Francis Ford Coppola in Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991)
For TheDissolve.com 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?”
Opening in theaters and VOD tomorrow is the nostalgic ’80s comedy, Ping Pong Summer. For Movies.com 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.
Legendary Yankee Don Mattingly stopped by the show to be reunited with his moustache and it was magical!
This made my day!
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.