Monthly Archives: October 2016

Action Film Director Park Chan-Wook Transports Erotic ‘Handmaiden’ To 1930s Korea




RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now a lesbian love story turned into a film by a South Korean director based on a best-selling novel set in Victorian London. It’s called “The Handmaiden,” and Neda Ulaby is going to tell us more about it.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: This gothic drama brims with double crossings, a secret library, a sinister uncle and a woman wrongly stashed in an insane asylum.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, “FINGERSMITH”)

SALLY HAWKINS: (As Sue Trinder) Let me go. Let me go.

ULABY: The book, “Fingersmith,” is incredibly popular here in the U.S. and in Britain, where it’s been adapted into a movie, a play and a BBC television series.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, “FINGERSMITH”)

HAWKINS: (As Sue Trinder) I was a fingersmith, a thief.

ULABY: Ultimately, it’s a romance between a female pickpocket and a wealthy young woman she was hired to dupe.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, “FINGERSMITH”)

RUPERT EVANS: (As Richard Gentleman Rivers) You’re going to become her friend, persuade her to trust me, to run away and marry me.

HAWKINS: (As Sue Trinder) Why me?

EVANS: (As Richard Gentleman Rivers) A fingersmith with a heart of gold.

ULABY: As he read the book, Director Park Chan-wook began to imagine it set during Japan’s occupation of Korea.

PARK CHAN-WOOK: (Through interpreter) Not too far into the book, I came across this scene.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “THE HANDMAIDEN”)

MIN-HEE KIM: (As Lady Hideko, speaking Korean).

ULABY: A tender moment between the pickpocket posing as a maid helping her mistress with a hurt tooth.

PARK: (Through interpreter) It felt very sensual. And this marks the moment when these two women, these two people, have started to fall in love.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “OLDBOY”)

ULABY: Park Chan-wook is not exactly known for romance. His most popular movie in the West is “Oldboy” from 2003 about a man held captive for years and his eventual bloody revenge. But the director sees parallels to “Fingersmith.”

PARK: (Through interpreter) It is still a story about an individual who is fighting against what is handed by fate.

ULABY: Adapting a thriller by a British lesbian novelist, says Park, was actually a delightful change of pace.

PARK: (Through interpreter) Maybe it has to do with the fact that as I get older and spend more time with my wife and my daughter, I feel myself becoming more mature and more fascinated and drawn to feminine values.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “THE HANDMAIDEN”)

KIM TAE-RI: (As Sook-Hee, speaking Korean).

ULABY: For her part, novelist Sarah Waters remembers how she felt when she learned that a leading South Korean director wanted to adapt her novel.

SARAH WATERS: Well, kind of surprised.

ULABY: But Waters felt the adaptation made sense. The violence in Park’s earlier movies resonated with the Victorian novels of sensation that inspired her, like “The Woman In White” and some books by Charles Dickens.

WATERS: They’re actually – they are very violent, those novels. There’s a sort of a – there’s often an actual physical violence in them, but there’s often the violence of a society that’s very divided on class terms, on the gulf between rich and poor, with some people living kind of desperate lives.

ULABY: And, Waters says, she’s pleased that the movie “The Handmaiden” retains its feminism. Some male directors in recent years have gotten flak for their representations of lesbian stories, like “Blue Is The Warmest Color.” But this director wrote the screenplay with a longtime female collaborator and says he screened it for feminist friends before releasing it into the world.

PARK: (Speaking Korean).

ULABY: Director Park Chan-wook says he really wanted to stay true to Sarah Waters’ original vision.

PARK: (Through interpreter) If I follow the path that she has laid out for me, I could not go wrong.

ULABY: Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

In ‘Thanks For The Money,’ Comedian Joel McHale Lampoons Celebrity Memoirs


Actor/comic Joel McHale speaks at a Los Angeles event in 2015.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Trevor Project


hide caption

toggle caption

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Trevor Project

Actor/comic Joel McHale speaks at a Los Angeles event in 2015.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Trevor Project

Joel McHale made a name for himself by skewering celebrities and the world they live in on E! Network’s The Soup. Then he became a celebrity in his own right: He was in the hit NBC show Community and now he stars in the new CBS comedy The Great Indoors.

Thanks for the Money

How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be

by Joel McHale

Hardcover, 303 pages |

purchase

In a new memoir, McHale again takes aim at the nature of celebrity — by making fun of celebrity memoirs. It’s called Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be, and it’s full of anecdotes from McHale’s life that are both real and imagined.

The actor tells NPR’s Rachel Martin that he wrote the book, in part, as a reaction to performers who take themselves too seriously. “We dreamt about doing something as a kid and we actually get to do it,” he says. “So when I see actors complaining about hours or material or things like that — how many other people’s jobs have catering? How many people’s jobs have a person who will park your car? I mean it’s all silly when you begin to look at it.”

Interview Highlights

On how he feels about celebrity memoirs

I read Bruce Campbell’s If Chins Could Kill and that is a great book. But then there are slews and slews of celebrity memoirs that I don’t necessarily think that they had enough information or story to last an entire book. My life certainly didn’t. And then also there’s so many self-help books that I thought that, well, a lot of that seems to be pretty smoke and mirrors so why not just use my life story to show you how to become a celebrity and then get free stuff.

On how hard it is to read from a teleprompter when you have dyslexia

I cannot read well. I’ve gotten a lot better at it since I’ve been reading teleprompters, for about 13 years now. But when I first started, it took me four hours to get through 22 minutes of jokes. … When The Soup started it was just put on the air at 10 p.m., which was a desert on Fridays, so there was no pressure on us at all to deliver a quality product. So it allowed me to sit and get better at this teleprompter, which was a horrible thorn in my side. I don’t read books to this day; I just listen to everything on Audible.

On what it was like to headline the 2014 White House Correspondents Association dinner

It was one of those things where I don’t know if people climbing Everest thought it’s fun at the time — that they can’t breath and their muscles are screaming at them and a storm is coming in — but they definitely made the choice to be there. So it was a very stressful event for me. I’ve never worked harder on a set of 15 minutes of jokes. It is tons of pressure, but I would do it in a heartbeat again. So, yes, ultimately I very much enjoyed it.

In ‘Thanks For The Money,’ Comedian Joel McHale Lampoons Celebrity Memoirs


Actor/comic Joel McHale speaks at a Los Angeles event in 2015.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Trevor Project


hide caption

toggle caption

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Trevor Project

Actor/comic Joel McHale speaks at a Los Angeles event in 2015.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Trevor Project

Joel McHale made a name for himself by skewering celebrities and the world they live in on E! Network’s The Soup. Then he became a celebrity in his own right: He was in the hit NBC show Community and now he stars in the new CBS comedy The Great Indoors.

Thanks for the Money

How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be

by Joel McHale

Hardcover, 303 pages |

purchase

In a new memoir, McHale again takes aim at the nature of celebrity — by making fun of celebrity memoirs. It’s called Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be, and it’s full of anecdotes from McHale’s life that are both real and imagined.

The actor tells NPR’s Rachel Martin that he wrote the book, in part, as a reaction to performers who take themselves too seriously. “We dreamt about doing something as a kid and we actually get to do it,” he says. “So when I see actors complaining about hours or material or things like that — how many other people’s jobs have catering? How many people’s jobs have a person who will park your car? I mean it’s all silly when you begin to look at it.”

Interview Highlights

On how he feels about celebrity memoirs

I read Bruce Campbell’s If Chins Could Kill and that is a great book. But then there are slews and slews of celebrity memoirs that I don’t necessarily think that they had enough information or story to last an entire book. My life certainly didn’t. And then also there’s so many self-help books that I thought that, well, a lot of that seems to be pretty smoke and mirrors so why not just use my life story to show you how to become a celebrity and then get free stuff.

On how hard it is to read from a teleprompter when you have dyslexia

I cannot read well. I’ve gotten a lot better at it since I’ve been reading teleprompters, for about 13 years now. But when I first started, it took me four hours to get through 22 minutes of jokes. … When The Soup started it was just put on the air at 10 p.m., which was a desert on Fridays, so there was no pressure on us at all to deliver a quality product. So it allowed me to sit and get better at this teleprompter, which was a horrible thorn in my side. I don’t read books to this day; I just listen to everything on Audible.

On what it was like to headline the 2014 White House Correspondents Association dinner

It was one of those things where I don’t know if people climbing Everest thought it’s fun at the time — that they can’t breath and their muscles are screaming at them and a storm is coming in — but they definitely made the choice to be there. So it was a very stressful event for me. I’ve never worked harder on a set of 15 minutes of jokes. It is tons of pressure, but I would do it in a heartbeat again. So, yes, ultimately I very much enjoyed it.