Payday May continues on You Love to See It, although this week we’re flipping the script on those sweet Hollywood paychecks to show how different the game is for people of color — especially women of color. So, we decided to focus on one actress who has been a leader in the fight against those pay disparities: the incomparable Viola Davis in 2018’s Widows.
Having been extremely vocal about her own experiences in the acting world across various mediums, Davis proved that she could be the lead in Steve McQueen’s gritty crime drama with a cast of other actresses who all put on stellar performances that go toe-to-toe with the all-time greats. But does Widows have what it takes to sit on the Staff Picks shelf? Or is it doomed to live amongst the mediocre middle aisle or worse, the dreaded dumpster out back where not only is everything in there fungible, it’s probably got some new kinda fungus growing inside too.
[00:00:00] Viola Davis: I got the Oscar, I got the Emmy, I got the two Tony’s. I’ve done Broadway, I’ve done off-Broadway, I’ve done TV, I’ve done film. I’ve done all of it. I have a career that’s probably comparable to Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Sigourney Weaver. They all came out of Yale. They came out of Juilliard. They came out of NYU.
They had the same path as me and yet I am nowhere near them. Not as far as money, not as far as job opportunities. Nowhere close to it. But I have to get on that phone and people say “you’re a black Meryl Streep.” (audience laughter) “There is no one like you.” Okay. Then if there’s no one like me, you think I’m that; you pay me what I’m worth. You give me what I’m worth! (audience cheers on the verge of getting out of their mf seats. At least that’s how I picture it.)
EXT. FANBYTE CITY – EVENING
Some very chill 80s-inspired music plays as we slowly move from an extreme wide shot of the sun setting on the city into a quiet main street revealing the You Love to See It store, complete with two cardboard cutouts of Viola Davis and Michelle Rodriguez doing the Predator handshake in the window.
Through that same window, a view of the carpeted store inside emerges. Shelves line the walls and form aisles full of bright red VHS tape covers.
INT. YOU LOVE TO SEE IT STORE – CONTINUOUS
Fernanda, store uniform rolled up to accentuate her cool tattoos, sits on the counter while Danielle, in the perfect combo of workout gear and her store uniform, sits next to her showing her a Lets Play of Hitman 3.
You walk through the front door and the bells chime, they both look over at you.
[00:01:01] Danielle: Oh, hi there. And welcome to You Love to See It. Fanbyte’s movie review podcast. Every month we pick a theme and every week we watch a movie and then we decide where it belongs in our delightful neighborhood video store. If it’s a high level professional job and it makes its way onto our staff pick shelf, if it’s no, great alderman, but it’s no slouch either.
And thus earns a spot in our totally acceptable middle aisle. Or if it’s nothing but a shitty good-for-nothing dude, and needs to hang out in our dreaded dumpster where nothing has ever smelled okay, ever. Not even a little bit. Working the counter here today, we have yours truly: Danielle “I wish I was 6’3″” Riendeau. That’s me. (Fernanda laughs in above-average height) And I also have my incredible partner in crime here:
(I think it’s fair to say) Fernanda “You need to watch how you talk to me” Prates. How are you today, Fernanda?
[00:01:52] Fernanda: I’m doing good? I’m also not 6’3″, which is disappointing, but making it work. Making it work.
[00:02:01] Danielle: Making it work! We’re all making it work here today. (Fernanda laughs) We’re doing our best, that’s kind of what’s going on.
And of course this month is Payday May May. And I’m going to tell you, we do have a little bit of a twist on Payday May May,, but here’s our usual Payday May May intro. I’m going to read it for you anyway, where we are watching movies, where an actor infamously got a massive paycheck from a movie, according to Hollywood legend and or the reporting we could find on the subject. So that’s a lot of movies about big budgets, big egos, big bold spectacles, all the way about Payday May May.
Now, however, this week we are watching Widows, which is a very intense thriller about a bunch of women who were widowed by their con man husbands featuring Viola Davis and the central role with some other really incredible performances. So I’m going to shout out Michelle Rodriguez and Daniel Kaluuya right now.
Just a huge ensemble of excellent actors, but really this is kind of Viola Davis’s show and we chose it for her for the very deliberate purpose during Payday May to highlight that actresses of color routinely get paid so much less than white women and so much less than white men, even for something that is like an incredible, amazing, just absolutely groundbreaking performance.
Like we have here. So instead of Payday May, this is Should Be Payday May, so that’s what we’re doing this week. And Fernanda, I don’t know if you want to talk a little bit about how you found this one, just in the intro here, just because I know this was your research that kind of led us to Viola here- to Viola Davis.
[00:03:30] Fernanda: Yeah. So, we had this thought, I believe it was Paul who suggested it last week that we switch it up a bit because we were actually talking like, oh, maybe we should, we had two white dudes kicking off the month and maybe we should switch it up a bit and see if we can find a woman and not just a woman, maybe a woman of color.
And then. And we realized that we don’t really have that many examples of women of color who got paid massive paychecks for a movie or a performance. And then we decided, okay, let’s switch it up. And I thought it would be- I was trying to find actually an example of a movie that had like just an egregious example of being underpaid- of a woman being underpaid, especially compared to their male counterparts.
And that turned out to be actually a very difficult task. First of all, because it’s not that easy to know exactly how much a star got paid for a movie. But yeah, like all the rankings and posts that I found like, oh, these Hollywood women- like women who are severely underpaid women who are scandalously underpaid compared to all of those lists were 98% white women.
And when there were women of color, I found mostly TV. I think the two biggest examples were Tracee Ellis Ross from Blackish and Arden Cho for, I believe Teen Wolf and I believe she actually quit the show over a pay dispute, but yeah, like it, so it was very hard to actually find one example.
And the one big example I kept running into was, interestingly enough, connected to a white woman, which was Octavia Spencer. After having a conversation with Jessica Chastain finding out that she was getting paid, like at least five times less- an actual Oscar winner- should be getting paid.
And Jessica Chastain started really campaigning for Octavia and like putting her money where her mouth was. And I believe she took a pay cut. I don’t, there was a story about a movie they were supposed to do together. I don’t know if that actually even happened. But yeah, so even that whole thing was connected to Jessica Chastain in a way even Octavia Spencer talked about how amazed she was at Jessica Chastain really stood up for her in that way.
But yeah, there was Taraji P Henson getting paid a very little for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But she was like earlier on in her career, especially compared to Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and the one interview I found with her talking about it.
She was like, “ah, I’m not complaining. Like I was at a different stage of my career-” something like that. Yeah. So it ended up being very hard. And I think a lot of it, like what I try to think about it was like, why is it so hard? Why are we so quick to be scandalized by Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams getting paid less than Christian Bale and I think it was Bradley Cooper in American Hustle.
Why do we have that Michelle Williams getting- her case was bizarre. She got paid so much less than Mark Walberg for All the Money in the World and- for the movie and for the reshoots that the movie required. Why are we so scandalized by all of that, and there we are not running into all these other examples?
I’m sure they’re out there because if you look at the list of highest earning actors in Hollywood, first of all, you’re not going to see many women there, but you’re certainly not going to see many women of color. I think the most recent one, saw Zoe Saldana in one list out there. Which makes sense because she is in several very high grossing franchises, but yeah-
All of this is to say, how do we get to a Widows and Viola Davis? It was because Viola has been a very big voice against the pay gap. And she’s spoken up about the lack of opportunity for not only women of color, but women of color of a certain age and the difficulties of getting roles that don’t fit into certain, very narrow stereotypes, like fully fleshed out legitimately interesting characters. I like the one that she got for instance in How To Get Away With Murder, which I fucking hate. (they both laugh) Not gonna lie. I hate that show with every fiber of my being, but I don’t want to understand what she’s saying when she talks about Annalise Keating, being a more complex character than the ones that she’d had the opportunity to have in her career and many women in her position. And we’ll, I’m sure, talk a lot more about her and some of her stances and some of the amazing things she has said publicly, but yeah, so we landed on her.
And then we decided to go with Widows together. I suggest the Widows because I hadn’t seen it. It’s a more recent movie. Neither of us had watched it, so we ended up landing on it, but that’s how we ended up with this movie and with Viola who has been an amazing voice for women of color in Hollywood.
[00:08:33] Danielle: Yeah, absolutely.
And normally we don’t go, in-depth in the intro about like how we selected a movie necessarily, but I think it was worth it this time because it was like, we wanted to do something a little bit different this week and Fernanda as always, thank you so much for doing so much research and looking into things and, just doing your homework so well, I really appreciate it.
[00:08:51] Fernanda: It could be that there are several examples and I’m just bad at Googling in which case, friends on the Discord feel free, (Danielle: “Just let us know, ya know?” laughs) but I did try several different searches and kept coming across the same freaking list over and over it. But yeah, it was an interesting exercise and it got me thinking about a lot.
[00:09:12] Danielle: Yeah, absolutely. And I appreciate that you did it. And also that we’re talking about this movie that I’m so excited to dive into with you here,
Setting the Scene
[00:10:03] Danielle: And of course, we’re going to start out here in our first segment, our first proper segment, called Setting the Scene where we introduced the movie at hand and we have a little bit of a spoiler free chat about it and our sort of history with it. But I’m going to give you just a little quick synopsis and then we’ll get back into sort of, oh, what our history is with the movie.
So here’s what I wrote. I said: Widows is a thriller that starts with a gang of crime dudes? I don’t know how, I don’t know, a gang of crime dudes,
[00:10:29] Fernanda: They’re crime dudes. We’re not here for the dudes. (laughs)
[00:10:32] Danielle: We got crime dudes in Chicago, they kinda got screwed on a job and they all die. Like a job goes bad, they all die.
And then the movie focuses on their wives left behind and the messes that the shitty and listen, the only spoiler I’ll say, they’re all shitty dudes, they’re all bad men. (Fernanda laughs) They’re all bad dudes, all shitty guys- left for these women, the kind of messes that they left for these women, their struggles, and these women- their plan to do something about it.
And it is all set against the backdrop of a, like really intense and ugly political fight in a hotly contested alderman election in an impoverished ward in Chicago with some pretty intense racial and class politics that are playing out in a lot of ways in the film. And I would say in some pretty cool ways, some pretty interesting ways that’s put together, but that’s what this movie is.
And Fernanda, it sounds like you haven’t seen it before, but did you have any history with it? Did you know anything about it? Did you have any feelings about it before we went into it?
[00:11:27] Fernanda: Not really. Like the only thing was when I suggested it out loud and we were still discussing the group. Cause we could have watched Shape of Water and stuff.
, my husband was like: “oh, I love this movie! You gotta watch it and you’re gonna love it.” And then I started just reading the cast and I’m like, how- literally everybody’s in this. Robert fucking Duvall is in this movie. (Danielle laughs: “Sure is!”)
That’s literally Robert Duvall, which reminded me of The Masked Singer when Nicole Scherzinger saw Rudy Giuliani and was like “Is that Robert Duvall?” but I digress.
(They both laugh. Somewhere, Giuliani’s scalp leaks.)
[00:12:11] Fernanda: That happened. Yeah.
[00:12:12] Danielle: I am screaming. That is amazing. (Fernanda laughs)
[00:12:17] Fernanda: It was me with the literal Robert Duvall. When you have Colin Farrell, Paper Boi from Atlanta (who will forever be Paper Boi), Daniel Kaluuya. I had totally forgotten. I had seen the trailer, but I had forgotten that Michelle Rodriguez was in it. And I will go ahead and just assume we are a Michelle Rodriguez-friendly show.
[00:12:36] Danielle: Oh absolutely. Absolutely I’m a big fan. I’m actually a big fan where I’m not even just friendly. I like- generally I’m not saying everything she’s ever done is perfect at all, by any means. (Fernanda laughs) Listen, let’s be clear. Nothing. Everything is perfect, but I like her in general. Okay. So just putting that out there.
[00:12:56] Fernanda: She’s just perfect and amazing. We’ve established our fandom in the blue crush, but it was nice to to see her again. And she was actually shitty in Blue Crush. Remember? And we’re like, no, whatever. She can do whatever she wants. She’s Michelle Rodriguez so we’ll allow it.
So that’s pretty much it. I just remember I saw the trailer like in the movies once and thought, oh wow. That’s like a good cast. And Liam Neeson of course. And the Punisher whose name I forgot, but who-
[00:13:26] Danielle: John Bernthal or am I thinking of someone else and I put him in? I could be wrong. I think it’s John Bernthal.
[00:13:34] Fernanda: Yeah, it’s him.
[00:13:35] Danielle: Okay. Thank you. Our producer, Paul, is confirming.
[00:13:38] Fernanda: I keep forgetting his name every time I just call him the Punisher. (Danielle laughs)
I am terrible with names. I just go by characters. So there are worse things to be remembered as, but yeah, so I really had no ties with the movie, just really reading the cast- and then watching it after reading the cast list, I was still surprised. Like people kept appearing. I’m like, oh, Daniel Kaluuya is in this, literally I just read that 10 minutes ago, but just seeing it yeah, just a very interesting star studded movie that we’ll talk about in detail shortly, but I’m now regretting not having watched it before, but I am glad that I got to watch it to discuss it with you because I feel like there’s a rich text.
[00:14:25] Danielle: Yeah, I absolutely agree. I had never seen it before either. So this is both of our first times watching it. And I went in pretty fresh, like to be honest- you had proposed this. I just started, took a look at some screens and some light and a little bit of the cast list.
I was like, I’m in, let’s do it. And so yeah, just went in fresh, not knowing a damn thing. And the one thing I’ll say before we get into it is that it’s so weird to watch movies that are from the sort of modern era, but pre-pandemic, like 2017 to 2020 movies are the weirdest fucking thing to watch right now because it’s like, all right, everybody has the right phone and everything where it doesn’t feel like it’s from a long time ago. (Fernanda laughs)
I’m making such a- I don’t know if it’s 2017, but tell me if this is crazy, but it is weird to be like, oh, there was a world before this and it wasn’t that long ago. And holy shit. Yeah. This is like a 2018 movie. So it’s very much oh, it’s modern in all of its sensibilities and all the things that are happening, but pre-pandemic, which means it’s from 4,000 years ago.
So pretty wild thing. And yeah, I think it will be no surprise to say I’m pretty high on this movie. I think it’s a very well done piece, but we’re going to get into that and we’re about to go into our spoiler filled section here. It’s going to be the Stripping It Down section and this is where we’re going to have lots of spoilers.
We’re going to talk about all kinds of things. I might want to just put a content warning here as well. We might be talking about domestic abuse, some racism, some sexism and just overall violence. So just putting that one out there, a content warning for these things.
[00:16:16] Danielle: Okay. So this movie Fernanda, it’s working on a lot of levels here, right? Like I feel like first of all, it’s like a really good thriller, I think a very good thriller that kind of starts with a bang. It actually starts with a bite which I thought was like, oh, is this because of the gray, which is a Liam Neeson movie where he has to fight off wolves, it’s actually a pretty good movie. (laughs)
Believe it or not. But I was like, oh, are we doing that?
[00:16:39] Fernanda: Honestly I’m like Liam Neeson fighting wolves? Sure. Why not? (laughs)
[00:16:43] Danielle: It’s honestly, legit, like a really depressing movie, but it’s pretty decent. It’s- I dunno. I want to say it’s 2005 or six. Like it’s not from 200 years ago. And it’s like a pretty good actually really scary thriller where he’s in a plane crash in Alaska.
Like he works on the pipeline and he, and a bunch of his buddies have to just try to survive and they’re in like Wolf country and they get eaten by wolves. It’s pretty wild. Anyway…
[00:17:05] Fernanda: Oh my god. Sold. We have to pause this show now and go watch this. (Danielle laughs) I’m so sold on this entire premise.
[00:17:13] Danielle: If I’m not like completely remembering incorrectly, it’s pretty fucking good.
And I actually really like it, but yeah, anyway, a completely different movie because this is a movie about dudes being shitty and women doing their thing. (Fernanda laughs) That’s the thesis of this movie that, and also politics are bad. I think these are the two kinds of things that are happening here. And in the middle of it all, we have Viola Davis as a widow, who is someone who is grieving about the loss of her son that we see in the movie and the loss of her husband that she loves so very much.
And then big spoiler time. Oh, he actually faked his own death and he’s a piece of shit. So like it’s all just bad things are happening to Viola Davis, like- that’s all. (They both laugh)
[00:17:56] Fernanda: This is a person who did not catch a single break throughout this movie, except that her dog remained- spoiler alert- the dog did not die. Cause that’s what I was fearing the entire time.
[00:18:08] Danielle: Same, I was like, oh no, Olivia, oh, no, Oh, Olivia!
[00:18:13] Fernanda: Do not dare. Do not dare. Hasn’t she been through enough? Let us keep the dog. That was like me the entire time.
[00:18:22] Danielle: A hundred percent. And like also, the tone of this movie is pretty fucking serious. This is like a very intense thriller. It’s two hours and nine minutes long.
And it’s intense for pretty much the whole thing, but the dog did bring some humor that was much needed. (laughs) There’s just like a few moments of levity in this movie. And most of them revolve around Olivia.
[00:18:43] Fernanda: Having a human name helped.
[00:18:44] Danielle: Olivia. And she’s like a little poof, like she’s a tiny poof.
[00:18:48] Fernanda: This white little fluffy thing and it is hilarious and you’re like just serious-
“Olivia come here.” If it was like, I don’t know, Mrs. Puffy Legs, like you wouldn’t have the same effect. You need it to be a human name. (Danielle laughs)
[00:19:01] Danielle: I mean has great presence. Olivia is wonderful, but yeah it’s a pretty intense, pretty serious movie and it starts right out with a lot of serious shit happening.
We see the sort of heist gone wrong- whatever the job gone wrong. We see these guys dying and we also, but we also see these little introductions of these women with their husbands and they’re all assholes. One is a straight up abuser. Like he abused-
[00:19:22] Fernanda: The Punisher.
[00:19:24] Danielle: Yeah. John Bernthal. The Punisher character is a straight up abusive pile of shit. So I didn’t mind when he got shot. Sorry. Sorry, not sorry. (Fernanda laughs)
[00:19:33] Fernanda: I literally said the same thing, watching the movie, because obviously I knew they would all die like that’s the literal name of the movie. (Danielle laughs)
So you know what’s coming, but the minute they opened the scene and she had the black eye and he’s like “Hide that. It makes me feel bad looking at it.” I’m like, you know what? I know you’re going to die and I’m happy you piece of shit.
[00:19:53] Danielle: It’s like ahh, no problem. That’s cool. Yeah, exactly.
[00:19:56] Fernanda: Punisher like, we’ve come- this is a departure from your hero background, Mr. Punisher man.
[00:20:04] Danielle: Mr. Punisher. And we also see Carlos, who is Linda’s husband. And he clearly is a piece of crap because he’s just like wasting the family’s money. And like she has her own business and she is trying to be independent, but he just sucks and is sucking away the money.
And we see that she is treated very badly as well by her mother-in-law and it’s just she can’t get a fucking break either. And neither can her name Alicia in the movie? What am I thinking of the actress’s name?
[00:20:32] Fernanda: Oh, the blonde one is Alice.
[00:20:33] Danielle: Alice. And Alice is literally abused by her husband and her mother.
And these women can’t get a fucking break. There’s also Belle who we will meet a little bit later on. I guess I’m just introducing the players here a little bit, but it seems like in such a giant ensemble, maybe it’s okay to do there’s Belle who is like my second favorite character who I loved so much, who is, I think a young queer woman.
I think it’s implied that she has a partner-
[00:20:57] Fernanda: And she’s buff as fuck.
[00:20:58] Danielle: Buff as fuck and runs between her jobs. She has like multiple jobs and is always hustling to provide for, I think her partner and her daughter and literally runs places. That’s how she goes from place to place is like she’s running and boxing and super buff.
And this is how she’s coping with the world. So I just really liked her. She was great. We also have the shitty dudes when we talk about the shitty crime dudes. There’s also-
[00:21:20] Fernanda: Shitty politics dudes.
[00:21:22] Danielle: Yeah, shitty politics dudes. The horrible white shitty politics dudes are a hyper racist Robert Duvall-
Not him himself. Sorry. His name is like John Mulligan or something in the movie. I don’t want to say Robert Duvall’s a horrible racist. (Fernanda laughs) That’s a mean thing to say about a real person. The character he plays is like a horrific racist which is something I actually do want to talk about for sure. Cause it is something that I have, like I’m of two minds about when it comes up in a movie like this, but yeah. Which is, he’s like a shitty, horrific racist who was famous for like, oh, being a good union guy and like being on the side of progress and all this horrible shit where it’s just complete bullshit.
Like he basically thinks he always has the black vote and acts like it and is a horrific racist, like in every way. And it’s just so cynical the way he obviously counts on this vote, even though he’s an awful person and his shithead son who like, maybe is slightly less racist? I’m not sure.
It’s a fucking race to the bottom with racists, or it’s they’re all bad. I don’t know. He’s awful too. He’s a fucking horrible person who maybe has slightly better intentions, but maybe not. It doesn’t matter. They’re all bad. And that’s Colin Farrell. Who’s playing the son, Jack Mulligan who’s going for alderman. And there’s Jamal and Jatemme on the other side who are also- Jamal is running for the same position. He’s a Black dude.
[00:22:52] Fernanda: He’s Paper Boi.
[00:22:53] Danielle: He has a background. Yeah, it’s Paper Boi, it’s Paper Boi. And he has a background in running another crime syndicate basically.
And Jatemme, who’s Daniel Kaluuya, is his heavy, like his enforcer basically. And maybe the most terrifying person in this movie? I don’t know. Also, the horrible old man is also terrifying, so I don’t want to like, yeah, but holy shit, this character is ice cold in the way he does violence- does a violence on people. (Fernanda: “Several violences.”) Oftentimes on like fairly vulnerable people and he does it in this way. And I know this is another thing we might want to talk about, but with this cadence of being playful and chill and charming, and he’s obviously such a handsome dude, he’s very good looking too. Like he just is right. And then boom, like will murder someone or hurt someone.
He’s just like this-
[00:23:47] Fernanda: He looks like he’ll shoot you. But Robert Duvall looks like he’ll use his old man strength and strangle you while looking you in the eye.
They’re both scary in very different ways. So yes. And Daniel Kaluuya- I’m like, this is an actor with range because I’m so used to thinking of him like a chill dude. He, to me, just screams boyfriend material.
[00:24:08] Danielle: Yes, absolutely!
[00:24:10] Fernanda: He seems very like- the kind of guy that he has these kind eyes and you’re going to like, hang out and have one of those cute little montages at an amusement park.
And he’ll get you a big Teddy bear, like that’s, but he’ll also mock you, but in a very friendly and nice way just to have some humor. And he’ll like, mock, the way you shoot at things at the amusement park. And, or maybe I thought this maybe I thought about this a little too much (Danielle erupts into laughtere) Maybe. Who knows? Can’t confirm nor deny. But he does have that vibe normally.
And then he goes to this like stone cold sociopath. And he’s so convincing that it’s terrifyingly good acting. Like when I see convincing acting like this in such extremes, I’m like, yeah, This might be an actual sociopath. I don’t know, again, a big accusation to make about Daniel Kaluuya, who remains despite this movie, my imaginary boyfriend. Just saying.
[00:25:08] Danielle: Yeah. And Producer Paul also made a good point about you did make a Mariah Carey video there with Daniel, (Fernanda laughs: “Fantasy!”) which is pretty great. I’m pretty happy about it. Like I’m, I want to go there. That’s a pretty good place to go.
[00:25:20] Fernanda: Who doesn’t want to live in a fantasy video? Just saying. (laughs)
[00:25:24] Danielle: Yeah, it’s just the cloud. The only thing we can get rid of there is the clown, I guess that was a little- the clowns a lot. I guess. It’s fine.
[00:25:32] Fernanda: (laughs) I feel as a culture we’re like- we’re also looking back on clowns and assessing the need for them as a society.
(They both laugh)
[00:25:41] Danielle: That’s a really good point though. I’m there with you.
[00:25:46] Fernanda: I just saw the John Wayne Gacy documentary on Netflix. So I’m currently very biased against clowns at the current state of affairs. But yeah, Daniel Kaluuya is very convincing as the, I think he is actually Paper Boi’s brother.
[00:26:02] Danielle: Yeah he is.
[00:26:03] Fernanda: Yeah, and right-hand man and Paper Boi- like I started the movie kind of wanting to like him and then he tries to strangle Olivia, the dog.
[00:26:13] Danielle: Yeah. That’s when he loses me. (Fernanda laughs) Exactly. Like I don’t mind that you have a whole criminal connection, bro. It’s just- when you’re mean to the dog? That’s where I lost you, man. Yeah. (laughs)
[00:26:24] Fernanda: We’re drawing a line here.
[00:26:25] Danielle: Yeah that was my line. (laughs) The dog was my line!
[00:26:30] Fernanda: It’s such a millennial way of thinking, like I’m ok with watching all these murders unfold, but I don’t want to see a dog in distress.
Don’t you hurt that dog! (Fernanda laughs)
It is an amazing cast. Like I feel like everybody carries- even Amanda who appears for a second carries her weight by being a piece of shit, Amanda too in this movie.
[00:26:54] Danielle: Yeah. Amanda sucks. It’s really true. And yeah, it has a lot of implications there as well with what’s going on with the, the main grieving relationship. I want to talk about two big things in terms of the sort of structure of the movie. And I saw this happening with a lot of things.
There’s a lot of scenes that are mirrored, like early on, and then later on. So there’s a couple of scenes, there’s one with Viola Davis, very early on her name’s Veronica and the movie. I’ll probably try to call her Veronica- where Veronica is like just trying to get her shit together. She’s grieving.
We realize later on both her son and now her husband grieving, she’s sobbing, she’s choking on these sobs and she’s like trying to breathe and get through it. And she has this moment. I think it’s right before the funeral. And we just see her suffering and getting under control. And we see that again towards the very end of the movie.
When many horrible things have happened to her, she’s made this incredible plan. She’s been threatened. She’s learned that her husband that she thought was dead, fucking faked his own death ’cause he’s a pile of shit and like completely fucked over his crew. And now he’s going to go have a baby with fucking Amanda.
Like he’s going to go have his white family. That’s basically what it is. He’s a piece of shit. He hits Veronica and we have this moment where she’s able to shoot him and she does the same thing. She has this moment of breathing. Like she has a moment of breathing where she’s getting it under control.
She’s getting herself together. And then she’s able to frame him for- content warning, content warning, content warning- a death by suicide, and then literally drives off with explosions in the background, like a fucking bad-ass like, so we see this mirrored, this ‘I’m having the worst experience of my life and I breathe through it and I get through it and I do the thing.’
We also have a couple of scenes that really spoke to me with her and- why do I keep forgetting her name? It’s like she’s so tall I forget her name. Alice!
[00:28:44] Fernanda: Amazon lady who will be the leader of your lesbian commune.
[00:28:50] Danielle: Oh, a hundo! (they both laugh) Like she, she is definitely leading a lesbian commune after this movie.
That’s how I choose to believe that she lives her life. I’m not even joking. She and Veronica have a really intense- where they are antagonizing each other to an extent like really just not understanding each other, yelling at each other, slapping each other. And then they have an understanding, like a deep understanding and appreciation for each other.
And that’s also the final scene of the movie where they see each other across the restaurant and their lives are now separated. And then it ends on this moment of understanding, like, how are you doing like this beautiful moment? So this movie is very interested in symmetry, I think, and what’s going on between the scenes is very important.
And I also, I’m going to stop talking because this is something we both had in our notes. And I want to hear your perspective on it, but there are many scenes that are framed and shot in a particular way where it’s not necessarily traditional. You might be hearing one thing and seeing another thing that’s what’s going on.
And it’s not like an L cut or anything. It’s oh, you’re in the scene with the characters. You’re just not framed on the character. So there is one particular one that really struck me where it’s shitty. It’s a younger white politician, asshole talking to his assistant slash I guess girlfriend? I don’t know.
[00:30:05] Fernanda: Lover? Yeah, we don’t know. So that scene is interesting for several reasons. First of all, we only see this woman as his doormat. She doesn’t say anything. She seems like this assistant who just takes shit, who just runs around exactly like being the, putting out the fires around Jack Mulligan.
In this scene, that’s when we actually first hear her and she’s completely assertive, she’s swearing a lot. And she’s basically yelling to freaking Jack who’s I don’t know, cry me a river. I don’t want this for myself.
[00:30:41] Danielle: Also being racist!
[00:30:43] Fernanda: Also being racist of course.. So the whole- first of all, its approach to the visual aspect of the scene.
They get into a car, leaving a commitment and we don’t see them because the shot is just the side of the car going through the neighborhood. And I thought that was absolutely brilliant because it really gave weight to the words and to the dialogue in a way that we might not have- it could have just been the scene of two people in a car saying shit.
Which is fine too. But- it’s such a simple thing, but I was really impressed. I was like, this is really impactful to me for some reason, just having their voices and their dialogue and in this dialogue, yeah, we started with Jack Mulligan. We’ve established that his dad is truly racist.
Because they just- he just throws an N word they’re in a very horrible, like conversation, very casually. So like we’ve established that and in this scene he goes and asks what we thought was his assistant, but like we’re apparently saying something else. If she’s ever slept with a Black guy, and she’s just like, All this shit is happening and you’re worried about his dick being bigger than yours. (Danielle: “Right! Yeah.”) And if that is not the entire movie, if that is not discussing like the power dynamics of the movie, I actually found a very interesting reviewed on which I didn’t know, website pajiba.com and Roxanna Hadadi wrote a review called everyone in Widows is Kremmling for power and disrupting a classist and sexist status quo is the way to do it.
It’s a lot. I can’t read all of it, go there and read it. It’s actually a pretty good review. But – it does touch on the main theme that all these men and women are searching for power in their own way. And the richness to me is on how- what that power looks like for all these different people power for the Robert Duvall character is owning the city as he has for ages and now having his son own the city, right? Having this empire with his family and for Colin Farrell, Jack Mulligan, when he starts talking about how he doesn’t want this for himself it seems like he wants a different idea of power so it’s not that he wants to relinquish it.
He just doesn’t want all of the political attachments that come with it. And for the Michelle Rodriguez character, the power comes in having her own business and having a way to sustain her kids and with the Belle character as we’ve talked about, she is hustling and trying to provide for her daughter working as a babysitter in a salon.
But we also see her punching bags. We also see her physicality. So maybe that’s what power looks like to her. So this is all like to me, one of the most interesting aspects of the movie, because we have that from the point of view of what this power looks to women and men, but also from a racial perspective, right?
Because we have the speech when Paper Boi, sorry-
(Danielle and Fernanda laugh)
[00:33:41] Fernanda: in which he talks about, like his brother, psychopathic Daniel Kaluuya character, he talks like oh, we make a lot more than what you’re going to make in the salary. Doing whatever crime shit that we do. And then he talks about what? I don’t want this. I want what they have. So it’s –
[00:33:59] Danielle: He wants a piece of everything. That’s his thing, it’s like wanting to own a piece of everything. Not just have his like separate thing, basically.
[00:34:05] Fernanda: Yeah. Yeah. Because he doesn’t want their money to come from this. Their money comes from them being corrupt assholes who steal.
And that’s why when they can pull off the heist of stealing from the Robert Duvall character, because that’s ultimately the heist- like when the Liam Neeson character, we believe is dead, Harry when he dies, he leaves a notebook and Veronica finds it and she understands that there was a plan to steal these $5 million.
And it’s brilliant because these are, it’s like hush deviated money. So it’s not like you can go to the police and be like: “Hey, they stole this money from me. Totally legal money that I just happen to have in a safe in my house for no reason. Not that I’m hiding it from taxes or anything. Just chilling here.” (Danielle laughs)
I just thought it was cool to have a very high-tech safe, hiding this completely legitimate stuff. But yeah. All this to say, tying back to that small little scene that we were talking about, I just went on a tangent, but the scene, we have this woman also, and again, this is another a testament to like how interestingly the female characters were approached here.
Who seems like this personality-less doormat who takes shit from Jack, who takes shit from Jack’s dad who basically takes shit from everyone. She’s like behind Jack in this whole thing and being like, get your shit together. This is the home stretch. We need this.
And Jack being revealed- this guy who runs this entire fucking city- being revealed as this small and insecure, fucking fail son. And this is all conveyed in just words. While we see a car going through a neighborhood. To me it’s just brilliant. It just very much sets the tone. And after that scene, we again, don’t see the lady say anything like she is just back to the character.
It’s so freaking interesting. And the richness to me, like the main thing- I love the way that they chose to- because it’s a two hour and 10 [minute] movie. It’s not that long. I will admit when I saw it. I was like: “ugh, that’s so long.” (Danielle laughs: “I did the same thing!”)
But it doesn’t feel long. And they’re able to introduce all these types of women that I feel like- part of me wishes we had more time to dig into it, to go into their universes, but at the same time, I think you would have detracted from what the movie is actually about it from the pacing and the fact that it is ultimately an action thriller, but I love this.
I love that we have this little assistant- meek assistant lady who turns out to be like a fucking asshole, just like the guys that she was working for. And then we also have Alice’s mom who is abusive toward Alice. So it’s not like all women are amazing and great and girl power. They’re doing everything perfect.
It’s no- we also have this shitty woman who happens to be an abusive lady who had to learn how to live as a woman on her own terms too. So it’s very rich. All of it is rich. Yeah… Like today I’m thinking I woke up thinking about the movie and unpacking the things I didn’t think about while watching it and like it’s, it grew on me overnight.
[00:37:18] Danielle: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:37:19] Fernanda: If that makes any sense.
[00:37:20] Danielle: Absolutely. And I was- and I’ll say this, I was actually pretty worried ’cause I was enjoying this movie a lot. I was really drawn in pretty much right away. I was really enjoying the performances, really enjoying some of these tonal shifts that we have, again, this sort of Jatemme being like this asshole sociopath who likes to play with his prey a little bit, that kind of thing.
We have that. And then we have these women who are grieving and doing their best and almost doing like a kind of- I put this in my notes, but there’s a way in which this movie feels like a very dark Hustlers. VERY dark! A bunch of ladies who’ve been fucking screwed and treated like shit, who are taking it back for themselves.
And yes, they’re doing a bad thing in their own way. Maybe it’s not bad to steal from a piece of shit, so I’m not trying to say, oh, it’s the same thing as drugging the finance guys, not the same exact thing, but I’m just trying to make some parallels here in terms of, yeah.
A group of women, who’ve been treated like shit and they’re taking it back for themselves. Just a little bit of the same energy, but like wildly different tone. Obviously this is much darker. This is much, much deeper in terms of the politics of it. Not just the capital P Politics, but the lowercase P like the racial politics and the class politics that are going on here too.
But yeah, like a much darker version of something like that. And it’s also very much- I just wanted to say it’s very interesting in terms of the sort of class politics that are going on here too. It’s very clear that Viola’s character- that Veronica is like a very well off person, right?
Harry was the boss of the crime guys. (laughs) Whatever the fuck, right? He made the most money and she gets to have that a little bit. Whereas the other women are completely desperate. The minute their husbands are killed and they have to pay the debts of their shitty husbands, like immediately, basically.
And Alice has to become…
[00:39:08] Fernanda: An escort?
[00:39:10] Danielle: She becomes an escort to a very rich man who- we were saying this, like before we recorded this show and he’s a piece of shit too, but he’s maybe the least shitty guy, or I guess Bash is the least shitty guy who is a man who struggles with, it’s not really clear-
[00:39:26] Fernanda: Rest in peace, Bash.
[00:39:29] Danielle: Bash has had some sort of like a brain trauma or something. Like he clearly has to take a lot of medication. Something has happened to him in his life where he works for Harry and then he ends up working for Veronica. He does no evil, like bash is just a nice guy, but yeah.
There’s this really interesting tension there as well among the sort of like the women who are truly desperate right away. And then Veronica, who is desperate because she’s being threatened, but she’s not desperate in terms of oh, you’re gonna just lose everything and have to rely on whatever is around you, which is very much the idea of the cycle of poverty.
The only truly impoverished character is probably Belle. Who’s working, she’s working all these jobs and running between them and exhausted all the time just to make ends meet. And that’s also like a real vibe in this movie too. Like we’re talking around poverty a lot in this movie.
The movie is talking around poverty a lot. And the- actually the event that they’re going from in that car scene that we talked about is like, clearly like horseshit. “Oh, we’re empowering women of color! We give them so much money to make their independent businesses.” That’s what the shitty politicians are doing.
And yeah, the reality is they have to give all these kickbacks and it’s really fucked up. There’s a woman who owns the hair salon that Belle works in, who talks about this is like the best I can do. Kind of thing. Like where she’s just I’m doing my best to have my own business.
The bank won’t give me money. What am I supposed to do? So there’s like a real tension there between like how people are trying to make ends meet and how they are impoverished and who is preying on them and who is like feeding off of them, vampire style. These awful politicians.
[00:41:05] Fernanda: Absolutely. One thing I really liked was how Veronica assembles these women who did not know each other to pull off this heist. And I like that this is not bad-ass women doing it for themselves! (Danielle laughs: “Right!”) Like the typical narrative, because they don’t appear like I can absolutely do all this shit because I’m a bad-ass like these women are not confident that they can do this. Neither of them, Alice has a very interesting arc because a lot of it is her breaking out of the abuse. Like she has an abusive mother, she had an abusive husband and she’s letting herself be pushed around by Veronica up until she’s not letting herself be pushed around anymore.
She weaponizes her victimhood when she asks for a woman to help her at a gun show to purchase guns.
[00:42:00] Danielle: Yes. I love that scene. I love it so much.
[00:42:03] Fernanda: I love it. She puts on a Russian accent then pretends to be a mail order bride so that she can get the sympathy of this lady to help her get guns.
And you can see her character really develop from this, like “I’m dependent on people and on men to exist.” To her independence, but it’s not a very clear cut, pretty trajectory. And from a movie that has so much happening, and that is this short, when it comes to just like the time that they have to really explore these narratives, I felt like this was a very interesting little snippet.
Like it’s not all there. A lot of it, you have to think for yourself and imagine, but I like that this strength doesn’t look like (Danielle sarcastically: “Girl power!”) this stereotypical strength that we see in characters, like the ones that Michelle Rodriguez is used to playing. And that was interesting because I found an interview that Michelle gave- Michelle, my close personal friend (Danielle laughs: “Your bud.”) gave to Vanity Fair.
[00:42:59] Fernanda: And she said that she originally said no to the role because she didn’t want to play, and I quote, “A weak bitch.” She thought that her character is not traditionally the characters that we see her portraying, which have these super tough exterior’s right, who are just varied, the classic, the one woman cast among the guys to prove that women can be hard asses to, right?
That’s very much her branding in Hollywood. So she sees a character like the one that she has in the movie- whose name I completely forgot now, but, and she- Linda- and she doesn’t see that strength. And I thought it was very interesting because she talked about this idea of soft power and I’m going to quote from the interview because I thought it was very interesting. She said:
“‘… It was my ego, basically,’ Rodriguez said during a recent interview near her home in Venice, California. ‘My idea of strength is a demonstrative exaggeration of male qualities. Assertive, independent, always making the right decisions. Never letting anybody swindle you.’
‘I didn’t see the strength in these women. I was like, why would I want to play a weak bitch? Why would I want to play the reality of poverty in the ghetto? I grew up like that.'” And then in a separate little piece, she says “Rodriguez was certain, there was nothing McQueen could say to her, Steve McQueen the director, that would convince her to do this movie.”
“‘It’s called Widows. And you’re talking about female empowerment? The entire title is about a man.’ she said. But with Widows, McQueen said he wanted to put real women on screen. So he talked to Rodriguez about poverty and what female strength really looks like in the neighborhoods where it persists. ‘I had this big self-reflective moment.’ She said of the conversations. ‘I looked at myself and I saw the surface layer papier-mache creature with no dimension. And I said, I need to do this movie. It will help me see the beauty in my mother, the beauty of all those women that I felt sorry for growing up.'”
So this is very interesting. And she goes on to talk a little bit about the idea of soft power and the strength in these women who had to raise kids by themselves in these places where- these places, where machismo is through the roof and how she had to change her mindset, to see the strength in that instead of pitying that which had seen for herself.
And I thought that was very interesting. And I thought that really speaks to the whole theme of the movie. There was also a little Time review that I felt that they had a very good sort of little line about it, which they said: “…The women of Widows get things done. Not because they buy ‘you can do anything, bathroom mirror bromides, but because they don’t, they have to sell the idea of self-confidence to themselves, because that’s mostly how self-confidence works. It’s a self-renewing resource, not a fountain with an auto pump. That’s true not just for women though it often seems that men have an easier time latching onto the idea.”
And I was like, “Yes!”
(Danielle nodding furiously)
[00:45:50] Danielle: God. Yeah, honestly, I’m like nodding, you can’t see this because it’s radio obviously, but I’m like nodding along, yeah. Yeah. (Fernanda laughing: “I’m sorry.”) And I, no, you did great. These are amazing quotes. Thank you for finding them and for reading them. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also had much, much more of an appreciation for this, even though I’m like a fairly- I would call myself masculine-of-center woman. I also have gotten to appreciate that so much more as I’ve gone through life and stopped being sexist in my own way. Like having that sense of ‘glam, girly girls, whatever who cares!’ And doing that because of whatever reason in my own kind of background. So it’s yeah, absolutely. Fuck yeah. And it’s also wild, right? To think about- You know what her idea of power is versus other people who are hurting other people who are shitting out, other people who are like eating other people alive.
Her idea of power is just having her business and like providing for her family. Like this character’s idea, not Michelle Rodriguez, but Linda’s idea of being powerful is saying, I want my kids to know, she says this before the job “if it goes bad, I want my kids to know. I didn’t just sit there and take it.”
That’s fucking beautiful. And that is powerful. You know what she does with her money? She legitimately buys her business back and he’s going to now run it and now be a business woman and a mother, and be proud of herself for that. And that’s amazing. Like what these women do with their cut is incredible.
None of them are trying to run for alderman and fuck everybody else over and take a cut from everybody else and make everybody else pay. Protect. They’re doing their own thing. Like their power is being independent and not having to rely on a shitty ass man who beats them or uses the family money to gamble.
That’s what it is for them. It’s independence. It’s actually being able to have the resources to live independently and find their own kind of happiness, which, yeah, that’s amazing. Listen, I don’t like capitalism, so I guess that’s always the thing there. But it’s no, they’re not trying to participate in capitalism in this vampiric way.
They’re trying to just do their own thing and be themselves and get whatever happiness they can out of the world. Which is like that’s. Yeah. That’s what the thesis is.
[00:47:58] Fernanda: Because that’s true power right? Like a lot of the times. When we talk about, for instance, abusive relationships analysis represented in a violent way, but not necessarily as we know, abuse needs to be physical to be happening, but he also provided for her.
And a lot of the times when we see those real life dynamics and you’re like, I, yeah, capitalism sucks. Fuck this. I, this is a horrible system. That’s not working for everybody. And I wished this wasn’t our reality, but it is. And a lot of the times we see women stuck in cycles of abuse, because now there are no financial conditions to escape it.
So it is a very real thing. So as much as for me as a middle class left-leaning lady who didn’t have a day of like actual poverty in her life, it would be easy for me to just be like, ah, but then of the day, like they’re getting money, whatever oh, it’s just a male who needs a million dollars- it’s no, this is like what actual power looks like in the real world. And I like you as I grew up, I feel like that switched a little in my mind. As a teenager, it’s easier to look at like Alice from Resident Evil, right? (Danielle laughs) Like in her awesome dress and combat boots, like killing zombies and think, oh, this is the peak of female strength, this is a peak of just a woman being a bad-ass.
And then over the years, as I’ve come to learn that life is shitty and hard. I don’t have any children and some days I’m like, what am I going to do? I just want to crawl up in a bed and cry all day and not exist. And I can afford to do that because I have a comfortable existence and no kids. The more I live in this world and grow older, I look at a woman who has no support and who has to be strong for herself and for children.
And that to me is like the ultimate fucking bad-assery. And that is the toughest thing a person can do. Is to exist in a society that doesn’t want you to exist by yourself. As much as times are changing. And of course they are, things are better or, at least superficially better for women now than they were 20 years ago.
But it’s still to me, that really is the soft power to me is like the most enduring and the most impressive kind of power. So I absolutely understand Michelle Rodriguez and her reflection. And this interview is interesting because she also talks about her. Like she worked with an acting coach for this one, cause she was like, I don’t know how to be vulnerable.
I don’t know how to like play a role that isn’t me with a bunch of guys-
[00:50:30] Danielle: (laughs) I admire her, like fuckin’ hell yeah. I know we’re a michelle Rodriguez appreciation- at least, I guess she ain’t perfect. Nobody’s perfect. But still appreciation for Michelle. That’s awesome. (laughs) I love that- she’s like ” give me some help. Listen, I’m used to kicking everybody in the face. Give me a little help here.”
[00:50:48] Fernanda: No. The director McQueen said he didn’t ask her to do it and he didn’t think she needed the lessons or whatever.
And she was like, no maybe I should, I will just read this little quote from the interview. Cause I feel like we can all appreciate it. She talked about the difference of working in a set with women when she’s used to being like the lone girl amongst the dudes on set. “I’m officially board of men’s opinions about women.”
She’s said. (Danielle laughs) “Talk to me about science. Talk to me about physics. Talk to me about the economy, but do me a favor and shut the fuck up when it comes to women.” So… Yeah, Michelle. (laughs)
[00:51:25] Danielle: Again. She’s great. I love her. She’s great.
[00:51:28] Fernanda: She’s done some shit, but we’re going to have to-
[00:51:31] Danielle: Yeah, I know. I know. Like again, nobody’s perfect.
I know. I’m not going to try to say she’s perfect. It’s just, that’s a great quote. That’s a really good quote. (laughs) And I also, I just want to give the tiniest appreciation for how weird this movie is allowed to be. (Fernanda laughs) Like this movie gets pretty fucking weird sometimes, and we’ve touched on like the tiny little- it’s an intense movie.
It goes to some incredibly dark places. It goes through some really hard places. And it does have that touch of humor sometimes. But like that scene where she is pretending to be like an architect’s assistant and goes to the architect’s house whose wife died and they cry and they make out and she was- that’s a really intense scene. And that’s so real. Like I just want to have one moment where we see grief in different ways in this movie. We see grief in Viola Davis’s performance in terms of that, breathing, like getting it under control, like trying to get about your life, get about your day.
We see grieving in terms of the horrible, abusive mother. Who’s just like “a man provides for you. Here’s what you do!” Like just being shitty and like thinking she’s being great and offering solutions. And we see grief here because grief can be fucking weird, right? She obviously loved Carlos. She loved her husband.
I think she knew he was a piece of shit, but she did love him. And she was sad about it. And just hearing from this other guy that he had lost his partner and she lost her partner and they’re just crying so hard. And then they start making out as if they’re like about to have sex on that couch.
And then she’s just oh my fucking God sorry. Sorry. Runs out. It’s like- that felt so very real to me in terms of yeah, people experience grief, and sometimes it doesn’t look traditional- whatever- traditional people aren’t always just going to cry into a hinky for a few months and look sad.
Like maybe they’re going to be horny and maybe they’re going to find a connection in the weirdest moment over their life and be that kind of shit just happens. And I just really appreciate that about this movie, that it’s willing to be a little weird, like that it’s willing to do these tone changes.
It’s willing to have different framing choices, like with that car scene, like it’s willing to be a little weird because life is pretty fucking weird. And like just having that little bit of realism helps and yeah. I liked that a lot actually.
[00:53:40] Fernanda: It was a very- I agree with you. And I like when they do this, because again, like we’re so used to seeing grief portrayed as sliding down a wall while crying.
And Michelle said to herself in an interview, she was like, I could under- I could understand crying. I couldn’t understand just making out with a random dude. Yes, but where you can I’m going to go back to just random examples. The movie that I really fucking hate by the guy who did The Green Knight, A Ghost [Story], there’s one scene in which the Rooney Mara character is grieving.
And she eats like a whole cake and the scene is just a shot of her eating the cake. And as much as I hate the movie, I thought that scene was amazing. ‘Cause it’s yeah, you’re grieving. And you see a cake and then she just eats a whole cake. Like sometimes that’s what happens. So I agree with you.
I like the weird, like quirky little touches, like having Veronica take Olivia the dog with her everywhere (Danielle laughs) and the dog is just walking around and the dog ends up being who finds out that Harry’s still alive. Essentially. Yeah, even though we don’t necessarily understand that, that point, whether Veronica actually knows Harry is alive. And speaking of Veronica and Harry, like one thing that I wanted to mention that I love how the movie opens with them sharing the like most tongue-y kiss in the history of movie kisses. (Danielle laughs: “I know!”)
I just saw that tongue going all the way in there. And I’m like yes. It showed the passion of course, in their marriage, but even bigger than that since we, we didn’t even talk that much about Viola, but she talked about how with Annalise Keating (How to Get Away With Murder), when she got the the Emmy in her speech, she talked about-
[00:55:24] Fernanda: this is a quote from a n interview with Net-a-Porter: “the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else’s opportunity, you cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are [inaudible] like Shonda Rhimes. People have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a living woman, to be Black.” Because it really is like we see this older Black woman in bed with a white guy who’s known as an action hero and they’re like making out passionately. (Danielle: “yeah!”)
This is just the thing that a couple does. And you’re in our- It’s just a normal couple thing to do. It establishes an idea that their marriage was alive, that there was passion. So I feel like this really establishes the blueprint for her grief, but there is something to what she said.
And she talked a lot about in this interview [about] Annalise, that she had a tough time even seeing herself in the light that Annalise Keating is portrayed because there’s a, there are a lot of sex scenes in the show because she was not used to being a Black woman of her age to be seen in that light and portrayed in that light as like just a normal professor and sexual woman, because she’s a professor in the show.
So I really loved that opening scene. But I just wanted to use that as a hook to talk about like this what Viola Davis has said about these opportunities and what she said there to me is very interesting because I feel like when we talk about pay gaps, and everything, like usually we talk a lot about women versus men, but we all know that the abyss is larger when it comes to men and women of color.
Even when we talk about it, I think people really associate it with this white guy in a chair being like, oh, I’m going to pay this person less because it’s a black woman and she deserves to be paid less than this white man. And it’s so not that at all. And especially when you’re talking about Hollywood It’s very ignorant to assume that it really is just a matter of like somebody making the decisions that this person needs to be paid more because it’s a man or, oh, this is a more- the actual the sort of thought, oh, this person is more experienced.
Therefore obviously they deserve more than this less experienced person. Like, how are you going to get experience and how are you going to get to that level, if you’re not having the opportunities? If you’re not having the roles. If the characters that are the characters that are put in those places of being the big blockbuster leading actors if they’re not available to you and it feels like now we can accept women in roles like that.
Say, I don’t know, Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel or whatever. There’s more openness to seeing women in those roles, but how many of these are being written with non-white, non-male characters in mind? And beyond that, like how conditioned are we from birth to not think of a woman of color?
And like all kinds, I’m not just saying, oh, we’re talking about Viola’s experience here as a Black woman, but obviously this extends to all sorts of ethnicities and nationalities and whatnot. But like how conditioned we are to not see those people- to just not automatically not think of them as the types of leading action characters or whatever it is that are worth all this money.
It’s very interesting to me to reflect on that. And it’s something I reflected while doing the search. Cause I was like, I could just be like, oh, maybe I’m maybe just women of color get paid much better than I was expecting. And this is why I don’t see this many examples of the people being scandalized by giant pay gaps.
But I tend to think that’s not the case. And that maybe we’re just like, not as interested in discussing this with less, less visible characters to just close this thought out something that Viola said in the same interview with Net-a-Porte. The quote is: “here’s the thing, it’s not about the Oscars.”
That’s her replying to a question by the reporter who asked about all the nominations awarded to nonwhite artists after the 2017 Oscars So White campaign. “Here’s the thing, it’s not about the Oscars. It’s about how we’re included in every aspect of the movie-making business. When you look at a role as a director or producer, that is not ethnically specific. Can you consider an actor of color to invest in that talent?”
“The problem is it’s not, if it’s not a nerve or civil rights drama, they don’t see you in the story. People need to understand that they shouldn’t see people of color one way. We don’t always have to be slaves or in the hood or fighting the KKK. I could be in a romantic comedy. I could be in Gone Girl or Wild. I could be seen in the same way as Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore.
I actually come from the same sort of background. I went to Juliard. I’ve done Broadway. I’ve worked with the Steven Spielberg’s. I should be seen the same way. That’s what I think is missing: imagination.” And that’s why I like, and this is not his speaking specifically about Widows, but I feel like it applies.
It’s a role that is centered on so many other aspects of this person’s humanity. It seems like a fully fleshed out character. Who’s very complex who is really navigating the balance between a grieving wife. Who also had a certain lifestyle. She probably deals with some level of guilt or responsibility over how she got to exist in her lifestyle.
And who has to now lead these women in a way. And you can see the balance so that the, and she’s already been grieving her son. And you can see the balance between this really tough exterior and her sort of inner fragility. And we see that in the backgrounds, we see that, in what seems to be her love for her husband, who again, turned out to be a giant piece of shit. What the actual fuck Harry- Liam Neeson.
(Danielle nodding furiously and snapping her fingers)
[01:01:11] Fernanda: Yeah. Sorry, went on a little but…
[01:01:13] Danielle: Why would you be sorry!?
[01:01:15] Fernanda: Because I’m a woman and I say “I’m sorry” all the time! (they both laugh)
[01:01:22] Danielle: I’m sitting here nodding. I’m like snapping, I’m trying not to do it. So poor Paul doesn’t have to take it out, but I’m sitting here like “damn!” don’t be sorry.
[01:01:30] Fernanda: That’s what I do. I end sentences with “if that makes sense.” We’re going to have the links for you. We’ve been uploading our notes and transcripts when we talk about this.
So you can look and read all this stuff for yourselves. But I think that all tied very interestingly with this movie, which I hadn’t watched, I’m just glad it ended up being relevant to what we were trying to do with this week.
[01:01:54] Danielle: Absolutely. And I’m honestly, I’m just so glad we watched it. There are a lot of movies that we watch where I’m like, oh, I already know I like this, or, oh, I know I’m going to like this type of thing.
And thrillers for me could go either way. Like I love a great thriller and I love an interesting thriller, but for me, I get bored easily with thrillers, especially if I’m- this, I’m actually a little sorry for it. But if something is like too hetero? I might just be like, yeah whatever, (Fernanda laughs in a very hetero manner) sorry, I just don’t get it.
This is cool, man. That’s cool. I’m not shitting on it. I’m not saying, oh, it’s a bad movie. It’s just- I just wasn’t thrilled. I’m sorry! But yeah, so I’m really glad we watched this. I’m really happy. We watched it and I’m happy. We were able to dig into it a little bit. I’m really glad.
I think we should probably move on to Shelf Life unless there was something else. But I also feel like what you just said was so strong and it was so perfectly tied into our theme this week and how much we wanted to show something real. And then when we picked Payday May it’s like more of a fun theme, but this is like no, we should also show the other side of this.
And I’m glad we did.
[01:02:52] Fernanda: Yeah we’ll go back to some bullshit next week for sure. (laughs)
[01:02:55] Danielle: Don’t worry. We’ll have bullshit again. We do both here. All right? We do real shit. It’s the two things that people can do. Bullshit and real shit. So we try to do a bit of both.
[01:03:07] Fernanda: Like Daniel Kaluuya who may not be governed by a kind of cult leader-type person who goes by-
[01:03:13] Danielle: I am worried about that. (Fernanda laughs)
He’s too talented. He’s too beautiful. Don’t fall under anybody’s spell, Daniel. Okay? Like we care about you.
[01:03:22] Fernanda: Just look it up….
[01:03:22] Danielle: It’s not like he’s my best friend. I just think he’s awesome. So I don’t want him to- (laughs)
[01:03:26] Fernanda: If you’re curious, look up Daniel Kaluuya and Heir Holiness and make your own conclusions, but like Daniel Kaluuya, my imaginary boyfriend with whom I’ve been on a rollercoaster with Mariah Carey, we have range. That’s what I was getting. (Danielle laughs)
[01:03:47] Danielle: Yeah, we’ve got range. And speaking of our range, we’re going to shelf life where we decide where on the range- I mean range? All right. Where on the scale, but that’s a range. Yeah, we’ll go with it. We’ll go with that metaphor. Going with it. (Fernanda laughs)
[01:04:03] Danielle: This is where we decide where the movie belongs in our video store. If it’s a bonafide staff pick where it’s displayed proudly, it’s a middle aisle placement, or if the deuce needs the dumpster out back just like Harry. Now, if the movie was just Harry, it would yeah. Dumpster. Yeah. Sure. But I think it’s pretty fair to say this is not going to be a dumpster pick.
I think we’re looking at probably middle aisle or even staff pick and Fernanda. I want to open it up with you. How are you feeling about this one? Where should we put it in our video store?
[01:04:43] Fernanda: Oh man. I started thinking about the middle aisle. I actually rated it seven on IMDB. But now after our conversation, my love for it blossomed.
I feel like this is better- it’s for sure a better movie than I was expecting, because I was expecting something a little lighter and sillier. And I ended up thinking about several things. But also I feel like this is a movie I’ll get to rewatch in a couple of years and be a like, this is actually a pretty fucking good little thing.
It’s stylish. It’s fun. It’s profound. It’s dark.
I’ll put it on the shelf. I’ll put it on the shelf. I’ll say it. I’ll say it. It’s just, yeah, it’s a staff pick for me.
[01:05:33] Danielle: Absolutely. I’m with you. And I actually want to put it next to Hustlers. This is being facetious, but I’m honestly I just feel like they’re talking about some of the same things with just such a different tone and just such a different approach.
But like both of those approaches are completely valid, so yeah. Paul is saying double feature with it, I think it’s a staff pick. I think this one is like right up there and what it says and how it says it. Nothing is perfect of course, but it’s very good and very well done.
And yeah, I also I, like I said, I got really worried that the twist was going to happen. That was going to fall apart and instead it got better. And like when that happens, when a movie can pull off like a twisty twist and actually get better and reinforce its themes even more.
And when those themes are as valid as these themes are about like, yeah let’s show these women finding their strength. Fucking right on.
[01:06:23] Fernanda: My one criticism would be that sometimes it gets too complicated. There’s so much going on at the same time. (Danielle: “There’s a lot. Yeah.”) So many characters, so many storylines that you feel like not all of them are fully fleshed out by the end of it, but that still doesn’t take away from the movie in and like- you can read your own meanings and picture your endings to some things too. That’s no crime.
[01:06:48] Danielle: I would’ve liked a little more Belle, but sure…
[01:06:50] Fernanda: By the way, if you haven’t watched Roar on Apple TV, she’s the lead in one of the episodes. And she plays a very different character. It’s very interesting. Her episode is wild. And so I recommend that I would be, we could put hustlers in this one and be like, if you want to hate men a little bit.
Maybe watch these do a double feature.
[01:07:13] Danielle: If you wanna hate bad men, if you want to get bad men. Cause these are bad men, right? These are, these guys are assholes- other than bash again, bash is all right. I don’t think bash did anything wrong, but yeah.
[01:07:23] Fernanda: And yet he died. And yet he met the maker.
[01:07:26] Danielle: Bash met his 1985 Bears. (Fernanda laughs) Like unfortunately not the way he wanted to, but yeah. Poor Bash. Justice for Bash. The only good man. The only nontoxic man in this movie was Bash.
[01:07:39] Fernanda: I don’t remember Amanda’s husband though. Maybe he was, who knows? Amanda’s the toxic one ’cause she was the one fucking hairy.
[01:07:48] Danielle: Exactly. I guess in that couple she was the one who sucked, like that’s possible too.
So yeah, it’s all complex. It’s all complex. But yeah. Awesome. I love it. I’m glad we got another staff pick. We have just- we contain multitudes and it makes me happy. What a good video store we have, (cash register sound effect plays)
[01:08:05] Fernanda: We just need to put more shit in that dumpster. Yeah, I’m sure we will.
[01:08:10] Danielle: Listen. I was ready to put Batman in there. So that’s all I’m going to say. (Fernanda laughs)
[01:08:15] Fernanda: You were talked out of it, but let’s see. I’m sure we’ll find some terrible shit next week.
[01:08:21] Danielle: Yeah, don’t worry. I’m sure we- (laughs)
[01:08:23] Fernanda: Stay tuned. We’ll compensate for our thorough enjoyment of this week by picking some bad shit for next week.
[01:08:36] Danielle: Yeah, don’t worry. I’m not worried. This is our store. I’m happy about it, but thank you, dear friends for listening. That’s what we have for you this week. I want to say thank you to my co-host. Of course always. Thank you Fernanda for joining me. Thank you at home for listening. Thank you to our producer, Paul “dollar signs and empty promises” Tamayo, very good Paul.
That’s fantastic. For all the help in making the show, not only not suck, but also rule. We hope you come back to your friendly neighborhood video store next week as we continue Payday May. We don’t know what we’re doing yet, but don’t worry. Just come back. And if you do like the work that we do and you want to show us a little love, show us some support, you can do so by rating and reviewing our show on Apple Podcasts or rate us on Spotify.
So we can hopefully get on more listeners’ radars. ‘Cause you know, these VHS rewinders break all the time and they are not cheap. We appreciate the support. Helps us a lot. You can check out our other podcasts over at fanbyte.com/podcasts. Follow us on Twitter @fanbytemedia, Instagram @fanbyte, TikTok @fanbyte and of course on fanbyte.com and you can watch our streams on twitch.tv/fanbyte. So Fernanda, where can people find you? By the way?
[01:09:46] Fernanda: You can find me on Twitter though I haven’t been as active there @nandaprates_. That’s N-A-N-D-A-P-R-A-T-E-S underscore, or I am much more active on my Instagram stories where I post bullshit all day. (Danielle laughs) So if you like bullshit that’s a place for you to be at, and it’s just @nandaprates without the underscore on Instagram.
Awesome. Thank you very much. Our producer Paul is on Twitter @polimayo. I’m on Twitter @Danielleri, and you know what? You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions, you have comments, you have cool ideas. We’d love to hear them. We are very open to hearing all about y’all. So thank you so much.
And until next time, you love to see it.
EXT. FANBYTE CITY NIGHT – YOU LOVE TO SEE IT
The camera glides backwards out of the door while Fernanda and Danielle clean up and shut the lights off. We move back to the extreme wide shot and float above the store.
Fanbyte City sits on the horizon, all lit up.
[Fade to black]