Tag Archives: paul mazursky

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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Swanberg on Mazursky

Joe Swanberg (left), and the director of his favourite film, Paul Mazursky (right)
Joe Swanberg (left), and the director of his favourite film, Paul Mazursky (right)

Funny story: we had some informal talks with the Melbourne International Film Festival earlier this year about possibly doing a show in conjunction with them, much like our live Sydney Film Festival show in June. For various reasons, we were unable to make it work, and so we set about pursuing some of the other names on our overly-long wishlist of guests.

Joe Swanberg, director of last year’s outstanding Drinking Buddies, immediately agreed to be on the show. We were pretty excited about this, and started organising a time to record the US-based filmmaker via Skype.

“I will be in Melbourne in August for the film festival,” he replied. “Can we do it then?”

So, entirely by accident, we ended up doing a show with MIFF. The festival was excellent about our accidental booking of their guest, and slotted us in to Joe’s press schedule. He was out here to introduce and promote his latest film, Happy Christmas, starring Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Lena Dunham and himself.

At first, we thought his choice of Paul Mazursky might have been a sentimental one given Mazursky had passed away only a month earlier, but interviews such as this one from January of this year proved that Joe has been extolling the virtues of Mazursky’s films all along.

For us, Mazursky’s filmography hit at just the right time. After several months of being neck-deep in Robert Altman films, we were feeling massive Altman withdrawal symptoms at Hi4H HQ. So it was fitting to find Mazursky’s films – particularly his early ones – had a real Altmanesque feel to them: long, observational takes and a strong focus on performance, not to mention a roster of Atlman actors including Elliott Gould, Donald Sutherland, George Segal and Michael Murphy. That’s not to suggest Mazursky was just Altman Lite; he definitely had a style all his own. The work he did throughout the 1970s feels so groundbreaking and original and exciting, it’s difficult to understand why so many of his films have slipped out of the conversation.

Joe had a chance to talk with Mazursky on stage and the insight he brings to a filmmaker whose name should be as fondly remembered as all the greats of the 1970s is incredible.

If you haven’t seen any Paul Mazursky films, check out our cheat sheet here, then listen to the latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates.

Thanks to the Melbourne International Film Festival for their wonderful assistance, and to Joe Swanberg for his generosity.

Paul (left), Joe (middle) and Lee (right) recording the episode of 7 August 2014 in Melbourne

Hell Is For Hyphenates – August 2014

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.

The Mazursky Cheat Sheet

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.

PM Films

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.