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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Maddining: pinning Guy down, wrinkly as a prune

Over at Offscreen, David Church takes a 12,000 word peramble with the always-loquacious Guy Maddin on what’s revving his Manitoban motor these days. On getting in the water for Cowards Bend the Knee: “I spent many hours daydreaming while swimming. Swimming requires a lot of patience and I’d swim for about an hour a day and just daydream about this movie and about things that have happened to me and how to fit it into templates established by maybe Electra or The Hands of Orlac—only to be astonished, after the swimming pool water had made my entire body as wrinkly as a prune, that all those stories somehow fit together. Maybe the soaking in the water really helped all those stories fit together; Euripides, Orlac, and my own autobiography were all the same story somehow and I got a sort of chlorine delirium everyday…. sissy_boy_slap_party_1.jpg[I] just picked up a camera and shot it, kind of from memory—just gathered all the actors together and had them act out my life as I remembered it through a haze of chlorine and amnesia. I would shout out orders, directing while operating the camera so I could make instantaneous judgments in my head. It was a real pleasure and really strange…” The almost-50 auteur’s brimming 2006-2007 roster includes a doc: “Although I’m no expert on budgets… it’s easy to forget that the most expensive element in filmmaking is time if you’re paying everybody… I think it’s got to be a little bit cheaper to use video. At least you can tape over it or something like that, although I don’t think you’re supposed to. More and more I like the look of it for certain subjects. When you’re making a documentary of a city, Winnipeg looks ugliest on video, and that might be the way to go.” Working at such velocity? “I love being busy, I really do. I’ve been a lazy person for so long in my life. It feels good to lick it for a while. I know I could slide back at any second like an alcoholic can start drinking or a smoker could light up again; I feel like I could just fall back on a couch and never get up… So I really love the feeling that putting in consecutive days, months, and years of productive time gives me.”

Plus the outspoken Maddin on a notorious local figure: “I recall you did have that Svengali-like figure who mesmerized the character of Veronkha in Archangel. “Yes, Ihor Procak is a real life Svengali, a sort of hypnotist who actually hypnotized Dorothy Stratten in a movie [Autumn Born] made in Winnipeg… Ihor Procak © RP.jpgBut Dorothy came up to Winnipeg and made a movie shortly before her death, and Ihor had a great big part in it and it was his idea to wind up a little squeaky mouse toy to hypnotize her with or something. Anyway, he’s an evil man and I always try to keep my girlfriend away from him.”

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“Roger Ebert claimed that the re-editing of The Brown Bunny after Cannes allowed him a difference of opinion so vast that he first called it the worst film in history and eventually gave it a thumbs up. This is both far fetched and an outright lie. The truth is, unlike the many claims that the unfinished film that showed at Cannes was 24 minutes shorter than the finished film, it was only 8 minutes shorter. The running time I filled out on the Cannes submission form was arbitrary. The running time I chose was just a number I liked. I had no idea where in the process I would actually be when I needed to stop cutting to meet the screening deadline. So whatever running time was printed in the program, I promise you, was not the actual running time. And the cuts I made to finish the film after Cannes were not many. I shortened the opening race scene once I was able to do so digitally. After rewatching the last 4 minutes of the film over and over again, somewhere within those 4 minutes, I froze the picture and just ended the film there, cutting out everything after that point, which was about 3 minutes. Originally in the salt flats scene, the motorcycle returned from the white. I removed the return portion of that shot, which seemed too literal. And I cut a scene of me putting on a sweater. That’s pretty much it. Plus the usual frame here, frame there, final tweaks. If you didn’t like the unfinished film at Cannes, you didn’t like the finished film, and vice versa. Roger Ebert made up his story and his premise because after calling my film literally the worst film ever made, he eventually realized it was not in his best interest to be stuck with that mantra. Stuck with a brutal, dismissive review of a film that other, more serious critics eventually felt differently about. He also took attention away from what he actually did at the press screening. It is outrageous that a single critic disrupted a press screening for a film chosen in main competition at such a high profile festival and even more outrageous that Ebert was ever allowed into another screening at Cannes. His ranting, moaning and eventual loud singing happened within the first 20 minutes, completely disrupting and manipulating the press screening of my film. Afterwards, at the first public screening, booing, laughing and hissing started during the open credits, even before the first scene of the film. The public, who had heard and read rumors about the Ebert incident and about me personally, heckled from frame one and never stopped. To make things weirder, I got a record-setting standing ovation from the supporters of the film who were trying to show up the distractors who had been disrupting the film. It was not the cut nor the film itself that drew blood. It was something suspicious about me. Something offensive to certain ideologues.”
~ Vincent Gallo

“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster