Lena Olin, Mulan, The Nest, A Call to Spy
Host Neil Rosen and fellow critics Lisa Rosman, Bill McCuddy & Justine Browning review the new on-demand releases Mulan, The Nest, A Call to Spy and more. Interview with Lena Olin.
>>> This week on Talking Pictures with Neil Rosen, we'll
look at The Nest, starring Judy Law and Carrie Coon as a married
couple facing some new problems.
The new drama The Artist's Wife, along with my interview
with its star Lina Olin.
A Call To Spy, plus a look at the new documentary
Class Action Park, which looks back at the world's
most dangerous water park.
We've got all that and many more movie picks, coming up.
♪ [Opening Music]
I'm Neil Rosen and welcome to Talking Pictures.
It's our monthly critics round table show where we debate
what's worth watching and what's not when it comes to
new releases, hidden gems, and Hollywood classics.
And we know most of the movie theaters are still closed
and you're probably craving some entertainment so along
with my panel who were all streaming from home, you
have plenty of movies and TV series for you to binge-watch.
Joining me are, Bill McCuddy, from Gold Derby?
>>> Hi, Neil. I'm fine. Why do you ask?
Everything's okay. I promise I'm good.
>>> Lisa Rosman from Signs and Sirens.
>>> Hello Neil.
Thank you as always for the opportunity to wear lipstick.
>>> Thank you for being here.
And joining us this month is Justine Browning coming back
from Entertainment Weekly.
>>> Hi. So nice to see all of you.
It's been way too long.
>>> It has been.
And let's start out with a look at several new films that are
available on demand beginning with a new film called The Nest.
Let's take a look at a clip.
>>> This will be our fourth move in ten years.
But money's fine, right?
>>> This is a fresh start.
>>> [Laughing] How about this?
>>> Oh my God.
>>> It's perfect. How?
It's what we always wanted.
>>> Is it?
>>> Lisa? Tell us about The Nest.
>>> This is the long awaited sophomore effort from
director Sean Durkin after 2011's super eerie and
weirdly named Martha Marcy May Marlene.
This one is set in the 1980s and it stars Jude Law, a flailing ex
commodities broker who moves his two kids and his horse trainer
angry wife, played by the tremendous Carrie Coon, you may
remember her from The Leftovers.
They move to an enormous England country home to try
to reboot his prospects. Okay.
Needless to say, it slides from being kind of a Ralph
Lauren chamber piece to a Who's Afraid of Virginia
Woolf marital psychodrama.
And I think at heart, this is kind of an Emperor Has
No Clothes think piece.
It looks at how everyone suffers when the American dream is taken
too literally and is misapplied.
The acting is better than the plot, but that's not
saying much because the acting is out ragingly good.
And the tension really built hauntingly.
There are some really brilliant confrontation scenes that
I couldn't shake later.
And there's a score by Arcade Fire's Richard Reed
Perry that's a standout.
I really liked this film.
>>> Bill, what did you think?
>>> I hate to say this, but I agree completely.
And for the record, nobody remembers anyone from The
Leftover, although she is an outstanding actress,
everyone is, is really good in this as you said.
It might be Jude Law's best in a long time.
>>> Oh my God, he's amazing.
>>> What Lisa said about the score is really interesting
because when it goes around the house, you almost think you're
in a horror movie and then you realize at the end, you really
have been in a horror movie.
I can't recommend this more, except for a kind of an odd
little ending that feels indie to me and tacked on
but other than that, this is time well spent with people
you don't want to spend time.
>>> It's really, really stayed with me.
I agree with both of you.
It's anchored by these two engrossing performances from
actors who have honed their craft on stage and that skill
set really shines through here.
It's refreshing to see something so bare bones and raw that
relies slowly on, solely on flawless acting and directing,
and it really pains me, as Lisa said, that it's been almost 10
years since Durkin's first film.
And I would say just on these two films alone,
he's emerging as a master at capturing quiet rage.
>>> You know, this is really smart grown up
entertainment, which there's a lack of, of these days.
And as I mentioned, Durkin's made this fascinating,
smart look at a marriage that's really in distress.
And I, I think it just might be Jude Law's best performance.
You said one of the best.
I think it might be his best.
And Carrie Coon matches him note for note.
And there's also a lot of unexpected reveals along the
way, which I think is great.
I mean, in the beginning you think, I'm looking at this
like idyllic family and I don't want to give too much away,
but there's some twists and turns and I think it's good.
Definitely check this out, Move it along, let's talk about the
new movie called A Call to Spy. Bill?
>>> Well, it turns out Neil, that in World War II,
Winston Churchill had a special operations executive
branch and they began recruiting amateur spys.
Sadly, that means women mostly, but the division
has just been started and it must be down the hall from
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch from Imitation
Game, because this movie feels a little bit like that.
We have female spies who are dropped behind the scenes.
It was written and directed by a woman.
In fact, it was written by the star who's pretty
good in this thing.
Her name is Sarah Megan Thomas.
It also stars Radhika Apte and Stana Katic, if I'm saying
that correctly, the woman from Castle, the ABC show that
ran for, for many seasons.
Listen, to me at two hours and four minutes this thing is a
little long and it takes almost an hour for it to kick in.
But during a pandemic, why not?
It's like a book that you don't like at first, but
suddenly it gets good.
And for that reason I'm recommending it.
>>> I actually found the pacing to be really well put together.
You're thrown right into the story.
It sets up a world really quickly.
You're swept up in it.
It's really engrossing.
And of course there's been an absence of women's narratives
when it comes to both World Wars and particularly women of color.
And you have that here with the story of Noor Inayat
Khan, which, as you said, has played by Radhika Apte.
I can't help but imagine how the film would have been if it
was told from her perspective, because her story is actually
so fascinating and it made me want to learn more about her
life and these women in general.
At times the story feels like it's pushing an emotion
on you with the score and the editing, but overall
it's really effecting.
>>> I admit my heart sank when I saw this was yet
another World War II drama.
It's amazing that they're still making them.
And in fact, I think it is a little subdued.
I, you know, how much Bill and I hate agreeing with each
other though we actually do it quite often, but I also
think the product was a little also subdued maybe, but the
concept of self sacrifice by those who are not respected or
protected by their country is unfortunately very timely right
now and it's well explored here.
>>> Well Bill, you saw, you thought it
might've been too long.
I thought it was too short.
I think that I would have liked to seen this as a mini
series that would have really explored more of the details
of each of the characters.
I know you're a big James Bond fan, Bill.
You might be interested to know that the spy mistress,
the one who recruited all the spies in Fleming, actually
based the character of Moneypenny, Miss Moneypenny,
on that particular character.
Anyway, considering they had a limited budget for this,
I think they did a very good job and I think it's great.
They're always focusing on male supplies in movies.
I mean, it was like these women did a really
great courageous job.
I'm glad that they're getting there time in the
limelight and getting you know, getting your do.
Next up is the movie Critical Thinking. Justine?
>>> This is the directorial debut from
actor, John Leguizamo.
It's a true story set in 1998 Miami and it focuses on a
dedicated teacher also played by Leguizamo in the film who
inspires a group of Latinx and Black teens from the inner
city to become chess champions.
It features a phenomenal cast of young talent.
It touches on a range of poignant things and issues.
At times it's moving, crushing and uplifting all at once.
And it really captures so beautifully with the
backdrop that is portraying.
And I think this is becoming my signature quote on the
show, but I was a puddle of tears by the end of this
when the credits rolled.
>>> Bill's holding up a sign.
I guess you don't agree, Bill.
>>> Well look, all I'm saying is just because
something's true, doesn't make it a good story.
John Leguizamo does a good job directing this thing, and I
was interested in these people.
And at the end, you get to meet the real people.
That's kind of cool, but a lot of storylines get
dropped in this thing out of nowhere, just ‘cause they
go off to Los Angeles with this final chess tournament.
And you know, Leguizamo has said before he made
this movie that it's hard to make chess interesting.
And I think he proved it with the film.
It's a noble misfire for me.
>>> I don't agree with Bill at all.
I think this film is knowingly cheesy in all
the right ways, actually just like John Leguizamo
himself, if you think about.
It's that kind of under drag drama, that feels like the
right thing to watch right now, partly ‘cause it builds
a sort of can do it message, which all underdog dramas have.
Along with the acknowledgement that people of color so
often written out of history.
I thought it was humanizing and inspiring and I'm not going
to pretend it breaks the mold.
And I actually agree with Bill that some, there are a
few subplots that get dropped and maybe shouldn't have been
introduced in the first place.
But I totally disagree with you that it doesn't engage
with you on the chess level.
Like I was, I paid much more attention to the chess than I
normally do with chess movies.
And I'm not gonna lie, I choked up more than a couple
of times in this film.
>>> I think this was great.
And Justine who brought this to my attention, I want to
thank you for recommending this or making us watch it,
because before I saw the film, I said, okay, another one of
these, it's going to be To Serve With Love by, you know,
meets you know, Stand and Deliver and just seeing dozens
of these kinds of movies.
And it does follow a formulaic pattern, but formulaic is
okay if the direction and the casting and the screenplay all
hit, all fire on all cylinders.
And that's what this movie does.
And these teens have so much personality and you now a hard
it is to make, it's not football or baseball or basketball.
This guy is making a movie with chess moves and I'm completely
fascinated by the movie.
It's like the John Leguizamo character say,s it doesn't
matter where you come from, it doesn't matter how
much money you have, chess is the great equalizer.
And I think Critical Thinking makes all the right
moves, to make a corny pun.
Next this movie called The Artist's Wife. Bill.
Tell us about it.
>>> We have a dysfunctional couple.
This time it's Lena Olin.
She's married to Bruce Dern.
She used to paint.
He is a painter or he tries, they live in the Hamptons and
he's got a show coming up, a big show in New York City.
He has dementia.
Lena tries to reunite her husband with an
So there's a subplot going on here.
There's an almost unforgivable last scene in this movie and
yet, and yet, and yet maybe I'll be the lone guy on this
one too, but I thought as great as performances as
Bruce Dern gives, I've seen him do this angry, old guy
before, I haven't seen Lena Olin as the suffering wife.
And I thought she was outstanding as
the artist's wife. Yeah.
For her performance alone I recommend this film.
>>> Well, I think you are going to be the lone person
here, Bill, but let's hear what maybe not, I don't know.
Go ahead, Lisa.
What's your take?
>>> This movie was practically exactly made last year.
It was called The Wife, which tells you how
uncreative both people were.
>>> This movie is better than that.
>>> No, it's not.
If this unprecedented moment in history changes anything
I really hope is that we stop having to watch movies that
focus solely on the problems of bored rich White people.
The acting is great.
Honestly, the acting is great.
Bruce Dern is an unbelievable actor.
And I think sure, he may have done a variant on this role
before, but he does really well.
But the premise of yet another woman who deferred her creative
dreams for a spoiled selfish man and then we have to walk
her through the last stages of her self disappointment,
it just, then you want to throw some paint against the
wall and pretend it was also a million dollar painting.
>>> I absolutely love that, Lisa.
I could not agree more.
This definitely evoked elements of the Glenn Close film, The
Wife in that, yes we're giving voice to the woman beside the
tortured artist, but in that way we still have to watch for
suffering for almost two hours.
>>> Thank you. Yes.
Sorry to interrupt you but yes.
>>> Well I recently interviewed Lena Olin for The Artist's Wife.
Let's take a look at that interview.
I'm sure you get a lot of scripts and a lot of stuff.
What was it about this particular script or movie
or the director or whatever it is, what made you
decide to do this project?
>>> I think the fact that it was about the wife, the
caregiver, the one who stands next to and her journey that
I thought was interesting.
And I could relate to waking up kind of through a tragedy
through, when life throws something out to you that
you kind of wake up and you move forward in such
a brilliant way as does.
I think that's what moved me.
>>> Did you find yourself, if somebody is going off script
and improvising, I guess you have to improvise yourself.
>>> Yeah. Yeah.
>>> How, how was that experience?
And is that something you're comfortable
with doing, you know?
>>> The answer is no, I'm not comfortable doing it and for
that reason it's so much fun.
If you're in the, present in the situation, you just have
to roll with it and whatever is thrown at you, you have
to throw it back and react.
And I think it's a very authentic way of, of, you
know, and if the DP and the director, if they're with
you, you know, they can catch those authentic moments.
Our next movie is a documentary called Class Action Park.
It's about Action Park, New Jersey, which was
known as the world's most dangerous water park.
Its hay day was in the eighties and the extremely
unsafe rides, which had no regulations, severely
injured countless visitors.
The clientele were mainly unruly drunk teenagers who literally
risked their wives by going on some of these deathtrap rides.
The owner of the place known to the staff is Uncle Jean
would come up with these crazy ideas for these dangerous
rights on cocktail napkins and untested they would
build these things with absolutely no safety protocols.
>>> The first couple people that came in, came out and
their mouths were all bloody and they sent a couple
other people down and they came down with lacerations.
Then they took the loop apart and they found teeth
stuck in the padding from the first couple people.
>>> Former guests and staff members recollect what
it was like to be there.
One former visitor comedian, Chris Gephardt talks about his
experiences there as a teen and he's really hilarious.
The movie is actually really funny most of the way through
until the end, when people start getting killed and then
it becomes deadly serious.
Class Action Park for everyone.
This doc is one wild ride. Check it out. Lisa?
>>> You know, honestly, I hate amusement parks,
big surprise, right?
I'm the Grinch who stole amusement parks.
But to me they're forced fun for people who don't have
real life risks and this film did not change my stance.
So I found it kind of hell to watch.
>>> Really? Justine?
>>> Just really freaked me out.
It was it's quintessentially eighties though.
It captures the neglect that was going on when it comes to youth.
Whereas now I think there's a bit more of a
nurturing attitude, right?
Where playgrounds were so dangerous and so on and growing
up going to water parks, you would hear these urban
legends about people dying.
And so they were kind of these really scary places to be and
watching this, as you said, by the end it's a tragedy.
And I think I was surprised, pleasantly by how they
handle that part of the story so sensitively.
I was really impacted by that.
>>> Well, the sensitivity of this film must
have been lost on me.
I'll tell you what I enjoyed.
It felt to me like a Saturday Night Live sketch.
Remember Mainway, the guy that Dan Akroyd played that
sold that glass of, like a bag of glass at Christmas.
Ah, the kids love it.
They love it.
That's this park.
I mean, Johnny Knoxville who's at the beginning of
this movie actually made a funnier version of it that
didn't make a lot of money.
>>> Action Point. It was called Action Point.
>>> Action Point. Yeah.
This is this is a load, more fun.
And I, I liked it more than you guys, I guess.
>>> It will be nostalgic for and eye opening for others
who've never been to the place.
>>> My name is Lisa and I am wife number six
of Richard Scott Smith.
I started this blog to warn other women that he
is a thief, a liar, and most of all a con man.
If you are reading this blog, I am sorry that
you have been victimized by Richard Scott Smith.
>>> That was a clip from the documentary
mini series Love Fraud.
It's Bill McCuddy's personal choice as we go
around the panel, as we do every month, with our
critics picks of the month. Bill?
>>> Neil at the McCuddy household we love reality
television like 48 hours and Dateline and the
Love Fraud from Showtime fits perfectly into that.
For 20 years, a guy named Richard Scott Smith has
been wooing unsuspecting women, marrying them,
taking all their money and then running out of town.
He's done this it turns out to over a dozen women.
This series has him tracked down by the women who all band
together and they're led by a tough talking wisecracking
female bounty hunter, who I absolutely love and thinks
should have her own series.
I highly recommend this.
As I said, only four hours.
You're going to love it.
>>> I wasn't that intrigued by the concept of it.
And then I saw that the directors of the series
where Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, who are both
Hello, Jesus Camp.
And honestly this so good.
I mean, and I absolutely agree with you that the female bounty
hunter needs her own, she needs her own universe, actually.
>>> I echo both of you on that.
She was an absolute riot to watch.
And for all the seriousness of this story, watching these
survivors reclaim their power, kind of similar to the Dirty
John story and have no choice but to become amateur sleuths
was actually quite endearing.
>>> And in the last episode, they have an interview with
Smith himself, which is just, I mean, this guy has like this
unconscionable liar, which is just fascinating to watch.
And you know, it's also an interesting and disturbing
look at our legal system, how they don't prioritize
this kind of stuff.
And I was just completely captivated by this.
As, as you said, bill, it's only four episodes.
It's on Showtime. Check it out. Okay.
Next critics pick.
What do you got for us, Justine?
>>> A most excellent one, Neil.
I had to.
After waiting almost 30 years we've finally gotten
the third installment of the Bill and Ted series.
Bill and Ted Face the Music.
Of course this stars Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves.
And it's the feel good movie we need right now.
They're tasked with writing one song to save humanity.
As we know it, if only that were true.
Now they're dads and this time their daughters are the ones
helping them save the world.
It's a fun throwback.
And it's the perfect dose of escapism.
>>> Well, I mean, let's be clear.
Keanu, I think is the best cure that I know for pandemic
despair, aesthetically, emotionally, morally,
and he doesn't disappoint here.
And also I got to say small, but important note,
I really dig that the wives are age appropriate.
It never happens.
>>> Listen, I hate to be the naysayer here-
>>> No you don't.
>>> Because it took 10 years for this script
to come together.
I loved the first one so much that it was painful, kind
of for me to revisit this.
So if you're not that familiar with the first one,
this is kind of a fun ride.
But I think, you know, we're missing, obviously
George Carlin, who's not with us anymore.
And a couple of other elements that I think were more
interesting in the first one.
But I have to say maybe I'm too invested in it, so I
should take a pass on this one.
They're likable and it's ridiculous, but that's the
point of it and it's fun.
And, and, and Reeves and Winter seem to be having such
a great time that I think that they're, they're fun is
kind of infectious and you get caught up in the whole thing.
Plus I like the cameos by, you know, they have an
actor playing Mozart, one playing Louis Armstrong,
one playing Jimmy Hendrix.
I think it's the opposite of what you're saying, Bill.
I think if you're a fan of the series, if you're not a fan of
the series, I'd say skip it.
But if you are a fan, you're going to go, whoa, excellent.
So I couldn't resist either, Justine.
All right, Lisa, what's your critics pick?
>>> It is I'm Thinking of Ending Things.
What a fun title guys?
This is the latest film from Charlie Kaufman who actually
has a unique brand of eclectic and existentialist surrealism.
This one stars the firecracker up and comer Jessie Buckley
as the least firecracker she's ever been. On a visit with
her new boyfriend, Jesse Plemons, I love him in
everything by the way, to meet his parents,
Toni Collette and David Thewlis.
Obviously it being a Kaufman movie it's not
as simple as all that.
And as time and truth and memory and perception start to warp,
I mean, literally there's times where Toni Collette and David
seemed like they're 80,000 years old and other times
they seem like they're 20.
But as that goes on, you would be forgiven if you
start to feel like you're reading a Kurt Vonnegut novel,
that's written in Russian while on a hallucinogen.
So let's be clear.
It is not for everyone, but I like how it sort of takes
male projection and male hubris and it turns it on its
head with the tenderness that honestly seems appropriate
for this moment in time.
>>> Listen, all right Bill, you're holding up
a sign, so, so go ahead.
>>> I said, Lisa, listen to me, it's a blood,
sweat, and tears line.
Look I, I maybe need to step out of this and not even be a
judge because I thought it was time to get out of this thing.
I gave this thing up at 19 minutes and 18 seconds.
>>> Then you should maybe stop talking.
That's literally the worst thing a critic can do is not even
bothered to talk about a movie, but still think they have the
right to opine on the film.
Like let's just move on, Bill.
>>> Off the ledge. I said I recuse myself, but I want --
>>> I want to recuse myself but --
>>> But I think this thing is a complete mess,
what I saw of it. Sorry.
The question is moot.
>>> I have to say, actually I did the opposite of you
Bill, I actually gave it a second chance and I rewatched
it last night and I actually enjoyed it quite a bit more
because I wasn't as on edge and I understood it differently.
And I think this is a director where you have
to sometimes work for it.
I know that not everybody wants to do that.
This is a very finite audience.
It's certainly a mind bender.
I love going back through and there's actually
little clues and hidden meaning that you find.
>>> Okay listen, I'm a big fan of Charlie Kaufman
as a screenwriter, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,
one of my favorite films.
I liked Adaptation, Being John Malkovich.
But as a writer, director I don't really, you know, I think
that he needs to be reigned in.
I mean, if I'm pronouncing this correctly, Synecdoche, which
was another, that a film he wrote and directed, did not like
this, and this is existential unanswered questions, which I
think that that's the point of this is this supposed to be a
lot of unanswered questions.
But I did not gravitate to this at all.
And I did not dig this film.
It was a confusing exercise to me.
I would skip it. Apparently,
apparently Lisa and Justine have different, feel differently.
Finally, my pick is Mulan.
Now I'm not usually a fan of Disney's live action, remakes
of their animated classics.
I'm always, always disappointed, but not this time.
In fact, this is the first one where it's actually
better than the original.
The director Niki Caro eliminated the song because
she also got rid of that comedic side trip dragon Mushu.
What we have now instead of the new version is a serious
matured, dramatically, big budget epics and
it's a welcomed change.
It's about a young Chinese maiden who disguises
herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.
Yifei Liu was sensational in the title role as she
masters exciting martial arts fight scenes and empowers
women all along the way.
Jet Li is briefly on hand as the Chinese emperor.
Overall it's well-executed with breathtaking cinematography,
opulent sets, elaborate period costumes, and
thrilling action scenes.
I can't believe this is a Disney movie actually.
>>> Lisa, what do you think?
>>> What a hot mess this movie is.
Aside from the controversy of Disney working with regions of
China that have put thousands of Muslims in internment camps,
you didn't mention that part.
I mean, I feel like it upholds the Disney tradition
of stripping all the fun and awe in the translation from
the animated version of the film to the live action.
It's like the worst of American determinism and
that sort of fake you go girl feminism and a weird Disney
translation of Chinese culture.
I was in awe that you liked it so much.
>>> Uh, please.
>>> Well, it is, I do think it is a visual
marvel and the production design I felt was stellar.
The colors really pop and I do think the performances
were really strong.
But yes, of course there's a controversy
that can't be ignored.
And the fact that overall it does feel like it's all be
explored through a Western lens.
>>> Oh, I'm almost afraid to say I liked this movie.
>>> I liked the movie.
Don't be afraid to say it.
I liked the movie.
>>> I was glad it didn't have songs in it.
It moved for me.
I thought it worked well for young and old adults.
Disney's not telling us yet how much money they made on it on
Disney+, instead of, we didn't mention it didn't get into movie
theaters or it is in a few.
I think this is a well told story.
I knew the story going in.
I thought all the acting was great.
I didn't even recognize Jet Li as the Emperor.
And I was only disappointed by a climactic fight scene at
the very end that seemed to be over in like 30 seconds.
I expected more there.
Other than that, I can recommend this film no matter what the
controversy, ‘cause I didn't know about or care about it.
>>> I'm Hua Mulan.
I will bring honor to us all.
>>> So we're split on this and that's about
all the time we have.
With any luck we've given you some movies and TV shows to
watch to help pass the time.
I want to thank Lisa Rosman.
>>> It was lovely to see you kids.
>>> Bill McCuddy.
>>> Neil, you're the best.
>>> And Justine Browning.
>>> I'm nodding when Neil talks.
>>> Stay well everybody. I'm Neil Rosen.
Join us next time on Talking Pictures.
♪ [Closing Music]
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