Joyce Chopra’s “Lady Director” and Chris Smith’s “Sr.”

December 9, 2022

Subscribe on Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud

Do you love listening to the LARB Radio Hour? Support the production of this weekly podcast on books, art, and culture. Donate today.

A LARB Radio Hour double feature on two mavericks of independent cinema. In the first half of the show, Kate Wolf and Eric Newman are joined by Joyce Chopra to discuss her new memoir, Lady Director: Adventures in Hollywood, Television, and Beyond. The book traces Chopra’s earliest inspirations as a young girl growing up near Coney Island to the projects that launched her storied career across TV news, documentaries and feature films, including the feminist classics Joyce at 34 and Smooth Talk. The memoir also engages larger questions about how women combatted sexism in the entertainment industry before the #MeToo movement and in its wake. Chopra’s story offers a path for women in film and beyond to find creative achievement, and that moving target we call happiness.

Next, Kate Wolf speaks with Chris Smith about his most recent movie, Sr. which documents the career of the American underground filmmaker Robert Downey Sr., who’s best known for his 1969 farce Putney Swope, about an advertising agency in New York City. Downey made over a dozen other films, such as Greaser’s Palace, Chafed Elbows, and Hugo Pool, which stars his son, the actor Robert Downey Jr., who made his debut in another film of his father’s, Pound, when he was only five years old. In Sr. Smith follows Robert Downey Jr.’s experience of reckoning with his father’s wildly creative and unconventional life, his complicated parenting, and his painful decline as he struggles with Parkinson’s, all while celebrating the work of a true iconoclast.