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Category: Denis Villeneuve (Page 2 of 5)

Denis 2049: ‘Arrival’

The end of the line. (Or maybe the beginning?)

On this episode of Denis 2049, Taylor Gaines and Sam Hensel unpack the awe-inspiring 2016 Denis film, “Arrival.” They talk about Amy Adams, aliens, philosophy and what it looks like when a movie is clicking on all cylinders.

Next time: We’ve arrived. “Blade Runner 2049.”

(BONUS episode in between now and then!)

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 written companion piece here!

(Now On The Island.)

Fireside Chats: ‘Sicario’

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: “Sicario” (hijacked!).

Dear TS,

No prep, no outlines, just pen to paper. I respect that. I’m also a genius, and that’s what it takes to understand the modern-day “No Country For Old Men”/“There Will Be Blood” masterpiece that is “Sicario,” so I’m just gonna jump right in and defend you against all the BS criticism.

This is a tale of men (and women, but mostly men cause women are weak) fighting to make our streets safe but more importantly getting revenge for specific personal sins against themselves. Women can come along to watch for “equality” to tell us what they think we’re doing wrong and when they tell us what they think we’re doing wrong we tell them to go to hell cause they don’t know what they’re talking about.

You know what they say about life: Everything is personal, and men are strong. This is a movie for wolves, not sheep. Have you ever smelled a burning sheep? I have.

This is the best movie of at least the last two centuries. The only issue I have with is the line, “Time to meet God.” That’s dumb because there is no God and also time is a flat circle, but I guess that is what also makes it brilliant since it’s working on so many different levels like that.

Anyway, I was almost as impressed with this movie as I was with “True Detective” Season Two.

Love you bro,

Nic Pizzolatto

Hey Nic,

It’s me, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and creator of “Sicario,” Taylor Sheridan.

Thanks for reaching out and writing that letter. You and I are my two biggest influences, so it means a lot to me that you’d think to write me about how good “Sicario” was.

I’m actually writing a second one now! It’ll have less women and even more of what you loved about “No Country For Old Men”: Josh Brolin and other people getting shot in and near Mexico. I’m hoping (fingers crossed) it’ll be my “True Detective” Season Two.

“Time to meet God” was actually my proudest moment writing “Sicario.” I tried to make Benicio del Toro (I think that was the character’s name, I haven’t seen the movie) as compelling and subtle as I could, you know? So to me, that line in a weird way kinda says, “I’m about to kill you.” Did you pick up on that? Cause right after he says that line, he kills them! Get it?

Man, I really hope we can work together in the future. Maybe we could work on a “Prisoners” sequel together. It would be so dark and violent the original would look like a Paul Dano rom-com. Or we could do a “There Will Be Blood” sequel so dark and violent the original would look like a Paul Dano rom-com!



Look T,

I admire your work almost as much as my own, but there’s something you gotta know about me. I work alone.

That’s why I write complicated male characters who prefer to work alone and get wet on a series of bad habits once in a while. It comes from a real place, man. That’s what makes it work.

I tried working with a partner once – some asshole who had a girly first name and a last name of like a bombing site – that did not work out. The show we put out was the worst thing I’ve ever made.

You’re a writer. Think about the word writer, Sher. It’s a singular word. There can’t be two writers. That doesn’t make sense.

But I like you. Watching short YouTube clips of some of your work has made me think that we might really get along in a deeper way than anything I’ve ever experienced. Instead, I’ll have to just tell you a secret. Nobody knows this. I’ve already written Seasons 3 through 22 of “True Detective.” HBO just sucks.

Your “Sicario” sequel sounds sick as hell, bro. I’m all for less women, too, but make sure the ones you do have are basically dudes and/or topless randomly. See, the thing you need to learn is that women can be cool, you just have to remember they suck at everything. It’s science. (That’s what Season 6 of “True Detective” is about.)

Thanks for liking Season Two, by the way. It’s nice to hear the opinion of someone I respect other than myself. I’m glad you understood the point cause I’m sick of explaining it.

God, I’m a genius. Well, not God, but you know what I mean.




It’s okay if you want to work alone. I get it! I love working alone, too! It’s all I ever do.

My first acting project was on a show I started called “Walker, Texas Ranger” where me and Chuck Norris walk around Texas beating up bank robbers and kidnappers and Satan worshippers. It’s actually where I came up with the idea for “Hell or High Water.” There was a scene in the only episode I was onscreen for where they were like, “Hey, Taylor, in this scene we want you to talk to this guy or shake hands with this guy or something,” and I was like, “Whoa, wait a second. I work alone.” So that’s when I invented the green screen.

So maybe we could just work together through green screen?

Let me just pitch you my idea for “There Will Be Blood Two: Sangre.” (Sangre is Spanish for “blood,” according to Google Translate. [I wrote half of “Sicario” by just typing different names of drugs into Google Translate.]) Anyway, let me just pitch this and you can tell me if you want to help out.

Okay, so the original was pretty good. It had troubled powerful men with gristly voices. It had Paul Dano. It had Paul Dano playing his own twin! I didn’t understand most of it, but it was great.

My only problem is this, Nic. Where’s the blood? I was promised one simple thing going into this movie: Blood. It will be there. That’s literally what it says on the poster! I’m a big fan of posters saying what the movie is about (that’s why I loved “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” so much). But there wasn’t that much blood!

So my idea is to basically do the same thing as “TWBB1,” but instead of Daniel-Day Lewis as an oil tycoon, I’m thinking JOSH BROLIN, and he’s gonna play an FBI agent who’s seen some stuff but still has a sense of humor.

Let me know if you’re interested. By the way, what did you think of “Sons of Anarchy”? I was in that (tons of green screen).




Who is this? I’m busy.

Nic Pizzolatto

Next up: “Arrival.”

Denis 2049: ‘Sicario’

On this episode, Taylor Gaines and Sam Hensel break down Denis Villeneuve’s “most fun” movie, 2015’s “Sicario.” They talk about Villy’s most intense action sequence yet, Emily Blunt’s and Benicio Del Toro’s greatness, and the Taylor Sheridan of it all. Plus, they ask the most important question of our time: How did Jim from “The Office” wind up with Emily Blunt? All that and more, right here.

Next time: “Arrival

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 companion written piece here.

(Now On The Island!)

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.

(Now On The Island!)

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