Tag Archives: allison anders

Reeder On Anders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading:

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

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

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

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

Hell Is For Hyphenates – March 2017

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

The Allison Anders Cheat Sheet

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Next Hyphenate Jennifer Reeder

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

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

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

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

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

None other that indie director Allison Anders. 

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

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

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

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

Our next filmmaker of the month, Allison Anders