Episode 127: Michael Curtiz’s Mildred Pierce (1945)

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In this episode, I talk about Michael Curtiz’s 1945 film “Mildred Pierce.” Joan Crawford won an Oscar for her performance as the title character, a mother who, in the wake of the end of her marriage, starts her own restaurant business and tries to give a better life to her two daughters–Veda and Kay. But her eldest daughter Veda has an insatiable and destructive desire for material possessions and Mildred will stop at nothing to give Veda all that she wants. This is a magnificent film about motherhood and class mobility. I talk about Joan Crawford’s life, why she fascinates me as an actress, and I also delve into “Mommie Dearest.” As always, there are spoilers in this episode. 

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Episode 126: Mike Newell’s Enchanted April (1991)

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In this episode, I talk about Mike Newell’s 1991 film, “Enchanted April.” It’s about four women in 1920s Britain who rent a castle in the Italian countryside. Their vacation in Italy will forever transform their lives. The much-needed break from ordinary life leads to spiritual rejuvenation, a deep connection to nature, and a powerful bond with each other. There are spoilers in this episode. 

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Episode 125: Audrey Wells’s Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

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In this episode, I talk about Audrey Wells’s 2003 film, “Under the Tuscan Sun.” I’ve loved this film since I was a teenager. It stars Diane Lane as a woman who goes through a devastating divorce and goes to Italy and renovates a house. In the process of this home renovation, she reconnects with life and experiences emotional renewal. For me, this film is really about a woman who survives heartbreak and creates a new life for herself. This episode contains spoilers. 

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Episode 124: Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (1997)

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In this episode, I talk about Michael Haneke’s controversial and thought-provoking 1997 film, “Funny Games.” It’s a thriller that breaks all the rules and raises questions about the representation of violence in mass media. A family is terrorized in their vacation home by two young men who take enjoyment in brutality and degradation. Haneke uses surprising and unexpected techniques to confront the audience of his film and to make us think deeper and more critically about the violence and suffering we see in movies and television. This episode contains spoilers. 

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Episode 123: Michael Haneke’s Amour (2012)

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In this episode, I talk about Michael Haneke’s 2012 film, “Amour.” It’s about Georges and Anne, an elderly Parisian couple who have their lives turned upside down after Anne suffers a stroke. This is a deeply devastating film that resonated with me. For over a year now, my mom has been struggling with her health and I’ve become a caregiver for her. I talk about the difficult experience of caring for someone and watching them suffer. I hope that, by sharing my experience, I can help others or just make them feel less alone.  This episode contains major spoilers. 

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Episode 122: Jane Campion’s Bright Star (2009)

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In this episode, I’m talking about Jane Campion’s 2009 film, “Bright Star.” It’s about the brief but beautiful love story between the poet John Keats and a young woman named Fanny Brawne. John Keats is considered one of the greatest poets who ever lived but he died young, before he and Fanny could create a life together. Their romance was marked by distance and the ever-present shadow of death but his passionate letters to her–which are featured throughout the film–reveal how deeply he was in love with Fanny and how much she meant to him. I talk about the relationship between Keats and Fanny, how the film shows the precarious life of a writer and explores the importance of poetry in our lives, and much more.

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Episode 121: Jane Campion’s In the Cut (2003)

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In this episode, I talk about Jane Campion’s 2003 film, “In the Cut.” Meg Ryan plays, Frannie, an English teacher who becomes embroiled in a murder investigation after parts of a woman’s body are found in her garden. She may have even seen the murder victim shortly before the crime. After the lead detective on the case interviews her, the two of them become involved in a dark, torturous relationship. “In the Cut” is a deeply erotic and feminist film that centers female sexuality and female pleasure. It also explores the dark side of desire and the complicated relationships between men and women. There are spoilers in this episode. I also talk explicitly and openly about sex.

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Episode 120: Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire (1988)

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In this episode, I talk about Wim Wenders’s 1988 film, “Wings of Desire.” It’s about an angel who falls in love with a trapeze artist and is willing to give up eternity and become human in order to be with her. I think this is such a powerful and poetic film about love, connection, and what it means to be human. It’s a life-affirming film that always reminds me of the beauty of being alive. There are spoilers in this episode.

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Episode 119: Joachim Trier’s Oslo August 31st (2011)

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In this episode, I talk about Joachim Trier’s 2011 film “Oslo August 31st.” It follows Anders, a young man just out of rehab for heroin addiction, as he walks around the city of Oslo, meeting old friends and trying to decide if life is worth living. I think this is a powerful and unforgettable film that reminds us of the beauty of being alive. It’s one of my favorite films from the 2010s, and I urge you to watch it if you haven’t seen it yet. There are major spoilers in this episode. I also talk about suicide and mental illness.

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Episode 118: RaMell Ross’s Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018)

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In this episode, I talk about RaMell Ross’s 2018 documentary, “Hale County This Morning, This Evening.” In 2009, RaMell Ross moved to Hale County in Alabama to teach photography and coach basketball. While living there, he started to film the people around him. He recorded over 1300 hours of footage. From that material, he culled and mined images that are startling, poetic, and beautiful–images that bear witness to the complexities and struggles of black life in the rural South. Through the documentary, we are introduced to two men: Quincy Bryant and Daniel Collins. As the film unfolds, we come to know their dreams, their hardships, and the world they live in–a world of basketball, catfish plants, friends, sunsets, storm clouds, rain, and all the details that make up their ordinary lives. This is a contemplative, lyrical, and unforgettable documentary. There are spoilers in this episode. 

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