In this episode, I talk about Ingmar Bergman’s devastating 1978 film, “Autumn Sonata.” It’s an unforgettable portrait of a mother/daughter relationship that is toxic and damaging. It was Ingmar’s only collaboration with Ingrid Bergman. Their working relationship was difficult at times, but there is no denying that both she and Liv Ullmann give powerhouse performances.
In this episode, I explore Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 classic, “Wild Strawberries,” in which an elderly man remembers moments from his past and struggles to connect with the people in his life. The film helped to catapult Bergman to worldwide fame and is one of his most enduring films. While I do provide an in-depth analysis of the film, I also discuss how it brought up my own childhood memories and made me reflect on my painful loneliness, alienation, and disconnection.
In this episode, I try something new by talking about the first two episodes of the HBO limited series, “Sharp Objects.” This is more than just an episode recap. It’s a personal exploration of the ways in which the show represents memory, trauma, mental illness, and complicated women characters. I discuss why I can’t get the show out of my system and why I felt the need to talk about it. I will cover this series as it unfolds on HBO, bringing you an in-depth analysis every two weeks that will cover the last two episodes of the show.
In this episode, I talk about Ingmar Bergman’s 1951 film “Summer Interlude.” It’s about Marie, a young ballet dancer who receives the diary of a young man with whom she had a passionate love affair in her teens. The diary plunges her back into memories of their brief and tragic romance. I explore themes of love, loss, mourning one’s childhood, how we build up walls to keep out pain, and much more.
In this episode, I explore the mystery and power of Jonathan Glazer’s 2004 masterpiece, “Birth.” This is the most important episode I’ve ever produced for the podcast. This is the film that defines me, that I can’t get out of my system, that has haunted me for over a decade. I have never identified so profoundly with a character as I do with the woman in this film. She is Anna (played by Nicole Kidman), a widow who encounters a 10-year-old boy who claims to be the reincarnation of her dead husband, Sean. For me, “Birth” is a film about grief and ghosts and how we can’t always let go of the dead. I talk about my own struggle with grief, how this film is part of my soul, and quote Joan Didion and James Joyce as I chart the emotional impact of this unforgettable movie.
In this episode, I explore Gena Rowlands’s raw and uncompromising performance as Mabel Longhetti in John Cassavetes’s 1974 film, “A Woman Under the Influence.” Mabel is a woman struggling with mental illness and coming apart in the midst of family turmoil. I talk about why Cassavetes’s work was so groundbreaking and provide details about his and Rowlands’s relationship. The heart of the episode is my in-depth analysis of Rowlands’s acting in the film and why I think she gives one of the greatest performances of all time. I also talk about my recent move, my own struggle with mental illness, the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, and I expand on my previous ideas about a Cinema of the Unruly Woman.
In this episode, I explore Michael Haneke’s 2001 film, “The Piano Teacher.” Isabelle Huppert gives one of the greatest acting performances of all time as a masochistic piano teacher who becomes involved with one of her students. If you have not seen this film, I insist that you watch it before listening to this episode. There are spoilers. This episode also contains graphic sexual content.
In this episode, I explore Yasujiro Ozu’s 1949 classic, “Late Spring.” Setsuko Hara stars as 27-year-old Noriko who feels a strong bond with her widower father and prefers to live with him instead of getting married. Worried that he will doom his daughter to an unfulfilling life, Noriko’s father claims that he intends to re-marry and insists that Noriko have a life of her own with a husband. I talk about Ozu’s life, why his directing style is unique, and why this film moves me so deeply. I focus on the relationship between Noriko and her father, and I question why we prioritize romantic love and often do not acknowledge the power of other kinds of love, like that for our parents or our friends.
In this episode, I continue my exploration of films that helped me through my grief after my father died in 2006. “The Lives of Others” is an important film in my life. I have intense memories of watching it for the first time in a theater. It’s about playwright, Georg Dreyman, and his lover, Christa-Maria Sieland, who come under surveillance in 1984 in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). After WWII, Germany was split between West Germany and East Germany, the latter being controlled by the Soviet Union. It was a repressive government that used a secret police known as the Stasi to turn everyday people into informants through threats, interrogation, and violence. I talk about why this film is so important due to its examination of themes like surveillance and how people resist (or don’t resist) under a repressive government.
After my father died in 2006, my mom and I lost ourselves in the films shown at a local discount theater. In this episode, I talk about Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth,” a movie I saw in that theater and one that left a lasting impression on me. This episode is deeply personal. It’s not just about “Pan’s Labyrinth.” It’s also about grief, mental illness, my love of cinema, and much more. It even features an interview with my mom. She’s making her very first appearance on the podcast! We talk about why films were such a comfort to us as we struggled to cope with our grief.