Aug. 28, 2021

Faithspotting CODA

Faithspotting CODA

Mike and Kenny discuss the film C.O.D.A. (Children of Deaf Adults) and spot faith reflected in the Sundance Film Festival Award winning film directed by Sian Heder. Emilia Johnes, Marlee Matlin, and Eugenio Derbev star in C.O.D.A. which is available...

Mike and Kenny discuss the film C.O.D.A. (Children of Deaf Adults) and spot faith reflected in the Sundance Film Festival Award winning film directed by Sian Heder. Emilia Johnes, Marlee Matlin, and Eugenio Derbev star in C.O.D.A. which is available for streaming on AppleTV+.


Faith Elements:

Jesus's Parable of the Talents Matthew 25: 14-30. Having the faith to risk and use one's talents rather than burying them by doing what is comfortable and safe.  The corollary is for others to allow loved one to use their talents and follow their calling. Such applies to individuals and families and communities. 


Opening: I'm Kenny Dickson and I'm Mike Hatch, welcome to Faith Spotting.

Audio Clip: Yeah, I will go where you lead. Oh is there in time late And when I'll lose my will, you'll be there to push me up the hill. That's no, don't look him back for rights. We got love. Sure enough, That's enough. You're, you're all that I need.


Mike: There’s a clip from CODA. You can watch that now on Apple tv. My name is Mike Hatch,

Kenny: I am Kenny Dickson,

Mike: This is faith Spotting. So Kenny, I'm gonna let you jump right in and let's talk about what this movie is about. Then we'll talk about what you thought about it and what I thought about it. Let's go in that direction.

Kenny: So talk about the film itself. So it's a actually, it's a remake of a French film. Both films were about a family that had three of the four members were deaf and then there was one hearing daughter in it. This one takes place in the northeast. The family has a fishing boat in the French film. They had a dairy farm and she is again, the only one of the family that, that, that hears, so she's grown up interpreting for them all her life. She's discovered her passion is singing and so that brings up some interesting elements on how a family of three out of four, how the hearing impaired in the family could relate to her passion for singing. Uh, and then there's also thrown in some economic challenges and if she goes off and pursues her dream, what will happen to the family when she's not there and they're struggling business when she's not there to interpret, it's officially a coming of age film. Both for her as a high school senior and then also for the family coming of age into getting into integrating more into the hearing community.


Mike: Yes. So let's do a Siskel and Ebert because we sometimes give our opinions about films before we see them and we sometimes don't. This came up on my side where my daughter and my wife wanted to watch this. We don't actually have AppleTV+ at the moment, but you and I have access through the podcast to Screeners and things like that and there was a screener that I had available for this movie. So I watched it. But you told me what you thought about it. So lay out what you thought and we'll see if we have a little Siskel and Ebert thing going on here.

Kenny: I liked it I guess. I certainly didn't love it. I thought the 1st 3rd of the film might be moving up to the first half was just so movies by numbers and every single cliche. The acting was good, the script, you know, the dialogue and all that. It was good. It was just so cliche if you had a girl, she's uh senior, uh, sort of on the fringes of her social group, She wants to get with us, one of the guys who is sort of cute and in the group, then she decides she wants to pursue her passion, so she takes choir, and of course there's a grumpy choir teacher that's going to be demanding, and he's Spanish speaking and you just see everything, it's gonna do this, it's gonna do that, it's going to do this, and that I was just sort of floating along and seeing how right I was going to be, you know. Toward the end, it seemed to pick up a little in, the ending was decent, I thought, I can't believe all of the stuff I'm hearing about it, you know, it came to an ending wrapped up in a fairly comfortable sweet bow, but I'm just shocked that it's getting as much Oscar buzz, Oscar talk, best script, I just don't see it, for me, it was sort of a reverse of Mr Holland's opus and it's certainly, and you can't watch this, and if you've seen sound of metal and compare and it does not come close to Sound of metal, even in the portrayal of the deaf community, and and from what I've read, it's sort of mostly positive within uh the deaf community, there is a little bit of pushback. Yeah, 25 million.

Mike: $25 million. Yeah, so what Kenny is talking about with the 25 million, there was a bidding war at Sundance and I forget that what were the two awards that this picked up? It was

Kenny: the audience award?

Mike: Audience award and Best Picture, I think. So, it had the two big awards, what it wants. So Katie's just kind of shaking his head. But there was a bidding war between Netflix and apple tv cash strapped. Yeah. Just having a really tough time with a lot of cash. But they went against each other, walked away. $25 million richer. This film called Coda. Coda stands for Children of deaf adults. Okay. So I totally respect what you're saying and I was not expecting this at all. This is one of those movies that I walked into that somebody told me that they just thought it was okay. They thought it was all right. And I went in with that expectation and I loved the movie. I hate to say, I'm sorry Kenny. Maybe I just, I love the movie now, here's what I'm gonna compare it to because I've been really processing it because I agree with you. There was a lot of stuff. Best script, I don't think so. I did enjoy the family dynamic. How comfortable that the whole thing sitting at the dinner table reviewing the sun's tender. I just stuff like that was just so family ish. We have family is things that we do that other people coming in, they would just look at his cock eyed and go, are you guys insane. You know, so they had a lot of that stuff going on, you could tell they were very close family. I compared this movie to you know where your destination is going, you know what's coming up, you know what's going to happen, but the ride to get there was so sweet, I just loved it and I knew that there was going to be a bucky's on the way and I was excited about it and I knew that we were gonna go to this restaurant that we always love to go, I knew what was coming, but I just loved it, I just really bought into it, I bought into the sappiness of it but it wasn't sappy, I mean for me it wasn't sappy, it seemed real, it seemed legitimate. Now I will add that I grew up probably about half an hour, 45 minutes away from where this was filmed which is very close to Manchester by the sea and it was funny to a little trivia that I was reading about. The director went to school with Casey Affleck, they grew up in the same area there, so that meant a lot to are to see Gloucester because I love Gloucester. It's one of my favorite cities in massachusetts right near Salem, I love Salem as well. The other thing too that I bought hook line and sinker, You mentioned the choir teacher, my favorite teacher in high school was my choir teacher, Mrs. Aaron, she was incredible, reminded me a lot of this guy wouldn't take any crap was very much by the numbers, but you could tell that she loved every one of us kids and she wanted the best for she wanted us to go to all states. She wanted us to love the music that we had. So that was something that made it easier for me to buy into this because of the fact that you had that going on.

Kenny: Eugenia Derbez, Mr Vick, I can't roll my r's.

Mike: So he was in a miracles do happen with Jennifer Gardner and that was something that my wife immediately noticed. It's usually the other way around. My wife will look at me and go, why does he look so familiar? Why does he look so familiar? It's because he was in that movie and I loved his character. Yes, I know a lot of it was so stereotypical for the choir teacher that's grumbly and grumpy. But I just bought into that. Another thing that brought me in, I'm a teacher. So that relationship that he had with his students where he was just like, we need to get things done guys. This is the way we do it, but still having that hard underneath. You could tell that he adored his students just, I bought into it. Why did you run out of my class? I got scared


Audio Clip: Awhat other kids maybe or maybe finding out that I'm bad. Do you know what I've always said about bob Dylan. Mhm. A voice like sand and glue, there are plenty of pretty voices with nothing to say. Do you have something to say? I think so good then I’ll see you in class.


Mike: The family dynamic was probably my favorite. Also the fact which I love that Hollywood is going in this direction, These actors that were the three hearing impaired members of the family were actually deaf. That was something that the director made it a point that she wanted to make sure that anybody that


Kenny: actually that was probably more or as much Marlee Matlin, she was about to walk off because they originally had found the husband was he was not going to be dead. I mean he was, he was not hearing impaired and Marlee Matlin was gonna was gonna not do the film if they didn't have actual deaf people playing the death, death characters, which they did not do in the french version. Okay, interesting. It is very good and they were very good actors. So we looked at this in the sound of metal, we looked at it in a quiet place because the daughter there was actually hearing impaired and yeah, that they are very good. You guess, I don't know, it might be more of a challenge if you're, you know, to be acting but not be able to use your voice. And we talked last week with Val, moving about Val Kilmer, who who has lost much of his voice, how hard that would be as an actor not to have your instrument well if you're deaf and although Marlee Matlin can talk and has talked, you know that that would be challenging, I would think and they do a wonderful job. The family dynamics are pretty good. Some of the humor I didn't buy, you know, especially at one scene, I mean it was to me it was a swing and a miss, but some people probably liked it.


Mike: I loved seeing Marlee Matlin, it was great seeing her on the screen again, I completely bought into the dad just kind of this crumbly fishermen and again, that could have gone stereotype, you could have easily easily brought in an actor that just happened to know sign language was not hearing impaired. But man, I bought every single second when he was on the screen that he was a fisherman, he was from Gloucester and I know for a fact that the director, she went down to the docks and Gloucester hung out, tried to win him over borrow boats. I mean, so you could feel that I felt like I was in Gloucester from being there many times, I just felt like I was there, my brother is you know very much a fisherman and I was like, yeah, that's, that's just kind of the way he is. So that was another thing that brought me in, you were talking about not having a voice in this. One of the things that I wish I could do is I wish I could watch the movie and I wish I just knew sign language and I didn't have to read the subtitles because if you were really, really watching it, even if you were reading the subtitles, you could tell that the way that they were signing there was so much Yeah.

Kenny: When I say you don't have a voice, I should, you don't have a physical vocal voice. Obviously they have a voice in terms of tones of emotion. Yeah, tons of emotion and they convey that through their facial expressions and I sort of like that because I love silent films and I fell in love with those in school. And so again it's for me it wasn't that their performances were lacking. I thought I thought they were very good. Emelia jones who plays the lead ruby extraordinary, very good. She, I think she carries a good part of that film but that was something that came up again in the French version because they were using non hearing impaired, who just sort of learned the sign language and there are nuances that people who know who are fluent and of course here it's American sign language, there was French sign asylum, you know just like if if someone is not a native English speaker and they just use you know some of the old Japanese films. Uh Kurosawa know that you have these Japanese actors mouthing or trying, you can tell they're not English. So yeah, you can't do that if you're not fluent, you just can't learn the, the hand signals or have learned it in the three months before. So, you know, they were very correct. Uh, and I don't know if it was the production or why they were leaning maybe to not doing that. And it is a good thing whether, you know, is Marley and perhaps the director who insisted on that because that does give it, even if you don't, as you said, even if you don't understand ASL they just do it. So that was almost one of the things, one of the little things and I thought about a little bit, some of the people that I've known in a couple of churches, we've had signed interpreters who who interpret primarily the singing. My last church, we had a woman, she wanted, she was not hearing impaired, but she was fluent in sign language and she wouldn't interpret or she would sign the, the hymns of anthems of the choir. And then I would notice when she was just in the pews, she would be signing the him, not for anybody to see, but I mean, let's just get into that. So I was a little surprised that ruby just in her general talking and singing, I mean she ends up eventually, but

Mike: we were saying the same thing that she was that was- but that was an incredibly, incredibly and this is where I'm kind of leaning in your direction where they were sort of fabricating something, they're trying to push your emotions, there was something that happened and it's not, I've been reading about it before. I even saw the movie, there was a scene at the high school choir performance where you get to essentially feel without giving too much away how a deaf person would feel at a performance like that. Yeah, and that was well done. But one of the things my wife said, well why doesn't she just go ahead and sign for her family? But that comes into play later on. So that's where it's kind of fabricated and it's sort of kind of toys with your emotions but it still worked out in the end for me. Okay, so going back to what you were saying, I gotta touch on it for a second. Sound of metal. I don't know the now don't they? I'm not gonna say that this is better than sound of metal.

Kenny: Please don't.

Mike: I know I can't do that because sound of metal was just so incredible and so but it's it's almost a contrast to it. This is like to me, Sound of metal is kind of a gruff e older brother, that's something happened to that this is something like a like a Tween or a teen kind of story. So they I believe that they're related but they're so different from each other, but they're sort of in the same family, if that makes any sense between the two sound of metal wins for me.

Kenny: Yeah they are. I mean, well, it's funny because I was reading an article um, in variety or something and it said they really brought up the family film value and so I went back, I thought the language was not all that family. So I'm trying to go back that I did. I think I saw a lot of signed F bombs.

Mike: So you're talking like the coarse language that they had.

Kenny: And so, you know, if if that had not been signed a lot, would they, you know, they didn't have any explicit sex. They had a lot of implied sex or some implied sex and, and stuff, but you know, I mean, it's, it didn't have the rough edge, that sound of metal had.

Mike: I think that they accurately portrayed how a family, that fishing is like a blue collar, hard blue collar career. I think it was pretty accurate to the way that they would act in my opinion. But if you're talking family though, if we're going to go down that road, I think there was just as much of a family atmosphere in sound of metal, if you think of the camp, you know, there was a lot of family dynamics going on with that too. But if you're talking an actual blood family, yes, this, in my opinion, if you're thinking about taking your kids are watching it with your kids, it's definitely a very hard PG 13, it's PG 13, it's like PG 13Ish, because there there's one f bomb.

Kenny: there's only one? eah, there was only

Mike: Yeah, there’s only one, with the choir teacher, which I thought was really funny when he really signed, so yeah, you're rolling his eyes. I liked it. I thought it was funny because it's something that could happen, so, but that was the only F bomb.

Kenny: A whole lot of language that kid’s under 13 are using, but you just don't wanna bring it out with your kids.

Mike: Exactly, right, That's exactly right.

Kenny: And it's interesting because I came into it sort of the opposite, I remember, so the new york times put out at the end of May, sort of a summer movie calendar. And so they had, and so this one was listed in in august and so I had circled it because I thought it was interesting even before our movie contact even had it. I just thought this would be interesting because just the idea of, of CODA and and how that and I know that there's different perspectives within the deaf community on that, even at times, there's some militancy in that and that's sort of what came out more in sound of metal, you know, if you, if you get the implant, you're out and there's been some parents of deaf Children who were deaf, but yet their Children could either have implants or something to become hearing and they didn't want to do that because they don't see that as anything less. I really can't speak to the right or wrong of that, That's that's up to each person and that, that has to face that. But I was interested in how that dynamic was gonna go, just the idea of a girl whose passion is music, How do you explain that to your mom and dad and brother who can't comprehend that and I was a little disappointed that they didn't go a little bit deeper into that. There was a couple of conversations where it came up, but for me more of the issue was with the economic impact if she left the family and not the cultural, you know, you're you're leaving us, how do we relate to you? I was, I was hoping it was gonna be more of that when I read it back in May and and you know, and then hearing some of the buzz. So my expectations were pretty high. And so that may have have colored expectation. And so, but a lot of times I won't like necessarily a movie at the first time, but especially in preparing for the podcast, I go back and re-watch it, and I was going back and I was like, oh, I know this part and I was, I found myself skipping ahead, you know, and it just, it just didn't pop for me and you know, it's just, well, I'm certainly in the minority, because a lot of people said and if it won that at at Sundance and we'll see if it gets if it gets awards.

Mike: Looking from the outside in one of the things that we have, Kenny has been gracious enough to bring to the podcast, which has been great, as a contact that will give us screeners we could watch and sometimes interviews and this is one that if I could go back in time and change something, I would have loved to have interviewed the director or one of the actors. And I remember that there was an opportunity for that, but him and I just kind of said no, that's okay. But I'm looking back and like that would have been kind of cool.

Kenny: Yeah, but it's all right. Well, and I watched it first and maybe, you know, I was just assuming you might not like it, but I think I just had the time to see the screener first and, and I didn't want to bring another “Luca” uh you know, you never know for me, this was “Luca” is okay.

Mike: that's okay,

Kenny: To me the ending was pure sap and I and I explained it to my wife and when I was explaining it sounded just all this is just you know you can explain it in such a way that's like okay but the experience of the ending of the last Really the last 40 minutes or half of the film it got better once they got through the you know the setting up and all of that it got better and in the ending is sappy but it's a good sap, it's a maple syrup sap not it's not a oak sap.

Mike: Or like a high fructose corn syrup or a lot of what Hollywood puts out these days.

Kenny: I don't think well, I don't think I'd give away but I really always have an emotional attachment to both sides now. That's sort of that's sort of the one of my top 10, top five tv moments I think was the end of season six on “Mad Men” when they used that Don Draper takes his kids and his daughters a young teen and he takes them to the to the whorehouse. He grew up in. You know he's this big successful, he's never talked it well you don't even carry the name that he did then he's sort of sharing that with them and it's this old, dilapidated house and it was you know it was it was a whorehouse back then and they said, well why are we here? And he says this is where I grew up and it kicks into to that song. And and if you know Don Draper's character, it fit him perfectly. He's been on both sides, you know, the side of a poor orphan sort of mistreated now he's taking the identity of somebody else and is living this very successful executive, but he doesn't know how to love, he doesn't know what life's about. He doesn't, you know, it was just it was just one of the perfect is like this is perfect and in this situation I think also it is very, very fitting that she's been on both sides. Both sides of of a lot of things. Just the way the way that she pulled it off singing in the way it was presented. I thought I thought was very good.

Audio Clip: Look at me. Make the ugliest, grossest town, you can come on, oh, go be a monster. I've looked at life from both sides now from win and lose and still somehow.

Mike: So what sort of faith aspects that we have in this.

Kenny: You know, the first thing that jumped out of my mind and a couple of films or at least one we've talked about the “Parable of the Talents”, obviously she had this passion for singing. She was in a family that that couldn't relate to that. And then if she pursued it was going to cause them harm. But yet that was what her passion was. That is what her gift was. And that is what the end the teacher brought that out in her astutely saw that she had that talent and passion. And

Mike: Eventually her brother does too, long story short, her brother starts essentially dating her best friend and in a conversation which you don't see on screen, she says to the brother of your sister is incredibly talented. She has a beautiful voice. He starts thinking about it and he's like, well, we need to let her go. We have to let her go.

Kenny: There's that element. And there's also that she's in his mind and it's probably a bit of a realistic portrait. Each of the siblings thinks the other is the favored the daughter. She's the one who here, so she's really not, I mean, she knows sign language, but she's really not part of the three that her death. And then her brother, well, she's the star and she's the rescue of the family. That always. So, I mean, and I thought that was that was a good portrayal of both of them and their dynamic and he does send her off partly because he knows she has that, but also partly. So the family can stop using her as a crutch and that's one of the other things that are going to get to. But but she has this talent. So the parable of the talents is not to bury the talent and parable talent is sum of money, but not to bury your gift, but to use it if you have the gift and if you know your gift and that's often a hard time to figure that out, but not bury it or not to bury your light under a bushel either, it could be another thing, but to use it to let it shine, to take risks.

Audio Clip: You have no discipline, you're late, you weren't prepared, you wouldn't last two days at Berkeley out go well, it's not like that school, did you any good, you have what, 17 years on this planet, you don't know it, you want to know who I'm a teacher and good at this, but I can't do my job unless you do yours and I certainly don't need a lesson in failure from someone who's too afraid to even try, I've never done anything without my family before.

Kenny: The other part of that, which is not necessarily in the scriptural telling of that is the family has to let them, if someone has a talent that's outside of the family business, outside of the family tradition, outside of whatever they need to let that person go. If sometimes you have to let them go, uh if you love them and there's probably a bunch of songs about a yeah, yeah, so you know using your talent and breaking free, so you can use that and then also the family letting them do that, you know, I guess the correlation with that would be Jesus talking about at least in discipleship and this is not what this is, but back then if you are a disciple and your family didn't want you to be part of that, Jesus cult, that they would have said at the time, if it comes to choosing between family and your faith is a disciple, you choose, your faith is a disciple, sometimes we have to do that and the family should let them go again, the fear of venturing out into the wider community and um so they had, they were little, it really wasn't addressed in a really formal direct way, but it was brought up enough times that the family felt ostracized, they were the deaf people, they were the weird people and they couldn't really be a part of the community, and part of that is standing up for themselves, because the way they thought they were perceived and so then they, they sort of judged the other, the hearing community and the hearing community was judging them and in the middle was Ruby trying to help them survive, but they weren't really weren't thriving because they weren't really part of the larger community. There was one brief mention of a deaf community or deaf friends, but she said they got with them once a month or so, you know, really part of, you know, the challenge for them was to generalize themselves into the community and now that is something that that that very much related to me because I have an autistic daughter who's pretty profoundly autistic.

Kenny: The temptation is just hunker down and because it's it's just so hard to go in the community At times and you know, you go and if you're 31 year old daughter has a meltdown and has collapsed on the floor at Walmart and hitting her head and screaming and all that. And people are looking and staring and you know, you get to the point where it's just you just don't want to do it. It's just it's just easier not to do it and you just don't have the energy to do it a lot of time. So, you know, you're looking at that challenge, but but you need to, you need to generalize, we need to generalize her more and you know, most of time we don't really care and most of the time when she has had a meltdown, it's generally with my wife when they're shopping, and you know, we don't have it as much lately, but there's always been somebody to come and help you know.

Kenny: But still, uh, so there is that challenge on this family to break past the fear and break past the judgments that they think they're gonna hear or that they've heard in the past that is breaking free of the fear and as a family, allowing their talents to show, you know as a fishing family uh not being limited by sort of the status quo and the way things are done. So they have talents, they have skills, they have ideas and not letting their alienation from the hearing part, the hearing world or the business community keep them from doing that.

Mike: And that is a subplot that that's happening in the movie we didn't discuss but there is that going on where the family here is going out, catching fish, bringing them in and essentially just you know what they make is being cut by essentially about 60%.

Audio Clip: We’re tired of the Geo  You don't care if these guys regulate us to death. Mhm. Because you're the only one making money here, no one’s getting paid what their catch is worth. Uh huh. My dad fish and his dad so I'm gonna fight like hell to stay out on the water.

Mike: So that's a whole subplot that they’re being exploited the by the wholesalers, and then the government putting restrictions.

Kenny: And for both of them um again there is this needing to venture out to take risk to risk failure to fully use the talents in their family, the tradition of fishing that's there. The 3rd and 4th generation, you know we all have at times we need to take risk and if we have a talent if we have a dream and you know that your passion, you have to risk, to to go for it, you know, whether you have a dream that you want to act, well go to New York, go to California. If you're, you know, especially if you're young, try it and then if it doesn't work out,

Mike: You're not going to sit there wondering at all your life.

Kenny: If only if only if only I would have done that. So yeah, so that for me is the thing that stuck out most faith wise.

Mike: Kenny says may not be worth your time. I say worth your time

Kenny: Especially if you have Apple tv. Uh I don't know if it's still in release in theaters, probably won't be for long, but

Mike: probably not. That's a whole other story what they're doing there, check it out.

Kenny: Let us know.

End Audio Faithspotting is a production of Cross Roads Faith and Film. Some materials, not property of Faithspotting, but are utilized in the fair use guidelines. Thank you so much for listening. We'll catch you next week.