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Lars von Trier would say remember to keep it messy. That was the mantra on The House That Jack Built. And what that really meant was the potential for failure is important. You become a professional and you want to do everything right. And you want to do everything that you have learned. But all of that doesn't really matter because what's important are the moments of truth. Those real moments that happen. And they often happen by mistake.
Matt Dillon, Matt Dillon Talks Locarno Lifetime Achievement Award, 4 August 2022

Because we're always trying to find other ways of reaching our goals, I think Iranian directors are among the most inventive in the world. That permanent confrontation with obstacles makes them more inventive and more questioning of themselves, their habits and the world around them... That's our DNA, that's Iranian culture. You always have to navigate between what can be said and how to say it.
Panah Panahi, ‘You cannot imagine how crazy the system is': Jafar Panahi's film-maker son on Iranian censorship, 21 July 2022

I always look back at the periods that I perceived as the hardest as being the ones with the most growth. It seems funny, but there was a period right before “Training Day” where I couldn't get a fucking job because I was the Gen-X poster boy and everyone thought they knew me. I was supposed to be washed out to sea with that fad. I remember I wanted to get an audition for “Saving Private Ryan” and I couldn't fucking get it. Everyone knew who I was and they didn't want me. I'm sure if you talk to Matt Dillon or DiCaprio — anybody who's had young success — they'll acknowledge that you hit these walls where people think they've figured you out and then they're done with you. You have to be willing to be humble enough to keep getting up to the plate.
Ethan Hawke, I'm at ‘the Beginning of My Last Act' as an Actor, 19 July 2022

I think [Peter Weir] lost interest in movies. He really enjoyed that work when he didn't have actors giving him a hard time. Russell Crowe and Johnny Depp broke him. He's someone so rare these days, a popular artist. He makes mainstream movies that are artistic. To have the budget to do “The Truman Show” or “Master and Commander,” you need a Jim Carrey or Russell Crowe. I think Harrison Ford and Gerard Depardieu were his sort of actors. They were director-friendly and didn't see themselves as important.
... When Phil Hoffman and I were working with Sidney Lumet on “Before the Devil Knows You're Dead,” Sidney was like, “When I started, live TV was the high watermark, then TV became second-tier.” So the nature of life is change. However, there is a difference between content and art. That word “content” to me is Orwellian. There are a certain amount of hours you have to spend at work, and some others you spend with your kids, and then some others you fill with “content.” It feels like, “We'll waste time for you.” You don't finish watching “Raging Bull” feeling like you've wasted two hours.
Ethan Hawke, I'm at ‘the Beginning of My Last Act' as an Actor, 19 July 2022

When you see a big-budget effects film from James Cameron, you always recognize that the story comes first, and the special effects are only there to help the story. Whereas with Marvel, it sometimes feels like the special effects are the stars, and the story frankly can be filler between the special effects.
Roger Corman, Marvel Could Improve by Following James Cameron's Tactics of ‘Story Comes First', 15 July 2022

You're asking a guy who made ‘Goodfellas' what he thinks about Spider-Man, what do you think you're going to get? He's a very serious filmmaker, and he's a man who's of a certain age and stuck in his ways. You should not be surprised that's his response... Guess what? For every old filmmaker who's like, ‘I don't get it,' there's a bunch of young filmmakers who are like, ‘I get it and I want to do it.' We don't have to ostracize the people that maybe don't get or aren't into the same movies we are.
Kevin Smith, Kevin Smith Defends Marvel Against Scorsese Criticisms: He's ‘A Man of a Certain Age and Stuck in His Ways', 9 July 2022

This sounds super uber-precious, but I think it's hard to do this kind of creative work in a modern secular society because it becomes all about your ego and yourself. And I am envious — this is the horrible part — I'm envious of medieval craftsmen who are doing the work for God. And that becomes a way to … you get to be creative to celebrate something else. And also, you're censoring yourself because it's not about like me, me, me, me, me, me. So you say, ‘Oh, I got to rein that back because that's not what this altar piece needs to be.' Any worldview where everything around them is full of meaning is exciting to me, because we live in such a tiresome, lame, commercial culture now.
Robert Eggers, Robert Eggers Envies Medieval Craftsmen, Says It's Hard to Be Creative in ‘Modern Secular Society', 12 June 2022

Monsters are symbols of mystery... they reflect our need to find meaning in our lives. I think human beings need, or are drawn, to externalise mystery. We like to be humbled by forces in nature and in our world that seem to be unexplained. [Given it's] probable we know we don't know everything, we still have so many questions. And sometimes those questions coalesce into the shape of monsters, benign and otherwise.
Tom Hiddleston, Tom Hiddleston: Why we all need monsters and myths, 12 May 2022

 

 
 

 

Note: Supernatural films from Eastern Europe

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I try to be a witness to something. I try to preserve what I see. There's a sense of preservation in my films from the beginning: of landscapes, houses, characters. The act of filming is so precious. The photographer – myself – will be gone one day, but the photo is still there.
... My film-making from the beginning had a huge documentary aspect. Looking back now, I think I made most of my fiction films – especially Alice in the Cities and Kings of the Road – as if they had been documentaries, and then I made my documentaries as if they had been fictions. [How so?] Well, Buena Vista Social Club is a fairytale. These guys were cleaning shoes in Havana when Ry first called them. They had nothing; they were poor. By the end, when they're playing Carnegie Hall and everyone is standing on their seats to applaud them, they're the Beatles. If you wanted to write and direct it as fiction, it would be the same movie.
Wim Wenders, ‘When Paris, Texas won Cannes it was terrible', 1 July 2022

I'm totally irritated by the notion of that you might need to go through more than one season of a TV show to start to be entertained by that fucking story. You know, like, I'm old-school that way, coming out of network television. Every episode needs to tell a story. And then each of those stories needs to build up to a season-wide story. And then that season's one story needs to fucking end. And then the next season, you can start a new one that builds off that. The whole idea of “I'm actually making a 20-hour movie?” Fuck you, you're in the TV business. You're in the entertainment business, and it's your job to be entertaining...
... I take issue with movies and TV shows that show violence that's clearly meant to be enjoyable or exciting and then condemn you for enjoying the violence. I find that hypocritical. I don't think ["The Boys" ] does that. I think this show is a deconstruction. We are a superhero show, but we deconstruct and break down and shine a light on the complete fucking absurdities of a superhero show and poke a lot of fun at what it is to be a superhero, and how stupid that world is, and how horrible they'd be as people.
Eric Kripke, Yes, Homelander on ‘The Boys' Is Supposed to Be Donald Trump, 17 June 2022

One of the problems with recent superhero films is that no matter how good the set-up is, the climax always comes down to digital doubles shooting fireballs at each other. What I loved about your film [Everything Everywhere All at Once] is that the finale is an emotional battle. The ultimate resolution is not one person destroying another, it's a reconciliation. You come back to a really quiet moment after all the Sturm und Drang. At what point in the genesis did you know where this was heading? 
I saw a tweet recently that made me laugh, where the person wrote: '[In] the Disney stories of my childhood, the villains were all evil witches. [In] the Disney stories of now, the villains are my disappointing parents.' I think that marks a shift in our cultural myth of what we consider to be evil. Evil witches are this ‘other' mystical thing that we can never fully understand. Disappointing parents causing us generational trauma—that then trickles into the rest of our lives—is a more honest and nuanced way to look at evil. Very early on we knew there was not going to be a villain in this movie. The villain is existence itself. The cold, indifferent universe…
Daniel Kwan, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert interviewed by Edgar Wright, 28 June 2022

To boil down more than 2,000 years of Buddhist discourse – it is thought that all things exist only through our perception of said things. Therefore, they are without inherent meaning. They're empty. This is expressed in [Everything Everywhere All at Once's] multiverses. When its characters gain the power to manifest all the potentialities of their lives, they quickly realise that when every phenomenon and concept you can think of are smooshed together, it all becomes a smorgasbord of meaningless nothingness – on top of a bagel. It loses inherent value.
... This is where the bagel's antithesis – the googly eye – comes in. It says that in the universe of meaningless emptiness there is value, joy and love where we choose to create it. Through the googly-eyed lens, we gain the power to control our infinite emptiness. Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), the dorky husband of Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), reminds her through simple kindness that there is value where you want to create it and meaning where you choose to see it. In Buddhist thought, it's our compassion that grounds us – makes us human – and emptiness isn't the mark of nihilism and despair but an opportunity to leave behind the bad and cherish the good. At least, in very simple terms that is what Buddhism aims for.
Bertin Huynh, The west misses the point of Everything Everywhere All at Once – it gets the Asian psyche, 16 May 2022

[Mr. Bean was a] self-centred, narcissistic anarchist [who was actually] a nine-year-old trapped in a man's body. A lot of people didn't like the inevitable and justifiable feeling that things were going to go wrong.
Rowan Atkinson, Mr Bean Was “A Narcissistic Anarchist”, 12 June 2022

Terry Gilliam was erratic, a dreamer, someone who didn't live in the world of ‘logic and reason' – just as the Baron Munchausen himself didn't... Though he was magical and brilliant and made images and stories that will live for a long, long time. It's hard to calculate whether they were worth the price of the hell that so many went through over the years to help him make them.
Sarah Polley, ‘I Couldn't Breathe': Sarah Polley Says Terry Gilliam Created Unsafe Conditions on ‘Baron Munchausen' Set, 12 June 2022

Spielberg had already defied the expectation of a hostile alien invasion earlier with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which expressed hope that such interspecies contact might bring out the best in humankind. The squat, murmuring, doe-eyed being in ET is much more of a device, serving to illuminate the loneliness and stress of a latchkey kid who hasn't settled into his new situation. Though the film never says how long Elliott's dad has been out of the house, it seems recent enough for everyone to feel unsettled by it. The alien brings Elliott closer to his siblings, as they work together to shelter it and figure out what it needs, but they're both trying to get back to their families. As Elliott helps ET go home, he learns to accept a newly reconstituted version of what home means to him, too.
Scott Tobias, ET the Extra-Terrestrial at 40: Spielberg's sci-fi smash remains a wonder, 11 June 2022

Coming out of an art school, I was trained to make a film that I believed in. I was trained to make the film that I thought was right... and not worry about people not understanding it... You have nothing to lose [making your first film]. You just do what you wanna do. Even with the second film, there's too much to lose. With "Chan Is Missing" being so successful, at least as an independent film, you kind of go, what if I don't get the reviews and don't get the support? So it's already starting to eat into you.
... I was always trying to do something that was different. I want to go back and do something where I can unlearn everything that I learned. I always tell film students that everything you learn might be helpful, but, in the end, you want to unlearn all of that and just trust your instincts and make the film you wanna make.
Wayne Wang, How Wayne Wang Faces Failure, 5 June 2022

There's a line in the movie [‘Benediction' ] where I thought, “This is completely you.” The older Siegfried Sassoon is asked by his son, “Why do you hate the modern world?” And Siegfried says, “Because it's younger than I am.”
... That's completely autobiographical. There's a lot of me in Sassoon, as there was in Emily Dickinson [with “A Quiet Passion” ]. I didn't realize it until I'd finished it and we were editing it. What he was looking for, I think, was some kind of redemption, some kind of forgiveness to make his life seem fulfilled. That never came. He never found it. You can't find it in other people. You can't find it in art. You can't find it in religion, you can't find it anywhere. And in that sense, it's absolutely autobiographical because I've been searching for that and I've never found it. Converting to Catholicism near the end of his life is maybe sort of one desperate last bit of that.
Terence Davies, Terence Davies on the Cruelty of Gay Life and Why ‘Benediction' Is His Best Film, 3 June 2022

I forget which awards I've won. I have to look at my shelf to see what they are. I'm not being arrogant. It's the truth. You often know that the awards-givers are doing it more for themselves than for you. They need somebody to be a figurehead for the festival or whatever. It's a little bit transactional in a way. It's just not the reason I'm making movies. [So what is that reason?] To be an artist, to create, and connect with human beings. Cinema is not my life. I have three kids, four grandchildren. That's life.
David Cronenberg, David Cronenberg on Body Horror, ‘Titane,' and ‘Stalinist' Censorship as ‘Crimes of the Future' Hits Cannes, 23 May 2022

People tell me that I make films about reality. They're wrong. I make films about structures that I have thought up.
... Why I choose a certain person is very, very complicated—I can never generalize. I don't want to work with someone who has qualities I cannot bear. In the beginning of my filmmaking, I was trying to put up with certain ... [Actors, you mean? Like, egos?] There are just certain things that I don't want to see. At that time, I thought I had to endure and find the good things, and that's what I did. As time passed, more and more I wanted to work with people who have good qualities from my point of view, even if they don't really understand what they're doing in the film. When I look at them later, in a different setting, their interviews, I don't want to feel like I shouldn't have worked with them.
Hong Sangsoo, Hong Sangsoo Knows if You're Faking It, 15 May 2022

Some people felt that ‘Top Gun' was a right-wing film to promote the Navy. And a lot of kids loved it. But I want the kids to know that that's not the way war is — that ‘Top Gun' was just an amusement park ride, a fun film with a PG-13 rating that was not supposed to be reality. That's why I didn't go on and make ‘Top Gun II' and III and IV and V. That would have been irresponsible.
Tom Cruise, Tom Cruise Said ‘Top Gun 2' Would Be ‘Irresponsible' and Glorify War in 1990 Interview, 3 May 2022

But let me say one thing about ecstatic truth. The simplest way to explain it is by looking at Michelangelo's Pietà, the statue. Jesus in the arms of Mary is a thirty-three-year-old man, tormented on a cross and taken down, but his mother is only seventeen. It's one of the most beautiful sculptures that was ever created. And my question now is did Michelangelo try to cheat us, did he try to give us fake news, defraud us, lie to us? The answer, of course, is no. He shows us a deeper truth of both figures.
Werner Herzog, Werner Herzog Has Never Liked Introspection, 26 April 2022

We have a word for that in Japanese. It's called ma. Emptiness. It's there intentionally. The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it's just busyness, But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb.
... The people who make the movies are scared of silence, so they want to paper and plaster it over. They're worried that the audience will get bored. They might go up and get some popcorn.
... What my friends and I have been trying to do since the 1970's is to try and quiet things down a little bit; don't just bombard them with noise and distraction. And to follow the path of children's emotions and feelings as we make a film. If you stay true to joy and astonishment and empathy you don't have to have violence and you don't have to have action. They'll follow you. This is our principle.
Hayao Miyazaki, Hayao Miyazaki interview, 12 September 2002

The point of RoboCop, of course, is it is a Christ story. It is about a guy that gets crucified after 50 minutes, then is resurrected in the next 50 minutes and then is like the super-cop of the world, but is also a Jesus figure as he walks over water at the end. It was [shot in] an abandoned steel factory in Pittsburgh. I put something just underneath the water so [Weller] could walk over the water and say this wonderful line… ‘I am not arresting you anymore.' Meaning, ‘I'm going to shoot you.' And that is of course the American Jesus. 
Paul Verhoeven, The wild fan theory that suggests RoboCop is Jesus Christ, 28 April 2022

I have no choice but to make the films in Iran because I know these people better than I know people anywhere else. We were able to make this in peace. We tried to not make headlines with the film so they weren't sensitive about it. First you make the film, then you think about the issues that exist for it.
... In a sense the car becomes a second house for us Iranians. There is a level of security inside the car. That's why you see so many road films.
Panah Panahi, Iran Censors Its Most Exciting Filmmakers, but They Make Great Movies Anyway, 22 April 2022

There are too many cooks in the kitchen. So far the results are good, if you have a good chef, like Steven [Spielberg]. But the moment the director is not involved, [the cinematographer loses] control of the image. My contribution [on Ready Player One] was 40 percent.
Janusz Kaminski, Janusz Kaminski Says Cinematographers Are Losing Control of Images They Shoot, 20 April 2022

Apichatpong Weerasethakul's previous films (Topical Malady, Uncle Boonmee, Syndromes and a Century) typically avoided Western nostrums — which appealed to the tastes of Western cynics who ironically praised the U.S.-trained filmmaker as if he were some Asian shaman. But his fondness for dense, Rousseauian tableaux indicates a different mindset. Memoria is the first Weerasethakul film in which the settings (traversing Colombian towns and jungles) evince Western influence.
Armond White, Memoria Recalls Mankind's Alienation and Hope, 15 April 2022

One thing I really remember about the process after Brokeback Mountain came out was Heath Ledger never wanting to make a joke, even as, culturally, there were many jokes being made about the movie… His consummate devotion to how serious and important the relationship between those two characters showed me, I think, how devoted he was as an actor, and how devoted he was to the goals and story of the movie.
Jake Gyllenhaal, Jake Gyllenhaal reveals the moment his relationship with Heath Ledger became intimate, 15 April 2022

The original Scream  mocked the outdated tropes of the horror genre that lacked any innovation, taunting the audiences' expectations for recycled material and anticipating a world where everyone would do anything to be recognized by the public. 
... The newest Scream, the fifth installment to the franchise, came out ready to mock and celebrate the trends in the genre once again, teasing "elevated" horror, re-evaluating fandoms, and poking at the requel [remake+sequel] craze that has taken over Hollywood... The film also slightly punishes mainstream audiences for not doing their homework or abandoning the horror genre and originality that once drove Hollywood. 
Alyssa Miller, The New 'Scream' Has a Lot to Say about Today's Movie Culture, 3 April 2022

"Compartment No 6" was very well received in Russia. They were amazed that a foreign film-maker could so sympathetically represent Russia and Russians. Because Russians keep getting told by paranoid nationalists about Russophobia and that all foreigners are a threat.
Juho Kuosmanen, ‘You really hope they don't have sex': meet the man behind the Finnish answer to Lost in Translation, 1 April 2022

Have you ever seen a film called the Mirror? I was hypnotised! I've seen it 20 times, It's the closest I've got to a religion – to me he is God. And if I didn't dedicate the film to Tarkovsky, then everyone would say I was stealing from him. If you are stealing, then dedicate. I have stolen so much from Tarkovsky over the years; in order not to get arrested, I had to dedicate the film [Antichrist (2009)] to him. I should have done it a long time ago.
Lars von Trier

 

 
 

 

Note: Soviet sci-fi +

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“After Yang” follows a long tradition of science-fiction narratives that fall under the category of “techno-Orientalism,” in which the future is often figured as Asian, and Asians are often figured as robots. The genre is historically understood as emerging from American anxieties about Japan's postwar economic boom, starting in the nineteen-seventies.
... As with Edward Said's foundational theory of Orientalism, in which the Eastern Other is framed as peripheral to the rich humanism of the Western subject, techno-Orientalism figures Asians as distant, unrelatable, and inscrutable. Whereas Saidian Orientalism understood the Eastern Other as fundamentally backward and uncivilized, however, techno-Orientalism presents an upgraded vision of the Asian as threateningly futuristic and advanced. In both iterations, the Other is a robot—or at least robotic—because Western speculations about an Asianized future still rely on stereotypes of Asians as passive, unfeeling, and good at math.
Jane Hu, Where the Future Is Asian, and the Asians Are Robots, 4 March 2022

Screenwriters write about people who are cooler than we are, stronger, better fighters… I write about people who are smarter than I am. I think it suits my writing style, which is romantic and idealistic. I'm very impressed by playwrights, whether it's Pinter or Mamet, who write characters who have a very difficult time communicating, but I don't have that club in my bag.
Aaron Sorkin, ‘Screenwriters write about people who are cooler than we are', 27 March 2022

Does being successful make it harder to stay funny? Is there more humor to be found in life when you're a lonely geek than there is when you live in a world of personal trainers and valet parking?
Yes. But it's more about age, because the big turning points that you write about—high school, college, falling in love—a lot of that occurs in the first half of your life. So that's the thing that's different: life isn't always as chaotic at this age. Things have settled, and that's not as interesting to write about. That's why, when you're writing, you're always going, like, How do I screw up this person's life so that I have something funny to write about?
... In everything I write, I have the same basic theme, which is we're all struggling—we're all trying to figure out how to be better.
Judd Apatow, Judd Apatow Is Still an Optimist, 27 March 2022

I saw Citizen Kane on television for the first time, and I began to become aware of editing and camera positions. He was not afraid of being self-conscious with the camera and making self-referential remarks with the camera. He did this with such conviction and with such brilliance that you began to realise ‘I see the camera moves'. And I started realising camera movement because he used that wide-angle lens a great deal, and if you use a wide-angle lens and you move quick enough, you see the walls speeding past you, you know? And this is what I think Welles bought to the cinema, to American cinema particularly. Because up until that time was the seamless film in away, the hidden camera, the camera that you couldn't tell was there. So, Welles was the one to really open up the pandora's box.
Martin Scorsese, Martin Scorsese on how Orson Welles changed American cinema, 24 March 2022

I want movies to disturb me. But that's mainstream taste basically: People don't want to be disturbed. I don't think that's anything new…'Pink Flamingos' probably violates more values now than it did then.
... The right used to be my censors. They aren't anymore. I don't have any. If I did, it would be young woke liberals. But I always try to use humor to put everything in perspective because I question my own values. Why is  this  OK and  that isn't? The only way you can do that is with humor.
John Waters, John Waters Says Young Filmmakers Aren't ‘Interested in Art Movies': ‘They Want to Go to a Mall', 21 March 2022

I remember one time there was a rainstorm when we were shooting ["The New World" ] in West Virginia, sheet lightning coming down and then forks, loud, loud, claps of thunder, deafening. And then I hear one of the producers go, ‘Oh Jesus, oh Christ, will somebody go and get Terry?' And we look out and this fucking dude, Terry Malick, has a conductor — he has a camera, which is a fucking conductor, basically — on his shoulder and he's out, the grass is blowing, and he's out there in a middle of a fucking lightning storm. It was beautiful.
Colin Farrell, Colin Farrell Recalls a Distracted Terrence Malick Shooting Amid Lightning Storm on ‘New World', 4 March 2022

[In 2008, the success of Hollywood blockbuster Kung Fu Panda shocked China's ruling Communist party. It sparked soul-searching among Chinese political elites and film producers.] They asked themselves: how could a quintessential Chinese film achieve such a success with American Hollywood?
... [The turning point was marked by success of Beijing's homemade sci-fi movie, Wandering Earth in 2019.] It tells you that Beijing's ambition to commercialise and develop its domestic film industry is working. Chinese audiences are more and more turning to domestic cultural products – reflecting also Beijing's desire to turn Chinese people to look inward [in recent years].
Erich Schwartzel, Uncharmed: why Chinese film fans are shunning Hollywood, 27 February 2022

I think movies have a responsibility to reflect something real about the concerns people face in their lives. If you can make that compelling, it's going to be worthwhile to me. But I also like movies that are timeless, that exist outside social commentary. [Such as?] My wife's movie [The Lost Daughter ]. I was on a talkshow and they said: ‘Can you explain what's happening before we show the clip?' I was like: ‘Nuh-uh. I don't think I can.' That's the sort of movie I love. One that you can't set up.
Peter Sarsgaard, ‘Have we reached superhero saturation? Probably', 25 February 2022

Am I working for the Goliath that's killing the David? Unless you have a Marvel star, financing any film is very, very, very, very difficult—no matter how important the story, no matter how urgent the story, no matter how talented and awarded and appreciated the artist is.
Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Cumberbatch reveals inner conflict over starring in Marvel movies, 17 February 2022

Actors are prostitutes because they're asked to play other feelings. This prostitution is not profane; it's a sacred act that we give them... I've said many times that if actors are paid much more than the director or the screenwriter, for working on a film for perhaps only a tenth the amount of time, it's because they have to give the work their own flesh and their own emotions… which is not necessarily without psychological consequences.
Catherine Breillat, Catherine Breillat Says ‘Actors Are Prostitutes' as Her ‘Romance' Star Confronts the Scene That Went Too Far, 14 February 2022

The universal truth that I refuse to believe has died is that a really good film is going to work. The specifics of what that means is always in flux. A film this good has an audience and there's no fighting that. My instinct is that this movie [ “Drive My Car” ] wouldn't have made as much noise if it went to streaming after three weeks. Before, you had to choose the platform; now you have to choose the content. If you position a three-hour foreign language film as content, it's going to lose out a lot of the time.
Dylan Marchetti, ‘Drive My Car' Success Is a Case Study That Should Wake Up the Arthouse Business (Column), 13 February 2022

I hate messages. But if there is a message in BigBug , it is that artificial intelligence will never kill human beings because they will stay stupid. They don't have a soul. They try to have a sense of humour, but they don't understand anything. [Laughs]
Jean-Pierre Jeunet, ‘Harvey Weinstein did everything he could to kill that movie', 11 February 2022

I do believe it is a discussion that has to be had, it's utterly legitimate. You know, if someone who's not Jewish can't play Jewish, does someone who's Jewish play someone who's not Jewish? There's a lot of terrible unfairness in my profession.
Helen Mirren, Helen Mirren Breaks Silence About ‘Unfairness' Surrounding Golda Meir Casting Controversy, 7 February 2022

“Jackass” wouldn't be so popular if it didn't represent a profound desire to laugh at other people's pain, to find catharsis in the very thing that scares us all — the universal fragility of the human body. (Finished in the midst of the pandemic, “Jackass Forever” embodies this spirit even more than its predecessors.) At its center, Johnny Knoxville comes across as an experimental performance artist. Even if he's disinterested in the complex sociological impulses at the core of his work, he's been forced to contemplate them as a result of his success.
... It's also easy to position “Jackass” within the lineage of silent slapstick, a comparison that Knoxville himself dangled with a house-collapsing stunt in 2006's “Jackass Number Two” based on Buster Keaton's iconic moment in “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” Yet critic Dana Stevens, ..., pointed out a key distinction with the “Jackass” formula. “You'd never hear Buster Keaton say ‘ouch. They're deconstructing the stunt. They're all about the aftermath, the actual pain and humiliation and the negative consequences. That's what makes them so post-modern. Knoxville combines the bravado of Keaton with this deliberate amateurishness.”
Eric Kohn, ‘Jackass Forever': Johnny Knoxville on the $10 Million Stunt They Couldn't Pull Off and Survival of His Slapstick Art, 4 February 2022

If I had to bet, a drama like Argo would not be made theatrically now. That wasn't that long ago. It would be a limited series. I think movies in theaters are going to become more expensive, event-ized. They're mostly going to be for younger people, and mostly about 'Hey, I'm so into the Marvel Universe, I can't wait to see what happens next.' And there'll be 40 movies a year theatrically, probably, all IP, sequel, animated. The Last Duel really clinched it for me. I've had bad movies that didn't work and I didn't blink. I know why people didn't go—because they weren't good. But I liked what we did. I like what we had to say. I'm really proud of it. So I was really confused. And then to see that it did well on streaming, I thought, 'Well, there you go. That's where the audience is.
Ben Affleck, Ben Affleck Dishes on 'Justice League,' the Theatrical Experience, and Embracing His Comeback, 11 January 2022

[The Chinese streaming site, Tencent Video, removed the entire explosion scene at the end of Fight Club with captions: “Through a clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding."]
The irony is that … they've aligned the ending almost exactly with the ending of the book, as opposed to Fincher's ending, which was the more spectacular visual ending. So in a way, the Chinese brought the movie back to the book a little bit.
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club author praises Chinese cut of film: ‘Super wonderful!', 27 January 2022

In my other works, we have kind of a mystery, kind of a puzzle, and that puzzle creates suspense. In this one, instead of a puzzle, we have ambiguity. There is no mystery anywhere in this story, but the whole atmosphere is full of ambiguity. The bulk of the energy I spent on this screenplay was to replace mystery with ambiguity but still give the feeling of suspense.
... One of the most important things during casting for me is choosing the actors who have a very warm voice and face. I always want my films to have actors where their faces are anonymous. They're very fresh and the audience don't have any misconceptions about those actors.
Asghar Farhadi, ‘A Hero' Crafts Team Talks Risks and Rewards of Documentary-Style Filmmaking, 27 January 2022

My wish is that one day I will make a film where people will go into theaters and completely forget it's a film. They will feel, ‘This is a life.'
Asghar Farhadi, A Hero': George Miller Interviews Asghar Farhadi on Finding Drama in Small Mistakes, 26 January 2022

Perfection in the cinema consists in the knowledge that whatever happens there is a barrier between the film and ‘reality'. Colour has removed this last barrier. If there is nothing false in a film it is not a film – one is in competition with the documentary and the result is very boring. Like much of the film shot for American television, which I find lacking in any fictional dimension, anti-dramatic, over-documentary and very boring. And a large part of modern cinema is like that.
François Truffaut, “My thoughts on the New Wave are not uplifting”: Truffaut interviewed in 1979, 7 January 2022

 

 
 

 

Note: My favourite series of 2021

 

 
 

 

For me, the film that marks the beginning of the period of decadence in the cinema is the first James Bond – Dr. No [1962]. Until then the role of the cinema had been by and large to tell a story in the hope that the audience would believe it. There had been a few minority films which were parodies of this narrative tradition, but in the main a film told a story and the audience wanted to believe that story. And at this point we might reopen the old polemic about Hitchcock. For years English critics were reluctant to accept that the films Hitchcock made in America were superior to those he had made in England. The difference for me lies in the fact that Hitchcock's desire to make the audience believe the story is stronger in his American films than in his English ones.
... But the reason I talk of a period of decadence ushered in by the Bond films is that before that parody had been of only minority or snob appeal, but with the Bond films it became a popular genre. For the first time throughout the world mass audiences were exposed to what amounts to a degradation of the art of cinema, a type of cinema which relates neither to life nor to any romantic tradition but only to other films and always by sending them up. What's more, Hitchcock's career began to suffer from the time of the arrival of the first Bond films, since they were a sort of plagiarised version of North by Northwest [1959], his finest thriller. He could not compete with the Bond films and after this he was increasingly obliged to make small-budget films. Perhaps he was also getting rather too old. For instance, had he been ten years younger he might well have made disaster movies. Don't forget he went to America to film ‘The Titanic' but this was replaced by Rebecca [1940].
François Truffaut, “My thoughts on the New Wave are not uplifting”: Truffaut interviewed in 1979, 7 January 2022

It was my aunt Talia Shire who first said to me, ‘Naturalism is a style,' And I was also a big believer in arts synchronicity, and that what you could do with one art form you could do and another meaning. You know, in painting, for example, you can get abstract, you can get photorealistic, you can get impressionistic, why not try that with film performance? I was experimenting with what I would like to call Western Kabuki or more Baroque or operatic style of film performance. Break free from the naturalism, so to speak, and express a larger way of performance.
... With the risk of sounding like a pretentious asshole, I like the word ‘thespian' [more than 'actor'.] Because ‘thespian' means you're going into your heart, or you're going into your imagination, or your memories or your dreams, and you're bringing something back to communicate with the audience.
Nicolas Cage, Nicolas Cage Defends ‘Operatic' Film Performances: ‘Naturalism Is a Style', 31 December 2021

In the mainstream cinema of the 80s in Hollywood, filmmakers like John Landis, Jonathan Demme and Joe Dante were working within the boundaries of this Hollywood system but they were really making very radical films. A movie like Trading Places [1983] is such a wonderful, beautiful homage to Preston Sturges's cinema, and at the same time it's such an incredible and beautiful parable of what capitalism is, and how we can fight it. When you see a comedy of manners today, made within the system of studios or streamers, it's completely toothless and very disappointing.
... The upside [of today] is that you have access to a lot of information, you have access to a lot of discoveries, you even have access to the actual texts – you can see movies more easily than we used to. The bad thing is that in a way, this very immediacy of the digital hypertext and knowledge may give you the idea that you know more than you actually do, and create a platoon of superficial cinephiles, whereas cinephiles by definition are not superficial, they are obsessive.
Luca Guadagnino, Luca Guadagnino on the future of film, 16 December 2021

Reviewing the data on this site demonstrated that people do tend to like villains who share their traits, people became fans of villains who were similar to them at higher rates than they became fans of heroes who were like them.
Scotty Hendricks, Study: We like villains similar to ourselves, 7 May 2020

There is a lot of pressure on filmmakers, from the media, to get them to introduce a political dimension, even an artificial one, into their work. It is very important to resist this. Filmmaking should be a pleasure, not a duty. You don't make a film to please a particular section of public opinion. You make a film for your own pleasure and in the hope that the audience will share it. If filmmaking became a duty I would do something else.
François Truffaut, “My thoughts on the New Wave are not uplifting”: Truffaut interviewed in 1979, 7 January 2022

 

 
 

 

Note: These are my favourite films representing 20th century Russia/Soviet/Russia.

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How is [the movie business] changing? One of the fundamental ways it's changing is that the people who want to see complicated, adult, non-IP dramas are the same people who are saying to themselves, ‘You know what? I don't need to go out to a movie theater because I'd like to pause it, go to the bathroom, finish it tomorrow.' It's that, along with the fact that you can watch with good quality at home. It's not like when I was a kid and the TV at home was an 11-inch black-and-white TV. I mean, you can get a 65-inch TV at Walmart for $130. There's good quality out there and people are at home streaming in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. It's all changed.
Ben Affleck, Ben Affleck Knows the Real Reason 'The Last Duel' Suffered at the Box Office, 16 December 2021

I'm an actor, and that's what I do for a living: try to be people that I'm not. What do we do with Marlon Brando playing Vito Corleone? What do we do with Margaret Thatcher played by Meryl Streep? Daniel Day-Lewis playing Lincoln? Why does this conversation happen with people with accents? You have your accent. That's where you belong. That's tricky. Where is that conversation with English-speaking people doing things like ‘The Last Duel,' where they were supposed to be French people in the Middle Ages? That's fine. But me, with my Spanish accent, being Cuban? What I mean is, if we want to open the can of worms, let's open it for everyone. The role came to me, and one thing that I know for sure is that I'm going to give everything that I have.
Javier Bardem, Javier Bardem and Nicole Kidman Both Tried to Back Out of ‘Being the Ricardos': ‘Sh*t, What Did We Do?', 15 December 2021

I wouldn't say no [to TV serie], but I wouldn't know where to begin. I had this conversation with Quentin [Tarantino]: I think neither one of us has a problem with writing material. Sometimes the problem can be cutting material, you know? Sometimes you're in the middle of writing something and you have way more than you need and you go, Well, maybe this should be a TV show, you know? That's not the solution. The solution is not to just use a lot of B-material and make a longer-form thing. The solution would be cut down, get to your good material, tell your story properly and make a film. So, I've never thought about it in a very serious way. I don't watch a lot of it, so I don't know exactly how it works. The structure is something I'd have to learn, you know. I don't mean to sound like an idiot. Of course I've seen episodic television, but there's a rhythm to that writing and a structuring of how you pull a story over multiple episodes, which at this point would be a huge learning curve. The people who do it, do it incredibly well. I think I'd feel a little bit like a tourist trying to step into that.
Paul Thomas Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson Says We Need Movies of All Sizes for Hollywood to be Successful, 14 December 2021

There is a danger that we [documentary filmmakers] are so hooked on story. Particularly the kind of Western, three-act story structure with conflict and resolution, and a hero — often a him — who wants something he can't have: How's he going to get it? That's what many gatekeepers mean by story … the beautiful diversity and richness of the non-fiction form is being narrowed and all commodified into that kind of story. Non-fiction is wearing the clothes of fiction or television and attracting those audiences because it's so satisfying.
Tabitha Jackson, The Future of Documentary Filmmaking Is Bright, but It Remains a High-Risk Endeavor, 11 December 2021

One of the things I've wrestled with is trust, and Sidney [in "Scream" ] trusted no one. Did she really know her mother? Is her boyfriend who he says he is? In the end she wasn't even trusting herself. As a gay kid, I related to the final girl [the surviving woman at the end of a horror movie], and to her struggle because it's what one has to do to survive as a young gay kid, too. You're watching this girl survive the night and survive the trauma she's enduring. Subconsciously, I think the Scream movies are coded in gay survival.
Kevin Williamson, It turns out the ‘Scream' movies are all about being gay, 6 December 2021

I think what it boils down to — what we've got today [are] the audiences who were brought up on these fucking cell phones. The millennian, [who] do not ever want to be taught anything unless you told it on the cell phone…This is a broad stroke, but I think we're dealing with it right now with Facebook. This is a misdirection that has happened where it's given the wrong kind of confidence to this latest generation, I think.
Ridley Scott, Ridley Scott to Journalist Who Says ‘Last Duel' Is More Realistic Than His Past Films: ‘Go F*ck Yourself', 4 December 2021

The Hand of God is a completely different movie for me. I was scared to do these kind of scenes that I never did before. I normally adopt a certain style: I move my camera around because I'm searching for the truth. In this case, the approach was completely the opposite. Because I already had the truth, I didn't need to go and look for it. I decided that if I kept my camera still, [the actors] would feel freer to express themselves with sincerity and authenticity, which is what they did.
Paolo Sorrentino, ‘Let's say that almost everything is true', 4 December 2021

It represents a divine opportunity to really sink into something that comes very naturally to me … which is to be really slow, which I naturally am, and to be really still, which I naturally am — I'm a lazy beast, I like to be slow when I'm not in a social situation where I get drawn into the energy of other people, because I'm also porous. By being dislocated, she is super connected, which makes her still because she's not actually driving anything. She's not offering anything. She's not chattering away. She's not making any kind of social pose, she's sort of borderless.
Tilda Swinton, ‘Memoria': Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Tilda Swinton Embrace the ‘Divine Opportunity' of Their Meditative Oscar Entry, 15 November 2021

I worked harder [in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ] than I've ever worked on anything and I'm really proud of it. But I didn't feel represented. There was an interview I gave where I said, ‘Why can't Peter explore his bisexuality in his next film? Why can't [his girlfriend] MJ be a guy?' I was then put under a lot of pressure to retract that and apologize for saying something that is a legitimate thing to think and feel. So I said, ‘OK, so you want me to make sure that we get the bigots and the homophobes to buy their tickets?'
Andrew Garfield, Andrew Garfield's Comments About Bi Spider-Man Are Still Important, 12 November 2021

I don't want to use the casting consultant as cover. I want to tell you my opinion on this [casting in “Being the Ricardos” ] and I stand by it, which is this: Spanish and Cuban aren't actable, okay? They're not actable. By the way, neither are straight and gay. Because I know there's a small movement underway that only gay actors should play gay characters. Gay and straight aren't actable. You could act being attracted to someone, but most nouns aren't actable.
... We know when we're being demeaning. We know that Black face is demeaning because of its historical context because you're making ridiculous cartoon caricatures out of people. We know that Mickey Rooney with the silly piece in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany's' and that makeup doing, silly Japanese speak, we know that's demeaning. This is not, I felt. Having an actor who was born in Spain playing a character who was born in Cuba was not demeaning. And it wasn't just the casting consultant who agreed, Lucy and Desi's Cuban-American daughter didn't have a problem with it. So, I'm very comfortable with it.
Aaron Sorkin, Aaron Sorkin Defends Casting Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball: ‘I'm Not Looking' for Impersonation, 11 November 2021

I loved the fact that you can explore complex and controversial work and the audience in their homes are totally up for it, whereas with film it's hard to do work like that, because as soon as some exec says they don't understand it, you've lost the game. But, to be honest, I was so exhausted after [TV series] Top of the Lake that I thought, ‘Oh my God, making a two-hour film seems like heaven.'
... Film-making set me free. Before I found it, I had a lot of energy, but I was lost as to how to express it or even be in the world. I found the challenge of making a film so exciting, it was as if I had found myself.
... Well, I'm not thinking in terms of what's next any more, that's for sure. It's more, if something takes my fancy, I'm going to do it. Is that a shift of consciousness? Maybe. I am certainly going to use my energies differently from now on. For one thing, I'm starting a pop-up film school, because I really hate how unequal education is for people with money and people without money. I really hate it.
Jane Campion, ‘Film-making set me free… it was as if I had found myself', 7 November 2021

When the most intense moment of a James Bond film exploits the potential death of a child — [...] — it's time to give up. No Time to Die (series sequel 24) proves that the decades-old James Bond franchise has reached a dead end. The turn toward sadism that began with Daniel Craig's angry, sinister interpretation of 007 has reached an unconscionable level of heartlessness. Does anyone believe in the series anymore? Even the producers have forsaken the ethical delight that once guaranteed a Bond movie's insouciance and thrills.
... No Time to Die needs what all those earlier villains provided for their times; it needs a George Soros figure (or maybe a Xi Jinping) to set the bar for an appropriate James Bond antagonist — if we still fantasize that Bond is the Western world's savior. But No Time to Die indicates that Bond and his audience are tired, exhausted, and defeated.
Armond White, James Bond Gets COVID in No Time to Die, 8 October 2021

I mean, of course, I have an artistic envy of those people, how plugged into a moment a musician can be, how different their medium is to mine. But none of my films have been driven by that. They're more about what the music means culturally, how it changed the world. I remember saying to people during the Dylan project: ‘I would want to make a film about Bob Dylan even if I didn't care for his music,' simply because of his impact and uniqueness and complexities and contradictions and the way he gets to some core idea about America and then reflects that back in the various chapters of his life.
... And it's the same with glam rock in Velvet Goldmine. The idea of it as this cultural accident which inverted notions of masculinity and heteronormativity in such a singular way – and also did it in the mainstream, beamed into people's living rooms. The power of popular art to circle around those questions of identity, to rupture them, to shatter them. Those are the themes I keep coming back to.
Todd Haynes, ‘This world is too cosy. Except cosy is almost too cosy a word', 7 October 2021

It was at the L.A. premiere of ‘Children of Dune,' and [Claudia Black] said to me, that the thing with this shit, i.e. science fiction, is that you have to believe it more than you believe good writing. Good writing, you can just do. It's easier. But this stuff is hard, because it's so bonkers, you know what I mean? I've really, I've always remembered that advice and taken it to heart.
James McAvoy, James McAvoy Learned a Valuable Lesson About Sci-Fi After Starring in 2003 ‘Dune' Series, 28 September 2021

When I first got into the movie business — it's been almost 40 years ago — the reason I was able to make movies with Ethan [Coen], the reason we were able to have a career is because the studios at that point had an ancillary market that was a backstop for more risky films, which were VHS cassettes or all these home video markets, which is essentially television.
... So the fact that those markets are sort of responsible for my career, I'm not going to bust on them now because they've become very successful and are overtaking the market. It's the reason I'm able to do this stuff.
... I have mixed feelings about [streaming] obviously. You want people to see it on a big screen. But the other part of it is that's been part of the history of our movies since the very beginning. That's the best answer I can give you.
Joel Coen, Streaming Is Reason ‘Risky' Films Like ‘Tragedy of Macbeth' Can Still Exist, 24 September 2021

It can be seen as an event in history that lasted for however long it lasted, this cancel culture, this instant rush to judgement based on what essentially amounts to polluted air. It's so far out of hand now that I can promise you that no one is safe. Not one of you. No one out that door. No one is safe.
... It takes one sentence and there's no more ground, the carpet has been pulled. It's not just me that this has happened to, it's happened to a lot of people. This type of thing has happened to women, men. Children have suffered from various types of unpleasantries. Sadly at a certain point they begin to think that it's normal. Or that it's them. When it's not.
Johnny Depp, Johnny Depp Rails Against Cancel Culture: ‘No One Is Safe. Not One of You.', 22 September 2021

‘True Detective' was presented to me in the way we pitched it around town — as an independent film made into television. The writer and director are a team. Over the course of the project, Nic [Pizzolatto, writer] kept positioning himself as if he was my boss and I was like, ‘But you're not my boss. We're partners. We collaborate.' By the time they got to postproduction, people like [former HBO programming president] Michael Lombardo were giving Nic more power. It was disheartening because it didn't feel like the partnership was fair.
... As for their creative differences, Nic is a really good writer, but I do think he needs to be edited down. It becomes too much about the writing and not enough about the momentum of the story. My struggle with him was to take some of these long dialogue scenes and put some air into them. We differed on tone and taste.
Cary Fukunaga, Working on ‘True Detective' Became ‘Disheartening' as Nic Pizzolatto Got More Power, 22 September 2021

I just wrote a little something, for writers, really. Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn't comfortable. I dare you. In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success—do not be afraid to disappear. From it. From us. For a while. And see what comes to you in the silence. I dedicate this story to every single survivor of sexual assault. Thank you.
Michaela Coel, Read and Watch Michaela Coel's Inspirational Emmy Speech, 20 September 2021

Black Panther's relatively novel concept imagined the faux African kingdom Wakanda, whereas Shang-Chi pilfers from already familiar and much more original and artistic Chinese martial-arts genre movies — reducing them to the level of Marvel junk.
... Black Panther's naïve fans let Marvel get away with portraying Afrocentric fantasy as both pretend-history and the Afro-punk future (catnip to an ignorant generation so desperate for any folklore to call its own that it submits to Hollywood's escapist propaganda). But Shang-Chi will need viewers who pretend they've never seen better than this poor Hollywood imitation of Hong Kong movie mastery, which has a long tradition.
Armond White, Marvel's Shang-Chi — Crouching Cinema, Hidden Agenda, 8 September 2021

The memory as a kid was always, we were waiting for what happened in America. So, you know, films were always shown in America first. I remember hearing about Indiana Jones or the next Star Wars, and you'd see pictures on the news of people queuing for the cinema in the States and you'd think: ‘Well, when are we gonna get it?' There was always this sense of it being ahead. They did a phenomenal job of selling us this lifestyle that just seemed so other and glamorous and cool.
Jude Law, ‘I remember being told not to get above myself. Such appalling British advice', 20 August 2021

In “Emily in Paris” and other recent programming, Netflix is pioneering a genre that I've come to think of as ambient television. It's “as ignorable as it is interesting,” as the musician Brian Eno wrote, when he coined the term “ambient music” in the liner notes to his 1978 album “Ambient 1: Music for Airports,” a wash of slow melodic synth compositions. Ambient denotes something that you don't have to pay attention to in order to enjoy but which is still seductive enough to be compelling if you choose to do so momentarily. Like gentle New Age soundscapes, “Emily in Paris” is soothing, slow, and relatively monotonous, the dramatic moments too predetermined to really be dramatic. Nothing bad ever happens to our heroine for long. The earlier era of prestige TV was predicated on shows with meta-narratives to be puzzled out, and which merited deep analyses read the day after watching. Here, there is nothing to figure out; as prestige passes its peak, we're moving into the ambient era, which succumbs to, rather than competes with, your phone.
Kyle Chayka, “Emily in Paris” and the Rise of Ambient TV, 16 November 2020

 

 
 


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