Author Archives: The Hyphenates

Holofcener On Ashby

Nicole Holofcener joins us to talk the films of Hal Ashby!

Writer, director and Academy Award nominee Nicole Holofcener (Please Give, Enough Said, The Land of Steady Habits) joins Hell Is For Hyphenates to dive into the filmography of Hal Ashby.

Ashby is one of the most distinctive filmmakers of 1970s New Hollywood cinema, directing stone-cold classic such as Harold and Maude (1971), The Last Detail (1973), Shampoo (1975), Coming Home (1978), and Being There (1979). He was a counter-culture voice whose best work still feels relevant today. But what was it about his work that was so audacious and affecting?

Everyone On Scorsese

Nine years. 108 episodes. 126 filmmakers. Lots of minutes.

It’s been a brilliant run, but it had to end at some point, and nine years feels like the right number. It’s a lot without dipping into double figures, which feels too many.

That said, there’s an important caveat: this is not necessarily the end of the show. What’s ending is Hyphenates as a monthly series. We’re leaving the door wide open for future episodes, standalone shows that may drop at any moment. You may hear one later this year. Or you might not hear it for a good couple of years. And we don’t even know what format it will take, who will be hosting, how it will sound. Your best bet is to remain subscribed, with an eye on our social media accounts, so you don’t miss out when we suddenly get, say, Quentin Tarantino on to talk about the films of Paul Anthony Nelson. (Watch Trench now on Amazon Prime!)

And we can’t imagine all of you have heard every single episode from our past, so feel free to click on the Index tab up the top of the page and browse our archives. See if there’s a filmmaker or guest you want to catch up. We’ve talked to a lot of cool people about a lot of other cool people, so there’s lots of gold in there.

But for now, let’s focus on this month’s episode. You may have noticed that our usually-militant one-hour running time has been blowing out a bit lately. We parted a bit too hard for our 100th episode, and it was hard to maintain the discipline in the months that followed. But for our “last” show, we really let it fly, with the show clocking in at an epic 222 minutes. That’s 3 hours and 42 minutes.

But fear not, because it’s not just three voices for all that time. We decided to end with a look at the films of Martin Scorsese, one of the few filmmakers who you could legitimately claim every film is somebody’s favourite. And although we didn’t find the person who wanted to spruik Boxcar Bertha above all others, we covered almost every one of his films, without giving any direction or influence to our guests.

A whole bunch of our alumni returned to talk about their favourite Scorsese thing, be it a film, a scene, a shot, or something entirely different. For this episode, we’re joined by Ian Barr, Michael Ian Black, David Caesar, Sarah Caldwell, Thomas Caldwell, Mel Campbell, Tom Clift, Perri Cummings, Guy Davis, Glenn Dunks, Tim Egan, Marc Fennell, Abe Forsythe, Garth Franklin, Rhys Graham, Richard Gray, Giles Hardie, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Zak Hepburn, Jon Hewitt, Tegan Higginbotham, Blake Howard, Cerise Howard, Hayley Inch, Briony Kidd, Maria Lewis, Alicia Malone, Shannon Marinko, So Mayer, Pollyanna McIntosh, Drew McWeeny, Simon Miraudo, Anthony Morris, Rhys Muldoon, Josh Nelson, Jennifer Reeder, Eloise Ross, Stephen A Russell, Jeremy Smith, Rohan Spong, Kriv Stenders, Chris Taylor, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Christos Tsiolkas, George Viscas, Andrew Kevin Walker, Sarah Ward, Scott Weinberg, Emma Westwood, and Cate Wolfe.

And, of course, Paul returns, joining Rochelle and Lee for the entire show to help see Hi4H off.

We hope you enjoy this episode. We hope you enjoyed the show. And we’ll see you when we see you.

The Martin Scorsese 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…

TAXI DRIVER (1976) and THE DEPARTED (2006)

There are so many different variations of Scorsese that could be paired to adequately summarise his career. You could compare his early work to his newer work, or his grittier output to his glossy homages, his hard-boiled violence to his gentle all-ages fare. But let’s throw all those high-minded classifications out the window and go with the path of least resistance: his De Niro films and his DiCaprio films. De vs Di, if you will. And doing it that way pretty much covers most of the above categories, anyway. That’s why we’re kicking your evening off with Taxi Driver, perhaps the most quintessentially classic Scorsese film in his canon. Scorsese is the poet laureate of lonely disaffected men, extreme violence, and New York streets, and this film represents the zenith of each; the poetic, post-Vietnam fable somehow no less relevant and no less shocking than it was 43 years ago. Follow that up with The Departed. This latter-day Marty film proves that even when he fills his cast with pretty movie stars, and substitutes his usual New York Italian mafia for Boston Irish mob, his fundamental storytelling tools remain unchanged. Yes, Scorsese has clearly evolved as a filmmaker, but he’s managed to do so without losing the energy and drive that made him who he is. This is a rare quality, and why his 21st century works will be remembered on equal footing with the early classics that cemented him as one of cinema’s all-time greats.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen Taxi Driver, seek out Mean Streets (1973). This is the film that really put Scorsese on the map, kicking off his collaboration with De Niro and establishing the motif of pop music combined with violent, compromised men that would serve as the backbone to much of his career. If you can’t get or have already seen The Departed, get your hands on The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). It’s glossier, and the crimes are of a more white collar variety, but this is still classic Scorsese, applying all the tropes of gangster stories to the tale of high finance and corrosive greed.

The Hidden Gem: Want to see something off the beaten path, a title rarely mentioned when people talk about the films of Martin Scorsese? What’s a little surprising about Scorsese is that despite nearly all of his films being venerated – or, at least, frequently cited – there are still many that could still conceivably be considered hidden gems. Among them, the all-night fever dream that is After Hours (1985). It has the veneer of a character study, but there is something vaguely nightmarish in this often funny, but incredibly dark, tale of a frustrated man who seems to have drawn the ire of the entire universe.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring us talking the films of Martin Scorsese, will be released on 30 April 2019.

Our Next Hyphenate

Our next guest is something of a mystery. In fact, they are everything of a mystery. And in order to preserve that mystery, we’re not actually going to tell you who it is.

If all this sounds incredibly enigmatic, then… yes. That’s what we’re going for. You’ll find out why in about a week-and-a-half.

But we can answer the other question usually raised by these announcement posts: which filmmaker will we be the topic of discussion?

Well, go home and get your shinebox, wipe the scum off the streets, and ship yourself up to Boston, because we’re going to be talking Martin Scorsese over here!

If you’re not familiar of his work, Scorsese is the filmmaker behind the likes of Boxcar Bertha, Mean Streets, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Taxi Driver, New York New York, The Last Waltz, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, After Hours, The Color of Money, The Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, The Age of Innocence, Casino, Kundun, Bringing Out the Dead, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, No Direction Home, The Departed, Shine a Light, Shutter Island, Hugo, The Wolf of Wall Street, Silence, and a whole lot more besides.

He was one of the key figures of the American New Wave, and arguably the most consistently successful filmmaker of that generation. He’s also something of an icon in his own right, his unmistakable rapid-fire voice forever associated with the passionate praise of all the cinema he adores. Between his work as filmmaker and fan, he’s perhaps the most effective advocate film has ever had.

So what is it about his works that appeals to us, to the world, and to whoever our guest may be?

Join us on April 30 for a personal journey through Scorsese movies in what will perhaps be the biggest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates ever.

Our next filmmaker of the month, Martin Scorsese

Graham On Kieślowski

As guest Rhys Graham tells us, he almost didn’t pick the legendary Polish filmmaker, for fears it was too pretentious a choice. After all, the Three Colours trilogy long felt like the epitome of European cinema, the symbol of inaccessible, languid arthouse films. Sure, we all know that the films themselves are actually beautiful, empathetic works that stand to repeat viewings, but there’s no denying they have the appearance of ornate pretention. Much like that sentence.

And that’s just one of the reasons we dive so deep into our filmmakers’ back catalogue. Because even though we could fill an entire show on Three Colours and The Double Life of Veronique alone, Kieślowski’s career up until then was an entirely different beast.

But it’s not just the Polish filmmaker we’re looking at this month. The mini-Hyphenate segment comes roaring back, as we look at the film of Charles Laughton. The legendary actor directed one film and one film only, the all-time noir classic The Night of the Hunter. So how did he get it so right on his first go? And why did he never direct again?

And before all that, we look back at some of the key films from the past month, including Claire Denis’s science fiction drama High Life, Jordan Peele’s modern horror Us, Karyn Kusama’s gritty crime saga Destroyer, and Tim Burton’s live-action remake Dumbo.

Further reading:

  • If you liked hearing about High Life, you can listen back to Lynn Shelton talking to us about the films of Claire Denis (and inadvertently ruining things for Rhys Graham)
  • Here’s an article on the impressive box office record that Us broke
  • Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone reboot looks amazing
  • Here’s the trailer for Julia, the Tilda Swinton film mentioned by Rhys
  • A very brief history of the upcoming Gemini Man, which has been in development since the late 1990s
  • The episode of The Q&A Podcast with Jeff Goldsmith in which he interviews Destroyer co-writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi can be heard here
  • If you want to reminisce with us about Tim Burton’s halcyon days, you can listen back to us talk all things Burton with our first ever guest Thomas Caldwell
  • Walt Disney planned on keeping Fantasia in a sort of perpetual release, replacing segments so that audiences never saw the same film twice
  • Want to check out all our past mini-Hyphenates segments? Even if you don’t, they’re all collected here
  • We couldn’t find François Truffaut’s review of The Night of the Hunter, but here’s the New York Times quoting it, which is just as good
  • The adoration Kieślowski had for Ken Loach went both ways; here’s Loach paying tribute to Kieslowski in The Guardian in 1996
  • The SBS parody that Rhys was talking about (not actually from Full Frontal, but from its antecedent Fast Forward) is a bit of a classic
  • There’s no one link we can give you for all Kieslowski’s films on YouTube, but here’s The Scar and No End, to start you off, and you can go searching for the others yourself

Outro music: Song for the Unification of Europe, written by Patrice de Courcy (via actual composer Zbigniew Preisner), performed by Sinfonia Varsovia, from Three Colours: Blue (1993)

The latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Rhys Graham talking the films of Krzystof Kieślowski, can be heard on Stitcher Smart Radio, subscribed to on iTunes, or downloaded/streamed directly from our website

Hell Is For Hyphenates – March 2019

Rhys Graham joins us to talk the films of Krzystof Kieślowski!

Australian filmmaker Rhys Graham joins Rochelle and Lee as they look back at some of the key films of this month, including Claire Denis’s science fiction drama High Life (01:10), Jordan Peele’s modern horror Us (06:37), Karyn Kusama’s gritty crime saga Destroyer (11:33), and Tim Burton’s live-action remake Dumbo (19:17).

We then check back with our semi-regular mini-Hyphenate segment to look at every single film directed by legendary actor Charles Laughton. The legendary actor of stage and screen has one credit and one credit only as director: the noir thriller The Night of the Hunter (1955). It’s considered one of the greatest films of all time. How did Laughton get it so right on his one and only try? And why did he never direct again? (26:13)

Then, Rhys takes us through the works and career of his filmmaker of the month, Polish auteur Krzystof Kieślowski. Kieślowski is best known for The Double Life of Veronique (1991) and the Three Colours trilogy (1993-1994), but before he became a beloved icon of arthouse festivals, he was busy making documentaries, shorts, and features with a distinctly verité style, documenting life under Communist rule, and the corrosive effects of the autocratic state. So how did Kieślowski go from these humble roots to being the poster child for elegant European cinema? (37:46)

The Krzysztof Kieślowski 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…

A SHORT FILM ABOUT KILLING (1988) and THREE COLOURS: BLUE (1993)

A Short Film About Killing is the film that, according to many, really put Krzysztof Kieślowski on the map. He basically took the fifth chapter of his epic anthology mini-series Dekalog and gave it room to breathe, editing it from 60 up to 90 minutes, and taking more time to explore the concept of murder as both crime and punishment. The film, rooted heavily in Kieślowski’s interest in the state vs the lower class, followed a misanthropic drifter whose violent tendencies eventually lead to the murder of a cab driver. The film won both the Jury Prize and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, and cemented Kieślowski’s reputation worldwide as a filmmaker to watch. Once you’ve seen that, follow it up with perhaps the most striking chapter from his final and best-known work, Blue, the first installment of his Three Colours trilogy. Just as the ten chapters of Dekalog examined the Ten Commandments, Three Colours explored the virtues represented by the colours of the French flag. Blue is about liberty, albeit in a more esoteric than you’d expect, examining the emotional liberty experienced by Julie (Juliette Binoche) as she works to overcome a personal tragedy and revelations about her life. Watching these two films back-to-back will give you an excellent idea of what made Kieślowski such a lauded, beloved filmmaker.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen A Short Film About Killing, seek out A Short Film About Love (1988). The other film adapted from Dekalog, Love certainly benefits from the slightly longer running time, following a young man obsessed with spying on his beautiful neighbour. If you can’t get or have already seen Three Colours: Blue, get your hands on Three Colours: Red (1994). Kieślowski’s final film feels like a culmination of his life’s work, examining the themes of fraternity in a film that emphasizes the bonds that connect even the most dissimilar of strangers.

The Hidden Gem: Want to see something off the beaten path, a title rarely mentioned when people talk about the films of Krzysztof Kieślowski? Then you should track down Short Working Day (1981). Based on the June 1976 worker protests in the Polish city of Radom, the film takes place within a government building as our protagonist – once a protestor himself – is now First Secretary of the Communist Party, trying to appease the angry mob as their numbers grow and the tone becomes more violent and more dangerous.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Rhys Graham talking the films of Krzysztof Kieślowski, will be released on 31 March 2019.

Our Next Hyphenates Rhys Graham

Writer, director, and Hi4H March 2019 guest host Rhys Graham

Rhys Graham is a Melbourne-based artist who has worked across drama, documentary, publishing, and photography.

Best known for his work as a filmmaker, Rhys has directed and co-directed shorts, features, documentaries and anthologies, with credits that include Words From the City (2007), Murundak: Songs of Freedom (2011), Galore (2013), and the Tim Winton adaptation The Turning (2013).

His work has earned nominations from the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts, the Australian Directors Guild, the Australian Film Institute, the Berlin International Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival, and more.

But naturally all of those achievements will fade into the background as he tackles his greatest challenge to date: Hell Is For Hyphenates guest host!

But which filmmaker has he chosen to talk about on the show?

It’s everyone’s favourite consonant-heavy Polish director, Krzysztof Kieślowski!

Kieślowski is probably best known for his thematic Three Colours trilogy – Blue, White and Red – which examined the three political ideals at the heart of the French Republic: liberty, equality, and fraternity.

But that’s just one corner of his career. Kieślowski made his start in documentaries and social-realist films that often focused on the plight of the working classes.

His interest in thematically-connected dramatic works went far beyond Three Colours. He made the epic Dekalog, a ten-part series that explored each of the ten commandments, and at the time of his death was planning a trilogy called Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, all of which were eventually made by other filmmakers in tribute.

So why did Kieślowski’s works strike such a nerve across international cinema? And what is it about them that so appeals to Rhys?

Join us on March 31 when we find out!

Our next filmmaker of the month, Krzysztof Kieślowski

Caesar On Dumont

As much as we love it when a guest picks a pre-ordained canonical legend – a David Lynch, an Akira Kurosawa, a Martin Scorsese – there’s a lot of value in the left-field choices. Like, say, Bruno Dumont. That was not a name we were expecting to hear when we asked guest David Caesar who he wanted to talk to us about, but it turned out to be one of the more fascinating and eclectic filmographies we’ve ever covered on the show.

Before we get into Dumont, David joins us to look back at some of the key films of the month, including Steven Soderbergh’s basketball business drama High Flying Bird, Mimi Leder’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic On the Basis of Sex, Dan Gilroy’s high-art horror-drama Velvet Buzzsaw, and Barry Jenkins’s adaptation of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk.

Then, we talk look at some of the interviews Steven Soderbergh has been giving to promote High Flying Bird, and whether or not his approach to streaming distribution could help lift a flailing Australian film industry.

Further reading:

  • We look at Steven Soderbergh’s High Flying Bird this month. If you can’t get enough Soderbergh (and, frankly, who can?) check out our Steven Soderbergh episode
  • Before we reviewed On the Basis of Sex, we looked at the documentary RBG here, in what we’re hoping will be a regular Ruth Bader Ginsburg review slot
  • That episode of the podcast More Perfect that delves into RBG’s approach of precedent-setting anti-sex discrimination cases by defending men, can be heard here
  • The Steven Soderbergh interviews that sparked our middle topic can be read here: Deadline, Indiewire, The Atlantic
  • Is David right about Netflix being US$10 billion in debt? Amazingly, yes
  • Here’s Bruno Dumont in The Guardian discussing the incredible Bernard Pruvost and his facial tics in P’tit Quinquin and Coincoin
  • Yes, Australia lags behind the world in directors making more than one film

And finally, for those who doubt that Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s husband is as handsome as Armie Hammer, here’s a photo of RGB with her beloved:

Kidding. Here they are:

Outro music: Cause I Knew, written by Lisa Hartmann, performed by Lisa Hartmann and Didier Hennuyer, from P’tit Quinquin (2014)

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