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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

In the mudroom: Todd Field on Little Children

There’s more than enough misunderstanding to go around ine arly reviews of Todd Field‘s ambitious second feature, Little Children. The writer-director articulates to Filmmaker’s Scott Macaulay, but does not explain: “It’s the basic rule of illusion. It’s like in the magicians’ union: If you sign into the Society of lc_crossing235.jpgAmerican Magicians or the International Brotherhood of Magicians, there are two rules. You work on something, and when you finally show it, you don’t do it again right away. And the second [rule] is that you don’t explain it. It’s the same thing with storytelling… Why would you go to all that trouble to do something that hopefully people are going to engage in enough to have a conversation about, and then get up and say, “What I really meant was…” Or, “Oh, and by the way, the characters you’ve been caught up in for two hours, they’re really actors, and here they are! … That’s why cinema is great. It’s a very democratic process, and it’s open to everyone. Why do we sit and watch Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s films that have no reflection of our culture at all? We’re not from Istanbul, yet we’re so profoundly moved. That’s why film, I think, is the closest form of expression to music. It doesn’t require that someone [be of] a particular background or gender or race or age.” Of adapting Tom Perotta’s novel, Field says, “What interested me about the book were its characters, its themes and, almost in an allegorical way, its sense of paranoia [and how that connected with] the state our country is in right now. Probably the only thing that made me take pause was the fact that it was set in this bedroom community and that it might be accused of being a send-up of suburbia, because I don’t believe that that’s what the story is. I think that would be a lazy way to perceive it.” [More at the link.]

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“With every table in the dining room occupied and me, the only waiter, neglecting the needs of a good fifty patrons, I approached Roth. Holding out Balls as a numbness set into the muscles of my face, I spoke. “Sir, I’ve heard you say that you don’t read fiction anymore, but I’ve just had my first novel published and I’d like to give you a copy.”

“His eyes lifting from his iPhone, he took the book from my hands. He congratulated me. Then, staring at the cover, he said, “Great title. I’m surprised I didn’t think of it myself.”

“These words worked on me like a hit of morphine. Like two hits. It felt as if I was no longer the occupant of my own body. The legs had gone weak, the ears warmed, the eyes watered, the heart rate increased rapidly. Barely able to keep myself upright, I told him, “Thank you.”

“Then Roth, who, the world would learn sixteen days later, was retiring from writing, said, in an even tone, with seeming sincerity, “Yeah, this is great. But I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.”

“I managed, “It’s too late, sir. There’s no turning back. I’m in.”

“Nodding slowly, he said to me, “Well then, good luck.”

“After which I went back to work.”
~ Julian Tepper

“Any form of physical or sexual assault is a very serious matter, potentially a legal matter. But I’m also wondering, what about having some kind of “extreme asshole” clause? I know lots of people who have been abused verbally and psychologically. That’s traumatizing, too. What do we do with that?  It takes a lot of energy to be an asshole. The people I admire most just aren’t interested in things that take away from their ability to make stuff. The people I really respect, and that I’ve met who fit this definition, have a sense of grace about them, because they know that there is no evolving and there is no wisdom without humility. You can’t get better if you behave in a way that shuts people off. You can’t! You don’t have all the ideas necessary to solve something. You don’t! I’m sure if you spoke to Harvey in his heyday and said to him what I just said to you, he would believe that he accomplished all that he had because of the way he behaved.”
~ Steven Soderbergh