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Tag: Maelstrom

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: ‘Maelstrom’

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: “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.

I believe this movie was obsessed with death, fish, dead fish, talking fish, the ocean and its relationship with cars, a fisherman and his relationship with cars, cars and their relationship with dead fish, and abortion. Really, though, only one of those thing spoke to me: the talking fish! Obviously! What is the talking fish telling us? What is he saying??

Taylor: The talking fish is the only thing I cared about, and possibly the only thing I’ve ever cared about. You know those movies where a guy or girl falls in love with someone who speaks another language or something? Where they find themselves inexplicably attracted to the other person, simply by their very nature? That’s how I felt about this fish.

Wait – I don’t mean I was in love with the fish. I just mean, I was obsessed with trying to figure out what he was saying. It was captivating! Look at this thing! (NSFW?)

I can only guess what the fish spoke to us about in his role as the Grand Narrator of our lives because French-Canadian is a dead language, but if I had to guess, I would have figured the movie was going in this direction:

Fish: Hello there. You at home. You sick voyeur. I have a story for you. One of tragedy, thoughtlessness and incessant violence against an entire race. A tale of a careless woman aimlessly wandering around murdering fish. I myself was torn from my underwater home to tell you this story. I have a son who I will probably never see again. In fact, I’m really struggling to breath on this table because fish are meant to be underwater. If you didn’t know. Before it’s too late, let me tell you some of the things you are going to see tonight. Fish will be killed. Some will be sliced up. Some will be skinned. Some will be run over by cars. Some will be slowly torn apart as people stand around drinking alcohol. Some will even suffer the worst, most unexpected fate for a fish – a car plunging into the water and killing you on impact as you go about your night. One of my good friends, Go, was out for the first time since his divorce, trying to get back into the world, when that car came falling into the water. Dozens of lives were lost. It’s not a story I want to tell, but it’s one that must be told. I call it —

[knife chops off head]

[title comes on screen]


Sam: Taylor, you really painted Grand Narrator in a light that is both tragic and compelling. Fish have come a long way as storytellers.

I admit, I had a different translation of the fish’s narration:


[knife chops off head]

[title comes on screen]


I will say that once I found out this movie was not in fact a documentary about the phasing-out of the Epcot ride, “Maelstrom: A High Seas Norwegian Adventure,” I checked out. Despite that, I do want to submit to you a potentially unique take I had about this movie: It was boring! It was super boring! It was slow and brooding in a way that took itself too seriously, and I just didn’t love it. I expected more from Dilleneuve, who by this point had made a name for himself in the ‘odd movies about women ditching their cars’ genre.

Disclaimer: Once again, I do not speak the language “Maelstrom” was presented in.

Villeneuve official power rankings after two movies:

  1. “August 32nd on Earth”
  2. “Maelstrom”

Taylor: And with that, I suppose Sam has also checked out of this conversation.

I guess that’s fair, given how indecipherable most of this movie was. I just want to say that this movie deserves a re-release in HD with English subtitles, so we can truly judge it on its own merits. The American people deserve everyone catering to our every desire.

Actually, scratch that. I want more. I want this movie remade entirely. I don’t care who the director is, either. I want an English version of this movie where the talking fish is replaced with a talking Big Mac. Instead of being about the endless, ongoing genocide of fish, it’s a commentary on what fast food has done to the world and how we interact with it without even knowing. The lead is Alicia Vikander (obviously).

That’s it. It shouldn’t take anything more to sell the movie to a studio. Show them the talking Big Mac animation and Alicia Vikander in anything (except “Jason Bourne,” don’t ever let anyone see “Jason Bourne” for any reason), and you’ve got yourself at least a billion dollars in funding.

Get to it, Megan Ellison.

Next up: “Polytechnique.”

Denis 2049: ‘Maelstrom’

Taylor Gaines is joined by Sam Hensel for the second episode of the official Denis Villeneuve podcast. On this episode, they try to decipher a film that they did not understand, because it was entirely in French. This one was a challenge. “Maelstrom” tells the story of a depressed, alcoholic woman whose life nearly unravels after having an abortion.

Next time: “Polytechnique

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.

Find the companion written piece here.

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