Here's the thing: the dilemma for all film-makers. The beauty of cinema is that you're basically walking into Plato's cave. You're going into a darkened room and entering a world you don't know anything about. You're going on a journey and you don't know what to expect. But if you've written the script and raised the money and shot the film and then sat in the editing suite for six months, then you are not going to be able to walk into that world. That experience has been robbed from you. The result is that you can't see the film that you've made. The interpretations of others are more valid than your own.
>> Do you see it as your role as an artist and a film-maker to counteract [social problems] in some way, to shake people up?
Don't get me started on Brian De Palma. I re-watched ‘Redacted' last night because [I] thought that given total artistic freedom he could reach for the stars. And he did. But the stars were beyond his reach. The script is trite, it is weak. That's because Brian is trite, Brian is artistically weak. Skate fast on thin ice. That's his story. That's his con.
I've never thought of Hedwig as trans, because of the coercion. Hansel, the boy, was quite comfortable being the feminine gay boy that he was. He was, in a way, forced into a kind of mutilation. There was no choice. There was no agency. It was the patriarchy saying, ‘You've got to do this to be married, to get out, to be free.' So to me, it's more of a statement about the binarchy. Many trans, non-binary, queer, straight people have said it felt activating for them at a certain age. I've never, from people I've actually met, had any negative [reaction], because it's a freeing thing.
I think we had been cast for our ‘essences' without really understanding what our ‘essences' were – and that's outside of our sexuality – we're two straight guys cast in these roles, but who we are, who we were, Ang [Lee] could see.
The easy way [to shock audiences] doesn't work anymore. Just sex and violence. Hollywood does that and does it badly. They make $75 million gross-out comedies that nobody thinks are that funny. So, that's over. You have to think of a new way [to shock audiences].
Netflix didn't become a monster because people wanted to watch a specific show; it became a monster because people wanted to watch everything...
That will be a memory soon. The Netflix model was great for viewers, but it couldn't last. The content creators got greedy and scared, and now they're determined to drag things back to the bad old ways. They will force everyone to pay for everything separately, and the subscriber base will split, and the providers will have to recoup the money they are spending to take on Netflix... which means that subscriptions will rise. Make no mistake: we're the ones likely to get stiffed here. The golden age of television may be going strong, but the golden age of streaming is dead.
The Toy Story franchise is the closest thing we have to an undisputed national anthem, a popular belief that celebrates what we think we all stand for — cooperation, ingenuity, and simple values, such as perpetual hope. This fact of our infantile, desensitized culture became apparent back in 2010 when I took a knee on Toy Story 3 and Rotten Tomatoes sprouted death threats — as if I had made Ilhan Omar–style comments against the history of America and its institutions.
This generation's inability to connect contemporary fright with traditional offense is exactly the same naivete of moviegoers who think the googly-eyed blacks of Get Out and Us are heroes but are unaware that they merely update the Sambo stereotype...
Ma is on the same continuum of Hollywood's race hyperconsciousness.
We try to put as good a face on as as we can, and sometimes we actually experience real unfettered joy. But to try to hold that joy and freeze it in time and have it never be anything else is a lie. It can never happen for anyone. […] Last night, I was sitting outside and I had a tangible feeling of, ‘Man, I'm really satisfied. I feel fantastic right now. I feel joyful.' But I wasn't deluding myself into thinking, ‘I'm just going to hang onto this forever.' Because tomorrow, you get bad news, and you go down that part of the ride. Hopefully you recover from it as quick as you can, but that's life, you know?
‘Dogville' is a very important film to me. I didn't really see the connection between
“Midsommar” and that film until recently. Film Comment asked me to write a very short piece on the film that affected me most, and I had to write about ‘Dogville.' And as I was writing it I was like, ‘oh, shit, I must have at least inadvertently tried to make my “Dogville.” '
Oh, the best of American cinema of the last decade, probably, for me, is ‘Twin Peaks: The Return,' an 18-hour film that is incomprehensible and dreamlike in the most beautiful, adventurous way. That is a masterpiece. Why can't they just give David Lynch whatever money he needs? Why can't you give Terry Gilliam? He needs money to make something; just give it to him! I don't understand.
People disappoint you. Lovers disappoint you. But theatrical memorabilia stays with you, as long as you keep it under clear plastic.
In those days in Italy children of purportedly “unknown” fathers were assigned surnames starting with a different letter each year. He was born in the year of Z. His mother chose Zeffiretti, drawing on a word, meaning little breezes, heard in an aria in Mozart's opera “Così Fan Tutte.” A transcription error, however, rendered it Zeffirelli. One problem with the story is that “zeffiretti” does not appear in the libretto. “Aurette,” breezes, does.
[“Chernobyl” ] is not about, ‘Be terrified of nuclear power.' This is about, ‘Be terrified of narrative.' The entire world is just sliding toward marketing. Everything becomes advertising. There are no more people anymore. We don't vote for people. You vote for advertised brands. It is not the truth. And we have to start cutting back to the truth or we're going to get sold. And sometimes the stuff they sell you, it kills you.
Though you have left me, I'm not yet alone:
["Dazed and Confused" ] made $8m on a $6.9m budget. I never made a penny off anything to do with it – I waived most of my rights to pay for the soundtrack. I don't think it's my best movie, but it represents a rite of passage for the “busters”, the end of the baby-boom generation. I also enjoy people who weren't even born then liking the film. It tells you there's something about teenagedom that never changes.
I get frustrated when people say [ "Black Mirror" is ] a show about technology. The stories are hopefully entertaining, very intimate stories about human failures and dilemmas.
We are doing a supernatural show that has no supernatural element in it, and using that to tell stories that entertain, and that put people in really unusual situations and dilemmas that you can't see elsewhere. That's really what we are trying to do.
It was 2006, and I was trying to up come up with ideas for shows. My son Jamie, who was at university at the time, read them all and told me that they were all boring, middle-class, middle-aged rubbish. “If you're so clever, what should I do?” I asked him. Jamie said: “Write a show about teenagers, but one that actually means something.” I didn't quite know what that would be, so I said: “You'd better tell me.” We sat at the kitchen table and came up with Skins in about half an hour.
Note: My favorite TV series of 2019 so far.
Some studios wanted to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating. But I just haven't led a PG-13 rated life. I didn't want a film packed with drugs and sex, but equally, everyone knows I had quite a lot of both during the 70s and 80s, so there didn't seem to be much point in making a movie that implied that after every gig, I'd quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideon's Bible for company.
The avant-garde of yesterday is the wallpaper design of today. Some of the greatest artists of their day, we may have never heard of them. But the ‘failures' like Van Gogh or Rousseau, who had to take his paintings around in a wheelbarrow — you'd give your eyeteeth now to have those paintings. The things you get fired for when you're young are the same things you get Lifetime Achievements for when you're old.
is so successful in blockbusters is because of his classical background – he brings a gravitas to those films. They're not little kitchen-sink dramas: they need grandeur and presence.
Well Marianne, it's come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.
That hand-painted sign is a perfect replica of the actual hand-painted sign that was there [ at Chernobyl ]. I mean, perfect. I hope people look this up. It basically says, ‘Comrades, our task is to advance the tunnel by this many meters and we work 24/7 to this goal.' We, I think, in the West always kind of giggled at this Soviet, ‘the Workforce for the Motherland' ideal. They didn't. It was real to them and they felt it. Even as the Soviet system would repress them, there was also still an actual communal spirit. And you saw that at Chernobyl, I think better than anywhere else.
My wife's biological father is Fritz Lang, and I've thought, what would my father in law go into today? It would be streaming...
The difference between streaming and more traditional theatrical is that streaming is an energy flow around us that runs 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and we can tap into and consume it whenever we want. That is a whole new ideology for how to exist.
When you talk about yourself you necessarily talk about other people's lives as well, so you have to be very careful when you do it. My life is reflected in the film
["Pain and Glory" ]
but it mustn't be taken literally. All these things represent me, my way of feeling. I can't give the percentage of what is real. There is a mix.
When I was young, you were told that if you had a skill, you would find a job for life and you could bring up a family on the wage. There has been an inexorable change from that security to the insecurity where people can be hired and fired at a day's notice, where the employer makes no commitment to how much work you'll get, and the worker takes all the risk. It's not capitalism ‘failing', it's capitalism working as it always will.
I thought, ‘Wow this is my opportunity to break into film.' Famous people weren't taking the risk on independent film, and they weren't getting paid to do independent film, so there was no interest for them. But, newcomers couldn't break into film because the studio system was like, ‘We only use famous people.'
When the Tribeca Film Festival screening [ of "Apocalypse Now: Final Cut" ] ended, a young female usher with a sweet smile asked me, “Did you just see that Apocalypse movie? Do you know when it's going to open? Because I like zombie films!” She had been misinformed, like most Millennials, but that's not Coppola's fault — it's ours.
[ In the opening scene of "Live Flesh", Almodóvar introduces his characters through the cinematic cliche of an unexpected birth on a city bus. The context for this darkly comic opening is provided by a stern voice announcing a state of emergency. As the curfew falls, the characters re-enacting this nativity scene find themselves on the wrong side of the law.]
Seeing Richard Linklater's Slacker on my 21st birthday showed me that movies didn't have to blow up the Death Star – they could just be a snapshot of where you were in life. Clerks came out of a demand for representation: there was a time when that world of dead-end jobs didn't exist in the movies, when pop culture wasn't the culture, when you didn't see people who talked in movie quotes.
From my point of view, this was a chance for me to create a safe space, to face my abuser. All I wanted was to be able to sit down with this guy, via Stephen Graham. I've always been honest about where my stories come from, how personal they are. It would obviously have been easier for me not to talk about this one, but I'm not making an exception. I'm not scared or ashamed any more. Plenty of people have been through far worse and they've told their stories. What happened to me is the reason the series
[The Virtues] exists.
"Vox Lux" is about the desire to be iconic. [The desire] to be remembered at any cost is something that seems to be unique to this generation. We expect celebrities to be our representatives. It's totally fair to come down on a politician for misrepresenting you. But there's a strange expectation of Taylor Swift to take a political stance and support the female Democratic nominees. Even if that's who I support, why should she have [to have] an opinion about it?
Likable is the actor's flaw. It's something I've tried to shake off over the years. Most actors want to be liked and we want to make our work beautiful, not clunky and stilted. But that isn't always the best way.
I have never interviewed anyone. I have had conversations, but an interview would mean a journalistic attitude with a catalogue of questions. That's the first thing I told [Gorbachev]: ‘I'm not a journalist, I have no paper in my hands. You're talking to a poet.'
If you want to make art, you have to be comfortable with risk, and taking a chance that you know best...
In film-making and in life, extraordinary things happen to you, and it's up to you to make them be positive. Because the good news is that there is no hell, and the quasi-good news is that this is heaven. Don't waste heaven.
That the decline of the sex scene [ in films ] coincided with the rise of internet porn doesn't seem random at all. When sex is at your fingertips, there's less of a need for it in mainstream entertainment.
1. Hi no Tori + Buddha >>
I don't know how you shoot that film [“The Favourite” ] without being lit. [“The Favourite” used only sunlight and candles]. I've got no time for that, it's absurd! That's like saying this is a better novel because it's written with a quill as opposed to a word processor. I shot digitally on ‘Mr. Turner.' It's a great medium, which a lot of bright people took years to develop.
[Like Kurosawa, Dick Pope used three cameras (Alexas) and shot on long lenses (Leica Summicrons) to compress all of the elements in the frame and make the backgrounds appear closer
for the climactic massacre in “Peterloo”.]
I think I started figuring it out a little bit on ‘Cosmopolis.' I was so nervous to even ask [David] Cronenberg basic questions — to reveal that I didn't know anything. So I would just sit in my hotel room and obsess over the script. And then, the evening before the first day of the shoot, I called him up and I was like ‘Hi David, I, uh, just want to ask one tiny little question…'
I told him that I didn't know what something meant and David just said ‘Well, I don't really know what it means either, to be honest. But isn't it kind of juicy?'
One of the reasons we will never have a Blair Witch Project again is because we'll never have an early internet again. Going viral was difficult in 1999 – we barely had broadband, let alone social media – but it was also a time when people actually believed what they read on the internet...
Looking at our current post-factual soup of fake news, conspiracy theory, bogus mythology and untrusted sources, trust in “stuff you read on the internet” is at an all-time low. Could it be that someone noted the efficacy of Blair Witch's viral campaign, based on falsehood, fear and gullibility, and decided it was too good for simply promoting movies? Maybe Blair Witch shaped our political landscape as well as our horror one. Maybe the curse was real after all.
The being alone is the only way to start a movie. If you are not alone, how could an idea crystallize? Something has to be in the loneliness of my daydreaming moments, or in my night, or listening to music. It cannot start in a group. I cannot ask someone to work with me if I don't know what I'm going to do. [There] has to already be something in mind. Precise.
In my childhood, cinema was like going into a temple. Now, it's more like going into a shopping mall... In the past I really cared if people understood my films, but when you grow older, you care less. You want to do something to please yourself. I feel like the film industry has trapped film-makers. They tell you you need to have a narrative structure, you need to do things a certain way. They limit the imaginations of film-makers. I often think about, what is the meaning of film? What does film want to say? The simple thing is, film is about images.
I'd asked for $100,000 and 2.5% of the box office [ for "A Clockwork Orange" ], which is what I'd got paid on my previous film. Stanley [Kubrick] told me Warner had refused the 2.5%. But when I was invited to meet the studio heads, they said: “You're going to be a very rich young man on the 2.5% we gave Stanley for you.” I knew he would never pay me. It was a terrible way to treat me after I'd given so much of myself, but I got over it. Doing this film has put me in movie history. Every new generation rediscovers it – not because of the violence, which is old hat compared to today, but the psychological violence. That debate, about a man's freedom of choice, is still current.
Varda's movies are aesthetically beautiful but they don't feel put on. Like you see the beauty but also the mistakes – she pokes fun at how she filmed something poorly or bemoans the fact that she missed a shot. Her work makes you feel better about being a messy human.
I seriously doubt that Agnès Varda ever followed in anyone else's footsteps, in any corner of her life or her art…which were one in the same. She charted and walked her own path each step of the way, she and her camera. Every single one of her remarkable handmade pictures, so beautifully balanced between documentary and fiction, is like no one else's—every image , every cut … What a body of work she left behind: movies big and small, playful and tough, generous and solitary, lyrical and unflinching…and alive . I saw her for the last time a couple of months ago. She knew that she didn't have much longer, and she made every second count: she didn't want to miss a thing. I feel so lucky to have known her. And to all young filmmakers: you need to watch Agnès Varda's pictures.
>> The Gleaners and I was ahead of its time in its eco -consciousness.
I read a couple of [ Alec Wilson's spy novels ], and specifically his most famous creation, which was the Wallace Mysteries. The central character in that was almost a glorified version of himself. I could see that certain exploits that he mentions in his novels were similar to things that we know he did in his life — [they] were similar to lies that he made up. I just think the whole thing got really twisted in his head and what may have started as professional deceit turned into personal deceit, turned into, ‘I don't know which bits are deceit anymore.'
Claire Denis and I were doing a talk once and she said, “I don't want to make ‘cinema,' I want to make a movie .” And, if I had started at a younger age I probably would have started by making ‘cinema.'
[ Samuel L. Jackson admits to only allowing directors to film three takes of scenes in which he appears. Jackson said the decision was made partly because of his experience working with Joel Schumacher on the 1996 crime drama “A Time to Kill.” The actor filmed a scene in which his character, Carl Lee, explains that he committed murder out of a need to protect his daughter. Jackson said Schumacher edited out all of that context in post-production, which made the character appear as a murderer who “killed white people and connived to get away with it.” ]
My films have always been very interested in sex and sexuality. … In those moments of intimacy, you get to know a character and secrets about a character, and you get a view of somebody that nobody else knows. Everybody has their public face that they put on. People who've had sex with you know you in a completely different way, and as a director, that's what influenced me.
[ “Silence of the Lambs” ] didn't scare me, but Anthony Hopkins (Lecter) scared me. You'll notice, if you look at the movie again, … instead of the person looking at the person off-screen, that the actors are actually looking down the lens. And that means I am there, but way behind the camera and I'm just a voice, he can't see me. And the same is true on my side. So when I'm doing scenes with Dr. Lecter, I just hear this disembodied, scary voice, but I don't actually see his face. I have to look into the camera and pretend that he's in the camera.
The new streaming services all like to say they don't work like Hollywood. But, actually, by suggesting a director works with a particular team, or asking why you are not using a female cinematographer, or wondering whether the film should have an upbeat ending, they are behaving in a traditional Hollywood, Louis B Mayer-way and it is totally unacceptable.
On the broader stroke of things, this movie ["Us" ] is about this country. And when I decided to write this movie, I was stricken by the fact we are in a time where we fear the other. Whether it is the mysterious invader that we think is going to come and kill us, take our jobs, or the faction that we don't live near that voted a different way than us. We're all about pointing the finger and I wanted to suggest that maybe the monster we really need to look at has our face. Maybe the evil is us.
We are our own worst enemy, not just as individuals but more importantly as a group, as a family, as a society, as a country, as a world. We are afraid of the shadowy, mysterious ‘other' that's gonna come and kill us and take our jobs and do whatever, but what we're really afraid of is the thing we're suppressing: our sin, our guilt, our contribution to our own demise … No one's taking responsibility for where we're at. Owning up, blaming ourselves for our part in the problems of the world is something I'm not seeing.
We want filmmakers that can help us focus on and elevate character journey so it doesn't get lost amongst the spectacle.
I wanted to do it again because I was curious: What if I could get that same sort of same magical experience that happened on “El Mariachi”? Things show up on the set that just totally surprise you. When the movie comes out, it's better than you'd ever expect. That's the creative element of the unknown. But when you have money and resources, and have a crew, and you're flying in actors, the attitude's totally different. Everyone's like, “Magic better fucking happen.” I mean, we're spending all this money, we've got all these people here, flying people in. You don't expect it on a movie where you've got nothing, and what happens is that you get blessed more because you're trying something that's so impossible. The less you have, the better the film actually seems to come out.
is kinda my dream show. I sat down one day thinking about, if I ever did a show, what would it be? A queer Sex in the City with Twin Peaks and an alien mixed in. That's kind of, for me, what the show is, but the queer aspect has always been super important. It wasn't like I was ready to make a watered-down version or a version where it's just like, “Oh, they're queer, but they're not really too queer.” This is exactly what I want to do, and this is exactly how I want to do it. It's exactly the queer vision I wanted to put out there.
Mario Puzo was dubious about the idea that it was Fredo who betrayed Michael [ in “The Godfather Part II” ] ; he didn't think it was plausible. But he was absolutely against Michael ordering his own brother to be killed. It was a stalemate for a while, as nothing would happen unless we both agreed.
Most of the women I saw on TV didn't seem like people I actually knew. They felt like ideas of what women are. They never got to be nasty or competitive or hungry or angry. They were often just the loving wife or the nice friend. But who gets to be the bitch? Who gets to be the three-dimensional woman?
Where once it was down to women to float around flashing their flesh in spy dramas and so on, there's a sense in 2019, that that is not ok, that it might be at best anti-feminist and at worst exploitative. The industry is, rightly, even more on its guard about how it treats female performers on and off screen. But they know they still need some sex in there to hook an audience. By making men strip off, shows can deliver the frisson of flesh and still look ‘woke'.
But with the couple of names you've mentioned, people I've worked with, both of them
[Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer] were in the closet. And hence all their problems as people and their relationships with other people, if they had been able to be open about themselves and their desires, they wouldn't have started abusing people in the way they've been accused.
I really feel that why people go to the movies has changed since 9/11. My feeling is that what people want when they go to a movie shifted more toward escapist fare. And as a result, most of the more “serious” adult fare, what I would pejoratively refer to as “Oscar bait,” all gets pushed into October, November, December.