Interviews: Godard, Campion, and More

The Daily — Sep 19, 2017

Last year, Dmitry Golotyuk and Antonina Derzhitskaya spoke with Jean-Luc Godard for the Russian publication Séance, and now Craig Keller has translated nine excerpts. The conversation evidently took place in Rolle, the modest town in Switzerland with a population of just over six thousand, where Godard, now eighty-six, lives. Jean-Marie Straub, three years younger, lives there as well. “I appreciate his work, contrary to others,” says Godard. “I think that he’s more of a sculptor who measures the stone. What bugs me is that he always starts from texts, but the text is like stone, and he films stone that’s hammered out. This is how it seems to me. He made a small film about Montaigne [Un conte de Michel de Montaigne, 2013] that people found to be nothing and unbearable with always these never-ending shots where nothing happens. [laughs] But I think he’s a sculptor who has a Michelangelo side to himself too. If I was doing criticism these days, it’s with this language I’d seek to be dispensing of—oh well, whatever, that’s what I’d say.” Other topics discussed include Godard’s use of music and his forthcoming film, Le livre d'image.

Notebook editor Daniel Kasman and Darren Hughes, who’s shot a marvelous portrait, talk with Lucrecia Martel about Zama: “There’s a subtext in the film that really talks about how women are much more prepared for failure. That’s something that men, at least in Latin America, are not so prepared to face.”

Deep into the entry on Ex Libris: New York Public Library, I snip a substantial quote from Frederick Wiseman that comes from Sean Cooper’s extensive profile for Tablet. The piece is definitely worth flagging again here. Other notable interviews with Wiseman come from Daniel Kasman (Notebook) and Daniel Witkin (Forward), and there’s a new one today at the Film Stage from Jose Solís.

Solís also talks with Kelly Reichardt, whose Certain Women (2016) is out today, even as MoMA is presenting a mid-career retrospective, Kelly Reichardt: Powerfully Observant, through Monday. “The next film I’m making isn’t exactly a fairy tale cause there are no fairies in it, but there’s a bit of that in there, let’s put it that way,” she tells Solís.

Mark Schilling quite likes Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “cleverly metaphoric sci-fi” Before We Vanish about an almost gentle alien invasion. “Kurosawa keeps the tone lightly, if pointedly, comic in the first half, save when violence erupts or passions explode. This may seem jarringly uncharacteristic to fans who know Kurosawa best for his ventures into horror, in which the prevailing mood is skin-crawling dread, but this combination of black comedy and action keeps the film from subsiding into dull whimsy. And as the tone turns serious in the second half, Kurosawa delivers his signature chills, along with moments of unexpectedly strong emotion.” Talking to Kurosawa on another page in the Japan Times, Schilling suggests that he film “has uncanny present-day parallels, though Kurosawa denies writing it as a reaction to recent events. ‘I didn’t intend to express that sort of thing,’” says the director, “’though it’s true the sci-fi invasion genre always symbolizes what is happening in that era, so you’re not wrong if you can see that sort of thing.’”

“Imagine if, before you came to exist on Earth,” John Cleese suggests in a terrific conversation with David Marchese at Vulture, “God said, ‘You can choose to stay up here with me, watching reruns and eating ice cream, or you can be born. But if you pick being born, at the end of your life you have to die—that’s nonnegotiable. So which do you pick?’ I think most people would say, ‘I’ll give living a whirl.’ It’s sad, but the whirl includes dying. That’s something I accept.”

“Right now I am working on something that’s pretty important to me,” says Robert Redford in Michael Hainey’s cover story for Esquire. “It has to do with my own history in politics. . . . With what’s going on now with the administration, this is an example of history repeating itself.” The documentary will be called There Was a Time.

“Do you remember when people would write off John Hughes and those movies he made?” Michael Keaton asks Hadley Freeman in her whopping profile for the Guardian. “Actually, I say, I wrote a book about why those movies are the most important ever made. ‘Really?’ he cries, bouncing out of his seat. A publicist comes in to tell us our time is up, but he waves her away. ‘Wait a minute, she’s really smart and I need to talk to her about this,’ he says pointing at me, although I suspect this is more about John Hughes than my intellect. ‘I mean, if you look at the specificity of John Hughes’s direction in those movies, it’s incredible,’ he continues. ‘These weren’t just cute little movies; these were about the economy, employment, unemployment, small towns. Man, you got me going on this!’”

Also in the Guardian, Aaron Hicklin talks with Steve Buscemi, who’s “among the least pretentious actors you will find, as comfortable working with Adam Sandler as with the Coen Brothers. When he describes Sandler as an ‘auteur’ he is not doing it to be funny or contrary; he means it. ‘We just really hit it off when we did Airheads,’ he says, referring to their first film together, pithily reviewed by Time Out in 1994 as a movie ‘about airheads, and for them, too.’ Bad reviews, the few there are, glide off Buscemi like water off a duck’s back.”

And for the Observer, Andrew Anthony: “In twelve years, you’ve been in forty-four films.” Mark Strong: “I definitely have that working-class thing of you’ve got to keep working. You can’t turn down work.”

For the New Yorker, Michael Schulman talks with Carrie Coon about Mary Jane, the Off Broadway play she’ll be starring in starting Monday in which she plays “a single mother in New York City caring for a child with a chronic illness.” And Coon asks, “Is there a purpose to that suffering? What lesson are we supposed to take from the hand we’ve been dealt? . . . In some ways, it’s like The Leftovers or Fargo. I keep ending up in these projects for a reason.”

At first, Rooney Mara is reluctant to tell Deborah Orr in AnOther much about her lead role in Garth Davis’s forthcoming Mary Magdalene, but once she gets going . . . “I think it’s the most feminist movie I’ve done. . . . She was the only female disciple, and she was chosen by [Jesus] to be his witness. Yet in our society she’s known as the whore, and Peter and Paul and all the other disciples have churches dedicated to them all around the world, and Judas was there, but she was the only other one that was present. She risked her life to witness his death. So it’s just amazing to me that she’s ‘the whore.’”

Talking to Jim Windolf in the New York Times, Jon Hamm recalls seeing Donald Trump with Bill O’Reilly. “They’re both tall dudes. And I’m a tall dude. And they both do that tall-dude thing, which is try to intimidate you. And it doesn’t work on me. I’m like, ‘I’m as alpha as you. Let’s go. You’re not going to chest-bump me.’ It was a very weird night.”

Adam Scovell introduces an interview for the Quietus: “Gallivant was the first feature film by ramshackle wanderer, Andrew Kötting. It premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival twenty years ago this September and arguably changed the landscape of British documentary cinema after it. For Kötting, it began a string of feature work that followed eccentric journeys into landscapes, history and people that still continues and produces interesting work today. Alongside Kötting's recent output, from Swandown (2012) to By Our Selves (2015), Gallivant started a popular trend of experimental landscape films that has become the hallmark of the post-Derek Jarman BFI feature film. Its influence can be seen in a variety of British films, from Ben Rivers’s Two Years at Sea (2011) and Pat Collins’s Silence (2012), to Gideon Koppel’s sleep furiously (2008) and Grant Gee’s Patience (After Sebald) (2012) amongst many others. Looking back on twenty years between its premiere and its anniversary, I spoke to Andrew to assess the changes in cinematic landscape.”

4:3 managing editor Conor Bateman talks with Bill Morrison about Dawson City: Frozen Time, “the Gold Rush, late capitalism, and working with archives.”

And finally for now, an interview to listen to. Talk Easy host Sam Fragoso finds Giancarlo Esposito “reflecting on a lifetime of work. From his collaborations with Spike Lee (School Daze, Do the Right Thing) to playing the terrifying Gustavo ‘Gus’ Fring on Breaking Bad.” (76’40”).

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