Author Archives: The Hyphenates

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.

Hell Is For Hyphenates – June 2018

Alex Ross Perry joins us to talk the films of Alan J Pakula!

Rochelle and Lee look back at some of the films of the month, including heist spin-off Ocean’s 8 (00:50), sci-fi action flick Upgrade (03:29), Israeli drama Foxtrot (06:05), and animated superhero sequel Incredibles 2 (08:59).

Lee then chats to this month’s guest, writer-director Alex Ross Perry, about how to get your arthouse film in front of audiences in a world of ever-shifting distribution models. What kind of cast do you pursue? Can you afford to care about streaming vs cinema? What’s it like going from indie cinema to working for Disney? (16:16)

Then, Alex takes us through the career of his filmmaker of the month, Alan J Pakula. Pakula is best known for his conspiracy thrillers, particularly his much-lauded paranoia trilogy: KluteThe Parallax View, and All the President’s Men. He was also responsible for the drama Sophie’s Choice, the courtroom suspense Presumed Innocent, and the John Grisham adaptation The Pelican Brief. But he has a number of strings to his bow, making everything from Westerns to comedies to romances, and Alex takes us through his works and what it is he meant. (29:49)

Finally, Lee checks back in with Rochelle, who gives her thoughts on Pakula’s films, and they look at some of the projects Pakula was reportedly planning before his death. (56:35)

The Alan J Pakula 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…

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976) and THE PELICAN BRIEF (1993)

We said this in the episode announcement, but we’ll say it again: Alan J Pakula was cinema’s poet laureate of paranoia. His filmography is consumed with conspiracy thrillers both real and imagined, and sitting high atop that mountain, and high atop the canon of really all cinema, is All the President’s Men. The ink wasn’t dry on Nixon’s resignation when this film hit cinemas, and perhaps it’s that lack of perspective that helped keep it from becoming an overt rallying cry. There is not a moment of sentiment in this procedural ode to investigative journalism, and it remains the gold standard of rewatchable, engaging, relevant cinema. And look, nothing can possibly follow it, so you should probably just watch it twice. Or, alternately, take a swing at The Pelican Brief. We’re not necessarily recommending this because it’s also a great work; more because it helps define the second overwhelming sphere of Pakula’s career. The song remains the same – government conspiracies, massive cover-ups, terrifying parking garages – but the style is a world away, as Julia Roberts’s law student teams up with Denzel Washington’s journalist to run away from bad guys with guns as they shine a light on a conspiracy that goes all the way to the White House. These films may look similar if you’re squinting at a one-line synopsis, but they are, in more ways than one, chalk and cheese. And that’s exactly why they make the perfect double if you want to get your head around Pakula in one easy viewing.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen All the President’s Men, seek out The Parallax View (1974). If not for President, Pakula would likely be remembered as the guy behind The Parallax View, a brilliantly understated work of paranoia. This time we’re watching a fictitious threat, but told with the same verisimilitude as his Watergate-based follow-up. If you can’t get or have already seen The Pelican Brief, get your hands on Presumed Innocent (1990). The Harrison Ford thriller is arguably the baseline for the legal thrillers that came to dominate the 1990s; it’s very possible that Pelican author John Grisham was himself bitten by a radioactive Presumed Innocent. It’s also the first of Pakula’s ’90s polyptych of highly-stylised thrillers, and would, whether intentionally or unintentionally, set the tone for the remainder of his career.

The Hidden Gem: Want to see something off the beaten path, a title rarely mentioned when people talk about the films of Alan J Pakula? Then you should track down Sophie’s Choice (1982). Before you protest and claim that Sophie’s Choice is actually mentioned quite often, ask yourself this: is it the film itself that everyone refers to, or the title, which through standard pop culture overuse has become the rote go-to phrase that refers to any mildly aggravating choice, from deciding New Year’s Eve plans to choosing between sandwich condiments. If you’ve not seen it, the film is nothing like its reputation; surprisingly light and far from the unrelentlingly bleak prospect many believe it to be. Give it a spin. You might be surprised.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Alex Ross Perry talking the films of Alan J Pakula, will be released on 30 June 2018.

Our Next Hyphenate Alex Ross Perry

Writer, director and Hi4H June 2018 guest host Alex Ross Perry

If you haven’t seen Alex Ross Perry’s films, then stop reading this and come back when you have. No, we’re kidding, never stop reading us. We should always be your number one priority.

But your number two priority should be tracking down his misanthropic comedy-drama Listen Up Philip (2014), starring Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Krysten Ritter and Jonathan Pryce. Or his brilliant thriller Queen of Earth (2015), featuring Elisabeth Moss and Katherine Waterston. Or his first two (slightly harder to source) films Impolex (2009) and The Color Wheel (2011).

For the more forward-looking, you can wait for his latest film Golden Exits (2017), which has just finished up a run on the festival circuit and will hopefully be getting a general release down here soon. And if that’s not enough for you, he’s just wrapped Her Smell, which reportedly stars Elisabeth Moss as a punk rocker, already making it the best film of 2019.

Alex has also written on other projects, penning the drama Nostalgia (2018) for director Mark Pellington, and the upcoming Winnie the Pooh fantasy Christopher Robin (2018) for Disney. He played an alternate version of himself in the 2013 mockumentary La última película (2013), which based on the synopsis alone, we’re somewhat desperate to get our hands on.

But, of course, all of this pales in comparison to his upcoming role as Hell Is For Hyphenates guest host! But who has he chosen to talk about on the show?

None other than Alan J Pakula!

Pakula was cinema’s poet laureate of paranoia, directing the foundational conspiracy thrillers Klute (1971), The Parallax View (1974), and All the President’s Men (1976). He made the notorious drama Sophie’s Choice (1982), which won Meryl Streep the second of her eight hundred Oscars. His later career included the ’90s thrillers Presumed Innocent (1990), Consenting Adults (1992), The Pelican Brief (1993), and The Devil’s Own (1997), all of which seem to remain in high-rotation on cable movie channels.

But in amongst those titles are works that have fallen into semi-obscurity: films like romantic travelogue Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973), comedy-drama Starting Over (1979), western Comes a Horseman (1978), and family drama See You in the Morning (1989).

Pakula is responsible for some of the best and most enduring works of our time, at least a few of which must be considered essential viewing in today’s political climate.

So what is it about his films that so appeal to Alex Ross Perry? Join us on June 30 when we find out!

Our next filmmaker of the month, Alan J Pakula

Forsythe On Bong

“Amongst all this chaos he’s just got a real truthful grasp on humanity. And that for me makes it so much more interesting when [you] throw it into these crazy worlds.”

It was a heap of fun having Abe Forsythe on the show this month, even if it was down a skype line. If you’ve not seen his films Ned and Down Under, you have you really should check them out. We’re hanging out for his next film, Little Monsters, because who doesn’t want to see Lupita Nyong’o and Josh Gad fighting zombies? Nobody, that’s who.

The show kicks off as ever with Rochelle and Lee looking back at some of this month’s key releases, including Star Wars origin story Solo, motherhood drama Tully, serial killer biopic My Friend Dahmer, and Aussie coming-of-age surf movie Breath.

We’re then joined by Abe as he discusses the challenges of making Australian films for an international audience, and what it is we could be doing to give our local product a wider appeal.

Then, Abe takes us through the career and works of his filmmaker of the month, Bong Joon-ho! If you’re not familiar with Bong’s work, there’s definitely something in his career for you. Do you like police procedurals? Murder mystery thrillers? Monster movies? Dystopian futures? Heartwarming dramas about a girl and her giant pig? If that hasn’t sold you, hearing Abe describe what makes Bong’s films so memorable and rewatchable sure will.

We talked about how Bong likes the visual of a background crowd watching our foreground protagonists, be they imagined (in Barking Dogs Never Bite) or real (in Memories of Murder)

Further reading:

  • For more on the main competing theories as to original directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller were replaced on Solo, Variety suggests big franchises are afraid of filmmakers with unique vision, while an anonymous actor who apparently worked on Solo told Vulture that Lord and Miller weren’t ready.
  • If you’d like to see Rochelle go into more detail about her thoughts on Tully, you can check out her review at It’s Better in the Dark.
  • If you enjoyed the awkward reminder that the amazing Lynn Shelton once appeared on Hyphenates, then you’ll love the episode itself! Listen back to her chatting with us about the films of Claire Denis.
  • “There were lots of filmmakers that I could talk about endlessly. Filmmakers like Peter Weir, Coen Bros, George Miller… I’m sure you’ve probably done all of these people before.” Abe wasn’t wrong; click the links to hear the love from Hi4H alumni Kriv Stenders, Martyn Pedler and Edgar Wright.
  • If you’d like to find out a little more about the unsolved South Korean murders that inspired Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder, there’s a decent primer here, and a good review of the film at RogerEbert.com from critic Seongyong Cho who grew up in South Korea during the time of the murders.
  • You can watch most (but not all, sadly) of the excellent Bong Joon-ho short film series Incoherence by cliking on the following links: Incoherence 1: Cockroach, Incoherence 2: Up the Alleys, and the epilogue. Sadly, part three doesn’t appear to be readily available, but you definitely get the idea from this group.
  • If you’d like to watch Bong browse the Criterion closet and pick out his favourite films, there’s a video for that.
  • Would you like some more details on Bong Joon-ho’s next film Parasite? Here are some details that came out hours before this episode was released, informing us that filming began only days ago!

Outro music: score from Mother, composed by Byung-woo Lee

The latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Abe Forsythe talking the films of Bong Joon-ho, can be heard on Stitcher Smart Radio, subscribed to on iTunes, or downloaded/streamed directly from our website.

If there’s one thing auteurs like, it’s mothers. Just ask Albert Brooks, Bong Joon-ho, or Darren Aronofsky.

Hell Is For Hyphenates – May 2018

Abe Forsythe joins us to talk the films of Bong Joon-ho!

Rochelle and Lee look over some of the films they’ve seen this month, including Star Wars prequel Solo (00:40), Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody third collaboration Tully (06:07), serial killer biopic My Friend Dahmer (11:32), and Australian coming-of-age surf movie Breath (15:29).

Actor/writer/director Abe Forsythe joins us to talk about the challenges of making a local film for an international audience. After two very local films – the Ned Kelly comedy Ned (2003) and the Cronulla riots comedy Down Under (2016) – Abe has just wrapped production on zombie comedy Little Monsters, starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and originating Book of Mormon cast member Josh Gad, which has an undeniably broader built-in appeal. Abe talks about the different challenges of making films for wider audiences, and looks at the type of films Australia should consider making. (20:00)

Then, Abe takes us through the career and works of his filmmaker of the month, Bong Joon-ho! Bong is one of South Korea’s most popular filmmakers, making everything from monster movies like The Host to dramatic thrillers like Memories of Murder and Mother. In recent years he’s become an even bigger name, directing dystopian action film Snowpiercer and dramatic science fiction Okja. He’s an unconventional director with a unique eye, and his films are always infused with a real heart. Abe tells us which films got him hooked, why they mean so much to him, and the effect Bong’s films have had on his own. (32:39)

The Bong Joon-ho 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…

MEMORIES OF MURDER (2003) and OKJA (2017)

It’s safe to say Bong Joon-ho has never repeated himself, but if you absolutely had to divide his filmography into distinct hemispheres, you could justify labelling one basket “gritty murder mysteries in small towns” and another “high-concept, possibly involving a giant monster”. So kick your evening off with Memories of Murder, which we’ll reductively but usefully describe as the South Korean Zodiac. Inspired by the country’s first recorded serial killer, the film follows a local detective partnered with a city detective, and digs into the processes and mistakes the pair makes as they try to catch the killer. Not afraid of overselling this one: it’s easily one of the best modern police procedurals you’re likely to see. Once you’ve seen that, follow it up with Okja, The fantasy-action film follows a young girl who runs away to save the life of her beloved gigantic pig, falling in with a group of animal liberationists as they try to rescue the genetically engineered creature from the ominous Mirando Corporation. Beloved by audiences and critics, the film was nominated for a Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and is available right this second on Netflix.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen Memories of Murder, seek out Mother (2009). When her son is accused of a terrible murder, a woman who sells medicinal herbs sets about trying to prove his innocence, becoming increasingly forceful as she finds herself blocked at every turn. If you can’t get or have already seen Okja, get your hands on Snowpiercer (2013), which is also on Netflix, and also features a perfectly over-the-top Tilda Swinton performance. Our world has frozen over, and all that’s left of humanity resides in a super train that travels the world. The rich and powerful reside at the front, and the poor and destitute are kept at the back, at least until a group from the rear of the train decide it’s time to mount a revolution, and begin an odyssey through the microcosmic societies that have formed down the carriage line.

The Hidden Gem: Want to see something off the beaten path, a title rarely mentioned when people talk about the films of Bong Joon-ho? Then you should track down Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000). Bong’s first film foreshadows a lifelong preoccupation with idiosyncratic characters, his fascination with the relationship between humans and animals, and a tendency to lean on unexpected musical cues and styles. If you’re a fan of Bong, this is an essential and little-seen piece of the puzzle.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Abe Forsythe talking the films of Bong Joon-ho, will be released on 31 May 2018.

Our Next Hyphenate Abe Forsythe

Actor, filmmaker and Hi4H May 2018 guest host Abe Forsythe

Abe Forsythe has been all over Australian film and television for as long as we can remember, noting of course that we can only remember as far back as about 1991. But still, that’s an impressive run.

As an actor, he’s starred in the hit series Always Greener, Fireflies, Laid, Howzat!, and plenty more. He’s appeared in feature films The Night We Called It a Day (2003), The Extra (2005), and Little Deaths (2007). And he’s also a filmmaker himself, writing and directing the Ned Kelly comedy Ned (2003), and the topical black comedy Down Under (2016). He’s also just wrapped production on zombie comedy Little Monsters with no less than Lupita Nyong’o and Josh Gad in the lead roles. And who could forget him as the lead in the 2005 thriller Lethal Cure? Happy hunting.

But, of course, his greatest role yet will be coming at the end of this month when he guest hosts the May edition of Hell Is For Hyphenates.

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

None other than Bong Joon-ho!

South Korea’s Bong Joon-ho is the director of the idiosyncratic comedy Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000), and the dark serial killer thriller Memories of Murder (2003). But he properly rose to international prominence when monster movie The Host (2006) became an instant cult favourite.

He directed a segment of the anthology Tokyo! (2008) alongside Leos Carax and Michel Gondry, and the dark thriller Mother (2009), before entering American cinema with the renowned dystopian action film Snowpiercer (2013). Recently, his animal-loving Okja (2017) was a hit when it was released on Netflix worldwide.

There’s an undeniable stylistic throughline to his films, despite the fact that he really hasn’t repeated himself in subject matter or style. So what is it that made him such a popular figure? And why does Australia’s own Abe Forsythe love his work so much?

Joins us on May 31 when we find out!

Our next filmmaker of the month, Bong Joon-ho

Hii On McQueen

We can’t remember how long ago we added Ming-Zhu Hii to our guest wishlist, but in the intervening years she’s directed short films, landed prominent roles on half of Australia’s comedy and drama TV shows, and appeared in films like Peter Rabbit and That’s Not Me. Frankly, we’re lucky we were able to book her.

Ming-Zhu joins us for the whole damn show, including the reviews! This month, we look at Unsane, the thriller Steven Soderbergh shot on his damn iPhone, Rungano Nyoni’s debut feature I Am Not a Witch, Sally Potter’s single-location comedy-drama The Party, and Wes Anderson’s stop motion animation Isle of Dogs. If you love high drama and lots of laughs, but can’t decide which of these films will deliver, then this month’s reviews will certainly provide you with what you need.

We then look at the Cannes Film Festival’s announcement that Netflix films will no longer be permitted to screen in competition. Is Cannes shooting itself in the foot by ignoring the natural evolution of cinema? Or is it one of the last remaining defenders of the traditional theatrical experience?

Finally, Ming-Zhu introduces us to the works of her filmmaker of the month, Steve McQueen! We all know McQueen’s work as director of Hunger (2008), Shame (2011), and 12 Years a Slave (2013), but that is only part of the story. McQueen was an internationally-renowned artist long before he tackled features, and Ming-Zhu walks us through his fascinating history.

You may have noticed (or, mostly likely, not noticed even a little bit) that there was no cheat sheet for this show, and that was largely because no cheating is needed – you can quite reasonably watch all of McQueen’s readily-available work over the course of a weekend and still have time to go to that thing. Or you could blow off the thing entirely and watch Shame twice. We know which one we’d do.

But in addition to Hunger, Shame, and 12 Years a Slave, there are some McQueen shorts available online: you can right this second watch his first film Bear (1993) here, Five Easy Pieces (1995) here, and Western Deep (2002) here. And if you like your TVCs, you can also watch his commercial Mr Burberry (2016) here.

Further reading:

Outro music: score from 12 Years a Slave, composed by Hans Zimmer

The latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Ming-Zhu Hii talking the films of Steve McQueen, can be heard on Stitcher Smart Radio, subscribed to on iTunes, or downloaded/streamed directly from our website.