Quotes

Mike Nichols in Elaine May’s American Masters Profile

“I’d never thought of generations. I was thinking about material things, material objects, somebody drowning in material objects, trying to free himself from death by material, through madness, which is what ultimately happens. The people who describe all our work to us often don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re wrong… Howard Hawks was a wonderful director, but he was not the greatest director Hollywood ever knew. The guys with the cigarette ashes on them ignored our greatest directors and humiliated George Stevens, Willie Wyler, Billy Wilder—Billy Wilder not so much, he became fashionable again. But the tragedy of Willie and Stevens and Fred Zinnemann, these were great men, but they just weren’t part of the froggy conspiracy.”
~ Mike Nichols in Elaine May’s American Masters Profile

Jacques Rivette on Paul Verhoeven, translated by Kent Jones

“I’ve seen it twice and I like it a lot, but I prefer Showgirls, one of the great American films of the last few years. It’s Verhoeven’s best American film and his most personal. In Starship Troopers, he uses various effects to help everything go down smoothly, but he’s totally exposed in Showgirls. It’s the American film that’s closest to his Dutch work. It has great sincerity, and the script is very honest, guileless. It’s so obvious that it was written by Verhoeven himself rather than Mr. Eszterhas, who is nothing. And that actress is amazing! Like every Verhoeven film, it’s very unpleasant: it’s about surviving in a world populated by assholes, and that’s his philosophy. Of all the recent American films that were set in Las Vegas, Showgirls was the only one that was real–take my word for it. I who have never set foot in the place! Starship Troopers doesn’t mock the American military or the clichés of war–that’s just something Verhoeven says in interviews to appear politically correct. In fact, he loves clichés, and there’s a comic strip side to Verhoeven, very close to Lichtenstein. And his bugs are wonderful and very funny, so much better than Spielberg’s dinosaurs. I always defend Verhoeven.”
~ Jacques Rivette on Paul Verhoeven, translated by Kent Jones

Anne Thompson On “Film Twitter”

“Someone like the New York Times’ Manohla Dargis, who I respect a great deal, stands above the fray and speaks down to the masses. This is what she thinks and what she believes is important. She finally just started a Twitter account. You talked about the Twitter universe, and The New Yorker’s Richard Brody’s on there. We engage and can talk about French movies, or some weird thing he thinks is fabulous that no one’s ever heard of, and it’s fun to share your favorite movies on Twitter. I love what you do with mostly your boy pals on Twitter. Roger Ebert was the model of the engaged, sharing movie critic who communicated and expressed his enthusiasm across, and not down, and I think that’s the future — what it has to be. There was a recent meme about female filmmakers not engaging in these conversations. Even in this online universe, they aren’t as vocal and opinionated, as willing to put themselves out there and engage in a conversation. They get horrible, horrible feedback. Trolls.”
~ Anne Thompson On “Film Twitter”

James Schamus on being a first-time director

“As a first time filmmaker here, my primary job was to make sure that there was an honest relationship between the actors and the film, so I wanted to remove the idea there was some style I needed to impose. At the same time, the film has a distinctive look, and I set up the parameters for that extremely carefully with my crew, and through my research, and my own thinking. That style was not something to impose on the work of the actors; to me it was about the creation of a world that they could be comfortable living in. I found often with first time directors who have a very strong idea of exactly how the film is going to look, that when they get to set they are basically wrangling a lot of cats to try to fit into a box that nothing’s fitting into. They’re asking actors to do things that aren’t true to who they are, and how they approach their work, and that ill fit shows. I did not want to push people into a box.”
~ James Schamus on being a first-time director

14-year-old J. J. Totah after Sundance premiere of Other People

“My character’s a boy who’s comfortable with himself, and a lot of people haven’t seen it before. I think it’s really important for a lot of kids out there, whether you be boy, girl, not determined yet—that’s okay, honey! It’s okay. You can do whatever you wanna do. If you’re a girl—girl, you get on the football team, okay? If you identify as a boy, you put on some makeup and you work that stage! Use color and paint a picture, honey! That’s what we should do more, right? All of the children need to know, all of the little kiddies and fetuses out there. Even if they’re not out of the womb yet, they need to know that it’s okay to be whoever the heck you are.”
~ 14-year-old J. J. Totah after Sundance premiere of Other People

Ava Duvernay

Leading frustration about Hollywood: That only 4 percent of studio directors are women. It defies culture in so many ways. It affects the way we see ourselves and the way we are seen by others. It gets into the DNA of how we treat each other, the policies we make, what we’re able to say and do to each other. For there only to be one dominant voice determining what’s said and saying it is something that all like-minded people who believe in dignity of everyone should be concerned about. That comes into play for women and for people of color. It’s not a problem that can be fixed by the word “diversity,” whatever that means. It’s a problem that’s going to take a multipronged solution and allies all over the place who say, “We want to make a change.”
Ava Duvernay

Alejandro González Iñárritu

“For me, cinema is the ocean. It’s an infinite, endless form of human expression. The ocean of expression. And it’s enormous. After 120 years of making films, we’re still on the beach – we’re splashing in the shallows, and I believe we have a lot deeper to go. I’m not a philosopher, I’m a filmmaker, but I think we have a long way to go before we fully understand the subconscious. The problem with film is that now people view it as an accurate representation of reality. I’m much less interested in reality in cinema than I am exploring the way we truly experience life, which is far away from reality. Reality is really just memories, little slices of sensation that we interpret as accurate versions of an event or moment in time. There’s a lot of things left to explore, and I’m just scratching the surface of the subconscious, of the spirit world. But unfortunately right now I think we’re going in the exact opposite direction. The Revenant was a way for me to express an extreme human experience through what I call ‘pure cinema’. It was a huge exercise for me to work out how I could tell this story with as few words as possible, in a very emotional and sensory way. When you strip out dialogue you do so in order to understand your subject – to understand what he’s thinking and feeling and trying to do – and by doing that you’re left with the image, literally to moving images and sounds. You have to go deep to really get to what this guy is about. For me, it was an exercise in molecular storytelling.”
~ Alejandro González Iñárritu

David Bowie, 2002

“As a person, I’m very buoyant. But I think philosophically, I’m not. I have such a questioning soul in that way. There’s so much I don’t understand about our lives on this earth. There’s no coherence to my mind. I still haven’t got there. I confront the questions continually but I don’t think I’ll ever achieve any kind of satisfactory answer until, as (British poet) Philip Larkin said, ‘Well, I’m off to the inevitable,’ which I think is one of my favourite last words. No, no, no, (Irish novelist/playwright Samuel) Beckett’s last words were my favourite. Just before he died, just before he keeled over, he said, ‘Oh, what a morning!’ I wonder if these people prepare their last lines? You got to think a lot of them are apocryphal. But I’ve got to write mine out and have them clutched in my hand in case I can’t actually squeeze them out through my lips before I go.”
~ David Bowie, 2002

Tom Stoppard

“That is a small joke that passes between writers, especially between writers when they are friendly and prove their friendship by insulting each other. They tell each other, I loved your early work. And there are very few great artists who have done major work once they approach 70 or 80. When I think of my favorite writers, it was the way they started off that captured me and left me captive. I’m not an opera person at all, but I think of Verdi, for example, as someone who was writing at the age of 80 work comparable to what he was doing 50 years earlier. I’d like that to be true of me, and in about 18 months I will be 80, so I’ll have to set about trying to prove it. I don’t know that I can. “
~ Tom Stoppard

David Bowie, 2003

“I’m not really very keen to put on much of a theatrical show you know in terms of a big sets and elephants and fireworks and things like that. Of course it doesn’t mean that I won’t go back on my word because that’s part and parcel of what I do for you as part of my entertaining factor is lying to you.”
~ David Bowie, 2003

Brian Eno on David Bowie

David’s death came as a complete surprise, as did nearly everything else about him, I feel a huge gap now

We knew each other for over 40 years, in a friendship that was always tinged by echoes of Pete andDud. Over the last few years, with him living in New York and me in London, our connection was by email. We signed off with invented names: some of his were Mr Showbiz, Milton Keynes, Rhoda Borrock snd the Duke of Ear.

About a year ago, we started talking about Outside, the last album we worked on together. We both liked that album a lot and felt that it had fallen through the cracks. We talked about revisiting it, taking it somewhere new. I was looking forward to that.

I received an email from him seven days ago. It was as funny as always, and as surreal, looping through word games and allusions and all the usual stuff we did. It ended with this sentence: “Thank you for our good times, Brian, they will never rot.” And it was signed “Dawn.”

I realize now he was saying goodbye.

~ Brian Eno on David Bowie

Jerzy Skolimowski

“Film deals with movement. Painting is a still thing, you know? Painting is done by myself only. No one collaborates with me. Every square centimeter of the canvas is my responsibility. And the painting is zen. Filming is chaos. How far you can go from one to the other! It’s completely separate things. I don’t think those two interfere at all. I’m a different person when I paint. I’m alone, I listen to the music, I have plenty of time, I’m not in a hurry. Every movement is important, sometimes it takes a long time, sometimes it’s spontaneous. In a film, I’m one of those with a huge group of people just behind my back and I feel it—and I don’t necessarily like it.”
~ Jerzy Skolimowski

~ The New Yorker’s Tad Friend Elicits Quotes From STX Entertainment’s Adam Fogelseon

“With The Gift, Fogelson had no spectacle to sell—only the film’s premise. “The movie’s original title was ‘Weirdo,’ which sounds indie, so we changed that,” he said. He didn’t want people thinking the film was weird; he wanted them thinking it was creepy. “We did a campaign with 50 entertainment bloggers and reporters, doing a deep dive into their social-media past to figure out what they needed or wanted, then sending them personalized gifts, like a replacement mug for one they’d broken, all signed ‘Your friend, Gordo.’ A day later, a second box, containing a trailer for the movie, would arrive. That successfully got ‘creepy’ out there in the discussion.”
~ The New Yorker’s Tad Friend Elicits Quotes From STX Entertainment’s Adam Fogelseon

Bill Cosby

A word to the wise isn’t necessary, it is the stupid ones who need all the advice.”
~ Bill Cosby

Eric Hynes On The Force Awakens

“This is the era of do-not-fuck-it-up. AntMan? It’s fine—at least Peyton Reed didn’t fuck it up. Batman v. Superman? Don’t fuck it up, Zack Snyder, like you did Watchmen. X-Men: Apocalypse? Let’s bring back Bryan Singer because he didn’t fuck up those first few X-Men movies. The first thing art director Nash Dunnigan told a fan-filled crowd at Museum of the Moving Image in advance of a screening of The Peanuts Movie? “Don’t worry, we didn’t fuck it up.” Movies are made of proven entities to minimize risk, but that transfers the stakes from making something good to making something that meets the expectations for what it’s supposed to be. Not fucking it up was assignment number one for the seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens, the first without creator George Lucas as director, writer, or showrunner. Director J. J. Abrams was obliged not to fuck up Disney’s $4 billion investment in the property; he was obliged not to fuck it up for the legions of Star Wars aficionados and everyday nostalgists; and he was obliged not to fuck it up for Hollywood in general, which has staked its solvency on blockbusters like Star Wars ever since Star Wars itself debuted in 1977.”
~ Eric Hynes On The Force Awakens

Danny Glover

“When you talk about To Sleep with Anger or The Saint of Fort Washington, they fall somewhat within the parameters of storytelling in American cinema. But I’ve always had an idea of looking at films beyond just that narrow precept. I started watching foreign films when I was about 17, when there was Ingmar Bergman, the great Akira Kurosawa. And then what really opened up the whole 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 on a lost era of indie movies

Wim Wenders

“Trauma is internalized. Something happens externally in your life and from then on it creates this thing in your mind and you have to live with it. It’s impossible to make it un-happen. It’s a pain in your life, there is guilt involved, and other people are involved with whom you have suddenly connected without wanting to, but the trauma is inside. The cinema has hitherto had to invent situations that externalize the trauma to make it visible. With 3D, I felt that for the first time we had cameras that could look inside of a person and see into the soul because these cameras are almost like x-rays; they see more accurately and you cannot hide anything from them. You look at a person and you know who that person is. This might surprise a lot of people because the 3D films we have seen so far don’t prove that; actually, they have done the opposite. They’ve portrayed action and external events but not the interior. I felt the capacity of seeing an interior process was so amazing that the perfect story for 3D would be one in which most things were invisible.”
~ Wim Wenders On 3D

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“There are critics who see their job as to be on the side of the artist, or in a state of imaginative sympathy or alliance with the artist. I think it’s important for a critic to be populist in the sense that we’re on the side of the public. I think one of the reasons is, frankly, capitalism. Whether you’re talking about restaurants or you’re talking about movies, you’re talking about large-scale commercial enterprises that are trying to sell themselves and market themselves and publicize themselves. A critic is, in a way, offering consumer advice. I think it’s very, very important in a time where everything is commercialized, commodified, and branded, where advertising is constantly bleeding into other forms of discourse, for there to be an independent voice kind of speaking to—and to some extent on behalf of—the public.”
~ A. O. Scott On One Role Of The Critic

“Every night, we’d sit and talk for a long, long time and talk about the process and I knew he was very, very intrigued about what could be happening. Then of course, one of the fascinating things he told me about was how he had readers who were reading for him that never knew it was Stanley Kubrick. So if he heard of a novel, he would send it out to people. I think he did it through newspaper ads at the time. And he would send it out to people and ask for a kind of synopsis or a critique of the novel. And he would read those. And it was done anonymously. But he said there were housewives and there were barristers and all sorts of people doing that. And I thought, yeah, that’s a really good way to open up the possibilities. Because otherwise, you’re randomly looking, walking through a bookstore or an airport. I said, “How many people are doing this?” It was about 30 people.”
~ George Miller’s Conversations With Kubrick