The last competition we ran got such a great response, we thought we’d run another. Because giving you things gives us joy. Joy.
This September past we had the wonderful filmmaker Lynn Shelton on the show. Thanks to Madman Entertainment, we have a DVD set featuring three of Lynn’s films: Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister and Touchy Feely. But that’s not all! In that particular episode of Hyphenates, we reviewed the brilliantly funny New Zealand horror-comedy What We Do In The Shadows, and because Madman is so great, they’re also throwing that into the mix. We know. You’re like, “But that’s too much great stuff in one single competition!”, but we’re all about pleasure overload here at Hi4H HQ.
To win the set, simply answer the following question:
In the September 2014 episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, Lynn Shelton mentions the name of a film that is “absolutely in my top five list of films ever”. Which film is it and who directed it?
To enter, send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight on December 31 2014 AEST. All correct answers will be put into a gigantic electronic sorting machine or possibly a hat, and the winning entry will be drawn at random. The winner will then be notified by email.
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.
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.
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…
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).
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.
* Is “mumblecore” considered a legitimate term for the sub-genre, or a pejorative? We should look into that.