Protomartyr’s Joe Casey On The Highs And Lows Of His Pandemic Movie Watching

As the pandemic gained steam and the world shut down last spring, Protomartyr frontman Joe Casey told both NPR and Brooklyn Vegan that he was planning to lean on watching movies as a major part of his quarantine coping mechanism. Now as parts of the world begin to reopen, we thought it was a good time to follow up on what he ended up watching, which films stuck with him, and which ones landed with a thud.

His viewing habits varied from highbrow arthouse fare to forgotten trash (“If I lived on the Criterion Channel alone, I’d be a pretentious asshole”), and gradually skewed towards lighter entertainment as ponderous films about death and dying understandably lost their luster. We narrowed his massive list of watched films down to 10 and chatted about each, from a thrilling Indian action movie starring a rampaging buffalo to a Hugh Grant/Drew Barrymore rom-com to his unironic appreciation of Oliver Stone’s The Doors.

The 2019 Richard Curtis-penned ‘Yesterday’ posited a world in which only one struggling musician remembers the music of the Beatles, which he then tries to pass off as his own while remaining oblivious to the affections of his best friend.

Joe Casey: I was ready to be charmed by it. I saw the bad reviews, and I thought to myself, “I’m sure it’s cloying and mawkish, but it can’t be that bad.” I’m kind of a soft touch. I just saw Dream Horse, and I was crying during it, so I thought maybe people were being too harsh on Yesterday, but no, they’re right, it’s a bad movie. It’s one of those movies I hate that has the completely wrong idea about the music business. It has this very Boomer idea, nostalgic idea, about rock and roll and how the Beatles were this big thing, and it works against the movie to have that be the central conceit. I really did not like its attitude towards the music business and the Beatles, and the idea that if John Lennon wasn’t famous he’d be a happy man.

The problem is that the movie thinks that it’s very heartwarming and very clever, but it’s not. So that’s the worst kind of movie to try to sit through, because it’s making jokes and they’re just not landing. They really thought this was going to be the big hit of the year and the Beatles company was saying “This is what’s going to push Beatles music for a new generation.” Something always tries to come along that keeps the Beatles as the only music that people listen to. Being in a band that tries to make a living from being a band and playing at festivals and things, your relatives see this movie and they think, “Oh, this is the struggle you have, you have an acoustic guitar and you’re trying to write songs, but you might throw it all away for the love of a woman…” or something.

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