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Podcast: MidSommar & Wild Rose

with Murtada Elfadl, Nathaniel R, and Chris Feil


Index (56 minutes)
00:01 A spoiler-filled discussion of Ari Aster's new horror film MidSommar starring Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor. We have three different opinions about its value.
38:10 Tom Harper's Wild Rose. You've seen this musical drama before but three performances by Jessie Buckley, Julie Walters, and Sophie Okonedo and the music (the finale song is by Mary Steenburgen!) elevate it. 
50:00 Lots of randomnees including Almodóvar movies, bad television, and future movies we're looking forward to including The Farewell and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Continue the conversations in the comments, won't you? 

Reading Assignments
Chris Feil's MidSommar review
"The End of Empathy" -Andrew Kendall on MidSommar
Halfway Mark Actresses - Nathaniel's fav performances of 2019
Nick's VOR ratings -an explanation


MidSommar & Wild Rose

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Reader Comments (10)

Interesting discussion, though I'm still not convinced that "Midsommar" has anything to say. The relationship stuff feels completely disconnected from the cult, and nothing the characters do or say or don't do or don't say has any impact on the film's outcome. If you want to make a movie about nothing, it cannot also be that long. You should have to choose one or the other.

July 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

I’m so glad you guys talked about THAT sex scene in Midsommar :)

July 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

The fact that I just saw Midsommar yesterday and am already counting the days til I can see it again tell me that Mr. Aster is doing something right. Count me in the "thumb way up" camp. Can't wait to listen to the pod and find out who agreed with me!

also-- do we have a date yet for the 1957 smackdown? I've watched one movie so far...

July 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSFOTroy

Midsommar was baffling. Perhaps my hopes were too high post-Hereditary.

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Ooh this popped up right as I was heading to the theatre to see "MidSommar" - I pretty much loved it, but also don't know who in my life (other than the friend I saw it with) would not hate it.

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Wait! That was Sophie Okonedo?!?! I hate to say it, but after not seeing her in anything since Hotel Rwanda, I didn't even remember what she looked like, even with all the TFE podcast references.

I did love Wild Rose though, mostly because of Jessie Buckley. Murtada is right to an extent that the film is working to build her character up as a star, but Buckley's raw charisma does a lot of the heavy lifting in that regard. I was absolutely enchanted. Her performance jumps into my #1 slot for the year.

Midsommar Spoiler Below:
I'm with Murtada and Nathaniel that Midsommar just doesn't come together. Whereas in Hereditary you can see the connection between the characters' strained family and the horror that befalls them because of their lineage, I still haven't figured out what a bad relationship has to do with Swedish cults. I don't buy that Dani feels like she fits in at the cult given that she was just trying to escape moments before. I wasn't even sure that they want her there long-term.

Aster is a very talented visual storyteller, but the structural parallels to Hereditary make me think that he was working from the same screenwriting template in his two films so far. The endings of the two films are extremely similar. Curious to see what he does next with a film outside the horror genre.

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Where MidSommar gets it right (spoilers):

1. The Build-up: Having Dani go through horrible trauma at the beginning, suffering from bi-polar disorder, being in a co-dependent relationship and later realizing she has no one in her life to embrace her are four elements that justify her wanting to be part of that community.
2. The fact that emotionally vulnerable people will convert to any given religion, despite its foundations and rules.
3. The dynamic in the co-dependent relationship felt real with the push and pull between Dani and her boyfriend.
4. The panic attacks from Dani's disorders felt real and made sense in the context of when they happened.
5. The visually rich camera movements and compositions in the commune scenes gave it a sense of unity, harmony and contrasted with the jerky American body language and ways of communicating.

Where it gets it wrong:
1. The acting of Dani's boyfriend. He was unable to emote much and when he did, it felt strained, not lived-in. His reactions didn't ring true - his body language more like Seth Rogen in some comedy. Acting opposite Pugh, who was so in it, made it even clearer his abilities were lacking.
2. The OCD friend role was totally unnecessary to the plot (there could have been 8 bodies burned in the end). The actor playing it overdid it and was in a different movie altogether. He didn't get the tone either (see above).
3. The British couple were totally unnecessary characters. Their only reason to exist was to react to the double suicide so the lady in the cult could explain why that was happening. (there could have been only 6 bodies burned in the end).
4. The whole plot point about the thesis. I thought it was silly when it was first introduced. Another trope... But then when the two friends were competing for the same thesis subject it became even sillier.
5. Their reaction to the suicide (especially the boyfriend seemed badly directed, badly edited and the aftermath was just unbelievable. The fact Dani decided to stay after talking to the Swedish friend was too weak of a reason. And the fact her boyfriend and his friend never considered leaving is baffling (oh, right, their thesis....and the justification of the suicides...). Had they been perpetually on some kind of trance throughout the experience, being that not only their drinks, but also their food had been tampered, the whole movie would make more sense and their reactions would have been more acceptable.
6. Overall, too many unnecessary plot points (same with Hereditary) - it became more and more convoluted as it went on. The writers didn't know how to build the tension on the main situation alone: a broken person being taken in by a cult, and filled the story with all these silly plots to add to the chaos of it, but they just distracted from the story's core.
7. The fact that the boyfriend's betrayal (even though she knew he looked high on something and they were practically forcing him to mate) prompted her to choose him to be sacrificed was just a poor decision. At that point she had already realized the relationship had no future and frankly, she didn't seem to love him anymore.
8. Too expositional. I didn't know about every single detail about their cult. Sometimes I wished the movie had no dialog whatsoever and it could have had a much bigger impact.

Anyway, the movie is a mess in its writing, the very same problem with Hereditary. The dialog actually gets in the way of the storytelling. No editing here, which makes me think there should have been at least 3 more (shorter) versions of the script. However, they do present interesting ideas and the filmmaking is excellent by Ari. It's just that nowadays artists don't seem to have honest friends who will tell them about their excesses (does Tarantino or Malick or any successful writer/director have anyone in their lives like that?).

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJared

I did not like Midsommar at all, but I'm thinking it might be utterly brilliant. It's been a long time since I've been this confused by a film. Ari Aster is a sorcerer.

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Yes Chris, I am also excited for The Kitchen and rewatching Almodovar on Criterion Channel!

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

So glad to hear Murthada and Nathaniel's dissent on Midsommar. Halfway through, I kept thinking of Burn After Reading and that movie's empty, obvious contempt for its characters.

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