Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Last Days of Steven

Steven Soderbergh talks about Side Effects, his turn to painting, and what has changed in Hollywood since his career began.
Q: Your 1999 book, Getting Away With It, is a combination of your own diaries from that time and interviews with director Richard Lester, whose films—like A Hard Day’s Night and The Knack … And How to Get It—were major influences on you. At one point you complained to him: “I feel like a codger saying ‘It’s never been this bad,’ but I really think it’s never been this bad … People who make dumb movies that make a lot of money are now treated with the kind of respect that used to be reserved for people who made good movies.” You must be apoplectic now.

A: It’s true that when I was growing up, there was a sort of division: Respect was accorded to people who made great movies and to people who made movies that made a lot of money. And that division just doesn’t exist anymore: Now it’s just the people who make a lot of money. I think there are many reasons for that. Some of them are cultural. I’ve said before, I think that the audience for the kinds of movies I grew up liking has migrated to television. The format really allows for the narrow and deep approach that I like, and a lot of people … Well, the point is, three and a half million people watching a show on cable is a success. That many people seeing a movie is not a success. I just don’t think movies matter as much anymore, culturally.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Music: Bob Mould - "Keep Believing"

Because I saw him on Austin City Limits this weekend, and because he's Bob Mould.....

Dancing around Malick

I haven't seen Terrence Malick's To The Wonder but I'm even more excited to after reading these thoughts from Bilge Ebiri.
A couple of years ago, I interviewed some of Malick’s collaborators on the long-abandoned Q project, which would effectively become The Tree of Life. At the time, cinematographer Paul Ryan, who had shot much of Days of Heaven and had been a member of Malick’s small, close-knit team on Q, told me that Malick had become obsessed with the symphonic form. In other words, he wanted his films to break free of typical narrative methods and to adopt a more musical style of discourse. Malick seemed to achieve that with the movement-based structure of The Tree of Life. There, what we were seeing and hearing on screen seemed more often to correlate to the meter of a symphonic movement than to the typical narrative “acts” of a film.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Liberal Arts/Nobody Walks

Josh Radnor seems very willing to play variations on his self-serious How I Met Your Mother charater; in Liberal Arts, Radnor’s second film as writer-director, he plays a New York admissions counselor named Jesse with a taste for hanging out in bookstores and a habit of expressing his opinions about what other people read. Jesse is invited back to his college by an old professor (Richard Jenkins) who is retiring, and it’s easy to see where Jesse comes by his haughty views on the Twilight books. Jenkins’ character is a man who has gotten away with being an ass for a long time who just realized he needs to connect with other people. It’s a fascinating situation that movies haven’t explored and probably fuel for a movie in itself, but the heart of Liberal Arts is the unlikely connection between Jesse and an undergrad named Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen) whom he meets on his weekend back at school. Radnor has grown in confidence as a director since his debut, and he’s not afraid to include a a long voice-over sequence of Jesse and Zibby’s letters to each other or to concern himself with such unlikely subjects as the fact that there are things older than us in the world and the way that a liberal arts education does or doesn’t prepare one for adult life. Rather less happens in Liberal Arts than might be expected but that isn’t a flaw, since what turns the relationship between Jesse and Zibby is the fact that even when you don’t feel like an adult you still have to act like one. Actors seem to love Radnor; Olsen is just the right mix of winning and na├»ve and Allison Janney has a terrific sequence as a Jesse’s bitter former Romantic poetry professor. (There’s also a barely recognizable Zac Efron as a campus sage.) The opening titles of Liberal Arts recall the classic style of Woody Allen’s titles. I don’t know if that choice is a tip to where Radnor sees his career going, but Liberal Arts feels like a voice being found.

Nobody Walks, directed by Ry Russo-Young (who cowrote with Lena Dunham), is another film low on incident but not the worse for it. A New York filmmaker named Martine (Olivia Thirlby) comes to Los Angeles to stay with Peter (John Krasinski) and his therapist wife Julie (Rosemarie Dewitt). Peter, a sound editor, is helping Martine finish a film, and the two’s working in close quarters leads to an attraction that is felt at different levels of intensity. Russo-Young is good at suggesting the way that California life isolates Peter’s family and how Martine’s more sensual approach to living shakes them up. Thirlby is terrific, nailing that sense of someone who is just adult enough to be dangerous, and Krasinski gets to play some interesting new notes of domestic desperation. Nobody Walks doesn’t end so much as it stops, and the choice not to impose an ending on this material was the right one. Olivia Thirlby makes a strong transition to adult roles here, and Nobody Walks might best be seen as a calling card both for her and her director.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Redbox Diaries #2: Pitch Perfect

You might have a curious feeling after watching Pitch Perfect, the surprise hit comedy about a young woman named Beca (Anna Kendrick) who finds herself in the middle of a collegiate a cappella singing competition. Beca is supposed to be an “alternative” girl who would spend all her time at the campus radio station if she could. Writer Kay Cannon must not have much of a familiarity with the indie rock world though, because Beca’s idea of cutting edge is to produce mash-ups of Top 40 songs that she hopes will land her a big-time producing gig one day. It is as if Radiohead never existed. I like the chipper Anna Kendrick most of the time, but she is miscast here. Kendrick has the air of someone who’ll endure unhappiness to get what she wants; someone like Kat Dennings could have had more fun puncturing the other characters pomposity about their music. Pitch Perfect isn’t as bawdy as it thinks it is either. There’s a projectile vomiting gag early that gets repeated and some absurdity from Rebel Wilson as a fellow chorister named “Fat Amy,” but that’s about it. A generic message of inclusiveness floats over the proceedings, and Beca’s chorus is made up of a rather predictable assortment of ethnically diverse misfits. In the film’s conception music is something one does to find “acceptance,’ or friends, or a boyfriend like the dull Jesse (Skylar Astin). Even Glee is better on the work of singing, and on the way that the arts can provide a sense of identity. I can see why Pitch Perfect sold tickets; if someone saw it at the right age they might feel that they were being tickled by something grown up, but no one should confuse this with an actual good movie. Pitch Perfect tries to be edgy, upbeat, and outrageous and ends up being very little.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

David Gordon Green at Sundance

Here's a 2006 clip of David Gordon Green discussing the low-budget process that led to his debut George Washington. Green's story is often told as one of a young talent corrupted by easy Hollywood money (his last film was The Sitter), so it's a pleasant surprise to hear that his latest project Prince Avalanche is a return to a more lo-fi style.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Right, but too early

From Fall 2012: How we got Sinead O'Connor wrong. (Atlantic/Blog Riley)
At age 15, Sinead O'Connor was caught shoplifting and was sent to an institution much like those investigated in the Commission Report, a Magdalene laundry full of teenage girls who had been judged too promiscuous or uncooperative for civil society. "We worked in the basement, washing priests' clothes in sinks with cold water and bars of soap," O'Connor has written of her experience. "We studied math and typing. We had limited contact with our families. We earned no wages. One of the nuns, at least, was kind to me and gave me my first guitar." On the grounds of one Dublin Magdalene laundry, a mass grave was uncovered which included 22 unidentified bodies. These institutions have since caught the eye of the United Nations Committee against Torture.

After 18 months, with the help of her father, O'Connor escaped from this brutal system. Very quickly, her voice carried her to stardom. Her former captors were the "enemy" O'Connor spoke of when, as a 25-year-old with a once-in-a-lifetime live television audience, she tore the picture of the Pope and exhorted her viewers to "fight" him. The picture she tore, in fact, had belonged to her abusive mother, then already dead. "The photo itself had been on my mother's bedroom wall since the day the fucker was enthroned in 1978," she told the Irish magazine Hot Press in 2010.

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013: Upstream Color

Shane Carruth's first film since Primer is at Sundance and it sounds as though Carruth hasn't softened himself for mass consumption. I'm just reading reviews, but is does anyone else think there's a strong Sundance crop this year? (Playlist)
Clearly in an amorphous gestating status over the last several years is his latest bewitching curio, "Upstream Color," a film so bewilderingly mysterious ("Primer" is more conventional in comparison), you will awaken 95 minutes later feeling like you've been incepted. And some might dislike the discomforting feeling of not being quite able to process or find the narrative floor beneath the elusive experience. Disorienting side effects may occur. Results may vary. Some will feel like they've been ethered in the dentist's chair and woken up with no one in the room and their pants around their ankles. "Upstream Color" is almost like a sci-fi thriller without possessing either genre trait. In truth it's more of an opaque identity and relationship story that takes its time to unfurl without feeling the need to connect its cellular tissues. "Upstream Color" is an exploration of themes and abstractions rather than a concrete narrative, but it's also like a puzzle box with all the pieces laying at your feet. You may not be able to figure it out, but that's part of the point of this experimental, sensory-landen experiential film that washes over you like a sonorous bath of beguiling visuals, ambient sounds and corporeal textures.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Music: Ra Ra Riot - "When I Dream"

Here's a song from their forthcoming album Beta Love. The New York Times reports the group no longer contains a cellist; note the prominent synthesizers. I'm hoping this will grow on me. For newcomers, a sample of the band's earlier sound can be heard here.

Dept. of What's New

I very much liked James Ponsoldt's Smashed (my review here) and thought its star Mary Elizabeth Winstead should have been in the year-end awards conversation. Ponsoldt is back at Sundance with The Spectacular Now, a coming-of-age drama with a terrific cast (Winstead appears again) and early strong reviews. Slashfilm weighs in:
Cut to the 2010 Sundance Film Festival: Smashed became one of the top buzz films of the festival with a critically acclaimed tour de force performance from Mary Elizabeth Winstead and an incredibly raw filmmaking style that put director James Ponsoldt on our must-watch list. So when it was announced that Ponsoldt would be taking over as director on The Spectacular Now, we were excited. And the movie does not disappoint.

The Spectacular Now is everything I hope a Sundance movie to be. It has heart, many laughs, story twists that will jolt you from your seat, and most importantly, the film speaks to a deep truth. It is an honest coming of age film about growing up and facing the great unknown that comes after high school, something we can all remember and relate to. But it tells that story without the forced nostalgia of other Hollywood films.

Life of Pi

Ang Lee’s Life of Pi received 11 Oscar nominations this year, and seeing the film with its potential awards haul in mind serves as a reminder that even in a post-Avatar age it is still possible to be blinded by craft. The 3D filmmaking and digital imagery in Life of Pi are gorgeous, and if the idea of watching a 2 hour plus film about a young man and a tiger alone in a boat together on the Pacific Ocean is too much for your suspension of disbelief then let me assure you that filmmakers artistry does not interfere with story. But what of the story?

I haven’t read the Yann Martel novel upon which Life of Pi is based and so I don’t know whether or not the clumsy framing device that screenwriter David Magee sets up is his own invention. In present-day Toronto a novelist (Rafe Spall ) is interviewing a man named Pi (the great actor Irrfan Khan, a familiar face from The Darjeeling Limited and The Namesake) for reasons which aren’t immediately clear. The writer is stuck for a book idea and it seems that Pi may have a story to tell. These early scenes are clunky and more than a little forced; I’m not sure what screenwriting manual recommends that watching two men prepare lunch is a good idea for a movie’s first act. In time we learn Pi’s story and travel back to the India of his boyhood. Pi (played for most of the film by Suraj Sharma) and his brother Ravi (played by 3 different actors at different ages) are the children of a zoo owner who lives in upper middle-class comfort. Pi wins his nickname in school by being able to extend 3.14.… out to a seemingly infinite number of decimal places, and I found myself wondering if the book Pi’s math teacher has which appears to contain nothing but pi’s value really exists. Pi is a curious child who starts asking questions about God and how the world works early on, and he soon comes to embrace a kind of unified theory that his father (Adil Hussain) warns him may turn out to be meaningless.

The shipwreck that puts Pi in a boat with a tiger named Richard Parker is excitingly staged; there’s something scary and surreal about seeing the contents of the zoo (being transported to Canada for sale) fighting for space alongside the ship’s crew. The ways in which Pi and Richard Parker come to live together are exactingly detailed and the sheer menace of the tiger is a tribute to what’s possible in the realm of digital creation. If Life of Pi were merely an adventure story it would be a modest success, but everyone involved with the film seems to want it to mean something. Pi’s broad-based faith comes in handy at sea, since he needs someone to talk to and God is just about the only choice besides a giant tiger. The real meaning of Pi’s journey won’t become clear until years later of course, but by then Life of Pi has become something else. What is the value of a story, to the one who tells it and to those who hear it? That’s the question Life of Pi  is really asking but Lee doesn’t want to take the time to answer it. Life of Pi represents (so we are told) a great step forward in the use of 3D, and since every advance must be showered in Oscar glory it may be part of our conversation for a while. Yet the broad stretch for profundity on issues of faith and connectedness leach the film of its emotional power. If Life of Pi were an animal, it wouldn’t have done well on the boat.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty begins with voices heard on cell phone calls and answering machines during the 9/11 attacks. It is hard to hear these voices of course, but in beginning the film with them director Kathryn Bigelow has pulled the raw horror of that day from the collective memory hole we have agreed to put it in. Images of the Twin Towers burning are almost never shown on television in this country, and movies have only barely touched 9/11 as a subject. Bigelow wants us to remember, but not as belated justification for an expensive foreign war and especially not to explain away an interrogation program of dubious utility and politically motivated amorality. The voices of 9/11 are a jumping off point for a movie about an obsession motivated by equal parts anger, grief, and duty. Zero Dark Thirty has been made with enormous skill and a surprising amount of soul, and its achievement is to celebrate the signature American-performed event of the War on Terror while telling the story of the cost to those who made it possible.

 The opening section of Zero Dark Thirty revolves around the interrogation of a prisoner named Ammar (Reda Kateb) whom it is believed may have information key to the unraveling of high-level Al Qaeda networks. Most of the material that those who take issue with the film’s attitude to torture are objecting to is located in these early scenes and they are indeed difficult to watch. CIA agents Dan (Jason Clarke) and Maya (Jessica Chastain) carry out acts of brutality (including waterboarding and sexual humiliation) with a depressing sense of normality, though Maya can barely hide her discomfort and I read Dan’s lack of affect as more a deep sense of fatigue than as any latent sadism. More significantly, the notion that Zero Dark Thirty somehow celebrates or excuses the Americans’ use of torture is hard to credit, given that the Ammar scenes are shot in such a way as to bring home the cost for both torturer and victim. (For a more specific discussion of the shot sequence in these scenes I recommend this.) The piece of information that sets Maya on the long road to finding bin Laden is obtained after another attack occurs; the Americans try a bluff out of desperation and convince Ammar that he has already talked, thereby getting the name of the “courier” who will eventually lead to bin Laden’s location. We don’t see Ammar again or hear what happens to him after this point in the film, and it’s the lack of information that should disturb thoughtful viewers. I haven’t heard those making a case that Zero Dark Thirty is bad on torture mention a scene that bothered me more in which Maya reviews tapes of other detainees who also identify the courier; some of these men are depicted in what I believe used to be referred to as “stress positions.” It’s this montage of the surrendering of information that accidentally argues for the efficacy of torture. I say “accidentally” because I emphatically don’t believe that is what Bigelow and writer Mark Boal intended.

“You don’t understand Pakistan,” Maya says in a late scene. She’s talking to a CIA station chief (Kyle Chandler) who is under pressure to direct his resources towards protecting the homeland. There’s an implicit argument in Boal’s script that we really don’t understand the battleground or the opponent in the War on Terror. A colleague of Maya’s (Jennifer Ehle) works her sources with the belief that information can be garnered through money, an idea Maya coolly dismisses. (“They’re radicals.”) In fact the application of money does eventually help yield the courier’s location, but only in combination with good luck and painstaking tradecraft. Zero Dark Thirty is very good at conveying just how much work finding bin Laden was; a look at Chastain’s expressive eyes reveals that this is in part a film about being tired. Jessica Chastain has been celebrated in other films for qualities that aren’t on display here; Maya wouldn’t know what to say if she met Chastain’s character from The Tree of Life. There is no sense in the script of how Maya got to the point she finds herself at when we first meet her, and the lack of backstory makes Chastain’s fierce performance all the more remarkable. When we see Maya made up and professionally dressed when she returns to Washington the effect is jarring at first; this is a woman who was born for the field.

Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t rush the depiction of the climactic raid on bin Laden’s compound. We spend a little time with the jolly group of soldiers (led by Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, and Taylor Kinney) and then we’re following the helicopters from a Afghan base over the border into Pakistan. There are details that I didn’t know which may surprise some, and the overall effect is one of overwhelming professionalism and imminent disaster. It’s not surprising that Zero Dark Thirty ends soon after the soldiers return with bin Laden’s body. We worry for the soldiers but our mind has been on the waiting Maya the whole time; the fact that there’s not much to say after the work of a decade says a great deal about where we are as a nation entering the second decade after 9/11. The final question asked in Boal’s script is “Where do you want to go?”, and the final, shattering shot might as well be all of us looking in the mirror.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Les Miserables

It is hard to divorce the new Les Miserables from the enormous and detailed expectations that fans of the musical will bring to the film version. Hugh Jackman (as Jean Valjean) and the other actors sang live on set to music being played in their earpieces; how will the stars stack up vocally? How will your favorite song be staged? If you’re invested in Les Miserables being good based on your love of the musical then rest easy; the film is a spectacle in the best sense, made and performed by well-chosen (for the most part), talented people working to the best of their ability. I am the wrong critic to parse one actor’s singing voice against another, but it’s my impression that while many of the performers might not be able to vocally fill a Broadway theatre they are above average for singing voices in a film. There is plenty for fans of the musical to digest in the film, but if you’re a Les Miserables novice like me the film version still offers the pleasure of large-scale Hollywood filmmaking done right.

The opening scene  of Les Miserables involves Valjean and his fellow convicts trying to move a sailing ship under the gaze of the policeman Javert (Russell Crowe). Everything feels roomy and big in director Tom Hooper’s vision of this world; the ship is impossibly huge and the rooms that the characters occupy are much less dank and close than parts of 19th century Paris must have been. There is plenty of room left for all the emotion. Hugh Jackman is world-weary and tormented as Valjean in the opening scenes, and it’s as Valjean anguishes over trying to rob a Bishop (original stage Valjean Colm Wilkinson) that the rewards of Hooper’s choice for live singing reveal themselves. Hooper’s Les Miserables may not be the best sung version of this story but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie musical where I was more aware of good acting behind a song. The high water mark is of course the song that will be discussed, played on awards shows, and turned into GIFs for years to come: Fantine’s (Anne Hathaway) performance of “I Dreamed A Dream.” Fantine’s slide from factory worker to degraded prostitute happens pretty quickly, but Hathaway’s performance of the show’s signature song transcends the limitations of Hooper’s directorial approach. Hooper doesn’t stage the songs so much as he watches them; he slams the camera into Hathaway’s face (other actors get the same treatment later) and lets her rip. Hathaway makes it work but as the film goes on the approach becomes more tiresome. We want to feel as if we’re in this world, not watching a movie.

Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne (as the revolutionary Marius) and young Daniel Huttlestone (as the boy Gavroche) are the anchors of Les Miserables, and Samantha Barks (as the lovesick Eponine) may be the best singer in the cast. Russell Crowe has come in for a good deal of the negative comment that the film has received for his performance as Javert. Crowe’s voice is clearly more limited than that of others in the cast but I don’t think it’s that bad; the only problem with his performance is that he can’t transcend the one-dimensionality of the role. Javert is a symbol of law, duty, and order, and the film doesn’t allow for the ambivalence of Crowe’s best roles until it’s too late. Was I moved by Les Miserables? Yes, but not as much as I think I would have been by a good stage production. We’re somehow more aware of the choices the director is making and I wonder if even the most emotionally involved fan might recognize a few places (scenes involving Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as two larcenous innkeepers, for example) where scenes could have been shortened or cut. Still, I can’t recall the last time I went to a movie and heard other audience members sniffling and snuffling around me. There are those who can find this or that to quibble about with the transition from stage to film, but Tom Hooper has taken a beloved property and made it live. Given the pressures involved in the attempt, that’s as much as any of us could have hoped for.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


The toughest scene that Stephen Chbosky had to write for his adaptation of his own The Perks of Being A Wallflower, one of my favorite films of 2012. (Vulture)
I have a saying: There's a difference between filming a script and making a movie. I was not precious about cutting things for the movie, because I already had the novel exactly the way I wanted it to be. I'll give you another example, though it has nothing to do with this scene: I had it in my mind that after they graduated, the characters would run up this hill, and there was a hill that I'd always wanted to film. I'm talking seventeen years that I wanted to film this shot! And then we were supposed to shoot it on a Monday night, and on the Friday before, we were doing a football scene, and I turned around and saw the bleachers at sunset and thought, Wow, that is a beautiful shot. And in that moment, I changed it from the hill to the bleachers, and it became one of the best images in the film. You have to listen to your intuition.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The writer for our time?

I'm hoping George Saunders's new short story collection is as good as it sounds, but in the meantime enjoy his colorful life as described in this NYT profile.
It’s hard to maintain, the softness. It’s an effort. That Dubai story ends with these lines, wisdom imparted from Saunders to himself: “Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.”

Monday, January 07, 2013

Monday Music: Michael Penn -"No Myth"

I like this delicate performance of "No Myth" from the composer for HBO's Girls, which begins its second season this week. I bought this album on cassette.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Promised Land

It is possible to like a film and to even be moved by one while also recognizing its flaws, and it’s helpful to keep that fact in mind while watching Promised Land. The new topical drama directed by Gus Van Sant from a script by Matt Damon and John Krasinski (working off a story by Dave Eggers) is a case of good intentions almost choking a film even though the subject matter and message are as topical as an MSNBC Sunday morning show. There was a more complicated film to be made here about a economically challenged community coming to grips with itself, but the makers of Promised Land have given in to the temptation to give us someone to root for.

The opening scene sets up the stakes. Steve Butler (Damon) is being considered for a promotion by the natural gas company he works for. Steve’s current job involves traveling to small farming towns and convincing the residents to sign leases that allow drilling on their land; the drilling is performed by the environmentally disruptive practice known as “fracking”. Steve has a reputation for signing up more people for less money than his peers. We’re meant to understand that he is motivated by his own disgust with the idealization of small town life, for Steve watched his own hometown fall apart after a plant closing. For him, a family farm is just something to do until economic disaster strikes. The nameless town where Steve and his partner Sue (Frances McDormand, excellent in a portrait of harried professionalism) land for their next mission is small enough to have a high school gym out of Hoosiers and teachers like Frank Yates (Hal Holbrook) who are working “for fun”. To say that Promised Land is “about” fracking may be an overstatement, it’s more about the omnipotence of large corporations. Just so there are no illusions about the forces that Steve represents, there’s a quick, nasty scene of negotiation between Steve and a town leader (Ken Strunk) skilled in the art of looking out for number one. Those, like Yates, with reservations about the environmental impact of fracking don’t seem to have a chance.

  Promised Land is very well acted; Damon brings layers of insecurity to Steve and the actors playing townspeople have a wonderful easiness combined with an instinct for self-protection. Titus Welliver, so familiar from TV drama, is a shopkeeper with an eye for Sue and Rosemarie DeWitt is very good as a teacher who isn’t sure she’s living in the right place. That’s why it’s so disappointing that the movie is broken up by declamatory speeches from Steve and other characters who share their stories and in most cases include a tacit appeal to be liked. An environmentalist (Krasinski) who follows Steve an Sue into town even belts out “Dancing in the Dark” on open-mic night at the local saloon. It’s too important to the film that we not judge Steve harshly; he keeps telling DeWitt’s character that “he’s not a bad guy.” Raising the question of whether or not Steve is a good guy is the mistake that Promised Land keeps making. I applaud Promised Land for its ambition and relevance, but surely the fate of the town is more important than one man’s self-esteem.

"I foolishly tried to play God once or twice...."

Michael Apted on 56 Up, the latest in a long-running series of documentaries following a group of British citizens he first met at age 7. (Filmmaker)
Filmmaker: Each film seems to have a distinct theme. In 21 Up they were about to embark on adulthood and that film seemed to be about uncertainty. In 35 Up many lost their parents and that film seemed to be about grief and mortality. Since you are a little older than the subjects and have perhaps lived through some of these life events before they have, do you anticipate these themes before shooting or do you find them while you’re editing?

Apted: Each film does have its own tone and that’s a reason to treat it separately. I absolutely don’t want to anticipate themes or guide them into predetermined territory. I foolishly tried to play God once or twice and make predictions about the future, but that was a serious misjudgment. The theme of 56 Up surprised me. I thought it might be maudlin, but it turned out quite differently. No spoiler here.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

"...I entered it with totally utter blind confidence."

Wes Anderson on how he got this far and his plans for his next movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel. (Deadline NY)
DEADLINE: I recall writing about how Bottle Rocket came together, this tiny film that Sony and Brooks flipped for. They bought it, put millions of dollars into it, and you were going to be the next big thing. Then it grossed a couple hundred thousand dollars. At the end of that whole whirlwind, where did that leave you as a filmmaker trying to be confident in his voice?

ANDERSON: Well, I entered it with totally utter blind confidence. And from the moment we first screened that movie, my confidence was deeply shaken.