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Taylor Gaines and a rotating cast of co-hosts talk "Survivor," Television, Movies, Podcasts, and the Latest in Pop Culture.

Tag: Enemy

Denis 2049: Link Roundup

If you missed any of our series on Denis Villeneuve, you can find links to all of our podcasts and writings in this post.

Without further ado:

Podcast Episodes

1) Director Deliberations (52:39)

2) August 32nd On Earth (38:55)

3) Maelstrom (27:13) 

4) Polytechnique (44:22)

5) Incendies (42:24)

6) Prisoners (54:06)

7) Enemy (52:50)

8) Sicario (49:55)

9) Arrival (1:02:35)

10) Bonus: Blade Runner (30:06)

 

11) Blade Runner 2049 (1:01:02)

Fireside Chats

1) August 32nd On Earth

Taylor: I’ve never seen a premise quite like this before. Does this happen often? Have any of your friends ever approached you asking to help them conceive a child in the desert? Would you do this for any of your friends?

Sam: The short answer is yes, of course I would take my friend to the desert to impregnate her. But only if we were married … (Keep reading here…)

2) Maelstrom

Taylor: Um, Sam? This movie was in French. I don’t speak French.

Sam: I speak French just fine, but remember, Taylor, this movie is French-Canadian. And in that field I can only speculate. (Keep reading here…)

3) Polytechnique

Taylor: I felt like I was witnessing something impossible, the act of witnessing it ensuring that I couldn’t deny what was happening right in front of me. A contradiction that I can’t justify but won’t back down from. It was surreal. I don’t think I’ve ever been so compelled and disturbed and haunted by a movie all at once.

Sam: “Polytechnique” is one of those movies – “Schindler’s List,” “Manchester by the Sea,” Villeneuve’s own “Prisoners” – that gladly asks you to pay money to get punched in the throat. It hurts to watch this movie. It’s gut-wrenching and brutal and the longest 80-minute movie I’ve ever seen.

I loved it. (Keep reading here…)

4) Incendies

Sam: It represents what he thinks about what he’s portraying. He believes, I think, that the world is dark and terrible, but not without hope, love and people fighting break cycles of anger and the systems that oppress them. Or, I don’t know, maybe he’s just into incest.

Taylor: I think this is a really good point. He often presents worlds that make no sense, that would make anyone question their existence and purpose and whether anything really matters. By the end, though, nearly without fail, he presents them with a way forward. A way to keep going. It may not be definitive or solve everything (or anything!), but it shows some optimism. And that gives me some hope, too. (Keep reading here…)

5) Prisoners

Taylor: This is such an obnoxiously bad opinion that I don’t even know where to start. Maybe he just wanted people to think, “Wow, what a bold take! He must know something I don’t!” If I was younger, I might have fallen for this, but facts are facts. If you think “Prisoners” is Denis’ seventh-best movie, you should not be allowed into the theater for “Blade Runner 2049.”

Sam: If Melissa Leo and her whack-ass husband kidnapped me, pumped me with some psychedelic Welch’s grape juice, put me in a basement, and said, “Here you go, finish this book of puzzles and you can go home,” and the last page said, “Explain how ‘Prisoners’ is Denis’ seventh-best movie,” I’d happily rot under that 1972 Chevy Vega.

And that’s really what “Prisoners” is about, isn’t it? (Keep reading here…)

6) Enemy

Sam: …let’s try on a couple:

  • Spider Number One: The spider on the plate. At the beginning of the movie, Actor Gyllenhaal goes to the strangest speakeasy in Toronto, in which women step on spiders served on stainless-steel, beautifully-crafted serving dishes. If this isn’t symbolic of the existential threat posed by women taking over the culinary industry, I don’t know what is.
  • Spider Number Two: The spider with long legs walking slowly over the city, careful not to step on any of the sharp buildings. This is clearly Denis’ ode to waking up in the middle of the night and gingerly walking to the bathroom when you can’t see what’s on the floor.

What spiders am I missing?

Taylor: You left out a hugely important spider.

Wife Spider. (Keep reading here…)

7) Sicario

You won’t believe who we got to write this one for us. Go read it.

8) Arrival 

Taylor: Tell me I’m wrong.

Sam: You’re wrong.

Taylor: Okay. Good talk.

Sam: No, listen. Renner is…(Keep reading here…)

9) Blade Runner 2049

Taylor: Your well-founded concerns about the LAPD looking the other way on serious child labor crimes while also sending officers to other states notwithstanding (though, trust me, I also find this deeply concerning), I think it’s time we get to the nitty-gritty: Tell me your thoughts on Jared Leto, and give me your guess for what planet his character is from in this movie.

*dives into bunker, covers ears*

Sam: I don’t want to guess irresponsibly about the behind-the-scenes decisions that led to casting Leto as the titular villain (maybe Denis was trying to impress his 14-year-old stepdaughter?), so I won’t get into the why on Earth was this decision made discussion but will try to only discuss his on-field performance.

I’ll start by trying to answer your question: I have no idea what planet Wallace is from, but I’m guessing it’s a world a lot like Earth except that it is inhabited by blind humanoids who are deeply philosophical, malicious, and don’t read scripts. Leto for sure showed up on set without having seen the original “Blade Runner” or having read anything but his own lines.

He definitely thinks…(Keep reading here…)

Fireside Chats: ‘Enemy’

For each movie in the “Denis 2049” series, Taylor and Sam will sit down and bounce some thoughts off each other, off-mic. Their brilliant minds will unleash many words. Make of them what you will. This time: “Enemy.”

Sam: The plot of this movie is … strange. To a level that I’m sure I don’t understand. But I’ll try to sum things up as best as I can in one sentence: A professor sees his doppelganger in a movie so he decides to find out who the actor is, only to find that said actor wants to steal his girlfriend from him and by doing so he leaves the aforementioned professor alone with a very pregnant, very confused, uh, spider.

What do you say? Is Gyllenhaal one person with a strong case of multiple personality disorder, or is this universe blessed with two Jakes?

Taylor: Hmm. We’ll talk about this extensively on the podcast, I’m sure, but I believe there can only be one Jake. The wife’s shocked reactions, the scar, the mom’s dialogue, the fact that there have been zero reported real-world instances of Jake Gyllenhaal being in two places at the same time, it all seems to obvious. Plus, the story of a man who can’t resist his philandering ways seems to make a lot more sense than the story of two men who look alike and happen to meet and have a weird tendency to wind up in situations involving blondes and spiders. It makes sense on both a storytelling/sensibility level and a “there is some serious spider symbolism in this movie” level.

That being said, I’m not super interested in litigating all the different theories and possibilities at this moment as much as I am in talking about the spiders. I have so many thoughts about the spiders.

What do you think they mean? Are they real? Imaginary? Subconscious? Has your life irrevocably been changed since watching “Enemy” because you can’t stop thinking about spiders?

Sam: I’m glad we’re talking about this. These spiders are most definitely imaginary, but that does not make them any less real. They are a regular part of my day now. Every empty room I walk into could be the one to have a Volkswagen-sized tarantula cowering in the corner. Every time I see a grouping of wires it looks like a spiderweb. I feel like I can’t even get into a normal car accident anymore without seeing a web in the broken glass.

Honestly, I barely understood this movie outside the “don’t cheat on your pregnant wife or you and your mistress will die in a car crash” subplot, so it would be irresponsible to speculate about what each spider in this movie could mean.

Ah, what the hell, let’s try on a couple:

  • Spider Number One: The spider on the plate. At the beginning of the movie, Actor Gyllenhaal goes to the strangest speakeasy in Toronto, in which women step on spiders served on stainless-steel, beautifully-crafted serving dishes. If this isn’t symbolic of the existential threat posed by women taking over the culinary industry, I don’t know what is.
  • Spider Number Two: The spider with long legs walking slowly over the city, careful not to step on any of the sharp buildings. This is clearly Denis’ ode to waking up in the middle of the night and gingerly walking to the bathroom when you can’t see what’s on the floor.

What spiders am I missing?

Taylor: You left out a hugely important spider.

Wife Spider.

But more on that in a second.

I think Spider Number One has more to do with spiders becoming a delicacy as a way for us to exert dominance over our own fears. Villeneuve clearly just wanted to show that if we are afraid of something, we should just eat it. As for Spider Number Two, you totally nailed it.

So let’s talk about Wife Spider.

Wife Spider is clearly meant to be taken literally. As many people know, spiders have been waging a war against humanity since the dawn of time. For instance, many people mistakenly believe rats helped to spread the Black Plague. It was actually spiders. Like the Illuminati, though, spiders are something people don’t often talk about.

Villeneuve, however, being a man of the people, knew it was to time to bring the truth into the light for the masses. The way this movie is meant to be read is simple: This is a movie about a spider spy trying to trap a nice man who just wants to live his life. The spider spy nearly draws him into its web enough to lull him to sleep. At the point of sleep, he would be summarily eliminated. (Important note: The spider was successful in eliminating one of the Jake Gyllenhaals.) However, he realizes something is wrong just in the nick of time.

As the screen prepares to cut to black, the spider shows its true self and Gyllenhaal stands to show he knows what’s what, prepared to fight.

It is my belief that as the credits roll, there is a fight to the death raging on between Gyllenhaal and the spider. The winner determines the fate of humanity.

Sam: See, I resent this trope that spiders are the bad guys. It’s 2017, Taylor, turn off Fox News.

Look at “Charlotte’s Web,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “A Bug’s Life.” These movies and “Enemy” – and I would argue every movie in which a spider is trapped inside of a pregnant woman – are really about the imprisonment of literal spiders within the confines of our outdated moral constructs.

Gyllenhaal is an agent for change in human-spider relations. He dreams about them. He grimaces at women stepping on them. He saw his wife shed her pregnant exoskeleton and reveal herself as a big, beautiful spider, and he beamed with pride at her self-actualization. He is also a historian, and he doesn’t preach that vitriol about spiders causing the Black Plague. They suffered with us! If anything, they were the victims! If a human gets bit by a rat, it hurts. And maybe you get sick. If a spider gets bit by a rat, they instantly die.

The good news, Taylor, is that Gyllenhaal’s efforts pay off. His wife – the biggest spider in the apartment complex – reveals her true self and he basks in her glow. Sure, his literal twin had to die in a car accident for this to work out the way it did, but you know what?

Not a bad trade for spider peace.

Taylor: God damn it.

Sam: I win.

Denis 2049 Power Rankings after six:

  1. “Prisoners”
  2. “Enemy”
  3. “Polytechnique”
  4. “Incendies”
  5. “Aug. 32nd”
  6. “Maelstrom”

Next up: “Sicario.”

Denis 2049: ‘Enemy’

The end is closer than the beginning as Taylor Gaines and Sam Hensel break down Denis Villeneuve’s film “Enemy.” Does 1 + 1 = 1? Who is Jake Gyllenhaal? And what’s with all the spiders? All those questions and more, answered on this episode.

Next time: “Sicario

You can find all of our previous podcasts on our website, OnTheIslandPodcast.com and on iTunes. Subscribe, rate, and review!

As always, thanks to Levi Bradford for the theme song. You can find his music at poblano.bandcamp.com.

You can find the written companion piece here.

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