Quotes

James Ellroy

“Nothing I write contains any hidden message about America today. This is the first and last time I will give my opinion on Trump. What gets to me is how everyone in the world has to talk about this dipshit. I have never seen more volcanic, pathetic self-pity in a man. Trump revels in his own grotesque. I know something about men. Real men do not wallow in self-pity.”
~ James Ellroy

Keanu Reeves

“With any character, the way I think about it is, you have the role on the page, you have the vision of the director and you have your life experience… I thought it was one of the foundations of the role for John Wick. I love his grief. For the character and in life, it’s about the love of the person you’re grieving for, and any time you can keep company with that fire, it is warm. I absolutely relate to that, and I don’t think you ever work through it. Grief and loss, those are things that don’t ever go away. They stay with you.”
~ Keanu Reeves

Sir Ridley Scott

“I was checking through stuff the other day for technical reasons. I came across The Duellists on Netflix and I was absolutely stunned to see that it was exquisitely graded. So, while I rarely look up my old stuff, I stopped to give it ten minutes. Bugger me, I was there for two hours. I was really fucking pleased with what it was and how the engine still worked within the equation and that engine was the insanity and stupidity of war. War between two men, in that case, who fight on thought they both eventually can’t remember the reason why. It was great, yeah. The great thing about these platforms now is that, one way or another, they’ll seek out and then put out the best possible form and the long form. Frequently, films get cut down because of that curse in which the studio felt or feels that they have to preview. And there’s nothing worse than a preview to diminish the original intent.Oh, yeah, how about every fucking time? And I’ve stewed about films later even more because when you tell the same joke 20 times the joke’s no longer funny. When you tell a bad joke once or twice? It’s fine. But come on, now. Here’s the key on the way I feel when I approach the movie: I try to keep myself as withdrawn from the project as possible once I’ve filmed it. And – this is all key on this – then getting a really excellent editor so I never have to sit in on editing. What happens if you sit in is you become stale and every passage or joke, metaphorically speaking, gets more and more tired. You start cutting it all back because of fatigue. So what you have to do is keep your distance and therefore, in a funny kind of way, you, as the director, should be the preview and that’s it.”
~ Sir Ridley Scott

Bill Murray, Cannes 2019 opening press conference

“Jim just throws a lot of money at you, and gifts. He’s an operator. The guy’s a shyster. He’s a manipulator. It’s about shadows with him. I don’t know how the hell I got this job. The script was funny.”

“I believe in life after death, but not for everyone.”

“I’m my best when I’m working for a living. When I’m not working, I’m lazy. This is my little ice floe that I stand on. I hope it doesn’t melt. I hope I’ve confused you.”
~ Bill Murray, Cannes 2019 opening press conference

Richard Rushfield

“Welcome to the death of counter-programming. When the audience is everyone, there are no unclaimed niches. When a movie makes $147 million in a weekend (and a second weekend, no less), there is no niche of people who aren’t going to see it.  Ugly Dolls, Long Shot and The Intruder: all very different movies for very different audiences, but the one thing–maybe the only thing–those audiences share in common is they all want to see The AvengersNot only does it mean everyone, but it also means every screen. For instance, if you want to see a movie this very albeit post-weekend evening at the AMC Chattanooga 18–a full week and a half after Endgame came out–there are two shows of Long Shot, two shows of The Intruder, two of Ugly Dolls and eight of Endgame.”
~ Richard Rushfield

Wong Kar-Wai

“There’s many reasons for you to start pictures. As a filmmaker, you always have an idea. When I’m sitting here, I can start thinking about a story. It comes very easily. But at a certain point, like when you know you’re going to spend the next three or six years on a picture, along the way you’re going to say, ‘Is it something that’s really worth it, or is it not good enough?,’ and put it aside. At the end you find the one that you think, ‘This is the one that I want to dedicate the next few years of my life to.’ It’s a hard decision… Just make the film. Action is the first word you must learn. And the second is patience. As a filmmaker you must wait for many things. You have to wait for money, the weather, the cast, the release. So you need to have good patience. The process is so long and most of the time it’s frustrating. To be a filmmaker, you must first take action, then have the persistence to pursue it.”
~ Wong Kar-wai

Anjelica Huston

In your memoir, you wrote that a production guy said, “Her father is the director, her boyfriend’s the star, and she has no talent.” So for you this was a challenge. 
I thought, Watch me. That’s where the title of my book came from. Watch my ass.

You, your father, and Jack were all nominated for Oscars for Prizzi’s Honor, but only you won. Do you relish the fact that you alone were recognized?
I don’t relish the fact. No, it would’ve been the more, the merrier. I was disappointed Dad didn’t get it, because he made it out to the awards. That was a big deal for him to be off oxygen for that long. It should’ve been all three of us, right? Although I kind of wound up alone and a bit depressed at the end of that night. Because I felt lonely. Jack and I were already kind of disengaged.
~ Anjelica Huston

Avengers: Endgame Screenwriter McFeely

“We shot Brie Larson before she shot her movie. She’s saying lines for a character 20 years after her origin story, which no one’s written yet. It’s just nuts.”

 McFEELY Marvel has been accused of being the most expensive television show there is, and there’s some truth to that. The genres are different, the tones are different, but it’s serialized storytelling.
MARKUS We occasionally wonder, did we just make the world’s most expensive inside-baseball fan service? But then we go, the fans are actually the majority of people who come to this. It’s inside baseball, but everyone is following the baseball. That’s also why the Marvel characters have lasted this long. They’re weird. They have strange quirks.
McFEELY The bland ones don’t last.
~ Avengers: Endgame Screenwriters Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus

 

Francis Coppola

“My whole life, I look back and say, ‘I wish I had dialed it back a little bit.'”
~ Francis Coppola

Disney on Iger

M. Night Shyamalan

“Dude, I don’t like the way you talk, bro. How can you tell me that it’s going to be hard? Do you see a lot of people like you writing stories? Give me a break, bro. That’s your strength, that you’re not like us. Go out there and tell your stories. Don’t go out there and try to be like Quentin or me or anybody else. We need you. Tell me what makes you angry, why you’re arrogant, or fearful, whatever it is. Don’t hide anything. Be honest. What is that thing that bothers you and makes you distinct? Everyone’s looking for you. A Mexican point-of-view to tell a story right now? I’m telling you, everybody wants that right now. I desperately need you to tell your story in your way. You are essential.”
~ M. Night Shyamalan

Dario Argento

“My films are always brought to life from an idea, a coincidence, or a dreamlike magic. An ephemeral moment that settles in my mind and starts to bloom. The plot slowly appears before my eyes, and there’s nothing left but to write it. I actually do use a mood board. And location scouting is essential to the realization of the film. I’m inspired by architecture — the beauty of certain neighborhoods, the mystery in odd buildings, or streets that suggest psychoanalytic theories. I only choose my actors after I write the script.”
~ Dario Argento

Old John Simon At 94

“I am thankful for being basically in good health, suffering from none of the lethal ailments I read about in the Times obituaries, nowadays part of my regular matutinal perusal. Interesting how many of the deceased made it to the advanced nineties, and some even into the hundreds, leaving me to wonder how much I have yet coming to me, and if so, whether without pain. That is one of the worst things about growing old: one’s provision of hope becomes daily more sparse, my mnemonics faultier, and some of these blog spots perhaps less reliable. But I carry on, faithfully, I hope, to the end.”
~ John Simon At 94

ARP On Money

“My new film, Her Smell, cost less than First Reformed. The crew pulled off miracles and executed things that most people couldn’t dream of affording for twice our budget. We were ruthlessly efficient and I got everything I needed to make the script exactly as I wanted. The film did not sell for $13 million but I remain optimistic that its distribution and release in no way runs the risk of being relegated to esoterica. However, I am sorry to say, to the next 10 filmmakers who have a comparable film at a comparable budget level, I don’t think I made it any easier for you to get your script produced. We are seemingly stuck in a situation befitting classic American ideals where the rich (i.e. easygoing, mass-market crowdpleasers that sell to Schrader’s target companies) benefit or profit the most, the poor (relatively or extremely inexpensive movies) can no longer survive or justifiably exist, and the middle class (movies like Her Smell or First Reformed) are threatened with extinction due to being potentially unsustainable. And if we are not creating a sustainable means of production and also a marketplace for those coming up behind, then I must worry about the future as much as I fret about the present.”
~ Alex Ross Perry

“I just liked the way it looks. There’s a romance to it. I also like when you’re shooting in film, it’s like you’re just burning money. I just love to burn money. I like the sound of it too. Like, ’cause you know, every second you’re just burning that shit.”
~ Harmony Korine on shooting 35mm

~ Gabrielle Hamilton

“That’s the joke of Prune, that we just pretend to be a restaurant. But we’re actually an institute for living. We hide behind the fried eggs, and we hide behind the marrow bones, but really what we’re doing here is trying to change the whole goddamn world, one lamb chop at a time. It’s slow going, but I think we’re getting there.”
~ Gabrielle Hamilton

~ Lydia Lunch

“I’m into pleasure rebellion,” she says, lighting a cigarette. “I’ve shared all my misery and tragedy but in my personal life I’m a cheerleader, an optimist. That aspect of myself is not shared. Once you are free from trauma, you are going to luxuriate in pleasure and happiness – personal pleasure. A divine gluttony, I should say.”
Lydia Lunch

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin