In This Episode
While Ira is away, Louis is joined by Angelica Jade Bastién and Guy Branum to discuss Jordan Peele’s Nope, modern filmmakers’ obsession with Steven Spielberg, the current state of prestige TV, Brad Pitt’s skirt, Multiverses, the reaction to the new Jeopardy hosts, and more. Plus, Ethan Hawke’s new documentary series, The Last Movie Stars, gives them all the perfect excuse to dive into their favorite classic Hollywood icons.
Louis Virtel And welcome back to Keep It the revamped Keep It which is not resembling the usual Keep It but I’m loving the way it’s looking. You know what this is like? Saved by the bell, the new class and I’m Principal Screech or whatever happened on that show. I don’t know. I’m Louis Virtel. You remember me? I’m usually on this show, but we have two new combatants this week, one who is a returning legend. Basically the Joan Rivers of Keep It, who has been here enough times and with enough saltiness and rancor to thrill audiences of Johnny Carson. It’s Guy Branum. Hi, Guy.
Guy Branum Hello, Louis. Good to be here. I don’t want to be Saved By the Bell The New Class. We don’t remember children. I want to be Leah Remini from when they went to the beach club over the summer.
Louis Virtel Wow. What a summer Zack Morris had. He was very confused about both Kelly and Leah Remini, and audiences were thrilled to be introduced to Leah Remini. It was years until we got her in the King of Queens, of course, so I don’t know really what she did between Saved by the Bell, the college spectacle or not, the high school, whatever, though that that year was called. And the King of Queens.
Guy Branum I mean, before it, she was on the Who’s the Boss Spinoff Living Dolls, where she costarred with, I think, Halle Berry. Yes. Leah Remini, like truly one of Hollywood survivors like Shannen Doherty level.
Louis Virtel Wow. Thank you for putting that into perspective for me.
Angelica Jade Bastien Wow. That helps that helps.
Louis Virtel And also, I can’t believe this, a first timer to keep somebody who a movie is not classic anymore until I have read her take on it. And I would just want to say that as a child, I swore I would take no other Angelica’s before Houston, and I think this one rises to her level. It’s Angelica Jade Bastien, the New York Magazine Vulture, writer and sometimes Criterion contributor, who is here today to talk to us about anything and everything. And I fucking love her. Welcome to Keep It.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh, that’s so beautiful. My ego thanks you.
Louis Virtel Oh, that’s. That’s what it’s about here. Have you met Ira Madison? Okay
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh, I laughed a little hard at that.
Louis Virtel See, right. Now, let’s just talk about what entertainment has sustained you guys this summer. What have you cared about before we get into the actual topics this week, which include Nope, the new Jordan Peele movie and the new Ethan Hawke directed miniseries about the great Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, the last movie stars and whatever happened to real movie stars? What are you guys into lately?
Angelica Jade Bastien What am I into lately? Not much. That’s like, new to me, to be like, new this year, to be honest.
Louis Virtel Yeah.
Angelica Jade Bastien I am a hater. I have refined my hate for the modern age very well. But I recently watched this really great film called Chameleon Street. It’s currently on Criterion Channel right now, and it’s from 1989 and it won the Sundance Jury Award the following year. And it’s a really amazing, completely indie, low budget film that was able to come up with its money by asking black business people in Flint, Michigan, for help. And it’s directed, written and starring a really great black actor name, Wendell, I think, oh, god, I’m forgetting his last name. But he basically plays a black con artist who keeps leveling up. He pretends to be a surgeon and actually performs a hysterectomy and he pretends to be French. It’s like, very interesting. Very evocative film that I’m surprised I hadn’t seen because I think it’s like one of the greats of the of black cinema period. And it’s just really frustrating that Wendell B. Harris, that’s his name, was unable to really find in-roads in the industry at all. It’s like his only film as a director and star. But I highly recommend it. It’s it’s weird and rich and so well-acted. It’s really stunning that he had this level of talent for a first film with that budget, is just, you know, one of those frustrating reminders that pretty much everyone black in the film industry in this country has, except for very rare examples to the contrary, have never been able to really craft the careers they deserve, no matter what level of talent they have.
Louis Virtel Also, this is like there are those movies every once in a while where it feels like the people in them have few connections to other movies, and so there’s no real inroads to learning about this movie, you know, this isn’t an exact example, but like the Barbara Loden directed movie Wanda, I mean, you might know her name through Elia Kazan, but like, you have to be told to seek out this movie since it’s the only one she made. So I can’t even give you a reference point to another one. You know.
Guy Branum It was.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah.
Guy Branum It was such a chilling realization for me a couple of years ago that no black actress had received more than two Academy Award nominations. It’s just it’s so underscores. I think we’re now at three with Viola Davis, but.
Louis Virtel She’s that four.
Guy Branum But it’s just it is so reflective of that idea. But that is something that only happened within the last five years. It’s so reflective of the idea of just like the possibility of building a career, people who gave us amazing work and then there was no second place for them to go.
Louis Virtel Correct. Yes. Guy, Have you been what have you been slurping down this delectable summer.
Guy Branum Well, Since Angelica insists on going highbrow, I am going to throw you a trash and then I will throw you a highbrow. First of all, like, if you would ever like to just lose your summer inside, I cannot recommend UK’s Love Island enough.
Louis Virtel Okay, I just started watching that, so go ahead.
Guy Branum I mean it asks the age old question. If you put a bunch of hot people in one warm place, are they going to end up hooking up? And every season.
Louis Virtel I love suspense.
Guy Branum It manages to answer the question in new and innovative ways. And this season, like how much they know what they’re doing really came to bear in the last episode that came out on Hulu in a season that was pretty stable, pretty boring. They just took the tallest, hottest guy from season four and introduced him into the ant farm. And like, no one understands how to destroy a relationship like Adam Collard, but to go a little bit highbrow.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah.
Guy Branum Louis, have you ever seen Jeanne Dielman by Chantal Akerman, the three hour.
Louis Virtel No, I am. I’m very undereducated about Chantal Akerman.
Angelica Jade Bastien That’s a great one.
Louis Virtel . Angelica just lit up like the sun.
Guy Branum Well, I think I didn’t know about Chantal Akerman because she made sort of the sparest, sparsest, just sort of like a feminist film about being trapped in domesticity. What I didn’t realize is that in 1986, she made a musical about the mall. Like it is on Criterion right now. Absolutely everyone is wearing, like, sherbet colored clothes at all time. It stars a Belgian pop star. And it’s from an era when we didn’t make musicals. So it’s like so magical and fun to watch and you’re like watching it and you’re like, why did why did this cold, judgmental lesbian make this movie? And then in the last moments, it just sort of says in the most offhand way, Ladies, why are we staying in heterosexuality or capitalism? And this it’s just it’s it’s such a delight. It’s so much fun. And it’s just sitting there on your Criterion Channel if you want to go take a look at it.
Louis Virtel I love baffling musicals of the past. There’s one from that era. Francis Ford Coppola directed the famous flop One From the Heart, with Teri Garr and Raul Julia. Now, I just want to say I’m glad life put them together. I think it was a good idea. I’m thrilled to have seen it. It is such a shocking misfire. If the difference between Francis Ford Coppola in the seventies and Francis Ford Coppola in the eighties is to say he fell off a cliff. It’s like he fell off a cliff and then and then hit the bottom and then fell off another cliff.
Angelica Jade Bastien Down.
Louis Virtel You know. But that said, Cotton Club has some good parts and if you see the the extra scenes with Jackee is also in cut.
Guy Branum Oh, wow.
An earlier Jackee appearance in the extended version of the Cotton Club. But and then, of course, also the Peter Bogdanovich misfire at Long Last Love with Madeline Kahn and Sybil Shepherd, among others, Eileen Brennan, all these people who again, should be hanging out. But lo and behold, Peter Bogdanovich, not the man to make a musical, I guess. At any rate, thank you for your contributions. I decided to move on with the episode today. As I said, we’re going to be talking about Nope, the new Jordan Peele movie, which it’s just nice to have a director where you have to talk about the movie, regardless if you have any opinions about it. It’s nice to have somebody who is making something that mainstream and that discussable that feels like a thing of the past in and of itself. And speaking of things and of the past, we will be discussing Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, the subject of a new miniseries by famed Before Sunset here, Ethan Hawke. And talk about what we’re missing and current movie stars, if anything, and if Keke Palmer is bringing it back.
Angelica Jade Bastien Okay. We’ll see
Louis Virtel And Anjelica is like, I’ve made up my mind about that.
Angelica Jade Bastien I love Keke, though. I’m more worried like about industry actually cultivating stars. But we’ll get into that. Okay.
Louis Virtel That’s true. Absolutely. We’ll be right back with more. Keep It.
Louis Virtel <A.D.>.
Louis Virtel Nope. The third film from Jordan Peele opened this weekend to positive reviews and earned $44 million over the weekend, dethroning Thor, Love and Thunder, which is the most Harlequin Romance novel title of all time from the number one spot. It’s the latest horror thriller from Peele, one of the few remaining filmmakers who can deliver original studio blockbusters of this scale and cultural excitement. I just want to say my first reaction to hearing the name Jordan Peele now is I thought to myself, Well, he’s kind of like our Rod Serling. And then I remember he gave us a Twilight Zone TV show we barely cared about. So my observations suck and I will be revamping them. What were your first impressions watching Nope. Were you excited for it in general or weary of horror in this day and age or what?
Angelica Jade Bastien I love horror. Horrors.
Louis Virtel Yeah.
Angelica Jade Bastien Horrors my bitch. Okay, we. It’s horror and noir. Those are my two genre girlies. They give what a bitch wants and needs. I’m going to let people who maybe are more positive on the film go first. I don’t want to seem like a hater off the bat, so.
Louis Virtel But you do it so well. We want you to be yourself.
Angelica Jade Bastien I do, but I’m trying to be a better person, Louis. I’m trying. No, actually, that’s bullshit. I don’t really give a fuck that people think I’m a hater. I have complicated feelings about Jordan Peele’s work and I think is a testament to how shitty the industry is that we like praise original blockbusters that have even a shred of intelligence and craft. I’m like, Damn, this is how bad shit is that? It’s like, Oh wow, I can discuss a movie is great. And then I’m like, damn, what the hell is going on? With Nope I was very curious to see how he would continue to develop and the cast is really great. I especially love Keith David popping up in anything, my fucking king. It feels like you know, considering he was like in They Live and The Thing. It almost feels like this little nod to Carpenter in a way like remember how great this dude was and like all these great horror movies. And that’s where my positivity ends. I don’t even think the movie is bad. I don’t want to like be like, Oh, this movie shit. It’s not shit. It’s just to me. Just I want to. I want to just shrug after, like, getting out of it. I wasn’t moved, awed and awe is very important to blockbusters. To me, I think that’s like one of the key things to a great blockbuster is like evoking a sense of awe in the audience. Like, holy shit.
Louis Virtel Like, I’m actually going to concur with you on most of these statements, but I wanted to add another footnote, and similar to the Keith David thing, also makes a cameo is Osgood Perkins, who used to be known as Oz Perkins, but he’s Anthony Perkins is son, of course, horror icon, gay icon, pencil neck icon. We exist and it was cool to see him in the movie too. Guy What did you think of that film?
Angelica Jade Bastien Just a side note on Perkins, though. He’s a good he’s a fun horror director. So, you know, if you look at some off the beaten path horror films, he’s interesting.
Guy Branum I hate a horror movie. I truly do not want to watch a horror movie. But I usually one once a year. There is a horror movie we’re all supposed to watch and I will read the Wikipedia entry for it. And that is my approach. I was mostly struck by I’m fascinated by how much every like Gen-X and older millennial director, like, is preoccupied with Spielberg and the amount of sort of like Spielbergian energy that there was around the film. I enjoyed it. Like Keke Palmer like was such a like it exists in a whole. Nope exists in sort of like a horror world, but it also exists in a Western world. And Keke Palmer having to play the role of the sidekick whose constant banter provides energy, while like the quiet, brooding guy at the middle is quiet and broods. I was, you know, delighted and and loved and then also trying to get around like the movie throws a lot of ideas at you when it comes to like, representation in media, there is sort of like a subplot with a nineties kids sitcom that like is asking a lot of questions about representation and objectification and.
Louis Virtel Trauma and.
Guy Branum Trauma. And I was like, I was fascinated by these issues and, you know, maybe I am too trite. Maybe I walked into a Jordan Peele movie just sort of saying like, like, what am I supposed to get? Like, you know, what’s what’s the big politics here? But it was interesting to me. I kind of liked that it had ambiguity to it.
Louis Virtel And so this is oh, go ahead.
Guy Branum And I also just like I mean, for me, like I didn’t like that the alien looks as much like pieces of fabric.
Angelica Jade Bastien Because I really didn’t like that design at all. And I’m like, I don’t know, just.
Louis Virtel There was something very.
Angelica Jade Bastien And just sorry. The idea is interesting about like a living ship kind of idea instead of, you know, oh, here are a bunch of aliens that, you know, people would meet after being swept up and get probed or whatever the fuck they want to do. But I just felt it wasn’t like everything in the film was just not built upon enough for me. I just felt like even the emotional threads kind of fizzled out and it was good at gesturing at ideas, but not really exploring them, I guess.
Louis Virtel So we should say that this is a movie about a black owned horse ranch where they give horses and animals to movies and they’re sort of down on their luck at the moment. And that’s Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer, who run it. And then so they live in this Western style giant open area ranch thing that basically comes under attack by something paranormal. And they end up trying to deal with that and then trying to capture it on film. I have to say, I felt like I was missing the scene that set up the stakes for why they would really care to capture it on film. Like or that, why we would care, you know, it was just that to me felt very Spielbergian in the Super Eight mold. And that’s not a movie I’m hoping to revisit, you know what I’m saying. But to me, a problem with this movie was as much as the performances were all pretty good and I enjoyed the Steven Yeun detour that led us into a reference to Nineties SNL, which which can’t be brought up enough as far as I’m concerned. I felt like this movie wanted to be like The Shallows with Blake Lively, where it’s all happening to one person. Because like, the horror of it is that something is so big and so all encompassing, but you are stuck beneath that. So to me, that is a scary kind of dichotomy. Whereas with this, it felt like, well, this isn’t that scary, everybody’s aware of it. And like, we can all work together to deal with it. Don’t know. It felt like it lost the scary stakes as it went on, because it as it began, there are a couple of jump scares that I thought were scary, but the minute you see the aliens, it’s like a Shyamalan movie. The minute the aliens appear, I’m like, Shrug. Oh, that’s what we do. That’s what we’re caring about, you know?
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah, I get that. Like, for me, I definitely think Keke Palmer is like a charismatic breath of fresh air. She has such great energy. She understands the camera, I think, on a very instinctual level. I just felt like the characters were cut out and that can’t. Like, I need just a bit more definition, I need a bit more. And then I was frustrated because I’m like, it does suggest these interesting ideas about their family dynamics. And, you know, there is like a few flashbacks to see the father, you know, like maybe one or two played by Keith David. And I was just like, like as it continues, I was like, Oh yeah, he’s not coming back. They’re like, just suggesting this and like not doing enough with it. And I find that frustrating. But sometimes, you know, I just ask sometimes a lot of films, I can totally admit that.
Guy Branum I mean like, oh, a man movie that has a cipher at its center. I’m shocked. You know, like, like, I guess I go into things like this not with the highest of expectations. And I think more than anything, those first 5 minutes when they talk about Eadweard Muybridge and they talk about that, I like just the idea of that sequence is where we learned the horses feet are sometimes all not on the ground, but that in this very famous photo is a human being whose identity has been removed. I just spent the whole rest of the movie trying to figure out how that fit into the puzzle of There’s an alien, what wants to eat me? And like maybe in doing that, I was giving the movie too much credit, but it was it made for a fascinating journey for me. Also, let’s not ignore this. Brandon Perea is really hot.
Louis Virtel That’s True.
Guy Branum There is nothing like watching a man truly fill out a Fry’s uniform.
Louis Virtel And also there’s just something about BestBuy geek squad culture that I think should be represented more. And he does really well with that character to bring that kind of quote unquote pseudo expert feel to that role. But you’re right, I felt like this was a bit comparable to the movie US and that it’s like you’re giving us all these threads and you want us to think about them. But I don’t know. It’s like it’s like a rebus I can’t solve. You’re like, I’m looking at the composite of everything and it’s not all fitting together. And I am trying to opt out and just enjoy the entertainment value of the Thriller instead.
Guy Branum Well, I mean, sometimes it’s so like it can be so nice to have something that you can’t quite put together, but you really want to know that the filmmaker does. And here I don’t know that I was certain of that.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah, I am going to say something a little spicy.
Louis Virtel Oh, well, we love about, you know, you know how pale I am. Can I handle it? I don’t know. I watched those Hot Wings shows and I might have passed away.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh, fucking kill that hot wings. Holy shit. I would be a monster on that. I’m never.
Louis Virtel I would look like someone set Julie Andrews on fire. That’s what it would look like.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh no. Such an image, though. So I think there’s a difference between ambiguity, which I think something like Get Out did have in certain veins and aspects of it, but not too dramatically and. Something like us and nope, that is it doesn’t feel ambiguous so much as incoherent in terms of how it handles thematics, character. And this is the spicy part. I think Jordan Peele and his success with Get Out has like sort of tricked audiences into believing there’s more there. And so they overanalyze everything. I mean, I remember hearing some bonker, one of the weirdest ones to me was like, Oh, from Get Out. I remember seeing this tweet like, basically saying, Oh remember the moment where Daniel Kaluuya’s main character like, uses the cotton to put in his ears. And someone was like, Oh, that’s speaking so much to our history and our people who had to pick. And I was like, Negro, okay, look, not everything in a movie has that level of meaning, you know, that is that granular. I mean, sometimes, but like a lot of times you’ll hear from filmmakers, they’re like, what the fuck did critics get this? You know? Like, I didn’t even think of this being, like, evocative of their emotions. I just thought it looked cool, which is fine. But I just. And my problem isn’t even just that. Oh, I don’t think US and Nope are really doing much with their ideas. I think there’s also going to continue to continuously be ever vaulting levels of pressure on Jordan Peele in a way that black filmmakers get far too much, which is you can’t just be, Hey, this was a shrug worthy or just fine or enjoyable blockbuster movie. It’s like you have to be a fucking genius who’s reinventing the wheel every time. And I like, I don’t know, I feel sort of bad for some of these filmmakers where I’m like, people are putting pressure on them and the movie’s, and I think this is what happens with Black Film, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about a while because of the struggle we have always dealt with in this country and continue to deal with in the aftermath of slavery, basically we’re like expected to, to, artists are expected to have our race on us. It’s not just you’re making art. You are saying something about black people as an artist and a writer, whatever. Especially as a critic, I think this is sort of riffing on a Greg Tate quote from Flyboy in the Buttermilk. But basically, you’re tasked with explaining black people to everybody else and explaining black people also to themselves. And is that too much pressure on an artist? And I feel like that’s like kind of and I think, like Jordan Peele is one of the great examples because Get Out’s was crucial to this black horror boom. We are now in. Them, Candy Man, Antebellum. There’s so many of them now. And I think there’s also a pressure for those other filmmakers to do stuff that resembles Jordan Peele’s work, because Hollywood wants to replicate success and thinks the way to do that is to like follow the same mold of film that was successful did. And I just worry about black filmmakers, and that was something I was thinking about. I was like, Even though this is Shrug worthy, I’m glad he exists and is doing this work and it is just too much pressure though. No film or TV show can solve for us what is happening in real life. And I think sometimes audiences want to see freedom and only joy and all this shit only on screen. Because we’re suffering so much in real life. And I don’t know. It’s something that this movie did bring up for me.
Guy Branum I mean, there’s so frequently can be an onus to be important, like like that our pop culture treat stuff made by minority groups either as trash that is just for them. The only way to sort of like liberate yourself above that is to make something that, like, is important and says something. And there isn’t the possibility of just, you know, it’s so much harder to make something that’s just fun and still have it be respected.
Louis Virtel Also, I think there’s something there’s there’s a difference between expecting someone to deliver entertainment and deliver and expecting someone to deliver relief, which are to like, kind of like like parallel threads, but like one I think is a much more gargantuan ask than the other, you know? You know, it’s like we’re asking these people to be monumental on Packers, you know, and in a way that you would never just expect of, like or if a white filmmaker did it, we would congratulate them even more because we never had that expectation for them in the first place.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah, definitely, definitely. But you know, I’m still excited to see how he continues to develop. Spielberg like Dick sucking though on fucking screen is not fucking interesting to me. And I fucking like a lot of Spielberg’s work because he’s a craftsman. That motherfucker will give you some shots. But y’all come on. There’s other filmmakers, baby. It’s not just Spielberg and like Hitchcock or whatever.
Guy Branum But also also your Hitchcock, like, your Spielberg obsession is truly an obsession with the first 13 years of his work. It’s totally like it’s sort of ignoring the fact that like, you know, by 85, he was making the color purple, like by, you know, that he turned his head to more interesting things then, wow, this cipher of a little boy goes on an adventure.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah.
Louis Virtel This is always a razor. Razor? I thought you were going to get into the late latter stage works of Audrey Hepburn, and you say, I’ll be all right. Yeah. No, I also want to say it is. This movie was largely entertaining throughout. But again, it felt to me like. The first of all, the set piece that becomes the linchpin for the end of the movie, I thought was very obvious. I thought like they wouldn’t have introduced this thing unless it was going to be crucial later on. And this movie is distracting you with a whole lot of other images and fantastical things. But I always knew it would come back to that. Do you know what I’m talking about? This is the spoiler, the wishing well. Picture taking.
Guy Branum Yes
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Guy Branum You know, I mean, and it was also like that was the most sort of like grossly Spielbergian like isn’t making movies magic you guys. Like, it’s just a series of photographs in a row.
Louis Virtel Oh, no. It’s like you’re saying this is Jordan Peele’s Hugo promo.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh, no. Yeah.
Guy Branum I also think.
Louis Virtel What a Chloe Grace Moretz.
Guy Branum In the same way that like that magical realization that like if there’s a movie that doesn’t have women in it, I don’t really care to watch it. There’s just something about having a nemesis that is that much of like a cipher that we have so little insight into. And I thought that the brief moments where O.J. was using the energies of animal training at the beast were the most interesting. I thought we were going to get somewhere towards insight, but not really.
Louis Virtel And also, I just want to say also the problem with US, I thought, too, as it was similar and that it felt like the movie was throwing thrirty similes at you and yet you didn’t know what it was comparing it to really, or what was being compared. You know, so you were sort of like, these are all clues to a larger theme, but here are all the clues, but like that’s it, you know, I’m not a forensic pathologist or whatever. I can’t put it all together. But anyway. All right, so we did our best with this movie. Go see Nope so you can contribute and tell us how we were wrong, which is always my favorite thing to do on the Internet. When we come back, we will discuss Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and also Ethan Hawke and also every other actor that we like.
Louis Virtel <A.D.>.
Louis Virtel The Last Movie Stars, a new docu series on HBO. Max, directed by Ethan Hawke, dives into the lives of iconic Hollywood couple Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, who, by the way, is the oldest living best actress winner. This, of course, follows the fact that Olivia de Havilland selflishly left us at the age of 187. The series reenacts transcripts of long lost interviews with modern actors filling the roles of Hollywood royalty, including George Clooney, voicing Paul Newman and Laura Linney as Joanne Woodward. Before we get into this, I just want to say George Clooney is not exactly the right choice to make Paul Newman. There’s there’s like George Clooney has like a nefarious smile under everything he says. And Paul Newman is much purer than that. It doesn’t really work out for me. Paul Newman is more like a Henry Fonda. There’s a there’s a midwestern stoicism about whatever he does, though he is. And I don’t mean to diss the Fonda family, but he’s much more talented than Henry Fonda.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh obviously. I disagree with you about Paul Newman, though.
Louis Virtel Oh, well, let’s fight. I’m angry.
Angelica Jade Bastien I like see why you’re saying that. But like, if anything, watching the docu series, I was like, damn, this man was cold and like, complicated and like a functioning alcoholic, but like. Like, I was just like, oh, that makes sense why you could play a character in a film like Hud, which is, I think Top two.
Louis Virtel That’s my favorite Paul Newman movie for sure.
Angelica Jade Bastien I think is probably my favorite and my favorite performance of his. And
Guy Branum Also, did it ruin American culture? Possiby
Angelica Jade Bastien So, maybe. You know, it’s always interesting like watching older I hate the term antihero but antihero films and you’re like, man, this is way more interesting and complicated. People learned the wrong lesson from this movie.
Guy Branum Also, let me just say, Hud, a movie that knew when you said anthrax, that anthrax is going to show back up like this power of the dog bullshit anthrax is no Hud anthrax.
Louis Virtel We should say just about this series in general. I actually expected to focus specifically just on their marriage, and it really gets into the performances of both Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, whether or not they were costarring together. And I’m really pleased to see it get into the performances of Joanne Woodward, which I feel like have gone largely under-discussed over the past 20 or 30 years. And I have so many that are my favorite.
Guy Branum But it’s that classic problem of you have a celebrity couple who are equally famous when they get together and that the man has another 30 years of a career and the woman raises some children and makes some very interesting movies, but no one really thinks about or talks about. But, you know, I mean, she won an Academy Award in, what, 58? He won his.
Louis Virtel 57.
Guy Branum 30 years later. Louis, were, you used the classic dating system for the Oscars that I knew she won for 57 in 58?
Louis Virtel Correct. Yes. Yes.
Guy Branum Thank you. But like, you know what a what a luminous performer and truly someone who is at the forefront of making projects she wanted to make, like Rachel Rachel happened that was on her shoulders. And, you know, and even like towards the end of their career, something like Mr. and Mrs. Bridge is something that she did so she wanted to make happen. And he like the wonderful thing about Paul Newman like is treating your spouse a little bit like a human being, a grossly noble act in the mid 1980s, I’m going to say sure, but like he would show up and be in these projects that she really wanted to make so that they would get made. You know, it’s it’s always the trouble with those relationships is from a distance, they are beautiful and it’s really hard to get closer to them because then you just get the specificities of humanity and also mid-twentieth century gender relations.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah, totally. And it’s like I’ve always been really drawn to women artists who were married to more famous artists and who were men and like their how their careers took a back seat. So this is why I don’t fucking date, because let me tell you, girls, no fucking man is worth it. Dick is abundant and low in value. Please, ladies. Anyway, but I was really struck. I think it’s the second or third episode where we hear about how Joanne Woodward thinks of motherhood. And I was really struck by two things. She described being a mother as it was horror, and she meant it in the sense that, like, you know, if you’re on the set, you feel bad that you’re not with your kids. If you’re with your kids, you’re like longing to be doing your art and feel frustrated. Right. But I think the most interesting quote was, quote, If I had to do it all over again, I might not have children. Actors don’t make good parents. I was so struck by that.
Louis Virtel Well, in your face. Yeah. Take that, Angelina. Right.
Guy Branum Well, that also so evocative of just like the crisp line from Hepburn of like if you do both, you’re going to be mediocre at both of them. I was I knew I had to be good at one or the other and like it. But Katharine Hepburn came from a different era of star when just sort of being.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh totally
Guy Branum The cold professional one was a possibility where I feel like those women who came of age in the late 1950s, early 1960s, like they gave these very nuanced performances. They were such nuanced like actors, but also like something softer was expected of them, you know?
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh totally. Yeah.
Louis Virtel That quote, I think, falls in line with what I think I love about the best Joanne Woodward performances, which is there’s a pragmatism about her characters, but also like a real saltiness which, which I think is atypical for female characters in movies of that time. Like to be that snide, really, you know, especially in a romantic role. And for that reason, I have. I said a couple of times, and I keep thinking this the more I see movies of hers, she really was the original Kirsten Dunst to me, where like you’re watching somebody who has like a little bit of a disgust in their eyes a lot of the time. But but it’s always colored in. It’s not just she’s not just an eyeroll of a performer. There’s like a whole world to these.
Guy Branum Yeah.
Louis Virtel People. And like, I easily could see her in Power Of The Dog in that role. That to me feels like a Joanne Woodward role, you know. But there’s lots of movies of hers that have flown under the radar. Have you ever seen The Fffects of Gamma Rays on Man on the Moon Marigolds? Oh, my God. She’s so amazing in it.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah, yeah, I need to see that. But I was like, Oh, why are like Neuman’s work as a director, like, not Streaming? Most of them are not streaming. You have to kind of just get a DVD that’s, you know, not the best looking. And I’m like, damn, you know, someone needs to work on that. Because I actually think when they collaborated, you know, with him as director, her as star, that was just like I always find that sort of dynamic, like seeing two people who are in, a couple who are, you know, who are artists like be each other’s muse.
Guy Branum Yeah.
Angelica Jade Bastien That’s just so interesting to me, especially because I don’t know. Like, we don’t really think too much about women having muses as much as we think of men having muses.
Louis Virtel Totally. Oh, my gosh.
Guy Branum Louis, have you seen A New Kind of Love?
Louis Virtel I have not.
Guy Branum It is just a straight up rom com from 1963 where Joanne Woodward plays dowdy woman who copies the newest French fashions. Newman is a Playboy journalist and she ends up getting a Paris makeover. Like, thank you, Mrs. Harris, and then pretending to be a high class prostitute to amuse him. And it is just it’s it’s so lovely to see the two of them just in something that is, like, purest fun, like.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah, totally.
Guy Branum I love.
Angelica Jade Bastien I like that
Guy Branum I love when, like, good actors let themselves just be in a comedy.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah. Yeah. Come on. Be in comedies, yall you can, well, maybe not some yall can do it, but some of yall futures ain’t Yes.
Louis Virtel But also specifically about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward too, I think a thing we’re missing from the more recent crop of movie stars is specifically the kind of actors that other actors do interviews about. Like where we have to ask people, what is it about that person that I can’t stop thinking about? And somebody who is so specific in this regard and I’ve been obsessed with this on YouTube recently, is people talking about Marlon Brando. Now, here’s the thing. I like Marlon Brando. I mean, obviously loved Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront and Godfather, whatever. I’m not fascinated beyond belief. Like.
Angelica Jade Bastien Same. Same
Louis Virtel Like I keep saying he brought like a carnal urgency to a lot of what he did. He’s a scary performer, sometimes engaging, emotional, whatever. But I don’t need to, like, unpack him for the rest of time. Meanwhile, male interviewers, namely Dick Cavett, I’m pointing out Dick Cavett right now, obsessed with finding out what it is about Marlon Brando that makes him tick. And the tenor of the conversation is always like this. The first question is, what do you think of Marlon Brando? And they’re talking about they’re talking to some actor like who’s coming to my I don’t know, Dennis Hopper or Karl Malden or someone like that. And they’re like, oh, you know, when I first saw him, I was really bewitched by him. He really brought something in On The Waterfront I’d never seen. Karl Malden is obviously in that movie a bad example, but moving on.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah.
Louis Virtel Then the second question is, is it true on the set of X movie that Marlon Brando hit you with his car? And then they’re like and they’re like, he did. And I didn’t understand it at the time, and I don’t know why he did that. But Marlon is a complicated artist. Like even the people who are victimized by his weird on set behavior still are propping up his legend. And who would we ever do that to now? Like they would be so called out, rightfully.
Guy Branum I mean, the trouble is, is that like we only apply the notion of genius to men like men are geniuses. Women are vehicles for other people’s geniuses. And I feel like our most a lot of our most interesting and highest functioning actors of the last 30 years have tried to do they have they’ve tried to do a lot. And thus we have seen a lot of them. They have been technicians. Like there there isn’t the same level of mystery around like a George Clooney or even a Warren Beatty just because like we’ve we’ve had to see them work in so many directions. And like, you know, I would say that kind of mystique exists mostly around people who are just like clearly monsters or mentally ill or both.
Louis Virtel Ill behaved people. Yes. Right. Yeah. No. Yeah. Specifically also, I feel like in the past 20 years there’s been a real move towards relatability among actors. It’s like like instead of being.
Angelica Jade Bastien Fuck relatability.
Louis Virtel I know. And instead of like, you know, doing your thing and disappearing, you know, the Beyonce thing, which, by the way, continues to work for her. People are like like she’s like the last celebrity we have questiona about, right. But like, it does feel like we’re now behind what I’m going to call the Kristen Bell curve, where you it’s simply about every interview you do is I can’t believe it. I, I, I slipped on a banana peel. I can’t believe it. My child cried the other day. You know, it’s like everything is like, Oh, that happened to me before. Or that could happen to me, you know? There’s nobody out there. I don’t know. I mean, I can think of maybe Miles Teller as an ill behaved celebrity. I don’t know. Is he really the last thread linking us to, you know, these weirdos of the past?
Guy Branum When it comes to Mystique I like, there’s no performer I have more questions about than Alfre Woodard. And we we don’t ask those questions. She does weird. She makes the weirdest fucking choices and has managed to make this, like, beautiful career out of doing something the way nobody else would. And I don’t know, like, I just feel like she’s somebody that we would never be obsessed with. She’s somebody that we would never know.
Angelica Jade Bastien I’m obsessed with her.
Guy Branum Of course you are like. Like but I. But I want to. I want more interviews where people are asking people who worked with her, like, what it’s like to have that sort of like energy in a scene with you.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah.
Louis Virtel Also she’s she’s the interesting case of somebody who I think has been nominated for like 775 Emmys and then only one won the Oscar for that. We have for a weird performance or like not a weird performance, a a shrug of a movie. Like, that’s all we can really give her. You know.
Angelica Jade Bastien That’s upsetting she was really great in Clemency and had that yeah you know it held on her face and just silence and she’s walking out and it doesn’t cut Oh I was like, oh, that’s some acting, baby. I love it.
Guy Branum She’s she’s also one of those performers who’s amazing but never gets to be more than 15% of a movie. Like Clemency is like a very rare example of something that’s about her, as opposed to her just being this, like, weird little moments in Grand Canyon.
Louis Virtel But by the way, what a dead reference Grand Canyon was, I believe, a screenplay nominee at the time. It’s a Steve Martin movie, right? What is it about it? It’s like an ensemble.
Guy Branum It’s Lawrence Kasdan trying to make, like, something that is big, chilly, like, but it’s basically just like what? I mean, it’s essentially kind of Crash. Like, don’t we have such big divides between all of us in Los Angeles, but better than Crash.
Louis Virtel Great Alfre Woodard performance, Passion Fish. Very surprised she was not nominated for that great performance. Yeah like but Anjelica specifically, you’ve written so wonderfully about your favorite stars of the past. You just wrote something about Double Indemnity recently. Who are the like silver screen icons who loom largest to you that you find yourself fascinated with?
Angelica Jade Bastien There’s so many because they’ve lived such interesting lives and some it goes from everybody like Teresa Harris, who played the black best friend in the pre-code, Barbara Stanwyck movie Baby Face. And she has like one of the most distinct and illuminating quotes around this was around the forties, but it was in a Negro newspaper, Negro, but, you know, it was in a black newspaper, but they called it Negro. So that’s why I popped in my head first. She basically said something to the effect of, you know, they only allow me to play maids and like these small characters and I have so much more to give, but it will never happen in Hollywood that like to that degree. And it’s and I was like, Oh, I want to learn more about her. Butterfly McQueen also like a really, really interesting woman. But then also I’m like obsessed with like, you know, the huge. The huge, overwhelming stars like Marlena Dietrich. I’m, like, obsessed with the biography her daughter wrote about her. Ooh. I was like, it’s a thick bitch. But it’s oh, it is like, first of all, really well-written. But I was like, taken aback about how much shit she was talking about her mom. And I was like, Girl, me too. Oh, fuck. Moms. Mommy issues for life. And then, of course, if you know me, you know, probably there’s a few actors that people probably most associate me with from, like classic era or even into the 1660s. Like probably the latest era would be someone like Elaine Dylan. Like I’m obsessed with them, like watching.
Louis Virtel Who else is obsessed with Elaine Dylan? Madonna. Comes up quite a bit anyway, moving on.
Angelica Jade Bastien I noticed that. Okay, but anyway, um, Marilyn Monroe because like all mentally ill women, I have some weird protective nature towards this white woman I will never meet. It’s the weirdest thing. But I know so many black women who are very protective about Marilyn Monroe and they’re all like, you know, we are all a little fucked up, but that’s okay, girl. And then, of course, Betty Davis. BettyDavis.
Louis Virtel Oh please.
Angelica Jade Bastien Betty Davis, my bitch. I used to think in high school that, Oh, this is so I’m such a narcissist that I was maybe the reincarnated version of her because.
Louis Virtel Oh.
Angelica Jade Bastien She I was born and she died in the same year. And I was like, maybe the soul I got is that 89? Yeah. 89. Yeah.
Louis Virtel Same here as Lucille Ball. You can count on me for death years. Ok so go ahead.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh, yeah. Death years. I it kind of bothers me how much I remember them. But anyway, yeah, Betty Davis just I think through the history of Hollywood or maybe even the history of American acting on screen period. I think she understood women’s anger with a specificity and interior life and a boldness that, like no actress has been able to consistently do over decades, like taking this emotion and like showing different sides of it. You know what I mean? Like even something like, for example, in This Is Our Life where she basically plays one of the most racist motherfucking white women ever. Where I did laugh when this when she kills the kid is like, you know, runs over the kid and she, like, looks back and she’s like, Oh, fuck this shit. And I was like, Girl, that is so funny. But the whole dynamic with her blaming it on the black chauffeur of the family and that scene in the jail where she’s tried to get him to, like, lie for her and he’s catching on to what she wants. It’s like the dynamic is so interesting. But then she sometimes shows like, I think the beautiful side of women being angry about how the world really puts these strictures and and weight on our lives that like it, you know, holds back our freedom as artists, as just human beings. Like it’s something like All About Eve, which to me is like up there with, like A Sweet Smell of Success is, like, near perfect to outright, maybe even perfect films, which is not a word I usually use to describe a film, but man like she is. I remember the first time seeing All About Eve. I got really into Bette Davis as a teenager, and in college I took a class star as auteur on Bette Davis. So I got to study shout out to my college teacher, Jeffrey John Smith. You are the reason why I’m a critic today. Like teachers really be changing shit. And he was you know, he’s like a flamboyant, older gay man who just, like, love these stars. He he also I took a class star as a hour and Betty Davis star is much more on Cary Grant and a whole class on Gone With the Wind
Louis Virtel Oh, you’re a big Cary Grant person. Yes, yes, yes.
Angelica Jade Bastien I love Carey. What did he is an interesting figure too with regards to like how dramatic a difference the Archie Leach to the Cary Grant persona.
Guy Branum Oh truly one of the things we don’t have that we had in the thirties was somebody with a nonsensical accent. An accent that just came out of a third place. That just meant Katharine Hepburn as Katharine Hepburn in America and in the Lion of Windsor. And nobody’s going to question it like that. Like Cary Grant was just sort of like, what is that even? But like, yeah, truly, it’s a zingy patois. What’s it like also sort of like the most like warmly charismatic, sexual, like, you know, energy coming from this person that you couldn’t quite place, like both regionally or sexually.
Louis Virtel I feel like without actually these, both these people, but specifically Betty Davis, if you deleted any one particular star in like American cinematic history, who would leave the largest hole? I think Betty Davis is number one, because not only was she such a powerhouse and, as you said, really articulates a kind of rage and and sorry to be crass cunty thing, which I think did not exist before. I honestly think she invented the idea of being a cunt, something like, you know, it’s like I’m in your face, I’m right. And now I’m going to slam the door.
Guy Branum There’s something about being made by Of Human Bondage. It’s like it’s, it’s like worst possible role to have. You were just like the worst. And that she managed to make that something where she got a fucking writing Academy Award nomination because everyone was obsessed with her. It really does sort of like open up the door to say, find that energy in these other places, you know, in stories that are less disposed to that.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh, totally. Yeah.
Louis Virtel Of Human Bondage, by the way, fascinating to watch because it’s one of the few Betty Davis movies where she’s not the star marquee person. Like the movie. The move is more furtive about learning who that character is, whereas in every other Betty Davis movie, she storms off the veranda and into the screen like we’re immediately acquainted with who she has and know all of her ambitions because she says them. Yeah, you know, but also yeah, you’re right. Cary Grant too that like the combination of like I’m going to call it athleticism. Like there’s just the way he like weaves through a scene is very interesting, mixed with a bit of naughty charisma like that, there’s like a music to everything he does in a way that is not the same as someone like Humphrey Bogart or whoever else was lingering around at the time. Yeah, yeah. Even Jimmy Stewart or whatever. Who might whom I adore. And I think in a way, Jimmy Stewart is underrated in that he brought a realism that precedes the actors we say brought realism.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh, totally.
Louis Virtel You know.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah. I think people don’t know how to talk about screen acting. That’s why I’m so obsessed with writing about it, because it’s like a very it’s like it’s like trying to capture smoke in your hand, right? It’s such a curious art to kind of study. But I think, you know, I believe stars can be autores. And the problem with Hollywood today is we don’t have star autores for a number of reasons about the industry. That I think is less about the talent, although there are some of these kids. I do not. You’re going to have to explain it to me. You know what I mean? Like but I want more star tours who have, like, these long, interesting, rich careers and have some control over their image in an interesting way. But I think the relatability factor you mentioned earlier, Louis and just. IP is now the star. So that’s that’s what takes precedence. And like, sure, these actors post like these, you know, superheroes. They have complicated. Like Chris Evans is in a weird place, I think. Like, I don’t find him interesting as an actor, but. But I’m like The Gray Man, like oh I guess you like working with those Russo brothers, but also Ryan, Ryan Gosling, why the fuck was he in that movie? And this is what we.
Louis Virtel Yeah.
Angelica Jade Bastien Came back for this, right? This?
Louis Virtel Concerning. Concerning? Yes.
Angelica Jade Bastien Questionable. Questionable. No.
Louis Virtel Like, even Timothy Chalamet being in Dune. And it’s like, couldn’t you have made three more? I’m not saying this is the best movie on earth, but like, Beautiful Boys, you know, like something about where I’m like, wow, you’re you’re on the brink, and we’re obsessed with your severity as an actor kind of roles.
Guy Branum I’m I’m fascinated by these people who, like, sign into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which becomes this leviathan that like consumes all aspects of their career. Is there any space left to do anything else? And it’s like, sure, you’re making a bunch of money, but like, what are you doing that you’ve committed yourself wholly to this thing for seven or eight years, cameo ing here and doing your own movies or whatever? It’s like, what did you want out of this? Like, really? What did you want?
Louis Virtel You know? Now, the question of Elizabeth Olsen has come to mind, which is she came to us and Martha Marcy May Marlene. And once upon a time that would have been the kind of movie she made for the rest of her career.
Guy Branum Yeah.
Louis Virtel Now she is doing this, this witch shit, which, unless it’s related to Ms.Stevie Nicks, it’s not something I need to see.
Guy Branum And the thing is it’s like she’s so good in it. But also just the trouble of being in a machine like that is like a lot of it’s really poorly written and does not give her anything interesting to do. Yeah.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah. I’m going to sound pretentious for a second, but it fucking pisses me off, two big things about fucking stars right now. Besides the fact that they’re ugly. And I think a lot of these bitches are untalented.
Louis Virtel The ugliness is a paramount concern to me too.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah. Beauty is the pleasure principle, baby. That’s why we love film. We want to look at interesting faces. Their faces are not interesting and they’re not beautiful enough to be interesting either. But anyway, so maybe three things. But I, I’ll say that’s number one. But number two, these bitches don’t be like in film. I’m like, why are you in this industry if you don’t know shit about it? And number three, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I want artist, I don’t want brands. I don’t want to watch a bunch of brands playing off each other and these sexless, boring ass movies.
Guy Branum Mm hmm.
Angelica Jade Bastien I want art. I want passion for the art. I want to see people wanting to create something that, like, gets under your skin and has maybe even a lasting effect on the world. The moment the Marvel bubble bust, these fucking movies are already forgettable. They’re only going to be talked about in a business sense. Yeah, there’s. There’s shit. I’m sorry. There’s shit.
Louis Virtel There are two people who I feel like have fought tooth and nail to maintain a sort of singular artistry as screen presences. And what’s gone on with them is, I think, related to this conversation. One is Cate Blanchett, who I feel like has has in a Bette Davis way, been given these these protagonist roles that are super dimensional and an eye popping right. Like Cate Blanchett is one of those people you just can’t stop looking at because she every choice registers, you know. But at the same time, it’s like what she’s able to do becomes packaged and expected. And so then we put her in movies like Nightmare Alley, where it’s like it’s like an idea of an idea of Cate Blanchett as opposed to like her getting to explore. That said, we’re getting this new movie, TAR from Todd Field and it better be something I’m ready for her to come back. And also Helena Bonham Carter, who I thought once upon a time was like one of our most interesting actors. And then as time went on, she more often than not got to be like coloring book illustrations of Helena Bonham Carter as opposed to the awesome, you know, strange and cerebral and sarcastic person we met and room at The View.
Guy Branum I mean, the rough thing is, is that like the studio system was terrible and exploitative in so many ways that it allowed a relationship between the star and the process of developing a movie to exist. We’re now we’re relying on CAA to do that and like, I think like having everything flow through kind of douchey bros at agencies leads to this like sort of restricted notion of what these people do. And as you guys were saying earlier, this attempt to just recreate the success that we knew before, and for these people who aren’t making their own stuff. Like, you want to know what happened to Helena Bonham Carter? Ismail Merchant’s died. James Ivory got real old and like the thing is, is she is capable of so much more. But for a period of time she had people present who were thinking like who were very capable filmmakers, who were like, What can we do with Helena? And I think, you know, it is rough when you’re just having especially as a woman gets older, like and especially like I feel so sorry for those actresses born in the late forties, early fifties, just for the fact that like the for Glen, the good role every year is going to go to Meryl and then Glen has to put together a career around that. And she’s done a beautiful job of it, but it required compromises.
Louis Virtel Yeah. When you look at the filmography of Glenn Close, it’s not like she would necessarily always like play the roles Meryl got. Like, they’re not kind of like one for one replacements for each other, anything. But when you read through all her roles, it does feel like six are missing, you know, like, you know, that are like the size and scale and power that she can deliver. That said, I do believe Glenn is the rare actress who a movie actress whose best role is TV. I think Damages is the best thing she ever did.
Angelica Jade Bastien I really dug Damages. I haven’t like gone back to rewatch it, but I was watching it while it aired. I dug it. I loved her performance in it.
Louis Virtel It’s like a beach read. That’s actually amazing. Yeah.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yes. We need more beach read cinema that is fun where I just like I want some pleasure, you know what I mean? I just want to feel like, oh, this is fun. All these people are hot.
Guy Branum Streamers. Shouldn’t streamers be positioned to do that for us? Like there was a brief period of time when, like, Netflix was giving us kind of an indie romcom every Friday, like, and I was like, Cool, this is going to be great. And then the thing is, is that like, it is this Spielberg obsession, like, like everyone is like, I don’t know that it’s a Spielberg obsession, but it’s like. Everyone wants to make a gigantic movie. And now you have these streamers that are trying to make gigantic movies and it’s like Who makes Under the Tuscan Sun for us right now?
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh, my God. I love Under the Tuscan Sun. I would love like Under the Tuscan sun, but some lesbians, um, black lesbians, specifically.
Louis Virtel Under the Hyundai Tucson sun. So, yes.
Angelica Jade Bastien But like, it’s just, I feel like film is in such a weird place. And someone tweeted this to me when I was saying on Twitter a little bit ago, I need to take a break, though. Whoo! What a demonic place.
Louis Virtel Yes.
Angelica Jade Bastien But basically, I’d like said something like and I was being nice by using this word, but I was saying television is aggressively and tellingly mid right now, like just so mid to to, like, not good that it’s like, all right, because there’s so much stuff out there. So, of course, just law of averages.
Guy Branum Let me tell you a theory. We have been done in by the 8 to 10 episode season because seasons are no longer television seasons. Seasons are now a pilot. Like everybody’s first season is just giving you an interesting idea, leaving you on a cliffhanger and you’re like, What a great show this could be. And then the second season comes back and it’s not a fucking show. And it’s why, you know, like I really excited to oh, Star Trek Strange New Worlds being.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh my God, it’s so good. It is so much fun.
Guy Branum And it’s episodic. No, absolutely. When I realized they were just going to do a Body Switch episode for an episode, I was excited. And when the next one decided that it was going to be aliens, I was like, This is not for me, but good for you.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah.
Guy Branum Also, I’m looking forward to seeing 22 goddamn Abbott Elementaries. Like I am looking forward to seeing somebody have to make a real fucking season of television.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah, I, I mean, I, you know, the TV I grew up on, like, I feel like the best example from, like, the nineties that I think people should pay more attention to at least is Deep Space Nine.
Louis Virtel Oh interesting. I’ve never seen.
Angelica Jade Bastien I mean.
Louis Virtel That’s the one with Jerry Ryan?
Angelica Jade Bastien No, no, that’s Voyager.
Louis Virtel Dammit.
Angelica Jade Bastien It’s okay. Okay, it’s okay. Yeah. But like, basically like Deep Space Nine, especially the second season onward still like, you know, because they have long ass seasons, there’s lots of episodic episodes. It’s feels very episodic in certain ways, but they have emotional arcs and certain like larger arcs happening that like provide a good throughline. It’s really balanced narratively in a way that I’m I think that’s why Strange New Worlds are so good because they obviously took some lessons from Deep Space Nine. But like, I think the problem is people doing television, like television was looked down upon. And don’t worry, everybody, I still kind of look down upon it because like Betty Davis, I’m a cunt who loves film. But.
Louis Virtel Right.
Angelica Jade Bastien You know, I feel like then people working in television, especially as filmmakers, have moved over there, like, I think sometimes like they’re like almost embarrassed, like and I think you shouldn’t be like, that’d be sad because like saying, Oh, I’m not making a TV show, I’m making an eight hour movie. It’s like, No, you’re making a TV show, and you need to treat it as a TV show because TV has different narrative and visual constraints and dynamics. And I feel like people don’t accept those constraints when I actually think they would open up some really cool ideas.
Guy Branum Angelica, have you watched The Bear yet?
Angelica Jade Bastien Yes, I’ve watched all of The Bear.
Louis Virtel I’ve not seen it yet.
Guy Branum I just thought that The Bear look, I’m annoyed with half hours that don’t have jokes in them, but.
Angelica Jade Bastien Me too.
Guy Branum The bear doing the job of telling a concrete story over eight episodes, but telling a distinct story within each of those episodes was just like, Thank God someone paid attention in class. Like, shouldn’t we be expecting this out of all of our shows?
Angelica Jade Bastien Mm hmm. Bitch. It’s a TV show.
Guy Branum Yeah.
Angelica Jade Bastien But, yeah, The Bear was good at that. I’m in Chicago, girly. I’ve been living in Chicago for over ten years. That’s what I’m going to start saying. So it sounds like it’s less, so it was just, you know, interesting to watch it on that level. But yeah, I appreciated it for that reason too, because it’s just like, yeah, you have stories within stories and that’s how it works. You have your arc, emotional arcs, but you can focus on like this one problem in an episode. Yeah, I like that. It’s like it makes you savor storytelling in a different way. And I think that’s something to be embraced.
Louis Virtel I think to get back to a point you made earlier, I think a reason a lot of current allegedly prestigious TV is mid is that TV is really good at imitating what prestige looks like, which is to say they cast that big, prestigious actor. There are these kinds of pauses, like there’s a field to prestige and Guy, you on Pop Rocket famously had a term for this which was fo tease you and Karen Tongson and there’s a sense of you can tell it’s going for an elevated award worthy thing but and people can be fooled by that, even though it’s just it’s a retread of other things you’ve seen for before for example.
Guy Branum Like, well, one of my new favorite Breeds of Champ is a television program that is very certain that it’s good and it’s very not. I am, of course, speaking of Showtime’s The First Lady like it was, but also the First Lady had it like that. Michelle Pfeiffer performance was so good.
Louis Virtel Imagine getting anything less from her.
Angelica Jade Bastien I know Queen Queen.
Guy Branum But honest.
Louis Virtel Even Britney Spears knows this she posted about her recenttly.
Angelica Jade Bastien I loved that. I thought it was cute.
Louis Virtel Britney Spears also posted an obscure Natalie Imbruglia song recently called Leave Me Alone. And I just want to say I’m not like a Britney stan. But you can tell the last time she cared about music for real was 1998. And I that’s me, too. So actually, Britney and I are now in control.
Guy Branum Want to talk about real stars like that is a human being who as long as, you know, we’re all hoping things continue to go well, but like what weird energy she brings to us and how much I appreciate it and love her for what she’s bringing.
Louis Virtel No Instagram only has like three good things going for it. It’s like that. And Amy Mann’s wierd daily comics about mundane things in her life. And I don’t know, ABS, what’s the other thing? I don’t know. Anyway, thank you all for that. What a edifying conversation. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, thanks also. We’ll be right back with Keep It.
Louis Virtel <A.D.>.
Louis Virtel And we’re back with our favorite segment of the episode and also the only part of the episode with the name. So naturally, it’s our favorite segment since it’s the only one we’ve called the segment. Moving right along. It’s Keep It. And Angelica, since you’re the newest member of the Keep It fold. I’m going to force you to begin. What’s your Keep It today?
Angelica Jade Bastien I was originally going to talk about the reaction to the Till trailer. I don’t know if you noticed that came out. And it sparked another conversation about black trauma that I thought was so threadbare and empty. But I don’t want to talk about that because that’s too heavy. And talking about Negroes with white people, I have a limit with that. There’s a limit where I’m like, I’m done. This was cute. But. I got to talk about Brad Pitt in that skirt.
Louis Virtel Oh, sure. Yeah.
Angelica Jade Bastien Okay. Brad, I know you’re not listening. Even though I’ve written quite a bit about you and it’s all really fascinating. I actually ranked all his performances. So I know so much about Brad Pitt at this point my brain.
Louis Virtel Also that so many performances.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh, my God. I lost my mind during it. I had like months to write, but I was like, oh, my God. But Brad, first of all, I appreciate skirts on men. Like, do that. Great. I just wish the outfit was better. And two, I don’t trust your bitch ass. Okay, I’m noticing all these little sources talking shit about Angelina. This movie. I see what you’re doing, bitch. I see what you’re fucking doing. You’re relying on this certain level of misogyny, and you’re playing like this. Oh, I’m a cool, like, great guy. And she’s holding me back from my kids, like every deadbeat dad. And I’m sorry. I don’t fuck with deadbeat dads. I have one. And that was enough to deal with. So, Brad, get it together emotionally. Like, what the fuck are you doing? But also I am reviewing Bullet Train and it better be good or I’m going to be mad.
Louis Virtel I am seeing that on my birthday I’m going to be in the Chicago area.
Angelica Jade Bastien Are we going to be at the same screening.
Louis Virtel I hope so, because I bought my ticket. Oh, you can meet my friend Andy and you will be like, Oh, that’s the kind of person Louis is friends with. Hello, Andy who listens to this podcast. What was I going to say about Brad Pitt. I have to say I’ve mistrusted him specifically ever since his awards run for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, where every time he gave a speech, he had like ten jokes from like the writers of Brooklyn Nine-Nine or something. Like, I was like, you didn’t come up with that. What? Who who’s writing this.
Angelica Jade Bastien Corniest shit? And he is smart, though. I think he’s one of the most cunning stars. Him becoming friendly with Jennifer Aniston again during his like Once Upon a time in Hollywood, like lead up to his Oscar, the Gwyneth Paltrow interview that came out recently. He’s basically shoring up goodwill and like a certain nostalgia points, it’s just super interesting watching him and his team work.
Louis Virtel And there’s definitely a team at play in there right now. I have to ask about this Brad Pitt list of performances. What is way higher up than we would expect? Did California kill?
Angelica Jade Bastien No, I’m trying to think what is a surprising one. I don’t think there were necessarily a lot of surprises. I mean, the top three was like a lot of recent work. I really loved him in Ad Astra, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. But The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford is like my bitch, I think is more interesting on the this is what is super low level like rewatching Interview With a Vampire. I was like, oh, you’re like, not right for this and you’re too stiff because I don’t think you understand the right way to play the role. But I did appreciate all the homo eroticism.
Louis Virtel I think what the Interview With A Vampire is whenever there’s trivia about the highest grossing queer cinema of all time, like Interview with the Vampire gets to be at the top, and it’s like, now we just have no rules for what this is anymore.
Angelica Jade Bastien You know, I let’s oh, the way people talk about quote unquote queer cinema, quote unquote, black cinema is the most but especially queer cinema because I’m like. Just because it has gay people doesn’t mean to me it’s queer. Queer is also a sort of artistic lineage of how you were kind of bucking trends and, like, doing more interesting shit.
Louis Virtel Yeah. Subversion or something. Yeah. There needs to be something else in it. Yeah.
Angelica Jade Bastien Don’t give me boring fucking straight seeming shit. You know what I mean?
Guy Branum Like the sheer tonnage of queer cinema that is just straight people talking about us. That is like no gay people involved in the process at all. And it’s just straight people speculating about what our lives might be like.
Angelica Jade Bastien And straight people speculating has only led to hell. So let’s not. Yall need to stop speculating. Yall need therapy.
Guy Branum And kissing scenes between women where they only touch each other’s hair. I am truly obsessed with straight women pretending to lesbian kiss.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh, my God. You’re right. Oh, yeah, that’s true.
Louis Virtel The MTV Best Kiss award. When occasionally there’d be, like, a pseudo queer one, it was always two straight people, and then they would get to go on the stage and be like, Oh, and then there and then and then run right off. But their golden popcorns. Guy, what is your Keep It this week?
Guy Branum Multiverses. You can Keep It. Please don’t tell me a story and then un-make the story you told me because there are lots of dimensions. That’s not interesting to me. Please tell your story based on the way human beings are like Everything, Everywhere All At Once. Told us a great and beautiful story using multiple dimensions. Also, so did Sliding Doors. We’ve got it. It’s taken care of. You don’t need to. Like I’m obsessed with this straight boy instinct to make something complex through the most artificial means possible so that it seems like a cool little trap while saying nothing about interiority or human beings or anything like that. Every straight guy thinks Inception is the best movie in the world, and like truly, nothing happens in it that is any way relevant to me. So, like watching like this Doctor Strange bullshit, it’s like, oh, even this Spider Man I didn’t find particularly interesting. Was I dazzled by the work of the line producers and lawyers who managed to make all of this possible? Yes, I would love to watch a documentary about that process, but when it comes to the idea of multiverses, you can Keep It.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh, yeah, that’s a good Keep It.
Louis Virtel Well, Honestly, I wasn’t enamored of Everything Everywhere All At Once. I liked it as an acting obstacle course for Michelle. And she, of course, nailed. I like as you’re watching the movie, you’re thinking, what did they even tell her to think about in this scene? Because it’s just jotting with all these sorts of weird intentions and scenarios. So at any given point, like 15 things are going on. But ultimately it just felt like to me 100,000 easy pitches like, oh, now do a scene where you have these crazy fingers. Now do a scene where you have like to me they didn’t add up to anything and you got the gimmick after 5 minutes. I mean, so to me it was tedious. Unfortunately, I agree with Joyce Carol Oates about this.
Guy Branum Like I really thought they taking like a lady who runs a laundromat and that’s supposed to be a boring movie, that’s supposed to be a tiny movie and sort of like showing us very visually the bigness that is within this human being, like how much potential she had. Like while watching that movie, I was like, my mom was the cafeteria lady who didn’t do much like outside of her little small town. And I was like, I’m excited for my mom to watch this. I am excited for her to think about the large asses that exist within her.
Angelica Jade Bastien Hmm. That’s beautiful.
Louis Virtel And I thought the movie also was a bit obsessed with you finding it impressive. Like, can you believe we’re moving this direction? What about this direction?
Guy Branum At the end of the day, it’s a movie by a two boy directing team who are my least favorite thing on the planet. Like, seriously, a two boy directing team watch walks into an office in Hollywood and says anything and the development execs start salivating like they just can’t get enough of them.
Louis Virtel Well put and my Keep It for today is also about a two person team. But that person team is Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings, who were both just named for the time being the hosts of Jeopardy. They’re going to both keep doing it in tandem. Now, I am fine with this. I think we have established at this point that reading questions is something many people can do. And in fact, you know, there wasn’t a ton of X factor to what Alex Trebek did, even though there was some I think Alex Trebek was really good at intensifying the stakes of Jeopardy. I think he was really good at having mystique, like being somebody who could be both proud of contestants and aloof. And within that avuncular zone you wanted, there was something you just you never knew what would get his goat kind of. And it was exciting to see, you know, just his weirdness on screen. There’s something weird about him, and it was fun how it interacted with the game. My Keep It goes to the complaints people have about Mayim Bialik, I’m not saying you can’t prefer Ken Jennings. I think I would ultimately say I prefer Ken Jennings just because he comes from the world of trivia. So his reactions to correct answers and oh, that’s a common misconception that, you know, it’s the Book of Revelations. When it’s the Book of Revelation, you know, just his know how about certain about trivia in general really add something to the game. People’s comments about why Mayim is not good at the job are so shocking to me and they are rampant. The one I see is she’s so mean, which she literally is just reading the correct answers. Is it really mean to be like, you know, the answer is the book of Revelation. She’s not being, quote unquote, another word I hear all the time, smug? No. She literally has to do the job of correcting people and correcting pronunciations, which a lot of the time, if I’m playing a trivia game or whatever, and I have to say the answer out loud, I’ll I’ll get the pronunciation wrong because I’ve only read it, for example, on trivia sites. So, you know, I might not know it’s pronounced, I don’t know vehemently or I don’t know whatever the word as, but I just feel like the criticisms are unfair and strange. I think you can say like she doesn’t she’s not as knowledgeable as Ken Jennings or she’s not as i I don’t know intense as Ken Jennings, I guess, or as Alex Trebek. But it just feels like. She’s been. She’s done a good enough job and has been efficient and smart. And people who otherwise would never have given her the chance to even attempt the job are the ones dictating why she is bad at it. And so I just have to say again, when when I watch a woman reading like answers, I for me, it’s almost emotional for me because it’s the rare chance we get to see a woman being authoritative in this zone. There are so few female game show hosts.
Guy Branum Yeah.
Louis Virtel And I think there’s a reason for that because we don’t want them to feel like the smartest person in the room or to run a dynamic in a room. Yeah. And like if you watch seventies eighties game shows, which I love, I love all these shows, they are all just random, very old white men. And it’s like, that’s what we’re comfortable calling in authority. And I still think we have to buck that.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh, totally. totally.
Louis Virtel So are either of you Jeopardy! people? Guy is one of the few gay comedians who I believe might be better at trivia than I am. And it is disturbing.
Angelica Jade Bastien No, I’m not a Jeopardy gal or do much trivia, to be honest.
Louis Virtel Really? You seem like you contain trivia multitudes.
Angelica Jade Bastien Oh, that’s sweet of you to say. I think the only time I’ve done a trivia thing, you know, I do sometimes, like, movie trivia, but, like, my friends are like, we’re not doing that with your ass.
Louis Virtel Guy, do bar trivia much recently.
Guy Branum I mean, I had a real run earlier in the year where I was going to High Tops on Tuesdays and it’s purest delight, but like I honestly like should not be going to a place where I’m just answering questions and drinking like and is indulging in to habits that I enjoy far too much. But it is truly the time when I feel most alive. Oh, I.
Louis Virtel Just want to say gay pub trivia is a specific kind of queer hub that needs to be amplified more because it really. It’s just like it’s the rare place where all of the particular information that gay people accrue is given a place to shine. Like, why? Where else can I talk about knowing that? I don’t know. Obscure Janet Jackson’s single from the 1990 because they’re not going to ask about that on Jeopardy!
Guy Branum Like and also gay obsessive gay male obsessive fussiness is something that we see in fashion and like the ultimate diversion. But you aren’t always seeing it as it applies to, you know, municipal geography in the United States. And, you know, it all just comes down to we all developed crazy powers while we were closeted and then lost them the minute we started having sex. Like, we just thought there was a lot of time to learn about, like, urban boundaries when you were 16 and alone.
Angelica Jade Bastien You know, that is true. And that is really true.
Louis Virtel No, I’ve kept mine going. Like like I’ve decided to power. Like I’m still on the Wikipedia for best supporting actress gleaning information. So just know Joan Loring and the Corn is Green, starring Betty Davis. I see you and respect you.
Angelica Jade Bastien That movie. Oh, my God. Is there some Bette Davis movies that I was like, Girl, I love you, but I can’t watch this and I still watch it.
Guy Branum Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn both made The Corn Is Green 30 years apart from each other fascinates me.
Angelica Jade Bastien It is fascinating.
Guy Branum They’re the same age.
Louis Virtel Right? Yes, they are. Yeah, I think both are both part in the 19, like the first decade of the 20th century. Yes. Right. Okay. That has been. Keep It. I hope it has been an edifying episode for everybody else, because I am simply a wash and and good vibes. My least favorite word vibes. Does the erosion of my brain in the past couple of years, mostly thanks to the pandemic. But it really feels like queer people to describe anything, anywhere, going on, vibes is the word we have chosen, and I don’t know even what it means anymore.
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah, I’m. That would actually have been a good Keep It because there was that article on The Bear about always just vibes or whatever. And I’m like, No, what you’re talking about is maybe a problem with TV. That’s not like, what the fuck sort of criticism is that? Can you all use words that.
Louis Virtel Right?
Angelica Jade Bastien Like the fuck?
Louis Virtel Let’s try a sentence. Yeah
Angelica Jade Bastien Yeah.
Louis Virtel Anyway, thank you to Angelica for being here. And this will be the first time of many. So this is basically a prison sentence. I’m sorry you’re here now.
Angelica Jade Bastien I can’t wait. I love a good, fucked up relationship where I’m stuck with people in a small room. It sounds hot. Yeah.
Louis Virtel And Guy, thank you, as always, for your expertize, your laughs, and who you are.
Guy Branum Always a pleasure. Lovely to see you guys and lovely to meet you, Angelica.
Angelica Jade Bastien Lovely to meet you, too. This was so much fun. I love talking about Bette. Oh, what a queen.
Louis Virtel We’ll be back next time with a full whatever happened to Baby Jane deep dive. Victor Buono. Your name will be spoken. This has been Keep It. See you next week.
Ira Madison III Keep It is a Crooked Media production. Our senior producer is Kendra James. Our producer is Chris Lord. Our executive producers are Ira Madison III.
Louis Virtel And Louis Virtel.
Ira Madison III Our editor is Charlotte Landes and Kyle Seglin is our sound engineer.
Louis Virtel Thank you to our digital team, Matt DeGroot and Nar Melkonian and Delon Villanueva for our production support every week.