Plastic Podcast

The venerable and exceedingly intermittent Plastic Podcast, which has outlived the two blogs with which it was intertwined, and whose audio archives were difficult to ...

The Plastic Podcast

An audio program about movies. Listen with your iPod or computer.

Plastic Podcast

The venerable and exceedingly intermittent Plastic Podcast, which has outlived the two blogs with which it was intertwined, and whose audio archives were difficult to ...

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Daily Plastic is a Chicago-based movie blog, a collaboration between Robert Davis and J. Robert Parks, the same pair who brought you the wearable movie tote, the razor-thin pencil pocket, and that joke about aardvarks. If you know the whereabouts of the blue Pontiac Tempest that was towed from the Plastic Parking Lot on the evening of August 7th, 2008, or more importantly if you've recovered the red shoebox that was in its trunk, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

Davis was the chief film critic for the late, great Paste Magazine (which lives on now as a website) from 2005 through 2009, and he counts this interview with Claire Denis among his favorite moments. Every once in a while he pops up on Twitter. He's presently sipping puerh in Chicago, even at this hour. Meanwhile, Parks, whose work has appeared in TimeOut Chicago, The Hyde Park Herald, and Paste, is molding unsuspecting, college-aged minds in the aforementioned windy city. Media types are warned to stay clear of his semester-sized field of influence because of the distorting effects that are likely to develop.

The © copyright of all content on Daily Plastic belongs to the respective authors.


Alex Descas and Claire Denis on the set of 35 Shots of Rum

After jotting down some initial impressions of Claire Denis' wonderful, warm-hearted new film, I sat down for a conversation with Denis in Toronto. As Stephen Holden wrote in the New York Times recently, 35 Shots of Rum is "a movie of few words and little psychology that relies mostly on the physical vocabulary of faces and bodies to convey feelings too complex to be verbalized."

That's often true of Denis' films, and when I talked with her I found that this one has a very personal connection, as well. She spoke about the great Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu, about her grandfather, and about the interplay of work and family that appears in Ozu's films, in her own film, and even in her band of regular collaborators.

35 Shots of Rum plays March 13 and 15 at the Walter Reade Theatre in New York as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series.

• • •

Robert Davis: I saw your film yesterday for the first time, and I'm going to try to see it once more before I leave Toronto, just because I always feel like your films take a little bit of time. I like to figure out how to watch them. It's such a beautiful movie.

And what I discovered as I was watching is that it's an homage to Late Spring and Ozu!

Claire Denis: Yes. [smiles] I think I would not have been pushed or—

I've been dreaming for many years of making an homage to Ozu, and this particular film was possible for me to use as an homage to Ozu, because actually it's the story of my grandfather and my mother. She was raised by her father. And once I took her to see a retrospective of Ozu, and she really had a sort of shock to see that film [Late Spring]. That was like maybe ten, fifteen years ago, and I told her, "Maybe, once, I will try to make a film like that for you."

On the other hand I was a little bit afraid, and when I saw Hou Hsiao-hsien's film, the film he made in Japan—

RD: Café Lumière?

Denis saw the Hou film when she was in Toronto in 2004 with her previous film, The Intruder. I spoke with her shortly after the screening, but I didn't realize then what an encouragement his film had been, and maybe she didn't either. I do remember thinking that Hou's film was unusually sparse. Simple, even. And that seems to be what nudged Denis toward her long-considered Ozu project: simplicity is the key. — RD

CD: Café Lumière, the homage, I thought maybe it's simpler to make an homage to Ozu. Maybe my shyness should be reconsidered. Maybe it's possible.

RD: What was the fear, do you think? Just that he's a master, that he—?

CD: No, my fear was that I'd be fulfilled with my love for his film and therefore not create a real relationship with my film. I realized this was a little bit stupid, because the minute I was in the film and with my characters and actors, I can't say I forgot Ozu, but on the other hand I was concerned by that story, those characters.

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Ishika Mohan / Fox Searchlight / Lol Crawley
Left: Danny Boyle in India. Right: JimMyron Ross and Tarra Riggs in Ballast.

On this edition of the Plastic Podcast, Robert Davis first talks with Danny Boyle about his new film, Slumdog Millionaire. Among other things, they chat about what drew him to the project, his impression of India, working with his co-director Loveleen Tandan, his strategy for editing multiple timelines, and the film's surprising depiction of torture — over a game show.

Then Rob talks with Lance Hammer whose debut film, Ballast, is moving gradually around the country. They talk about the music he almost added, the eye of an art director, the impact of Godard and the Dardenne brothers on the film, the way he gleaned dialogue from his extensive, "architectural" process of rehearsal and improvisation, and the tone of the Mississippi delta.

0:00 Intro
3:09 Interview: Danny Boyle on Slumdog Millionaire
17:24 Interview: Lance Hammer on Ballast
33:43 Outro

Further Reading and Listening

Update: 15 December 2008
Excerpts from the interview with Lance Hammer appear at

Focus Features and Nina Buesing/Kino International
Left: Steve Coogan and Elizabeth Shue in Hamlet 2. Right: Azazel Jacobs

This edition of the Plastic Podcast features two interviews: Robert Davis talks with writer-director Azazel Jacobs about his new film, Momma's Man, and J. Robert Parks talks to actor and comedian Steve Coogan about his new film, Hamlet 2, among other things.

0:00 Intro
4:04 Interview: Azazel Jacobs on Momma's Man
16:50 About Steve Coogan (and Al Pacino?)
19:27 Interview: Steve Coogan
38:03 Dangerous Outro

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Mark and Jay Duplass, writers and directors of Baghead

Arrogant smarty-pants might guess that this first edition of the Plastic Podcast is no different from its predecessor, the Errata Movie Podcast. But if we've learned anything from the movies, it's that know-it-alls will always receive their comeuppance. If you think you're a know-it-all, please wait around the corner for what's coming to you.

The Duplass brothers, Mark and Jay, may feign ignorance at times, but their new movie Baghead is plenty smart. Mixing genres in clever ways, it even inspires chills through the hoariest of horror cliches, the cabin in the woods. We sat down with the brothers Duplass in an exceedingly warm Chicago conference room, and the conversation revolved around the process of writing and editing, why watching movies at night is a different experience, and the enduring classic that is Fletch.

One last note. We here at Daily Plastic were only slightly miffed that the man in the woods is wearing a paper bag on his head, but we've gotten over it.

0:00 Intro
2:51 Interview: Mark and Jay Duplass
6:54 - Planning for Improvisation
10:58 - Working with Professional Actors
12:28 - Whittling the Footage
14:05 - Staying Ahead of the Audience
17:05 - Audience Dynamic, Permission to Laugh
21:11 - Obsessed with Plot
22:45 - Division of Labor
23:56 - Influences and Future Directions
29:10 - What sort of movies does the world need now?
30:38 Outro

A few fun quotations from the interview:

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James Rexroad/Paramount Vantage
Nanette Burstein shooting American Teen

Nanette Burstein was nominated for an Oscar for her debut film On The Ropes and received critical acclaim for The Kid Stays in the Picture, but her latest documentary shifts from the highly specific story of a well-known movie producer to the more universal tale of teenagers. Indeed, American Teen feels almost archetypal, as Burstein follows four classic American types--the popular girl, the band geek, the quirky outsider, and the jock--through the ups and downs of their senior years. The film captures the teens as they fall in and out of love, wrestle with the demands of friends and parents, and struggle with where (or whether) to go to college.

We sat down with Burstein and talked about reality TV, crafting a story, and whether teenagers really are that self-absorbed.

On the Whys and Hows of Filming Teenagers

J. Robert Parks: You've done documentaries on boxers, on music, on Robert Evans. Why teenagers in small-town Indiana?

Nanette Burstein: I wanted to do a film on teenagers. One, I was influenced by this documentary called Seventeen, which was actually shot in Indiana. Also, my high school experience was such an important time in my life. It was very challenging, but also very formative in defining who I ultimately became. So I wanted to do a movie that was personally very important to me.

JRP: One of the things I find interesting about the film is that these teenagers almost seem like they're out of central casting. You've got the band geek, you've got the queen bee, you've got the jock and so forth and so on. I'm curious how you chose the teenagers you did. Were you looking for those kinds of things, or did that storyline develop as it went on?

NB: I was definitely looking for kids from different social cliques and different social classes. But they didn't have to be as archetypal as they were. I'm glad that they are, because I think they defy the stereotypes and are surprising and unexpected, and that's what I was looking for. You think you know who they are, just like their peers think "oh this is the theater geek." But in fact they're very different people, and they're complicated, and they're trying to figure out who they are.

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