Happy Vulture Fest 2018! It’s my favorite time of year, when films, tv shows, podcasts, and pop culture collide. Vulture Festival is in its 5th year, and they’ve got their weekend down pat. Here’s a quick rundown of the five panels we saw over the weekend.
John Leguizamo: A Conversation
John Leguizamo is as charmed and energetic in life as he is on-screen. I’ve had a crush on him since the Mario Bros movie, which is all kinds of embarrassing. But he barely touched upon the screen work he’s known for in his panel “John Leguizamo: In Conversation.”
Host Matt Zoller Seitz (television critic for Vulture.com) largely kept the conversation to his written works, including his one-man shows. Which only makes sense, because Leguizamo was there to promote his latest graphic novel, Freak. And his latest one-man show, Latin History for Morons, is receiving an honorary Tony Award this year.
Leguizamo is as no-holds bars as you’d expect. Within minutes, he jumped between the topics of race, diversity, drugs, abuse. He wasn’t shy about discussing his most painful works, all with wit and a wry smile. He spent a brief period of time breaking down toxic masculinity and machismo culture and swiftly turned back to discussing Cuban women who sold jewelry to feed patriots during the Civil War.
My middle school crush developed into an adult thirst when he started discussing the role artists and politics and what it means to take risks. Be still, my beating heart. John Leguizamo, I’ll have a conversation with you any time.
John Leguizamo’s graphic novel Freak is available now.
The Gorgeous Ladies of Netflix’s GLOW
The smash surprise hit of last summer was undoubtedly GLOW. On paper, the concept sounds inane: a group of women in the 1980’s star in a TV show about wrestling. But writers Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch knew the show’s potential. The GLOW panel featured not only Flahive and Mensch, as well as the stars of the show Alison Brie (Ruth “Zoya the Destroyer” Wilder), Chris Lowell (Sebastian “Bash” Howard), Sydelle Noel (Cherry “Junkchain” Bang), and Gayle Rankin (Sheila “The She-Wolf”).
The GLOW girls were as fun and generous as one could have hoped. They dished on what it was like to be on a female-led onset, how the election impacted them during the filming of season one, and how training for the wrestling matches impacted their bodies for the better. Alison Brie sang improvised songs; Gayle Rankin talked about finding just the right costume for her animalistic character. Special guest Betty Gilpin (Debbie “Liberty Belle” Egan) skyped in for the last few minutes.
We got a little bit of season 2 teasers, like how Debbie will become a producer of GLOW, and how snippets of Gold and Chambers, Cherry Bang’s star vehicle, will be shown.
GLOW is a TV show about women who overcome their insecurities to conquer. And you can see the power and presence in the stars themselves. They are quirky and fun and loving. And they are completely unapologetic. After hearing their snippets of Season 2, I can’t wait to see these Amazons rise up once more.
GLOW season 2 premieres June 29th on Netflix.
An Evening with Rachel Bloom and Adam Pally
Nothing could have prepared me for the late night event that was an “Evening with Rachel Bloom and Adam Pally.” If you had asked me minutes before I arrived, I would have said it was going to be a panel about their latest movie Most Likely to Murder. I was completely wrong. It was a back-and-forth Sing-A-Long of their favorite songs and it was the perfect evening!
Rachel Bloom (of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) hilariously romped her way through impromptu musical numbers, puberty tales, and politic rants. Adam Pally hilariously kept commenting upon how much more famous she was compared to him. And how his dad was in the audience listening to stories about self-pleasure. (Adam Pally is an effing gem.)
Artists like Everclear, Weezer, Britney Spears, and Smash Mouth loaded the song list up with 90’s nostalgia. What more could a nerd want in an evening? I laughed, and cried and sang “Summer Nights.” Vulture Festival, make this a yearly event. Please and thank you.
Most Likely to Murder is streaming now on Amazon Prime, iTunes and more.
“Revisiting S-Town” was a look at the smash hit podcast, one year after its release. With true crime and docu-series more popular than ever, it’s still a surprise that the story of a fascinating man stuck on a town full of secrets would be popular. But what’s even more surprising is that a year later, there would be a room full of people waiting to hear more about this podcast.
Julie Snyder and Brian Reed were the producers of S-Town. Brian was the host and main reporter; Julie was the producer who’d worked on This American Life. Together they gave essentially a mini-masterclass in storytelling.
So much of how they put S-Town together had to do with short-form and long-form narrative. And they also went into detail about how developing the narratives and the characters. Brian spent many hours recording interviews surrounded by lawn mowers, children, and deafening crickets.
Julie also touched upon the controversy that surrounded the podcast — the idea of privacy and consent. According to her, John (the subject of the whole project) had shown plenty of agency, continually reaching out to reporters to cover the story. And he also spent hours being recorded, telling Brian intimate details about his life. Due to concerns over John’s wishes, there’s stuff that never got released, according to Brian.
For fans of the podcast, don’t get too excited for a second season. While Julie joked about “S-Town across America,” it doesn’t look like that’s headed our way. So keep listening to their award-winning podcasts.
Let me start off by saying that there are multiple Nerdophiles Staff members who are true crime fans/Murderinos. And the Mindhunter panel was filled with Murderinos just like us. Which means that this panel was not just a fun TV panel; it was a toe-dip into serial killers and their psyche. On the panel was Jonathan Groff (Agent Holden Ford), Holt McCallany (Agent Bill Tench), Anna Torv (Professor Wendy Carr), and Cameron Britton (Edmund Kemper).
All four cast members are as intelligent and eloquent as their onscreen counterparts. Hearing Cameron talk about his developing serial killer Ed Kemper or Anna discuss her post-filming interest in sociopaths was what any true crime fan could hope for.
But there was also a lot of time spent discussing the specific and detailed nature of David Fincher’s direction. As Holt noted, David Fincher (director of Fight Club, and Seven) is a master at this particular genre. And their respect and enthusiasm showed as the cast talked about the level of detail Fincher goes into to in order to get the performances he wants.
There were laughs, as Cameron describes how he was a former pre-school teacher. Or how Fincher told Jonathan Groff that his character Holden had “no charm or self-awareness whatsoever.” Jonathan even told the audience that friends were texting asking if Holden was a sociopath.
But there was also serious discussion, like how the rise of mass murders in the present imitates the rise of serial killers in the 1970s. Holt told an anecdote about calling John Douglas (who wrote the book Mindhunter) after Las Vegas to see what he was thinking about the gunman’s mental profile. John responded that he would have questions like, “What did these people represent to the shooter?” Or, “What was the trigger?”
Holt hypothesized that the rise in the true crime trend stems from people wanted to know why evil acts occur. What makes people like Ed Kemper, Jerry Brudos, Richard Speck, or the Las Vegas shooter commit the acts they commit? Jonathan Groff put forth the question, “Can you have empathy for unforgivable people?”
Perhaps we’ll never have the answer to that question. But we will have a season 2 of Mindhunter, which is being filmed now.