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Wheatley Carpenter

Ben Wheatley: “He’s a massive, massive influence. He came to talk in the 1990s at the National Film School, and I wasn’t at the film school, but I heard he was there and managed to sneak into the lecture that he gave and it was incredible. They tried to introduce him by playing the opening titles and music from Assault on Precinct 13, and he just walked into the room and turned it off, ‘No one wants to see this!’ Then launched into a lecture about the mechanics of indie cinema and how movies are made and how you have to pivot from one project to the other. I love that he has one foot in pure genre, and then there’s art cinema inside his movies as well. But he’s really gruff like the old Hollywood legends and no-nonsense, but it’s also incredibly crafted. He’s got that thing that the great directors have: he’s a genre of one. But also you can go, let’s watch some Howard Hawks movies and see where it comes from. You can see the influence on Carpenter, but they’re not doing the same thing. It’s not a copy, it’s processed through him, and then transformed into something else. That really opened up a lot of cinema history for me by watching Carpenter movies. A couple of weeks ago I rewatched all of them again and watched ones I hadn’t seen before like Ghosts of Mars, which got an absolute kicking when you read the reviews, but then I really enjoyed it. Now why was everyone upset about this? It’s a pure Carpenter movie. It has all the elements of a Carpenter film and the craziness of a Carpenter film. It’s great. They’re like nothing else and they jump around all over the place and he obviously loves those movies.”

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