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a la Mod:
Why do you like France so much?
BRIAN DE PALMA: In my youth, several French directors I was interested in: Jean-Pierre Melville, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Georges Lautner, whom I loved "Tontons gunslingers." I have always enjoyed the French culture, cuisine, good wines and the art of living. One day while I was in Paris, a friend (note: the singer Elli Medeiros) told me that there was a crime fiction festival in Cognac. We went. I felt good at home. I decided to settle in Paris in the early 2000s, when I shot "Femme Fatale". When Bruno Barde, the organizer of the Festival de Beaune, asked me to come here to honor my career, I did not hesitate long.
What do you think of the American cinema today, especially the proliferation of blockbusters?
For a guy like me who belongs to the generation of Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola, Sydney Pollack, Woody Allen, etc., I do not recognize myself at all in the studio system. Hollywood, which lines up sequels, remakes, superheroes from comic books, I could not care less. "Batman," "Superman," "Iron Man," all these blockbusters, it's just money! I regret that Hollywood lacks both imagination and true creators, as in 1960 and 1970. It is also in Europe, Asia, South America, where things are now being creative. But I eat dinner often with young talented American directors - Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow - I hope they will make things happen.
You, the Democrat, how do you react to the candidacy of Donald Trump for the White House?
It's terrible! Here is a man who, for me, best crystallizes the curse of reality television. Donald Trump knows how to manipulate the media to his advantage and the impact of images. Better than any politician, he knows the rules, knows how to feed the news channels, starting with Fox News. Worse, he succeeded in getting them to talk about him every day. For me, who was 23 when JFK was assassinated in Dallas, Trump is a man very disturbing.
In your film "Redacted", filmed in 2007 on the war in Iraq, you had mentioned terrorism. The world is facing this problem today ...
Alas, nothing surprises me! The French know better than anyone. When it occupies Arab countries, what happens? Explosions in the West, in our streets. What to do ? Stop trying to control these regions as they’ve been trying to do for decades. When people are willing to blow themselves up to kill others, there is no defense.
Going back to Robinson's article at The Verge-- she interviews Takal, at one point asking about her influences:
You’ve cited Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under The Influence, and Lynn Ramsay’s Morvern Callar as major influences on this film. What did these films bring to the table?
All the movies from the 1970s with slow zooms were visual influences. With my director of photography, Mark Schwartzbard, we watched Robert Altman’s 3 Women and Images, and I really wanted to build suspense through slow zooms and a moving camera like he does. Theme-wise, 3 Women was also a big influence, as was Cassavetes’ Opening Night. The idea of the ghost that becomes more and more threatening to Gena Rowlands’ character was something we wanted to incorporate. And with Morvern Callar — Larry showed me that movie, because a lot of the feedback we were getting from traditional financiers, when we were trying to make this movie in a more traditional way, was that the main character wasn’t likable, and it was unclear why she was doing these things. Larry said, "There’s this great movie you need to see, where the protagonist’s motivations aren’t really explained in a way where everything ties up neatly, and with a character who’s flawed." That really opened things up for me.
I don’t know if this is true, but I feel like female directors are better able to understand the complexity of a female character without needing to explain everything, and without needing to make the character "likable." Likability to me is such a frustrating thing. I think there’s more awareness around this now, but in general, male characters can be so flawed, but if a woman is mildly annoying, "She’s not likable!" It mirrors this box of femininity in the real world, too, where you have to be this one narrow, certain way, and if you’re not, you’re intolerable.
Who do you consider the main character? One of the interesting things about the film is that there’s such a balance between Anna and Beth, in terms of perspective and sympathy.
Psycho was also an influence, in that you start off being in one character’s psychology, and then it shifts. Anna is based on me, so I always thought of her as the main character. But I did want to start with Beth and have that shift, so you understand both characters’ point of view. I think you transition into Anna’s headspace around that scene at the bar with the handsome older dude. If we were aping Psycho, that was our shower moment, our transition moment.
Brian De Palma also feels like an influence here, given how much you’re looking at voyeurism and sex and the film industry, and questions of identity and escape. Was he part of the mix?
I’ve loved the films I’ve seen of his, and I’m sure he was an influence for Larry and my DP, but I’m not so familiar with his movies. I saw Body Double and a really good one with Robert De Niro called Hi, Mom! which was also an influence, because it’s not experimental, but it’s just totally wild, and it narratively goes off on these wild diversions, which I did in the scene here with Jane Adams. It’s just a diversion that may have been inspired by the diversions in Hi, Mom! I love that movie.
But I’m not that well-versed in cinema. Zach Clark, my editor, he knows so much about movies, and I’ve had so many collaborators who know so much more about movies than I do that they were able to infuse in choices I might not have thought of. They just have a bigger cinematic vocabulary.
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