Last updated June 26, 2005
FOUNDAS: Michael Moore notwithstanding, it still seems risky
to make a movie [George A. Romero's
Land of the Dead] this
political in what is effectively a risk-averse Hollywood
thinking particularly of those scenes where we see captive
zombies turned by their human captors into Abu Ghraib-style
GEORGE A. ROMERO:
not sure if you showed this movie at the White House that anybody
would get it, except when the money burns at the end — then
they might feel a little pang of sadness.
From "Dead Director
Rises Again " in the LA
August 10, 2004
Richard Pryor, when asked "What do you think of critics?":
I never met anybody who said, when they were a kid, "I wanna
grow up and be a critic."
Truthful and Funny Will Come" in The
Von Trier on "filmic" films:
At the beginning of my career, I made very "filmic" films.
The problem is that now, it has become too easy - all you have to do
is buy a computer and you have filmic. You have armies rampaging over
mountains, you have dragons. You just push a button. I think it was
okay to be filmic when, for instance, Kubrick had to wait two months
for the light on the mountain behind Barry Lyndon when he was riding
towards us. I think that was great. But if you only have to wait two
seconds and then some kid with a computer fills it in... It's another
art form, I'm sure, but I'm not interested.
From Lion's Gate's press
notes for Dogville
Director Quentin Tarantino on his relationship
with the MPAA:
I have a really great relationship with the MPAA. I've always
worked really well with them and they've worked well with me.
I've never understood directors like Wes Craven or Brian De Palma
who are like, "Fuck you assholes, you guys are fucking Nazis.
Screw you!" Well, what the fuck do you think their response is
gonna be when you treat them like that ...? Everyone bitches at
them when they're wrong, but no one ever gives them credit when
they're right. I don't see the horror fans applauding
them when they give Cabin Fever an R. "Hey! Good job,
From "Kill Bill: Samurai Fiction: Quentin Tarantion creates the ultimate paean to grindhouse cinema", Fangoria magazine, October 2003.
Director Mahamat Saleh Haroun on Hollywood's relationship with Africa:
Africa is just a location for Star Wars. Friends of mine, directors in Morocco and Tunisia, became just assistants to Hollywood. They came there and made their movies - and these guys stopped making movies .... Africa has been shot by others, so the image of Africa was wrong. They shoot us like animals .... Around the world, people get the wrong image of Africa through movies because African actors are just dancing and laughing with big teeth. It's the fault of the directors and their vision about Africa. It's like the Garden of Eden, or a location just for animals.
From an interview with BBC News on the occasion of his hit African film Abouna.
Writer/director/editor Gaspar Noé, explaining how he scared up funding for Irreversible:
... They asked Vincent [Cassel] and Monica [Bellucci] what they thought of [the idea for a largely unscripted rape-revenge movie told backwards], and they said, "Yeah, we'll do it." And finally, because of their celebrity, much more than mine — I scare a lot of people — the producers went to the TV channels to find the finance, and because of the names of Monica and Vincent, the money was on the table. There was no title, no script. There was one condition, though: that the movie should be finished by the end of August. I said I wanted to do it violent. "I don't know if you've seen Pasolini's Salo, but I'd like to try something that will touch that kind of violence." But I think they hadn't seen that movie, the producers.
Transcribed following a screening at the British Film Institute's National Film Theatre, October 11, 2002
Abel Ferrara, interviewed by Manohla Dargis on Bad Lieutenant and shock value:
MD: Were you upset about the NC-17 rating you got?
AF: I could give a shit. I knew what the rating was going to be, I'm in the business, baby. I am the ratings system.
MD: What did they object to? [Harvey] Keitel jerking off?
AF: That didn't help. Raping a nun on an altar didn't help. Every other word is fuck, that didn't help. Some chick shooting up for two minutes, that didn't help. But it didn't matter, because this film needed the NC-17. We hadda have it. It's like going to see an R-rated version of Deep Throat, who the fuck is gonna see that? The whole point about this film is that you're gonna see somebody jack off.
Quoted in "Malice toward Nuns," published in Artforum, March, 1993
Rosie O'Donnell, on Harvey Weinstein's edits to M. Night Shyamalan's 1996 feature, Wide Awake:
I said, ‘Listen, Harvey, I don’t want you to release it unless it’s Night’s version. He’s the artist. You’re just the guy who frames it and sells it.’ Well, you know what? That didn’t go over big. He started saying, ‘Who do you think you are? You’re just a fucking talk-show host!’ He went off. I was stunned. I thought he knew that he acquired the films and that the other people were the artists. I didn’t think this was news to him. He said, ‘Like you would fucking know. You bitch! You cunt!’
Quoted in "Out of This World," published in Newsweek, August 5, 2002
Ingmar Bergman, on Jean-Luc Godard:
I've never gotten anything out of [Jean-Luc Godard's] movies. They have felt
constructed, faux intellectual and completely dead. Cinematographically
uninteresting and infinitely boring. Godard is a fucking bore. He's made
his films for the critics. One of the movies, Masculin/Féminin, was shot
here in Sweden. It was mind-numbingly boring.
According to the Antonioni group at Yahoo groups, citing an interview published in Swedish daily newspaper Sydsvenska Dagbladet, June 17, 2002
David Lynch, on ABC abandoning Mulholland Dr.:
At a certain point, you realize you're in with the wrong people. Their thinking process is very foreign to me. They like a fast pace and a linear story, but you want your creations to come out of you, and be distinctive. I feel it's possibly true that there are aliens on earth, and they work in television.
Quoted in "Creative Differences" by Tad Friend
The New Yorker
August 30, 1999
New Citysearch.com film critic David Kehr on why he was booted from his position at the New York Daily News:
I never heard about anything specific. I think they just hated my guts eventually. There were a lot of smart people there, but the corporate culture was such that I don't think they really knew what reviews were for. They kind of resented having to print them in the first place. That only seems to have gotten worse.
Quoted in Dave Kehr is going to CitySearch
by Sean Elder
January 21, 2000
Roger Ebert, taking The New York Times to task for selecting book critic A.C. Scott (along with film critic Elvis Mitchell) to replace retiree Janet Maslin:
Scott doesn't at this point have the qualifications of a Dave Kehr, but the Times editors apparently didn't want someone like that. Has he seen six films by Bresson? Ozu? That's not the sort of question they would think to ask. Would they hire a book critic to be their music critic? Architecture critic? No, but that goes without saying. They probably believe, like many other editors, that anyone can be the film critic. It is the only job on the newspaper that everyone, including the editors, believe they can do better than the person on the beat.
Quoted in New Kids in the Balcony
by Sean Elder
December 9, 1999
Critic Robert Lachenay, writing on Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar in Cahiers du Cinéma:
The difference between [Howard] Hawks and [Nicholas] Ray is similar to that between Castellani and Rossellini. In Hawks we witness the triumph of the mind, in Nick Ray the trumph of the heart. We can prefer Hawks to Ray, Big Sky to Johnny Guitar, or accept them both, but to anyone who rejects them both, I would offer the following advice: Stop going to the movies. Stop looking at films. You'll never understand what inspiration means, or a viewfinder, or poetic intuition, or a frame, a shot, an idea, a good film -- in short, cinema. Unbearably pretentious? Hardly. Just an unshakable conviction.
Excerpted in French New Wave
by Jean Douchet
Published in the U.S. by D.A.P., 1999
Director Terry Gilliam on memories:
Snow White is the first movie I can remember and The Thief of Bagdad was the first film to give me nightmares. But I also remember having scarlet fever -- one of the many fevers you could get in Minnesota -- and that was the first time I really hallucinated. I was in the bedroom, and I could hear my parents in the kitchen and the refrigerator was blowing up and killing them all. It's remained with me, as if I'm still in that room. I still have certain dreams that cling, which I'd swear are real because my senses and my whole body seem to have experienced them. That's always been the problem, not knowing what's real and what isn't. I've got this sense memory of dreams I remember clearly, yet other things that really did happen I don't remember at all, so which is the more valid? I only know that one has formed me more than the other: that's been basic from the beginning.
Excerpted from Gilliam on Gilliam
Edited by Ian Christie
Published by Faber and Faber, 1999
Life in Hell and The Simpsons creator Matt Groening on his nominal boss, Rupert Murdoch:
Q: As a hell aficionado, design a Dantean version of the underworld. Describe the different circles, and where, if at all, would you put your boss, Rupert Murdoch?
A: Where would you put your boss? I was in the Fox commissary a couple of years ago, and I saw
Rupert Murdoch having lunch with Dan Quayle, and I thought, "You know, that could go on for all
eternity as far as I'm concerned."
Excerpted from "This Dream Brought to You by Diesel Jeans"
by David Wallis
January 28, 1999
Lolita screenwriter Stephen Schiff on letting a lawyer help cut Adrian Lyne's new film to avoid running afoul of U.S. "child pornography" law:
If the lawyer felt kind of aroused by it, we had to cut .... Having a lawyer in the editing room is something that shouldn't happen to a dog. And if it happened more often, only dogs would make films.
Excerpted from "Coming Soon: 'Lolita' -- the Lawyer's Cut"
by Rob Van Voris
National Law Journal
August 13, 1998
Blade Runner director Ridley Scott on young audiences:
You ask them about The Godfather, most people haven't even seen it. You wouldn't even mention Eisenstein or Kurosawa or Carol Reed. That's getting scary, they don't even know who the bloody Beatles were. And I think that's wrong. I've even talked to film students who don't even know who the hell Carol Reed was. Or Michael Powell. 'Who's he?' Well, he's the grandaddy of most of the good films done by us ... I mean, a lot of them can't read a book!
Excerpted from "Missing in Action"
by Adam Smith
Natural Born Killers producer Jane Hamsher on Hollywood:
For all the posturing about supporting strong roles for women and enlightened feminist principles, the entertainment business is one of the most sexist and discriminatory industries in creation. It's a world ruled by short, bald men with too much money and way too much power, who are driven equally by the universal desire to get laid and punish the women who wouldn't fuck them on a bet when they were nobodies.
Excerpted from Killer Instinct
by Jane Hamsher
Published by Broadway Books
U.S. News & World Report Editor at Large David Gergen on the Southern Baptist Boycott of Disney:
[Bruno Bettelheim] argued that children need fairy tales that are attuned to their anxieties and fears. If stories are too safe, 'the child gains neither comfort nor consolation in regard to his pressing problems; he only escapes them for the moment.' One can only guess what Bettelheim would have said about last year's Disney film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which turned Victor Hugo's dark novel into a chipper song-and-dance love story. The issue for today's Disney, then, is not whether it is becoming too bold, as the Baptists suggest, but too bland.
Excerpted from "Where the mild things are:
The problem at Disney is the decline in its commitment to real art,"
by David Gergen
U.S. News & World Report
June 30, 1997
First Assistant Director Sebastian Silva on Titanic, running far behind schedule yet on the fast track to becoming the most expensive film ever made:
It was just too big .... There should be a law against making movies over $180 million. Jesus, you can make 18 Woody Allen movies for that. How many Sling Blades could you make? About 40? $180 million is the budget for education in the state of who-knows-where. That's what I find obscene. But we saw the trailer, and the movie is going to be amazing.
Excerpted from "Epic-Size Troubles on Titanic," by Claudia Puig
The Los Angeles Times
April 19, 1997
Photographer Jeff Wall on pleasure and art:
A successful picture is a source of pleasure, and I believe that it is the pleasure experienced in art that makes possible any critical reflection about its subject matter or its form. That pleasure is a phantom affirmative moment, in which the pattern of development of settlements is experienced as if people didn't really suffer from it.
Excerpted from Jeff Wall, edited by Kerry Brougher
Scalo Publishers/The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
The English Patient author Michael Ondaatje, on the verbal indignities suffered by writer/director Anthony Minghella in writing a screenplay based on the novel:
At our first script meeting, we had hardly begun when Saul [Zaentz, the producer] pointed to the first paragraph. "What's this?" Buried in the description of the pilot clambering out of a burning plane was the word plangent. 'It's ...' Anthony began. 'I know what it means, but if you give this to a studio to read they'll fling it away.' Plangent was the first word removed from the various drafts over the next three years.
Excerpted from Ondaatje's introduction to
The English Patient: A Screenplay by Anthony Minghella
Irene Jacob, the star of The Double Life of Veronique and Three Colors: Red, on turning down the Indecent Proposal role eventually played by Demi Moore:
I refused because, for one thing, I spoke very poor English then, but also because this film went against everything I look for in cinema. I had to ask myself an important question: was I ready to abandon my principles right away or should I hold out? That said, everything depends on the moment.
Interviewed by Stéphane Brisset
Translated and excerpted from The Max
Available at Belles de Jour
Critic Godfrey Cheshire, getting testy over summer blockbusters:
Please tell your children, even if they don't believe it or care, that there was once a time when most people wanted to know one thing before they went to a movie: is it good? Now that doesn't matter. The movie is beside the point. People go because tv and their clone friends and the McDonald's cup told them to, lest they miss out on what "everyone" is doing. Such is culture at the end of history: so close to Fahrenheit 451 it's getting spooky.
Excerpted from the New York Press
"Best of Manhattan" issue
September 18, 1996.
Irreverent film industry journalist Joe Queenan on Klaus Kinski's autobiography, Kinski Uncut:
"In 323 uncompromisingly pornographic pages, the once volcanic, though now deceased, German actor devotes about 90% of his time to talking about the hundreds of women he seduced in a life that ended in 1991, about 6% of the time evening scores with directors like Werner Herzog, and about 4% of the time discussing his art. Those of us who have long suspected that acting is merely what striking-looking people do when they are not fornicating will be pleased by Kinski's admirable sense of proportion.
Excerpted from "Confessions of a Tireless Seducer,"
a book review by Joe Queenan
The Wall Street Journal
September 25, 1996.
Lone Star director John Sayles on the importance of letterboxing Westerns:
"The way you handle space in a film is deeply important .... If there's anything that should be widescreen -- like Yojimbo, which is in Tohoscope -- it's a gunfight movie, with one guy here and one guy there and that length of screen in between. When you pan and scan a film like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, it becomes The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Guy's Nose."
Excerpted from "John Sayles Walking Alone," by Leslie Felperin
Sight and Sound magazine
Cameron Diaz (The Mask, Feeling Minnesota), shown printed copies of her Internet fan page by an interviewer for Detour magazine:
DETOUR: You've got your own web site.
DIAZ: Oh, yeah, somebody told me about this. Oh my God. This says, "You are horny bastard number 15,205 to visit this page." Oh my God.
DETOUR: I know you didn't ask for anything like this ...
DIAZ: No, no you don't ask for things like this. You ask for them to get a life. Is it just supposed to be one of those things? I don't know. Everybody has to have a hobby, I just never thought that hobby would be me.
Excerpted from "Vaya con Diaz," by Dale Brasel
The New York Times, noodling about the meaning of Independence Day on its editorial page:
"Space aliens are clearly going to be Hollywood's answer to the nation's post-Communist villain shortage. They are the long-sought ethnic group that all races can join together in hating."
The New York Times
Page A14, unsigned editorial
July 10, 1996.
From an interview with J. Russell "MovieFone" Leatherman, the voice you hear when you dial 777-FILM:
Q: What has your voice been called?
A: Perky. Annoying. Somebody said I sounded like Dick Clark on crack.
Q: What's the record for the longest MovieFone call?
A: I'm not sure. But what's really peculiar is that a lot of people call MovieFone at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. What the hell are they doing? Are they really lonely? Is Mr. MovieFone their only source of consolation?
Excerpted from "Ring Leader" by A.J. Jacobs
Entertainment Weekly magazine
April 1, 1996.
From an interview with protorocker Iggy Pop:
SELECT: How was working with Martin Scorsese and Paul Newman on your first film [The Color of Money]?
IGGY POP: Well, Scorsese was cool, a real music buff. He'd go, 'I like Bad Brains, do you like Bad Brains?' Newman was more like, 'Hurrumph, who's this Iggy character.'"
Quoted in The Think Tank
Hong Kong action auteur Jackie Chan:
"In America they don't have action films anymore -- they have computers."
Quoted in "Just for Kicks"
by Lawrence Schubert
Se7en director David Fincher, on his previous film, Alien3:
"There's no one who hated Alien3 more than I did ... I got hired for
a personal vision and was railroaded into something else. I had never been devalued
or lied to or treated so badly. I wasn't used to adults lying to me. I didn't read a script
for a year and a half after that. I thought I'd rather die of colon cancer than do another
Excerpted from "The Allure of Decay"
by Amy Taubin
Sight and Sound
Roger & Me director Michael Moore, on dangerous ideas:
"You know, if Bob Dole is right about how dangerous movies can be --
he believes they can encourage people to commit copycat crimes -- then I
implore Hollywood Pictures not to release Oliver Stone's Nixon anywhere
in the Washington, D.C. area and to instruct all ticket sellers elsewhere
not to admit Bob Dole -- you never know what ideas he might pick up!"
From a posting to alt.tv.tv-nation
Saturday, December 2
Orson Welles, on the lack of ideas in his films:
"You could write all the ideas of the movies, mine included, on the head of a pin. It's not a form in which ideas are very fecund, you know. It's a form that may grip you or take you into a world or involve you emotionally -- but ideas are not the subject of films. I have this terrible sense that a film is dead -- that it's a piece of film in a machine that will be run off and shown to people. That is why, I think, my films are theatrical, and strongly stated, because I can't believe that anybody won't fall asleep unless they are. There's an awful lot of Bergman and Antonioni that I'd rather be dead than sit through. For myself, unless a film is hallucinatory, unless it becomes that kind of an experience, it doesn't come alive."
Excerpted from Orson Welles: A Biography
by Barbara Leaming
Originally published in 1985, reissued in 1995 with a new epilogue
Limelight Editions, 118 E. 30th St., New York, NY 10016
Excerpted from Gary Indiana's review of Paramount's re-release of Rosemary's Baby (1968):
"... Rosemary's Baby remains an iconic memory trace
of a time when anything seemed possible, including the birth of the Antichrist.
He would now be 27, and probably sitting on the board of Disney."
Excerpted from "Bedeviled"
by Gary Indiana
The Village Voice
August 29, 1995.
Excerpted from a complaint filed last month against Jim Henson Productions, the creators of the new film Muppet Treasure Island, by the Hormel Foods Corporation alleging that Spa'am, a new wild-boar muppet introduced in that film, defames their own famous pork-shoulder byproduct, Spam:
"A grotesque and noxious-appearing wild boar .... the Spa'am character is dressed as a savage warrior, including a headdress of what appears to be a human skull and feathers, and also wears a necklace of smaller pig heads. Jim Henson Productions has intentionally portrayed the Spa'am character to be evil in porcine form."
Hormel wants all promotions and advertising featuring Spa'am halted, and seeks unspecified damages.
UPDATE: A judge has since ruled in favor of Jim Henson Productions, stating in part that the court has confidence that the viewing public can tell the difference between a muppet and a meat product.
Compiled from reports including The New York Times and Reuter
July 25, 1995.
Former Columbia Pictures head Dawn Steel on The Player:
The following exchange was found in the July/August issue of Shift magazine, a Canadian magazine that covers art, the Internet, culture jamming, and assorted hip stuff.
"I hate that movie because it makes all of us in the movie business look like schmucks, and we're not. We don't murder people. I can't name one studio executive who's killed anybody. That movie makes really intelligent people believe that we are all immoral, amoral--and jerks, which is worse."
Excerpted from 20 Questions: Dawn Steel
Interviewed by Robert Crane
Playboy magazine, August 1995.
DAVID CRONENBERG: Is there any justification for thinking that the novel is an innately superior art form to cinema?
SALMAN RUSHDIE: I don't think so. I think if you look at the century, if we could all construct our own lists of the great movies of that period, and then if you construct a list of the great novels of that period, I think it would be about the same number. But on the other hand, there are probably more good movies in a year than good novels.
DC: That's a scary thought.
SR: I think that's probably true. Certainly if I read two or three good novels in a year I think it's been a pretty good year. If I only see two or three movies I like in a year I would think that would be a rather disastrous year.
Excerpted from Goodfellas
Filmmaker David Cronenberg interviews exiled author Salman Rushdie
Shift magazine, July/August 1995