Let's all go to the lobby. Let's all go to the lobby. lobby to get ourselves a treat. Hello and welcome to movies versus capitalism and anti capitalist movie Podcast. I'm Rifka Rivera.
And I am Frank Capello.
So Frank, I finally saw Oppenheimer.
Wow. Congratulations. Are you forever changed once you looked into that neutron those those atoms exploding before your very eyes?
I told you like it was so interesting because I really had a lot of resistance to seeing it because I just I find nuclear war to be one of the most terrifying prospects of like our demise and very, very fucking possible.
Like wow, unique take.
Well, apparently, I'm the only one because y'all fucking loved it. But I was just like, yeah, I found myself viscerally being like, I don't want to go see a visual representation of that bomb. It worried me. I was worried. Luckily, I didn't really feel much I was pretty fucking bored. Hot
I mean, it is a lot of just men talking. So understandable.
A lot of men talking. And it was three hours of men talking. I mean, I understand. Okay, I understand that it is a doing air quotes. Good movie, like, and there were things I appreciate. And there was the weld doneness. You know, there's like, you're like, that's well done. I can see all that. Okay, great. Badge by the prestige, black and white. And then in memory color. It's okay as beautiful performances. Okay, and maybe not a good movie for me to see. Like, we think we went to an 830 showing. But I think my biggest honestly, and I'm not saying I'm saying this was my experience. I'm not going to say that this means anything. I don't know what it means for the film. My experience was I was pretty upset. Emotion. I was just like, I found myself distanced from the film, because I was just like, how the fuck are you going to talk about Hiroshima and not have a single piece of Japanese representation and I get it. It wasn't about that. It was about the man who built the bomb. I'm just like, and I'm not saying that Robert Oppenheimer is Hitler, but like, certainly fucking killed a lot of fucking people. And yeah, it's like doing the movie about that. I don't fucking care. Like, I don't really, I I'm like, okay, I can see the interest. I just found that and, and you know what, a lot of people in this country don't know about Hiroshima. They don't know the impact that it had. I just, I was lucky enough that when I was very, very young, lucky in cold air quotes again. My dad showed me probably too young maybe this has to do with the reason why I'm really scared to see this movie. But I remember seeing this Japanese film grave of fireflies, which if you've never seen it is like it's a Japanese animated war film. Yeah, it's all about the bombing of World War Two for and it's Yeah, devastating. I was really fucked up by like, just when I learned about it, and I just realized so many people don't understand the history. I think it's fucking sucks that this is going to be a lot of people's first connection to that moment in time and have no fucking like, what because he taught like, you're probably sleeping while they talk about like, you just don't really understand the gravity of it from this film. Yeah, so fuck that movie. Sorry. Sorry.
Hey, you know what people get to feel subjective about art. That's the beautiful thing about it. You're right. I totally hear you want all that I didn't like I didn't hate it. It was a compelling movie going experience when I saw it. And I and I'm now seeing it. This is like three or four weeks ago, so I don't remember it as clearly. But I agree with you that Nolan did not translate the act, that human devastation that those two bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were responsible for. And you know, I was listening to one film podcast talk about it and they were like, someone was like, Well, should they have like shown footage of like, what actually happened? Someone shows up someone's like, no, that would have been like, that would have been like to sensationalist and disrespectful and I was like, there's an argument maybe to be made that like that is not the right place for that kind of footage. But But what contrasts that is the sequence of the Trinity tests where they show the bomb going off for the first time and it's unbelievable visual filmmaking like I don't know how they CGI through, you know, practical combustion. I don't know how that created that extraction call, but it is Stunning. Stunning to look at and you're really like Mark, you're marveling at this power at this technology. And Nolan clearly has such reverence for for that aspect of it, but if you contrast it by saying like, Oh, but we're not actually going to show the actual human devastation that this caused, then really it kind of just feels like a like a love letter to the atom bomb in a lot of ways. And obviously, the scientific community in the film are debating the use of the bomb, especially after, especially after Germany surrenders and Hitler dies. And they're like, oh, great, we don't need the bomb anymore. And then so there's like they they incorporate incorporate a little bit of that debate. I did appreciate how much they showed how much like the Red Scare and anti communism played into the story. But then it ends up just becoming a story about like, Oppenheimer needs to clear his name, and not really it. It's about like, his personal life and the fact that he was like a womanizer, which are all important aspects to his life, but it didn't. Yeah, I don't feel like it fully reconciled. The true human impact of what he created.
Yeah, it was it was a psychological it was about Oppenheimer. And I think that was, you know, in in that psychological journey, and I fucking, but he didn't really, I don't really think he, from what I got from it. I was like, I don't think they were like, he really felt that guilty about it. I don't think he really cared. That was like what I got. And that's fine, but like, fuck that, then then you have been contract. I mean, I don't know this was the way they market it. You're like, this was the bargain hunt. Like when you think about what this historic event was, and then they're marketing it with Barbin Heimer. It's so fucked up. It's like taking a fucking Holocaust or something. You know, this is a Holic? This was a Holocaust for those people. And fucking movie. Like, What the actual fuck? It's dead. It's mind blowing to me.
That's so interesting that you mentioned that you make that point because did you know that as the BB and Heimer phenomenon was playing out online, because that is, like you're saying immensely offensive and traumatic for for people to be making light of this like, Oh, it's a pink mushroom cloud. Barban Heimer hahaha. So there was actually a trend in Japan of Japanese people making memes of basically like Barbie 911 and being like, so fucking good. Yeah, of like showing the Twin Towers, but like with pink smoke coming out. And they're like, this is what you did. Like you're you're Barban hyper means this is what this is to us. Like when you do this. It's funny for you. It's not funny for us. So like, here's your Barbie. Here's here's Barbie 11. Or like, whatever you want to call it.
Yeah, the more I think about it, the more like it didn't sit right with me. And that's all I can say. That was my body's reaction. Like, I'm not I'm not trying to be out here being like, you can make this you can't make this. But like, the point of this podcast is like, where does the money go? What stories are we backing? In America cinema. This was fucking huge. And like, Sure, there's been a lot of amazing Japanese cinema about that experience. But like, again, not many people in this country are seeing it. And we were the fucking perpetrators like, yeah, and they have that moment in the film where you where he's looking out and he sees like the woman in front of her him skin falling like he starts to see it. But if it's about him denying it, then go there. But it just never really dealt with it. It was like, let's talk about his journey after. Yeah, it was a white dudes version, a very talented white guy. But like, I think that was like, that's what he was interested in. And that's what kind of America is interested in in terms of like allowing that narrative.
I think that framing it that way is is 100% Correct. This was the story of like a very talented white guy who like felt really bad about stuff. But it was not the story about what he did and what impact it had on the rest of the world.
Right. And we were like, That's it. That's fine. I'm like it would be but again, we come up against this all the time where you're like, but what movie gets that much press and that much funding?
Especially? And I don't remember but I don't think in the movie they mentioned at all, like in a title card at the end or anything that like it's now well known that, like military officials at that time, were pushing for the bomb just because they wanted to show off the bomb. Like there was no like, the whole like the Japanese will not surrender thing has been like pretty much debunked. And it was just kind of like a few generals or whoever, who were like, Yeah, we got this bomb, though. Let's show off this fucking bomb. So important to remember as much as the United States has demonized communists and the Soviet Union and China and everyone else in the world that doesn't play along with their imperial capitalist game, that the United States is the only country in history that has ever unleashed a nuclear weapon on another country. We're all upset. And we're the quote unquote, good guys. So just you know, important to keep in mind.
All right. One other thing we wanted to talk about really fast.
We didn't think we would get like we were like, we'll just briefly touch on Oppenheimer. Yeah, it
was like, we'll just do a quick Oppenheimer recap, but we do want to talk about this because it's relevant to the movie we're talking about today. So a few weeks ago, Rick, I don't I don't know if you heard this. Did you hear that? Joe Biden declared a climate emergency.
I heard a little bit yeah, but please tell me More, you probably only
heard a little bit because he actually didn't. But he said that he but he said that he practically did. So a couple of weeks ago, Biden was doing an interview with the weather channel. And, you know, he was saying, like, you're talking about climate change, like we quote, we've conserve more land, we've moved to rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, we got a 60 billion climate control facility. And then when pressed and asked whether or not he has actually declared or would declare a climate emergency, Biden responded, practically speaking, yes. So this is Biden doing a lot of hand waving and gesturing being like, Hey, don't worry, I'm handling climate change. Guys. Don't even worry about like, everyone honestly, shut up about it, because I did it. Hey,
did you clean the apartment? Like I asked you to? Practically speaking?
Yep. Practically, I mean, I moved the dishes, a little bit great term, practically speaking.
So if you don't, if you haven't heard it all about this discourse, climate activists have been pressuring Biden for years, and now especially in this summer of like heat waves and fires and hurricanes and places that they shouldn't be. People are like Biden, declare climate emergency would give him so much additional power to combat climate change. Experts say Biden could invoke that 1976 national emergencies act to give himself power to order the manufacture of clean energy technology, deploy renewables on military bases, block crude oil exports, or even suspend offshore drilling plus a host of other powers they did doesn't have right now, it's obvious that he needs to do this. We're like at, we've been at a tipping point for years. But it's like if he is not using every tool in his tool belt to try to save a livable climate, then like, What the fuck is he even doing? And a little bit of what we hear from him. And the you know, the corporate Democrats is, you know, hey, we just passed this big inflation Reduction Act, and that had the biggest climate investment in US history. And that is true. That is true. The the IRA included 369 billion in climate and energy provisions, but that is over 10 years. So that is 3630. So yeah, it's the biggest so far, it's still not fucking enough. So that is only $36.9 billion a year. And for a little bit of contrast, this year, Congress approved a defense budget of 886 billion. So in just one year, the Pentagon, the Department of Defense's getting almost a trillion dollars and climate investment gets $36 billion. So that is that lays out what the priorities of the US government and it's also funny, because it's not funny, but the US military is the single biggest greenhouse gas emitter on planet Earth. So it's just a whole lot of horseshit. And I want to bring this up because like, because, you know, for any people who are still, you know, very much in like the Liberal Democrat camp of just like, hey, you know, at least they're not the Republicans, at least they're not you know, absolutely cartoonishly evil, and, you know, they're doing their best and sure, they're not as bad as the Republicans, but they're not doing their best and Biden refusing to declare a climate emergency is the proof in the pudding. Like they are not willing to use power when they have it. They are not willing to buck their donors and their corporate clout and the corporate classes that support their party. And just being not as bad as the Republicans is not good enough. That should that is not good enough, just because they're not racist, or homophobic or transphobic.
That doesn't doesn't even make sense. That statement when people are like, not to me, that's just not as bad. You're like, defined bad. In what context? It's just irrelevant. It's like, it's all fucking bad.
It's all fucking bad. And and it's not just Biden. It's not like, oh, but what, but only if we got, I don't know, Kamala in there or budaj edge or Elizabeth Warren, like, that's not. They're all part of this party machine. Like if the Democratic party wanted Biden to declare a climate emergency, he probably would they work together. The only thing the Democratic Party is good at is crushing progressives and crushing leftists that can't do shit when it comes to the Republicans. But when it comes to stomping out the leftist faction of their party that actually wants to use power to challenge the corporate donor class. That's when the Democratic Party can actually get a chip together and make some stuff happen. Like we saw in the 2020 primary when they all came together to make sure that Bernie didn't win. Like that's the that is the only thing that the Democrats are good at. So just a little
thing just as a little,
just a small. We just had a couple of quick things we wanted to talk about here. Really literally we started with like, I don't know if we have anything to say for the topical.
Yeah, but when we got on Mike, we're like, I don't have anything this week. I don't have anything to talk about. Oh, maybe. Well, we're just such good podcasters now just came out of us now. All right. Well, we should get to our conversation today. It's a very, very good one. But before we do we want to let our audience know that this podcast that you're listening to is brought to you by the lever, which is a reader supported investigative news outlet, which reports on the people and corporations manipulating the levers of power in our society, you can go to lever news.com, to find all of their original reporting.
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All right, we're gonna take a quick break. We'll be right back with our conversation about first reformed with Andrew Perez. All right, we are now joined by Andrew Perez. Andrew is a senior editor reporter at the lever where he covers money and its influence on politics and policy. Andrew, thank you so much for joining us today.
Course really happy to do this.
Andrew, this is something I've never really asked you about. We've talked about movies before. We've talked about a bunch of different things. But I'm gonna talk to you about how you got into this business how you became a reporter. I've seen that one photo of you, when you were you said when you were like a young little baby and getting to DC wide eyed and bushy tail. But I don't know how, how we how we've gotten from there to here. So would you mind just giving us a little background on that?
Sure. Well, I went to school in Washington, a school for, you know, Politico's and wanks. The George Washington University. And so, you know, I guess I've always had an interest in politics, I actually thought I wanted to work in politics. And I was really fortunate that no one wanted to hire me. So that, you know, that was lucky. Eventually, I got like this internship at HuffPost. Which was pretty fun. And that's how I started doing like, investigative reporting, was there actually like the first big investigative piece I worked on was there. And then I, you know, not long after that I started working with with, you know, the levers founder David Sirota at International Business Times, I was working with both him and and our colleague Matthew Cunningham cook. And so you have been working as an investigative reporter and editor ever since then?
And what about your intersection between media and this type of investigation that you've done? Have you always been into films and media growing up? And have you always sort of watched within awareness? Like, has your politics always been a lens through which you took in your media?
I'm not, you know, I don't think it was. Like, I don't think I fully kind of had I had a very firmly like, developed sort of sense of like politics and, and you know, what I thought about the world until it's funny, should that some of that came from interning on Capitol Hill, getting getting berated by like, you know, normal people, and like, inserting the phones and be like, well, they're right. Most of these people were right. Like, they're, like, not all the time. You know, they there's there's frequent fliers in any office who were like absolutely nuts. But some of those days when they were yelling at us, I was like, I cannot argue with this at all. I wish I could say good job. Thank you for calling. So yeah, that was that was I think, really, really informative for me.
Well, where you are now. Your your politics and your choice in media and film have definitely aligned because you chose God such an amazing movie for us to watch you chose first reformed?
Yeah, I'll be honest, I had not. I think I've heard of it. But it this is movie from 2017. And it's like, I feel like 2017 to 2019 are vague for me, but I loved this film. So let's get into it. This was a film written and directed by Paul Schrader. It stars Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried and Cedric the Entertainer. And the budget for this movie was $3.5 million. It grossed 4 million worldwide. As I said it came out in 27. tiene and the story of this movie revolves around Ernst Toller, played by Ethan Hawke, who is a former military chaplain who is grappling with the death of his son in the Iraq War. And now he's a pastor of a small congregation in upstate New York, which is about to celebrate its 200 and 50th anniversary Tollers life takes a turn, however, when he meets a pregnant parishioner played by Amanda Seyfried, whose husband is a radical environmentalist. And this encounter triggers a series of events that makes him question his faith and where he stands in terms of religion, life and society.
A little bit of a historical context for when this film was released, as Rifka said, 2017 So, guess we all forgot. After a divisive election season Donald Trump officially became the 45th President of the United States on January 20 2017. Later that month, the Women's March on Washington took place which advocated for policies regarding women's rights and other issues and became one of the largest single day demonstrations in US history. Shortly after taking office, Donald Trump signed orders clearing the way for the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines. The movers in effort to expand US energy infrastructure and roll back Obama era environmental regulations. Also the Trump administration pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Also that year. It's record setting wildfires and hurricanes in August hurricane Harvey hits Texas followed by hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico devastating the island 2017 was also the year that lala land accidentally won the Oscar for best picture before it was correctly given to moonlight. So Andrew, the first thing we start the conversation with, we ask our guests, why did you choose this movie for us to watch?
You know, I think it's a really, really outstanding movie. And it's like, I don't feel like I've seen anything really like it before. And you know, I'm a money in politics reporter it's it's actually like a money in politics story or money in an influence story. In a way that's like, actually, it's fairly subtle, the movies very subtle, you know, this guy basically realizes this, this pastor realizes that, that his church is in like, basically his own job at this at this church is being bankrolled by, effectively a stand in for Koch Industries, right, like a stand in for Charles Koch, and, you know, becomes basically radicalized enough to consider, like, blowing up the church, like, incredible, incredible premise here, like, in watching him sort of, like, you know, sort of, like lose his mind and become really resolved to doing it. Like, deeply interested in doing it, I find it's like, it's fascinating. And like, to me, it's incredible that God made, like, the message itself is like, is
just incredible. I mean, I think that's some of the power of Paul Schrader, although he would be the first person to admit that he has a hard time getting his movies financed. But if you like, if, in watching the credits, you'll see that there's like, I don't know, six or seven production companies credited, which, if you don't know a ton about the way the movies are financed, that means that this the budget for this movie, which was only 3.5 million was really piecemealed together by a bunch of different either like independent producers or production companies. So like, yeah, you're right, it is surprising that this film got made at all,
I think beyond even just like, yes, the fact that it got made, because of its impactful story and, and the financing of it. I think it's really was amazing to watch as well, because it is so great. And I'm a big fan of Paul Schrader and for people who aren't familiar with his work, he did Raging Bull, taxi driver, many other things, but that's what he's most famous for. And it's when you're watching this, if you're familiar with taxi driver, it's so clearly like, this masterful journey where you feel like Travis Bickle is this sort of like, there's just many similarities that there's almost this early seed for this character later. But Schrader speaks about how he was like, this is the film I promised myself I would never make. And that firm's code
is, abysmal movie.
Yeah, this movie that he it took him 50 years to prepare for and two months to write, but he for for a few reasons. He's he started off as a film critic, which I think is really interesting. And he has written he wrote a book on transcendental style, which is a lot about, you know, filmmakers that invoke spiritual sense of the characters and you know, this really sort of like slow moving space and he writes all about this because like, I am not that filmmaker like I don't do that. I'm more interested in like the action and the sex and the like, you know, these kinds of characters. He talks about seeing a movie enough by a filmmaker Paulo Polaski, who did this film Ina and he saw this movie and that was the moment like after he was like, okay, I'm ready to write the film that I said I would never write. And I think a lot of it he had early on. Also Ben had a very spiritual upbringing. But I just think that you can feel all of that, like he was in his 70s By the time he wrote this script, and it's just like, you feel just like all of the mastery of craft, right next to all of the urgency and passion of a lifetime. So I think that it's just like those two things combined create this stunning, like, relentlessly sparse film that's also just full of so much existential grief and fullness of character. So it really like if you have not seen it yet. This is a masterpiece, and you want to see it. So that was that was Thank you for having us watch it because I don't know. Honestly, while you know, it was one of those things that just kind of seemed to, I guess, unless you're in the film world, just rumble off, you know, well, I
remember when it came out in 2017. It was like, the you know, there was some it was it was a small movie. And if you weren't like really looking for it, you probably saw the trailer in a trailer and you're like, oh, Ethan Hawke plays this ad priest. I don't know if I need to see that. But it is such a gripping, compelling. And also, like very funny at times. Movie. Yeah, I have written down, thoughtful taxi driver for the modern era. Because it does because Paul Schrader is like, he's like, I'm the troubled man, screenwriter, you know, like, the guy who knows how to, like, portray these troubled men as they they deal with like these existential questions, but they're, I mean, that unbelievable thing about this movie in particular is that like, even though by the end, Ethan Hawke is going to commit a like mass act of violence, you as the audience member, kind of like, kind of get it though. I kind of like, you know, I don't know if I say I would quote unquote, condone this, but I'm not. I'm not like, why are you doing this, you'd like totally understand his journey.
Well, and it starts in so the first scene they really liked the inciting incident scene is when he has this meeting, when he has Amanda Seyfried character, finds him and says, please speak with my husband, I don't know what to do, she's pregnant. And he doesn't want her to have the child because the world is coming to an end as a result of the climate crisis, which is the truth. And he's afraid of what it means. existentially morally, realistically to bring a child into this world like that alone. I had to pause after that scene, because it booked me up as someone who wants to have kids and he was constantly in this existential place myself,
Andrew, especially because I know we've talked about this, like you've, you've voiced to me if it's alright, I share that there. There have been times in the work that you do, where you get incredibly sad, because of the stark reality of it. So like, knowing that, like, why did you want to return to this movie? Or we could also speak about that scene in particular, because that for me, that's like, that's the bleakest part of the movie is that first scene between taller and Michael
Yeah, well, it's, you know, the things like the stories that we work on that kind of gives me the most like, existential despair are climate stories, especially because some of them are like, so sort of, like, like, by the book, oh, here's a run of the mill story we just did. The one that really affected me was, was about how, you know, all these Democrats voted on some symbolic messaging bill, basically, like saying that, like the government should not do anything to to limit fracking or like, you know, hydraulic fracturing like, you know, natural gas, methane gas, exploration and production in you know, it's funny, it's like this procedural vote doesn't mean anything, but it's like, these people are sending the message, like, you're all gonna fucking die. Like, and we do not care. Like, we do not care. Like we're we're here for this sort of, like, ride downwards into the inferno. Like, if there was real, you know, real potential movement, like on this issue, we would be there to fuck it up. Like that was the message that like that gave me and like, I like I didn't leave the bed the next day. Like I just like, couldn't leave with my bed. I was like, no, like, this sucks.
That is like the totally sane response. And yet we live in a culture that's made to feel like the same risk that's actually like the knot that's like get out of bed like what are you doing? Let's go make your day in spite of all of these things. That like that's made there's like a constant continual gaslighting that like it's actually not seen, to be affected or to have to like take a mental health day like It's totally seen to be like, this is affecting me so deeply. I can't get out of bed and yet we're it's flipped. And I think in this story, like Reverend Toller works so connected to his journey because he's like, so like, it's so clear, and it's so connected to his own faith, but the entire church, his whole world is like, oh, no, you're you're losing your mind. You're an alcoholic. That's the problem. Not maybe you're trying to self medicate against like, this horror, I didn't mean to interrupt you, but I just was like, that's totally makes sense. Yeah,
yeah. Well, and that's, I mean, it's funny, that's sort of like, where he starts in the story, right is as sort of like, well, like, this
is the way it is, like, you know, you couldn't possibly, like encourage your, your wife to terminate this pregnancy. Because like, like, that's, you know, that is like, that is an affront to God. Like, that's sort of where it where it begins, you know, then then he starts really like thinking about what this guy is, like, actually concerned about invested in, like, interested in and realize this, like, Oh, it is like, actually like, like, worth worth, like standing your ground on this subject. Like, like, it does matter. Like it should be affecting people on a on a like, really, you know, personal level. Yes. And I should say, spoiler alert for any of our we don't ever do spoiler alerts, because we assume that our audiences either watch the movie, or they're like, Oh, well, it's gonna get spoiled. But I'm gonna say it this time, because, honestly, if you haven't seen this movie, go watch this movie, because like the way that the plot develops, but will, spoiler alert, kind of the thing that is that is sort of like the midpoint of the movie that really changes Tollers direction is So Michael, Amanda Seyfried has been the environmentalist, they discover that he has been building a suicide vest in his garage, like a bomb that he's going to he's planning on killing someone or some group of people somewhere, they find it, they take it away without his knowledge. And then the next day, he calls up Reverend taller, and he's like, hey, I want to talk more about some stuff, come meet me at the park at Reverend Toller shows up at the park and Michael has killed himself, he's blown his head off. And that is kind of the moment that's kind of like the real real catalyst for Toller to then start basically taking everything that Michael has said, very seriously and very to heart. And that's kind of like where the character like the major character development happens. And again, like Shrader, the structure of this movie is so fucking brilliant and everything from like, it's first, it's just the baby, then it's like now Michael has killed himself. And then the farther along, it's like, oh, he made now Reverend Toller, might have cancer, he might have stomach cancer, you know, and his his alcoholism is getting worse. And you're just you're seeing these developments take place. And it's just it builds. So incredibly, just to
your point about, again, the mastering in this structure, he talks a lot about the decision to use these withholding devices. And that's particularly I think, something that's used in this transcendental style. But the withholding device being that, like, so many movies are just so desperate for you to love them, which actually feels like exaggerated under capitalism, like, just we're gonna give you too much, because we just need you to love this, we have no faith in your ability to stick with a story or do any thinking for yourself. And so this is very much in opposition of that. And some of the technical stuff is just you'll notice that the framing of just wanting to keep those long shots and the body in the shot, and that the camera never moves, except for a few times where Schrader breaks his own rule intentionally. But that this is like this kind of thing requires a sort of, you're being withheld from, from space, you're not following every little thing and getting every angle, you are forced to use some of your imagination, it's slower. There's sort of he talks about using this scalpel of boredom, you can't overuse it, but like there'll be really long moments where you're just being held in space. And I just think I couldn't imagine telling the story with any other kind of like the restraint, how it mirrors just this world of the church. This sort of like the restraint that the character has from sex from, you know, that moment when he has this fish in the sushi bar and just this desire for it. You just get this feeling of this character being already restrained from things but there's this thought enhanced the existential question of which I was left with of just like, what do we do in the face of this impending grief and doom? I was I I don't know how much it matters what the filmmaker necessarily thinks as much as what the film leaves you with. But I did think it was interesting in in an interview with a trader, he did say which he thought was really nice, because you don't hear it often from boomers but he was just like, you know, our parents were the greatest generation And we were the most selfish generation. And I'm sorry to my kids and grandkids Damn, it was like a small thing in this DGA interview he does with Patrick Shanley, so I recommend that you can, like they have a podcast of it. But it was very impactful to hear someone say sorry, but he was like proclaimed sort of like, I don't have any hope for it for homosapiens. Like, and I think you can see this in the, in this film of it like there is not and I don't know, I don't know where it left me. I still had some optimism. But I guess back to our question, throwing it back to both of you, how did you leave? Did you leave with any optimism,
like, I think I've found the movie like inspiring and that like it, like it wakes you up. Like it really, really hits you. Like, like an ice bath. Like it's the last like, the last half of the film, or just like, you're just like, holy shit the whole time. You know, and it's like, but if like, it inspires you to like to care to like to take to take climate change, and also even just like caring about it, like, you know, seriously, like, it's like, it's something that, you know, could could motivate people to like to really obviously, like, terrible actions, but like, that's, that's, like, rational and fair, right? Like, it is rational and fair. And I think I think it like, you know, maybe maybe, like, I do think it's presented that way to like, even even like, you know, I don't think they ever like necessarily condone what he's doing. But like the fact he's so angry about it is just immoral and right. So, you know, that, to me is like, his is something that I find, like really, really powerful.
It's like, it definitely makes you rethink if you've ever had any reservations about, you know, like climate activists that like destroy construction materials, or blow up pipelines, and you're like, if you're ever someone that's like, well, that is extreme. And that's like, that is, you know, that's a bridge too far. It's like, no, it's literally not even enough. Yeah. And it also this movie is so brilliant, in that it is, it's a man of faith. It's a man of the cloth, you know, it is like, which is something that like, you would think that the church, any church would be leading some of this stuff, some of the fight against climate change, and like putting pressure on elected officials like as, as supposedly the stewards of God's intention you like, when you see it portrayed in this film? You're like, oh, obviously, I'm sure there are priests or pastors or everyone's out there who are like, how do I reconcile my faith? Which with what I know is actually happening on this world right now and to this planet? Well, it's also a
reminder that there is a long there are a lot of there is a long history of activism inside of the church that we forget at least I forget about because they didn't call them that but I've met like there was this nun artist Platt and whole movement that she was a part of that are anti nuclear weapons movement, and they actually would do pretty radical actions like get arrested strap themselves to nuclear arms. So there is that legacy that I think the broader church tied to money at you know, is DeRay and I thought this movie got that right, where you can see where it would be derailed from the real spiritual like, what does spirituality actually mean? And I think that was a big question in this film.
One so one of the things that's like really fascinating is is in the movie that the church where he that he leads is this like, almost like tourist church and it's it's like, it was like, you know, and he's like, very excited to share this with with with the kids is that this was actually like a, an underground railroad. Like stop, like they were helping, you know, helping people escape slavery, like traveling through this church. You know, it's obviously a fictional story, but that's like you know, and he is ready to blow up this church with with like, with you know, an oil baron in it once he learns that the oil baron is like underwriting the work and it's funny like he kind of knows this from the beginning it is reference like Oh, this guy from bulk industries is paying for it all. But then like, you know, the guy from from bulk industries like borates him after after he carries out Michael's last wish, which is pouring his ashes into into the water at this like polluted Superfund site. The guy like the very next scene after that is the guy from BAK Industries like breeding him about this like, oh, like no politics, no politics here like I don't want any politics at this ceremony. And it's because you know, he then finds out like Oh, BAK Industries is also like, you know, it's the number five like chief polluter in the country, fake company, it is pretty pretty clearly a stand in for Koch Industries. And then so he finds out that they're like a big polluter and also responsible for many Superfund sites locally, which is, you know, totally it's not it's not like fictional story completely reasonable idea here like very very realistic. And that guy is underwriting the work at the church. Like that's in you know that that has to be the case that crossed the country. A lot of you know, a lot of really wealthy people are funding, financing churches, you know, helping helping fund their operations and it's like, you know, someone who works in media I've been lucky to work for like, not non corporate media, but you know, you look around like that's it is very, very common for for the Koch family to be underwriting like media positions, like they are, they're a big financier, even of like NPR at this point, which is like, deeply, deeply embarrassing and dispiriting or it should be, but it's not just it's not like just them right? Like they they fund a lot of conservative media, they fund a lot of universities. I am sure Charles Koch has funded a you know, funded a church or two and his day, it's just it's a thing. It is a thing that conservative mega donors just love to do.
I actually want to play a little bit of that scene in the diner when taller meets Edward bulk and also just like, really fast. Michael Gaston who plays Edward balk, fucking amazing. Just like you this minute this guy shows up on on screen, you're like, I hate this guy so much. In this question,
go ahead. Oh, God, forgive us. Oh, God, forgive us for what we're doing to his creation. That's what meant Sona asked me when I visited him. This there's been a lot of loose talk about environmental change. There's scientific consensus. 97%, the man who says nothing always seems more intelligent. Why couldn't I just keep silent? It's a complicated subject. Not really. Who benefits? Cui bono? Who profits? That's what I keep asking myself besides a biblical call to stewardship, who profits when we soil our own this was to begin,
we just agreed to keep politics out of the consecration service. Yes. God, that's like, that's the perfect encapsulation of the debate happening within this movie is that interchange. And it's, it's pretty cool. I love that it's, it's complicated. Not really, it's not. That's it's not, it's not I also love.
When he comes in, he asked for the apple pie, organic, he's like, I know, it's cliche, but it's organic, and it's locally home grown. It's just like the perfect. To me, that's like the perfect analogy for exactly how this works. It's like we're organic. On the outside, we'll write you know, we'll do all this greenwashing on the outside, but don't bring up the politics. And that's, you know, for someone like the Cedric the entertainer's character, who plays sort of the head of this, and there's they're like, more like an Evangelical Church, even though like
Methodist maybe or something. Yeah,
there's some there. They're supposed to be sort of this what something of life you know, one of these sort of more, even though the church is first reformed, they have a grant they have like,
their parents church. It's definitely it's like a northeastern branch of Christianity. It's not as like it's not as wild as like Southern evangelicalism. But it's definitely like, you know, this isn't this isn't the Roman Catholic Church. This is its own thing.
But it's the weaponization. I mean, they just get that right the weaponization of faith against humanity in that irony, and the fact that he's there like you're not in reality because you're you're talking crazy for wanting for thinking that God would be mad like no maybe God wants to kill us all. And you're like that's the same version that's what you're selling us like actual and that's like oh, he asks him so we should pollute so God can restore sin so God can forgive and you know, for some I didn't grow up in any I grew up with parents who are very skeptical of organized religion so without I'm always curious and drawn to it for the spiritual side, but I can see the skepticism of that feels made up. Like yeah, let's just create a thing a thing so we can sell it you know,
one Cedric the entertainer's characters, like pretty open, but like, like, this is a big church like this is this is a business right? Like and it is, like the parent church is like giant so like, at some level, like it is it is a business it's not quite like righteous gemstones level, but it's, it is a business and like we need to we need to keep it funded. Like we need to keep it funded and like but yeah, then he's also like inventing arguments for sort of explaining taking the cash like outside of just like, need the cash, like so. But that to me, like feels right, like it feels like like conversations and compromises that people are making. Like, you know, against themselves all the time.
Yes. Like the level of mental gymnastic compromising that happens in today's society. And in this movie, it's like, it's it absolutely nailed it. I mean, this is like a little off topic. But, you know, months ago, I was talking to a couple of friends who work for, like one of the big tech streamer companies, not in like, in unlike I'm the Executive ish level or like junior executive level. And I said, you know, you actually have a lot of power on in your class, like if your class wanted to organize, you could do that. And you would have probably more outsized effect than just like the writers or actors. And they were like, yeah, no, we can't, we couldn't, that doesn't, we wouldn't. It couldn't work. And I was like, No, of course, of course, you don't think that. But that's, that's, you know, essentially what Cedric the Entertainer is doing here. He's like, he's like, Well, we can't actually, we have to make this compromise. Because if we don't, then we don't get to keep doing our thing. We don't get to keep having our job. So yeah, well, it's
not dissimilar than movies that we talk about here that were like, that was a great movie. But it's so interesting, because when you look at how it was made and funded, it's literally the opposite of the message that it's giving. Right? So even with the Barbie movie coming out being a giant promotion for Mattel, you're like the genesis of this was Mattel. So no matter what the messaging of it being, like, I'm still like, so you're going to tell me that this is a feminist movie, and I should not give a fuck that. It's made by like the the destroyers of like, like, you know what I mean? Like the creators of eating disorders, like, like, What the actual fuck? It feels like that same kind of I and people will. dead ass be like, Wait, please don't ask me to think critically about this. You're upsetting me? Are you okay? Do you need to go to a hospital? Are you drinking too much? And I just feel like that's a very, you know, they nailed that feeling. I hope that we can. I hope that we're really pushing past that. But yeah,
this movie really nails like the like, you don't get to compartmentalize. Nope, nope, you have to think about this. Nope, nope. We can't just Nope, we're not gonna we're not going to not talk about politics. We're not going to like, oh, we'll talk about it later. It's like, Nope, we're talking about we're dealing with it right now. Because like, there's no other time.
Yeah, you must get that a lot. Andrew. Like, I feel like you must get that often because you probably walk around, like, what is your experience at parties? Like, oh, but truthfully, I mean, like, do you get that a lot from people? They're like, can you do people get mad at you? Like fret, like I know, people, people, but like, I just mean like, is it hard to because you do something that's really fucking important. And like, awful. You are the unfortunate messenger. And I'm sure it's really upsetting to people.
I did leave Washington DC. So I've like, exposed myself to like, less annoying people on a daily basis, daily, weekly, monthly basis. Like I don't have to deal with, you know, people who I who I like, disapprove of, you know, I mean, look, I've, I went to school at GW I have, like, plenty of friends who like work in sort of, like, you know, for industry, like, it's just, it's sort of like the DC as a corporate town, like, sure. Like, I was friends with, like, you know, some of the people in DSA there that like local democratic socialists of America chapter, but like, you know, most people go on to have jobs where they think like, oh, this is just it, like, this is the way to have, you know, make a living the way to, you know, to be honest, it is true, right? Like, that is probably the best way to provide for your family, but like, I, I guess I have trouble disassociating like, in that in that manner. That's why like, I've, you know, I guess I'm grateful I've been able to work for these organizations where, like, I'm covering, you know, I'm covering industry from like, an anti corporate lens. Like, you know, most money in politics jobs, like reporting jobs, like sort of means like writing for industry, like you know, you're working for like a newsletter that's like, that gets funded by corporate interests. So like, you know, you can suddenly it's not so you can't do good reporting in that in that situation. But like it there's there's always going to be some level of like, self censorship there. And like, we don't do that here. And I'm, I'm like, really grateful for it. No, it's something that I think is like, special in that you know, I hope I hope that like that both like we succeed and that like we're helping foster this like environment where like, alternative media is allowed to, like grow and prosper and flourish and like give people opportunities to write with like their, to write how they believe like stories need to be covered.
I want to talk before we get to the awards, I want to talk about the ending really quickly. So if you haven't rewatched this or you haven't seen it in a minute, basically, Reverend taller is planning on carrying out the suicide bomb the suicide vest explosion at the church on the day of its re consecration, meaning that it's a full house including Edward bulk, including Cedric the Entertainer, including like dozens and dozens, the mayor or the governor, the governor, Governor, Governor, dozens of other people so it's going to be this giant like clearly political statement. And right before he's about to enter the church to do his opening statements. He sees that Amanda Seyfried character who has grown grown close with at this point, has come to the ceremony, even though he explicitly told her not to come, he was like, do not come do not come. So he shows up, so now he can't go through with it. And then then we kind of enter the space and there was a sequence earlier with that kind of like, does a little like magical realism where they're, you know, they're together then they're traveling through space.
They lie on each other, with their clothes on and just breathe in each other's faces. It's so beautiful. She's like, do you want to I used to do this with do you want to make do it? I love it.
And he's like, he, like wants to do it. But he's like, I'm just like, okay, and then she's like, I made it. He's like, Ha, yeah, it is not. So then. So then rather than going through with the suicide vest, he starts wrapping himself in barbed wire, very, like, very Christ iconography. He's clearly about to go into the church and, you know, make some sort of a scene some sort of political statement, then Amanda Seyfried character comes in.
He pours himself a glass of Drano. That's right. Yeah. A glass of Drano to, like, kill himself. Yeah. But and then next thing you know, you look up and yeah, there is Amanda Seyfried.
And he doesn't drink it. He drops it. Yeah, so I guess
it's not entirely clear right. Like that's where it's not clear if if he drank it or didn't like it's not if this is like his. Yeah, yeah. His his posts like his vision as he's leaving the Earth. Yeah, yeah.
So did you all think he was dead or alive?
I think dead because like, that's what I wanted to quit because and then at the very end, then like, the last shot is them running to each other kissing one another. And then the camera just circles around them for about like 30 seconds as they embrace and having never moved,
having like, not moved the whole film. Having Yes.
And then we'll also like this the reason I think that it must have been in his mind, his last visions is because he's wearing he puts his robe back over the barbed wire and she's embracing him. And she's not like, Oh, my hands. For me. I was like, I think that's the giveaway. But yeah, what
did you do? Yeah, she's not like, Why do you look like that? Where you get that? Are you bleeding? Yeah, nothing? Nothing like that. Yeah. You know, I guess when I first when I watched it the first time I thought that she must have saved him. But on second watch. Yeah, like definitely could be dead. Definitely could be dead. It also like I read a little bit about it. And it sounds like, like Schrader wanted this to be like, deliberately ambiguous, like so you don't know, like you wanted the audience to be split like 5050. And I think they might have even tweaked the ending. Like to just abruptly cut. So that so that you are like, so you're wondering, so you're not sure at all?
Yeah, I My experience was I wasn't even concerned. I wasn't really thinking like what happened as much as it left me suspended in that moment in that just like abrupt kiss, which I loved. I felt like hijacked. I felt like it was passed over to me to be like that uncomfortable feeling of lack of resolution. And I think that was really useful in terms of an app we talked about, like, what activates your audience, and I felt like that was a really activating technique. But now talking about it. Yeah, I could see him. I guess I could see it either way. I don't think it matters. Like I think that's kind of like the the point it's like, it doesn't fucking matter.
That that is true. Well, and he also like doesn't Toller doesn't care about his own life. I think like they make that very clear. Including were like, you know, this this woman who I guess he might have had an affair with at one point like sort of expresses concern for him and it's the only time he in the whole movie that he is mean, I love that Yeah. season we tonic. Yeah, he just he didn't
see him I loved it. He just goes up all of you, bro. Like Jesus to like for
like saying that she like her concerns are petty. So like, yeah, he he doesn't have concern for his own life. And I guess you know, the ending, sir. Yeah, that's sure he probably has stomach cancer.
But I think that's important that's important, right is that there's the physical, the spiritual and the mental are all tied and they're all tied to this climate crisis and climate and that's the inevitable like, doesn't matter. Doesn't matter. or if you have stomach cancer doesn't matter if you're pregnant. Oh, that's kind of interesting. Also the juxtaposition of the two that it was stomach cancer and pregnancy. But that like, yeah, like, in that sense, it was very bleak. And it was sad to hear Schrader was like yeah no, we're there's not like there's not like a US not perishing. There's no hope was like God Roman. And yet there is love, right? And yet there is stuff inside of that. And so it was very passionate. Like that was a message I got, oh, there is love and there is this desire to kiss while you can.
It is as much of a hopeful note as could happen in this movie, while still like without just like totally giving up the the message and theme of the movie itself. All right, Andrew. Well, this is the point in the episode where we hand out awards for this movie. The first award we give it's called a point with a view this goes to the character with the best politics in the movie. So who would you say has the best politics?
Well, it's probably Michael and his politics end up getting like, placed on to Toller too, though, I suppose at some level may be may be marrying Amanda Seyfried character has the most maybe reasonable politics, which is just like I believe in all this. I'm just not quite ready to you know, blow myself up over it. Yeah,
I'd say probably some combo of Michael and Reverend taller, although maybe maybe just I'll just say Michael because you know, another like, when, when taller is really mean to I forget the woman's name, the character's name that was a little out that was a little unnecessary. That was a little like, you could be mean
and have good politics.
You can be nice. Like he was triggered. He's got stomach.
He's having a hard he freaked out at her.
Well, he's also trying to stay on path like he has he has a mission and like her being like, go to the doctor, like would you know could potentially derail the the explosion?
I'll give it to taller? What about you? Rifka?
I'm giving it to Michael.
All right. Our second award is called despicable you this goes to the character with the worst politics in the movie. On the count of three. Yeah. 123 word balk. Doesn't get much worse than Yeah, like the standard and for one of the cokes
one, it's it's funny that it's actually like somewhat transparent about that beyond the like, four letter name, you know, probably filling its exact spot on the list of polluters on the on the, on a global level on that list. But like, he actually goes to tour like box facilities, and they're like, here's where we make plastic and paper like, and here's how it's like renewable or whatever. And it's like, this is like, exactly, like this is almost exactly cook industry. It's like this is funny.
Okay, our last word is a star scorned. This goes to the supporting character that this movie should actually be about. Oh, if there's a tough one, I think I would give it to I could learn more about Mary. I thought, yeah, you know, if there was one character, I'll be honest, I really like Amanda Seyfried. I didn't love her in this. I don't know what it was. And so I don't know if it was that I felt the women or maybe she was slightly, not underwritten. But there was just something there that I found, like, maybe it was just unnerving. And I just didn't like her. And that's okay, too. But I would want to know more. I think that's a really interesting, I think, to have a character that's like, my partner just killed himself because he was afraid, you know, because he's, I'm carrying his child. I'm just like, there's so much there about carrying a child in the uncertainty of this world. She's that really interesting moment where she, I love this scene where she comes to him and she's like, I'm just scared. Like, I'm just scared of everything. It felt very human and upsetting, because I know that feeling where you're just like, Oh, I'm just suddenly terrified. And I all I can state is that fact. And it's a it's just a sensation of fear. And it's free floating, and it's, I don't know where to go. And she had that moment, but I want to know more about her.
Yeah, I really, I really loved Amanda Seyfried in this movie. I've really loved her. Her career. I mean, I've would like who would have thought like, of everyone in me and girls, she'd be the one where I'm like, Well, that's the she's great and Mean Girls. Yeah, she's great Mean Girls, but like, you know, it's a very, like, it's like the broad ditzy like goofy character, but like, she's really phenomenal in this. I would give this award to the first reformed choir. I want to say like, Who are these four kids? Why do they have so much time on their hand how they really learned that, that protests on very quickly, and although I gotta say washed in the blood of the Lamb, that's a banger? Like I will I will put that on for myself just to enjoy.
I guess I would probably say Amanda Seyfried character too. Yeah, she she, I don't know if underdeveloped is fully the right word, but like the movie He's very focused around Toller. Like, there's like kind of barely any scenes like where he's not present. Like, I think maybe the only one I could think of is where the is where, like, you know, one of the like, what is it sort of like the maintenance guy at first performed, like, finds off his bottles, like in the garbage, but like, that's, that's maybe the only scene in the movie that he's not present then. But which I think like works. But yeah, her spouse kills himself, it's still mostly sort of focused then around Toller. Like his, his reaction to it, his response, like there's definitely much less about it, or much less of that, in regards to marry.
It was it was a very male point of view. And it's, you know, Raging Bull taxi driver, like, we get it, but there's not, you know, is very much in the religion, and I could see the thematic point of having virgin whore dichotomy here. And you do have, I mean, and then that sort of frames why he reacts to the woman the way he does, because she's like, I want to be there for you, like, I want to have intimacy like back off for, like, you know, and then like, he loves the pregnant woman, and cuz she's not, you know, it's just very bad. So, I would love I would love a version of this by a different director to like this, because there's so many great themes in this story.
Maybe, you know, maybe one day we'll get the big budget remake that we're all waiting for.
Brought to you by Koch
Industries. Have it?
Okay, so Andrew, before we wrap up, we like to ask our guests how, how they as people, artists, just strive to practice your values as an anti capitalist in your own life in whatever capacity it exists for you.
I think I'm lucky in that I get to do it in my work. Like I get to, you know, I get to write almost exclusively about like, things people industries that like really pissed me off, which I feel very, you know, very fortunate to be in that in that position. I guess on the individual level, you know, I do studiously avoid Koch Industries products. I do, I do really avoid, you know, like, when you're when you're buying paper towels, look out, you know, you gotta you gotta look down. So yeah, that's one thing I watch out for. I guess I you know, if I if I know anyone is on any any company is has a strike. I will not be be frequenting there at that, at that point.
All great answers. Well, Angie, thank you so much for joining us. Where can our audience find you and your work?
Sure. You can find my mean on Twitter at Andrew Perez, Dc. You could find me on blue sky and you know, post out news and whatever other hot bullshit we're using. What's the Oh in thread threads yet? Yep. I'm on threads. Just you know, look for Andrew Perez. I think Am II there. And yeah, you can you can find me writing lover.
News. 11 news.com. Awesome. Andrew, thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate it. Love this movie. So much. So glad you picked it.
So thank you. Thank you.
Thank you all so much for listening. Make sure to follow us on Instagram and Tiktok and if you've been enjoying this show, please consider becoming a supporter. You can find all of that info at NBC pod.com.
for next week's movie, we will be watching the 1940 film and great depression banger Grapes of Wrath.