Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
Academy Award nominee Christopher Plummer (left) and Ewan McGregor star as father and son in Mike Mills' Beginners.
Credit Ron Batzdorff / Focus Films
Mike Mills is a graphic designer and filmmaker. His first film Thumbsucker starred Vincent D'Onofrio, Tilda Swinton and Vince Vaughn. He has also created graphics for the bands Sonic Youth and the Beastie Boys and directed music videos for Moby, Yoko Ono and Everything but the Girl.
This interview was originally broadcast on June 2, 2011. Beginners is now available on DVD.
Filmmaker Mike Mills' parents met in junior high school. For 45 years, they lived together, raising Mills and his older sisters, until Mills' mother died in 1999. Six months later, Mills' father — a 75-year-old retired museum director — announced that he's gay.
Writer-director Alexander Payne is either the American cinema's most acerbic humanist or its most empathetic jerk. Whichever it is, the protagonists of the novels he adapts are outsiders who pay an emotional price for their sense of superiority.
Payne's The Descendants is his first film to be told from the perspective of a person of privilege, but real-estate lawyer Matt King (George Clooney) is the ultimate outsider: a stranger to his family and his lifelong home, Hawaii.
Though he's directed only five feature films, Alexander Payne has built a reputation as one of Hollywood's most respected filmmakers. His movies find comedy in the crises of his flawed protagonists — among them Matthew Broderick as a high school teacher in Election, Jack Nicholson as a widower in About Schmidt and Paul Giamatti as a struggling author and wine snob in Sideways, for which Payne shared an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Most of the material from Live in Europe 1967 has surfaced before — the set is subtitled The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1 — but the Belgian concert that performance comes from makes its debut here. This Miles Davis quintet was consistently amazing, not least on its last big tour, when Davis' trumpet chops were in good shape.