First look at Steve McQueen’s upcoming film Twelve Years a Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch (more at Collider)
Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler. Both films are fantastic but I cannot watch them again lest I intend on dissolving into a blubbering pool of tears. What’s interesting about both stories is that I would have never thought I’d sympathize with its protagonists - drug addicts and a washed-up wrestler - but god damn does Aronofsky know just where to hit audiences where it hurts.
I thought Never Let Me Go and Boy A were also extremely depressing. There was just a sense of hopelessness in those two films that continued to bug me even after they were over. It didn’t help that Rachel Portman’s score for Never Let Me Go was so melancholy.
My Girl was also crazy depressing. “Where are his glasses? He can’t see without his glasses!” Man, that scene was brutal. What made it so terrible was that it was completely unexpected. You go into the film thinking it’s a cutesy story about puppy love and boom! Punched right in the gut. And speaking of unexpected: Grave of the Fireflies. I won’t say anything spoilery about it save that I was a hot mess after this movie.
Other emotionally turbulent films of note: Schindler’s List, The Life of David Gale, The Cure, Brokeback Mountain, The Land Before Time, Mystic River, Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines and Dancer in the Dark.
And all right, I guess I can say Titanic, too. I mean, what kind of heartless miscreant doesn’t cry during Titanic, right?
In your best-selling memoir, Catching the Big Fish, you say, “For me, film is dead.”
I meant that celluloid, the actual film that runs through the camera, is dead. That’s gone, and now digital is here. But storytelling with cinema never will die—ever, ever, ever. The way the stories are told may change, but it will always be.
It might, though, be the death of film as a director’s medium, where the artist gets final cut. It’s interesting how so many filmmakers with established oeuvres and visionaries who have changed how we perceive cinema—people like you, John Waters, Gus Van Sant, and even Martin Scorsese—often still struggle to set up projects today.
Thousands of other filmmakers out there would agree with that. The studios are superreluctant to give final cut. They have so much money riding on these things, so they want a committee to go and rule the roost. The poor director just dies a death. More and more, when a committee at a studio sees something that maybe people won’t understand, they’ll kill the thing quickly. It’s an insult. I don’t know why anyone would make a film if they couldn’t make the film they wanted to make with all the freedom and the support they needed. But it happens every day, so you have to be independent. You have to not only find enough money to make the film, but you have to have final cut—you absolutely have to have it. Otherwise, you’re gonna die. But there’s always a way. Sometimes restrictions are a big blessing. When you have to build something yourself, ideas start coming that never would’ve come otherwise. New ideas flow in. Happy accidents do occur.
The first ones I can think of off the top of my head: Hard Candy, Oldboy, The Life of David Gale, The Others, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, The Sixth Sense, The Usual Suspects, Psycho, Moon, Planet of the Apes (1968), Soylent Green, The Third Man, Blade Runner (Director’s Cut), Saw, Memento, Se7en, Fight Club, The Departed, L.A. Confidential, Gone Baby Gone, The Prestige, American Psycho, The Wicker Man, The Shawshank Redemption, Tears of the Sun, Mystic River, Fallen, Shutter Island, Life of Pi and Secret Garden.
I think Alien also has a pretty good twist that isn’t a traditional one.
Director David Twohy and Vin Diesel, behind the scenes on the set of Riddick
Who Are You, Really?
Mikky Ekko • Reds
True Blood S6E1 “Who Are You, Really?” (2008-) - starring Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer and Alexander Skarsgård.
Track: “Who Are You, Really?” by Mikky Ekko (buy music)
Chris Hemsworth, behind the scenes on the set of Thor: The Dark World