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Quotes

Susan Sontag

“By literature, I mean literature in the normative sense, the sense in which literature incarnates and defends high standards. By society, I mean society in the normative sense, too—which suggests that a great writer of fiction, by writing truthfully about the society in which she or he lives, cannot help but evoke (if only by their absence) the better standards of justice and of truthfulness that we have the right (some would say the duty) to militate for in the necessarily imperfect societies in which we live. Obviously, I think of the writer of novels and stories and plays as a moral agent. This doesn’t entail moralizing in any direct or crude sense. Serious fiction writers think about moral problems practically. They tell stories. They narrate. They evoke our common humanity in narratives with which we can identify, even though the lives may be remote from our own. They stimulate our imagination. The stories they tell enlarge and complicate—and, therefore, improve—our sympathies. They educate our capacity for moral judgment.”
~ Susan Sontag

Robert Downey, Jr.

“I’m one of those guys where I’m always kind of assuming the social decorum is in play and that we’re promoting a superhero movie. This has nothing to do with your creepy, dark agenda that I’m feeling like all of a sudden ashamed and obligated to accommodate your weirdo shit. What I have to do in the future is I just have to give myself permission to say, ‘That is more than likely a syphilitic parasite, and I need to distance myself from this clown. Otherwise, I’m probably going to put hands on somebody, and then there’s a real story.'”
~ Robert Downey, Jr.

Shia LaBeouf

“As a celebrity/star I am not an individual—I am a spectacular representation of a living human being, the opposite of an individual. The enemy of the individual, in myself as well as in others. The celebrity/star is the object of identification, with the shallow seeming life that has to compensate for the fragmented productive specializations which are actually lived. The requirements to being a star/celebrity are namely, you must become an enslaved body. Just flesh—a commodity, and renounce all autonomous qualities in order to identify with the general law of obedience to the course of things. The star is a byproduct of the machine age, a relic of modernist ideals. It’s outmoded.”
~ Shia LaBeouf

Joss Whedon On Making Avengers: Age Of Ultron

“I have been to the other side of the mountain. I gotta say, it’s been dark. It’s been weird. It’s been horrible. About a month and a half ago, I said goodbye to my kids, and I’ve been living in Burbank next to the studio. I feel every day like, I didn’t do enough, I didn’t do enough, I didn’t do enough. I wasn’t ready. Here’s failure. Here’s failure. Here’s compromise. Here’s compromise. I’m now coming out the other side, realizing that once again, for all its many varied and soon to be heralded flaws, it’s my movie. It’s the movie I set out to make. And I have the honor of saying, it’s fucking bonkers. So there’s that.”
~ Joss Whedon On Making Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Renata Adler and Catherine Lacey In Conversation

CATHERINE LACEY: Do you think that your writer DNA was sort of shaped by how your family was displaced by the Nazi regime before you were born?
RENATA ADLER: It’s funny that you should mention that because I think it affects a lot else, specifically being a refugee. I wasn’t born there. I didn’t experience any of it. But they were refugees. So then I was thinking of this business of being a refugee, no matter in what sense.

Prenatal refugee.
Prenatal refugee and actually postnatal refugee. And I thought there are probably things in common between being a child and being a refugee and being an anthropologist.

It gives you a sense of curiosity.
But also a complete displacement. You’ve got to read the situation. You’re the new kid in school all the time. But I wasn’t aware of it then. I’m aware of it now because language affects you differently, or not. But I used to talk to Mike Nichols about it because he was a refugee. Do you envision an audience when you write? Do you envision a particular person? 

No.
Every once in a while I think: Now, what would Mike say to that?

There’s that idea that when you’re blocked, you can always just write as if it was a letter to one specific person.
Oh, that’s good. That’s a wonderful idea. Mine is more in terms of criticism. If someone was to say, “I know what that is. Do you really want to do that?” But anyway, about Mike and his attitude toward language, I remember him saying—it was a question of whether something written was fresh or not—and he would ask, “Why not smell it?” Which, from an English speaker’s point of view, is hysterical.

~ Renata Adler and Catherine Lacey In Conversation 

David Fincher, 1992

“Oh it was just hellish. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me. It would be stupid for me to say that I didn’t know what I was getting into. It has taken me five years to decide on a first film and I always held out for something like this. The lesson to be learned is that you can’t take on an enterprise of this size and scope if you don’t have a movie like The Terminator or Jaws behind you. Because when everybody’s wringing their handkerchiefs and sweating and puking blood over the money, it’s very nice to be able to say, ‘This is the guy who directed the biggest grossing movie of all time, sit down, shut up and feel lucky that you’ve got him.’ It’s another thing when you are there and you’re going ‘Trust me, this is really what I believe in,’ and they turn round and say ‘Well, who the hell is this guy?’ If I make ten shitty movies, I’ll deserve the flak and if I go on to make 10 great ones, this’ll probably be looked upon as my first bungled masterpiece.”
~ David Fincher, 1992

 

Louis C. K.

“I was a brat back when I made Pootie Tang. I was dealing with people every day whose pressures I didn’t understand, and I wasn’t very nice about how I said no to them. I put myself in a position I didn’t have to be in. A lot of what makes this kind of stuff work is empathy. If you’re taking money from somebody, they have a right to look after it. It’s all just trying to be clear about the arrangement. That’s why when I set up ‘Louie,’ I just said, ‘This is what I’m comfortable doing, and if you don’t want to do it, I don’t blame you. But in exchange, I’ll take very little money.’ I was only getting $200,000 per show from them, which is insane, and it goes up just by tiny increments every year. The other part of the arrangement with FX is that if this stops working for them, they should just tell me and we’ll stop doing it. Contractually, FX has a right to demand that the scripts be filtered through them before I shoot them, just like any other show. But from the beginning, they haven’t read anything, and they like the show. If I start turning in shit, then they’re going to start asking to see scripts, and that’s perfectly fair.”
~ Louis C. K.

Olivier Assayas on directing

BOMB: Do you give a lot of direction?

ASSAYAS: I give zero indications. Nothing. To me, it’s all physical. It is all about getting the right actors. They understand the part. They’re not idiots. They’re going to sit down, and they’re going to work. They don’t need my explanations. The problem is that actors listen to directors. They respect them. So, when you say something, it becomes gospel. In a certain way, this limits their imagination. I’d rather say nothing. Then, when we shoot, I fix whatever I don’t like. I channel it as softly as I can in a direction where, maybe, there’s something to gain. But, usually, if you are working with the right people, their instinct will be correct. They will bring something of their own to the character, and to the situation. Ultimately, there will be some kind of human truth to what they are doing.
~ Olivier Assayas on directing

“Simon Grim” In Hal Hartley’s Ned Rifle

“Real-life experience has taught me much that I might have overlooked as a poet laureate and cultural touchstone. People want a good laugh now and then. A bit of slapstick, some innuendoes, a well-timed fart joke. Enough with the earnest reflection, the tragic but unifying and elusive nature of the human spirit in modern times and so on.”
~ “Simon Grim” In Hal Hartley’s Ned Rifle

Where Hal Hartley’s At

“I am interested in reality but I have never been interested in naturalism. I want to treat real subjects in a responsibly artistic manner, which means artifice, where you feel the making. I have never been crazy about naturalism in films. It’s just seems sloppy for me… I would love to make features, but I’m not going to make any more features if I’m not going to be paid for it. I’m not going to finance it myself. I don’t want to spend all my life in financing my own films. I do think that there is a real possibility for a filmmaker like me to make episodic television.”
~ Where Hal Hartley’s At

Filmmaker-Critic Jim Hemphill

“I like writing about movies but I also like making them, and it’s kind of hard to do both. One of them always gets the short shrift because they are all-consuming jobs. As you know, if you are going to write a review or interview somebody, you’re not just taking two hours to watch their movie. You’re researching the other things they’ve done. To me, the only downside of filmmaking is that it gets in the way of my film viewing. When you’re making a movie, you don’t have that much time to watch anything else. Paul Schrader has this great quote where he says that filmmaking is an act of birth and film criticism is an act of autopsy, and I think that’s very true. If you’re a critic, it can paralyze you as a filmmaker because you start thinking about how people will react to your work.”
~ Filmmaker-Critic Jim Hemphill

 

Akira Kurosawa On Watching Solaris With Andrei Tarkovsky

“Tarkovsky was sitting in the corner of the screening room watching the film with me, but he got up as soon as the film was over and looked at me with a shy smile. I said to him, ‘It’s very good. It’s a frightening movie.’ He seemed embarrassed but smiled happily. Then the two of us went to a film union restaurant and toasted with vodka. Tarkovsky, who does not usually drink, got completely drunk and cut off the speakers at the restaurant, then began singing the theme of Seven Samurai at the top of his voice. I joined in, eager to keep up. At that moment, I was very happy to be on Earth.”
~ Akira Kurosawa On Watching Solaris With Andrei Tarkovsky

Joan Juliet Buck in “W”

“Women’s power is too potent to waste on selfies… Truly dangerous women aren’t looking for dates or husbands, and they do not travel in packs. They rarely have many female friends. Their register is either universal, or intensely personal. They play mind games and make promises. Whether they deliver or not remains a secret, and secrets are essential to seduction. The Web has eroded every notion of privacy and stolen the real power of women: the threat of mystery itself.  “I can see you’re trouble” was once the biggest compliment a man could pay a woman. There was going to be a dark spiral into the whirlpool of sex; there were going to be tears on both sides, secrets and regrets, scandal. Today, everyone is trouble.”
~ Joan Juliet Buck in “W”

Jon Robin Baitz on “The Slap”

“You have to watch the end of the show to see how I feel—I mean, kids are a wonderment. I am quite fond of most of the young people in ‘The Slap,’ actually; it’s the grown-ups who have so much to learn. But to think of ‘The Slap’ as being a critique of contemporary parenting would be to miss the point. Like saying Birdman is about a life in the theater, instead of about a vast pool of narcissism that, again, denudes all grace until all you have is blistered (male) rage and bruised egos. I can’t speak to helicopter parents, but I sure do know a lot about not waking up every day and counting your goddamn blessings, and how fucking toxic that is. And that’s what I see all around me, a kind of spiritual autism, a narcissism of small things, and that’s ‘The Slap.’ Argh. But I like to think that it’s not immutable, that there are still synaptic charges toward doing the right thing, that we are capable of recognition—and being better. I think it’s about what happens when kindness is obliterated by desire.”
~ Jon Robin Baitz

Clint Eastwood On War In American Sniper

“No, I don’t think it glorifies… I think it glorifies it, sure. I mean in the first sequence he shoots down… Yeah, the sniping part is. But you know then eventually as that scene indicates that he’s getting… You can see it’s starting to tell on him and later on when he visits a psychiatrist and has to talk to him and the psychiatrist says did you do anything along the way over there that you maybe or you felt you shouldn’t have. And you could tell by the look on his face that yeah, he’s got some regrets in there. And that’s just the way it is. I think it’s anti- and it’s… It just depends on how you want to look at it. It’s probably… I think the whole picture and with him dying and everything it’s no good deed going unpunished.”
~ Clint Eastwood On War In American Sniper

 

David Hadju On Sad Pop Songs

“Love songs have always been more likely to deal with the yearning for love, the complications of love, love’s betrayal, or the loss of love (or even, sometimes, the loss of life) than the fancied bliss of love fulfilled… A strain of sadness has long been laced through the popular songbook. Music listeners’ likes have never been restricted to things that make them happy.”
~ David Hadju On Sad Pop Songs

Book Agent Chris Parris-Lamb On The State Of The Publishing Industry

“Chad Harbach spent ten years writing his novel. It was his avocation, for which he was paid nothing, with no guarantee he’d ever be paid anything, while he supported himself doing freelance work, for which I don’t think he ever made $30,000 a year. I sold his book for an advance that equated to $65,000 a year—before taxes and commission—for each of the years of work he’d put in. The law schools in this country churn out first-year associates at white-shoe firms that pay them $250,000 a year, when they’re twenty-five years of age, to sit at a desk doing meaningless bullshit to grease the wheels of the corporatocracy, and people get upset about an excellent author getting $65,000 a year? Give me a fucking break.”
~ Book Agent Chris Parris-Lamb On The State Of The Publishing Industry

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“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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