Tag Archives: tom clift

Everyone On Scorsese

Nine years. 108 episodes. 126 filmmakers. Lots of minutes.

It’s been a brilliant run, but it had to end at some point, and nine years feels like the right number. It’s a lot without dipping into double figures, which feels too many.

That said, there’s an important caveat: this is not necessarily the end of the show. What’s ending is Hyphenates as a monthly series. We’re leaving the door wide open for future episodes, standalone shows that may drop at any moment. You may hear one later this year. Or you might not hear it for a good couple of years. And we don’t even know what format it will take, who will be hosting, how it will sound. Your best bet is to remain subscribed, with an eye on our social media accounts, so you don’t miss out when we suddenly get, say, Quentin Tarantino on to talk about the films of Paul Anthony Nelson. (Watch Trench now on Amazon Prime!)

And we can’t imagine all of you have heard every single episode from our past, so feel free to click on the Index tab up the top of the page and browse our archives. See if there’s a filmmaker or guest you want to catch up. We’ve talked to a lot of cool people about a lot of other cool people, so there’s lots of gold in there.

But for now, let’s focus on this month’s episode. You may have noticed that our usually-militant one-hour running time has been blowing out a bit lately. We parted a bit too hard for our 100th episode, and it was hard to maintain the discipline in the months that followed. But for our last show, we really let it fly, with the show clocking in at an epic 222 minutes. That’s 3 hours and 42 minutes.

But fear not, because it’s not just three voices for all that time. We decided to end with a look at the films of Martin Scorsese, one of the few filmmakers who you could legitimately claim every film is somebody’s favourite. And although we didn’t find the person who wanted to spruik Boxcar Bertha above all others, we covered almost every one of his films, without giving any direction or influence to our guests.

A whole bunch of our alumni returned to talk about their favourite Scorsese thing, be it a film, a scene, a shot, or something entirely different. For this episode, we’re joined by Ian Barr, Michael Ian Black, David Caesar, Sarah Caldwell, Thomas Caldwell, Mel Campbell, Tom Clift, Perri Cummings, Guy Davis, Glenn Dunks, Tim Egan, Marc Fennell, Abe Forsythe, Garth Franklin, Rhys Graham, Richard Gray, Giles Hardie, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Zak Hepburn, Jon Hewitt, Tegan Higginbotham, Blake Howard, Cerise Howard, Hayley Inch, Briony Kidd, Maria Lewis, Alicia Malone, Shannon Marinko, So Mayer, Pollyanna McIntosh, Drew McWeeny, Simon Miraudo, Anthony Morris, Rhys Muldoon, Josh Nelson, Jennifer Reeder, Eloise Ross, Stephen A Russell, Jeremy Smith, Rohan Spong, Kriv Stenders, Chris Taylor, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Christos Tsiolkas, George Viscas, Andrew Kevin Walker, Sarah Ward, Scott Weinberg, Emma Westwood, and Cate Wolfe.

And, of course, Paul returns, joining Rochelle and Lee for the entire show to help see Hi4H off.

We hope you enjoy this episode. We hope you enjoyed the show. And we’ll see you when we see you.

Clift On Herztfeldt

Clift On Herztfeldt

“[Don Herztfeldt] sounds like Bill looks like he feels.”

Animation is the bastard stepchild of cinema: often and mistakenly referred to as a genre, dismissed as kid's fare, and rarely celebrated in the way that live action is. Which is strange, given that animation is, in a sense, pure cinema. Everything you see has been created to be seen. There are no happy accidents, no unanticipated fireworks or weird-looking extras wandering through frame; it is all made.

When guest Tom Clift stepped in at the last minute (again, huge thanks to him), his choice of filmmaker seemed, if we're being completely honest, pleasingly slight. With a dozen short films to his name, Don Hertzfeldt's filmoraphy was clearly one that could be easily tackled with only a week's notice.

The logistical practicalities soon fell away as joy took over. It became clear that Hertzfeldt's films were some of the most imaginative and unusual and deeply funny films we'd seen in a long time. If you want to know what makes them that way, then you either need to watch them, or listen to this month's show. But preferably both.

Before we get to Hertzfeldt, however, we take some time to chat about the key films from this month: Jocelyn Moorhouse's dark comedy The Dressmaker, Todd Haynes's period romance Carol, Steven Spielberg's espionage thriller Bridge of Spies, and Paul Thomas Anderson's music documentary Junun.

We also take a look at the new forms of streaming and distribution. With Don Hertzfeldt self-distributing his films, and Junun released exclusively to online cinema website Mubi, we examine some of the challenges facing filmmakers who are creating content for these new media, and whether it's too early for audiences to be able to clearly curate their viewing habits in this new frontier.

That's a lot for one hour, right? Damn straight it is.

So download or stream us from this website, listen via Stitcher Smart Radio, or subscribe via iTunes. And tell your friends.

Further reading:

  • The Washington Post piece about 1950s nostalgia that Sophie mentions in the reviews segment can be read here.
  • Sophie's book on Sally Potter, A Politics of Love, can be ordered via her website.
  • Three videos below! The first is a seven minute outtake from Paul Thomas Anderson’s Junun, the second is a clip of Don Hertzfeldt at work, and the third is the opening sequence he animated for The Simpsons.

Outro music: “Old Sir Symon the King”, composer unknown, from I Am So Proud of You (2008)

Hell Is For Hyphenates – November 2015

Film and arts journalist Tom Clift joins the show this month as we look over some of the key films of November 2015, including THE DRESSMAKER, CAROL, BRIDGE OF SPIES and JUNUN. They then examine the different forms of streaming and digital distribution channels that are suddenly available, and the ways to curate your viewing in this new landscape. Then Tom introduces us to the weirdly brilliant and deeply funny films of independent animator Don Hertzfeldt.

The Don Hertzfeldt Cheat Sheet

Don Hertzfeldt

Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double that will not only make for a great evening's viewing, but bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode lands…
DH Films


Let's be honest, you could do the entire Don Hertzfeldt filmography in an evening without ever feeling the need to look at your watch. And we absolutely encourage you to do this. But if you want to stick to our usual two-film tradition, then we've got some absolute doozies for you. Hertzfeldt's films are almost exclusively animated shorts, and it wasn't easy to figure out which two to go with. Thankfully, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made our job a little easier. Kick your viewing off with the Oscar-nominated Rejected, which runs for only nine minutes. This hilarious short film imagines a series of rejected ads and promotions, and is surely the most anti-corporate film to ever be accidentally embraced by the Academy. Once you've seen that, follow it up with his most recent film, World of Tomorrow, in which a little girl is contacted by her future clone/descendent. This is one of the funniest and sharpest science fiction films you're likely to see, somehow deeply scathing and whimsically lighthearted all at once. And literally only sixteen minutes.

Substitutions: Again, it's really strange to be doing substitutions when you should just be watching all of this stuff. But our sub for Rejected is the painfully-funny Billy's Balloon, which we won't tell you anything about because even the setup is too good to spoil. The sub for World of Tomorrow is I Am So Proud Of You, part of his Bill trilogy, and an ingenious recounting of a sad man's life and his family history.

The Hidden Gem: Our hidden gems are usually off-beat or unusual departures from the norm, but that describes every single one of his films. So we're just going to put the five minute Wisdom Teeth here. Of all his films, this is arguably the strangest.

Where To Find Them: Hertzfeldt self-distributes, and DVD collections of most of his shorts can be ordered via his website, Bitter Films. You can also rent World of Tomorrow online for a paltry $5 on Vimeo, and believe us when we say that in terms of cash-to-quality ratio, that's the biggest bargain you'll find this week. Especially given you'll probably want to watch it multiple times and show it off to your friends. There is also a very limited edition blu-ray of his work that will be available soon, but we're reluctant to tell you about it because he’s only producing a finite number of copies, and, frankly, we want them. Oh, all right. Here you go. But don't tell anyone else.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Tom Clift talking Don Hertzfeldt, will be released on the morning of November 30 (AEST).

Our Next Hyphenate: Tom Clift

Tom Clift
Film critic, arts journalist and November 2015 Hyphenate Tom Clift

Not many people know that the greatest natural threat to the podcast is the volcano.

We'll explain.

Some of you may have read our previous announcement for this month's episode (which has now been taken down), revealing our next guest/filmmaker combo to be Rebecca Harkins-Cross talking Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

What neither we nor Rebecca could have predicted would be a whole bunch of volcanic ash from East Java’s Mt Raung grounding planes in Bali and stranding anyone who wanted to fly out. Rebecca included.

This has left her without the weeks of prep time she'd hoped to have before recording her episode, not to mention the weeks’ worth of actual work that has backed up in her absence. So Bec had no choice but to  pull out of this month’s show, a decision we completely understood. (As an aside, this is the first time we’ve had a late cancellation since we started Hyphenates five-and-a-half years ago, which is pretty good when you think about it.) Fear not: both Bec and Fassbinder will be back on the show very soon!

So which guest has gallantly agreed to step into the breach with just over a week before the recording?

It's Melbourne arts journalist Tom Clift!

Tom is the co-founder and festivals editor of Movie Mezzanine, the reviewer of new release films for ABC radio's Overnights, and is a regular contributor to Concrete Playground, FilmInk, Film School Rejects and RogerEbert.com.

We've been chatting to Tom about guesting on the show for a very long time, and although we'd always hoped to give him much more notice than he's getting now, we are both delighted to finally have him on, and grateful for his willingness to jump in at the last minute.

So which filmmaker will Tom be talking to us about?

It's independent animator and award-winning director Don Hertzfeldt!
Directed by Don Hertzfeldt

If you've never heard of Herzfeldt, his 2000 animated short Rejected was nominated for an Oscar, he has won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Short Film twice (the only filmmaker to have done so), and the Austin Chronicle described his films as being among “the most influential and intellectually chewy examples of animation ever created”.

Not a bad resume for a director who hasn't hit 40 yet.

In addition to his many short films, Herzfeldt has only made one feature film so far - 2012's It's Such a Beautiful Day - which would normally put him out of the running given our five drink minimum, but we were swayed by a few factors: Herzfeldt is a truly exciting auteur, Tom is very keen to discuss his work, and, let's be honest, we only have a week to prep for this one. We like to think of it as the stars aligning in such a way to ensure that everybody wins.

But here's the question: how has Hertzfeldt, in such a short period of time, already been hailed as the future of animation? And what is it about his work that so appeals to Tom? Tune in to Hell Is For Hyphenates on November 30 to find out!

Don Hertzfeldt
Our next filmmaker of the month, Don Hertzfeldt