“Almodóvar–the first name is almost unnecessary–is a genius, is a flower, is a guiding light: the last, best son of Buñuel and so much more than that. His screenplays, which he directs with passion and fine care, have taught us about the exteriors of his native land and the interiors of our own hearts. From the early, manic experimental Super-8 work to the breakthrough Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, his titles are as evocative as most people’s screenplays. Yet for all their antic energy, Almodóvar’s films are deeply spiritual: watching his disturbing, mysterious, heart-rending Talk to Her is to understand, perhaps for the first time, the full meaning of grace. An Almodóvar screenplay is a running leap off a Gaudi balcony, it flips, soars, ascends, careens, tumbles, falls – always landing, astonishingly and astonished, on its feet.”
~ Howard A. Rodman, Announcing Almodóvar’s Jean Renoir Award
“I got a feeling I am going to win in the long run, but I want to be part of the zeitgeist, too. I want to support young girls who are in their 20s now and tell them: You’re not just imagining things. It’s tough. Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times. Girls now are also faced with different problems. I’ve been guilty of one thing: After being the only girl in bands for 10 years, I learned—the hard way—that if I was going to get my ideas through, I was going to have to pretend that they—men—had the ideas. I became really good at this and I don’t even notice it myself. I don’t really have an ego. I’m not that bothered. I just want the whole thing to be good. And I’m not saying one bad thing about the guys who were with me in the bands, because they’re all amazing and creative, and they’re doing incredible things now. But I come from a generation where that was the only way to get things done. So I have to play stupid and just do everything with five times the amount of energy, and then it will come through.”
~ Björk to Jessica Hopper at Pitchfork
“Here is a small note that they will never see, but I must post it anyway. Projecting a film that I made with my comrades in the White House for the President and the First Lady – for THIS President and First Lady – was as stunning an experience as I’ve ever known. The first film to ever screen at the White House was “Birth of a Nation” or as it was previously titled “The Klansman.” That was in 1915. Last Friday, “Selma,” a film about justice and dignity, unspooled in that same place in 2015. It was a moment I don’t have to explain to most. A moment heavy with history and light with pure, pure joy all at once. President Obama’s introduction of SELMA in the presidential screening room, the quality time he and the First Lady took with us before and after, the stories he shared with my editor and cinematographer, the praise she gave our dear cast, the handshake he gave my father, the hug she gave my mother, the laughter, the smiles, the extra time they gave us all long, long, long beyond when we were scheduled to go, the warmth, the respect, it was just beyond exquisite. “I’m proud of you,” she said to me. “We’re proud of you,” he added. I’m proud too – of them, of us, of the film, of this moment in my life. Who knows what lies ahead. But what has already occurred is food and fuel and fire and freedom. To President Obama and First Lady Obama, it was a dream I never dreamt, a dream seared in my memory like a scar from a fight won. The kind you look at every now and then, and just nod and smile. I thank you. xo.”
~ Ava DuVernay on Instagram
“God bless our troops, especially our snipers.
Hollywood leftists: while caressing shiny plastic trophies you exchange among one another while spitting on the graves of freedom fighters who allow you to do what you do, just realize the rest of America knows you’re not fit to shine Chris Kyle’s combat boots.
May the epic American Sniper bring nothing but blessings to Taya and the children of this true American hero.
Thank you Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood for respecting the United States Military.”
~ Sarah Palin
“Thief has a different purpose. If somebody asked me, ‘What’s Thief to you?’ To me, it’s a left-[existentialist] critique of corporate capitalism. That’s what Thief is. What is interesting is that no critics in the U.S. got that, no critics in the U.K. got it. Every critic in France got it when the film came [out]. It was like this crazy kind of cultural litmus test.”
~ Michael Mann
“Awards are the industry’s way of advertising itself. It we didn’t have awards, then producers would have no agenda. The only agenda would be to make money and awards create a counter agenda of something substantive. They’re important for indie cinema. It’s how independent movies make it through the corporate maelstrom. They’re important, they keep us all fighting and it makes independent cinema part of the popular culture. When I was growing up, there were all sorts of indie films, but as ad budgets go up, it’s harder to cut through the noise. A film like Boyhood is an extremely radical piece of filmmaking that has worked for audiences.”
~ Ethan Hawke On Oscar
In the eyes of many, you earned your status with your cinematography in the seven Wong Kar-wai films you shot.
I thought it was because of my sex life.
That too. But what do you think about his two films after you parted ways?
You’re not answering that?
If I answer that question, it will be the front page of every newspaper in China. Do you understand what I’m saying? I didn’t say “a piece of shit,” but I did say “a piece of shit.” Again, if I really believe everything people say about me, either I’ll jump over the cliff tomorrow or I’ll be at Dragon-i every night. So don’t take it seriously. Don’t get fluffed by your entourage. In Chinese cinema, many people actually believe their myths–I’m not talking about Wong Kar-wai, I’m talking about everyone.
So what’s your own approach?
I don’t believe that Du Kefeng exists—that’s why I’m so free—but he does a lot of work. You have to escape that constriction of fame or so-called success. In this film’s case, we work with young people just out of school, we make the mistakes, and we have a beer in the morning.
~ Christopher Doyle
“Shakespeare, Voltaire, Dostoyevsky were anti-Semites; the great cathedrals were the work of a Church rampaging on Crusades; the ‘stereo’ scene in JLG/JLG is reminiscent of a scene from a Nazi propaganda film. It’s virtually impossible to love art without overlooking or reconciling oneself to offense—by which I mean, one’s own, my own (it’s easy to wave away with an aesthetic benediction offenses to the feelings of others). ‘The Merchant of Venice’ finds echoes (no way for Jews to find betterment except through Christianity) in an extraordinary early short film by D. W. Griffith that I only recently saw, A Child of the Ghetto, and, as everyone knows, Griffith had more and worse in store along with his greater achievements. The modern cinema is born under the curse of racist caricature and incitement to murder, with The Birth of a Nation; I hate it for what it is and what it caused, but I love it for other films that it made possible. There, Griffith invented the cinematic toolbox for psychologically intimate yet grandly stirring historical action that leaps into the present tense and into the imagination. Griffith used that kit of epochal astonishment to spread disgusting and destructive lies—yet that kit quickly passed into the hands of other filmmakers, including those who, even now, make movies in the spirit of virtue and in search of truth. Principled directors and movie-goers alike are Griffith’s ineluctable and perhaps unwilling heirs, the inheritors of an ill-gotten treasure that imposes a special burden of self-consciousness and historical consciousness. The modern cinema, in its obsession with history and with the history of cinema itself, reveals its essential mode of expiation and of mourning.”
~ Richard Brody at CriticWire
“For this to be reduced—reduced is really what all of this is—to one talking point of a small contingent of people who don’t like one thing, is unfortunate, because this film is a celebration of people, a celebration of people who gathered to lift their voices—black, white, otherwise, all classes, nationalities, faiths—to do something amazing. If there is anything that we should be talking about in terms of legacy, it is really the destruction of the legacy of the Voting Rights Act and the fact that that very act is no more in the way that it should be, protecting all voices to be able to heard and participate in the electoral process. That is at risk right now. There’s been violence done to that act. We chronicle its creation in our film. And so I would just invite people to keep their eyes on the prize and really focus on the beautiful positives of the film.”
~ Ava DuVernay On Selma
“I think the role of the critic has been very diminished, because you get a lot of people who set themselves up as critics by having a website where it says that they’re a critic. Even now if you go to Rotten Tomatoes, you have critics and then you have ‘Top Critics,’ and what that really means is that there are legitimate critics who have actually paid their dues and worked hard and are in a legitimate website connected perhaps with a newspaper or perhaps not. Then there are all these other people who just say they’re critics and you read their writing and they can’t write, or they can write and their writing reveals that they’re quite stupid and ignorant. … Some voices have emerged that are actually quite good who never would have emerged before, so that’s the upside of that. But I think it means that it’s diluted the effective critics.”
~ Filmmaker And Novelist David Cronenberg On The Modern Moment Of The Movie Critic
“I remember reading Cormac McCarthy talking about writing ‘The Road.’ He was in this motel room in El Paso with his son, and he was looking out the window while his son was sleeping when that story [about an apocalyptic natural disaster] came to him. So I was playing the other day with the kids and it was 102 degrees. And I got nervous in a way that I have never been nervous before. Like, what the fuck are we doing? You know, what are we leaving them? And it made me deeply, deeply sad in a way that was new. Somebody said that if you’re making something and you have a kid, you realise that your best work is done. And it actually frees you up to be a little bit looser in your work. You know that your masterpiece has already been made–nothing’s going to touch that. It doesn’t mean you try any less, or you’re any less invested, but you’re just working in a different level because you’ve already done your best work.”
~ Paul Thomas Anderson To Mark Kermode
“My success rate is horrific in getting the movies with female directors made. I can’t get the money. It’s not the projects, it’s not the development, it’s not the writers, it’s not the directors and the actors. It’s the money.”
~ Producer Cathy Schulman To Manohla Dargis
“Too much looking back like this isn’t good for your health. Your brain starts to itch. Yeah, yeah, you know… seeing how far you can push ourself out in the ocean before you get really scared that you can’t see the shoreline. And you’re just thrilling yourself, and it’s starting to get dark out, and the sun is setting—you can see the moon coming out—and that is a thrilling, nerve-wracking place to be, and addicting… Dummies that we are, we keep coming back again and again for that feeling, that comforting panic. I can’t wait. Can. Not. Wait.”
~ Paul Thomas Anderson to Steve Erickson in Los Angeles magazine, January 2015
“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