Viewfinder Film Club
Stalag 17

Stalag 17

August 11, 2020

Director Billy Wilder's 1953 comedy-drama Stalag 17 tells the story of a group of American airmen held in a German WWII POW camp who come to suspect that one of their number is an informant. Adapted by Wilder and Edwin Blum from the Broadway play of the same name, the film left the FC marveling at its director's mastery of blocking, and questioning the logistics of shooting chronologically. Tommy, who leads this episode's discussion, ties in an on-point reference to Paul Schrader, and Jon makes a brief but impassioned appeal on behalf of Burt Lancaster's nomination for the 1954 Best Actor Oscar — the award that ultimately went to William Holden for his portrayal of Stalag 17's Sgt. J.J. Sefton.

 

Erratum: Toward the end of the episode, there's a fleeting mention of Animal House when, in fact, Animal Farm was intended. Forgive us, dear listeners — these conversations mess with our minds, too. (While we're on the topic, though, consider the possibilities: What if Animal House actually is a World War II allegory?)

Cosmopolis

Cosmopolis

August 4, 2020

Based on the novel by Don DeLillo, writer-director David Cronenberg's 2012 feature Cosmopolis follows 28-year-old billionaire Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) through a single day as he takes a limo across Manhattan in order to get a haircut. It proves to be a bad day for a car ride, as the President of the United States is in town, a water-main bursts, an anti-capitalist riot erupts in the streets, and Eric’s gamble on the Chinese yuan drains his fortune. Over the course of his journey, Eric will essentially live all facets of his life inside this limo while being joined by a string of characters, each of whom serves as a dark, fun-house mirror for the main character.

 

Buckle up for a wild ride—and some strong, conflicting opinions among the Film Club.

Devs (First Season)

Devs (First Season)

July 28, 2020

With a story that spans science and the soul, writer-director Alex Garland's eight-part FX miniseries Devs follows Lily (Sonoya Mizuno), who works at a pioneering silicon-valley technology company led by the messianic Forest (Nick Offerman) and his proverbial right hand, Katie (Alison Pill). After Lily's boyfriend, Sergei (Karl Glusman) is promoted to the company's top-secret Devs division, he goes missing. Lily's pursuit of the truth behind Sergei's disappearance sets her on a course that will begin to unravel the mysteries surrounding Devs.

 

Similarly, the Viewfinder FC embark on their own pursuit to unravel the show's deeper meanings. Either our analysis is brilliant or we have no idea what we're talking about—or, across the multiverse, both are true.

First Reformed

First Reformed

July 21, 2020

Writer-director Paul Schrader’s 2018 feature First Reformed presents the spiritual and physical crisis of a protestant minister named Toller (Ethan Hawke), the reverend at a small church in New York with a nearly nonexistent congregation. Toller’s struggles lead him down an unexpected road when he’s asked by one of his parishioners, Mary (Amanda Seyfried), to speak with her husband, Michael (Philip Ettinger), an environmental activist who can’t reconcile bringing a child into a dying world.

In this episode, the Viewfinder FC grapple with spiritual skeletons of their own, take a ride on the magical mystery tour, and present multiple interpretations of the movie’s finale. Also, Jon manages to mention American Gigolo not once but twice.

Mandy

Mandy

July 14, 2020

In the second half of our two-part dive into two masterpieces starring Nicolas Cage, we lose ourselves in the audiovisual odyssey of director Panos Cosmatos’ 2018 feature Mandy. The movie stars Cage as a lumberjack named Red, who embarks on a surreal mission of revenge after his beloved — the eponymous Mandy, played by Andrea Riseborough — is taken from him by demonic forces. Behind the scenes, cinematographer Benjamin Loeb and composer Jóhann Jóhannsson were among the key collaborators who helped Cosmatos alchemize his host of inspirations into a singular vision.

Bringing Out the Dead

Bringing Out the Dead

July 14, 2020

In this episode — the first half of an unofficial two-part series on two dynamite movies starring the inimitable Nicolas Cage — we dive into Martin Scorses's 1999 film Bringing Out the Dead. Based on the novel by Joe Connelly and with a screenplay by Paul Schrader, the movie features the bold stylings of cinematographer Robert Richardson, ASC, and stars Cage alongside Patricia Arquette, John Goodman, Ving Rhames, Tom Sizemore and Marc Anthony. 

The Day of the Locust

The Day of the Locust

July 13, 2020

Our first episode covers John Schlesinger’s 1975 film The Day of the Locust, which is set in the self-absorbed and all-consuming world of 1930s Hollywood. The film’s all-star cast includes William Atherton, Karen Black, Burgess Meredith, and Donald Sutherland — the latter of whom appears in the role of the original Homer Simpson. Hailing from the U.K., where he had made an early mark with the "kitchen sink" drama A Kind of Loving, Schlesinger won a directing Oscar for his 1969 film Midnight Cowboy. For The Day of the Locust, he reteamed with Midnight Cowboy screenwriter Waldo Salt and partnered for the first time with legendary cinematographer Conrad L. Hall, ASC.

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