ACLU Staffers Go to the Movies (ep. 27)

December 20, 2018
mytubethumbplay
%3Ciframe%20width%3D%22100%25%22%20height%3D%22166px%22%20scrolling%3D%22no%22%20frameborder%3D%22no%22%20allow%3D%22autoplay%22%20thumb%3D%22sites%2Fall%2Fmodules%2Fcustom%2Faclu_podcast%2Fimages%2Fpodcast-at-liberty-click-wall-full.jpg%22%20play-icon%3D%22sites%2Fall%2Fmodules%2Fcustom%2Faclu_podcast%2Fimages%2Fpodcast-play-btn-full.png%22%20src%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Fw.soundcloud.com%2Fplayer%2F%3Furl%3Dhttps%253A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F547466688%26amp%3Bcolor%3D%2523000000%26amp%3Binverse%3Dfalse%26amp%3Bauto_play%3Dtrue%26amp%3Bhide_related%3Dtrue%26amp%3Bshow_comments%3Dfalse%26amp%3Bshow_user%3Dfalse%26amp%3Bshow_reposts%3Dfalse%26amp%3Bshow_teaser%3Dfalse%22%3E%3C%2Fiframe%3E
Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from soundcloud.com.

For our final episode of 2018, we're making a slight departure from our typical format. As we wind down the year and prepare to spend more time indoors, we've asked ACLU staff to give you their movie recommendations to make sure you're properly entertained this holiday season. Happy viewing, and we'll be back to regularly scheduled programming in 2019.

Download Audio File

LEE ROWLAND
[00:03] I'm Lee Rowland. From the ACLU. This is At Liberty: the podcast where we usually discuss the hottest topics in civil rights and civil liberties.

But this episode is literally a dramatic departure. We've asked ACLU staff to give you their movie recommendations for the holiday season. There were no rules, so the movies range from classics to new releases and they come from every genre. And we'll start, as perhaps all good lists should, with an epic and impassioned ode to Die Hard.

EUNICE RHO
My name is Eunice Rho and I've done a variety of things in the Voting Rights space and LGBT space. I now work in our development department. So, that's me.

LEE
What movie would you recommend that people check out?

EUNICE
Die Hard. It is an amazing movie and one of my favorite movies. And I have the zeal of the newly converted, because I didn't really actually watch all of it until like five years ago. And you know I'm a pop-culture-obsessive kind of a human being, but I immigrated in the late 80s so, like, I didn’t have time for Die Hard, man, I was trying to learn English. So I'm really glad I'm caught up because there are so many reasons why Die Hard is so great, right. It's, like, the action sequences and so many great one liners. And let's talk about Hans Gruber. Alan Rickman the God.

LEE
God, he's amazing.

EUNICE
He is smart. He's sophisticated. He's a classics major, I think, just like you. And one of my favorite things about Die Hard are the details. And one of the best details ever is when Hans Gruber enters the holiday party at the Nakatomi Corporation and he's trying to find the head of the office whose name is Joe Takagi. So here is Hans weaving his way through the crowd. Everyone's terrified, right, because he's, like, clearly a terrorist. And he is narrating the bio of Joe Takagi. He's like, you were born in Japan. You and your family emigrated to America.

ALAN RICKMAN (AS HANS GRUBER)
Interned at Manzanar 1942 to 43.

EUNICE
That is an amazing detail to drop into this like big Hollywood blockbuster movie. Like, what! We as a country don't talk about history at all, but especially not the Japanese internment.

LEE
Yeah. No kidding. T

EUNICE
And to have that kind of throwaway line about the Japanese American experience embedded into this sort of like, you know, throwaway narrative — genius.

JOSH BELL
My name is Josh Bell. I am a senior communications strategist and I work on national security, free speech and privacy issues helping get our messages out into the world.

LEE
[02:50] Do you have a movie recommendation for our podcast listeners?

JOSH
Yes. My favorite movie of all time is Rear Window, which is an Alfred Hitchcock film from 1954. And in a nutshell, Jimmy Stewart plays a photojournalist who breaks his leg and he has to sit in a wheelchair in his apartment in New York and look out the window at everyone else's lives.

TRAILER
This is the apartment of a man named Jeffrey. He's been watching the people across the way. He knows a lot about them by now. Too much, perhaps.

JOSH
In this movie, the protagonist is stuck in a chair looking into other people's lives through a camera. There is a moment in the movie where someone sees him and looks back through the camera at him and I felt like this person in the movie was looking out of the screen and saw me — like, my whole body shook. I thought, I can't believe this is happening. And that's how deep this movie takes you into the experience of these characters.

ANTHONY ROMERO
I'm Anthony Romero, the National Director of the ACLU.

LEE
And what does that mean? What do you nationally direct?

ANTHONY
I am the CEO of this great big organization all across the country. We defend the rights of everybody.

LEE
Can you suggest a film or films?

ANTHONY
Three films that are playing now....

LEE
Oh great.

ANTHONY
...that might be up for the Oscars. If I were a member of the Academy,

LEE
OK.

ANTHONY
this is who I would…

LEE
Is this you pitch to become a member of the Academy?

ANTHONY
No but this is... Let's see if anyone hears it who is a member of the Academy who can swing their vote. So: The Hate U Give. Oh my God. Definitely must see! By George Tillman, written by a woman, Audrey Wells. It's an amazing movie about the moment around the police brutality on the African-American community. But it's so nuanced it's kind of compelling stories of cops who are trying. It's got the complexity of African-American kids who are going to predominantly white prep schools and the class, race dynamics. It's just really well done. It’s good Hollywood. It's good entertainment. It's all about the narrative. So definitely I would, I would encourage people to go see that one.

All right then a film that is three hours and nine minutes long but you won't feel like it’s…

LEE
A light trifle.

ANTHONY
[05:09] — a light, just a small little investment of time, and it will clip, it will so clip for you — is Never Look Away. This film is about the life of Gerhard Richter — the great painter, the great post-war modern painter. And it tells, it's a love story and it's set in the context of World War II. It is an amazing film that will feel like the quickest three hours and nine minutes of your life.

Then the other one day I think is also going to probably be nominated for foreign film in the Academy Awards would be Roma. It's a story about — for me, it's a story about gender and women breaking the bonds of kind of a macho culture. It's just fantastic. So these are three films that will not, not make you think of Donald Trump or civil liberties but that's part of the reason why we go to the movies — the great escape! Grab a popcorn soda whatever you want. Snuggle up next to your loved one. And just really enjoy the beauty and the love of life.

LEE
Anthony thank you so much.

ANTHONY
My pleasure.

SHADAY FERMIN
My name is Shaday Fermin. I'm a legal assistant for the Reproductive Freedom Project.

LEE
Do you have a movie to recommend?

SHADAY
Oh hands down it's definitely Moulin Rouge. It's my non-guilty-I'm-very-proud-of-it pleasure.

LEE
Does that mean this is on regular rotation?

SHADAY
Every year I watch it on the list with Forrest Gump and, I think, I am Sam. I like spectacular movies like the Baz Luhrman theme and like that whole aesthetic is my aesthetic, at least inside my soul. There's something beautiful about the way that he uses music.

[MUSIC]

SHADAY
A big theme that he does in his films is celebrating underground culture and making it as glam as possible. And he does it throughout, from Romeo and Juliet to Moulin Rouge. And his last project that I can remember is the Boogie Down, which I wish that Netflix didn't discontinue because I'm a boogie down Bronx Dominican. It's not just a story about love, which... Everyone's like you know the biggest phrase of it is like, “love is like oxygen.”

EWAN MCGREGOR (AS CHRISTIAN)
[07:25] Love is a many splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!

SHADAY
It's also about who gets to have their stages, and making open spaces. The celebration of space is so dear to me and having music that's all really great quality of music and just all ballads is just the best.

ORION DANJUMA
My name is Orion Danjuma and I am a staff attorney at the ACLU. I work on racial justice economic justice and voting rights issues. The movie that I'd like to recommend is Moolaadé, which is by the Senegalese director is Ousmane Sembène. And it's essentially about a small village in Burkina Faso where four young girls flee because they're afraid of this practice of female circumcision —they're afraid they may die if they undergo this practice. And they flee to the house of this outspoken opinionated woman who agrees to protect them.

LEE
Awesome.

ORION
What's beautiful about it to me is, like, I left this movie like when I saw it in the mid 2000s sort of crying with joy because I felt like it was one of the most articulate ways to describe how a community can wrestle with injustice and inequality and find ways to correct some of the deepest problems by looking at their own traditions. So that is... I think it is a beautiful movie. It's beautifully shot by this extraordinary director who, I think was he was in his 80s when he filmed this movie. And the acting is like by village actors there's a truth to that performance that rings like a bell in a way that you really would never see in a Hollywood film.

D’ANGELO CAMERON
Hi my name is D'Angelo Cameron. I work in digital campaigns here at the ACLU.

LEE
Do you have a recommendation for our audience of a movie they should check out?

D’ANGELO
Absolutely. So one movie that I think would be perfect for folks to check out this winter during in the holiday season is Spirited Away. It is a animated movie directed by acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. Folks may have heard of studio Ghibli before — they've made wonderful works like Princess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro. Spirited Away I just think is a beautiful movie, from its animation to its story. It's a movie about a young girl who actually is spirited away to a Japanese-style sort of wonderland, where there are all these different Japanese spirits. And she has to find her way back home but make new friends and appreciate the family and friends that she already has.

LEE
And it's visually stunning.

D’ANGELO
So beautiful.

LOUISE MELLING
[10:05]I'm Louise Melling, I'm an old timer at the ACLU I've been here forever and I am the Deputy Legal Director.

LEE
What movie would you recommend that our listeners check out this holiday season?

LOUISE
I just have to say I find it infinitely amusing that you're asking me about movies because all my friends remember that for one of my birthdays I made them go see The Saltmen of Tibet. So that's my caveat going into this…

LEE
A raucous party movie, I assume.

LOUISE
I had a great time. But I'm going to urge folks to go see Incredibles 2. A superhero that's a girl, that's a woman. I really want superpowers. Everyday I want them. And it's a story of people coming together to fight the forces of evil and to bring good. And that's how I see what we're doing.

LEE
So assuming you'll be our female superhero leader of this clan, what one superpower would you choose?

LOUISE
The power to end gerrymandering?

LEE
Ok I love it.

BEN WIZNER
I'm Ben Wizner. I lead the ACLU’s work on free speech and digital privacy.

LEE
Do you have a movie recommendation that people should really check out this winter?

BEN
I do. I think people who know me will be surprised that I am not recommending The Big Lebowski.

LEE
Indeed.

BEN
Especially since, as a free speech advocate, I treasure the line from John Goodman:

JOHN GOODMAN (AS WALTER SOBCHAK)
For your information the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint.

LEE
Great line.

BEN
But the movie that I am going to recommend is celebrating its 25th anniversary and it's the Richard Linklater high school classic, Dazed and Confused.

LEE
All right, all right, all right.

BEN
Yeah, a lot of people will think of this as just your typical high school stoner comedy.

LEE
Oh, it’s better than that.

BEN
Yes! It's set on the last day of school in 1976 — our centennial year, right in the wake of the Vietnam debacle. And this is really a film about patriotism and conformity and independence. At the center of Dazed and Confused aiss the drama over whether our hero, Randall ‘Pink’ Floyd who is the star quarterback for a Texas high school football team, will sign a pledge — required by his coach — to forsake drugs and alcohol during the football season. And throughout the two hours of the film, his teammates are coming after him, putting subtle pressure on him, saying, “Don't worry about it, just sign the damn thing. It's too important for the team.” And at the very end of the film, in the denouement, he crumples it up and says:

JASON LONDON (AS RANDALL ‘PINK’ FLOYD)
[12:41] I might play ball, but I will never sign that.

BEN
You know to me this is the paradigmatic coming of age story. It is a political movie masquerading as just a fun high school party movie. I recommend it.

EUNICE
Oh yeah! I forgot to mention a Korean movie called Peppermint Candy that came out in the late 90s. The opening sequence is a man who commits suicide by throwing himself in front of a train. So you're looking at me like hello, this is supposed to be a holiday movie? So I'll explain. What the movie does is it opens with this terrible scene of this man. And then it goes through the events of his life in reverse chronological order that caused him to make this choice. It's like peeling the layers of an onion to get to the core of who this person is, right. And so the movie is just such an amazing exploration of the accumulation of trauma — what happens when things are left unsaid and those fester and then they affect your relationships. And you know, I really examine my own family history as a result of watching this movie and of course the country that I left some 30 years ago. And then tying back to the holidays. Why is it a holiday movie? It's the end of the year. You get reflective. Some of you’re probably writing resolutions...maybe you're not. Maybe you're trying to avoid your family, maybe you're surrounded by family. Whatever your station in life, it is that kind of period of time. And I think that's why this movie, Peppermint Candy, is an appropriate holiday film.

LEE
[14:2] This is Lee again. I want to make my recommendation on the way out. Hands down my favorite movie of 2018 was Sorry To Bother You. I will tell you nothing about the plot because discovering it is definitely one of the movie's great joys, but it is about race, and class, and capitalism and unions. It's a really great union movie! And it's completely surreal. It is bizarre, and profane, and bewildering and just a radical amount of fun. And it stars — among its amazing cast — the great Tessa Thompson, who I think is unchallenged for the title of the artistic muse of 2018. So definitely see Sorry To Bother You. You will not be bored. That is my promise to you, and I know I can keep it.

And with that, we've wrapped up At Liberty's movie recommendation list. We'll be back in 2019 with all new episodes, so make sure you’re subscribed to the show so you hear when they come out. Thank you so much for listening, and we hope you catch some great movies this winter.

EUNICE
The vulnerability of the John McClane character, of course, is like…. he doesn't have shoes on the entire time.

LEE
I know!

EUNICE
And you don't get John Cusack on Con Air in sandals without John McClane in his bare feet. There's a straight trajectory.

LEE
That's fabulous.

EUNICE
I'm going to 100 percent stick to that theory. Just letting you all know.

LEE
Can we just do an episode of Eunice talking about Die Hard? Because this is extremely my jam.

Stay Informed