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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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“To be a critic is to be a workaholic. Workaholism is socially conditioned: viewed favourably by exploiters, it’s generally ruinous to a worker’s mental health. When T.S. Eliot said criticism was as inevitable as breathing, he failed to mention that, respiratory problems notwithstanding, breathing is easy. Criticism is reflexive before reflective: to formalise/industrialise an involuntary instinct requires time, effort and discipline. The reason we seek remuneration, as opposed to the self-hatred of being a scab, is because all labour should be waged…

“Criticism, so the cliché by now goes, is dying. None of the panel discussions on its death agony, however—including those in which I’ve formally participated—come at it from the wider perspective that the problem surely needs. They defend the ways in which criticism functions in relation to the industry and to the public, but they fail to contextualise these relationships as defined by ultimately rotten and self-harming imperatives.

“Criticism was a noble profession so long as only a few could practice it for money; when the field expands, as it has with a so-called ‘democratisation’ of our practice, those few lose their political power. Competition grows and markets are undercut: publications are naturally going to start paying less. Precarity is both cause and effect of a surplus workforce: the reason you’re only as good as your last article is because there are plenty of other folks who can write the next one in your place. The daily grind is: pitch, or perish.

B”ut criticism, so a counter-cliché goes, is not dying. An irony: this is an elite sport that is no longer elite in terms of who is able to practice it, but in economic terms it’s clutching to a perverse and outmoded hierarchical structure. It’s more meritocratic than ever, now: which is to say it isn’t meritocratic at all. That’s a paradox in bad need of a resolution…”

~ Michael Pattison Manifestoes Film Criticism

“It’s easy to forget when you’re reading a critic every single week or multiple times a week, that most of us who do this job, and have been doing it for a long time, understand that this is basically a parasitic profession. I don’t mean in the sense that we’re evil bloodsucking creatures, but we couldn’t exist if we didn’t have something to analyze. And I’m always conscious of that. So whether I like or don’t like a particular thing you do, my point of view is always that of an appreciator. I just like to be in the world that you create.”
~ Matt Zoller Seitz To Sam Esmail

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