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

Tag: Prisoners

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: ‘Prisoners’

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: “Prisoners.”

Taylor: Okay, let’s think about this. How could we possibly describe what it’s like to go through the physically, mentally, emotionally and existentially draining experience that is watching “Prisoners”?


So, imagine you’re lying on a cold tile floor. You’re basically naked. It’s wintertime. Every minute seems colder than the one before. Then, someone begins placing ice cubes on your body. One on a toe, one on an arm, one on your face. On and on until you feel like your body may never be able to warm back up ever again.

That’s what “Prisoners” feels like to me. With each scene, I get colder and colder and wonder whether I’ll be able to love or feel anything ever again.

And yet.

There is something very compelling and human about “Prisoners.” Something that keeps me glued to my seat and makes me want to revisit the movie time and again. What the hell is that something, Sam? I can’t figure it out.

Sam: I took an ice bath once to break a fever. I realize now that I could’ve just watched “Prisoners.” It’s chilling and stressful and bleak and depressing and ice-mother-freakin’ cold, but you know what, Taylor?

It’s Denis’ most fun movie. That’s why I keep going back to it.

Sure, if you go into this movie expecting a feel-good romp with Paul Dano driving around in an RV and hanging out with some kids, you’re gonna be disappointed. But Dillenueve’s ethical rollercoaster ends up making me more excited from the ride than sick from it.

This movie could have gone in a couple directions with a premise this dark when you think about it. It could have taken kidnapping and put it in its cold realism that it’s inexplicable and often unsolved, but instead, it added resolution and twists and drama. It hit the same fork in the road that “Polytechnique” did and took the direction of snakes and puzzles instead of harsh reality. I’m grateful for that because I don’t think I could sit through a black-and-white docudrama about Hugh Jackman never finding his kid. It would be too much.

I like the imagery you present about how chilling this movie is, but my question is this. What’s the coldest part?

Some nominations (feel free to add your own):

  • The climate in upstate Pennsylvania
  • The sudden realization that your child is missing
  • Gyllenhaal’s haircut
  • Terrence Howard on the trumpet

Taylor: Yeah, you forgot a few.

  • The kids going outside without their jacket (pretty cold)
  • Gyllenhaal outside (looked cold)
  • The window left open while Mom tries to sleep (probably cold)
  • Drinking Holly Hunter’s poison juice as your kid slowly dies somewhere nearby (the coldest)

For real, though, Terrence Howard is rough on the trumpet. It really shattered my “Empire”-based reality to see Lucius Lyon hop on the trumpet and sound terrible. My whole world makes no sense now. I don’t know what to believe.

The thing I keep thinking about after watching this movie again – this was the second time I’ve seen it – is how well-calibrated it is. The whole thing holds together so perfectly while also opening up so many doors in such compelling, thoughtful ways. It gives you so much to think about thematically that I find myself wanting to go back and revisit it again for some reason. (Am I crazy?)

At this point in our series, I’m pretty comfortable saying this is Villeneuve’s best movie. Everything peaked here. And I’m excited for what’s next. I feel like it’s just getting better and better.

I guess you could say I’m … a prisoner to Denis.

Sam: This was Denis’ best and biggest. The gang came out to play. Sure, Terrence Howard might have learned how to hold a trumpet seconds before walking on to the set, but Melissa Leo made me believe that “raging a war against God” is a legitimate character motivation and Maria Bello showed that she could lie on a bed and be sad!

Seriously, this whole thing is so well-calibrated. It knows what to do with its best characters and is able to be puzzling without being too Nolan-y. It squeezes in a mystery thriller and an after-school special into a small two-and-a-half-hour window. Even Denis’ on-the-nose tendencies worked this time. Jackman talking to his kid about being prepared for anything minutes before “anything” happens felt more chilling and ominous than obvious and annoying. Gyllenhaal’s character sitting alone in a Chinese restaurant when it is clearly Christmas talking about how he needs a personal life was overt but felt expedient and necessary to the story.

I’m a fan of this one.

Who won this movie, Taylor? Is it one of the heavyweights? Is it the police chief who never leaves his desk or stands up? Is it actually just a three-horse race between Jackman, Gyllenhaal and Dano?

Taylor: There’s no such thing as winning in a movie like “Prisoners” really. I’d say simply surviving is winning.

So…. I guess everybody other than Melissa Leo and that creepy guy who painted the interrogation room walls with his brains won? I don’t know. Who knows?

Here’s what I know: This movie is super good. That’s a fact.

However, I recently saw a clickbaiter (I fell for it, obviously) who put out a ranking of all of Denis Villeneuve’s movies. This “critic” had “Prisoners” ranked seventh. Seventh! I won’t dignify these rankings or this author with a name or a link, but SEVENTH! THEY HAD “PRISONERS” SEVENTH!!!

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.”

/end of rant

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?

Taylor: Look, this movie is about as hard to talk about as it is to watch. So I’m done here. Be nice to your puppies, and don’t steal children’s clothing.

I think I’m going to lie down for a while.

Sam: Denis 2049 Power Rankings after five:

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

Next up: “Enemy.”

Denis 2049: ‘Prisoners’

Taylor Gaines is joined by Sam Hensel for Part Five of the official Denis Villeneuve podcast. On this episode, they break down Villeneuve’s most well-known film, “Prisoners,” and talk about its complexity, morality, and where it fits in the Villenouvre.

Next time: “Enemy

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.

(Now On The Island!)

Vote Villeneuve 2049

On Tuesday, Taylor and Sam argued over which movie director should be the subject of their upcoming podcast series. In the series, they will examine each movie in the filmography of a prominent director. When the dust settled, two men remained: Guillermo del Toro and Denis Villeneuve. Next Tuesday, we’ll be holding a live Twitter vote to determine the winner and subject of the series. Today, we are publishing Taylor’s and Sam’s arguments for why you should vote for their chosen director. First up: Taylor on Villeneuve. (Update: Sam’s is here.)

The argument for Denis Villeneuve is two minutes and 22 seconds long.

Sure, I could spend my time telling you why watching the movies of a man who decided to make two “Hellboy” movies is a bad idea. Or I could tell you why we’d be wasting our time with a filmmaker who saw “Pinocchio” and thought, “You know what? That story should be darker.” I could even tell you why you should never trust the judgment of a man who thinks “The Strain” is good television.

But I won’t do that.

I could also spend my time telling you why Villeneuve is the right choice. For many reasons. I could tell you that “Arrival” is secretly the best movie of the last year. I could tell you that watching “Prisoners” will make you feel things you never thought a movie could make you feel. I could point out that you’d actually be doing Sam a favor by picking Villeneuve because his all-time favorite actor Jake Gyllenhaal is in two of his movies.

But I won’t do that either.

For now, I will simply show you a video that is two minutes and 22 seconds long and highlight some of the moments within.

Please begin.

This is the trailer for Villeneuve’s upcoming film, “Blade Runner 2049.” It comes out October 6.

This is Ryan Gosling. He plays Sebastian. Years after the world has fallen into complete disarray due to a nuclear apocalypse, he still likes to visit the piano bar he used to own. He doggedly holds out hope that he will run into his old flame, Mia, again, and that they can rekindle their romance. “Blade Runner 2049” takes place several years after the events of the first movie, but fans hope it will provide all the answers to their burning questions. Will John Legend make an appearance? It’s too soon to say.

The trailer also reveals that “Blade Runner 2049” takes place in the same expanded universe as “The Prestige,” a theory many had been bandying about online for years.

That’s enough about the plot for now, though. I’d like to talk about wonder.

Denis Villeneuve is the kind of director that makes you audibly gasp when you’re watching his movies in the theater. The world his camera captures is more beautiful than the one we actually inhabit. Even when it’s eye is trained on a post-apocalyptic society. Every shot in this trailer is magnificent, and I would like to build a home inside each of them and live out the rest of my days traveling between each one. That’s wonder.

I mean, c’mon.

That feeling you get when Mackenzie Davis struts onto the screen like she owns the god damn world is called joy. One of our best television actors (“Halt and Catch Fire”, “Black Mirror”) is getting her chance to rule the big screen, and she is not taking that lightly.

If you aren’t sold yet, think about this.

Harrison Ford is 75 years old. When he moves around on screen, he looks every bit his age. But when Villeneuve, in his infinite wisdom, saw Harrison Ford on set, he said, “You know what, I know what this movie’s missing. We need a man who looks like he hasn’t run in 25 years to run from a collapsing building or something.”

This moment in the trailer is funny, and if you don’t want to see Harrison Ford trying to run in a movie, I’m not sure what I can do for you.

There are so many questions. Why is Ryan Gosling so angry? Whose blood is that? Is he a robot? Is Harrison Ford a robot? Will any of Guillermo del Toro’s movies be half as good as this single second of the “Blade Runner 2049” trailer? Will that guy from “Suicide Squad” completely ruin the movie? Am I contractually obligated to mention him by name *cough* Jared Leto? Is Tom Hardy in this movie? Is Denis Villeneuve the best filmmaker currently working in Hollywood?

If you want answers, you know what to do.

Vote Villeneuve.

Follow us @fauxworthypod, and check in on Tuesday for the live vote. The winner will be the subject for the podcast series. “Blade Runner 2049” comes out October 6. “The Shape of Water” comes out December 8. 

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