Episode 86 of CinemAddicts is a short one, as it clocks it at just under 50 minutes. But thanks to Nicolas Cage’s new film Mandy and the excellent documentary Hal, this installment is worth a listen!
Running at a brisk 90 minutes, Hal is an intriguing and must needed look into the life and career of Hal Ashby, the filmmaker behind The Last Detail, Coming Home, Being There, Bound for Glory, and Harold and Maude. Ashby hitchhiked to Hollywood where he eventually became a respected editor. Thanks to his close collaboration with Norman Jewison (Ashby won an Editing Oscar for his work on Jewison’s In The Heat of the Night), Ashby’s parlayed his cutting skills into directing (his debut was the Beau Bridges starrer The Landlord).
The documentary features interviews with Bridges, Jeff Bridges (Beau’s bro worked with Hal on 8 Million Ways to Die), Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, Jewison, and a slew of others, and they provide insight on what made Ashby such a compelling filmmaker. Briefly reviewing this film with co-host Anderson Cowan on the podcast was also a pleasure, since these days we rarely get to review the same films. A big pleasure of doing this podcast is hearing what Anderson has to say about a given movie, and he accurately points out that Hal is an insightful look at a man’s obsession with cinema and storytelling (along with the price that comes with the territory). Director Amy Scott, like Ashby, is an editor by trade, and she refreshingly infuses Hal with a streamlined and engaging approach. Thus, Hal isn’t an inside baseball documentary solely for diehard movie buffs. Though I do wish Scott spent a little bit more time on Ashby’s work in the 1908s, I absolutely dug this documentary (Anderson obviously enjoyed it as well).
To listen to our discussion of Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude (it’s a top 5 film for Anderson), take a listen below!
If you’re a Nicolas Cage fan who doesn’t mind a healthy does of violence, then Mandy is a film you should track down in theaters. Along with Adaptation and Joe, this is my favorite Nicolas Cage performance. Set in 1983, Cage is Red Miller, a guy who understandably is unhinged after a cult leader (Linus Roache) does harm to Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), the love of Red’s life. This revenge tale, directed by Panos Cosmatos, is a red soaked, phantasmagoric feel, and I was hypnotized by the very end. There’s a sequence where Cage goes absolutely nuts, and it’s a moment that’s filled with madness, heartache, and brilliance all round into one. It’s seminal work from Cage, whose oftentimes fearless and unhinged performances are usually the best thing to come out of an otherwise middling film. With Mandy, Cage has found the perfect project to let his freak flag fly.
Both Mandy and Hal are now playing in select theaters. Take a listen to our latest episode and subscribe to us on iTunes!