Author Archives: The Hyphenates

The Joe Dante Cheat Sheet

Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double feature that will not only make for a great evening’s viewing, but will bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode lands…

THE ’BURBS (1989) and GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH (1990)

Don’t let the fact that The ’Burbs is incredibly silly and funny distract you from the fact that it is also an incredibly clever satire on the veneer of the American Dream. At the tail end of the Reagan era and the Cold War, Joe Dante made a film about white America’s fear of foreigners, set in an idealised neighbourhood whose pristineness belies a rotten, ugly heart. Tom Hanks stars as the quintessential middle-class husband and father who has a growing suspicion of his unusual neighbours, and, egged on by the mob mentality of other members of the suburban cul-de-sac, ignites chaos and destruction. It’s possibly Dante’s cleverest work, and a potential insight into his worldview. Your evening continues with a viewing of Gremlins 2: The New Batch. The original Gremlins is widely considered the superior film, but we’re going to make a case for the sequel. The point of the Cheat Sheet is to give you everything you need to know about the director in the space of two films, and Dante’s predilection for Looney Tunes-inspired wackiness and meta-textual gags that trample uncaringly over the remains of the fourth wall make Gremlins 2 the irresistible choice. Film critic Leonard Maltin appears at one point in the film, trashing the original Gremlins on screen before he himself is attacked by Gremlins, who then stop the actual film we’re watching as we’re watching it, taking over the cinema we are presumably in! The first Gremlins felt like Dante meeting the audience halfway; the sequel feels like Dante Unleashed. Watching these two films back-to-back should tell you everything you need to know about what makes Joe Dante tick.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen The ’Burbs, track down Innerspace (1987). It’s not exactly the suburbam satire that The ’Burbs is, but it’s the perfect mix of action and comedy, and one of the most eminently rewatchable films Dante has made. Who doesn’t want to see Dennis Quaid shrunk to microscopic proportions and injected into Martin Short’s arse? Crazy people, that’s who. If you can’t get or have already seen Gremlins 2: The New Batch, get yourself a copy of Looney Tunes: Back In Action. After years of emulating the Bugs Bunny aesthetic on screen – and collaborating more than once with the great Chuck Jones – Dante fulfilled what was surely a prophecy from the mists of time, directing the 2003 live action Looney Tunes film. Though it doesn’t quite reach the peak of the original cartoon (but what since 1964 has?), it’s still far more in the spirit of the classic series than every hipster’s favourite ironic go-to reference Space Jam. You know it’s true.

The Hidden Gem: Want to see something off the beaten path, a lesser-known work from Joe Dante’s filmography? We recommend you take a look at 1993’s Matinee. Dante’s love letter to William Castle features John Goodman as a schlocky film producer promoting his horror film Mant! in southern Florida as a group of movie-loving kids try to cope with the Cuban Missile Crisis. We’ll likely never see a movie-length dramatisation of Joe Dante’s childhood, so Matinee is probably the next best thing.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Neil Marshall talking Joe Dante, will be released on 31 May 2017.

Our Next Hyphenate Neil Marshall

Writer, director and Hi4H May 2017 guest host Neil Marshall

A big question kicking around Hi4H headquarters since we released our first episode in May 2010 has been this: who will be the first person to be both a guest and a filmmaker of the month? We’ve talked about a lot of very talented and very still-alive filmmakers on the show… and have tried to lure many of them on as guests, coming awfully close a couple of times, but to no avail. Until now!

Those who listened to our most recent show – featuring Scott Weinberg talking the films of Neil Marshall – heard the revelation that our next guest will be none other than Neil himself!

If you are yet to listen to last month’s show, a) hurry up, and b) here’s a rundown of Neil’s bonafides: he is an English filmmaker best known for horror films such as Dog Soldiers (2002), The Descent (2005), Doomsday (2008) and Centurion (2010), as well as his high-profile television work that has included Game of Thrones, Hannibal, Constantine, Black Sails and Westworld. And about 24 hours ago it was announced he’s directing the reboot of Hellboy with David Harbour in the lead role! (The timing of the Hellboy announcement with this announcement is complete coincidence, although we’re more than willing to pretend we were in on it the whole time and this was deliberately-timed synergy.)

Of course, all of that is far less important than his next role: that of Hell Is For Hyphenates guest host!

So which filmmaker will Neil be joining us to talk about?

None other than Joe Dante!

Dante is a beloved director for cinephiles who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. This was the era in which high-concept fantasy and self-aware comedy merged to push big budget Hollywood films into what would eventually be referred to as “geek” cinema, with directors such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas helping to turn the niche into the mainstream.

Joe Dante was one of the key figures of this movement. From his beginnings directing episodes of the groundbreaking comedy series Police Squad!, to his early films such as Hollywood Boulevard (co-directed with Allan Arkush), Dante was quickly established as someone with a sincere love of genre films and a keen sense of humour.

With a career including Piranha, Twilight Zone: The Movie, The Howling, Gremlins, Innerspace, Explorers and The ’Burbs, he defined the movement of multiplex cinema that was exciting, fantastical, smart, and above all fun.

So what is it about Dante’s films that specifically appeals to Neil? Join us on May 31 when we find out!

Our next filmmaker of the month, Joe Dante

Weinberg On Marshall

“When you need to set the ocean on fire, you hire Neil Marshall.”

An American, a Brit and an Australian walk into a podcast… This month certainly isn’t the first time we’ve recorded across three continents, but with daylight savings ending in one place and starting in another, it certainly made for some tricky scheduling as one of us got up super early, one of stayed up super late, and another relaxed in the comfort of the early evening. See if you can guess which was which! Actually, don’t.

We were covering John Carpenter’s films on Hi4H at the same time Kurt Russell was announced as starring in Guardians 2. So this moment in Carpenter’s Elvis (1982) really stood out to us as an almost-prophecy.

We kick off this month’s episode with a look back at three different films from April 2017 (according to the disparate release dates across our various countries). Lee examines the daddy issues at play in James Gunn’s Marvel sequel Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2; Sophie looks at Raoul Peck’s documentary I Am Not Your Negro, which examines the final unfinished work by legendary American writer and essayist James Baldwin; Lee jumps back in to celebrate the very special occasion that is a new Warren Beatty film, as he reviews Beatty’s Howard Hughes semi-biopic Rules Don’t Apply, his first directorial effort since 1998’s Bulworth, and his first on-screen appearance since 2001’s Town and Country.

We then welcome our special guest Scott Weinberg, critic, horror aficionado, film producer, and co-host of the movie podcast 80s All Over, which he presents alongside fellow Hi4H alum Drew McWeeny.

Scott joins us to look at the recent examination of the Netflix distribution model. Is Netflix’s particular brand of video-on-demand a revolutionary way of bringing rare and obscure content directly into your home, or is it a behemoth burying films and hiding sleeper hits from view?

Then Scott takes us through the works of his filmmaker of the month, English horror director Neil Marshall! From Dog Soldiers to The Descent, from Doomsday to Centurion, across his many episodes of iconic television, Scott takes us through what makes Marshall’s films so distinctive, and why he is such a key voice in 21st century horror cinema.

Further reading:

  • If you want to hear our chat about the first Guardians of the Galaxy, listen back to our episode from August 2014.
  • As we said in the Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 chat, Elizabeth Debecki isn’t the only Australian actress being villainous in Marvel’s cosmic universe. If you haven’t seen the Thor: Ragnorak trailer, have a look and see if you’re into Cate Blanchett-in-antlers as much as Lee.
  • The David Ehrlich article that inspired our middle segment, entitled “Netflix Keeps Buying Great Movies, So It’s a Shame They’re Getting Buried” can be read here on Indiewire.
  • During the third segment, we digress slightly into talk of Return To Oz (1985), and the fact that the director had himself digressed into astrophysics. The director in question is Walter Murch, the Oscar-winning editor behind Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, The English Patient and more, and his unlikely interest in astrophysics is detailed in Lawrence Weschler’s book Waves Passing in the Night (Bloomsbury Publishing), released in January of this year.
  • Scott mention a couple of other films about the Lost Legion. These include the 2011 film The Eagle, based on the Rosemary Sutcliff novel The Eagle of the Ninth, directed by Kevin McDonald, which has no official connection to Centurian but is considered by some to be an unofficial sequel due to Channing Tatum’s character Marcus Flavius Aquila being the son of Titus Flavius Virilus, played by Dominic West in Marshall’s film. The other film is 2014’s The Lost Legion, directed by David Kocar & Petr Kubik.
  • Sophie references the fact that the Nicholas Winding Refn film Drive was very nearly directed by Neil Marshall, with Hugh Jackman in the role that eventually went to Ryan Gosling. Check out the announcement of the unrealised project from March 2008.
  • Mere days after the release of this episode, in which we wondered if Neil Marshall would ever return to directing films, it was announced that he would be helming the reboot of the popular comic book series Hellboy! The first two Hellboy films were, of course, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, and you can listen back to our thoughts on his Hellboy films in our del Toro episode with guest Maria Lewis.

Outro music: score from The Descent (2005), composed by David Julyan

The latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Scott Weinberg talking the films of Neil Marshall, can be heard on Stitcher Smart Radio, subscribed to on iTunes, or downloaded/streamed via our website.

Hell Is For Hyphenates – April 2017

Our guest this month is critic, film producer and horror aficionado Scott Weinberg. Sophie and Lee look back at some of the key films of this month, including James Gunn’s comic book sequel Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, Raoul Peck’s James Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro, and Warren Beatty’s Howard Hughes biopic Rules Don’t Apply. Then Scott joins the show to look at the Netflix model of film distribution: is the streaming service making harder-to-find films more accessible by conveniently delivering them directly to your television set, or is its overabundance of content causing the smaller titles to disappear? Then Scott takes us through the career and works of his chosen filmmaker of the month, English horror director Neil Marshall.

The Neil Marshall Cheat Sheet

Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double feature that will not only make for a great evening’s viewing, but will bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode lands…

DOG SOLDIERS (2002) and THE DESCENT (2005)

Your evening’s viewing begins with Dog Soldiers, the first feature by Neil Marshall. The film follows a group of soldiers in the Scottish Highlands who find their training mission interrupted when they are terrorised by a pack of werewolves. Marshall’s debut feature revels in the grand tradition of low-budget horror films, using budgetary limitations to its advantage: a contained cast and a remote location means that the characters are front and centre and the scares are restrained and effective. After watching a group of men battle werewolves in the forest, you’re going to want to watch a group of women battle subhumans in an underground cave system: his follow-up The Descent is a masterful horror, stylish as hell and terrifying as all get-out. Marshall wisely keeps his focus on character, forgoing the usual trope stereotypes in favour of complex people we genuinely care about. And then he drops them in the most terrifying setting imaginable. If you’re not claustrophobic when the film begins, you will be by the end, and the confined cave system isn’t even the scariest thing about this ingenious horror flick. Honestly, text your friends now because this is a double feature designed for company.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen Dog Soldiers, check out Doomsday (2008). This postapocalyptic virus film was conceived by Marshall when he imagined futuristic soldiers battling medieval knights, and draws inspiration from the likes of Mad Max and Escape From New York. If you can’t get or have already seen The Descent, track down Centurion (2010). The historical action film features Michael Fassbender as a Roman soldier on the run in Britain, fighting Picts and traitorous Romans alike as he tries to stay alive in 117AD.

The Hidden Gem: Want to check out something slightly off the beaten track? Well, it’s kind of tricky to do a Hidden Gem this month, as Marshall’s only made four features. We were tempted to suggest one the many high-profile episodes of television he’s directed (particularly the 2012 Game of Thrones episode Blackwater), but we think we might go with Marshall’s 1999 short film Combat. It’s under eight minutes long, you can watch it literally right now by clicking on this link, and it’s a perfect encapsulation of what makes Marshall so interesting: a straightforward high-concept idea executed with all the filmmaking elements available. If you are going to watch a double feature as suggested above, we recommend kicking it off with a pre-show screening of Combat.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Scott Weinberg talking Neil Marshall, will be released on 30 April 2017.

Our Next Hyphenate Scott Weinberg

Film journalist, producer, and Hi4H April 2017 guest host Scott Weinberg

If you’re into film and you’re on Twitter, you definitely know who Scott Weinberg is. But for those who are yet to make the leap to the microblogging social media platform, Scott has been a film journalist for almost two decades, writing on cinema for Cinematical, FEARnet, Nerdist, Thrillist, Playboy and others. He’s one of film criticism’s most passionate voices, and recently launched the popular 1980s cinema-themed podcast 80s All Over alongside Hi4H alum Drew McWeeny.

He’s also become hands-on behind the camera, producing last year’s horror film Found Footage 3D. But all of that pales in comparison his next role: Hell Is For Hyphenates guest host!

Scott is best known for his love of horror cinema, so we were keen to hear which filmmaker he would want to talk about. So who did he go with? None other than British horror director Neil Marshall!

Marshall was praised for his gritty debut feature, the 2002 werewolf horror Dog Soldiers. His 2005 spelunking follow-up The Descent immediately achieved cult status, and with two iconic horrors under his belt, Marshall quickly became one to watch.

After a few more features, Marshall turned to television, working on Black Sails, Constantine, Hannibal and Westworld. He has also directed for Game of Thrones, with his debut episode Blackwater considered one of the best-directed episodes of the entire series.

So what is it about Marshall’s films that Scott loves so much? Check back in with us on April 30 when we find out!

Our next filmmaker of the month, Neil Marshall

Reeder On Anders

Allison Anders is a name that doesn’t get mentioned nearly as much as it should. And thanks to Jennifer Reeder, this month we’re pointing out why this is a mistake that needs to be corrected. From Gas Food Lodging to Grace of My Heart and Things Beyond the Sun, Anders was one of the defining voices of 1990s American indie cinema. So what happened? We take a decent stab at figuring it out, as we celebrate the remarkable films that Anders has made and continues to make.

Blink and you’ll miss her: director Nicole Holofcener cameos as a prison guard in one shot of Mi Vida Loca (1993)

Jennifer was in London for the BFI Flare Festival, and by an amazing coincidence, so was Allison Anders! Jennifer’s film Signature Move was Flare’s Closing Night Gala film, and Allison’s seminal Gas Food Lodging was celebrating its 25th anniversary with a restored 2K digital print. Before you get excited, we don’t actually have Allison on this episode, but we are working to get her on a future show to find out which filmmaker she herself admires. Nevertheless, Sophie managed to track her down and snap a photo with her, which you can see below!

Before we talk the films of Allison Anders, Sophie and Lee tackle some new releases, looking at a couple of very different films with an unexpected thematic link: James Mangold’s Wolverine swansong Logan, and Sara Taksler’s Bassem Youssef documentary Tickling Giants.

Pre-fame cameos: (l-r) Jason Lee, Spike Jonze and Tiffany Anders doing a deal in Mi Vida Loca (1993)

Then Sophie joins Jennifer in her hotel room to talk all things Anders, and find out why she was such an influence on a young Jennifer Reeder. Sophie then checks back with Lee for some final thoughts on AA’s films. As with all of our episodes, we do our best to appeal to both Anders fans as well as those with no knowledge of her films. Like Ted the Bellhop, we do our best to cater to everyone.

A couple of familiar names appear on-screen in Gas Food Lodging (1992) (left) and Sugar Town (1999) (right)

Further reading:

  • That moment in the Man of Steel trailer that Lee talks about obsessing over can be seen here about 22 seconds in
  • Two pieces that explore Bassem Youssef’s move to the US, including this interview on NPR’s Fresh Air and this one with Rolling Stone
  • Sophie references the Amy Schumer Show sketch “The Last Fuckable Day” (which was, coincidentally, directed by Nicole Holocener)
  • Lee mentions his repeated viewings of the Four Rooms trailer, which you can take a look at here, if you’re curious
  • Since Nicole Holofcener’s come up a number of times this month, we should point out you can listen back to our Holocener episode with our guest, actress Pollyanna McIntosh
  • With this episode, we’re three quarters of the way through covering anthology film Four Rooms, which Allison Anders co-directed by Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Alexandre Rockwell. While we wait for a guest to pick Rockwell, you can listen back to our Tarantino episode (also our third anniversary show) with director Brian Trenchard-Smith, and our Rodriguez episode with comedian Jon Bennett
  • Sophie mentions the epic Greta Garbo record collection that Allison Anders owns, and you can read Allison’s blog about it right here
  • Want to see some more from Jennifer Reeder? Take a look at her website here

Outro music: “God Give Me Strength”, written by Burt Bacharach & Elvis Costello and performed by Kristen Vigard, from Grace of My Heart (1996)

Jennifer and Sophie get purple at the Flare Festival (photo credit: Carol Morley)
Sophie runs into the subject of this episode, the one and only Allison Anders, at the BFI (photo credit: Anna Bogutskaya)

The latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Jennifer Reeder talking the films of Allison Anders, can be heard on Stitcher Smart Radio, subscribed to on iTunes, or downloaded/streamed via our website.

Hell Is For Hyphenates – March 2017

Sophie and Lee kick off this month by looking at a pair of very different new release films: James Mangold’s Wolverine send-off Logan, and Sara Taksler’s documentary about Egypt’s legendary satirist Bassem Youssef, Tickling Giants. Then Sophie welcomes this month’s guest, filmmaker Jennifer Reeder, joining her to discuss her filmmaker-of-the-month: US indie auteur Allison Anders. After discussing the influence Anders had on Reeder, Sophie checks back in with Lee and wrap up with their own look over the films of Allison Anders, exploring the influence she had when she emerged in the 1980s and made her name in the 1990s.

The Allison Anders Cheat Sheet

Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double that will not only make for a great evening’s viewing, but bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode lands…

GAS FOOD LODGING (1992) and GRACE OF MY HEART (1996)

Happy 25th birthday Gas, Food, Lodging, the Dinosaur Jr-soundtracked ode to the beautiful landscapes of New Mexico and the intense girls who inhabit them. Anders’ first solo-directed feature – like her first Border Radio (1987, with Kurt Voss and Dean Lent) – hovers in the borderlands, where Shade (Fairuza Balk) falls (didn’t we all?) for her (quite evidently queer) best friend Darius (Donovan Leitch) before realizing that it’s Javier (Jacob Vargas) who loves her. Meanwhile her sister Trudi (Ione Skye, Leitch’s older sister in real life) has fallen for a geologist, with grave consequences. Their mother Nora (Brooke Adams) is trying to hold it together and find new love. One trailer, three tough-as-velvet women, and a soundtrack that knew what the ’90s was about before the ’90s even happened. Music is Anders’ particular genius, with Border Radio the first in a trilogy of contemporary SoCal musician films – but it’s 1960s and ’70s-set Grace of My Heart that most captured ours, telling tales of the Brill Building with characters who are almost just not quite (but enough to thrill) the stars of the era. Ileana Douglas has the starring role she always deserved as debutante-turned-songwriter Denise Waverly who finds her voice with the help/hindrance of variously dependent men (most loyal being producer Joel Milner, in an all-out funky turn from John Turturro) and equally variously resilient, funny women (including a surprisingly excellent turn from Patsy Kensit). With a soundtrack that mixes covers of obscure songs by big names from the era (Joni Mitchell’s ‘Man from Mars’ makes a particularly striking appearance) with original songs, Grace of My Heart is one for fans of The Get-Down or Vinyl – but with way more girl power.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen Gas Food Lodging, follow the music to Sugar Town (1999), the second of the SoCal trilogy, which will have you asking ‘Why on earth wasn’t this turned into a TV series?’ – not only for the great performances from Ally Sheedy (as a film production designer looking for love with all the wrong men) and Rosanna Arquette (as a former horror film ingénue facing ‘mom roles’ and her desire to be a mother) but for its Nashville-meets-Californication take on the seedier end of the music biz, featuring British new romantic musicians Martin Kemp and John Taylor as washed-up 80s rockers.If you can’t get or have already seen Grace of My Heart, then for something completely different, there’s Mi vida loca (1994). It’s the film that made Anders’ name internationally, a raw and still-radical girl gang tale filmed with mainly street-cast actors, some of whom were part of Chicana and Latina gangs in LA’s Echo Park. Mousie and Sad Girl are best friends, but their friendship struggles to survive the violence and betrayal that come from poverty and racism.

The Hidden Gem: Things Behind the Sun (2001) brings together Mi vida loca’s rawness with Anders’ inside knowledge of the music biz, this is an astoundingly courageous (and semi-autobiographical, for Anders) film that should have made Kim Dickens a huge star. She gives absolutely everything to her role as Sherry, a rock singer breaking into the college radio charts with a powerful song about having been raped, which catches the ear of music journalist Owen (Gabriel Mann) and brings up memories for him, too. It’s a slow burn (aided by a tour de force performance from Don Cheadle as Sherry’s manager and lover) and a tough watch, but – much like the Nick Drake title song – it will haunt you forever.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Jennifer Reeder talking Allison Anders, will be released on 31 March 2017.

Our Next Hyphenate Jennifer Reeder

Artist, filmmaker, and Hi4H March 2017 guest host Jennifer Reeder

We’re delighted to announce our next guest, Jennifer Reeder: an American artist, filmmaker and screenwriter. Her 2015 film A Million Miles Away (available to watch here for free!) was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and she has received nominations or wins at the Berlin International Film Festival, the AFI Fest, the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, and many others.

Jennifer first attracted attention for her performance and video work as “White Trash Girl”, a pseudonym and character through which she explored lower-income white culture in the United States. She is on her way to London, where her latest film Signature Move will be the closing night film at BFI Flare 2017.

But more important than all that is the fact that she is about to be a Hell Is For Hyphenates guest host when she joins us for our next episode!

So which filmmaker has Jennifer chosen to discuss on the show?

None other that indie director Allison Anders. 

Anders first came to attention in1987, when she co-directed the feature Border Radio with UCLA classmates Kurt Voss and Dean Lent. It was 1992’s Gas Food Lodging that truly put her on the map, her first solo feature winning her Best New Director from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Anders was one of the figures of 1990s independent American cinema, going on to direct Mi Vida Loca (1993) and Grace of My Heart (1996). She continued her tradition of collaborative filmmaking with 1995’s notorious Four Rooms, which she directed alongside Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Alexandre Rockwell.

She has recently been directing TV series and telemovies, working on the likes of Sex and the City, The L Word, Orange in the New Black, Murder in the First and Riverdale. Most recently, Anders directed the 2013 June Carter Cash biopic Ring of Fire and the 2017 remake of Beaches.

So what is it about the films of Allison Anders that specifically appeals to Jennifer Reeder? Join us on 31 March when we find out!

Our next filmmaker of the month, Allison Anders