In this episode, I explore Todd Haynes’s 2002 film, “Far From Heaven.” It’s an homage to 1950s melodramas and stars Julianne Moore as Cathy Whitaker, a Connecticut housewife who develops a deep connection to her African American gardener (Dennis Haysbert) while her marriage starts to crumble when her husband (Dennis Quaid) starts struggling with his repressed homosexuality. I talk about melodrama, woman’s films, Douglas Sirk, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, how the film looks at race, sexuality, and gender, and much more! Spoilers are in this episode.
In this episode, I talk about Todd Haynes’s 1995 film, “Safe.” It stars Julianne Moore in her first collaboration with Haynes. Moore plays Carol White, a California housewife who comes down with a mysterious illness that could be a result of the chemicals and toxins in the environment. When her doctor and mainstream medicine offer her no help, she seeks relief and answers at a New Age treatment center called Wrenwood that espouses individualist self-help ideas. I talk about my own struggle with chronic health issues, how women are often not believed by doctors, why the film remains so relevant to the modern world we live in, and I also critique self-help messages.
In this episode, I talk about the mysterious power and beauty of Jane Campion’s 1993 film, “The Piano.” It stars Holly Hunter as Ada McGrath, a Scottish woman who goes to New Zealand with her daughter, Flora, for an arranged marriage to Alisdair Stewart. Their marriage is troubled from the start, and Ada ends up falling for George Baines. I share my memories of watching the film for the first time and talk about themes of muteness, violence against women, and the complicated relationship between Ada and Baines.
In this episode, I talk about Maïwenn’s “My King,” a raw and intense film that stars Emmanuelle Bercot as a woman struggling to heal her body and mind in the wake of a toxic and destructive relationship. I discuss how the film looks at emotional abuse, shows a woman reconstructing herself, and questions culturally-held beliefs about love. At the beginning of the episode, I also talk about how Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film, “Stalker,” recently helped me through a difficult time.
In this episode, I talk about Peter Webber’s 2003 film “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” It’s an adaptation of the 1999 Tracy Chevalier novel by the same name, which imagines how Johannes Vermeer’s 17th century painting, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” came to be. It’s 1665 in Delft, Holland and a young girl named Griet goes to work at the home of the Vermeers to provide for her family after her father is injured at work. She enters a home rocked by domestic and financial instability. When Vermeer starts to paint Griet to appease his lecherous patron, more drama ensues as Vermeer’s wife becomes jealous and the attraction between Vermeer and Griet intensifies. I discuss the profound impact that both the book and the film had on my life because it sparked my deeper engagement with art. For this episode, I talk about Johannes Vermeer’s life and art, and I explain why I think the film is so powerful in the way that it centers the life of a teenage girl who is a maid, explores the difficulties of women’s lives in the 17th century, and shows the power of art to expand and enrich our minds.
In this episode, I talk about Pete Travis’s dreamy 2015 film, “The Go-Between,” produced by the BBC, based on the classic L.P. Hartley novel of the same name, and starring Jim Broadbent, Vanessa Redgrave, and Lesley Manville. It focuses on a 12-year-old boy named Leo Colston who, in the summer of 1900 in England, goes to stay at the opulent estate of his friend, Marcus Maudsley. During his time there, Leo becomes the messenger, or go-between, for Marcus’s sister, Marian, and her secret lover, Ted Burgess. After the summer, none of their lives will ever be the same and Leo will be forever haunted by what he experienced. I talk about class, nostalgia, loss of innocence, and the devastating wounds of childhood. At the beginning of the episode, I also discuss how cinema has helped me cope with trauma. This episode contains spoilers.
In this episode, I talk about Patricia Cardoso’s feminist coming-of-age classic, “Real Women Have Curves” (2002). I discuss body image, factory work, the exploitation of immigrant labor, and the profoundly political and radical messages in the film. At the beginning of the episode, I also talk about recently re-watching Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “The Double Life of Veronique” (1991).
In this episode, I talk about Nancy Savoca’s beautiful 1991 coming-of-age film, “Dogfight.” It stars River Phoenix and Lili Taylor as Eddie Birdlace and Rose Fenny, two teens who connect in 1963 in San Francisco, just before the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the escalation of the Vietnam War. It’s the night before Eddie is to be sent over to Vietnam and he and his marine buddies are holding a dogfight, which is a party where men invite the ugliest women they can find and the one with the most unattractive date wins a cash reward. Eddie invites Rose, but, although their initial meeting doesn’t go well, over the course of the film these two very different people gradually develop a profound connection. In my discussion, I talk about the politics of ugliness and beauty standards, the damage of toxic masculinity, and provide information on the making of the film. This episode contains spoilers.
In this episode, I interview director Leon Lee on his latest documentary, “Letter from Masanjia.” In 2012, a story in The Oregonion went viral. A woman named Julie Keith had opened a box of Halloween decorations from KMart and discovered an SOS letter written by Sun Yi, a man imprisoned and tortured in a Chinese labor camp for engaging in the spiritual practice of Falun Gong. Keith publicized the letter, and the international attention eventually led to the abolishment of these labor camps and freed many people in the process. I talk to Lee about Sun Yi’s story, how the documentary was made, and the larger issues it raises about the source of cheap goods, the persecution of minorities, and the power of small actions. Go to http://www.letterfrommasanjia.com for more information on the film and the steps you can take to make a difference.
In this episode, I explore François Ozon’s mysterious and emotionally devastating 2000 film “Under the Sand,” starring Charlotte Rampling as Marie Drillon, a woman whose husband, Jean, unexpectedly disappears during a vacation on the beach. The film is about Marie’s struggle to come to terms with the loss of Jean. I talk about the complex career of Rampling, why her performance is so powerful, and why I personally connect to this film because of its look at loss and death.