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Interviews

Stanley Kubrick and The Tree of Life

Is a Stanley Kubrick quote from 1968 the best description of The Tree of Life?

There are more than a few interesting parallels between 2001: A Space Odyssey and Terrence Malick’s latest film.

In their different ways, both ask questions about the origins of human existence, contain astounding visuals courtesy of Douglas Trumbull, use a lot of classical music and have attracted rave reviews.

Both have also been incorrectly labelled as difficult, divisive films – 2001 was a major critical and financial success but because four prominent New York critics disliked it, was labelled as getting a ‘mixed’ response.

Malick’s latest film currently has outstanding critical scores on review aggregation sites like Metacritic (85), Rotten Tomatoes (85) and a very respectable IMDb rating of 7.9, despite some critics recycling the words ‘pretentious’ and ‘perfume ad’.

But after seeing Malick’s film I was immediately reminded of something Stanley Kubrick once said in a Playboy interview around the release of his sci-fi epic:

Playboy: If life is so purposeless, do you feel its worth living?

Kubrick: Yes, for those who manage somehow to cope with our mortality. The very meaninglessness of life forces a man to create his own meaning.

Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre (a keen enjoyment of living), their idealism – and their assumption of immortality.

As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But if he’s reasonably strong – and lucky – he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s élan (enthusiastic and assured vigour and liveliness).

Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining.

The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death – however mutable man may be able to make them – our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfilment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

Stanley Kubrick in interview for Playboy, Stanley Kubrick Interviews, University Press of Mississippi, 2001, p.73

Is this not a near-perfect summary of The Tree of Life?

> My review of The Tree of Life
> Kubrick interview at Google Books
> The Tree of Life and 2001: A Space Odyssey at the IMDb

Categories
Cinema Documentaries Interviews Podcast

Interview: Liz Garbus on Bobby Fischer Against The World

Bobby Fischer Against The World is a new documentary about the rise and fall of the legendary American chess player and his 1972 match with Boris Spassky.

The film explores Fischer’s rapid rise to national fame and the political significance of his clash with Spassky, which attracted global media coverage as a wider Cold War confrontation between America and Russia.

It then delves into the later years of his life as he effectively retired at the peak of his career and became a wandering enigma, exiled from his own country, making controversial statements after 9/11, before eventually retreating to Iceland where he died in 2008.

Directed by Liz Garbus, it premiered at Sundance earlier this year and mixes rare archive footage and photos, along with interviews from those close to Fischer as well as figures such as Gary Kasparov and Henry Kissinger.

I recently spoke to Liz in London at the offices at Dogwoof, who are releasing the film in the UK, and you can listen to the interview by clicking below:

[audio:http://filmdetail.receptionmedia.com/Liz_Garbus_on_Bobby_Fischer_Against_The_World.mp3]

You can also download this interview as a podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Dogwoof release Bobby Fischer Against The World at selected UK cinemas on July 15th

> Download this interview as an MP3 file
> Official website for Bobby Fischer Against The World
> Get updates for the film via Facebook and Twitter
> Find out which local cinemas are playing the film
> Follow Dogwoof on Twitter
> Find out more about Bobby Fischer at Wikipedia

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray Interviews Podcast

Interview: Anthony Richmond on Nicolas Roeg

Cinematographer Anthony Richmond worked alongside director Nicolas Roeg on Don’t Look Now (1973) and The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976).

Don’t Look Now is an adaptation of the short story by Daphne du Maurier, and stars Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland as a married couple who travel to Venice only to haunted by the death of their recent daughter.

It recently topped Time Out’s list of the 100 best British films and remains a remarkably atmospheric drama with its brilliant editing, haunting visuals and great use of the wintry Italian locations.

The Man Who Fell To Earth is a cult adaptation of the Walter Tevis novel about a mysterious man (David Bowie) who seemingly arrives from another planet and builds a vast business empire before becoming a recluse.

An unusual and rewarding film, it has aged like a fine wine with an inventive approach to time and enduring exploration of the forces that shape modern society.

Both films are getting re-releases on Blu-ray and I recently spoke to Anthony about his work on what are now seminal films of the 1970s.

You can listen to the interview by clicking here:

[audio:http://filmdetail.receptionmedia.com/Anthony_Richmond_on_Nicolas_Roeg.mp3]

You can also download this interview as a podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Optimum Home Entertainment release The Man Who Fell To Earth today on Blu-ray and Don’t Look Now is out on June 27th

> Download this interview as an MP3 file
> Buy The Man Who Fell To Earth on Blu-ray and pre-order Don’t Look Now from Amazon UK
> Anthony Richmond at the IMDb
> Nicolas Roeg at Wikipedia
> Review of The Man Who Fell To Earth Blu-ray

Categories
Documentaries Interviews Podcast

Interview: Charles Ferguson on Inside Job

This week sees the UK release of Inside Job, a documentary which examines the global financial crisis.

Directed by Charles Ferguson it explores the deeply troubling relationship between financial and political elites which triggered the current recession.

Opening with a startling prologue about how Iceland’s economy was ruined, it sets up in microcosm the wider story of how, over a period of 30 years, successive governments have allowed large financial institutions to inflate an economic system until it eventually burst in the autumn of 2008.

One of the most important documentaries in years, it was the most critically acclaimed film at the Cannes film festival last May and has been nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar.

I spoke with director Charles Ferguson and producer Audrey Marrs at the London Film Festvial last October and we discussed how they made the film and the issues it raises.

You can listen to the interview by clicking here:

Or here:

[audio:http://filmdetail.receptionmedia.com/Charles_Ferguson_on_Inside_Job.mp3]

You can also download our interview podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Inside Job opens in selected UK cinemas from Friday 18th February

> Download this interview as an MP3 file
> Full Inside Job review from the LFF
> Official site
> Detailed press notes for the film (essential reading)
> Reviews of the film at Cannes from MUBi and Metacritic
> Get local cinema listings for the film via Google or FindAnyFilm

Categories
Cinema Interviews Podcast

Interview: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu on Biutiful

In the latest drama from director Alejandro González Iñárritu, an underworld fixer in Barcelona struggles to deal with his family’s future and his own mortality.

Uxbal (Javier Bardem) oversees an illegal underground operation involving immigrant workers, drugs and construction, whilst also trying to be a good man to his estranged wife (Maricel Álvarez) and his two children (Hanaa Bouchaib and Guillermo Estrella).

Notable for an outstanding lead performance from Bardem, the film powerfully explores the dark edges of a modern city and the lives of those who live in it.

It marks a break from Iñárritu’s triptych with screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel) and I recently spoke with the director in London about his latest work.

You can listen to the interview here:

[audio:http://filmdetail.receptionmedia.com/Alejandro_Gonzalez_Inarritu_on_Biutiful.mp3]

You can also download this interview as a podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

N.B. The title of the film refers to the orthographical spelling in Spanish of the English word beautiful as it would sound to native Spanish speakers.

Biutiful opens in the UK on Friday 28th January and is already in limited release in the US

> Download this interview as an MP3 file
> Official site
> LFF review of Biutiful
> Reviews of Biutiful at Metacritic
> Alejandro González Iñárritu at the IMDb