviemaking fantasy in fascinating, sometimes...
Published 05/14/24
Justin Kuritzkes, who wrote the screenplay for Luca Guadagnino’s new CHALLENGERS, cites Alfonso Cuarón's coming-of-age classic Y TU MAMÁ TAMBIÉN as a longtime favorite, so it’s unsurprising to see that film’s DNA in this one. CHALLENGERS is far from a remake, though, operating in a very different milieu with very different narrative priorities, both which we discuss along with our generally-positive-to-rapturous reactions to it. Then in Connections we press these two movies’ faces together...
Published 05/07/24
The new CHALLENGERS is a sports drama the same way Alfonso Cuarón’s Y TU MAMÁ TAMBIÉN is a road movie: secondarily, as both films tend to be associated first with their respective sexy love triangles, each with a woman at its center. That shared character dynamic results in a lot of connections between the two films, which we’ll cover in the next episode, but this week we’re focusing on all the other elements that distinguish Y TU MAMÁ TAMBIÉN, from the way its narration forces us to consider...
Published 04/30/24
The strain of cynicism that characterizes so much of Alex Garland’s filmography is at its most pronounced in his latest, CIVIL WAR. But paired with Garland’s 2002 debut as a screenwriter, Danny Boyle’s 28 DAYS LATER, an interesting counterpoint emerges in their shared acknowledgement, even hope, that humanity could perhaps find a path forward through catastrophe. So after spending some time wallowing in the muck of CIVIL WAR’s muddy politics and unsettling violence, we examine that mutual...
Published 04/23/24
The new CIVIL WAR is the latest in a line of speculative scenarios that Alex Garland has pondered over the course of his career as a novelist-turned-filmmaker, but its journey through a country transformed by violent catastrophe is most reminiscent of his first project as a screenwriter, Danny Boyle’s zombie-adjacent horror film 28 DAYS LATER. So before digging into Garland’s vision of an apocalyptic near-future United States, we’re revisiting his vision of the apocalyptic England of 2002 to...
Published 04/16/24
What does a powerless gofer in 2020s Romania have in common with a powerful studio executive in 1990s Hollywood? Radu Jude’s new DO NOT EXPECT TO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD may concern a very different type of moviemaking than that in Robert Altman’s satire THE PLAYER, but it takes a similarly cynical — and humorous — stance on the compromises involved in commercialized art. That’s the main connection that inspired returning guest Katie Rife to suggest this pairing to us, but there’s much...
Published 04/09/24
Romanian director Radu Jude’s new DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD is set in Bucharest, not Hollywood, but its cynicism about the act of capturing something on film nonetheless put us in mind of Robert Altman’s 1992 industry satire THE PLAYER. We’re joined by returning guest Katie Rife to discuss these two very different yet complementary movies about moviemaking, beginning with THE PLAYER’s caustically meta take on the Hollywood grind during a transitional moment for studio...
Published 04/02/24
Like the Wachowskis’ BOUND before it, Rose Glass’ new lesbian crime thriller LOVE LIES BLEEDING is playing with the tropes of noir and pulp, but it is also very much a love story between women who are trapped by their pasts and see in each other a way out. This week we’re joined once again by writer and friend of the show Emily St. James to talk through the unique, memorable way in which LOVE LIES BLEEDING balances those elements and tones, before bringing BOUND back into the discussion to...
Published 03/26/24
Rose Glass’ new lesbian crime thriller LOVE LIES BLEEDING takes the neo-noir in a bold and unexpected direction, one that the Wachowskis first pointed the genre toward in 1996 with BOUND. While the sisters’ stylish debut first premiered amid a wave of “sexy thrillers,” it exists today in a significantly different context. We get into that shift this week with the help of returning guest Emily St. James, to discuss how BOUND subverts, even transcends, viewer expectations of noir, gender roles,...
Published 03/19/24
Is box-office disappointment DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS destined for the sort of belated appreciation eventually received by the Coen Brothers’ sophomore feature, 1987’s RAISING ARIZONA? That’s up for debate in our discussion of Ethan Coen’s latest comedy collaboration, this time with his wife Tricia Cooke, a crime caper in theory that acts more like a sex romp in practice. Nonetheless, we consider how certain Coen crime signatures — ill-considered schemes executed by duos who are the opposite of pros,...
Published 03/12/24
While DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS is technically the first narrative feature for which Ethan Coen has taken a solo directing credit, in practice the new comedy is as much a collaboration, here with his wife and co-screenwriter Tricia Cooke, as the films he made with brother Joel before their current hiatus. So in honor of Coen’s commitment to collaborative comedy, we’re revisiting 1987’s RAISING ARIZONA, the film that established the brothers’ comedic voice following their neo-noir debut BLOOD SIMPLE,...
Published 03/05/24
Molly Manning Walker’s debut feature HOW TO HAVE SEX takes place more than six decades after 1960’s WHERE THE BOYS ARE, but as our discussion of the two films illuminates, frustratingly little has changed in that time when it comes to the blurred lines around consent, particularly in situations involving teenagers, alcohol, and social pressure around sex. We’re joined once again by Marya E. Gates to discuss HOW TO HAVE SEX’s deft navigation of that context before bringing WHERE THE BOYS ARE...
Published 02/27/24
The new British coming-of-age film HOW TO HAVE SEX follows a group of girlfriends on a post-exam holiday into an environment where peer pressure, alcohol, and coercion can erode the boundaries of consent. But these problems aren’t unique to the film’s contemporary setting, as we’ll see in this week’s companion film, the seemingly frivolous 1960 spring break romp WHERE THE BOYS ARE. Special guest Marya Gates brings us some historical context about the film’s place in the continuum of “beach...
Published 02/20/24
A road trip through a chilly New England winter represents only one section of Alexander Payne’s THE HOLDOVERS, but the film’s overlap with Hal Ashby’s THE LAST DETAIL goes beyond that narrative echo. As in Ashby’s 1973 film, one of the examples of 1970s cinema Payne drew on for the look and feel of THE HOLDOVERS, a central triumvirate of two adults and their younger charge have a funny but imperfect bonding experience that avoids simplistic found-family conclusions. We talk through the ways...
Published 02/13/24
Alexander Payne has cited Hal Ashby’s THE LAST DETAIL as one of several 1970s movies informing the look and feel of THE HOLDOVERS, but there’s narrative resonance there as well, particularly in the films’ central threesomes: two disaffected older adults and their troubled teenage charge, each navigating a chilly East Coast winter, a road trip, and a series of disappointments and discoveries. We begin this week by focusing on THE LAST DETAIL’s trio of military-prison-bound sailors: what...
Published 02/06/24