Cinema Series Interview: “Death At A Funeral”

Here it is folks, the interview you’ve all been waiting for! And it’s just a taste of what’s to come at “Death At A Funeral” presented by Jennifer Cochran, MSc on Saturday, February 8, 2020, at Dan and Loraine Wodiska’s house: 6014 N. 28th St. , Arlington, VA. Eat and Greet: 5:30 – 6:30, Move and discussion: 6:30 – 9:30. Be sure to RSVP to cinema@magps.org.

Below, you will thoroughly enjoy Rob Bamberger, MSW interviewing Jennifer. You might already know Jenn through her incredible cooking at many of our movies. She’s coming up with a British brew thanks to her years in London. Jenn believes her history is familiar
to most of you and that there is no need to recount her personal history by way of an introduction. Since moving to this area nearly two years ago, Jenn has been working for non-governmental organizations (NGO).

Jenn: NGO’s are fantastic at providing food and clothing, and while this is of crucial benefit to the recipients, it can displace their inner world. What has become exciting for me is the idea of people knowing their own value to help them get through whatever they’re going through. I’m trying to find a way to work more with the psychosocial. In “A Death at Funeral,” the characters can’t get out of their heads.

RB: You’ve a wonderful memory of seeing this British version of “A Death at a Funeral.”

Jenn: Seeing it with my mom. And, speaking of heads, we just laughed ours off!

RB: You and Lenore and some others have been thinking that maybe MAGPS Movie Night needs a little comic relief at this moment. However, you’ve suggested that this movie has lots into which the MAGPS crowd can sink their reflective teeth.

Jenn: Oh, yes! The movie is strewn with family dynamics, for example, two brothers, one of whom is the favorite and can do no wrong. There’s also the husband and wife dynamics, and the mother-in-law; all these kinds of situations that are very typical. Those are all there, the way people treat each other and respond to each other.

But, what comes through very prominently is that everyone at the funeral has an agenda beyond the funeral. Everyone has a need or a focus that they are wholeheartedly intent on pursuing. There’s a lot of humor in it, but everybody is wrapped up in their own needs to the exclusion of all else.

RB: This isn’t the sort of agenda we would expect a funeral to have at large. From what you say, in this movie, it has huge consequences.

Jenn: Right. You go to a funeral to think about the family and giving them comfort and being there for them. But, because these people are there to meet their own needs in many ways, some of them engage in behaviors that set up significant situations that unfold in sometimes zany ways at the very same time that this is supposed to be a solemn occasion. After all, someone has died. You want to be respectful. Especially as this is set in Britain where we expect the ‘stiff upper lip.’ Instead, all these crazy things and conversations are happening. It’s mayhem and a multitude of plotlines cross each other in dizzying fashion. It makes for humor, but I think it’s also very human because, if you have a need, you can’t focus on anything else until it gets met.

RB: We’ll need to bear in mind, won’t we, that this isn’t a funeral in the sense of attending a service and then getting fed by the grieving family afterwards. This funeral is an event, right?

Jenn: Yes. It takes place at a British manor house. The very fact that they are having a casket – an open casket — in somebody’s home would be an unusual situation. You could have a wake in somebody’s home after the funeral or a reception, but not an open casket funeral with all the people sitting around it. I’d say it’s not typical at all even though this is set in the present time.

RB: Which brings up the fact that we shouldn’t overlook, namely that, a few years later, an American version of this film was made. Have you seen it?

Jenn: No, I haven’t. Having lived in England, I really enjoy British comedy and when I’ve seen it redone, I’ve not enjoyed it as much. Even French comedies that I’ve seen redone in America are not as enjoyable. What I like about the British version is that it’s very dry, juxtaposing British reserve with the crazy stuff that’s going on.

I don’t want to give too much away, but this is a MAGPS movie night where there will be drugs, extramarital affairs, and nudity.

RB: Just to be clear, you mean on the screen.

Jenn: In my experience, yes!

RB: I’d like to close our conversation by returning to something you said at the start – specifically – your current focus on our inner well-being. How does “A Death at a Funeral” speak to that?

Jenn: I think of the main character who starts out insecure and finds his voice in the film through a series of trying experiences. We harbor secrets to protect ourselves and others. The movie says something about speaking to the truth of our lives. I don’t want to give too much away, so I won’t elaborate beyond that.

RB: I think you’ve given us a worthy prism through which we’ll get to experience the movie.

Note to readers: While this ended our conversation about the movie, I chanced to mention how Jenn’s description of the movie reminded me of the many Agatha Christie murder mysteries which are set on British manor estates. It turned out that both Jenn and I have read piles of Agatha Christie mysteries, and our conversation veered into talking about several specific titles. This dialogue was mesmerizing and would stagger you, but we think this is not the place for us to intimidate you with our little gray cells.

     CINEMA SERIES presents Death At A Funeral on Saturday, February 8, 2020
         Hosts:  Lorraine and Dan Wodiska            Dinner and visiting: 5:30 PM
                     6014 28th St., North                        Film viewing:  6:15 PM
                     Arlington, VA 22207                       Discussion & Dessert
                               A $10 contribution to the cost of the food is requested
Please RSVP by sending an email to cinema@magps.org if interested in attending.
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