Culture Gabfest “The Godfather Is Great, But Is It Cake?” Edition

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S1: This Ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership. You. I’m Stephen Metcalf and this is the Slate culture gap. The Godfather is great, but is it cake? Edition. It’s Wednesday, April 6th, 2022. On today’s show, The Godfather, I mean, what can you say about it? It’s now 50 years old. It’s Coppola’s absolute masterpiece, surely one of the most iconic and influential American movies of all time in every respect. We’re going to get into it. We’ll assess the legacy of a giant, almost without rival. And then. Yeah, but is it cake at the top of Netflix rankings is a wonderfully inane I guess wonderfully inane. I guess I want to shade that word a little bit of discussing, let’s just say inane competition show no one respects and everyone loves. And finally did Dua Lipa plagiarize a 2017 song for her number one hit, Levitating, or maybe a 1979 song? Or was it a 1980 song? We discussed the many vagaries of music plagiarism with Jeremy Oros, a professor of music theory at the University of Memphis. We’re joined today by Allegra Frank, senior editor at Slate. Allegra, welcome back to the show.

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S2: Hi. Thank you for having me.

S1: It’s awesome to have you back. And of course, Dana Stevens, who’s the film critic for Slate and the author of Cameraman, the book with a TARDIS like subtitle that changes and morphs and throws fits the entire 20th century within it, and I’ll never learn it, but it’s Dana once again, congrats is such a good book and it has legs and that commercial legs and that’s just a tremendous victory.

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S3: Thank you, Steve. Well, I’m glad you mentioned it because speaking of legs, I just wanted to let listeners know this week any listeners we have that are in the D.C. area or in the Williamsburg, Virginia area, I’m doing book signings, book events in both of those places this weekend. So if you are interested in coming to a DC or Williamsburg VA book event, you can go on my Twitter at the hi sign or you can write us at the show and I’ll let you know all the details.

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S1: That’s terrific. Definitely check it out. All right, we. We ready?

S2: Yeah, let’s.

S3: Go.

S1: What is juicier than the Godfather at 50? I mean, this one is just, you know, to mix metaphors, teed up for the show. I can’t wait. Okay. So I began watching it. And immediately, like, the revelry overwhelmed me with the theme music over a black screen. I didn’t even need an image to be drawn back into this world immediately. Associations, ramifications, resonances. It’s so deep inside you, that movie and everywhere in the culture at once. There’s no way to rewatch this movie clean, as it were. I mean, even to watch it for the first time is to rewatch it. You’ve already experienced it. If you’ve never actually seen it, it’s just in the air. I mean, the most obvious immediate touchstone is The Sopranos. But I mean, it’s just it’s ludicrous to try to limit it in that way. I’ve forgotten the title card itself is a logo. It’s etched somewhere in my unconscious mind. Anyway, Paramount rereleased this movie, The Godfather for its 50th anniversary in late February, and the old warhorse came through, blew away the competition on a per theater basis. One fact I’d like to get to in the conversation we forget this because of Jaws and Star Wars. But The Godfather was in in its way was the very first blockbuster. It kind of straddled the auteur era of the great director having artistic control over a significantly large budget. But it was also, in a way, the first I mean, we assign this to Jaws, but in a way it was the first blockbuster. It quickly became the highest grossing movie of all time. There is so much to say. We’re going to get to what we can. I should shut myself up. And why don’t we listen to a clip? This is going to be the iconic opening scene in the movie. A local undertaker is asking Vito Corleone, Don Corleone, to murder two men who’ve assaulted his daughter. The Godfather holds out on him in ways that are quite interesting, in my estimation. Set up the entire film. Let’s listen.

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S4: In. On each of the many years, this is the first time you’re looking for counsel. I can’t remember the last time the environment, the asked for a cup of coffee. It’s even though my wife is godmother to the only child. But let’s be frank. Another one of my friendship. They were afraid to be my dad. I didn’t want to get into trouble. Oh. So you found paradise in the manga? I had a good trade. Made a good living. Please protect the journal records of law and Order from the. But then I come to me and say, I’m going on and give me just. Dollars has spent. You don’t have a friendship. You don’t even think the common golfer.

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S1: Dana, let me let me start with you. I mean, this is just a wildly original way to start a movie. Even as he pans out, even as we see Brando, Corleone. We’re in the depths of some remarkable shadows, the richness of the palette. There’s a little pussycat on the lap of Don Corleone that he’s playing with. Ordinarily never get on stage with animals or little children. Dana, they upstage you. That’s an old actor saw. But here it works so perfectly. It’s such a daring choice. Oh, my God. I mean, I could scarcely get through the movie. I had to pause it and take copious notes. You’re going have to shut me my mouth. I’m going to be done. This is it. You talk. Tell me. Tell me about rewatching The Godfather at 50.

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S3: I mean, I feel like in a way we should start with Allegra because she just watched the movie for the first time, which is, you know, such a it’s an unusual circumstance to come across because, like you say, Steve, the Godfather is so it’s just it’s it’s almost like the veining inside Iraq or something, you know, it’s so inside of popular culture and and in representations of gangsters that when I was watching it, actually, I felt a little bit the opposite. Steve I felt like I was so familiar with this movie that I had trouble getting emotionally involved and was while I was admiring it aesthetically the entire time. And as you’re saying that Gordon Willis cinematography, which in the restoration I was watching, looks so rich and so beautiful, but every scene seemed to be some sort of, you know, hyper quoted, hyper parody, you know. I mean, it was just sort of like it moved so quickly also for a three hour movie, something that really, really struck me. And that is in part, I think, because it moves from one kind of gorgeous grand set piece that sort of stands on its on its own as a as a movie moment to the next. Right. And so it sort of seemed like that was it. That was the whole movie, even though it lasted almost 3 hours. And as we’ve recently discussed on the show, that is a long time to sit and focus on a movie. But no, I was I was utterly transfixed. But I would have to say that I was transfixed more by the the artistic spectacle than perhaps the emotional journey the movie took me on. And that’s why I want to hear from Allegra, who was perceiving it for the first time, and not kind of necessarily factoring in all of the history of her own viewings as she as she watched.

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S2: Yeah. I mean, I think I had a similar experience to you, albeit obviously this was my first and so far only experience in that it was hard for me to get emotionally invested because it was sort of like, I know this scene. I remember this parody of the scene, like watching the first scene, which was amazing to look at. Like, I agree artistically, it was far more exciting and intriguing for me than story wise. But watching the first scene embarrassed but also amused to say like I was like, Oh, I remember this from Rugrats in Paris.

S1: Ha ha.

S5: Which is like.

S2: The worst kind of thing to be like reminiscing excitedly about. But I was like, Yeah, the Chucky was the Bob father in that.

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S1: I mean, Allegra, I got to say, you never disappoint. I love that you’re our sort of resident ovum or something. Like you’re this little egg that like is pretty experimental in some sense. And we get to show you things. And on the other hand, of course, you’re the age where you’re post streaming and post-Internet. So you’re also a repository for all of human culture in some sense. So you sort of know nothing and everything at the same time. It’s just incredibly refreshing.

S2: Thank you. I will be sharing this with my parents that we are so excited someone appreciates us. And I was pleasantly surprised though that there were parts that I really was unfamiliar with, like the quite gorgeous and complicated sort of middle segment where Michael is sentenced to go to Sicily for his own protection. I wasn’t aware that there would be this extended portion of the film that takes place in Italy and in Italian with some UN subtitled Italian. So that was really interesting to me. There were parts like that that I was not so familiar with that I could get more interested in and involved with and really laser focus on. But other times I was kind of just like, you know, in my Rugrats in Paris mode of thinking about the references.

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S3: Yeah, that Sicily segment in the middle, which is almost this pastoral island in the middle of the movie that looks and feels and sounds completely different and as you say, is in a different language, really struck me this time because of the shift in tone. It’s almost like a European movie and the European short film that has been wedged into the middle of this much darker, just literally physically darker, you know, warm, velvety, red world of The Godfather becomes, you know, briefly this kind of golden, sunlit world of almost a fantasy of Italy. And the European influence that Coppola is channeling there is really reinforced also by the presence of Franco Chiti Do you recognize, Steve? There’s an actor who was always in Pasolini movies who plays sort of one of the two henchmen, the henchman who is, who does not betray Michael. Whenever I see him, I’m just. I’m back in the world of Pasolini. And you makes you think about how Coppola was able to bring something to the gangster movie that it had never had before, which was Italian. This, you know. Yeah. And apparently when this movie came out, you know, the Italian community, I’m not going to say the mobster community, although it did become, you know, a touchstone for people involved in gangster activities, but just as a kind of a family drama and a portrait of what it was like to live in a big immigrant Italian family, I think people really responded to it. And that was a part of what felt so deeply new and novel about it at the time.

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S1: And I will say that in a way, I’ve had kind of a reverse effect, at least from Allegra, which is that the movie surprised me over and over and over again. Just starting with that first scene, I don’t think I remembered. It began with a long sort of zoom out monologue, a daring, daring way to open a movie. And then, then, then the importance of that scene had never hit me before, which is that he’s come to Don Corleone asking if he can pay him for violence, give him money in exchange for violence. And the man who’s asking him this, the undertaker, we’re told, is a successful businessman. He’s the immigrant story that we, the audience, think we admire. And Coppola saying, no, you’re now in the logic within the logic of this movie, which is the logic of Don Corleone, this encompassing logic by which that man is a petty man who sought money within a transactional world of an American capitalist economy. And Corleone is this holdout, right? He thinks of himself as as a man of kind of courtly honor, to whom you pay a certain kind of abusiveness. And he exists in an honor economy and not in a money in a transactional one. But he also immediately begins to show you, do not you know that there’s a wedding? The first line I think that Brando says is you come to me on the day of my daughter’s wedding, right? Like deeply offended by this pretender, pretending to be. But you don’t have any experience of the wedding at all until the door opens to usher out the undertaker. And you hear the music from it, this convivial music from it. And suddenly you’re in the world of the wedding itself, which is both wonderful of the nucleus. But fraying apart at the perimeter perfectly sets up Sonny, the troubled son who’s policing that perimeter and is some sort of thug like way against photographers and FBI guys. And you have this sense of a kind of very seductive delusion of honor at the center of all this focused on the person of Don Corleone. And it’s falling apart, both spatial and temporal, at this wedding. Generationally, it’s not going to hold up. And and the fates of Sonny and Michael, the two sons in the modern or contemporary world. And the second thing, the other big thing I noticed was just simply Diane Keaton is is to be transcended in this movie. So there’s a there’s a line that you can scarcely believe a human being could say with a straight face. You have to remember no one had ever heard it before. He made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, says Michael, too, as I think to be fiancee, girlfriend, played by Diane Keaton. Pacino, of course, is the young Pacino totally unknown. Pacino, as Michael describes to him, an act of thuggery, the Don Corleone, you know, committed in order to get his way.

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S4: My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

S5: What was that?

S4: Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.

S1: And the reaction of Diane Keaton like that, you won’t remember. That’s not parodied anywhere. That’s not in the culture already. And that reaction is just marvelous because her entire arc as a character is right. There are is she disgusted? Is she repelled? She seduced? Is she intrigue? Does she want that power? Michael quickly says, that’s my family. Okay. That’s not me.

S4: That’s my family, Kate. It’s not me.

S1: But what is K1 and that moment, I’m not so sure she wants it to just be the family. And you’re you’re in you’re so in to the logic of this film or any of this resonate with you.

S2: Yeah. I mean, I definitely don’t want to make it sound like I was not I didn’t come away from the film loving and respecting it. But actually, you’re getting at something that I wanted more of. So speaking of Diane Keaton here, it’s so transcendent. I mean, definitely her showing up. I knew, of course, she would be in it, but it was still very jarring to see her here because she seems so outside of this world, which is the point. Right. Like she is this outsider that is being brought in to the the family dynasty, sort of reluctantly. But she herself I mean, I was reading an article where she herself said, you know, she was shocked that she was there. Why was she there? It’s so weird that she’s there. And being a Diane Keaton fan and knowing her work so well, it was definitely like, what is she doing here? And I wanted more of her emotional journey and also the emotional journey of Don Corleone’s wife. That was someone that I wish we had seen more of, like I wanted more time with Kay. And in relation to Michael, I felt like the film was so invested in setting up the Corleone dynasty, which I completely understand. But my partner that I watched the movie with, he had just read the book before we watched the movie, and he talked about how in the book they did go a bit more into detail of Don Corleone’s wife, who I don’t even know the name of because they don’t say it. And how she serves as a parallel to Kay and how at the beginning, you know, she tells Kay, I go to church every day and pray for my husband’s safety and for his soul. And then at the end of the book, Kay is doing the same thing. She’s going to church every day as well to do pray for Michael. And it’s that sort of journey that I wish had been reflected in the film as well.

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S3: Yeah. Allegra We talked about that at my house after watching the movie last night too, which is that, I mean, it is certainly of its time in that it is a dude’s movie, right? I mean, even though a woman, Kay Diane Keaton’s character, is central to the movie and is in the very last shot, in a way, the last shot is about her experience and her right being shut out of her husband’s future as the door closes on her. But we don’t know a lot about her interiority, and we know far more about hers than any other woman’s. It’s quite striking and obviously was deliberate. I mean, this is not just simply some sexist oversight is clearly a choice. But I don’t think that the Don’s wife ever utters a single line. Right. I mean, I guess we hear her singing into the mic at the wedding at the beginning, but you may only glimpse her kind of in the background serving food. You know, she’s the mama. She’s kind of this obviously this sort of place of security for her children and that she’s kept separate from her husband’s wrongdoing. Right. That’s sort of clear from the context. But we know nothing until The Godfather part two about the history of their marriage or where they came from. Talia Shire’s character, the sister. I think Connie is probably the second most the female character we spent the second most time with. And Talia Shire is fantastic in that role. But again, you know, she’s a character who’s being threatened by men, saved by men, you know, rescued by men, knocked up by men. And, you know, it’s not exactly a Bechdel Test kind of movie, but it was 1972. So what are you going to do? Hmm? I feel like we can’t close out this segment, Steve, without talking a little about the production history of this movie, which I knew a lot about, but learned even more about in what? In listening to the commentary track that that Coppola recorded, which is on the new Blu ray release and also on some earlier ones, which is that he didn’t want to make the movie at all. I mean, he was not the first choice of Paramount to make the movie. He did it reluctantly as a potboiler so he could do the more artistic, personal projects he wanted to do, like the conversation, the next movie he made, which is far more personal and to me, maybe a more special to me. The conversation is higher in my personal pantheon.

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S2: That’s a movie that I instantly loved.

S3: Yeah, I mean, that movie is just perfection. Yeah, it was about that. But that’s what he was interested in doing. And he really did regard The Godfather as a trashy novel that he was adapting because he had to get his career moving. Then, of course, because he was Coppola, he became incredibly perfectionistic about doing it his way and, you know, spent a lot more money than the studio had wanted him to, was fighting with them the whole time. They didn’t want to cast Brando because he was not Italian. He was too young. This in that I mean, almost every choice that Coppola made, he had. Desperately for. And so that’s why listening to the commentary is so much fun, because he’s pretty frank about that stuff.

S1: It’s we could go on forever. I mean, just the Pacino fight to get him in the movie, which was tough. Totally unknown launches this deathless career. I mean, there’s just so much to say and we’re not going to get to it. But what we did get to made for a terrific segment. So thanks, guys. Let’s leave with the fact that we got to move on. All right. Well, before we go any further, this is the moment in our podcast where typically we discuss business. Dana Sure. We’ve got some what? What’s up?

S3: Steven Our only item of business today is to tell you about our Slate Plus segment. Last time we had Allegra on the show as a co-host. We talked about thematic aversions as we called them, themes or subject matter in shows, movies, books that turn us off and rub us the wrong way and just make us not want to experience that thing. It was a fun conversation, and after that segment, a listener named Emily wrote to us wanting to know the reverse. What our thematic topics subject matter of movies, films, books that make us want to read them and experience them. This is a great question, and since we have Allegra back on the show as a bookend, we thought we would do this inverse version of her last slate plus topic. So if you’re a Slate Plus member, you can hear that segment at the end of the show. And of course, if you’re not a Slate Plus member, you can become one at Slate.com slash culture. Plus, when you’re a member, you get ad free podcasts, you get bonus content, like the segment I just described, different one every week. And you will also hear members only programming on other slate shows like Slow Burn or the Political Gabfest. And of course, when you’re a member, you’ll get unlimited access to all the great writing on Slate.com. You’ll never hit a paywall if you’re a Slate plus member. Finally, you’ll be supporting us our work and the work of all our wonderful colleagues. These memberships really matter for Slate. So please, if you can sign up today at Slate.com, slash culture. Plus, once again, that’s Slate.com slash culture plus. Okay, Steve, what’s next?

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S1: All right. Well, is it cake? It’s a very big hit on Netflix. It was number one when I watched it last night. It was number two after the Bridgerton season two. The mystery here, I suppose, is why I mean, the best show in the format and the best baking show of all time are the same show. Why are you choosing to live in that shadow? I guess one idea is the British baking shows long in the tooth. Is it very, very English? Maybe create something new, weird, slapdash and very, very, very American. Well, mission accomplished. The premise here is inane. The host is weird and dubious. Likability. I don’t know. I think people could go either way on Mikey Day. The format, though, very stale in some sense, yet it’s kind of fun. Like people, it’s hard to hate it. I don’t know. It’s slathered in. It’s all the things I typically hate. It’s lathered in irony, self-deprecation. The cake, by the way, is purely visual experience. All the competition elements of this competition render taste irrelevant. I mean, the thing could just be inedible. It wouldn’t really count against you. It raises this interesting metaphysical question what counts as a cake anyway? You know, I mean, I’m going to need my co-hosts to tell me what I think here. So let’s start with a clip. All right. We’re about to hear the host. He’s Mikey Day. He uses this massive, comically innately huge sword to cut into an object that looks very, very, very like a cheeseburger, but may or may not be cake. All right. I get to ask the best question ever. Is it cake? Sam, if this is cake, that means you didn’t fool the judges. And you won’t be up for the win today.

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S2: I’m nervous, Mickey.

S1: You’re just a little bit. Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun. Oh. That’s just.

S5: Get through.

S3: Oh, can I just say my my all time favorite segways from the godfather two. Is it okay?

S5: Oh.

S1: I know, I know. Allegra. I didn’t mean to suggest. I mean, I really mean this sincerely. I did not mean to suggest you’re a no nothing. You’re a a brilliant critic and a valued contributor to the show. It’s just funny. Those it’s the blind spots are so anomalous because you have studied film quite seriously. That’s that’s what I indicated by that. Nonetheless, let’s ask the of them, what did you make of this show?

S2: Yes. The duality of me. Yeah. It’s funny because I saw this was on Netflix and I thought, oh, this is stupid. I’m a I like British baking shows. Well, you know, like I prefer my cooking shows of the high art, kind of the project runways and whatever. But my friend was texting me up a storm saying This is the best show I’ve ever seen. It’s so funny. It’s so strange. She was narrating every episode for me while she was watching it. I was like, I got to watch the show and it truly was enjoyably stupid, which is not a word I use lightly. It was. It’s just like very stupid and I think knowingly stupid. Even the point of like, these aren’t really cake, it’s just fondant. Like, you know, you they’re not really sculpting actual cakes. It’s just like fondant is what they’re using. It’s kind of like edible Play-Doh, barely edible. Who likes fondant anyway? So it’s not even about, like, the baking skill. It’s just about the aesthetic of these cakes. And it’s kind of fun to see like, oh, it literally does look like a bag. And that’s kind of what I’m enjoying about it, of like, wow, they really went to absurd lengths to make these very impressive foods that are just going to be cut in half with a samurai sword and discard it immediately.

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S1: Well, not immediately, though. I mean.

S2: Once you they do feed them to the judges.

S1: One of the possible joys, Dana, of the show is taking real, actual living, carbon based human beings with inner lives and forcing them through the set of this fucking stupid premise and seeing what comes out the other side. And one of the key moments is, you know, these judges trying to discern whether something is real or fake is actually the you know, there’s a little array with, you know, a bunch of real cheeseburgers in one cake disguised as a cheeseburger and on and on. And and then they eat the cheeseburger. Cake afterwards is watching these real human beings with actual functioning phenomenal logically, you know, connected tastebuds to their brain pretend to like this cake, you know, and it’s like the cake. Like, that’s fun to me. It’s like, you don’t like that. I know you don’t like that cake, but you are contractually forced to choke it down and throw three vacuous adjectives at it. Pretending that you do, then it. I mean, The Wire, you know, Breaking Bad, good shows, but they weren’t cake. What do you make of this?

S3: I mean, I don’t feel any need to watch beyond the single episode of Is it okay that I’ve watched it? I think everything is right there, laid out on the table, and maybe it should have just been a single stand alone show. But I did appreciate that this show embraced and gloried in its own slapdash nature. You know, it reminded me in a strange way of the reality show nailed it that we talked about once, which is, you know, about people making these terrible crafted objects that they don’t know how to make. This is kind of the opposite because the Bakers are very good at that realistic Trump alloy aspect of their cake making. Even though I agree, Steve, they don’t even try to make the inside look good. It’s all just like funfetti and vanilla and buttercream or whatever. But unlike in Nailed It, where the stuff that’s being made is sort of crappy in this case, it’s the show itself, you know? You know, itself is the poorly crafted object. And yeah, that’s not going to last beyond a couple viewings probably. But it is kind of fun to see something that is low stakes. I mean, a show like the British Baking Show or Project Runway that are actual shows about craft are far more interesting, have a longer shelf life right there, something that you could stick with for a whole season, because they’re stories that are emerging and you’re watching people do something that they’re great at. Here you actually are watching people produce the project that they were great at making. But there is nothing about craft in there. We don’t learn anything about what they do in their regular lives. You know, I guess we know that they’re all successful, realistic cake bakers, but there’s much less of a sense of characters emerging, I think, over the course of a season. You know, it’s more being set up as this repeated joke of like, I have no idea if that’s cake or not. And it really just it comes out of that Twitter phenomenon, right? That Twitter thread that went viral of hyper realistic cakes being sliced and you gasp because you can’t believe that that little pug dog lying on a mat or something is actually a cake pug. But that’s a pretty one note joke and it doesn’t go a lot further than that. If I were giving notes on this show to try to spin it out for more than one season, I would say you need to have other challenges and other features in the show besides look at stuff and decide if it’s cake or not. In fact, that should be the big payoff at the end. Yeah, right. Because it happens so often over the course of the show that that’s sort of all there is to watch. I will say, Steve, though, to push back on the host is that I kind of like that host and I think he makes it work. Something about his tone that’s balanced in between snarkiness and sweetness and actually enjoying the silliness of the show is kind of adorable, I think. I think without Mikey Day, it wouldn’t be the show. It is. Right.

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S1: I think that to the extent it works, it’s because. Is it cake has this continuous echo in is this really a TV show and that definitely gets channeled through Mikey day. I mean he I find him I’m going to say I don’t like him or not like him, but I’m intrigued into studying him in order to understand this life for me.

S3: Have you tried slicing him?

S1: Very good.

S2: Is he.

S1: Very good? I mean, he just has this vibe of, like, the hardened kind of, forgive me, like B-list comic, you know? And everything he says is designed to make you laugh, and yet he finds nothing funny anymore. You know, there’s, like, a kind of weird resistant. It’s this irony, but a kind of like, it’s playful on the surface, but there’s something kind of knifing and hard underneath. I mean, I’m probably reading too much into it, but it’s it’s he just. He can’t signal contempt because that would destroy the mood. But he’s like, Come on, guys. Really? I mean, I don’t know.

S3: It’s it’s I think it’s kind of funny. I disagree. I think Mike Day is enjoying it. Yeah.

S2: I feel like he’s more below it than above it.

S1: Oh.

S2: Sorry, Mikey. I will push back a little bit of what you were saying, Dana, about the show lacking in characters? I think so. I’ve seen I’ve seen two episodes, well, two and a half. And I actually feel like the reason why I will go back and maybe watch episode three in full is that they do have I mean, it is a competition, even though it’s a competition for a very silly purpose and honestly, not that much money as far as these shows go. It’s like $50,000, but they have the same bakers carrying through and they’re actually all very individual and diverse. There’s a woman who is an immigrant who, you know, really is trying to make a name for herself and they all support each other when they one of the parts of the show is like them, the actual bakers have to see if it’s cake. They are presented a bag of money that two bags of money, one of which is real money and one of which is cake. And then the actual bakers have to choose which one is cake, which is like kind of an unfair additional test on them. But when they failed to choose the right bag of money, all the other bakers are, you know, consoling them, saying you’ll get it next time. And even though they’re competing against each other, they’re all very supportive of each other. And that was very cake like sweet to me. So that was what really kept me watching beyond the, you know, first 10 minutes of saying, okay, yeah, is it is a cake, is it a show? The answer is usually no to both questions.

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S1: Uh, lovely. Allegra. Okay, we’ll give you the last word there. It’s the show’s is it cake? It’s on Netflix. Check it out. Love to find some reaction to that show in our inboxes. So check it out. All right. Moving on. All right. Well, Dua Lipa has hit song levitating. It’s catchy, it’s peppy, it’s beautifully produced pop song and possibly stolen, filched, plagiarized. There was one original claim came out a while ago, one week later, a similar claim filed against it on behalf of two other songs. It could be that it’s a wildly original, wonderful pop song. Or maybe it’s a pastiche of the works of others. The courts will decide, you know, could be that that’s just how influence allusion random echoes out in the culture out in the culture sphere work. It’s going to take something called forensic musicology to begin to know. We’re joined now by Jeremy Oros, associate professor of music theory at the University of Memphis, who’s written I regard just the brilliant piece on Slate about what counts as musical plagiarism, taking this as a test case. Jeremy, welcome to the show. Thank you. Excellent to have you. And congrats on the piece. Why don’t we begin by listening back to back to relevant snippets from Levitating and Live Your Life by article Sound System A Reggae Band.

S6: I got my start. I need to. Come on. That’s for me. I going to you.

S5: On that hot summer has now started and. Lack of value.

S1: Jeremy, why don’t we sort of start here? As you know, what Kaesong is is in is entirely separate in some sense from the creative originality of it. It’s often a convenient set by the vocal range of the singer. You know, you have to be pretty esoteric, really, into music to think each key has its own distinctive kind of tonality to it, though some people do believe that. Nonetheless, the first thing I noticed is they’re in the same musical key. I mean, in a way that almost is in Dua Lipa favor. You think you could just Bob put up a half note or down an, you know, full tone or whatever. But there are striking similarities. How did this all strike you? Well, the first time I heard it, I was honestly a little bit shocked that it was this similar when I first heard about this lawsuit. Not with the other one, of course. But yeah, I wonder what to make of the fact that they’re in the same key. I think if this were really plagiarized from there, they could have just changed the key and probably would have hidden the evidence by, as you said, bumping it up a half step. Absolutely. Yeah. In plain sight. So I think it would be first of all, of course, we want to get to your verdict on the matter to the degree you have one, but I’d like to take at least a few baby steps getting there. Talk a little bit about what forensic musicology is. You know, going back as far as George Harrison losing a lawsuit over one of his iconic hit songs, Two Blurred Lines, more recently, a 5 million judgment against Thicke and Pharrell because they’d stolen something from Marvin Gaye. It can be done. How’s it done? What’s forensic? Musicology. Forensic musicology is simply the practice of a musical expert serving as an expert witness. And it doesn’t work the same way each time. And here’s how you know what a forensic musicologist is going to say. It depends what side they’re right. So they’ll find whatever evidence they can to make a case for whoever is hired them to say, you know, if they’re hired by the plaintiff, they’ll say, yes, this clearly is borrowed from their. And if they’re hired by the defendant, they’ll come up with whatever evidence they can to say it’s not so it’s not an exact science and it looks different in, in absolutely every case.

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S3: Jeremy I guess my first question on reading you on this was why this feels like something new, this this question of forensic musicology and the idea that music is is harder to copy than one would think because there are a limited set of patterns and genres that tend to echo each other. And yet when you look at the history of some of the famous musical plagiarism cases of the past, like the George Harrison one that Steve mentioned, or I think or the Robin Thicke case, the lawsuit won. The lawsuit was successful, and the person had to pay up. And I’m wondering, just historically over the last few decades of pop music, how our thinking about this has evolved?

S1: Yeah, I think certainly since sampling became a popular practice, I think this has become a much more common thing that we hear about because that’s a more, more, shall we say, obvious form of borrowing. But since there have been so many lawsuits about sampling, there have been a lot of lawsuits that are more speculative in nature about whether something is borrowed or not. Because when you sample, there’s no doubt about it. But if there’s something that’s a rerecorded segment that maybe uses some of the same musical material, it’s not quite as clear. But there have been more of those in recent years because there have been so many success stories. Success, of course, defined as, Hey, I can make some money by saying someone copied myself. Interesting. All right. Let’s get to the candy of this segment. Walk us through precisely how you examined these two songs. There are others, of course, that may or may not be copied from, but this one may be in particular. And then give us your verdict on on. Is there a merit to this case based merely on musical similarity and the number of factors that are similar? That alone would suggest that there is some merit because the chord progression is almost exactly the same. The last chord changes at a different time, but the first three chords are exactly the same. They are in the same key, and there are melodic and rhythmic similarities at the same time. So that’s the argument that would suggest that there is some merit. However, it’s such a short lived segment and nothing about it is distinctive. The chord progression is not especially unique. Neither is the melodic rhythm. Neither are the lyrical topics that are addressed that also are somewhat similar. So the combination of all of them put together suggests that maybe it could be a successful suit. But I just think that a 3 to 4 bar segment isn’t quite enough to make a conclusive case that Dua Lipa had borrowed from Article Soundsystem. So my verdict is that this case really should be thrown out, but if it goes to trial, it’s really hard to predict what will happen.

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S3: Jeremy Are other types of evidence allowed in these trials besides just playing the two music selections side by side or looking at the music, which, as you say, a jury could easily be fooled by in this case because, you know, they scan so much the same on the on the page if you know how to read music. But as you say yourself in your piece, it would it would seem somewhat unlikely that someone in Dua Lipa Circle was even aware of the music by a little known reggae band from Florida with a small online presence. I mean, couldn’t her lawyers simply argue, look, we don’t know from you guys. We’re writing our song in isolation. And, you know, it’s simply unlikely that they would have known about it as a precedent.

S1: That could help. But here’s the thing. You don’t have to prove that someone did hear it. You just have to prove that someone could have heard it. So there isn’t the smoking gun in this case. So far as I’m aware, I don’t believe there’s any documentation between any members of Dua Lipa songwriting team where they said, Hey, let’s make this sound kind of like this, this reggae record I just found. So there isn’t any affirmative evidence that they did borrow. But the lack of affirmative evidence isn’t necessarily something that’s exonerated.

S2: So I was thinking when we were talking about other similar lawsuits in past years of the occasions where the artist is able to be sort of vindicated when they are initially, you know, ruled as as plagiarists or they lose their initial lawsuit and then they can win on an appeal. So how does that work? Let’s say Dua Lipa, you know, does lose this case. How would an appeal work?

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S1: Well, appeals can work in, you know, in a variety of ways, but especially if they can make it clear that the jury was persuaded in some way and in most cases, the first ruling would be from a jury trial. And if there’s if they can make some evidence that the jury was swayed by, say, an incomplete picture of it, if there was some misleading information, then there could be, you know, a panel of judges in an in an appellate court that could possibly overturn it, which was the case with Gray versus Perry. It was judges that overturned it because the judges were more experts in the matter. And they were able to realize that, you know, there wasn’t enough of a significant similarity, that nothing was distinctive enough. And that’s something that the judges knew. But the jury didn’t necessarily. Listening to the two songs back to back. Maybe we could get as a closer for the segment a little bit into the more impressionistic or subjective aspects here, i.e. the Dua Lipa song totally slays. The other one is kind of weirdly inert and forgettable beyond a nice, but as you say, somewhat recycled musical premise upfront. There’s whatever else is true by legal standards. By aesthetic standards, there’s an enormous amount of land that is highly specific to this vocalist and her co-writing skills, along with the two or three other people credited on writing the song. It is artistically original and distinct from this supposed original. Yeah, I agree with that. I mean, the songs are stylistically quite different from one another. You know, one, as we know is, is by a reggae band and the rest of the song is, well, the rest of the song sounds a bit more like a reggae track. And in this case, I mean, yeah, Dua Lipa songs more of a neo disco track as a review on that album. And I know you mentioned Pastiche earlier, which of course is not a crime. If it were, Bruno Mars would be out of money by now, right? All these other artists who intentionally write retro sounding music, which Dua Lipa, of course, does. But yes, if we’re looking at the subjective stylistic profile, these songs have very little in common.

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S3: Jeremy Another piece of evidence that seems like it might go against Dua Lipa side in this case is that only three days after this suit, she was sued for plagiarizing another song. And I wonder if you could talk about that. And I mean, whether how these two things or whether these two things should be considered as two separate cases or if they indicate a pattern.

S1: He certainly could indicate a pattern. And if I thought that either of these lawsuits were, you know, were valid, which which I really don’t, I think that would be kind of damning the fact that there are two since neither seems that legitimate to me, that almost makes the second lawsuit seem more frivolous. I wonder I mean, how long were they how long before they filed the lawsuit? Were they preparing it? Probably more than three days. But it’s not inconceivable that when the first lawsuit was filed, they said, hey, you know, let’s let’s get in on this, too.

S2: Yeah. I mean, I see this as obviously, I understand, you know, if you do feel as though you have a legitimate case and you want to assert that and obviously have that bear out in the court of law, I completely, you know, sympathize with that as a creative. But I also see the cynical aspect to these cases of no matter what happens, like we all are talking about these bands we had never heard of. I’m sure they are actually getting streaming bumps that they never would have gotten. Do you feel as though that is as much of an influence in these lawsuits as the actual creative merit of it, just the fact that it’s a really good way to get publicity?

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S1: That’s a great question. I think with the article Sound System Case, yes, absolutely. No one knew who they were. And now we all do. And I’ve streamed their songs now, and that’s not something I ever would have done before. So yeah, I mean, in a sense, they’ve already won. They’ve already profited from this. The writers are wiggle and giggle, though, Brown and Linzer. I don’t really see what they have to gain from this.

S3: Just to frame what wiggle and giggle is. It’s the second song that Dua Lipa has been sued for allegedly plagiarizing. The songwriters Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer alleged that the song sounds like one that they wrote in 1979. I said all this just so that I could say the title Wiggle and giggle all night.

S5: I was walking down the street when it all depends on Soulja Boy. We go, we can, we can at me. He said, I’d like to make a Dana such as everybody saying. He said, What’s the matter, baby? Aren’t you free? Ain’t you feel free to be the love of my life? He said, I love the way you regulate. I love the way you giggle at it. Love to give you just a little kiss on your lips. He was such a delight. So we beat them. He giggled all night.

S1: All right. Well, I could wiggle and giggle all night talking about this all day and all night. But I think we do have to go. Jeremy, great, great segment. And please come back soon. This is an evergreen topic. Yeah, absolutely. Next time there’s a next time there’s a case like this, just, you know, where to find me.

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S3: So that signal.

S1: Sort of.

S2: Sooner than later, I’m sure.

S1: All right. Well, Jeremy Oros is professor of music theory at the University of Memphis. His piece, Dua Lipa’s Levitating Plagiarism Lawsuit Could Change Music Forever. It’s up on Slate.com now. Check it out. All right. Well, now is the moment in our podcasts and we endorse Dana. What are you. What do you got?

S3: Steve, I actually have a video file endorsement, which is not typical for me. I’m not usually one of those people, although I like my physical media, not somebody who’s very fussed about what exact version of something I’m watching. And is it a 4K restoration? My TV set up is so not new and nice that wouldn’t probably really matter on the screen anyway. But because we talked about The Godfather today, I was going to note that I watched The Godfather not in the new restoration that was just presented for the 50th anniversary, but in something called the Coppola restoration. And that’s because I happened to be tweeting about the fact that we were doing The Godfather and saying, Is it worth it to buy this new Blu ray that’s come out? Is it some fantastic does it have amazing features? Is it have some fantastic new look and several different video files of my acquaintance, including Slate’s own Fred Kaplan, got on Twitter to say, do not get the new version. Go back and get something called the Coppola restoration. I believe it’s from 2008. And it was Coppola and Gordon Willis, the cinematographer, sitting down and saying, you know, here’s how we wanted the movie to look. This is the best version of it that we can come up with. I’m sure that other video files will come in and say, Here’s why the new one is even better. But I bought this one in part because, you know, of this of this recommendation, of the quality of the image, also because it has great extras, including that Coppola commentary track that I talked about, and also because it’s a much, much better deal for basically twice as much of the price as the the one new movie. You can get all three of the godfathers. Not that I’ll be watching part three very often, probably because I am not one of those who trying to retcon that into being a good movie. I still think it’s bad, but I’m very happy to have the trilogy with all these nice extras on Blu ray, and I just wanted to let people know if you are hesitating over which one to get, I recommend the Coppola restoration better deal better looking movie.

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S1: That is news you can use right there. That’s a terrific endorsement. Allegra, what do you have?

S2: Well, as our resident ovum, I’m going to record I’m going to recommend another ovum in her field. I recently discovered a a new artist named Leanna Firestone who put her own life story. She, during the pandemic, like all of us, was bored, started making Tik talks about anime, so already I’m sold and then start posting little snippets of songs she was writing. People love them. Now she has an album. Just came out a month or two ago and Spotify algorithm just happened to feed it to me and I ate it up. I’ve been eating up the album, eating up every single thing LeAnn is doing. She makes, you know, I mean, we call it like sad girl indie rock music, which, you know, I think that’s it’s valid. That’s what it is. She’s being sad. She’s a girl. It’s indie rock. And I continue to relate to that. Even though my favorite song on there, it’s called Google Translate and it’s completely about how she would write messages to her crush using Google Translates in high school when she was 16. I’m like a mood. Feel it.

S5: Your time. Yes. At almost 2 a.m. you typed sentences into Google Translate and then you send them to me. Suppose ker li a pi sully. I don’t think you know just how much it means to me to watch you try to call me pretty in a language I know you can’t speak.

S2: I feel this. I remember messaging boys, you know, in Google Translate, hoping they don’t know what Tay amo means. And yeah, so she just really is speaking to my my inner teen. She herself is like 20 now, so a little bit older, too. But I keep thinking about, man, the songs I relate to the most are the ones about being 16. Have I grown up since then? Arguably, but also arguably not. But, you know, regardless of how old you are and how much you relate to the idea of messaging people in different languages that they don’t understand, it’s just good music, funny, smart writing. And I am excited to see where she goes from here.

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S3: Steve You love an indie sad girl. That sounds right.

S2: Steve, check her out.

S1: It is so up my alley. Say her name again.

S2: Liana Firestone. Her album is called Forward Slash.

S1: I am typing that into Spotify right now. You had me at email or mood or whatever, whatever it was, but you had me on right away. Marvelous. Okay, I am. I could I just want to say I could do a related endorsement, which is I did not know that Christian Lee Hudson was the co-writer on a lot a lot of Phoebe Bridgers songs, but he’s a real creative partner with her. I’ve come to know his music independently and I cannot tell you how much I love it. I mean, anyway, but that’s not my endorsement. So I will be I’m going to get deeper into him and then talk about him on another show. But I found something really out of the way I can’t remember through some weird Borges Ian, you know, Google Spree. I came up with this guy named Julius Aglinskas Adler, I n s k Ace and his album DayDreamer, which he did with an avant garde musical collective called I Believe Apartment No, Apartment House. And there’s a book I clearly I like dominantly two forms of of music, right? There’s what Allegra does just describe, you know, the moody emo, my inner six year old, you know, is being sung directly to very often scandi lead vocalist is often female in a singsong voice. If it’s in French, you know, I’m putty in your hands forever. But I also like a wordless instrumental music, often featuring piano very spare. I mean, it derived from Erik Satie and maybe even a tiny bit from Bill Evans. So in that totally a melodic and that’s what he’s doing is just wonderful. This album, DayDreamer. It’s on Spotify. Check it out. I don’t mean to insult this man at all or people who make this kind of music. You can put it on and work to it. It’s also worth listening to with with attentive, undivided care and attention. But you can do both. I really like it. I’d like to point listeners to it. Dana I know you’d like it. Allegra. I suspect you would too. So check it out and we’ll link to it. Allegra Really good show. Really good show. It was awesome to have you back and that really was not a backhanded compliment. I know. I mean, I’m sure I’m dead serious. It could come off as incredibly insulting and belittling. And it really was not.

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S2: No, I say much worse things about myself. So I.

S1: Thought you were going to say about me, which would be polite to say she.

S3: Embraces her OVM status.

S2: I say much worse things about you. There you go.

S1: Oh, that’s good. Oh, Dana, I know you talk shit about me. It’s cool. It’s cool. Cool, cool. Great show. That was really fun.

S3: Yes. Great conversation. Thanks for making us do The Godfather. It was your idea and it was a good one.

S1: Yeah, it was fun. Good. Excellent. Okay. You’ll find links to some of the things we talked about on our show page that Slate.com slash Culturefest. You can email us. We love it when you do it Culturefest at Slate.com. We’ll try to get back to you in a timely fashion. You can notice that we’ve done the interim music to our shows by the wonderful composer Nicholas Patel. Our producers Cameron Druse, our production assistant, is Nadira Goffe for Dana Stevens in L.A. Frank Stephen Metcalf, thank you very much for joining us, and we’ll see you soon.

S3: Hello and welcome to Slot, please. I’m hosting this segment this week in Julia’s Stead and we’re talking about a question that came from a listener based on a previous segment we did actually illegal. It was the last time you were here, and that was partly why we were inspired to do this question as a kind of button. So a listener named Emily writes the slate plus discussion about thematic aversions. And to clarify, this was us talking, if you remember Allegra, about topics that drive us away from works of art, right? Like I hate, I don’t know stories about people. This is actually true of me slowly dying in the desert. I mean, I guess Lawrence of Arabia might be an exception, but yeah, any kind of thing where some guy’s stuck in the desert and you have to watch him get more and more parched. Yeah, I can’t really deal. So we talked about things like that, things that might just because of the subject matter itself, turn us away from a movie, a book, a show, etc.. So this listener wants to know if we can name our inverse thematic and or cultural aversions and says, What would you call that thematic kink? Anyway, I’m thinking of specific, quirky, and even inexplicable cultural appreciation. For example, for me, I’ll read and watch anything that involves Egypt. She also mentions in particular the movie Cairo Time, which I haven’t seen says is a wonderful movie set in Egypt. So I have a few of these myself, but since I’m hosting, I will pass the baton first. And Allegra, because you’re here in the room with me, we actually haven’t mentioned that yet on today’s show. But yeah, we’re taping in person for the first time in two years in my case. So tell me to my face. What are your what are your reverse cultural aversions? The things that you will flock to? Yeah. In any form. Entertainment format.

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S2: Okay. I don’t often think, you know, when people are like, oh, that’s so relatable in terms of their content. Even though during the show I literally was like, I love the song because it’s relatable to me. I don’t usually think that’s like inherently going to be good. Like, Oh, this is good because I can relate to it. That said, if there’s anything featuring a biracial girl, I’m there because I am biracial. I’m half black, half white. And growing up, there was not a lot of content about, you know, people who looked like me. And that was very difficult growing up, you know? I don’t need to unpack that. I have therapy later, so I’ll spare you. But I it was difficult growing up and having to relate to people who are one or the other or just not at all like me. And of course it was it’s fine. And I can do that because their experience is far more universal than your racial identity. But now I feel like there are a lot more characters in shows that are biracial. Some of them have even the same exact kind of background as me of like their white Jewish dad and their black Christian mother. And it’s been really nice to see that. And anytime there’s a show with that kind of character in it, I am immediately like, Oh, I have to check that out, because I never got to have that when I was young. And even though not all of those are great. I’m thinking of the show, Ginny in Georgia on Netflix. I don’t know if you remember that this was a couple of years ago. Taylor Swift hated it and notoriously it was the whole drama. But there was it’s about this white mother and her biracial daughter and trying to learn how to navigate having a biracial daughter and how to do her hair, things like that. So I was like, okay, I have to check this out because this is something I went through myself and there was nothing like this growing up and it was a terrible show, but I appreciated that it existed. And now it’s like even to the point where if I see interracial relationships in shows that remind me of like my parents and I’m like, Oh, future me, I get very excited. Like, I was watching Severance and Adam Scott was on a date with a black woman named Alexa, which is my sister’s name. So I was kind of mad because I was like, I wish her name was Allegra so I could project myself into her because.

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S3: I love you said I love.

S2: Adam Scott, but I was immediately like freaking out, being like, He’s dating a black woman. Maybe he’ll have a daughter that looks like me one day. And of course, this was just one date they went on. But like any time there’s a biracial character in a show or an interracial relationship, I’m like, I got to watch that. This is the thing I wish I had when I was a kid.

S3: Oh, man, that’s a great answer. And would you say in general that that probably makes you more tolerant, like you’re willing to put up with worse programming that contains that thematic element?

S2: I think definitely more tolerant. Of course, you know, things like Jenny and George or like I mentioned, it was tough to get through and I won’t immediately warm up to it and think it’s you know, I won’t say this is good because of that or in spite of everything else, but I will be more tolerant and I’ll give it more of a chance than I might if it didn’t have that element.

S3: I love that answer. Steve, what about you? You’ve had a moment to gather your thoughts about thematic kink. What have you got?

S1: Yeah, well, as they so often are, my aversion. Thematic aversion is closely connected to my thematic kink in the following sense that that one of the things I was on the original segments, I’ll just say like my deepest thematic aversion is open on a. You know, open on a cityscape or a landscape close in on beautiful young woman who’s been murdered like the blonde corpse to kick off a genre piece. To me, it’s a stale B, it’s misogynist in some weird way. See, it’s kind of weirdly necrophiliac. I don’t. I just don’t. It it just kind of. I can’t look. It just it has an aversive quality. Now, on the other hand, my thematic link is, you know, really deeply considered, deeply felt. Crime procedurals with a grim death at the center of them. And God is just always a young woman. Right? It’s like y y it’s like, I don’t know. There there has to be some other way to revive the genre. But in the meantime, you know, all the various takes on it to me are sort of gripping, which leads into if it’s, you know, supremely well done, which leads into, you know, what, among my very biggest thematic things is what I’d call the deep procedural, you know, a show or a novel or whatever that revives a, you know, otherwise kind of stale genre by getting really into the specifics of how that world works in a way that’s believable. And the great recent example that we’ve talked about is the bureau, the French spy show, which just really doesn’t it’s just not derived from the the familiar overfamiliar tropes of the spy genre. It’s derived actually from hundreds and hundreds of interviews with actual intelligence officers. And you feel that feeling of being in the actual world while also getting your genre bone kind of tickled is to me is just the greatest. And I’ll quickly say the French, that’s my other one. You give me a French movie doesn’t even have to be a great one. There are long pregnant pauses, people speaking in that language. Everything is so deep with significance. People barely need to move, speak or enact a plot in any traditional sense. I like God. This is amazing. Like, why did I live in France? It’s. It’s. I can’t help it. It’s so French cinema even. It’s, like, incredibly tiresome, you know, belated iterations still just gets me every time.

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S3: Yeah. People always have on a perfect sweater in French movies, right?

S2: Yeah, right.

S3: Yeah. And they’re sitting in some incredible interior, drinking some tiny little glass of red wine that looks so delicious. Oh, smoking.

S1: Oh, God. So good. So true. Your turn.

S3: I don’t know that I have. I mean, I don’t I feel like the ones that I have to share are so weird and quirky, but it just so happens that these are things that my eyes just turn into, you know, spirals of joy when I know that there’s going to be a movie about nuns. For one thing, I absolutely love nuns on film. And the fact is that there have been some great, great films about nuns. I mean, just a lot of directors are drawn, I think, to that world, right? The world of the cloister and the black and white, you know, that particular kind of old fashioned nun in a habit, which is not, of course, how most nuns now live. But I think about movies like Black Narcissus, the Paul and Pressburger movie, one of my favorite movies, and set in a convent with incredible visuals. Or Robert Bresson has this very stark, austere movie about, you know, lesbian relationships in a nunnery that’s called the angels of Sin, or at least that’s the French title, or even just big blockbuster things like the Sister Act movies or The Sound of Music. I mean, a musical said in an entry is great anyway. Nuns on Film is one of my weaknesses for sure. There’s actually a new movie about nuns. It’s a Paul Verhoeven movie, which seems like a great combination because nuns somehow lend themselves to that sort of salacious, right? I mean, the idea that there’s this place that’s blocked off from the world scene, of course, is the most tantalizing kind of reverse psychology possible. And Verhoeven has made a movie called Benedetta about nuns that I have yet to see. So nuns is one another one completely unrelated, but it’s this is so true is cavemen. I love movies about cavemen like Quest for Fire. Quest for Fire is an old favorite, but even just a silly take on on the caveman story like that Nick Park movie, you know, the Wallace and Gromit animator made this movie that was a complete bomb at the box office called Early Man that I completely loved because it was just full of silly caveman jokes. And the idea, I think, of things being invented for the first time, right? I mean, our fantasy of the cavemen is that we’re going to watch the evolution of human consciousness through this one guy’s story, which is pretty much what Quest for Fire is about, like how did language evolve and all those questions. It’s always so cheesy when treated on film, and it’s always just somewhat artificial that there’s basically like a guy in a fur suit walking around solving problems. But cavemen always do it for me. I think another thematic kind of mind, maybe backstage stories is especially a particular kind of backstage story that really and Steve, this goes to what you were saying about process movies, you know, process procedurals like a process theater movie that really shows you how a particular production is put together, like Topsy Turvy, the great Mike Lee movie, maybe my favorite Mike Lee movie, which is all about backstage at a Gilbert and Sullivan opera, right, with Gilbert and Sullivan as characters putting the show on that kind of thing where you sort of, Oh, The Bandwagon, the great musical with Fred Astaire is another where you watch a show kind of fail and then they fix it and then it goes better. And anyway, that kind of nerdy backstage procedural is also a weakness of mine.

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S2: That was something I really liked about a little different but drive my car that it was mostly about the, you know, rehearsal and the writing of or not the writing so much because it was Uncle Vanya, right? But like the translation of that play and less about putting it on. I like that as well of like seeing the process in the work that goes toward the thing that you’re actually.

S3: I love the rehearsal scenes in that movie, although they pose they were very mysterious to me because they kept on posing the question. And I think we talked about this, Steve, when we talked about driving my car that I wished we’d had Isaac Butler or somebody who knew a lot about theater in the room because I did not understand that director his vision or his blocking were what kind of show he was trying to put on. And the rehearsal processes never seemed to involve movement or blocking or choreography in any way, but yet somehow it became a traditional stage play with blocking anyway. If anything, my theater nerd self wanted a little bit more of that and drive my car, which might have extended it even longer than the 3 hours that it already lasted. All right, well, we’re running long. I loved hearing that about you guys. Reversed the matic ever aversions. And I hope we get to talk about some of them on the show soon. Thanks to all of you for listening and for being Slate Plus subscribers. We’ll talk to you again next week.