Tag Archives: claire denis

Hi4H’s 2014 Year In Review

Hi4H 2014 Montage

2014 was a pretty great year for Hell Is For Hyphenates. We reached our 50th episode, we had our first ever live show at the Sydney Film Festival, we landed guests such as Lynn Shelton and Joe Swanberg, and, most importantly, we started this blog.

We thought this would be a good opportunity to take stock, and make some lists that isn’t the traditional “Best Of” (those will come later). Please feel free to chime in with your own answers in the comments.

Top five Hi4H film discoveries (that you hadn’t seen before)?

Paul: The Long Goodbye (1973, Altman – I’m restricting myself to one film per filmmaker, so just know I could’ve easily filled this list with Altmans: California Split and HealtH chief among them), M. Hulot’s Holiday (1953, Tati), An Unmarried Woman (1978, Mazursky), Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974, Hough), Subway (1985, Besson).

Lee: I’m also gonna limit it to one per filmmaker to keep things slightly easier. Images (1972, Altman), Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969, Mazursky), Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974, Hough), Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary (2002, Maddin), Beau Travail (1999, Denis).

Which new filmmakers to emerge in 2014 are you most excited about?

Paul: Can’t I just say “Xavier Dolan” five times? No? Okay. But Xavier Dolan is my clear #1 here. While he’s been making films since 2009, I saw four of his five features – two of which were premieres – in 2014. A preternatural wunderkind who brings a unique blend of social realism, melodrama and bold cinematic style to bear, with uncommon power and moxie. Ana Lily Amirpour (just for being supercool and singular of vision), Jennifer Kent (for bringing a dramatic, thematic approach back to horror), Damien Chazelle (while Whiplash blew others away more than me, there was an uncommon command of craft – and an interesting voice – I’m keen to see more of), Joe & Anthony Russo: with one film, these frequent sitcom directors managed to single-handedly restore my faith in the Marvel Studios model.

Lee: So, so many. Gillian Rospierre (Obvious Child), Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behavior), Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), Charlie McDowell (The One I Love), Lake Bell (In a World…), Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night), Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays). I’m excited about what everyone in this group will make next.

Five filmmakers you’d like to see us cover on the show?

Paul: Because they’re Masters: Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, Howard Hawks, Mario Bava. Because I want to examine their career in context: John Carpenter.

Lee: I’m gonna eschew the obvious names (Hitchcock, Scorsese, Kubrick), because they are givens, and go with Kenji Mizoguchi, Agnès Varda, Michelangelo Antonioni, Alexandr Sokurov, Douglas Sirk. Is that a bit of a pretentious list? If so, replace one of those names with, I don’t know, Brett Ratner. Or, better yet, don’t.

Given we’re an Australian show, what were your favourite Australian films of the year?

Paul: 1) Cut Snake; 2) Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films; 3) The Rover; 4) The Babadook; 5) The Infinite Man.

Lee: 1) The Babadook; 2) Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films; 3) The Rover; 4) Charlie’s Country; 5) Canopy. The fact that this list was so difficult to curate speaks to what a great year it was for Australian cinema.

Most Anticipated Films of 2015?

Paul: 1) The Hateful Eight (was there ever any doubt??); 2) Inherent Vice; 3) Tomorrowland; 4) Foxcatcher; 5) Serial Season 2… oh, it has to be films? Okay… Mad Max: Fury Road.

Lee: 1) Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice; 2) Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron; 3) Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight; 4) Todd Haynes’ Carol; 5) Martin Scorsese’s Silence.


Thank you all for listening this year. We hope you enjoyed it, and we hope you enjoy everything to come in 2015. We have some big plans we can’t wait to tell you about.

Big thanks to everyone who helped us out over the year, from our guests to the good people at the Sydney Film Festival, and everyone who loaned us the DVDs and autobiographies we needed for research. Huge thanks to our loyal artist Caroline McCurdy, who did all of our amazing artwork and design.

In the meantime, 2014 isn’t done yet! We have our final show for 2014 coming out on the morning of December 31, featuring Richard Watts talking about the films of Gregg Araki, so make sure you kick off your New Year’s Eve plans with our latest show!

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Shelton on Denis

Shelton on Denis
Lynn Shelton (left), and her filmmaker of the month Claire Denis (right)

Allow us to do away with modesty for a moment and theorise on why our show works: it’s not that we talk about the works of great filmmakers, it’s that each filmmaker is told through the unique perspective of that month’s guest. Over in the Alt-U section, you’ll see that Julia Zemiro might have gone with Susanne Bier had we not already covered her with Kristy Best a few months earlier. Julia talking about Bier would have been totally different from Kristy talking about Bier. One would not have necessarily been better than the other: the point is that it’s not just the filmmaker, it’s the guest who chooses them.

This month’s guest is Lynn Shelton, one of US independent cinema’s most interesting and exciting voices. We became aware of her when she made the excellent Humpday, and followed that up with the brilliant Your Sister’s Sister. She’s continuing to do great work across both film (Touchy Feely, Laggies) and television (Mad Men, The New Girl, The Mindy Project), and we were delighted when she agreed to come on the show. Talking to someone you admire and finding out who they admire is always fascinating, and so when Lynn picked Claire Denis, we were keen to find out why.

It turns out the story was more personal than we’d realised. We were completely unaware that Lynn’s filmmaking career actually was kicked off by Claire Denis. This is a story that even Claire Denis probably doesn’t know.

It’s those connections that make discussing filmmakers’ careers so much more interesting, and this month’s episode is a perfect example of that. If you want to know a little more about the films of Claire Denis, check out our Cheat Sheet here, and then download the latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Lynn Shelton talking the films of Claire Denis.

Special thanks to Lynn Shelton for generously giving us her time, and to Adam Kersch at Brigade Marketing for his wonderful help.

Hell Is For Hyphenates – September 2014

Filmmaker Lynn Shelton (Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister, Laggies) joins us for this episode as we talk the new releases of September 2014, examine whether we’re less enamoured by directors who are more stylistically experimental, and delve into the works of French auteur Claire Denis.

The Claire Denis Cheat Sheet

Director Claire Denis at the photo call for her film Les Salauds (Bastards)

Want to be knowledgeable about our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: a suggested double that will make you an insta-expert in the director we’re about to discuss…

CD Films BEAU TRAVAIL (1999) and WHITE MATERIAL (2009)

Director Claire Denis was raised in colonial French Africa, and many of her films reflect this in some way. Beau Travail is a sublimely beautiful work about an ex-French Foreign Legion officer reminiscing about his time leading soldiers in Africa. It stars Denis Lavant, a newly-minted cult figure thanks to his now-legendary work in Leos Carax’s 2012 film Holy Motors. Following Beau Travail, you’ll want to put on White Material. The always-brilliant Isabelle Huppert is the matriarch of a white family about to be kicked off their African plantation, trying desperately to hold onto the crop of coffee beans they’ve grown as their lives hang in danger. Both films are truly stunning, managing to convey a sense danger while drawing you in and lulling you to spend more time in these worlds. These two brilliant works, made ten years apart, should give you a solid understanding of the style of Claire Denis.

Substitutions: If you can’t get Beau Travail, try Chocolat (1988). If you can’t get White Material, try 35 Shots of Rum (2008).

The Hidden Gem: If you want to go for something off the trodden path, you have to check out her 2001 film Trouble Every Day. It features Vincent Gallo and Béatrice Dalle, and is equal parts sexy and horrific. Not for the faint of heart.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Lynn Shelton talking Claire Denis, will be released on the morning of September 30 (AEST).

Our Next Hyphenate: Lynn Shelton

Writer-director-producer-editor-actress and September 2014 Hyphenate Lynn Shelton!
Writer-director-producer-editor-actress and September 2014 Hyphenate Lynn Shelton

When Humpday came out in 2009, we were pretty enamoured. Although we were hardly experts in the mumblecore movement*, what we’d seen of it had not been hugely inspiring, and Humpday single-handedly changed that: the film was so funny, endearing, and brilliantly-constructed, it single-handedly turned us around on the whole sub-genre. The casual, handheld camera work was an aesthetic that added to the story, rather than feeling like it was simply the only method of production available.

From that moment, we committed writer/director Lynn Shelton’s name to memory, and eagerly awaited her next film. That next film – 2011’s Your Sister’s Sister – was even better: a perfectly-executed film that took an outrageous setup and invested us in it wholly, subverting clichés in all the right ways.

So you can imagine we were pretty chuffed when Lynn agreed to be our next guest on the show, and we were very keen to find out who she would choose as her filmmaker. Who inspires one of independent cinema’s most exciting voices?

She has chosen French director Claire Denis, best known for films such as Beau Travail (1999), 35 Shots of Rum (2008) and White Material (2009). It’s a fascinating choice, and we’re really looking forward to watching or rewatching her films in preparation.

As always, the episode will be out on the last day of the month, so stock yourselves up on Shelton and Denis films and we’ll meet you back here then.

Claire Denis
Legendary French filmmaker Claire Denis, the subject of our next episode

* Is “mumblecore” considered a legitimate term for the sub-genre, or a pejorative? We should look into that.