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Sunday, December 30, 2007

I usually spend the last few weeks December putting together a compilation of my favorite music of the year, but this year thought I'd also create a round-up of choice tidbits from the Director Interviews I've done over the course of 2007. Rather like an end of year mix tape, the selections I've made are not straightforwardly indicative of what I liked most, but what translated best to the short quote format. (All of this year's interviews can be found here.)

Incidentally, the most fascinating interview I did all year was not, in fact, a Director Interview. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was, for my money, the best film of this year, but frustratingly my request for an interview with its writer-director, Andrew Dominik, was not responded to until after my deadline. Ultimately, I did the interview after the movie had already opened, and ran an almost unedited transcript as a Web Exclusive. To this date, it remains the only interview I am aware of that Dominik has done in the American press, a sign of just how little desire Warner Bros. had to publicize the film.

Mike White (on going to the Oscars):
“I’ve never been to the Oscars, but if I was ever invited to the Oscars, I would have this weird paranoia of terrorism. It just feels like The Poseidon Adventure, everyone in their tuxes. Somehow, I feel like the whole time I would be looking for where the nearest exit was, and in a cold sweat about some kind of man-made disaster, like a terrorist strike or something. It seems like such a scary, claustrophobic proposition.”

Edgar Wright (on Grindhouse):
“I got asked to do it in 2005, when they were first starting to develop it. I was in L.A., and out with Quentin [Tarantino] and Eli Roth, and he said, “We're doing this Grindhouse thing. Do you two want to do trailers?” And we both went, “Uh, yes please!” So, [I was] very, very flattered to be asked. I wrote the script in December 2005 and sent it to Robert [Rodriguez] and Quentin. I got an email from Robert saying, 'Oh, that's great. Perfect, perfect', and a phone call from Quentin saying, [he mimics Tarantino's voice] “You know, the funny thing is, like uh, these are the first completed pages of the script!” They hadn't finished either of their screenplays, so I felt like the school swot because I'd turned my Grindhouse stuff in first.”

Christoffer Boe (on his obsession with films):
“I seem to wonder if we can reach some kind of new destination with cinema, or touch upon human existence in a different way to what cinema usually does in its very schematic and sometimes very controlled, plot-oriented ways of thinking. Sometimes I feel like I've found the holy grail, and next week I think it's a complete mistake and I need to try something completely different. It's an ongoing process.”

Hal Hartley (on Fay Grim):
“9/11 was my first day teaching at Harvard University. My classes were all canceled and I got back to town two days later. I'm one of those people who doesn't think the world has changed any at all since 9/11. It just seemed to be almost inevitable, something like that. That's one of the reasons why the backstory of Fay Grim goes all the way back into the '80s. I was trying to sketch out the continuity of all this hanky-panky between the security agencies of the world.”

Lars Von Trier (on the plot of “Occupations”, his contribution to Chacun Son Cinema):
“It's the opening of Manderlay in Cannes, and I'm sitting next to this guy who's writing for a tiny fictitious French paper called On the Sunny Side, and he's writing a review on the film, and he's obviously bored. Then he tells me about all the cars he owns, and how rich he is, and all these things. So, at a certain point, he says, “So what do you do?” Then I take out this very strange hammer we have in the Danish building business, and I say, “I kill.” And then I kill him. It is as stupid as it sounds.”

Judd Apatow (on Pineapple Express):
“It's a very strange, demented Abbott and Costello movie, with a lot of action and comedy and violence. [laughs] Something I always dreamt of doing, an action movie where the leads are high the entire movie. It always struck me as funny since I saw Brad Pitt in True Romance, when I thought, “I wish this movie was about his character! I want to follow him around for a while.” ”

Todd Rohal (on The Guatemalan Handshake being called a “mumblecore” movie):
“Somebody in L.A. came to see The Guatemalan Handshake, and they were like, "I thought this was going to be like Andrew Bujalski's film, and then it opens up and it's widescreen anamorphic film." Right in the first two minutes, they said, "There's no logic to whatever that Mumblecore thing is." ”

Taika Waititi (on the comparisons between Eagle vs. Shark and Napoleon Dynamite):
“It was never part of my thinking that we had to watch out not to be compared to Napoleon Dynamite, because we were making a small New Zealand film which I thought was only going to play in festivals. But it's not a bad thing, there are worse things to be compared to. I mean, imagine if it were being compared to Big Momma's House 2?!”

John Dahl (on why he turned down The Punisher 2):
“The idea of doing a really nasty vigilante movie that had a sense of humor was appealing, but I guess I wasn't convinced I could get it to that point. No matter what I would have done, it would have been Punisher 2. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to do [the original] Punisher, because politically incorrect as the idea is of a guy in a leather trench coat just wasting dozens of drug-dealing scum in an instant, like stamping out rats, I just think it could have been pretty funny. Funny and grim at the same time. You know, like you're laughing because somebody just got shot in the face? That kind of funny.”

Asger Leth (on the premiere of The Ghosts of Cité Soleil):
“I was scared shitless. I was hiding out in the theater and after the screening I didn't really want to hear what people had to say about the film, but then everybody left. 15 minutes later I went out, and outside were two of my big heroes, Werner Herzog and [Alejandro González] Iñárritu, both of them totally fucking crazy about the film, attacking me and saying it was “Amazing!” After that I was like, “I don't care what reviews I get, that's all I need.” ”

Cherie Nowlan (on not being able to turn off):
“When I'm making a film, I direct myself in my sleep – it's infuriating. I think, “You don't have to direct this scene, you're just sleeping,” and there's literally a camera at the end of my bed. It is really annoying when I film myself in my sleep – it's like, “Get the crew out of my bedroom!” ”

Milos Forman (on the perils of period movies):
“We were shooting Amadeus in one of a couple of the remaining 18th Century theatres in Europe. We had chandeliers and thousands and thousands of candles burning, so we had 30 or 40 firemen all over the stage and in the theater. We had 600 hundred extras in the audience in period costume, and dancers and singers and an orchestra. We lit the candles and had the camera rolling. The music started and the singer was in the ecstasy of performing – and nobody noticed that he had made a wrong step. He had a hat with huge feathers, and they caught fire. Now everybody — hundreds of people — sees, but he didn't know it because he was in the ecstasy, and it was behind his back. Nobody moves — everybody is watching it! It took a long time — five, six seconds and lasted an eternity — until finally one young fireman stuck his head out of the wings and said, “Mr. Forman, could you please stop the camera? Your actor is on fire.” ”

Julie Delpy (on firemen):
“I don't know any woman in France who doesn't talk to firemen and smile at them, because they're always so sweet, and they're wearing those tight pants. Even my dad looks at their ass when they walk down the street!”

Greg Mottola (on the decision to call his film Superbad):
“Definitely a few times we looked at each other and said, “Do we really think this is a good idea?” There was one day I was driving with the crew going to the location and the teamster driver who was taking us was on the phone with a friend, and I overheard him saying, “I'm working on this movie. It's called Superbad, and it is.” I thought, “This could have been a big mistake...” ”

John Turturro (on Christopher Walken)
“He would say, “I don't want the choreographer to tell me things.” I said, “OK, do you want to try stuff?” He said, “No, you do it and then I'll watch you. If I like what you do, I'll steal it from you.” He made me dance, and he'd be “Oh, I like that, I'll do that.” We get along very well, but he has the things that he needs. He doesn't like to drive and act anymore, I don't know why. “You got to be parked, that's the only thing.” He likes the old rear-projection system.”

Tony Gilroy (on “adapting” Robert Ludlum's trilogy of Bourne novels):
“We didn't use the books. The first ten minutes of the first film is out of the book, but after that it's mine. No one ever thought there would be a sequel of that first movie. I'm not going to get into all the production insanity and everything else but, believe me, I never would have killed Clive Owen or Chris Cooper if I thought there was going to be a sequel. The minute there was a sequel, I went back and put the tape in to see if there was any way that Clive could have crawled out of that field. We never, ever thought there would be a sequel, so once we had to go on we couldn't use the books. There was nothing.”

Robert Sarkies (on the sacrifices necessary for success):
“I saved up my 50 cents a day lunch money when I was 10 years old to be able to afford a movie camera. I went hungry. I was a real thin child, [laughs] and I used to eat quite a lot of cereal when I got home. Literally for four years, my parents didn't realize that I didn't spend any of my lunch money on lunch. Once I combined birthday money and Christmas money and lunch money, I could afford to buy a camera every year and a half.”

Julien Temple (on his first encounter with Joe Strummer):
“I first met him in Chalk Farm in the rehearsal space that the Clash had. There was no one there in this big, open warehouse space, except there was this really weird smell and there was this table with a plastic tablecloth over it, and the smell seemed to be coming from there. When I lifted up the tablecloth, there was Joe asleep. He still had his boots on, and was not very happy to have been woken.”

Noah Baumbach (on Peter Bogdanovich):
“I cast him in Mr Jealousy, and we became friends during that. I was a huge fan of his. When Wes[Anderson] and I became friends, soon after that he met Peter separately so the three of us often get together. I call him “Pop” and he calls us his sons and it’s a sort of a cinema family.”

Crispin Hellion Glover (on shock tactics):
“I really have zero interest in shock. I think right now in corporately funded and distributed film, anything that can possibly make an audience uncomfortable in any way is necessarily excised, and I think that’s a very bad thing for the culture. It’s the moment when an audience sits back in its chairs and looks up at the screen and says, “Is this right, what I’m watching? Is this wrong, what I’m watching? Is the filmmaker right or wrong? Should I be here or not?” It’s at the moment that these genuine questions are being asked that true education can happen. And true education isn’t happening in the cinema right now in this culture.”

Esther Robinson (on her cinematic epiphany)
“The first movie that changed my life was Stranger Than Paradise when I was 15 years old. There's this moment where it goes to black in between scenes, and I remember sitting in this black theater thinking, “Holy fuck! You can do that?! You can just go to black?!” It literally changed my life.”

# posted by Nick Dawson @ 12/30/2007 08:44:00 PM
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