In the sixth episode (and third dispatch) of the Sundance 2023 podcast season, we discuss highlights like Ira Sachs’s film Passages, Nicole Holofcener’s film You Hurt My Feelings, Sebastián Silva’s Rotting in the Sun, and Angus MacLachlan’s A Little Prayer, as well as other buzzed-about films at the festival.
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Listen to the whole Sundance 2023 season
Today is the sixth of seven episodes of the 2023 Sundance season of the Seventh Row podcast.
Sundance 2023 ran from January 19-28, and we have covered this year’s festival in a new podcast season about the films this year and how the programming fits into the festival’s history.
Listen to all the episodes to discover the year’s best and worst films, and how this year’s program jives with past festivals.
About this episode: Sundance 2023 highlights like the films You Hurt My Feelings, Rotting in the Sun, Passages, A Little Prayer, and more buzzed-about films
- 00:00 Introduction
- 01:10 Brief thoughts on Fremont, Infinity Pool, Bad Behaviour, Rye Lane, Drift, A Thousand and One
- 39:20 You Hurt My Feelings by Nicole Holofcener
- 52:04 Rotting in the Sun by Sebastián Silva
- 1:04:22 Passages by Ira Sachs
- 1:21:55 A Little Prayer by Angus MacLachlan
- 1:33:30 Fair Play, Cat Person, and the legacy of Promising Young Woman
- 1:54:49 Sundance bingo
In this episode, we discuss four of our favourite films of Sundance 2023, each in the Premieres section: Nicole Holofcener’s dreamed, You Hurt My Feelings, Sebastián Silva’s black comedy Rotting in the Sun, Ira Sachs’ relationship drama Passages, and Angus MacLachlan’s quietly insightful family drama. We also talk briefly about the disappointing films that have forged themselves in the image of Promising Young Woman: Fair Play and Cat Person. Orla discusses one of her most hated films of the festival, Infinity Pool, and Alex defends Alice Englert’s troubled feature debut Bad Behaviour. Alex also adds her thoughts on Fremont, which Orla first discussed in episode 3 (Alex agrees it’s excellent).
Finally, we both discuss some minor highlights of the festival. We were underwhelmed by British rom-com Rye Lane, though think it’s a good depiction of the city. Alex liked Anthony Chen’s (Ilo Ilo and Wet Season) English-language debut Drift, starring Cynthia Erivo and Alia Shawkat, despite its problematic script, because the direction and performances were so good (Honor Swinton-Byrne also shows up!). Orla also weighs in on the US Grand Jury Prize Winner One Thousand Nights.
When/where will you be able to watch the films?
Infinity Pool is currently in cinemas in Canada and the US. Mubi has picked up worldwide rights to Passages, which it will likely release later this year. Sony Pictures Classics (and Mongrel Media in Canada) has picked up the US rights for the film A Little Prayer. We expect a fall release with some fall festival play, and perhaps an Oscar campaign for David Strathairn. A24 already had the rights to Nicole Holofcener’s film You Hurt My Feelings, which we expect will likely be a summer release in the US and Canada. Netflix paid 20 million dollars for Fair Play, which given the positive response at the festival (even if we thought it was bad) will likely mean a fall release. Focus Features has the rights to A Thousand and One which we now expect to be Oscar campaigned with a fall release.
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Show Notes on the E6 of the Sundance 2023 podcast season: Passages, You Hurt My Feelings, Rotting in the Sun, A Little Prayer, and more
- Read Indiewire’s article on the making of Rotting in the Sun, which we quote from in this episode.
- Read our interview with Sebastián Silva on his film Magic Magic
- Treat yourself by following Franz Rogowski on Instagram.
- Read our profile of Geraldine Viswanathan, who was wasted by Cat Person.
- Read Kristen Roupenian’s original Cat Person short story, published by The New Yorker.
- Listen to episode three of our Sundance 2023 podcast season, in which we discuss Slow, which features a far better example of asexual representation than Cat Person.
- Read our interview with Ana Katz, the director of The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet, which was our favourite film of Sundance 2021.
- Download the Sundance 2023 bingo card to follow along at home.
- Listen to our last podcast season, which tackles the history of women at the Cannes film festival, and read our comprehensive list of all the women filmmakers who have been programmed by Cannes.
Related episodes to films discussed in E6, including Passages, You Hurt My Feelings, Rotting in the Sun, A Little Prayer, and more
All of our podcasts that are more than six months old are only available to members. We also regularly release members only bonus episodes. Many of the episodes listed here are now only available to members (Members Only).
Episodes related to the Franz Rogowski in the film Passages
- Ep. 5: Christian Petzold’s Transit (MEMBERS ONLY): Franz Rogowski, who stars in the film Passages, is one of the best actors working today. Head back to one of our earliest episodes where we discuss his amazing (best of the decade) performance in one of the best films of the decade.
- Ep. 119: Mike Leigh’s Naked (FREE — soon becoming MEMBERS ONLY): There are very few good cinematic depictions of narcissists. Ira Sachs’s Passages is the latest entry into the canon, and the narcissist at its centre, played by Franz Rogowski, reminded us of Johnny (David Thewlis) from Mike Leigh’s Naked, if much less sympathetic (and yet less abusive).
Episodes about Ben Whishaw, co-star of Passages
- Ep. 69: Paddington and Paddington 2 (MEMBERS ONLY): Ben Whishaw was at Sundance this year with two new movies: Alice Englert’s film Bad Behaviour (as a cult leader) and Ira Sachs’s film Passages (as a man married to Franz Rogowski who cheats on him with a woman). We celebrated Whishaw’s work in both Paddington films, and his prowess as an actor more generally, in this discussion that concludes Paddington is the ultimate symbol of British colonialism.
- Bonus ep. 25: This is Going to Hurt (MEMBERS ONLY): Ben Whishaw is one of the very best working actors today. With two films at Sundance coming out later this year (hopefully!), now is a great time to visit his tour de force career best work as the lead of This is Going To Hurt, a show about physician mental health in the NHS. His performance is both comic and dramatic and absolutely heartbreaking. It’s also so incredibly detailed. Nobody else could do it like him.
Related episodes to the films A Little Prayer, Rotting in the Sun, and You Hurt My Feelings.
- Ep. 40: Remembering dead mothers in Stories We Tell, Louder Than Bombs, and Mouthpiece (MEMBERS ONLY): A Little Prayer is a film very much about the family as an ecosystem and a unit of people trying their best under difficult circumstances and often screwing. That’s also what Joachim Trier’s Louder Than Bombs (2015) is about, and we discuss it in depth in this episode. Louder Than Bombs is also about what happens to a family when a major secret has been kept and comes out, wreaking some havoc, just as in the film You Hurt My Feelings.
- Ep. 94: HBO’s Looking (MEMBERS ONLY): It’s not often that we get media that is unabashedly gay, depicting gay spaces and the gay community in a way that might make heterosexuals uncomfortable. HBO’s Looking was pioneer for this on TV, including the way it depicted gay sex and intimacy. Sebastián Silva’s Rotting in the Sun also pushes the envelope, though in a much more confronting (and depressing) way.
Related episodes to Cat Person and Fair Play
- Ep. 73: Explorations of rape culture in Promising Young Woman and The Assistant (MEMBERS ONLY): Fair Play and Cat Person at Sundance this year feel like poor attempts to ride the Promising Young Woman hype. Revisit our original bashing of Promising Young Woman for context about why we think its approach to addressing sexual assault is really problematic. We compare it to The Assistant which was way better and also screened at Sundance that year, a much subtler and smarter approach to the topic.
- Bonus ep. 16: Watching Lena Dunham’s Girls in 2021 (MEMBERS ONLY): Lena Dunham was a pioneer of uncomfortable sex scenes involving women in the their 20s, and films like Promising Young Woman, Cat Person, and Fair Play have picked up the baton (if not reached Dunham’s heights). In this episode, we discussed what it was like to watch Girls in 2021 (for the first time for Orla).
Listen to all the related episodes. Become a member.
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Speakers on this episode
Host Alex Heeney is the Editor-in-Chief of Seventh Row. Find her on Twitter @bwestcineaste.
Host Orla Smith is the Executive Editor of Seventh Row. Find her on Instagram @orla_p_smith.
The transcript for the free excerpt of this episode was AI-generated by Otter.ai.
Alex Heeney 0:17
Welcome to the sixth episode of The Sundance 2023 Season of the seventh throw podcast. Sundance ran from January 19. To the 29th. Today we'll be discussing you hurt my feelings a little prayer rotting in the sun passages, some promising young woman copycats, and a few other highlights and low points of the festival. I'm Alex Heeney, editor in chief of seventh row and this is my 10th year covering Sundance.
Orla Smith 0:47
I'm Orlla Smith, executive editor of seven throw and this is my fourth year covering the festival.
Alex Heeney 0:55
Sundance marks the beginning of the new film year as a festival made up primarily of world premieres. In this podcast season, we'll be talking both about the films we see at the festival and how the films this year fit into the context of the history of the festivals programming. So I think we're going to start with some quick thoughts on films we've seen but don't have necessarily a ton to say about.
Orla Smith 1:18
Yes, so in this episode, there's a few films we want to have a lengthier discussion about which you hurt my feelings, rotting in the sun, a little prayer, passages, cat person and fairplay, as you said in the intro, but we just want to, we want to touch on some of the more talked about titles that we've seen and maybe have a few thoughts on but don't necessarily think warrant peer discussion. I know that you've used saw Fremont that I talked about in our last episode. And you hadn't seen it at that point. So I guess his minute or two for you to chime in with your thoughts.
Alex Heeney 2:00
orlo was right.
Orla Smith 2:02
Thank you. Thank you. I took about
Alex Heeney 2:05
I really glad you saw this first and pushed me to see it. I think you never
Orla Smith 2:11
know whether quirky Sundance black and white indie film
Alex Heeney 2:15
in Academy ratio to isn't it? It's like all the things you don't want in a Sundance,
Orla Smith 2:21
or like not necessarily all things you don't want me to do a thing that can be that can be red flags. Yeah. All over substance. Yeah,
Alex Heeney 2:28
that's fair. Yeah, I really liked Fremont. If you've been listening to the podcast for a while, or even this season, you might know that I lived in the Bay Area for six years, I think I've only been to Fremont, like the BART station a couple of times in my life. So I don't really know the area that well, but I love films that actually feel like the Bay Area. And this is one of them. And I think, like there are things in the plot synopsis that makes it sound like it might be kind of twee. Like she works at a fortune cookie factory. And she starts writing fortune cookies. And it's it's one of those things that sounds really twee out of context. But what I really liked about the film is that it's sort of like what are you saying, when you don't know what to say? I think that's it's a film. I mean, she's clearly got PTSD, but she's not ready to talk about it, or she doesn't know how to talk about it. And there's this way in which you know, in the film, people fall back on cliches, because they don't know what to say. And I think I like how the fortune cookies are one version of that. And then her therapist played by Greg Turkington, who I really love. He's really
Orla Smith 3:39
good. He's so good. One of the so funny,
Alex Heeney 3:43
I guess, like one of the themes at the festival is like, questionable therapists
Orla Smith 3:49
will talk about some more of those later today.
Alex Heeney 3:51
But like, I didn't necessarily think he was bad. He's just like trying to reach out to this patient who doesn't want to talk. And sometimes you go to therapists, and you just don't talk. And I found it, you know, really amusing the way he keeps falling back on White Fang and like, not only does it give her the entire plot synopsis, but then he says reading passages to her, and crying, crying, and like telling her that he hopes that she would relate to them. And then she tells him that she relates to him to them, because she knows that's what he wants to hear. While also maybe being true, and I just like how, yeah, the film is, I didn't really expect it to be a film that sort of like about what do you say when you don't know what to say? And so then there's a scene near the end where she sort of stumbles upon a potential Paramore who's really great I guess he's in
Orla Smith 4:50
he's Oh, you don't know this? Because yeah, you this guy, Jeremy Alan White is is the new huge deal. He was the star of the bear
Alex Heeney 4:59
which we A huge deal. I was impressed. Well, he was like,
Orla Smith 5:02
he's a new. He's a new internet boyfriend because he is really he's really fantastic. And
Alex Heeney 5:08
so I'm watching it now. And it's a really low key performance, but it's so good. Yeah, as like somebody who is kind of lonely and trying to reach out and I mean, he in some ways, he says more things of substance than almost anyone else in the film, as he's talking about. Yeah. And sometimes
Orla Smith 5:28
you just want to sit alone and eat your sandwich.
Alex Heeney 5:33
Well, I feel like important jobs are done in tos. How can a mechanic's job sit on one person shoulders? What if I had a bad day? Yeah, so it's, I don't know, I don't know that I always enjoyed the acting style of it, which is a little bit stilted, at least when the the, the protagonist, but then there's such warm presences around her. You know, what if I were putting in my Best Supporting Actor nominations today. Greg Turkington and the bear
Orla Smith 6:08
JOAD, Jeremy and Jeremy Ellen White. Yeah. We saw some other films. Should we like just go right back down to the bottom, I saw infinity pool, the new brand and Cronenberg film.
Alex Heeney 6:23
Oh, that's the bottom is it? Because I thought you hated bad behavior. But this is this is
Orla Smith 6:27
okay. I didn't like bad behavior. I dislike bad behavior more. But you liked so? Well. You didn't like you. You
Alex Heeney 6:35
did more than that. I don't think he deserves the extreme level of hate. It's been getting.
Orla Smith 6:40
Okay. But infinity pool has a meaning it has a it has a very Brandon Cronenberg premise that we're very Cronenberg II premise, whatever that means. Now, see, but it's just the whole the whole jumble. Well, I'll get that in a second, actually. But what it's about centers, Alexander Skarsgard, and his wife go on holiday to this resort. In, in a fake country, I believe it's a fake country. And and I guess it's the future maybe, and they meet me a goddess and her husband. And the one really good thing about this film was me a goth who is always incredibly compelling. And she has a lot of fun and this, but they get into some trouble where like Alexander Skarsgard, kind of accidentally runs over some random guy. And they then he finds out that there is a law in this country that they're in where basically every crime is kind of punishable by death. They love execution. However, there's like a workaround, where if you are a foreign traveler in the country, they have a policy, where instead of you being hanged you they can create a clone of you that has all of your thoughts and feelings, and then that will be executed instead, and you have to watch. And also the person who executes you is a member of the family of the person that you kill. So basically, he sees a clone of himself who has like all the fear of death in him that he would have otherwise had get, like, stabbed 50 times by this 12 year old boy, who was like the brother of the guy who killed and then he rolled. And then he realizes this is actually pretty fun. And then he finds like a cult. And by the, by the way to do this, you have to pay like a lot of money. So he finds like a cult of rich people led by mere goth who like they always vacation to this place, and then they commit crimes because they love seeing their clones get murdered. And, and, and you know, rich people will be crazy. And that's about as much as the film has to say, there is an interesting scene where mega Jack Cerf, Alexander Skarsgard. And then you just have like a close up, come shot, for some reason, which I didn't expect to see and is seemingly there so that there can be headlines about how it has to be cut out for the theatrical release. Which did happen.
Alex Heeney 9:24
See my headline my headline would it be Gasper? No, I already did this in 3d.
Orla Smith 9:30
Yeah, exactly. You know, Brandon is behind all the trends. And I it wasn't, you know, completely unwatchable, there are moments of fun Gore if you like that kind of thing. But it really is like that we've had some vapid, eat the rich movies recently and this is one one of the ones that has the least to say which is it's really what I think Brandon Cronenberg is is like he's basically like someone who likes David Cronenberg, but doesn't understand any of the things that make David Cronenberg. Good, awesome and rich and also get rich. But, but it's so it's so strange that he should misunderstand a Cronenberg so thoroughly when he is literally part of he has kind of like DNA. And
Alex Heeney 10:22
it's just dinner table conversations after things.
Orla Smith 10:26
Yes. And it's hilarious how much a funnier David Cronenberg films are and be how much of you take crimes of the future how much more ambitious that film was in terms of like its ideas, and the world it was creating, and how much more like, interesting to watch that film was compared to this one. And this film could have been called Chrome's of the future.
Alex Heeney 10:49
To be fair, elder Cronenberg has had decades of extra experience to learn how to be a good filmmaker. And he explicitly wants his films to be comedies. There was this exhibition on his films at TIFF like a decade ago, and he gave an interview where he's like, I really believe all my films are comedies.
Orla Smith 11:10
I sort of think Brandon Cronenberg thinks his films are fun. That's depressing. I can't really tell ya, that's a problem that I can't really tell whether he thinks he's being funny or he thinks he's being serious. What do you think even early Cronenberg Oh, yeah, it's such a gleeful sense of humor too. But yeah, I don't I won't spend any more time on it but mimeograph good. Everything else. pretty uninteresting. Despite its sensationalism. She's
Alex Heeney 11:41
been on a lot of movies like that. Well, I guess speaking of the rich being awful, bad behavior.
Orla Smith 11:51
So I just got the way that I really didn't like this film and found almost no merit in it, but so I'm gonna let Alex talk and explain to me why there is some merit to be fine. Um,
Alex Heeney 12:01
I felt the same way more or less for the first hour except for the fact that I really like I just liked the idea of casting Ben Whishaw as a bad cult leader. Like I he's so underused. Yes, it's underused. I don't think she has any idea what she's doing with this cult really. And she being sorry, it's written and directed by Alice unglert. And I feel like the whole cult stuff lasts way too long. And you have to deal with that annoying Instagram or YouTube star, or whatever the scary at first but 61st Lady.
Orla Smith 12:34
Well, she she's a podcast, Sir Alex.
Alex Heeney 12:39
She's in Sundance.
Orla Smith 12:41
She's an edgy podcast. He has a podcast called Red Scare. We're talking about Duchenne crossover. She was in succession. She's, she's being in all these movies. It's kind of wild. But she plays a model in this film. And I actually thought she was good in it because she's really good at being annoying because she is annoying.
Alex Heeney 13:00
Yeah, I think she was bad. It's just that she's annoying.
Orla Smith 13:04
Yes, she's extremely annoying.
Alex Heeney 13:08
Yeah, but I, I liked the idea that if you're going to like try and sell a cult of like, you have to sell material things. And those things are like things people listen to who wouldn't want to buy a library of 100 hours of Ben Whishaw saying useless inspirational things to you. Like it doesn't matter what he says. Soothing? Yeah. And I like that he's so obviously bad at being someone who gives people enlightenment. But like you said, he is underused. And I don't know that that segment has much to say aside from rich people have so much money and time on their hands that they go to bullshit like this.
Orla Smith 13:50
We know this. We've seen infinity pool triangles, sadness and the menu and Gastonia and the White Lotus Oh,
Alex Heeney 13:59
we would have done that without any of those movies. I don't think any of those things told us something new about the rich. We didn't already know. But I will say because people have been crapping over this movie. Like so much. And I get it. It's totally all over the place. There are ideas that I don't know what they're doing there. They aren't developed. You spent an hour with this bloody cult. And it is like, Why did I need an hour? Five minutes. I got the idea. And you've kept me there. And I don't really know what the whole purpose of like, I don't know. Why is it set in Oregon, where you've got Maori people with New Zealand accents in it? Yeah, I wonder. And then other people like doing American accents. And I mean, I guess Alice Englert must have some weird hybrid accent. That's like New Zealand Australian, so I guess she's going to be stuck doing some kind of accent. Or else she couldn't catch Jennifer Connelly is her mother, where she'd have to To explain herself, she's like she does. I guess she's like a stunt coordinator.
Orla Smith 15:07
stump. There's been two movies about stunt people Festival this year. There's some polite society.
Alex Heeney 15:12
Yeah. Well, and then there's stage combat in theater camp. Yeah, I don't know what the point of that section was really aside from to show that she has bad boundaries. So like the first hour, I was so ready to turn it off. I was honestly like, orlistat. It was bad. Everyone else said it was bad. I was bored. I was like, looking starting to look at my phone. I was so annoyed. And these are annoying people. And then there's a really wonderful scene where so it's about a mother and daughter. I should have said, but Jennifer Connelly plays the mother and Allison clerk plays her daughter and
Orla Smith 15:53
and you kind of don't know why Oh, cutting back to the door. No, in first so confusing.
Alex Heeney 15:57
You don't know what she has to do with anything. But I will say it has really great payoff with this one scene where Jennifer Connelly has like gotten into an accident and she's not into an accident. She's gotten herself arrested.
Orla Smith 16:12
She She hits a woman over the head with a chair. Yeah.
Alex Heeney 16:16
So her daughter comes in from New Zealand where he or she was shooting to take care of her mother. But I really liked that there's this really great conversation in the hotel room when her mother is like telling her is being such a classic narcissist. In like, all the ways that narcissists behave towards their children. And she's like, you know, they talk about the fact that when Alice sinckler was a kid and like she got injured, the mother was like, you know, I hoped I could survive, told her that, you know, I hoped I would survive if you died. And Ella's language like that is a fucked up thing to say to your child.
Orla Smith 16:59
Not that she would survive that she would get
Alex Heeney 17:01
oh right that she would get over it. Yeah, anyway, it was bad. And anyway, I really liked the way the dynamics play out in this scene, I think it's really really feels like a lovely little one act play short film, tucked inside this mess of the film. And I think the way I was angered directs the two of them in this hotel room. It's hard to direct to people having a conversation sitting on beds, and make it work. And the performances are really strong. And there's a moment where Alice Englert has to like explain to her mother that she's a bad mom, but in a nice way, because there's no point in really telling narcissists, that they're bad because they can't hear it. And that's where the title comes from bad behaviors. She's like, well, that's just bad behavior. You're not a bad person. And if you've ever had to, like deal with a narcissist, like, this is like somebody who's obviously been to like, it's just like the pitch perfect depiction of somebody who has been to a ton of therapy to deal with their like, narcissistic parent, and his is looking for the diplomatic way of not telling their mother that they're fine, but also not quite telling them the full truth. And I really love that, that I also found the lawyer really charismatic. That's helping the mother and I enjoyed the relationship that you see, there's a great, awkward breakfast table scene that is, you know, worthy of Joanna Hogg. So I think there's a lot of, yeah, okay, you can dispute that. But I found it really funny. And like, the mother is so horrible, and the way she orders and treats the waitress, and it's so awkward. I thought that was great. So there's like suddenly these great moments after you just wasted an hour of my time. And then also, the film doesn't really go anywhere. Like nothing gets resolved. So I get it. Like I'm not saying it's a good movie. I just think like, Don't shit all over Alice Englert, because she's a nipple baby who maybe like, got her film to a bigger audience earlier than maybe she should have.
Orla Smith 19:06
Yeah, and I wouldn't dispute the worthwhile pneus of those moments. I just think that I was so far gone by that point, I found the film that it struggled to win me back. Yeah, totally fair. Show moves on with my care for the characters. But like, you know, hearing you describe that and remembering moments in that scene. Like, I agree, there's something valuable there. I just, it takes a lot to get there.
Alex Heeney 19:32
And you know, this is one of those moments where having the rewind function was fantastic because I was kind of checked out. When the middle of this scene that I really liked happened. I was like, Wait a second, something good is happening here. So and then I went back and I could rewatch and be like, Okay, that was really good. And then I kind of my attention came back when I was like, counting the minutes to turning the film off.
Orla Smith 19:54
I want to touch briefly on rye lane because I've been what I've been looking at for the British films the festival this year. And this is probably the most acclaimed one. And it's being touted as like a new great rom com. And I really enjoyed the film, it's very likeable. However there, it does feel very slight, which surprised me, given the all the hype around it. What it can give you is to people that you are really like, and you'll be happy when they kiss and have a good time together. And there are some really lovely scenes like there's a really fun karaoke scene. You just, and also it set kind of between Peckham and Brixton, which parts of South London were like, usually, it's a great London Film, what it is, is a really great London Film, because you get to see parts of London through a lens that feels very familiar. And there are parts of London that you don't usually see in films. And so I really enjoyed it for that. But it is a bit of a it's a bit of a strange romcom because I was just thinking about like, what structure do we expect and in rom com? What tropes we usually see, you know, people talk about this in the lineage of like, those kind of classic British rom coms. Like, you know, Notting Hill. And well, there's a very, I won't spoil it, but that is a very explicit reference to an older British. That did make me Yeah, but What's strange about this film is that I think a lot of in a lot of rom coms, you're kind of introduced to these two characters who, for some one reason or another, like have some kind of like, animosity to each other, or some kind of emotional obstacle, where they're like, um, I don't want to be with this person, or I don't even want to like this person. And then they just can't help themselves. And that's kind of the like, overcoming structure of the film. And this film is strange, because you meet two people, they immediately quite like each other, and then they chat. And they are getting over a breakup. So that's kind of an obstacle. But there's kind of no reason that like, pretty quickly, they shouldn't be like, let's make out because we like each other. And then because it's so conflict LIS, the film then decides it has to introduce some very manufactured feeling conflict in order to give it some shape as a story, which I kind of feel like, you have to go you have to pick one yeah have to be a formless hangout film, which can be amazing. Or you have to structure your conflict a bit better. Yeah. And the result ends up feeling a little slighter than either of those things weren't Yeah. But it's hard to be mad at the film because it is just like a nice good time. I just, I really wanted this to like be a new classic rom com because I love rom coms.
Alex Heeney 23:16
And anymore, and we just need one.
Orla Smith 23:20
Yeah, and I really hope this one successful, so then hopefully, there will be more. But there were a few things that held me back from really loving it.
Alex Heeney 23:30
Yeah, I liked it less than you did. But I think this is the film where I was like, there's there's some of the way the style like the style of the film, the fisheye lens, the quick cutting, it feels very online and youthful, which sounds like I'm being derogatory about which maybe I am but I don't mean it as like a knock. It's just like, I'm too old for it.
Orla Smith 23:53
I would I would say it's not necessarily just that you're too old for it, because I didn't like that. Okay.
Alex Heeney 24:00
Oh, well, better. It's not just like, I'm an old lady who's too old for Sundance.
Orla Smith 24:07
I think that was something that I also had to kind of get over purse. And I The funny thing is I saw this in a bunch of the British films like polite society is also made in this kind of like, we've got to be frenetic all the time we've worked we've got to be using all these visual tracks to kind of catch your attention. I think this is maybe in modern British cinema and just in modern cinema. Well, in general. I think
Alex Heeney 24:30
that's just like an such an extremely online movie. I was like, I I don't know.
Orla Smith 24:36
But that's an experimental film as well. So it's kind of in a different. Yeah, it
Alex Heeney 24:39
isn't a different Yeah, in a row realm. It just was. There were a bunch of films that were kind of like made by and about people in their early 20s. And it made me go Oh, Sundance is a young person's festival, isn't it? I like about the 40 plus year olds.
Orla Smith 24:58
I feel like the upstyle does frustrate me in a sense it like makes me feel like people think that to be an exciting film, you need to work overtime to like, always be presenting a new type of visual well to be moving really fast. And I just wish films would trust me to like, be like, be patient with them and like slow down more. I sound like a broken record every time I talk about Britain, where I'm like, recently, I've been watching the British new wave films and watching British new wave films. And I actually I'm like longing for a time where we really appreciate just like, naturalistic on filmmaking with unflashy, like really smart, but unflashy direction. And I don't think we always need to be like, trying to make everything feel like super modern and like, you know, we don't need to work overtime to make things not feel stale, if you've actually got a really like, gripping, character dynamic story, like interesting beams. That does the work for you. Yeah. And so I also felt, I always feel like pandered to as as as a young person who is on my phone all the time. Actually. We'll talk about ROTC Yeah, probably felt the most relatable to me as a young person on well, it doesn't have to be a young person. Sebastien silver is like around 40. And he really captured. Yeah, he really captures what it feels like to be on your phone all the time. More. So then all these films that like are so frenetic? Yeah.
Alex Heeney 26:52
Well, I actually think the best thing about Rylan was when it went into theatricality rather than sort of like onlinee stuff. There's a really great scene, I think, where the female protagonist is telling the story of her breakup. And the it's like shot in a theater where,
Orla Smith 27:13
Alex Heeney 27:14
there's like, the scene that she's describing is playing out on stage, and she's part of it. And then the male protagonist is like sitting in the balcony of the, of the theater and like reacting to what's going on. And I kind of love that on so many levels, like, I liked that the film kind of went there, because it's already so flashy, that that kind of theatricality works. And it also ends up being a nice thing about the way that we tell stories about ourselves. And how that is kind of theater. And it was a fun moment. Like, I think there was a lot of potential in there. And there were there were nice moments like that. And then like you said, there are other moments where it was like, for me, it was just exhausting. So I mean, I might as well talk about the film. That's the polar opposite. Which is drift. But yeah, I mean, this is another film that kind of it comes from sort of like problematic subject material. For I haven't read it. I've just like if you read the plot synopsis, and it's like, you know, it's like an American writing about a somebody who was the victim of rape and genocide and an African country that of course, the American who wrote this has no connection to and doesn't know about, and it's like her trauma story. And she meets a white lady on the beach, who kind of helps her but not in a white savior kind of way, but it's it sounds like get when you read the plot synopsis. And I don't know this guy like, apparently the author who also co wrote the film based with it's based on his book, he got like, accused he wrote a book that was like about a woman I don't know dealing with sexual harassment or something that it turns out like that it was actually about a real person. And she sued him for breaking her confidence. And anyway, this guy is like, got problematic written all over him. So I get like, why people didn't want to like this movie. But you know what, Anthony Chan who directed it, who also made a low elo, which I really, really liked and his last film what season which I liked, but also a kind of problematic subject material. It was like about a teacher who has an affair with her teenage student.
Orla Smith 29:32
Yeah, that sounds fine. Yeah,
Alex Heeney 29:35
it but you know what, like, the thing is, Anthony Chen is such a great humanist filmmaker who makes these sort of like gentle, compassionate films, that he can take material like this and you still enjoy watching it because he makes you care about the characters even if the script has a few screws loose. And that's kind of what's going on and drift away. The reason why I say it's the opposite of rye lane is because it's very contemplative. and kind of, I don't know people call this though I didn't really find it slow, but it just sort of the first half hour is kind of Cynthia Revo, walking around, surviving in this Greek tourist town. And she's like homeless, and you don't really know why is she there, she's got a British accent. She doesn't have any money. But she can kind of stand in as a European tourist. But also, she's doing stuff that like African migrants are doing there to make money and she's on housed and you're trying to figure out like, what's her story? And how did she get here and it kind of feeds you things very slowly, and flashback. And then she meets Alia, Charcot, who is an American who married a Greek person who now lives in Greece, and they sort of form a tentative friendship. She's a Alia Charcot is a tour guide. And they run into each other in the middle of one of her tours, because it's in theory, though, kind of happens to be there. And, and they form a they strike up a little friendship, and it's kind of about them. A lot of the film is the two of them talking and also some theory though, clearly not talking about and avoiding this, whatever traumatic thing happened to her that has put her in the Fremont
Orla Smith 31:25
vibes. Yeah, it is kind of.
Alex Heeney 31:29
And, you know, I love movies that are that are like two actors talking, right? That's why I like that scene in bad behavior. And that's, I like films where you get to watch an actor sort of react to their surroundings. You know, what we liked about Thomas, Thomas, and Mackenzie and Eileen. And it has some really, really nice moments. And I like the way she is very proud and the way that she lies and then feels bad about lying, and then the way that they share confidences, and how it comes out like it never feels forced, you know, and it's shot by Celine cinemas old cinematographer who shot tomboy water lilies and girlhood. So it looks beautiful. Is it? Is it a GREAT film? No, it's like kind of a three star film. But you know, it is a three star film people are saying it's like a two star film. And I think the performances and the direction really elevates what could be a much lesser film. And I really hope Anthony Chen finds good scripts to work with, because the last two have been kind of iffy. But the movies that came out of them, were still really worth watching. I think the two and the two of them give really great performances.
Orla Smith 32:50
And then finally, before we move on from this very long section of the podcast. Okay, there's equally my fault. I always wanted to mention the film that ended up actually winning the kind of top prize at the festival, the US Grand Jury, US dramatic Grand Jury price, and which is the same 1001 Which I didn't get to during the festival, but then they do repeat screenings for the awards film. So I thought, may as well watch the the prize winner and I ended up liking it quite a bit. It's a flawed first feature. But I think one of the reasons it's flawed is because it's quite ambitious, which I, you know, is not actually something you see a lot in Sundance, you see a lot of very kind of like, conservative and traditional, like narrative structures, especially in the US dramatic competition. So I appreciated that like, this is one of the longer films that I saw, it's almost two hours long. And almost every film that was almost all the films I've seen that were almost two hours felt too long. And this film, once you get to the end and kind of taken the totality of it felt like it kind of had a reason for being that long. Which I, again is rare is rare at Sundance. It's about a young woman who lives present at the beginning of the film. She's 22, it's early 90s, New York City, and she finds her son who is six years old, who's in foster care, and basically steals him from the hospital and then flees and goes back to Harlem and starts to build a life with him. And then we follow them over the years up until about 2005 When he's 18. And you see how the life changes and also how eventually that decision Captain He's up with them. And at the same time running parallel. The director Avery Rockwell is telling a story about gentrification in New York, which we'll talk about some later episode. But I feel like it's a really good companion piece with this film this role. And this documentary. They're both they both take subject matter that one's about black trans sex workers in New York. And they both, like start a stories of these characters, and then slowly build in stories about the gentrification of the city and end up being films like about the city and about the changing city, and how that impacts the characters. And here, our characters are almost kind of like a microcosm of the city they live in. And you see how their life reflects the way that gentrification is affecting them. And the way the city is changing. And it's mostly actually set in, like their apartment. I mean, there are scenes outside of the apartment. But I think probably for budgetary reasons, there are things we don't see, like we don't see him at school, we don't see her at work, which I would kind of have liked to get more of that side of things like her at work, or at least how her work affects her life, which we don't get as much of a sense of. But the side of it that is that a lot of it does end up being in this apartment, which I think is interesting as I as the film progresses, you see how in really insidious ways they are being pushed out of this apartment. And just as her son is potentially being pushed up her life. And I really thought it was it was interesting and very ambitious, the way that she tells a story over so many years, and also tells a story of this city at the same time. And both of those films, this film, The stroll, tackle like or like they kind of explain and think about and talk about gentrification in a really interesting way. So I really appreciated what this film was trying to do. And it made me really excited about the director Avi Rockwell because I think if she's approached her first feature with this level of ambition, I'm really interested in what stories she might tell going forward, especially now with the cloud of a Sundance us dramatic, when hopefully, she'll be able to if you're enjoying our curation and discussion of under the radar, female directed and foreign films The 2023 Sundance Film Festival, you might also enjoy past episodes of the podcast. Our episodes that are more than six months old are only available to members. In addition, many of our new episodes are for members only. All of our episodes are carefully curated so that we only discuss films we think are really worth your time and deserve in depth critical analysis. We tend to dedicate episodes of thought provoking under discussed films that no other podcasts would cover with such depth. So for example, to talk about our episode today, you won't find many other discussions as in depth as discussions about some of the performances by the stars of passages like we did a whole episode on Kristen pet swords transit starring Franz Rogowski, we've done a bunch of episodes about Ben Whishaw, our fav we talked about this is going to hurt and we did a lot about his performance in it. And we also like had a quite an in depth discussion about him in Paddington and Paddington too, and why his voice is so rich for for Paddington himself. So if you're interested in those, then you've got to become a member to listen to all our episodes become a member today, you'll also get a discount in our shop to purchase our books and filmmakers like Celine Sciamma, Carly Rae car and Joanna Hogg, all of whom have screened at Sundance. So to become a member, you have to go to seven dash road.com/join That will also be in the show notes of this episode. Let's start with you hurt my feelings, which is the new Nicole who officer film which we kind of figured would be at least very enjoyable because she is a very good writer and director who makes very enjoyable films and
Alex Heeney 39:34
as my posh tosser boyfriend, Tobias Menzies in it, so I've been hotly anticipating it.
Orla Smith 39:39
He's really good in this as Julia Louie Dreyfus, as is everybody. And I love how it's about a very specific thing that I haven't really seen tackled this specifically in a movie before which is, you know how sometimes some loved one shows You're a piece of work that they've made. And you they ask you for feedback. And you're like, Oh, that's really nice without really thinking about it. Sometimes you should think a bit more carefully about how you deliver that feedback and think about whether you want to be honest or not.
Alex Heeney 40:21
Yeah, I mean, the flip side of that is, I think, you know, something we talked about in episode three, when we're talking about slow as you said, he really liked when people have really specific jobs in movies. And I liked that the film does that. But part of what it shows through like Julia Louis Dreyfus is an author who teaches writing for money, and her husband, played by Tobias Menzies, is a, the world's were well dressed, like just the world's horse can't keep his refuses to take notes. And it's really, really helpful
Orla Smith 40:58
is a really funny recurring bit where one of his clients play by Zach Sherry, is like every first they have a zoom session, and then have an in person session. And both, like just as he's logging off, zoom, like eat like insectary, he hears him just before he hits like logoff sale, like what a fucking idiot. And then also, when they meet in person, when he leaves the door, Tobias Menzies overhears him, like basically saying the same thing as he's leaving the room. But when he asks him to leave when he confronts him about it, it's actually just like, No, I didn't say that. And then he's like, okay, I guess we're moving on. So he starts, he's a therapist, he's starting to realize that he may be very bad at his job, like, look good. He also talks to one woman, and she mentions a problem he's having in his life. And he's like, and he says, Who do you think that reminds you of your life? And he's like, he's like, I don't know. And he's like, maybe your father and she's like, No, I have a really a really sweet relationship with my father, actually, liquid we get along really well. I think you might be thinking of someone else. And he's like, Oh, I'm so sorry, I think and he realizes that he's, he's mixing up his clients. He's so not there in his job mentally. He's
Alex Heeney 42:21
so worried about his droopy eyes that he wants plastic surgery for.
Orla Smith 42:30
Then, in particular, Louis Dreyfus, his sister is like a, like, She's someone who curates wall decorations for rich people's houses. And, and then her husband as an actor, and we get into the weeds about all their jobs in a really satisfying way.
Alex Heeney 42:47
Yeah, I mean, what I liked about it is that the way that one of the things I liked about what they showed about their jobs is that basically, being a professional working adult turns you into a professional liar. They all have to lie for a living. You know, like, Julia Louis Dreyfus, she tries to be encouraging to her students. And you can see her lying through her teeth, about how exciting their stories are. And as a psychiatrist, like even a good psychiatrist, like not necessarily lying, but like, you can't always tell that your patients everything you think, because they're not ready to hear it, and they won't hear it and it won't be helpful. And then, you know, Makayla Watkins character, she has to pretend that she likes like, the only way to satisfy her client is to buy the most horrible thing that she hates, that she hates results for. And lie to her teeth that it looks great. And I like that. Because this, the scenes of them lying to them each other in their personal lives are really strongly juxtaposed with their jobs. Like we see them first in their jobs lying through their teeth before they lie about how much that like the central pair lie about how much they like each other's anniversary gifts. And then the lying just escalates from there. And you see that in like something that they've had to, like, it's a learned skill that they've had to learn to do their jobs, and it has come into their home, and that there is a degree to which you should lie, because there are nice ways of saying things and unkind ways of saying things. But it can also very easily slip into you're not just being kind. You're at the point where you're trying to be nice. And being nice is not necessarily kind.
Orla Smith 44:46
Yeah. And also gets into how they've kind of just wrapped up like so much of their emotional fulfillment in their personhood in their job. Yeah. And how it eats each of them up in particular weighs at the idea that like, you know that, you know, she has to pick out these terrible wall decorations and also like jewelry Dreyfus. Like the idea that her husband who they have a really great relationship, which is, you know, you don't usually see that in films because films usually about conflict in relationships, which one is, but other than the conflict that comes up. They overall have like a unusually healthy relationship, and even to the annoyance of their son. And, yeah, but she she gets really distraught at the idea that her husband might not like her book, and kind of conflict
Alex Heeney 45:48
that him and the fact that he didn't tell her and then lied about it, yes. So long, like it would have been fine on Eve as even he says it would have been fine if he told her and dropped one. But he let it get to like draft 100.
Orla Smith 46:02
Yeah, but he has a lovely line, which is something like, you know, she he doesn't like her, because she's a good writer. He likes her. And I thought that was it was interesting how the film kind of explores the extent to which like her, I don't know this conflict over like her skill as a writer, and feeling lighter about that. My husband, she conflates with his feelings towards her as a person.
Alex Heeney 46:38
I mean, it's also another film like bad behavior about like, a millennial child who has been well actually, I mean Fairyland is not about a millennial. But a similar thing about like a millennial child who has been somewhat scarred by their parents attempts to not repeat their own parents mistakes. Owen Teague is really great as their son and he talks about always feeling like a third wheel. And I was actually surprised when I realized that Tobias Menzies is supposed to be playing his father and not a stepfather. Because the way that he and Julia Louis Dreyfus are together as a couple is like, so obnoxious that you expect that of your parents, second spouse, not your parents.
Orla Smith 47:26
He's disgusted that they would share an ice cream.
Alex Heeney 47:30
Well, they have all these private jokes like you, you can feel like he's not wrong, that he's the third wheel when he's with them.
Orla Smith 47:37
But he's a he's a playwright, this son. Well, he's attempting to be a playwright. Yeah. and whatnot. Yes. And he whatnot illegally in like a in like a store. And that he, and his argument to them is that it makes him feel like he has so much to live up to when like, his mother says, Oh, you'll play will be great. I can't wait to read it. And he's like, my play might be bad. My play might be really bad. I want that to be like a possibility that won't make you disappointed in me. Yeah. And in that way, they have to kind of, you know, face up to like, what it actually means when we complement someone's work or someone's potential work, because we love them? Well, I'm what
Alex Heeney 48:27
it means to be supportive. Because being supportive doesn't necessarily mean telling people to do absolutely everything, and that they're going to be brilliant at everything. Because they're not brilliant at everything. And as the 20 character, you know, talks about is it may just made him feel shit about himself, when his mother told him that he was good at something. And he realized he was not good at it, and doesn't know what to believe. And I don't know where I was going with that. But yeah, just it's not necessarily a kindness. And, you know, they have these discussions about, you know, all the lies that they tell their spouses or their friends. And, you know, some of those lies, we understand why they do them. And some of them you see how like a little white lie that's well meant can turn into a series of them that becomes bigger, and becomes part of a pattern of behavior that is maybe intended to be supportive, but is actually kind of careless. The film feels like it's set in a sci fi 2023, in which the pandemic never happened. To be fair to the film, it was probably written before the pandemic, because it's been on the books for a long time because I regularly check Tobias Menzies as I am duty because like, he's one of those actors I count on for like a new TV show every year and when I don't get it, I'm really annoyed. And this film has seems to have been taking up his time so it had better be worth it. It was but let's Like, yeah, they they are acting as though. Like, you know, Nobody wears masks. This is a world in which the pandemic never happened. But it also doesn't seem to be set in 2019. However, the fact that everybody is going through an existential crisis where they hate their jobs, and they hate their lives feels like a very contemporary pandemic thing, because you're very relatable. Yeah. And rotting in the sun, which we'll talk about shortly, like, also deals with this. Like there's, I really enjoyed that there were movies about like a plentiful amount of people who have discovered that they hate their lives, and they hate their jobs, and they hate capitalism, even if they're all actually rich people who are miserable in this existence. I don't think we see that very often. Like as, as, as infrequently as we see a particular profession and its details. We also don't really see the I hate my job, but I'm going to keep doing it, or I hate my job, and I'm actually going to blow up my life.
Orla Smith 51:04
Yeah, and a lot of people in this film ended up being like, I hate my job. And then they keep doing it, which I feel like is a more realistic outcome. Then the movie that says, I hate my job, and I'm going to break free from it and live my best life. Oh, you have to have because yeah, and I mean, these characters have money, but even so like, they've put all this time into building a career. And that career is what supports them living the lifestyle they currently live. And they're also at least mature enough to eventually kind of come to the conclusion that there might be ways to be satisfied with the job that they have and other jobs might not necessarily be better because clearly everybody is having existential questions about their job because the problem is just jobs in
Alex Heeney 51:59
general capitalism. Yeah, everybody having bad taste.
Orla Smith 52:04
Should we talk about rotting in the sense talking about everybody having fed I think this is the funniest film of fun Yeah,
Alex Heeney 52:13
I mean, we didn't say but you hurt my feelings was very funny. I laughed. Yeah, variously at several parts, including the fact that Tobias Menzies his character really wants plastic surgery.
Orla Smith 52:27
I do. I did immediately want to watch you hurt my feelings again, because it's so short and breezy and light and fun and funny.
Alex Heeney 52:36
But I will agree with I think I didn't cackle as hard as I did. In rotting in the
Orla Smith 52:42
sun at any highs were highest light and rotting and rotting in the sun. I
Alex Heeney 52:46
did finish it immediately go back and watch like a couple of scenes that were just amazingly funny. I just like watch them three times. Because, yeah, I felt like they went by so fast. And it laughed so hard, and I just needed that.
Orla Smith 53:01
So let's start at the beginning. The movie begins with Jingle Bells. The movie is not set at Christmas, and this is never explained.
Alex Heeney 53:12
Well, we should maybe like to really, really start at the beginning. Because this is one of those on my bingo card. This was the film that I chose as the this film is so weird and good. Why is
Orla Smith 53:26
good fun. Although the reason is just because they seem to program a ton of Sebastien Silva films, which is weird because his films are always super weird. Yes,
Alex Heeney 53:34
but it all started with the World Cinema dramatic competition coming full circle here. Because his film, The made actually played their way back in like the late 2000s. And it won the Jury Prize. And so that film is like a fiction film, but it's autobiographical about like, it's based on the maid who lived with him as a kid, I think. And she it's sort of about how she's emotionally stuck, because she never got to grow up and have her own separate life and she's spends all of her life caring for this other for rich people's children. Sebastian
Orla Smith 54:13
Alex Heeney 54:16
It's better than Roma. In fact, when I saw Rome, I was like, could people just watch the made? Yeah, um, so and then he's also played in the US dramatic competition. You're right. They, you know, ever since they kind of launched his career with the made, they've been screening his films. That's why it's here. But you wouldn't expect he
Orla Smith 54:37
makes a lot of films in America as well. And so that was a Chilika. He's a Chilean filmmaker, and the made was made of assume was set in Chile. And then he's made a bunch of films in America. A lot of films with Michael Cera. And this film is that in Mexico City,
Alex Heeney 54:55
yeah. But he has cast the lead of the made Catalina Saavedra was great in that film and now 15 years later he has cast her again as the made of the character Sebastian Silva. Yes, as an adult.
Orla Smith 55:16
So Sebastien COVID plays himself in this film, just to be clear, yes. How to just how to describe it. i The story. It's about Sebastian. Yes. It's about Sebastian Silva, the filmmaker, having an existential crisis, essentially. And in real life, what happened is, is his last film, I think, it's called a fistful of dirt. It had its like festival permit, and then just kind of disappeared, he couldn't get it distributed. Or there was some like, big debacle with with like, trying to get out there. And he became like, very depressed about filmmaking, and then retreated to Mexico City to see if he could become like a painter instead, which she had
Alex Heeney 56:03
actually did like he has actually had art shows in the past. He's he actually came to Canada to study filmmaking. I think it had some exhibits here. In Montana,
Orla Smith 56:13
I think his his latest bout of painting is also like, it's doing okay.
Alex Heeney 56:19
Yeah, he's real painting. I mean, the film, these are really bad. These paintings are actually pretty good.
Orla Smith 56:28
Yeah, and this is his return to filmmaking after being depressed about filmmaking. And the movie is kind of about that. And we open with mean, Sebastian Silva in this film was always on his phone, like watching like meme videos on Tik Tok. And it's like a really great cut in the film, where like, we're taken from his apartment and he's on his bed watching Tic TOCs. And then it he's like trying to go to like, like a gay hookup Beach, basically. So this Phil has like 40. Plus, like up close shots of penises and also like real sex. I assume that was real sex? Oh, I don't know. I think he also said that he originally wanted Michael Cera to be the Jordan Firstman role in this film would have been Michael Cera didn't want to have Microsoft didn't want to have sex on screen. So he he he backed out. But the film was a very, I think so would have been very different. If Michael Cera was, let's say that. And so we made this fastens over is on this beach. He's surrounded by penises and he hates looking at all of them. He's constantly looking up like ways to kill himself. And then he meets insufferable influence played by Jordan Firstman as himself
Alex Heeney 57:53
Yeah, he's definitely the character that's going to turn either you're gonna like hate the film immediately because he's so insufferable or you will tolerate him because the film is so funny about how he's in such trouble.
Orla Smith 58:08
Yeah, I I have a I'm gonna I'm gonna try and find this actually. I found like a making of article about like how they made this film because I was really like curious at like what because we see the origin story of house arrest and silver make like met Jordan Firstman in the as depicted in the film, but I was like, it can't have been like that. Because like,
Alex Heeney 58:32
you know, he likes the Jordan first one says they met before right that Alia Shaka introduced them. Sebastian Silva doesn't remember it. And
Orla Smith 58:41
oh, he shouldn't okay. Yeah. But in the in the film. They meet on the beach after like Jordan first one was like in the water and apparently needed to saving from drowning or something. And Sebastian Silva swam out. And then Jordan first was like, oh my god, I just watched your movie. Crystal Fairy and the magic cactus. Michael Cera. Gaby Hoffman. Oh my God. And he
Alex Heeney 59:04
also keeps talking about how nobody saw that movie. But he watched it yesterday. How crazy yeah, that we're meeting today.
Orla Smith 59:13
I like just the idea that this random like influencer would like not only have seen that film The day before, but would recognize Sebastian Silva's face. But like it kind of is how I mean it again, like you said it was they had there was a bit more of a connection that made sense in real life. But I just love how he describes. Sebastian Silva basically said, Yeah, I met this guy. I thought his videos were dumb. I told him I didn't like them. And I thought he was kind of stupid. And then I won Microsoft. I don't want to do the movie. I called him up for like four months, eight hours, like, can you be my movie? I want To I want to humiliate you on screen. And actually here's here's one quote he said, I told Jordan I would fully humiliate him and make fun of what he does not even ironically. And, and go credit to him Jordan first and was up for it and does make fun of himself in the movie not even ironically, I suppose. And I suppose he's in on the joke apparently. And it's kind of becomes about this weird relationship between stress and silver and Jordan Firstman, where Sebastian Silva hates him. But also, HBO might be interested, they were creating their
Alex Heeney 1:00:46
ideas. And so is it you're doing it in person, which he obviously does not want to do. But yeah, as his little painting in his terrible painting in his apartment says, try to be free, you will die of hunger.
Orla Smith 1:01:02
It's just the movie is littered with like hilarious bits, including that the running joke that when Jordan first minutes trying to communicate with his maid who only speak Spanish, they use like a Google Translate app that like, you speak into it in your language, and then it like spits out like a digitized voice reading in the other language and it always like translates it in the funniest way. Right? I mean, what I'd say about this film is the first like 40 minutes to an hour are amazing. Like, they're so funny. Sebastien Xover is such like a an engaging funny, deadpan filmmaker. And, and provocateur Yes, and something happens partway through the film that I won't spoil. But the film, I think, kind of partly removes probably its best element. And I think it suffers slightly from that. And but I still think that what follows has a lot to offer. I just think it could have done with some tightening up. But the highest of this film, like higher than almost any other film. I don't think I've ever seen a film that that comedic peaks are this funny in quite a while.
Alex Heeney 1:02:30
Yeah, I mean, when he goes to this gay beach where he meets Jordan, first men, his friend tells him like you need to get fucked to go to a gay beach. And he shows up at the gay beach and he's feeling really suicidal. And you wonder when he goes out to swim if he's gonna like try and kill himself, he's been making up jingles about pentobarbital.
Orla Smith 1:02:52
And if it's really funny, funny gets
Alex Heeney 1:02:55
everywhere he looks there are dicks and he is so horrified by them. And I couldn't and at some point, he does have to rescue Jordan freshmen in the water and I couldn't help thinking like he went to this gay beach hoping to have a stranger by the lake experience, right? Like, here's suicidal, perfect thing that could happen is you meet a hot guy who fucks you and murders you. And no, his experience is more horrifying. This is a film that makes Stranger by the lake seem aspirational.
Orla Smith 1:03:26
Because at least they didn't meet Jordan
Alex Heeney 1:03:32
and have to live with it.
Orla Smith 1:03:34
Yeah, but I did find Sebastian Silva as a character so really Oh, so relatable. The way that he's just so done with everything. And is so cynical about contemporary media, but also can't stop consuming it on his phone. Yeah, at all times. It's it's really brilliant. I think he is such a good actor. Oh, he's so yeah, I think he maybe underestimates just how much of an asset he is in the film, given how he structures in like, I just wanted more Sebastian Silva. He does. He has acted in his films before he was in nasty baby. But he's never played himself explicitly. And it was a lot of fun.
Alex Heeney 1:04:20
Orla Smith 1:04:22
She talked about a show about passages. Yeah, because you've been talking about penises.
Alex Heeney 1:04:29
Speaking of Damn, certainly. There's
Orla Smith 1:04:30
a big deck in this movie.
Alex Heeney 1:04:35
We mean France. Friends regarding character.
Orla Smith 1:04:41
Yes. Not Francois Gaskey. We like him.
Alex Heeney 1:04:45
Yeah. Speaking of Instagrams if you want to be entertained by minor celebrities Instagram. What is going on? I don't know. But it's entertaining.
Orla Smith 1:04:58
Yes. This is a film by Iris Sykes and it stars. I think three of the most talented three are the most attractive, and three of the best voices in contemporary cinema. Francois kowski Ben Whishaw, and Adele, AXA, chapeau
Alex Heeney 1:05:17
have completely different acting styles are all from different countries. And when we heard about this film, all I could think was, how are these three people going to be in the same room together? And it turns out, that is the point of the film. They should not be in the same room together.
Orla Smith 1:05:35
And there's also there's another actor who I didn't realize was in the film, who's kind of the fifth and fourth lead, who is like, Ben wish was rebound. Oh, when kappa Fellay and I realized I'd seen him in something before, which was winter boy, the Christoph honor a film that I saw a couple of months ago, which I liked, quite liked, and I remember quite liking him in it. So it was nice to see him show up again, playing another gay man in Paris having confused relationships. So I
Alex Heeney 1:06:11
mean, the premise of the film is Franz Rogowski as a film director who's married to Ben Whishaw, who I guess owns a print shop and friends because he has just finished wrapping his film, who will passages passages and there's an after party where he meets Adele X or Sharpless and his husband who has this is not his first rodeo knows that he Franz Rogowski gets insufferable when he finishes a film. So he doesn't want to be at the wrap party and he gets out of there quick and Adele acts or shoplift offers to dance with friends or go ski when Ben Whishaw declines. And so then friends or CO skis like hey, how about I started having an affair with a woman? That'll be interesting. And guess what? He makes both partners miserable. Because he goes
Orla Smith 1:07:03
home and he tells his husband that he had sex with a woman and it was very exciting for him. And he says, Why aren't you happy for me? You should be happy that I'm having a fun new experience.
Alex Heeney 1:07:15
Yeah, and then he's like, Okay, well, then I guess I'm leaving to my girlfriend that I've known for a week. I'm just gonna leave this marriage. That makes sense. And she's
Orla Smith 1:07:25
a she's a school teacher. But she find out a little bit later into the film.
Alex Heeney 1:07:30
Yeah. And then he fucks up her life and fucks up Ben, which was life and everyone ends and
Orla Smith 1:07:40
eventually a deluxe a chef plus just like swell. Oh, her like yeah, already. Yeah, he fucks up everyone's like, everyone's like, because he's he fucks up Ben, which shows new boyfriends lie to he fucks up everybody's life. I have Okay, can I say I've never wanted a character to be hit by a bus. This guy. And I don't just say that randomly. He he there are several scenes of him being the most reckless cycler and driver I've ever seen. And I generally thought that the movie was probably going to end with like, with like him being hit by a bus. Because that and the way that he cycles is like a metaphor for the way that he acts like he is barreling through the streets. And he doesn't ever bother to like, Look, if a car is coming and about to hit him. He's just like, I own this road. I'm gonna cycle how I want I'm gonna drive how I want and, and I thought this guy nice has come up and he needs to be hit by a bus. And he isn't hit by a bus which is very unfortunate. But he is a very detestable character. And I what I think this was really successful at is I think it's really difficult to portray a Narcissus well on screen, because it's really, it's difficult to show the bad behavior of a Narcissus and all its complexity while also kind of helping you to understand why people are drawn towards them. And it helps to cast someone like Franz Rogowski who is so naturally magnetic that you you do understand why people immediately find him an interesting person that they want to be around, which then fucks them over because he is an asshole. He is
Alex Heeney 1:09:28
kinda like the David duelists of Germany.
Orla Smith 1:09:31
Yes, well, we were talking about like past episodes we've done about like good media about narcissists because I think they are rare and I mentioned girls, which I think is is good at, like helping you to be around the narcissist by being funny. And then naked is a really good allegory, not allegory for but like really good comparison piece of this film, because it's like a character study in a city where we are like, really with This guy who is horrible, but he's also so compelling that you you want to watch him he's actually
Alex Heeney 1:10:08
worse. Like, Johnny and naked is kind of worse.
Orla Smith 1:10:14
Alex Heeney 1:10:15
also more funny, partly because he's so smart and funny. And he has a point with most of what he says even though he is the worst.
Orla Smith 1:10:27
Yeah, like I was actually watching a clip from a kid the other day the one with you and Bremner, which is an amazing scene. And immediately I was like, oh, yeah, I want to I miss this character. I like Kenya character because he's, he's really weird. Even though he's like a horrible, horrible person. Yeah. Like you want to hear what he has to say, because it's inevitably going to be very interesting.
Alex Heeney 1:10:51
Yeah, whereas I think Franz Rogowski is just interesting to watch.
Orla Smith 1:10:57
Alex Heeney 1:10:57
dry you know, that's an important quality to nurses, because that's like, how they draw you in is they're very charismatic. Yeah, also, he has like, the craziest wardrobe. Yes, it's just like, it's, it's just a lot. It's not bad. It's just a lot. And the costume designing is like so great, because you're just like, okay, he's on a crop top. Okay, he's on a fur coat. He's in a see through crocheted sweater. Okay, and then you've got like Ben Whishaw, in a bright red slinky robe trying to do this husband.
Orla Smith 1:11:33
Ever, the costumes of this film are really incredible. And the production design is really wonderful. Yes, yeah, just everything in the frame is really well calibrated.
Alex Heeney 1:11:44
My, my issue with Iris X is films in the past has been there a bit slight, it's like they're, they kind of have one idea. And, and then it's drawn out for 90 minutes. And I don't think that that's not true of this film, but I minded it a lot less. Because the thing is, like, even his films that I don't like, he is really very good at blocking and working with actors. And at framing, and there's just some really exquisite blocking and framing in this film. And, you know, I actually, I love the opening scene where Franz Rogowski is really annoyed with his actor and his directing him. And it's like, it's like a introduction to how to read the film about, you know, actor's body language, and how that gets directed and how that works, and how that how we read that. And it's a film that's very much about reading people's body language. And what that tells us about them, and about how they feel about the people around them and the situations they're in. And they're such extraordinary actors that and we get a lot of time with each of them. Like it's a it's a narrower scope than his movies often are, which tend to have a lot of characters,
Orla Smith 1:12:56
the way that our sex directors, he allows you to observe the whole body of characters for a long stretch of time. I mean, and and like, there's a very short there's a showcase sex scene in this film that a lot of people have been talking about. And what's really interesting about that sex scene, which is between Ben Whishaw and Franz Rogowski, is that like, we're not like seeing like faces and close ups, we're seeing the back of Ben wish, we're seeing Ben rushes back, and we're seeing Franz Rogowski his legs, and it's all about the body language of the scene rather than the faces, we don't get any faces in that scene. That's kind of indicative of how he shoots. But he really values like, what's interesting about these actors and how it's not just in in a close up
Alex Heeney 1:13:49
on there, there's these two scenes that are kind of mirror scenes where one is between one between each of the two couples, where the way he's positioned the actors like they're kind of one is the one in front is kind of obscuring the one and behind. And in both of those scenes. They're having a conversation that's going to sort of alter the course of their relationship and they're not, not necessarily in a good way. They're sort of having a low key fight. And it's a it's really wonderfully just sculpted scene. I think I really got to appreciate that in this film in a way that I'm not sure I did another films partly because I don't know I mean, he's had good actors in his other films, but I think maybe because it is a story that's about bodies and body language and not seeing things and well lies and the lies we tell ourselves that it makes it really fruitful to watch these actors in space.
Orla Smith 1:14:57
But you need world class Really, this, this film could have been really insufferable if anyone but Franz Rogowski had played that I mean, I think there's a few actors who could have pulled it off but you if you pick someone who was like, you know, talented, but kind of like generic in urgent, more generic way the film would be just wouldn't work at all. He is so smartly cast and every single one of them is just you the way this film functions, you need actors who are exceptional to watch, and they all like it's impeccably cast. I feel like it was just three of our favorite actors working today. So I felt it felt like a treat.
Alex Heeney 1:15:45
Yeah, I think and the he's the partner has been wish on a deluxe or shopping list like in other hands could have seemed like whiny or inseparable and maybe could have put you on the side of France or kowski. But they just show so much depth and maturity in what they don't say. And just how they react to situations like you see a whole history of this relationship and how then wash wish our reacts to what friends Rakowski does,
Orla Smith 1:16:17
I like the way that that the information about like her job is held that how she's introduces this kind of alluring figure at a party and who he blows up his life for. And we like the film in the film, mostly you are following Franz Rogowski, we get some spare scenes with the others on their own, but predominantly we are following him. And we are seeing her as like this person who likes have some kind of purpose for him. And then about halfway through we just have a scene of her like teaching her like primary school class. And, uh, you start to become more and more kind of conscious about of her character and I've been where she was character as like people with life separate from Franz Rogowski, and how those lives are being fucked up by him and how he doesn't think about those lives separate from him
Alex Heeney 1:17:18
and also that they're self destructive. They're, they're mature enough to know they shouldn't be, and eventually they find ways to crawl out of this hole. But when she gets involved with friends or go ski like literally she meets him because she's talking to Ben Whishaw, his husband, and then friends would go ski interrupts their conversation. And Ben Whishaw refuses to dance with friends are kowski. So then she does. So she knows he's married. And she knows that like, it's, she's jumping in in the middle of the relationship, and you know what the French have affairs, whatever.
Orla Smith 1:17:56
I just the friend, but
Alex Heeney 1:17:57
like, I'm sure, and it's smartly played, because you're not quite sure if she's kind of just like an engine, if she's just sort of an ingenue, or if she knows what she's doing. But as as it goes on, you both are infuriated on her behalf for the way that he's treated her, and also really annoyed at her for having put herself in this situation. And you see that with Ben Whishaw, to where it's a slightly different situation, because when you've been in a relationship with a narcissist for a long time, you get traumatized by it. And so part of what we're seeing is, like we're actually seeing him trying to set boundaries and then going back on his boundaries. And it's really not a it's not infuriating. It's just upsetting. Like, because you really, you know, he's really trying and you also get that they have, it's really hard to break away a connection from someone to someone that you've had a close connection with for a long time. And narcissists are master manipulators. So you watch him, you know, see that he's being manipulated, but then get manipulated, anyway.
Orla Smith 1:19:12
Yeah. And it's Franz Rogowski. As a film director, it's a really well chosen job. It also makes you have fun thoughts about who Iris X is thinking about when he makes the film. But he, he's somebody who in his work gets to curate every single inch of a specific world. That is his vision of the world. And he gets to make people act exactly as he would like them to act. And then he becomes insufferable when that's over and he can no longer do that. And he does it expand his own life where he curates Yes. And he he expects to be able to move them around like pieces on a chessboard just like he does in their films. And this is kind of a film about a person who has been doing that for years, finally, getting his comeuppance and having the chess pieces fight back against him, and realizing that he, you know, he can't keep doing that. Oh,
Alex Heeney 1:20:16
I didn't know that he realizes that. I think he's gonna go back to it. But he's lost these two people from his life but
Orla Smith 1:20:23
Well, I think what I mean is he's he's realized that they can't keep doing it with at least his husband. Certainly, yeah,
Alex Heeney 1:20:31
he can find another guy who will tolerate it until he doesn't,
Orla Smith 1:20:34
you can fuck someone over like six times, but on the seventh, they'll be like, Okay, I think that's it.
Alex Heeney 1:20:44
This is our second podcast season about a film festival you can catch up with our women can season from May 2022, where we focus on the history of the Cannes Film Festival and its track record for programming films directed by women, or, perhaps better put its track record for not programming films directed by women. Anyway, we actually celebrate some of the great filmmakers who have screened to Cannes and what their relationship with the festival is like, Kelly Reichardt, Celine Sciamma, and Naomi Colossi. And also talk about the whole history of the festival and some of the best selections by women in 2022. So you can check out more you can listen to the episode, you can listen to the whole season, if you scroll back, it's still free in the podcast feed or you can go to our website at seven dash rho.com/women at can to get more info about the season. We've also got a whole long list of like every film ever directed feature film directed by a woman that's screened at Cannes and its entire history. I don't think that exists anywhere else. And you can also find all the episodes, show notes and listen to the episodes there. So check it out. So a little prayer is sort of a night is one of those lovely little quiet films, that Sundance I love that finance plays these films and I hate that nobody sees them. It is a film about a family. It's mostly told from the perspective of the patriarch, and also his daughter in law, but it's really about the whole family as a system, which makes me think a lot about louder than bombs, though this is like a very different movie.
Orla Smith 1:22:28
Don't get me well, also starring David Scalise, yes,
Alex Heeney 1:22:31
yes, but he's not a home breaker in this film.
Orla Smith 1:22:35
He's a home attempt to fix.
Alex Heeney 1:22:40
And it is it's written by the writer of Junebug. And there's a lot of similarities here because both films are about family in the south. And they feel really specific and tied to a particular place. And I don't mean this in a bad way. But he is a playwright, and you can feel that he's a playwright and the way that the film is set up. I don't think it's about
Orla Smith 1:23:07
like, we're both people who love plays. And I think some people say that without the understanding of what makes a play. So Right. Yeah, like a good place. So Rich, like the things about it that felt like a play. Felt like I was watching a great play.
Alex Heeney 1:23:22
Yeah. And I don't want to say that he doesn't use the medium. Well, it's just it's very well blocked. And there are certain kinds of scenes that you would write for the stage that work perfectly fine on film, they do not need to be in 10 different locations.
Orla Smith 1:23:38
Yeah, and this is what I'm thinking about when I we talked earlier in the episode about how a lot of films seem to be trying too hard in their film tech in their like filmmaking, to get our attention, when actually, some of the subtlest pieces of blocking camera movement can reveal so much in a more satisfying way. Like in this film, I love the opening sequence when we follow Jen Levy's character out from her her little house with her husband in the backyard to the main house, and she enters the kitchen. And we watch, like starting to make breakfast and the camera slowly kind of pulls back so that the back of dairy strengthens head becomes visible in the corner of the frame. And so at first it feels like Jane Levy is alone in the kitchen. She's not talking to anyone, she's not really looking in any particular direction to imply she's seeing anyone. We kind of have this image of this character alone. And then suddenly we become aware of this other presence, not in a jarring way in a very soft and slow way and realize that he's there too. But she's behaving as if he's not in a way that tells us just how close they are that you know they are so comfortable being around each other. That They don't even need to acknowledge each other's presence. They're just so comfortable with sitting within it. And I was immediately so impressed with the filmmaking because I'm like, Oh, wow, I just know so much just from that movement without anyone having said anything in the film. Yeah. And I, that's the kind of thing that I find really impressive. Yeah, it's
Alex Heeney 1:25:20
such an economical scene and introduces pretty much all of the main characters, where they come, they enter and they exit the kitchen, and they interrupt things. And it's, you know, it's exactly the kind of thing you would expect to see is like the first scene and in a Tennessee Williams play, or really any play about family,
Orla Smith 1:25:39
because you get to know each character really well, because they're introduced one by one, they have something that kind of tells you a bit about them. And so you're, you're getting the information at a pace where you can understand it. And then more people are coming going. And it's all in one space, you kind of understand how they relate to that space, which yet he said it's very like a play, but in a way that a play is better than a movie that just throws a bunch of characters into a room. Yeah, and expects you to kind of understand who they are immediately when you can't take hold on one
Alex Heeney 1:26:13
part of the reason it works so well as a film and it doesn't just feel like why didn't he write a play is because it's this film is so much about this house, and this family and the way that they intermingle their lives, but also don't have any idea what's going on with anybody else. And also lie and keep secrets and interfere or don't interfere. And so the kitchen is kind of like the perfect place to begin a story about that. And it introduces you to this house, that is the crucible for our story. But it is also like, not just a metaphor for a place it is the actual house. And so you get to know you know, it starts with it actually, like the very beginning of the film is you hear this woman who's singing on the street. And we don't see her and she's sort of this mystery person throughout the film, who we they complain about, you know, being awoken by her and they try and go meet her and they've never seen her. And she's just sort of the staple of the neighborhood. And it really immediately grounds you in this like specific house and the specific neighborhood on this specific street where this specific thing happens.
Orla Smith 1:27:23
And it's also the thing that everyone in the house complains about, except for Jane Levy and Debbie Stratton's character, which immediately kind of like bonds them as the people who appreciate this kind of like ineffable quality of like the peacefulness of hearing this woman sing in the morning, they just kind of understand each other on some kind of level where they both love this little thing.
Alex Heeney 1:27:46
Yeah. And I mean, sort of at the center of the film that is, so Jane Levy is his, his daughter in law. And effectively, David Strathairn kind of figures up that his figures out that his son is up to no good. And they work together, because they work together. And his son is also a vet. And so is David Strathairn. And this is another film in a long line of really wonderful films about vets and PTSD. That son, I mean, it's not a film about PTSD is just a subplot in it, a part of it. But like Sundance has also programmed the messenger and leave no trace, which also dealt with these things really well. And then eventually, his daughter arrives, played by Anna camp who kind of like swoops in like a storm and takes over everything. And he realizes that both of his adult children are in trouble. And he wants to help. And he tries to meddle and he doesn't quite understand what he's meddling in. And the way that it's revealed that there's so much that he doesn't know. And also the way he sort of starts questioning, like, how much of that is this is my fault or my responsibility? Like, was I a bad parent? They're adults now. But they also have children who are my grandchildren, and feel responsible for those grandchildren when these people are not behaving? Well. Or I feel respond, you know, he's grown to love his daughter in law, like, like a daughter. And so if his son is hurting her, then that makes him really upset and they don't want to lose her. And anyway, there's a lot of different there's a lot of dynamics going on about like, what what his wife knows what he knows when he doesn't know what his wife doesn't know what, what each person and what each person appears to know or doesn't know. And then there's always when he sort of decides to metal, he discovers all kinds of things he didn't expect. And those worlds open up in complexity. And, you know, you started off seeming like an assured sort of warm presence who's you know, telling Dean Levy's character She can be anything if she puts her mind to it and feels like you know, he's you know, he's the parent who's figured out how to be a parent, and then you see the state of his kids. And you wonder if that's really true. And then he's sort of trying to compensate as now as children are grown up. And also now, it's in some ways, it's too late. You can't tell grownups what to do. And also he doesn't fully understand the situation.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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