Friday, June 28, 2013

Before Before Midnight

Playing in Theaters

Before Before Midnight

(from Sag Harbor Express Online 6/28/13)


Jesse and Celine, still walking and talking


I hope everyone sees Richard Linklater's Before Midnight at the Sag Harbor Cinema beginning on Friday.  It's a splendid third part to the continuous screen romance of Julie Delpy's Celine and Ethan Hawke's Jesse that began on a train in Before Sunrise eighteen years ago.  In the first film, the smart, sexy young strangers--he's American, she's French --boldly spent a fateful night in Vienna, chatting, chatting, chatting and falling in love, forever.  They seemed destined to reunite and be together always, but in the second film, Before Sunrise, made nine years later, we learn that they hadn't rendezvoused again as they'd promised each other and now had different partners.  While he's in France, promoting a book he'd written about their brief encounter, they meet again...and start chatting, chatting, and chatting and the romance is rekindled. They realize they had been right about each other back when they were young.  In Before Midnight they're finally an official couple and know each other so well that they get careless and drift into a dangerous, dark place before love brings them back.  It's uncomfortably intense at times, but the romance still jumps off the screen and again you'll marvel at the natural performances of the two stars and the consistently brilliant--witty and fierce--banter they wrote.  I missed Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke when they made their publicity rounds for Before Midnight two months ago, but, looking for a twist, I dug up these interviews I did nine years ago with Linklater and then Delpy and Hawke, when they were promoting Before Sunset.  I think they give fascinating insight into the entire trilogy including the new film. See what you think.

Interview with Richard Linklater

Danny Peary: Was Before Sunrise more autobiographical than Before Sunset?

Richard Linklater: Yeah, it was more autobiographical and personal.

DP: Did you write the first film with Ethan Hawke or Julie Delpy in mind?

RL: I didn’t.  I didn’t know them then.  I knew whoever was cast would have to take over the film.  Even though I had the script, it would have to be personal for them.  The script was just what I needed to get things going, giving it reality with characters and locations.  But what the film was going to be was what we did at rehearsals and going to a level we couldn’t imagine at the beginning.

DP: When you finished Before Sunrise, could you predict what happens between Celine and Jesse in Before Sunset?

RL: We didn’t expect to make another film at that time.  We had to wait nine years to reach this point.  I always felt Celine and Jesse would get together, but Julie and Ethan didn’t always think that.

DP: Was there one thing that made you all want to do an update on the characters?

RL: I think it was the real-time aspect for a second encounter.  We fooled around with all kinds of ideas and distilled them into one idea: a real-time encounter in which they more or less run into each other because he's promoting his book about their previous meeting but has to catch a plane in a couple of hours. Those were the parameters we set up, our zone, and everything went from there. Our challenge was to make it seem like real time.  It was like being painted into a corner.  Everything had to be timed perfectly and it had to be accurate geographically.  It worked like a play in that whatever we were shooting that day would be in the final film.  There would be no extra scenes on a DVD because there was nothing else, this is what we shot. 

DP: For Before Sunrise Kim Krizan and you are the credited screenwriters, and Ethan and Julie didn't receive writing credit.  But this time it's you, Julie and Ethan.

RL: I think all films reflect a director’s personality, but this film reflects Julie and Ethan to a large extent because they were my collaborators all the way down the line for years.  They had to give so much of themselves to creating their characters that it was logical we’d write the film together.  Kim elected not to.  Ethan, Julie and I outlined it very specifically.  We communicated by email and faxes, sent each other things, and each of us jumped on things we wanted to write about. The film was personal to all of us.   Ethan wrote a lot when he was really happy about being a father.  Was he foretelling something, or is what happened to his character so common?  A lot of that came from me too, because I have kids. We were in the same room only sporadically but when we were it was very intense and fun because we have a great chemistry. It was a long process to write the first script, taking over a year.   

Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater at work on Before Sunset
 
DP: You were writing with one male and one female, so did you worry it would be too male driven rather than balanced?

RL: No. I don’t relate to one of those characters more than the other.  I’m probably closer to Celine than Jesse life-wise.  I wouldn’t divide it into masculine-feminine.

DP: The acting comes across as so natural that it seems as if Ethan and Julie are improvising.

RL: During the rehearsals we rewrote the script based on their improvisations. But then it was a final script and they stuck 100% to it. Even the most minute gestures were worked out in advance. I wanted it not to be noticeable that they were acting or that a film was being made.  I wanted it to be like you were encountering an old friend and were happy to see him.  That was the right vibe for the movie.  It was interesting segue for Julie and Ethan to go from cowriters to actors because the enormity of their task was apparent.  It took a lot of rehearsal to get it right.  It seems like we just turned on the camera and followed them as they walked and talked but it was all planned out for how we would get from one location to the next. They had to really work so hard and internalize it so well that it would come out naturally and spontaneously. 

DP: How did you shoot them, particularly during their long dialogues when walking?

RL: There were some pretty difficult steady-cam shots.  On some scenes I used two cameras but for the most part one.

DP: Once again you've made a film with a lot of dialogue:

RL: It’s hard to pull off but it must be innately what I’m interested in because I keep doing it over and over.  Here I am making another film in which all my characters do is talk.  I guess it’s natural to me, but at my core it’s something I was interested in before I even picked up a camera.  Dialogue with people saying things and not saying things and how they express themselves to me has always interested me.  I like people. At the core, that’s what we have to go through in our lives—communication, what I’m doing now with you.  From that you can judge my personality. To me that’s life.  We don’t live in action films.  Talking is the majority of our experience.  I wasn’t the kind of guy to sit in a coffee shop and have conversations with people; I was too busy reading or doing stuff.  I’d even tell my friends, "What you’re doing is fine, but I’m spending the day reading Dostoyevsky."  I didn’t want to talk or hear other people talk.  But when I started making films, I had people talking and expressing ideas.

DP: After nine years, Celine and Jesse haven’t forgotten each other and that has prevented them from being happy with anyone else. And I'd say that if they’d never met, they both would have longed for someone similar.  So in this film is their relationship confirmed to be emblematic of true love?


 
RL: We weren’t trying to be romantic or to approach the film as a big romance.  What we were exploring was their deep connection that never went away.  I don’t know if it’s true love or something they should pursue—that’s a bigger life's question.  Just because you have that connection doesn’t necessarily mean you should spend the rest of your life with that person.   It’s a tricky thing.  I don’t know if they are ideal life partners.

DP: But this is the love of their lives.

RL: Yeah.  After the first film I got letters saying, “I met someone on a train in 1970…”  I think it reminded older people of something earlier in their lives.  I think people who were the same age as the characters had the same anxieties—so it resonated in retrospect more than it did in the day.  People might relate more to this film because the two have life baggage that is common to all of us.

DP: Do Jesse and Celine again try to seduce each other in the second film?

RL: I think so.  What’s going on between them is flirtation, seduction, it’s what people do when they’re attracted to each other.  It’s different because they have been together before and they’re revisiting old feelings.  It’s pretty important to both of them—and they’re leading each other on, trying to show who they are at this moment.

DP: At the time you expect them to kiss, he says he's married and she says she has a boyfriend, it’s jarring…

RL: What I find interesting the whole time is what they’re not saying, what they’re not comfortable going into just yet, even though they have only a short time frame.  What each other feels means to much to them but they’re being casual about it because the other person might not share those feelings.  They don’t want to reveal anything if the other person won’t reciprocate.  That’s masochistic.

DP: I was also jarred when Jesse and Celine smoke.

RL: Julie and Ethan do smoke.  We made decision not to have the characters smoke in the first film.  I thought it was kind of telling, I don’t know of what exactly.

DP: Maybe it says something about their being older. I’m sure some people will like them better now than the young people in the first film.

RL: People can be kind of merciless on young people.  They’re kind of tender and forgiving until they are 17 and there is a rough patch when they’re 18 to 22 or 23.  The world comes crashing down on you at that age—you’re a punk, you’re pretentious, you should get your act together.  I’ve done films with people that age because there’s little empathy for them.  Older people say they’re glad they’re not that age anymore, but you have to go through it.  They say your personality is formed at 25, and your view of the world is established, so it’s a trying time in your life as you become who you are going to become—but it’s also exhilarating and real. 

DP: At the end of this film, Jesse knows Celine won’t tell him to leave.

RL: Yeah but she’s been a slower read I think, because he’s the one who has more responsibilities and baggage. We caught resistance getting the film made because some people complained he’s married and she’s not.  We’d say, “Come on, this is the real world, with a lot of unhappily married people.  We don’t know his wife’s situation—she might be back home in bed with someone.  There are two sides to any relationship that’s not working." 

DP: Do you think people will think the end isn’t really satisfying because it isn’t a real end?

RL: I hope not.  This was our end in the outline, where the movie was going to end.  It was going to get real-worldy right after that, so I can’t imagine continuing with the story.  If someone is dissatisfied, it’s probably someone who wants something literal, “tell me the whole story” and maybe they shouldn’t be at the movie to begin with.

DP:I think there is a definite ending, don’t you?

RL: I think so. 

DP: The shot of Julie Delpy/Celine, seen through the eyes of Ethan Hawks/Jesse and your eyes, is that she’s the perfect woman that he and every other guy can't help but fall in love with.  Imperfect but perfect.

RL: There you go.  We talked about that.  When we were working on the outline, Julie was talking about seeing Nina Simone in concert and I was sitting across from her just like Ethan is in the movie.  I said that’s the end of the movie. 

DP: Do you see making another film to revisit these characters in a few years?

RL: Obviously we could do it.  The fact that we’ve done this film says we could.  Whether we will or will not make a third film is up for grabs. I’d love to work with them again.  I’ve been lucky to work with Julie three times and Ethan five times so far.  I can’t complain.

Interview with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy

Danny Peary: How difficult was it collaborating on the script for Before Sunset, faxing and emailing each other back and forth?

Ethan Hawke: Well, we had done it before.  We worked pretty hard on Before Sunrise, so we had a pretty good idea of how to do it.

Julie Delpy: When we started in 2002, we had an outline that was basically the film from beginning to end with whatever Celine and Jesse were going to talk about in every scene, more or less, and an emotional progression.  Then we went our own ways and gave each other assignments to write certain bits.  I would want to write a scene, and Ethan would want to write a scene, and Rick would want to write a scene—and then we’d send them to each other.

EH:  We would then get together and sit with all the papers and try to piece it together.  It was like a workshop.  The whole idea was to figure out what would happen to our characters in real time after being apart for nine years.

DP: Did you usually agree with each other?

JD:  We agreed on everything.  We never had arguments about the direction we were taking them.

EH: We had enough ideas so that if one person felt uncomfortable with one, we could easily throw it out.

DP: Strange question—did you really have to know and trust one another so that the characters would have such strong feelings for each other?

EH: When you write together you find out so much about the other person.

JD:  Especially in the way we wrote together on these films where we had to open up entirely and can’t have bullshit; you have to give everything, you have to get to know each other 100% in very little time.  So it really helped that we have known each other for a long time. 

DP: Had you seen Before Sunrise since it came out and if not, were you surprised by how you looked then?

EH:  I hadn’t seen it during all those years and I couldn't imagine that I'd changed that much.





DP: Do people come up to you with stories of one-nighters that Before Sunrise reminded them of?

EH&JD: YES, ever since the film came out.

JD: Every American man I meet when I’m in Europe who has seen the movie tries to get into a conversation with me.

DP: Would you have thought Celine would have met Jesse years before as they planned in the first film?

EH: I knew that he would come to see her.  I felt strongly that he would definitely show up.  The funny thing is that once we started filming a movie about them seeing each other for the first time in nine years, it had to be that one of them didn’t show up for their meeting years before.  So a lot of what we wrote was forced by the passage of time.  If we had written that they had both shown up and gotten married and had four kids then it’s another film. 

JD: Yes, it would be another film.  We wrote that Celine couldn’t come that day because of an emergency involving her grandmother. I had mentioned the grandmother in the first film.  So they missed their opportunity then.  In this film we wanted to talk about the idea that the person you met for just one day when you were young and imagined was the one person for you could actually be the person.  It's a scary thought.  Because people will think it was just youth and a “first love” that never worked out and those feelings were just in their imaginations. But maybe it really would have worked out because they were right for each other. 

DP: Do you believe it's true love?

EH:  They obviously have a very deep connection with each other that surpasses the ordinary.  But it’s never had a chance to manifest itself in a daily way, so I don’t think they really know if it’s there.  They just know how good it is to be near one another.  In many ways, both movies are a metaphor—one night, one afternoon, it could be one year—for entire lives. 

DP: Is it best that they spent all these years apart?  Certainly they grew as people and experienced life before reconnecting as adults, and now maybe they are mature enough to realize and appreciate what they have in each other?

EH: If you talk to older people, you’ll hear many stories of successes and failures in relationships.  Relationships are tough.

JD: I think the characters were wise when they were young so could realize the other was special then.

EH:  They make fun of themselves as young people in both films, but they’re pretty much the same people now as they were then—including how they see each other.

JD:  We can change, we can evolve and grow, but the core of who we are and how we sense things and experience and feel the world is pretty much the same from the day we’re born. Because that's how we’re “wired.”  If you’re a sensitive person, you can become stronger but you’ll remain sensitive.  Artists and writers have a certain sense that was there from the beginning.

DP: Do you think that because this film is set in Paris that they have a liberty they wouldn’t have otherwise?

JD: It’s where she lives and works.   It is her city so it puts her in the position of taking him around.  But though Paris is pretty and romantic, it could have been set anywhere.  It’s really about the two of them.

EH: To me, Paris becomes an extension of Celine.  Jesse’s experiencing her again.  And if the movie is going to work, the way you can forgive or understand or empathize at all with a married man who is having this experience is to be really blown away by this woman.  So we needed to write a really remarkable character for a remarkable actress and to be taken into her world.

DP: Ethan, do you think this film is from the male perspective, possibly because there were two male writers.

JD: But I count for two!

EH: Celine has many more lines than Jesse. I think it is more her movie.  It is his gaze though.  Both movies open and end with him gazing at her. 

DP: At the end, we look at you, Julie, as Celine, with the eyes of Ethan, Jesse, and Richard Linklater, and I think we’re supposed to see the “perfect dream woman” for most guys.

JD: Because it was directed by a man, I think there is male point of view, so it was a challenge in both films to not turn Celine into a man’s ideal of a woman or the extreme opposite, where she’s cold.  I tried to find the right balance between a smart, young woman and a woman who is emotional and vulnerable, and have her be attractive but not in a way where she’s trying to be cute and flirtatious.  Rick always wanted her to be appealing but real.

DP: And Celine, like Jesse, is funny.

EH: Julie is funny, I’m the straight man.  I’m her Dean Martin.

JD:  Do you mean I’m Jerry Lewis?

DP: Who came up with the line about American men being horny?

EH: Julie, that was you…

JD:  Celine is the one who broaches the subject of sex.  She’s always the one who starts talking about it. 

EH: We wanted them to have a nice, playful sense of humor about sexuality.  When you’re younger you have a very juvenile sense of humor about sexuality, if you have a sense of humor at all about it.

DP: In the first film they were very idealistic, in this film they are older and more cynical, although Celine’s job shows she is still idealistic politically, if not personally.

EH: They don’t want to lose their sense of idealism, and seeing each other awakens it.  That’s why they are so happy to see each other.

JD: She is totally an idealist.

DP: But she’s sad and disenchanted.

EH: But most idealists are sad because the world is disappointing.

DP: An obvious question: How much of the film reflects your real life?

EH (straight-faced): It’s actually my entire real life.  It’s a documentary and the hardest thing was going back and looping in the names Jesse and Celine.

JD:  The classic French actor Louis Jouvet said, “You have to put a little life in your art, and a little art in your life.”  So it’s a little bit of that, where we put in real things from our own lives and experiences to give it truth.  But at the same time, there are many things that are just invented for the film.  There is a lot in Celine that I relate to and I was able to write her because I understand her psychology, but I am very different on many levels.  I have had friends thank me for putting a little bit of them into Celine.  

EH:  We would talk to each other about our friends and relate their stories and some of that would go into the characters.

DP: There are many elaborate long takes of you two talking as you walk through Paris. 

EH: That was all difficult; it was exhausting.  We had to do both films with sunlight in mind, so we were limited when we could shoot.  Because the movie was happening in real time, we knew nothing would be cut.

JD: So we couldn’t mess up anything.

EH: We weren’t allowed to add anything.  Even when we were rehearsing and tried to add lines, Rick would stop us and say, “No, it’s over.  You can overlap the dialogue or do other things, but you can’t add lines.”  If actors start improvising you can tell because they start saying “you know” and “like” and “f**k.”  It should be a choreographed piece of music, where there is talk and the silences fall.

JD: If shots were messed up by something happening in the background we’d have to throw it out and start over.  If the light changed when we turned a corner when walking, it was difficult.  We would decide then to wait for the light at 6 pm, but then there would be clouds, so it was difficult.

DP: When Celine and Jesse walk up the stairwell to her apartment, there is no talk.

JD:  It was written that way.  After all that talking to each other, they are entering another stage in their relationship.  Now they know what they mean to one another. 

DP: At the end, Jesse watches Celine imitating, almost channeling Nina Simone--where did that reference come from?

JD:  During the time we did the outline, I put on a Nina Simone record I loved and imitated her in a concert I had just seen.  And Rick decided to end the film that way.  So we wrote it in. 

DP: How did your view of filmmaking change from making this film?

EH: Rick and Julie taught me so much.  They both have such a love of cinema, and I learned so much about movies and art from them.  So I took a lot from the movie.

JD: I learned a tremendous amount.  I learned to truly collaborate with people.  I’ve heard it from other directors that the bad directors are the ones who won’t listen and be open to others’ ideas. I’ve now really noticed it.  Rick is totally open to proposals and knows when to say yes and when to say no.  I had written when I was very young but had quit writing when I was twenty for very specific reasons.  And then for Before Sunrise I started writing again.  It brought me back to writing, so it was essential to me.

DP: Do you want to work together again?

EH: As collaborating writers, these two movies are our forum.  But I’d like to work in Julie’s pictures.  She has written several scripts that are outstanding. 

JD: I have films to act in first, but I plan to direct my own films after that.

DP: Could you do another film with these two characters down the road?

JD:  We don’t know yet. In another life. Only if we have something really meaningful to say.  The time it took to decide to bring the characters back was really quick, but it took us some time to really figure out what we wanted to say.  It makes no sense to do another sequel if we have nothing to say on the subject.

EH: We could do another film in two years or maybe thirty-five years. 

Julie: Right.  We’re not going to do a new film every nine years. 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Archive: Bobcat Goldthwait, the Surprisingly Sweet Director of Sleeping Dogs Lie

Find on Video

Bobcat Goldthwait, the Surprisingly Sweet Director of  Sleeping Dogs Lie

(from Timessquare.com October 23, 2006)
Here’s an attention grabber: On a whim one dateless night, Amy, a pretty, intelligent, and practical coed, performs fellatio on her pet dog.  She never does it again and it is her dark, dark secret until her boyfriend coaxes it out of her and soon he and her family has turned their backs on her.  That’s the uniquely outrageous premise of “Sleeping Dogs Lie,” and considering the original wild man Bobcat Goldthwait is the director, everyone was expecting this indie to be an outlandish, over-the-top, and beyond-offensive comedy.  Instead, as critics discovered at film festivals, Goldthwaite wrote and directed what he reluctantly admits is a sweet, gentle, and sometimes serious comedy, and leading lady Melinda Page Hamilton turned Amy into one of the most appealing and sympathetic female characters in memory.  Let sleeping dogs lie, but, film lovers, wake up to a real sleeper, a minor gem that is not only sweet but also is surprisingly profound.  For seventeen minutes, I tried to let Bobcat in on this secret
Melinda Page Hamilton and Bobcat Goldthwait
Danny Peary: In the production notes for “Sleeping Dogs Lie,” it comes across to me as if your film was almost a guerilla production, with crew members even sleeping on your DP’s floor.  You are a well-known, established commodity who directed two previous films, so was it really so hard for you to get financing?
Bobcat Goldthwait: The reality is that I showed the script around a little, but when someone would ask, “Can the girl just jerk off the dog?” I would think, “This is insane, I’m not going to rewrite it to get backing.”  I made it because Sarah de Sa Rego, who was one of the co-producers, said, “This is a good script, we should shoot it.”  I said, “We don’t have any money.”  But we just started and really it became stone soup. There was no money, no ingredients.  Half the crew was college kids from Craigslist, and the other half was people my age or older who I knew from TV shows I’d worked on.  We shot in sixteen days, working sixteen to eighteen hours a day.  We didn’t have permits and we were stealing things from other shows.  That’s how we did it.
DP: Melinda Page Hamilton gives a terrific even tender performance as Amy.  She had done mostly regional theater and television before you gave her the part.  Did you see her play the sexy nun on “Desperate Housewives?” 
BG: No, I didn’t.
DP: I don’t think she did either because she claims not to have a television.
BG: I believe that because while we were working together she’d hear stories about me and go, “What is this about your setting a fire on the set of the “Tonight Show?’”  She would hear all kinds of things about what I’d done on television and she’d say, “How can that be true?  Bob is so quiet and nice.”  When Melinda came in and auditioned, that was the first time I felt, “Maybe this will be okay, maybe this will work.”  Then I got freaked out because I worried a family member would tell her not to do the movie or that an agent would get to her.
DP: Was she queasy about the premise when she auditioned for the film?
BG: Not at all.  I don’t want to bum out anyone who auditioned, but what happened was that people would come in and for some reason—and maybe it was because I was attached—they’d play it for the wrong kind of laughs.  Melinda came in and made it really realistic.  I’m so happy she did the movie.  If someone didn’t do as well as she did as Amy, I know the movie would never have gotten to Sundance and never would have gotten released.  I really credit her a lot for the small amount of success we’ve already had with the movie.
DP: In the press notes, you give a lot of credit to Melinda and the rest of your cast and your cinematographer Ian Takahashi for the tone of the film.  Are you giving yourself enough credit?  Because when you started writing the script, didn’t you know that there would be a balance between comic and somewhat serious moments?
BG: The challenge when I wrote this was keeping things small by not adding comedic elements that didn’t seem realistic just to get a laugh.  It would have been easy to add slapstick and shock elements, but I didn’t do it.  That was different for me.
DP: That‘s like when Woody Allen made “Annie Hall” and forced himself to cut funny stuff that didn’t fit. 
BG: I didn’t know that, but, yeah, I had to fight the impulse to deliver punch lines all the time and make the humor too broad.  The goal was to make a movie with an outrageous subject but what she did, her secret, is kind of a McGuffin that is there all the time causing discomfort but is rarely a source for comedy.
DP: Right, the discomfort everyone feels is where much of the humor and the darker stuff comes from instead.  When you first thought about writing the script did you think you wanted to make a movie in which a girl has a secret of sucking off a dog?  Or did you first come up with the premise that a girl has any extreme sexual secret and then try to come up with the worst secret imaginable?
BG: It was more like the second case.  I think I decided on the dog idea for the simple reason it wouldn’t involve another human being.  Because then there would have been this other character that I would have had to deal with, if you know what I mean.  Sooner or later he or she would have to show up.  I just wanted the secret to be about Amy, no one else.
Melinda Page Hamilton
DP: Amy has a line at the beginning of the film that I assume you thought was needed by viewers: “I’m not into bestiality in any way.”
BG:  Right.  I wanted it clear that she’s not into dogs despite her one act. What she did was just a lapse of judgment.  It’s like when you know something is hot and touch it anyway.  You get burned and then you wonder, “Why did I do that?”  You don’t know the reason.  She is alone and maybe she’s lonely, but I believe it’s still just curiosity that causes her to suck the dog.  I certainly do things when I’m all alone that I wouldn’t do or even discuss in front of other people.
DP: She’s a school teacher of young kids.  Is that your way of showing that despite being someone who once committed an act society would frown upon, she’s an ideal teacher?
BG:  No, I wasn’t making any statement.  I made her a teacher because I wanted her to be altruistic.
DP:  Amy is altruistic, pretty, loyal, and nonjudgmental, and even has a healthy sexuality.  She seems like the PERFECT girlfriend or wife. So, is what she did with the dog a “flaw?” 
BG: I think it’s almost just human nature to do one thing in your life that everyone else would be shocked by.  Not necessarily bestiality, but something. 
DP:  I think she sees it as a lapse in judgment, as you call it, nothing more.  She needs people to accept what she did, not forgive it.  Maybe she regrets doing it, kind of, and perhaps thinks of it her as her one “flaw” or mild trespass, but I don’t think she ever condemns herself for doing it, does she?. 
BG: No, and that was important.  She is not wrapped in emotional guilt because she thinks she did anything wrong.  It’s more like she thinks she did something really dumb and can’t explain why she did it to herself or anyone else.  Unfortunately, in our society we’re pressured to be completely honest with the person we’re in a serious relationship with.  Which is ridiculous.
DP: I mentioned the word “flaw” because I think your film is a lot about the idea of: What is perfection and what is a flaw?  I think of the scene where Ed and Amy are being intimate and he worries about his stomach.  He does have that “flaw,” and he’s older, too, which might be another “flaw,” yet we see that he’s still “perfect: for her.  And with Amy, too—she might have done what some people perceive as a flaw, yet still be perfect. 
BG: I didn’t realize it before, but I think that’s true about the film.  Wow. In a weird way, it’s about accepting our “flaws.”  It took you to spell it out to me two years later.  It’s kind of funny I didn’t think about that as a theme because the various people I had in my head when I was writing the script were hung up with their “flaws.”  So it’s funny you say this.
DP: Simply, human beings are flawed.  But I think the film says that doesn’t keep them from being perfect.  Ed is so lucky to get Amy when John exiles her.  And I think one of the keys to the film is that by not accepting what’s done, John risks losing out on who you must believe is the best girl in the world.
BG: I think he’s ruining his life.  He is totally blowing it.  I also think that she is possibly sabotaging their relationship subconsciously by telling him her secret.  Maybe deep down she knows that he’s not the right guy for her.  I don’t know if that works for anyone else but that was way back in my head.
DP: At first I thought that what she says to John, that she sucked off a dog in college, is the worst thing a girl could say to a guy.  But is it?   If she would say, “I had sex with a foreign terrorist” or “I sucked off a two-headed midget,” John probably would have, in time, the same reaction.  He’s going to be unreasonably jealous no matter who or what she had sex with, don’t you think? 
BG: The dog may be the worst scenario, but in all cases he is going to be jealous. From my personal experience, women seem to deal with past lovers better than men do.   It seems men are jealous of who you’ve been with and, I think, women are jealous of who you might be with.  If your eyes are wandering as you’re walking together on the street, you’re going to get a rolling pin to the head when you get home. 
DP: It’s interesting that Amy doesn’t have any problem with John’s darkest secret.
BG: Yeah, and his secret is…really gross. 
DP:  She barely reacts and accepts it as an innocent one-time thing.  But if she had said the same thing to John—that she had done that exact thing he did with a bunch of guys—how would he have reacted?
BG: If he hadn’t done it himself, he probably would have had the same problem as with the dog confession.
DP:  Which leads to the conclusion, which I guess the film agrees with, that women shouldn’t tell their boyfriends or husbands anything about their sexual pasts.   
BG: I think a woman could probably tell a mature guy…  No? 
DP: I don’t think you think so either because in your film Amy has learned her lesson and refuses to tell her new boyfriend Ed, who is a mature guy, even though he asks. 
BG: That’s true.   I just know me.  I know the older I get that stuff bothers me less. Then again, I’m dating older women now and I can’t get as jealous.  They have more baggage because forty-year-old virgins don’t really exist. 
DP: You say you’re dating.  Do you ask these women their secrets, or do you know better?
BG:  No, I would never get into that--because as a young man I would.  It would happen while joking around or as pillow talk, as it comes out in the film.   Although I may have acted pleasant or not phased by any of those kernels of information I got, they were all being Rollerdexed. 
DP:  And that is the equivalent of John becoming jealous about a potentially more exciting canine lover and finally wondering how sex was for her with the dog. 
BG: Sure.  That does happen in the movie.  I thought it probably would come around to John wanting to see her do it again.
DP: After John’s hostile reaction, Amy thinks it’s wise not to tell Ed.  Do you think he could have handled it?  I don’t think so.
BG: I don’t think he could have.  She’s right.  I think she’s learning unconditional love with Ed.  And without sounding too pretentious, I’d say her sacrifice is actually keeping her mouth shut and not feeling that relief you get when you tell someone a big secret.
DP: “Sleeping Dogs Lie” isn’t made by a neurotic person like Amy’s brother, but by someone as clear-headed as Ed.  So: Were you at all relating to Ed as your stand-in?
BG: Yeah.  I think that made it harder on Colby French, who played the part.  On occasion, he would say something and I’d say, “No, you’d say it more like this.”  I’d never done that before with a character.  He finally said, “I’m playing you, aren’t I?”  And I admitted he was.
DP: Ed might have unconditional love for Amy, but she’s reluctant to confirm this by telling him her secret. So what’s interesting is that the person who comes through, unexpectedly, is her father.  By finally accepting what she did, he the one who it turns out to have unconditional love.
BG: That’s true, though her mother comes around, too.  Both parents are shocked but do love her unconditionally.  Geoff Pierson does such a great job as her father.  He is the only actor in the movie that I actually had in mind when I was writing the script.  There are others who are friends, but he’s the only one who I really saw saying a character’s lines, even though he’s not like the father at all.  I really love working with him and if I keep making films I hope to cast him again. 
 DP: What about Amy’s line, “I need you to love me, daddy.”  It is a great tear-making line, showing her heartbreak about being rejected by everyone, and it’s my guess that you had a hard time writing it. 
BG:  That’s true.  I really wondered about it.  I went back and forth on it.  But we ended up shooting it and that’s a scene I’m really happy with.
DP: Because of such screen moments, I’m sure people have told you or written that the film is sweet, which--because you directed it--surprised them. 
BG: People do say it’s sweet and I guess I’m not totally comfortable with that.  I was really nervous about making a movie that could be perceived as sweet.  I think that’s why it’s based in offensive subject matter.  I think I was afraid of people saying it’s sweet.
DP: So you want viewers to go through the offensive stuff before they reach the sweetness.  And is it only those people who do this that get your permission to call it sweet? 
BG: That’s right!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gatsby's Great Cast of Characters

The Great Gatsby Is Playing in Theaters

Gatsby's Great Cast of Characters

(from Sag Harbor Express Online 6/20/13/material originally in FilmInk (Aus))
 
 
Today concludes The Great Gatsby’s long run at the UA Southampton Cinema, where it even outlasted Star Trek Into Darkness.  But while its time in the Hamptons comes to an end, late arrivals can still catch it in New York City or almost anywhere a plane lands.  Worldwide it has now passed $300 million and is going strong  Not bad for a film that was considered a financial risk, a potential flop.  Even with Leonard DiCaprio in the lead, who wanted to see yet another film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s class novel from and about the Jazz Age?  Especially since it was made in 3-D and had hip-hop prominently on the soundtrack, clear signs that the target audience included young fans who never heard of the author. Having almost walked out of Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, a bombardment of the senses, I was among the skeptics.  I was startled to like the film as much as I did and thought the 3-D actually enhanced the viewer’s experience, keeping the screen alive with images and helping maintain a rhythm that the comatose 1974 version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow never achieved. Oddly, Luhrmann’s version is surprisingly faithful to Fitzgerald and made me understand his characters more clearly than ever before.  Before the film’s release, I asked the following questions about the film and its iconic characters to four of the stars–DiCaprio (Gatsby), Carey Mulligan (Daisy), Tobey Maguire (Nick Carraway) and Isla Fisher (Myrtle)–and their director, Luhrmann, for an article in the Australian magazine FilmInk. I think their responses will be of interest to anyone who saw or still plans to see the film.
Daisy (Carey Mulligan) with (L-R) Nick (Tobey Maguire), Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), and Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton)

Leonardo DiCaprio
DP: Gatsby has an “incorruptible dream” regarding how he sees his future with Daisy. Do you think he had affairs with other women after the war or was he saving himself for Daisy?
LD: Oh, he did for sure. He says it in the novel–I’ve been with many other women, but I never knew how wonderful a nice girl could be. He’s in love with this illusion that is Daisy. What was so fascinating to me in picking up the novel again as an adult was a completely different understanding of who Gatsby was and how he was representative of that time period in America, during prohibition. Of course he made his fortune in the underworld, but he was trying to emulate the great American tycoons of that time and was on the road to becoming a Rockefeller.  He made the list when he was a young boy of achievements that he wanted to have, and then – boom – he let himself go. He met this girl named Daisy. Of course at that time, he wasn’t financially able to respectably hold her hand in public, so he went off to make something of himself, and she went off with Tom Buchanan [Joel Edgerton]. But she’s the stumbling block. She is something that has gotten in the way of his success and his journey to becoming this great vision of what an American tycoon should be. There are great lines in the book that give you so much more insight into that my life has got to be like this. But if he doesn’t contain or erase the past, he won’t be able to move forward. So reading the book now, Daisy became a completely different thing to me. Reading it in high school, I thought it was this completely traditional love story in which we ask, Why is he so in love with this woman? It’s a tragedy. But for me as an adult, she became more of an illusion than anything else. He’s finally got Daisy in his castle, and he’s holding her, and Nick says, his list of achievements had diminished by one, yet he’s still staring at the green light. He’s holding her but he’s still staring out at the illusion.
DP: It’s like Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane, saying he could have been a great man if he didn’t become rich.
LD: Yeah, Gatsby says he could have been a great man if he hadn’t met Daisy.
DP: Was there ever a discussion about Citizen Kane in regard to comparing Gatsby and Kane, two rich men who die alone?
LD: Yeah, we talked about Citizen Kane all the time and referenced it a lot. There are even certain visuals of Gatsby’s castle of who this man was trying to become really reminded me of that movie. We talked about the idea of Citizen Kane being incredibly influenced by the earlier, The Great Gatsby, actually. And we talked about Sunset Boulevard, too–there’s the sequence in which I’m floating in the pool and it’s shot from the pool’s perspective as the photographers are all shooting a floating body.
DP: And was Of Human Bondage an influence?
LD: Of Human Bondage?
DP: You said how Gatsby can’t rid himself of Daisy in his life, and that’s like how the successful physician in Of Human Bondage can’t push away the cockney waitress Mildred Rogers.
LD: Right. I would say Yes.

Carey Mulligan
DP: With a whole group of great performances behind you, were you insulted you had to audition to play Daisy?
CM (laughing): Insulted? Oh, yeah, I said, “Fuck no! I won’t audition!” But no, not at all. I’m never insulted to be in an audition, and I really like auditioning. I honestly believe I got a last-minute call to audition, I don’t think I was even on the original list. I was absolutely honored, and also convinced that I’d never get the job. I saw it as a really fun exercise and had so much fun because I had so little expectation of it. It was great.
DP: Typically when Daisy is interpreted, the word that is used is shallow. I don’t think you’d want to play her as totally shallow, so did you start with shallow and add layers to her?
CM: When I was cast, they said, Oh, Daisy’s just awful, but obviously I couldn’t feel that way about her. I think she’s a product of her time, and as a young woman makes the decisions that would have been expected of her. She grew up in a very wealthy family and was expected to marry for money, and so she did.  I think if she hadn’t done it there would have been a huge scandal, so it was not strange of her to do that. Money is all she knows–she does enjoy those fine things–and she’s a little fickle and a little erratic. I think she married into a fairly loveless marriage with Tom Buchanan.  She probably started the marriage positively, wanting to love Tom.  It’s described in the book how she adored him until he was caught cheating on her with the chambermaid. So then she’s in sort of an abusive relationship for a long time, and then Gatsby comes back and represents everything that she lost when she married Tom. She’s nostalgic for a time when everything was about parties and fun and romance. I think she just never expected to make a decision for herself, because she wasn’t brought up that way. Some of it is not really her fault. And I think ultimately the decision she makes to stay with Tom is weak–it is weak to deny Gatsby, to deny what happened to him, and to deny the car accident– but she has Tom’s child.  That’s is easy to forget because Fitzgerald doesn’t write about the child. She does have a 5-year-old child, and Tom offers to forget everything that happened and erase the past.  She’s not an intellectual, but I don’t think she’s stupid, and though she comes across as being fickle, she does have a depth of feeling and, I think, she believes that she’s in love. She really is, in her mind.
Gatsby and Daisy

DP: In the book and movie, Daisy talks about how it’s best for a woman to be “a beautiful little fool.” In a male-dominated world, is she content being that?
CM: I think she believes it when she says it, and I think that does show that she’s not a fool.  She’s self-aware enough to see that her value is in being a trophy wife. I think she does believe that it’s easier for a girl to be brainless and pretty to be content in the world that she lives in. But I also think she’s kind of playing a character, and she tries to wrap into the idea of herself as a tragic heroine, because she enjoys the attention. In the novel, in the scene directly afterwards, she sort of smirks and laughs and obviously the whole thing is just sort of a game.
DP: Is Daisy capable of eventually finding true happiness?
CM: No, I don’t think she is.  She finds herself in a loveless place, so I don’t think she can be happy. I think she’s very unsure. In the novel, when she’s younger and Gatsby disappears, it says that she needed some force to move her, whether it be wealth or a man, and that force was Tom Buchanan. Her ultimate tragedy is that she’s completely lost unless she has a man to lead her. And that’s why she goes between these two men. Tom appears to be the stronger force, but Gatsby comes along and sweeps her away. And when that relationship starts to disintegrate, Tom trumps the whole thing by revealing Gatsby’s desperation and near madness. Tom doesn’t have what she wants, but what she needs.  So I don’t think she’s happy at the end.
Daisy
Tobey Maguire
DP: In the novel, Nick is a neutral character, an observer, but do you see him in the movie as more of an active participant?
TB: That’s one of the things that Baz, Leo and I talked about. What’s Nick’s role? He’s  certainly an observer and a storyteller, and taking some of our cues from F. Scott Fitzgerald, we used a bit of Fitzgerald in the Nick Carraway character. But it was important to me how this whole experience affects Nick, so we created some scenes to help show that, showing Nick as the writer going back over the story as we watch what he remembers.  That gave us some license with the language, so when I did the voiceover, I could use some of that more poetic language, and it would feel more natural.
 Nick and Gatsby

DP: What’s Nick’s relationship with Daisy?
TM: The way I thought about Nick in relation to Daisy, is that they’re cousins. I think I made up some backstory for them. I honestly can’t remember exactly what I made up and what came from research, but I imagined them spending time together when they were younger, and maybe going on a family trip together, but not spending much time together over the past several years. But he still has a fondness for her that one might have for a cousin who is five or six years younger.
DP: Do you think Nick has a more realistic view of Daisy than Gatsby does?  Nick doesn’t idealize her like Gatsby does, right?
TM: They have a totally different relationship.  Nick tries to see the good in people and reserve his judgment.  Daisy, like all of the characters, is a product of society and circumstances, and as much as people are responsible for their own actions, it’s very hard to buck the trend.  When you’re conditioned in a certain way, it’s very difficult to go against the stream and live a different kind of life. It’s the hero’s journey to do that sort of thing, and I think Nick gives people a lot of latitude for trying to figure out their way in life. So I think he has a fondness for Daisy, as he does Gatsby and sees how she’s behaving but doesn’t condemn her for that.
Isla Fisher
DP: Were you presented Myrtle as being the opposite of Daisy? Tom loves two women, and one could say Daisy’s overrated and Myrtle’s underrated.
IF: Thank you! I never thought of Daisy’s character much because I was playing a mistress. As a mistress, for Myrtle not to consider the morality of the situation–the infidelity and breaking up a family–she has to concentrate just on her relationship with Tom. When I was playing my character, I didn’t think of Daisy, but now that you mention it, I think Myrtle has a lot of the characteristics that Daisy doesn’t and vise versa. Good and bad.

DP: You’ve spoke of how as an actress you fulfill your dreams by playing different parts, so did you identify with Myrtle in that regard? She’s stuck in her marriage but she seems to be the type who who would dream of being a movie star.
IF: Myrtle buys fashion magazines and she definitely would have loved to have been on the stage or screen. I definitely relate to Myrtle in the sense that when I was younger I dated a bad boy and believed whatever I was told. But I think there’s a bit of all of the characters in Great Gatsby in all of us, and that’s why the movie resonates with us today as much as it did ninety years ago, when it was set.
DP: Is this character in the film more aggressive than the character in the book?
IF: Yeah, a little more, because in the movie, as opposed to the book, the story is very much told through Nick Carraway’s eyes. And because of his relationship with Daisy, Nick sees Myrtle as being more grotesque and aggressive than how she is in the book. He’s drinking and not himself when he’s with her and that whole party scene is more heightened.
DP: She walks right toward him, aggressively.
IF: Yeah, she walks right toward him, aggressively. Listen, I did lots of different takes of Myrtle and it was up to Baz, the director, to choose the ones that he wanted and to create the Myrtle that is in the film. It was out of my hands.
Myrtle (Isla Fisher)

Baz Luhrmann
DP: Nick finishes his book and titles it Gatsby but then writes The Great in front.  Is your Gatsby a great person? Your big decision was how ruthless to make him if you wanted him to remain sympathetic.
BL: That is exactly right. Maybe it speaks to Fitzgerald’s brilliance–and I think it speaks to Shakespeare’s brilliance–that you can have the darkest of characters and empathize with them. Fitzgerald said Tom Buchanan was probably the best character he ever wrote. If there was ever a rogue and a bad guy, it’s Tom. But he’s kind of forgivable. In the he basically said, I didn’t want to forgive him but I had to it. It made sense in the context of his world. If your the question is what makes Gatsby great, I think that’s open to interpretation. And it will be interpreted many times in many ways. In Nick Carraway’s mind, the richest landed gentry, the aristocrats, are perfect. But pretty quickly, Nick leans that things aren’t so good in paradise. As Jay-Z said very well, being one of the first people to see the rough cut, was, “You know what–it’s not really about how Gatsby made his money, it’s about whether he’s a good person?” And if he is a good person who does have a moral compass, what about all those other characters? Do they have a moral compass? Tom and Daisy? They’re careless people. They smashed up people and things and retreated into their money. What makes Gatsby great is that he believes in a singular and absolute cause. For me, what makes Gatsby great to Nick is that he is the most hopeful person he has ever met and is ever likely to meet again. Great people may be wedded to calamity, but at least they aspire to realize their dreams.
Baz Luhrmann directing DiCaprio and Mulligan

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Provocative Evocateur: An Interview with Seth Kramer and Daniel L. Miller

Playing in Theaters

The Provocative √Čvocateur: An Interview with Seth Kramer and Daniel L. Miller

(from Sag Harbor Express Online 6/14/13)

Morton Downey Jr.

When I'd happen upon Morton Downey Jr.'s vile and venomous talk show in the late eighties, I'd have a hard time switching channels.  I'd want to hiss, boo, or throw things at the screen, just as you wanted to do watching the dirtiest wrestler when you were a kid and didn't realize it was all fake.  Now thanks to directors Seth Kramer, Daniel L. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger we again can feel our skin crawl as the right-wing small screen pioneer with a big toothy mouth is resurrected in their new movie, √Čvocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie.  Surely, the egomaniacal Downey Jr. would have been first in line to see it at the Sag Harbor Cinema beginning this Friday.   You might want be there too, whether you remember him or want to learn what all the fuss was about and how, as the festival's program says, "the pursuit of fame and fortune over the airwaves can ultimately destroy your soul."  I spoke to Kramer (left in my photo) and Miller about their film.

Danny Peary: Morton Downey Jr. was one of the most detestable right-wing hosts ever. Have you met people who liked him?

Daniel Miller and Seth Kramer: We liked him!

Directors Seth Kramer (L) and Daniel L. Miller Photo: DP

DP: As a person or as entertainer who persevered?

SK: As an entertainer.  We were in high school in New Jersey when he was on the air and off the air two years later, and were fans--we were the demographic.  We wouldn't have voted for him for president and we didn't follow his lead for political advice, but he had a show that talked about politics and social issues in a way that appealed to high school kids.  Everything else on TV where there was political debate, it was all very civil and polite compared to him.  He was outrageous and hilarious.  He was "screw you" and in your face and it was a real trip to hear politics addressed in that way.

DM: His appeal is that he spoke of politics in very reductionist black-and-white way.  In professional wrestling, you have one guy who represents dark and one who represents light and you cheer for one side--it's easy and it's fun.  And for someone who doesn't want to process all the nuances around an issue, Downey was entertaining.

Downey Jr, always on the attack
 

DP: From where did his show originate?

DM: It came out of a tiny studio in Secaucus, New Jersey, which we revisit for the film.  It still exists.

DP: What was his prime period?

SK: His show was on the air from 1987 to 1989.  Before that he was on radio.

DP: Who was Morton Downey Sr.?

DM: He was at one point one of the most famous people in America.  He was considered America's first recording star.  He was an Irish tenor.  One of the stars of the first RKO film ever was Morton Downey Sr.  He was a huge, huge deal and Morton Downey Jr. grew up in and was always trying to escape his shadow.  It's a lot of what motivated him to do what he did.

DP: He was a reactionary and that's what his fans found appealing but was he sincere or was he smart enough to know what he saying was bullshit.

DM: That's sort of what our movie investigates.

SK: His father grew up with Joseph Kennedy and Mort grew up around Camelot.  He came from a very liberal background. with Bobby and Teddy Kennedy.  Then in the eighties on television he was saying liberals were destroying America just like the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs do today.

DP: Do you think one more than the other?

SK: It's the same: it's the populist entertainer who serves as the mouthpiece for the everyday man who is being ignored by his government.

DP: "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore."

SK: That's right.  It's more like Glenn Beck only because he brought it to television. Mort was in national syndication.  I think of Glenn Beck's dramatics and how his whole body language expressed what he was subscribing is very similar to the Mort phenomenon.  They also lasted the same amount of time on national television, about two years and then they were done.

DP: Why do you think this guy who was on radio and television makes a good movie subject that you'd spend a couple of years on?
SK: In our present day, this kind of act, this kind of populist performer, can have incredible influence on and sway over the public.

DK: In a scary way?

SK: I'm not sure if it's scary, but it is a real way.  There are two sides to this.  Half of Americans will say it's scary, it's propagandistic, it's terrible for the country.  The other half will say that before these guys came around it was all liberal media, and Fox News and Beck and Limbaugh provide a much needed antidote and provide the other side.  So we come in and take you back twenty-five years and you see that Downey was doing the same act.  So it's useful and timely film.

 

DM: Beyond his legacy, Downey had fans but went into obscurity.  People ask me, "Is Morton Downey Jr. still alive?" or "Is he Robert Downey Jr's father?" Let me make it clear that he's now Robert Downey Jr's father.  This film gives you a chance to watch Downey again and to laugh at his shtick.  To be honest, he went above and beyond Fox News.  You don't see what he did anymore, you don't see anyone being that confrontational and it's fun to watch.

DP: There were guys even earlier than him.

SK: Joe Pine, Wally George.  In the movie, we get into how Downey was part of a continuum.  Bob Piven created the show as a copy of Joe Pine, who had a confrontational act in the 1960s.  Pine was on radio, then television.  They wanted to repeat it with Downey for the MTV generation.

DP: You always thought with Pine, George, and Downey that thank god there aren't enough people believe then.  In that case Downey would be scary rather than freak-show entertainment.  Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have been around for a long time. Why do you think Downey burned out so soon?

SK: It's a difficult act where you have to be increasingly outrageous so you can keep your hold on an audience and keep them interested and involved.

DM: Rush Limbaugh is really good at it.  But even so he almost blew it by calling the college student a slut.  The new guys have perfected the act but even they can get in trouble.  Glenn Beck is gone.  Soon or later you put your foot in your mouth, and you either keep going or are done.

DP: What I heard about your film is that there are moments when viewers are going to say, "I can't believe that was on television way back then."
SK: That is the case.  Some of this stuff will make your jaw drop.

DM: He was far more vicious and brutal when attacking a guest he doesn't agree with than anything you see today.  It's unbelievable.

DP: We remember that his cigarettes were more than a prop, they were like weapons?

SK: He died of lung cancer in 2001.  They were such an important part of the act.  I think he was trying to take us back to a different, more conservative era, Mad Men-style, which was to play-it straight, tell it like it is, and disrespect women a little bit. 

DM: And you blow smoke into the face of someone who doesn't agree with me.

DP: Did people in Downey's audience attack him or were they all supporters?

SK: He fought with his audience pretty hard.  We interviewed someone who fought with him.

DP: Did you talk to people who had revelations about him, saying perhaps that he was different from his public persona. 

SK: Yeah, that's all in the film.

DP: Did you speak to family and are they proud or ashamed of him?

SK: We spoke to his daughter Kelly Downey.  Proud is a little strong.  She loved her dad and 's very reflective when talking about him.  She gives complete insight on what it was like to live with this kind of performer and what it took to keep it up.

DP: Do you think your film is political?
SK: It's balanced. It deals with politics.

DP: You want people to see something in your movie.

DM: Right. It's really to delve into the role of the populist entertainer.  What does it mean?

SK: What do these guys do? We have industry insiders, we have Sally Jesse Raphael, Richard Bey, and Bill Boggs who were doing the talk show bit at the same time.  We get an inside look at what it takes to do this kind of show, and how you use anger to draw into an audience.  We have Pat Buchanan, who has been doing it for a long time. We have Herman Cain.

DP: Did you already know everything in your film before you started shooting or did you learn things along the way?

SK: We just knew his public persona. We investigated if his colleagues, his producers, and everyone else manufactured this person. Was he created like a Frankenstein monster to get ratings or is what he said really what he believed? 

DP: Since you began this project has anybody said to you that Morton Downey Jr. is their idol?

SK: No, I'm not sure how we'd deal with that!