“Any time a movie causes a country to threaten nuclear retaliation, the higher-ups wanna get in a room with you… In terms of getting the word out about the movie, it’s not bad. If they actually make good on it, it would be bad for the world—but luckily that doesn’t seem like their style… We’ll make a movie that maybe for two seconds will make some 18-year-old think about North Korea in a way he never would have otherwise. Or who knows? We were told one of the reasons they’re so against the movie is that they’re afraid it’ll actually get into North Korea. They do have bootlegs and stuff. Maybe the tapes will make their way to North Korea and cause a fucking revolution. At best, it will cause a country to be free, and at worst, it will cause a nuclear war. Big margin with this movie.”
~ Seth Rogen In Rolling Stone 1224
“Yes, good movies sprout up, inevitably, in the cracks and seams between the tectonic plates on which all of these franchises stay balanced, and we are reassured of their hardiness. But we don’t see what we don’t see; we don’t see the effort, or the cost of the effort, or the movies of which we’re deprived because of the cost of the effort. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice may have come from a studio, but it still required a substantial chunk of outside financing, and at $35 million, it’s not even that expensive. No studio could find the $8.5 million it cost Dan Gilroy to make Nightcrawler. Birdman cost a mere $18 million and still had to scrape that together at the last minute. Imagine American movie culture for the last few years without Her or Foxcatcher or American Hustle or The Master or Zero Dark Thirty and it suddenly looks markedly more frail—and those movies exist only because of the fairy godmothership of independent producer Megan Ellison. The grace of billionaires is not a great business model on which to hang the hopes of an art form.”
~ Mark Harris On The State Of The Movies
How do you make a Top Ten list? For tax and organizational purposes, I keep a log of every movie I see (Title, year, director, exhibition format, and location the film was viewed in). Anything with an asterisk to the left of its title means it’s a 2014 release (or something I saw at a festival which is somehow in play for the year). If there’s a performance, or sequence, or line of dialogue, even, that strikes me in a certain way, I’ll make a note of it. So when year end consideration time (that is, the month and change out of the year where I feel valued) rolls around, it’s a little easier to go through and pull some contenders for categories. For 2014, I’m voting in three polls: Indiewire, SEFCA (my critics’ guild), and the Muriels. Since Indiewire was first, it required the most consternation. There were lots of films that I simply never had a chance to see, so I just went with my gut. SEFCA requires a lot of hemming and hawing and trying to be strategic, even though there’s none of the in-person skullduggery that I hear of from folk whose critics’ guild is all in the same city. The Muriels is the most fun to contribute to because it’s after the meat market phase of awards season. Also, because it’s at the beginning of next year, I’ll generally have been able to see everything I wanted to by then. I love making hierarchical lists, partially because they are so subjective and mercurial. Every critical proclamation is based on who you are at that moment and what experiences you’ve had up until that point. So they change, and that’s okay. It’s all a weird game of timing and emotional waveforms, and I’m sure a scientist could do an in-depth dissection of the process that leads to the discovery of shocking trends in collective evaluation. But I love the year end awards crush, because I feel somewhat respected and because I have a wild-and-wooly work schedule that has me bouncing around the city to screenings, or power viewing the screeners I get sent.
~ Jason Shawhan of Nashville Scene Answers CriticWire
“Let’s use the power of cinema to tell the story,” Jean-Marc Vallée remembers thinking. “How the brain works–the brain can be bang! bang! bang! but it makes sense. And ghosts, ghosts everywhere. How do we get the audience’s attention, and how do we keep being captivating with one girl on a trail for 65% of the time? And the other 35% I’ve got flashbacks and other people. I’m fucking alone with this girl–how are we going to make a film with this?”
~ Jean-Marc Vallée to Geoff Pevere On Wild
“Strangest of all is Christian Bale as Moses, raised in the Egyptian royal court as a brother to Ramses and blind to his true heritage. Eventually, of course, Moses discovers his Jewish roots, which means that he stops shaving, starts herding goats and, unless my ears deceive me, takes to peppering his speech with stagy old-man Yiddish inflections, as though preparing to lead his people from the fleshpots of Egypt into a borscht belt Canaan. You think this desert is dry? You should try my wife’s brisket. Alas, Mr. Scott is not Mel Brooks. “Exodus” is ludicrous only by accident, which isn’t much fun and is the surest sign of what we might call a New Testament sensibility at work. But the movie isn’t successfully serious, either. Not for the first time, Mr. Scott confuses excessive scale with authentic grandeur, and while some of the battle scenes have a rousing, kinetic sweep, there are far too many slow aerial surveys of Memphis, the Egyptian capital, a city bristling with columns and other priapic monuments.”
~ A. O. Scott On Exodus
Michael Guarneri: Let’s flash-forward to your current activity at the Film Factory of Sarajevo Film Academy. Can cinema—or art, in general—be taught?
Béla Tarr: No, it’s impossible. In fact, I don’t even try to teach cinema. What I do every day is tell the young people at Sarajevo Film Academy to be themselves and do what they feel and believe is right. They must be brave enough to be themselves and express themselves. As the young people at Sarajevo Film Academy can tell you, I do not “teach.” I do not “give lectures.” I don’t ask people to sit in a classroom for an hour and listen to me talk about this or that. If they get tired of me, they are free to go away and employ their time as they wish. I don’t want to impose myself and people don’t have to follow me blindly. I don’t want to impose my presence and my ideas, because this would be very damaging. You know, the social media section of the Film Factory and Sarajevo Film Academy is managed by the students themselves: maybe you can contact them and ask them directly what they think about me! (laughter) We want the students to have a space in which they can say what they want about their experience at the Academy: it’s a sort of guarantee of transparency and democracy.
~ Béla Tarr, interviewed by Michael Guarneri
“My students pitch only the gravest of topics. For them it’s always got to be the Holocaust. I usually tell them, back off. You have no idea what you’re talking about. You can only reproduce what you read or heard elsewhere. Others who actually lived through it have said it much better than you ever could. Try to create something that springs organically from your own experience. For only then does it stand the slightest chance of being genuinely interesting. Incidentally, this is also why in our day and age the movies coming out of the developing countries are much more interesting than our own. These films portray an authentic experience, and they do so with real passion, while we, the viewers, only know of these things second- or thirdhand. And yet, we can feel when something is real—as a viewer, you can feel the pleasure or despair of a certain scene. We, in our protected little worlds, are much more numb because we are in luck not to experience danger on a daily basis. But that’s precisely why the film industry in the so-called first world is in such a rut. There is just so much recycling. We don’t have the capability to represent authentic experiences because there is so little we do experience. At the most basic level, all we’re concerned about here are our material possessions and sexual urges. There really isn’t much more to our lives.”
~ Michael Haneke, The Art Of Screenwriting No. 5, Paris Review
“The effect of the avalanche, and Tomas’ refusal to acknowledge his terror, seem to have devastating effects. But the interesting thing about Force Majeure is the sly suggestion that maybe this event could have a liberating effect on the family.”
~ Robert Horton
“Teaching how to make a film is like trying to teach someone how to fuck. You can’t. You have to fuck to learn how to fuck. It’s just how it is. The filmmaker has to protect the adventurous side of their self. I’m an explorer, I’m an inventor. Doc Brown is the character I relate to the most and he’s a madman. He’s a madman alone, locked up with his ideas but he does whatever he wants. He makes what he makes because he wants to make it. Yes, the DeLorean has to work in order for him to be a madman with a purpose—the DeLorean should work—but the point is I think everyone should try and find their own DeLorean. When Zemeckis was trying to get Back To The Future made, which he was for seven years, he was trying to get a film made where basically a teenager gets in a time machine, goes back to 1954 and almost —-s his mother. That pitch is extremely subversive and twisted in a way. My point is, he had a fascinating idea that no one had done before, but was clearly special to him and he stuck to it and made it what it was. When you do that you can create culture, but I think a lot of movies are just echoing culture and there’s a difference.”
~ A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night Filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour
Six rules for filmmaking from Mike Nichols
1. The careful application of terror is an important form of communication.
2. Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for.
3. There’s absolutely no substitute for genuine lack of preparation.
4. If you think there’s good in everybody, you haven’t met everybody.
5. Friends may come and go but enemies will certainly become studio heads.
6. No one ever lost anything by asking for more money.
~ Via Larry Karaszewski and Howard A. Rodman On Facebook
“I expected ‘Salesman’ to take the step backward every day that Chekhov and Beckett did — but no, it was there to help all the time. The circumstances are like a brick shithouse, they are so solid. You can’t really be satisfied, but I am pretty close to it because the cast took it and ran. They get better every day. I’ve never seen anything like that before, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see it again. Is my ambition sated? I don’t know. To get something right, it can’t be sated because you can’t ever get enough of it right—and even if it is right, it won’t stay right. That’s the thing about a play. But with ‘Salesman,’ it’s different. I don’t know how, but they just keep getting better each night. I really don’t think I’ll direct another play. This is as good a time as I’ve ever had, and I don’t want to fuck it up.”
~ Mike Nichols To Stephen Galloway At The Time Of “Death Of A Salesman”
INTERVIEW: What’s the last movie that made you cry?
RODRIGO PRIETO: The Broken Circle Breakdown.
INTERVIEW: Oh the Belgian one? That movie was devastating.
RODRIGO PRIETO: Yeah, I love that movie. Sometimes I cry while shooting, while operating the camera. I can think of two examples. One was in Amores Perros, when the character that has all these dogs–he’s a killer for hire–and he leaves a message for his daughter on the answering machine. When we shot that the actor was looking at a photograph of his actual daughter and in fact, that photo that you see in the movie of the little girl, is his daughter. The girl that’s he’s following, that you just see fleetingly, is his daughter. When he leaves that message, he got really touched. Of course, I have two daughters and it really touched me as well. It’s all about him wanting to be more present, which is something that happens in this career that I picked, which is very intense and time-consuming, and there are a lot of times when I’d like to be with my daughters more and I haven’t been able to. So it made me cry. The second time was in 21 Grams, when we were shooting Naomi Watts listening to the message that her husband left right before they were run over by a car. Hearing the little girls–at that time my girls were little–her listening to it over and over, I was bawling.
~ Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto
“Two words: devotion and love. The very medium of documentary offers us the opportunity to make real the biblical expression asking us to love our neighbor. It gives us the knowledge of our neighbors far and wide. Knowledge by which we can love our neighbors.”
~ Albert Maysles
“I have no idea who sees my films. I hope they’re seen by a wide variety of people, god forbid only by intellectuals and film scholars. That being said, they do have a small audience. I make a living out of a combination of things. I try to make close to one film a year; I own those films so if they have any residual value, I get it; and I give talks at universities, American ones in particular, because you get paid very well for talking about your movies. You make more from talking about them than actually making them. It’s really a shame you have to make them in order to talk about them. Though, of course, that’s not true of film critics.”
~ Frederick Wiseman
“We say: ‘Give us some money, we don’t know what it is going to be about, we will not discuss casting, and you will see the film when it is finished.’ And only one of two things happens; either they say ‘great, here’s the bread?’ or they say ‘fuck off.’ And when that happens, we don’t make the film—that has happened a lot. [The studios] are motivated by insecurity, fear, lack of imagination and above all, a lack of flair.”
~ Mike Leigh Likes Just Where He’s Sitting, Thank You
“Inherent Vice, for all its bravado and wit, stands or falls apart on Katherine Waterston’s slender shoulders. On the page, Shasta Fay is your classic femme cipher, believable to the extent of Doc’s need to project his longings onto her. Waterston, working in two slow-burning, aria-like monologues of affectionate calculation and uncertain, highly compartmentalized motives, turns a threadbare archetype into someone painfully real and poetically resonant. Her tour de force seduction of Doc, mostly performed while naked, uncorking a slow drip of role-playing, self-revilement, vulnerability, and desperate control that’s indistinguishable from nihilistic abandon, expresses more about sex as a weapon and a survival strategy than a thousand footnoted treatises on the femme fatale in film noir. It’s everything Anderson couldn’t yet get on film in Boogie Nights; like Doc, Anderson and Phoenix are just along for the ride, besotted and overcome. It’s the most despondently sexy scene you can imagine, but its power—Waterston’s power and the human weakness within it—comes from how honestly she conveys the eternal allure of the truly, emphatically fucked-up. Despondency, black humor, and fantasy all converge like these were the last two contestants (or three if you count Anderson) in an erotic demolition derby—winner take cover.”
~ Howard Hampton Is Brought To Words By Inherent Vice‘s Katherine Waterston
“It’s been a while since somebody has come out with such a big vision to things. Even the elements, the fact that dust is everywhere, and they’re living in this dust bowl that is just completely enveloping this area of the world. That’s almost something you expect from Tarkovsky or Malick, not a science fiction adventure movie.”
~ Quentin Tarantino On Interstellar
“This has become a witch hunt–and it has everything to do with how we view women like Dunham… Dunham’s accomplishments are what feminists should want women to aspire to: she is the writer, director and star, making art about women, from a woman’s point of view, in an industry that is still dominated by men. She doesn’t represent all women—and she shouldn’t have to. But she is willing to say what many other high-profile women won’t (at least not publicly). Yes, she has a voice that creates controversy. Yes, she makes people uncomfortable… Like her, don’t like her. Watch ‘Girls,’ don’t watch it. But let’s not forget: There is room for more women than Lena Dunham at the top.”
~ On Lena Dunham
“The city to me is the only possible vehicle we have to measure human achievement. We’re an urban species now. If you look at Karachi or Mexico City or Hong Kong or London or New York or Yonkers or Baltimore or any of these other places, the pastoral is now a part of human history. We’re either going to figure out how to live together in these increasingly crowded, increasingly multi-cultural population centers or we’re not. We’re either going to get great at this or we’re going to fail as a species.”
~ David Simon
“I wondered how different it would be to write a novel and it’s totally different. It’s very internal. The weird thing about it is that I found that novel-writing was much more like directing than it is like screenwriting. You’re casting it, you’re lighting it, you’re doing the costumes, you’re doing the locations, you’re doing it all yourself as a director would. In screenwriting, you don’t do that stuff. You don’t describe the face of the actor or the character when you’re writing a screenplay because Tom Cruise is going to do it and he doesn’t look like that, whereas in the novel to describe what he is is what he is. The actual act of writing, just like shooting on a set, is a slow slog. It’s going to work every day.”
~ David Cronenberg On Screenplay vs. Novel