Qt3 Movie Podcast: Widows


#1

Well this was certainly unexpected…


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2018/12/05/qt3-movie-podcast-widows/

#2

The Leftovers, Tom. That’s the Carrie Coon you want. And I really, really liked the first season. At times it’s up there with Dancer in the Dark for being a bummer.


#3

FWIW I thought the dealers were in the dumpster. I thought they’d been picked up for whatever the offense was (I forgot already, were they skimming, light on their payments?) and were being held until Daniel Kaluuya could show up to deal with them. And then the other muscle or enforcers who were holding them were reporting back—there was some line I didn’t quite catch and couldn’t remember now anyway—something like how after they picked them up, these goofballs were sitting there rapping even while they were locked in the dumpster.

I could be wrong, I could easily have gotten the dialog or the meaning of what was said wrong. But I’m pretty confident from a cinematography perspective that the first shot we see of the dumpster in the otherwise empty room was clearly conveying that for whatever reason, there were people inside the dumpster rapping. The rest of my explanation was sort of working backward from that.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯


#4

I thought the guys in the dumpsters were the ones who were supposed to be guarding the money Liam Neeson stole.

— Alan


#5

Oh yeah, that was it. They weren’t dealers or whatever. So you and I thought they were the same guys, I just already blanked on their role.


#6

Ah, right, it sounds like you guys totally got it. I’m sure Jetaime’s henchman’s comment would explain it, but I didn’t catch the line. I was still nonplussed at two rappers chilling in a dumpster.

By the way, I loved the way Steve McQueen shot and blocked that scene, with the single shot, with the camera rotating around them as the dudes started rapping, with Daniel Kaluuya gradually intruding on the one guy’s space, getting up in his face. And finally the sadistic feint of telling the other guy “Run” before shooting him in the back.

Oh god, no, a Damon Lindelof series? That’s going to seriously test my recent Carrie Coon obsession. But if that’s the price I have to pay, I will do so.

Did Leftovers wrap up, at least? Or is it one of those series like Deadwood that was killed before it could resolve?

-Tom


#7

Well frankly I found the sequence with the dumpster rappers to be completely confusing at first and only caught on with I think some random piece of dialogue that it’s who they were. Other than that it could just be a simple “oh this guy is a meeaaaaan dude” setup scene and that’s it.

It is a decently set up shot though for sure. There are some particular shots that are interesting and funky, like the short limo drive conversation, which almost felt like the camera was almost unlocked and was slowly whipsawing this way and that.

— Alan


#8

As far as I know it was finished, yes. It was apparently based on a single book so 4 seasons must have involved a far amount of expanding on the source material.


#9

The first season followed the book pretty closely. The later ones were new material, but the author of the book (Tom Pertotta) was a writer/producer for all three seasons.

It does wrap up, though I think the end of Season 1 is a better place to stop.


#10

Oh, was it only 3 seasons? Whoops.


#11

I kept reading this Windows and wondering why a movie about Microsoft sounded so strange.


#12

Two more Widows things since I’ve finished the podcast now:

First, I’m surprised you talked about the scene in the car between Jack Mulligan (Farrell) and his assistant Siobhan (the redhead) but didn’t mention the driver.

As discussed, it’s a great single take that would be noteworthy alone for its construction. A real time conversation in the complete drive from the Empowered Women project to Jack’s house/campaign HQ. Moving from some kind of handheld shot to what may or may not have been mounted in some way on the hood of the car, facing the car for the whole drive but with the reflection on the windshield completely blocking Jack and Siobhan, leaving us with just the audio of their conversation, it’s all a very distinct shot and I liked it.

And as discussed, the camera seems to be mounted just above/in front of the hood, keeping a fixed perspective for the drive, with the exception of a pan from facing the front passenger side to the front driver side about halfway through. Which is notable, because we’re deep into the conversation with Jack trying to get Siobhan to discuss whether she’s ever slept with a black man, and when the camera pans to the driver side, you can see through the windshield enough to see the driver: a black man. Just sorta ratchets up the casual racism in a subtly uncomfortable way.

Second, I thought Michelle Rodriguez shot the elder Mulligan. I thought she was still standing there holding the gun while Debicki had fallen after being shot, leaving Viola Davis to have to take the gun from the sort of frozen in place Michelle at that point.

I could be wrong on that though, and it’s not really of consequence either way.

I really want to see this movie again, although looking at these nitpicky details like who’s in the dumpster or who fired in that scene will just be a bonus. I really want to see this movie again because I loved it.


#13

Yes, absolutely. And as you’re implying, it’s notable that Mulligan is having the conversation while the driver can’t help but listen. It probably doesn’t even occur to Mulligan what he’s doing.

Is the driver the same guy who went to Bella’s beauty salon to collect money? Or was he someone else? I’d be curious if he was just another employee or one of Mulligan’s loyal henchmen.

-Tom


#14

@tomchick, there will be no shortage of opinions about The Leftovers, but I’ll try to make my recommendation concise and spoiler-free.

I stopped after the first three or four episodes of season one because it felt like “Another LOST”. No plane crash, but the narrative structure felt lifted entirely from LOST: there’s a big mystery we get little clues about, but most of those early episodes were about unpacking the characters through inter-cut plots that dribble out a few more details about the character in the present day situation and a flashback plot that typically ends in some minor revelation about their past that puts the present in a new perspective.

That was actually a strength of LOST for a while, but the format felt so recycled in The Leftovers at the beginning that I just decided I didn’t need to go through that again, especially since I assumed it would fumble the big narrative mysteries again too.

Instead, The Leftovers just gets awesome. I don’t remember a specific turning point, but it was at some point in season two that I heard rumblings it was really good, so I binged to catch up and got hooked.

By the finale I loved it and I was so glad I took the time to spend with these characters. It wasn’t perfect, but it was more than worth the ride. I don’t think the comparisons to LOST are useful beyond the obvious initial similarities, at least not useful in trying to decide if you should or shouldn’t watch it, so I’ll just say don’t worry about whether you liked or didn’t like LOST, even if Lindelof’s involvement has you nervous.

edit: but please finish Cowboy Bebop first. And the rest of The Wire.


#15

For the most part, the show is unconcerned with the mystery, such as it is. It’s about the aftermath and the consequences of not knowing. I gave up on Lost after the first season, but I think a lot of that frustration was people thinking the show was a mystery to be solved, and going into the Leftovers with any expectation of that would be a huge mistake. That is not what the show is about. At all.

A lot of people really liked the subsequent seasons, btw, I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority in preferring the first. The second is at least worth starting for the title sequence, though. Stick around for that.


#16

I’m pretty sure that was the same guy, yeah.


#17

This was a terrific, original take on the heist genre. The Polish babe stole the movie, especially her schtick at the gun show, but man alive can Daniel Kaluuya pull off a convincing “heavy” role. His eyes are simply incredible; I completely bought him (I loved how close gets to the rapper - it was so uncomfortable). I anticipated most of the twists and reveals, but didn’t care one iota. When Hollywood’s trying and producing great movies like this, A Star is Born, and First Man it’s truly a treat. It felt like Robert Duvall was just adlibbing when he dressed down Farrell in the office, which gave me a good chuckle!


#18

That’s Elizabeth Debicki (who is not actually Polish or Russian either one). She’s fantastic, and you can get lots more of her in the LeCarre miniseries The Night Manager (w/ Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie) and excellent mysterious Aussie show The Kettering Incident (where she is the lead).


#19

That was the sequence that convinced me I was watching something truly special. It’s masterful. Something you didn’t mention that I also loved about it was that this is the first and only scene where Colin Farrell’s simpering assistant gets any meaningful dialog. She tears into him when he whines about his job and tells him to “man up”, but I think it’s very notable that we cannot see her at all during this exchange. It’s a movie about women struggling to push back against the men who hold power over them, and this is her way of doing it, but it’s totally invisible.

Along those lines, I’m going to go to bat for the twist. I thought it was totally motivated and necessary, and I’d put it up as one of those great reveals that makes you see everything that’s come before in a new way, like the “My Daughter! My Sister!” reveal in Chinatown.

A key scene for me in this regard was the scene where Viola Davis meets Carrie Coon for the first time, at a restaurant. They exchange some small talk, Carrie Coon mentions she has a baby, etc. Unlike the sauna scene, Viola Davis seems to want to suss out this person before bringing her in on the plan. I found myself wondering: Why isn’t Viola Davis browbeating Carrie Coon into service the way she did to Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki?

I think the reason is that Viola Davis’ stated motivation for going through with the heist is self-preservation, but her emotional motivation is anger. She’s fucking pissed that these men have gone and got themselves killed and left the women with nothing. And she call tell that the other two widows are pissed too. But when she meets Carrie Coon, there’s something different in her demeanour – Viola Davis can tell that for whatever reason, Carrie Coon isn’t as upset or angry as the others. She’s doing okay, maybe strangely not as filled with grief. I think it’s sensing this that makes Viola Davis decide to leave Carrie Coon out of the plan. And by leaving her out of the plan, there is a whole slew of new complications they have to deal with, ultimately bringing in Cynthia Erivo.

Of course, the reason Carrie Coon isn’t as upset or angry is because her man is actually still alive. We just don’t know it yet.

I love that scene. Both Carrie Coon and Viola Davis played it perfectly.

It’s also notable that because Viola Davis doesn’t ever mention the heist plan to Carrie Coon, we realize that Liam Neeson wouldn’t have been aware that the widows were planning to pull it off. As far as he knows, Viola Davis is just trying to connect with the other widows, and will sell the notebook like he planned. So I think his actions later make sense.


#20

I’m pro-twist too, and, like you said, rewatching those supposedly innocuous exchanges and knowing what you now know gives them new texture.