S1: Right now. Charlotte great. Pay by.
S2: What’s in the box.
S3: Yo yo yo Hello and welcome to the slates for their special for Jo-Jo rabbit.
S4: The new comedy starring writer director takeaway Titi is Adolph Hitler. I’m joined in New York by two Slate editors and critics. Dan Kois Hello. And Sam Adams Hello. Hey Sam.
S5: You are forest Wickman and a writer at Slate and I am Forrest Wickman an editor at Slate. Thank you Dan also played by Tucker white. Yeah also. Yes all three of us are being played by takeaway too.
S6: None of us are dressed as Hitler. We restrained ourselves from making any Hale jokes thus far in this podcast. But I do want to start with thumbs up thumbs down assessment from each of us especially because this has been a pretty controversial movie. Sam I have a little bit of a sense of what you think but I think you also have the best sense for what the discourse around this movie has been thus far. So maybe you can summarize the discourse and then place herself on that show briefly summarize the discourse.
S7: I mean the critical reaction to this has been very split since it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September. I mean it won the Audience Award at at TIFF which is the closest thing we have to a Best Picture bellwether at this point. So the green book won it last year and won. Yeah I mean the three bold words when the year before that which might not end up winning but got a ton of nominations. So was a crowd pleasing movie about Nazis which is itself good neat summary of both what people like about it and why people raise objections to it. I am on the side of thinking it is an intelligent movie that you know very funny. I would not pile too much on top of it in terms of you know it being a kind of groundbreaking depiction or anything like that. But I I enjoyed it a minute. I think it is thoughtful interesting and painterly. Dan did you like this movie where you offended by it.
S8: I was not offended by it. I did think that I will talk about this. I did think that a lot of the plays that the movie made didn’t work and that this is the first time that take away CGI Jesus found a subject that is bigger maybe than his sort of go to mode of addressing both the serious and the funny in the world. I give it a qualified thumbs up as a comedy and a thumbs down as an anti-war satire right as it’s being advertised on billboards and such.
S9: Lest anybody think it is pro not pro nazi and you follow a pro hate satire right. I felt pretty similarly to you guys it sounds like maybe I liked it slightly more than you Dan although the more I think about this movie the less I like it. I would say I had a very good time watching it. I found the ending which we’ll get to be pretty moving although also a little bit glib.
S4: I mean I think that takeaway TV has never made a really bad movie or at least not that I’ve seen I haven’t seen Eagle vs. shark for example which I know is bad. Okay. Yes we have the definitive chronicler of Tycho Titi here a Dan profiles takeoff for the Times magazine that was right. I mean I’m not. This felt like a bigger swing from him and I don’t think it was a total with. But I think he ended up kind of like scoring a single or something I didn’t intend to go full baseball metaphor.
S10: That’s the baseball metaphor maybe is that it’s a bigger swing and that therefore it can cause bigger errors.
S11: Right. Like you could. Yeah I much more but a lot more can go wrong right.
S5: Yes I will not let you swing for the fences as one might say. Yeah really.
S6: And here it is an invigorating baseball podcast Full Year project this movie as Americans which I mean you know is somewhat appropriate in that it is a movie that takes place in Germany but has all sorts of different kinds of accents in it. Sam why don’t you sort of set the scene for the world of this movie and our hero within it it is Germany in 1944 nearing the end of the war but not at it.
S7: Our hero is Georgia Besler was a young member of the Hitler youth being basically trained up to replace Germany is going to dwindling human resources for front line soldiers. He is not not a sort of enthusiastic nazi but he neither is he a dissenter. He sort of absent himself in part because he just doesn’t fit in. Look he’s kind of a weirdo and he’s believed in stuff. So like a lot of kids he kind of comes up with an imaginary friend to have a confidant someone to talk to.
S10: And in his case this imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler which leads to our first scene which I’m hoping you can describe Dan Yeah the first scene of the movie is Jo-Jo in his room before his mirror giving himself a pep talk and then the pep talk is punctuated by further encouragement from that imaginary best friend Hitler who’s played by Whitey what she has described him as a 10 year old’s idea of Adolf Hitler which I think isn’t exactly accurate which I’d like to talk to you guys about but it is a comic friendly version of this character who has authority in Jojo’s mind who also helps him through tough times and commiserate with him when things are bad. There are a lot of great jokes tied up in their relationship. There’s a lot of great gags tied up in the various physical comedy bits that white does with his character with the absurd things that he has him saying. But yeah the movie begins with Jo-Jo trying to psych himself up and in fact getting encouraged by Hitler to hail him as he’s never held before to hail him with great vigor and enthusiasm. And you’re not hailing me enough Jo-Jo you can do better than that. It’s like a very funny thing.
S6: Yeah. Right. And it has this like a slight meta aspect because you have the director also as one of the stars of the scene like essentially directing his lead within the scene except for he happens to be Hitler and it leads to what I think is maybe the best sequence of the movie or my favorite which is he gets so hyped about hailing everyone that he starts just running down the streets of an unidentified major German city just like hailing every single person he passes. And then we start to hear I want to hold your hand by the Beatles. And then it starts into cutting scenes from Beatlemania with sort of crowd scenes from. I think it’s time for the well as you noted in your piece from Toronto Sam and I. I mean there’s like a lot going on in the scene. I mean the scenes of him running down the street are very sort of hard day’s night. There’s like a bunch of like split screen in there and I mean it’s basically to state the obvious we can. A lot of Spoiler Specials for comedies is basically explaining jokes but it’s making a sort of parallel right between the hysteria of Beatlemania and you know the intense fervor for Hitler which is something the movie sort of plays with a lot because to a child those things are not that different right.
S12: There are both examples of a kid wanting to be included in what he sees as a dominant exciting cultural narrative with everyone else. And it’s fact it’s not only I want to hold your hand it’s the German version of. Right hold your hand that the Beatles recorded come give me your Dinah.
S7: All right. Yeah. And I think that I mean that moment which is sort of the opening credits of the film is that sort of the buy in for this this movie I mean if you are repelled by that idea you can probably walk out at that point like you’re not you’re not going to enjoy this film. I think it’s doing two things which is obviously to suggest to draw a parallel between the rise of the Third Reich and and Beatlemania and to say that this is something that just kind of swept the nation. Everybody got caught up in it also too particularly with regard to our protagonist to say like this is just a kid who’s kind of into the things that other people are into. And he’s not for example like a diehard anti-semite or someone who believes that like you know homosexuals and Roma should be should be put to death you know like he’s just kind of doing this because it’s like what everybody else is doing and you need to believe that about him in order for him to be a kind of tolerable protagonist kinda.
S8: Though he is I mean actually an anti Semite and in the sense that he hates the cartoonish version of dress that he has been taught that Jews are and the movie does play a lot with a lot of anti-Semitic stereotypes being proclaimed loudly and with great joy by various characters that mockingly some of them wholeheartedly. And that’s one of the ways I sort of felt like the mode the way teachers loved so much of like showing a child’s eye view of really difficult issues didn’t always work for me in this movie because I had trouble even though it has a half Jewish director writing and directing these scenes in them as Hitler. I still found it really hard to stomach like the constant talk in this movie about Jews horns and their love of money and how they live underground and shit like that like at some point. It was like it stopped being funny to me possibly intentionally but not in a way that was effective.
S6: Yeah I mean I found that all of that stuff to be a really mixed bag. We should get moving to you know one of the scenes where we see them start to get indoctrinated. That’s just because I do. I mean I think that a lot of what the movie is about is this exact distinction that we’re kind of arguing about and which I think the movie doesn’t quite know what to do with which is like how much are these beliefs sincere and do we blame individuals for them versus what I think that really the movie is most effective at is conveying like what it’s like to be in a society that gets swept up in something completely silly and insane. And then what happens when you know that insanity or that era ends which you know has parallels that we’ll get into but we then move quickly to scenes of him getting indoctrinated at this Hitler Youth Camp which did you guys get a Moonrise Kingdom vibe at all like there’s definitely some Wes Anderson. Yeah. And I think some of it is also them drawing on common influences. But Dan maybe you can describe that camp a little bit and also that the leaders of that camp that we meet.
S12: It’s a late in the war Hitler Youth Camp which means that only the worst of the worst soldiers are left to run it and the two main characters we see running it are Sam Rockwell as Captain cleanse and Dorff who lost an eye and a ill timed raid and was demoted to running Hitler youth camp and who we learn over the course of the movie has someone mixed sympathies with the Nazi state and then rebel Wilson as a character who I don’t know that she was named anywhere in the movie but I am deeply earnest for a line her on but she is just like an absolutely insane Rebel Wilson character who happens to speak in a German accent and loves Nazis and like speaks in a German accent sometimes I’m just like all of the accents kind of really tend to come and go and what she’s Australian originally.
S9: So there’s you have like Australian people playing Germans Kiwis playing Germans Americans playing Germans all and widely varying German accent Yeah.
S10: Some have no accents at all like right down to like the kid who plays Joe Joe’s best friend who’s straight up a kid out of Hogwarts with like the plumber’s British accent you’ve never heard.
S6: So we get them these instructors trying to indoctrinate them with scenes that I think it sounds like we all agree we’re sort of mixed in terms of how funny and successful they are one. One quote I did write down was we Aryans are 1000 times more advanced and civilised than any other race. It’s time to burn some books which I thought was pretty pretty solid. It’s pretty clear what the joke is there. And then we get a little bit of our protagonist’s reluctance again to go along with this.
S7: Sam maybe you can talk about how Jojo gets his name Georgia gets his name because they are teaching these kids to kill and they’re using little kind of you know straw dummy is that they’re banned adding but then they decide to move on to live creatures and they ask him to strangle a rabbit and Georgia Besler declines. He does not want to do that. And so he is mocking me thereafter referred to as Georgia rabbit by his cohort I guess his colleagues would have been one of him his horrible peers. Yes one of whom steps in and enthusiastic strangles the rabbit. So you know some of the criticisms I’ve read of this movie suggested that the movie sort of implies that all Nazis are kind of good at heart or misled. But I think it’s important that the movie sets Jojo apart from the people around him. And partly it is just his sort of ineptitude that saves him. But he is not taking to this training in the way that a lot of the other kids are.
S6: Yeah right. We see a real mix among among the kids which also allows us to enjoy such pieces of slapstick during the sequences when one kid is just attempting to throw a knife and he’s practicing knife throwing by throwing his knife against the tree and like hits the tree and then bounces back and just stabs him in the thigh or the arm or somewhere which again.
S10: Look this movie is full of great gags like takeaway teach you can really write a keg. Yeah and he’s been workshopping the script for like 15 years. Oh I didn’t know that. Oh yeah. He wrote this like the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. around the time of Eagle versus shark the first draft of this. And so this is something he’s taken to like numerous screenwriting labs that he’s been developing forever that he couldn’t get financing for until he had some kind of clout. He got them around and this is as we’ve discussed a couple of times. This is like an actual example of someone using Marvel money to make a passion project and that actually hasn’t happened that many times. Almost the only example it’s like this and there’s Jon Favreau a movie Chef right. That’s it that’s it. It’s like have to eat if this stated if like the silver lining of Marvel movies is that it gives a bunch of ambitious directors a chance to play on bigger pallets and then make the things they want to make like that doesn’t happen very often and make the things they want to make like more Marvel. Right. Right.
S9: So we have to get to our other two main characters which we meet when Joe Joe’s back at home. I mean the first one is his mother who’s played by Scarlett Johansson. Her allegiances are a little bit mysterious at first or at least through the eyes of this child very on mysterious stars.
S5: I think she’d always been like.
S7: I think it’s not like sort of an enthusiastic backer of George’s day job right.
S6: And right. And indeed it does not take long before we somewhat have them revealed by the fact that Joe Joe discovers in his home the movie’s other main character who is the Jewish young I guess what she says she is a teenage Jewish teenager. Her name’s Elsa. She’s played by Thomas McKenzie who is really great and leave no trace kind of came out nowhere with that movie and it was really nice to see her in this again. And she introduced and this is another one of the many sequences in which this movie is playing with fire a little bit but she’s introduced the essentially a series of horror tropes.
S4: I thought this was again pretty effective because it’s so clear that we’re just seeing this through the child’s eyes and that it’s so ridiculous to watch this incredibly normal and average young girl appear as if she is like the villain in some Japanese horror movie like The Grudge or the ring to this young boy.
S8: Yeah I love that sequence. Like I like that’s a case where the movie sort of earns and uses its child’s eye view in like a surprising and interesting way. And the introduction of her as something horrible hiding inside his house something that up heaves both his view of his own life and his view of his mother is like really well done.
S7: I have not read it but just from what I’ve read about it I mean the book that this movie is based on is not at all. I mean first of all there’s no imaginary Hitler in it but it’s also not funny at all. It’s not drawn from a comic source so I think that sequence is maybe kind of attribute to the source material. The rest of it if you seen it in the movies you can very clearly tell it is sort of one hundred and ten percent. Take a look.
S9: We’re probably what 25 minutes into the movie at this point. I feel like for the next 15 minutes or so not a chance happens except for we just get to know all the characters better.
S10: Right. Right. We see Jo Jo and Elsa building their relationship which is going to end up being somewhat core to the movie right. We see Jo Jo start to overcome his mistrust of her. We see her start to overcome her extremely rightful mistrust of him. And part of that is done through like subtle character moments and part of it is done through like very blunt like oh you’re a Jew but you don’t hang from the ceiling like a bad jokes.
S7: And then a lot of it is her sort of playing on that so that he doesn’t kind of run off and like tell everybody that she’s there. She’s like well I mean he’s my sort of you know magic powers as a Jew to your Nazi right. Yeah. Weaponize is what she’s like in fact actually. I just I know I’m not hanging from the ceiling now because I was hanging from the ceiling you know before I walked into it or whatever.
S9: So I mean the other relationship that has developed is between Joe Joe and his mother. We learn a little bit about the father who is out of the picture and is a little bit of a mystery through this portion of the movie where we’re told he’s fighting but maybe he’s dead.
S7: It’s implied can part of why Hitler is a period. He is in addition to imaginary friend kind of a surrogate father for him too.
S4: Yes Hitler helps with his daddy issues and all of this sort of culminates I think you know after 45 minutes or an hour or so of this middle section of the movie with sort of the inevitable arrival of the Gestapo sniffing around the house looking for Elsa or any other signs of you know subversive ness in this house we should talk about this sequence a little bit just because it includes Stephen Merchant and I think it’s also one of the better comic sequences in the movie. So the Gestapo agent played by a merchant and you get another instance of in the middle of this pretty tense sequence every time a new character enters a room they must be greeted with another Heil Hitler. And then the number of people in each room just keeps escalating until there’s like 12 people and every time somebody who enters you get 12 new Heil Hitler’s great gag extremely.
S8: You know one thing that this movie is totally trying to do right as it’s trying to play in a whole bunch of different levels and once on me like very classic Gangi level of something like that or like the literal joke about German shepherds that appears halfway through the movie which are like. Like not even like Maggi Python levels. It’s like it’s like a Zucker Abrams Zucker. Yeah. Oh yes. That’s exactly what it is. It’s as easy joke and like and so in a movie that is also you know rings great pathos out of characters being killed characters we have grown to like being killed like that’s a pretty bold choice. Why teachers has always said that he thinks of himself as making sad movies with funny bits in them or funny movies with sad bits in them. And this seems like his attempt to go as far as possible in each extreme right to not have something that’s a little sad and a little funny but have something that has Zucker. Abrams Zucker jokes and collaborators being hanged in the public square.
S6: Yeah. So Dan is sort of getting to sort of the biggest surprise in this movie.
S12: I don’t think you could quite call it a twist so early in the movie. Jo-Jo and his mom see a bunch of resistance fighters being hung in the town square. I said collaborators before but they clearly not sorry they were resistance fighters and and they’re all hung with these little stickers attached to them stickers which are encouraging Germans to fight against the Reich and to embrace that they’re coming allied liberation. And we know as the movie goes on that that Scarlett Johansson s character is doing some work with these people that she’s passing secret messages that she’s in fact leaving these stickers around town maybe two thirds of the way through the movie Jojo is in the town square and he is very upset and at one point he sees a butterfly fluttering through the town square and he follows that butterfly around and slowly becomes more happy and we become more happy along with him until the butterfly lands on the very identifiable shoe of his mother who is now hanging from a scaffold in the town square. She has been hung for resisting the Reich through the movie. There is a whole gag about I guess sort of a gag but then it turns into something other than a gag here in which Jodi’s mom is constantly tying his shoes for him because he can’t do it himself. Her shoe dangling in front of judges faces untied and he attempts to tie it at that moment and it’s a very strikingly filmed and very hard to watch scene it’s played visually comically and that there’s a visual pun and like a weird moment of business with the butterfly and the shoe but it’s played completely straight emotionally and we get the full force of this kid’s sadness and rage at what he’s seeing in a way it’s sort of the whole of the whole movie for me and that is like a pretty fucking bold choice to do this and I don’t mind that choice even as I don’t think all the choices like it worked.
S4: Yeah I mean but for me I will say this particular choice worked. I mean or at least this moment.
S6: I mean Sam where you genuinely moved despite all of the laughs and all of the odd you in tights jokes by the sudden death of the mother.
S13: I mean I was I mean I think this is I’ve been like Scarlett Johansson is is clearly a sort of very good period right now I mean I might have seen this Georgia rabbit on the same day as marriage story which which she’s just incredible in.
S7: So I mean she does you know make this character sort of something that you really you feel for and I think that moment is you know powerful while at the same time. I mean it’s pushing it like it’s real sentimental. It’s not you know it is like not just like pulling heartstrings they’re like being attached to a tow truck driven at high speed fashion furious style. I mean it’s there at your heart strings will be written from your body by. Rabbit Yeah.
S6: So I mean it’s it’s like a hairpin turn towards extreme darkness that I think the movie mostly pulls off. And then the movie enters is what I think of or at least I’m thinking of right now is kind of it’s like Duck Soup phase where it just becomes total anarchy. I mean that term I guess is like anarchic comedy and those contradictions in tone that you were talking about Dan between the extreme darkness and the extreme slapstick comedy get even more heightened in the last 20 minutes or so of this movie which maybe you can talk about how that happened.
S12: Yeah well the Allies invade the Allies reach this town in Germany and the soldiers who are left and the townspeople take up arms to battle them. And so in the midst of bombs falling and planes flying overhead and people fighting for their lives you also have moments like Rebel Wilson strapping bombs to kids and tell you know okay go hug that guy and the American flag uniform or which is simultaneously one of the darker moments.
S5: And one of the funny. Right and Sam Rockwell wearing a hat like an absurd outfit he’s designed himself and shooting a gun that plays music like the big lake basically no sense at all. Can we pause and talk about Sam Rockwell and that sequence people a little bit.
S6: I mean I basically just want you guys to attempts to explain that to me. There is also and I am not sure whether these two events are connected but I suspect they are. There’s like a sort of long lingering glance between him and his second in command who’s played by Alfie Allen where they are all momentum believe they’re deeply in love. And and then I think it’s not a coincidence that he emerges in the final act you know in essentially a bunch of makeup acting very theatrically as is as he appeared as like Berlin era David Bowie. Right. Yeah. There is one way to look at it I think where it’s in keeping with his desire throughout the movie to sort of play at war despite the fact that he isn’t ever allowed to actually do so. That’s one way to look at it. There’s another way to look at it where it’s about his ambiguous allegiances and so maybe that’s why he’s only sort of playing at fighting for the Nazis. And there’s another way to look at it where it’s playing with stereotypes about gay people in order to make this character what exactly like it’s part of his subversive ness. I mean is this how which of these ways did you guys see it.
S8: I saw it as none of those ways. Just like a series of gags that may or may not have been connected but that certainly didn’t pay off in any connected way to someone viewing the movie.
S6: So you you saw him as implied to be potentially gay but that to be completely unrelated to the makeup and so on.
S8: Yeah. Oh no. Probably related to the makeup but unrelated to say his political sympathies or his desire to undercut the military or support the resistance.
S9: Or yeah I think of those things as mostly separate although it makes sense that during a period where gay people were also being killed that if he was gay then that might also overlap with his.
S8: This is a lot on Sam Rockwell and Alan but I want it to be like. I think this movie is not designed to support any kind of like truly nuanced investigation like I don’t think that’s the kind of movie this is for better and for worse right.
S5: I mean it does definitely seem like it’s kind of throwing fascistic spaghetti at a wall for a lot of that showing everybody is the worst pulling your heartstrings with a monster truck it’s not like it is not.
S8: It is a boy. It is a series of blunt instruments used in interesting ways at a very obvious target and it’s so blunt. It’s like I can’t imagine the idea of another movie literally putting an anti-gay hate satire in its marketing material and with this movie like you’re like oh yes that is I guess that’s what it is.
S6: Santa you’re gonna save me from my confusion about Sam Rockwell and Alfie Allen.
S7: I’m not sure again. No I think I think I’m in the den. I think that it is just sort of signifying the things you’re kind of getting an archaic and nutty like off the rails at that point I mean I think it is an interesting idea that you know part of Sam Rockwell is sort of lackluster allegiance to the right has to do with him being gay or something other than you know as straight as Hitler would want him to be. I don’t know.
S6: Right. I mean maybe this is stuff that over the course of the 10 or so years that take wait you spent working on this movie he like thought about and then asked elements of each of these ideas made their way in. But like the final result is not totally clear. We should just get to the ending of this movie which perhaps could be summed up as Jo-Jo having to choose between Elsa who at this point he started to really have a crush on and has you know surrogate father figure Adolf Hitler. Sam can you describe this kind of breakup seeing a little bit. I have. I have one quote written down which is from Adolf Hitler just saying hey let me just a little basic basically.
S7: You know Jo has come to have you know some sort of feelings for this Jewish young woman who’s been hiding in his walls any kind of item breaks up with with Hitler and Hitler is trying to kind of get back in his good graces and just asking for you know maybe one more highlight like just a little ad instead judges is something like screw you Hitler and then basically kicked him and Hitler just like flies out the window like he’s in the matrix just.
S12: And that is you know the end of Hitler but there is a scene before that that I’d like to ask you guys about. Yeah there is a scene before that in which Hitler is angry about all the attention that is pain to the. To this the Jewish girl in the wall as he refers to her. And he for maybe like a 30 second scene essentially transforms into as close as white can come to an actual version of Hitler like delivering a fiery speech about the fatherland.
S11: Right. Something that isn’t really from Joe Joe’s imagination. Exactly but as from the historical record in the same way that other aspects of this Hitler that he’s playing are not truly from the imagination of you know a 10 year old boy or whatever her child whatever age he is. But our gags and jokes that are clearly the creations of a Kiwi writer director in 2019. And so one of the ways that I felt like this movie was playing with this idea that it didn’t really have the guts to completely embrace was that this isn’t exactly really a child’s eye view of Naziism. That’s like a simpler more coherent more structurally sound movie than this one is. This movie is a lot of different ideas about Nazi ism that it’s scary that it’s stupid that it’s funny that it’s terrible that it’s evil that the uniforms are kind of cool like it sort of throws all the shit into the mix. And what I can’t decide about this movie in the end is whether whether I wish he had made the sort of more rigorous more structurally sound movie that would be implied if you sort of pitch this to me and said it’s a child’s eye view of Nazi Germany.
S9: Yeah I mean that just feels like not the movie that takeaway t would certainly not the money he would naturally make it all. It wasn’t I mean he’s just. I mean I think I think that movie would hold up better to scrutiny for sure and would be the kind of movie where I mean it seems like this movie for example is going to enter the best picture race and to some extent it already has. And it’s one of those movies that I like right now that I already know that two months from now I’m probably going to have turned on almost entirely because people because it will be tipped to defeat a bunch of other movies like you know a parasite perhaps marriage story which I haven’t seen that are a lot better and quite naturally we will say OK this is a movie I liked. Is it the best movie of the year. And when we hold it up under that scrutiny all these will pay for it and it’s just I mean the ways in which take a YTD is really good. I feel like have a lot more to do with his his lightness and in many ways his childishness. Right. Like he’s he’s very good in this movie because it is so easy for and he works so well a child actor I because he’s so good at putting himself in the mindset of a child. Yes. And yeah when that moment where he steps out of it there’s a reason to do that. But in the movie wants to simultaneously make Nazis look ridiculous but also acknowledge that they were serious enough to kill you know six million Jews and many others. So it just felt like one more piece of more serious fascistic spaghetti that that didn’t quite work. I don’t know about you Sam.
S7: For me. I mean I feel like maybe the single most effective thing about this movie is not even just his performance with so much as the fact that I love the fact that Hitler is played by Mary Jew in this movie because I mean part of the worry going in is like well what if Nazis see this movie and like it. And it’s well they can’t like it. I mean the very idea of Hitler being played by Mary is so intolerable that anybody that might put it like kind of like it sort of Nazi proves it. And in a way and I don’t at the bar though there’s the bar. But I know what I mean. But I like. But I mean I think there’s something kind of powerful in that and I think it you know I sort of almost support it kind of in principle more than in practice like I think some of the response to this movie effectively say like you know this is still kind of too important a subject and you can’t you know treat it in lighthearted is not even the right way. But in a sort of satirical or you know approach a serious subject with comedy and I just I think it’s important to kind of you know preserve that I don’t think this is the most sort of deft or insightful attempt at that right.
S8: The question is it’s not can you approach this serious subject with comedy it’s can you approach as serious a subject as sloppily as this movie does. That’s where it causes me trouble. When you have a movie that wants you to take it’s satire of Naziism seriously but also includes that German shepherd joke and also polls that your heartstrings with a monster truck like in a way that I think is like onerous at times but also includes like really vivid sharp naturalistic performances from Thomas and McKenzie for example. It’s the mixed bag ness of it that I think is not suitable to the subject matter not the comedy of.
S6: You guys were holding two different bars up against this movie to see whether this movie measures up to them. And I just kind of go back and forth between those and that’s part of what I was getting at kind of flashing forward to how I know I’m going to feel about this movie once it becomes more a part of the Oscars conversation and part of me thinks about it a little bit more the way that you were talking about it Sam where it’s like OK I mean as long as it’s not actually inspiring more Nazis or becoming any sort of tool of fascists then if somebody wants to have some fun with this especially a Jewish person then like why not and who am I to judge. And so on and on that level I think it works. But then if you start to talk about what should a Holocaust movie be then under that standard I don’t think it really works or even what should an audience expect out of a movie in this day and age that addresses this particular subject.
S14: Right which is sort of the big question and the side of the room is is this kind of irreverence and messiness suitable for a time when actual fascism seems like a real actual problem we need to deal with. And I just you know I saw this movie at a film festival in rural Virginia. And you know the audience walked out of this movie on a huge high. They absolutely loved it. And I also just really got the sense that for this audience they they didn’t view this as just like a spot of fun at the expense of Nazis. They viewed it as an inspirational movie that has a lot to say about our time which I don’t think it is. I think positioning it as such is also what frustrates me which is to say I agree with you that if this was not a best picture movie I would like it so much more.
S9: Well I really want us to get to the very very end of this movie because I do think the very very end of this movie does have something to say about both what happened in this time just to say in the. During World War Two and also something to say to people in America and in many other countries that are experiencing you know rises and far right nationalism and stuff right now. So just to briefly spoil what happens you know first Jo-Jo tries to trick Elsa into thinking that actually Germany won and Americans have not taken over the city.
S6: Yeah exactly. And this ruse doesn’t work for very long because he starts to feel bad and he hatches a quote unquote escape plan for her. And then so she comes out in the streets she sees that in fact you know the Americans and allied forces have won.
S9: And then they start dancing and we start to hear David Boies heroes again in German because David he also spent a bunch of time in Germany just like the Beatles did.
S6: And that moment for me really worked like it really moved me and I’m actually surprised that I’m getting a little goose bumpy right now. I promise my goose bumps aren’t just to hopefully help defeat your argument Dan and self-serving goose bumps but it spoke to me as basically the message of this movie and it’s pretty much stated outright and a quote from railcar that appears on screen which is no feeling is final right. And so they try to. And on this moment of hope that says even in the craziest times like this too shall pass and people will get to go back to normal.
S9: And the Beatles will go to Germany and they’ll start like popularizing rock and roll and David Bowie will record his Berlin Trilogy and all of that like again the more I talk about it and think about it the more it seems a little glib and not up to the occasion of the Holocaust.
S6: Nonetheless I found it to be a little bit moving to me as somebody who does start to feel some pretty dark things during these times and to just have this reminder via art that it will pass and maybe someday people will just get to dance in the streets a little bit. Was helpful for me. Would you deny me this.
S12: No I will not deny you that. I found it moving as the character note and a callback to Jojo’s moms discussion of dancing is sort of the ultimate kind of freedom like freedom in your body and freedom and space.
S10: Again that is a lovely message for a movie to pass along but when it is the movie about Nazis that is about to get nominated for a bunch of Oscars like it’s the wrong message to give up never again is a way more effective message than well if again at least at the end it will be over.
S6: The truth is Dan we completely agree about this. If you were making my side of the argument I would be saying the exact same things that you have been saying which is what I thought I was going to have to say during the spoiler I was somewhat surprised that I liked it more than you did. Sam do you want to resolve this conflict between man down.
S7: I mean I love that moment. I love the kind of the parallelism the kind of book ends with the Beatles song at the beginning. I love it as a sort of him to the transcendent power of pop music and its ability to bridge chasms between people from different backgrounds. I don’t totally know what it’s doing at the end of this movie or that it works but I love it as a gesture and as a moment and I don’t think it totally. Maybe the movie just has a quitter.
S10: At that point it’s very Wes Anderson right. It’s really hard those are some moments a perfect piece of music chosen at the perfect time and a perfect bit of like filmed business that provides a grace note at the end of this thing.
S6: And in fact you know I was already saying earlier that the sort of Hitler Youth child camp sequence reminded me a lot of Moonrise Kingdom and Moonrise Kingdom ends with a shot of a young boy and a young girl dancing along to some sort of I don’t think it’s Bowie I don’t remember what it is exactly in slow motion like take YTD.
S15: I still think is one of the most interesting writers and directors who is making things. I don’t actually think he’s made a truly bad movie Eagle vs. shark is like mediocre but not truly bad. I’m so interested to see what he does when it’s not a project. He’s been sort of carrying along with him for a decade plus. Well that’s something right now forces him to write from scratch like that’s the movie I want to see. And I think that even up till now even what after this movie gets out for best picture the best movie he’s made is Boy which is the movie most from his own life. And that doesn’t mean that he should be making Maori stories for the rest of his life. But it does mean that what I want to see next from takeaway TV is something where he’s trying to think about like the world now and his place in the world now or an artist’s place in the world now and I think that’s what I want from him next. I feel like between Thor and this I think he’s figured out big pallets. I would like him to go a little bit small again.
S6: Yeah. I think we’ve resolved our conflicts. No feeling is final. Thank you Dan for coming on and spoiling Jo-Jo. My pleasure. Thank you Sam. Thank you.
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