The McGann Library Forum Index The McGann Library
A place to celebrate the works of British actor Paul McGann
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

PAULíS PLEASURES--From New Musical Express 21st May 1988

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The McGann Library Forum Index -> From the 1980s
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
emay
Site Admin


Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 1240
Location: Nashville, TN

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 12:39 pm    Post subject: PAULíS PLEASURES--From New Musical Express 21st May 1988 Reply with quote

Paul McGann touched a nerve in aging flower children everywhere with his portrayal of a down-at-heel Ďrestingí actor in Withnail And I. Here he gives Campbell Stevenson his pick of the films, music and books that mean the most to him.

Paul McGannís Ďshort and half meaningless film careerí has taken a leap forward with Withnail And I, Bruce Robinsonís acutely funny, autobiographical study of decadence in London at the tail end of the Ď60s.

Withnail resonates with the mood of films and music of the time, and McGann jumped at the chance to make some comparisons, throw in some personal gems and, perhaps, tease a little more out of the filmís ingredients.

ďIím quite serious really. Not as a person, because Iím quite vague and flippant, but about films, Iím as much for Bambi as the next man, but there must be something bit harder and deeper. Maybe Iím displaying a conservative streak, and I am pretty paranoid generally, but I think soapy films and TV are frivolous and a bit sinister. They know what they are about and itís gullibility. You can defend individual examples on grounds of entertainment, but overall I think theyíre dangerous.

ďI hope weíre all wary of films, books, anything that does your thinking for you, that has such an ego of its own. I think Withnailís done all right on that count."

Withnailís extremely English and Paul likes current British film makers who donít play to the American gallery.

ďTake Derek Jarman. Maybe heís a bit too clever for me, but I agree with him on principles. Itís not just laudable, but imperative that someone should have the nous, heart and mind to make such films. I was in Italy last year and people over there canít understand why Jarman and Peter Greenaway and those people havenít been knighted. You go abroad and it gives you a broad sense of the crude appreciation the Brits have for films generally. Do people here really want films like Last of England, political pictures, even messy ones like The Ploughmanís Lunch? The Brits just seem to turn off to all of that. Dreamchild even, that was a great picture, brilliant script, but it didnít do anything, did it?Ē

McGANNíS FILMS

Movies from the early Ď70s also hold an allure for Paul.

ďI love Nicholson in 5 Easy Pieces (1970). That was the first one in which he was Jack Nicholson: hard and soft, and that wicked glint. When he bullshits a piece of Chopin, Karen Black sits there and falls for it instantly, he finishes and says ďYou were faking a little bit of love, I was faking a little bit of Chopin.Ē And thatís the only bit of piano I can play, I taught myself that instantly! Look at that and then that bit in Fatal Attraction where sheís got ĎMadame Butterflyí playing, thatís so cheap. Itís the same moment as 5 Easy Pieces, the same crumminess which Nicholson then tore apart. But in Fatal Attraction itís just a calculated effort to elevate all this nonsense into something a bit arty.

"Performance, again from 1970. I still havenít understood it all and Iíve seen it four or five times. Iíve got the record somewhere, I love the music. And because it was 1970, itís a bit like Withnail in the rites of passage thing and the decadence, except itís opulent decadence when in WithnailÖwell, Iíve squatted a few time, and I wouldnít even consider paying rent on that flat. Jagger was brilliant, sitting on the bed, strumming ĎMemo From Turnerí. And itís weird to think that film caused James Fox to crack up. Nicholas Roeg really drags performances out of people, even on Castaway, a lot of which was dreary; he demands the minutiae, the real concentration out of actors. Iíd love to work with him..

"Alfie (1966), thatís so inseparable from its time. Itís like records, that strong feeling you get of knowing where you were, who you were with, when you hear a song. Michael Caine created Alfie, but it also created him. And that line about women. ďMake Ďem laugh? If you do, you wonít get nothing else.Ē Great. Can you imagine if Up Against It had been made? Joe Orton and John Lennon together. Knowing what we know now, maybe Iím romanticizing a bit, but that would have been great, the film of 1965.Ē

McGANNíS ACTORS

When it comes to great performances, McGannís in no doubt of what lies at their heart.

ďItís all about sex. Iím completely obsessed with sex, I canít help it, but I guess most people are. Sex is where the power is. Brando in Streetcar Named Desire (1951); Anne Bancroft in The Pumpkin Eater (1964); it wasnít that brilliant a film, but sheís so coolly sexual, you can keep your Meryl Streepís as far as Iím concerned. And Nicholson, even peopleís mums who like him donít really know why. Thereís something devilishly sexual about him, a darkness, a Öhumanity.

ďThatís what I like about Louise Brooks. Itís become quite fashionable to adore her. She was in silents but she was probably the most eloquent and certainly the sexiest actress Iíve ever seen. She was a true hedonist, a sensualist, and she shunned all the Hollywood stuff, she saw through the whole faÁade and couldnít take the frivolity and the plastic nature of it all seriously, so she left, she just got out. She played Lulu in Pabstís Pandoraís Box (1928) and I guess he thought you need someone who can live that part. Kenneth Tynan said she was the most stunning, luminously sexual person to hit the screenómost men have their own idea of the incandescent woman, she was just so unconsciously alluring.

"When Tynan discovered her living in Rochester, sheíd been living alone for about 30 years. Sheíd hit the bottle, but it hadnít ravaged her, she just seemed to be living off the sugar in the alcohol. And she wrote a book Lulu in Hollywood, sheís an amazing writer too.

ďAnd Brando, I know these people are all obvious, but heís a true original with knowledge, bravery and sheer nerve. I love Last Tango in Paris (1973). It wasnít until those later pictures that he could bring out the real darkness, because it was a different age. It was the Ď70s and all the optimism had evaporated so it was possible for him to exploit all those qualities within him, especially working with European directors like Bertolucci.

McGANNíS MUSIC

Another feature of Withnail is the marriage of music and visual.

ďThose are all songs Robinson was listening to at the time. Some of his contemporaries watch the movie and cry when they hear those songs. You mentioned the Hendrix bit, but I love that King Curtis version of ĎWhiter Shade of Paleí at the start. I mean, how many films do you know that open with an anxiety attack? Not many. And the musicís perfect, itís haunting. Do you know that he was dead four hours after recording that? He was coming out of the show and he was shot getting into his car.Ē

ďParis, Texas had got to be a favourite score Ďcos the music doesnít aid and abet the film or detract from it, itís part of it. Take away the score and it wouldnít be the same piece of work, and that must be what youíre aiming for. Ry Cooderís great but has Willie Nelson ever done a soundtrack? Or The Neville Brothers? Lowell George, he never did one, and he should have. Itís always, you know Mark Knopfler or Brian May that get the film jobs.

ďI think that the more we move towards Fairlights and expedient ways of producing film scores, the more danger there is of forgetting that if you want to make films of passion and guts, youíre going to have to go back to roots music. Like Down By Law (1987) thatís a great example where the music makes sense to those of us who havenít experienced America in all its vastness and spiritual hugeness.

"And Nashville (1975)Öthatís Karen Black again, sheís singing her heart out at the end and these guys just want her to take clothes off. Itís so moving. Country music, for me, is the music of America. I donít know if thatís something to do with coming from Liverpool, but itís true, all human life is there. God! Iím dying to be in a western."

Roots/reggae is another of Paulís big loves. Before we start the interview he sits gobstruck by ĎCatch a Fireí (in its original sleeve, of course), and then expounds on the awesome tension, rhythm and anger of the first Wallers line-up.

ďIíll tell you my favourite ever music movie. Itís got to be Rockers (1978), that soundtrack would be a deffo desert island disc. Itís a remarkably silly film, but if youíre a rockers buff, itís essential. Itís got a really flimsy story line, Robin Hood kind of thing, but everybodyís in itÖJoe Gibbs, Sly and Robbie, Jacob MillerÖitís like a Jamaican Summer HolidayóĎhey! We can do the show right here!'óand itís fascinating to see your heroes making complete twats of themselves. Burning Spear, he obviously so dread that he refused to play a gangster, so they drag him out to sing on a hill, and thatís the hardest thing in the film Itís a must, if only as a novelty.

ďThe best use of music I can think of is in Deliverance (1972) when they stumble into the cajun village and that zydeco music just hits you. It seems like the most exciting thing in the world, the naturalness of it. Itís not a diversion from the story, I donít know why itís there. You can talk about counterpoint and all that bollocks, but it just works. You know these people arenít just mad hoorays, in the Jonathan Swift sense. That music, it just makes you think youíre going to get shot through the head, then get shot by your elders and betters.Ē

McGANNíS PAGES

A lot of people have seen fragments of Hunter Thompson in Withnail, and its director Bruce Robinson recognized the similarities in his NME interview. McGannís a lot more scathing and less likely to suffer opinions which he thinks are based on ignorance.

"Iíve never read On The Road or much Hunter Thompson. Withnail is such a British film that those comparisons just donít come into it. Itís not a road film, or a buddy movie, it plainly isnít. Thereís more Baudelaire than Burroughs, more Fleure Du Mal than Fear and Loathing. At the end when Marwood is packing his stuff thereís a copy of J Huyssmanís Against Nature on the shelf and thatís what the film is more about. That book the prosecution wanted to cite it at Oscar Wildeís trial, it was seen as crucial to understanding his decadent nature; he thought it was the strangest thing heíd read. And it is, itís amazing. It was written, I dunno, about 1835, and itís the ultimate study in decadence.

ďIíve talked to people in the States about Withnail and none of them even mentioned those American writers or films that people think itís like. It never occurred to them. They think itís European, and theyíre right.

ďRobinson and his mates were getting into European films at the time, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Romeo And Juliet, and they give you a better understanding of what it was all about. Theyíre astoundingly beautiful and decadent those films, and thatís how it was in London at that time. Robinson used to walk around London in a full length white fur coat. Itís a European brand of decadence, much more Czarist Russia and red wine than jumping in a car and taking drugs. Draw the American comparisons, and youíve lost the point of the film. If you want to get really daft, itís more like Pilgrims Progress, or ha, ha!, Chaucerís unwritten 'Drunkardís Tale'Ö!"

Now that weíre in top gear for finding comparisons, McGann whips Marvin Gayeís ĎInner City Bluesí onto the CD and declares that itís the exact source for another favourite record, ĎSign ĎOí The Timesí.

And heís right, no question. Heís sound.

[This article is in real need of annotation, I think.]

Estelle


Last edited by emay on Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address
Grace



Joined: 11 Feb 2006
Posts: 472
Location: North Carolina, USA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, what a crazy article! Was he on speed??? Very entertaining and interesting, but I thought my brain was going to capsize. Laughing I've heard about him talking and talking really fast and not taking a breath until you think he's going to hyperventilate and pass out and that's what it felt like reading this article because I just wanted to say "Slow down and breathe!"
Paul wrote:
Iím quite serious really. Not as a person, because Iím quite vague and flippant

LOL! Laughing
_________________
-Grace
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
emay
Site Admin


Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 1240
Location: Nashville, TN

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Grace wrote:
Wow, what a crazy article!...I thought my brain was going to capsize. Laughing I've heard about him talking and talking really fast and not taking a breath until you think he's going to hyperventilate and pass out and that's what it felt like reading this article because I just wanted to say "Slow down and breathe!"


I didn't recognize some of the films he mentioned and felt lost as a result. Another really good article appeared several years ago in Naked, which is a Bristol music/movie/pop culture mag. Bushblower posted this latter article at the EZboard Library. I'll have to dig out my copy and post it along with some photos I bought from Mark Cherry whose picces grace the article.

I hope Teri reads this NME article, so she can see what Paul says about Louise Brooks.

Estelle
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address
Paulgirl



Joined: 30 Mar 2006
Posts: 134
Location: Philadelphia, PA USA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 11:44 pm    Post subject: Re: PAULíS PLEASURES--From New Musical Express 21st May 1988 Reply with quote

Jeez! How much sugar did the dear boy consume before giving this interview? Exclamation

I keep picturing him doing the McGann fidget-thing, rubbing his forehead and all that wiry stuff he does. It must have been ten times worse when he was in his twenties. Smile

Quote:
Öwell, Iíve squatted a few time, and I wouldnít even consider paying rent on that flat.


Getouttatown! Paul squatted? That's the first time I ever heard that. I'd like to know when that was.

Quote:
Performance, again from 1970. I still havenít understood it all and Iíve seen it four or five times. (snip) And itís weird to think that film caused James Fox to crack up.


He talked about this film at Galley2004. I believe he said that this was the film that made him want to be an actor. I also remember he said that years later he worked with James Fox (in Afraid of the Dark) and wanted to tell him how much his performance inspired him to act, but he kept chickening out.

Finally, he got up his nerve at the wrap party (I recall his words about psyching himself up were along the lines of, 'okay Paul just do it, all right, now. Okay, go Paul. Go!') and went up to Fox-who he said was an extremely shy man-and told him how much his performance in that film inspired him. He said that Fox burst into tears.

Denise
_________________
Colon cancer strikes more women annually than breast cancer. Yearly colonoscopy from age 50, 40 with a family history can save your life. Preventable-Treatable-Beatable!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
emay
Site Admin


Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 1240
Location: Nashville, TN

PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 6:42 pm    Post subject: Re: PAULíS PLEASURES--From New Musical Express 21st May 1988 Reply with quote

Paulgirl wrote:
I keep picturing him doing the McGann fidget-thing, rubbing his forehead and all that wiry stuff he does. It must have been ten times worse when he was in his twenties. Smile


Probably just the same as he is now.

Quote:
Getouttatown! Paul squatted? That's the first time I ever heard that. I'd like to know when that was.


Maybe it was when he was 16 and came to London to stay with Joe. Or perhaps during his time at RADA. I think we have another personal question to ask Paul, should we ever see him again.

Quote:
He talked about this film at Galley2004. I believe he said that this was the film that made him want to be an actor.


Yeah, you're right. I wish I had saved the transcripts Em did for Paul's first two panels at Gally. These also vanished when EZBoard got hacked last year.

Estelle
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address
Teri



Joined: 04 Feb 2006
Posts: 473
Location: Sussex, WI USA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

emay wrote:
I hope Teri reads this NME article, so she can see what Paul says about Louise Brooks.

Yes, thank you, thank you Estelle--you and the hard-drive are in fine form! Very Happy

I'd been searching in vain for an article I originally found at the now defunct 'McGanndale' site, and had never saved. Sad It was from a Brit women's magazine, and just a very short piece entitled 'Paul McGann's Passions', of which there were only five (according to them). Louise was one of them, and it was the first place where his mention of her piqued my interest (I'd already been watching the silents, but because so many of her films had been lost, I wasn't aware of her).

But Paul's comments about her were fairly general and benign in that article (it was very short)--I like what he has to say about her in this one, he's more specific and candid. I also know now that he's read her book Lulu in Hollywood--which I figured he had, but now I know for sure! Wink

Yeah, it is a pretty hyper-dyper article--makes me sort of glad I got to meet Paul more recently as he's mellowed! Laughing Well, it is a music mag--I'm guessing it's something of the UK's version of Rolling Stone (although it came before RS)? So maybe the reason for the wired, fast-talking, all over the place quality. (I checked NME out on Wikipedia, and about the time of this article, it was sort of in a regeneration phase, with a new staff trying to pump new blood and energy into it--what better person to interview to that end than Mr. Energy himself--Paul in the eighties!)

Quote:
ďItís all about sex. Iím completely obsessed with sex, I canít help it, but I guess most people are.

Well that's a relief! Then he must understand part of our obsession with him! Cool

Good one, Estelle--thanks again. Did you have this one, btw, or did you recently dig this one up? Shocked
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Rollyb



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 302
Location: Ontario Canada

PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It probably comes from that mystical, magical hard drive of that computer of hers.........Wink Laughing

Rollande Cool
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
emay
Site Admin


Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 1240
Location: Nashville, TN

PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teri wrote:
[I'd been searching in vain for an article I originally found at the now defunct 'McGanndale' site, and had never saved. Sad It was from a Brit women's magazine, and just a very short piece entitled 'Paul McGann's Passions', of which there were only five (according to them).


No to worry, Teri, I've got that one on my old Dell computer and will put it up later this evening. Heehee, I now have Paul stuff on three computers at home--the old one, my laptop, and a new desktop my husband felt inspired to buy. And Mark's computer has a few McGanned items, too, if he hasn't deleted them.

Quote:
Good one, Estelle--thanks again. Did you have this one, btw, or did you recently dig this one up? Shocked


I recently got it from eBay, which is my source of McGann magazine articles. I feel like I'm supporting an industry over there. LOL!

Estelle
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address
emay
Site Admin


Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 1240
Location: Nashville, TN

PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rollyb wrote:
It probably comes from that mystical, magical hard drive of that computer of hers.........Wink Laughing

Rollande Cool


Actually, computers--plural, Rollande. Smile I think we'll be retiring the Dell computer with its Windows 98 operating system this summer after Mark and I recover everything we want from it. I'm trying to keep most of the McGanned stuff on the laptop. However, the new comp has a dedicated DVD drive for region 2 DVDs, which is nice, as well as more memory. I can do screencapping and photoshopping on the new machine and then flash the results over to the laptop.

Estelle
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address
Rollyb



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 302
Location: Ontario Canada

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Actually, computers--plural, Rollande.

Laughing Laughing Laughing
I stand corrected Estelle!
Rollande Cool
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Down East



Joined: 08 Feb 2006
Posts: 574
Location: Maine & CT, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What an incredible article.

I knew most of the films, except some of the British references. never saw the Jagger film he mentioned and the James Fox film he first saw him in.

>Lowell George, he never did one, and he should have. Itís always, you know Mark Knopfler or Brian May that get the film jobs.<<

I loved Lowell George. He was with the band, "Little Feat" and wrote a bunch of great tunes, like "Willin'".

>---that if you want to make films of passion and guts, youíre going to have to go back to roots music. Like Down By Law (1987) thatís a great example where the music makes sense to those of us who havenít experienced America in all its vastness and spiritual hugeness.<

Oh, that's a Jim Jarmusch film. I love his film, like Stranger than Paradise. He usually shoots in Black and White. Down by Law has Tom Waits in it, and the Italian actor Bernini...funny, he was one of the directors I wrote to, suggesting he cast Paul in one of his films...



This is a lot of thoughts to digest. Good thoughts.
Finding the darkness, the loss of hope in the 70's, the despair, you know, that's how people felt after the 60's was over and with Vietnamn, the assasinations...and then again his remark about Nashville, with Karen Black...

>Itís all about sex. Iím completely obsessed with sex, I canít help it, but I guess most people are. Sex is where the power is.<

So true.

>Brando in Streetcar Named Desire (1951); ---And Nicholson, even peopleís mums who like him donít really know why. Thereís something devilishly sexual about him, a darkness, a Öhumanity<

In that, there's no denial of being...you know, what and who you are kind of thing. It's all there and people pick it up, because it's hard wired.

Oh my goodness, great article. So much more to say.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
PiscesSiren



Joined: 15 May 2006
Posts: 90
Location: NYC

PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All Hail Estelle, Queen of the Mighty Hard Drive(s)!

This was beyond cool. And he references Prince!

Dude was on a serious caffeine binge! Wink I have a problem with my Thyroid, so the talking at the speed of sound & fidgeting could be that?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
emay
Site Admin


Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 1240
Location: Nashville, TN

PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PiscesSiren wrote:
All Hail Estelle, Queen of the Mighty Hard Drive(s)!

This was beyond cool. And he references Prince!

Dude was on a serious caffeine binge! Wink I have a problem with my Thyroid, so the talking at the speed of sound & fidgeting could be that?


He doesn't seem to have an enlarged thyroid, but he does squirm around a lot. Smile

Estelle
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address
Down East



Joined: 08 Feb 2006
Posts: 574
Location: Maine & CT, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 22, 2006 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I keep thinking of the early Jim Jarmusch films. He was doing "Indy" and "Dogme" style before it became fashionable, yet without any rules. Probably because he didn't have the bucks to do otherwise. One of his more recent films I really liked, "Deadman" with Johnny Depp, John Hurt, Robert Mitchum, and oh my, what a cast of others. I believe they all worked for just scale.

Here's an exerpt from an interview done with The Gaurdian:

http://film.guardian.co.uk/Guardian_NFT/interview/0,,110607,00.html

GA: With Strangers in Paradise and Down By Law, you cast John Lurie and you were quite involved in the music scene before you started making films?

JJ: It was a really interesting time in New York in the late 70s and early 80s, and the music scene was really, really interesting because you didn't have to be a virtuoso to make music, it was more about your desire to express things. That period was really, really important, because there were a lot of different artists - musicians, film-makers - that had this "make-it-in-the-garage" aesthetic that was really inspiring and really good. It was not about trying to be famous or have a career, or be a virtuoso, or be flashy. It was more like having real emotional feelings that you expressed through whatever form, mostly by picking up guitars you didn't really know how to play and bashing away on them.

That gave way to a lot of interesting things. I always think the Sex Pistols and the Ramones as very, very important because they stripped things down. Dogme 95 owes some debt to the purity of so-called punk rock. But I also love The Clash because they were the opposite, they were into synthesis in that they said: "Bring us reggae, rockabilly, R&B, we'll take all that and charge it up with our feelings." Two opposite aesthetics which appealed to me and inspired me. Still do.

GA: You talk about these musicians making music in an emotionally expressive way, but when Strangers in Paradise came out some people didn't quite understand your attitude towards the John Lurie character, who is anything but emotionally expressive; he's very concerned about his own self-image. And also in Down By Law so is Tom Waits. You do seem to have this interest in puncturing their self-image and pretensions to coolness and showing that much more innocent, straightforward people can transform those people. Would you say that's a valid interpretation of those films, and if so what is your interest in that?

JJ: In what? Sorry, I drifted off. (Laughter) To me, John Lurie's character is not non-emotional. He tries to be not emotional, he tries to be cool, but it's transparent. I have to tell everyone that when I finish a film and it goes out and is released, I never look at my films again. I don't like looking back. I don't even like talking about 'em! (Laughter) So I'm really digging back in my memory because I don't like to sit and look at my films again.

GA: You do seem to have written roles with specific actors in mind and you trade off their personalities a little bit in the film. How do you decide to work with a certain person and do you consult with them about their dialogue?

JJ: I started working with friends of mine and that, to some degree, continues. I always start with characters rather than with a plot, which many critics would say is very obvious from the lack of plot in my films - although I think they do have plots - but the plot is not of primary importance to me, the characters are. I start with actors that I know personally or I know their work, and there are things about their work or their presence or their own personality that make a character, that exaggerates some qualities and suppresses other qualities. It's always a real collaboration for me.

What I like to do also is to rehearse with the actors scenes that are not in the script and will not be in the film because what we're really doing is trying to establish their character, and good acting to me is about reacting. I'm not a big fan of the theatre because, often, I know what their intention is. They know what the intention of the scene is and they're following a line to achieve that intention, but that's acting, and in real life, if you're at a table with four people, you don't know which one is going to speak next, it's not scripted in that way, so if you can work with the actor to get to a place where they are confident in their character, then you let their character react to the scene that you're filming.

All actors are different. Nicholas Ray said to me: "There is no one way to work with all actors and anyone who tells you that is full of shit" - in his words, 'cause I don't talk like that myself. (Laughter) So what you do is work with each actor individually to find out "How can I work with this person, how can the two of us collaborate?" and it's always that there's a different way. Different actors have different strengths. Some are really brilliant at improvising, others want the dialogue set for them, they want a map.

I love rehearsing because in rehearsals there are no mistakes, nothing is wrong, some things apply or lead you to focus on the character and the things that don't apply are equally valuable because they lead you to towards what does. I'm not a director who says, "Say your line, hit your mark", that's not my style. I want them to work with me and everyone I choose to collaborate with elevates our work above what I could imagine on my own. Hopefully, if not it's not working right. I'm like a navigator and I try to encourage our collaboration and find the best way that will produce fruit. I like fruit. (Laughter)

Question 6: A lot of characters in your films are foreigners. Do you enjoy seeing films through the eyes of the foreigner?

JJ: It's several things. One is that America is made up of foreigners, and there are indigenous people that lived here for thousands of years, but then white Europeans tried to commit genocide against them all. I'm a mongrel, I have Irish blood, bohemian blood, some German blood, and all of America is a cultural mixture, and although America is very much in denial of this, that's really what America is.

GA: From sports to William Blake and Robert Frost, because in Down By Law, you have the Roberto Benigni character frequently quoting from Frost, and in Dead Man, you have references to William Blake. What is your interest in poetry, because it's not very often that we see characters in movies quoting and referring to poetry?

JJ: Yeah, if you go into a bar in most places in America and even say the word poetry, you'll probably get beaten up. (Laughter) But poetry is a really strong, beautiful form to me, and a lot of innovation in language comes from poetry. I think that Dante was hip-hop culture because he wrote in vernacular Italian, and at the time that was unheard of; people wrote in Latin or Petrach wrote in high Italian, and so Dante was talking street stuff. And so poets are always ahead of things in a certain way, their sense of language and their vision.

Language can be abstracted, language can be used as a very beautiful code in poetry, the nuances and the multiple meanings of things, it has a music to it. It has so many things in it. It is also reduced from prose and therefore can be both mathematical, or very, very abstract. A lot of poets too live on the margins of social acceptance, they certainly aren't in it for the money. William Blake - only his first book was legitimately published. For the rest of his life, he published everything himself and no one had any real interest in it during his lifetime, which is true of many, many poets, so I think of poets as outlaw visionaries in a way. I don't know. I like poetry. Dammit, I like poetry; anyone got a problem with that?! (Laughter)


Question 7: How do you get funding for your films while retaining creative control?

JJ: I'm really stubborn and I started out with an attitude that I was going to make films the way I and those people I chose to collaborate with want to make them and I've just stuck to that. I'm not seduced by money or the things that Hollywood tries to offer you, and in exchange you have to make the film the way some businessmen tell you to, and I just would not be good at that. So I have a system where I try to avoid having American money in my films, because with that comes a lot of strings attached and script meetings and casting consultations, and really I can't work that way because I don't tell the business people who finance the films how to run their business, so why should they tell me how to make a film? I've been very lucky to find people to collaborate with in that way.

Question 8: Do you have any comedic influences?

JJ: Certainly, many. My favourite director of all time is Buster Keaton, and it goes deeper than just being a comedian, because he is a great director and actor and funny in an extremely human way. I like Charlie Chaplin, but he's not on the same level as Buster Keaton, who is someone really I have a deep respect for.

Question 9: Are you trying to get away from 'The Jim Jarmusch Film'?

JJ: I'm not really very self-analytical. I don't really want to know what a Jim Jarmusch film is. I'm just a guy from Akron trying to learn films and I just move on to the next thing. It's not superstition in that case, it's not feeling comfortable looking backwards and the same in my life as well. I know Robert Altman and I know he likes to watch his old films over and show them to people, and I wish I could be like that because he really loves them, he's proud of them, they're like his children. And my films are like my children, but I send them off to military school. (Laughter)

*******
I just really like this guy's work.
Wish He and Paul would get together for a film sometime.
If you see any of his films, I'd recommend these:
Dead Man
Stranger Than Paradise
Down by Law
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The McGann Library Forum Index -> From the 1980s All times are GMT - 6 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group