Always Shine director discusses her influences
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a la Mod:
Film buffs esteem Broken Blossoms for its artiness — dreamlike, fuzzy images project us into the exoticism of other states of being. It heightens our response to effeminacy while critiquing Battling Burrows’s masculine threat. Crisp’s macho sneer is on a behavioral continuum with Gish’s fragility (her fright hiding in a closet was repeated in Brian DePalma’s modern sexual gothic Carrie) and Barthelmess’s ethereal, idealized compassion. The man and girl’s idyll is crushed (“The spirit of beauty breaks her blossoms all about his chamber”), and no contemporary gay-bashing would be more heartrending.
Other big winners included Arrival's Amy Adams for best actress, introduced as a "badass" by Chris Messina; and Silence's Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese for best adapted screenplay, introduced by the film's supporting actors Adam Driver and Liam Neeson. (Adams, Cocks and Scorsese also were feted earlier in the day with a Paramount-hosted, Academy member-packed luncheon high above Manhattan in Rockefeller Center's Rainbow Room; many attendees of that gathering subsequently hustled over to the 21 Club, where Lonergan and Affleck were at the center of a similar event, hosted by Manchester distributors Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions; and later to The Monkey Bar, where The Weinstein Co., which was shut out of the NBR Awards, toasted Lion lead actor Sunny Pawar, supporting actor Dev Patel and supporting actress Nicole Kidman.)
BMD: Before I let you go, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about working with Brian De Palma. He’s my favorite filmmaker of all time and you were in one of his absolute masterpieces, Carlito’s Way.
JL: Aw man, I was supposed to be in Mission: Impossible, too, but had a Fox contract that they wouldn’t let me out of. I was so looking forward to being in that movie. It would’ve been the third time I got to do something with Brian. I was so devastated. I loved working with him. I owe my career to him. He creates this environment where anything is possible.
In Carlito’s Way, I found myself as an actor. With my entrance as Benny Blanco, he let me do between twenty and thirty takes. And we’re talking about doing this on film, not digital. This was the era when you usually got three takes and had to beg for more. Not with Brian. Brian would let you play, because he was digging what I was doing; all my flamboyance and improv.
BMD: Do you have any specific recollections about how he directed you on that set?
JL: He loves to tell one actor one thing and another actor another thing and then just watch them go at it. It’s all about conflict with Brian. He just wants to get everyone riled up. He gets off on tension and watching actors cross the line. I’m so glad you brought him up because he’s really one of the geniuses of our time.
BMD: Earlier this year, I got to watch Carlito’s Way on 35mm and took my girlfriend, who had never seen it, and she was completely blown away.
JL: I think it’s due to finally get recognized for what it is. I was so proud of my work in that.
BMD: As you should be. You got to play against peak Pacino and killed it.