Episode 112: Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955)

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In this episode, I talk about Charles Laughton’s 1955 film “The Night of the Hunter.” It’s about two young children–John and Pearl–who are pursued by a dangerous man on the hunt for the money their father stole and gave to them. This is a classic film and a masterpiece and one of the most terrifying films I’ve ever seen. I provide some information about the making of the film and explore how it looks at evil, male violence, religion, and much more. There are spoilers in this episode. 

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Episode 111: Theo Angelopoulos’s Landscape in the Mist (1988)

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In this episode, I talk about Theo Angelopoulos’s 1988 film, “Landscape in the Mist.” This film follows a brother and sister–Alexandros and Voula–who leave their home in Greece and go on a journey to find their father in Germany. They’ve never met him and they long to have a connection with him. Over the course of their journey, they will see both the best and the worst that humanity has to offer. I talk about Angelopoulos and his cinema and provide an in-depth analysis of the film, exploring subjects like loss of innocence and loneliness. For listeners in the United States, this film is probably hard to find.  It’s not readily available right now but I hope one day that it is. There are spoilers in this episode. In the film, there is also a rape scene and a scene of an animal dying. I know those subjects might be upsetting for some people.  Even if you have not seen this film, I urge you to at least listen to my section on Angelopoulos and how I discovered this film.

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Episode 110: Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le silence de la mer (1949)

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In this episode, I talk about Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1949 film “Le silence de la mer.” It’s set in France in 1941 at the time of the Second World War. The Germans are occupying France, and a German soldier stays with a niece and her uncle who use their silence as a form of resistance against him. Every night, he comes to them and talks about his life, his interests, his love of France, and many other subjects, but they refuse to acknowledge him or speak to him. Over the course of the film, their feelings for him start to get more complicated. He is an occupier in their country and in their house but the intimacy of their meetings also humanizes him. This is not Melville’s most famous film but it’s one that I think is profoundly important because of the way it asks us to expand our ideas about what constitutes resistance and how we interact with those who we’re supposed to see as monstrous or as the enemy. I talk about Melville’s life, the making of the film, and much more. There are spoilers in this episode.

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Episode 109: Jean Vigo’s L’atalante (1934)

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In this episode, I talk about Jean Vigo’s wondrous and magical 1934 film, “L’atalante”. On the surface, it’s the simple story of Jean and Juliette,  newlyweds who begin their life together on the boat where Jean lives and works. When things get boring and monotonous, Juliette begins dreaming of Paris and, when the boat stops near it, she wanders off to explore the city by herself, leaving Jean behind. This separation of the two lovers will test their new and fragile marriage. Jean Vigo is an iconic director who died at the age of 29 and left behind few films but his output continues to influence filmmakers today.  L’atalante is his only feature film and it’s not to be missed. In this episode, I talk about Vigo, the making of the film, and how the film explores romance, marriage, and much more. There are spoilers in this episode.

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Episode 108: Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011)

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In this episode, I talk about Terrence Malick’s 2011 film “The Tree of Life”. This is a monumental and important film in my life. It’s hard to describe what it’s about because it’s really about everything–the cosmos, childhood, death, life, nature,  and loss. The film is anchored by its focus on one family in 1950s Texas that is later rocked by unimaginable loss but added to this story is a collage of images that capture something as massive as the birth of the world and something as small as a child taking his first steps. Malick takes us all the way back to the time of the dinosaurs and transports us to what eternity or heaven might look like. I consider this  to be the greatest film of the 21st century so far. I make my case, provide information on the making of the film, and go deeply into everything about this film, sharing my own raw emotions and what the film makes me remember and what it makes me think and feel. This film is part of my soul. That’s the only way I can put it. There are spoilers in this episode.

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Episode 107: Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978)

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In this episode, I talk about Terrence Malick’s 1978 film “Days of Heaven.” Set in 1916, it follows a man named Bill, his sister Linda and his girlfriend Abby. All three are poor and go to the Texas panhandle to harvest wheat on the farm of a rich and mysterious man who, it turns out, is dying. Bill encourages Abby to start a romantic relationship with the man in hopes of getting some of his wealth but the scheme will have disastrous consequences for all of them. I talk in-depth about the making of the film and why it’s haunted me for years. There are spoilers in this episode.

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Episode 106: Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942)

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In this episode, I talk about the 1942 classic, “Casablanca,” directed by Michael Curtiz. Often cited as one of the greatest films ever made, Casablanca is set in 1941 during the Second World War and centers around three people: Rick Blaine, Ilsa Lund, and Victor Laszlo. Ilsa is married to Victor but had an affair with Rick after she believed Victor had been killed in a Nazi concentration camp for his resistance activities. All three are now in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, a temporary place where refugees from Europe go, desperately trying to obtain visas to get to the Americas.  Will Ilsa and Victor get out of Casablanca? Will Rick help them? I talk about the making of the film and how it looks at things like nostalgia, personal sacrifice, and the plight of refugees. This episode is not just about the movie. It’s also about an important film appreciation class that I took when I was in high school in 2004, a class that changed my life forever. There are spoilers in this episode.

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Episode 105: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

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In this episode, I talk about Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s 1952 musical, “Singin’ in the Rain.” Often voted the greatest musical ever made, this effervescent and hilarious film looks at Hollywood’s difficult transition from silent pictures to the talkies. Central to this episode is my focus on a film appreciation class I took in high school in 2004. It changed my life forever. One of the films I watched in that class was “Singin’ in the Rain.” I talk about why I fell in love with it and why I think it’s such a wonderful film.

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Episode 104: Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (2005)

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In this episode, I talk about Ang Lee’s 2005 film, “Brokeback Mountain.” It’s a grand love story about two cowboys–Ennis and Jack–who fall in love in 1960s Wyoming. Their romance spans decades but, because of homophobia, they’re never able to fully be together. I consider this a modern classic and one of the greatest love stories of all time. I talk about how the film was made, why it moves me so deeply, and much more.

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Episode 103: Catherine Corsini’s Summertime (aka La Belle Saison) (2015)

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In this episode, I talk about Catherine Corsini’s glorious 2015 film “Summertime” (aka “La Belle Saison”). Two women–Carole and Delphine–fall in love against the backdrop of the burgeoning women’s movement in 1970s France. I discuss French feminism, the way Corsini represents lesbian love and desire, and much more.

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