Always Shine director discusses her influences
Tweet: Always Shine "feels like De Palma's 3 Women"
Star Mackenzie Davis says the gaze of Always Shine feels very different from that of De Palma's cinema
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a la Mod:
Watching Always Shine, I thought a lot about a male director, Brian De Palma.
But the gaze feels very different. I really like De Palma, but his gaze is aggressive and undressing and voyeuristic. I’m very aware of being a spectator in De Palma’s movies, especially of the female body.
Whereas the voyeurism in Always Shine seems to come much more from a female perspective, like when Anna is watching Beth speak to the man at the bar.
Female friendships are so emotionally intense and rewarding and invasive — they’re my favorite friendships, but there is this extrasensory perceptiveness about betrayal, and also there’s just always a competition in women because we’ve been told that there’s a scarcity of opportunity. So there’s always this sense of like, Who’s being hit on? Who’s getting that job? I’m not saying that every woman feels that all the time, but I definitely felt it — a way that we’re raised culturally where it behooves us to beat the other girl, and you can see when you’re losing in a situation. I always grew up thinking that being undesirable is a mortal sin.
"Is Tom Ford a dilettante? Honestly, the jury’s still out. He gets committed work from his cast; even if Adams is arguably miscast in a coldhearted role (yes, she can do anything, but that doesn’t mean she should have to), Gyllenhaal expertly toggles between Straw Dogs meekness and madness, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the sexiest black hole of irredeemable evil in many a moon. And when Michael Shannon turns up as Bobby Andes, a lethal West Texas police detective, Ford guides the actor to one of his scariest and most controlled performances.
"Yet with Ford — and unlike Hitchcock (and, at his best, De Palma) — the mystery stays on the surface, caught in Seamus McGarvey’s clinically composed camera shots and Joan Sobel’s impeccably disorienting editing. The 'solution,' or the one that’s implied in the film’s final scene, feels small and incommensurate with the dark places the rest of the movie takes us, and it may occur to you that what concerns this filmmaker is the immediate effect rather than the lasting impression. I don’t mean it as a cheap shot, but Nocturnal Animals is very like an exquisitely rendered window display. It’s something at which you pause and peer into and catch your breath — and then move on."
"Matching updates of two dynamic variants of mid-century noir (the gonzo woman's pictures of Otto Preminger with the psychological nocturnal westerns of Anthony Mann), Nocturnal Animals gets close to a double-barreled satirical thriller commenting on the historic rift between city and country. But for all his panache, Ford lacks the focus and control of someone like Brian De Palma, whose work, including his recent Passion, routinely straddles such disparate divides. Nocturnal Animals, meanwhile, wastes too much time fulfilling the nuts-and-bolts demands of both of its genre exercises to transcend their limits, while remaining too scattered and routine to actually work as a satisfying example of either.
"The film's best achievement remains its illustration of the supposed lewd, overflowing vitality of the lower classes butting up against the frigid primness of the upper, which then vampirically exploits this divide as part of a ritualistic cultural transfer. This process, by which the rustic, the seedy, and the menacing are drained of residual danger and reimagined in chic aesthetic forms, is one of the trademarks of both the fashion world from which Ford hails the high-end art scene in which Susan operates, the latter seen in that flamboyant opening show and the stylishly shabby pieces that litter her gallery. The film itself carries off a similar act of transference, repackaging grim, nasty authenticity as shiny pop product, even its ugliest revelations sugarcoated within correspondingly gorgeous images.
"Such a combination might have yielded marvelous results were Nocturnal Animals willing to get truly weird, but Ford instead remains too reliant on overwrought imagery, residual prestige affectations, and conventional rhythms to break free of either genre the film experiments with, leaving one section stuck as a second-rate Cormac McCarthy adaptation, the other a tamped-down Fassbinder tribute. Its ultimate message, that the stereotypical façades which front these two worlds only serve to disguise how much they have in common, ends up getting muddled rather than expressively conveyed, leaving Nocturnal Animals as a film that stands tantalizingly close to greatness."
"It has been seven years since Tom Ford added the job description of film director to his already famous fashion empire. That movie, A Single Man, was rightly acclaimed, and now with Nocturnal Animals he proves it was no fluke. Based on the 1993 novel Tony & Susan by Austin Wright, this adult thriller is a crazy mix of Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Douglas Sirk, Brian De Palma, Stanley Kubrick and even a bit of Sam Peckinpah thrown in for good measure. But overall it is pure Ford, full of stylistic touches and fine acting."
"Ford is clearly a cinephile, and elements of other auteurs are all over Animals: the sexmad decadence of Brian De Palma, the formal control of Hitchcock, surreal dabs of David Lynch-ian grotesque. The movie’s lofty narrative ambitions never quite catch up with its aesthetics, but it’s still a fantastic beast of a film, intoxicating and strange."
Nocturnal Animals and Body Double
I'll tell you that Salem is chock-full of horror references. I'm quite a horror aficionado. I wrote science fiction most of my life, but my passion, really, has always been for horror. Everything comes out on the show, from Dario Argento to Alfred Hitchcock to the Japanese horror that could be harsh, a horror fan’s horror show. One movie that had a great influence was Roman Polanski’s Rosemary's Baby, the tone and style in which his movies were shot, or different directors, to keep the show grounded. I'm obviously a fan of Hitchcock's work.
I noticed similarities to Giallo horror films.
Oh, it’s all over the place. What a lost art. It's interesting when you looking at building things, like Brian De Palma was building on top of stuff. Everybody said he was doing Hitchcock. But no, he's not. He was doing Dario Argento. He was doing Giallo. We talk about that stuff all the time on the set. My favorite movie of all time is Notorious and we do pay homage that picture.
Which of those classic movies do you think have never lost power to scare? For me it's the scene in M when Peter Lorre breaks down in front of the criminal court.
Well, M is a masterpiece. In fact, child murder isn't exactly something that is probably ever going to be mainstream. That's a really good example of timeless horror. Some of the best modern 21st century horror has pushed the envelope and broken taboos. That's what horror does. I think one of the modern horror masterpieces of the 21st Century is the French film Martyrs. It is extreme horror, extremely frightening and extremely violent. It's a masterpiece. It was like they were taking things to the next level and I think horror has always done that. M is an excellent example of a timeless horror story. And I gotta tell you, Frankenstein is not necessarily as terrifying as it was to audiences when it first came out, but it is still the only true and truly successful horror science fiction story. That's a subgenre that you just don't see all that much.
I feel bad for the Frankenstein monster and King Kong. The witches on Salem have deep lives and we identify with them.
Oh, absolutely, I think these witches, mostly women, are oppressed, one of them is a slave, and powerless. Through witchcraft they found their power and I think the show’s feminist themes are relatable.
He mentioned Hitchcock’s Vertigo as the film that made him want to be a filmmaker. He also talked about other “visualists,” as he called them — a list ranging from Fellini to Renoir to the also Hitchcock-inspired Brian DePalma, and more — and surmised, through a translator, that among the reasons we don’t have more such “visualists” among today’s directors might be multifold: For one, “young people don’t watch a lot of classic films,” he said. Or perhaps, even if they do, “they’re watching on a small screen. I’m not sure.”
Though he was surer about his next point, which was, “to make ‘visualist’ cinema, you need money.”
Even by the insane standards of the HBO comedy’s inaugural season, Sunday’s Vice Principals season finale was, well, very insane. Over the course of nine polarizing episodes, in which co-creators Jody Hill and Danny McBride walked the razor’s edge between pitch-black comedy and disquieting psychological drama, Vice Principals followed the efforts of school administrators Neal Gamby (Danny McBride) and Lee Russell (Walton Goggins) to overthrow their new boss, Belinda Brown (Kimberly Hebert). Along the way, there were some extremely uncomfortable moments, including an act of arson at Brown’s home and a horrifying night of destruction prompted by a bottle of gin.
And then there was Sunday’s episode, in which [SPOILERS AHEAD] Gamby and Russell finally succeed in getting rid of Brown. Better yet, they’re appointed co-principals of the school. But just when everything appears to have worked out for the show’s protagonists/villains, Gamby is gunned down in the school’s parking lot by a mysterious masked figure, and apparently left for dead.
Vice Principals ended its first season as it began — uneven, erratic, and yet also thrillingly unpredictable and unique. It wasn’t perfect, but Vice Principals was a welcome oddity amid an increasingly conformist television landscape. As the conventions of “Good TV” are codified and reduced to formula — with an established set of clearly defined storytelling perspectives and moral objectives — Vice Principals stubbornly went against the grain, never letting the audience off the hook by telling it how to feel about its deeply flawed characters.
Initially conceived as an 18-episode limited-run series, Vice Principals already has its second and final season in the can. “Everyone could watch it now if HBO would just release it. It’s ready. It’s there for you to see,” McBride told us Monday in a phone interview.
As for what viewers should expect from Vice Principals moving forward, McBride says “we were channeling a lot of John Hughes and ’80s teen comedy in the first season, and I feel like in the second season we start channeling a lot of Brian De Palma.”
"The murky world of betrayal and counter-betrayal is reminiscent of Jean-Pierre Melville's magnum opus Army of Shadows, but the masterful orchestration of tension also shows the influence of Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. The use of music throughout is excellent with a percussive score mixing with period pieces of jazz and a concluding scene uses Bolero to stunning effect. The Age of Shadows is a bloody and breathtaking piece of filmmaking which confirms that Kim can do pretty much anything."
"Because this is an action movie and no mistake, the only difference being that where most films so described usually build to a single massive setpiece, The Age of Shadows has about seven — maybe ten, if you consider that the whole train section (and of course there’s a train section) is a setpiece that contains about three other setpieces inside itself. Each one of these sequences is delivered like the climax to a Brian de Palma movie (indeed there’s a shootout in a train station that seems to deliberately echo The Untouchables) but there’s also such knotty spy-jinks intrigue going on that at other times it plays like Betrayal on the Orient Express."
(Thanks to Rado!)
"Nocturnal Animals” though is the Big Deal. Ford, the designer of ridiculously overpriced fashion, made one other film, “A Single Man,” a few years ago. It was a gorgeous debut, and quite unexpected. “Single Man” was also incredibly stylized. One wondered if all Ford’s films — if more were to come– would look the same.
This one does, and it doesn’t. With a heavy nod to Douglas Sirk (and to Todd Haynes, who already saluted Sirk in “Far from Heaven”) Ford mixes that same cool, minimalist feel with what is essentially pulp fiction– a revenge movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon (each doing their best work) within a modern soap opera starring Adams and Armie Hammer as desperately good looking and unhappy rich people. And just so we get it, Amy’s art gallery features a black and white painting of the word REVENGE. Does Ford have to paint us a picture?
Ford is as devoted to Sirk as Brian de Palma is to Hitchock– in fact, I was thinking of “Body Double” a lot during the screening because Ford mimics dePalma’s cool veneer. Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski drives the Sirk reference home and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey manages to make the 50s come alive in 2016.
Although Ford says you can’t compare his two worlds of fashion and moviemaking, the keen eye he has for both is quite apparent in this dazzling movie mix that seems to have all sorts of cinematic influences. It’s a very different kind of film from A Single Man, but the love of classic filmmaking is there in all departments. Movie fans will love it and reaction here in Toronto , as earlier in Venice, has been extremely strong overall. It is not just a movie-within-a-movie, it’s a movie movie suggesting work from some of the great directors in a mix that becomes pure Ford, especially in style and design.
Fortunately, his sometimes acidly funny screenplay is a substantial one as well, crossing genres. “This one is obviously very Hitchcock, Brian DePalma, people keep telling me Douglas Sirk. People keep comparing it to David Lynch too. I love David Lynch but that was certainly not in my mind. I think it’s because we have the nude (very obese) women dancing in the beginning,” he says when I asked for names that might have inspired this film. “I think Kubrick was pretty great at a thriller, but I can’t say one particular person. I have different favorite directors for different genres. My heart, which you really couldn’t tell from this, was from the 1930’s and George Cukor. That’s where it really is. If I am designing a collection it’s often Fassbinder. So depending on what type of movie we are talking about, I have absolutely different frames of reference. They go into any filmmaker’s head. They become part of your hard drive. You don’t even necessarily realize they are coming out. I wasn’t thinking about Douglas Sirk when I made this film, but I love him and the comparison is there, so great. Hitchcock’s humor was purposeful because I think if you can scare the audience you sometimes need the relief of making them laugh. And if you can make them cry, all the better. Scare them, make them cry, make them laugh, give them a roller coaster.” And that Tom Ford has done in Nocturnal Animals.
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