2019 Redux

While the podcast is on hiatus for the next few weeks, revisit some of our more popular episodes from last year.

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Ocean’s 8 and the peak of Cate Blanchett’s celebrity post Carol (2015).

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Her spot on interpretation of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator.

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An early career highlight in The Talented Mr. Ripley.

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The Podcast is on hiatus

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The second season of the podcast has wrapped. My thanks to all my guests on this 2nd season of Sundays with Cate. Hope you enjoy all 14 episodes that we recorded. I will taking a short break and will return later in the summer. Notes on a Scandal, Carol we have a few movies we havent discussed as well as other surprises in store for Season 3 of the show.

In the meantime all episodes and show notes are available here – just scroll down or click on the right side bar for you favorite podcast app.

If you are enjoying the podcast, please consider a small donation to help us with maintenance costs. The cost of a cup of coffee,  $3.00.

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Sarah Paulson’s Queer Confesssion about Cate Blanchett in Mrs. America

In a snippet from the podcast about the finale of Mrs. America Murtada and Tayler Montague discuss the possibility that Alice McCray (Sarah paulson) might have feelings fo her best friend, Phyllis Schalfly (Cate Blanchett). 

 

Follow along Mrs. America is streaming on Hulu. Then listen to our recaps of all 9 episodes.

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Cate Blanchett in “Mrs. America’ Recaps

The podcast will be back later in the summer. In the meantime here are our reviews of Mrs. America.

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Episodes 1-3 with Tayler Montague

We are going back to the early 1970s to recap the first three episodes of Cate Blanchett’s first major TV role in the FX on Hulu show, Mrs America as polarizing right wing figure Phyllis Schalfly. We discuss her performance, the all star cast, the costumes and review the show. Murtada’s guest is  writer and filmmaker Tayler Montague.

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Cate Blanchett as Schlafly with Ben Rosenfield as her gay son John Schlafly

Episodes 4 & 5 with Casey Mink

In our review of episodes 4 and 5 we talk about Betty Freidan (Tracey Ullman) and Brenda Feigen Fasteau (Ari Graynor) debating Phyllis Schlafly (Blanchett). We also discuss talk Blanchett’s self slap, the fractions in the Feminist Movement, the “Tokenism” scene and many other topics. Murtada’s guest is staff writer at BackstageCasey Mink.

MRS. AMERICA -- Pictured: Bria Henderson as Margaret Sloan. CR: Pari Dukovic/FX

Episodes 6 & 7 with Andy Stewart plus an interview with cast member Bria Samoné Henderson

This time we tackle episodes 6 and 7 of the series about Jill Ruckelshaus played by Elizabeth Banks and Bella Abzug played by Margo Martindale. Also in this episode an interview with Bria Samoné Henderson who plays activist Margaret Sloan on the show. Murtada’s guest is Andy Stewart.

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Episodes 8 & 9 with Tayler Montague

To review the last two episodes of Mrs. America  Murtada Elfadl welcomes back guest writer and filmmaker Tayler Montague. The TV miniseries about the fight to ratify the equal rights amendment in the 1970s is created by Dahvi Waller and stars Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly, the right wing polarizing organizer. 

If you are enjoying the podcast buy Murtada a cup of coffee, or rate and review.

Follow along the show is streaming on Hulu.

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The faces that Blanchett makes on this show!

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‘Elizabeth’ and the 1998 Oscar for Best Actress

For the 2nd season finale of the podcast, we return to 1998. Elizabeth was Cate Blanchett’s international breakout and the first time many people saw her on screen. Hence it deserves a revisit. To discuss the film again, along with Blanchett’s first Academy Award nomination and the 1998 best actress Oscar race, Murtada Elfadl welcomes Izzy from Be Kind Rewind

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What is the film about?

From imdb: The early years of the reign of Elizabeth I of England and her difficult task of learning what is necessary to be a monarch. Directed by Shekar Kapur; also starring Richard Attenborough, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Emily Mortimer, Kelly McDonald.

What year did it come out? 1998.

Who does Cate play? Duh – top billed. 

How is Cate introduced? 7 Minutes in, dancing in a field among her ladies in waiting.

Box Office: Domestic = $30,082,699 (36.6%), Int’l = $52,067,943 (63.4%).

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Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I

Topics Discussed:

  • Why was this performance so well received? It was considered such an arrival of a major star. How much is the role? How much is Cate? She charts a whole journey and character arc from young woman to monarch to stateswoman to almost deity, getting the chance to play innocent, cunning, in love, betrayed; the whole gamut of emotions.
  • So many actresses played this part: Bette Davis, Glenda Jackson, Anne-Marie Duff, Helen Mirren and Margot Robbie. Why is it so attractive to storytellers?
  • What is the Cate moment that sealed her stardom and Oscar nomination? Basically what’s this film “I have a hurricane in me” from Elizabeth: The Golden Age?
    • Ominously surrounded by men as Elizabeth is interrogated in the tower early on the film. Vacillating between fear and trying to hold it together while answering a barrage of questions.
    • Her scene with Kathy Burke as Mary “I see you are a consummate actress.” 
    • Preparing and delivering her speech to the bishops.
    • Lamenting the defeat of her troops in Scotland by Mary of Guise.
    • The finale “I’ve become a virgin.
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Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth and Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love. Both won Golden Globes, Paltrow won the Oscar

Other 1998 Oscar Best Actress Nominees:

Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love – the winner. She and Cate both won at Golden Globes.

Meryl Streep, One True Thing – Nomination #11 out of 21. Only nomination for film. Great monologue, “I’m tired of being shushed.”

Fernanda Montenegro, Central Station– won best actress at the Berlinale, LAFCA and NBR. She and Cate were runners up to Ally Sheedy (High Art) at NSFC. Runner up to Cameron Diaz (There’s Something About Mary) at NYFCC. This tweet is funny!

Emily Watson, Hillary and Jackie – forgotten film, more of an afterglow nomination 2 years after Breaking the Waves. Interesting career trajectory with Blanchett as she was considered for Elizabeth.

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The other 1998 Oscar nominees were Fernanda Montenegro in Central Station, Meryl Streep in One True Thing and Emily Watson in Hilary and Jackie

Did Paltrow win because she played a romantic lead, something academy members are prone to award —Roman Holiday, Moonstruck—while Blanchett was playing a more traditionally male role as a monarch?

More from Murtada and Izzy: Elizabeth was previously discussed on the podcast. Don’t miss Be Kind Rewind on how Shakespeare in Love won its Oscars.

Note on the headline: This Oscar year is sometimes referred to as “the 1999 Oscars” since the ceremony took place in March of 1999. However I prefer using the year of the film’s release, 1998. 

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Cate Blanchett in ‘Robin Hood’

It’s not Maid Marian but rather Marion Loxely, a more modern take on Robin Hood’s paramour, played by Cate Blanchett in Ridley Scott’s 2010 version of the folklore tale of the legendary outlaw and his merry men. For this discussion Murtada Elfadl welcomes back Teo Bugbee.

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Follow along Robin Hood is streaming on STARZ.

What is the film about?

A more realistic / historical take on the legend of Robin Hood and his merry men.

What year did it come out?

May 2010 debuted at Cannes.

Who does Cate play?

Marion Loxley, not Maid Marian. She’s no damsel in distress, she fights, she leads an army. 

How is Cate introduced? 

Immediately as part of the prologue, the children of the forest raid her barn

Box Office: Domestic = $105,269,730  Int’l =$216,400,011 – one of Cate’s most widely seen films.

Critical Response: Metacritic : 53. RT: 43.

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Topics discussed:

  • Did we need another Robin Hood? Which one is our favorite?
  • The movie has ideas about birthright and class that are interesting. Robin is first shown as “salt of the earth” soldier with honor, compared to John who’s only talent is being born a prince. But then they give Robin a story about having a great father and “exceptional legacy”? It’s perplexing.
  • The differences between what we know of Robin Hood and this version.
  • Cate’s best scene is when Marion learns of her husband’s death. Max von Sydow is wonderful too receiving the same news. Their deleted scene together is poignant.
  • Does Cate have chemistry with Crowe? He’s on record that she’s his best on screen kiss.
  • Russell Crowe – his 5th and last movie with Scott (Gladiator, A Good Year, American Gangster, Body of Lies) – they clashed on set, his last romantic lead, his last top lining a big budget studio movie.
  • Lea Seydoux and Oscar Isaac’s performances ; their intro with Eileen Atkins – talk about a stacked cast she plays Eleanor of Aquitaine – snaps the movie alive.
  • What have we been watching in quarantine: Paul Mescal in Normal People.
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Blanchett, Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott on the set of Robin Hood

Film within context of Cate’s career:

Filmed within the time she was running the Sydney Theater Company and wasn’t working much in movies. Between 2008 (Benjamin Button) and 2013 (Blue Jasmine) the time she ran STC she only made this film, Hanna  (2011) and The Hobbit (2012).

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Cate Balnchett and Russell Crowe at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival

Promotional appearances:

Cannes 2010.

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Cate Blanchett in ‘Mrs. America 8-9’ Podcast Recap

To review the last two episodes of Mrs. America  Murtada Elfadl welcomes back guest writer and filmmaker Tayler Montague. The TV miniseries about the fight to ratify the equal rights amendment in the 1970s is created by Dahvi Waller and stars Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly, the right wing polarizing organizer. 

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Follow along Mrs. America is streaming on Hulu.

What is the show about?

Official Synopsis: “Mrs. America tells the story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and the unexpected backlash led by a conservative woman named Phyllis Schlafly, aka “the sweetheart of the silent majority.” 

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Ep 8 “Houston”

Official Synopsis: “Alice, Rosemary and Pamela cross into enemy territory at the National Women’s Conference in Houston, where they come face-to-face with Feminist leaders.” Written by Dahvi Waller; Directed by Janicza Bravo (Zola).

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Ep 9 “Reagan”

Official Synopsis: “Gloria, Bella and Jill put pressure on the White House to act on their proposals from the National Women’s Conference. Phyllis prepares to leverage her political victories as the 1980 presidential election draws near.” Written by Dahvi Waller & Joshua Allen Griffith; Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck. 

Who does Cate play?

Phyllis Schlafly.

Critical Response: Metacritic : 87  RT: 95

Topics discussed:

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Ep 8 “Houston”

  • This is a stand-alone ep different in POV and style, with obvious allusions to Alice Through the Looking Glass.
  • “We shall overcome” scene – very moving. Loved seeing all the women we spent time with during the series come together.
  • Sarah Pauson’s performance and Alice’s journey – too tidy? Just right? Mix of fantasy and reality? Certainly the writers, by making her a composite character, allowed themselves the freedom to go where they couldn’t with the historical characters.
  • There’s a queer undertone to the way Alice talks about Phyllis. 

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Ep 9 “Reagan”

  • Two little Feminists skit; Melanie Lynskey is so hilarious as Rosemary.
  • Men are awful – is what i was thinking as I watched how Carter treated the Women’s Movement in 1979.
  • “I used to feel scared,” a fantastic ending to the Alice story.
  • In the elevator as Phyllis knows she has “arrived,” Cate gives us that half satisfied smile. The inverse of the end of Carol.
  • Who won in the end in the battle of Phyllis vs, 2nd wave feminists and what did they win. Does the show make it clear? The show ends with both sides losing.
  • The final shot.

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  • Check in with what we put the show “on notice” about:
    • On race; they showed Phyllis reaching out to the Klan. In this ep there’s a call back to her dependence on her maid, Willie (Novie Edwards).
    • Did we get enough of the main players; Steinem, Abzug and Chisolm and their contributions?
    • What about the secondary characters e.g. Flo Kennedy and Margaret Sloan-Hunter?
  • We rate the show and performances.

Previously on the podcast:

Mrs. America 1-3

Mrs. America 4 & 5

Mrs. America 6 & 7 and interview with Bria Samoné Henderson.

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Cate Blanchett in ‘Hanna’

The costumes are green, the hair is red and Cate Blanchett is the Wicked Witch in Hanna (2011). Ostensibly a thriller about a teenage assassin, it reveals itself to be a fairytale with a modern twist. For this disscussion, Murtada welcomes back Gavin Mevius, co-host of The Mixed Reviews Podcast .

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Follow along Hanna is streaming on HBO / HBO Max.

What is the film about?

From imdb: “A sixteen-year-old girl who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.”

What year did it come out?

April 2011.

Who does Cate play?

Marissa Wiegler; a CIA operative obsessed with find and killing Hanna. A modern version of The Wicked Witch of the West as evidenced by the almost all green wardrobe.

How is Cate introduced? 

13 minutes in. Waking up, teeth first.

Box Office: Domestic = $40,259,119  Int’l = $23,522,959

Critical Response:           Metacritic : 65.              RT: 71.

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Cate Blanchett as the Wicked Wtch coming out of the wolf’s mouth

Topics discussed:

  • It’s a fairytale! Many allusions to that including at the beginning Hanna reading The Grimms Tales, calling Marissa “the witch,” different allusions in the dialogue e.g. “going to grandma’s house,”, a character named Mr. Grimm, the finale with Marissa literally coming out from the mouth of the big bad wolf.
  • Joe Wright – general discussion of his career. He made Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, and The Soloist before Hanna. Anna Karenina, Pan and Darkest Hour after. We discuss Anna Karenina (2012) at length which is streaming on Netflix.
  • Where does this belong in the pantheon of her villain roles which includes Indianna Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull  (2008), Cinderella (2015), Thor: Ragnarok (2017)?
  • Whatever happened to Eric Bana?
  • Saoirse Ronan – is she a Kate Winslet or a Cate Blanchett? She’s been compared to both.
  • Other castmembers: Jessica Barden is delicious. Did you notice Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread) and Lady Mary from Downton Abbey?
  • Tom Hollander’s enforcer with his short shorts and skinhead sidekicks. Queer, problematic or both? 
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Cate Blanchett as Marissa Wiegler and Saoirse Ronan as Hanna

Costumes:

They certainly hone on green as a color motif. Sleek corporate suits. Designed by Giorgio Armani, apparently.

“Joe’s vision of Marissa as the Wicked Witch of the story meant that her colors would be red [for her hair] and green [in her attire],” says head costume designer Lucie Bates.

Scenes we liked:

Subway station fight with Bana and the goons.

Hanna’s escape is exciting.

Two weird scenes: Hanna afraid of appliances and the introduction of Tom Hollander at his club in Berlin. 

Film within context of Cate’s career

Filmed within the time she was running the Sydney Theater Company and wasn’t working much in movies. Between 2008 (Benjamin Button) and 2013 (Blue Jasmine) the time she ran STC she only made this film, Robin Hood (2010) and The Hobbit (2012).

What reviews said of film / Cate:

“Blanchett is a riot as a Nordstrom-attired, Southern-drawled Brunhilde with scarlet helmet hair and aggressively white teeth, what ultimately makes her so harrowing—and so worthy of punishment—is her childlessness. “I made certain choices,” Marissa says, desperately justifying her careerism, before she buries a bullet in a womb-sanctified old matriarch. Hanna is the one that got away and a genetically enhanced reminder of the miserable fate that awaits the ambitious, the infertile, the dentally preoccupied.”Eric Hynes, The Village Voice.

“Ronan enters with a face nearly as blank as paper and devoid of obvious emotion, her eerie, translucent blue eyes here transformed into opaque pool. You assume or really just hope that those eyes will reveal exciting new depths or a secret of character. That they don’t reveal much is part of the big surprise as well as a liability in a movie that is by turns startling and generic, subtle and blunt, and consistently keeps you in its grip if not its heart.” Manohla Dargis, NY Times.

Press coverage other than reviews:

NY Times Magazine interview: “People are always saying they loved me in ‘Titanic.”

Promotional appearances:

Blanchett at the Oscars in 2011; a most funny moment
That  famous lilac Givenchy gown she wore to the Oscars was to promote Hanna, which led to the iconic moment captured above.

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‘Mrs. America 6-7’ Podcast Recap and interview with Bria Samoné Henderson

We continue recaping and reviewing Hulu’s Mrs. America starring Cate Blanchett. This week we will tackle episodes 6 and 7 of the series about Jill Ruckelshaus played by Elizabeth Banks and Bella Abzug played by Margo Martindale. Also in this episode an interview with Bria Samoné Henderson who plays activist Margaret Sloan on the show. Hosted by Murtada Elfadl with guest Andy Stewart.

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Follow along Mrs. America is streaming on Hulu

What is the show about?

Official Synopsis: “Mrs. America tells the story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and the unexpected backlash led by a conservative woman named Phyllis Schlafly, aka “the sweetheart of the silent majority.” Through the eyes of the women of the era – both Schlafly and second wave feminists Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug and Jill Ruckelshaus – the series explores how one of the toughest battlegrounds in the culture wars of the 70s helped give rise to the Moral Majority and forever shifted the political landscape.”

Who does Cate play? Phyllis Schlafly.

Critical Response: Metacritic : 87  RT: 95

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Ep 6 “Jill”

Official Synopsis:With a pro-ERA Republican in the White House, Phyllis protests her own party, which puts her in conflict with Republican Feminist leader, Jill Ruckelshaus. Written by Sharon Hoffman; Directed by Laure de Clermont Tonnere (The Mustang).

Ep 7 “Bella”

Official Synopsis: “Bella is put in charge of the first ever government-funded National Women’s Conference. Phyllis and her women clash over how to best disrupt the conference.” Written by Micah Schraft; Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Captain Marvel).

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Topics Discussed:

  • These two episodes show Phyllis going to the extreme right – the evangelicals, pro-life extremists – to expand base and get into the inner echelons of power.
  • At the end of episode 6 Jill is out and Phyllis is in, the new extreme wing of the republican party wins. Again the show makes the parallels to our political situation today which is one of its main themes.
  • The parallels between Bella and Phyllis as they are both trying to hold onto power, but go in different directions. Bella wants to be seen again as radical and Phyllis is willing to do anything to win even working with the Ku Klux Klan.
  • Cate’s performance – the many reactions / faces she makes. 
  • The performances of Margo Martindale and Elizabeth Banks as well as Melanie Lynskey.
  • The queer characters and themes and how they are integrated into the series’ main themes.
  • The series’ Emmy chances and who might be singled out from the supporting cast.

Interview with Bria Samoné Henderson who plays activist and former Ms. Magazine editor Margaret Sloan. The interview starts at 39:45 if you’d like to jump ahead.

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Previously on the podcast:

Mrs. America 1-3

Mrs. America 4 & 5

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