Lost in the Movies: Holy Smoke! w/ guests Em & Steve of No Ship Network (LOST IN THE MOVIES podcast #37)

Holy Smoke! w/ guests Em & Steve of No Ship Network (LOST IN THE MOVIES podcast #37)

Pairing with my coverage of The Piano last month is this lesser-known Jane Campion film from the nineties. It also stars Harvey Keitel in an apparently quite different (although perhaps not so different) role as PJ Waters, a cult deprogrammer who's hired by an Australian family to rescue their wayward member Ruth (Kate Winslet). A contest of willpower, confidence, and vulnerability results amidst a quirky ensemble in the Outback. And yes, though it comes up only briefly in the discussion, that is Fabio in the cast, shortly after his infamous real-world run-in with a bird. The movie was suggested several years ago - when this episode was recorded - by podcast host Em, and I invited her and Steve (co-hosts of Sparkwood and 21: A Twin Peaks Podcast on No Ship Network) to dig into its themes and character development. Is PJ, in any sense, successful? Should we root for him to be? Why is Ruth crying when she's shown an anti-cult video - is it for the obvious reason or something more subtle? Is the film feminist, humanist, all of the above? What does it share with The Piano? Is Holy Smoke! a comedy and if so, is it actually funny? We tackle all of these questions, and even explore a loose thematic connection to the structure of Mulholland Drive, in a wide-ranging half-hour conversation. By the way, if you want to explore more of my commentary on Campion's work, check out the viewing diary for her series Top of the Lake (which also comes up here).

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(Em & Steve's must-listen podcast covering all seasons of Twin Peaks and much more)


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