Category : Film
Category : Film
Mike Leigh is the filmmaker behind Naked, Life is Sweet, Vera Drake, and, most recently, Happy-Go-Lucky, which is currently playing the New York Film Festival (among many others) and opens in the United States on October 10.
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Too unhappy and too unlucky.
Guest: Mike Leigh
Subjects Discussed: Vocational symmetries within Leigh’s films, Oscar Wilde, looking at a community, bad teachers, Leigh’s considerable frustrations about Poppy being “too happy,” the difficulties of filming Poppy’s jewelry, audience members misperceiving details, the confusion over Scott being a taxi driver, Bechdel’s Rule, depicting women who aren’t in relationships, the duty to portray life, Leigh’s problems with semiotics, collaborating with cinematographer Dick Pope, feeling the buzz of a visual instinct, devising Naked‘s opening shot, getting an Ozu fix, pursuing the issue of technology, flamenco dancing, MySpace, drawings and investigating domestic violence, “En-ra-ha,” Aleister Crowley, gloomy bookstore employees and literary references, shooting in High Definition, and film financing.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Leigh: But as to the jewelry as a symbol of cyclical anything, I don’t know whether I’d go along with that one.
Correspondent: Okay. Well, fair enough.
Leigh: (laughs) Nice try.
Correspondent: Well, let’s talk about another possible symbol. The back pain that she experiences. This to me suggests that here we have Poppy moving forward as her specific identity — “happy-go-lucky” — and yet there is this pain in the back. And, of course, she laughs it off while she’s at the chiropractor’s office. But the thing that’s fascinating about this to me is that, well, this is behind her. So it’s almost as if she has her blinders on. She’s so focused in on moving forward that she doesn’t notice what she’s feeling in the back. And I’m wondering again how much one should read symbols into these particular choices.
Leigh: I think as we progress into this conversation — I think you are plainly a fundamental, unreconstituted, top-rate intellectual. Which I’m not. I think it’s fascinating, your analysis. But I think it’s a load of old rope. Basically. And I can’t go along with it at all. I mean, the fact is, she gets a bend in the back because she pulls her back when she’s trampolining. And it happens to be her back because that’s what she pulls. The back muscle. I think what’s more interesting about that unfortunate thing that happens to her, which gets fixed by an osteopath, not a chiropractor…
Correspondent: My apologies.
Leigh: No, no, you couldn’t, you know. But I think what is interesting, I’ve found, is that, you know, a lot of people — this has nothing to do with your question, but it’s talking about the same part of the film.
Leigh: The same aspect of what happens to Poppy. You know, people are conditioned — mainly, courtesy of Hollywood — into the inevitability that something terrible is going to happen. And a number of people have thought, “Oh! She’s got cancer of the kidneys! That’s what this film is about!” Partly because the last film I made was about an abortionist. The fact is that it’s not about that. People say, “Well, couldn’t something terrible happen to her in the film?” And then you think of that. And you say, “No. Because that’s not what it’s about.” Of course, this could become a film about a woman who dies of cancer of the kidneys. But so what? That’s not what it’s about. It’s about somebody who giggles at stuff and is positive.
Correspondent: You also quibbled in another interview over people identifying Scott as a taxi driver instead of a driving instructor.
Leigh: Yeah, people say “that scene with the taxi driver.” I mean, it’s amazing. The number of people everywhere — here, in Paris, in London, in Berlin, and we’re talking about international fests — who call him a taxi driver. And it’s very curious. It’s as though this is a film about an airline pilot and people are calling him a doctor. It’s very strange.
Correspondent: I mean, I’m wondering. Could it be the way that you actually shot him? Because I know that you and Mr. Pope actually used lipstick cams to get…
Leigh: No, no. Come on. You cannot construct any correlation between how the film was shot and the fact that, for some reason, people call a driving instructor a taxi driver. You really can’t do that.
Correspondent: So it’s the audience’s problem. Not yours.
Leigh: No, no. It’s just a weird thing. I mean, I don’t think it’s even a problem. It’s just a strange quirk. But I don’t think anything should be made of it really.
Bonnie Tyler is the legendary singer behind such tracks as “Vernal Equinox of the Mind” and “Holding Out for a Supervillain.”
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Nothing he can say, a total eclipse of the Bat.
Guest: Bonnie Tyler
Subjects Discussed: Tyler co-writing most of the tracks on the album, Wings, singing vs. songwriting, breaking up with managers, shyness, hairs that stand up on the back of the neck, turning down a song by Jim Steinman, songs that involve the devil, Desmond Child, James Bond, Tyler turning down the Never Say Never Again theme, Heartstrings and recording cover songs mostly from male recording artists, the song selection process, Meat Loaf, rehearsing “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” the seven minute opuses on Faster Than the Speed of Night, a group of passengers who were traumatized by Tyler singing on an Air France jet, Noel Gallagher, contending with hardcore fans, a 15-year-old Australian who claimed to be Tyler’s daughter, avoiding retirement, the number of shows Tyler performs a year, the endless onslaught of greatest hits albums, the Psion SMX and iPods, country music, Duffy, what Bonnie reads, Les Dawson, Tyler tells a bawdy joke, Botox, ageism, music videos and photo shoots, being judged on physical appearance, looks vs. voice, MTV and YouTube videos, the nightmare of making music videos, restrictions from record companies, independent labels, and music and the Internet.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: Going back to Wings, I actually wanted to talk about “Crying in Berlin.” This song, out of all the songs that I’ve listened to of yours, sounds the most like a James Bond song. And I do know the Hindustan Times reported in 2006 that the only thing that could bring you out of retirement was recording a James Bond theme of some sort. I’m wondering if you’ve considered approaching the Bond producers to sing a song just as you called up and contacted [Jim] Steinman, and said, “Hey, I want you to go ahead and produce this particular album.”
Tyler: No. It just happened. They just asked me. Would I like to do a song? And they sent me the song. “Never Say Never,” right?
Tyler: And I listened to it, and I thought, “Ugh! Shit! I don’t like it.”
Correspondent: It is one of the weakest of all the Bond themes.
Tyler: I really would die to do a James Bond song, you know? But I can’t do it. My heart wouldn’t have been in it. I had to turn it down. Now how many people turn down a Bond song, I don’t know. But I turned it down because I didn’t like it. And I was proved right. Because I think out of all the songs.
Correspondent: Who remembers it?
Tyler: I can’t even remember it.
Correspondent: (sings) “Never say never again.” Yeah, I know.
Tyler: I don’t remember. It didn’t appeal to me at all. So I turned it down. And that’s the only regret that I have. But it was…
Correspondent: It wasn’t actually an official Bond movie, technically speaking. Because it was produced outside the [Albert] Broccoli camp. So I think you’re on safe ground.
Tyler: It was a Bond movie!
Correspondent: It was a Bond movie, but it wasn’t official under the Albert Broccoli camp. It was a Sean Connery once-over. Because it was also Thunderball revisited.
Tyler: Whatever. I got offered one and I turned it down.
Correspondent: Did you consider reapproaching them and saying, “Hey, I’d love to do a James Bond song. But this one doesn’t cut it. Can I bring in one of these many songwriters who are sending me songs?” Did you try that tactic?
Tyler: No, I didn’t. But you’ve just given me a good idea. (laughs)
The first 200 shows of The Bat Segundo Show are now available in torrent form. There were initially six torrent packs that were released last year. But a hard drive crash wiped those files. I have repacked the first six packs, and added four more. You can download these files using any torrent client. If you’re just starting out, I recommend utorrent.
Here are the links for the torrents:
Bat Segundo Torrent Pack #1 (Shows #1-20) — Includes David Mitchell I, Jonathan Ames I, Bret Easton Ellis, Octavia Butler, Aimee Bender, Chris Elliott, and Dave Barry.
Bat Segundo Torrent Pack #2 (Shows #21-40) — Includes William T. Vollmann, Jay McInerney, Erica Jong, Alex Robinson, Tom Tomorrow, Sarah Waters, and Harvey Pekar.
Bat Segundo Torrent Pack #3 (Shows #41-60) — Includes Colson Whitehead, John Updike, the two-part David Mitchell, Jonathan Safran Foer, A.M. Homes, Jeff VanderMeer, and Robert Birnbaum.
Bat Segundo Torrent Pack #4 (Shows #61-80) — Includes Alison Bechdel, Julia Glass, Tommy Chong, Annalee Newitz, Nora Ephron, Joe Eszterhas, Richard Dawkins, and Edward P. Jones.
Bat Segundo Torrent Pack #5 (Shows #81-100) — Includes Mary Gaitskill, Kelly Link, Francine Prose, Claire Messud, Simon Winchester, Amy Sedaris, Nina Hartley, Richard Ford, Christopher Moore, Neal Pollack, and David Lynch.
Bat Segundo Torrent Pack #6 (Shows #101-120) — Includes Martin Amis, Ron Jeremy, China Mieville, Tao Lin, Lionel Shriver, Scarlett Thomas, and the two-part Berkeley Breathed.
Bat Segundo Torrent Pack #7 (Shows #121-140) — Includes Gary Shteyngart, Richard Flanagan, Katie Roiphe, Kate Christensen, William Gibson, Marianne Wiggins, Gabe Kaplan, and Naomi Klein.
Bat Segundo Torrent Pack #8 (Shows #141-160) — Includes Chimamanda Adichie, Katha Pollitt, Steven Pinker, Naomi Wolf, James Lipton, Richard Russo, the two-part Tom McCarthy, Andrea Barrett, and Will Self.
Bat Segundo Torrent Pack #9 (Shows #161-180) — Includes Stewart O’Nan, the two-part David Rakoff, Sue Miller, Jami Attenberg, A.L. Kennedy, Charles Burns, Charles Bock, and Steve Erickson.
Bat Segundo Torrent Pack #10 (Shows #181-200) — Includes Samantha Hunt, Chip Kidd, Stephen Chow, Bill Plympton, Michio Kaku, Jennifer Weiner, Richard Price, and Nicholson Baker.
More details (and torrents) to come.
Markos Moulitsas is most recently the author of Taking on the System.
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Refusing to cut and run from Kenny Loggins and company.
Author: Markos Moulitsas
Subjects Discussed: Speculation on the effectiveness of protests, influencing the gatekeepers, Amy Goodman and other journalists arrested in St. Paul, small-time bloggers, Cindy Sheehan, “Free Mumia” promoters and promoting a message of unity, isolating activist sectors, Peter Dauo’s triangle of influence, Vietnam, whether or not Daily Kos has become a gatekeeper, getting media attention, Sheehan’s run as an independent candidate against Nancy Pelosi, Kucinich and the impeachment option, Ned Lamont vs. Sheehan, political narrative, the aborted Democratic presidential debate on FOX News vs. Obama’s appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, Sarah Palin, getting through to the other side, Moulitsas’s conclusions about FOX News viewers*, spreading misinformation and conjecture vs. open source journalism, why Moulitsas hasn’t employed a fact checker for Daily Kos, whether Moulitsas considers himself a journalist, and doing anything to win for politics.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: I wanted to actually ask you about your site. I mean, the Daily Kos was responsible for spreading the rumor that Sarah Palin’s son, Trig, was her daughter’s son. Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post actually asked you about this. And you said to him, “Our people are doing the vetting. Even if some of it is hitting dead ends, other ones are striking direct hits. My role is to sit back and let the citizen journalists do their job, and I amplify the stuff that shakes out.”
But I’m wondering, if this is misinformation or conjecture, what is this doing to increase the level of political discourse? Or to even help the credibility of Daily Kos? I mean, aren’t you essentially doing the exact same thing as the people who looked to Al Gore and said, “Oh, he invented the Internet.” Even though, as you pointed out in your book, well, it was intended as a joke. It was completely misconstrued. I mean, what of this? I know you have an engineer who you’ve hired. Why not hire a fact checker? Why not try to get it right? Why not actually go ahead and push the levels of reason higher than the mainstream newspapers who sometimes get things wrong?
Moulitsas: So you’re talking about me becoming the ultimate gatekeeper online by stifling anything that hasn’t been vetted by the great and mighty Kos. It is open source. It is a community. People are talking. They’re having a chat. It’s like the corner of — it’s like a sports bar. People get together and they talk about things. And, yeah, some of them are — some misinformation happens. But as a whole, the community shakes things out. This guy, who wrote the one diary, which is now infamous, right?
Moulitsas: Eventually he took it down. Because enough people at Daily Kos pointed out the flaws in the argument. And so the community was self-policing and finally realized, okay, this was a dead end. Now, of course, there was a lot of irregularities about that pregnancy that still are pretty much unexplained. I don’t think they’re explained by the original theory. But there’s some weird stuff. I mean, you don’t have your water break and then you wait ten hours to go the hospital. Because you give a speech and you go on a commercial flight to Seattle, and sit around, and take a commercial flight to Anchorage, and take a one hour drive to your hometown, and then have a baby when your water breaks. Especially a special needs child. Like Trig was. But that said, it’s her choice to make those decisions. You know, I’m a progressive. I’m assuming a doctor said it was okay for her to do that. You know, it’s between her and her doctor.
I am not Sarah Palin. I’m not trying to inject my morality into the public space. But there are some weird things that led people to ask questions. I think that’s perfectly natural. And they led to the reality that Bristol was pregnant. Which normally wouldn’t be relevant. Except that her mother (1) is a fierce opponent of sex education, is all about abstinence-only, and (2) she vetoed funding for a halfway home for pregnant teenagers. Right? So it actually matters when you legislate morality how that will affect your family life. I mean, the hypocrisy and everything else that’s attached to it.
Now that said, there’s also a great deal of investigative stuff that came out of Daily Kos that is now part and parcel of the confirmed background of Sarah Palin. Like her association with the Alaska Independence Party. The separatists.
Correspondent: Sure. But I’m talking about this misinformation here. I mean…
Moulitsas: Well, it’s all…
Correspondent: People are going to catch wind of this early part and then they’re going to look to you and say, “Well, I don’t know about Daily Kos. Sometimes, they get it right. Sometimes, they get it wrong. And I have to constantly fact check on top of this.”
Moulitsas: No, no, no. Good. I want people to look at media with a skeptical eye. Are you kidding me? If people did that, would we have rushed to war in Iraq so quickly? If people didn’t just blindly trust Judith Miller in the New York Times reporting?
Correspondent: Even at the expense of your own credibility?
Moulitsas: It’s not. The question isn’t credibility. Not my own. I didn’t write the stuff. Daily Kos people. I mean, this author’s credibility might be impacted. I don’t know. I didn’t write that stuff.
Correspondent: But the fact of the matter is that “dailykos.com” is in the link.
* Note: The specific report that Moulitsas may be referring to is this 2003 PIPA study which pointed out that FOX News watchers more most misperceptions than those who watched other networks. But there is a significant difference between FOX News watchers experiencing misperceptions and Moulitsas claiming that this audience is “the most reliable Republican constituency in the Republican party.” [sic]
For those of you who hoping that the Bat might put you to sleep, you’re in luck. The new season of Litstation has started, and The Bat Segundo Show can now be listened to every night at midnight EST (9PM PST). To tune in, go to the Litstation page, and click on the “Listen on a PC” or “Listen on a Mac” button, depending upon your computer of choice. Every night at midnight, you’ll hear a random interview from the first 230 shows. We’re airing smack dab between the Poetry and Music Mix and The Left Hand Reading Series. And be sure to listen to Litstation’s many offerings if you can.