Author Archives: The Hyphenates

Reid On Hughes

They were three partial strangers, with some things in common, meeting collectively for the first time. A brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse. And that was just Daina. Before the day was over, they broke the rules. Bared their souls. Recorded a podcast. And touched each other (metaphorically) in a way they never dreamed possible.

We’ve been fans of Daina Reid for a long time – first for her on-screen work as in the likes of Jimeoin, Full Frontal and The Micallef Program, and more recently as one of our most proficient directors. Now that the rest of the world has discovered her talents (she directed episodes 11 and 12 of The Handmaid’s Tale season two), we were incredibly lucky to get some time with her to talk about the films of John Hughes.

There are so many versions of Hughes: the National Lampoon writer, the hitmaker behind Home Alone, the nuclear-family-on-holiday screenwriter of Vacation and The Great Outdoors, and the director of the definitive 1980s teen comedy-dramas. The iconography of his films still resonate, but how do the films themselves hold up?

Before we talk to Daina about her career and the career of Hughes, we take a break from the monthly new releases and look at some of the films we caught at the Melbourne International Film Festival. A number of filmmakers we’ve covered previously on the show had new works screening at the fest, so we thought we’d catch up on Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot, Guy Maddin’s (and Evan & Galen Johnson’s) The Green Fog and Accidence, and Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows.

Further reading:

  • If our Man Who Killed Don Quixote talk got you yearning to hear more about Terry Gilliam, you can listen to us talk Gilliam’s filmography with Myke Bartlett here
  • If our Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot review made you think about Gus Van Sant’s career, allow us to direct you to our Van Sant episode with Glenn Dunks here
  • If our chatter about The Green Fog and Accidence made you curious about Guy Maddin, you should definitely listen to us talk about his films with Hayley Inch here
  • And if all this Everybody Knows discussion made you wonder why everybody knows about Asghar Farhadi except you, then you should definitely take a moment to hear us dig into all things Farhadi with Tina Hassannia
  • The JR Jones article about The Green Fog as mentioned by Rochelle can be read here at the Chicago Reader
  • Accidence reminded Lee of REM’s single-take music video for Imitation of Life, and you can watch it here
  • If you can’t get enough of Daina (and who could?), we found a great video of her discussing storytelling at Vivid in 2013
  • If you’d like to see Daina in her comedy days, here she is hosting an etiquette lesson on Full Frontal, and as the iconic Ethel in one of the most exciting episodes of Roger Explosion
  • The Merger, written by lead actor Damian Callinan, is playing in cinemas now. Go see it!
  • And you can see Daina’s episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale at SBS On Demand right now (but don’t watch them out of order; make sure you’ve seen the preceding ones first)
  • Molly Ringwald’s must-read reflections on the films she made with John Hughes can be read here at the New Yorker
  • And you should definitely listen to Ringwald talk with Ira Glass about the experience of showing her daughter The Breakfast Club for the first time, over at This American Life
  • We know, we know, it’s Ed O’Neil
  • You don’t necessarily need to see what would happen if Lee had starred in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but the option remains available
  • If you want to read the original Vacation ’58 short story by Hughes that inspired the Vacation series, that’s something you can do
  • If you want to see a side-by-side comparison of Ferris Bueller with Spider-man: Homecoming, one YouTuber has put them side-by-side in a (relatively) handy video
  • And here’s the forthcoming Wonder Woman 1984’s take on The Breakfast Club poster:

Outro music: Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds from The Breakfast Club (1985)

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

Hell Is For Hyphenates – August 2018

Daina Reid joins us to talk the films of John Hughes!

Rochelle and Lee take a break from new releases to attend the Melbourne International Film Festival, and share their thoughts on some of the key films they saw, including Terry Gilliam’s long-awaited The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2:03), Gus Van Sant’s memoir adaptation Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot (5:00), Guy Maddin’s latest collaborations with co-director siblings Evan & Galen Johnson The Green Fog and accompanying short film Accidence (8:21), and Asghar Farhadi’s foray into Spanish language cinema with Everybody Knows (12:14).

Director Daina Reid joins the show to discuss her unique career path, and how performing sketch comedy on television alongside the likes of Eric Bana, Kitty Flanagan and Shaun Micallef was an unexpected but valuable diversion on her path to making film and TV. Can a background in comedy help when directing heart-wrenching episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale? (16:37)

Then, Daina takes us through the works of her filmmaker of the month, John Hughes. Hughes was the writer and sometimes director behind a slew of crowd-pleasing hits, including National Lampoon’s Vacation, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Home Alone and Beethoven, but it was his teen comedies that really struck a chord with a generation. Films like Sixteen CandlesThe Breakfast ClubPretty In Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off were high-concept but relatable films that had a profound effect on teenage audiences, and the influence of his work can still be felt to this day. But some elements of his films have not dated well, and we attempt to unpack and best and the worst of the prolific John Hughes filmography. (28:09)

The John Hughes 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 BREAKFAST CLUB (1985) and PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (1987)

If you get right down to it, there are primarily two types of John Hughes films. The first is the type he’s best known for: the teen angst comedy. Adolescent desires and frustrations are depicted through low-fi high concepts: what if you family forgot your 16th birthday? How much life could you live if you skipped school for a day? What if five kids with nothing in common had to spend a Saturday in detention together? The Breakfast Club is perhaps the ultimate Hughes film: it’s fully committed to its elevator pitch, it digs into uncomfortable emotional territory, it’s funny as hell, and it features Molly Ringwald. It’s essentially all the Hughes teen films smashed into one, which is why we’ve programmed it as your first film of the evening. Then we follow it up with that other perennial John Hughes film: the frustrated family man who just wants to do right by his family. From Mr Mom to She’s Having a Baby to the Vacation series, Hughes was consumed with how life and circumstance conspire to thwart the best-intentioned husband and dad. With Planes, Trains and Automobiles, he turned his successful Vacation formula on its head, this time featuring a man trying to escape the road to return to his family. Whether troubled teen or desperate dad, these two films should give you a good idea of what drove Hughes. Quite literally in the case of Planes, Trains.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen The Breakfast Club, seek out Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986). It’s more broadly comic than his other teen films, but you still get a fair bit of emotional heft from Cameron’s paternal woes. And the fantasy concept of skiving off school and having the greatest day of your life is one that remains deeply appealing regardless of your age. If you can’t get or have already seen Planes, Trains and Automobiles, get your hands on National Lampoon’s Vacation (1989). The story of an eager dad trying to give his family the best holiday possible was such a huge hit, it spawned three sequels, a Superbowl ad, an in-canon reboot, and a made-for-TV spinoff. (Are you one of the seven people who has seen Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure? Let us know in the comments!)

The Hidden Gem: Want to see something off the beaten path, a title rarely mentioned when people talk about the films of John Hughes? Then you should track down Career Opportunities (1991). Sure, it doesn’t quite fit the remit of “gem”, but it certainly qualifies as “hidden”. A more grown-up version of Home Alone, the film focuses on an ambitious but lazy young man who becomes the overnight custodian of a department store on what ends up being the most fateful of nights. It’s a fun watch, but still more a curiosity than anything else: an example of how the formula that made Home Alone work can so easily not work if some of the elements are tweaked too far.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Daina Reid talking the films of John Hughes, will be released on 31 August 2018.

Our Next Hyphenate Daina Reid

Director, performer and Hi4H August 2018 guest host Daina Reid

It’s fun to watch people who only know Eric Bana only as Serious Dramatic Actor discover his roots in Aussie TV sketch comedy – but for our money, it’s a less incredulous career leap than the one taken by Bana’s Full Frontal co-star, Daina Reid. Of course, the use of “incredulous” here should be read as a compliment of the highest order.

After being one of Australia’s funniest performers on shows such as Jimeoin, Full Frontal and The Micallef Program, Daina pivoted into one of our most prolific directors of television both comedic and dramatic, helming episodes of The Secret Life of Us, MDA, All Saints, Very Small Business, City Homicide, Rush, Nowhere Boys, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Offspring, The Wrong Girl, The Doctor Blake Mysteries and Romper Stomper. She directed the high-profile TV movies Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, Paper Giants: Magazine Wars, Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War, Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS, The Secret River, and the feature film I Love You Too, starring Brendan Cowell, Yvonne Strahovski, Peter Helliar, Megan Gale, and Peter Dinklage.

This year, she leapt into the world of international event television, directing two episodes of the acclaimed series The Handmaid’s Tale.

But none of that compares to her greatest role to date: Roger Explosion’s Ethel! Sorry, that should be: Hell Is For Hyphenates guest host! But which filmmaker has she chosen to talk about on the show?

None other than John Hughes!

Hughes was the voice of teen comedies in the 1980s. He either wrote or wrote and directed beloved works such as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Some Kind of Wonderful. He wrote some of National Lampoon’s earliest comedies Vacation, European Vacation and Christmas Vacation, and would go on to create classics such as Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Uncle Buck, and Home Alone.

His fingerprints remain smeared over so much of modern pop culture, with countless lines and scenes still quoted endlessly in modern works.

But what is it about his filmmaking that so enduring? And most importantly, what kind of effect did his works have on Daina?

Join us on August 31 when we find out!

Our next filmmaker of the month, John Hughes

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.

Hell Is For Hyphenates – July 2018

Corrie Chen joins us to talk the films of Nora Ephron!

Rochelle and Lee look back at some key films from this month, including Haifaa al-Mansour’s gothic biopic Mary Shelley (01:37), the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary RBG (06:01), the Kiwi comedy The Breaker Upperers (10:29), and William Friedkin’s exorcism doco The Devil and Father Amorth (13:29).

They then welcome this month’s guest, writer-director Corrie Chen, and ask her about one of Nora Ephron’s favourite phrases: “everything is copy”. Is Ephron correct? Is storytelling a way of owning your life story? And has Corrie applied this lesson to her own filmmaking? (18:31)

Then, Corrie takes us through the films and career of Nora Ephron. Now best known for writing the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, and for writing and directing Sleepless In Seattle, Ephron was a prolific writer, penning articles, books and stageplays, fighting for justice when denied a writing job by her employer because of her gender, and bringing an acerbic wit to the most heartfelt of stories. We look back at what made her voice so distinct and unique, and discover a few hidden meanings threaded throughout her works. (31:13)

The Nora Ephron 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…

HEARTBURN (1986) and SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (1993)

If you want to really get to know Nora Ephron as both a writer and a person, you’ve got to kick off your evening with Heartburn. Directed by Mike Nichols and starring Meryl Streep & Jack Nicholson, Ephron based Heartburn on her own autobiographical novel about her marriage to Carl Bernstein. With Ephron as both storyteller and subject, there are few works as revealing or insightful as this gem of a film. Follow it up with Sleepless In Seattle, her second film as director and eighth film as writer. You’ve probably seen Sleepless, but look, it can’t hurt to see it again. A flawlessly-constructed romcom that holds up despite the countless pretenders that have since diluted the genre into meaningless pap, Sleepless is masterful at both the rom and the com aspects, packed with brilliant one-liners, interesting characters, and humans behaving like humans instead of cardboard tropes. If you’re wondering why Ephron is so highly regarded, this pair of films will put that question to rest.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen Heartburn, seek out This Is My Life (1992). Ephron’s directorial debut wasn’t as autobiographical as Heartburn, but it definitely drew on her experiences as a woman struggling to hit it big in the entertainment world as she raises a couple of kids alone. And the physical similarities between Ephron and star Julie Kavner can’t be ignored. If you can’t get or have already seen Sleepless In Seattle, get your hands on When Harry Met Sally (1989). Directed by Rob Reiner (whom Ephron would later cast in Sleepless and Mixed Nuts), this is the all-time classic of the genre. Funny and engaging, satisfying yet unpredictable, this is one of Ephron’s best scripts, and would play a big role in setting the tone of her directorial career.

The Hidden Gem: Want to see something off the beaten path, a title rarely mentioned when people talk about the films of Nora Ephron? Then you should track down Perfect Gentlemen (1978). This is the film that started it all. Her first produced film was a made-for-TV movie that features Lauren Bacall, Ruth Gordon, Sandy Dennis and Lisa Pelikan as a group of women who meet after visiting their husbands in prison, and decide to band together and rob a bank. It’s a bit hard to track down (a low-res but watchable version may possibly be findable online if you cast around a bit), but it’s absolutely worth it.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Corrie Chen talking the films of Nora Ephron, will be released on 31 July 2018.

Our Next Hyphenate Corrie Chen

Writer, director and Hi4H July 2018 guest host Corrie Chen

If you’ve been paying close attention to Australia screen culture, you know who Corrie Chen is. And if you haven’t, please remember that you heard about her here first so we can bask in her current and future reflected glory.

Corrie’s science fiction short film Reg Makes Contact received an AACTA nomination for Best Short Short Fiction, and an Australian Directors Guild nomination for Best Direction in a Short Film. She was then selected to shadow directors on the Emmy award-winning Nowhere Boys, the AACTA award-winning mini-series Peter Allen, and the final season of the cult hit The Leftovers.

She was the director and executive producer on the acclaimed SBS On Demand series Homecoming Queens, and has directed episodes of Sisters for Network Ten and Mustang FC for the ABC. She is currently co-writing her first feature film Empty Empire, set in China’s famed “ghost cities”. And if you can believe it, we actually left a heap of stuff out of this bio.

But all of those achievements and accolades are about to fade into the background of Corrie’s CV as her new exciting role takes centre stage: that of Hell Is For Hyphenates guest host!

Which filmmaker has Corrie selected to discuss on the show?

None other than Nora Ephron!

To convey the full force of Nora Ephron’s work would require more space than we have here. She interned in JFK’s White House, took Newsweek to court for sexual discrimination, and wrote for Monocle, Esquire, the New York Post and Cosmopolitan. She eventually turned her eye to film, receiving multiple Oscar nominations for her screenplays.

She wrote the biographical drama Silkwood, the autobiographical drama Heartburn, and the ur-romcom When Harry Met Sally. As director, she debuted with the stand-up comic drama This Is My Life, followed it up with the classic Sleepless In Seattle, and went on to direct box office hits including Michael, You’ve Got Mail and Julie & Julia.

Almost every romantic comedy of the last thirty years has been trying to replicate what Ephron did, and almost every one of them has barely come close. So how did Ephron land on a winning formula? What hidden gems reside in the recesses of her filmography? And what is it about Ephron’s films that so inspires Corrie?

Join us on July 31 when we find out!

Our next filmmaker of the month, Nora Ephron

100th Episode Live!

Have you been keeping a close eye on the file names of the podcast episodes? If so, you’re a deeply strange person. But you’ll also have noticed that we’re climbing into the high 90s, and we’re only a few shows away from the magic 100. And who can resist the lure of a big round number?

We certainly can’t, so we’ve decided to scratch the itch by putting on a big live show!

In association with the Melbourne International Film Festival, we’ll be performing a live recording of our 100th episode at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne’s Federation Square. We could have just said ACMI, but we wanted it to sound momentous.

We’ll be joined by special guest Greg McLean, the groundbreaking director behind Wolf Creek, Rogue, The Belko Experiment, Jungle and more. We’ll be chatting with Greg about the films of Sir Ridley Scott, also no stranger to the breaking of ground. We won’t bother listing Sir Ridley’s films; if you know who he is, you need to see our show. And if you don’t know who he is, you also need to see our show.

11 August 2018, The Cube @ ACMI

Tickets are free, but you’ll need to book via the MIFF website.

And if you can’t make it, stress less: the show will be released into your podcast feed on September 30.

Perry On Pakula

“I just don’t think any of his movies for me go below a B, and some of them are an A+. And I think that’s a pretty admirable range for someone who worked over so many decades and so many changing paradigms of the industry he was working in.”

This month, ARP talks AJP as indie filmmaker Alex Ross Perry joins us to go deep on why he loves the films of Alan J Pakula. You never knew you needed to hear the director of Queen of Earth professing his love for the director of All the President’s Men, but now you know such a thing exists, how can you resist?

Before that, Alex talks to us about the ways in which filmmakers can get their films in front of audiences in a world where no distribution model seems like a sure thing. He covers streaming vs cinema, casting methods, and working for Disney in a fairly wide-ranging conversation.

And before that, Rochelle and Lee look at some of the key films of the month, including heist spin-off Ocean’s 8, sci-fi action flick Upgrade, Israeli drama Foxtrot, and animated superhero sequel Incredibles 2. And we promise, the films were not chosen due to their pleasingly uniform red poster aesthetic. Some things just work out that way.

If you’re unfamiliar with Pakula’s work, then that’s what this show is for. If you’re unfamiliar with Alex’s work, start by checking out trailers for Listen Up Philip, Queen of Earth, Golden Exits and Christopher Robin.

Further reading:

  • Lee’s not really remaking the most recent Carry On film. He’s making fun of some nerds who aren’t really remaking the most recent Star Wars films. If you don’t know the story, take a big dose of there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I and dive into the saddest thing you’ll see this week. Aside from all the bad things happening literally everywhere in the world.
  • If you’ve got a ScreenHub login, check out Rochelle’s piece on how Upgrade was made on the microbudget genre model. And if you don’t have a ScreenHub login, a friendly billionaire will probably offer to implant one in your spine.
  • Was Upgrade’s ethically-compromised doctor Ming-Zhu Hii really on Hyphenates? Yes, and it was only two months ago, so you should really be all over it. Have a listen to her episode here.
  • Once upon a time there was a man called Paul who hosted Hell Is For Hyphenates. But he wanted to make feature films, and the making of feature films doesn’t leave much time for film reviewing. Or does it? Last week we heard Paul giving his own take on Foxtrot (alongside Hi4H alum Emma Westwood) on RRR’s Plato’s Cave, which you can listen back to here.
  • If you want to know why Lee was ranting about the Wreck It Ralph 2 trailer, you can watch it here and either agree with him or yell abuse the contrary.
  • That copy of Pakula’s 1987 drama Orphans that was so hard to track down was eventually located at Picture Search Video at 139 Swan Street, Richmond, for all you Victorians on the hunt for obscure titles. After days of hunting, they had it for only four bucks, so we felt compelled to give them an appreciative shout-out.

Outro music: score from All the President’s Men, composed by David Shire

The latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Alex Ross Perry talking the films of Alan J Pakula, can be heard on Stitcher Smart Radio, subscribed to on iTunes, or downloaded/streamed directly from our website.