There’s a Criterion Collection Flash Sale Going On! Here’s What You Should Be Buying

To save this dreadful Tuesday, the good folks over at The Criterion Collection have graced us with a special treat this afternoon. After announcing their spring releases a few weeks back, now they have graced us with a Flash Sale. Cue: cinephiles everywhere stopping whatever they’re doing, desparately scouring their dwindling bank statements and proclaiming, “But I will literally die without that Rohmer box set!”

So, from now until noon on Wednesday, all in-stock Blu-rays and DVDs are 50% off, and all you have to do is enter their code and voilà! I certainly understand that remembering what you wanted in the first place—let alone making a decision—is hard enough, so I’ve compiled the best Collectors Sets available on the site that you otherwise probably wouldn’t be able to shell out the money for. From American New Wave classics to German melodramas and everything in between, here’s a helpful reminder of what you should be purchasing today.

Eclipse Series 19: Chantal Ackerman in the Seventies

 Over the past four decades, Belgian director Chantal Akerman (Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles) has created one of cinema’s most distinctive bodies of work—formally daring, often autobiographical films about people and places, time and space. In this collection, we present the early films that put her on the map: intensely personal, modernist investigations of cities, history, family, and sexuality, made in the 1970s in the United States and Europe and strongly influenced by the New York experimental film scene. Bold and iconoclastic, these five films pushed boundaries in their day and continue to have a profound influence on filmmakers all over the world.

Three Colors Trilogy

This boldly cinematic trio of stories about love and loss, from Krzysztof Kieślowski was a defining event of the art-house boom of the 1990s. The films are named for the colors of the French flag and stand for the tenets of the French Revolution—liberty, equality, and fraternity—but that hardly begins to explain their enigmatic beauty and rich humanity. Set in Paris, Warsaw, and Geneva, and ranging from tragedy to comedy, Blue, White, and Red(Kieślowski’s final film) examine with artistic clarity a group of ambiguously interconnected people experiencing profound personal disruptions. Marked by intoxicating cinematography and stirring performances by such actors as Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Irène Jacob, and Jean-Louis Trintignant, Kieślowski’s Three Colors is a benchmark of contemporary cinema.

Eclipse Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy

 The poignant, deadpan films of Aki Kaurismäki are pitched somewhere in the wintry nether lands between comedy and tragedy. And rarely in his body of work has the line separating those genres seemed thinner than in what is often identified as his “Proletariat Trilogy,” Shadows in Paradise, Ariel, andThe Match Factory Girl. In these three films, something like social-realist farces, Kaurismäki surveys the working-class outcasts of his native Finland with detached yet disarming amusement. Featuring commanding, off-key visual compositions and delightfully dour performances, the films in this triptych exemplify the talents of a unique and highly influential film artist.

David Lean Directs Noel Coward

 In the 1940s, the wit of playwright Noël Coward and the craft of filmmaker David Lean melded harmoniously in one of cinema’s greatest writer-director collaborations. With the wartime military drama sensation In Which We Serve,Coward and Lean (along with producing partners Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelock-Allan) embarked on a series of literate, socially engaged, and enormously entertaining pictures that ranged from domestic epic (This Happy Breed) to whimsical comedy (Blithe Spirit) to poignant romance (Brief Encounter). These films created a lasting testament to Coward’s artistic legacy and introduced Lean’s visionary talents to the world.

Eclipse Series 2: The Documentaries of Louis Malle

 Over the course of a nearly forty-year career, Louis Malle forged a reputation as one of the world’s most versatile cinematic storytellers, with such widely acclaimed, and wide-ranging, masterpieces as Elevator to the Gallows, My Dinner with Andre, and Au revoir les enfants. At the same time, however, with less fanfare, Malle was creating a parallel, even more personal body of work as a documentary filmmaker. With the discerning eye of a true artist and the investigatory skills of a great journalist, Malle takes us from a street corner in Paris to America’s heartland to the expanses of India in his astonishing epicPhantom India. These are some of the most engaging and fascinating nonfiction films ever made.

The BDR Trilogy

 By the age of thirty-four, German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder had directed already twenty-two feature films. In 1978, he embarked upon a project to trace the history of postwar Germany in a series of films told through the eyes of three remarkable women. Fassbinder’s The Marriage of Maria Braun, Lola, and Veronika Voss—the BRD (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) Trilogy—would garner him the international acclaim he had always yearned for and place his name foremost in the canon of New German Cinema.

Eclipse Seires 3: Late Ozu

 Master filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu directed fifty-three feature films over the course of his long career. Yet it was in the final decade of his life, his “old master” phase, that he entered his artistic prime. Centered more than ever on the modern sensibilities of the younger generation, these delicate family dramas are marked by an exquisite formal elegance and emotional sensitivity about birth and death, love and marriage, and all the accompanying joys and loneliness. Along with such better-known films as Floating Weeds and An Autumn Afternoon, these five works illustrate the worldly wisdom of one of cinema’s great artists at the height of his powers.

3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg

 Vienna-born, New York–raised Josef von Sternberg directed some of the most influential, stylish dramas ever to come out of Hollywood. Though best known for his star-making collaborations with Marlene Dietrich, von Sternberg began his career during the final years of the silent era, dazzling audiences and critics with his films’ dark visions and innovative cinematography. The titles in this collection, made on the cusp of the sound age, are three of von Sternberg’s greatest works, gritty evocations of gangster life (Underworld), the Russian Revolution (The Last Command), and working-class desperation (The Docks of New York) made into shadowy movie spectacle. Criterion is proud to present these long unavailable classics of American cinema, each with two musical scores.

Frances Ha

Greta Gerwig is radiant as Frances, a woman in her late twenties in contemporary New York trying to sort out her ambitions, her finances, and, above all, her intimate but shifting bond with her best friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner). Meticulously directed by Noah Baumbach with a free-and-easy vibe reminiscent of the French New Wave’s most spirited films, and written by Baumbach and Gerwig with an effortless combination of sweetness and wit,Frances Ha gets at both the frustrations and the joys of being young and unsure of where to go next. This wry and sparkling city romance is a testament to the ongoing vitality of independent American cinema.

Eclipse Series 8: Lubitsch Musicals

Renowned as a silent film pioneer and the man who refined Hollywood comedy with such masterpieces as Trouble in Paradise, The Shop Around the Corner, and To Be or Not to Be, Ernst Lubitsch also had another claim to fame: he helped invent the modern movie musical. With the advent of sound and audiences clamoring for “talkies,” Lubitsch combined his love of European operettas and his mastery of film to create this entirely new genre. These elegant, bawdy films, made before strict enforcement of the Hays morality code, feature some of the greatest stars of early Hollywood (Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins), as well as that elusive style of comedy that would thereafter be known as “the Lubitsch touch.”

Pierre Etaix

 A French comedy master whose films went unseen for decades as a result of legal tangles, director-actor Pierre Etaix is a treasure the cinematic world has rediscovered and embraced with relish. His work can be placed on the spectrum of classic physical comedy with that of Jacques Tati and Jerry Lewis, but it also stands alone in its good- natured delicacy. These films, influenced by Etaix’s experiences as a circus acrobat and clown and by the silent film comedies he adored, are elegantly deadpan, but as an on-screen presence, Etaix radiates warmth. This collection includes all of his films, five features, The Suitor,Yoyo, As Long as You’ve Got Your Health, Le grand amour, and Land of Milk and Honey—most of them collaborations with the great screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière—and three shorts, Rupture, the Oscar-winning Happy Anniversary, and Feeling Good. Not one of these is anything less than a bracing and witty delight.

Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir

From the late 1950s through the sixties, wild, idiosyncratic crime movies were the brutal and boisterous business of Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan. In an effort to attract youthful audiences growing increasingly accustomed to American and French big-screen imports, Nikkatsu began producing action potboilers (mukokuseki akushun, or “borderless action”) that incorporated elements of the western, comedy, gangster, and teen-rebel genres. This bruised and bloody collection represents a standout cross section of what Nikkatsu had to offer, from such prominent, stylistically daring directors as Seijun Suzuki, Toshio Masuda, and Takashi Nomura.

The Orphic Trilogy

 Decadent, subversive, and bristling with artistic invention, the myth-born cinema of Jean Cocteau disturbs as much as it charms. Cocteau was the most versatile of artists in prewar Paris. Poet, novelist, playwright, painter, celebrity, and maker of cinema—his many talents converged in bold, dreamlike films that continue to enthrall audiences around the world. In The Blood of a Poet, Orpheus, and Testament of Orpheus, Cocteau utilizes the Orphic myth to explore the complex relationships between the artist and his creations, reality and the imagination. The Criterion Collection is proud to present the DVD premiere of the Orphic Trilogy in a special limited-edition three-disc box set.

Eclipse Series 20: George Bernard Shaw on Film

 The hugely influential, Nobel Prize–winning critic and playwright George Bernard Shaw was notoriously reluctant to allow his writing to be adapted for the cinema. Yet thanks to the persistence of Hungarian producer Gabriel Pascal, Shaw finally agreed to collaborate on a series of screen versions of his witty, socially minded plays, starting with the Oscar-winning Pygmalion.The three other films that resulted from this famed alliance, Major Barbara, Caesar and Cleopatra, and Androcles and the Lion, long overshadowed by the sensation of Pygmalion, are gathered here for the first time on DVD. These clever, handsomely mounted entertainments star such luminaries of the big screen as Vivien Leigh, Claude Rains, Wendy Hiller, and Rex Harrison.

John Cassavetes: Five Films

John Cassavetes was a genius, a visionary, and the progenitor of American independent film, but that doesn’t begin to get at the generosity of his art. A former theater actor fascinated by the power of improvisation, Cassavetes brought his search for truth in performance to the screen. The five films in this collection—all of which the director maintained total control over by financing them himself and making them outside the studio system—are electrifying and compassionate creations, populated by all manner of humanity: beatniks, hippies, businessmen, actors, housewives, strippers, club owners, gangsters, children. Cassavetes has often been called an actor’s director, but this body of work—even greater than the sum of its extraordinary parts—shows him to be an audience’s director.

Six Moral Tales

The multifaceted, deeply personal dramatic universe of Eric Rohmer has had an effect on cinema unlike any other. One of the founding critics of the history-making Cahiers du cinéma, Rohmer began translating his written manifestos to film in the sixties, standing apart from his New Wave contemporaries, like François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, with his patented brand of gently existential, hyperarticulate character studies set against vivid seasonal landscapes. This near genre unto itself was established with his audacious and wildly influential series “Six Moral Tales.” A succession of jousts between fragile men and the women who tempt them, the “Six Moral Tales” unleashed onto the film world a new voice, one that was at once sexy, philosophical, modern, daring, nonjudgmental, and liberating.

Eclipse Series 7: Postwar Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa came into his own as a filmmaker directly following World War II, delving into the state of his devastated nation with a series of pensive, topical dramas. Amid Japan’s economic collapse and U.S. occupation, Kurosawa managed to find humor and redemption existing alongside despair and anxiety. In these five early films, which range from political epic to Capraesque whimsy to courtroom potboiler, Kurosawa revealed the artistic range and social acuity that would mark his career and make him the most popular Japanese director in the world.

La Jetée/ Sans Soleil

One of the most influential, radical science-fiction films ever made and a mind-bending free-form travelogue: La Jetée and Sans Soleil couldn’t seem more different—but they’re the twin pillars of an unparalleled and uncompromising career in cinema. A filmmaker, poet, novelist, photographer, editor, and now videographer and digital multimedia artist, Chris Marker has been challenging moviegoers, philosophers, and himself for years with his investigations of time, memory, and the rapid advancement of life on this planet. These two films—a tale of time travel told in still images and a journey to Africa and Japan—remain his best-loved and most widely seen.

By Brakgae: An Anthology, Volumes One and Two

Working outside the mainstream, the wildly prolific, visionary Stan Brakhage made more than 350 films over a half century. Challenging all taboos in his exploration of “birth, sex, death, and the search for God,” he turned his camera on explicit lovemaking, childbirth, even autopsy. Many of his most famous works pursue the nature of vision itself and transcend the act of filming. Some, including the legendary Mothlight, were created without using a camera at all, as he pioneered the art of making images directly on film, by drawing, painting, and scratching. With these two volumes, we present the definitive Brakhage collection—fifty-six of his works, from across his career, in high-definition digital transfers.

Nashville

This cornerstone of 1970s American moviemaking from Robert Altman is a panoramic view of the country’s political and cultural landscapes, set in the nation’s music capital. Nashville weaves the stories of twenty-four characters—from country star to wannabe to reporter to waitress—into a cinematic tapestry that is equal parts comedy, tragedy, and musical. Many members of the astonishing cast wrote their own songs and performed them live on location, which lends another layer to the film’s quirky authenticity. Altman’s ability to get to the heart of American life via its eccentric byways was never put to better use than in this grand, rollicking triumph, which barrels forward to an unforgettable conclusion.

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project

Established by Martin Scorsese in 2007, the World Cinema Project expands the horizons of moviegoers everywhere. The mission of the WCP is to preserve and present marginalized and infrequently screened films from regions generally ill equipped to preserve their own cinema history. This collector’s set brings together six superb films from countries around the globe, including Senegal (Touki bouki), Mexico (Redes), India and Bangladesh (A River Called Titas), Turkey (Dry Summer), Morocco (Trances), and South Korea (The Housemaid). Each is a cinematic revelation, depicting a culture not often seen by outsiders on-screen.

American Lost and Found: The BBS Story

Like the rest of America, Hollywood was ripe for revolution in the late sixties. Cinema attendance was down; what had once worked seemed broken. Enter Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider, and Steve Blauner, who knew that what Hollywood needed was new audiences—namely, young people—and that meant cultivating new talent and new ideas. Fueled by money from their invention of the superstar TV pop group the Monkees, they set off on a film-industry journey that would lead them to form BBS Productions, a company that was also a community. The innovative films produced by this team between 1968 and 1972 are collected in this box set—works that now range from the iconic (Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, The Last Picture Show) to the acclaimed (The King of Marvin Gardens) to the obscure (Head; Drive, He Said; A Safe Place), all created within the studio system but lifted right out of the countercultural id.

Looking Back on Robert Altman’s ‘Nashville’ With Its Star Ronee Blakley

It was once said of Robert Altman’s 1975 film Nashville, that the film, “registers not private paranoia or public alarm, but rather a broad complacency,” that it, “transports the divine decadence of Cabaret to American soil. We are offered no crusading hero, no opposition to the conspiratorial menace,” but instead, “we see the lack of affirmative moral action with a benumbed populace.” And as Robert Altman’s swirling Americana tapestry of fame, politics, apathy, and twanging country tunes, Nashville takes place in the frenzied days leading up to a political rally for a Replacement Party candidate and was born of a post-Watergate mentality. It was also the the film that established Altman’s innovative and iconic filmmaking style—with his affinity for vast casts of actors playing against type, casual dialogue and overlapping improvisational style—that would go on to inform the rest of his directorial career.

With an on-set style like no one else, journalist Chris Hodenfield who visited the filming of Nashville, likened Altman’s troupe of actors to “an encounter group meeting during the days of Pompeii.” With over 20 roles in the cast, populated by such essential actors of the day—from Lily Tomlin and Keith Carradine to Karen Black and Shelley Duvall to Scott Glenn and Henry Gibson—the film also features its wonderful and essential cameos from stars like Julie Christie and Elliot Gould. Staying at the same motels, viewing dailies together with Altman, reveling in the chaos and immediacy of the time, to hear about the ongoings behind the scenes of picture is almost as thrilling as the onscreen world itself. But when it comes to the heart of Nashville, there was one woman who stands at the center and brings the curtain down, and that is Ronee Blakley.

Previously known for her musical prowess, whether was in electronic music, film scoring, or the folk rock crowd, Blakley was virtually unknown as an actress when she stepped into Nashville in its most pivotal role of Barbara Jean—the princess of Nashville’s country music scene whose beloved status and massive fame end up being her ultimate demise. But when Blakely originally agreed to be a part of Altman’s world, she was hired to work behind the camera, incorporating songs she has previously written into the film and consulting on a number of musical matters. As a Juilliard graduate who had performed at Carnegie Hall, released a studio album, and scored films, this was certainly a world she knew—but when Altman found himself needing a new star for the feature, there was no one more perfect and qualified to play the role than Blakley. Not only was she nominated for an Academy Award in 1976, but Pauline Kael—who famously championed Nashville right out of the gate—wrote of Blakley’s performance:

This is Ronee Blakley’s first movie, and she puts most movie hysteria to shame. She achieves her gifts so simply, I wasn’t surprised when somebody sitting beside me started to cry. Perhaps, for the first time on the screen, one gets the sense of an artist being destroyed by her gifts.

And since, Blakley has worked with everyone from Wim Wenders and Walter Hill to Bob Dylan, using her collaborations to absorb a tremendous amount of knowledge about the entertainment industry, while impressing her myriad skills as an actress and musician upon their creative spheres. In addition, Blakley has also moved behind the camera, stepping into the directorial seat herself, while managing to become an acclaimed poet (with upcoming live shows in Los Angeles). So in celebration of the Criterion Collection’s stunning DVD/ Blu-Ray release of Nashville today, I had the chance to call Blakley last week to chat about a bit of everything—from stuffing money in her dress at Carnegie Hall to arriving on the set of Nashville and the artistic nirvana that defined Robert Altman’s American masterpiece.

It’s been 38 years since Nashville was released. How does it feel to look back on the film now and your experience with it? I was recently speaking with Bruce Weber and he mentioned  that when you make a film and go through all the trials and tribulations with it, you think well okay, it’s on its own, it’s standing on its own two feet but it’s never really over. Is it the same for you now too?
It’s almost completely come alive for me again, having talked about it so much now. And then I just recently watched the documentary over the weekend. Did you see it?

I did!
Yeah, that got my blood up.

Watching the documentary and reading about the making of the film, it just seems like such an amazing world to have been a part of. Can you still feel that sense of excitement and recall those emotions when you look back on that time?
It feels great in many way because it’s such a beautiful piece of work that everyone did—and everyone can say that and know that now from a safe distance, because we’re not right on top of it anymore and not right on top of each other. We were so together then, it was really wonderful. I guess for me now, it seems like the things that we’re talking about are somewhat for posterity because the film has achieved a classic status. So you feel like, well, I sure wish I still looked like that! I thought I did! I thought I was a brunette!

You talk about the cast and crew being like an organism, all a part of this grand collaboration towards something. How was it working so closely intwined with your fellow actors and with Robert Altman?
You know, I was the only one who had produced a soundtrack for a movie before this; I had actually produced the songs for a movie called Welcome Home Solider Boys. I was the only one who had put our an album and toured—which is how Richard Baskin really knew me in the first place, from songs from that record, and that I had met him at my boyfriend’s house when we’d played music together and got along very well. So when I was put on to Nashville originally, I was put on as a writer to write with Susan Anspach, and help her and work with her—she was going to play Barbara Jean.But she ended up not doing it and they had me do it. So I was kind of looked at as the professional music person, and yet I was not seen as an actor even though I had acted all my life, they didn’t know it. I had also made movies; I had a small part in a feature and I had done summer stock. I even belonged to Equity and I had been on stage at Carnegie Hall with moog synthesizers!

Yes, I knew about the Moog synthesizers. Would you actually mind telling me about that a bit, because that sounds amazing.
Synthesizers are ubiquitous today, but at the time there weren’t many—I think there were four. The Beatles had one, Paul Simon had one, Gershon had one, and Robert Moog was lovely guy. He built these things in his studio upstate and he had one assistant, a young college guy named Tony, and they would come down to Gershon’s studio where a synthesizer occupied a whole room. If you imagine the old-fashioned operator chords in and out like patch chords going in and out for every key, for every input there was an output, so the room had to be huge. I remember when he developed the first sequencer, oh that was so exciting! And it was exciting, I don’t mean to make fun of it, it was truly exciting and there were four moogs in Carnegie Hall and several of us vocalists .

I remember improvising in Carnegie Hall, I had five thousand dollars in cash in my underwear to take to David Crosby down in Nassau in the Bahamas because his engine had broken, and it had to be in 50 dollar bills so it wouldn’t be too hard to exchange down there. So then the money stuck out of my stomach because I was thin then and had on a slinky little satin gown, and I could not turn sideways because I had no place to put the money and I didn’t want to lose it. Anyway, so there was that and I was improvising and it was heady and fantastic and beautiful. That was in January of 1970 and that was what I did then.

Then I moved to LA and began my rock and roll or folk rock career and my song writing career—not for electronic music but into folk music and scoring for movies. But when I came to LA at that time after sailing around on David’s boat through the Panama Canal,  then I got a job doing that movie for Fox, Welcome Home. And from there I got my first album deal with Elektra and those songs are what attracted Richard Baskin to me doing Nashville. So I had him choose from my hundred, hundred fifty songs what he thought would work, and then I also contributed and other people did my songs. The girls who did a duet that are so cute in their pinafores, they sang one of my songs and the high school band played my song—so it was just fantastic. But when I watched the documentary, I didn’t get the sense of any of that. I got the sense that they picked me up on the street somewhere [laughs] Like I fell from the sky! [Laughs] Or arrived on a clam shell. Every person can’t have their bio in the documentary, but it sounds like I landed from a space ship. Well now, that was a roundabout answer, wasn’t it?

How did you go about approaching the character of Barbara Jean? You’ve always been a very active and political person in your personal life and Nashville is, of course, heavily imbued with the political landscape of the time, and yet Barbara Jean isn’t a political figure.
I tried to go to the role, I tried to let the role dictate to me what she was. I looked for her in the faces in the people that I saw and looked for her in the clubs and in the performers I saw. I looked for her in my grandparents and my grandparents ancestors who were pioneers coming from Missouri to Kansas and then Idaho. My dad became a civil engineer, but back in the past they were all country people. I tried to go to that and use that, and then I became that as best I could so that I could see that it was working. I maybe went too far with it—I don’t like to talk about it too much, but I kind of adopted that because I feel that if people believe you on the street they’ll believe you on the screen. So you go to your heart and you search and you seek, like any seeker, the one who is searching, and then you hope for inspiration and give it your best.

You speak in the documentary about the first scene you shot, when Barbara Jean faints and how you gave your own suggestion to Altman’s direction. Was it really freeing as a performer to be in such a heavily improvisational and collaboration set?
It was artistic nirvana. Like when I said no to Bob it wasn’t in an argument, it was just talking very close with someone, your heads are close and they’re muttering something to you and it’s taking place in an intimate fashion. It’s an intimate thing and someone whispers in your ear, and it’s all instinct and all nerve endings because it’s all happening right at that moment and it takes on importance that it would not have otherwise. The fact there’s a set and there are cameras and there are people spending all that money while you are diddle daddling about. If Bob had wanted me to do it, he would have said so. But that’s what he did as a director. It’s like being a puppeteer and coercing and cornering and inviting all your darling children to do this performance and make a play and make something out of nothing—which is what happened.

nashville_b3.tif


And I think that’s what makes the film feel so alive and swirling and constantly in motion. It’s thrilling.
It didn’t just feel like that, it wasn’t pretend i that way, it was real and the energy was real—even the extras, even the people that are just Nashville folk, even the man that cleaned my clothes, you see people. The people that go to greet Barbara Jean when she gets off the plane, those are just neighborhood people but they’re all into it and all excited, and it just has that feeling to it. I don’t know how you work up that kind of thing, but it becomes very real. Bob had a lot of good people around him, like Alan Rudolph as an assistant—who is also a fine director—and Tommy Thompson, may he rest in peace, who Bob could not have done it without. Tommy was like having another director on set but who is completely subservient to the director. And then Alan was out shooting second unit. But it was only in the documentary that I learned that Alan shot the Philip Walker Van as it went through town. You know, second unit goes out and shoots stuff but still, the next day he’d be back in writing up call sheets and telling actors it’s time to get to the set. So he’s got these really talented people working under him, and that broads your scope and gives you a wider swathe. You can really cut a wide swathe when you have people like Tommy and Alan as your right hand and left hand taking care of business.

That seems to echo the general sense that everyone had an equal part in contributing to the film. Staying at the same motel and watched dailies together, was there a real sense of intimacy and symbiosis between Altman and the cast?
Yes, we were in two motels. But of course you never knew because everyone had their own private relationship with Bob. It wasn’t like everyone rushed up together and then got together to discuss their parts in a group, that never happened. Whatever happened with Bob was private with that person and Bob. So I can’t speak for the other people because I wouldn’t have been present for that, you see what I mean? But we all gathered together and had parties and dinner and Bob would set up drinks for the dailies, so it was like a a party every night. It really was, a very nice little party, just lovely, really, with just the finest people. Our complex was called the Haystack Apartments, and it was just very real and people’s lives went on and there were personal traumas and dramas and family stuff and breakups, and everything you can imagine went on. And what’s most touching of all ,is those that are gone. It’s hard to take.

You were keeping a journal while filming—was that to help channel your own creative energy and something you always do or was it more in the voice of Barbara Jean?
Deeply for my character, but I’m a writer so I often keep a journal and write, and often times that’s also how y songs will happen. And they’re really invaluable now that I go back to prepare to write a book of my memoirs, and maybe a compilation of anecdotes and some poetry and some photographs and paintings and some new writing, It’s so fantastic to be able to go back to them and find, for example, something that Bob Dylan actually said, rather than to just try and remember. I have a little drawing of Bob at the Speedway and my scene that I wrote for Barbara Jean’s breakdown was in there.

Was it strange and frightening being thrust into the spotlight, having little prior acting experience and playing this character who is at the central of the Nashville universe and the epitome of a star.
Well of course it was daunting and exciting, but I was anxious to do it and I thought I could do it. If I had felt I couldn’t do it, that would have been terrifying and petrifying and walking on oil, but I felt that I could and Altman felt that I could, and everybody seemed to think that I could—nobody seemed to think twice about it. Because I had had experience in music, everyone kind of looked at me as the experienced one, so even though I was a beginner in movies and here I was given an important role, it just seemed to fit in somehow. If I were asked to play something that was further from me, for example, if I were asked to play a girl with an Irish accent who is a juggler, that would be real hard because I don’t know how to juggle and I’d have to study a Irish accent. I studied this accent and got it and practiced it, but you have to feel it. If you don’t close enough, you better get so you do. When you see Sean Penn play the guitar in the movie he did, or when you see people gain and lose massive amounts of weight and learn how to do things they never knew how to do, those kinds of performances are thrilling. It’s got to be real! It’s just got to be real. I was good to people and everyone was good to me, we all helped each other. I gave Gwen Welles singing lessons and I helped Bob find people for the movie, and I’m sure other people did other things. I even bought things for my room, my set, and they were all used.

And being on the set of a film like Nashville is an experience that I’m sure could not be replicated anywhere else. So as your first major role, I’m bet this set the bar pretty high and changed your view of the directorial process.
Yes, because nobody else works like that. So for that to be my first big role in a big movie. and then go on to other movies, and then to think they’re all going to be like that—well they’re not and they weren’t. Each was great in its own way, and some were not as great, but that was the greatest of all.

Now that you’re behind the camera…
I do the same thing! I say go out there and do it! No, no I write and sometimes it’s poetry. I give them stuff ahead of time and ask what they want to hear about such and such a topic and then I’ll write and they’re all reading. And then I like to shoot faux doc stuff and I like to break down the fourth wall sometimes. Sometimes I have to shoot stuff myself, but of course I’d prefer to have a professional camera person, but I do shoot if I have to. And my work with this this recent film that I’m doing is ultra, ultra low budget.

Is that the film starring your daughter?
Yes, but the production value is so low I don’t know what its future will be. I may just release it straight onto the internet. My first feature had enough oomph that it opened at the Venice Film Festival and went to about ten festivals worldwide, but it had a budget probably five, ten times as much. With this I just had to work with a little skeleton crew and work fast. So my movie is a small movie, a tiny movie about a very big thing, a small movie about a big subject.

Having collaborated with so many legendary people in both film and music, as an artist, do you feel like absorb certain traits and learn something new from each person you work with?
I do. I kind of go by osmosis and learn by osmosis—by watching and hearing and looking and feeling, whether or not its Wim Wenders or Andy Warhol or Bob Dylan or Walter Hill or Robert Altman. I just pick up as I go along and the things I love I would like to be able to do. I wish I could make movies like Francis Coppola! I’d like to have 100 million dollars and run around setting up things everywhere. But 100 million still doesn’t guarantee anything, and even if you’d like to be Francis Coppola, it doesn’t mean that you can be! There can only be one Francis. Although Sofia is doing great. She’s so great, with Lost in Translation—that’s such a fine movie.

You also have some live shows coming up, can you tell me a little bit about those?
Oh yes I do! I’ll be at the poetry headquarters here in Los Angeles. It will be my first headline here as a poet. I will be doing some songs, but it will be mostly spoken word, some prose poems and some which you might just call poetry. I have three albums of poetry out. It’s occupied a bit of my time over the past several years and I’ll be having some new stuff in the show.

Will we get a chance to see you in New York at all?
Don’t have anything booked right now, but I’d like to. I’d also like to get going on my book and I’d like to get my movie out. It also had a soundtrack album that I’ll be putting out. It’s called Of One Blood, and then I have a new album called Songs of Love. I’ve got to get cracking on this book! I have thirteen chapters but they need to be better.

And finally, do you have any favorite memories from the set of Nashville—whether it’s a moment with Altman behind the scenes or with the cast while shooting?
Well I guess it would have to be the moment when he came to read what I had written for my breakdown scene. There was no breakdown scene initially, she was just supposed to go down to the Opry and sing. But I asked Bob to come down and I left the makeup chair and stood on the sidewalk with him and I gave it to him to read. I didn’t say it to him, he just read it in my journal. And he said, “Do you know it?” And I said yes and then he said. “We’ll shoot it.” So that was an electric kind of a moment, and that explains who Bob is and explains what kind of director he is and the ability he had to make those kinds of judgements. I mean a lot of people could read something and say, “Oh that’s nice,” or read it and say, “I don’t think it’s very good,” but he could not only read it, take it in, split second judge it, but then he also had the power to make it happen. Then you go out there and you shoot it with a thousand people in the audience and all the cameras—and of course all that stuff was already set to happen—but when you have that kind of synergy between us, we could make some magic. It was very, very exciting.

Nashville

 

Photos Courtesy of The Criterion Collection 

The December Criterion Lineup Has Arrived

Ah yes, it’s yet again the time of month when The Criterion Collection announces their upcoming set of releases. We all flock to check our funds and make sure we’ll have enough for our most desire and start savoring for those on our wish list. With films like Slacker, La Notte, Frances Ha, and Tokyo Story being released in October and November, we now have Criterion’s picks for December. Here’s what they’ll be releasing on Blu-Ray and DVD. Get excited.

e

Elio Petri’s Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
"The provocative Italian filmmaker Elio Petri’s most internationally acclaimed work is this remarkable, visceral, Oscar-winning thriller. Petri maintains a tricky balance between absurdity and realism in telling the Kafkaesque tale of a Roman police inspector (Gian Maria Volonté, in a commanding performance) investigating a heinous crime—which he committed himself. Both a penetrating character study and a disturbing commentary on the draconian crackdowns by the Italian government in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Petri’s kinetic portrait of surreal bureaucracy is a perversely pleasurable rendering of controlled chaos."

x

Robert Altman’s Nashville
"This cornerstone of 1970s American moviemaking from Robert Altman is a panoramic view of the country’s political and entertainment landscapes, set in the nation’s music capital. Nashville weaves the stories of twenty-four characters—from country star to wannabe to reporter to waitress—into a cinematic tapestry that is equal parts comedy, tragedy, and musical. Many members of the astonishing cast wrote and performed their own songs live on location, which lends another layer to the film’s quirky authenticity. Altman’s ability to get to the heart of American life via its eccentric byways was never put to better use than in this grand, rollicking triumph, which barrels forward to an unforgettable conclusion."

 

e

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project
Established by Martin Scorsese in 2007, the World Cinema Project expands the horizons of moviegoers everywhere. The mission of the WCP is to preserve and present marginalized and infrequently screened films from regions of the world ill equipped to provide funding for major restorations. This collector’s set brings together six superb films from various countries, including Bangladesh/India (A River Called Titas), Mexico (Redes), Morocco (Trances), Senegal (Touki bouki), South Korea (The Housemaid), and Turkey (Dry Summer); each is a cinematic revelation, depicting a culture not often seen by outsiders.

e

Albert and David Maysles’ Grey Gardens
Meet Big and Little Edie Beale: mother and daughter, high-society dropouts, and reclusive cousins of Jackie Onassis. The two manage to thrive together amid the decay and disorder of their East Hampton, New York, mansion, making for an eerily ramshackle echo of the American Camelot. An impossibly intimate portrait, this 1976 documentary by Albert and David Maysles, codirected by Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, quickly became a cult classic and established Little Edie as a fashion icon and philosopher queen. The Blu-ray edition features the 2006 follow-up to the film, The Beales of Grey Gardens, constructed from hours of extra footage in the filmmakers’ vaults.

‘Nashville’ Cast Might Go On Concert Tour

But Connie Britton or Hayden Panettiere won’t be part of it. Drat.

Still, the cast members who would go on tour aren’t too shabby, though: Clare Bowen, who plays Scarlett; Sam Palladio, who plays Gunnar; Charles Esten, who plays Deacon; and Jonathan Jackson, who plays Avery are all in talks. These four all professional musicians originally, as opposed to Britton and Panettiere, who were actors first and trained as musicians in order to be on Nashville.

ABC wouldn’t comment to The Hollywood Reporter about the rumors, but the site got quotes from series creator Callie Khouri and all the cast members involved confirming that the plans are being laid. The difficulty is finding a time for scheduling that fits those involved. 

Even if Connie Britton and her magical hair aren’t part of the show, I could still see myself buying tickets for this. If I Didn’t Know Better is just so damn good.

Email me at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

2012’s Hottest Parties, From San Francisco to Brooklyn to Beirut

Over the summer, BlackBook sent seven photographers into the night to capture the energy of their home cities. Now that we’re in the throws of the bitter cold, what better time to look back at the hottest parties of the year? 

9:37pm, August 11th: Non Stop Bhangra

Public Works,
 San Francisco, California

As a professional photographer, I go to many parties here in San Francisco. Not many are memorable, but I remember the first time I happened upon Non Stop Bhangra. I was passing by a club called Public Works on Erie Street when I heard the instantly recognizable beat of bhangra music spilling from the door. I followed the sound into a room full of women wearing saris and men wearing turbans. Everyone was waving their arms in the air with broad smiles. This is Non Stop Bhangra, a party started in 2004. It happens the second Saturday of every month and I never miss it.—Hanna Quevedo

2:30am, August 3rd: Happy Hour Hammer Time

Mojo Crew Club, Beirut, Lebanon

Happy Hour Hammer Time carries on the party spirit in Beirut during the holy month of Ramadan, usually a quiet month on the party circuit. The party is thusly named because “you’ll have fun and you’ll probably get hammered,” according to one of its beer-loving founders. It’s the longest-running happy hour in the city, and for only 20,000 Lebanese lira ($15) offers an open tap, cheap drinks, and endless beer pong. Filling the beer pong cups are two local beers, 961 and LB, which are part of the emerging microbrew scene in Lebanon.—Eric Hinojosa

3:32am, July 28th: Squat House Party

La Plage De L’Elephant, Ibiza, Spain

Wild nights are the status quo here in Ibiza. But what I like about Squat House Party, a concept imported from Buenos Aires, is that it’s a clash of cultures. Though they first started in abandoned houses in Argentina, now Squat House is a global movement with events in hotspots like Barcelona, Punta del Este, and Sao Paolo. This mix of underground music in a high socioeconomic environment is called “under-chic,” and the parties rarely end before dawn.—Ezequiel Salvatierra

12:52am, August 3rd: Astro Nautico

Free Candy, Brooklyn, New York

It’s the first Friday of the month and, on this sweltering night in an old parking garage in Flatbush, a mass of people are shaking their hips and stomping their feet to the thumping bass provided by the Brooklyn collective Astro Nautico. The crowd of twentysomethings is entranced as they watch VHS clips the resident artist Paul Jones projects to accompany the music. The booze flows freely like the sweat pouring down the small of everyone’s backs, but no one cares. This is a dance party.—Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez

10:32pm, August 1st: Diarrhea Planet Concert

Mercy Lounge,
 Nashville, Tennessee

In the best of times, partying in Nashville means seeing bands like Diarrhea Planet. Armed with four guitar players, a $150 noise citation, and a song called “Ghost with a Boner,” DP has developed a reputation in the local punk scene as Music City’s most entertainingly ostentatious party-punk sextet. Tonight, a sea of straight-edges at the foot of the stage will dance themselves into a frenzied mosh pit, screaming every lyric to every song and crowd surfing for at least a quarter of the show. At least one person will wind up bleeding.—Lance Conzett

11:37pm, August 11th: Beat Players

East Village Club, London, England

London DJ Stuart Patterson opened East Village in 2008. Tonight, Beat Players, a group of DJs who focus on the soulful side of house music and cater to a slightly older crowd, celebrates the Olympics with a “Best of the British” night. London’s Phil Asher spins disco in the upstairs lounge, while rising Welsh star Sean McCabe plays soulful house in the booming basement.—Annalisa Bruno

10:45pm, August 15th: Low End Theory

The Airliner, Los Angeles, California

Low End Theory is a mix of hip-hop and bass heavy experimental beats. As I reach the 2nd floor I feel like I’ve stepped into a sauna. The girl next to me complains to her friend that it smells like “sweaty feet on the dance floor”. Honestly it did, but nobody seemed to care. The energy of the front stage had the party pumping and the crowd was feeding off the beats. Low End Theory has some of the most legendary resident DJs and MCs in L.A., and it’s good to see that hip-hop is alive and well in L.A.—Nanette Gonzales

You Can Live In Rayna James’ ‘Nashville’ Manse

The rich are not like us. And if you need proof, just meet the lady who owns the actual Nashville mansion that serves as the set for the family of Rayna James (Connie Britton) on Nashville.

The New York Times‘ Real Estate section introduces us to Sylvia Roberts, a divorced "philanthropic socialite" whose $19 million home has been on the market all throughout filming the show. Viewers see Britton, her onscreen husband and kids in the Roberts’ family’s glamorous kitchen and cathedral-ceiling living room, as well as Roberts’ own bedroom and bath.

The Times couldn’t get Roberts to reveal how much she is compensated for allowing the cast and crew in her home, but suggested its around $10,000 per day. She apparently has great taste — no Real Housewives Of Nashville here — and the set designers only changed a few odds and ends to film.

Built with her ex-husband, an entrepreneur, the home features six bedrooms, a wine cellar, cigar room, an arcade room, a home theater, and a children’s playroom with "castle-themed turrets." The Belle Meade mansion has hosted Bush fundraisers and her son’s 18th birthday party, which brought 1,200 guests.

Unfortunately the piece is not accompanied by many pictures; you’ll have to rely on your memory from Nashville itself. But broke-ass trigger warning: definitely only read this article if you can stomach the excesses of the one percent. 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me Twitter.

 

‘Nashville”s Sam Palladio Is Adorable On The Ukelele

Okay, so, covering pop songs on the ukelele is so 2009. But because this is Sam Palladio, the actor who plays hottie Gunnar Scott on Nashville, we will give him a pass.

Palladio was performing Adele’s Someone Like You with his indie folk band Salt Water Thief earlier this year in London.

I had no idea that Palladio was actually British — he’s appeared on several British TV shows including The Hour and Episodes. He does a more than decent job faking that Southern accent. 

Behold the cuteness below:

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Why We’re Still Paying for Music

Emily White couldn’t have known that she would end up dominating the discussions of everyone who sort of cares about the music industry. The 21-year-old NPR intern wrote a casual blog post in which she made the broad statement, “I honestly don’t think my peers and I will ever pay for album,” before saying she believes a “Spotify-like catalog of music that will sync to my phone” would be worth paying for, despite the fact that this service already exists–and it’s called Spotify.

Music business professor David Lowery proceeded to respond to young Emily by making a very lengthy rebuttal, which included phrases like “I also deeply empathize with your generation” and “Congratulations, your generation is the first generation in history to rebel by unsticking it to the man and instead sticking it to the weirdo freak musicians!”

White may have been short-sighted, but Lowery’s response was overblown and condescending, as noted by numerous people, including Bob Lefsetz and Pitchfork’s Laura Snapes. Ultimately, owning music is an issue that’s personal to everyone.

I spent four years living in Nashville, which is home to the national treasure that is Grimey’s. Regularly appearing on lists of the best record shops in the country, it features a friendly staff and plenty of high-profile in-store performances. There were times that I walked out having purchased 15 CDs in one go (admittedly, many of those might have been from Grimey’s extensive stock of pre-loved merchandise, but I was still supporting a business I love).

A few blocks away from Grimey’s is Third Man Records, Jack White’s shrine to Jack White and proof that people are willing to pay for music. A copy of his liquid-filled “Sixteen Saltines” vinyl is currently on eBay for $450. Sure, novelty sells, but it’s ultimately the man himself that keeps records moving at Third Man, and the artists have already been paid by the time their (limited edition, oddly shaped or colored) records are resold online.

Which brings us to another point that’s been hammered in over the past few days: music has to be good enough to spend money on. The best stuff is obviously going to be a potential buyer’s priority, and that means artists have to prove that they are talented and worthy of earning real money.

Like Emily White, I get a lot of music sent to me for free. But as a writer, it’s also my job to think about the people behind the songs, and I’m more likely to go back and buy music I feel personally connected to. I have a promo CD of Sondre Lerche’s self-titled 2011 album, and I have a second copy that I purchased at one of his shows, because he makes very pleasant music and seems like a very pleasant man. I will always pay for We Are Scientists’ music, because I’ve only had positive interactions with them, going back years before I even thought I would be a music journalist. If I meet an artist and have a particularly good experience, chances are that I will go back and buy their record and reinforce whatever evangelism I’ve already done for them.

Personally interacting with musicians is something many people can’t or don’t want to do. But artists are more accessible than ever, thanks to Facebook and Twitter, with the purpose of maintaining fanbases. Sure, listeners may be initially downloading the songs for free, but a winning personality goes a long way. Does the issue become a lack of connection?

There’s no easy answer to the questions raised by White and Lowery, other than that they can’t be reduced to generational generalizations. I just know that I’m still in love with physical formats.

Harmony Korine Makes Sense of ‘Trash Humpers’

Harmony Korine began his film career early on, gaining recognition for the script he wrote for Larry Clark’s Kids while still a teenager. Despite a shared interest in the seedier things in life, Korine’s own films were a complete departure, borrowing more from video collage and the Dogme movement, but with his own distinctly American touches and a carnival approach to filmmaking which suggests things are never quite as they seem. Trash Humpers, Korine’s most recent effort (which recently screened at the New York Film Festival) is also his most experimental, and if you’re familiar with past works like Gummo and Julien Donkey-Boy in particular, you’ll know that means it’s pretty weird.

Adopting the form of a found home movie VHS tape (according to Korine the kind you’d find lying in a ditch), the movie follows a group of masked deviants dressed like retirees who spend their days and nights breaking things, humping garbage cans, and tap dancing, all against a bleak backdrop of small town America–complete with empty parking lots, highway underpasses and empty suburban roads. Along the way we meet various eccentrics locals, a pair of overgrown twin babies who play-act the story of famed Siamese circus stars Eng and Chang, a cross-dressing poet, and a child preacher to name a few. Filmed with hand-held VHS cameras on location in Korine’s hometown of Nashville, Trash Humpers is equal parts video art, documentary, horror show and home movie. True to his reputation, Korine delivers something imaginative, funny, unnerving, disturbing, and genuinely strange.

Tap dancing seems to be a recurring theme in a lot of your work. Why tap dancing? I don’t know, I‘ve just always loved tap dancing. Before I made movies I thought it would be great to be a tap dancer, and then I was very close with these two brothers that lived on my street that were juvenile delinquents, but they would tap dance. And they invented this kind of tap dancing where they would steal sidewalk curbs and put them in their backyard, and then they would dance on these curbs. They would take the shoelaces out of their shoes, and then I started to dance on these curbs. Sometimes we had BBQs, and one of the mothers had a record for eating the most kielbasas in one sitting.

Compared with your other movies, especially the last one, Mr. Lonely, this seems more playful. I think the making of Mr. Lonely was great, it was more just the things that came before it and putting it together that took me so many years, and it took so long to get that out to the world. I didn’t want to go through that again. I felt like there was another way to make movies. And I guess it starts with an idea, so I had this idea, “The Trash Humpers.” And then, once I came up with this idea of found footage or something archival, a tape that had been unearthed—it was something very freeing and more spontaneous. And that’s not saying it’s any better or any worse or any less serious. It was jut made with more of a kind of spontaneity and an extreme amount of freedom.

The whole project was conceived and shot and edited in a very short time. Is anything sacrificed through this approach—does this make it a less serious movie? I don’t know what’s serious or not serious. I’ve found that with movies, people have their own take on things. I don’t ever go into something thinking a movie is any one way. I used to try to gage reactions beforehand and I was always wrong. Now I just kind of make things and then put them out there.

So you’re okay with some people laughing and others being shocked? Yeah that’s great. You want that. I never made a movie thinking that it was one emotion or one thing or adhered to a singular idea. Of course you encourage individual interpretation. There is no right or wrong. It’s like life. It’s everything and nothing. I don’t know what the meaning of them is, I don’t know, they just are.

image

Trash Humpers seems like two overlapping movies in one. There was the loose narrative of the three main characters going about their day destroying things, and then there are these verite documentary moments where local eccentrics get a chance to tell their stories. For me these moments were the most affecting. Do you see yourself ever making documentaries? Probably not. I don’t think I have the patience to make documentaries. If I made documentaries, they would probably just end up like the movies that I’m making. I don’t like this idea that you’d have to adhere to this certain kind of truth. I think that what’s fun for me as a director is imposing my will or my vision. So there’s elements of what you’d call a documentary in my movies. Things maybe feel real, and sound and smell real, but there’s something else beneath the surface. I’m usually trying to manipulate it a little bit.

With all of the non-actors used in Trash Humpers, do any have particularly interesting back stories? All of them. They’re all much like they are in the movie. Like Chris, the guy who got up last night [at the screening], he’s someone who’s known for telling hours and hours of jokes with no punch lines. At one point he was doing these ten-hour monologues that were just kind of like anecdotes with no points. I think that’s just what he does. He’d do them in front of the Circle K and 7-11 by the house. He would sit on a milk crate and would just do that all day.

What about the boy in the suit playing basketball in the beginning of the movie? Oh yeah, he’s a boy preacher. He’s a really, really talented preacher. I’ve seen him light candles and hold several serpents at once, and I’m always amazed at his dexterity and the way he could quote Bible verses at the drop of a hat. It’s interesting because I think in his case he was born Jewish, and he had a conversion at like five years old or something and went really far into that [the Pentecostal church]. I think his father was a Hasidic rabbi, but also a very famous chiropractor.

Do you develop a relationship with them before using them in movies, or are these mostly people you already know from the neighborhood? Most of the people in this specific film, I’ve known and been friends with for a while.

Do the fictional elements blend into your own real life? They all do, kind of. But this one stars my wife, and I’m a trash humper in the film, and it was shot around where I live, and we would just wander around and hang out under bridges and overpasses and parking lots and just kind of dream up new places to destroy things. The movie in some ways is an ode to vandalism.

There is a speech in the car, where one of the masked characters explains why they behave in the way that they do, why they live outside of the rules of normal society. This appears to be the only instance in the film where this is made explicit. Sure. I think there’s some truth to what he says. I feel sorry for people that maybe have to go to church every Sunday.

You were born in Nashville and lived in New York for 10 years. Why did you move back to Nashville? Just because I didn’t want to live in these big cities anymore. It just didn’t feel right anymore. I didn’t like what was happening here. So for me, with Nashville, I grew up there and I understood it and I understood the landscape and geography. I had friends there. And it was just kind of easier for me to live there and not be reminded of certain things every day. It’s a question mainly of space. Here [New York] you have no space, and you’re constantly fighting for space. And I didn’t want to be in a place that you were constantly fighting all the time, and wanted to be somewhere that I could feel the day go by and it wasn’t like living in an office. And also, here there are so many people walking down the street at once, and you can’t really look at the faces. So it’s nice to live in a place where maybe there’s one person who walks down the sidewalk per hour. You can really focus on that person.

Is there a creative advantage to living there? Do you think you could be the same kind of filmmaker you are living in a place like New York? I mean, I could live here — I lived here for a long time. So I could, I just wouldn’t want to. Probably just with the way I am now, I probably couldn’t live in Manhattan again for an extended period. It just wouldn’t work out for me. The streets have too many ghosts and memories.

Lets talk about the murders in the film. Both the characters and the camera seem to treat them with the same casual indifference as everything else in the movie. The suffocation seen in particular seems like a snuff film, where we are witnessing something we shouldn’t be seeing. The only real model for this movie, was the model of a home movie — a VHS tape that had been unearthed that had been found and buried in a ditch somewhere. So in sticking to that premise, that idea, I felt like there would be no more attention paid to a murder scene than it would be someone documenting a tree branch blowing in the wind. It was all the same thing for these guys, it was about documenting their exploits — this kind of extreme, sadistic voyage. There was no right or wrong in the way that there isn’t in a home movie.

More then a sense of consciously doing wrong, the eeriness for me was in mixing the acts of violence, absurdity, and banality. The costumes, and the cars and the landscape, everything felt sort of colorless and almost painfully ordinary. The idea behind it was that if you could make the argument that it was a horror film, that it was horror film more in the tone and the ambiance, that there was something that was even worse than what they were doing. There was something in the air — that the atmosphere had been corrupted. Not only was there no more morality, the idea that morality was inverted, that maybe morality was nonexistent. They did these things with just pure glee. There was some kind of poetry to their horror.

With the exception of Mister Lonely, your movies feel very distinctly American. What is it about those specifically American landscapes and people that interest you? Well, it just makes sense to me. There are certain colors, things, and lights that I always found attractive. It’s just like anything else. They become a part of you, the American landscape, the geography, the strip malls, the urban sprawl, and the trash bins and the overhead lampposts and soiled couches. They become like characters or permanent fixtures. There’s a kind of street vernacular, or a rural vernacular that I just always loved, the way it looked and felt. After awhile, it feels like home.

Both Trash Humpers and Gummo seem like tributes to small-town America, revealing them as places which can be gross but also beautiful and freeing. Yeah. I would say it’s closer to Gummo than probably anything else that I’ve done just because of the similar locations.

And is this the direction that you see yourself continuing in? No, I think movies are just like moods or ideas, and you feel a certain way at a certain time and you want to explore that. The next movie hopefully that I’ll make will be very different from Trash Humpers. But at the same time, there’s always some kind of connectedness at least in theme or character-wise. It’s always a singular body of work. I kind of look at them all as being partners in crime.

Keep the tap dancing in. I’d like to see that being a common thread. Yeah, I promise you there’ll be tap dancing in every fucking movie I make.

That’s good. Do you know what the next movie is? Well, I can’t really talk about it, because it’s like a jinx. But it’s something I wrote ,so hopefully if it works out … it should be funny.