Francis Ford Coppola in Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991)

Cybill Shepherd, Taxi Driver

Pretty much.

Steve James Q&A

For I chatted with Steve James about his powerful documentary Life Itself, which looks at the life of Roger Ebert. We touched on a lot of different things, here he explains how negative reviews can change your filmmaking:

I can’t point out a detailed example—someone wrote this, so I decided on the next film not to do that—but I think negative reviews and criticism in general, they help you understand what you were trying to get at in ways you didn’t put together. For instance, a negative review of Stevie, a critic said something like, “This is from the freak-show school of documentary filmmaking.” I couldn’t disagree with that more. And what it said to me was, he really hated Stevie, he did not want to see a film about that guy. And J. Hoberman gave me a bad review in TheVillage Voice. And with both of those reviews, I took away that I can’t begrudge anyone for bringing up the question, “Did he exploit this kid?” Because I had questions about doing the film or not. But the things they wrote, I didn’t agree with, because Stevie is not about a freak. Whatever its faults as a movie, it humanizes someone that you want to view as a freak, and you’re wrong about that. It really reinforced something about me, in that when I make a film about somebody, I want to do my best to have you not be able to easily make judgments. I want to capture the fullness when I’m putting a film together. In the making, but especially in the editing, I’m thinking, “What’s the judgment that someone is going to attach here, and how can I counteract it in a way to keep you from easily making that judgment?”


How ‘Ping Pong Summer’ Made The Perfect Summer Soundtrack

Opening in theaters and VOD tomorrow is the nostalgic ’80s comedy, Ping Pong Summer. For I chatted with director Michael Tully and the film’s music supervisor Joathan McHugh about how they pulled off getting songs from the likes of The Fat Boys, Mantronix, Mr. Mister and John Cafferty on an indie budget.


I always thought Richard Pryor was going to be the black sheriff. I just assumed it. Richard was one of the writers [on the film] and then Warner Brothers said, “No, he’s got a drug problem, he’s not well-known as an actor.” And I was just like, “Trust me, this guy’s the funniest guy who’s ever lived. He’s going to be a big movie star.” And you know, two years later he did Silver Streak.


Legendary Yankee Don Mattingly stopped by the show to be reunited with his moustache and it was magical! 

This made my day!

You know [choking up], without getting too personal about it, you end up — after all these circumstances — you end up feeling you were just graced with a presence. I was lucky, I just felt lucky that he chose this script. I’ve heard other people say that and that’s what it is, it comes down to: People move through the world and you watch them and admire them and then all of a sudden you end up in the same orbit and you can’t believe your good fortune. So that’s how I feel about it. I feel lucky that I got the opportunity.

Heat (1995)

Cary Fukunaga Q&A


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.

An excerpt:

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.