Author Archives: The Hyphenates

Hell Is For Hyphenates – October 2018

Scott Derrickson joins us to talk the films of Wim Wenders!

Rochelle and Lee catch up on some new releases, including Nicole Holofcener’s drama The Land of Steady Habits (01:14), Bradley Cooper’s update of the Hollywood classic A Star Is Born (04:00), Damien Chazelle’s moon landing retelling First Man (08:56), and the Freddie Mercury and Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody (13:34).

Then, we’re joined by filmmaker Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Sinister, Doctor Strange) to talk about his filmmaker of the month, Wim Wenders. Scott takes us through why films such as Wings of Desire, Paris, Texas, Buena Vista Social Club, Pina, the road movie trilogy, and so many others, had such a profound impact on him. He also talks about his friendship with Wim, the film they made together, and offers a uniquely personal insight into Wim Wenders as both the artist and the man. (23:06)

The Wim Wenders 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…

WINGS OF DESIRE (1987) and BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB (1999)

For a filmmaker with so many poetic, poignant films in his canon, Wim Wenders hit his apotheosis with the wistful Wings of Desire, in which angels plaintively and invisibly observe humanity, moving imperceptibly through private and public spaces, overhearing thoughts and watching private moments. It’s one of those true modern classic, a film you want to swim in forever. But Wenders isn’t just a master dramatist; he’s also an accomplished documentarian. His best-known documentary is easily Buena Vista Social Club, the film that exploded into cinemas at the turn of the century and ensured that no subsequent story of Cuba would fail to be accompanied by the group’s iconic “Chan Chan”. But Wenders applies the same gentle touch to Buena Vista that he did to Wings, observing the musicians like one of his trenchcoated angels observing the citizens of Berlin. These films are a world apart, stylistically and geographically, but together will give you a good primer on what makes Wenders such an exciting and beloved filmmaker.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen Wings of Desire, seek out Paris, Texas (1984). Widely considered the other filmography-defining in the Wenders canon, the film is the stark and beautiful culmination of the director’s preoccupation with the narrative and character propulsions afforded by the conceit of a road trip. If you can’t get or have already seen Buena Vista Social Club, get your hands on The Salt of the Earth (2014). For a director who loves observing the observers, this may as well have been a film about himself. Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado is the subject, and along with Salgado’s son Juliano, Wenders tells a captivating, eminently rewatchable story about a man who has spent his life chronicling the extraordinary world of humanity and nature.

The Hidden Gem: Want to see something off the beaten path, a title rarely mentioned when people talk about the films of Wim Wenders? Then you should track down A Trick of the Light (1995). Few filmographies are as peppered with as many hidden gems as this one, so it was difficult to settle on just one. But Trick, also known as Brothers Skladanowsky, is one of the more delightfully idiosyncratic documentaries, blending real footage with staged recreations in a way that never fails to surprise and delight. Many countries have a folkloric “we actually invented cinema first” history, and this story of the German brothers who were narrowly beaten to the moving image finish line by France’s Lumières is one every cinephile needs to see.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Scott Derrickson talking the films of Wim Wenders, will be released on 31 October 2018.

Our Next Hyphenate Scott Derrickson

Director, writer, and Hi4H October 2018 guest host Scott Derrickson

We’ve been fans of Scott Derrickson’s work for over a decade now. It was 2005’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose that put him on the map, the creeping slow-burn horror film that merged the courtroom drama with the exorcism sub-genre in all the right ways.

Since then, Scott has gone on to direct the science fiction remake The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), the bone-chilling Sinister (2012), the horror mystery Deliver Us From Evil (2014), and Marvel’s reality-bending superhero sorcery origin story Doctor Strange (2016).

It’s a pretty impressive CV, but it’s about to get all the more impressive as he prepares for his greatest role to date: that of Hell Is For Hyphenates guest host!

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

None other than Wim Wenders!

If Wenders isn’t one of your favourite directors, he certainly will be by the time we’re done. For someone with such a distinct style, Wenders was nevertheless impossible to pin down: he worked in both fiction and documentary, worked in numerous languages, in numerous countries, in numerous genres.

As a dramatic director, he’s best known for the American drama classic Paris, Texas and the German romantic fantasy Wings of Desire; as a documentarian, he’s best known for Buena Vista Social Club and Pina. And behind those top-lined classics are works that would be the calling cards of most other filmmakers: films like The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty, Alice in the Cities, The Wrong Move, Kings of the Road, The American Friend, The State of Things.

If you’ve seen all of his films, you’ll know what a treat this episode will be. If you’ve only seen the big ones, you’re about to discover the delights that reside in the corners of his filmography. And if you haven’t seen any at all, then we envy you because you get to experience all of these films for the first time. Any which way you slice it, this episode is going to be a must-listen.

But what is it about the films that had such an effect on Scott? And what is the connection between these two men that puts Scott Derrickson in a unique position to talk about Wim Wenders?

Join us on October 31 when we find out!

Our next filmmaker of the month, Wim Wenders

McLean On Scott

100 episodes! Not counting the pilot, which we called episode 00 because it was a guest-free test run. Still, this was episode 100 proper, and we had to find a suitable way to celebrate the occasion. So we invited Greg McLean, the writer/director of one of the most influential Australian films of all time, Wolf Creek, to join us on stage at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Greg opted to talk about the great Ridley Scott, director of Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, The Martian, and a heap more beside. Greg’s story of “seeing” Alien before he saw it is as great an origin story as they come. Talking all things Ridley Scott in front of a live audience with Greg was a thrill, and we reckon a pretty solid way to mark the milestone.

Long-time listeners may also recognise a couple of familiar voices at the top of the show, two interlopers who weren’t there for the live recording, but nevertheless had to be included. When Paul revealed he was going to be in London at roughly the same time we were on stage in Melbourne, we decided we needed a reunion of departed Hi4H hosts, so set him up So up for a meeting/recording. Based on what they sent back, they had far too much fun doing something we intended to be work. Honestly, some people.

The epic Nelson/Mayer meeting, inexplicably masking their face with what looks like Totoro slippers

A huge thanks to Greg, and to Thomas Caldwell and everyone at the Melbourne International Film Festival, as well as the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. A lot of people came together to make this happen, and we’re grateful to every single one of you.

Further reading:

And here’s that Ridley Scott opening video you can hear in the show:

And check out the slideshow of images from the event, with photography by Clara Kosasih:

Outro music: score from Blade Runner, composed by Vangelis

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

Hell Is For Hyphenates – September 2018

Greg McLean joins us to talk the films of Ridley Scott!

It’s episode 100 of Hell Is For Hyphenates! After an introduction from former hosts Paul Anthony Nelson and So Mayer, Rochelle and Lee are joined by filmmaker Greg McLean (Wolf Creek, Jungle, The Belko Experiment) in front of a live audience at this year’s Melbourne Melbourne International Film Festival.

They look at the films of Greg’s filmmaker of the month, the legendary Ridley Scott. From Scott’s debut The Duellists to game-changing science fiction films Alien and Blade Runner, his films have left an indelible mark on pop culture. Thelma and Louise, Gladiator and The Martian have also been seared onto the public consciousness, and the masterful way in which he skirted the near-fatal controversies of All the Money in the World proves that after more than four decades of directing, Ridley Scott is still a force to be reckoned with.

The Ridley Scott 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…

ALIEN (1979) and PROMETHEUS (2012)

There aren’t many filmmakers who have provided us with such perfect before and after shots. Sure, Hitchcock did two versions of The Man Who Knew Too Much and Michael Haneke remade his own Funny Games, but these films weren’t quite the career bookends that Ridley’s duelling Alien films are. His second feature, Alien, remains one of cinema’s most ensuring masterclasses in How To Get Everything Perfectly Right. Character, tension, dialogue, horror, pacing… no element has been shortchanged in favour of any other, and it all seems so damn effortless, like an observational documentary gone awry. Even after decades of influence and numerous pretenders, its impact remains remarkably intact. So when Scott returned to the universe for prequel Prometheus, he tried to recreate the feeling of a clean slate. The film was not promoted as an Alien prequel, but rather its own fresh thing, with familiar images slowly cluing the audience in as the film progressed. Prometheus has its defenders and its detractors, but no matter of your feelings for it, there’s no better way to compare the tastes, interests, sensibilities and evolution of a filmmaker than by watching him make essentially the same film at the start of his career and then again at the end.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen Alien, seek out Blade Runner (1982). If this film has somehow managed to elude you, then use our show as an excuse to correct that grave error. There are numerous editions, and good arguments for each one, but if you’re after guidance then you can’t go wrong with the 1991 “Director’s Cut”. If you can’t get or have already seen Prometheus, get your hands on All the Money in the World (2017) (and you thought we were going to say Alien: Covenant, right?). If you’ve been disillusioned by some of Ridley’s recent films and think his best work is behind him, then prepare to be shaken by the sheer energy, pace and confidence behind the direction of this brilliant work.

The Hidden Gem: Want to see something off the beaten path, a title rarely mentioned when people talk about the films of Ridley Scott? Then you should track down The Duellists (1977). It’s weird that Scott’s lush, epic debut feature should have fallen into the cracks of semi-obscurity, but when your subsequent films alter pop culture forever, a demotion is understandable. Nevertheless, Scott’s first film is a confident, stunning work of tension, with every shot an oil painting. Do not miss this one.

The 100th episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Greg McLean talking the films of Ridley Scott, will be released on 30 September 2018.

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