“It’s Brutal Out Here” Edition

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership. I’m Stephen Metcalf and this is the Slate Culture Gabfest. It’s brutal out here, Ed.. It’s Wednesday, June 2nd, two thousand twenty one. On today’s show, a live Action 101 Dalmatians prequel, you say, well, why not? Cruella stars Emma Stone as the arch villainous, but as a likable but wayward young woman. And before she got that infamous dog vendetta, it’s from Disney. And then Colson Whitehead’s prize winning novel, The Underground Railroad, has been adapted by Barry Jenkins, the Oscar winning director of Moonlight. It’s a 10 part, roughly 10 hour limited on Amazon Prime, and it stars Tusa and Ambedkar as Kaura, an enslaved girl on the lam. And finally, Olivia Rodriguez scored a chart topper with the bewitching driver’s license, but she was not done yet. We discuss her now chart topping album Sour with Slate’s own Chris Melaniphy. Joining me today is Karen Hahn, Slate staff writer. Karen, welcome back to the podcast.

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S2: Thank you so much for having me back. Excited to be here as a guest host and not just a guest segment.

S1: Absolutely. What a delight. And of course, Alegra Frank is Slate’s senior editor. Alegra, you’re now a veteran. This is boring to you.

S3: I always love it. Happy to be here.

S1: All right. Before we start. All right. Are you ready? A little pop quiz. What do Cruella Underground Railroad and the Slate Culture Gabfest all have in common?

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S4: Oh, uh,

S1: just you’re allowed to be stumped on this.

S3: I think we are stumped.

S1: OK. All three are scored by Nicholas Brittelle. Oh, Nick composed the theme song to the Culture Gabfest, as well as scoring Underground Railroad and Cruella Cool.

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S3: Yeah.

S1: Yeah. It makes me feel for one fleeting second, less like an abysmal loser. Battelle’s Gord’s my body.

S3: What is wrong today?

S1: I think I might need another cup of coffee. All right, let’s let’s let’s do this. We’re going to have we’re having fun. All right. We’re going to have more fun. 101 Dalmatians is, of course, the much beloved children’s book and Disney animated film. It was it was made in 1961. So it was part of my 1960s childhood. It featured an especially frightening villainess who wanted that childhood. Cruella De Vil, a nasty would be puppy killer who would have thought a sympathetic prequel was in order. But of course, we live in a world ruled by IPE and in which the Joker and the musical Wicked have set lucrative precedent. So here we go. Emma Stone, is Estella a precocious, if not a poor kid who, after losing her mother, lives a Dickensian street life. It’s charming and urchin, like with pickpocketing and quite silly. But she soon emerges as a quazi punk aesthete who starts coming into her own in the fashion world of 1970s London. She ends up working for the Baroness, a wicked fashion designer played with immense relish by the great Emma Thompson. The movie is Tart, an action packed but at its heart lies the question, which is who is she? Is she is Stella a sweet, sympathetic kid with a saucy side and a creative streak a mile wide? Or is she Cruella, which we know she’s going to be inevitably right about the killing? She’s certain. OK, just to set up the clip a little bit, for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, the scene makes sense because there’s a back story to the back story. It turns out the Cruella and the baroness have a deep history.

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S4: Who are you? You look vaguely familiar. I look stunning. I don’t know about familiar, darling, no hair, is it real and White Bull? I like to make an impact. But ultrasonic. Crew in oh, oh, that’s quite fabulous, and you designed this, you did actually 1965 collection. Oh, no wonder I love it. It’s mine. I fixed it. Sid. Do I insist I’m intrigued and that never happens.

S1: Karen, let me start with you, I think the only way to make a project like this work is, is with strong choices, the casting choice very strong. Emma Stone is terrific. I think both Ms. Emma Thompson’s wonderful. They made a very strong choice for Director Craig Gillespie, who made Etana, which was by and large a great success. The movie has a look feel. It pays for performance and has a lot of confidence in a way, and yet take it away.

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S2: I mean, I think you can sort of almost infer all of the problems that this movie has, like from that clip where it’s like I think Emma Stone overall is a great actress. But the choice, her particular attempt at a British accent, I think not so great. Every Cruella, every bit where she is Cruella or there is a Cruella. Voiceover I personally found a little bit cringe worthy, like it sounds like the performance that you would put on for the SNL skit version of this story where they’re like, oh, they’re doing a Cruella like origin story. Here’s our like little trailer, bit of it. Like that’s what this movie sounds like in some cases. I like some of the strong choices that are in it, like I think visually it’s so great. Jenny Beavan is such an incredible costume designer. Gillespie is also a very distinct director, like he loves any toys that will put a little more flair in the movie, for better or worse. And I think in particular, Emma Thompson is so, so great in this movie. Like if there’s anyone who understands the assignment, it’s Emma Thompson. Like there are other good performances in it. But she really, really stands out, especially as someone who whose performance is like there’s no moment in which you doubt it, which, as I mentioned, I did a little bit with Emma Stone. And overall, the strong choices that are taken with the story, I would say are not successful. Like there’s some really, really wild choices. Like at the end of the clip, you hear the dogs growling like it’s a major plot point that the baroness is dogs who are wow Dalmatians who would have guessed it like are really mean dogs. And it’s like you can’t you can’t do this. Like, I know there is a clip from Kuryla that went viral over the weekend of a bit from the beginning of the movie where the young Estella sees a bunch of Dalmatians knock her mom off of a cliff. It’s like, what an insane way to open your movie. Like, it turns out that there is a deeper reason for what happened that night. But on the same token, saying Khairullah hates Dalmatians because they killed her mom is objectively a crazy way to begin your story. And a lot of the things that they do specifically tie Cruella back to 101 Dalmatians are the parts where it’s the weakest and least convincing, right?

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S1: Alegra, they set themselves, as Karen quite astutely says there. And also in her review, they set themselves a problem here, which is that you’re you’re effectively telling you know, you have this wonderfully charming actress, Emma Stone, playing a saucy and and captivating character, you know, Estella. And at some point, inevitably, by the logic of the film, she has to turn into an absolute utter freaking monster and how, you know, how are you going to pull that off, given that given the somewhat iron clad premise that you’re shackled to, what do you what do you make of this movie?

S3: I did really enjoy it, actually, like the more than I expected to. I mean, I completely agree with Karen in her review that it is massively flawed. And I feel like a big part of that for me was, you know, we are all comfortable and used to the concept of an anti-hero. But as both of you said, there is nothing likeable about the corella that we know her to become. So a lot of the movie, which is very long, it feels like I literally was like I feel like I was in the theater. I saw it in a theater for like seven hours. I was like, this is a miniseries. And it was like a little over two hours. It just felt endless. They set up a SELA, as you know, someone to at least sympathize with. Right. Her mother dies. She is orphaned. She hurt her dreams of being a fashion designer are likely dashed because of these events, sort of beyond her control. But at the same time, you know, we know that she is going to be an awful person. We have to see that happen over the course of the film. Right. It’s a an origin story. So trying to have it both ways of we need to sort of root for her. She’s our anchor character here, especially with Emma Thompson’s baroness being similarly awful. Right. We don’t really have a good leg to stand on with someone who is legitimately a likeable character to root for. It sits uncomfortably because I. No, I’m going to end up despising this woman at the end, and that trickles in a little more slowly than I would have liked, I think. And not to compare this to, like, fucking joker. Right. Which is also which is just like completely on a different level in so many ways. But at least Joker didn’t waste time trying to get me to like. All right. You know, like I said, I hate him like joker.

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S2: Like that was their own problem.

S3: Right. It was like a problematic choice to see anything empathetic in this character versus here. You know, I was like, oh, poor Stella. She lost her mom. This is so sad. Oh, she has a cute dog. And that is such a such a difficult position to reckon with.

S1: What surprises me about this movie is how much I loved the first hour of it. I mean, I adored the first hour of it. It shocked me. I thought it was tight, fast, very clever. I mean, at one point, about forty five minutes in, I started incredibly to compare it to the greatest movie of all time, Paddington, to have that, you know, it just had that anglophilia tickled to it and I just thought it was, was virtually flawless. I mean and wow. And then, and then I thought and then and then sort of the imperatives of the Disney empire entered into it suddenly and it fell apart, it dissipated completely because they couldn’t resolve, you know, this kind of toggle switch of her personality, this duality of her personality between the Stella and Cruella at the sheer level of plot was very hard to resolve what sort of flip flips the switch for her and turns her into this character and all of this sort of cartoony Dickensian fun. And The Devil Wears Prada fun. Right? Because in a sense, that first hour is just driven by completely separate from the Disney type and one hundred and one Dalmatians prequel aspect of it, completely separate from that. It’s essentially a hyperbolic, least silly movie about a young, underprivileged woman attempting to make it in the world of 1970s London fashion and, you know, with a nightmarish, malevolent narcissist as her boss. And, you know, will she find a way to please this martinet? Will her talent rise them? And all of that is kind of done very nicely and and quick. It has so much pace and then all of the pace and the verve and the and the real really in some ways, confidence of it disappears in the second half. And that to me was a little bit heartbreaking.

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S2: Yeah, I totally agree. And I also very tickled that you brought up Haddington to as a point of comparison, because I literally like watching this. I was like Emma Thompson feels like she’s just playing a Paddington villain right now, which is part of why I love that performance is I’m like, she should just be in Paddington three, Paddington three. Where is it? Paul Kane. Come on now. But I mean, I was saying this. I recorded a spoiler special for Cruella with our colleague Dana Stevens. And when we were talking about it, I said sort of the same thing where it feels like this would be so much fun if it really was just a story about some random aspiring fashion designer and the wacky high that she gets up to. All the things that are bad about this movie are literally oh, but also she’s Corella. And also here’s Anita and Roger. And also here’s evil Dalmatians and some other stuff that sort of doesn’t really explain any of the questions that we didn’t have in the first place.

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S3: Mm hmm.

S1: And Karen, you so in addition to your wonderful review, you have this like kind of Q&A with yourself, head scratcher of like let’s say this is setting up. It’s clearly it’s setting up sequels to the prequel. Right. Indicating even that it’s going to go in the direction of the actual 101 Dalmatians, even though we’ve had recently the Glenn Close versions. But there’s a slight problem, right? There’s like a not only do we have waita Dalmatians good. Or are they menacing and like, am I rooting for a particular? We now have the specter of incest.

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S2: Yeah. Which is absolutely wild. Like, first of all, I will say I saw someone tweet like, I’m glad that this movie truthfully represents Dalmatians as not great dogs to have so that people stop trying to adopt so many of them. I have no idea whether whether or not this is true about Dalmatian behavior, but the shocking Dalmatian twist at the end of this movie is so Cruella steals the Dalmatians from the baroness, their original owner, and the movie ends with one of the dogs pregnant and giving birth to a litter of puppies, two of whom she then gifts to her friends, Roger and Anita, who, as we know, later get together and then have their dogs bred. But the suggestion is that those puppies are from the same litter. So they are brother and sister. Dog, what is going on here?

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S3: I feel really sad that this was not a take away I had immediately and that I was not as I didn’t pay as much attention about the breeding lineage here, because this is something I usually seize on immediately.

S1: I’m going to shout out the thing that I liked probably most about the movie during that first hour, which is a kind of love, the little Dickensian friendship with Jasper and Horace, played by Paul Walter Houser and Joel Frye. I want them to be in every movie. You know, it’s very quickly drawn. It’s not deep, but the there’s just the. Delightful, impish, thoughtful thing that they’re doing that kind of does, you know, the switch to Cruella. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It it it like really offends their bond and their friendship. And they go from being compatriots and equals to being lackeys.

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S4: You know, we’ve all had bad things happen to us, me and you, but we’ve always been there for each other. That’s all I’m asking. Is it so hot? Back me up. No, no, Estella, that’s easy. But to help Cruella. It’s a nightmare.

S2: Oh, yeah, I mean, I really love both of them and I especially like really want Joel Frye to break out as the leading man, which he is in in the earth, although that is a horror movie and not a feel good comedy or rom com. So I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it off the back of Cruella. That said, that was one of the things that I liked when they were like, oh, like we don’t really want to hang out with Cruella, but the movie resolves it in such a classic like Disney House Way where she’s like, I’m sorry. And then everything is fine, even though she’s acting exactly the same way she was before.

S1: Right. And she’s still going to end up an unsuspecting puppy killer. OK, well, Cruella, it’s in movie theaters now. Dare you go. I have been to the movies. It seems to be totally fine. It’s also for a handsome fee. You can you can stream it. All right. Moving on. All right, now is the moment in our podcast we typically talk business in our exclusive SLAPP plus Slate plus segment. This week, we’re going to talk about going back to the movie theaters, seeing movies in person after pandemic. We’ve gone without that luxury for a very long time. What is it like? Does it feel trepidation or anxious? Is it exhilarating? How much do we miss it? And of course, actually going to the movies, seeing them in theatrical release was an endangered business model even before the pandemic. So are we all going to go back in droves? These and other questions in today’s Slate plus segment. If you are not a Slate plus member, you can sign up today at Slate Dotcom culture. Plus, it’s only one dollar for your first month. And members get access to ad free podcasts and exclusive plus only content like today’s segment bonus segment on going back to the movie theater again, you can sign up at Slate Dotcom Culture Plus and if you’re already asleep plus member. And there’s a topical question you’d like us to discuss in the Future segment, please send us an email at Culture Fest at Slate Dotcom. We love to hear from you anyway. And this is super helpful to get topics for the plus segment, so please do that. All right. Thanks a lot. Moving on. Colson Whitehead won both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award for Underground Railroad, his novel In Real Life. Of course, the Underground Railroad was neither underground nor railroad. But Whitehead as a child apparently misunderstood it as children do. I did. I misunderstood it, literally took it, literally extending that child’s perspective into the book and now into the magnificent TV adaptation. The railroad is real. It’s an actual train actually underground in the story. Kaura is an enslaved girl born in Georgia. She’s played wonderfully by Tusa Ambedkar and she’s escaping via this magical realist train she’s pursued by Arnold Ridgway, played with ice cold malice by Joel Edgerton, a slave catcher, monem maniacally obsessed with tracking her down. In addition to being a chased story, though, it’s also an anatomy of American white supremacy, plural. At each juncture on the escaped, North Korea encounters a different version of American racism. Each above ground place is a different version of that specific American nightmare. Which raises the awful question that a character asks Where is there for us to go? This adaptation comes courtesy of Barry Jenkins, of course, the Oscar winning director of Moonlight. In the clip we’re about to hear, we hear the voice of Caesar, a companion of Korra, who becomes her love interest, and fellow escapee Caesar, who’s learned how to read, has a copy of Gulliver’s Travels, the swift satire with which he’s become obsessed because of the analogy to his own completely absurd experience.

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S4: But this I conceived was to be the least of my misfortunes. For human creatures observe to be more savage and cruel in proportion to their bow. What could I expect? But to be a morsel in the mouth of the first among these enormous barbarians that should happen. The seas may stuccoed up your home and put poison down your throat, Novikova. What is? It’s called Gulliver’s Travels. It’s about. Man on a trip. Miss Lost and trying to get out. In this bar, it’s owned by. Giants like Eli. And how on account of them being bigger and more powerful, they must also be more evil, more. I Wideman’s.

S1: Alegra, let me start with you. This is this is a huge endeavor, bringing this book to the screen. It seems to have required all 10 of these hours and the in some ways rather sumptuous touch of Barry Jenkins. What did you make of Underground Railroad?

S3: I feel like it is. Karen actually said it quite well to me.

S2: What I had said was it seems insane that the Underground Railroad and the winners, the Falcon in the Winter Soldier are considered works in the same media right so far apart in craft and quality, especially because I’d watched both recently and especially because they were like Falcon in the winter soldiers about race in America. And I was like, is it?

S3: Yeah, exactly. That was such a perfect summation when I was like going into the show because absolutely. I mean, Barry Jenkins obviously coming from the world of film, he brings such a cinematic touch to it. It really does feel like each episode is sort of its own kind of mini movie in a way like each episode. Obviously, it’s part of a story, an ongoing narrative, but it does feel a bit like almost self-contained in some senses. And it’s quite beautiful to look at. I the thing that troubles me, which is no fault of Barry Jenkins or any member of the creative team, is just it’s incredibly hard to watch. It’s it’s easy to watch in the sense that every frame is just so, you know, painterly in a way. There’s so many beautiful shots. Obviously, Barry Jenkins loves to have his actors look right into the camera with these really expressive, emotive faces. But the story itself is obviously quite disturbing and upsetting, even as it twists history. But its twists on the historical aspects aren’t to make it at all sunshiny or more fun. And it’s not, as you know, glaringly violent as many other versions of slavery stories are. But it’s just like the the overwhelming sadness and darkness that is, you know, pervasive and inherent in telling stories about slavery that has always just my entire life made it. I just never slavery narratives have never sat quite well with me just on that basis alone. And it’s not any fault of anyone. It’s just the history of the thing, like slavery being historically just so awful. It just is always quite disturbing and upsetting for me.

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S2: Something that was really strange to me in the discourse recently is when the Amazon, the other Amazon series them came out firmly in a way that everyone, I think a lot of white critics in particular were saying like this is a really important series. Like it’s really like graphic and gross. And it had a reputation specifically for being very, very violent and upsetting to watch and was met with, I think, by a lot of black critics saying like this feels really, really unnecessary to us, like the way that violence is portrayed, that like this old what we thought to be old, but obviously is still very prevalent in present day racism like this seems exploitative in the end, whereas I think the Underground Railroad in particular is not it does not come off to me as an exploitative work at all. And I think a couple of reviews mentioned this. I forget who they were by but saying that one of the remarkable things about the show is that it does manage to find moments of joy for these characters, like the first episode in particular is difficult to watch. But that moment when Korra and Caesar are running away from the plantation, it’s a scary moment for but for me, still felt especially. I don’t want to put too much on the director’s intentions, but the degree of how golden like the light is in that particular moment and the way that the music is like very sweeping like that comes off to me is like even in this very scary and awful environment, like there’s still moments where they can find happiness and joy with each other.

S3: I think that’s really well exemplified through episode two, being such, you know, existing in such stark contrast to the majority of Episode one, obviously episode two, and not to spoil it too much, of course, but ends in the same sort of darkness that, you know, is necessary to continue propelling this show forward. But there are so many elements there of just seeing black people and gorgeous outfits living among white people in mostly harmonious ways or so we think at balls, dancing, professing their love to each other. It is it is quite a even though ultimately a bit sad, but it is wonderful to see that aspect of black lives during such a tumultuous and upsetting time, imaged on screen looking like

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S4: night this and according to question marks. So.

S3: So I do agree there, there it’s just so many moments like that, even small ones of hope that Barry Jenkins is really great about, including here.

S1: Yeah, I mean, deeply bound up in in sadness and maybe possibly, you know, a tragic vision for race relations in America. I mean, I think at the heart of this is a pursuit narrative. And I just think Edgerton ism is amazing. As Ridgeway this there’s this vision of of almost purified Ishmail like monomania and, you know, white Malus, you know, in pursuit of Kaura. But but in some sense, as someone who hasn’t read the book, among the things that’s drawing me forward after watching roughly three, three and a half hours of this is is there is there, you know, as part of Whiteheads vision and Jenkins’ vision, is there some place where racial reconciliation of any hopeful, like genuinely hopeful kind is possible? Because, you know, at each stop you get this false taste of reconciliation beneath, which is just another version of of malice that just happens to be less overtly violent. So the first one she encounters in South Carolina and the first stop is this, it turns out utterly false attempt to create, you know, a degree of equality between the races, which is actually based on eugenics, eugenicist control. In the third, there’s this white savior narrative as exemplified by this couple, and that turns out inevitably, of course, to be completely toxic and self-serving as well. And so as far as I mean, I’m completely taken by the show in part because I want to see where Whitehead and Jenkins together take Cora as she heads north through these various iterations of dehumanization. And is she is she moving? And essentially in Whiteheads prophetic vision, are we as a society, did we or are we as a society moving towards someplace where white supremacy can be somehow transcended or not? And that in addition to the fact that Jenkins is this just completely sumptuously cinematic director and it’s amply on display here. So that’s that’s where I come out. So far, having watched what I’ve watched, what do you think?

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S2: I’ve watched the whole thing. And I guess I understand what you mean in terms of like wishing maybe that there was something more concrete in terms of hopefulness for the future of race relations. But on the other hand, like having lived through twenty twenty. Yeah, it is so apparent to me that we are not even where we thought we were as a culture, especially like as a more liberal leaning person myself, like a lot of perceptions that I had about like how good quote unquote like America is at like how much progress we’ve made. Like it’s obvious that we are not far along as as far along on the spectrum as we’d like to be. So in that sense, like I feel like if it had if the series had kind of kowtowed more in that direction, it would feel facetious or untrue somehow. That said, I’m curious what you guys think if you end up watching the rest of the series, there’s a two episode arc at the end of the series that involves a independent black community, which to me like formed some of the most beautiful images in the show, because it is they are living a sort of utopian life where it’s a farm, a winemaking farm. It’s like just entirely populated by free black people. And the problems basically being the white community, who abut them, how they deal with what they think is like people who are kind of too proud of what they have. But the moments like on the farm are just so wonderful. And I also want to shout out, like you mentioned, Joel Edgerton’s performance is being really great. But for me, at least, the standout performances from Chase Dylan, who plays Holmer, who is Edgerton’s assistant on the show, he to set up for people who haven’t watched it all. He’s a really young child who follows this Waitz. He’s a young black child who follows the slave catcher around with seemingly no allegiance to anyone but this man at all, like he is the one in the South Carolina episode who finds Corra at her job and tries to drag her out of the building even though he’s a child and like she is so in distress. That dynamic is one of the most fascinating things in this show to me, especially because it’s demonstrating like the sort the degree to which like racism and white supremacy can be so insidious to. Not just white people, but for everyone who is living under the system,

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S1: right, and he’s an unnerving figure for a bunch of different reasons. I mean, he’s he’s like, you know, he’s he looks to be nine years old. He acts as though he’s 70 years old and like kind of wise and removed and and taciturn. And he’s dapper. He’s like he’s like, you know, he’s just completely out of place somehow and yet sort of perfectly placed in this universe. And I just want to interject quickly before you go. Is that is that in no way do I think Colson Whitehead or Barry Jenkins or anyone associated with this bears any burden of being hopeful on the issue of race in America, especially in 2020, 2021. It’s really what I mean more is that I just want to follow along a prophetic vision that says, you know, no, in fact, there is no place above ground in this universe, right. Where where there’s where this reconciliation can as of now happen. Like I that that probably should be the vision of a show like this. But but I still feel pulled along to see how each stop is a false version of that possibility of reconciliation. That’s the sort of force of the prophecy of the show in a weird sense. But, you know, whatever.

S3: Just to give it back real quick to the Chase W. Dillon discourse, because I want to get into discourse being a highly positive word in this case. He’s so good. He’s really good and such a disturbing transfixing character here. I mean, it’s I was explaining it to my friend when I was had some on yesterday of, you know, this character. He is honestly the most frightening character on the show because of, you know, exactly what you guys are saying and what Karen said of the insidiousness of white supremacy in this world, but also, you know, to both of your points that continues to exist. But, you know, it’s such a smart, beautiful and also truly awful choice to have this young boy. There’s only way to really achieve a sense of freedom, a sort of freedom in this world is to accompany a white man for such a terrible, terrible reason. And every interaction he has with Korra is just so upsetting and disturbing. And yet he is he is just a wonderful it’s a wonderful performance. So I don’t want to say you have to love him because I don’t. But I do love this kid. And I I would love to understand, you know, how he access this character because I cannot imagine what you must be going through as a child, trying to understand and even empathize a little bit with a character like this.

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S2: The detail that he like puts himself back in shackles when he goes to sleep.

S3: Awful.

S1: OK, well, the show’s Underground Railroad, it’s on Amazon Prime, I think all three of us are pretty unequivocal. Watch it. All right, moving on. OK, for our final segment, we’re joined by TKG FUP, truly great friend of the program, Chris Melaniphy. Chris is, of course, a pop music writer for Slate. He’s a chart columnist extraordinaire if it has to do with the billboard. He knows that. Chris, welcome back to the show.

S5: I’m so flattered, Stephen. Thank you.

S1: And, you know, when we talked about Olivia Rodrigo a few weeks ago for the really I mean, kind of astonishing breakout, you know, world devouring single driver’s license, I thought a fun segment will probably never revisit this artist again. But just there’s no reason to think she would be a one hit wonder. None whatsoever. And yet truly surprising where we’ve gone from there. How has she broken out so huge?

S5: I mean, I take your point because it is entirely possible that driver’s license, even now, given what I’m about to say, will remain Olivia Rodriguez legacy, because it’s just such a massive, iconic, now definitive hit. Right. It spent eight weeks at number one on the hot 100. By the way, when I recorded with you all back in, I think it was February, there was a chance it was going to get ousted from number one by a new car to be single. It was somewhere around its fourth or fifth week. At that point, it beat the car to be single and stayed there for a total of eight weeks. So this turned out to be a giant killing single.

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S1: And can I just interject here and say that it is a song that I have listened to many times since, which is not always a typical pattern for, you know, these these sorts of songs and also played for other people. It has a weird Sub Pop sublimity to it.

S6: Taffin. Kevin. How you could be so.

S4: You said forever? No, I drive alone past your street.

S5: You asked me how we got here, and the answer is that Olivia keeps kind of rampaging on the charts as we are taping this on Tuesday morning. This may change by tomorrow, Wednesday, when everybody hears this. The new number one song as of last week is Good for You by Olivia Rodrigo, which is actually she’s already up to her third single in between. She had a second single called Deja Vu, another excellent single that debuted in the top ten. By the way, she’s the first artist ever to place not just two singles from the same album in the top ten that’s happened before, but to place her first two singles in a career in the top 10.

S1: So awesome. Chris, let me cut you off. Let’s listen to

S4: Goodway. Yeah, let’s do.

S2: What’s a pity about listening to that clip for a podcast is that what the listeners are missing? Is everyone on camera

S4: like bopping to, like dancing just a little bit,

S3: really? Like the little falsetto parts in the background? Motlanthe was definitely lip synching

S5: that little thing she does near the beginning where she there’s this little, you know, like a mouse and he goes all harmonizing together. That kills me every time.

S3: So good.

S2: Would you say I’m curious if you have a favorite song off of the album?

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S5: Oh, wow. Currently it might be that one just because, you know, I wrote about it. The reason I’m here today is I wrote about Good for you for Alegra last week. Why is the song number one? So I’ve got that song on the brain. And so I was literally playing it on repeat last week. I will say much to Steve’s point about driver’s license. It stands up to repeat, plays it in a way. It almost gets more entertaining the more you listen to it because you start noticing more details about the song. And one point I made in my was the song. No one piece was that when I heard it on Saturday Night Live, that was the first time I heard it. It was the second song she performed on the night. Now, three weekends ago, I guess it felt like an afterthought, a very good afterthought. But, you know, clearly the showpiece of the night was her performing driver’s license, which was the first song she did, unsurprisingly. And driver’s license was a topic of obsession at Saturday Night Live. Saturday Night Live even did a sketch about driver’s license and about how, you know, speaking of Steve, talking about how it’s strange, how were we middle aged men are listening to this song over and over again. It was a whole bunch of dudes in there, you know, I don’t know, 30s talking about every aspect of the song and how much they loved it.

S1: This is about a girl getting a driver’s license, but it’s bittersweet because it’s something she and her ex always talked about. That’s what I guess based on hearing it for the first time right now.

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S5: So driver’s license was the showcase of that Saturday Night Live performance. And then good for you is the second performance of the night. And he was sort of you know, it was a little bit of the dancing bear, like, oh, how impressive. She can do a rock song, too. But but then you actually listen to it. And it’s just it’s a wonderfully detailed song, both the production by herself and Dan Nigro, her, you know, co-writer, producer, and just the little touches in the lyrics, which I think is all her really an excellent, excellent song.

S3: Definitely the SNL performances that Chris just referenced were, I think, a big turning point as like a fan of hers, personally speaking, because it was really the first time I’d seen her perform her music live especially good for you, because that single had just come out the week before the performance. And yeah, I mean, she very much comes from the the Disney cloth. Right. She started working on it on Disney Channel when she was like 12 or 13. So she is to the public imagination, like she is an actress first, at least for the younger demographic, for those of us who are older, where we think of her as a singer. But the SNL performances and other performances of hers since then, like the Brit Awards, she really has shown this like theatricality that is so well tuned to each of the songs, like driver’s license being this more sweeping, grandiose, romantic drama. She really plays that up so beautifully. It like, you know, really just punctuates the emotions of the song so well. And then good for you is just this like incredibly cute, like pop punk. I’m going to punch the air with my fists and kick my leg up. I’m rocking out. You know, it was just fun to see her on these different characters, which I also think helps to kind of and I’m curious all of your thoughts here, but like maybe diminish the ongoing rumor mill narrative that has also played a really big part in her promotion cycle, because a lot of the chatter for driver’s license in particular was like, oh, this is about her co-star ex-boyfriend. And now he’s dating this other girl who’s a Disney star. But seeing her kind of perform almost in character was like, OK, maybe she is distancing herself a little bit from the the narrative of this is this ultra personal, very specific kind of drama that she has ensconced herself in.

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S2: For my two cents at least, I feel like that drama definitely helped to help publicize driver’s license when it came out, especially because, like I am a follower of the Instagram gossip, I

S3: cannot do more. And that yes, I

S2: know you’re out there, but I feel like if you’re not super online, this is something that’s going to totally escape your notice. Like it barely registered. A mine is just because I like am on Twitter followers on Instagram a lot that I like. Notice all that. But I still didn’t. If you didn’t read further into it, then that was kind of like you read it and then you forgot about it. And definitely for me, like I almost completely forgot that the reason, the initial reasons that these songs I got so big is because people were like, oh, shit, is that are we allowed to curse whatever it was? Because people were like, oh, like this is about like real life drama and they’re having like a song war. Right. I also want to know to like also in relation to that SNL skit and also to almost all of my peer group on Twitter after this album came out being like, I understand that I’m too old for this album, but I also really connect to it, like especially for Chris and Steve. I’m curious if you felt that way about listening this where you were like, oh, yeah. Like if this had come out when I was a teen, it would be my jam. Or like even listening to this now makes me think of all the all the drama that I went through. I was younger.

S1: I mean, this most definitely would not have been my jam had it come out when I was age appropriate for it. I mean, I was so heavily I was such a fucking predictable rock snob, you know. But so so it’s like it’s it’s both my taste evolution and my personal evolution has brought me around to this kind of music where the fetish for the Dylanesque auteur has just almost I mean, it has its place in my love of pop music. But but for pop music supremely. Well, you know, just just like highly developed songcraft, incredible production values, a kind of cunning to the songcraft. I no longer resent those manipulative. And so the fact that it’s sort of stage managed and heavily produced is not a point against it at all. And then in terms of personal evolution, I just have age appropriate daughters for whom this music has been for ten years, incredibly central to their self conception and their conception of what music is. And it’s embedded within a larger mosaic that includes Phoebe Bridgers, artists who are influenced by the auteur Fetishise Dylan ologist, you know, lineage. So they they see it for what it is. It’s like something you listen to in a certain kind of mood or to get into a certain kind of mood. It doesn’t represent all music and they’re, you know, young kids today. There’s so that come pretty cynical. You know, it’s like they understand when they’re being manipulated. It’s the one saving grace may be of a magnificent, you know, global apparatus of. Manipulation is that human beings are essentially savvy, you know, I mean, not all the time, but, um, but, you know, you can have a a playful and autonomous relationship to what might otherwise be manipulative, popular art. Now, for a variety of reasons, one of which is social media. People talk about it in media and very knowing terms. So all of which is to say, after taking that huge circuitous loop, I can put on and figure into this music in an uncomplicated way, if that makes sense.

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S5: Does the fact that Olivia’s role model is Taylor Swift affect your about the album one way or the other? And by the way, I will point out that there’s a track on here, one step forward, three steps back, which is an interpolation of Swift’s previous song, New Year’s Day, from the reputation album Like It’s Replayed. But, you know, it’s basically the same piano line we played for.

S4: Cold, you

S1: had to bring it

S3: back. Wait, Steve, are you noted Taylor Swift hater or are you Stan?

S1: I am the infamous Taylor skeptic.

S5: The skeptic is the right word. I think that’s fair.

S1: My problem with is to be very brief here. My problem was always applying an inappropriate auteur framework to understanding Taylor Swift when I thought of her as a pop confection that got me in huge trouble with the taste. Stand with Jodi Ross and then Julia Turner and I almost got a divorce over the. It was really a long running saga. This was all before you you guys were born, but this was so it’s ancient history now. But I’ve come around to Taylor. I don’t have I don’t have the skin reaction I once had. I think the real answer is, is, Chris, I can abide.

S5: We’ll take a beating. That’s that’s fair. That’s all right.

S3: The dude abides, Chris.

S1: Let’s let’s let’s go out on, like, one of the deep cuts people might not have heard and that you especially cherish at this point.

S5: There are several one that fascinates me and I don’t know if you can call it deep because it’s literally track one in the album, but it’s not a single is brutal. Yes. What’s here’s what I love about brutal. Brutal. This is a very meta album and that’s maybe the most meta song. It starts off with a little bit of orchestration and then within, I don’t know, 10, 15 seconds, Olivia says something like, I want it to rock out there. You literally hear her on Mike saying this.

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S3: She says, I want it to be like Messi.

S5: Thank you. That’s the oh, God. That’s even better than yes.

S2: I want to be like Messi.

S4: I’m so insecure, I think that I’ll die before I drink and I’m so caught up in the news of who likes me and who hates you, and I’m so tired that I might quit my job, start a new life, and they’d all

S3: be so disappointed because I if not exploited. And I’m so sick of speaking of the pop punk vein, I love all of those songs. Brutal, obviously. Good for you. But then jealousy. Jealousy is another one.

S5: That jealousy.

S3: Johnson’s great good punk punk refer to it.

S4: Kucuk.

S6: Slightly, I think, I think.

S4: Kids don’t know.

S1: I’m Chris Xmen, as always, is the total, total pleasure. Thank you so much for coming on the show. And let’s do this again soon.

S5: Let’s do it. I love coming

S6: from. A prime minister.

S1: All right, well, now is the moment in our podcast when we endorse Alegra. I’m going to start with you. What do you what do you have?

S3: I like how you sort of paused after Allegra’s, if it was we endorse Alegra at this point of the show. So if anyone needs like if anyone needs an endorsement idea, Alliegro is a good one. I’m going to endorse an album that came out last Friday. So a few days before our recording. It’s called Doom and Sun Doom in with an apostrophe at the end. And it is by its the debut album by the band BATCHELLER, which is a duo composed of two other bands. I am a huge fan of J. Saam and Pale Hound, which are really just, you know, one woman shows. But there they come together sort of to create a a wonderful combination of their, you know, their sounds as they already exist separately in their own band. So it’s sort of I don’t want to just, like, diminish it as sad girl indie rock, but that’s the easiest and most basic way to describe it. They blend together so well on this album. There’s a bunch of great singles that are a bit more poppy and great singalongs. Actually, there’s one called Stay in the Car, which I’m excited to like be in a car road tripping and singing along to it because it’s a great like headbanger in so far as this band really has any headbanger’s. I was a big fan of both of those bands, and they haven’t released new albums since I think it was 20, 19, it was really fun to just suddenly hear that they were going to do, I guess, a mini super group or super duo, seemingly just because they’re friends and they needed something to do during the pandemic. So they dropped this album. It’s really great. I’ve been listening to it on a loop since it came out, so I would recommend Doom in Sun by BATCHELLER.

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S1: I can’t wait to hear it. Karen, what do you have?

S2: I’m a big small head, like I love to smell nice things. Smell. Yeah. So what I’m going to recommend there’s a perfume company that I really like recently called Sniff like like the like smelling sniff but with only one f their whole deal is that they only release like three different fragrances at a time, which I find fun, and they will send you a full size and a sample of whatever perfume you order so that you can smell it first. And if you don’t like it, you just send it straight back, which is good because you don’t know how a perfume is smelling you unless you put it on yourself. So blind buying is always a risk and they take the risk out of it. This sounds like an ad, I swear. It’s not just like there smells. All three of the current set that they have are really nice for different occasions. Spray them on, smell nice for your friends as you start to see them again. That’s what I that’s what I’ll endorse.

S3: Not to blow up Karen’s spot real quick is she’s been doing these really adorable perfume reviews on Instagram where she does these illustrated little blurbs on the different perfumes she’s drawing. And Karen, I truly cannot wait to smell you whenever I see you.

S2: You need to tell me what you know before we meet up. You have to tell me what you want me to smell like. And I will pay

S3: for that mood. I’ll give you like a sandalwood. And, you know, you have, like, such a great refined smell palette. I’m like, I would not know how to

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S2: use like, I can distinguish different smells, but I can’t, like, name them. Like, I couldn’t be like, oh, this is Jasmine. I would just be like the smells like some kind of flower.

S3: I don’t know.

S1: Right. You’re not like wine supertaster or something unfortunately. No, no I know. I wish I were to but all right. So I’m just going to be sort of boring but but roundabout which I think is very on brand. But so I you know, Neil Young came out with the album Harvest in the early seventies and it just broke and huge. As a commercial artist, I was already very successful. But, you know, all these hits were on it that you probably know, like heart of gold songs that I have no affection for. And possibly Neil Young didn’t either, because he’s then asked for a follow up record. You’re this big Star Wars record companies like Let’s Go. And he makes I think he makes tonight tonight’s the Night, which is just very dark and is basically a fuck you to his own chart success. Companies like what, Neil? What the fuck? Like what? Like hello? No, you got to go back and make a different record. So he goes back and he makes an even darker record, the sort of semi forgotten album on the beach, which is just a masterpiece. And I think that I’ve endorsed many years ago on the show. It’s just I don’t know. I just think it’s him at his best in some way. And there’s a song on it. It’s it’s not an especially well known song. He doesn’t play live very often called motion pictures, and it’s just his ability to play with the most elemental elements of music and melody and chord changes and come up with something so mournful and distinctive in his own.

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S6: Motion pictures on. TV screen.

S4: Home away from.

S6: Living in me, Tony, but

S1: I love the song in and of itself, but there’s no there’s no video of him doing it live on YouTube, which is a little dispiriting. But in searching, I came across a great cover version by the also geriatric, but also quite wonderful Robyn Hitchcock, the British singer songwriter who just has scabrous away with everything, but he takes it and makes it his own in this live performance,

S4: Glory

S6: on the Vine.

S4: Trees falling. Talks calling. I got my.

S1: We’ll link to the YouTube clip of Robyn Hitchcock singing the Neil Young song Motion Pictures. Enjoy. Karen, thank you so much.

S2: Thank you so much for having me on the show.

S1: Fun. Yeah. Yeah, we will do it again soon. And Alegra, you know, this is all home for all of us, but of course, we’re great.

S3: Thank you. It was it’s always fun.

S1: You’ll find links to some of the things we talked about today at our show page, that Slate Dotcom Culture Fest, and you can email us at Culture at Slate Dotcom. We love to hear from you as set up top. Our theme music is from the wonderful Nick. Our producer is Cameron Drus, a production assistant is Rachel Allen for Alegra, Frank and Karen Hahn. I’m Stephen Metcalf. Thank you so much for joining us. And we will see you soon. Hello and welcome to this lab, please. Today, we are going to be talking about a threshold moment in the history of this God awful pandemic. We are either going back to movie theaters have already gone back into a movie theater. We’re about to do so. This is significant for a bunch of different reasons. It does signal the beginning, definitive beginning of the end of the pandemic. I think in some sense, being in a movie theater seems more symbolically rich than being even in a restaurant. To me, at least, it does. But secondly, there’s movies and actually going to the movies and sitting in the theater and watching a movie on a big screen had arrived at a threshold moment without the pandemic. The question was whether or not as a purely as a business model theatrical release was going to survive. Let me start with Karen on this one. Have you gone back to a movie theater? Was it with any kind of trepidation? Did the trepidation disappear? Did you were you exhilarated by the experience to be with others and on a large screen? What what what happened?

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S2: Well, unfortunately, I can really only answer one of those questions because I have not been back to the movie theater yet. I know. But that is I would say, because my threshold is pretty high. I am a bit nervous about going back, especially because I’ve seen like the mandates were there. Like if you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask. And it’s like that great A.V. Club article where they’re like, if you’re vaccinated or you’re just a liar, you don’t have to wear your mask in the movie theater anymore. And it’s like, I don’t really want to take that chance unless I although I have thought about, like renting out a theater for myself and my friends who I know are vaccinated and doing it that way. But especially as like press screenings start back up specifically in theaters. It’s become a little bit annoying for me because it’s like up until two weeks ago you would still send me links for these.

S3: So why can’t

S2: you do that now? It’s like I sort of understand you want people to see things on a big screen because the experience really does can improve a movie. But right now I’m not feeling it just yet. US near critics are a real ragtag group. Anyone who’s been who is a New York critic and has been to a film screening knows exactly what I’m talking about. But Alegra, I know you went to the theater, as I think we discussed, to see the press screening of Khairullah.

S3: I did, yes. I sounded really excited when I said that. I did. Yes. Yeah. I saw Cruella in a theater, indeed a press screening. And that was the first time I’d been back since, I think another press screening, which was February twenty twenty Sonic the Hedgehog. So it was it was quite exciting to be back. You know, we all love movie theatres. Press screenings are weird and fake experiences. But it and it was a weird and fake experience in the sense that, you know, it was socially distance and we had masks on and, you know, it was just in and out of shirt, in and out kind of quickly. But it was still wonderful to see a movie on giant screen the way its intended scene. Cruella on a big screen was fun both for the the outfits and the kind of bombastic performances. But also, as I said many times in this episode, because it felt so long, I feel like it would have taken me a while to watch it at home or I might have, like, been more distracted. And that’s always that’s a plus for me to, you know, not having these distractions that have been ruining my film experiences for the last year. It was really fun and I didn’t feel particularly uncomfortable. You know, as I said, it was socially dist.. There were maybe like ten people there. And we’ve all been fully vacs, or at least I have. So I’m really eager to go back. I think now that I kind of like broke the seal, I think it’ll be easier for me to keep going.

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S2: Yeah, I’m reminded no from your answer that there’s one other threshold that I really want to cross, which is I want my first movie back in theaters to be a good one. I don’t want to waste my first movie experience and something that’s just OK, I want it to be really good.

S3: Mm.

S1: Well, so on that note, I went on Friday to go see in the movie theater a quiet place to. Which it’s funny, it was so a couple of different things. One is it was, you know, just a weird. Atmospheric night to begin with, it was pouring rain, kind of went to the movies, unexpectedly shanghaied there by my friends and. And and it was mostly empty, right? It was that eerie thing of of. That’s not it. We’re still in this liminal space. We’re not it’s not back. It’s not packed. I mean, the whole thrill of going to see a kind of probably crappy sequel to a quite good movie that didn’t really need to get made, but it had to for commercial reasons. Is your carried along by the theater being full and the popcorn and the whole and instead it was it was it was like the movie itself, right? It was like eerily depopulated. And I never felt any sense of risk at all and far into having been taxed and feel as though it’s going to defend me against the against the virus. But but what I will say is this is that had I first of all, I probably wouldn’t have been tempted to watch a quiet place to on a small screen at home. Or if I had, I would have watched it for about ten minutes, 15 minutes, seeing that they didn’t really nail it. And it lacks the tautness of the like. The really signature tautness of the first one is absent from the second one. That said, there is something you know, the whole point of a movie being projected up on a giant screen is that the scale is completely different and the depth of field, in a weird way, you just sort of you you you disappear in the movie theater in a way that you don’t at home, and then you’re sort of obliterated in a sense. And and there you are in Plato’s Cave and your entire consciousness gets absorbed into this gigantic multicolor lively screen and that. Still happens even when the movie’s sort of mediocre. I mean, it really is an amazing fact in a sense. And so weirdly, the experience was heightened by the fact that the movie was not intrinsically all that good. But being in a movie theater and watching a film on a on a gigantic screen was just inherently absorbing and was kind of great.

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S3: That does seem like a, you know, perfect pick for a movie in a theater. Just remembering the experience of the first one. Like that’s something that requires or at least asks you to have total silence.

S1: Yeah. Yeah, right. Exactly. Exactly. And like, everyone’s good. I mean, that’s the other thing. It’s it’s you know, everyone’s good at it. It’s made by real pros, like they were inspired to make the first one and they’re inspired by money to make the second one. But they kind of deliver the movie, you know, and it’s like I didn’t walk out dissatisfied, you know, the threshold. I mean, the irony is the threshold to now that small screen is so good. Right. And television is so captivating. The the the you know, the bar. Is that actually very high for leaving your house, getting in a in my instance in the car on public transportation, wherever, going and taking the money and sitting in the theater line, ride whatever, you know, but weirdly in some ways the threshold to be lower. It’s like you’re there, you’re immersed. The movie doesn’t have to be that great. It used to be I remember just going to the frickin movies in the summer because it was air conditioned, you know what I mean? You know, I mean, that’s how far back I go. It’s like all the fucking multiplex by now. Of course, I got nothing else to do. It’s like 98 degrees in the friggin shade. I’m going to go see a movie and the entirety of the experience is going to be somehow satisfying. But now we flipped it in and the quality of the movie has to be, you know, it has to either be so uniquely a cinematic experience or, you know, or you have to be so freaking desperate to re-enter the Star Wars or Marvel Universe or, you know, or it has to be, you know, on and on and on and on. And that’s sort of sad.

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S2: So, Oliker, I recall that her last movie in theaters was Sonic the Hedgehog. Mine was Blood Sport, which I’m still like no blood sport. Blood Shot was shot the Vin Diesel movie, which I’m still sort of mad about because it wasn’t good. And then I couldn’t see another movie in the theater for over a year. And it’s like that’s the last movie that I ever saw in my life. I’m not dead, but like I’m going to go see another way. But it was such a frustrating thing to end on. Steve, do you remember what the last thing you saw was pre pandemic?

S1: This can’t be the right answer, but it’s the last vivid moviegoing experience I had, which is that for this show, I had to go see this because the the the, you know, gangster picture with Pecci. What’s the big one? Oh, the Irish Irishman. Yeah. I went to which it probably was three years ago, so it can’t be. But I mean, I just vividly remember being for the first time in a really long time, being in a very crowded movie theater with with where the audience was crackling with electric tension of reason. Yeah. And not like that. And like and it was also so crowded that I had a kind of shitty ones last time. You had to have a take a shitty seat in a movie theater, you know, I mean, it was just this one. I don’t remember which movie theater it was in New York, but it was sufficiently old fashioned that I even feel like I had like I had to crane a little bit unobstructed view. And and that really reminded me of of the movie going experiences of my childhood. So in the sense that even though I kind of thought the movie was just baffles, stretched over three hours with two

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S3: hours of screens. Oh, my God.

S2: Steve canceled. Steve canceled from Culture Gabfest, where the hosts

S3: now I will say, like, I can’t imagine watching. I mean, I was one of those people who watched the Irishman in one setting. But because it was like a Netflix movie, you know, a lot of people are like, oh, thank God, I can pause this one. So watch. Screw those people. Screw those people

S2: back to any slate plus listeners.

S3: It was a wonderful movie and it was a great watch. Did not pause it once. Did not pee. It was great. But I can’t imagine watching it in a theater just for that reason, going in and thinking I would need to pause it and like prepping myself, even though I did.

S2: I saw it at the New York Film Festival premiere of it, which was amazing because it was all well, it was the press premiere, I guess, but everyone was so excited to be there. We had lined up outside to get in there and see the Irishman. It was great. And also was followed by an incredible Q&A in which Joe Pesci clearly didn’t want to answer any questions. And like the moderator handed him, like a very long question about like, oh, like it’s been such a long time since you work with, like, Martin and like, what was your conversation like? Like what did it take to get you to come back to acting? And his answer was no. And then that was it. Like he refused to engage at all. It was

S4: incredible.

S1: You do a good paci, though. Oh, thank you, sir.

S3: I’ve been working on it for. That’s something obviously we are a privileged group in that we get to go to these things more easily than the normal people. But that’s something I, I actually really miss to live like in theater experience. I remember they did Sundance virtually this year, so I’ve never gotten to go in person. So it was kind of exciting that at least I was able to quote unquote attend. But yeah, all all of the movies afterward, I think had the usual, like, Q&A, and they were kind of awkward and like a little bit stilted because it was a resume. Right. And I’m really excited to actually go to a film festival screening again and see the people in person and freak out about how Shil above is six feet away from me and like, clearly very out of it. And that was what I saw Honeyboy. And he was like, not happy to be there at all. Those are like the other fun elements of actually going to the movies for, again, us privileged people who can actually go to these particular screenings.

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S1: OK, I have a question for both of you before we go. Let’s Karren doubling back to something you said earlier. You’re renting out a movie theater, you’re inviting your close friends. You’re going to screen a movie. What movie?

S2: All three. All three of the Gore Verbinski, Pirates of the Caribbean movies. No doubt

S4: war

S1: is a great frickin answer. Well, those are those are terrific movies.

S2: Thank you, Steve UNcancel.

S1: Thank you. What a relief, Alegra.

S3: Oh, that’s a good question. OK, I’m going to say I want to do something that’s going to make, like all my friends, kind of uncomfortable that I like, though

S2: I will say once I went to a friend’s birthday party, Abby Russell, and she played that Lars von Trier Bjork movie for all of us. And that was an incredible downer.

S3: That is a great choice. That movie is the saddest movie I’ve ever seen. A Dancer in the Dark. God damn it. That’s a really sad movie. You know what? Abby Russell took a great choice here. So I’m going to say instead, I’m going to choose a fun one and do stop making sense. The talk is concerned. Pelleas that’s a really fun one to see in theater. And then we can all dance and sing along. I’ll do that. One is

S1: marvelous. I saw that movie in the theater when it came out. It’s true. Oh, so yeah. Look at me. I would say for my movie. I do. I do. I’d have to do Paddington to come on.

S2: Yeah. Penitentes amazing.

S1: It’s there are no flaws.

S2: I remember going to the press screening and as we came out they gave us little jars of marmalade and I was like, you didn’t have to do this. I’m already like on cloud nine. I’m already in a state of euphoria because of this movie. Oh my God.

S3: Did they have little Paddington labels on them?

S2: No, they did not. They were just normal little jars, marmalade, but still a nice lot.

S3: Still very nice.

S1: Wonderful. All right. Well, that is our Sarlat plus our Slate plus segment subscribers. Thank you very much for subscribing and listening. Your support enables all of the journalism that Slate does, including the free portion of our podcast. So it is very much appreciated. We will see you next week.