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  • John Rabe

Justin Chang ... a critic who actually likes "Somewhere in Time"



In 2013, critic Justin Chang wrote an article for Variety called, "‘About Time’ and the Pleasures of the Time-Travel Romance," in which, among other things, he said nice things about "Somewhere in Time."

In his Variety review, Joseph McBride proved kinder than most, writing that “Somewhere in Time” “harks back to such 1940s Hollywood romantic classics as ‘Portrait of Jennie’ and ‘The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,’ in which people from different eras managed to overcome all physical obstacles to their love.” He went on to note, somewhat apologetically, “This kind of film has always been a matter of taste, with some finding the genre enchanting and others finding it insufferably corny.”


Consider me enchanted. Ludicrous and irresistible, “Somewhere in Time” belongs to a long and glorious tradition of love stories, including 2006’s “The Lake House” and 2009’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” in which time travel serves as a crucial narrative element and structuring device. It is a genre whose charms I’ve found myself unusually susceptible to in recent years, and in some cases — as some of my friends have told me, with the sort of kindness that usually attends an intervention — it has managed to erode my critical faculties altogether. And why not? Wildly romantic, brazenly paradoxical and stubbornly resistant to the rules of logic, these films rely for their effect on a blissful surrender of reason. To dismiss them as ridiculous or implausible is to miss both the point and the pleasure.

Chang, now film critic for Fresh Air and the LA Times, may have been the first critic to write seriously about SIT since 1980. That article also contained a telling sentence: "Take it from me: If you’ve lost a loved one to long-term illness, it touches about five chords." And loss and how we've dealt with it formed the basis for a warm conversation in which Justin opened his bit heart and big brain to you and me.

Below is an awful - and awfully cheap - transcription done by the robots at Castos. (I am not disparaging the quality, just warning you that it's very imperfect. I actually appreciate the fact that I can get a transcription I can afford.)


Speaker 0 00:00:00 Have you ever wondered if you're weird for reaching for the phone to call your dead parents? Did you ever get mad at one of them for showing up in one of your dreams? And did you wake up crying? There's a movie

Speaker 1 00:00:11 James Seymour and Christopher Reeves are trapped in low somewhere in time.

Speaker 0 00:00:28 Everybody welcome back to call back yesterday. My name's John Raby. This is a podcast that uses the movie somewhere in time, which turned 40 this year to talk about all the big, important stuff. Now, back when somewhere in time came out in 1980, it was fashionable to trash. The movie, George decay, take it away.

Speaker 1 00:00:47 Leonard Molden, stilted dialogue, corny situations, pretty scenery. Roger Ebert, the movie surrounds its love story with such boring. Mumbo-jumbo about time travel that we find Lee just don't care. Vincent can be somewhere in time. Does full time travel, what the Hindenburg did for dirigibles

Speaker 0 00:01:18 And who knows what my guests would have said if he was a film reviewer back in 1980, but he's not. He's a moderate.

Speaker 1 00:01:26 And he likes somewhere in time,

Speaker 0 00:01:28 Somewhere in time. Really. And one of the reasons that it's endured is that it does have the courage of its absurd

Speaker 1 00:01:33 Convictions. Oh, that beautiful voice.

Speaker 0 00:01:36 His name is Justin Chang. You know, the voice from fresh air because he's their film critic. Andy's film critic for the Los Angeles times,

Speaker 0 00:01:46 Justin Chang. When you tell people where we are, we're at a lovely park in Pasadena. How far away are we from each other? We are, I'll say nine feet. Nine or 10 feet. Yeah. That's why God made my cards. Yes, exactly. Yeah. And it's kind of a nice day and it's nice to see people. Nice to see you. It's good to see you too. Yes. I've been doing a lot of these like zoom and voice memos and it just isn't the same. I know. Yeah. And uh, I think especially talking about somewhere in time, people are important to that movie. They are. And so are the socio outdoors too. So anyway, welcome to the podcast. It's called call back yesterday based on the Shakespearian quote from Richard, the second, Oh, call back yesterday, bid time return. And I would have had a whole army for you, but they all thought you're dead. And so they've gone off to fight the Prussians or whatever it was. Um, bedtime return being the original title of Richard Matheson's book, which then was turned into somewhere in time of much better title. And I think that before there was a name check of somewhere in time in the last Avengers movie star Trek, Terminator

Speaker 1 00:02:51 Time after time, quantum leap and wrinkle in time,

Speaker 0 00:02:55 You were probably the last person in any major media to write about somewhere

Speaker 2 00:03:00 In time. And that was, uh, that was 2013. Yeah. A piece in variety reviewing the movie about time. It was called about time and the pleasures of the time travel romance. And in there you broke with a critical tradition by saying that somewhere in time, didn't suck. It doesn't suck. I don't know if that means it's good. Um, but there's something about it. That's kind of great. And the premise of it was that I'm kind of a sucker for these movies, these movies being movies that mix romantic drama with time travel about time, the time Traveler's wife, uh, the Lake house and all of these movies are absurd. And that's what I love about them. These movies tend not to be well-reviewed when they first appear on the scene somewhere in time, certainly was not. And I don't know if that's really changed, but it might be worth saying how I first saw this movie.

Speaker 2 00:03:56 Cause I wouldn't have, you know, I wouldn't have stumbled on it necessarily myself, but we actually watched this in a high school philosophy class. My high school philosophy class theory of knowledge was what it was called kind of a strange, uh, strange circumstances. But we were watching a lot of movies about, uh, love, romantic love and the obsessive quality of love and how that sometimes, you know, stands in contrast with our circumstances or how, how, how impossible that kind of love is to attain or rather to sustain perhaps. And so we watched things like the bridges of Madison County, for example, you know, a more kind of straightforward prosaic kind of film and somewhere in time. And we like, Oh, this is perfect. And so I watched it and it just kind of stayed with me because it's exactly about that sort of the impossibility of love and the way that it can transcend traditional barriers of time and space, which is of course, something that the movies are uniquely able to, uh, explore. How old were you? I must've been 17, 16, 17, 16, 17 hidden. Had you had a girlfriend or any, had you had any sort of just to back up? I was 13 when I saw it and I thought it was malarkey. Yeah. Now I love the movie. I'm 54. I have been in love. I have lost love. Parents have died. All of these things have happened to me that that, uh, qualify you for actually enjoying a highly romantic movie. But very short story. I met a girl at a party once, uh, 25 years ago.

Speaker 1 00:05:27 So I had just seen last tango in Paris. I'm off the side to intrude, but I was so struck with the ability that I thought I had signed it off.

Speaker 2 00:05:40 Uh huh. And I'd been divorced and came out and my parents had died and people had died of cancer, et cetera, et cetera. My whole life was turmoil at that point. And I was weeping throughout the movie. She was 22. She had all 10 grandparents or whatever. I had never experienced any, any loss in her life. She thought it was just the movie ever. And the music was too loud and then I'm like, no, it was beautiful. It was dumb. That's an interesting question about how much life experience prepares you to enjoy movies or appreciate them, especially things that are about weighty subjects. Like the passage of time, like love and loss and all that. I guess I was, you know, you know, already I was sort of, you know, I wouldn't say like cinematically precocious, but definitely cinematically curious. So I was interested in watching quote unquote grownup movies.

Speaker 2 00:06:28 And it's funny, I wouldn't dispute what you said about the movie being malarkey. I think that's true. And I, I still think that's true, but malarkey can be great, but malarkey movies are malarkey. It's a, it's a ridiculous, as you point out in your, in your variety piece, uh, plausibility is overrated. That's what I love about this genre or sub genre. It may be why I am predisposed to liking them or maybe a little kind to them. As some of my colleagues have pointed out to me because there's something kind of, and I wrote this in the piece, but it was basically this idea that a lot of romantic dramas or romantic comedies, they will bend over backwards to engineer that third act contrivance to keep two people apart who, you know, are destined to be together. There's a certain suspension of disbelief that is required to believe that, you know, I think I invoked the example of, you know, the car accident that keeps a Debra Carr and Carey grant from making their fateful empire state building date in a, in a fare to remember, which was then of course, memorialized and sleepless in Seattle, which keeps the two apart from most like 90% of the movie.

Speaker 2 00:07:32 And I, I just sort of love the unabashed Ines of movies. Like somewhere in time where those barriers are not based on like personality. It's not like I can't believe you were a terrible person all along and you're acting, I thought you were a good person. The barriers are completely metaphysical. They're supernatural. I sort of love that. It forces you to surrender completely to the absurdity of it, which is one of the things I love about movies is that it's, it often is, and don't get me wrong. I love realism and movies. I love neorealism. I love, um, you know, battle of Algiers. Absolutely not. So it's not a great date movie battle of Algiers and somewhere in time, great double bill. But so there's something, I think what I admire is the, the willingness of these movies to look ridiculous and they often are, and I think that's a key, you know, and, and of course this is why they invite a lot of critical scorn, you know, they are because it's, it's very fashionable.

Speaker 2 00:08:26 It's very, it's very fun to sort of look down your nose at them. But I think that somewhere in time, really, and one of the reasons that it's endured is that it does have the courage of its absurd convictions and, you know yeah. And watching it again, I was like, Oh God, you know, I mean the closeups of Jean Jane Seymour's face and that the lone tear, you know, streaking down her face, you know, varies. And I don't say this pejoratively it's, it's sort of, it is sort of daytime soap, opera kind of material. And I say that as someone who quite enjoys daytime soap opera, so it's like, it does not look down on them. So I think, yeah, it's um, yeah, again, malarkey malarkey has its pleasures malarkey that can be essential, both, uh, Gino and, uh, Steven Simon. The producer said that it's about having this big obstacle.

Speaker 2 00:09:12 It, that the lovers have to overcome. Yeah. Getting over an argument is not an obstacle. They even removed cancer from the, the, the screenplay, which, uh, or, or, you know, um, Richard Collier had some sort of terminal illness in, in the Richard Matheson book. Um, so they even removed illness from it. You just have to believe and then follow what happens. And I, I think also, um, you know, that third act thing you're talking about, it makes the movie fast. It's a short movie compared to so many of these others where they add all these extra elements, this one lets you just focus on this story. It's a very simple story. Um, you know, when you think of time travel movies, you often think about mind bending intricacies and, and there are a few of them here, but it's all very intuitive. Uh, you know, the, the lovely, the points of intersection between when he realizes that, you know, Oh, but the name, the name signed in the grand hotel ledger and little, little, little payoffs like that.

Speaker 1 00:10:15 I was there. I was there.

Speaker 2 00:10:20 And that means that he really did time tramp that's right. It's very pared down in a way. And they have sort of pared away all those complications and now, and because they take away the cancer element, he of course dies almost purely of a broken heart. I'm talking with Justin Chang right now, uh, about somewhere in time, the movie came out in 1980. What was the critical Zeit Geist at that time? What were critics talking about? You know, this was right in the middle of star Wars, you know, the original star Wars had come out and I think the empire strikes back came out either. It was in 1980 or 81. I can't remember the Hollywood blockbusters are sort of in their ascendancy, you know, had just directed jaws to an alien, had just come out the year before. Um, interestingly enough, a movie that kept coming to mind as I was watching somewhere in time is the shining, which, uh, also came out in 1980 and is also about a hotel with an overpowering sense of place that feels iconic now and is also about how a sense of place, you know, the movies in which hotels are very much the costars or the second or the, you know, the lead, the co-leads as it were different.

Speaker 2 00:11:28 I'm really asking w was it fashionable to dump on somewhere in tech? So, I mean, and which is not to say that it was, you know, that the criticism was disingenuous or, you know, I, and I, I don't think those critics, you know, the ones who were still alive wouldn't necessarily retract their reviews. And this movie was, you know, the stately romantic drama with, you know, Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer, and people just dismissed it as sort of, you know, middlebrow hokum. So I think it was fashionable to dump on it, but I also think there's a reason why that view has maybe changed a little bit and why some audiences have, you know, make these annual pilgrimages to Mackinaw Island, you know, cause this is a movie that's about obsession. And I think it creates it. Incarnates its own obsession among those who love the movie. So it's very fitting that people go back and that people have such an attachment to this place.

Speaker 0 00:12:24 Talking with Stephen Simon, the producer of the movie, he said that the original plan was to re and by the way it was, it was, it did not do BAFO box office. The critics didn't like it, and it didn't do BAFO box office. But, but Steven said that, uh, the original plan was to just kind of leak it out, to put it in some small theater or do a small release and let word of mouth buildup. But what happened was they did two previews like in Toronto, in Minneapolis or something. And, and Steven says the previews were rapturous. The crowds loved it. And the universal executives were there and they said, dude, this is huge. You know, we're going to have another, another blockbuster. And so we're going to do it big. And so they were well-intentioned but they screwed up. Does that make sense to you?

Speaker 2 00:13:15 I mean, that kind of platform release, I guess you would, would be the equivalent now does happen still. Uh, I'm I'm talking

Speaker 0 00:13:22 Pre COVID platform release means

Speaker 2 00:13:24 Start out. Yeah. You start out and usually you to build word of mouth, try to build word of mouth. Um, it's not a movie that you would open wide and the whole wide release strategy of course, had just been sort of introduced five years earlier with jaws. And that was of course, a no brainer strategy to use for your big critic proof sure-fire hits like star Wars, like jaws, but something, a smaller film, I guess like somewhere in time, you know, your prestige movies, your, your, your mid-budget dramas, which do not have necessarily as bankable elements, you would then nowadays, and this is all pre COVID. Um, tendency is for the smaller movies to open in just one or two markets, you know, like Los Angeles, New York, usually, you know, bi-coastal and then, um, and then you build up good reviews, you build up good word of mouth, and then you slowly start to, you know, introduce the movie into other theaters and then gradually you can work up to a wider release and this is, you know, still a pretty successful strategy. So, but, um, but yeah, I was reading a little bit about how somewhere in time, just failed to take off despite seeming like a good candidate for that. And that's interesting to think about how it went over with those preview audiences. I mean, I can understand them, them loving it, but the reviews do play a part.

Speaker 0 00:14:38 It wouldn't, it's a success in the future back up that argument, that, that the way it did spread and got popular, I'll be it on TV. Was people seeing it, people liking it, people, their friends about it, joining, joining

Speaker 2 00:14:53 Fan clubs and stuff. That's an interesting, I mean, this gets into the whole is age old argument of, you know, art versus commerce or whether it's the divide between critics and audiences and how relevant are we a nice sort of, you know, I sometimes wonder, have we ever been relevant? Probably not. For me, it's like sometimes we are in touch with them because that is our role to respond to what is actually striking a chord within the culture. But a lot of our time, our job is to be out of touch, you know, and is to sh tell the public, you know, not that we know more than you, but actually we do know more than you about certain things that you, that do not have the, you know, the, the advertising budgets, the marketing budgets to, to get in front of your eyeballs. And so, but that is a, you know, that is a, an argument that every critic I can tell you writing about the movies is sort of having with themselves and with the audience every day, you know, and, and a movie like somewhere in time, I don't know if I do stick to, I don't know if I think it's a great or good movie, but it's a movie that I have a great affection for.

Speaker 2 00:15:46 And maybe that distinction matters less. It doesn't even matter that much in the end, but, um, I think it also, it's funny to think about what I was picking up on something you were saying, how a movie that sort of grows and finds its audience. It is sort of, it almost feels metaphorically tied to the movie, which is about something that, you know, this grand spark that ignites when it first comes out and then it's extinguished and then years into the future, it is, you know, gloriously and cathartic, we realized in the afterlife. And so maybe that's a nice metaphor for this movie. I think gradually finding its own immortality

Speaker 0 00:16:22 Airs never end with somewhere in time, you know, cause people dress up in 1912 clothing, go back to an Island that is actually stuck in time 1912. So that I think I really do believe they do time travel. Um, and they relive this movie. It's just layer upon layer upon layer. I have to wonder why you quoted in your article. Roger Ebert's review. You said he could only shrug and ask isn't it a little, few tile to travel 68 years backward in time for a one night stand. He wrote that in 1980, uh, he was considerably more cranky in 1980. I think he was probably still drinking in 1980. I really wonder if he would have changed his point of view on it before he died when he's facing mortality, when he's found the love of his life when he's older and more mature and not just a cranky.

Speaker 2 00:17:15 Yeah. I certainly can't speak for Roger Ebert, although it is interesting to look back. I mean, he wrote criticism for so many years and it is interesting to look back at his early reviews and eBird is somebody who I think of as generally a pretty generous critic. And I don't mean that in a, I that's not a slam at all. It's actually, I love the burden, I think. Yeah.

Speaker 0 00:17:35 He tries to watch the movies that the movie maker made as opposed to ones that they should have. Sure,

Speaker 2 00:17:40 For sure. And I think he would err on the side of kindness. And so, but that also makes his outright pans even more Savage perhaps than, than, than someone else's

Speaker 0 00:17:50 Would be. And toward the end of his life or of his, his career, well, his career and his life ended at the same time. They, you know, he kept writing all the way up to the end, but people and other critics especially would often ding eBird for, you know, thinking that he was too kind or that he had mellowed out a little bit. And this is why it was gratifying to hear somewhere in time. Name-checked in Avengers end game. I was so glad to hear somewhere in time named dropped because it's like, and I hope that it sent some small fraction of the ginormous audience for the, for the Marvel cinematic universe back to somewhere in time. Like what does that movie? Because I want to see it, but maybe, I don't know. I don't think so. The screenwriters told me that they hadn't actually watched it now.

Speaker 0 00:18:36 It was just, it was in the list of movies about time-traveling. So they included it. They have not doing their homework. They should watch it. I don't know. I don't know how it would have changed Avengers. I could see it changing guardians of the galaxy because that had such a much sweeter heart to it. It's true. It's true. Totally see him reference in there. Where would you time travel if you could time travel? Oh God. Justin Chang. W would you time travel and forget about the paradox? That's that's BS, but sure. Oh the whole, yeah, if we're inventing a time machine, we are also inventing one that won't create some horrible paradox, unless you want a paradox like world war II not having happened. That's okay. Oh God. Cause I'd go. I'd go back and I'd kill Stalin and I'd kill Hitler mouse too while you're at it. Okay. All right. Um, I would time travel to, uh, no. Um, how about the set of citizen Kane as it's being shot? Oh God, if we're on the subject of Wells, I maybe would go back and S you know, stop them from betraying the magnificent Ambersons.

Speaker 3 00:19:42 So it's next film after that? The night never sit down because it was brings you many of the mercury players. You first saw him citizen Kane. It brings you awesome. Well, just commentator director and producer of a truly distinguished and exciting motion picture.

Speaker 0 00:19:56 And I'd like to get personal and tell me if this is too personal, but we are talking about loss and love and romance and all these things. And toward the end of your variety of PSU, say, take it from me. If you've lost a loved one to long-term illness, it touches about five chords. And you're you were talking there about, about time, but I assume it pervades all your movie watching. And yeah, I was talking actually, when I wrote that, um, that I wrote that piece two years after my dad died of cancer. And that was about 10 years ago for you? Yeah. Well, nine years my own, my dad when I lost my dad. Yeah. And were you close with him? Yeah. When was the last time you reached for the phone? Oh, gosh, it's kind of, I mean, it's weird now too, with phones being what they are. My mom is happily still, still with us. And for a while, sometimes when I would, we would still use like my dad's phone number. Right. He had for a while as like,

Speaker 2 00:20:48 For like to FaceTime and it was, so it would be almost like sometimes I'd be like on my laptop, I'm calling my dad.

Speaker 0 00:20:53 Is it painful? Is it good? Is it bad?

Speaker 2 00:20:56 Sometimes, you know, people lose their parents or they lose somebody very quickly and, and, and suddenly, and sometimes you lose them over time. And with my dad, it was the latter. And I know it was more painful for him. I always feel a little bit grateful and sort of guilty maybe in retrospect, because I got to say goodbye to him over a period. It was over a, roughly two three-year period. I would say since when he was first diagnosed in two years,

Speaker 0 00:21:23 Because my mind passed really quickly. My mom went pretty quickly and then eight months later, my dad died and there was like a a month from diagnosis to his death in a way. Great. Yeah. He suffered very little as far as I know. Yeah. And so that's great, but would have been nice to process this a little bit more

Speaker 2 00:21:42 Process it. Yeah. And then, you know, it's weird cause I know my dad, you know, suffered more than he, than I would have wanted him to, but it was also good to have that time. And then by the time he did go, of course there a certain reliefs, that's it. And then you feel, you feel guilty. It's like, is that, is, should I feel guilty or feeling relief as well as, as well as sadness and you know, all of which just to say, I feel that, um, it was hard and yet coping was not impossible, surrounded by loving family and friends. I was, you know, and I was praying a lot and being calm, finding comfort in that. So it's like, it's interesting now to talk about this too, because my dad, he really did help my love of movies. You know, he helped me with that. And so it was very, I don't know if he ever saw somewhere in time, it's kind of funny. I think I've mentioned it to him and he would have said like, Oh yeah, I remember that. I know that movie, but he really was sort of foundational in a lot of ways to just encouraging me to, to love film and to even loving some, you know, classic Hollywood movies. So that was something we shared. That was something we bonded over.

Speaker 0 00:22:46 I don't want to get too woo. And if this is too woo for you, but it's fine. But you know, my dad, my dad did a lot of radio and he did photography, which I do. And he there's a, you know, my studio, which we're not in right now has tons and tons of archival tape from him in his days at the university of Detroit and Lake superior, state college and all this stuff he did. And that's really nice, you know, there's that quote from Paul Auster that goes, um, reach a certain moment in your life. And you realize that your days are spent more with the dead than with the living I would add. And I'm okay with that. I enjoy it. It's, it's either, it's either you stop thinking about him, stop enjoying the memories or you enjoy the memories and let them be a part of your life. And I think as long as you don't behave delusional about it, it's okay, there's this

Speaker 2 00:23:31 And I'm going to maybe butcher it. But from a favorite author of mine, PD, James, I mostly had to committed to memory, but she said, and I thought I was thinking about this a lot in the years after my dad's death. It's like she said something like the tragedy is not that we grieve, but that we ceased to grieve. And then maybe the dead are truly dead to us at last or something, you know? And I, that's not an exact quote. Um, and it's funny because now in more recent years, I don't know if I even completely agree with it, although it does still resonate with me because grief does sort of become less acute. And as you say, you become more yep. Exactly what you were saying and it's you're right. It's this weird, there's actually something very comforting about getting used to grief to the point where grief, it's not that it ceases to be grief, but it does become something in addition to grief.

Speaker 2 00:24:20 And it's weird sometimes when I don't know, I don't know if I dreamed about my dad that much anymore. There was a time sometimes you'll just, you'll you'll maybe, I don't know if it's true for you just pop up in your, in your dreams sometimes and it's kind of, and you suddenly are pulled back and this is very, very appropriate to time travel because it's completely screws with your sense of, you know, it's like, Oh, it's like, you've spent nine years making peace with this. And then suddenly it's like, it's like, nothing's changed and he's still alive. And then you wake up crying or something. And this has happened to me and, um, it's very much like time travel. Um, and then, and then sometimes it's just, it's okay. Because you know, he's there and it's like, Oh, hi, it's and it's, it's nice. And those, you just see them as gifts. It's like, Oh yeah, he actually, it is almost a thing. He actually really, this does get kind of cliche or trite perhaps, but no, it's like, you know, in a sense he really is alive in that way. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 0 00:25:10 I, um, there was a point, it was probably 1998, 1999. Uh, I reached for the phone to call my parents and I stopped myself in the middle of it and I said, wait a minute, they're gone. And you're you, but in your head, they're alive still. So I S so I told myself to save for the moment. It was a really nice moment of, of consciousness where I, I really did save her and I'm like, well, this is nice alive. Okay. And, and I knew, I knew exactly what I was doing and what was playing out, but it was really comforting to me. Um, my, um, I'm glad that you dream about your dad and then he visits you. My issue is that I, I, I S my dad comes to me and in dreams too, but nevermind mom and I have a really hard time remembering my mother.

Speaker 0 00:25:55 Um, and part of it is that, that I'm 54. They died in 1991 and 92 when I was like 25. So I've now lived more than half of my life without them. She was great, but she wasn't as forceful a personality. And I'm much more like my father and I have recordings of my father. And, uh, there are more pictures of my father. And so I remember him very strongly and I knew him better. I guess I would say that I just knew him a lot better in part, because he's a lot like me, but also just cause he's, you know, he was a, he was a big character and my mom, not so much, there's no recordings. There are no voice recordings that I can find at my mom. There might be video someplace, but I don't think she's talking on it. And I, what I wish is that I could go back in time and not be a Callow 25 year old, who was all about getting laid and living my own life and doing my own thing, which is what you generally do when you're 25. That's generally, I think why your parents die when you're 50 or 70 or whatever, so that, so that you can maybe get to know them as adults. And that's what I would like is to get to know them as adults, ask them a bunch of questions that I, that I don't have answers to. Thank you for listening to my sermon. No, no, it's, it's

Speaker 2 00:27:08 True. And my dad was 71, which, you know, it's that sucks. It's not the shortest life, but it's not the longest either. Uh, it's right in the middle of sort of, maybe that's your question. I I'd be curious. Cause I, you know, I think about this as a parent now to, you know, I have a, I have a three year old, soon to be four this month. I find myself thinking more about who my parents were before and, you know, I can, you know, I called my mom. I asked her, I, I certainly have asked my mom still being with us. I have access to a lot of those memories still, but I think this is just, you know, that universal condition of never being able to fully know who your parents were before they were parents and knowing that they were wholly, you know, their own.

Speaker 2 00:27:53 And maybe if, you know, if you have parents who are, you know, as a lot of parents do live more for themselves than for you or who were, you know, who or who they want a part of your life, you know, my parents were, you know, very self-sacrificing and, you know, we, we did, at the very least, we felt like we were their lives, you know? And so now it's just interesting as a parent to think about that. And whenever, especially when, you know, I'm, I'm, you know, like a lot of writers, like a lot of people it's like, I'm very selfish with my time. And so it's, you know, and whenever I find myself not, you know, am I being neglectful to my child? Am I not spending enough time with her? It's like, I think about that. And I think about what would my parents have done? What did my parents do? This is something I do think about a lot. And I, it stretches you.

Speaker 0 00:28:34 Yeah. Yeah. It totally stretches your brain. Yeah. And it like rips, rips, it rips everything apart. Right. Cause it totally screws up your life. So everything that was comfortable before is now difficult. Totally does. And then it pours stimulant on your head with your brain, which has been opened up

Speaker 2 00:28:52 All those things. And I want to hasten to add, because this was something that a conversation happened. I am in no way trying to ennoble or exalt the state of Parenthood, there was this. Oh, good for you. I don't know if you noticed this, John, like there was this silly thing on Twitter where somebody said it's a privilege to not have children and it ignited this whole reaction. Then this is the whole very, very much, it really accurately rankles me as this idea that like, you're not fully fulfilled on us, your PR you, unless you're a parent, which I think is ridiculous. So I want to hasten to add that you're still yourself, but it, it, it becomes harder to hold onto a lot of those things that you were before you, you know,

Speaker 0 00:29:23 Sorry. Oh, no, but thank you very much. Thank you. Have a good day. Thank you. Oh, man. Passed by and asked if we wanted some food. That's nice. Very nice. Yeah. Uh, Oh, and the other thing is, by the way, when your parents die, after that, you can handle anything. You can handle raising a four year old and not having, not like the

Speaker 2 00:29:42 Worst thing that could happen to you yeah. Has already happened. Huh. Well, and sometimes this is extremely morbid. You might want to cut this, but it's like just thinking about thinking about now, it's just a race to make sure that, you know, your child survives and that you make, make sure that your child outlives you. And then so in a way, you know, it's not that you welcome death, but it's like, even that wouldn't be the worst thing, you know, as long as your kid is taken care of, as long as you die before your child, that is, you know, that is the goal now. Well, thank you very much for joining us. Thank you for having me, John

Speaker 1 00:30:16 That's, Justin Chang film critic for fresh air with Terry Gross and the Los Angeles times. And you know, I had probably spoken half an hour at most with Justin in little five minute increments over the last, I don't know, five years or so at the radio station I work at in Los Angeles at KPCC when he stopped in to be on the film week show. So, you know, we knew each other a little and liked each other a little. And I just want to thank you Justin, for opening your heart, opening your mind to me so much, uh, and trusting me with what for a lot of people is a very sensitive topic. So that was very cool. Thank you very much. You, in fact, have helped to define what this show is. So I really appreciate it. Call back yesterday is produced, written, recorded and directed by John Raby. That's me with additional sound recording by Ava. <inaudible>. Our theme music is performed by the van Dyke parks and our logo was made by Michael Ulan caught additional support from Bermudez projects in Los Angeles. Join me soon for the next episode of call back. Yes. Thank you for listening.


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