• [The Daily] Interviews and Profiles

    By David Hudson

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    “A central tenet of feminist film theory holds that the havoc wreaked on the bodies of women propels narrative storytelling,” writes Holly Willis in the new issue of Film Comment. “The new film by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, The Unknown Girl [image above], revolves around the body of the title character, once a young doctor, Jenny Davin (Adèle Haenel), makes a simple choice that has fatal consequences for a woman she has never met. Yet rather than thrill us with a murdered woman or clobber us with moral probity, the film urges us toward ethical inquiry.”

    “The film fuses the roving vision of postindustrial precarity that defined the Dardenne brothers’ last two features, Two Days, One Night (2014) and The Kid With a Bike (2012), with the noirish turns of Lorna’s Silence (2009) and L’Enfant (2005), which depict a vicious world closing in on itself,” notes Christian Lorentzen in the New Republic.

    “We take the time to really film the bodies,” Jean-Pierre tells Darren Hughes in the Notebook. “They’re not pretexts for something more important. They’re it.

    “What we're looking for is reality, not fiction,” Luc tells Magdalena Maksimiuk at Slant. “We're not old academics, sages, or teachers who are showing the world the way it should be and how all evil can be punished. We prefer to speak from the perspective of the ordinary gray man.”

    At the Film Stage, Nick Newman asks the Dardennes about the cuts and changes made to The Unknown Girl between its premiere last year at Cannes and the current version. Luc:

    We had already decided, even before going to Cannes, that we wanted to eliminate about a minute from one of the scenes in the film, and when we started to go back into the editing room, it was only to do that—initially. So then the editor said to us, “You know, we can cut it this way, but we can also cut it this way by cutting over here and over here.” [Bangs table] So we said, “Okay, we’re going to look at the whole film all over again.” And in one day we just went, “We’re cutting here, here, here, here,” and we never even went back over it; we just did it. The next day, we viewed the film again, and we were happy. We found the rhythm of the movie, and we didn’t find the rhythm before Cannes—and the critics were right. It’s not very fun, but they were right.

    “The sequence shots that we film always follow—in the most practical sense—our main character: profile shot, from behind, from the front, etc.,” Luc tells Matt Fagerholm at RogerEbert.com. Jean-Pierre: “When you view a character in profile, you are aware that there is a certain amount of reality that is escaping the lens. We want audiences to believe that our characters don’t need a camera in order to exist.”

    MORE INTERVIEWS

    Bret Easton Ellis profiles Joaquin Phoenix, “the most soulful screen actor of his generation, and arguably its greatest,” for T Magazine. “When flailing for an answer about the perils of doing publicity and his refusal to get comfortable with the fitting of suits and posing amid the flashes of cameras on red carpets, he finally admits, in a high strangled voice, that this reluctance might stem from ‘some antiquated idea of rebellion as I plummet into middle age, desperately clinging to something.’”

    In the new issue of New York Magazine:

    • “A lot of Lemon is about fear of failure and fear of being left behind,” Janicza Bravo tells Jada Yuan.
    • Kevin Smith, talking to Abraham Riesman: “The one that kills me is ‘What happened to you?’ I’m like, ‘What happened to me?’ … Like, ‘I don’t know, I just did a thousand more things than I ever did back in the day.’”
    • “I’m attacking the bubble,” Michael Moore tells Jessica Pressler.

    “Digital is great,” Sean Baker tells Amy Taubin in Film Comment. “It’s obviously what got me here. I shot a film on the iPhone [Tangerine (2015)] and it got me a lot of attention, and I might do it again in the future. But when I had the means to shoot on film, I took the opportunity.” Baker and cinematographer Alexis Zabe shot The Florida Project on 35 mm.

    “A watchful admirer of modern classical filmmakers like Robert Zemeckis and Jonathan Demme, the ardently cinephilic thirty-seven-year-old writer-director Stephen Cone’s seductive, character-rich movies examine identity and belief with understated grace, often with young protagonists teeming with doubt and often a knife’s edge from tragic circumstance,” writes Ray Pride in Newcity, where he talks with Cone about his six feature films. “Cone’s next, larger-scale project, Nudes, is set in the world of sort-of-grownups, as a renowned photographer moves back to her small South Carolina hometown and embarks on a series of nude portraits of locals.”

    On the occasion of a tribute from the Telluride Film Festival, Variety’s Kristopher Tapley asks cinematographer Ed Lachman for his impressions of some of the people he’s worked with, including Todd Haynes, David Byrne, Madonna, Mother Teresa, Steven Soderbergh, Sofia Coppola, Robert Altman, and Todd Solondz.

    Stephen King “says that [Andrés] Muschietti’s It gets the book right, and after enduring scores of cinematic translations—some significantly better than others—he would certainly know,” writes Nick Schager for Yahoo Movies. “Moreover, he sounds excited about the sudden explosion of TV shows and movies that take his stories as source material—as well as the one, Netflix’s Stranger Things, that doesn’t replicate his writing so much as channel its spirit. From last year’s rash of real-life scary-clown sightings, to his collaborations with George A. Romero (Creepshow) and Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist), to the adaptations that he thinks got short shrift from audiences and critics, the acclaimed author doesn’t hold back in our wide-ranging interview.”

    “But it was after The Revenant when I felt I had learned and practiced enough to revisit the original idea I had for VR some years before and apply what I have learned,” Alejandro González Iñárritu tells Hans Ulrich Obrist in AnOther. Carne y Arena is on at Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Fondazione Prada in Milan until January 15.

    The Killing of a Sacred Deer marks the fourth collaboration between [Yorgos] Lanthimos and graphic artist Vasilis Marmatakis, an association that has produced the best movie posters of the past decade,” writes Craig Caron in the TIFF Review. “Since the Un Certain Regard-winning Dogtooth in 2009, Marmatakis has been responsible for translating Lanthimos’s distinct vision into static artwork—perhaps most notably with his two posters for The Lobster, which appeared on countless year-end lists and took home the award for Best Poster at the 2016 UK Screen Awards.” Caron talks with Marmatakis about his process and influences.

    The New York TimesMelena Ryzik gets Reese Witherspoon talking “passionately about the changing roles for women on screen and how she wants to be a part of that change.”

    For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.

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