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Aubrey Plaza and Lawrence Michael Levine create intensity and anxiety in ‘Black Bear’

Aubrey Plaza in "Black Bear"
(Momentum Pictures)

Hello! I’m Mark Olsen and welcome to another edition of the newsletter companion to the recently launched “The Envelope: The Podcast,” where my cohost Yvonne Villarreal and I will bring you highlights from each week’s episode.

Last week it was announced that Stacey Sher, Jesse Collins and Steven Soderbergh will produce the Oscars show in April. That date is two months later than usual, pushed back due to the pandemic.

As our awards expert Glenn Whipp wrote about the announcement, “It’s all pretty simple: Because we don’t know what the world will look like five months from now, we don’t know what the Oscars will look like, either. It could be almost entirely virtual, like this year’s Emmys. Or maybe it’ll be an intimate affair with just the nominees attending. Soderbergh’s involvement, however, guarantees that the show isn’t simply going to be different. It’s going to be downright peculiar.”

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Or as the trio of producers said in a statement, “We’re thrilled and terrified in equal measure.” I think we all know the feeling. And we’re sure Glenn will keep us updated with “Awards Minute” segments on the podcast.

Actor and producer Aubrey Plaza of “Black Bear,” photographed at the Sundance Film Festival
Actor and producer Aubrey Plaza of “Black Bear” at the Sundance Film Festival.
(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

This week on the show we have actress and producer Aubrey Plaza and writer-director Lawrence Michael Levine from the movie “Black Bear.” The movie is something of a head-spinning psychodrama, with Plaza as an actress turned filmmaker at work on a new script, staying at the secluded cabin owned by a couple played by Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon. With a tricky, two-part structure, the movie’s intense emotions leave the viewer questioning what exactly just happened.

For Plaza, following her work in “Ingrid Goes West” and the TV series “Legion,” she continues to grow deeper and deeper as a performer, somehow adding rich new layers to the sardonic persona she became known for on “Parks and Recreation.”

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“I think my first reaction was just that it felt so unique and that I had never read anything like it before,” said Plaza. “And of course, I had a lot of questions about just logic and what came first, one or two, or is there an answer to that or are these up for interpretation and things like that. I think my first question was like, ‘How the hell do you think that I’m going to be able to do this?’ When Larry gave it to me, I was very flattered that he believed in me so much that he felt like I could handle that material.”

An image from the movie "Black Bear," directed by Lawrence Michael Levine.
(Momentum Pictures)

Released by Momentum Pictures, “Black Bear” is in limited theatrical release and available on VOD.

Thanks for reading/listening/subscribing. We have lots more to come. Upcoming guests include Rashida Jones for “On the Rocks,” Shira Haas for “Unorthodox,” Kemp Powers for “One Night In Miami…” and “Soul,” and Radha Blank for “The Forty-Year-Old Version.”

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Listen to the podcast here, and subscribe to “The Envelope: The Podcast” on Apple Podcasts or your podcast app of choice.

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Feedback? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at awards@latimes.com.


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