cover art for Joseph Aisenberg on Brian De Palma's Carrie

Writers on Film

Joseph Aisenberg on Brian De Palma's Carrie

Season 1, Ep. 110

Joseph Aisenberg is a writer and novelist. His book on Carrie is available in a new updated version here.

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  • 128. Demetrios Matheou talks Means Streets at 50

    Mean Streets was Martin Scorsese's third feature film, and the one that confirmed him as a major new talent. On its premiere at the New York Film Festival in 1973, the critic Pauline Kael hailed the film as 'a true original of our period, a triumph of personal film-making'. The tale of combative friends and small-time crooks is set amid the bars, pool halls, tenements and streets of Manhattan's Little Italy. Scorsese has said of his childhood neighbourhood, 'its very texture was interwoven with organised crime', and this quality would dramatically inform the tone and restless energy of his seminal film.Demetrios Matheou's insightful study considers Mean Streets' production history in the context of the New Hollywood period of American cinema, noting also the key roles played by John Cassavetes and Roger Corman. He analyses the importance of Scorsese's background to the film's characters and themes, including preoccupations with guilt, redemption and criminal subcultures; the development of the director's film-making process and signature style; the way in which he both drew upon and invigorated the crime genre; his relationship with emerging stars Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel, and the film's reception and legacy.Matheou argues that while Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980) are regarded as Scorsese's greatest films of the period, Mean Streets is the more influential achievement. With it, Scorsese not only paved the way for a new kind of crime movie, not least his own GoodFellas (1990), but also inspired generations of independently-minded film-makers.
  • 127. Clint Eastwood by Ian Nathan

    Clint Eastwood is Hollywood’s elder statesman and its conscience. He is the standard by which other films and filmmakers are judged. He represents both classical Hollywood and an entirely modern, uncompromising and unfussy directorial presence.There are those who adore him as a cowboy, a superstar, the rugged, unyielding yet introspective face of American machismo. There are those who read him as a great American auteur fashioning uncompromising, fascinating, intellectual films about his country, about life, about whatever the hell takes his fancy. No single figure in all of Hollywood, operates so freely outside of the strictures of commercial pressure. And yet, or perhaps that is because, he makes hit after hit. Separation of actor and director is almost impossible. They are intimately related, cross pollinating, but in the latter half of his career he has come to be viewed as one of the great American artists. While drawing connections from his wider work as an actor, and those who have influenced him, it is his identity as a director that this book will celebrate. This is not a career — it is a landscape.
  • 126. Chris Yogerst talks The Warner Brothers

    Friend of the podcast and cultural historian Chris Yogerst critically celebrates the century of Warner Bros by looking at the family behind the studio The Warner Brothers. You can buy your copy here (among other outlets). And Chris recommended Sam Wasson's The Big Goodbye and Scott Eyman's upcoming Charlie Chaplin biography.
  • 125. Jem Duducu talks Hollywood and History

    Jem Duducu talks Hollywood v History. Buy his new book here. And listen to his podcast here.Here's the blurb of his book:There is no shortage of Hollywood films about historical events, but what do the movies actually get right, and why do they get so much wrong?Hollywood loves a story: good guys versus bad guys, heroes winning the day, and the guy gets the girl. But we all know real life isn’t exactly like that, and this is even more true when we look at history. Rarely do the just prevail and the three-act story cannot exist over continents and decades of human interaction. So, when Hollywood decides to exploit history for profit, we end up with a wide array of films. Some are comedies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, others are little more than action films playing dress up like Gladiator, and many are Oscar contenders burdened with an enormous sense of self-importance. But very few are historically accurate.From Cleopatra to Da 5 Bloods, the reality is no matter what Hollywood’s intentions are, almost all historical films are an exaggeration or distortion of what really happened. Sometimes the alterations are for the sake of brevity, as watching a movie in real time about the Hundred Years War would literally kill you. Other additions may be out of necessity, since nobody thought to write down the everyday conversations between King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, for The Other Boleyn Girl. And some projects twist the facts to suit a more sinister purpose.In Hollywood and History, Jem Duducu takes readers through thousands of years of global history as immortalized and ultimately fictionalized by Hollywood, exploring many facets of the representation of history in movies from the medieval times to the wild west and both World Wars. Along the way, readers will also better understand Hollywood’s own history, as it evolved from black and white silent shorts to the multiplex CGI epics of today. As studios and audiences have matured through the years, so too have their representations of history. Armies will clash, leaders will be slain, empires will fall, and a few historical inaccuracies will be pointed out along the way. A must-read for film and history fans alike.
  • 124. In conversation with Lawrence Grobel

    Lawrence Grobel is a freelance writer who has written 31 books and for numerous national magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Newsday, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Reader's Digest, American Way, Parade, Details, TV Guide, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Penthouse, Diversion, Writer's Digest, and AARP. He has been a contributing editor at Playboy, Movieline, Hollywood Life, Autograph, New Zealand's World, Bulgaria's Ego, and Poland's Trendy magazines. Playboy called him "the Interviewer's Interviewer" after his interview with Marlon Brando for their 25th anniversary issue.Visit his Amazon Page here.
  • 123. Molly Haskell talks film criticism, feminism and cinephilia

    Molly Haskell is a legend of film criticism. A critic for the Village Voice, she also is one of the earliest most powerful voices in feminist film criticism, with her ground-breaking work From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies as well as books on Spielberg and Gone with the Wind.
  • 122. James Peaty on Summer Blockbusters and Oppenheimer

    James Peaty and John Bleasdale talk about the summer release and particularly the success of Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer.Peaty has written for publishers including Marvel Comics, DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics in the US as well as Rebellion Publishing and Titan Comics in the UK. During that time he has written for titles including The Batman Strikes!, X-Men Unlimited, Green Arrow. Supergirl, Justice League Unlimited and Doctor Who. For 2000AD he wrote and co-created Skip Tracer (with artist Paul Marshall), while for The Judge Dredd Megazine he wrote and co-created Diamond Dogs (with artist Warren Pleece).
  • 121. Jeanine Basinger talks film history, Hollywood and the Star Machine

    Clint Eastwood called her “Truly one of my favorite people.” Her former students include Michael Bay, Joss Whedon, Laurence Mark, Akiva Goldsman, Paul Weitz, Marc Shmuger and Alex Kurtzman. She's written a dozen books and recently co-authored Hollywood: An Oral History with Sam Wasson (friend of the podcast, read his essay on Jeanine here). Jeanine Basinger is legendary and it is a true honor to have her on Writers on Film. Buy here books here.
  • 120. Josh Winning Burns the Negative

    Josh Winning is a writer and film critic. Bur the book here. The BlurbABOUT BURN THE NEGATIVEIn this incendiary mash-up of horror and suspense, a notorious slasher film is remade…and the curse that haunted it is reawakened.Arriving in L.A. to visit the set of a new streaming horror series, journalist Laura Warren witnesses a man jumping from a bridge, landing right behind her car. Here we go, she thinks. It’s started. Because the series she’s reporting on is a remake of a ’90s horror flick. A cursed ’90s horror flick, which she starred in as a child—and has been running from her whole life.    In The Guesthouse, Laura played the little girl with the terrifying gift to tell people how the Needle Man would kill them. When eight of the cast and crew died in ways that eerily mirrored the movie’s on-screen deaths, the film became a cult classic—and ruined her life. Leaving it behind, Laura changed her name and her accent, dyed her hair, and moved across the Atlantic. But some scripts don’t want to stay buried.    Now, as the body count rises again, Laura finds herself on the run with her aspiring actress sister and a jaded psychic, hoping to end the curse once and for all—and to stay out of the Needle Man’s lethal reach.