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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Don DeLillo talks COSMOPOLIS (spoilers)

 

From the press kit: “It all happened very quickly, actually. [The script] was incredibly close to the book. Of course, Cronenberg cut out a few scenes that couldn’t work out, but it is totally faithful to the spirit of the novel. Of course, I had no intention to make comments when I read it, it had become a Cronenberg film. It is my novel, but it is his film, there is no question about it. Then, last March, I saw the film in New York once it was completed. I was really impressed. It is as uncompromising as it can possibly be. I liked it from the very beginning, from the opening credits: what an amazing idea to start with Jackson Pollock, and to finish with Rothko, for that matter. And the final scene, with [—] and [—], is just mind-blowing! Throughout the years, there have been many proposals to adapt several of my books, but they have never come through. I thought that adapting ‘Cosmopolis’ would be particularly tricky, since most action is confined within a car, which doesn’t translate well to the screen. But not only did Cronenberg respect that, he also shot in the limo some scenes that originally happened elsewhere, like the sequence with Juliette Binoche, for instance.”

On his novels, often fixated on movies, being hard to adapt: “I thought that ‘Libra’ or ‘White Noise’ could easily be turned into films, but apparently it is very complicated. I don’t know why. Anyway, don’t expect me to take care of it myself and write a screenplay… Many people think that in the 1960s I quit my job in an advertising company to write my first novel. Not at all: I just quit so I could go to the movies every afternoon. Only afterwards did I seriously take up writing… As I live close to New York, I keep discovering many new films that have become impossible to watch in a theater anywhere else in the United States. At some point in my life I lived in Greece, for three years, and I was film-starved, many good films weren’t shown there, I really missed it. Otherwise, I have kept a close look on what has been happening in the cinema industry, and I think that lately The Turin Horse by Béla Tarr, The Tree Of Life by Terrence Malick or Melancholia by Lars von Trier have been real milestones.”

On the visual obsessions of his writing: “I am not comfortable with abstract writing, stories that look like essays: you have to see, I need to see.”

On mixing New York and Toronto locations: “The important thing is that it happens inside a limousine. It is like a world itself, with several intrusions of various kinds, visitors, or an angry mob. This is what really matters. Besides, shooting elsewhere gives the film a more general dimension, of course it is New York, but it is more the idea of ‘the great contemporary city’ we are dealing with, which is perfectly fine.”

And on Cronenberg taking swathes of dialogue directly from the novel? “It is the strangest thing! These are my words, but they take on another life. I wrote this conversation about art that Eric and the character played by Juliette Binoche have, but somehow it felt like I was discovering it, or even understanding it for the first time.”

One Response to “Don DeLillo talks COSMOPOLIS (spoilers)”

  1. evan says:

    excellent info. Very excited about this, especially since it has the DeLillo seal of approval!

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“We don’t defy the laws of physics: There are no flying men or cars in this movie. So it made sense to do it old-school: real vehicles and real human beings in the desert. We shot the movie more or less in continuity, because the cars and the characters get really banged up along the way. The biggest benefit of digital technology for me was that the cameras were smaller and much more agile, so you could put them anywhere. We also spent a huge amount of time on spatial awareness—making sure the viewer could follow the action and understand what was happening. There has to be a strong causal connection from one shot to the next, just the same way that in music, there has to be a connection from one note to the next. Otherwise it’s just noise. Too often, if you just cram a lot of stuff into the frame, you get the illusion of a fast pace. But there’s no coherence. It doesn’t flow. It comes off as headbanging music, and it can be exhausting. We storyboarded the movie before we had a script: We had 3,500 boards, which helps the cast and crew understand how everything is going to fit together. Movies are getting faster and faster. The Road Warrior had 1,200 cuts. This one has 2,700 cuts. You have to treat it like a symphony.”
~ George Miller

“I was having issues with my script for It’s All About Love, so I called Ingmar Bergman and we ended up talking about everything but the script. He said, “Well, Festen is a masterpiece, so what are you going to do now?” At that point, I had not decided if I was going to make It’s All About Love, so I answered, “Hmmm, I don’t know. Maybe this, maybe that.” There was just a long pause, and then he said, “You’re fucked.” I said, “Well, how can you know?” “Well, Thomas, you always have to decide your next movie before the movie you’re doing presently opens.” And I said, “Why is that?” “Well, two things can happen. One thing is that you fail, and then you’ll feel scared and humiliated. It’ll get into your head. Second, and even worse, you have success, and then you’ll want more of it, or you’ll want to maintain it. But if you decide on your next film while you’re in the middle of editing, it becomes a very nonchalant choice. And then it’s shorter from the heart to the hand.”
~ Thomas Vinterberg

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