Season Finale: TÁR Wide Shut

Like all good things, the TÁR season comes to an end. Murtada Elfadl  welcomes writer and podcaster Manish Mathur, host of It Pod To You podcast to discuss the thematic correlations between TÁR and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. They also delve into how repeated viewings of the film reveal deeper meaning and the popularity and memefication of Lydia Tár.

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What is the film about?

Official synopsis: From writer-producer-director Todd Field comes TÁR, starring Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár, the groundbreaking conductor of a major German Orchestra. We meet Tár at the height of her career, as she’s preparing both a book launch and much-anticipated live performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Over the ensuing weeks her life begins to unravel in a singularly modern way. The result is a searing examination of power, and its impact and durability in today’s society. Directed by Todd Field, with a screenplay by Field  

Critical Response: Metacritic : 91    RT: 92

Topics Discussed:

  • In Eyes Wide Shut, the guy at the piano is Todd Field. Nick Nightingale. Blanchett dubbed one of the voice in the movie and a connectio to TÁR was born.
  • Thematic correlations between the two films: the long tracking shots, allowing the actor the space to act and move as the character.
  • The themes TAR grapples with – how power corrupts exceptional people, is it about cancel culture? What else?
  • What are some of the other  cinematic influences and inspirations noticed in TAR.
  • Things saw at second, third and fourth viewings.

Further Reading: 

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TÁR: The Spoiler Podcast

The TÁR discussion continues with a special spoiler episode. Murtada Elfadl welcomes actor Wyatt Fenner, from the upcoming movie Chrissy Judy, to dig deeper into Cate Blanchett’s latest towering performance, where Todd Field places the POV, spoiling the film and in particular three big scenes that form the thesis of the film including the rather divisive ending.

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What is the film about?

Official synopsis: From writer-producer-director Todd Field comes TÁR, starring Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár, the groundbreaking conductor of a major German Orchestra. We meet Tár at the height of her career, as she’s preparing both a book launch and much-anticipated live performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Over the ensuing weeks her life begins to unravel in a singularly modern way. The result is a searing examination of power, and its impact and durability in today’s society. Directed by Todd Field, with a screenplay by Field  

Critical Response: Metacritic : 91    RT: 92

Topics Discussed:

  • The perspective of the film – is TÁR from Lydia’s POV?
  • Spoiler deep dive into three essentila scene; 1) At Julliard 2) bullying a child in the school playground and 3) the ending.
  • The unraveling of Blanchett on screen – a comparison of how she does that in TÁR, Blue Jasmine and Notes on Scandal.
  • The performances of Nina Hoss and Noémie Merlant.

Further Reading: 

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TÁR Season: TÁR

The time has come to discuss TÁR. This week Murtada Elfadl welcomes critic and prgrammer Rafa Sales Ross to discuss Cate Blanchett’s latest towering performance, Todd Field’s elsusive jigsaw puzzle script and Nina Hoss’ fantastic reaction shots. This is the first episode in a planned trilogy.

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What is the film about?

Official synopsis: From writer-producer-director Todd Field comes TÁR, starring Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár, the groundbreaking conductor of a major German Orchestra. We meet Tár at the height of her career, as she’s preparing both a book launch and much-anticipated live performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Over the ensuing weeks her life begins to unravel in a singularly modern way. The result is a searing examination of power, and its impact and durability in today’s society.

Directed by Todd Field, with a screenplay by Field  

Critical Response: Metacritic : 90    RT: 97

Topics Discussed:

  • The themes the movie grapples with – how power corrupts exceptional people, is it about cancel culture?
  • Lydia Tar as a narcissist and juicy character – who does she remind us of?
  • Lydia’s world – luxurious – at the height of the cultural hierarchy.
  • A film about process and hierarchy of art.
  • The framing and the long uninterrupted scenes.
  • What are some of the cinematic influences and inspirations noticed in TAR.
  • Cate’s performance – what makes it tick? What’s different?
  • Nina Hoss.

Spoilers starting @ 52 mins:

  • Teaching at Juilliard
  • The ending

Further Reading: 

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TÁR Season: Little Children

Our celebration of the release of TÁR continues. This week it’s Todd Field’s second film as a writer / director, Little Children. For this conversation Murtada Elfadl welcomes back Kevin Jacobsen host of And The Runner-Up Is podcast, to discuss what makes Field’s movies entralling, Kate Winslet quintessentially American roles, why Patrick Wilson never became a big star, suburban ennui and Madame Bovary.

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Topics Discussed:

  • Todd Field – what makes him special? Themes he’s concerned about? Actors do great work in this film. 
  •  Deep Dives in the actors. Kate Winslet; her stature at the time, her screen presence, her awards trajectory.
  • Patrick Wilson brings an appealing blankness into which you can project much but perhaps stopped him from becoming a star.
  • The visuall invetiveness of this movie. always , the scene of jackie in the pool 
  • 2006 Oscar race and this being Kate Winslet’s 5th nomination – why was there no overdue narrative?

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TÁR Season: In the Bedroom

The podcast is back! There’s a new Cate Blanchett movie in theaters soon so a conversation must be had. To celebrate TÁR we will have a few episodes to discuss the movies that preceded it and the ones that inspired it. This week it’s Todd Field’s first film as a writer / director, In the Bedroom.In this episode Murtada welcomes programmer and podcaster Desmond Thorne to discuss what makes Field’s movies entralling, and the mood, tension and outsize performances of Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson in this chamber drama.

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Topics Discussed:

  • Todd Field – what makes him special? Themes he’s concerned with?
  • Actors do great work in this film even in the smallest parts.
  • HowField sets up the life of the inhabitants of this small town so precisely and the relationships between them, then zeroes in to the main characters 
  • The tension between Marisa Tomei and Sissy Spacek from the first scene
Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson in In the Bedroom
  • All the confrontations and the arguments leading to the murder happen just off camera. Never showing “the main event” but what’s around it.
  • We go deep into the big confrontation scene between Spasek and Tom Wilkinson
  • The thriller elements at the end – antithesis to not showing at the beginning?

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The ‘Carol’ Miniseries

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It’s April 17th. The unofficial Carol Day. In the film, that is the day Carol (Cate Blanchett) and Therese (Rooney Mara) reunite. It also happens to be Mara’s birthday—and the date on which the movie’s love scene was filmed.

Why don’t celebrate by listening to our four part miniseries about Cate Balnchett’s  most loved performance in Carol? You can listen right here!

#1 The Love Story with Luke Willis

In the first of multiple episodes about Carol (2015), the topic is the love story. How Therese and Carol fell in love, how Todd Haynes visualizes falling in love and the scorching chemistry between Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

#2 The Queer Cutural Impact with Shayna Maci Warner

In part two, the topic is the cultural impact the film had on queer people. From memes to comedy routines, Carol was adored.

# 3 Cate is the Top with Maggie Larkin

Cate Blanchett’s the top is so many ways. The top star, the top actress. And in Carol she plays the top. In the third of our multiple episodes about Carol (2015), the topic is the perfect merge of actor and role with Blanchett as Carol Aird.

#4 The Influences and Inspirations with Izzy from Be Kind Rewind

And in the concluding part we discuss the influences and inspirations behind this masterpiece. From those acknowledged by the director Todd Haynes – David Lean’s Brief Encounter – to others we gleaned from watching the film many times – the films of George Cukor, Deborah Kerr in The End of the Affair and Haynes’ own Far From Heaven.

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‘Carol’ Part Four: The Influences and Inspirations

We conclude our Carol miniseries with a discussion about the influences and inspirations behind the 2015 film masterpiece. From those acknowledged by the director Todd Haynes – David Lean’s Brief Encounter – to others we gleaned from watching the film many times – the films of George Cukor, Deborah Kerr in The End of the Affair and Haynes’ own Far From Heaven. For this conversation Murtada welcomes back Izzy from Be Kind Rewind to discuss these topics and how forming a relationship with a film changes the way you view over time.

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The film is available on vudu.

Topics Discussed:

  • Why does Carol resonate and has such cultural capital six years into its life. True or are we just living in a Carol bubble?
  • Todd Haynes’ women; their internal lives brought to splendid vivid life. This time we get two. Compare Carol and Therese to Cathy Whitaker in Far From Heaven and the other Carol in Safe.
  • Haynes insists that Carol and Far From Heaven are not similar despite taking place in the same time period. He maintains Carol is more realistic, a love story and not a melodrama though he also says “naturalism is artificial. It’s all artificial.” 
  • Haynes mentions David Lean and Brief Encounter as a direct inspiration for the epilogue and coda of Carol. Other Lean romances include Summertime and Doctor Zhivago
  • Because of the period setting this performance was compared to those from the golden age of hollywood. We talk about Deborah Kerr in The End of the Affair and Greta Garbo’s Romance.
  • Cate’s look, blond hair, red lipstick against the period exquisite cinematography. She has a similar look in Nightmare Alley currently on release. 
  • How with repeated viewing the film becomes funny without losing its emotional impact.

Previous Episodes in the Carol MiniSeries:

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Bonus Podcast: Oscar Nominations Reaction

In this bonus episode we are discussing the 2022 Oscar Nominations. Our take on the acting categories and best picture. The discussion touches on the performances of Kristen Stewart, Nicole Kidman, Olivia Colman, Andrew Garfield and Denzel Washington. We lament the exclusion of Ruth Negga and raise a glass to Lady Gaga’s fun and fascinating press tour for House of Gucci. For this conversation Murtada welcomes back Izzy from Be Kind Rewind

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Other movies discussed include West Side Story, The Power of the Dog and Parallel Mothers and of course the two Cate Blanchett movies that were nominated for best picture Don’t Look Up, and Nightmare Alley.

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‘Carol’ Part Three: The Perfect Actress for the Role

Cate Blanchett’s the top is so many ways. The top star, the top actress. And in Carol she plays the top. In the third of our multiple episodes about Carol (2015), the topic is the perfect merge of actor and role with Blanchett as Carol Aird. For this conversation, Murtada welcomes Maggie Larkin to discuss how Blanchett’s screen persona makes her the ideal actor to play this role.

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The film is available on vudu.

Topics Discussed:

  •  How many times have we seen Carol – why does it resonate?
  • Why is Cate Blanchett so well suited to play Carol? What makes her such a compelling screen presence is what makes her perfect for Carol. The confidence, the glamour, being a consummate actor playing someone who’s always putting on a facade, forced to hide themselves from the world. She plays the text and the subtext, yet never shows all her cards.
  •  Cate always fares better when she shares the screen with other women – think Judi Dench, Sandra Bullock etc.- She is far too intelligent and dominant when paired with men.
  • Deep dive into a few particular scenes that prove Blanchett is the perfect Carol.
  • The chemistry between Cate and Rooney Mara.  
  • Favorite press tour moments 1) Santa barbara Award presentation 2) At Cannes.
  • Blanchett recieved a SAG nomination for Nightmare Alley. Will she be Oscar nominated?

Previous Episodes in the Carol MiniSeries:

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