documentary

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Errol Morris & Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Errol Morris
Guests: 
Merrill Garbus

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo: Jesse Thorn

Errol Morris on his new Netflix "hybrid" documentary series 'Wormwood'

Errol Morris is a legendary filmmaker with dozens of tv and film credits. In 2004, his film "The Fog of War" won an Oscar for best documentary film. Perhaps Morris is best known for his unique interview style, and his invention of the interrotron, which allows his subjects to see him while they are being filmed straight on. And of course, he is known for yelling questions off screen to his subjects.

Morris has a way of painting portraits of people in his films that's incredibly vulnerable. A perfect example of this is his first documentary "Gates of Heaven" released in 1978. It’s a film about pet cemeteries, and the connection people feel to their deceased pets. The documentary told through interviews of pet owners, and it's unnarrated. Some of his films, like "The Thin Blue Line" try to find objective truth. That film ultimately helped secure a innocent man's freedom from prison.

His films are nuanced, they're funny, they're tragic, and always fascinating. His latest project is a six-part miniseries for Netflix called "Wormwood." The series explores the CIA LSD experiments in the late 1950's, and the effects on a man named Frank Olson, a CIA employee and biochemist, who inexplicably jumped out a window to his death from a New York Hotel room in 1953. The story is mostly told through interviews of Frank’s son, Eric, who's worked for years to uncover the truth. The series is kind of a departure for Errol's signature style -- it blends dramatic reenactments and real life interviews.

Errol sits down with Jesse and they discuss the nature of truth, camera angles, and his new documentary, "Wormwood."

Listen to Errol's interview on YouTube!

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons:
Jason Perss

Song That Changed My Life: Merrill Garbus of the band Tune-Yards

Merrill Garbus of the band Tune-Yards on the song that changed her life -- "Moliva" by Johnny Clegg. Tune-Yards will be touring this Spring, and their new album "I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life" will be released on January 19. For more information visit their website.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!

The Outshot: The Commitments

Finally, for this week's Outshot: "The Commitments." Jesse tells us about a film his father and stepmother loved. Jesse never saw the film as a teenager. Few weeks ago, Jesse bought the VHS tape at a thrift store, and it turns out his dad and my stepmother had every right to love the 1991 film "The Commitments."

Inside Pop Ep 95: Blade Runner 2049, Riz Ahmed, Vegas Baby documentary, Big Sell 30

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Show: 
Inside Pop
Guests: 
Amanda Micheli
Guests: 
Kevyn Fairchild

This week we dive inside Box Office Busts, a bold new doc and #BigSell30 is underway!

First up, Sean and Amita examine why the highly anticipated, sure fire hit Blade Runner 2049 actually failed at the box office. Why did the masses stay away from Denis Villeneuve's artistry and Ryan Gosling's baby blues? And are the masses actually missing out on a great film? We'll discuss!

Also, Amita was in the same room with her celebrity husband, Riz Ahmed, and didn't faint! Find out how she got to see him in person and what happened.

Then, Amita interviews Oscar nominated director, Amanda Micheli about her new documentary, Vegas Baby, which follows multiple stories of women and couples and their struggles to have a child.

Plus, Amita reviews last week's Big Sell from Sean, an early film from Ava DuVernay, Middle of Nowhere, and then sells him on a new single from Lin-Manuel Miranda featuring a slew of popular Latino singers and hip hop artists, who came together to raise funds for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. And we review some of our favorite Big Sells thus far in the Big Sell 30!

Follow us on Twitter & Instagram @PopInsiders

Like us on Facebook

And lots of stuff on our website www.insidepoppodcast.com

The Turnaround: Werner Herzog

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Werner Herzog

New to The Turnaround? Subscribe in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get two new interviews a week through August 11th.

This week Jesse is in conversation with German filmmaker Werner Herzog, the man responsible for films like Grizzly Man, Tale of Forgotten Dreams and Lo and Behold. If you have not seen one of Werner's films, they might be described as intense, extreme, maybe even dark. But they are also very insightful, and this depth can be credited to the way that he interacts with the people he is interviewing. He chooses his subjects carefully, often times based on whether or not he thinks that they can handle his line of inquiry.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Werner's career spans more than 50 years, and he has released work almost every year since he began. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his 2009 documentary Encounters at the End of the World, and has been nominated for and won many other awards during his long career. He is one of the most celebrated figures in documentary film making, for both the final product and the processes by which he makes them.

Jesse and Werner talk about how he gets people to talk to him, and why he asks questions that he knows he won't get the answer to. They talk about his 1996 film, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, and why he thinks his dramatizations of his subject's lived experience aren't manipulation, but actually the way to get to the truth of the matter. They also talk about the interviews that take place on, and off camera, and why the latter often involves deeper and more meaningful conversation.

You can watch Werner's Emmy nominated film Into the Inferno on Netflix now.

Jesse will be hosting an AMA on Reddit this Friday August 11th at 12 noon PST to talk about what he's learned from this project. Go to iama.reddit.com/ to join in the conversation and ask Jesse anything you'd like.

The Turnaround is a production of Maximum Fun in partnership with the Columbia Journalism Review. Visit their website to learn more about their "mission to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society," and to read edited transcripts of our other Turnaround episodes.

Hosted and created by Jesse Thorn
Produced by Kara Hart and Nick Liao
Senior Producer: Laura Swisher
Managing Director: Bikram Chatterji

Music for The Turnaround provided by Mobius Van ChocStraw.

Special thanks to Kyle Pope and his team at CJR, Darrel Frost, and Emilie Erskine.

Inside Pop Ep. 84 - Comic-Con Trailers, Insecure Season 2, An Inconvenient Sequel, Way Into Idris Elba, Atlanta

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Show: 
Inside Pop

We've had a busy pop culture filled week- starting with an exclusive screening of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power followed by a Q&A with Former Vice President Al Gore! We weren't sure if we should bow or curtsy upon seeing him on stage.

Then, we analyze some of the most talked about trailers featured at San Diego Comic Con- including The Defenders, Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League and Star Trek: Discovery. Do they stir up excitement or fall flat?

Plus, we chat about the season two premiere of Insecure - guess how many times Amita mentions Lawrence?

And we bring you another installment of "Way Into . . ." with our guide to get way into one of our favorite Brits- Idris Elba.

And Amita gets her wish- Sean FINALLY watches one of her favorite episodes of the critically acclaimed Donald Glover FX series- Atlanta in The Big Sell.

Subscribe, listen and find bonus content, including links to our Way Into . . . Idris Elba Guide at www.insidepoppodcast.com

Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @PopInsiders

Magic Lessons Ep. 202: "Make the Brutal Into the Beautiful" Featuring Brandon Stanton

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Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert #BigMagic
Guests: 
Brandon Stanton

This week on Magic Lessons Elizabeth Gilbert advises Anne, a photographer in Pennsylvania. For the last few years Anne has been documenting her brother's life. He's a veteran with PTSD and a recovering drug addict. She imagines turning all this material into a photo-essay exhibit or book, but she's afraid to take the next steps to make it happen. To help guide Anne, Liz calls up her friend Brandon Stanton, the photographer and creator of the photo series "Humans of New York.” Several weeks later, Anne reveals what she's been up to since getting all this advice.

Special Guest: Brandon Stanton is the photographer and creator behind Humans of New York. He is also the author of two number 1 New York Times-bestselling books, Humans of New York and Humans of New York: Stories. Find out more about him at HumansofNewYork.com

Getting Curious Episode 18: What's Life Like in Brazil?

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Show: 
Getting Curious
Guests: 
Jonathan Van Ness
Guests: 
Carla Dauden

Jonathan sits down with director Carla Dauden to talk about Brazil's political parties, life in favelas, and Carla's new documentary, The Discarded: A Tale of Two Rios. Plus, Jonathan finds out about the Bernie Sanders of Uruguay.

With Jonathan Van Ness and guest, Carla Dauden.

Produced by Christian Dueñas for MaximumFun.org

Getting Curious: Episode 6 What is Agent Orange?

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Courtney & Jonathan
Show: 
Getting Curious
Guests: 
Jonathan Van Ness
Guests: 
Courtney Marsh

Jonathan sits down with Academy Award nominated film director Courtney Marsh. He wants to find out more about the chemical Agent Orange and about Chau, the subject of Courtney's documentary short, Chau: Beyond the Lines.

The film profiles Chau, a teenager living in a Vietnamese care center for young people disabled by Agent Orange, struggling with the reality of his dream to one day become a professional artist.

Find Courtney on Instagram, Twitter and at CourtneyNMarsh.com.

You can view and commission Chau's art at BeyondTheLinesFilm.com.

Produced by Christian Dueñas for MaximumFun.org.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Baron Davis & Paul Dano

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Baron Davis
Guests: 
Paul Dano

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo credit: Jesse Thorn

"How Hard Are You Willing to Play for Nothing?" NBA All-Star Turned Documentarian Baron Davis on 'The Drew', LA's Pro-Am League

Baron Davis is a two-time NBA All-Star. He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, and went on to play for several other teams before his most recent stint in the New York Knicks. He was barely middle-school age when he started playing in the Drew League, a pro-am league named after Charles R. Drew Junior High School in South Los Angeles. The Drew was a place for amateurs to play competitively, to begin careers, and help build existing ones. A number of NBA players, including Baron Davis, have returned to the Drew in the off-season to hone their skills. The Drew has also fostered a sense of community, and created a safe haven away from gang activity.

Davis joins us to talk about his early days in the Drew, recovering from injury, and why he turned to filmmaking.

The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce has its world premiere at the LA Film Festival this week.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this interview with a friend.


Photo credit: Jesse Thorn

Paul Dano on Capturing Brian Wilson's Essence, Slapping Daniel Day-Lewis and Turning 30

The new biopic Love & Mercy shows Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys during two different periods of his life. Paul Dano plays Wilson during the production of the critically acclaimed album Pet Sounds, as Wilson experiments with drugs and descends a bit into darkness. John Cusack plays Wilson in the late 80s and early 90s, as he suffers under the control of his legal guardian and struggles to wrest himself free.

Dano takes on Wilson's quiet spirit and gives us a glimpse into the mind of a musical innovator. His past work includes a breakout role as a silent teenager in Little Miss Sunshine, a novelist in Ruby Sparks, a power-hungry young preacher in There Will Be Blood and an overseer in 12 Years a Slave.

He joins us to talk about how physically playing music helped him connect to his character, feeling out the dynamics of Wilson's relationship with his father, playing opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood and what's changed since he turned 30.

Love & Mercy is in theaters now.

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The Outshot: Finding the Heart of a Song in Five Notes with "The Plum Blossom"

Jesse explains why he loves "The Plum Blossom", a beautiful song Yusef Lateef wrote for an instrument that only produces five notes.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: George Takei and Damian Abraham of ****ed Up

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
George Takei
Guests: 
Damian Abraham
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

If you're in Los Angeles, come hang with us at a cemetery this October. For real! It's how we're kicking off MaxFunWeek. Find details and ticket information here for our upcoming live show on 10/15 at Hollywood Forever's Masonic Lodge.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

What Is it Like "To Be Takei"? George Takei on Growing Up Japanese-American (and Gay), Acting Challenges and Yes, 'Star Trek'

Star Trek: The Original Series broke ground with its debut in 1966. The show had a multiethnic cast, and creator Gene Roddenberry tackled social issues in a futuristic setting. George Takei was an original castmember, and helped paved the way for Asian-American actors on television with his character Hikaru Sulu.

Takei went on to reprise his role in the animated Star Trek series and six Star Trek movies. He's also accumulated dozens of other acting and voiceover credits, from the 1956 Japanese monster movie Rodan, to The Simpsons, to Heroes.

But the new documentary To Be Takei goes beyond his acting career to show Takei's remarkable backstory and his positivity in the face of adversity. Before he even began kindergarten, he and his family were ordered at gunpoint to a U.S. internment camp for Japanese-Americans. In puberty, he realized that his emerging crushes were on boys, not girls. Takei chose to remain closeted for decades, to shelter his acting career from any fallout over his sexuality.

Takei spoke to us about his family's struggle to retain normalcy during and after their imprisonment in an American internment camp, starring in the Twilight Zone episode that America couldn't handle, and the impact that being gay has had on his personal and professional life. (Yes, there's a Star Trek question in there too.)

To Be Takei is now in theaters and available on VOD.

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Satisfying Thrills, Chills and Noir: Carolyn Kellogg on New Books

Los Angeles Times book critic Carolyn Kellogg stops by to talk about two innovative new books that should satisfy your need for thrills and chills, or noir-ish detectives and dames.

Her first recommendation is Broken Monsters, by Lauren Beukes, a supernatural detective story set in present-day Detroit.

She also suggests checking out Kill My Mother, by acclaimed cartoonist and writer Jules Feiffer. It's a graphic novel which gives a new twist on noir.

Carolyn Kellogg covers books for the Los Angeles Times. You can find her writing online in the Times' book blog, Jacket Copy or follow her on Twitter @paperhaus.

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Karl Walter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

"Music by Participation": Damian Abraham of ****ed Up on Finding Punk Rock

What happens when a hardcore band makes a rock opera, or quadruple tracks their drums, or writes a beautiful love song? Damian Abraham's band, ****ed Up, has done all of that and more. They started back in 2001, and have only gotten more ambitious over time.

Abraham, also known as Father Damian or Pink Eyes, got his first taste of punk rock as a fourteen-year-old, when the lead singer of the band he was seeing jumped off stage and tackled him and his friends. Abraham loved that punk wasn't "music by observation", it was "music by participation".

He talks to us about what it's like to have punk rock be your life and career, the circumstances that spurred his decision to drop his straightedge lifestyle, and the aesthetics of his music.

****ed Up's newest album is Glass Boys. The band will wrap up a string of U.S. tourdates shortly, and will tour Canada in September.

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The Outshot: 'Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women'

Jesse thinks you too might be charmed by magician Ricky Jay's history of Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nat Faxon, Mimi Pond & Werner Herzog

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nat Faxon
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder
Guests: 
Werner Herzog
Guests: 
Mimi Pond

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Jesse Grant / Getty Images / Getty Images Entertainment

"It read like an independent movie": Nat Faxon on the Dark Comedy of 'Married'

Nat Faxon is an actor. You maybe saw him on Ben and Kate. He co-wrote the Oscar-winning script for The Descendants, which starred George Clooney, and also co-directed and co-wrote The Way Way Back. Faxon's been working as an actor since the early 2000s. Mostly in bit parts, the sidekick, the comic relief. Now he's got a leading role on Married, a new comedy on FX.

Married is a dark comedy about a married couple, played by Faxon and Judy Greer. The couple has been together for ten years and is growing apart, tugged in separate directions by their children, a lack of steady unemployment, and uncertain finances.

Faxon talks about how the show relates to his real-life married life, why he enjoys just being an actor instead of running the show, and the uncomfortable situation in which he first met George Clooney.

Married premieres this Thursday on FX.

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Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: 'Forbidden Island' and 'Citizen Keane'

This week's recommendations come from BoingBoing founder and Gweek host Mark Frauenfelder.

He suggests checking out Forbidden Island, a co-operative game. It's a simple premise: collect four treasures from a sinking island.

He also recommends Citizen Keane: The Big Lies Behind the Big Eyes, a biography about the sketchy past of Walter and Margaret Keane, the couple who painted the kitschy pop-art paintings of teary, big-eyed children.

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Michael Tullberg / Getty Images / Getty Images Entertainment

Werner Herzog on "The Day I Became an Artist". Spoiler: There Isn't One!

It’s fair to say that Werner Herzog is a one-of-a-kind filmmaker. He’s made critically-acclaimed documentaries, like Grizzly Man and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. And some art-house staples like Fitzcarraldo. But he also made Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans -- where a crack-smoking Nicholas Cage has hallucinations of iguanas and a breakdancing Mafioso. And don’t forget that Herzog was the SUBJECT of a film called Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe.

So, it should come as no surprise that there wasn't one day when he became an artist. He sort of always knew. He tells us about growing up in Bavaria, how walking the Albanian border taught him more than film school ever could, and why he just wasn't impressed by the first moving images he saw.

Werner Herzog has a new Blu-Ray boxset coming out later this month from Shout! Factory. It collects sixteen of his earliest films -- most of them on Blu-Ray for the first time. It's called Herzog: The Collection.

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Diners, Drugs, and Punk Rock: Mimi Pond on 'Over Easy'

Mimi Pond was an art school dropout in 1970s Oakland, and she was trying to figure out what to be. She walked into a diner and asked for a job application. Instead of a resume, the manager asked her to tell him a joke. She got the job. Her new graphic novel and fictionalized memoir, Over Easy, is based on her time waiting tables at said diner.

Pond found herself surrounded by storage room sex, assorted sniffables, and a cast of characters so big she couldn't fit them all in her memoir.

She discusses why she always knew she'd be a cartoonist (even as a kid), the mastermind and hiring manager behind the "anarchic punk opera" that was her workplace, and the very specific, improvisational nature of waiting tables.

Her book is out now.

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The Outshot: Vegetables, Swimming Pools, and Good Vibrations

The Beach Boys had a lot on the line in 1967. How do you follow up huge commercial hits like "Surfin' USA" and "Barbara Ann", and the experimental, influential Pet Sounds? Jesse explains why 1967's Smiley Smile is great all on its own.

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