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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Episode 102: Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder (2003)

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In this episode, I talk about Bong Joon-ho’s 2003 film “Memories of Murder.” It’s based on the real-life Hwaseong serial murders that happened in a rural area of South Korea in the 1980s and early 1990s. At the time the film was released, the case was unsolved. However, shortly before recording my episode, major news broke that a suspect had been identified through DNA. I go into this new development and provide information on the original murders. Since the film is based on a true crime story, I discuss my own interest in true crime and focus on the way the film looks at abuses of power and violence against women. Finally, I talk in-depth about the ending. This episode contains spoilers. It also includes discussion of rape, violence, and dark subject matter.

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Episode 101: Roberto Rossellini’s Journey To Italy (1954)

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In this episode, I talk about Roberto Rossellini’s groundbreaking 1954 film, “Journey To Italy.” It stars Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders as Katherine and Alex Joyce, a couple whose relationship starts disintegrating during a vacation in Italy. Katherine is haunted by a man she knew before her marriage to Alex and who was stationed in Italy during World War II. As the distance grows between her and Alex, she visits museums that the man wrote about in his poetry. In her wanderings, she confronts death and the enormity of ancient history. “Journey To Italy” has haunted me for years. In this episode, I articulate why it’s so compelling to me and discuss themes like time, history, mortality, death, and much more.

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Episode 100: Vittorio De Sica’s Umberto D. (1952)

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In this episode, I talk about Vittorio De Sica’s classic 1952 Italian Neorealist film, “Umberto D.” It’s about an elderly man trying to evade eviction against the backdrop of post-World War II Italy. As his life becomes more precarious and desperate, he clings to his only companion, his dog Flike, and struggles to survive. I talk about Italian Neorealism, why this film moves me so much, and more. At the beginning of the episode, I also reflect on this being my 100th episode! I’m thankful for all my listeners.

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Episode 99: Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy (2008)

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In this episode, I talk about Kelly Reichardt’s 2008 film, “Wendy and Lucy.” It stars Michelle Williams as Wendy Carroll, a young woman stopping in Oregon on her way to Alaska when her car dies and she ends up losing her dog, Lucy. Much of the film revolves around her desperate search for Lucy and her interactions with various people who either show a bit of kindness or cruelty. Released at the beginning of the Great Recession, the film resonates more than a decade later in the way it looks at financial instability, the struggles of the working class, and the precarious nature of our lives. One bit of bad luck–her car breaking down–sends Wendy’s life into a kind of tailspin that she tries to get out of with very few resources. I talk about many things in this episode, including the bonds we form with pets, our responsibility to other people, the making of the film, and much more! There are spoilers.

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