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Hey, folks, this Sunday, Fox Animation domination returns on Valentine's Day with all new episodes, including the series premiere of The Great North. From the producers of Bob's Burgers comes a new animated comedy that proves life in Alaska is always an adventure. The all star cast includes Nick Offerman, Jenny Slate, Will Forte, Dulci Sloan, Paul Rust and Apana Non CHIRLA. The Great North premieres Sunday eight thirty seven thirty central on Fox.


Lock the Gate. All right, let's do this. How are you, what the fuckers, what the fuck stirs, what the fuck next? What is happening? I'm Marc Maron. This is my podcast, WTF. And it's been exciting lately, hasn't it? And what does that even mean? How why am I opening like that? What am I talking about? Well, I'll be honest with you, Brendon and I, my business partner and producer, got some good news.


Edison Research.


Is a real thing, and this is the podcast Consumer Tracking Report now, Brendan and I have been doing this show on our own for 12 years or so. I right in about 12 years now. I wouldn't say we are Ogg's, but we're close.


We were there at the beginning when there was nothing, there was a few, there was some history and there was a few and then us and I believe that over time we helped define this medium podcasting. But as everything goes over time, you imagine that? Well, there's a million podcasts. Who knows where we are in the big picture, but we keep doing consistent work and we keep, you know, showing up for work and we keep evolving, folks.


We keep evolving.


But on the most listened to podcasts in 2020, United States Weekly podcast listens.


We are number 20.


Which is fucking astounding, 12 years in, still doing top notch work, still happy to be working and always engaged with our work, and it's showing up 20 out of the I don't know whether there's 50 listed here, but we're we're 20 and above us.


There's, you know, the regular customers, you know, the shoppers and the dead. New York Times say, you know, Joe is up there at the top, but, you know, Joe's doing that thing.


But I'll tell you, we were we were both pleasantly surprised and excited and self-congratulatory about this news, how long we've been doing it, what we've been doing and the fact that it sticks and it's consistent and it's evolving and we've been through a lot.


But this was this was exciting for us, so I thought I'd share that now. My guest today is Mark Harris, the writer of books, The Journalist. He's written several books on film. Pictures at a Revolution is one that I just recently finished.


And I thought it was spectacular. It's five movies and the birth of the new Hollywood. He also wrote a book called Five Came Back A Story of Hollywood in the Second World War.


And he also wrote his new book, Mike Nichols A Life, a huge Mike Nichols biography. And I was excited to talk to him because I dug into the book and it it just reignited my brain in so many ways. The other thing I want to share is that I'm starting to see results from the meditation.


I have fought the idea of meditation for a long time. I still kind of fight it, but I do it. I generally do a guided meditation with the Headspace app. This is not a paid advertising. It's just the one. Someone gave it to me for nothing, actually. But now I listen to the English guy.


OK, take a deep breath. Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth, eyes open, soft focus now get ready to lock down because we're going to fucking meditate this shit to death. We are going to fuck and so deeply meditate that you're not even going to know your name when you get out of it. You're not even going to know what day it is, where you get so fucking deep into it. You're not even going to know if you are a man or a woman or a gerbil or a dog or a little pig.


Yeah, we're going to get so deep into it that you're going to tap into the big hum, the big frequency. You're going to be in the canyon of time not knowing what God is or who you are or whether or not anything is anything. That's where we're going with this. All right. Now breathe in through your nose, out of the mouth. Now, want your wankhede? I'm sorry, I a joke. It's a joke. You can do that after.


Anyways, listen, I think what's happening is we never know the future, but we usually can plan. No one ever really knows what's going to happen, but usually you can hang your future thinking on some things you're looking forward to or some things you have to do, and that's gone because we don't know when we're going to be able to do things.


I mean, I'm not speaking for everybody, but I believe that the dread of really never knowing what's going to happen in the future, which is sort of a mortality anxiety, but the dread of not knowing when we're going to actually be able to do anything outside of what we have to do today and tomorrow, which seemingly has broken into a series of patterns that just maintain our sanity. But the anxiety of not knowing compounded by the other thing, the planning thing, I think is a lot.


So what I have begun to notice about meditation. I find that the the sitting, the guided meditation, the sitting with the breath, however you want to do it, the ability to kind of work that muscle, that mental muscle, to focus on the breath and be in the present to let thoughts come and go, to not get too freaked out when you get distracted, but to really sort of sit mindfully and focus on the breath to the point where that's all you're doing is sort of engaging with your breath, that working that muscle enables you to almost instinctively get into the present when you begin to have anxiety or dread.


And it almost happens without you being cognizant because you've worked that muscle and that muscle is specifically to kind of not get lost in those thoughts.


Now, you have to decide for yourself whether you rather have a meditative brain or a brain that's on fire work. If you like firefighting, then you may prefer the burning brain. I, I'm not sure I like firefighting.


I've been doing it a lot of my life. But it turns out that, like, I'm not really fighting fires. I'm just sort of like kind of, you know, letting them burn and then when they start to simmer down and throw a little bit more stuff on there.


But I find that the meditation enables you to kind of I have a hard time compartmentalizing because one bad thought, if you have a hard time compartmentalizing or if you're missing a small piece of your personality, you know, one small negative thought or one bit of bad news or one kind of nugget, a little anxiety seedling can just grow fucking strangling vines all over your entire sense of being.


If you get that meditation muscle going, you get that sort of mindful muscle going, you get that quieted down, muscle going, you might have a little shot, you might have a little shot of compartmentalizing, of keeping things in perspective, of quieting the brain down, getting into the present when necessary.


You might be able to sort of dam up some of those neural pathways that kind of over fuckin flood, you know, just kind of like stop them for a minute because, you know, when you have no control over the flood of of fear, anxiety, dread, just I'm mixing metaphors.


There's the brain on fire. Then there's the the flood of bad thoughts. I guess it can happen simultaneously, right.


No amount of water could put that fire out. It's just going to flood everything. So you end up with a bunch of fucking moldy, soggy books and papers and toys from your past and pictures. They're all soggy and fucked up because you had a flood and made your past look dark. And then the fires, the future. You got a flooded past with mold and in the future, nothing but flames.


So meditation helps with that. And that was actually a guided meditation that I just did. Let me take a minute here to tell you about a new show you'll want to check out. All right.


Look, Sunday is Valentine's Day, and Fox wants you to spend the night laughing because Fox Animation domination returns with all new episodes of your favorite shows. But this time, a new family joins the Fox family prepare to get wild with the Tobin family in the series premiere of The Great North. From the producers of Bob's Burgers comes a new animated comedy that proves life in Alaska is always an adventure. Millions of viewers fell in love with the special preview of the Great North, and they weren't the only ones, folks.


Critics are already calling it hilarious, heartwarming and silly sweetness. The Hollywood Reporter raves that it's another animated winner for Fox this Valentine's Day. Chill out with an all star cast, including Nick Offerman, Jenny Slate, Will Forte, Megan Mullally, Dulci Sloan, Paul Rust, Apana Non CHIRLA, and Alanis Morissette like you've never seen her. Don't miss the premiere of the Great North, part of an all new night of Fox Animation domination Sunday. Eight thirty seven thirty central on.


Yes, yes. You guessed it Fox. Let's talk about movies. Mark Harris is going to be talking to me and the book Hero Pictures at a Revolution is C..


It's been a long time since I read about film and all of us. I think a lot of us who are interested or studied stuff are watching a lot of movies right now.


And I for some reason now that like some of the PTSD from my grief and recent trauma and the general trauma has sort of settled down, I, I find myself with this quiet time where I'm not, you know, pounding my brain with stand up and compulsively working on material where I'm actually trying to take things in again in a way that runs a little deeper than just get me out of.


Now, could somebody get me out of now?


But I think so many of us have lost context that so much of what we put into our brains is to try to, you know, get us out of now, get us out of us, you know, distract us.


But my depth of intellectual understanding is limited. And I don't always trusted because I don't think I'm that smart. It's just my nature.


But reading this book, it really this book, the one I read I've read part of the Mike Nichols book, the new book, but he writes a lot about Nichols in Picture the Revolution. It focuses on the five films that were nominated for Best Picture in 1967. And through those films, he's able to analyze the cultural pulse of the nation, the politics of show business, the nature of each production. You know what went into it on a writing level, acting level, producing level, directing level, and put that into the context of the larger history of film in the history of show business in the business.


And the people were involved. And the films where Bonnie and Clyde in The Heat of the Night, guess who's coming to dinner? Dr. Doolittle and the Graduate. And through that, he's able to sort of consider and assess the films, you know, for what they are in context of culture and criticism, because he cites a lot of the critics, but also how that shift in the culture and in the politics of the culture, you know, changed how movies were made, sold and taken in all levels, working all pistils, operating.


It's a real brain ignitor. And in in contextualizing these things, you know, you see the films differently.


And I watched all the films again. And this is dealing with art, dealing with race deals, with gender deals, with age deals.


It's all there. And it's a, you know, film is very rich like that.


And I think what it speaks to in terms of my laziness as of late or my need to get out of the now or for just general distraction, is that I think that cultural criticism, film criticism, art criticism, criticism in general, the deep stuff, not the review, not the this or that, good or bad thoughts on sounds like now trending not that, but sort of true contextualize consideration of of art or culture is is a bit waning, which is sad because those things are needed, they're needed to sort of understand, comprehend the cultural conversation and what is happening to slow it down, to consider thoughtfully.


And intellectually and historically, a lot of that stuff is falling by the wayside, and after reading a book like Mark Harris, it's like it's so fucking important because it's very easy to get lazy and it's very easy to get shallow.


And, you know, most people don't think too deeply about anything because everything's moving so fast and even smart people have given up without knowing it.


You know how you just go to Rotten Tomatoes on eighty seven? That's pretty good. How many reviews? 100. Let's watch that.


But if you don't have anything in place to put things into context or think for yourself, you know, you're just going to be citing other things you're going to be referring to quick that you're going to be referring to something you heard you're going to be comparing blindly and that's going to sort of pass is thought for you. You know, we're volunteering for shallowness.


You've got to go deep, man. And that's what criticism can do, whether you understand it or not. It'll take you deeper and make you understand that there is depth to be explored. And I'm grateful for that and grateful for this guest, and I was excited to talk to him. He's also married to Tony Kushner, who's the probably the most brilliant living playwright that we have.


And it was kind of hard for me at the beginning because I was like, so is like is Tony just he's just in the other room just hanging out. What are you guys what do you guys talk about? Like, it's hard for me not not to do a bit of that. And I did do a bit of it, to be honest with you. I did.


So right now, this is Mark Harris that I'm about to talk to. And his new book is Mike Nichols Alife. And you can get it wherever you get books.


How are you doing, Mark? I'm good, how are you? I'm all right, man. Were you in New York? I am. I'm in Manhattan on the Upper West Side.


In your apartment? Yep. Is Tony Kushner in the other room?


He is in the other room. I went and shut the door and said, don't come out while I'm doing this now.


Like, you know, he's obviously one of the the great playwrights and you are one of the great critics, you know. Now, you guys are spending an awful lot of time together.


What do you talk about? Is it mostly politics?


Do you do you watch a movie and hammered out or is it just like about food?


It's definitely not mostly politics. I mean, we scream at each other about what's in the news the way a lot of people do. Yeah, but there's a lot of a lot of food discussion, a lot of what's for dinner, a lot of what are we going to do. And and yeah, we watch tons of movies. I'm sort of the movie deejay and he's the food guy. So so it balances out nicely. And, you know, we were both a stay at home writers basically before this all started.


So it hasn't been that huge a change for us compared to a lot of other people.


Yeah, I mean, you got me watching movies. I decided, you know, they sent me all the books and I thought the one that I could tackle before I talk to you thoroughly was pictures at a revolution.


Oh, wow. Yeah. So I read that whole book and I'm very proud of myself that I finished a book.


Thank you so much for reading. I'm these days I'm very proud of myself. When I finish a book, I'm proud of myself when I buy one. That seems like a big accomplishment.


Well, you know what? The funny thing is this morning I'm thinking about your book and I'm thinking about movies. And I'm talking to I had a conversation with my agent yesterday about Warren Beatty, who he decided he's going to try to get on the podcast. And I just read so much about Beedi in your book is that this morning I realized like, oh, my God, I don't know where my copy of Empire of Their Own is by Neal Gabler that I need the book about the juice.


I need a new copy of that.


So right before I got on, I bought a new copy that I can literally touch that book almost from from where I'm sitting right now.


I love that book. You know, I look great. Yeah, I love that book. And now there's a book I want to read about the Jews and creating comic books, the Marvel Universe and Stanley and that whole crew.


Oh, you know, the new Stan Lee biography that's about to come out. Yeah, I think it's called True Believer. That is a fantastic book. Just really, really worth your time. Yeah.


So the new book that you that you're out talking about, this Mike Nichols book, Nichols, Mike Nichols, a life like I read a lot about, you know, the you know, obviously you wrote a lot about Mike Nichols in pictures at a revolution revolving around the Graduate and his New York theater days and everything.


Now, what I want to know is and I poked around in the new book as well, is that it seems like a quite a passion project to decide to write a 500 page book on Mike Nichols.


Now, like I know Mike Nichols is interesting, and I was very compelled by the stuff that you wrote in pictures that the revolution and I begun. I had no idea about his background, about his Jewishness and non Jewish nation. But why that guy?


Well, I thought that I mean, it was a passion project, but I thought also I would never get bored while I was doing it, because it really felt like in some ways I was writing about three full careers, like a full a full movie career, a full career at the same time directing theater. And then the the ten years preceding that, where he was this kind of game changing performing artist. So it really did feel like I didn't know it was going to be quite as long when I started working on it.


But it felt like, yeah, this is going to be a long book. It was a long, complicated life.


But like, were you able to see because I noticed that the levels that you were operating at in pictures that the revolution and really addressing how Hollywood changed through these five movies, but you were able to tackle it on all the levels, you know, the levels of, you know, cultural politics, the movie industry, politics.


You know, what it took to get the films made, the actors, the scripts, the writing, the selling, the whole thing. And, you know, to me, it provided a great overview. It's sort of like, you know, I read Raging Bulls in Easy Rider is the Biscayan book, which is OK. But this was like setting the stage for that. This is pre that. Now, I assume that, like, you also were able to thread through the Mike Nichols book, the arc of history that he represents.


I think it was I hope I was. I mean, it's a really different task because pictures of the revolution, I had, you know, six or eight or ten major characters to play with.


And I was kind of interweaving the. Through a pretty concentrated period of about five years and and so this book obviously is one life through 83 years, I realized I would have nothing to cut away to, which was a little scary. You know, it was the shape of the book was determined by the the arc of his life. But I did feel I could get into the Chicago comedy scene in the 50s and New York nightclub life in the late 50s and 60s and Broadway in the mid 60s and Hollywood in the 70s.


So I felt like, yeah, there's a lot of good cultural history and background for me to play with here besides just Mike and his particular style.


How much did you talk about Shelley Berman?


A little bit, because that was a really, you know, intense I mean, that whole kind of boiling pot of Chicago comedy in the in the 50s when they were all really kind of inventing improv.


Right. It was really emotionally intense and particularly the the dynamic between Shelley Berman and Mike Nichols and Elaine May I mean, Shelley Berman really wanted to be the third guy in a trio. And and he also really wanted to work with Elaine May. It's just about oh, I don't know.


So I interviewed Shelley before he died. I drove to his house and sat there with him. You know, for some reason he had a large knife collection, Shelley Berman.


And and he said he said that the only reason that he did a foam bit, which was half his bits, was because Elaine May wouldn't do it with him. He said he said that's how he came up with the foam bit, is that he had planned those things to be two people. But because Elaine May wouldn't do it because she was with Mike, he had to do it on his own, the foam bit.


Well, it sounded to me like there were so few women in the compass players and that whole scene that, you know, to get with Elaine may melt meant that you had, you know, a chance to do a two character thing on stage. And so everybody wanted her. And Mike Nichols was pretty blunt about talking about the degree to which he kind of stiff arm Shelly Berman and said, nope, like this is she's mine. You can't go anywhere near.


Believe me, that's just one of the largest of the reasons Shelly Berman is bitter.


Yeah, yeah. He's passed away, sadly.


But but, boy, get him going about Bob Newhart. There's no end to that one. Wow, that's amazing. These guys, some of them don't get any happier as time goes on. Yeah, I don't think so.


So you were able to but I mean, you knew Mike Nichols, correct?


I did. In the last probably 12 or 14 years of his life when he was in his 70s.


Now, were you making notes for that then? I mean, has this book been in the works that long?


No, not at all. I didn't. First of all, I don't think I would ever try to write a biography of someone who is alive. That just seems like I mean, biographies are already such a big mountain to climb. And and I felt that Mike was figuratively looking over my shoulder, correcting me, amending me the whole time. If there had been someone literally there, that would have been too much. So I urged Mike a few times to write his autobiography, which he was not interested in doing, but I never thought of it until after he passed away in 2014.


And what do you think? Because I know that in pictures at a revolution, what do you think it was? Because he seemed to be a kind of a gifted in a very unique way around how he engaged with actors.


And, you know, what he expected both in theater and in film.


I mean, what was it? How did he change theater?


You know, this was one of the hardest things for me to reconstruct in the book, because, of course, I can't go back and see, you know, Barefoot in the Park in 1963. Right. And when you read the play, you think, oh, this is a sort of pretty typical comedy of its time, you know. Yeah. Just in terms of the lines. And so I was really surprised to hear from so many people who had seen it that, no, no, no, it wasn't that at all.


It was something really new. And the new thing that they said, Mike, brought to it was that in between these very snappy, like one after another lines, he would find all these little gifts of realistic, recognizable human behavior to give to the actors, you know, like so that they were saying these lines.


But what you were looking at was people sort of behaving the way people behave in the privacy of their own apartment. And that, I guess, was really new. And that was very much like finding the perfect little detail.


That's interesting because that's not really you know, that's not a method thing. That's sort of a choice thing. And it's sort of giving somebody something to do.


Right and and something to do that somehow expresses who you are really between the lines of dialogue.


Or under the lines of dialogue, I think, as I mean, Mike did study with Lee Strasberg and all of that, and he was interested in the method, but I think it more comes from his work with Elaine May and and from all the sketches where they kind of figured out as performers that they could do things, even things that were at odds with what they were saying that would instantly connect with the audience and make people in the audience say, oh, that that's just like me, I guess.


Yeah. I mean, I don't think people fully realize just how huge a comedy act they were, you know, in Nichols and May and it came out the Compass players eventually became second city. Right. Parts of it. Right.


There's some kind of complicated split off where part of it became second city. And, you know. But yes.


Was it Alan Arkin and Ed Asner involved as well in the Compass? Yeah, Ed Asner was actually the first. He was a couple of years older than Mike, and he was the first actor that Mike ever directed as he was an undergrad at the University of Chicago. And he directed Ed Asner in a very short play. That was Mike's first directing.


And eventually he remembers that his whole life he talked about it. He you know.


Yeah, Ed's a lot. I'm sure he always was.


He was great. I said, what what do you remember about Mike? And he said he was very effeminate, but he was the kind of effeminate guy who would steal your girl when you weren't looking so handsome.


And then he talked about 9/11 conspiracies for now. And so I see you're able to interview him. Yeah.


Yeah, that was a thrill. Who else did you talk to the old timers for the book?


Oh, my gosh. Well, from that period, definitely the most important person I talked to was Elaine May. I mean, she was hugely responsible for helping me understand exactly what their partnership was and how they worked together. And she had amazing stories to tell about, like how the first time they got up on stage and and flopped at the worst sketch they ever did and why it was such a failure and what they learned from it. So, you know, of course, a lot of those people from the early 1950s when this all started or are gone, I talked to before he passed away David Shepard, who was one of the founders of the compass.


And Ed was already struggling with the beginning of dementia when we talked. But he really wanted to talk. And, you know, you find your way in interviews like that. He had to say this some memories.


Well, you know, it's interesting because Elaine is still very vital and still working. I saw her in that the a play that revival of that. Right.


The Waverly Gallery. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Elaine May was a fantastic, obviously like sharp as a tack in the interview and just had really great memories to share. Well, that's interesting.


Like how like, you know, so much of this, because that was the thing that I got when I was reading, you know, the the pictures that the Revolution book was that, you know, I grew up in you know, you and I are really the same age.




So we're like three months apart, literally. I'm September 27th, 1993, and I'm November 25th.


Right. During JFK's funeral. Yeah, right there.


I got in right under the wire. Then they got him.


But so like I grew up like our generation. It's weird because we're really not boomers. We're maybe the tail end of it. But we grew up in sort of the crashing wave of the 60s and into the 70s. So if you gravitated towards, you know, what, the 60s and 70s defined as a young person, which I did, you know, film was very interesting to me. So I studied a bit of film in college. Did you?


I did, yeah. And I, I probably had the same experience you did, which is it's really weird being exactly our age because you had to kind of choose to like for me, I wanted to be a part of the generation that was slightly older than right. Than we are. Exactly. So that's what I jump toward. Yeah.


Because they seem the smartest and the funniest and the most engaged. It seemed like so many things were defined.


I mean, even if you think about rock and roll starting in 1957, which was our parents that like, you know, the whole idea of modern art film criticism, you know, taking risks creatively, it all happened just before we became conscious of what was going on.


Right. So there was this there was definitely a feeling of like we missed the whole thing. Exactly.


It's a strange feeling all your cultural life to feel that you came in a little too late, that all the action was just behind you. Right. And and, you know, I had older cousins growing up and they always seemed to be really plugged into, you know, what was really going on that I wasn't old enough to see or wasn't old enough to do, and that just endlessly. This made me want to see it even more. Where'd you grow up?


I grew up in New York City. Oh, so you're like a New York kid? I am in New York, kid. Yeah, that's amazing.


How'd that happen? What were your parents doing?


My dad was a lawyer and he was a native New Yorker. He grew up in the city. And my my mother was she grew up in upstate New York and Syracuse and and came to the city to work as a as a doctor at St. Vincent's Hospital. So so that that was my childhood. A lawyer and a doctor. He was Jewish. She was Catholic. So fascinating to me.


You know, you're the second guy in a week I talked to who grew up in New York. I just talked to Ozzie Jacobs.


Oh, really? Yeah, that's cool. His parents were, you know, and still are and were, you know, you know, kind of like edgy experimental film makers.


Well, I always felt like real New Yorkers were the people who came to the city and chose it. You know, I always felt like I landed here kind of and didn't earn it somehow. But but, yeah, I've lived here all my life and I still really love it.


You didn't earn it? Yeah. I came from where? Like the old country.


That was that was my grandparents. Yeah. You know, yeah. They they did the work, you know, and I, I got the benefit but soon.


So you grew up in all that culture. That's, that must have been amazing because you had access, whatever you may have been jealous of.


You know, it's like I was talking to us about his parents in, you know, like and how he you know, he would go they would go like, look at these like weird film festivals at the Museum of Modern Art. The one thing that you got when you grow up in New York is you have access to all of that. I remember going to the Museum of Film and Broadcasting. Do you remember what we had to do to watch film clips, you know, when we were interested back in the day?


Oh, so much work. So much work. And if you wanted to see an old movie like Uncut without commercials, you just had to, like, wait until it hit one of the revival theaters and then go, you know. Yeah.


And that was like what was fascinating about reading the pictures at a revolution was that I had no idea about any of that, about how long they kept films in the movie houses and they would wait like a year. They they just what movies play like a year to see if it would make money. Right.


I read old issues of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter from that time. And the first time I saw this, I thought it was a joke. But they would say things like, you know, this week in the heat of the night, hit the sixth and seventh run circuit of movie theaters. And they're apparently like nine circuits in theaters across the country. And movies would play sometimes for two years.


And you'd learned all that when you were writing that?


Yeah, I did not know that before I before I was.


Let me ask you this. Why doesn't somebody make a movie about the making of Dr. Doolittle?


I would rather see a movie about that than another remake of Dr. Doolittle, I think would be a lot more fun after I read your book.


I don't even know why they would make a remake of a disaster like it was categorically a disaster. I didn't know. I mean, I saw it when I was a kid.


I thought it was all right. I can still probably remember two of the songs, but. But but it was like from everything you wrote, it was a disaster. And the making of it just seems fucking hilarious.


I mean, like, how could you not make that movie to, you know, give it the the treatment, like, was that great, that great satire that Ben Stiller did, the war movie, Tropic Thunder, Tropic Thunder, like treat it like that.


You know, when I was working on that book, the only time I had to stop my research was about Rex Harrison, because I thought the stuff I'm finding out is so bad that I have to go hunt around for people who knew him to see if anybody has a good thing to say. And I tried. I tried.


And I I found a couple of people who who said, well, when are you writing about? And I said 1967. And they said, no, no, he was a monster. Like if you were writing about the 50s or the 40s, he was still a decent human being. But but not by then. Wow.


So it's so funny because while I was reading it, I interviewed Jodie Foster, who has experience and memories with Stanley Kramer and also, like her mother, worked for Jacobs for what we do.


Really? I didn't know that. That's interesting. Yeah.


Her mother, like, you know, when he was still a publicist, her her mother was in publicity.


What was his name? Arthur Jacobs. Arthur Jacobs. Yeah. Yeah, he seemed like a character. Oh, yeah. I mean, again, like died long before I even. Yeah. Bagian to the book but but really one of those great kind of what makes Sammy run, you know, I'm going to hustle and pull this thing together, you know, just on Scotch tape and a prayer and, you know, making this insane movie.


Yeah. And he made a lot he did a lot of stuff. A lot of those guys I can I watch I watched all the movies again except for Dr. Doolittle, which I guess I should. And I've seen the grand. With so many times I didn't watch it again, but I wanted to watch, you know, I've watched Catch 22 Carnal Knowledge Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, which I imagine you cover pretty thoroughly in the book, definitely because you cover Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?


Pretty well, because in in pictures at the revolution, because it happened before the graduate.


But, you know, it seems to me that, like the vision that Nichols had, you know, certainly for catch 22, like now now how did he what do you think of that movie in terms of did that get away from him or was that exactly what he was trying to do?


Well, Country two is the first time that he really had absolute power. I mean, it was the first movie he made after the success of Virginia Woolf in The Graduate. So he had as much money as he wanted, which was more than the budget.


He hired everyone in Hollywood to be in it. Right. Crazy. Huge cast from Alan Arkin.


And wasn't Orson Welles in it or Orson Welles is in it and wrote him like two weeks of absolute misery on the set, according to everyone who worked with Orson Welles. And the shoot took forever. It was in Mexico. It was in Italy. It was in Los Angeles.


And, you know, I think that Mike, in later years kind of went back and forth between finding things to like in the movie and just feeling that he hadn't cracked it. That that I mean, it was hard for him to separate the experience of the final product from the incredibly long ordeal of making it.


And then sort of the worst thing that could possibly happen happened, which is he finally finishes it there three months from opening and MASH opens. And like the moment Mike Nichols saw MASH, he thought, oh, my movie's dead. I mean, this is the movie about another war, but really about Vietnam that everyone is going to want to see. And this is the kind of loose, improvisatory Superbad style that I should have gone for, you know, because, like, I don't know what the what his choice was.


I mean, I imagine that the weight of, you know, how Fellini saw things must have been on him to some degree because it was really a a surrealistic, you know, disconnected film.


I mean, there's a lot of great parts to it. And I know the novel is difficult, but there's no way that movie came together.


No. And Fellini, you're absolutely right, was really on his mind. Right? I mean, you know, he thought eight and a half for a long time was the best movie ever made. And he wanted to go to Italy because, you know, he could he could do Felliniesque sequences there. You know, he just he he never Buck Henry, who wrote the movie later said that he thought the big mistake was that catch 22 is all about attitudes and Mike was all about behavior and he couldn't find any human behavior to put in that movie.


Kind of. Wow.


Well, that's interesting seeing that what we were talking about earlier was that was really the the new thing he brought to theater was exactly that.


Right. And somehow it got away from him in that movie, probably because he got lost.


And, you know, just the expanse and expanse of it, I guess. Yeah. It's hard to find humanity when you can do whatever you want with major movie stars. Right.


And when you're crashing planes and blowing up boxes of dynamite and, you know, like Mike was never a huge fan of filming outdoors or action sequences like that was not his comfort zone. And and the and issue was the first time he really pushed himself there. And I don't think it was a happy experience for him particularly.


It's a bizarre movie. And carnal knowledge, I don't think is talked about enough because I watch that recently. And it's great movie.


I love it. I love it. I mean, I think if that movie came out right now, it would be in some ways as shocking as it was fifty years ago.


Oh, just for that last scene. And that was also a very minor thing. Like he said over and over again, if you if you do something big that's like a big public failure, which contrary to was the best thing you can do is go right into something small. That means something to you that you don't have big commercial expectations for, that you just want to do because you love the people or love the material. And that's that's how we got to carnal knowledge.


Did it do well? It did do well. I mean, it sort of turned out, you know, it was a big commercial success and incredibly controversial. And was it really? Yeah. Yeah. There was even an obscenity trial that went to the Supreme Court, which actually had to sit down and watch carnal knowledge and ruled that it was not obscene. So, you know, it wasn't it wasn't the. Quiet little movie that Mike thought he was going to make after catch 22 is a big, noisy little movie that he made, not those fights.


It's interesting that those fights were taking place. What year was that? Like 71, 72?


It was 71. And it was right around the time that porn was going mainstream. And obviously, carnal knowledge is not porn. But but, you know, it was it was right in the thick of those fights of what can you show in a movie theater? What's a what's OK?


Oh, so yes. OK, you're so you're saying it's just shy of of like Deep Throat showing movie theaters.


Exactly. A couple of years later, I think actually by the time the Supreme Court resolved the carnal knowledge case, Deep Throat was open and arguably ruined culture forever.


Yeah. Yeah. Now now that. Yeah, that's another question about not about porn, but like, you know, in reading the books and in talking to you, you know, and your attention that you pay to critics of the past.


And when I studied film like these, are these this idea that there were these feuds between like Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael and that there was like weight to them and, you know, the passing of the guard of the old dude at The New York Times and how that affected, you know, the run of a movie, you know, the importance of criticism, both, you know, art criticism, cultural criticism, what did it obviously carried a lot of weight at another time.


It really did. I mean, there were and, you know, people talk about critics as as gatekeepers now. But now I don't really think there are gatekeepers like that.


But back then, when there were so few critics and when, you know, like I remember growing up, my parents got Time magazine and Life magazine every week. Right. And if if those magazines gave a movie a good review and if it got a good review in The New York Times, yeah. They would want to go see it. And if they didn't, if everything got bad reviews, that movie was off the list. There was almost nothing that would change their mind.


That's interesting.


So that, again, speaks to the loss of of monopoly and intimacy within the media landscape that you had when it was a time where, you know, you had three networks in public TV and then you had, you know, a few large magazines.


Really, most of the country was on the same page as give or take. And the same information was coming in pretty much.


Yeah. I mean, the funny thing is what they weren't on the same page about was movies didn't open in three or four thousand theaters at once. They they would have weird distribution patterns where one movie would open in Los Angeles and then sort of roll across the country and eventually get to New York. One would open, you know, in New York and then Chicago and then Boston and then Los Angeles. So so there wasn't this big like all at once.


Here's the movie moment. But on the other hand, movies stayed in theaters for so long that you really did get to have an ongoing conversation.


Well, yeah. And everybody wasn't connected. You know, you had to write a letter to somebody to tell them to see a movie or make, you know what I mean, or make a long distance call.


So the actual pace of life was extraordinarily slower.


And and you could say, well, that makes sense. That's why you could run a movie for two years, because you could open it up in an area and, you know, no one else could see it. And the information they got about it would just be a long tease. And then you just sort of wait around to eventually maybe it got to your theater. There is no no there operates.


Right. And if you wanted to see the movie the way you were supposed to see it, you did have to see it in the theater because it wasn't like there was cable. I mean. Right. You know, it would get on network TV eventually, but it would be chopped up for length and chopped up for content. So this was your chance, like you had to go to the theater.


So, like, in terms of like are there like let's talk about like, you know, I've read Andrew Sarris, I've read some Pauline Kael. I did a history of cinema class. And, you know, I, I really think that you framed a lot of the stuff, not just around, you know, Mike Nichols and the influence of the French New Wave or European movies coming into this country in the 60s and the influence they had in that book.


I'm sure you talked about it in the Mike Nichols book, that, you know, that there was the context you created in pictures, that the revolution really, you know, reframed my entire understanding of a lot of a lot about movies in general.




And, you know, and I approach movies randomly intelligent. I wouldn't call myself an intellectual. You know, I have put a lot of stuff in my brain, but I like to know that I'm thinking along the same lines.


But I don't know that I ever would have seen Bonnie and Clyde, as you know, for most practical purposes, a European movie in terms of the way it was conceived.


And that was a little bit of news to me when I researched it, how how much French moviemaking in particular was on the mind. Of all the people who made Bonnie and Clyde like over four years before they made it. Oh, yeah, and the whole journey of those riders in that script and everybody involved, it was all very fascinating to me. But I mean, do you feel like because back then when you talk about Pauline Kael, you talk about Sarah as you talk about who was the guy that wrote for the Times, the old timer, Bosley Crowther.




That they weren't just these were critics.


You know, that obviously there's a difference between a movie review and criticism. Right and right. And it seems that there are there may be plenty of critics out there, but the outlets are so spread out. How do you find them?


And now, you know, you're really dealing with something that seems to be a byproduct of how we live now, is that most people look at in aggregate, you're going to look at Rotten Tomatoes.


Got an eighty, five hundred and twenty reviews. All right. I'll take a look at that movie. Now, what have we lost?


Well, it's a hard thing because, you know, you go back to 1967 and you see Pauline Kael not just writing about Bonnie and Clyde, but writing 9000 words about Bonnie and Clyde. And then on the other hand, you have Bosley Crowther, The New York Times guy, who literally said that he thought his his role was to be sort of a pastor, telling his flock what was what was suitable for them. And I don't think you'd want to go back to that, certainly.


But and I think there are you know, there's always the possibility of an interesting conversation being sparked on social media about a particular movie. But I think one thing we've lost is time. I mean, the movie has such a short window to make an imprint in any kind of public discussion. And if it doesn't, it doesn't get 15 or 20 weeks in the theater to build word of mouth.


But even that part of the problem, Mark, that like, you know, that public discussion moves at such a pace and that everybody is forced into the position of an almost kind of aggravated passive engagement. I mean, unless you stop the clock for yourself to process something, it's just going to go away.


I think that's really true. And and people are already coming up with kind of I'm always fascinated when I ask people who like movies, do you keep lists of movies that you read about that you want to see? And so many of them say, oh, yeah, I have this whole document on my laptop because there's kind of I think under that is the sense that if you don't grab this title and write it down, you will lose it. The noise machine will move on before you even blink.


Right. And I mean, I do that all the time. I write down movies I want to see because I know that in three days everything will be focused on something else. And and, you know, and that's the same with everything.


I mean, it's really sort of this weird problem. And and it seems like the problem is happening directly to our minds. It seems like the events that happen in the world, like somebody spent, you know, four years making that movie, it released, it goes away. But in our mind, it's sort of like, oh, I heard that. I heard about it was any good. I think I saw a thing. And then you forget about it.


Right. But it happens with politics, too. I'm noticing that, you know, that we've we've all learned how to dismiss trolls and we've all sort of learned how to, you know, sort of try to rank intuitively what's amateur and what isn't. And I think in that process of filtering, you know, everything just sort of like it gets it's sort of like you don't want to deal with it. You know, once it's behind us, you just don't want to deal with it.


What I'm getting at is as somebody who writes about film in a thoughtful way and takes the time to do the investigation, is criticism still necessary in your mind and who is it necessary for?


Well, I think criticism I'm not going to say necessary, but I will certainly say useful because I think that if you take away all criticism and all you have left is a kind of hierarchy of marketing, where movies that have enough money are the only movies that get attention, that's a problem. But someone was talking to me the other day and we were talking about this movie that I really love called Nomad Land. That is I got to see that.


I have that. I have it. I have the screener. You liked it.


I loved it. I really loved it. And this person said to me, I'm so sorry I missed it. And I said, You didn't miss it. It hasn't opened yet. Yeah. And it's not streaming it. And they said, oh yeah. But I, I feel I have read so much about it from critics in like September and October and then it just kind of went away. And so one thing I, I think critics are going to have to grapple with is you've got to get on a timetable that more conforms to how real people can see movies.


I think they're going to say like the next part of that sentence was, I'm so sorry I missed it. You didn't. They said. I will I'll miss it. I plan to miss it, so, yeah, but it's like I understand the impulse to be first out with a reaction or an opinion, but if you're first out on something that people can't see for months and you sort of burn yourself out on the topic by the time the actual movie rolls around and is available, who are you serving?


I think that's a question that a lot of critics are grappling with right now.


Yeah. Who are you serving? Yeah.


And also, like, you know, and I think in the time, like, I started to think about just randomly before I talk to you, because I'm trying to pull it all together for myself, that, you know, another part of the layer of discussion is sort of, you know, it was the struggle for photography to define itself as an art that once everybody could have a camera, you know, how do you determine the intention?




So now we live in a world really where everyone is equipped to do just about anything. And production values are sort of the same right now. I just did I did The Tonight Show from my backyard. So, you know that and that.


We're never putting that back in the bottle. I mean, that's the thing.


So, no, yeah, I think that's here to stay like what we're doing right now.


So, like, how does that fall into the conversation? Like, how do you determine. The integrity of something of a piece of art as a film specifically. It's too big a question. Well, it's such a hard question because it connects to this thing that I'm grappling with, and I'm sure you are. And a lot of people, which is what it's like we keep talking about after this, you know. Right. The pandemic after things go back to normal.


But things aren't going to really go back to normal, are they?


Oh, I talked about that yesterday. Yeah, we're going forward to something that will have some more normal elements than what we're living now. But some things are changing and are going to stay changed.


And I don't think we've begun to realize necessarily what that means for movies and for how we see movies and for how we talk about movies and get the word out about movies, because everything's going to happen at the same frequency that, you know, the outlet, the portal through which we watch is leveled.


Yeah, there's no different I mean, you know, you talk about especially in the books, in, you know, premieres and going to movies, I mean, that was already starting to taper off. But, you know, sort of the you know, you entered that world like I'm going out to do this, to see this thing.


And now everything happens in the exact same mode or medium or format, like everything's coming through whatever size screen you have in your house or if you watch out on your phone, on the plane or whatever the fuck it is. So, I mean, I guess having to wrangle as a critic or as somebody who is dealing with criticism, you know, what does that mean?


What is what does that mean for contextualizing this stuff?


You know, I mean, every critic I know wants to get the word out to people about movies they love, like, OK, good good critics, bad critics. I think that's one thing they all have in common, that that they genuinely like telling people, oh, I saw something and it's fantastic. You have to see it. But how you do that and how you get heard above what you just said, which is this everything being at the same frequency?


Yeah, I don't think we have begun to figure out an answer to that yet. I don't know.


I don't know. Yeah, I don't know if there is an answer and I don't know if it's good or bad, really. Like, you know, I, you know, I mean I've adapted. I think you and I are like just under the wire on somehow being able to, you know, figure out how not to have an AOL screen name anymore.


You know, we're the oldest of the people who have cracked it.


Right. Right. Well, you just sign up for Gmail. Yeah.


So but I don't know, like, I guess I mean, I am nostalgic for when we had fewer choices and I'm nostalgic for when there were fewer voices in it. I don't know. That makes me a bad person or not.


I don't know. It's it's it's hard because, you know, I look at a lot of really great indie work. Yeah. And I think so much of this wouldn't have gotten made before. You know, absolutely nothing hard to get these movies made. So and yet it's really frustrating because I, I want to tell people about these movies and every time one hundred percent, the first thing people ask me is where can I find it? And it's so puzzling to me that we don't have like the easiest possible system to tell people how to see a great small movie, you know, that should be at your fingertips.


It shouldn't take nearly as much Googling as it does.


You know, you can't find the original Heartbreak Kid. It's not streaming. You have to go find a copy on YouTube.


You can't find Silkwood, one of Mike Nichols best movies, great streaming anywhere. Really some weird legal problem about who owns it so it can come up surprisingly with big movies like that. That's a great movie. I love it. I love it. And I want to be able to tell people to see it without having to say to them first, well, buy a Blu ray player. Yeah, yeah. You know, that's step one.


You know who's great in that? Craig T. Nelson.


He's fantastic. He's a really, really good right.


So I guess, like, you know, I don't want to sound older or close minded because I think you're right.


I think that the way things have broken open, that, you know, the number of different types of voices and the number of like if you think about what you were writing about in the early 60s in terms of the the international cinema, you know, having was inaccessible, you know, until the mid 60s in this country, that now, you know, the sort of global nature of what we're able to take in, you know, almost immediately.


You know, I think there's a natural sort of shallow condescension to the tone of culture in general, and it's reactive and entitled in and abusive that, you know, I think a lot of thoughtful stuff gets lost.


How how do you find that this. Space and time to take in, how do you know what the fuck is important? I mean, I sort of feel like we all have to do our bit. I mean, I'm on Twitter like most journalists, you know, and and, you know, I feel like the one thing I can do is when I see something that I really like, especially a small movie or a small TV show, if I say, hey, watch this and try to come up with a really short way of saying why it's great and why I think you should watch it.


You know, you just hope that maybe that will rise above the sea of noise at that moment. And yeah, because I think I talked to a few people.


The one thing we're finding, though, like, really this idea of, you know, not just not necessarily the free market, but that, you know, if everybody has access to expression expressing themselves, that somehow or another, you know, the cream will rise to the top, that I really think that is not always true.


I think a lot of garbage floats to the top and it's promoted heavily and it takes over the conversation.




I mean, money is still a huge finger on the scales. So so it's not like the democratization of of social media communication has led to some beautifully level playing field where we're only the good stuff wins. That does not happen. Yeah.


And then also you're up against the the the bitterness of the talentless in ways that's the other problem about how do you guys talk about it, you and Tony or even you with other people about the sort of the nature of the attack on celebrity culture and the arts in general as being, you know, somehow perverted or just useless.


I feel like there's this I mean, I'm used to that from the political right. You know, all that kind of complaining about Hollyweird and Hollywood is like a den of of bad morals and bad values. But but there is also this strain on the left that sort of views art and artists.


And the makers of pop culture is fundamentally unserious and corporate, which is, you know, the word that can be used to just cover a whole variety or as sometimes I've thought of it, and have to sort of struggle with myself as being a distraction.


Right. Right. I mean, and and, you know, I get the argument that there's like so much going on in the world. How can how can we devote any bandwidth to movies and television and pop culture? But if if we really get to a place where, you know, we decide that art is completely expendable and pop culture is completely expendable because things are just too bad, I mean, that that would be just absolutely dire. I don't I don't believe it as an argument ever, you know.


Oh, because we would no longer be able to see ourselves.


Right. Right. I mean, we we turn to to people who make movies of books we love to to have little aspects of ourselves and of the world explain to us and shown to us in a new way. How can that ever be like considered a luxury option? To me that's essential. Yeah.


To like theatre. It's like, you know, and it's like the overused idea of storytelling.


I got to know when that that word became so prevalent.




But but but but but it is true that, like, even with your book, like, you know, even going back, you know, to to those movies that you wrote about or even thinking about Mike Nichols or who's afraid of Virginia Woolf, that, you know, there is even because of the time stamp on them, you realize that there was a whole other way of perceiving then that that has gotten lost. You know, there was a you know, the idea that these guys sweated over strips of film to put them together, you know, these these decisions that were making the collaborative process in a way that wasn't completely polluted by marketing yet, although.




I mean, you were able to through the sort of veins of all those movies you captured, you saw all levels of it, you know, and also the the kind of mixture of old Hollywood and new Hollywood. And, you know, what acting meant and what how how people with scripts. And I think the biggest threat to what we're talking about into criticism in general is that things happen so quickly.


We're all operating in a certain amount of anxiety, paralysis and PTSD that we only engage passively and things just keep hitting us and keep hitting us that, you know, and it creates a cultural shallowness that if you don't fight personally to go deeper, you know, it's a trouble for the entire culture.


Yeah, I think I think it's a hard it's a hard ask for people, though, to say, like, go exploring because I get like you hear about a movie you want to see, you do the work to figure out where you can stream it or whatever. But but to go also like it can be. They were ordered to just go put yourself in the atmosphere of a place like the Criterion Channel and say, I'm just going to see where where my mind takes me, you know, and not be afraid, you know?


I mean, I always say to people, you can always turn it off. Like, if you don't like it, stop and watch another movie. But but go go try something.


But it's interesting to see the courage of, you know, as a critic, like, you know, to see the courage of filmmakers, you know, from the past that. Yeah. That, you know, influence independent film now.


And to realize that all mainstream product movies, most of them for many years and to this day, you know, require closure and simplicity and compelling, but maybe stupid stories.


Yeah. If you're going to sell a movie.


And the reason there's so many cowardly, you know, hits is that's really the business of movies.


So when you talk about Bonnie and Clyde The Graduate and you see like, well, these were, you know, outliers. I mean, it was a miracle that that things happened because it was really a populist movement of young people to sort of shift the the focus of films at that time.


Right. And the critics.


Right. It I mean, the only movie of those five that was not going against the grain of what was happening was Dr. Doolittle. Right, that that was mainstream Hollywood business and everything else was a little bit of a push or a big push towards something different.


But yeah, but I think the weird thing that I can't tell, you know, why we're talking like for me, you know, I there's still things that I need to reckon with as far as who I am that I never quite understood that I can keep going back to, you know, to to sort of go deeper within it. Like I could never wrap my brain around Fassbinder. And then you got the Criterion channel.


And I'm like, well, we'll just try, you know, just start looking at things like I knew that Veronica Vohs had a profound effect on me when I was younger, but I didn't think I got it. And now, like, you know, I can contextualize everything. I'm older. I can, you know, read a little bit about it and then watch that trilogy.


What is it, Veronica Vost role and marriage of Maria Byrne. Right. And kind of put it into the context of Germany in his career.


And but that's me. You know, I'm like, I can't tell anyone to do that. And I'm not trying to be better than anyone, anyone else to do that. But for me, the art of film demands me to read people like you and also re-engage with the work and see why it's relevant as an art form. It needs to be championed as such.


Yeah, I love that feeling of going back to a movie every, you know, 10 or 12 years or so and in some cases thinking, I wonder if I'm going to like it this time. Like, I've never I've never connected with this movie before, but somehow I think maybe this time will be I'll get it. And and or it'll just be the right movie for me at the right moment in my life. And, you know, I always think it's a great gamble to take even if it doesn't pay off.


I like trying.


Who are like who are the critics working now that you respect and read?


Oh, wow. Well, I read I read everybody because just because I'm on the Internet all day and I'm looking at stuff and I love finding someone who is a resource for you or you like that, you know, you respect their opinion enough to sort of rethink things.


Dana Stevens at Slate, I think she's a really interesting writer, like I'm always curious to see what Tony Scott Aminullah targets have to say in The New York Times. Even if I even if I disagree with someone from for me, like the measure of an interesting critic is not whether I agree with them a lot or not, but but whether it sparks an interesting argument right in my head. Right. And and so that's what I kind of look for in criticism.


Is that is that a good is it is a good fight happening right now? Yeah.


And what was your reaction to a kiss like?


I just did this monologue the other day about how, you know, all these award ceremonies and the the the the sort of the idea of nominating things for anything, you know, in what we're in right now just seems. Empty and sad, somehow, it's so strange, like the Golden Globe nominations came out and and my you know, my whole crowd of people was fighting about the Golden Globes.


And I went on a podcast and was asked to talk about the nominations and and I did. And all the while I was thinking, I can't believe the Golden Globes are happening in this world. Right. Right.


And I can't believe anyone is is devoting any energy to trying to win a Golden Globe or worrying about not getting nominated for a Golden Globe.


It's just like in some ways, it made me really happy that we could take a big break from everything that is insane and horrible in the world right now to talk about, you know, best supporting actress or whatever. Right. We're pissed off about at the Golden Globes. Yeah. And in other ways, I genuinely cannot believe that there's going to be a Golden Globes at the end of this month.


Yeah, it's kind of crazy. It's all kind of crazy to me.


And I think that what we were talking about before and sort of where I was going when I spoke about the Golden Globes is that, you know, in the same way you and I were talking about how quickly things go go by and how you have to grab on to things or take the time to to go a little deeper with things or figure out how to choose things is that, you know, the possibility that we get through this over the next six months, that there's not going to be any way to compartmentalize this time?


We're not going to be able to dismiss this year or two years of what we went through.


And for me, you know, I talked to creative people a lot.


I talked to artists and comics and writers.


You know, I'm friendly with Tracy Letts. And like, I know that there are people generating. But, you know, it's going to be, you know, a sort of a staggering, hopefully staggering to see how people depict and integrate what we're going through now into art in the very near future, because it's very hard to see anything now or to make anything. But I wonder how this is going to be sort of processed and interpreted.


Yeah, I've been watching my husband for the last ten months, you know, who obviously does something very different than I do. He tries to create things. You know, you have to create characters.


And and, you know, he's he gets asked all the time like, oh, are you going to write a play about Donald Trump or are you going to like how how are you going to write about this moment? And I know that it's something that he wrestles with a lot. It's like the question of even should I try to write about this moment or should I go chase something else that means something to me? Do I have the can I afford to do that right now or should I?


You know, is it part of my job to try to contend with this exact moment in my writing? You know, because the hard thing.


Well, yeah. You know, but you know what the weird thing about that is, is that, you know, it's relative to the outlet. You know, if he's going to create something, he needs to workshop. When are you going to do that? Like and and also, what about our own denial?


Like, you know, most of us are sort of like, I want this to end, you know, like not you know, not like, you know, how is this affecting me and my family and, you know, people I know and, you know, what is it doing?


What is what is the damage? You know, because that's the idea. It's sort of like, you know, do I just write this musical or write right?


Or do I do I write something that carries the flag and fights the fight, which, you know, sometimes you can do directly, but sometimes the best stuff doesn't emerge from from you trying to kind of make your contribution to the greater cause. You know, sometimes it comes out of you just following your own passion, even if it's for something strange. Yeah.


So like, what are the other what are the other movies that you like this that are, you know, being talked about. Did you watch Judas in the Black Messiah.


Yeah. And that's a movie I'm really excited to tell people about. That was yeah. It was really powerful and I didn't know much about the case at all going in or the story. And I felt like a lot with a lot of these fact based movies. One of the really hard things to do is catch you up on what you need to know. The historical context and stuff just give you enough going in so that you can race along with the story and with the characters.


And I thought this movie did a really good job.


Yeah, it was amazing. And like you just compare. It's so funny to me that, like, I didn't know much of that story. I kind of knew obviously how it ended. But, you know, that character at the core of this thing, the one that Stansfield played, is that his name?


Yeah, I love them.


Standfield Yeah. You know, that that moral you know, the lack, the strange moral compass, the idea that the protagonist of this film is the guy sort of like, I just care about me. I give a fuck about this, you know what I mean? I want to get out.


Yeah, that that was you were seeing this through was like, you know, profound and challenging and kind of amazing and.


But what. Also like is that, you know, so many of these movies that they shoot about that time period, they always look silly. But there was they really got the time. Right.


And I think it was because of a profound and lack of white people that white people in those costumes of that era, it's clown time. But for some reason, African-Americans, you know, in the 60s always were great, just like, well, it's it's funny because I always flinch when every costume looks like it just got dry cleaned and came off a hanger. And it's perfect. Like no one has ever worn this before. The second you're seeing and this movie did not have that this movie like it looked a little lived in.


And, you know, that's pretty great.


And it's just so weird because you watch a Chicago seven movie and nothing like it was like there's no way you can just stop making movies about white people in the 60s because you just there's no way you can over you're not going to transcend those pants.


You know, it's just I like the pants based theory of the trial of the Chicago Seven.


What other movies did you like? I really liked my Rainey's Black Bottom. Oh, yeah. You know, I think it's super tough to adapt a place to the screen. And I thought George Wolfe and that whole cast just did they did a great job. Stick job with have to have you. So it's a heavy movie, but so rewarding to just see those actors. Oh, my God. They work together, you know. Yeah. Like, that's why I love theater, you know, watching actors.


And you don't often see that on screen like a cast of people working that beautiful Viola Davis.


Oh, my God. Yeah. Amazing. What a performance.


Totally not like anything she's done. Oh, my. So so great. That's that's what I really love. What else have you liked. Yeah.


I'm trying to think of what other like ones that I just watch on a screener. Like I can't like this.


The problem you almost get like, like, like a pandemic induced dementia where, you know, days seem like weeks and things just, you know, you watch something that just disappears.


I know. I used to remember when I was younger, I could if you named a movie that I'd seen, I would remember exactly where I saw. Yeah. Like what theater, what night. And now to see everything at home and to be home all the time.


It is making it harder to give every movie like a clean, you know, like wipe the slate clean and just try to watch because everything is sort of it's all framed as, like what can we do today to be like this time, you know.


Exactly. So I watched a first cow.


Oh yeah. I really like that movie. Like, it's kind of, you know, it's cool.


Did you notice that there was like two people from McCabe and Mrs. Miller in there and that, you know, that, you know, it got that tone? There's definitely a tip of the hat to that weird Muddy McCabe and Mrs. Miller Aultman thing going on.


Yeah, I don't see how you can talk about that movie without using the word mud. Yeah, it's it's it's a muddy movie, you know, it's about dirt. Yeah. And living in dirt and being buried in it literally. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. That felt really honest and you know, like a tough movie to make and they really I believed it. I believe those people in that world. Yeah. That's all I can.


It's so reminded me of McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Just you saying this makes me want to go watch McCabe and Mrs. Miller tonight. Oh, you can always watch McCabe and Mrs. Miller McKinney.


Miss Miller is one of my favorite movies.


I love it. Last time I watched, I watched it on DVD and I watched it with subtitles. So like English subtitles so that I could catch every here, every day. Yeah, that's hilarious.


All right. Well, look, it was great talking to you. Great talking to you, too. And do you feel like we covered everything for you?


I think so. I mean, I love your show. I love that. I had no idea where we were going to end up going. It's like the most fun part of listening to you. And it was the most fun part of doing this.


Oh, good. Well, thanks for doing it, Mark, and thanks for writing the books. And I'm excited to sort of really dig in to the next book. And also the Five came back book and they think they sent me all the books and I loved a picture of the revolution, really got my brain going again and very excited about film. So I appreciate that.


I so appreciate it. Don't watch Dr. Doolittle. It's not fun. OK, I'm going to have to, but thanks for talking. I take care. There you go, the new book, I Love I My Brain Is Ignited. Mark Harris, his new book, Mike Nichols A Life You Can Get wherever you get books, you can get pictures at a revolution, you can get. His other book, The World War Two. Book five came back, great writer, thoughtful writer, very engaging.


And I like doing episodes like this. We don't do them that often. And now let's drift away on some guitar sounds that I made. Boomer lives monkey. The fanda. Cat angels everywhere.