The creators of The Music Snobs present SNOBS ON FILM, the podcast where movies and television are discussed and reviewed with care—and debated without caution. Get ready for a non-Hollywood ending.
STRANGE LOVE: Malcolm & Marie
Two questions: Can a two-hour argument be interesting AND fully define the past, present, and future of a strange love?
That’s what we’re gonna dive into as we look at 2021’s Malcolm & Marie—a film that puts two actors in a celluloid ring, straps the gloves on, rings the bell, and let’s the toxic punches fly…
John David Washington’s Malcolm Elliott is a filmmaker who has just premiered the movie that will make him a household name. Zendaya’s Marie Jones is the inspiration behind Malcolm’s film and also his partner in what—if we're being polite—could most accurately be described as a tumultuous relationship. At the film premier, Malcolm apparently thanks everyone involved with the movie, and basically everyone he knows… except for Marie.
Cue the explosions.
So, almost as soon as Malcolm and Marie arrive home following the premier, everything hits the fan. The ensuing argument has its peaks and valleys, and it dips as easily into the traumas of the past as it does the insecurities and accusations of the present. And by the time the discourse distills into the 3 little words that no one wants to hear (I’m talking about “I HATE YOU”), we’ve gone on a grand tour of this couple’s personal and combined damage.
Selfish acts, unlimited ego, unresolved issues, intentional infliction of pain, etcetera, etcetera… It’s all here. But is it strange? Or, is Malcolm & Marie just a portrait of what everyday, real life love looks like?
STRANGE LOVE: Call Me By Your Name
Call Me by Your Name is a 2017 film that was nominated for 4 Oscars, including Best Picture and a Best Actor nod to Timothée Chalamet, the film took home the Best Adapted Screenplay award. Chalamet stars as Elio—a sensitive, brilliant, but emotionally naive 17 year-old who spends an Italian summer learning about love and its inevitable heartbreaks. On the other end of that heartbreak is the graduate student Oliver, played by Armie Hammer, who initially spurns Elio’s affection but comes to invite and encourage it.
Call Me by Your Name is two hours of what could be described as “exquisite torture”—a film that delves into the very beautiful aspects of discovery, deeply rooted attraction, and full-blown adoration—but it also doesn’t shy away from real, raw moments of emotional pain. Elio and Oliver do in fact fall in love, and we take that spiritual and physical journey with them. And we also get to endure the impact of their not-so-secret summer affair—not only on themselves—but on those closest to them, including Elio’s parents and the girl he most likely would have given his heart to had he not met Oliver.
Luca Guadagnino directs this film from a script based on a 2007 novel. And this is an incredibly poignant and powerful piece of cinematic storytelling that says a lot of profound things in very subtle and meaningful ways. So get it into it and see how Call Me by Your Name fits—or doesn’t fit—the definition of strange love…
STRANGE LOVE: The War of the Roses
Let’s talk about The War of the Roses, an 80s movie that shows just how far two people will go when what starts out as the perfect marriage ends up in the ugliest of divorces.
This is a film that reunites Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, who star as Oliver Rose and Barbara Rose respectively, with Danny DeVito, who also directed. The three had previously worked together in Romancing the Stone and its sequel—which are completely different films than what we’re talking about today. The War of the Roses traces the arc of Oliver and Barbara’s life together, from its sweet beginnings to its bitter, bitter end. As their love dissipates, we watch them gradually begin to despise each other and they eventually turn their family home into a final battleground.
The War of the Roses flirts with comedic rage and cartoon-like violence, but at times the disgust between the two lead characters is palpable. It’s clear that the movie has something serious to say about the consequences of vengeance and vendettas. And as we watch Oliver and Barbara engage in toxic rivalry and domestic warfare, the film shows us what divorce looks like when the opposite of love turns out not to be indifference, but instead, transforms into uncontrollable hate.
STRANGE LOVE: Klute
In the 1971 neo-noir thriller Klute, director Alan J. Pakula and stars Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland explore the refuge offered by an unexpected love, along with the fears and demons that continuously tear at it.
Fonda’s Bree Daniels is being stalked by a deranged killer, while Sutherland’s John Klute tries to protect her without falling in love with her. But Bree—a prostitute caught between her desire for a new life and her tortured acceptance of the one she has—can’t help but gravitate toward the private detective Klute, whose genuine affection confuses and intoxicates her. In the shadows is the killer—serving as the perfect backdrop for a world where vulnerability is dangerous and control is addictive.
Klute is a film that is often taut with suspense, but manages to linger long enough to examine the motivations of lust, while expressing the power and possibilities of a strange love.
STRANGE LOVE: The Tragedy Of Macbeth
Snobs On Film is a monthly movie podcast, exploring one theme per season. This season: love in its strangest forms, across classic and contemporary film.
On this episode of Snobs On Film
Power, Prophecy and Paranoia - ‘The Tragedy Of Macbeth’
In Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, a tale of paranoia begins with a prophecy, and the road from one to the other is littered with treachery, ambition, and the tragic results of a strange love.
Denzel Washington is Macbeth — Shakespeare’s ‘man who would be king’ — and Frances McDormand is Lady Macbeth; the wife who sparks her husband’s lust for power, fanning it into a murderous flame. After Macbeth is told by three witches that he is fated to sit on the throne, Lady Macbeth helps fulfill his destiny by committing an act of betrayal so grim it threatens to drive them both insane. Amidst the ruins of Macbeth’s nobility and honor are the urgent words of his wife, steadily encouraging his doomed ascent; using her affection to sweeten her demands as the couple watches their love devolve into conspiracy. When the film ends, Macbeth’s tragedy is steeped in lingering questions and blood-soaked regret.
But what’s done, is done.
Background listening from Snobs On Film
Last season on Snobs On Film, we explored the theme of redemption in the 1946 film ‘Notorious’, starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. The Hitchcock classic famously features a mother-son relationship geared towards power, but poisoned by paranoia — not unlike Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Enjoy that episode, and our take on the film’s enduring legacy and influence, right here: https://wildflowerpodcasts.com/snobs-on-film/redemption-notorious/
Noirish Nightmare: The Guardian review of 'The Tragedy Of Macbeth' (written by Peter Bradshaw)
Behind-The-Scenes: An interview with the film's cinematographer, Bruno Delbonnel (written by Adrian Pennington)
How Joel Coen used German Expressionism to create a Noir world (by Bill Desowitz)
Kathryn Hunter on her scene-stealing turn as The Three Witches (by Stuart Miller)
The Criterion on: Notorious - the same hunger (by Angelica Jade Bastién)
The Royal Shakespeare Company's 1979 performance of Macbeth, starring Ian McKellen and Judi Dench (via YouTube)
REDEMPTION: Black Rain
Join us for the season finale of Snobs On Film: Redemption by exploring classic 80s-style action with Ridley Scott’s underrated Michael Douglas thriller: Black Rain. When New York City cop Nick Conklin chases a Japanese mob figure to Tokyo, Conklin’s demons come along for the ride, quickly derail the investigation, and bury him beneath his own hubris. Soon, Conklin and his partner are outsiders in a world that has no way in, stalking a man who represents the fall of ancient beliefs and the rise of a kingdom without a code. When the unthinkable happens, Conklin must face his failures and make a defining choice between the satisfaction of revenge and the honor of redemption.
Loving the depth and thoughtfulness of these episodes, and unique insight into movies I haven’t seen in a minute. Makes me want to revisit and rewatch with a fresh perspective. Also particularly appreciate the female contribution and the group’s overall dynamic. And love the themes. Keep ‘em coming!
Donnie Darko was the first movie I saw as art. I’ve seen it a bunch of times, but I wasn’t able to talk to it with a bunch of people. This podcast made me feel like I was in the room talking to people about stuff I’d seen in the movie, while listening to angles of the movie I hadn’t considered before.
Love the deep insight and great analysis.
Isaac, Jehan and Arthur are a great team and play off each other well.
Not feeling the addition on the new voice.
They have changeda well tuned dynamic.