Streamed & Screened: Movie and TV Reviews and InterviewsStreamed & Screened: Movie and TV Reviews and Interviews

'The Holdovers' is an instant holiday classic while 'Nyad' tells a story of endurance

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With the holidays rapidly approaching, films related to Thanksgiving and Christmas can an offer a touch of nostalgia while telling an emotional story. Think "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and "A Christmas Story."

This year, directory Alexander Payne ("Election," "Sideways," "Nebraska") brings us "The Holdovers" starring Paul Giamatti as teacher Paul Hunham, Dominic Sessa as student Angus Tully and Da'Vine Joy Randolph as school cook Mary Lamb. The story centers on students that can't go home for Christmas break and a teacher that is forced to chaperone the group.

Co-host Bruce Miller gives his thoughts on the film, and we have interview clips with Payne, Randolph, Sessa, writer/producer David Hemingson and producer Mark Johnson.

Miller also shares his thoughts on the Netflix film "Nyad," starring Annette Bening as endurance swimmer Diana Nyad and Jodie Foster as her coach, Bonnie Stoll. It tells the story of Nyad's swim through shark-infested waters between Havana, Cuba and Key West, Florida. The film is directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. The pair co-directed the Oscar-winning documentary "Free Solo."

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Streamed & Screened is a podcast about movies and TV hosted by Bruce Miller, a longtime entertainment reporter who is now the editor of the Sioux City Journal in Iowa and Terry Lipshetz, a senior producer for Lee Enterprises based in Madison, Wisconsin.

Episode transcript

Note: The following transcript was created by Headliner and may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies as it was generated automatically:

Holiday Films for Families

Streamed and Screamed podcast about movies and TV from Lee Enterprises

Terry Lipshetz: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Streamed and Screened an entertainment podcast about movies and TV from Lee Enterprises. I'm Terry Lipshetz, a senior producer at Lee and co-host of the program with Bruce Miller, editor of the Sioux City Journal and a longtime entertainment reporter.

Bruce Miller: I'm a holdover.

Terry Lipshetz: You're a holdover. You've been here forever. You are a holdover.

Bruce Miller: I am. I remember when Alexander Payne wasn't making movies. How's that for a connection? But, yeah, we are getting into Thanksgiving season. So this means that you're going to get films that maybe the whole family would go to. Because, come on, what else is there to do over Thanksgiving holiday? Eat and go to the movies, right?

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah.

Bruce Miller: And so you're going to start seeing some of those ones that are a little more like Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Back in the day, that was a big kind of holiday. Let's go see it because it's entertaining, and that's what we'll be getting now. I think you'll be seeing some of those before the Christmas rush and then the Oscar run, so look for the fun ones. And one that I really loved was the Holdovers. That's the newest Alexander Payne film. It's set in 1970, and it's set at a private boys’ school in the East Coast. And, apparently all kids didn't go home. Some had a reason. Their parents were off on a ski trip and they didn't want to take the kid home or they didn't have the ability to get them home or whatever. And so those kids were called the Holdovers. They stayed at school, and then as a result, they had to put up with whoever they threw in their face. There was usually a teacher who got punished to be with those kids because who wants to be at home during the holidays? Nobody.

Terry Lipshetz: Nobody.

Bruce Miller: So, the one who gets stuck, even though he did it the year before, is played by Paul Giamatti, and he plays an ancient history teacher that nobody likes. They just hate him. He gives them all F's. He thinks that they're lazy and they don't really live up to their expectations. And this is 1970. Remind you. And so the Kids that are left back think, oh, God, this is going to be just terrible. And he plans classes for them, exercise, situations for them. And then they have all the bad food that's left over, and the cook is there, and she is going to keep him occupied over the holidays when he isn't. So it's like the worst situation you could think of. And then a group of them gets the opportunity to go on a ski trip. Except one student, he's stuck at the school with the bad teacher and the cook. And so the three of them have what they call their holiday experience.

Terry Lipshetz: Sounds almost like my college. I went to a smaller private university in New Jersey. so you couldn't stay over during the winter break. They closed the dorms. They basically kick you out unless you were basically stuck there because you were, let's say, a foreign exchange.

Bruce Miller: Foreign students.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah, that was it. That was it. They were the holdovers, and they got to stay in the dorms through the holidays. But that was it.

Bruce Miller: I never was a holdover. God, it was, like, icy as hell. And I would still force somebody to come and pick me up because I thought, the last thing I want to do is be stuck here. So I was good. I got out. But I can imagine it would be dreadful because you see this? And this was during my time. It's set during the. That's about my period. And you go, oh, my God. They have captured so many things that are so specific. They have a pinball machine. And, the young man who is stuck back wants to play the pinball machine. Now, what they did was they put their order, their dime, whatever it cost, on the top of the pinball machine. And then that meant they were next. And the kid gets in a big fight with this guy who says, no, you're not next. My friend is next. And you think, oh, that is. I remember that. Who would have thought that that would be a part of it? But they've done a great job of capturing all those little things, even down to the clothes. And Alexander Payne said that when he was casting, he was particularly looking for young actors who had the right haircuts because he didn't want them to look like they were contemporary. They needed those 70s haircuts. And they do have those 70s haircuts.

Terry Lipshetz: Kind of the moppy.

Bruce Miller: Yeah, it's not quite mullet yet, because that wasn't in style.

Terry Lipshetz: That's more 80s.

Bruce Miller: Yeah. This was just kind of a head of hair that's post-Vietnam, where you just wanted to grow your hair out in those days. Can I tell you? I had hair that was down to the back of my shoulders. I had long, long hair because I didn't want to cut it. And my dad would always make a huge stink about that hair. He says, when are you going to cut this hair? And so I pull my hair back and hide it in the collar of my shirt. And every night at dinner, he would pull the hair out and say, you got to cut this. That kind of sentiment. That hair was a big issue for people back in those days.

Terry Lipshetz: It was, yeah. I've seen photos of my parents back in the. It was an interesting time with hairstyles. Now, in 1970, that would have made me, let's see, about negative five years old. So I wasn't present at that time.

Bruce Miller: You were not breaking any of those rules?

Terry Lipshetz: No, I was not.

Bruce Miller: But I was edging into the college years. It was a different world, a much different world. And you notice that, too, how social media and the Internet and all that has changed so much here. The kids have to look things up. And do they want to look things up? No, they do not. I think that the attitudes are still the same. You still press up against authority. But it's fascinating to see how the friendships develop. And I don't know that I would ever have been friends with a teacher of mine, but when you're forced to do it, you become a little closer. Adversity breeds friendship. Maybe that's the moral of the story. Yeah.

Terry Lipshetz: and it's diverse, too. You've got different people of different eras.

Bruce Miller: Da'Vine Joy Randolph, she plays the head cook at the thing. And her son, you find out early on, her son went to school there. She agreed to be the cook at the school so that her son would be able to get a good education, which is what she was hoping for. And when the movie begins, you learn very quickly that her son has died. And so she's dealing with grief over the holidays. The young man is upset because his parents aren't taking him home. And the teacher is, not liked, as they openly. Nobody likes you, so why should we? So they all have a reason to fight for something.

Terry Lipshetz: But ultimately, the odd couple comes together. I can only presume.

Bruce Miller: I enjoyed it so much. It has been kind of testing the market throughout. Okay. And so it has had pre screenings or previews or whatever before it actually opens this week. So you can see the audience. It kind of had a little taste of what it was all about, how they react. And I think the reaction is good. It's heartfelt. And it reminded me a lot of Green book.

Terry Lipshetz: Okay.

Bruce Miller: Where kind of unlikely people are thrust together and how they build a friendship out of that. You remember that with, the driver and the musician. And the musician couldn't go in certain restaurants. He wasn't allowed in certain hotels. So there was definitely a different time. And you see that same reflection here in the holdovers.

Terry Lipshetz: Interesting. So you mentioned at the top of this podcast, planes, trains, and automobiles, which is to me, one of my favorite movies of all time. And we did a whole episode on John Hughes movies to begin with quite a ways back. But that one in particular is one that it's almost like a tradition in the family. Got to throw planes, trains, and automobiles on. And it's in some ways because there's not a whole lot of Thanksgiving specific movies tend to get Christmas movies, not necessarily Thanksgiving, but it was that kind of story where Steve Martin's character, John Candy's character, are two very different people, but they're put in a very strange circumstance together, and they kind of come together. It almost feels like this movie takes some of that as well.

Bruce Miller: Very much so. The other thing that's interesting is that those were people who wanted to get home, right. And here's ones who can’t. There isn't a home, so they have to create a home, and they bring a tree, they do presents. It's very, touching how they kind of make a family, even though there isn't a family. All three of the actors are potential Oscar nominees. That's why.

Terry Lipshetz: Wow. Do you see this becoming like a traditional holiday classic? The one that we pop on Christmas.

Bruce Miller: Story, playing Dominic Sessa, who plays, the young man, has never acted in films before.

Terry Lipshetz: Right.

Bruce Miller: Found him at a school, and we're looking for somebody who kind of fit. Again, the hair was a big thing fit the identity that they were looking for. And they were blown away by how good he was at kind of capturing that attitude that's kind of there. And, you see it. He is easily the glue that holds this together and a really good young actor. I think someday we'll look back and we'll say that was his first film and look at how good he was.

Terry Lipshetz: This film is directed by Alexander Payne, and he's, of course, known for doing a lot of kind of quirky movies like Nebraska.

Bruce Miller: Yeah. Do you remember? Election was kind of the one that put him on the map, with Reese Witherspoon as that kind of dreadful girl who wanted to be student body know. She was determined. And the advisor to the student council, played by Matthew Roderick, did not want her to win and did whatever he could to try and derail her campaign by putting another student in her way. Chris Klein played that role. He shot it all in Omaha, which is where he's from. And it was very similar to this, where he went looking for real people to play these parts and look what happened to their careers. Reese Witherspoon, she won an Oscar. And Chris Klein had a long career. Look at American Pie. I mean, he has some pretty good credits behind. She wasn't necessarily, but the other ones that fill in the film. And if you go back and look at election, you'll see actor, young actors in that that have had lots of work.

Terry Lipshetz: Right.

Bruce Miller: It was supposed to be a two hander between Reese Witherspoon and, Matthew Broderick. And some of those other ones are making a real big splash in that first film. So I wouldn't doubt that we'll see the same thing happen with this one.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. And even like a movie like Sideways, there's another one where. And he did it with Paul Giamatti, and that was Paul Giamatti. He's done so many movies and he's always so good in what he does, but it almost took until sideways to really get him out there.

Bruce Miller: He was a great character actor who had bit parts or small parts in films and then suddenly blew up. And he was in John Adams and he was in, sideways. And. Yeah, now he's kind of your go to. If you want one of those kind of erudite people that are in your film, we'll call Paul.

Terry Lipshetz: I know you weren't able to get any interviews with this film, but through the magic of you and the promotion, I happen to have know just out of the box right here. So we're going to go now to, Alexander Payne, the director of the film.

Alexander Payne: Christmas break is upon us. And every year there's a number of boys with nowhere to know. The kids from foreign countries and the ones with divorced parents and stuff like that. And this year there's a boy, he's a junior and kind, of a troublemaker, kind of troubled. Damaged and troubled, but a smart kid underneath. And, his mother calls him last minute to say she's widowed, has been widowed. She has just remarried and they want to use this Christmas vacation as their honeymoon. You understand, don't you, darling? Stanley's been working so hard. The teacher selected this year to stay behind with the boys is a very disliked, curmudgeonly, ancient history teacher, Paul Giamatti. Through a kind of Deus ex machina, script, device, all the other boys find somewhere else to go at some point. And it's down to just this teacher played by Paul Giamatti and this boy and the head cook at the school. She's a single mom, and her, son attended this very same school on a charity scholarship. But did not have the wherewithal to go to college and has just been killed in Vietnam. So this movie is about the adventures of these three kind of shipwrecked people during a very snowy two weeks in Massachusetts in 1970. I've been an admirer of school, movies, loneliness of the long distance Runner and if and Peter Weir's movie. And I had seen a companion of those films, a somewhat underknown French film by a great director, but, from 1935 or 36 called Merloose by Marcel Panol. And it had that same basic premise. I saw that ten or twelve years ago and it never left me. I thought, you know, that's a pretty good premise for a film. But I personally didn't have the wherewithal to actually, I didn't have the life experience of a private school and so forth. I'm from Omaha. Nor did I have really the discipline to go research it. But a pilot came my way, set in a prep school, and it was a very fine pilot. And I called up the writer and said, thank you for sending me this wonderful script. I don't want to read it. Would you consider taking on an idea of mine? And so it was David Hemingson. That's how David Hemingson, the fine screenwriter, came into my life. So, typically I've written my own scripts and certainly I was involved in rewriting this one and conceiving it. But David Hemingson really, did an outstanding job writing it. That's what attracted me to it. It sounds hyperbolic and I'm sure it is, but I just think Paul Giamatti is the greatest actor. There's nothing he can't do. From the moment I first met him when he auditioned for sideways for me going on 20 years ago, I thought, this guy can make even bad dialogue work and he can, no matter what the dialogue. I had him in Omaha, for a public interview, and I said, you know, Paul Giamani, you can really make bad dialogue work. I'll bet you could even read the phone book. Like they say, read the phone book and make it compelling. And he laughed. And I leaned over and I pulled out the Omaha phone book and I handed it to him. I said, would you please just open up to a page? He started reading it and brought the house down. That's why I like Paul Giamatti. And he's just a lovely guy, brilliant guy, most well-read human I know and, a delight to work with.

Terry Lipshetz: Up next, let's hear from Da'Vine Joy Randolph about her role. In this film.

Da'Vine Joy Randolph: It's wonderful working with Paul Giamatti. He has such character as a human being, but also with what he brings to the table. And, he's so great because, know, when you work with actors, those who you really revere, for being so talented, can be very serious sometimes and stuffy. And, what is so amazing, and I think speaks even more to his talent is that he's able to snap in and out of the character. It's very seamless. But I love right before they say action, I'll peek a look, and you'll see him just, like, morph and fall into place into his character. Dominic is quite special, for having never done it before. I would say what's more impressive, even outside of his talent, which is quite natural and just very present, and non-stereotypical, I don't know if I could have done it to play this hurt, damaged teenager. Right. And it not just be this one dimensional screaming kid every 5 seconds. He's really found, the nuances, to all of it. But I would say what I'm the most impressed with is the human being that he is. He's so kind and gentle and, very intelligent. And there's an old soul about him where it feels as if he's been here before. You can tell there's a real desire to learn this industry and how things work, and he's very quick. I remember in the very beginning when we were just doing table reads, and we still had at least two, if not three weeks before filming, he was already off book. I was not off book, so I was very impressed. We're just seeing two, three individuals, which I wonder, if they weren't, under these circumstances, if they would have had the opportunity to really get to know one another and to be an unpredicted vessel of support for one another. And I think what's beautiful about that is, in this movie, in a way, it transcends ageism, racism, genDer, and that these three individuals, due to the loss and pain that they have, it's like sometimes when you've hit rock bottom, you're open to anything to seek relief wherever you can.

Terry Lipshetz: We also have another star from the film, Dominic Cessa, talking about what turned into his first major film appearance.

Dominic Sessa: I went in for my first audition, and, I was pretty relaxed because I wasn't expecting much out of it. And they called me back later that day, and I did some more reading. And, eventually Alexander came to my school to come meet me and audition, with him. And yeah, for the next two months it was a lot of just touch, and go email, Zoom calls and all that stuff. And by the time I had my last audition, I didn't know it was my last audition. I thought it was going to know do that two weeks later for the next one. But we sat there and it was me, Paul and Alexander on a Zoom call. And we just read the whole script through. And Paul would read the parts, know, in a scene where I was in, but he wasn't in. I would read parts for him in other scenes and by the end I got the role that day. So, yeah, it was really surreal and exciting and didn't really know what to think or what to expect. But, it was nice. The biggest challenge for me, working on a film for the first time would be, the turnaround on notes, personally, because I've done a lot of live theater before. It's all I've done before is the shows at my school. And we have after school, like two, three hour rehearsals. And you receive your notes at the end and you have your journal and you can go back to your room and internalize them and think about them for the next rehearsal or the show or whatever's coming. But in this, it's really a matter of coming in, knowing your lines and not really knowing. Maybe having an idea of how the scene may pan out, but not having the clarity that you might have in a theater setting. So, yeah, I mean, that was the hard, that's the hardest part for me, really doing this the first time doing something, receiving a note and then okay, rolling, go. So, yeah, for me, but I think I've adjusted pretty well to it. And obviously I have a lot of people around me who have been helping me prepare for that sort of thing. Being in a film with Alexander and working on one of his movies, it's incredible working with him personally. Having, the director who's sitting right there at the camera and sitting right next to you and comes up to you after every take and is in your ear. You can feel his presence and it's comforting in that sense. But I think. I don't know, outside of that, he just attracts a lot of professionalism to his movies and his work. I think, just him being a part of it. Everyone around him, sort of is extra professional and is extra hard at work and is really on top of it and more so excited about working on it because of the type of person he is. My character, Angus Tully, say, definitely very damaged kid. He’s been through a lot. Yeah. Being at a boarding school, I can understand, how heartbreaking that would be to be ready for break and then have your own parents tell you that you can't come home for Christmas. I feel like, for him, he's got a lot of these, things in the past that have happened to him and, these experiences, obviously, with his father and his mother and his mother's boyfriend. And it's not explicitly said what goes on. But you can sort of understand that there's a broken family dynamic there that's going on behind the scenes for him. And yeah, I think that really comes out with his character and his daringness to say some of the things he says and to pull off some of the things he tries to pull off. But at the same time charming and innocent. And it's one of those people you love to hate because you love them.

Terry Lipshetz: Up next, we have writer producer David Hemingson.

David Hemingson: Alexander read a pilot that I wrote about four years ago that, was set in a prep school in 1980. And he kind of called me up out of the blue and having read it and was like, I love this pilot. And I was like, incredibly flattered because he's like a personal hero of mine, he's a brilliant director. So I was like, blown away. And then he said, but I don't really do TV. But I have this feature I want to do that's set in that world in 1970. I said, okay, sure. And I said, what is he? Well, basically I really want to do this sort of optically challenged, kind of odiferous professor, that gets stuck, at a prep school, over Christmas break, 1970 to 71, with a group of students, one of whom has sort of been stranded by his family, most definitely. And this relationship kind of evolves over the course of the movie. And so that was sort of. The genesis of the whole thing. He's a brilliant, brilliant director. And I kind of feel like I went to film school on Alexander's back in that he would make these references. He'd, want something kind of tonally or visually or he'd kind of want a narrative moment that as opposed to try to unpack it verbally, he'd just be like, John Garfield. All right, Michael Curtis pointed overturn 1950, midpoint. Forward click. Like what? Hello? And I'd have to figure out, oh, okay. He wants sort of tonally, this kind of thing. He wants to be able to, evoke certain moods, and I think for him, it's got to be the organic evolution of the characters over the course of the narrative. And so I think the reason he doesn't get specific in terms of distinct turns he wants is because he wants me to find it and then for him to reflect upon it, I mean, that's been our working relationship, and I hope to God it continues for many, many decades to come, because I would kill to work with him again. I think he's a brilliant guy. We're so blessed. I mean, Alexander can cast. I mean, he topped the bottom. The actors in this show are amazing. I love my holders. I love all those kids. Those kids are all amazing, and funny and genuine and real. I think reality is sort of one of the hallmarks of an. You know, it just feels real, and it's heightened. And he takes you on a journey, and there's a fun narrative. I mean, you have a good time. And I think that's one of his imperatives. Like, he wants people to be entertained, but he wants people to be entertained by the human comedy, by the reality of it, by the landscape of people's souls. Like, he wants you to take that journey. And that's kind of what we do. In this movie, I think.

Terry Lipshetz: And now let's hear from producer Mark Johnson.

Mark Johnson: I think it was very much a story about family. It's a very clever script. It's deceptive. It’s deceptive. And then it's about much more than you would think at first. And it's also extremely funny. And for me, as a, time Alexander Payne Fan, I think it is arguably his most emotional movie to take what he does with his characters, sort of, the uniqueness of his characters and to put them in this situation, it was an undeniable script. Paul Giamatti is one of those wonderful actors, is really a chameleon. And he can play any number of people. So we've seen him a bunch of movies and television shows, but I don't know that I've ever seen Paul Giamatti play, the same character twice. And so he is somebody who can both put you off and yet bring you in at the same time. Dominic Cessa, who plays Angus. This is his first movie. He had been a drama student or in school, in boy school, but, didn't have an agent, didn't have a manager. We had this wonderful casting director, Susan Shopmaker, who decided to go out and find a discovery. And one of the smart places she went was the private boys school's drama department and say, all right, who do you have? Who do you offer up? And that's how Dominic came in. He didn't come in through any orthodox means. It was really from out of nowhere. And I don't know what the number is. She probably saw 600, 700 boys for this part. And Dominic, early on, we said, well, wait a minute. This is somebody to pay attention to. And Alexander put him through the paces. He had him, sort of try out and test a number of times. And finally he tested with Paul, Giamatti. And I think Alexander, Paul, all the rest of us said, no, this is the guy. I think Dominic's a good choice to play this part because he has no tricks. He's a very honest actor. He's playing it as honestly as he can. And consequently, he's completely believable. I never, in looking at the finished film and quite frankly, in all the dailies, I don't see any false moments. I don't see him at some point pretending to be something. He always seems to be that divine.

Mark Johnson: Joy Randolph is an actress who's been around for a while. That makes it sound like she's been doing it for years. She's just somebody who is doing features and television right now at, quite a clip. And the interesting thing is she normally plays a comedic character. And not that she's very funny in the holdovers, but I wouldn't describe her character as Mary, lamb, as somebody who's comedic. She actually has quite a, quite amount of sorrow in her. And, is a mother who's gone through a real tragedy. We knew she had the acting chops not just because she'd gone to the Yale School of drama. But as soon as we tested her, it was clear that she knew how to play this character. And, it was great to watch her because as an actress, she discovered who Mary Lamb was. She started at one place and built the character. And you could see her do it. And she ended up with an accent that was quite original to divine, but also quite true to where her character came from.

Terry Lipshetz: All right, Bruce. So we had an.

Bruce Miller: You know, I got a chance to talk to Alexander Payne and David Hemingson and also some of the, behind the scenes people about this. It's based sort of, on the writer's life, sort of. It was not written by Alexander Payne, just directed by him. And he kind of understood the sensibility of this, but there is a tie. And if you look at this on a shelf, there is a statue that was also in sideways. And so it's one of those little spoiler things. If you look, it's on a shelf in, I believe it's Paul Giamatti's office. And you'll also remember that it was in sideways if you look very carefully. They had one hell of a time trying to find enough blazers that were from the 70s for all the boys in the film.

Terry Lipshetz: Double knit only goes so far.

Bruce Miller: A big challenge. Yeah, they have a big challenge. And so they look the right way. Yeah. So for them, a lot of them have worked with Alexander Payne for a number of films, and they kind of know his shorthand and what he's looking for, so they can anticipate what a potential problem might be or what might be looming. Wow.

Terry Lipshetz: Good stuff. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to this. It wasn't really on my radar until I saw it was probably during the summer. One of the movies I saw at least had a trailer to it. It looked pretty interesting, but I wasn't sure. Is this going to be good? Isn't it? But now that you're singing its praises.

Bruce Miller: Watch the ads for it, because the ads are done in 70s style.

Terry Lipshetz: Okay.

Bruce Miller: See them? It's like, is this an old film that they're just throwing up whenever you see those on TCM? Oh, look at the trailers they used to do for these things. Well, they want it to look like that so it looks like the 70s. So you get that whole vibey feeling. And there's one shot in the film that reminds me. Exactly. Of the graduate. Exactly. And you'll see that shorthand that he uses, and you'll think, yes, I get what you're. Gail. I see it. I understand what's happening here. There's another one I'd like to talk about is called Nyad. Okay. And this is going to be one of those ones that you'll hear the names bandied about for acting prizes. Annette Benning plays Diana Nyad. If you remember her, she was a long distance swimmer who wanted to swim from Cuba to Florida. And, everybody said, oh, you're crazy. You can't do it. You're in your 60s. You're not going to be able to do this. And she was determined that she needed to make her mark, so she got a crew together and tried it and failed. And she tried it again and failed. And she tried it again and failed. And you think after this many times, give up. It's not going to happen. But you see in the film, which will be on Netflix, the kind of drive and fortitude she had and determination, and a lot of that is fueled by her best friend, who serves as kind of the coach, so that she's in the boat while Diana is swimming by the side of the boat, and she's, like, feeding her, giving her any kind of, if she gets sick, if she needs medicine, hydrating her, and then when she starts to kind of wane, she's giving her those pep talks. And, Jodie Foster plays that role, and Jodie is. Where has she been all these years? It's like, let's get back to work. I want to give her that kind of a pep talk because she steals the film right out from underneath. Annette Benning. Fascinating, fascinating partnership. And the film was directed by the people behind Free Solo, if you remember free solo. it was about the mountain climber.

Terry Lipshetz: Right.

Bruce Miller: Won the Oscar for Best documentary. Yeah. Now, they're trying, the same kind of feel, but with a fictional film or dramatization. Yeah. With actors. And they do take, risks, and they also do take some liberties, with the reality of the Diana Nyad story, but they still are able to capture those beats that you're looking for. It's kind of fascinating to see how they can make swimming really interesting, because when you're just watching somebody swim laps near the side of a boat, are you interested? Do you care? You got to give it to Ned Benning for just being able to do the swimming that you need to do to pretend like you're falling. Diana, Nyad, is not a person that you could hug. I really do not think she's embraceable, even though she has that drive that you see in a lot of athletes. But, boy, Annette Benning captures that aspect really well. You think, why would I work with you? I don't want to do anything with you if you're going to be this kind of obnoxious and mean and kind of self-centered.

Terry Lipshetz: Sure.

Bruce Miller: And yet it works. And at the end of the film, they do show you actual footage, of her. And, man, she captures her. She's right there.

Terry Lipshetz: Now, was this film mostly in the water, then?

Bruce Miller: If there's a lot in the water, could it be in a pool? It could have been in a pool, because a lot of the scenes take place at night, and you realize that they had to worry about sharks because she did not want to be in a shark cage. She didn't feel that was bare. But there was a red light that apparently sharks know this for the future, if you need this.

Terry Lipshetz: Okay.

Bruce Miller: Sharks do not come near red light. They somehow see that as a warning to them. And so this red light kind of helped guide her along where they were going, but it also kept the, sharks away.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. The most knowledge I have about avoiding sharks comes from the 1960s, Adam west classic Batman, the movie Shark, where he used Bad shark repellent.

Bruce Miller: And Jaws.

Terry Lipshetz: Yes.

Bruce Miller: Jaws taught us so much about sharks. Were you really scared of sharks before Jaws? No, it was just another fish in the ocean. But now they can get a sharknado going like nobody's business. Right?

Dominic Sessa: Yeah.

Terry Lipshetz: Now, how does this film stack up to a film like Free Solo, which is a documentary? Because I always find it fascinating when you get, like, you take Peter Jackson, for instance, who's known for Lord of the Rings and all these big epics, and then he goes and directs a documentary about the Beatles.

Bruce Miller: The thing that was so surprising about free solo was the cinematography. They were up on the mountains with him and the idea that they were able to get some of that stuff. Well, I got to rethink this. If I can't do it with the telephoto lens, I don't think I'm going up there. But I think that was what was so remarkable. Yes. his story, Alex Honnold, I think it is, his story is remarkable, but also remarkable is the idea that people would follow him, shoot his trek, and not get, you know, anytime.

Terry Lipshetz: I see those mountain movies like that, whether it's mountain climbing or scaling Everest or going deep into the wilderness, I'm thinking to myself, you know, what if I'm the director of this film, my first hire is a really good second unit director. And you're going to go take care of these? I'm going to just handle.

Bruce Miller: Yeah, I'll do from the ground.

Terry Lipshetz: We'll be.

Bruce Miller: Yeah, I think they do a great job of kind of making you feel that claustrophobia in the water. But because they're not dealing with huge visuals like they were before, that becomes, a different challenge. But you feel like you're in the water with her. So I guess that's the goal. But I don't know, do they want to do this? Is this the goal? Or maybe it was just one of those athlete films that they hadn't tried, and so that was the challenge for them.

Terry Lipshetz: Well, it sounds good. It sounds like an interesting one. I'm not sure. I'm going to race out to the theaters to see it. But at the very least, it might be one where as soon as it hits streaming on. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Anything else of note coming up is,

Bruce Miller: Can I tell you what I'm going to tease? What? Maybe we'll talk about next week.

Terry Lipshetz: Okay.

Bruce Miller: And that's Fargo.

Terry Lipshetz: Oh, yes.

Bruce Miller: Fargo is coming. And Fargo, we are not holding off with anything, but I'm going to talk to people that you wouldn't necessarily talk to again. We're doing this because we don't have the access to the actors because of the actor strike, which, knock on wood, should be ending soon, we hope.

Terry Lipshetz: Please.

Bruce Miller: But I'm hoping to talk to the special effects and makeup people and also the costume people and how they are able to pull off, because this has a lot of those special effects that you're going to go, wow, I can't believe it. And it's very home alone, taken to extremes and scary. Okay, so that's next week. Fargo.

Alexander Payne: Fargo.

Terry Lipshetz: I can't wait. There's the two shows that I've been waiting for the most recently, Fargo. And then also true Detective, which is. Coming back soon on.

Bruce Miller: Well, we'll be there, hopefully, and we'll get to talk to real people.

Terry Lipshetz: Hopefully. That's all we can hope for. All right, Bruce, thanks again for another great episode. And we will be back again next week.

Bruce Miller: Be a holdover next week.

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Streamed & Screened: Movie and TV Reviews and Interviews

A podcast about movies and TV, hosted by Bruce Miller, editor of the Sioux City Journal, and longtim 
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