The studios didn't invent Rotten Tomatoes, and most of them don't like it. But the system is broken. Audiences are dumber. Normal people don't go through reviews like they used to. Rotten Tomatoes is something the studios can game. So they do.
Once upon a time, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert turned the no-budget documentary Hoop Dreams into a phenomenon using only their thumbs. But critical power like that has been replaced by the collective voice of the masses.
With a changing culture and changing technology, it's hard to see cinema slipping back into the prominence it once held. I think we could feel it coming on when they started calling films “content” — but that's what happens when you let tech people take over your industry...
For me, I was more confident before. When we were making ‘Bottle Rocket,' I felt like I really knew what I wanted it to be. And it helped that I had a partner, I had Owen Wilson, we'd written it together, the two of us were a team, so that goes a long way in that situation.
I would like to say that I consider all of my films to be very politically engaged.
I never narrowed it down to a totalitarian system, the way, for example, the artist dissident would. Because I realize that civilization does allow for the creation or existence of something as sick as Fascism or Stalinism, then the entire civilization itself is very ill, something is wrong. I always wanted to penetrate the core of this problem. Not to just concentrate on the very surface of political activity.
I have a feeling that Truffaut and Godard, a lot of European filmmakers… whether it's the system they are working under or… their movies are texturally inferior somehow, there's something missing in them, just in terms of a visceral approach to a movie. And I can't figure out whether it's [that], or whether they haven't the technicians, or what. But there is a distance from the screen to the audience.
A lot of people are really wanting to call this ‘Martin Scorsese's Western'. With Natives and Westerns, we are so dehumanized that it just kind of feels like we're part of the landscape – instead of humans that are telling a story.
If you're going to start reading reviews then you've got to read the bad ones, you can't just go show me the good ones. It's absurd to do that. When I started looking at reviews for “Birth,” of course some were scathing, people loathed it. It was a nasty, nasty response. You can't pretend that that doesn't affect you, it does. It takes chunks out of you on some level. I realized soon after that it's important not to confuse something that is good with something that is well-received. They are not the same thing and equally something bad. When I kind of understood that, then the process for me became much easier and I could remove myself from caring about it. You're kind of sensitive to criticism, but you're also sensitive to praise so you have to kind of push that away and get on with what you're going to do next. So I think I was very committed to continue on the path I was going. I wanted to keep going on that road. I lost more and more people along the way, in other words I had a smaller audience along the way then so be it. As long as there was someone out there prepared to let me make films the way I felt like I wanted to make them, then I would carry on doing that, with an ever-dwindling audience perhaps.
For [Arab] conservatives, women's freedom is permissible so long as it does not diminish the stature of the man and challenge religious family values.
I will never see any Star Wars films, because I resent that I know so much about them and the characters. Why is all that in my head when I've never actually seen one, you know? Why do I know about R2-D2 and Darth Vader and all these things when I've never even seen any Star Wars film? I've never seen Gone with the Wind and I never will, just because I feel like it's forced on me and it's some kind of corny thing.
Finally, it's happening. This has been coming my whole life… I felt like I was seeing myself. I felt seen. I think a lot of Kens will feel seen when they see this. Gotta do it for the Kens. Nobody plays with the Kens.
We don't have a lot of neon in Scandinavia, unfortunately. But I've always been attracted to, I guess, the bisexuality of neon and because it's like a collision between analog and digital, and yet it has this heightened sense of flair. So it looks artificial, but it's actually an almost analog sensibility and it just naturally, I guess, attracted my senses. There is something very interesting about using a lighting texture to define what you do, especially with moving images.
The ideal audience for "Barbie" is not young women who happily grew up playing with Barbies but a later vengeful generation that resents the toy's suggestion of outdated femininity. Barbie opens with a riff on 2001: A Space Odyssey where sullen little girls smash old-fashioned baby dolls (i.e., the idea of motherhood). Non-maternal Barbie (Robbie) towers over these fitful tykes, shadowing them like Kubrick's black slab and inspiring violent resistance. Doll babies are tossed in the air, then fall into Barbieland, because the idea of women's liberation has been weaponized.
But the point is that if you create the ultimate destructive power it will also destroy those who are near and dear to you. So I suppose this was my way of expressing that in what, to me, were the strongest possible terms.
Through the decades in Iran, the restrictions and censorship rules have been integrated by directors even unconciously. Our greatest directors have avoided subjects that have to do with contemporary society. Now we are gradually dealing with the heart of the crisis. The world can support us by paying more attention to this cinema, and not only mainstream Iranian cinema.
Jinnah was outraged that his nation's larger neighbour would be called India. He believed that Pakistan was a part of India, the great landmass recognised as a coherent civilisation for centuries. Jinnah saw India as a construct that was altogether greater than the two new nation-states.
Note: Colonialism in Asia (1): Arabia to India Subcontinent
The Conformist liberated me visually. The film really broke the mould of production design, primarily due to the work by Ferdinando Scarfiotti. As a filmmaker, Bertolucci combined the time manipulation of Antonioni with the vivid editorial juxtapositions of Godard, and he really used production design to combine all of those things together. The Conformist was the first film I know of that treated locations like they were sets.
films are like a river, lovely to see, to bathe in, extraordinarily refreshing and pleasant. Then the water flows and is gone. Very little of the pleasant feeling remains because I soon feel dirty again and need another bath.
There are a lot of artists' work that I do not want people to cut themselves off from. I love reading Dostoyevsky, who was anti-Semitic and had crazy political ideas. I was very influenced as a young person by Polanski, who did terrible things and really should've been in prison for them. But that doesn't mean his films didn't continue to inspire.
There was a slight danger that people were bracketing [“Black Mirror” ] as the ‘tech is bad' show – and I found that a bit frustrating partly because I always felt like, ‘Well the show isn't saying tech is bad, the show is saying people are fucked up'. So, you know, ‘Get it right!'
I find digging into terrible actions and dark human impulses helps me feel more empowered and less victimized. [The nature of making a documentary] is not about you, but because you are the filter, it absolutely has to go through you.
What's missing in all this talk of digital technologies is the understanding that they're only tools to shoot and edit with, they're not ends in themselves. To see stuff that's technically sophisticated but that says nothing doesn't interest me. For me, the DV camera and Avid are tools I use to get closer to people more easily and to shoot on my own – and to collapse the time lapse between wanting to film something and actually being able to do it.
I didn't know or care about the industry – it seemed old school. I thought moviemaking would only really become an artform if anyone could access it, the way anyone can paint or sing or write. Mediums don't suffer from being available, they evolve. If movies always need a company behind them, they will never really be an art.
I remember at that time, all of us thought, here comes a sort of democracy, here comes small, cheap equipment and young guys can buy it and can do cheaper films alone with friends, et cetera. It's completely dead, it doesn't exist any more. Digital shooting today, you need maybe more people than you used to need in 35. It's ridiculous. It's how the capitalistic system grabs you again by the back.
One of the things that cinema has struggled with historically is the representation of intelligence or genius. It very often fails to engage people.
[In “Oppenheimer” ] we have to find a way into this guy's head. We've gotta see the world the way he sees it, we've gotta see the atoms moving, we've gotta see the way he's imagining waves of energy, the quantum world. And then we have to see how that translates into the Trinity test. And we have to feel the danger, feel the threat of all this somehow...
I wanted to really go through this story with Oppenheimer; I didn't want to sit by him and judge him. That seemed a pointless exercise. That's more the stuff of documentary, or political theory, or history of science. This is a story that you experience with him — you don't judge him. You are faced with these irreconcilable ethical dilemmas with him.
I think the word "diversity" is wrong. I think that the idea of diversification on screen is not quite right because it's actually confusing everyone and what's happening is we're mistaking that for. We have to include a person from every single race and every single background and every single part of the human experience in every show or everything that we make. That's not reality and it's not authentic. I never grew up with a group of friends where there was someone who represented every ethnic group in my group of friends... I don't want to see one token Polynesian character in your show, okay? That's just weird. And, you know, unless it makes sense. What I want to see is a fully Polynesian controlled Polynesian story that's written by and show run by, okay?
Sometimes I'll have conversations with friends who are like, ‘Do you know what you're doing?' And I'm like, ‘Yeah, we're making a movie.' And they're like, ‘Do you know what you're doing?' I try not to take that in because I think that's the trap. The trap is to look at that thing in the context of how society might view that thing. In the immediate, I'm just making a movie. Putting it out is a whole other thing that I'm going to have to prepare for afterwards.
Comedy is a great way of pulling people in and going, ‘Hey, we're all friends. Get comfortable. You're racist,' People check themselves and they go, ‘Am I allowed to laugh at this?' They have to google if they're allowed to. And sometimes you shouldn't laugh at some stuff. You've got to navigate it.
This may have been 2002 or 2003. I'm undercover, I'm seducing the guy – obviously that's what girls do when they're undercover. But I'm seducing the guy and you have to take off one piece of clothing [at a time]… I wanted to layer up [but] the filmmaker was like, ‘No, I need to see her underwear. Otherwise why is anybody coming to watch this movie?'
He didn't say it to me. He said it to the stylist in front of me. It was such a dehumanising moment. It was a feeling of, ‘I'm nothing else outside of how I can be used, my art is not important, what I contribute is not important.'
[At Cannes] they invented something for our screening
[of “Reservoir Dogs” ] that they'd never done before, they put an orange sticker in the ticket that said: This movie may be too violent for you to watch. And they'd never done that before and they ended up putting the same sticker on ‘Pulp Fiction' when it played here in 1994. And then at some point with Lars von Trier they stopped putting the sticker on.
Nothing is so terrible as a pretentious movie. I mean a movie that aspires for something really terrific and doesn't pull it off. It's shit. It's scum. And everyone will walk on it as such. And that's why poor filmmakers, in a way… That's their greatest horror, is to be pretentious.
Cameron Bailey, who runs the Toronto Film Festival, had issues with [‘Master Gardener' ]. They wouldn't accept it. He said he couldn't put a film in the festival that treats racism so lightly. The film deals with racism, but it doesn't really deal with racism. It doesn't really deal with white supremacism. Certainly, it doesn't really deal with gardening. It deals with the journey of a soul. And then of course, you know, you put those hot-button issues in there, and you do a reverse Mandingo. You know, in the old plantation, the field hand or the kitchen girl were always prey for the white owner. Here we just reversed that, and the Proud Boy becomes Mandingo.
[Cinema today] makes me nauseous.
I feel all the imagination has now gone only into ‘How do I vary it?', and not ‘How do I come up with something new?' For me, this is not storytelling. Doing a remake is not storytelling. It is like repeating a story that has been told and my only desire is to find out how to tell a story. And then forget about it.
We have 45 million cameras in the world, but we don't really discuss in which ways images are influencing us and how we look at the world. In these times when we are communicating so much with moving images, this has to go into the subject of primary schools.
While we were making The Double Life of Véronique, Krzysztof
Kieslowski had asked me questions to get to know me. One was: “What makes you angry?” Three Colours: Red was really about this: you meet someone, such as the judge, who revolts you – in this case, because he was wiretapping his neighbours – but you confront it. The film is a clash between hope and experience, about how two apparently different people can connect on a deep level.
Cinema is really reinvented by people who are radical and not by people who are mainstream. I pass as being very radical in the States, but here [in Romania], I pass as being very mainstream.
That was a mistake. I never should have done that
[edited the guns out for the 20th anniversary release of ‘E.T.' and replaced the firearms with walkie talkies]. ‘E.T.' is a product of its era. No film should be revised based on the lenses we now are, either voluntarily, or being forced to peer through... I should have never messed with the archives of my own work, and I don't recommend anyone do that. All our movies are a kind of a signpost of where we were when we made them, what the world was like and what the world was receiving when we got those stories out there. So I really regret having that out there.
I consider myself an amateur. Because the root of the word amateur contains the word love. So, it's like for the love of doing something, not a lack of skill necessarily, whereas professionalism is: I do this to make money. I'm interested in imperfection because I've learned that mistakes are sometimes very valuable, even very beautiful. I think perfection is imperfect but imperfection is perfect.
Weren't you sick of hearing people that were college-age or whatever in the late sixties talking about how great it was? It was, like, ‘O.K., you guys, no matter what you do, you'll never top what we did'—you know, Woodstock and all that shit. So I was, like, ‘Yeah, guess what? We don't need to self-mythologize. We don't even want to.'
[Richard Linklater told
Ethan Hawke during "Before Sunrise": ] ‘I don't want you to worry too much about the script. I'm inviting you to be a filmmaker with me. My whole life I've gone to the movies and there's espionage and shootouts and helicopters, all this action. Everything that I see is all this drama, [so much so] that you would think my life, our lives, have no drama. That's not the way I feel. My life feels very exciting to me and I've never been involved in a chase or a gun shootout. My life is exciting to me. And what's the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me? Connecting with another human being…If we can put that on screen I think people will care.'
I don't think Muslims are used to films where religious arguments are taken seriously. So one of the most rewarding things is to have so many religious people – they always come up afterwards, they don't ask questions in public – who want to discuss the film
["Cairo Conspiracy" ].
Note: Colonialism in Africa and Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
Two things I can say publicly that I do not like. Black History Month is an insult. You're going to relegate my history to a month?
When my career started in film I wanted to be a chameleon. I remember De Niro early on doing very different parts. Almost unrecognisable as the same actor. I had opportunities like that.
It's true, sex is not part of my vision of cinema. And the truth is that, in real life, it's a pain to shoot sex scenes. Everyone is very tense. And if it was already a bit problematic to do it before, now it is even more so. If there had ever been a sex scene that was essential to the story, I would have, but so far it hasn't been necessary.
For me, what I'm trying to do [in "Personality Crisis: One Night Only" ] is find a way just to make films so that they're not put into niches of fiction or nonfiction. The word documentary is outmoded now. That has to do with the old black-and-white postwar neorealist cinema, the newsreels, we're all used to thinking, my generation, that if it wasn't black-and-white and grainy, it wasn't truthful. It was, except that now that's been supplanted by high-def TV. The image on an iPhone. That's the new cinema vérité.
Europe was where you had character-based films or mood-based films, but in America, we told a story. We're the worst at it now as far as I'm concerned. We don't tell a story. We tell a situation. Most of the movies that you see nowadays – and I'm not a Hollywood basher because enough good movies come out of the Hollywood system every year to justify its existence, you know, but- without any apologies. However, a good majority of the movies that come out, all right, you pretty much know everything you're going to see in the movie by the first 10 or 20 minutes. Now, that's not a story. A story is something that constantly unfolds. And I'm not talking about like this quick left turn or a quick right turn or a big surprise. I'm talking about it unfolding, all right.
For me, (Orson Welles) is just a hoax. It's empty. It's not interesting. It's dead. Citizen Kane, which I have a copy of, is the critics' darling, always at the top of every poll taken, but I think it's a total bore. Above all, the performances are worthless. The amount of respect that movie has is absolutely unbelievable!
You could write all the ideas of all the movies, mine included, on the head of a pin. It's not a form in which ideas are very fecund. It's a form that may grip you or take you into a world or involve you emotionally—but ideas are not the subject of films. I have this terrible sense that film is dead, that it's a piece of film in a machine that will be run off and shown to people. That is why, I think, my films are theatrical, and strongly stated, because I can't believe that anybody won't fall asleep unless they are. There's an awful lot of Bergman and Antonioni that I'd rather be dead than sit through.
I'm not really a big fan of Jean-Luc Godard anymore. I think Godard is kind of like Frank Frazetta. You get into him for a while and he's like your hero for a little bit. You start drawing shit like him and then you outgrow. I think that's what Godard is, at least for me anyway, as a filmmaker.
The book ["American Psycho" ] itself doesn't really answer a lot of the questions it poses, but by the very nature of the medium of a movie, you kind of have to answer those questions. And a movie automatically says, ‘It's real.' Then, at the end, it tries to have it both ways by suggesting that it wasn't. Which you could argue is interesting, but I think it basically confused a lot of people, and I think even Mary [Harron-director] would admit that.
[In the past] you could joke about a bigot and have a laugh—that was hysterical. And it was about educating people on how ridiculous people were. And now we're not allowed to do that…There's a whole generation of people, kids, who are now going back to episodes of Friends and find them offensive…There were things that were never intentional and others…well, we should have thought it through—but I don't think there was a sensitivity like there is now...
everybody needs funny…The world needs humour! We can't take ourselves too seriously—especially in the United States. Everyone is far too divided.
I felt like a fish out of water making Hook. I didn't have confidence in the script. I had confidence in the first act, and I had confidence in the epilogue. I didn't have confidence in the body of it. I didn't quite know what I was doing, and I tried to paint over my insecurity with production value, the more insecure I felt about it, the bigger and more colourful the sets became.
You know, in the old days, by the end of the second week [movie sets], you were all getting drunk in the evening and having dinner and falling in love with each other and all that. And all that stopped because of telephones. Really everyone goes home and looks at Twitter. It's so sad. You know, [Quentin] Tarantino bans telephones from sets and quite right too, and the people there, they do all shag each other – or so I'm told.
I think if most critics knew how much it hurts the people that made the things that they are writing about, they would second guess the way they write these things.
It's devastating. I know people who have never recovered from it honestly – a year, decades of being hurt by [film reviews]. It's very personal… It is devastating when you are being institutionally told that your personal expression was bad, and that's something that people carry with them, literally, their entire lives and I get why. It fucking sucks.
Our last one was ‘For Your Consideration' back in 2006. Our fake documentaries — Chris
[Christopher Guest] always hated the term ‘mockumentary' because we're not mocking, it's more affectionate than that — but they were getting a little cookie-cutter in terms of story. Everything was kind of the same, except we just changed the subject. At a certain point, that becomes predictable. In the interim, so many television shows have picked up that form and just destroyed it.
At that point
[after Tomorrow Never Dies], people in the industry couldn't really tell the difference between whether I was Chinese or Japanese or Korean or if I even spoke English. They would talk very loudly and very slow. I didn't work for almost two years, until Crouching Tiger, simply because I could not agree with the stereotypical roles that were put forward to me.
Why do so many Iranian films feature children? It's partly because all Iranian children seem born actors, but also because portrayals of relationships between the sexes are only permissible before puberty.
Why does a white straight man in Texas care so much about trans rights? Why he is obsessed with that when it's not going to affect his life at all? It's the same thing with why a 50-year-old lady in Punjab thinks my film is going to somehow hamper her life when she's never going to have to encounter a trans person in her whole life... It's just a fear of the unknown, and the fact that trans people just by their very existence are a threat to the patriarchal system, which works in binaries.
‘Possession' is only the type of film you can do when you are young. [Zulawski ] is a director that makes you sink into his world of darkness and his demons. It is okay when you are young, because you are excited to go there. His movies are very special, but they totally focus on women, as if they are lilies. It was quite an amazing film to do, but I got bruised, inside out. It was exciting to do. It was no bones broken, but it was like, ‘How or why did I do that?' I don't think any other actress ever did two films with him.
The works of Shakespeare live in a world of wonderment, poetry, fairy tale, the language of beauty and eloquence. The performer uses a skillset that amplifies that. There is an air and a grace to it that a good English actor has to understand. In America, in an Arthur Miller play, you might get a guy who's just a guy: guy from Pennsylvania, guy from New York — just a guy, a human. American actors had this connection with real life. The accent and the cadence of the words in America allows for a really interesting flow of thoughts.
I remember when I saw “Straw Dogs” by Sam Peckinpah, I walked out in the middle of the movie during the rape scene… It took me 10 years to rewatch the movie on VHS. Adrenaline fixes your memory. If you go to a party, you will not remember how pleasant it was the night after. You were drunk, you were wasted. You don't remember that. You remember the physical fight you had with someone who slapped you in the face. You remember that vividly. Violence generates adrenaline, and adrenaline fixes the memory. When people see a movie that contains moments of simulated violence, you'll have an adrenaline rush, and those memories are much more printed in your memory. Women sometimes have more problems with the murder scene than the rape scene. Most men are not shocked by the murder scene.
I don't like everything. I like historical movies, but I am not a costume drama fan. Another genre I have no respect for is the biopic. They are just big excuses for actors to win Oscars. It's a corrupted cinema. Even the most interesting person – if you are telling their life from beginning to end, it's going to be a fucking boring movie. If you do this, you have to do a comic book version of their whole life.
A reporter last night said: “I just want to ask about the ending of Knock at the Cabin ; I'm going to do this bit later.” And I go: “By later, do you mean not this lifetime, because even that's not long enough for me.” And they were like: “Hahaha.” And I go: “Were you there last night at the screening? Did you see how young everyone was in the audience? A bunch of them came up to me before and said: ‘I just watched Signs last night. I just watched The Sixth Sense a month ago.' I have a new generation that's discovering my movies. Don't talk about the endings.”
I don't think they should carry on, actually. I'm in it and I loved my episodes, but it's very different now. When ‘The Crown' started it was a historic drama, and now it's crashed into the present. But that's up to them.
I'm not making a movie to assault anybody. I'm going on this little thought-voyage, and some things are disturbing me, some things are confusing me, some things are delighting me unexpectedly, and here it is. Maybe you will come on this trip with me. Maybe you will feel the same, and maybe you won't... It's kind of like the human body. When you open them up, they're just crammed with stuff. It's beautiful and laughable and ridiculous. And that's us, you know?
Note: Colonialism in the Americas
I thought [‘The Fabelmans' ] was awful. The writing so heavy-handed and the whole thing so artificial. Bleh... By making a blonde-Aryan-antisemite the pseudo hero of his high school movie the young Fabelman disarms enemies & wins a pseudo friend. Is this an acknowledgment of the superficial triteness of the director's career as an entertainer?
I first read about it in late August and I was shocked that that was the first I was hearing of it. So many superficial aspects of ‘Tár' seemed to align with my own personal life. But once I saw it I was no longer concerned, I was offended: I was offended as a woman, I was offended as a conductor, I was offended as a lesbian.
Note: My favourite series of 2022
Slow Horses, We Own This City, The Resort, Pachinko, Black Bird, Night Sky, Sprung, A Friend of the Family, Station Eleven.
And I just discovered Adventure Time (2010-2018).
The Office is so inappropriate now. The writers who I'm still in touch with now, we always talk about how so much of that show we probably couldn't make now. Tastes have changed, and honestly, what offends people has changed so much now. I think that actually is one of the reasons the show is popular, because people feel like there's something kind of fearless about it or taboo that it talks about on the show...
Actually, most of the characters on that show would be cancelled by now.
In 1962, while in New York to present Jules and Jim, I noticed that every journalist asked me the same question: ‘Why do the critics of Cahiers du Cinéma take Hitchcock so seriously? He's rich and successful, but his movies have no substance'.
I wanted to see myself as a scientist who was put on a deserted island and asked to go west. That meant that I should only go with my own compass and then go the route I was shown, because otherwise it would have no significance...
I like rules and borders. I also like when I have my back to a wall. I have to find something completely new to say.
There's a moment in your career as an actor that you really can't choose your roles. You are just grateful that you're having a job, and ‘Narcos: Mexico' is a great show. But in my case, it's a little hard because the way they put the story of my country, I don't agree at all. There's a lot of truth and that's amazing, but there's a lot of lies, too.
I think my country doesn't need more narco culture and making these guys heroes.
For 70 years, the Sight & Sound poll has been a reliable if somewhat incremental measure of critical consensus and priorities. Films moved up the list, others moved down; but it took time. The sudden appearance of ‘Jeanne Dielman' in the number one slot undermines the S&S poll's credibility. It feels off, as if someone had put their thumb on the scale. Which I suspect they did.
Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman is an inarguably political choice, made by radical Marxist feminists, not humanist critics in a thriving popular culture. Citizen Kane, former S&S poll champ for the previous four decades, conveyed the excitement of watching movies. The phenomenon of Kane is incomparable. It rallies enthusiasm across nations and generations.
Clearly, Jeanne Dielman and Bicycle Thieves are both ‘movement' films. The influence of the women's movement was crucial for Chantal Akerman; Vittorio De Sica's films of the late 1940s are exemplary of neorealism, pioneering the use of non-professional actors and location shooting, and committed to depicting the social problems of post-World War II Italy.
No, I never consciously place symbolism in my writing. That would be a self-conscious exercise and self-consciousness is defeating to any creative act. Better to let the subconscious do the work for you, and get out of the way. The best symbolism is always unsuspected and natural.
I'm not sure it's a good idea for a working novelist to concern himself too much with the technical aspects of the matter [symbolism]. Generally, the best symbols in a novel are those you become aware of only after you finish the work.
the great writers of classics consciously, intentionally planned and placed symbols in their writing
(Joyce, Dante) more than others (Homer) but it is impossible to think of any significant work of narrative art without a symbolic dimension of some sort.
Man is a symbol-making and -using animal. Language itself is a symbolic form of communication. The great writers all used symbols as a means of controlling the form of their fiction. Some place it there subconsciously, discovered it and then developed it. Others started out consciously aware and in some instances shaped the fiction to the symbols.
Note: In my honest opinion, I like metaphor, not just for the sake of it but rather the experience of discovering it. As audience, realization of metaphor usually makes films better (though not always).
In a dark alley on the way out of Goethe Institute, the young me realized that the ending of Germany, Pale Mother (1980) could turn the whole film to be metaphoric letter to the whole generation of German youth. (Though it's quite obvious now for the old me.) At a crowded bus stop after FilmVirus screening, the young me discovered that three strangers in Vive L'Amour (1994) could be interpreted as a dysfunctional family of two parents and their estranged son living in Taipei without souls. Those experiences made those films great for me, and maybe only me, not anyone else.
On the contrary, this experience is the reason I didn't much appreciate Hiroshi Teshigahara's Woman in the Dunes (1964) film, since I already had this realization of its metaphors in Kôbô Abe's book and those metaphors were not translated well enough for me as movie.
In another example, I was once invited to be a commentator for student-films screening. There were some films that when I told the filmmakers what their films would mean if they were intended to be metaphors, and they were amazed how different those films were, compared to their actual attitudes. This is problem when you create narratives but not realize that they could be interpreted as somethings against your opinions.
And as filmmaker, films should stand firmly on their feet, with or without metaphor. There were some times when I finished my films and found some new metaphors that I might unconsciously put in the films. Then they made me surprised and grateful that I might learn something more about my own self.
Be it narcissistic, art appreciation could be very individualistic and personal. So feel free to dig into the ground (I'm looking at you, Woman in the Dunes). What you might find maybe just a drop of water to other people, but it could be a big fountain for yourselves.
Marlon Brando had such an enormous influence on the psychology of men in America. If you look at the “great” generation of American actors like Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman, Al Pacino, Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep, that's all the post-Brando generation. All of them wanted to become actors because of Marlon Brando. He so rewrote the idea of what it was, what it could be. It was like what Bob Dylan did in the culture. It just rewrote the game.
It's the worst thing ever when you open a script and read the words ‘strong female lead'. That makes me roll my eyes. I'm already out. I'm bored. Those roles are written as incredibly stoic, you spend the whole time acting tough and saying tough things...
Write me like a guy and I'll do the ‘girl' stuff. Just write me as you would a man: fallible and complex and difficult and shady. And we are still having to remind people to not hold women to a certain ideal.
In the diaspora, the Africa we tend to hear about is this fantasy place. Because it's hard to tell a child about slavery – it's so dire and so awful that you kind of have to balance it with something. So we get this fairy-tale version of Africa. ‘We were kings and queens, and we walked around and ate perfect food, and everyone was free.' It becomes kind of like Wakanda.
We never worried about any of this stuff with the ‘Naked Gun' or ‘Scary Movie' films. We could be as offensive as we like. We went where the laughs were. We never thought that we were offending anyone, but if we were offending people we knew we were on the right track. As time went on, it got to be the '90s and the 2000s and it did change… When we do screenings of ‘Airplane!' we get the question if we could do ‘Airplane!' today. The first thing I could think of is sure, just without the jokes.
I think Stanley Kubrick said that the only original contribution to film, different from all the other arts, because it comprises only… it combines all the other arts, really, but the only thing that's originally film is editing. It's the editing process.
I said, ‘Mr. Farhadi, I want to tell you that the idea and the plot of my documentary are mine,' He answered, ‘O.K.' And I asked him, ‘So you agree?' He said, ‘O.K.'
I don't want a contract. I don't want money. I just want you to acknowledge that this day occurred. So we will take a picture of us in front of the whiteboard as we start writing the script together. Then, when the film comes out, and you don't acknowledge me, and you just forget who I was, I will show you this picture. At least you will know that there was a moment when this happened.
When I did things like [Miracleman] and Watchmen, they were critiques of the superhero genre. They were trying to show that any attempt to realize these figures in any kind of realistic context will always be grotesque and nightmarish. But that doesn't seem to be the message that people took from this. They seemed to think, uh, yeah, dark, depressing superheroes are, like, cool. The creation of Rorschach [a masked vigilante who is one of Watchmen's main characters]—I was thinking, well, everybody will understand that this is satirical. I'm making this guy a mumbling psychopath who clearly smells, who lives on cold baked beans, who has no friends because of his abhorrent personality. I hadn't realized that so many people in the audience would find such a figure admirable.
America has always been a great melting pot but there are few things that have been created here and then given back to the world. [and cinema is one of those few things.]
This is a shoot-the-messenger situation. I'm just telling you what I see, as a guy who has been in this business for 25 years. I don't know that the market is going to be able to support art-house films the way that it did in the past...
I've got four kids, so I can identify Gen Z's habits pretty accurately. They don't have the same emotional connection to watching things in a theater.
It's simply because we have such a great collection and variety of supernatural folklore that the rest of the world has never seen before. Last time I checked – I was making a list of ghosts and mythological creatures coming from Indonesia – we have 44 distinct ones. In Southeast Asia, we have such a rich tradition of ghost stories. We love telling our kids these stories! When I was a kid, if my mother did not tell me a scary story, I wouldn't be able to fall asleep. [ laughs ] So that's our culture. Because we have such a wide and unique library of horror, our movies feel fresh, especially from the perspective of a Western audience.
I love evil Godzilla, but he's everything. He's an all-purpose monster. He takes care of business, always takes care of business, but he's fought everybody, and he's respected the world around. This character has fought so many different kinds of monsters, it's unreal. I like him as evil, up to no good, but that's changing. He has a son -- it's unbelievable, he got really silly in the '70s, but that's cool.
That was a little unfair because it wasn't called ‘Tim Burton's Nightmare
Before Christmas' until three weeks before the film came out. And I would have been fine with that, if that's what I signed up for.
I mean, Tim is a genius—or he certainly was in his most creative years. I always thought his story was perfect, and he designed the main characters. But it was really me and my team of people who brought that to life.
When I look at these big, spectacular films — I'm looking at you, Marvel and DC — it doesn't matter how old the characters are, they all act like they're in college. They have relationships, but they really don't. They never hang up their spurs because of their kids. The things that really ground us and give us power, love, and a purpose? Those characters don't experience it, and I think that's not the way to make movies.
Jean Vigo's L'Atalante (1934) was a bridge between the surrealism of 1920s French cinema and the poetic realism of the 1930s...
Vigo was kinder and more forgiving than the Surrealists, however, and less morbid than the poetic realists.