Interviews: Morris, Kaurismäki, and More

Just a day or two after Stephen Hawking left us on March 14, Isaac Butler called up Errol Morris for Slate to talk about A Brief History of Time (1991), the documentary that takes it title from Hawking’s surprise bestseller. “I had been told that it was a book about theoretical physics and cosmology. But it was something much more than that. It was a work of literature. . . . I even think I said it to someone: ‘Maybe the pathetic fallacy is thinking it’s a fallacy.’ Endowing the universe with humanlike attributes, it’s so much part of Brief History of Time. . . . Stephen Hawking didn’t want me to do a biography. He fought me tooth and nail. I said, ‘Well, you didn’t want me to do a biography. Brief History of Time is an autobiography. What are you talking about?’ . . . I could just go on and on with stories about Stephen Hawking.”

For the Sydney Morning Herald,Stephanie Bunbury finds Aki Kaurismäki “happy to make a film every few years, spend winters at his second home in Portugal and make time in summer to walk in the woods and pick mushrooms. There are quite a few poisonous ones, he rumbles suddenly. ‘So perhaps I could take some politicians with me.’” Via Movie City News.

For decades now, one of the most popular television shows in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland has been the detective series Tatort, airing in primetime on Sunday evenings. Dominik Graf has directed a handful of standalone episodes, the most recent being The Red Shadow, which aired last October. As Daniel Kasman notes, introducing his interview with Graf in the Notebook, the story sparked a flurry of protest from public figures with its “suggestion that the infamous deaths of the leading members of the Red Army Faction, imprisoned in Stammheim in 1977 following a year of notorious kidnappings and assassinations, was possibly—possibly—not a group suicide (the official story), but may have been murders carried out by the West German state.” Graf: “There’s a great Nicholas Roeg line at the end of an interview, ‘I still wonder why they let me do this.’ So that is the core. That is the thing—you have to try to make them support things that afterwards they say [cringing] ‘How did that happen?’”

Kasman also talks with PROTOTYPE director Blake Williams about the program of 3D cinema he’s curated for the Big Ears festival, currently running through tomorrow.

Lena Waithe, the Emmy-winning writer on Master of None, writer and producer of The Chi, and Helen in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, is on the cover of Vanity Fair. “‘Here’s the irony of it all,’ she says after the conversation gets going. ‘I don’t need an Emmy to tell me to go to work. I’ve been working. I’ve been writing, I’ve been developing, I’ve been putting pieces together and I’m bullets, you know what I’m saying?’” Jacqueline Woodson: “I do.”

Also for Vanity Fair,Joanna Robinson profiles Janet Pierson, who’s just wrapped her tenth SXSW Film Festival as director.

The Last Movie Star, written and directed by Adam Rifkin, stars Burt Reynolds, now eighty-two, “as Vic Edwards, an all-but-forgotten film icon given a lifetime achievement award,” notes Kathryn Shattuck in the New York Times, and she wants to know how much Rifkin’s gotten right. “Well, I don’t know,” says Reynolds. “I mean, I’ve been acting for 60 years now. I don’t know who the hell I am. But I think he did a real good job.”

With a new cut of Ismael’s Ghosts in theaters, Matthew Eng talks with director Arnaud Desplechin and star Mathieu Amalric for Reverse Shot and finds that their “closeness, the result of a twenty—two-year creative union that has become one of the most vital and renewable in contemporary world cinema, is exceedingly evident: they finish each other’s sentences, jog one another’s memory, and expand upon their ideas like knowing, longtime passengers on the same train of thought.” Talking with Desplechin are Eileen G'Sell for Hyperallergic and Elena Lazic for the Seventh Row, while Chuck Bowen interviews Amalric for Slant.

Vassilis Economou talks with Loveless director Andrey Zvyagintsev about “his work, how it reflects Russian society, his hopes for change and the significance of love.”

Also at Cineuropa, Bénédicte Prot meets Liv Ullmann, who tells him, “Yes, there are difficulties to being a woman and a director, in terms of getting respect, but a lot of it also has to do with me as a woman, and I wasn't the best in the beginning. I ran around asking, ‘Shall I go and get you coffee? Is there something you would like me to do for you?’—because that's the way I was brought up to be. I understood after the first week that it was not what a woman was supposed to do, and certainly not a woman director.”

“I don’t believe in the Auteur Theory,” Luca Guadagnino tell Kaleem Aftab at The Talks. “I think it is a fantastic idea but—actually, you know what? Yes I do. I’ll tell you why: because the real Auteur Theory says, ‘The greatest auteur of all times was Hitchcock.’”

For Variety,Janelle Riley chats with Steve Buscemi about playing Nikita Khrushchev in Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin, hitting it off with Adam Sandler, and playing “a childlike God, who is incompetent in a dysfunctional Heaven” in the forthcoming Miracle Workers.

For FilmStruck, Kimberly Lindbergs’s interviewed Anthony Uzarowski and Kendra Bean, authors of Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies. For Uzarowski, Gardner “at once epitomizes classic Hollywood and is very contemporary” and “her independence and the choices she made were in many ways much more 2018 than 1950.” Bean: “She was earthy and soulful—especially as she grew older—and when she was cast in roles that she connected with on a personal level, she gave some great performances.”

Criterion’s own Hillary Weston talks with Connor Jessup, the filmmaker and actor who traveled to Colombia to shoot A.W. A Portrait of Apichatpong Weerasethakul. “We were trying to find something, even if it was small or in a minor key, that was fresh about him,” says Jessup. “We never tried to imitate his style, but a lot of it comes from the fact that he is so much like his films.”

Adam Cook talks with Jessup as well, for the Film Stage: “When we joined him, he was just finishing a two-month zigzag through Colombia, writing the treatment for the new film, Memoria. From what I understand, he had some sense of theme and plot before the trip, but really the majority of the film came during those months. He kept saying that he needed memories, that he needed to borrow and collect memories. Unlike in Thailand, he had no history in Colombia, no sense of geography or politics or how any of that intersects with individual and collective memory. So, he was on a Pokémon hunt for memories there, I think. He’s intimidatingly curious.”

Weerasethakul was recently in Qatar to deliver one of the Qumra 2018 Masterclasses. Adam Cook took notes for Filmmaker, and Jessica Kiang did, too, for the Playlist.


On The Treatment, Elvis Mitchell talks with Peter Becker, president of the Criterion Collection, about FilmStruck and the Criterion Channel, Fritz Lang’s M (1931), and 100 Years of the Olympics (29’14”).

Slate’s Isaac Chotiner talks with Judd Apatow about “his new documentary on the life of Garry Shandling, which comedians are actually ‘normal’ people, and having your friends accused of bad behavior in the age of #MeToo.” (44’01”).

David Mamet (85’14”) and Nick Nolte (95’58”) are Marc Maron’s guests on the WTF Podcast.

Filmwax Radio host Adam Schartoff talks with Joshua Leonard about his role in Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane and with filmmaker Mike Ott (Littlerock,Actor Martinez) (76’60”)—and also with Troma Films co-founder Lloyd Kaufman (96’18”).

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