US indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies, Happy Christmas) joins the Hyphenates for our August 2014 edition, as we talk over the new releases of the past month, look at whether independent filmmakers can forge a career in the new media landscape, and check out the filmography of the influential and underrated director Paul Mazursky.
Early last year, we abandoned our original system whereby we wouldn’t announce the guest or the filmmaker they were discussing until the day the podcast was out. On the urging of some of our listeners, we decided to change it up and announce both guest and filmmaker nearly a month before the episode launched. That way, anyone who wanted to play along at home could watch the works of our filmmaker-of-the-month and have a whole month to catch themselves up, much in the same way we ourselves do.
This isn’t always practical. Even our most committed listeners probably wouldn’t be able to marathon all of, say, Billy Wilder or Robert Altman’s filmography in time, so we’ve come up with a new idea. About a week or so before Hyphenates comes out, we’re going to suggest a double feature that encapsulates the essential spirit of the filmmaker. Two films you can easily watch on a Friday night in order to get a good sense of the director we’ll be talking about.
So with the Paul Mazursky episode only a few days away, here are a couple of films you might want to seek out over the weekend.
BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE (1969) and MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON (1984)
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is the main reason we’re talking about Mazursky. In the upcoming episode, guest Joe Swanberg reveals that Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is his favourite film of all time, and talks about the influence it had on Swanberg’s biggest hit, 2013’s Drinking Buddies. Bob & Carol was Mazursky’s first ever film, and was a critical and commercial hit. To understand Mazursky’s career, this film is essential. Then, to get a feeling for where he went next after his amazing run of 1970s zetigeist-capturing comedy-dramas, watch 1984’s Moscow on the Hudson, about a Russian circus performer (Robin Williams) who experiences life outside of Soviet Russia during a fateful trip to New York. It’s broader and glossier than his earlier work, but still an interesting work, and a good indication of how Mazursky’s style progressed.
Substitutions: If you can’t get Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, try An Unmarried Woman (1978). If you can’t get Moscow on the Hudson, try Down and Out In Beverly Hills (1986).
The Hidden Gem: Want to add in one of Mazursky’s lesser-known films, one that (in our humble opinion) ranks amongst his best despite never being discussed? Try Tempest (1982), his loose, modern-day adaptation of Shakespeare’s final play, with John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands, Susan Sarandon, Raul Julia, and, in her first ever film, Molly Ringwald.
The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Joe Swanberg talking Paul Mazursky, will be released on the morning of August 31.