Peter Aspden Takes The Measure Of The Man Branagh

“This question has been asked before, but I pose it anyway: Hollywood director, theatrical impresario, television star: where does he find the time? He gives me a long explanation of what he puts in his notebook, the number of galleries he visits, the trips he makes to imbibe various atmospheres, the twice-daily meditation sessions he finds vital for learning to “be in the moment”. All those things take up even more time, I say. “I am very happy to go missing,” he finally says. “I take myself out of the electronic loop as often as I can. I am not a fast responder. I do search for the silence.”
~ Peter Aspden Takes The Measure Of The Man Branagh

David Milch

I’m a big admirer of our country. And I admire it so much that I love to chronicle it’s shortcomings, it’s disasters, it’s unfairnesses and it’s aberrations. Because I think that’s the way you testify to love. I want to glorify America and my idea of how to glorify it is to show it whole, as best I can. I believe that it withstands that scrutiny. So I look at it hard, and that’s a joy.
~ David Milch

Tom Noonan On Michael Mann And Manhunter

“Another weird thing in the same vein: I was in my room. It was dusk and I was practicing writing left-handed. I wrote all my notes left-handed. The ADs were the only two people allowed to talk to me. One came into the room and said “Francis, we’re a little behind, it’ll be another 40 minutes.” He reached for the light switch to turn the lights on, and I said, “Francis doesn’t use lights.” God knows why I said this — I was bored. So then word went out that I never had lights on in my room. I couldn’t put the lights on any place I ever was in the movie, and we shot everything at night. The crew started getting really weirded out by all of this. Michael would come some days and knock on the door and say, “Francis, it’s Michael.” I said, “OK,” and he would come in and we would sit in the dark together in my camper for long periods of time and not speak. It was really cool. I had never been in another movie, really, and I felt it was going good; the director was hanging out in my camper with me, not talking.”
~ Tom Noonan On Michael Mann And Manhunter

Adam Kirsch on Criticism

“If I were conducting a branding campaign for criticism, the first thing I would recommend is a new name. Just about no one has a good feeling about the word ‘criticism.’ Most of the time, it simply means chastisement; it sounds like what you don’t want to get on your performance review, or from your parents. If you have a critic, that person is likely to be your enemy, and to be critical means to be ill disposed, hard to please or actively hostile — in short, a hater. When it comes to the arts, for many people a critic is someone whose job it is to tell you why you’re wrong to like the movies or music or books you like.”
~ Adam Kirsch on Criticism

Danny Glover

“I started watching foreign films when I was 17, there was Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa. And then what really opened up the world of possibilities was when I started looking at the films of African directors, particularly out of West Africa: Ousmane Sembène, who became a very good friend; Djibril Diop Mambéty, out of Senegal, with his film Touki Bouki; Souleymane Cissé, whose film Brightness is one of my all-time favorites. They were stories really about the adjustment to the process of decolonization: what does it look like? What do we look like? Who are we within that process, or after that process has happened? There are a whole slew of directors that touched me, moved me. Satyajit Ray, the great Indian filmmaker. Iranian filmmakers and others in the Middle East, Youssef Chahine from Egypt, Korean films, all those are within my framework. Films from Argentina and Brazil became a part of my vocabulary. Also, the great filmmakers of Europe: Godard, Fellini, Tati, Lina Wertmüller—all those films she did that I love. I could go on and on and on with all the things that we saw. Then somebody figured out that if you make a $100 million film and put $20 million in it for P&A, then you could put up ads to take up all this space, and from that you can predetermine what you’re going to make off the film. Instead of seeing the democratization of filmmaking, you saw the narrowing of it, which is what we have today.”
~ Danny Glover

Emma Thompson On Writing

“For me, the first draft is a really glorious ride, and it’s the next 17 that are like pulling teeth. There’s a great thing that happens after you’ve spent a morning writing, and you think, I haven’t got anything there, not anything, and then you go away and become depressed, and when you come back, you find a good sentence or a good speech buried somewhere in the yards you’ve written. It’s in those hours of writing crap where you find a little thing that’s worth it, that makes you believe in the process of writing.”
~ Emma Thompson On Screenwriting

Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

“The core fear is what can happen to you, personally. Your body. That’s what horror films deal with, precisely. We are a very thin skin wrapped around a pumping heart and guts. At any given moment it can come down to that, be it diseases, or somebody’s assault, or war, or a car wreck. You could be reduced to the simple laws of physics and your body’s vulnerability. The edged weapon is the penultimate weapon to disclose that reality to you.”
~ Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

David Mamet

Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

Harold Pinter

Do you outline plays before you start to write them?

Not at all. I don’t know what kind of characters my plays will have until they…well, until they are. Until they indicate to me what they are. I don’t conceptualize in any way. Once I’ve got the clues I follow them—that’s my job, really, to follow the clues.

What do you mean by clues? Can you remember how one of your plays developed in your mind—or was it a line-by-line progression?

Of course I can’t remember exactly how a given play developed in my mind. I think what happens is that I write in a very high state of excitement and frustration. I follow what I see on the paper in front of me—one sentence after another. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a dim, possible overall idea—the image that starts off doesn’t just engender what happens immediately, it engenders the possibility of an overall happening, which carries me through. I’ve got an idea of what might happen—sometimes I’m absolutely right, but on many occasions I’ve been proved wrong by what does actually happen. Sometimes I’m going along and I find myself writing “C. comes in” when I didn’t know that he was going to come in; he had to come in at that point, that’s all.
~ Harold Pinter

“I love Los Angeles. Have I said that? I love it all. The earnestness. The artifice. The blowsy, sunny beauty. The bland, bland, pleasant weather.  The drama of traffic. I love that people don’t know how to make conversation and can’t recognize a joke at a hundred paces. I love that people care about silly things and embrace ridiculousness wholeheartedly. I had a serious conversation with a good friend about his fascination with channeling, for example. Channeling. “I don’t think you’re patient enough for it,” he said and all I could think about was Shirley MacLaine with ectoplasm coming out of her head. Of course I’m fucking patient I thought. I’m fucking spiritual. Shove that up your namaste. Ha ha ha. I love that I’ve become desperately un-English, in the immortal words of my friend Giles, and yet not quite American.”
~ Bumble Ward In The Present Los Angeles Moment

“I didn’t see anything this year. I’ve been making this movie for so long. I loved Kingsman. I really liked It Follows. It was the best premise I’ve seen in a horror film in a long, long, long time. It’s one of those movies that’s so good you get mad at it for not being great. He could have kept his mythology straight. He broke his mythology left, right, and center… Noah Baumbach. There’s a Paul Mazursky quality to his films. I haven’t seen all the Duplass brothers movies, but the ones I’ve seen I really liked. All that mumblecore stuff happened when I was in Germany doing Inglourious Basterds, so I didn’t even know about it. Then I came home and started reading about it, like,What the fuck is this shit? So I watched Baghead. I said to my friend Elvis Mitchell, “Have you seen any of those mumblecore movies? I was curious and watched Baghead, and I thought it was really good.” He goes, “You saw the good one. They’re not all like that. You reached into a pickle barrel and grabbed the right pickle.” I haven’t seen Hannah Takes the Stairs.”
~ QT On Movies He Likes

Leonard Cohen talks work at 80

“You kind of keep your tools sharp by working all the time. We are professionals. You can’t wait for inspiration. I try to do it every day. When something good comes, you have to be prepared to polish it, carve it and chisel it, that’s the work. But the actual intention, what you are really going to be writing about, that’s going to come up from a really authentic place that is deep and over which you exercise no conscious control.”
~ Leonard Cohen talks work at 80

Fools lament the decay of criticism. For its day is long past. Criticism is a matter of correct distancing. It was at home in a world where perspectives and prospects counted and where it was still possible to take a standpoint. Now things press too closely on human society. The “unclouded,” “innocent” eye has become a lie, perhaps the whole naive mode of expression sheer incompetence. Today the most real, the mercantile gaze into the heart of things is the advertisement. It abolishes the space where contemplation moved and all but hits us between the eyes with things as car, growing to gigantic proportions, careens at us out of a film screen. And just as the film does not present furniture and facades in completed forms for critical inspection, their insistent, jerky nearness alone being sensational, the genuine advertisement hurtles things at us with the tempo of a good film. Thereby “matter-of-factness” is finally dispatched, and in the face of the huge images across the walls of houses, where toothpaste and cosmetics lie handy for giants, sentimentality is restored to health and liberated in American style, just as people whom nothing moves or touches any longer are taught to cry again by films. The paid critic, manipulating paintings in the dealer’s exhibition room, knows more important if not better things about them than the art lover viewing them in the showroom window. The warmth of the subject is communicated to him, stirs sentient springs. What, in the end, makes advertisements so superior to criticism? Not what the moving red neon sign says—but the fiery pool reflecting it in the asphalt.

~ Walter Benjamin, “One-Way Street,” 1930s

David Simon on television at this moment

“At the moment, when you’re airing episode-by-episode, making those arguments is irrelevant. People are either digging the characters or they’re in it as an adventure or they’re watching it for what they’re getting—or they’re not. If you lose them, you lose them. We lost a lot of people on “Treme.” But to me, that story was as well-executed as anything I’ve ever done. I look at it, and I think: It’s on the shelf. We made it. We got to say a lot of what we intended to say, and we executed at a very high level. It’s there, thank God it’s there.  And it’s all you can do. I know I can’t write something that gets you an audience the moment I put it on, and especially if everyone is presumptive of what the reasons are for it from the very beginning. But what I can do is I can make a film. I can try to get from the beginning to the middle to the end. I can put it up on a shelf. I can hope that in the weird lending library that is modern television—that is HBOGo, that is Netflix—because it’s up on the shelf people will find it. If we’ve executed well, the story will eventually prevail and find a place.”
~ David Simon on television at this moment

Thom Andersen To Pedro Costa

“Film lived in a country or a land or a planet called reality and that is not the case today. There’s no reality anymore today. Everybody is reconciled with reality, that’s what happens today. I mean reality: tables, people walking, dogs, cars. You have to go back to the old days to see a door, a kitchen, a window, a small kid, some tears, things like that. I miss a world. I miss the kids, the dogs. I miss the street corners. I’m bored with realism today. You have to concentrate on the fight with reality. For me it’s a fight.” 
Pedro Costa And Thom Andersen In Conversation

Ronda Rousey On Attempts At Body-Shaming

“I have this one term for the kind of woman my mother raised me to not be, and I call it a do nothing bitch. A DNB. The kind of chick that just tries to be pretty and be taken care of by someone else. That’s why I think it’s hilarious if my body looks masculine or something like that. Listen, just because my body was developed for a purpose other than fucking millionaires doesn’t mean it’s masculine. I think it’s femininely badass as fuck because there’s not a single muscle on my body that isn’t for a purpose because I’m not a do nothing bitch. It’s not very eloquently said but it’s to the point and maybe that’s just what I am. I’m not that eloquent, but I’m to the point.”
~ Ronda Rousey On Attempts At Body-Shaming

Woody Allen To Sam Fragoso For NPR

Would you consider yourself a good person?
I would consider myself … decent as I got older. When I was younger I was less sensitive, in my 20s. But as I got older and began to see how difficult life was for everybody, I had more compassion for other people. I tried to act nicer, more decent, more honorable. I couldn’t always do it. When I was in my 20s, even in my early 30s, I didn’t care about other people that much. I was selfish and I was ambitious and insensitive to the women that I dated. Not cruel or nasty, but not sufficiently sensitive.
You viewed women as temporary fixtures?
Yes, temporary, but as I got older and they were humans suffering like I was … I changed. I learned empathy over the years.
~ Woody Allen To Sam Fragoso For NPR


Quote Unquotesee all »

“I run a movie for myself the first time, and if I can forget I had anything to do with the picture, and I’m halfway through the movie and I’m just the audience, then that is my litmus test for a film working. It doesn’t mean it’s going to work for anybody outside of myself, but when I lose the aesthetic distance between the screen and where I’m sitting, the first time I run a picture that I’ve directed for myself, if I’m aware to the very end that I’m the director, and all I can do is find things to fault, then I know I have my work cut out for me. And I have to roll up my sleeves and fix everything. But when I can watch a movie and I can forget that I made the movie, that’s the first sign that I’m going to be pretty happy with it, that I’m going to be able to live with it.”
~ Steven Spielberg On When He Thinks A Movie Is Working

“I was brought up on newspapers. I love newspapers. I love old-fashioned newspapers, but today I read them on the Internet because of time. And in New York, I read the morning papers, then I read the London papers on my iPad. But entertainment is very important. With broadband coming, everything is changing. People now spend four or five hours on their iPhones, their smartphones, which is changing the world totally. I found it with my young children. They are on their iPhones while they are watching television, doing two things at once. The fact that now we have 2.5 billion people with smartphones, with access to knowledge all over the world, with access to each other, government is going to change, the world is going to change. And it’s going to change very fast. We’ve only had smartphones for eight years, and now we have 2.5 billion of them. In another eight years, we will have 5 billion. The whole world will be on them… If newspapers have opinions, if they are really well-written, if they’re very reliable, people will pay for them. Then they are viable. We found [that] with the Wall Street Journal. You have newspapers on the Internet which are so good people will pay for them. There are people who steal things, rewrite them and put them out, like Google, but they are not reliable at all.”
~ Rupert Murdoch