By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Your use of classical music -- especially the Wagner at the beginning and the end -- really amplifies the film's themes beautifully.
Isolde's aria at the end of Tristan and Isolde does manage to convey the 19th-century idea that death is some kind of ecstasy, a kind of transfiguring moment instead of a black hole. That's what Tolstoy does in the story. He gets you to that last paragraph and -- there -- it's okay. One thing that emerged from talking to Lisa about her mother's death, as well as to others who've witnessed death closely, is that there seems to be a common agreement that, at the very end, death doesn't seem as terrifying and appalling as it does up to that point.
In the year 2000, death was as taboo a subject as sex was in 1900.
Death, and transcendence, are so denied in Ivan's world that the pathological narcissism of Hollywood feels like an inevitable consequence: "Those for whom God is dead worship each other."
If Don West is God, then we're in trouble. Because then God is just an asshole full of coke blather. But the whole point about that character is not that he's particularly loathsome. He's a kind of Frankenstein monster assembled from parts of different people I've seen do different things. I would ascribe one characteristic to one individual, but on the whole the idea is not to point the finger but to say: "Whoever is elevated to that position -- it doesn't matter if it's a 20th-century movie star or rock star, or from another era, whatever you might call them, a king, a queen -- the elevation is always basically going to lead to that behavior." Because otherwise, why be that if you can't do that? It's like when people were horrified by the idea that Clinton was partying in the White House. Well, why else be president?
Does your version ofAnna Karenina exist anywhere? Will it surface someday?
I would really like it to. That was a very, very unpleasant event. I'm not really sure why they did what they did. Presumably they were in a "flop sweat," which is usually why people butcher movies. But I was told everything was fine, and I was sent to London to do some looping. And when I was in London I found out they'd hired another editor and were re-cutting the movie. They just made sure they'd got me out of town, and when I got back, they wouldn't let me on the lot. And that was the end of that.
Something has gone wrong when you've got people in power who've never read the book, and they're looking at something and saying, "I think the story should go like this. I think it would be better." And others chiming in, going, "Yeah! That would be better." But the story doesn't go like that. That's not how Tolstoy wrote the book. She's sympathetic and an adulteress.
Tell me about working with Danny Huston. You used him in Anna Karenina. But how did you guys hook up in the first place?
I'd known Danny for a long time. He used to be married to Virginia Madsen, who played the lead in Candyman. So he's an old friend. I've always thought he had that quality that makes a movie star in the true sense of the word, in that you want to watch him.
Actors aren't some freak of nature, they're just people. And my theory has always been, cast the most interesting person, because that's what you see. It's like Marlon Brando. Maybe he is this great actor, but then again, maybe he's just this sort of fascinating kook.You want to see what he's going to do next, because it's going to be something unexpected. People often assume these people have something special about them, but very often it's a flaw.
We respond best to those performances where the person has revealed something that feels almost perversely private. And Danny manages to do that. He can hold your attention. In that scene with the whores, there's a wonderful moment where he's talking on about his mother and suddenly -- he just stops. He can't remember what the hell he's going to say next, or what's going on, or why they're there. He sits there, completely silent. And you realize he's just terrified of dying.
There's another magical moment, where he mimes the long-ago memory of lying against his mother's breast by pressing the back of his hand to his face. It's the gesture of a naturally talkative man -- a natural storyteller. You just let him be, and heis the movie for that moment.
He is, yes. I think you do totally identify with him at that point. He's saying to the girls, "You're going to survive and I'm going to die, but don't pity me, because someday it'll happen to you, too." Which is basically Tolstoy's great one-liner: "Stop feeling sorry for this guy. You're next!"
Are you off to London to set up another film?
I hope to, but it's the old story: Is the money in place? I certainly hope to do another film with Danny. One of the problems any of us face in setting a film up is that the business model people have been operating on isn't really functioning right now. The technology is changing. The cost of films is changing. The idea of funding something entirely on pre-sales is fine if you've got a big actor, because that gives them something to pre-sell it on. But then that leaves this weird thing where the same five people are in all the movies.