Have you caught up on True Detective? With the finale tonight, here’s a chat I had with the series’ director Cary Fukunaga for Esquire about the show’s mythology and what you may see in the finale.
ESQ: How strategic are the Easter eggs? At the end of episode seven, Lawnmower Man is mowing in a circle, a “flat circle” —
CF: Oh, yeah, I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to notice that. That wasn’t scripted. Literally I asked the guy who takes care of that cemetery not to mow the lawn for a while so we could actually have [Lawnmower Man] mowing. And then when we got there it just occurred to me that if we had a crane shot it would be the perfect place to shoot a spiral. It kind of took a little bit to explain to the special effects guy what I wanted. He thought I was just making a race track. I was like, “No, no, as you come around come on the inside of your line, you’re making a spiral.” It’s not a perfect flat circle. [Laughs]
ESQ: So some were planned and some were spontaneous?
CF: Yes. Exactly. Some of them were scripted and some of them are completely accidental and some of them were just spontaneous. It comes down to little things. Like tattoos that people had, we chose them on the day. The black stars on the glass at the end of episode five, the trees and everything, that was really planned. That was something I worked out with the art department, with a lens, knowing focal distances and how far away I needed to be, because we had to build that wall around the window and put it in the room so the camera could go through it. So some things are absolutely planned.
The godfather of the midnight movie is back! For The Dissolve I chat with Alejandro Jodorowsky about his first film in 23 years, The Dance of Reality (which will be playing at SXSW) and the documentary on his failed pursuit to make Dune, Jodorowsky’s Dune.
The Dissolve: You’ve said The Dance Of Reality “is a picture I’m doing to lose money.” What do you mean by that?
Jodorowsky: You’ll hear about movies and, “It’s fantastic, it made $400 million or $800 million, fantastic! It made this much money, so it’s fantastic.” Everything in the industry is about money, so I say I’m going to make a picture to lose money. I’m tired of the success of a film being what it grossed. For mine, there’s no price, we’re going to lose money. [Laughs.] But it’s good, what we’re giving you, like a piece of sugar. And if it makes money, I’ll then make another. But not like the industry—
The Dissolve: The machine at work.
Jodorowsky: Yes. And I understand that this machine is necessary, like cigarettes are necessary, but they kill you.
The fashion of La Grande Bellezza, 2013
For my latest Director’s Notebook column at Movies.com I chat with Alex Gibney about how his film on Lance Armstrong drastically changed after he was told by Armstrong that he did in fact use performance-enhancing drugs.
"I began thinking about the questions I needed to ask him, but also the questions I needed to ask other people. I spent a great deal of time on the issue of the hospital room [in 1996 while speaking to his cancer doctors, Armstrong allegedly admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs] because I found his answers in the Oprah interview to be oddly unsatisfying. You would have thought he would have prepared for that moment, but he was curiously unprepared for that moment. He just said, ‘I’m not going to take that on,’ and wouldn’t say anything one way or another. I think people found that astounding because when you prepare people you are going to tell all and you’re going to be ruthlessly honest, and then you’re not, they get kind of angry."
Here’s my chat for BlackBook with the creators of Charlie Victor Romeo, the Off-Off-Broadway play turned feature 3D film that brings to life real “Black Box” transcripts from flight accidents.
The play started in 1999, when was its final live show?
PD: The last time we performed was directly following the shoot of the film, we performed for a month in the space we shot the movie in. That was 2012.
How was it doing the play after 9/11?
RB: On 9/11 I was sitting in a living room watching TV, I was in Cape Cod, I had moved out of New York three weeks after it had happened, so I became obsessed with tracking down my friends and family and after I did that I realized I have a group of friends who work in the Defense Department at the Pentagon. These were the guys in 1999 who discovered Charlie Victor Romeo through aviation related websites and had a group of combat photographers from Utah come to the Lower East Side to video tape a production of Charlie Victor Romeo in agreement with us to make a training film for Crew Resource Management. By 2000 we had received a Defense Department Award for creativity in their visual media. We’ve received a letter from a Major General thanking us for contributing to saving the lives of guys who are operating aircraft. So we were the only theater perhaps in New York that had a defense contract in the window of their theater.
So when it happened at the Pentagon I reached out to my contact there and I got a response that was like, “We’re all fine, what are you going to do with the play?” And I never thought what am I going to do with the play. And stream of consciousness I wrote back an email and immediately I got a response from them that was, “You’re absolutely goddam right, whatever you do don’t stop.”
PD: Because what this is about isn’t that. 9/11 is a totally different thing and any change in attitude or presenting it in a different way begins to allow that terrorist effort to be successful. We had some rescheduling and some cancelations happen and initially with that I was really frustrated but you have to give people their space. But I thought to myself if we don’t do this they will win, we have to keep going. And for us, this is a monster movie, it’s man against machine so there’s no human on human element and there becomes a lot of political complexities when you begin to talk in those terms. The politics on Charlie Victor Romeo is we’re trying to make the system better.
Italian 4-foglio for PRIME CUT (Michael Ritchie, USA, 1972)
Artist: Averardo Ciriello [see also]
Poster source: Posteritati
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Here’s a recap of my coverage from the festival. Enjoy.
And for the latest TFI LIVE episode I talk to Obvious Child director Gillian Robespierre.
Over at The Dissolve I give an oral history of the landmark documentary Hoop Dreams, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary at Sundance. It’s a film that’s very close to my heart, but talking to all the major players behind the making of the film it’s really a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the elevation of independent film in the general movie-watching psyche in the mid ’90s (fun fact: Hoop Dreams opened the same weekend as Pulp Fiction).
If you have time, give a read about the film Roger Ebert called “the great American documentary.”
For my most recent Director’s Notebook column, David Lowery tells me the most difficult scene to shoot for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and how Harvey Weinstein helped him out.
This was one scene were the problems that I had with it were in fact problems, there were things we missed. And the first assembly made that clear. It wasn’t a good scene. So we started from scratch, it went through several stages…