Interviews

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Brief Encounters: Director Jim Jarmusch on the Poetic Downtime of Coffee and Cigarettes

The following interview with Jim Jarmusch was originally published as our Spring, 2004 cover story, and it is appearing here online for the first time. — Editor “Why do people go to the cinema?” Andrei Tarkovsky writes in a book of essays, Sculpting in Time. “I think that what a person normally goes to the cinema for,” he goes on, “is time: time lost or spent or not yet had.”  Time lost, spent or not yet had is the stuff of Jim Jarmusch’s new feature, his ninth, Coffee and Cigarettes. Consisting of 11 short vignettes, all featuring two or three people […]

“Is That a Little Too Much Like Scooby-Doo?” Radio Silence on Ready or Not

Opening with a wedding and concluding with some kind of funeral, the horror-comedy Ready or Not is a welcomed late summer season addition. Grace (Samara Weaving) and Alex (Mark O’Brien) are married at the Le Domas family mansion. After the ceremony, the family announces that, as is tradition, they will promptly play a children’s game with (or more accurately, against) the bride, as she is the newest member of the Le Domas family and thus must pass a test. The game is Hide and Seek, and if Grace can make it to morning, she lives. If the Le Domas family […]

“It’s a Choice: To Be a Filmmaker or a Human”: Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska on Honeyland

The award-winning documentary Honeyland marks the second collaboration between directors Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska. Set in Bekirlijia, a rural village in Macedonia, it focuses on Hatidze Muratova, who follows ancient beekeeping traditions while caring for her ailing mother Nazife. Despite her efforts to be self-sufficient, political and economic decisions have a profound effect on Hatidze and her ability to survive. Synopses of Honeyland can make it seem like a dull, self-righteous nature documentary. Instead, it’s a film filled with contradictions and narrative reversals. Characters make self-destructive, at times inexplicable choices, often under the guise of kindness and generosity. Hatidze […]

“The American President is a Conspiracy Theorist”: Mads Brügger on Cold Case Hammarskjöld

A conspiracy theory is meant to provide just enough information to send you tumbling down multiple dead ends, desperate for a branch of legitimacy to grasp onto. It must begin with an undoubtable event (say, the death of a famous figure) that lacks concrete evidence as to how it took place. There must be several figures who go on the record and offer conflicting reports (or provoke the sense that they’re hiding something more sinister). There must be multiple probable reasons for this event to have taken place (the famous figure had it coming, the famous figure experienced bad luck). […]

“Move Behind the Fence or You’ll Be Arrested”: Roberto Minervini on What You Gonna Do When the World’s On Fire?

Since moving to the United States in 2000, Italian-born director Roberto Minervini has become one of the foremost documentarians of the American South. His fifth feature, What You Gonna Do When the World’s On Fire?, marks a departure in focusing, for the first time, on African-American lives in the region. Shot between Mississippi and Louisiana, the film weaves together three parallel threads: a pair of young brothers, Ronaldo King and Titus Turner, whose fierce bond is evident from the jump; a musician/singer/bar owner named Judy Hill, who conducts community meetings aimed at consciousness-raising; and members of the New Black Panther Party, seen […]

“We Decided to Treat the Policy and the Propaganda as if They Were Also Human Characters”: Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang on One Child Nation

One Child Nation, winner of this year’s Sundance U.S. Grand Jury Prize (and premiering theatrically August 9th via Amazon Studios), is a striking cinematic examination of China’s three-and-a-half decade long, one-child policy by filmmakers Nanfu Wang (Hooligan Sparrow, I Am Another You) and Jialing Zhang (Complicit). It’s also a stunning uncovering of the multi-layered machinations required for a government to negate reproductive autonomy. And ironically, as the NYC-based Wang herself points out towards the end of the film, advocates of China’s (now defunct) policy and the US’s (very much alive) anti-abortion stance both subscribe to a core belief in state […]

Rodney Evans on Documenting His Own, and Others’, Blindness in Vision Portraits

Rodney Evans’ Vision Portraits works his experience of gradually losing his eyesight while continuing to make films into a personal documentary that also considers the larger implications of this experience for artists and minorities. The film is structured around Evans’ own experience: he shows himself on film sets, dealing with the aftermath of falling onto an Amtrak train platform in New Jersey and traveling to Berlin to get surgery. But in between, he also profiles three artists who are largely or entirely blind: photographer John Dugdale, dancer Kayla Hamilton and writer Bryan Knighton. Dugdale makes the biggest impression; despite losing […]

An Objective Subjectivity: Julius Onah and J.C. Lee on Adapting Luce, Code-Switching and Frantz Fanon

Julius Onah’s Luce follows the story of Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a Black 17-year-old prodigy. Adopted at a young age from a war-torn country by two Caucasian parents, this straight-A valedictorian and all-star athlete is deemed perfect by everyone. After his teacher, Ms. Wilson, finds illegal items in his locker and becomes concerned over the submission of a violence-themed research paper, she contacts his parents. His adoptive parents start to question his actions, leading to his mother Amy uncovering a barrage of secrets held by her son. Adapted from the stage play of the same name by J.C. Lee, the […]

Jennifer Kent on Shooting The Nightingale One-Camera, Contractually Obligated Aspect Ratios and Directing from Handheld Monitor

Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent’s first two movies present different parental nightmares. In The Babadook, a mother’s fear that she doesn’t love her son manifests itself in the form of the titular monster. In her latest, The Nightingale, a young woman explores the extremes she’s willing to go to in order to punish someone who’s harmed her child. Set in the early 1800s, The Nightingale stars Aisling Franciosi as Clare, an Irish prisoner finishing out the final days of her sentence in servitude to brutal British soldier Hawkins (Sam Claflin). When Hawkins rapes her and attacks her family, Clare sets out […]

“There Is No Video Village”: DP Robert Richardson on Shooting Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood in 35mm

During lunch break on a Western TV series, fading star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) settles into a director’s chair next to his nine-year-old co-star. The young actress is armed with a Walt Disney biography, Dalton a pulpy Western novel. The girl asks Dalton about the story in his book and he recounts the tale of an over-the-hill bronco buster that eerily mirrors his own circumstances. Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood is a loving valentine to an era of studio filmmaking that was coming to an end in 1969, but it’s also a rumination on the inevitability of aging and mortality […]

Back to One, Episode 68: Damon Herriman

It’s rare for one actor to be cast as the same real-life character in two different productions almost simultaneously. When that real life character is Charles Manson, that makes some news. Australian actor Damon Herriman has taken on this challenging role in both Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood and the second season of David Fincher’s Netflix series Mindhunter. Herriman is perhaps best know for playing Dewey Crowe in the series Justified and currently plays Paul Allen Brown in Perpetual Grace LTD. We talk about the character of Manson, how good writing makes for good acting, and why […]

“It’s a Movie About LA and Driving in LA — When You Could Actually Drive in LA”: Production Designer Barbara Ling Recreates the Open Streets of 1967 LA for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood’s production designer Barbara Ling built the lurid worlds of the most perverted Batman movies: Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, where Uma Thurman (as Poison Ivy) strips out of a pink gorilla suit while golden Tarzans in table cloths swing from vines and lay belly down to form a human path for her to walk on. I’d be lying if I told you D.P Stephen Goldblatt’s close ups of Batman and Robin’s rubber derrieres and armor nipples haven’t been secured into an easily accessible shelf at the top of my memories, which […]

“…It’s a movie about LA and driving in LA — When You Could Actually Drive in LA”: Production Designer Barbara Lee Recreates the Open Streets of 1967 LA for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood’s production designer Barbara Ling built the lurid worlds of the most perverted Batman movies: Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, where Uma Thurman (as Poison Ivy) strips out of a pink gorilla suit while golden Tarzans in table cloths swing from vines and lay belly down to form a human path for her to walk on. I’d be lying if I told you D.P Stephen Goldblatt’s close ups of Batman and Robin’s rubber derrieres and armor nipples haven’t been secured into an easily accessible shelf at the top of my memories, which […]

Panavision’s Dan Sasaki on Customizing Lenses for Once Upon a Time In Hollywood

If you’re reading this story in hopes of gleaning the magic recipe behind Panavision’s increasingly popular “detuning” process, sorry to disappoint you. Panavision Senior Vice President of Optical Engineering Dan Sasaki will divulge no such details.  “I wish I could. Unfortunately, that is a process we like to keep secret,” said Sasaki, who began his career at Panavision in 1986 as a lens service technician. “What I can say is that it’s a process that is continually evolving.” Sasaki will, however, happily talk about being a second-generation member of the Panavision family, the storied history of the C Series anamorphics, […]

Pasolini, Thierry Frémaux’s Requested Cuts and Working with Music: Bertrand Bonello’s Masterclass at FIDMarseille

Bertrand Bonello, cinephile filmmaker, is not one to conceal his references. On War, with Mathieu Amalric in the lead as a director called Bertrand, quotes from Apocalypse Now at length, House of Tolerance transplants Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Flowers of Shanghai to belle époque Paris and Nocturama concocts a beautiful synthesis of Carpenter and Romero. Yet, as the disparity of these citations indicates, Bonello’s shapeshifting, consistently surprising cinema makes it difficult to pinpoint what might have been his formative influences. Had I been pressed to try, I wouldn’t have come up with Pasolini, so it was a surprise to discover that his […]

“A Record for All of History of What Our Lives Were Like, and What We Went Through”: Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts on For Sama

Nabbing this year’s top doc prize at Cannes (as well as at SXSW), For Sama is a harrowing, on-the-ground look at the disintegration of a society through one young woman’s eyes. That woman, Waad Al-Kateab, also happens to be the film’s co-director (along with Emmy Award-winning, BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Edward Watts). Incredibly, and courageously, as her beloved city of Aleppo came under attack by Syrian forces, Al-Kateab decided to pick up a camera and create a heartfelt record — or rather “love letter” — to her unborn daughter Sama. What she captured was not just the clear-eyed reality of losing friends […]

“The Movie Industry’s Great Triumph”: J. Hoberman on Make My Day, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump

The narrative in which New Hollywood was wiped out by Jaws, Star Wars and the rise of the blockbuster that followed, paralleling the elections of Reagan and Thatcher in a retreat from the rebellions of the ‘60s and ‘70s, is a very familiar one. J. Hoberman has written a trilogy of books exploring the interwoven histories of the US and its cinema: The Dream Life: Movies, Media and the Mythology of the Sixties, Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War and now Make My Day: Movie Culture in the Age of Reagan. Drawing on his […]

“I Was Drawn… to the Pure Mystery of It”: Liz Garbus on Her HBO Doc, Who Killed Garrett Phillips?

In 2011 the small town of Potsdam, NY was rocked by an inexplicable atrocity: 12-year-old Garrett Phillips was discovered murdered in his home. The tragedy in turn launched a manhunt, which led to the ex-boyfriend — or rather, one of the ex-boyfriends — of Garrett’s mother Tandy Cyrus being arrested for the crime. Which only led to more questions as this man, Oral “Nick” Hillary, happened to be the beloved soccer coach at Clarkson University. And also one of the few black men in town. Liz Garbus’s Who Killed Garrett Phillips? painstakingly follows the twists and turns that unfolded over […]