Chen On Ephron

What is the secret formula that made Nora Ephron’s romantic comedies so much better than all the others? Who are the two Nora avatars that appear throughout her films? How did she commit one of the greatest trolls in history, one that wouldn’t be apparent for thirty years?

To find out, we talk to the amazing Corrie Chen, an acclaimed award-winning writer/director of film and television. A trip to the cinema in the early ’90s made Corrie a confirmed Nora Ephron fan, and laid the groundwork for both a career in filmmaking and a guest spot on Hell Is For Hyphenates, but we’ll let you decide which of those two things is the more prestigious.

Before that, we take Ephron’s famous phrase “everything is copy”, as coined by her mother Phoebe, and ask Corrie how she interprets that idea, and how she applies it to her own work. It’s a fascinating discussion that nevertheless ends on the phrase “fully-erect echidna”. It’s the journey, not the destination.

And before that, Rochelle and Lee look back at some of the key new releases of the month, including Haifaa al-Mansou’s gothic biopic Mary Shelley, Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary RBG, Kiwi comedy The Breaker Upperers, and William Friedkin’s exorcism doco The Devil and Father Amorth. It’s an eclectic mix of films, and an eclectic mix of quality.

If you haven’t heard: you can come watch us record Hell Is For Hyphenates episode #100 live at the Melbourne International Film Festival! The milestone episode will take place at 2pm on August 11th, at ACMI’s The Cube in Federation Square. We’ll be talking to Wolf Creek director about the films and career of Ridley Scott. Tickets are free, but make sure you book through the MIFF website!

Further reading:

  • If you want to see the Futurama episode that Ruth Bader Ginsburg quote came from, check out the episode The Cryonic Woman. It is exceedingly funny, and is technically the last episode of season two, but sometimes is counted as part of season three. Look, you’ve got the title, you can hunt it down yourself.
  • In case you need a fact check on why we call William Friedkin a confirmed Hi4H listener, here’s his tweet. (Hey, we didn’t say he listened to every episode.)
  • And you can listen back to our William Friedkin episode, featuring screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, here.
  • Everything Is Copy is a bit hard to track down, but it’s absolutely worth the effort. Australian listeners can order a region 1 DVD from our newly-opened Amazon store, or from the US Barnes and Noble, or from wherever you source your overseas DVDs. And if any local distributors want to pick up this title, we wouldn’t be upset.
  • There’s a treasure trove of Corrie’s short films that you can watch right now, including Happy Country, the inspired-by-real-events road trip comedy she talks about on the show.
  • This is our second time talking Sleepless in Seattle, partly because it’s so good, but mostly because auteur theory isn’t an exclusive beast, so listen back to our Rob Reiner episode, featuring Chaser member Chris Taylor, here.
  • “I’ll cut this.” We did not cut this. If you want to see the first page of that MAD Magazine parody Senseless In Seattle, some mysterious hero has put it up on Pinterest.
  • Patrizia von Brandenstein (not, uh, “Patricia van Brandenstein”) is the production designer behind Amadeus, Man on the Moon, The Untouchables, Sneakers, and (coincidentally) Ephron’s own Silkwood, and you can read a bit more about her here.
  • Speaking of Carl Bernstein and All the President’s Men, you can listen back to last month’s show on Alan J Pakula, featuring filmmaker Alex Ross Perry, here.
  • Here’s a Washington Post report of Ephron and Bernstein’s divorce from June 1985.
  • This Is My Life was actually young Gaby Hoffman’s third screen role after Field of Dreams (1989) and Uncle Buck (1989). And there’s a pretty good chance you’ll see us hear us talking about one of those titles next month…
  • Delia hints at the familial discomfort in making Hanging Up in a 2013 interview with Vanity Fair.
  • The Post producer Amy Pascal discusses the Nora Ephron dedication with Screen Daily.
  • Here’s an article on Good Girls Revolt from Vanity Fair, the dramatised Amazon series about the discrimination lawsuit filed against Newsweek. Nora Ephron is a character in the show, and she’s played by Grace Gummer. Who is Meryl Streep’s daughter. Did we just blow your mind or what?

Outro music: Psycho Killer by Talking Heads from Julie & Julia

The latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Corrie Chen talking the films of Nora Ephron, can be heard on Stitcher Smart Radio, subscribed to on iTunes, or downloaded/streamed directly from our website.

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