Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sleepy Science With Michel Gondry

Part Four: On New Projects
and Old Favorites

Mos Def [left], who appears in Dave Chappelle's Block Party, reunites with Gondry for Be Kind Rewind


In this section, Michel Gondry talks about his next two films. (This was a joint interview with a fellow named Tyler.) To read parts one through three, please click here. Caveat: Certain passages were hard to make out. I've done my best to transcribe them as accurately as possible, but I'm sure I got a word or two wrong. Gondry's English is excellent, but he's soft spoken and his accent is strong. The result was lively conversation, difficult transcription.


Tyler: Do you think Be Kind Rewind is gonna be more like this one [The Science of Sleep] or more like Eternal Sunshine?

Gondry: I don't know. I'm gonna try to shoot larger format, like anamorphic. It'll be a contrast to the way we shoot the films [within the film], which is video and completely crappy, and the way the film will look, which is gonna be a little more slick. I [will] put myself in a different situation. Like the last two films I did, it was all...hand-held. On this one I think I will put the camera on some equipment, like a tripod or steadicam or crane.

Fennessy: Have you seen that remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark? Because supposedly Daniel Clowes [self-portrait to the right] is making a movie about the making of the remake.

Gondry: Yeah, I know. I was working with Dan Clowes on a project when he told me that, and I was a little bummed out--or do you say bummed down?

Fennessy: Bummed out, yes.

Gondry: Because it was so sincere, but I decided...it's different. I know they're doing that, but maybe it's in the air. JB [Jack Black] came to me because you have all those remakes that are made with way more money than the original film, and they turn out to be not as good, and I thought why don't we take a big movie and do a very cheap remake. And that's how I got this idea. I find a way to force two kids--two guys--to have to do all those movies, and then I got the idea of this guy working in a video store with this other [guy] and, because he becomes magnetized by a power plant, he erases all the tape. And then to save the day, they do one movie, just to save time. And then people like it, and then they have to do more and more, and then they become like stars.

[For Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, a group of teenagers recreated everything Spielberg did in the original blockbuster.]

Tyler: Did they offer you The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Because I thought I read that.

Gondry: I don't know. I think Spike [Jonze] had it for awhile. I don't remember. I think I was probably working.

Tyler: If you weren't working, would you have made it?

Gondry: I don't know, maybe. I'm trying to do science fiction. I'm working on Rudy Rucker's book [Master of Space and Time] with Dan Clowes, but it's complicated, because we like all the quirkiness of the book, and the producers try to make it more mainstream to be able to raise the money. So it's complicated, science fiction. And I think it's why, except maybe for--like Phillip K. Dick has been very hard to adapt, because [indistinguishable]. You need a lot of money to make a science fiction movie, because you have to reconstitute the whole world, so I don't know how to make a science fiction movie that excites me... It would not be like Ridley Scott. I think Blade Runner is a masterpiece, but...it's been an influence for too many years now, and I don't know where movies can go. I think [Paul] Verhoeven has done new stuff with science fiction, like Robocop and Starship Troopers, which are really great movies... And sometimes, like with Starship Troopers or movies of that type--a truly great science fiction movie--they are not so accepted by the audience, because they are too edgy.

Tyler: You've said you like Back to the Future, which is a different kind of science fiction.

Gondry: It's quirky, there's some darkness to it, but it's not slick.

Tyler: Well, it's not like a space movie. People think space movie when they hear science fiction.

Gondry: I think in a space movie you can do something quirky. I mean, I guess Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was like that, but there was something--I don't know what it is--it didn't click.

Fennessy: Did you see Art School Confidential, and did that remind you of your art school experience?

Gondry: Yeah, in some ways.

Fennessy: It reminded me of mine.

Gondry: I liked it very much. I like Daniel Clowes--and Terry Zwigoff, too. I mean, Ghost World was amazing, and the documentary on Crumb--the best movie I've seen.

Fennessy: In your [Directors Series] booklet, you mention a film called Yuri Norstein's Hedgehog in the Fog [1975]. Is this something you own? Is it something other people can see or is it rare?

[I think it may have influenced his "Human Behavior" video.]

Gondry: You can find it in a collection of four DVDs--or two maybe, you would have to check--on the Russian animator [The Complete Works of Yuri Norstein]. I would recommend them. He did the Tale of Tales [1979]. As well, Heron and Crane [1974]. Some animal tales. And it's brilliant. If you can't find it in America, you can order it from France... I keep giving them to my friends, and I'm never home to watch them.

Fennessy: Your description makes it sound great.

Gondry: It's magical.

Fennessy: Have you been at all influenced by--these are really your contemporaries--the Quay Brothers or Jan Svankmajer, who's been working even longer?

Gondry: It's funny, I get those comparisons...but I would have to say no, because it's too dark for me.

Fennessy: It is a lot darker. [Both also work with stop-motion.]

Gondry: I don't like necessarily those films. They're skilled, but they...depict a world that's tortured. I am, I guess, a tortured person, but I don't want to use tortuous imagery--it's too much.

Endnote: The Science of Sleep continues at the Egyptian Theatre (801 E Pine). For more information, please click here or call 206-781-5755. For my money, Dave Chappelle's Block Party and Art School Confidential are two of the most underrated films of the year. Incidentally, at some point, Siffblog will transition to Cinelucida.com, but the old URL will continue to work. The domain names Cinepen.com and Cinescopist.com will also do the trick. Images from Metroactive, Wikipedia, and No Free List.

1 comment:

soraya said...

thanks for this interview, it was very thorough :) im interviewing gondry next week and this has been super helpful, he sounds awesome :) its definately one of my most intimidating interviews (next to todd haynes, who, actually, totally settled my nerves by basically turning into, like, a girlfriend at a sleepover. he was lovely).