Wes & Erin continue their discussion of “Network” (1976).
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of Oedipus Rex, especially that show-stealer Creon.
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of “Tootsie,” etc.
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of “Ozymandias,” etc.
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of “Alien,” etc.
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” etc.
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw,” etc.
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of “Gone with the Wind,” etc.
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” etc.
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of “The Wizard of Oz,” etc.
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of the second half of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and more.
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of the first half of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and more.
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of “Apocalypse Now.” Wes apologizes for asking Erin to watch something so disturbing, and we further discuss dueling conceptions of the arts, one Platonic and the other Aristotelian. We agree that “Apocalypse Now,” despite being challenging, is an aesthetic masterpiece. What about the narrative? Wes argues that it is very close to not having enough of an arc. What it does most successfully is to convey a kind of surreal, psychedelic mood, one that is meant to capture the insanity of the Vietnam War (and perhaps war in general), and so constitutes its critique. We end by reminiscing about watching “Notting Hill” together. But we fail to talk about an obvious hypothetical ….
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of “The Heart of Darkness”; pairing it with “Apocalypse Now” (up next). Erin wasn’t enthusiastic about doing the book, but got hooked. We muse about the Roman invasion of Britain, “Life of Brian,” and why it feels great (for Erin) to be an Italian. Erin is working on a list of classic movies for the daughter of a listener, and is elated to be moving to the gorgeous Eden that is Salt Lake City (via a road trip with her mom).
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of Thelma & Louise. It’s not at the very top of Erin’s list of favorite movies, but it’s among her top 200. She tends to become attached to certain stars and watch everything they’ve made, and Susan Sarandon is among her top three favorite living actresses. Speaking of Utah (where most of Thelma & Louise was filmed), Erin is moving there to get a PhD in English/Creative Writing at The University of Utah! Wes, on the other hand, has decided to stay home and watch such movies as Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (not good). Also not good is Barefoot in the Park, which both Wes and Erin coincidentally watched recently. The humor is dated, Jane Fonda’s character is insane, and it’s not clear what the play is about. On the other hand, Erin can recommend Cactus Flower with Walter Matthau, Goldie Hawn, and Ingrid Bergman. And catch Erin discussing Cool Hand Luke on the podcast Not Your Father’s Movies.
Wes & Erin say hello to Easter and goodbye to the Amazing Mr. Chekhov. Wes talks about his upcoming The Stoic Guide To Happiness course on the educational app Himalaya (promo cod STOIC to listen for free). He talks about how there’s some crossover between ancient Greek Stoicism and psychoanalysis (and not just, as has long been acknowledged, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Stoicism asks us to pry apart two different forms of suffering: on the one hand, everyday and ordinary suffering that we cannot avoid in our lives; on the other, suffering that is avoidable and the product of our vanity: this involves some sense of being wronged (or “narcissistically injured”) by other people, society as a whole, or even fate. Both psychoanalysis and Stoicism help to get us beyond such attitudes by teaching us to mourn our losses as losses (and something we can’t control), instead of holding onto them as a kind of personal insult. This state of mind becomes our liberating locus of control, if we can cultivate it.
Wes & Erin decide to do another week of Chekhov short stories, and then “Thelma and Louise.” So next time, we’ll be discussing Chekhov’s “The Student” and “A Medical Case.” We discuss “Bull Durham” and why the movie works. Tim Robbins is Wes’s doppelgänger. Susan Sarandon is ageless, and her role in the movie as spiritual and sexual mentor to baseball players is really something. Erin loves minor league baseball; Wes has never been. What makes baseball great? Sarandon’s character Annie says it all: “there’s a spacious non-time kind of time to it.” Relatedly, Wes lives in a spacious multi-family existence.
Wes & Erin discuss Wes’s Chekhophilia and Erin’s slavophilia. Wes once outlined a screenplay for “The Brothers Karamazov,” the 1959 movie based on the book with William Shatner as Alyosha. But he much prefers Chekhov to Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, and cannot forgive Tolstoy for his dislike of Shakespeare. Erin likes Tolstoy because he’s weird and Chekhov because he’s attractive and medical. Erin lists writers who were also doctors, and we try to say why they make such good writers. Chekhov ruminates a lot in his work about the tension between being an artist and being more practically engaged with the world. We talk about the incredible painter Ilya Repin, among the many artists and intellectuals who were Chekhov’s friends.
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of “The Godfather,” and the novelty of thinking about such movies analytically. Wes approaches the podcasts more like a Michael, and Erin like a Sonny. According to Erin, Italian Americans are so ambivalent about this movie because–despite the unfortunate associations it creates with organized crime–in many ways it’s so accurate when it comes to the culture. Wes is obsessed with movies from the late 60s and 70s, but isn’t as consistently enthusiastic about other eras. He did watch “Bridge Jones’ Diary” recently, and forgot how much is based on “Pride and Prejudice.” Erin likes seeing Darcy in a Christmas jumper, and Wes envies the way he can be so charmingly sullen. Erin’s students have fascinating ideas about “Pride and Prejudice,” and are fascinated by the fact that Erin has a podcast. We talk about how well the podcast is doing, and perhaps Erin assigning it to students will lift it even more. Remember: this podcast is business, not personal.
Wes & Erin continue their discussion of Annie Hall; Wes pines to revisit his many unwritten essays, including the one about love and nostalgia in Woody Allen films. We discuss whether Mike Nichols used crack, and the way Google’s algorithms mercilessly hunt Wes down to forcibly dose him with information about the director, all because of a few searches. Wes couldn’t get through Clue, but that may be due to the variability of his many movie moods, and in any case Erin’s Madeline Kahn impression captures a redeeming attitude. We discuss My Favorite Wife (my favorite life?). >> More