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The Director's Chair / Re: Favorite Coen Bros. Movie?
Last post by wilder - Today at 06:35:39 PM
Ethan Coen on his Jerry Lee Lewis doc and filmmaking return
By Jake Coyle
Associated Press

CANNES, France (AP) — Most in the film industry thought Ethan Coen was done with making movies. Ethan did, too.

But on Sunday, Coen will premiere his first documentary, "Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind," at the Cannes Film Festival, a movie that was unknown until last month's festival lineup announcement. The film, which A24 will distribute later this year, is a blistering portrait of the rock 'n' roll and country legend, made almost entirely with archival footage, with riveting extended performances instead of talking heads.

It's Coen's first film without his brother Joel, with whom he for three decades formed one of the movies' most cohesive and unshakable partnerships. But they have lately gone separate ways; last year, Joel made "The Tragedy of Macbeth," a movie he suggested his brother would never have been interested in. Ethan is now also prepping with his wife, the editor Tricia Cooke (who cut many of the Coens' films as well as "Trouble in Mind"), a lesbian road-trip sex comedy they wrote together 15 years ago.

"Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind" started with their longtime collaborator T-Bone Burnett, who in 2019 recorded a gospel album with the 86-year-old Lewis. The film, as Coen and Cooke noted in an interview ahead of their Cannes premiere, touches on some of the more complicated parts of Lewis's legacy. (He married his 13-year-old cousin in his early 20s, Lewis' then third marriage.) But it mostly brings alive the staggering force of the musical dynamo behind "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," "Great Balls of Fire" and "Me and Bobby McGee."

AP: Many thought you, Ethan, were no longer interested in moviemaking. What changed?

COEN: What changed is I started getting bored. I was with Trish in New York at the beginning of the lockdown. So, you know, it was all a little scary and claustrophobic. And T-Bone Burnett, our friend of many years, approached us — actually, more Trish than me — to ask if we wanted to make this movie basically on archival footage. We could do it at home.

COOKE: It was like a home movie project. We're both huge fans of his music. I had some issues with other parts of Jerry Lee's life. I was like, "I don't know if I want to touch that." But it ended up being a lot of fun. Honestly, T-Bone came to us like two weeks into the pandemic, so it was a life saver.

AP: Ethan, what was it that had sapped your desire to make movies?

COEN: Oh, nothing happened, certainly nothing dramatic. You start out when you're a kid and you want to make a movie. Everything's enthusiasm and gung-ho, let's go make a movie. And the first movie is just loads of fun. And then the second movie is loads of fun, almost as much fun as the first. And after 30 years, not that it's no fun, but it's more of a job than it had been. Joel kind of felt the same way but not to the extent that I did. It's an inevitable by-product of aging. And the last two movies we made, me and Joel together, were really difficult in terms of production. I mean, really difficult. So if you don't have to do it, you go at a certain point: Why am I doing this?

COOKE: Too many Westerns.

COEN: It was just getting a little old and difficult.

AP: When you say "difficult," did it have to do with the ecosystem of the industry?

COEN: Not at all, though that's obviously changed from beyond recognition from where we started at. But, no, it was the production experience and having been doing it for — I don't know how many years, maybe 35 years. It was the experience of making a movie. More of a grind and less fun.

AP: Has something switched back for you then, since you're preparing to make a film together this summer?

COEN: Again, it's all kind of circumstance. We finished this one quite a while ago and we were still sitting around. We had this old script and we thought, "Oh, we should do that. That would be fun." That's the movie we're preparing.

COOKE: I don't want to speak for Ethan, but I know for myself, at some point, I stopped cutting, pretty much, because my priorities changed. And now our kids are grown and we still get along and have fun making things together. Joel and Ethan, we had written a few of these things, and they were always like, "We'll put them in a drawer. The kids will find them one day." Now we're here like, OK, let's do that. Let's open up that drawer and see if someone wants to make this movie.

AP: Do you expect, Ethan, that you and Joel will continue to go your separate ways in moviemaking?

COEN: Oh, I don't know. Going our own separate ways sounds like it suggests it might be final. But none of this stuff happened definitively. None of the decisions are definitive. We might make another movie. I don't know what my next movie is going to be after this. The pandemic happened. I turned into a big baby and got bored and quit, and then the pandemic happened. Then other stuff happens and who knows?

AP: Did you always conceive of "Trouble in Mind" as archival-based, no talking heads?

COEN: The movie has a history preceding our involvement. It was originally conceived as being more on the gospel session T-Bone produced with Jerry Lee in 2019. Along the way, they compiled a lot of archival footage. The archival footage kept piling up. It seemed to make more sense to make it about Jerry Lee than this particular session. We pushed it maybe even further that way.

COOKE: When T-Bone brought it to us initially he described what he wanted as a tone poem. I don't think we did that. (laughs)

COEN: Yeah, that sounds a little fruity.

COOKE: But we did from the beginning not want just a bunch of talking heads, especially if they weren't Jerry Lee's.

COEN: T-Bone was explicit about wanting the movie to start with that performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" of "She Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye." And he wanted it to finish with "Another Place, Another Time." And we went "Oh (expletive), that's great." He said the whole performances. We said, "Oh, great. So you're talking about, like, a good movie."

AP: You each have worked overwhelmingly in fiction film. Had you often pondered making a documentary? Do you watch a lot of docs?

COOKE: I had made a short documentary years ago called "Where the Girls Are" on the Dinah Shore golf tournament. In general, we both love documentaries. Frederick Wiseman and the Maysles and Pennebaker and Barbara Kopple. All of those older documentarians.

COEN: Why are they all old?

COOKE: We're old.

COEN: Did you see the Beatles documentary? That was fantastic. Goddamn.

AP: The more distance we get from the films and music of mid-century America, the more it seems to me that was such a fertile period of creation that will never be repeated. Like: Wherever Jerry Lee Lewis came from is not a place anyone comes from anymore.

COEN: I totally agree. It's like, yeah, it's all gone now.

COOKE: Things aren't discovered the same way. For Jerry Lee, when he was young, going to a blues club was nothing he had access to before and it became this incredible passion. Everything now is so large, so global — not that that's necessarily a bad thing — but it doesn't feel like it has the same passion as it did in the '30s, '40s, '50s.

AP: When you see him performing, his arms going up and down like pistons, he's such a dynamo that you can't help wondering where that energy came from.

COEN: Musicians are freaks. I mean it in the best possible way.

COOKE: He talks about the Pentecostal Church. It's almost like he's overcome with this passion for playing. I just remember being mesmerized when we first started watching the footage.

COEN: Sifting through the archival footage was a once-in-a-lifetime blessing but also a curse. Because he did his share of (expletive) stuff, too.

AP: What's your personal thresholds in the behavior of an artist and the art they make? "Trouble in Mind" pointedly doesn't seek to cast judgment.

COEN: If it's a good movie, that's why it's good. What are we supposed to make of that? Right. That's a permitted question. That's what makes the movie interesting. How do you put that magnetic performer together with that flawed person? It's kind of like — I mean none of the Beatles married their 13-year-old cousin — but it's kind of like the Beatles movie and why it's so thrilling. You go: Wow. These are both huge cultural figures and smaller-than-life human beings. That's what's mind blowing.

Jerry Lee is much the same. I don't think any sane person is going to ask to embargo the music because his character had certain flaws. Who imposes that choice? All glory to T-Bone for presenting us with the opportunity and saying that it's going to be about Jerry Lee, about this musician, and it's not going to be about talking heads telling us what to think about Jerry Lee or about us editorializing, telling the audience what to think about Jerry Lee. All of those things are not recipes for making a good movie and no service to Jerry.
The Director's Chair / Re: excellent short films by w...
Last post by wilder - Today at 04:34:38 AM
Jim Henson's Time Piece (1965)

Everyman is frustrated by the typical tasks of a typical day, leading to a stream-of-consciousness journey from his bedroom, to the jungle, and to a nightclub.

Currently on Mubi. There are free versions online, but it's such night and day restored it'd be a shame to link them - see the preview.

Mubi has a 4 months for $4 deal going on right now that ends Monday.
The Grapevine / Holy Spider (Ali Abbasi)
Last post by wilder - Yesterday at 08:20:40 PM

A journalist descends into the dark underbelly of the Iranian holy city of Mashhad as she investigates the serial killings of sex workers by the so called "Spider Killer", who believes he is cleansing the streets of sinners.

Directed by Ali Abbasi
Written by Ali Abbasi and Afshin Kamran Bahrami
Release Date - TBD, Cannes premiere

This Year In Film / Re: Vortex (Gaspar Noe)
Last post by WorldForgot - Yesterday at 02:18:06 PM
Gaspar Noé Is Not in Control, interview by Bilge Ebiri

Light spoilers throughout

QuoteWas it hard convincing Dario Argento to act in this film?

I'm very close friends with his daughter Asia. When I had the possibility to ask him to be in the movie, Asia said, "Oh, you should come to Italy to tell him about it." But he didn't know what it was about, so probably he thought I was coming to propose a horror movie or Climax 2 or something like that. I told him, "It's about an old couple." He said, "But I'm not old!" "I know you're not old. You're the enfant terrible of the Italian cinema!" But I think there were two things that made him say yes. The first one is that I talked about the film Umberto D. by Vittorio De Sica that he also loved, and the second is that I told him, "Hey, I just have a ten-page script and I would not write any dialogue for you to memorize. I'm going to be taking care of one of the cameras. You will be taking care of your character." That made him more comfortable. He's not an actor; he's never had to remember lines.

On the other hand, Françoise Lebrun is a veteran actress. Was it a challenge for her to work without a real script?

She worried about who would play her husband. She knew the name Dario Argento, but she hadn't seen his movies, so I gave her his autobiography and some of his films. She comes from a very different family of cinema, but both of them are so intelligent that they managed to get along from the moment they met. They're a very believable couple. He used to be a screenwriter before being a director, but before being a screenwriter, he was a film critic, so I decided, "Yeah, you'll play a film critic in the movie and you'll improvise your dialogues." And for Françoise, I said, "Sorry, but it's not very important what you're going to say because I want you to mumble all the time. I won't really understand what you're saying." I think she was a bit stuffed the first day, but I brought her a lot of videos, taking scenes from documentaries, and also personal videos that I had done with my mother, and other videos of other people to show the different types of dementia that can hit a woman. I said, "Please, you have to play with your eyes in this movie more than with the words." She said, "Okay, let me cook the character my way." And it was perfect.

How much of you is in the character of the son, Stéphane?

I don't do heroin.

I don't mean the junkie part, but the kind of person he is.

For me, Stéphane is a kind of loser that I always have playing the main part in my movies. The character of Enter the Void is a loser who wants to be a winner by selling drugs and he gets busted and he gets shot. Murphy, the main male character in Love, is a guy who goes to France to study cinema and he finds passionate love with a woman, and he ends up getting the neighbor he doesn't love pregnant, so his whole life takes another path. Yeah, he's also a loser. I would say Stéphane is also a nice loser who once could probably have been a winner because he seems intelligent. But half of my close friends that I like are losers. They've been partying and doing drugs, and they end up with family problems they cannot escape from.

I feel like almost all of your major characters on some level have some connection to you, though. I remember in Love, you have the protagonist who's an aspiring filmmaker, and you have the character that you yourself play and then a different guy named Noé. I feel like you're always putting some version of yourself in your characters.

Yeah. Also, the son in Vortex says he works in the film industry but he's probably just doing documentaries. He's fighting against his inner demon which is that he wants to take heroin again. I know 100 guys like him in Paris. And I relate to the father because he's a film critic; he's got posters on his walls and all these cinema books that I also have. And when it comes to the mother, she reminds me partly of my own mother. But also, I had a brain hemorrhage two years ago. They said there was 50 percent chance I would die, 35 percent chance that I would come back brain damaged, and just 15 percent chance that I would come back without brain damage, so I could have been in the same situation as the character played by Françoise. And I relate to the son because if I was not making movies or if I had an unwanted kid, probably today I would be doing heroin and watching DVDs, or trying to get some crack to try how good it feels. There's a lot of crack in Paris nowadays. France is sometimes late, so we're late with the crack, but now there's a lot of crack in the streets. All these people who were alone in the streets. Especially the first year of the confinement.

So you had the brain hemorrhage right before COVID lockdown?

Two days before having my brain hemorrhage, I had hard-core oyster poisoning. I felt like I was dying. It was during the Christmas period, and I was drinking a lot with my father. I think it was a mix of too much alcohol and that oyster poisoning.

When I came out of the hospital, it was at the end of January, and they told me, "You are very weak. Stay at your place. Just watch movies and don't go out." I said, "Oh, but all my friends are partying." They told me that I should stop smoking and if I had any temptation to use drugs, avoid those, but I never liked the drugs that speed you up. I'm being much sweeter to myself. I haven't smoked a cigarette for two and a half years, and I watched more movies in these last two years than I had seen for over a period of eight, nine years.

So I stayed at my place watching movies on Blu-ray. I bought many through eBay. All these Japanese classics that I hadn't seen. And then suddenly, COVID appeared, and everybody was hiding at home. There were no more parties, nothing. I was also told I should do some sports. I was on my bike going through the empty city during the day and watching DVDs at night. I don't know if anything like that will ever come back to our lives. There was something very dreamish about the confinement, even though I lost many close friends from COVID.

Ironically, during the pandemic, it seemed like everybody discovered Love on Netflix. Were you aware of this?

Yeah. People needed to masturbate. Now people don't buy DVDs. So on the platforms, what was the most pornographic thing they could find, and also that had an artistic excuse? Of course it was Love. There are millions of people who saw it in France during the pandemic, and in the States even more. They would never go to see an erotic movie in a theater because it was dangerous. People said to me, "Oh, thanks to you, I had my first threesome in my life," or "Thanks to you, I was watching the movie with this girl and we got horny and we made love and then we had a long love affair." But it seems the movie was mostly seen on Netflix because it had a not very successful commercial release when it came out theatrically. And people were watching it many times because they needed some support for the masturbation. How do they masturbate nowadays now that Love is not streamable? Which movie are they doing it to?

Other Media / Re: Bret Easton Ellis
Last post by wilberfan - Yesterday at 01:05:40 PM
Have never actually read any BEE.  An avid consumer of his podcast tho.
Other Media / Re: Bret Easton Ellis
Last post by WorldForgot - Yesterday at 11:29:35 AM
beautiful excerpt, thanks for adding + sharing that wilder ~

The Shards - on Penguin Random House

QuoteA sensational new novel from the best-selling author of Less Than Zero and Imperial Bedrooms that tracks a group of privileged Los Angeles high school friends as a serial killer strikes across the city.

Bret Easton Ellis's masterful new novel is a story about the end of innocence, and the perilous passage from adolescence into adulthood, set in a vibrantly fictionalized Los Angeles in 1981 as a serial killer begins targeting teenagers throughout the city.
The Vault / Re: No Country For Old Men
Last post by Bleep - Yesterday at 04:28:50 AM
"I know him every which way." : this is an example of "big talk", because it becomes obvious he doesn't, considering the outcome of his life.

"If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?" Not only is asking the question—and now the adjective here becomes difficult to place, because much phenomena is taking place—curious (e.g., is Anton truly interested in the answer? is he being sadistic? is he mocking life? is he conveying his supremacy in thought and all else? is he spitting in the eye of Destiny? or is . . . ?), but this very question, however it is initially posed, comes back to haunt Anton in a humorous way : when he himself is hit broadside by the automobile of Destiny. His own "rule" brought him to that. Oops. And now how is much-capable Anton going to fix that?
This Year In Film / Re: MEN (Alex Garland)
Last post by Yes - Yesterday at 12:04:37 AM
It is just too tepidly explicit in its already apparent conceit to offer much depth and investment. All rather pedantic in its hollow politics and themes regarding the inescapable weight of male insecurity that haunts women. Some legit moments of insidious tension release in gruesome and gnarly fashion, but the last act aims for inspired gonzo mania the previous 90 minutes are too trite and uninspired to establish and therefore earn

I'd be more onboard if it wasn't so cold-blooded and autopilot, congratulating itself after every nifty setpiece or gesture towards profundity because like I said, there's truly some bracing digital augmentation and enveloping sound work going on that makes the occasional set-piece or jump scare pop
This Year In Film / Re: MEN (Alex Garland)
Last post by WorldForgot - May 19, 2022, 10:58:18 PM
Aw, man! I read your letterboxd review, too, and my expectations are now lowered. Probably for the best. Annihilation was really good - and I also enjoyed Devs. But Devs had a lot more runtime to build out its characters. From your perspective on it, seems like this one is way too blunt for its own good.
This Year In Film / Re: MEN (Alex Garland)
Last post by Yes - May 19, 2022, 09:45:13 PM
This was humiliating

The complete lack of awareness despite the good intentions to craft a film about women trapped by the male gaze..yet the female character is hardly defined, certainly not outside of masculine perspective. Mostly a nothing film with occasionally freakish imagery, some stark digital work eliminating background focus