• [The Daily] Interviews: Spielberg, Argento, and More

    By David Hudson

    Spielberg04012018_large


    Empire has been rolling out interviews from its “Spielberg Takeover” issue, the one with five different covers, including a podcast (102’01”) that’s naturally not part of the print version, in which contributors talk with Steven Spielberg himself and with Simon Pegg about working on Ready Player One. What’s not online are tributes to Spielberg from the likes of Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Rian Johnson, and others, conversations with former child actors who’ve worked with Spielberg, the cast of Jurassic Park (1993), and Tom Hanks on Saving Private Ryan (1998).

    In print, though, readers will find only a snippet of Edgar Wright’s talk with Spielberg about Duel (1971), whereas Empire’s put the full conversation online. “I still think,” writes Wright in his introduction, “even in the wake of his later classics, its still one of the greatest displays of Spielberg’s talent and a masterclass for young filmmakers.” So, yes, they talk about Duel (“I don’t know any of us made that movie in eleven days”), but also about Spielberg’s pilot for Columbo and the episode of Night Gallery with Joan Crawford.

    “Every movie I’ve made, or most of the films I’ve made, have not been consciously based on some kind of a long-view game plan,” says Spielberg. “So many of them have combusted spontaneously. That’s only because the second I think about what I should do next, I’ll probably not do that next. The more I think about something, the greater the chance I’ll never make it. It’s the things I just impulsively commit to that somehow feel right to me. I let that pretty much guide me for the last forty-nine years of making TV and film.”

    MORE INTERVIEWS

    At Slant, Chuck Bowen’s given all the stars to Synapse Films’s 4K restoration of Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977), the original uncut, uncensored Italian 35 mm camera negative. “Colors are not only breathtaking, they're viscerally present in the film as additional characters. . . . The soundtracks are even more revelatory.” All in all, it’s “overwhelming in the breadth and intensity of its aesthetic, offering a radical departure from the sporadic surreality of Argento's prior gialli.” For Another Man, Ben Cobb talks with Argento about those colors, about the cast—“all the heroes and villains are women, and the few men are either blind, mute or useless,” notes Argento—and about opening night: “People came running out, screaming, telling people in the queue ‘Don’t go in! Don’t go in! It’s all witches!’ It just made everyone in line want to get in even more . . . it was amazing.”

    While Wes Anderson and much of the cast of Isle of Dogs were all in Berlin for the premiere in February, Anna Peele gathered the “swarm” for GQ to reminisce about working with the director for the first, second, or, as in the case of Bill Murray, eighth time. Also in the room or piping up from elsewhere were Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham, Kunichi Nomura, Harvey Keitel, Courtney B. Vance, Bob Balaban, Liev Schreiber, Koyu Rankin, Greta Gerwig, Yojiro Noda, Akira Takayama, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, visual effects artist Jeremy Dawson, and composer Alexandre Desplat. The first Berlinale 2018 Diary entry has become the default gathering place for links to reviews, fresh video, and interviews such as Gail Tolley’s for Time Out in which Anderson says he’d “love to do a story that was set in Dickensian London.” He also wouldn’t be surprised to find himself working in television “at some point.” Sophie Bew, in the meantime, talks with Goldblum for Another Man.

    “I wanted Gemini to be in the tradition of those films where it really matters that the film is set in Los Angeles—that it’s not just incidental,” Aaron Katz tells Filmmaker’s Scott Macaulay. “It goes back to what I consider the primary inspiration, which is thrillers from the ’80s and ’90s. I think of American Gigolo being kind of the beginning of that, and then films like Curtis Hanson’s Bad Influence. But also it goes back further. I recently rewatched In a Lonely Place—there’s that opening scene where [Humphrey Bogart] pulls up at a stoplight and a woman is like, ‘Hey, I was in the last picture that you wrote!’” For the Playlist, Lena Wilson talks with Katz and one of the stars of Gemini, John Cho. Katz has written up a list of his top ten Criterion releases and, at the Talkhouse, he writes about falling in, then out, and then back in love again with VHS.

    Also at Filmmaker, Vadim Rizov’s conversation with Arnaud Desplechin about Ismael’s Ghosts eventually turns to Vertigo: “I can’t say if it’s Hitchcock’s best film. Is it the best film on earth? I don’t know. But it’s a film which invented a sort of definition of cinema itself.”

    After making what Anne Thompson calls “six scruffy relationship dramedies,” Lynn Shelton found herself in demand as a television director. And “when Shelton finally reassembled her Seattle film crew to shoot her seventh movie, Outside In—produced, co-written and starring Jay Duplass opposite Edie Falco and Kaitlyn Dever—everything was different.” Shelton: “I realized I’m a completely different filmmaker than I was. I felt so at ease, and so confident. . . . With every television show, I’ve always learned something new.”

    Talking with Falco for Vulture, Nate Jones eventually steers the conversation to Louis C.K.: “He’s someone who admitted that he did what he was accused of doing and admitted that it wasn’t right. If I was not given another chance a couple of times, there is no way we’d be having this interview right now. People who are committed to becoming aware of what they’ve done and changing, they can be our strongest proponents in an issue like this.” And Talk Easy host Sam Fragoso chats with Duplass (54’24”).

    “And I kept writing, and lamenting, and mourning—writing funeral marches for my country. It’s very elegiac.” Lav Diaz tells Jordan Cronk about making Season of the Devil.

    Also at Film Comment: “Those in charge of the media have historically felt that there was entertainment value in showing blacks as criminals,” Ishmael Reed tells Violet Lucca. The occasion for the interview is the revival at the Metrograph in New York of Personal Problems (1980), written by Reed and directed by Bill Gunn (Ganja & Hess).

    Ryan Gilbey’s conversation with James Ivory for the Guardian covers a lot more ground than his screenplay for Call Me by Your Name, but this is the moment that’s been making the rounds: “When [director Luca Guadagnino] says he never thought of putting nudity in, that is totally untrue. He sat in this very room where I am sitting now, talking about how he would do it, so when he says that it was a conscious aesthetic decision not to—well, that’s just bullshit.”

    Rolling Stone’s David Fear talks with Donald Sutherland about “his big break, borrowing cash to get to Hollywood, Altman, Gould, Fonda, Nic Roeg, good advice, bad decisions, body snatchers, Ordinary People, extraordinary performances and a lot more. ‘I knew I wasn’t going to be a sculptor,’ he says, in regards to his original bohemian career choice. ‘I needed the response. I needed an audience.’”

    Tony Kushner was recently in Los Angeles to talk onstage with Sarah Vowell about Abraham Lincoln—Kushner, of course, wrote Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012). For the Los Angeles Times, Charles McNulty talks with him about the current revivals of Angels in America and about the next screenplay he’s writing for Spielberg: “I mean, it’s a little tricky with West Side Story, which was written by four Jewish guys. . . . There needs to be a commitment to the idea of culture not as a real estate battle, though sometimes battles have to be waged. But I think culture is happiest when it’s a dialogue. I’m aware of my privileged position, but do I believe I’m doing something wrong by writing West Side Story? I absolutely do not. I’m much more afraid of the musical theater queens.”

    Joaquin Phoenix is on the cover of Interview, which has paired him with Will Ferrell, who asks, “How sick are you of the questions, ‘What drew you to the role? How did you prepare for it?’” Phoenix: “I understand why somebody would ask that question, but I don’t have a good answer because I don’t know how I choose; it just happens.”

    Also in Interview, Ryma Chikhoune has Jessica Chastain, Christopher Nolan, Mike Newell, and Michael Radford put questions to Al Pacino. And on the Bill Simmons podcast (70’00”), Pacino and Barry Levinson discuss their new film, Paterno; the conversation then segues naturally enough to The Godfather.

    “Paul Grimstad writes (Paris Review, New Yorker, London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Music and Literature), teaches (Yale, NYU, Columbia), and composes film scores,” and for HeadStuff, Aaron Hunt talks with him about his songwriting and about working with the friends and filmmakers he’s written scores for: Ronald Bronstein, Frownland (2007); Josh and Benny Safdie, Heaven Knows What (2014); and Nathan Silver, Thirst Street (2017), among others.

    LISTENING

    As Michael Nordine reports at IndieWire, Catherine Breillat tells Murmur host Robert Milazzo that the downfall of Harvey Weinstein is a “loss” for European cinema, claims that Asia Argento is “a mercenary and a traitor,” and declares her opposition to the #MeToo movement. (57’35”). “It’s a compelling, increasingly out-there listen,” writes Nordine. And Deadline’s Andreas Wiseman reports that Argento “has hit back hard,” calling Breillat “the most sadistic and downright evil director I’ve ever worked with.” And that’s just the beginning of a furious thread recounting Argento’s experience with Breillat during the making of The Last Mistress (2007).

    Filmwax Radio host Adam Schartoff talks with Annette Insdorf, author of Cinematic Overtures: How to Read Opening Scenes (60’30”) and, on another episode (73’35”), with Lynn Shelton about Outside In and with Sam Pollard about his three new documentaries.

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

12 comments

  • By Sean Ramsdell
    April 01, 2018
    12:13 PM

    Why do hardcore cinephiles hate Spielberg's films?
    Reply
  • By itchyrodent32
    April 01, 2018
    01:07 PM

    That's kind of an unfair generalization, Sean. I would call myself a hardcore cinephile, and I really like Spielberg.
    Reply
  • By Sean Ramsdell
    April 01, 2018
    01:11 PM

    Sorry, may I say how come some cinephiles hate Spielberg's films?
    Reply
  • By itchyrodent32
    April 01, 2018
    02:20 PM

    No, I'm sorry. Maybe I was being a little bit to touchy. I do see what you mean. People like Goddard. They're allergic to entertainment, and they like to tear people down. It frustrates me, because cinema is supposed to be about connection, not division.
    Reply
    • By Jeremy C.
      April 01, 2018
      03:28 PM

      There seem to be three general camps. The first is described by itchyrodent32 above, though I suppose that people could just not find his films entertaining. (For example, the sheer number of close shaves in "Jurassic Park" makes it feel manipulative.) The second consists of his fans. And the third consists of people, including me, who are somewhere in the middle. I think that he can make very good films (ex.: "Lincoln", "Schindler's List", "Raiders of the Lost Arc"), but he's usually just adequate. In those cases, he's like the Panera of cinema: I'm never opposed to going to Panera unless there are better options, and it's much better than going to McDonald's, but I never leave Panera thinking that I've had a special culinary experience.
    • By Sean Ramsdell
      April 01, 2018
      04:11 PM

      And David Lynch (despite the content of his films) is a sweetheart compare to Lars von Troll
    • By Sean Ramsdell
      April 01, 2018
      04:18 PM

      I love going to Panera :)
    • By Sean Ramsdell
      April 01, 2018
      04:22 PM

      Thanks for the response (ET phone Criterion)
  • By Sean Ramsdell
    April 01, 2018
    04:10 PM

    In other words, trolling viewing audiences--- I mean "challenging the status quo society" ;)
    Reply
  • By Sean Ramsdell
    April 01, 2018
    04:19 PM

    Any fans of 1941?
    Reply
    • By thevoid99
      April 01, 2018
      05:09 PM

      Here! I thought it was hilarious and outrageous. I enjoyed it. It's a mess but a fun mess.
    • By Sean Ramsdell
      April 01, 2018
      06:40 PM

      Robert Stack being the deadpan observer