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• To provide an independent voice and communicate a strong passion for film.
• To establish a sense of what kind of movie you are about to see, what you should notice about it, and why you should care about it.
• To approach movies without cynicism or preconceived notion and evaluate each work based on what kind of movie it aspires to be.
• To champion the unseen, overlooked, forgotten, and under-appreciated movies.
© 2008 – 2020 Film-Review.org
People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don’t have a middle or an end any more. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.
I’m as guilty as anyone, because I helped to herald the digital era with “Jurassic Park.” But the danger is that it can be abused to the point where nothing is eye-popping any more. The difference between making “Jaws” thirty-one years ago and “War of the Worlds” is that today, anything I can imagine, I can realize on film. Then, when my mechanical shark was being repaired and I had to shoot something, I had to make the water scary. I relied on the audience’s imagination, aided by where I put the camera. Today, it would be a digital shark. It would cost a hell of a lot more, but never break down. As a result, I probably would have used it four times as much, which would have made the film four times less scary. “Jaws” is scary because of what you don’t see, not because of what you do. We need to bring the audience back into partnership with storytelling.
I’ve discovered I’ve got this preoccupation with ordinary people pursued by large forces.
If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.
I’ve always been interested in ESP and the paranormal. In addition to the scientific experiments which have been conducted suggesting that we are just short of conclusive proof of its existence, I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of opening a book at the exact page we’re looking for, or thinking of a friend a moment before they ring on the telephone. But “The Shining” didn’t originate from any particular desire to do a film about this. I thought it was one of the most ingenious and exciting stories of the genre I had read. It seemed to strike an extraordinary balance between the psychological and the supernatural in such a way as to lead you to think that the supernatural would eventually be explained by the psychological: “Jack must be imagining these things because he’s crazy.” This allowed you to suspend your doubt of the supernatural until you were so thoroughly into the story that you could accept it almost without noticing. The novel is by no means a serious literary work, but the plot is for the most part extremely well worked out, and for a film that is often all that really matters.
I do not always know what I want, but I do know what I don’t want.
What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.
It is not only my dreams, my belief is that all these dreams are yours as well. The only distinction between me and you is that I can articulate them. And that is what poetry or painting or literature or filmmaking is all about… and it is my duty because this might be the inner chronicle of what we are. We have to articulate ourselves, otherwise we would be cows in the field.
Your film is like your children. You might want a child with certain qualities, but you are never going to get the exact specification right. The film has a privilege to live its own life and develop its own character. To suppress this is dangerous. It is an approach that works the other way too: sometimes the footage has amazing qualities that you did not expect.
I’m not interested in seeing a film just made by a woman—not unless she is looking for new images.
I’m interested in people who are not exactly the middle way, or who are trying something else because they cannot prevent themselves from being different, or they wish to be different, or they are different because society pushed them away.
In my films I always wanted to make people see deeply. I don’t want to show things, but to give people the desire to see.
Four people are sitting around a table talking about baseball or whatever you like. Five minutes of it. Very dull. Suddenly, a bomb goes off. Blows the people to smithereens. What does the audience have? Ten seconds of shock. Now, take the same scene and tell the audience there is a bomb under that table and will go off in five minutes. The whole emotion of the audience is totally different because you’ve given them that information. In five minutes time that bomb will go off. Now the conversation about baseball becomes very vital. Because they’re saying to you, “Don’t be ridiculous. Stop talking about baseball. There’s a bomb under there.” You’ve got the audience working.
There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.
是枝 裕和 | Hirokazu Kore-eda
Yes, a family is interesting. You can get a lot of drama in the conflicts there. It’s like the sea. It seems calm, but inside there is conflict.
In the neighborhood around Waseda, there were all these movie theaters, so every morning I left the house and watched movies instead of going to class. The experience of encountering films then is one of my greatest memories. Before that I’d never paid any attention to directors, but there I was taking a crash course in Ozu, Kurosawa, Naruse, Truffaut, Renoir, Fellini. Because I’ve always been naturally a more introspective person, I was more interested in becoming a screenwriter than a director.
The Japanese don’t have a specific religion, but a spirituality. A cap, shoes, and a table have a spirituality. When you eat an apple, you don’t say you eat it: you say, “I am receiving it.” Kind of like you are thanking the food.
Why do they say I hate my country? And what does that even mean? Am I supposed to hate my town, am I supposed to hate all English people, or my government? And if I do hate my government, does that mean I hate my country? It’s a democratic duty to criticize the government.
A movie isn’t a political movement, a party, or even an article. It’s just a film. At best it can add its voice to public outrage.
Black people loving and losing is something we don’t see enough of. We’re always in these heightened situations like something big is happening, something funny or something violent. And you know what? Sometimes we die of breast cancer or a broken heart. Things happen that are just not being explored cinematically. It’s time we reinvigorated that type of film.
As a Black woman filmmaker I feel that’s my job: visibility. And my preference within that job is Black subjectivity. Meaning I’m interested in the lives of Black folk as the subject. Not the predicate, not the tangent. [These stories] deserve to be told. Not as sociology, not as spectacle, not as a singular event that happens every so often, but regularly and purposefully as truth and as art on an ongoing basis, as do the stories of all the women you love.
If you walk into a room, and there is no one that’s not like you there, whether it’s a woman or a person of color, anyone that’s different from you, you should be able to say, “This is a problem.” We need allies in that room to say [this] video, this room, this company, these ideas, this film, this whatever, this is not right—this is not good enough.
I’m one of those directors who read reviews, even if they’re bad, because I started as a film critic as a cinema student. I indulge in the art of criticism in general.
Making movies is about control. You need to control your narcissism in the first place, and you need to be disciplined enough to understand the reason for the film. You need to follow the agenda of the film, not a personal agenda or that of the studio. Or, worst of all, of the actors.
I was two years younger than Elio is in the book [“Call Me by Your Name”]. But I remember my childhood and adolescence distinctively, and how I was already starting to be a director, because I was sitting at the far end of a room studying people dancing at parties. I was reading books and imagining stories in my own mind and I was starting to become a young man aware of his own sexuality, although, unlike Elio, I did dare to speak [up about it].
In 1993, my first documentary was about the civil war in Algeria. That was in French and in Arabic. Another short film I did was silent. What I’m trying to say is that, yes, I’m Italian, and yes, I make films with Italian money, but personally, I’ve always been invested in the broader world of filmmaking.
Yes, women are stronger than us. They face more directly the problems that confront them, and for that reason they are much more spectacular to talk about. I don’t know why I am more interested in women, because I don’t go to any psychiatrists, and I don’t want to know why.
I think decor says a lot about someone’s social position, their taste, their sensibility, their work, and also about the aesthetic way I have chosen to tell their story.
My school and the cinema were only a few buildings apart on the same street. The bad education I received at school was rectified when I went to the cinema. My religion became the cinema. Of course one could create one’s own belief system, and anything that helps or supports you in life can be seen as covering the function of religion. In that sense you could consider cinema my religion, because it is one of my major stimuli that I have for living. Cinema has that aspect of devotion to saints and idolatry as well. In that sense it is entirely religious.
Experience it like a walk in the countryside. You’ll probably be bored or have other things in mind, but perhaps you will be struck, suddenly, by a feeling, by an act, by a unique portrait of nature.
My idea of professionalism is probably a lot of people’s idea of obsessive.
People will say, “There are a million ways to shoot a scene,” but I don’t think so. I think there are two, maybe. And the other one is wrong.
Entertainment has to come hand in hand with a little bit of medicine. Some people go to the movies to be reminded that everything’s okay. I don’t make those kinds of movies. That, to me, is a lie. Everything’s not okay.
You must find the note, the correct key, for your story. If you find it, everything will work. If you do not, everything will stick out like elbows.
I think predictability has become the rule and I’m completely the opposite–I like spectators to be disturbed.
When I did “The Age of Innocence,” the critics said, “Is it wrong to expect a little more heat from Scorsese?” I thought “The Age of Innocence” was pretty hot. So I said, “Alright, I’ll do ‘Casino,'” and they said, “Well, gee, it’s the same as ‘Goodfellas.'” You can’t win. Yes, “Casino” has the style of “GoodFellas,” but it has more to do with America–and even Hollywood: the idea of never being satisfied.
“L’avventura” gave me one of the most profound shocks I’ve ever had at the movies, greater even than “Breathless” or “Hiroshima, mon amour.” Or “La dolce vita”. At the time there were two camps, the people who liked the Fellini film and the ones who liked “L’avventura.” I knew I was firmly on Antonioni’s side of the line, but if you’d asked me at the time, I’m not sure I would have been able to explain why. I loved Fellini’s pictures and I admired “La dolce vita,” but I was challenged by “L’avventura.” Fellini’s film moved me and entertained me, but Antonioni’s film changed my perception of cinema, and the world around me, and made both seem limitless. I was mesmerized by “L’avventura” and by Antonioni’s subsequent films, and it was the fact that they were unresolved in any conventional sense that kept drawing me back. They posed mysteries–or, rather, the mystery of who we are, what we are, to each other, to ourselves, to time. You could say that Antonioni was looking directly at the mysteries of the soul.
The cinema began with a passionate, physical relationship between celluloid and the artists and craftsmen and technicians who handled it, manipulated it, and came to know it the way a lover comes to know every inch of the body of the beloved. No matter where the cinema goes, we cannot afford to lose sight of its beginnings.
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
In “L’enfant,” we have a main character, Bruno, a man who cannot be a father, who is never able to be a father, and it feels like at the end of the movie he at last became a father. Well, I’m not sure things will be OK afterwards. But it seems like when they’re in the prison, where people can speak with their families, I think he says, “How’s Jimmy, how is he doing?” Well, he never said the name of the kid before. It means that he has changed. Because of the kid that he has saved from the water, Steve, he became someone else. It takes time. So we felt that it was the right moment to end the movie. Our movies are like portraits.
We haven’t found any place or room for music in our movies. Maybe because we are not able to find the right music, I don’t know. And when we’re shooting, I think that’s where things happen actually. When we’re building our plans, et cetera, the rhythm of that construction is partly based on the sounds, not only the dialogues, but touching the objects. And rhythm is based on the sounds that we can hear on the set, the noise of the bodies moving, the breathing of the characters, that’s our music. We just don’t see the need for music. When we’re shooting we just don’t think about it.
I think one of the big wishes of the human kind is to transform things, to work on things to construct, to destroy, to sometimes construct again. And not only to look at the world, let’s say, passively. I think that’s the aim of humankind, being a man, a woman, is to change things. And cinema is about showing things that are changing.
I think it is very important that films make people look at what they’ve forgotten.
I’m just trying to tell a good story and make thought-provoking, entertaining films. I just try and draw upon the great culture we have as a people, from music, novels, the streets.
I believe in destiny. But I also believe that you can’t just sit back and let destiny happen. A lot of times, an opportunity might fall into your lap, but you have to be ready for that opportunity. You can’t sit there waiting on it. A lot of times you are going to have to get out there and make it happen.
宮崎 駿 | Hayao Miyazaki
I would like to make a film to tell children, “It’s good to be alive.”
I’ve become skeptical of the unwritten rule that just because a boy and girl appear in the same feature, a romance must ensue. Rather, I want to portray a slightly different relationship, one where the two mutually inspire each other to live–if I’m able to, then perhaps I’ll be closer to portraying a true expression of love.
Personally, I was never more passionate about manga than when preparing for my college entrance exams. It’s a period of life when young people appear to have a great deal of freedom, but are in many ways actually oppressed. Just when they find themselves powerfully attracted to members of opposite sex, they have to really crack the books. To escape from this depressing situation, they often find themselves wishing they could live in a world of their own–a world they can say is truly theirs, a world unknown even to their parents. To young people, anime is something they incorporate into this private world. I often refer to this feeling as one yearning for a lost world. It’s a sense that although you may currently be living in a world of constraints, if you were free from those constraints, you would be able to do all sorts of things. And it’s that feeling, I believe, that makes mid-teens so passionate about anime.
You don’t enter the theater and pay your money to be afraid. You enter the theater and pay your money to have the fears that are already in you… dealt with and put into a narrative.
What you want to do is you want to put your audience off-balance. You have to be aware of what the audience’s expectations are, and then you have to pervert them, basically, and hit them upside the head from a direction they weren’t looking.
I think the experience of going to a theater and seeing a movie with a lot of people is still part of the transformational power of film, and it’s equivalent to the old shaman telling a story by the campfire to a bunch of people. That is a remarkable thing… If you scream and everyone else in the audience screams, you realize that your fears are not just within yourself, they’re in other people as well, and that’s strangely releasing.
If you’re a film fan, collecting video is sort of like marijuana. Laser discs, they’re definitely cocaine. Film prints are heroin, all right? You’re shooting smack when you start collecting film prints. So, I kinda got into it in a big way, and I’ve got a pretty nice collection I’m real proud of.
The exploitation films were made in such an artless way with these big wide shots of Sunset Boulevard or of Arcadia or downtown L.A. or wherever. In mainstream films, especially in the 1980s, the Los Angeles you saw wasn’t the real one; it was a character with this backlot sort of atmosphere. They tried to luxuriate it. In exploitation films, you see what the place really looked like, you see the bars and mom-and-pop restaurants.
I’ve had people write that I’ve seen too many movies. In what other art form would being an expert be considered a negative? If I were a poet, would I be criticized for knowing too much about Sappho? Or Aristotle?
The most unique property of cinema is how it lets you mold time, whether it’s over a long or a very brief period.
The essence of you probably doesn’t change and that’s really one of the concerns of [“Before Midnight”]. Have Celine and Jessie changed? They are still themselves; they seem very connected to the same person they were at 23 and yet life has this way of attaching things to them, whether it’s children or just life experience and responsibility. It’s a very different life at 23 where you could just get off a train with no one waiting on you back home, no schedule. When we meet them the second time they are very scheduled. He has a plane to catch, he is at work, and she is grounded in the city she lives in. So you see the reality closing in even though it’s still this romantic encounter. By the time of the third film they are in the real world, we see their social interactions and they are much more grounded.
I’ve always been most interested in the politics of everyday life: your relation to whatever you’re doing, or what your ambitions are, where you live, where you find yourself in the social hierarchy.
We think craft is important, and the irony has always been that horror may be disregarded by critics, but often they are the best-made movies you’re going to find in terms of craft. You can’t scare people if they see the seams.
When you’re watching an action movie, you experience an action movie more outside of the aquarium, you’re out of the aquarium looking in at all the swimming fish that are in there. Whereas horror films and thrillers are designed to put the audience into that box, into that aquarium.
You’re never going to learn something as profoundly as when it’s purely out of curiosity.
The screen is the same size for every story. A shot of a teacup is the same size as an army coming over the hill. It’s all storytelling.
Films are subjective—what you like, what you don’t like. But the thing for me that is absolutely unifying is the idea that every time I go to the cinema and pay my money and sit down and watch a film go up on screen, I want to feel that the people who made that film think it’s the best movie in the world, that they poured everything into it and they really love it. Whether or not I agree with what they’ve done, I want that effort there—I want that sincerity. And when you don’t feel it, that’s the only time I feel like I’m wasting my time at the movies.
People have trouble understanding where I stand in relation to my characters, and very often this gets reduced to me making vicious fun of them.
[My film “Happiness” is] not for everyone and it’s not designed for everyone and I don’t think I’ll ever write anything that’s designed to appeal to everyone. If you want sympathetic characters, it’s easy enough to do: you just give someone cancer and, of course, we’ll all feel horribly sad and sorry. You make anyone a victim and people feel that way. But that’s not of interest to me as a filmmaker or as a writer. I may be accused of a certain kind of misanthropy but I think I could argue the opposite. I think that it’s only by acknowledging the flaws, the foibles, the failings and so forth of who we are that we can in fact fully embrace the all of who we are. People say I’m cruel or that the film’s cruel, but I think rather it exposes the cruelty and I think that certainly the capacity for cruelty is the most difficult, the most painful thing for any of us to acknowledge. That we are at all capable. And yet I think that it exists as much as the capacity for kindness and it’s only the best of us that are able to suppress, sublimate, re-channel and so forth these baser instincts, but I see them to some degree at play as a regular part of life in very subtle ways and not so subtle ways. I don’t think that after the seventh grade that these impulses evaporate. So, from my perspective, I’m trying to be honest with what I see and what I’ve experienced and what I believe is true to our nature.
I feel like when you write, you have to have a personal core to a story if you have any hope of it translating to an audience. There are certain emotions you have throughout your life that are palpable, you can feel them; they hurt. Every film I’ve made, I can point to one of those emotions, and for [“Mud”] it was going to be heartbreak. I can create all these plot lines, but they have to service that… By the time you get to the end of [the film], that thematic idea has just seeped into the story. You haven’t attacked it head on; you’ve been able to let your audience absorb it into their bloodstream.
I remember I was in junior high school and I was going to write a short story about mobsters, or New York mobsters. I think I had just seen a Scorsese film. And I told my dad that. And he was like, “You haven’t ever been to New York.” And I said, “Nah, but that’s where mobsters live.” And he basically said, “Why don’t you write something about Arkansas?” And a window in my mind opened. I realized all of a sudden that I had access to something that was interesting, that the rest of the world couldn’t write about, because I was the one there.
My characters are never heroic. They are mostly lost and trying to find the right door to open and they end up opening the wrong doors.
You wake up because you killed someone and you’re afraid of going to jail. And the moment you wake up you feel safe and it’s over and you can meet that person in the street and you’re not going to jail. The good thing about dreams is that they erase some kind of desire, because after your dreams you feel you’ve done it, and you’re relieved.
In a way, movies don’t present how sweet or normal sex can be. There were many doors open in the ’70s during the sexual revolution by many directors who were doing movies containing sex scenes that were not sex movies, as you may call them. There’s something very old fashioned in the world we live in. You can have images of cruel or mechanical sex available anywhere to young kids, but they are disconnected from real life. The presentation of love in real life is missing from the movie theaters. It’s totally a chronic nuisance. How many people get killed in movies now? Even in a general audience movie like “The Passion of the Christ”, it’s all about torture. Why can that be seen by kids, but just two grown up persons kissing and enjoying their bodies, that’s a problem?
Paul Thomas Anderson
You have to be a brat in order to carve out your parameters, and you have to be a monster to anyone who gets in your way. But sometimes it’s difficult to know when that’s necessary and when you’re just being a baby, throwing your rattle from the cage.
My filmmaking education consisted of finding out what filmmakers I liked were watching, then seeing those films. I learned the technical stuff from books and magazines, and with the new technology you can watch entire movies accompanied by audio commentary from the director. You can learn more from John Sturges’ audio track on the “Bad Day at Black Rock” laserdisc than you can in 20 years of film school.
[In film school] there was an assignment to write, you write a page that has no dialogue in it… you show a character trait through action, with no dialogue. I had read this great script by David Mamet, which was “Hoffa”… and there was a great scene where Danny DeVito is driving along… and it shows what he’s going through by the method he uses to keep himself awake while driving, which is he lights a cigarette… and he lets it burn down to his fingers to keep him awake. And it’s just so simple, and perfect, and lovely, and it’s Mr. Pulitzer Prize himself, David Mamet. So I took that page, and I handed it in. And it got a C+… There’s a wonderful thing that if you drop out quick enough, you get your tuition back.
Lars Von Trier
Political correctness kills discussion.
If you want to provoke, you should provoke someone who is stronger than you, otherwise you are misusing your power.
You can’t do much in this world without hurting someone else. Every time you take a breath it’s to the disadvantage of someone or something. And then you have to decide how and in which way you will hurt others. And I find it quite agreeable trying not to hurt anyone, but I have made this decision about the fish. It’s a pity about them, but also, if I pull up a fish, then it makes space for another fish who will be so happy to get more space. And he will become a very happy little fish. You can rationalize it in a number of different ways—maybe the fish I pull up is depressed and wants to end his life, but he hasn’t really been able to do it. It’s not easy if you’re a fish. I wouldn’t know what a big salmon who’s really tired of it all would do.