The Love Of Cinema - 2 Jul 2021 | Podcast

Sam Clements, joined by guest film critics Anna Smith and Larushka Ivan-Zedeh

Sam Clements

02 Jul 21


This week, we're joined by guest film critics Anna Smith and Larushka Ivan-Zedeh to discuss Another Round, Summer Of Soul, The Sparks Brothers and Deerskin

We're also joined by award-winning director Thomas Vinterberg and acclaimed musician turned filmmaker Questlove for two exclusive interviews.  



Thank you for listening. If you enjoy the show, please subscribe, rate, review and share with your friends. Vive La Cinema!




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Transcript


THE LOVE OF CINEMA Podcast

Sam Clements, joined by guest film critics Anna Smith and Larushka Ivan-Zedeh


Sam Clements [SC]  

Hello, I'm Sam Clements and welcome to The Love of Cinema, a Picturehouse podcast. On this episode we'll be covering a handful of the films coming to your local Picturehouse throughout July. I will not be doing that alone however, I am very pleased to be joined by two special guests film critics, Anna Smith, and Larushka Ivan-Zedeh. If you're at a Picturehouse cinema right now or you've been to one recently, you may have noticed our free magazine Picturehouse Recommends. Anna and Larushka are two of our regular writers in that very magazine, and very established and incredible film writers in their own right. We love working with them on the magazine, and we thought this month, 'Hey, pop behind the microphone, and let's have a chat about the movies'. So here we are. It's a bumper show this month, loads of films coming out in July, we've hand picked a couple, we've got four, in fact, coming up throughout the show. And we're also joined by two of this month's filmmakers for a couple of exclusive interviews. So keep an eye out for those as we as we move on with the podcast. So without further ado, let's roll film. And first up, we've got Thomas Vinterberg's Another Round, which you may remember from the award season. It was one of the big winners, actually, in the Film Not In The English Language category. We'll cut now to Anna and Larushka talking about the film The first voice you'll hear is Larushka. And then we'll go straight into my interview with director Thomas Vinterberg, which I recorded on Zoom just a couple of weeks ago.

[CLIP – ANOTHER ROUND]


Larushka Ivan-Zedeh [LI]  

So Anna, did you enjoy Another Round? Are we going to hit the bar, or has this made you never want to drink again?

Anna Smith [AS]  

Somewhere in between, I have to say, I've seen it twice, both times sober, I think I might have had one glass of wine. And it's interesting, I don't think my opinion it has changed on second viewing because I saw it quite a long time ago. And my first viewing I thought 'okay, this is a really interesting premise'. The idea of a bunch of guys trying to kind of take a small amount of alcohol each day and increase it gradually to see how it affects their behaviour. So, drinking at work... basically you could call this 'Drunk Teachers' if it was an American film, which I think it may yet be. So it's a bunch of teachers, you know, drinking a moderate amount to see how it affects their creativity and such. Like that's an interesting idea. But I have to say that while it was funny in parts I didn't think it really explored that concept that thoroughly – it seemed to be more interested in actually the men's daily lives and their characters. What did you think?

LI  

Yeah, I know what you mean. I think it was described on Rotten Tomatoes as 'an intoxicating look at midlife crisis', which is a good summary. What I liked about it is it's very entertaining. I think most films about alcoholism just make you really depressed and swearing never to have a drink again, like Leaving Las Vegas. I remember going to see that when I was doing my finals. I thought 'I'll take a break from revision and go and see this,' and I was like, 'Oh my god, this is terrible.' It is much more about soul-searching, about Mads Mikkelsen - who's the lead guy - who is this teacher who's sort of reached this point in his life where he's just sort of disengaged from everything. His early promise of being an academic superstar is sort of gone by the wayside. And it's just seeing if he can reignite that spark in his life by drinking a moderate amount every day. Yeah, I really enjoyed it, actually. Because I think because I thought it was going to be this sort of bleak sort of stumble into the void. And instead of which it was sort of an enlightening character study, and quite, very energetically directed as well.

AS  

It is. But I have to say, Thomas Vinterberg, the director, I am a bigger fan of his past work like The Hunt, also starring Mads Mikkelsen, and also The Commune, which I think the themes of that appealed to me more. This is a very male film. Obviously, there aren't any particularly significant female characters, although their wives do have a part to play. And some of the female students and probably some of my favourite scenes were in the classroom. Did you enjoy those? I quite liked it when he's a little bit drunk in the classroom and suddenly he's really engaged with his students. I thought that was probably the most funny and charming element, that kind of implication that if you just relax a bit, you'll probably be better at your job. It wasn't so much to do with the alcohol, it was to do with relaxing.

LI  

Yeah, it's kind of like, they all have these kind of 'Captain, my captain...', Dead Poets Society moments, where these teachers become really inspirational. And it is funny, those moments, as you say, they're mildly pissed. So it's just, it's all quite safe. You don't feel it's gonna go totally off the rails, although it does go into darker territory later on. I know what you're saying about [how] it is very male dominated, and it is about male peer pressure and drinking. I thought was wonderful when Thomas Vinterberg accepted the BAFTA for this, for Best Foreign Language Film, he said 'I had a small suspicion that you Brits might enjoy movie about drinking.' So I think it does really speak to our culture, even if it's particularly from a male angle point of view.

AS  

Yeah, it is about Danish drinking culture. But I do think we have some common ground with Denmark based on watching this film. The students go out and get absolutely off their faces in sort of, like end of year challenges and such like, and this seems to be moderately encouraged by the teachers. And then I like the parallel that you have these, you know, 18, 19 year old kids, or possibly younger, and then you have these middle-aged men, all of whom are drinking more than is probably advisable. And there's one line that one of the wives gets to say, and just says, 'I don't care if you go out and drink with your buddies, everyone in this country drinks too much anyway,' which could really be transferable to the UK, I think. 

LI  

Yeah, definitely. But you know, overall, I really, I really enjoyed it. I really would recommend this one. I think - you've seen it again, I don't know if you enjoyed it so much second time, but I would definitely want to watch it again. It's one I'd encourage people to see and to sort of explore, and perhaps, yeah. Just see something that they didn't quite expect it to be. 

AS  

Absolutely. It's a good film. I think I come to it with very high expectations because of my love of the director. But I think as a standalone film, Another Round is well worth the watch.

[INTERLUDE]


SC  

Thomas, thank you so much for joining us today. We are thrilled to have Another Round in our cinemas right now. It feels like it's been a long time coming.

TV  

Right? This film has been around for a long time. And it's been on a huge journey, and BAFTAS and Oscars and everything. And it's been fantastic, actually. It's been it's been a strange year, full of celebration, and full of grief, and full of great satisfaction about this movie. Because people have really sort of taken it to their hearts. And all over the planet, really. You know, in Russia, in America, in France. I feel making a movie about drinking is also pretty close to home in the UK, I guess.

SC  

Yeah, I think, I think it will definitely resonate with some of the audiences. When you look back on the journey of this film, to the very beginning – so, you have no idea it's going to go on for the awards and the film festivals. But it must be such a great result.

TV  

When I watched some of those 93 movies, from 93 other countries, competing for that same Oscar, I was intimidated with how great they were. There's so many good movies there. And so that we actually won was was a bit of a surprise for me. Definitely.

SC  

Everybody loves to drink. 

TV  

[Laughs] Right. And everybody loves to live. 

SC  

Hmm, absolutely, 

TV  

As opposed to just exist. And I guess that's what we're trying to rebel for, in this movie. It's a movie that lands in a world...not just in a world of confinement because of a pandemic, but also in a super controlled world. Performance culture, where people are constantly evaluated on social media, at school, at work, wherever. In the gym, on their iPhone, they're measured, how many steps they take, all over the place. And I think there's an urge to break free of that. There's an urge towards the uncontrollable, and that's what this film represents. And that's why I think that ironically, the most Danish film I've ever made, has, has gotten a worldwide success.

SC  

You've tapped into something internationally. It's out there in the psyche, I think.

TV  

I think so. I think so. And I think that's even more important than just to say, 'Well, of course, the pandemic has created a claustrophobic room where this gunpowder, the explosion from this, was even stronger.' But there was an element of confinement even before that, in everyday life.

SC  

The film does a really good job of showing that through the characters. You notice, there's always that temptation isn't there? What happens if you disrupt the equilibrium? And the characters in the film find quite an ingenious way to kind of test that. Test the limit as it were.

TV  

Exactly. They find a way which we can all relate to. We've all tried being a part of a very boring, predictable, careful conversation. And then after one or two glasses of wine, people start putting things at risk and the conversation opens up and elevates and becomes interesting. And you forget about yourself, and you look at the people that surround you. And you know, we've all tried that. So, you know, it taps into something that is recognisable for a lot of people.

SC  

When you were, you know, working on the scripts, how did you how did you flesh this world out? Did it purely begin with you know 'what, what if we someone did this?'

TV  

Well, it started earlier than that. We started all the way back in '13, [and] ended up doing other movies instead because we couldn't find the story, really. And back then it was a purely a celebration of alcohol, like as a provocation of a kind. We very quickly wanted, realised, that...making a story about drinking, we need to talk about the dark side as well. You have a responsibility to talk about how all the families, lives, that are being destroyed by this, of course. And then we got more ambitious, we wanted to make a movie about living and not just about drinking. And then we ran into the theory of the movie that claims that human beings should have been born with a small  percentage of alcohol in the blood, which is a real existing quote from a philosopher in Norway. And then the ball started to roll. And when we make them school teachers at the same high school -  gymnasium, as we call it here - that was even a centre stage. And then we can write then we could write a script.

SC  

So, yeah. Get out, listeners and go and check this out. Don't forget, you can visit the bar beforehand as well! Thank you very much, Thomas.

TV  

[Laughs] A lot of people do here, I have to say. Or they go after. 

SC  

Fair enough. It's a good, good film to have a discussion about [after the] movie. Thank you very much for your time today, really appreciate having you on the show. 

TV  

Thank you so much. Thank you. It's a pleasure. 

SC  

Thank you, Thomas Vinterberg and thank you Anna and Larushka for talking about that film. I love that film, highly, highly recommend it. We've, because of the pandemic and how delayed it's been, we've been playing the trailer a lot. And you heard a little section of that trailer at the start of the review - that that song is so catchy. After you see the film, I guarantee you will be searching for it on Spotify and listening to it on repeat. Next up Anna and Larushka enjoy a musical double bill of Edgar Wright's much-anticipated new film The Sparks Brothers, and Questlove's Sundance Film Festival smash, Summer Of Soul. 

[CLIP - THE SPARKS BROTHERS]: 'We are Sparks, dude.' 'Please welcome, Sparks!' 'Frequently asked questions about Sparks: how many albums are there?' '25 albums.'

AS  

So, Larushka. The Sparks Brothers, directed by Edgar Wright, who I know you know very well. But Sparks themselves, as a band. Are you a fan?

LI  

I had no idea who Sparks were and I'm not alone. I think lots of people watching, who watch this documentary or heard of it, thought it might be a prank. Like a spoof band that Edgar Wright had just invented. But no, they are a real band. But I love that. They're my favourite kind of documentaries, the ones that you think are the spoof documentaries. Like Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Searching For Sugar Man, about these people that you've really, hardly anybody's ever heard of, and the people who have heard of them are completely passionate. So the Sparks brothers are this duo called Ron and Russell Mael, who - are they in their 70s now? They've been going for 50 years making albums. They've made 25 albums, which kind of... I don't know, do they defy categorization? How would you...How would you describe their sound?

AS  

Very good question. That's a tough one. I mean, decade-spanning is definitely a big part of it. It's extraordinary, as you say, how long they've actually survived and reinvented their sound, but yet retained what I would say is an essential playfulness. You know, they're eccentric, they're playful, they're, they're witty, but they're also musically talented. And there was a lot in the documentary about the one being, you know, the pushy boy and the lead singer. And then the kind of more thoughtful and definitely more kind of introspective, quirky brother who writes the lyrics and, and that interesting contrast. And there was fantastic footage from I think their first appearance on Top of the Pops when he's just sitting there with his Hitler moustache looking very, very odd, and how that actually sort of contributed to the myth around them, and how they kind of started to acquire these really avid fans, and people that Edgar Wright then gets on to talk about. So there's a quite a lot of talking heads in this documentary, and interestingly they're all filmed in black and white, which I think is quite clever, because it contrasts with the very colourful nature of Sparks, because, you know. These guys really dress up, right? And it's a fantastic way to see over the decades how they kind of reflected the decades in their costumes. Did you enjoy that part of it? 

LI  

Oh, the costumes are amazing. I mean, it's a visual overload this film. I mean, it's worth saying it's over two hours long, which is a long documentary, and I think it's possibly because Edgar Wright entered it under lockdown, so perhaps he just had a lot of time on his hands. And there's just a wealth of material - and actually, the black and white talking heads come as a bit of relief for the eyeballs in this documentary, because there is so much rich material. So I like the bit where Edgar Wright - who describes himself as a fanboy, this is really a fanboy film - and he remembers being age five and seeing that appearance on Top of the Pops. And he says there's this urban myth, maybe it actually happened, where John Lennon was watching Top of the Pops and he rings up Paul McCartney and goes 'Have you seen it's Marc Bolan and Adolf Hitler playing on Top of the Pops?', because that's what the guys look like at that time. And it's interesting, they sort of hit on Top of the Pops, because they are described as 'the best British band to ever come out of America' by Paul Morley, I think. And the talking heads reflect that, because you've got quite a lot of British, very British talking heads like Neil Gaiman and Jonathan Ross and Hecker 100. And Duran Duran. Erasure are on there. And then all these American ones, who - a lot of whom I haven't actually heard of, but they seem to be comedians from America - but like, Weird Al Yankovic and Flea, and they're the most notable ones. But I think Edgar Wright's brilliant like that, because he sort of crosses, he knows that that love of Sparks, that love, a cult passion for a band sort of crosses those two boundaries. 

AS  

Definitely. And I think it was very interesting to see the way that he contrasted those kind of talking heads with the footage, and when he chose to include that, and when he didn't. And I think that's a great director, you know? I mean, you see a lot of music documentaries that play it quite safe, but he was quite fun and playful with the structure, I think. The animation was really fun and added a different element, and really reflected the band. And also, in his interviews with the two of them he's a little bit naughty and mischievous, and deliberately creates sort of some questions that work around the mythology of them. But to the running time, I have to say, I did think it was a little bit too long, I was starting to tire myself out at the end. But at the same time, I acknowledged that it almost has to be long, because their career has been so long. And there is so much ground to cover. And also, every time I sort of started nodding off a bit, there was some fascinating footage of another crazy performance. And another kind of revelation of how they reinvented themselves, even though I was aware of them. And I had seen them perform with Franz Ferdinand, so I was - but I didn't know 90% of this film, nonetheless.

LI  

Yes, the only song I knew was like, [SINGING] 'This town ain't big enough for the both of us'! Which has just been going around in my head ever since watching that documentary, but I think I agree with you, it's too long. And because also it leaves you wanting to know more, because they're a band all about sort of preserving their mystique, which means that you don't really get to know them very well apart from the sort of image that they project. So you never really get to know about their personal life. Obviously, that's deliberate, sort of very much an authorised documentary, you never really get to know need sort of like the dark side, or just like the less fanboy side. It's like, they're amazing. They're this undiscovered geniuses, they're fantastic. They stayed so true to their artistic purity. And they just say that again, and again, and again and again, which is lovely and inspirational. But I kind of wanted a little bit more.

AS  

Yeah, I always want to know more about the sex and the drugs. And there must have been more of that going on that you don't hear about in this film. But, but still, yeah, I enjoyed this a lot. And I think it's going to be a winner with fans, not just of Edgar and Sparks but just of great entertaining documentaries.

[CLIP - SUMMER OF SOUL]: 1969 was a change of era in the black community. The styles were changing, the music was changing. And revolution was coming together.

LI  

So another music documentary this week, we've got Summer Of Soul, directed by Questlove. This is set in, well, it's concert footage from 1969, which is the same summer as Woodstock. And it's a very different sort of festival. Did you did you know about this festival at all Anna?

AS  

I had never heard of it. And that I think that's one of the most astonishing things, isn't it? When you see these films, a bit like that forgotten Aretha Franklin footage film [Amazing Grace] that you just think, 'Oh, wow, this has been sitting in someone's basement for decades'. And they've, you know, no one thought to actually bring it to the screen before. Possibly - well, as of as the film points out - for reasons of sort of, basically racism, you know, this is a predominantly Black festival and Woodstock was the one that got all the attention. And this festival, which was a wonderful celebration of kind of family and fantastic music and community, hile it may have been on the news at the time, has been completely overlooked by history.

LI  

That's right. And you saw the way you hear the director saying the guy who shot the footage at the time, he was trying to sell it around the place and at one point, I think he branded it as the 'Black Woodstock' to try and get people interested in it. And they were just like, 'Well, we've got Woodstock, we're just not interested in you.' I think what really stood out for me first of all, visually the impact of it was one person talks about like looking out on the crowd and seeing the sea of Black faces and you think, 'how many concert footage films have we seen'? You hardly ever- you never see that. And predominantly festival footage you see like Woodstock is always completely white. So just that alone was just such a celebration to see. And for me it felt like part of, particularly the last sort of, I suppose year or so, we've seen a lot of films which are about kind of reclaiming the sort of African American experience. Which has been I mean shunned off screens for so long, you know? So films like One Night in Miami and Judas and the Black Messiah, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, they're particularly about sort of reclaiming Black culture, particularly American Black culture, and this feels like this is coming on part of that wave.

AS  

And it feels even more special that this is real footage. Great as those films are and those dramas are, this is actually real found footage from an event and it feels quite magical. And you can see in, in the interviews they do, because there are a few talking heads in this, that aren't... whether they were onstage or, or perhaps actually, more interestingly, in the audience, you know, when they were children at the time, and the impact that this had on them. And even, you know, as a young Black kid, seeing that sea of Black faces was amazing for him, this this guy that talks about it, and he talks about falling in love with one of the women on stage and it's so vivid, and they cut the the footage really well with those interviews, and I just felt 'gosh, that really captures the magic', of particularly when you're a child and you go to a festival for the first time or whether it's even the county show or a fete or whatever it is. That sense of community, and seeing a band perform on stage, and how exciting that is. But of course also what I think was an interesting decision is that they decide to then move this into more news archive political territory, do you want to speak a bit to that?

LI  

Yeah, 'cause I think it was Gladys Knight -  I was trying to keep track of all the talking heads - pops up to say it wasn't just the music. And I think what Questlove does really well here is kind of weave in the political context that was going on at the time. [He] weaves in Vietnam, the assassination of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, the fact that Black Panthers were providing security at this concert, but also the moon landing. So literally, at the time that this concert is happening, a man lands on the moon, and most of the people in that audience could not be less bothered. They're just like, 'Yeah, that's great. But you know, you could be putting all that money into solving poverty, particularly in our community. And so what, really?' It's just like, wow. It's just such a refreshing sort of different perspective on stuff that's captured at times. They have all this news footage of people going, 'Yeah, whatever. It's okay.' Were there any highlights, for you, like concert-wise, that you were watching [and] that you really sort of had a 'spine tingling' moment?

AS  

I think Nina Simone. I mean, that was incredible. Seeing her play. I mean, obviously, I've seen footage and documentaries. But I hadn't seen this. And she- I was very interested in how politicised she was as well, actually. And how very outspoken she was with that.  Not necessarily surprised. 

LI  

She sings 'Young Gifted and Black', doesn't she? 

AS  

Right.

LI  

She performs that, and it's quite...You see these, like, people listening to the lyrics and their eyes kind of lighting up as they're listening. It's just like, wonderful. It sort of spreads around.

AS  

I'm getting chills just when you're saying that. Just remembering watching it and just thinking, 'Wow, this is an incredible moment that must have inspired 1000s of people'. And it hasn't been shown more widely, you know? And it's a huge part of history for everyone who was there. And it potentially affected everyone who was there indelibly. So I'm going to say that I would absolutely recommend seeing this film, especially in the cinema. Have a little dance in your seat. What do you think? 

LI  

Yeah, have a communal communal experience? Definitely. 

AS  

Yeah, it's really one to bring people together. Wonderful.

SC  

And now, we're excited to be joined by director Questlove for our second interview of the show, and we'll be joined by a brand new voice. For this interview, our very own producer, Kobi Omenaka, who watched the film a couple of weeks ago, and was such a huge fan [that] when the opportunity to interview Questlove came up, Kobi jumped at the chance. So here we go. Questlove talking to our very own producer, Kobi Omenaka.

QL  

In doing this Summer Of Soul film [during] you know, the quiet of the pandemic, so I'll say that by the time that we got to March of 2020...we were just in the, I'll say, the 60% period of finishing the film. So the last 40% of doing this movie between March of 2020, and we wrapped it up in July. This taught me a lot about myself as a human being as far as being resourceful. Because we basically almost had to start all over, like all the interviews we had? Off the table. All the people that we were going to interview? Off the table. The technology to do these interviews? Off the table. So we had to use our smarts to just figure out like, 'How are we going to do this'?

KO  

When you're reconfiguring this, or operating together in the first place, how much...how important was it for you to try and get this to an audience seeing in a cinema, so they could almost recreate, relive the experience of those guys in Harlem in '69?

QL  

The thoughts weren't lost on me that perhaps this film might come out at a time where the world might open up, and this might be their first experience in the world. And that might even change perception of the film. Like 'We're free, what's there to see? Oh, damn, the Summer Of Soul movie?' And then, you know, that makes the experience better. Timing is everything. So I will say that even the the period of which this film is coming out, right when the world, at least in America, is is starting to really open up. And this is one of the, one of the seven films that's coming out for the summer. You know, you can't plan lightning in a bottle. But yes, I absolutely knew that. We kind of went in with the energy that maybe when this film is done next year...and we don't have any clue. Like we did this film in July, we finished in July of 2020. So you know, the election's still happening. We don't know who's going to be president. We don't know none of that stuff. But it was a step on faith. Like, 'Maybe, perhaps, it'll be a pleasant environment next year when this film comes out.' It just so happens that that's happening. But at the time, it was a step of faith. 

KO  

For you as the curator behind this...I mean, the soundscape in this, making sure everything was on point. I mean, that's, that's part of the cinema experience, as well as being absorbed, with the people around you. 

QL  

I saw my film for the first time on the big screen with an audience last Saturday, and it was like watching a whole new film. And there's one particular scene... it's the most tragic part of the movie, but it's hilarious to me. So it's the, it's the moment where Jesse Jackson is recalling the last moments of Martin Luther King. And he's telling this story to us. I didn't even asked him the question, we just happened to be talking about the Lorraine Motel, and Benjamin Brandts, the saxophone player. And he tells this story of Martin Luther King. And so we're, we're mixing this and there's a moment where he startled me because you're listening to the story. And then when he gets the point where Malcolm is about to- Martin is about to lose his life. He says, 'And then...POW,' and when I was in the interview chair, I jumped! And I remembered like, 'Yo, that's what I want to happen. I want people to have the same experience I had when I jumped out my chair when he's telling me the story, one on one'. So when we're mixing the story, I was on my editor Josh and my producer David like, 'Yo, when he says, 'pow', I need you to really mix this'. I want the...I want it to be like a horror film. And so when that moment happens, and unfortunately I'm in the front row so I didn't want to be Captain Obvious and turn around and see everyone's...but when that when it when it happened, and he said, 'You know Martin Luther King was like, "Yeah, I wonder about...POW!" The whole audience jilted. And then they all collectively looked at me like 'You did this.' Like, I'm serious, they were like, dropping their their snacks. And like, that was the effect. And that's when I realised like, 'Oh, this is a whole nother experience inside of the theatre than it is watching on my laptop.' Every time I watched this film was on my computer, so it was different for me.

SC  

Thank you Questlove. And thank you Kobi. That was a section of a much longer interview, which we will put out as a special episode on this very feed - a great reason to subscribe - later in July, so subscribe to the feed. When the film opens in mid July, we'll put the full interview up there, but thank you very much Kobi, what a fun interview. And I highly, highly recommend the film when it comes out. Both of the films, actually. These are music films, and the joy of watching films at the cinema is the surround sound and the sound mixing on both of these, and the immersive experience of the music is incredible. So do seek those out on the big screen. I've always wanted to say this on the podcast....And now for something completely different. It's totally true. Anna and Larushka are back to talk about Quentin Dupieux's film Deerskin. This film is unlike anything I've seen. I loved it. I cannot tell you why. Anna and Larushka, however, do a much better job of that. 

[CLIP - DEERSKIN]


AS  

So, Larushka. Deerskin I went into with knowing absolutely nothing, and I think that's quite good way to go into it. But nonetheless, we're going to talk about it a little bit now. It's Jean Dujardin, and he is obsessed with a deerskin jacket. That's the starting point. Do you want to take it from there?

LI  

I love the way you said you went into it knowing nothing. I feel like came out of this film knowing nothing. It's the weirdest film I've seen for ages. Deliberately so, it's very absurd. It's sort of like this crazy, sort of Western? So yeah, the artist, Jean Dujardin, you see is like this lone stranger. He drives into town. En route he goes to...I think a petrol station? He takes off his corduroy jacket, stuffs it in the loo, flushes the loo, flooding the bathroom, carries on. Goes to this remote place. Buys a deerskin jacket he's sort of bought off the French equivalent of eBay. A deerskin jacket. And becomes obsessed, sort of stroke possessed by this jacket. Ends up in a town with no money because he's in the middle of a marital breakup and his wife's blocked his credit card, and then encounters a barmaid who is played by Adele Haenel. You can probably pronounce it much better than me. I know [her] from Portrait Of A Lady On Fire. Who's a wannabe film editor, and then it also sort of takes this weird turn into becoming a film about filmmaking. Because he has this digital recorder, it was thrown into a freebie because he paid like thousands of Euros above what he needed to, obviously for this deerskin jacket, and he just wanders listlessly around town, shooting footage, which then she edits. I'm just rambling here Anna, help me, help me. I don't know what I'm talking about.

AS  

You're rambling because the film is rambling. I think you're actually describing it very well, because it's one of those films that when I afterwards I went online, and I saw it described as a comedy horror, and I'm like, 'Oh, is it? Is that what it is? I'm not sure. Is it funny?' I laughed a few times. There's definitely stabs of dark humour. Is it a horror? I mean, that's a little bit of a spoiler, but there, there may be violence. Yes. And horrifying elements. 

LI  

Which catches you by surprise, because you're not expecting them either. 

AS  

That's right. 

LI  

Unless you had read that it's a comedy horror, which it might be, but apart from that, there's nothing to indicate that gruesome things are about to occur.

AS  

But I wouldn't flag this up as one for horror fans, really. It's almost an art- it's an arthouse film, but not necessarily the best kind of arthouse film. I feel it's got a character who's thoroughly unlikable, in fact, probably psychopathic, and that can be really interesting, of course, and really funny. And we've all had a good laugh at some very creative, wonderful films by the likes of Martin McDonaugh on that level. Here, I just thought he was such an odd and despicable person, and I wasn't that interested in what he was doing. Especially when he starts completely exploiting this barmaid.

LI  

Is this a satire on the movie industry? Is he some, like, failed Weinstein character where he's exploiting her? Then it goes into sort of Peeping Tom territory, the kind of Powell and Pressburger film horror. I also felt, despite being a film critic for about 20 years of my life, I'm not cineliterate enough to actually understand this film. Maybe if Jean-Luc Godard watched this film, he'll be like, 'Hoh hoh! C'est trois amusant!' But I was just like, feeling a little bit left out. But I do love absurdism. And I think I was thinking, as you were saying that, who would like this? Maybe if you like Roy Andersson films, like The Pigeon Sat On A Branch Contemplating Existence, this kind of, that kind of genre, then you'd probably quite enjoy this, I think.

AS  

That's a good shout. I think that it's in that sort of ballpark. And I do like those films, but I don't love them. I don't think he's as good as that. But I think yeah, if you've got an eye for the surreal, you like Jean Dujardin, you're easily amused by a lot of surreal jokes about deerskin, then this is the film for you.

LI  

[Laughs] Niche, is what we're saying.

AS  

It's quite niche.

SC  

And as we come to the end of this episode of The Love Of Cinema, we couldn't let Anna and Larushka leave without asking them what they've seen at the cinema recently, and what they're looking forward to watching at their local Picturehouse in the coming weeks.

LI  

So Anna, what else do you love at the cinema right now that you think people should go and see?

AS  

Well, The Father is still in some cinemas. And of course, what a fantastic film. I think Anthony Hopkins' performance in this as a man with dementia is extraordinary and obviously deserved the awards that he got. But also I love the way that this is a film very much from the point of view of someone who is senile, and is very, very confused. And it's almost got a kind of time travel, sci-fi element to it. The way that it explores his mind and the kind of time jumps in the confusions he experiences. So, The Father. If you haven't caught it yet, see it. Larushka, what about you?

LI  

I love In the Heights, which I think is a summer smash musical from Lin Manuel Miranda, obviously creator of Hamilton. This is the new Hamilton. Very different. It's actually, he wrote it before Hamilton, it's set on a block in New York, which is sort of crumbling because of gentrification, so all the Latinx community are being sort of pushed out, and it is just brilliant. It's so joyful. It's so sunny. It's a celebration of community and identity. And it's such a film to see in the cinema, because it's just a big screen communal, fun, enjoyable [experience]. I loved it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if it's still in cinemas I loved In The Earth, which is the horror...I suppose, again, genre-defying film by the visionary director, British director Ben Wheatley. If you've seen his Kill List, this is very much in that kind of ballpark. Which is set and [was] shot during the pandemic, about a doctor who goes into the forest to search for another doctor who's mysteriously disappeared, and meets Reece Shearsmith, which is always going to be a sign that things are about to go peculiar. It's very strange. I don't want to say anything more about it. But if you like weird cult stuff, you will love this one.

AS  

So Larushka, what is coming up that people might be wanting to look forward to and start booking?

LI  

Obviously, we want to all see Black Widow, but the film that I'm also looking at that you might not have heard of is The Night House, which is a psychological horror set by a lakeside house, which stars Rebecca Hall as a woman whose husband has just recently rode into the middle of the lake and shot himself in the head, leaving her in her strange, Grand Designs-type house which is full of bumps in the night and jumpscares, basically. The reason- I have two reasons I'm recommending this. First, Rebecca Hall, amazing. Often sort of an underrated actress, I think. And she's doing the equivalent of Toni Collette in Hereditary or Lupita Nyong'o in Us here, a fantastic actress in a horror film. Also, just, it's a horror film, and they are so brilliant to watch in the cinema in the dark. Being with everyone, screaming, crying, laughing. I love watching horror films in the cinema. So that's why I'm going for The Night House. How about you? What would you like that's coming soon?

AS  

Well, one that I've seen that's coming very soon on July the ninth is Tove. T-O-V-E. So, this is the woman who wrote the Moomins cartoons, and I knew nothing about her going into this. And this is an absolutely delightful biopic about a woman who was very free loving, very free living, very creative. It's a period drama with lots of spark, and verve and heart, and explains how really a lot of the Moomins cartoons- I don't know, if you might remember them from childhood, with the big kind of...they almost look like hippopotami, these sort of white, white sort of cartoons that became really popular. And they were made into lots of books and films and TV. But a lot of the language that she used, this kind of made up language, was actually partially inspired by a relationship she had with another woman. Because it was, you know, different times, and perhaps they couldn't be too open about their relationship. So they devised this way of talking to each other. So that's really interesting. I put this in the same sort of ballpark as Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, which is another film that I loved. So if you like that kind of thing, see Tove. 

LI  

Oh, it's always great to chat to you Anna. Where can more people hear about what you're up to and chat with you more? 

AS  

Well, they can tune into my podcast, Girls On Film, which you are a guest on sometimes, and which is a feminist film podcast. You can find that on all major podcast platforms. You can find me on Twitter at @annasmithjourno, and on Instagram at @annasmithfilmcritic. And I also appear on Radio Four from time to time, and I'm doing quite a lot of presenting of the BBC News channel film review at the moment, while the lovely Mark Kermode is on holiday. Larushka, how can people find out more about you and your work?

LI  

Ah, mainly through Metro, of course. Lovely Metro, which is...the print version is back on top as the highest circulation British newspaper, which is great. So as people are going back onto transport, I'm going to woo you back onto transport by being able to read my amazing film reviews every Wednesday. So if you're gonna go in the office any day, make it a Wednesday.

SC  

Well, that's a wrap on another episode. Thank you very much for listening all the way to the end. And a big thank you to our guests film critics, Anna Smith, and Larushka Ivan-Zedeh. As Anna and Larushka mentioned in the outro, do follow them on social media, do find Larushka's writing regularly in The Metro, and do pick up Picturehouse Recommends! You can see both of their, both of their work and many, many other very talented writers, in our free magazine. If you enjoyed this show, please subscribe on your pod-catcher of choice. And if you're an Apple Podcasts user, do leave us a quick rating and preferably a five star review! That would be very nice indeed. If you've made it to the end, I hope that would be the case. But we love reading your comments. So do drop us a line either on the podcatching apps, or you can tweet us at @picturehouses, or you can email us at [email protected] You can find the show times for your latest Picturehouse at picturehouses.com, and you can search for either the film or your local cinema and see what we've got. I hope you've enjoyed going back to the cinema in the last few weeks. I know I certainly have. I think I have had to be forcibly removed from screen one at The Ritzy in Brixton a couple of times because I just wanted to stay and watch the film again and again and again. So, do get back to the cinema if you can. And yeah, we'd love to hear what you're watching on the big screen. I've been Sam Clements, we'll be back for a brand new episode in August with a couple of new guest critics. I could tell you who they are, but it would spoil the surprise, so check back in August and we'll be joined for some more film chat with a couple of fab film critics. What I can say is, in our August episode, we have a special interview with the one and only Jude Law. I'm confident in saying that because I've literally just done it. So that's in the can, and I'm looking forward to sharing that with you next month. But that's it from me. Thank you so much for making it this far in the show. This show was produced by Stripped Media, and the supremely talented - not just podcast producer, but podcast guest interviewer - Kobi Omenaka, and the show is edited by Maddie Searle. Thank you so much Maddie, you've been a hero. See you soon, check your feed in the next couple of weeks for a bonus episode or two, and we'll be back in August. Goodbye!



Hosted by Picturehouse's very own Sam Clements, The Love Of Cinema podcast goes deep on the best new releases, with a little help from some of our favourite film critics, plenty of special guests, and you, the audience! 

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