Writers on Film
George Stevens Jr returns to talk Hollywood and Washington Legends
Season 1, Ep. 99
George Stevens Jr. has had a long and illustrious career in the entertainment industry, passing over five generations. In his new book, "My Place in the Sun," Stevens Jr. provides a rare glimpse into the private lives of some of America's most famous first ladies, presidents, and celebrities. He shares personal stories and anecdotes about the Kennedys, Barack and Michelle Obama, Yo-Yo Ma, Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Bruce Springsteen, James Dean, Sidney Poitier, and many others. With humor and candor, Stevens gives readers a unique look at the American experience through the eyes of one of its most influential cultural figures. Readers will appreciate Stevens Jr.'s wit and insight as he takes them on a journey through the golden age of American film. His stories about Hollywood and Washington provide a unique perspective on a time that shaped our country's culture and history. My Place in the Sun is an enjoyable read for anyone who loves movies or wants to learn more about America's past.Now available as an Audio Book.
Crooked but Never Common
Season 1, Ep. 98
In a burst of creativity unmatched in Hollywood history, Preston Sturges directed a string of all-time classic comedies from 1939 through 1948―The Great McGinty, The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels, The Palm Beach Story, and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek among them―all from screenplays he alone had written. Cynical and sophisticated, romantic and sexually frank, crazily breakneck and endlessly witty, his movies continue to influence filmmakers and remain popular to this day. Yet despite this acclaim, Sturges’s achievements remain underappreciated: he is too often categorized as a dialogue writer and plot engineer more than a director, or belittled as an irresponsible spinner of laughs.In Crooked, but Never Common, Stuart Klawans combines a critic’s insight and a fan’s enthusiasm to offer deeper ways to think about and enjoy Sturges’s work. He provides an in-depth appreciation of all ten of the writer-director’s major movies, presenting Sturges as a filmmaker whose work balanced slapstick and social critique, American and European traditions, and cynicism and affection for his characters. Tugging at loose threads―discontinuities, puzzles, and allusions that have dangled in plain sight―and putting the films into a broader cultural context, Klawans reveals structures, motives, and meanings underlying the uproarious pleasures of Sturges’s movies. In this new light, Sturges emerges at last as one of the truly great filmmakers―and funnier than ever.
Graham Skipper Vs Godzilla
Season 1, Ep. 97
Graham Skipper is a writer, actor, director, and producer, known for writing/directing the sci-fi/horror feature film Sequence Break, as well as his essays on horror cinema published in Fangoria and My Favourite Horror (Black Vortex Publishing, 2018). Most recently his work can be found in Simon & Schuster's Video Palace: In Search of the Eyeless Man (2020). Graham is a lifelong Godzilla fan, and was honoured work with Toho developing their Godzilla Tales series of comedic short films in 2020.Godzilla: The Ultimate illustrated Guide unites fascinating information and stunning imagery from more than 60 years of movie mayhem to show off the Earth's most enduring monster as never before. This book is the ultimate illustrated reference work to all things Godzilla, from the early days in black and white in Japan to the biggest blockbusters of the 21st century. Never before has a work united the full gamut of Godzilla incarnations. Facts and figures, actors and locations, co-starring monsters and plenty of superb illustrated material add up to make this a rampaging beast of a book!
Will Scheibel talks Gene Tierney and Hollywood Stardom
Season 1, Ep. 96
Will Scheibel is associate professor of English at Syracuse University, where he teaches film and screen studies. He is the coauthor of Twin Peaks, a volume in the TV Milestones Series (Wayne State University Press, 2020), with Julie Grossman. His articles have appeared in numerous journals, including Camera Obscura, Film Criticism, Journal of Gender Studies, and Celebrity Studies.Here's the blurb from the book:Gene Tierney may be one of the most recognizable faces of studio-era Hollywood: she starred in numerous classics, including Leave Her to Heaven, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and Laura, with the latter featuring her most iconic role. While Tierney was considered one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, she personified "ordinariness" both on- and off-screen. Tierney portrayed roles such as a pinup type, a wartime worker, a wife, a mother, and, finally, a psychiatric patient—the last of which may have hit close to home for her, as she would soon leave Hollywood to pursue treatment for mental illness and later attempted suicide in the 1950s. After her release from psychiatric clinics, Tierney sought a comeback as one of the first stars whose treatment for mental illness became public knowledge. In this book, Will Scheibel not only examines her promotion, publicity, and reception as a star but also offers an alternative history of the United States wartime efforts demonstrated through the arc of Tierney’s career as a star working on the home front. Scheibel’s analysis aims to showcase that Tierney was more than just "the most beautiful woman in movie history," as stated by the head of production at Twentieth Century Fox in the 1940s and 1950s. He does this through an examination of her making, unmaking, and remaking at Twentieth Century Fox, rediscovering what she means as a movie legend both in past and up to the present. Film studies scholars, film students, and those interested in Hollywood history and the legacy of Gene Tierney will be delighted by this read.
Thomas Puhr talks Fate and Film
Season 1, Ep. 95
The course of events is predetermined and cannot be changed. Forces beyond our control—or even our comprehension—shape our fates. Such is the deterministic worldview embedded in a wide swath of contemporary cinema, from arthouse experiments to popular genre films, through both thematic concerns and narrative structures. These films, especially the recent spate of “elevated” science fiction and horror, tap into this deep-seated anxiety by focusing on characters who ultimately fail to transcend the patterns and structures that define them.Thomas M. Puhr identifies and analyzes the ways that cinema has dealt with the tension between fate and free will, from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining to Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. He examines films that express deterministic ideas, including circular narratives of stasis or confinement and fatalistic portraits of external forces dictating characters’ lives. Puhr considers determinism at the levels of the individual, the family, and society, reading films in which characters are trapped by past or alternate selves, the burdens of family histories, or oppressive social structures. He explores how films such as Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis, Ari Aster’s Hereditary, Jordan Peele’s Us, and Lucrecia Martel’s Zama confront the limits of human agency. Puhr relates deterministic themes to the nature of moviegoing: In denying characters any ability to choose alternative paths, these films mirror how viewers themselves can only sit and watch.Recasting the works of some of today’s most compelling directors, Fate in Film is an innovative critical account of an unrecognized yet crucial aspect of contemporary cinema.
Rahul Desai Talks Hollywood, Bollywood and Tollywood
Season 1, Ep. 94
Rahul Desai is a freelance critic who writes regularly for The Hindu among many other publications. His columns often look at film from a personal perspective and he is also the host of his own podcast. You can find some of his writing here and follow him on twitter here.
Charles Bramesco talks Colors of Film
Season 1, Ep. 93
Charles Bramesco is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, The Guardian and many. many others. Taking you from the earliest feature films to today, Colours of Film introduces 50 iconic movies and explains the pivotal role that colour played in their success.The use of colour is an essential part of film. It has the power to evoke powerful emotions, provide subtle psychological symbolism and act as a narrative device.Wes Anderson’s pastels and muted tones are aesthetically pleasing, but his careful use of colour also acts as a shorthand for interpreting emotion. And let’s not forget Schindler’s List (1993, dir. Steven Spielberg), in which a bold flash of red against an otherwise black-and-white film is used as a powerful symbol of life, survival and death.In Colours of Film, film critic Charles Bramesco introduces an element of cinema that is often overlooked, yet has been used in extraordinary ways. Using infographic colour palettes, and stills from the movies, this is a lively and fresh approach to film for cinema-goers and colour lovers alike.He also explores in fascinating detail how the development of technologies have shaped the course of modern cinema, from how the feud between Kodak and Fujifilm shaped the colour palettes of the 20th Century's greatest filmakers, to how the advent of computer technology is creating a digital wonderland for modern directors in which anything is possible.Filled with sparkling insights and fascinating accounts from the history of cinema, Colours of Film is an indispensable guide to one of the most important visual elements in the medium of film.
Paul Williams talks Harvard, Hollywood, Hitmen and Holy Men
Season 1, Ep. 92
Paul Williams is a key figure in New Hollywood and cinema generally. Along with Ed Pressman, he formed Pressman Williams Productions which brought to the screens the likes of Brian de Palma and Terrence Malick. He directed a number of films beginning in 1969 with Out of It starring Barry Gordon and Jon Voight and going on with such cult underground films as The Revolutionary and Dealing. His new memoir Harvard, Hollywood, Hitmen and Holy Men is a fascinating and at times hilarious chronicle of an extraordinary life, which offers profound insights that go much further than world of show business into spiritualism, politics and psychology.
Hannah Strong on Sofia Coppola: Forever Young
Season 1, Ep. 91
An illustrated critical survey of Academy Award–winning writer and director Sofia Coppola’s career, covering everything from her groundbreaking music videos through her latest filmsIn the two decades since her first feature film was released, Sofia Coppola has created a tonally diverse, meticulously crafted, and unapologetically hyperfeminine aesthetic across a wide range of multimedia work. Her films explore untenable relationships and the euphoria and heartbreak these entail, and Coppola develops these themes deftly and with discernment across her movies and music videos. From The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette to Lost in Translation and The Beguiled, Coppola’s award-nominated filmography is also unique in how its consistent visual aesthetic is informed by and in conversation with contemporary fine art and photography.Sofia Coppola offers a rich and intimate look at the overarching stylistic and thematic components of Coppola's work. In addition to critical essays about Coppola's filmography, the book will include interviews with some of her closest collaborators, including musician Jean-Benoît Dunckel and costume designer Nancy Steiner, along with a foreword by Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher. It engages with her creative output while celebrating her talent as an imagemaker and storyteller. Along the way, readers meet again a cast of characters mired in the ennui of missed connections: loneliness, frustrated creativity, rebellious adolescence, and the double-edged knife of celebrity, all captured by the emotional, intimate power of the female gaze.ABOUT THE AUTHORHannah Strong is the associate editor at Little White Lies magazine. Her work has appeared in Vulture, GQ, the Guardian, and Dazed & Confused, and she regularly appears on television and radio as a film critic, largely for the BBC and ITV. Strong lives in London. Little White Lies is one of the world’s preeminent film magazines, pairing a unique editorial angle with beautiful illustration and world-class design.