The sixth and final film in our Risqué Romance cycle is Luca Guadagnino's meatlovers romance, Bones and All (2022).Coming off his break out art-house hit Call Me by Your Name (2017) and his wonderfully bizarre remake of Suspiria (2018), Luca Guadagnino rejoined with white hot Timothée Chalamet to adapt this young adult novel about the ills of eating human flesh. The book, a vegan polemic, is translated here by Luca with his normal grace, poise, and naturalism. Joining Chalamet is the splendid performance of Taylor Russell as the two young lovers crisscross the eastern half of the US. Also strangely a 1980s period piece, Bones and All becomes a gumbo of genre, style, and tone. It doesn't really work, but there is a joy in the experience of trying to make sense of it all. Mark Rylance shows up to piss off Chris and for me to fall in love again.For our chaser film, we reconnect with Her (2013), a techno-romance that captured the thirty something zeitgeist of the late Obama years as we became soulmates with our iPhones.
1 hr 1 min
We decided to do an end of the year show for 2022. Life has been hectic so we haven't been able to post on our normal schedule, and we have a longer break coming up before Season 10 of Film Trace kicks off. So we decided to do a one-off show to give the people what they want: Drama!Chris and Dan present the top five behind the scenes dramas in film for 2022. The goal of our show is to tell the listener the story of how a film came to be. Sometimes everything goes right, and we get Top Gun: Maverick. Sometimes it doesn't go right and we get Morbius. The successes are fun to talk about but the abject failures are truly delicious. Join us as we trace the lives of five films that face planted in 2022.
1 hr 7 min
The fifth film in our Risqué Romance cycle is Ang Lee's western romance, Brokeback Mountain (2005) Special Guest: Amanda Jane Stern - writer, actor, and producer from New York City. She wrote, produced, and starred in the new erotic thriller Perfectly Good Moment, soon to be playing at a film festival near you!When Brokeback came out in the mid-Aughts, it was supported by effuse buzz and whispered homophonic jokes. This was not unlike the release of The Crying Game in the early 90s. Both films were from smaller studios and gained traction due to their misperceived salaciousness. Looking back on Brokeback, the film's reputation is bizarre and totally ill-fitting. The film is a quiet and slow mediation on how love blossoms quickly but then withers for decades only to constantly reemerge through turned soil, like a perennial bud. Its loss to Crash at the 2006 Oscars for Best Picture feels more and more criminal with every passing year. Brokeback Mountain is one of Ang Lee's enduring masterpieces alongside Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.For our chaser film, we reexamine the 2002 film Secretary, which felt like a slight curiosity on release but plays totally differently now. Very much a hidden gem.
The fourth film in our Risqué Romance cycle is Lana and Lily Wachowski's debut film, Bound (1996).Like the Wachowskis' more successful and canonical sophomore effort, The Matrix, Bound both works wonderfully on its own as a playful lesbian-centered noir and as a challenge to the WWII-era subgenre, as well as modern crime films writ large, to reconsider and deconstruct masculinity and femininity alike. Essentially a chamber drama with Hong Kong action-inspired flair, its lead performances from the still-underrated Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon leap off the screen with ferocity while also retaining a delicate sense of intimacy. The supporting cast, including reliable Wachowski mainstay Joe Pantoliano and a magnetically maniacal turn from Christopher Meloni, fleshes out the film's ahead-of-its-time graphic novel pulp sensibility too. The whole affair comes off as not just risqué but downright revolutionary.For our chaser film, we discuss the trashy erotic thriller Poison Ivy (1992). Directed by exploitation master Roger Corman protégé Katt Shea and largely a footnote of the decade's offerings, its queer undertones and Lolita riffing merit discussion, not to mention the fact that it somehow spawned three direct-to-video sequels.Dan is off this episode, but joining Chris in his absence is the insightful and talented freelance film writer and frequent Little White Lies contributor Lillian Crawford.
Dec 11, 2022
The third film in our Risqué Romance cycle is the small yet delightful, Valley Girl (1983).Valley Girl, the paradigm of an indie film, transcended its own means of production to become an oddly dismissed 80s mall romcom. As one reviewer aptly stated, the influence of Valley Girl was so massive that it's hard to watch it without feeling a sense of deja vu. Helmed by Martha Coolidge, who went on to direct the classic Real Genius and to become the president of the DGA, Valley Girl features Nicolas Cage in his breakout lead role. Coolidge placated the indie studio's grindhouse expectations while at the same time deftly producing one of the more authentic 1980s romance films.For our chaser film, we explore My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), a homosexual love story that plays down any risque notions. Written by a playwright, this gem of Britain's Channel 4 glows brightly despite its three decades of age.
Nov 27, 2022
The second film in our Risqué Romance cycle is Terrence Malick's debut film, Badlands (1973)Loosely based on the real-life murdering spree committed by Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate in the late 1950s, Badlands quickly steers clear of true crime tropes and traditional story structure. While Terrence Malick is at his least idiosyncratic here, the vibe and flow of the film are resolutely unique and unexpected. Perhaps the strange pacing and narrative focus should have been expected from a Hollywood outsider who nearly got his Ph.D. studying the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger. The fully colored lens through which Malick displays the violent journey of Kit and Holly (Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek) has not been drained of its vibrancy despite being fifty years old. The film shows how fame can easily dislocate the guttural horror of violence, a sophisticated message that has only strengthened over the decades. For our chaser film, we discuss the twee-influence of Harold and Maude (1971). The gender roles are reversed in this March-December romance, and we debate how this alteration affects the whimsy that props up this pitch-black comedy.
Nov 20, 2022
1 hr 9 min
The first film in our Risqué Romance cycle is Stanley Kubrick's infamous Lolita (1962).We start out this new season by tiptoeing through the minefield that is Lolita, a notorious film adaptation of the even more notorious novel by Vladimir Nabokov. It is hard to fathom that housewives and bankers were reading Lolita on the subway in the 1950s, but that is how popular this novel was during the Eisenhower years. This classic unfilmable novel is bizarrely translated by Kubrick, which greatly aggravates the problematic nature of the story. Chris and I debate whether we could even call this a romance film. For our chaser film, we discuss an often-overlooked kitchen sink drama from England, A Taste of Honey (1961). Where Lolita stumbles all over the place trying to say something profound, Honey says it with the smallest of glances and touches.
Nov 12, 2022
1 hr 1 min
The sixth and final film in our Absurdist Action cycle is Seijun Suzuki's masterpiece, Branded to Kill (1967)When we decided to do Absurdist Action as the theme of this cycle, we both struggled to find a starting point. Over-the-top action movies were the lingua franca of 1980s American cinema, and we had dozens of Reagan-era films to choose from as an origin. But as we tried to trace the theme back further, things became quite murky: Kung Fu, James Bond, Micheal Cimino, heist movies, cop movies, military shoot 'em ups. Chris wisely choose this yakuza B movie as our starting point, and it rings incredibly true to the theme.The undercurrent that connects Bullet Train to Bad Boys to 48 Hrs can be seen clearly in Seijun Suzuki's surrealist gonzo hitman film. Branded to Kill was shot in 25 days and edited in the three days before it was released. It was a factory film. The studio hated it and fired Suzuki. It was mostly unseen outside of Japan until the late 1990s when it was released on home video. Branded To Kill is a fever dream that runs solely on poetic logic. It is definitely absurd, and intoxicatingly provocative. Explicit sex, epic violence, and free verse plotting make this the missing link of Absurdist Action films. For our chaser film, we beat back the current of modern cinema to explore Beat the Devil (1953), a lark from John Huston and Truman Capote that became kitsch for the coastal elite set.
Oct 2, 2022
1 hr 3 min
The fifth film in our Absurdist Action cycle is Michael Cimino's wonderful debut, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.Special Guest: Daniel Malone from the great ‘You Talkin’ to Me?’ film podcastMichael Cimino will forever be a mystery. He seemingly appeared out of nowhere with Thunderbolt and Lightfoot in 1974 after winning favor with Clint Eastwood by punching up the script for his Dirty Harry flick Magnum Force. Cimino followed up his debut with The Deer Hunter (1978), arguably a masterpiece. He then came crashing down with the infamous Heaven's Gate (1980), arguably another masterpiece that was saddled with a supernova budget and an anathematic critical response. Within a single decade of working in Hollywood, Michael Cimino became a notorious and beguiling legend. Thunderbolt is a finely chiseled yet indecipherable clue to the persistent enigma of Cimino. Here the men are resolutely stoic yet desperate for connection, the landscape is brutal but intoxicatingly gorgeous, and America is both wide open and falling apart at the seams.For our chaser film, we scope out The Hot Rock (1972), an ensemble heist movie that juggles folly, irony, and low stakes.
Sep 24, 2022
The fourth film in our Absurdist Action cycle is Walter Hill's buddy cop paradigm, 48 Hours.Special Guest: Ryan Hendricks, friend of the show and Hollyweird insiderThe buddy cop movie would not exist without 48 Hours. Ironically, the buddies involved aren't both cops. Third pick Eddie Murphy has his breakout role here playing a convict put on temporary release for forty-eight hours to help track down a cop killer. Nick Nolte is a grizzled detective tasked with wrangling Murphy as they criss-cross a sleazy 1980s San Francisco. Time perhaps has not been kind to 48 Hours. The incessant side quest of Murphy looking for "trim" and the blatant racism highlight the inescapable and ignominious realities of late 20th century America.For our chaser film, we go the distance with Midnight Run (1988), an oddly underappreciated showcase for Charles Grodin and a stoic De Niro.
Sep 18, 2022
1 hr 2 min