Interviews: Loznitsa, Defa, and More

On Film / The Daily — Jul 30, 2017

“Everybody knows what’s wrong with Hollywood—the vacuous parade of tentpole blockbusters; the refusal to diversify both in front of and behind the camera; the confusion in the face of disruptions by Netflix and Amazon; the single-minded lust for the 13-year-old-male dollar . . . one could go on and on.” And so, for GQ, Brett Martin does, discussing these issues and more with Bong Joon-ho (Okja), Ava DuVernay (13th), Cary Fukunaga (True Detective), James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), Jeff Nichols (Loving), Jordan Peele (Get Out), Dee Rees (Mudbound), Taylor Sheridan (Wind River), and Edgar Wright (Baby Driver).

“I have absolute confidence in my acting abilities, since the beginning,” Isabelle Huppert tells Anne-Sylvaine Chassany during a twelve-course meal. The Financial Times is picking up the €463 tab. “It may sound arrogant. I never doubt. I have absolutely no fear. I have unlimited self-confidence. There are so many other areas where I am not that, I am not ashamed to say it.” Chassany wonders what makes her doubt. “Crossing the street, meeting people . . . Everything that’s vital. But acting, nothing can intimidate me. Acting is never an obstacle. I do it without thinking. It’s like eating or drinking. It’s a non-event . . . Of course it’s an enormous pleasure, but there’s no stress.” And by the way, she very much wants to work with Woody Allen: “Frankly, what would it cost him to do one with me, vite fait, bien fait? It’s really not a big deal. He doesn’t know what he is missing. I do. He will when it’s too late.”

Ben Barenholtz’s many credits—though he dismisses them with a wave—include kick-starting the careers of David Lynch, the Coen brothers and John Sayles.” That’s a grabber. As John Anderson explains, Barenholtz, “sometimes a producer, more often a distributor and exhibitor,” bought Eraserhead “after seeing only half of it,” co-distributed Sayles’s Return of the Secaucus Seven (1979), distributed the Coens’ Blood Simple (1984) and executive produced two more. Now 82, Barenholtz has directed his first feature, Alina, “about a wide-eyed Russian in the wilds of immigrant Manhattan” and starring Darya Ekamasova (The Americans).

Also in the New York Times, Cara Buckley meets Charlize Theron, currently “deploying a brand of female empowerment and ferocity that audiences crave now more than ever. Like Furiosa [in Mad Max: Fury Road], and also Cipher in the most recent Fast and Furious film, Ms. Theron’s Atomic Blonde character is unapologetic and cunning, wholly owning her space, rather than merely populating or decorating a world defined by men.”

“If we compare the Dostoyevskian era to our contemporary situation, I feel that we are in a worse position now,” Sergei Loznitsa tells Vassilis Economou at Cineuropa. Meantime, he’s “working on two documentaries. The first, entitled Victory Day, was shot in Treptower Park in Berlin on 8 and 9 May; it’s a place that ex-Soviet citizens, now German residents, visit to commemorate the victory in WWII. The second is a montage of archive footage of the show trials that were held in Moscow during the Stalinist period. The film will be called The Trial. I’m also preparing a new feature film, and I just came from a location-scouting trip in Central Ukraine.”

With Marjorie Prime and Escapes coming out, Filmmaker’s Vadim Rizov talks with Michael Almereyda. “Emotions and intelligence are not disconnected,” he says. And “we all love movies because they have a certain kind of kinetic power that doesn’t have to do with words and ideas. At best, they embody ideas rather than illustrate them. I’ve been grateful when people come up to me and say they were in tears watching Marjorie Prime. I don’t normally hear that about my movies. I won’t reject it.”

Almereyda, by the way, is one of ninety people Adam Fitzgerald and Emily Skillings have approached for the Literary Hub to ask for a favorite line from poet John Ashbery, who’s just turned ninety, and write about it in no more than ninety words. Also playing along is Jim Jarmusch.

Back in Filmmaker, Brandon Harris talks with Laura Poitras about Risk, her documentary about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and Peter Rinaldi interviews Dustin Guy Defa, noting that, in Person to Person, “Defa delicately interweaves multiple stories taking place over one day in the lives of New Yorkers portrayed by an ensemble of legendary performers (Phillip Baker Hall, Isiah Whitlock Jr.), name actors (Michael Cera), newcomers (Abbi Jacobson, Tavi Gerivson, George Sample III), and so-called ‘non-actors’ (Bene Coopersmith). It’s a bighearted, hilarious and impressive display of Defa’s directorial skills and the kind of film that can jump start a career.”

Stephen Saito also talks with Defa; and Ricky D'Ambrose’s interview for the Notebook is on video (10’22”).

Julia Yepes finds it’s pretty easy to get Alejandro Jodorowsky to tell story after story. They’re joined by Jodorowsky’s son, Adan, who plays Alejandro in Endless Poetry.

Also in Interview, Zuzanna Czemier talks with Daily Show vet Jessica Williams, currently appearing in The Incredible Jessica James.

Wag the Dog (1997) “was in the area of satirical absurdism and now we are living in absurdism,” director Barry Levinson tells Patrick Shanley in the Hollywood Reporter. But humor is “the best way” to deal with scary times. “So, there were two films made within months of each other: Dr. Strangelove and Failsafe. Failsafe was a very well-done film, a drama about the dangers of nuclear proliferation. And Strangelove was the darkly comedic version of the same subject. Almost exactly the same story, and Strangelove is the one that lived on.”

“For me, I’ve always been really inspired by De Sica, Satyajit Ray and the Dardenne brothers, and Kelly Reichardt, and just all the ways that people have used the best parts of documentary and then captured incredible films from that,” Joshua Z Weinstein tells Christopher Llewellyn Reed at Hammer to Nail. For NPR, Robert Siegel also talks with Weinstein about his debut narrative feature, Menashe (‘7’37”).

The release of the new Nine Inch Nails EP Add Violence has prompted a round of interviews with Trent Reznor. He’s on the cover of the Village Voice, for example, and when Lizzy Goodman mentions the Academy Award for Best Original Score he and Atticus Ross won for The Social Network (2010), he calls it “a nice little statue to have that I keep hidden because I feel like an asshole.” But Goodman does get director David Fincher talking about his friend: “There can be incredibly beautiful melodies, but there’s always this tendency for what’s underneath it to be haunting. You have this beautiful melody sitting on top of this thing that is making you somehow dissatisfied with the beauty of it, and that’s a really interesting conundrum. It’s like those two things are nesting together. And that feels like the human condition to me.” For more with Reznor on a wide range of topics, see David Marchese’s interview with Vulture.

Angelina Jolie is on the cover of Vanity Fair, and Evgenia Peretz talks with her about her new film, First They Killed My Father, and of course, the breakup with Brad Pitt. At Vulture, David Canfield passes along a statement from Jolie claiming that Peretz has misreported a crucial detail involving an improvisational game played with the children cast in her film.

For Slant, Peter Goldberg interviews Kyle Mooney, who co-wrote and stars in Brigsby Bear.

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