“I felt the need to experiment in order to learn the actual methodology of live cinema, which is a hybrid of theater, film and television. The SHOT is the basic element, as in film; the live PERFORMANCE is from theater; and the advanced television TECHNOLOGY to enable it is borrowed from TV sports. It is very exciting to work in.”
~ Francis Coppola
“It was always a crisis, but we had a great time,” James Schamus said, grinning. “Now I know how much fun directing is. I didn’t know. No one told me.”
“Athina Rachel Tsangari looks at men as if they are creatures from one of the wildlife documentaries she referred to in her poignant debut Attenberg. She is part of a undeclared new school of cinema, which might be called ‘The Behaviouralists’. So far there is only one other member of this school, Yorgos Lanthimos, whom she has previously collaborated with. He recently made The Lobster which sees Colin Farrell play a man who chooses a lobster as the animal he must turn into if he loses a bizarre relationship game in a hotel-cum-sanitorium. Games, systems and rules are essential for the Behaviouralists yet always in flux.”
~ Bert Rebhandl in Frieze
Festen was a huge hit. But then you had a series of flops. Did you always know things would come good in the end?
Thomas Vinterberg: No. I often thought: this is all going to end. I’m still proud of Festen. To me it’s like having a rich and famous son who travels the world and occasionally sends me a cheque. But I had some painful years after it. Success is always difficult to manage, but in this case I also felt I’d gone down that path as far as I could. I’m an actor/character man, and you can’t get any closer to actors/characters than you do in Festen. Artistically, it was the ultimate production, and I couldn’t repeat it. But in the end, there was nothing else that I could do – and although not many people agree with me, I still think It’s All About Love is a very rich film. It’s my troubled child: the dearest one to me, but also the one who behaves the worst socially.”
~ Thomas Vinterberg
“I do not follow ideas; I stumble into stories, or I stumble into people who all of the sudden, the situation makes it clear that this is so big, I have to make a film. Very often, films come with uninvited guests, I keep saying like burglars in the middle of the night. They’re in your kitchen, something is stirring, you wake up at 3 AM and all of the sudden they come wildly swinging at you. So, I try to–it’s not focusing on ideas, but I know exactly what the problem this is. Once you have an idea, it wouldn’t help to sit down and keep brooding, brooding, brooding…just live on but keep it in the back of your mind all the time. Keep connecting little bits and pieces that belong to it. Sometimes it’s only a word, sometimes half a line of dialogue, sometimes an image that you squiggle down. And when it kind of in this way materializes, then press yourself with urgency. When I write a screenplay, I write it when I have a whole film in front of my eyes, and it’s very easy for me, and I can write very, very fast. It’s almost like copying. But of course sometimes I push myself; I read myself into a frenzy of poetry, reading Chinese poets of the 8th and 9th century, reading old Icelandic poetry, reading some of the finest German poets like Hölderlin. All of this has absolutely nothing to do with the idea of my film, but I work myself up into this kind of frenzy of high-caliber language and concepts and beauty. And then sometimes I push myself by playing music; in my place it would be, for example, a piano concerto, and I play it and I type on my laptop furiously. But all of it is not a real answer, how do you focus on single idea; I think you have to depart sometimes, and keep it all the time alive somehow.”
~ Werner Herzog’s Reddit AMA
“Why, wonders the privileged critic, does the Cannes Film Festival seem so much less necessary than it once did? Is it just me? Am I too jaded and tired? The real culprit is digitization, from which there is no turning back. Not that many years ago, the glory of Cannes was not simply the selection, but the way the chosen films looked on the big screens of the Lumière and the Debussy. The 35mm projectors were state-of-the-art, and the projectionists were artisans in their own right. Filmmakers came to the theaters the night before their screenings to confer with them and to check the sound levels, the frame format, and the color temperature of the projector bulbs. One evening in 2000, after the final screening in the Debussy, I ran into Wong Kar Wai in the lobby, waiting to check the first reel of In the Mood for Love. The next day we would see one of the most exquisite films in cinema history, projected in the most perfect way possible. Now every film in the Lumière and the Debussy is projected from a DCP. That’s not the festival’s fault. Almost all theatrical release films, whether they’re shot on film or digital, are digitally post-produced and exhibited on digital formats. I’m sure that Cannes has the finest digital projectors available, but that doesn’t make the image significantly more exciting than what you see on the best big screens in cities around the world, or on a professional studio monitor in your living room. Digital projection is death in motion—as if all the light in the image has been sucked into a black hole. Looking at four or five digitally projected movies a day is depressing. Yes, we’ve become acclimated to digital. But there is a reason that vinyl is back. People are sick of listening to their music digitally, even if it’s convenient. And overdosing on digital movies is just as sickening.”
~ Amy Taubin
“Without Kiarostami, I wouldn’t know how to find forms for the cinematic questions that most exhilarate me. He created pathways. He’s on my Mount Rushmore, with Wiseman, Akerman, Peter Watkins and Fassbinder. His movies were like gurus I’d come to have private consultations with. For me, he understood the material and mystical aspects of cinema better than anyone; his halls of mirrors somehow created new reflections. I’d get lost while thinking in them. He was getting old and had been sick, this was not really a surprise or even a tragedy, but when the news came in I just sat still and quietly cried. I thought about what it must look like to my children to see their father crying over a man he’d never met. I could almost picture myself from across the room. Somehow his movies had prepared me to feel and think and imagine my way through the moment.”
~ Robert Greene On Kiarostami
“Look, I’m not mourning the demise of the critic as the Voice of Authority. But the ‘democratization of film criticism’ that allegedly came about with the demise of print criticism and the ascendancy of forums, blogs and Twitter feeds — it’s a fantasy, it doesn’t exist. Criticism is writing, and writing means rewriting. It’s hard work. It’s not the rendering of an opinion.”
~ Kent Jones
“Two years ago, I was in the Bristol Farms grocery store on Fairfax in LA, and in front of me, in the produce aisle, was Cimino. He was wearing huge sunglasses, and had what looked like the worst hairpiece in history. He was beyond frail, more late-stage Bette Davis then the daredevil filmmaker who famously said, ‘If you don’t get it right, what’s the point?’ I thought about going over to him and telling him how much both Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate meant to me as a young filmgoer. How both movies deeply shaped me as film lover and filmmaker. I thought about telling him that I made the John Cazale doc. I thought about telling him a lot of things, but in the end I said nothing. He did his shopping, I did mine. And that was it.”
~ Richard Shepard
“You know, I never studied cinema. I never knew how to make a film, and I still don’t know. I’m quite astonished that I made what I made! My background is architecture, painting, that’s where I come from. I’m much more intrigued by a good building than by a good movie. I’m much more interested in a big bridge or a great new novel or a great painting. When I’m asked about my influences, instead of rolling out 20 filmmakers, I say Frank Lloyd Wright, Degas, Mahler. But you have to remember I didn’t come from the film world, I didn’t study film. I once tried to read a book on film editing – after I’d begun doing it! – and I couldn’t finish it, even though it was written by someone who knew a lot about it, I think it was Karel Reisz. And I found it so confusing I had to stop reading it. My world never was film to the exclusion of everything else. At all. I didn’t even go to California to make movies – I went because I had family in the South Coast, Newport, La Jolla, Laguna and as a kid I loved the California lifestyle: surfing, horse riding, riding a bike in the desert. Everything was done outdoors, fast cars, fast bikes, great horses. I loved that and that’s why I went there. There was no other idea, I didn’t even know much about movies so I certainly didn’t go there with that in mind. I didn’t need the money and I assure you I had no interest in being famous.When I found myself… It’s like in a novel: you meet a girl in casual circumstances, having a coffee in a hotel bar or a café, you bump into her, “Oh, I’m so sorry,” in the next shot they’re living together and then they split! And on to the next girl. It happened a bit like that, as mysteriously as life itself.”
~ Michael Cimino, 2005
“There are viewers and audiences who see what I do as repetition. But that means they are impatient and they are missing the point. I am really evading repetition. I hate repetition. There is no repetition in my films. If you will look, I can make an example from Through the Olive Trees. We have a scene where one of the actors comes on four successive times from the second floor down to put on his socks. We have to cut because the woman is not reacting to him the way the director wants, so he has to go up and repeat the scene. I have watched the reaction of the audience during this scene, and the first time this happens, the reaction is that they laugh. The second time the kid comes down and has to go back up, they laugh a little bit less. The third time, they grow quiet. the fourth time, they are getting a little angry. The point is that this is not a repetition, even though it may appear to be. The whole issue is, the way I look at this, as Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher said, we never cross the same river twice. Neither we nor the river are the same when we cross. Repetition is something that is only an illusion. In reality, things change. I really want to draw attention to the fact that what seems to be a cyclical thing is in fact a process of slow transformation and change. There is an audience who would get enervated and aggravated by this kind of reference to repetition in my work. This is an audience corrupted by a remote-control approach to filmmaking. They just sit there and when they don’t like something, they can change it. It’s a sensational kind of cinema that they’ve been attuned to. If you look at our daily routine, their quotidian, we don’t do anything but repetitions. We get up in the morning, we eat, we work, at night we go to sleep. Seasons repeat themselves. We repeat our cycles. It seems on the surface that it is repetition, and this is life. but in fact, it’s never a repetition. It always involves a process of change. What I am truly trying to bring out, and what the audience that becomes truly aggravated is missing, is the fact the kind of cinema that sensationalizes and does not look at this kind of apparent repetition with the qualitative internal change. That kind of cinema does an injustice to reality and life, which is itself cyclical.”
~ Abbas Kiarostami to Ray Pride, Cinema Scope 4
“The calling of art is to extract us from our daily reality, to bring us to a hidden truth that’s difficult to access—to a level that’s not material but spiritual. That’s what poetry and music do, and that was the first calling of religion. Religion works on some people but not on everyone, because it says, stop thinking and accept what I tell you. That’s not valid for people who want to think and reflect. Art is a better way of achieving that, though the aim is the same.”
~ Abbas Kiarostami
“Hollywood once was a city of dreams, but they have been making a different bed for some time now — and everyone knows it is draped in spreadsheets. Yet, as evidenced by some recent statements, they too can still dream, and sometimes even of slaying the beast and recognizing what they really want… The good news is I have born witness far more often to arrogance and ignorance as the elixir for action, than ever any effort of big picture strategy. Sure that is a humble victory, but at least on our deathbed we can all rejoice that is just our fault, and not the hand of an alien demon. The bad news came in the whittling away of respect for the producer and the encouragement of quantity over quality. Indie became infected by a “just get it done” attitude of desperation. When you are forced to just pay the bills, it becomes hard of dreaming a glorious alternative. Yet if we’ve learned anything from our diet of Hollywood snacks, it that the best plots come from outside the box. Let’s toss logic and experience aside as they only lead to base rate neglect. Let’s dream the big conspiracy; it makes for a better movie and maybe through it we can see a better future. Let’s say there is a conspiracy by Hollywood to kill off indie. How would that story go?
“Possibly the two best battle strategies, tried and tested, are either to win with overt and supreme fire power, or to more clandestinely divide and conquer. And if you were born from a culture that rarely rewarded subtlety or grace, you’d probably pursue the path of pure excess… and try do both. Which is precisely where find ourselves now in our story.
“Let’s look at where we are in this Epic Battle. DVDs were once akin to the working classes, supplying the army of Hollywood with the necessary fodder of flesh to fuel the juggernaut — predictable revenue making up half the bottom line. The rich need not enlist as long as there were plenty of “noble young man” ready to sacrifice for the cause, convinced it was an honor and not recognizing they were given little choice. And like our country’s history of war, Hollywood could use the security the physical disc delivered to draft the cream of the crop into the executive suite — or well-funded set. The point being that although DVDs were not necessarily as great an equalizer as a military draft, they were predictable and allowed for more diversified slates which in term allowed for some migration from the indie sector into the studio ranks. And now they are virtually gone. It is a different battle, fought by unmanned drones.
“I think the best stories always make you feel for the other side, and I only wish that the studios cared enough about film culture and our governments cared enough about the people to organize vast conspiracies against them. Maybe we should see both our government’s spying and their misbranding of whistle-blowing patriots as agents of espionage as a misguided cry of love and appreciation — they are deciding we the people matter and they are now making greater efforts than ever before to notice us, albeit for all the wrong things. It’s an interesting riddle though, right? When the big spy is discovered by the little guy and the spy shouts loudly at the little discoverer, “No! You’re the spy — and I won’t let you fly”, how does the story end? And where does liberty, freedom, opportunity, and solidarity get to stand then? We are only as good as the stories we tell. Yep, happy true independence day… As all the wise sages have screamed, Hollywood is imploding. We don’t need to a Deep Throat to tell you it was an inside job. Sure they are bringing most of us down with them, but someone always learns how to surf the wake.
“It’s about standing on the board, seeing the see. Indie means you don’t need everybody. We have never been free to walk that walk before. We have new weapons, or is it armor? Distribution was a tool of the few, but platforms are op for the many. Let THEM just go ahead and try to make everyone join hands. Let THEM yell to the nation and let’s see if they all come along. There is great business in letting everyone dance to a different drummer. Make that: there are great businessES. That is where we all can stand. That’s our wave to ride. It may look like unruly nature, but chaos is a gloriously ordered thing: step back far enough or leap in deep enough and the fractals are revealed. You have got to admit they are beautiful. See the sea for what it is.
“The happy ending of the story is we recognize that the more we are connected the more we can be apart. The great liberation of our age is specialization. Explosions and implosions all make waves and we need to ride ripples. Let others gamble bucketloads on mindless drivel and we can be free to deliver emotional truth, ambitious artistry, & heartfelt empathy to the few that still hope that there is a good machine that can consistently produce quality and diversity. We know that there is because it is us.
“You thought you killed hope but in this damn dream factory we always make sequels. Happy independence day. The battle is just beginning… And this time it is for the win.”
“At 8am on a fall morning inside Duke’s Coffee Shop on the Sunset Strip, film director Michael Cimino is sitting at a back table having his usual: scrambled eggs with side orders of bacon and French fries. “You gotta try the fries,” he says, popping a cluster of them into his tiny mouth. His thermal iced-coffee vessel, an extension of his arm, is refilled about every five minutes. He drinks so fast that coffee dribbles down his chin. Cimino doesn’t wipe it away. Even behind a pair of massive black Jackie O sunglasses, his face betrays his excitement. He has just completed a novel and a new screenplay, and he is basking in new honors bestowed upon him in France, where he is worshiped as a god for his cinematic and literary efforts. “Oh, I’m the happiest, I think, I’ve ever been!” he says.”
~ Steve Garbarino In Vanity Fair, 2000
“Film criticism as a business operates like the film industry itself: The people in charge like to hire people who remind them of themselves, and those people at the top are by and large straight white dudes (baseball caps are an option). That’s not to say they can’t have wildly diverging opinions on a variety of topics, but privilege comes with blinders that are often hard to acknowledge and even tougher to remove. The past few months have seen some of the most prominent film publications taking on new writers who are for the most part white men: Rolling Stone, Film Comment, Indiewire, and of course, Owen Gleiberman at Variety. Many of them have championed underdog filmmakers, but you can’t get over the sense of gatekeeping going on. Film criticism often feels like the treehouse girls are banned from entering, and it’s not hard to assume the conversations we’re missing out on aren’t exactly centered on women in the business… Our world and our art suffers when we limit the number of perspectives allowed to not only tell the story but to discuss it. Women are no better or worse in their opinions than men, but the key differences we bring allow further dimensions in the narrative. Whether they’re conscious of it or not, the ingrained biases of white maleness will continue unchallenged without contrasting voices under the banner, and the commodification of women’s faces and bodies will exacerbate to increasingly damaging levels.”
The next thing that really changed my world and thoroughly influenced my writing were the films of Robert Bresson. When I discovered them in the late seventies, I felt I had found the final ingredient I needed to write the fiction I wanted to write.
What was the final ingredient?
Recognizing that the films were entirely about emotion and, to me, profoundly moving while, at the same time, stylistically inexpressive and monotonic. On the surface, they were nothing but style, and the style was extremely rigorous to boot, but they seemed almost transparent and purely content driven. Bresson’s use of untrained nonactors influenced my concentration on characters who are amateurs or noncharacters or characters who are ill equipped to handle the job of manning a story line or holding the reader’s attention in a conventional way. Altogether, I think Bresson’s films had the greatest influence on my work of any art I’ve ever encountered. In fact, the first fiction of mine that was ever published was a chapbook called “Antoine Monnier,” which was a god-awful, incompetent attempt to rewrite Bresson’s film Le diable probablement as a pornographic novella. So I came to writing novels through a channel that included experimental fiction, poetry, and nonliterary influences pretty much exclusively. I never read normal novels with any real interest or close attention.
~ Dennis Cooper Discovers Bresson
The whole world within reach.
~ Filmmaker Peter Hutton
“Though he was celebrated for “Dispatches,” enjoyed his fame for a time and was, Claudia Herr said, extremely proud of the book, he came to resent his celebrity, especially when reporters or television producers wanted him to relive his time in Vietnam. Among other things, a retrospective light shining on him struck him as disrespectful to the men he wrote about. He gave few interviews. In the last years of his life, he became a serious devotee of Buddhism and no longer wrote, his daughter said.”
~ Bruce Weber On Michael Herr
“The extreme Dickensian nature of the business right now, in that it is the best of times and the worst of times. The business has become completely binary. When the audience is in, the upside is enormous. But when the audience is out, there’s no floor. And more and more are deciding out. People go less and less “to the movies.” More and more they go to a particular movie. We used to be counter-recessionary because we were the affordable leisure activity, but not today. And we’ve empowered Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, the OTT revolution. We have to deal with it. There’s no going back. Change is only going to accelerate.”
~ Sony’s Tom Rothman