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« Tuesday Top Ten: Unconventional Fourth of July Movie Selections | Main | Say What? Mad Charlize »
Tuesday
Jul012014

Podcast Pt 1: A Smackdown Conversation w/ Melanie Lynskey

Presenting... for the first time ever a Smackdown Companion Podcast

A couple of months ago Joe suggested that we add a podcast segment or more conversation somehow to the Smackdown which by necessity has brief capsules from each panelist. And why not? There is always so much more to discuss after you've watched five Oscar-favored films from any given year.

So for this special tryout episode of the podcast (let us know if we should do it again for 1973) Nathaniel welcomes back the actress Melanie Lynskey, the original creator of the Smackdowns Brian Herrera (aka StinkyLulu), and regular podcast voices Joe Reid and Nick Davis. Our conversation ran long so it's in two segments.

Smackdown 1964 - A Companion Conversation Pt. 1
00:01 Introductions
01:00 Melanie on talking acting with other actors and one director's "witchcraft"
05:00 Zorba the Greek and undiagnosed cognitive disorders
11:45 Nick and Nathaniel share personal memories of My Fair Lady
16:20 Demystifying the mystifying Gladys Cooper nomination
19:00 The Chalk Garden. Melanie on connecting with the other actor in a scene.
24:00 Divisive Deborah Kerr (who starred in two of the features we watched)
30:00 To Be Continued...  

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments.

Smackdown 64 Companion. Part One

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Reader Comments (15)

Really loved this. I think this is a really compelling format for the Smackdowns--would love to see it repeated, although I'm sure the posts are enough hassle on their own.Great to have Melanie around too--very interesting to hear an actor's perspective.

Joe, I'm with you on Deborah Kerr, or at least she's someone whose presence I think takes a little while to appreciate. I like what Brian had to say about her self-awareness. That seems very true to me. She's not a Bette Davis or an Elizabeth Taylor where the force of their personality seems unimpeachable--they grant power to everything in their presence. Deborah Kerr isn't empowering to watch. She feels defeated from the moment she arrives onscreen. She could be making out on the beach with peak Burt Reynolds and STILL have an air of defeat around her. The pleasure of watching a Deborah Kerr performance is in the grace of her fall.

July 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I'm often frustrated by Kerr, and I think she's given plenty of performances that either don't work or could use a lot more inspiration. But then she'll turn around be completely great. For newbies or skeptics, I'd recommend Black Narcissus, The Sundowners, and The Innocents as a starter kit for establishing Kerr's talent as well as her range. One man's opinion. But another thing I like about Kerr, and you even hear it in this podcast, is that her work provokes people in different directions and her fans tend to name different performances as favorites.

July 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

This is so, so lovely, and Melanie Lynskey's insight into the process is absolutely fascinating. I could listen to her talk about performances all day.

July 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterF

Allowing for different opinions is one thing, simply saying nothing when Joe attacks the audience - or at least one member of the audience, even if it was only me - is another, especially for someone who's always asking for comments and reader participation. All of this only confirms my general impression that the egos of the male Smackdowners are a little bit out of control by now. Too much Mary Poppins I suppose. They fancy themselves practically perfect in every way.

July 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

Can't wait for Part 2!

July 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

That was lovely. Looking forward to part 2 and future smackdown podcasts!
Make fun of Greek whimsy and Life Force (it was "force" right?) all you want but we created drama and philosophy and logic and half of Jennifer Aniston! :p
@Nick: Why spoil The Inoccents? :(
Anyway. Thanks to Joe for the idea!

July 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Willy -- all Joe said was "this is why I don't participate in comments". He didn't attack anyone unless we are now totally redefining words. It's really odd to claim you have been attacked when you yourself have been insulting people. I have no idea why you've been so angry for the past two days. But I hope you feel better soon.

Please have patience with those of us who are Practically Perfect. It is a huge burden and responsibility.

James T --- "half of Jennfier Aniston" LMAO

F -- right? Every time she stopped talking I was like psychically willing her to continue

July 2, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

What a thrill!
Glad to have the privilege of hearing an actress as wonderful as Melanie discussing performance, but also getting to hear Brian discuss movie and character beats.
I was a big fan of the SL Smackdown project, partly for the sharp, interesting long reads every Sunday (even for the shortest performances) and partly because it was TOTALLY my idea first!!
When I had my teenage oscar awakening, I hatched a plan to watch and time all the supporting performances. I didn't make it far before giving up, but I figure I must have been the only 15-year-old in 1994 hiding VHS copies of The Accidental Tourist and Working Girl in my desk drawer.
It was a trip to discover StinkyLulu all those years later and see what my weird little idea might have turned into if I'd had the wherewithal to do something with it.
And as much as I still miss the long reads, the TFE Smackdown is righteous on its own terms, and now we even get a podcast (which has me WAY more interested in The Chalk Garden than I thought possible.)

July 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

@James: Zorba specifically doubles down on "Life Force" mystique. Totally not putting that on Greece and Greeks, though I know you for one are flush with it. :) As for why spoil The Innocents... because the connection to Chalk Garden and the logic of her casting only makes sense in the context of the end, and because it's a 50-year-old movie based on a 100-year old literary classic! And sometimes in the rush of conversation...

@Mike: Excellent use of "What a thrill!"

July 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

I wasn't really offended but I appreciate your taking the time to clarify. :)
As for the other thing..did you just spoil Turn of the Screw, too? Maaaannnn..
Derek has a secret family with Uma Thurman. And one with The Rover.
Now we're even!

July 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

I know he does. I've seen the whoring bed.

July 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Thanks, Mike, for your kind comments about Supporting Actress Sundays. That's the marvel of this newfangled interweb thing - our most obscure impulses can find "similarly inclined" others...

July 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStinkyLulu

Deborah Kerr: Love her. The Innocents, The Sundowners, Tea and Sympathy, From Here to Eternity, Black Narcissus, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. A pretty formidable sextet.

I think it would be neat to do it for 1973.

July 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

In reading the Cherry Orchard play, if I remember correctly, Dunyasha has a much smaller part than in the film. The director seems to give this uppity and naive servant a much bigger part?

July 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlen Risdon

Pretty late to the party, I know, but this was great fun (both parts)

I hope you guys can do this for future editions as well, and I hope Ms Lynskey can join you. I want her opinion on every performance ever

Meantime, favourite Deborah Kerr performance for me is actually From Here to Eternity - I'm going off an old memory here (haven't seen the film since the 90s) but having seen her in a few films already, I was pleasantly shocked at seeing her play someone with a restless, authentically world-weary edge. Also, someone that is symbolised by a roiling surf rather than a prim English garden. She so rarely got to play a recognisable human being with layers that don't turn out to be writerly conceits.

I agree with Nick in that she also gave a lot of terrible performances and that everyone has their own individual list of which are the good and which are the self-parodying Kerr performances.

For what it's worth, I'd say Chalk Garden and Iguana slip somewhere in between those lists. A few interesting, edgy choices amid the faintly stunned, forever-resigned-but-won't-shut-up-about-it auto-pilot that took over a lot of her work post 1956 or so

The Innocents would be the key exception to that rule, of course. It's my favourite of her films and my second-favourite of her performances.

I also really love what she does in Black Narcissus and (from memory) Colonel Blimp and even Affair to Remember

July 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

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