Thursday, April 7, 2016

Art of the Real 2016 Preview

Art of the Real, a film series showcasing nonfiction work from around the world, remains and continues to be the most essential film event for serious and adventurous cinephiles. Once again, curated by venerable Dennis Lim and Racheal Rakes, FSLC is presenting the most impressive lineup yet: new works from Roberto Minervini, Ben Rivers, José Luis Guerin and Thom Andersen among others. Tirelessly testing the boundaries of cinema, art and reality, these films assure me that cinema still is an artistic medium with much more to explore for a long time to come.

This year, they are also highlighting American avant-garde giant Bruce Baillie's films, organized by Garbiñe Ortega. The selection of Baillie's films in this year's Art of the Real pays homage to his body of work, and drecognizes his legacy as an artist as well as his outstanding work as a distributor and promoter of avant-garde filmmakers.

Previewing these amazing array of films ahead of the series year after year reminds me the reason why I am still putting up with living in New York. It's all worth it.

Art of the Real 2016 runs 4/8 - 4/21 at FSLC. Please check their website for schedule and tickets.

THE OTHER SIDE - Roberto Minervini **Opening Night Film
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Roberto Minervini's new film after his Texas Trilogy finds itself a little to the west this time, in rural Louisiana, where unemployment is high and poverty rampant. Mark, a man with a criminal record ekes out a living doing menial jobs and selling homemade drugs to pole dancers at strip clubs. Most of the time he is high on drugs and alcohol with his girlfriend Lisa in his trailer.

The Other Side is a remarkably frank document about people living on the fringes of society. Minervini, an Italian expat, got the complete access to the lives of Mark and Lisa and their extended family and friends, baring it all, in American deep south- with this fact alone, the film is a remarkable achievement.

It's a deeply immersive experience and not unlike Pedro Costa's In Vanda's Room. It's more impactful because the film takes place in America, especially when film devolves into dark territory with white militias with their assault weapons, shooting up Obama effigies and talking about imminent revolution, "when the n***a president declares Martial Law and take down your doors and trample on our constitution" in the latter part of the film.

Minervini observes all without once interfering or involving himself in any way, with real empathy, showing that all these people have left to hold on to is family and love. It's a strong, disturbing, beautiful film that deserves respect.

ACADEMY OF MUSES - José Luis Guerín
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Rafaele Pinto, an enegetic middle aged Italian Philology professor at Univ. of Barcelona teaches a course on 'how to be a muse' in a class largely dominated by female students. His theses, that music and poetry can reach the dead that words have power, draw a passionate debates among students and create heated conversations that spill out of classroom to cafes and parked cars. Culling from Dante's writings that a muse 'should be an active force in the lives of her subject, not a passive object of adoration', he inadvertently pushes his student to take charge in their love lives.

Pinto is played by Prof. Pinto and the flurry of female students who later come into focus as the film goes along, are played by actual students. Once again, blurring the lines between fiction and documentary art and real life, Guérin concocts a film that is intellectually, emotionally rigorous, at the same time, deliciously playful.

Pinto's aging wife is doubtful about his project and worries with the way things are going that he soon might be involving himself with female students. Indeed, the power of words sinks in to many students' minds and they become enamored with Pinto. He in turn start dating students as if he's one of Woody Allen's alter-ego. He explains to his wife's deaf ears that it's part of his experiments.

The course work takes Emanuela (Emanuela Forgetta), a fiery Italian Brunette, to Sardinia with Pinto. There, intoxicated by the beautiful surroundings and pastoral life, she finds falling for a rugged shepherd. Pinto, part jealous and part studious, protests and tells her to think with a cool head. "You have to be his muse, not the other way around."

Mireia (Mireia Iniesta), a blonde Spaniard who confesses to him about her online relationship (which is completely based upon exchange of words) that left her heart-broken. Pinto tells her that even though she is suffering, in a sense, she made him a 'poet'. Then he takes her to Napoli, where he was born, to contemplate on his own mortality.

Shot simply by Guerín himself, the film implies matter of factly the complex relationships of people by shooting through various windows.

Academy of Muses is an intellectually, emotionally and stylistically satisfying viewing experience and by far the most invigorating cinematic exercise I've seen this year.

IL SOLENGO - Alessio Rigo de Righi, Matteo Zoppis
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This Rashomon style tale of a village recluse of mythic proportions is told by grumpy old residents of the rural Italy. Mario de Macetta, otherwise known as Il Solengo - a lone boar, kept his distance from everyone and lived a hermit life in a cave for the last 60 years.

This is a typical talking heads documentary that is anything but typical - it's even refreshing in its strict old-fashioned, formal approach. It unobtrusively comments and contrasts on the old Italy versus the new- all the residents who were portrayed are old men and the setting is unencumbered by any sign of technology.

We don't see the subject until the very end, but that doesn't play out like a coy device for suspense. The film has its own rhythm and its slow pace reflects the environments and its residents. Would be a great film to be paired with Sacro GRA, another great Italian documentary in recent years shot in the rural peripheries of Rome.

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Artist Jumana Manna travels through Palestine and Israel, looking for ethnic music collected by Robert Lachmann, a German-Jewish musicologist in 1935 in his radio program, "Oriental Music". He invited many musicians from Palestinian territories all over and recorded their songs. But he drew only hostilities and criticisms from both sides. Reciting through his writings and music recordings, Manna charts intoxicating investigation through time and space both cultural and political.

What strikes me first is incredible diversity of the region: the patchwork of all the ethnic groups and their music is vast - there are Kurdish Jews, Morocans, Beduins, Copts, Samaritans and many many more. Manna sets up shops in an informal settings- mostly in her subject's kitchen, them preparing food or coffee, and the music starts flowing and it's magical.

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The comparison with Julien Castraing-Taylor & Verena Paravel's Leviathan is unavoidable. Shot entirely on a freight cargo ship, Fair Lady, as it makes its way to the vast ocean from somewhere in European continent, Mauro Herce records with stately, ultra clean high-def images of the giant ship from various angles.

What's impressive is its sound design along with eerie, Angelo Badalamenti-an soundtrack - mingling of giant machine hums, sonar beeps, engine room, the weather and roiling waves. The crew mostly comprised of Southeast Asians, spend their time doing karaoke and calling their families.

Things take a drastic turn as the ship taking in water in treacherous ocean, the desperate radio communication is overheard, "Entire river is coming through the keel," "The water is reaching the storage tanks," "Sir, this is a disaster!"

Cut to the sequence of red water - the palette is mostly green and red in the gigantic wheat storage area, and the workers shoveling grain in a relatively tiny buckets and throwing tons of grain overboard.

A ship as a metaphor for wayward, aimless capitalism lost at sea is dully noted in Dead Slow Ahead but not as obviously stated as in Godard's Film Socialisme. Still, it's rigorous formalism and amazing sound design are something to take note.

Poet on a Business Trip - Ju Anqi
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In 2002, director Ju Anqi and his friend, poet Shu went on a road trip and spent 40 days in the westernmost Chinese province of Xinjiang, hitchhiking and visiting various prostitutes along the way. The exhausting trip made the director and his actor/subject go separate ways and the footage was shelved for 12 years. It's a good thing that Ju picked up the movie again and edited it now. Like a good wine, it's better aged.

Shot in full frame low quality video, the color had been degraded, so Ju decided to present it grainy black and white. The result is an at times idiosyncratic, funny, sad, poignant road movie full of local characters and interactions and 16 poems.

With an absurd premise- that a poet sending himself on a business trip to a remote place, Poet works not only as a existential travelogue but an intimate time capsule of Uighur people, a Turkish speaking, muslim ethnic minority some 12 years ago. As Shu hitches a ride and share cheap hostel beds with these friendly people, there is no hint of ethnic struggle that's been turning violent over the years.

There are a lot to love in Poet on a Business trip: a sheep herder and Shu exchange their mutual admiration for each other's life, "I guess we both want what we don't have. That we are all the same everywhere," the sheep herder remarks. A karaoke night with a prostitute turns confessional, revealing loneliness and yearning for that special someone to settle down with. As the constant traveling takes toll on Shu's health and mood, the trip gets a little lonelier with its colorless scenery accentuating its emptiness.

What starts out as an idiosyncratic, goofy road trip, Poet on a Business Trip gains its poignancy over time, resulting in beautiful melancholia.

I am an Animal and That's OK.

Neon Bull (2015) - Mascaro
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It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that now, the pulse of the contemporary cinema could be found in Latin America. With relative political and economic stability (I use the term loosely here) after the economic crisis in the early 2000s, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil have been producing some of the most exciting new talents in recent years.

In the case of Brazilian cinema, after the initial success of the favela movies in the international market- such as Central Station, City of God and Elite Squad which still owed themselves heavily to the tradition of Cinema Novo, a new generation of filmmakers emerged, severing the ties with the past and cultivating a different kind of art house cinema with the support of government’s cultural agencies. If this morning’s news of inclusion of Kleber Mendonça Filho’s new film Aquarius in competition at Cannes Film Festival this year, I’d say the future of Brazilian cinema is only getting brighter.

Brazilian filmmaker/visual artist Gabriel Mascaro is one of the happy recipients of such support from a pro-culture government. Mascaro’s hometown, Recifé, in the northeastern region of Pernambuco became a hub for burgeoning independent filmmakers as a result of government allotting money, finally, not only to the more developed, and commerce oriented southern region – Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo but also elsewhere in the country.

Mascaro, with his documentary background, demonstrates his anthropologist tendencies and lends sharp insights into often invisible cultural, societal, sexual boundaries of rapidly changing Brazilian society.

His latest, Neon Bull, is his second narrative feature after critically acclaimed narrative debut, August Winds. The film defies easy categorization as with the former. Exquisitely lensed by Diego Garcia (Cemetery of Splendor), Neon Bull transports us to yet another marginal segment in Brazilian society in Panambuco, northeast region of Brazil. The title comes from Brazilian rodeo (vaquejada)- it involves two cowboys on their horses sandwiching the bull from both sides and taking it down by yanking their tails. Sometimes the show goes on at night and they put iridescent paint over the bulls, hence Boi Neon (Neon Bull). The film follows one such traveling vaquejada trope.

The narrative pull is a little more consistent here than in August Winds. But as in his other films, the director's interest is elsewhere. While keeping a distance, the director zeroes in on a specific societal spectrum, stripping it down to a base level.

The slight, episodic narrative tells a story of Iremar (Juliano Cazarré), a hunky vaqueiro (cowboy) and his immediate surroundings. Iremar works for a vaquejada, which makes him to lead a nomadic existence- sleeping in a hammock and making use of outdoor showers and outhouses. His makeshift family consists of a young cattle truck driver Galega (Maeve Jinkings) and her preteen daughter Cacá (Alyne Santana) and with two other ranch hands.

Getting bulls ready for the rodeo is a filthy job and vaqueiros are constantly covered in dust and cow dungs. But unlike his looming physique and the rough sport he deals with day in and day out. He has different aspirations: he wants to be a fashion designer.

When he is not dusting bull's tails or shoveling cow shit, he is hunched over his tiny sewing table, working away the nights or drawing designs over naked bodies in fellow cowhand's porn magazines. Using Galega as his model (she works as an exotic dancer in his outfit with a horse mask over her head), Iremar horns his skills and dreams of getting a professional sewing machine.

Neon Bull is a culmination of all of Mascaro’s preoccupations and cinematic skills. It might be a deceptively simple film about a marginalized society at first glance, but the film's much more complex in both theme and form. Not only he plays with the notion of machismo in cowboy and Brazilian culture in general, he also applies same matter-of-fact life observations in nature documentary to his human characters. Animal and human sexuality and bodily needs are depicted with no frills (Cazarré's sculpted body is often shown full-frontal). The film features some of the most sensual, uninterrupted long sex scenes (involving a very pregnant woman, no less) depicted in recent film history.

Mascaro is fascinated with a human body and it’s often idealized and naked (both in August Winds and Neon Bull). He throws it into rapidly changing surroundings – culturally, politically and geographically, to contrast and conform and subvert what’s seen in the frame.

He thrives in authenticity that he cultivated in his documentary days and makes full use of it in this 'ordinary people with their small dreams' narrative. He gets spectacularly naturalistic performances out from his cast - most of his actors are non-actors playing characters pretty close to themselves. Cazarré, a big TV soap star, under Masaro’s direction, disappears into the role of lowly cowboy.

Neon Bull is heady, sensual, political, layered trip to the heart of Brazil done masterfully and one can only hope that the director continues on his experiment with the narrative form of filmmaking.

After appearing at ND/NF, Neon Bull gets a theatrical run on 4/8 at FSLC. Mascaro's retrospective Gabriel Mascaro: Ebbs and Flows runs 4/15-4/21 as well. Please visit FSLC website.

Joachim Trier's Louder than Bombs is a beautifully written gem of a film

Louder than Bombs (2015) - Trier
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I can't stress enough that watching Joachim Trier's films is like reading really good books. That he might be the most literary (not in a superficial sense) film director working today. With each new films, Trier and his writing partner Eskil Vogt, show what mature, gifted writers they are. Their English language debut, Louder than Bombs, is a finely tuned chamber piece about grief and family dynamics. It is a great American film that brings out nuanced, beautifully drawn, rich characters just under two hours running time and would give Jonathan Franzen a run for his money. The title comes from the Smiths' album which was the US only released compilation, taken from Elizabeth Smart's prose poem By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. It's an apt title to illustrate the state of internal grief felt by the characters. The film's so beautifully written and acted, I can't find one false note.

The Reed family is grieving the death of the family matriarch, a strong willed war photographer, Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert). Her husband Gene (Gabriel Byrne) is a gentle high school teacher who had been always supportive of Isabelle and took care of their two sons while she's away in the war zones. Josh the elder son (Jesse Eisenberg), who just became a father himself, has his mother's traits - smart, driven, but has an air of a boy who grew up too fast. Then there is Conrad the younger son (Devin Druid), an unresponsive, always plugged in high schooler. Even though she's gone for two years, Isabelle is always present through numerous flashbacks, dreams and even has her own narrations. Things get a little complicated when Isabelle's colleague and former lover Richard (David Strathairn) is about to publish his article on her in New York Times and mention her suicide, a fact Gene never told Conrad about. As Josh comes home to take charge of Isabelle's photos in her untouched studio, it slowly becomes clear that the visit is an excuse for him to get away from his nagging wife and the new born. The three men have to deal with their grief in their own way.

As Trier and vogt explored before in Reprise, Bombs deals with the consequences of being a talented, driven person. Many fail to balance work and relationship. For Isabelle, her work was like an addiction, no matter how much she kidded herself with the notion of family life. Not that she was an uncaring mother, but she was unhappy, feeling that she wasn't needed every time she came home and at the same time felt guilty for being selfish. Gene, who gave up his acting career to take care of their sons, never found his place in the world and doesn't really know how to connect with his growing/grownup sons who worshiped their mom and in turn resented him. Although Josh would never admit to anyone, he regrets having to grow up too fast and made rash decisions undoubtedly because of his mom's death. Conrad daydreams and makes up scenarios how his mom really died and lives in his head most of the time.

Acting is superb throughout: Byrne exudes warmth and patience in an anti-patriarchal character that is rarely seen in American films. Added to his arrogant, intelligent kid he always plays, Eisenberg brings vulnerability in a basically a not showy supporting role. But it's Druid who is truly phenomenal as a weird kid who is much more mature than he seems. And of course, Huppert, again, makes her presence felt, even with limited screen time, playing enigmatic, complicated woman.

Despite its heavy subject matter Bombs contains many humorous moments involving Conrad's crush on one of the school's popular girls while Josh matter of factly discouraging him that it would never work out ('been there done that' defeatist nerd talk) and Gene trying to connect with Conrad through a role playing video game with resulting in hilarity. And just like in his two previous films, Trier uses fast moving montage sequences that signify meaningful moments in characters' lives (over Conrad's confessional essay) that are truly beautiful and touching. Dense yet lively, touching but not corny, mature and intelligent without being showy, Louder than Bombs is a rare gift of a movie. So good!

Joachim Trier Talks about Louder Than Bombs and His Dream Cast

With only three feature films under his belt, Norwegian helmer Joachim Trier is quickly establishing himself as a world class filmmaker with his thoughtful, wise and emotionally resonating films. With his English language debut, Louder than Bombs, about a family dealing with the death of a matriach, releasing state side this weekend, I had a chance to catch up with him. Fiercely intelligent and extremely generous, Trier talked great length about working with his amazing ensemble cast.

This is your first English language film. What were some of the challenges you faced?

I went to film school in London (National Film and TV School) and because we grew up in Norway watching American movies with subtitles and with American voices, rather than overdubbed dialog in country like Germany, we had a real advantage to listen to the language and learn it that way. I spent in 7 years in England and I have a lot of friends in America, spent a lot of time in New York, so as Eskil (Eskil Vogt, co-writer).

But I would say it was different because Eskil and I were little more insecure. We were worried that we weren’t getting the right wording or phrasing. So we stayed open with people, like consultants and actors - we asked them to help us to correct things and they helped us change little things. At the end of the day, most of the people found that the dialog was good. The thing is dialog is more dynamic than it is just about words, and because I’m not precious about dialog, If the actors wanted to change words here and there, like they do even Norway, it's was fine with me.

But what was more challenging almost was the idea of getting the attitudes and culture right since we fitted this story into present day America. We ended up doing a High School life movie. I know that life from John Hughes movies. But we went High Schools for real and did some anthropological research so we get authenticity. I really hope we nailed it. We really spent time on it.

I think it was great.

The thing is, whenever I watch your film, I feel like I’m reading a really good book. And I mean it as a compliment. I’m definitely not saying that your films aren’t cinematic, but it’s so well written and characters so beautifully drawn. I know that you don’t want your films to be pigeonholed but I’d say you make the most literary films even more so than Woody Allen does.

For me, the word literary has two sides to it. I am a film fan. And because the film history is so young, one could strive to think ‘what is purely cinematic?’ ‘what’s so unique about this art form?’ These are the essence of how we start out the process. It sounds maybe weird but Eskil and I often say, 'it would be more filmic, if…' and then we try to find a way to do something that has to do with form, or visuality or what we call gestalt - you know, something is shown not told.

But the interesting thing about the inspiration in literature is not the story for us, it’s the freedom of the novel as a form. So the novel as a literary form as I’m sure you are aware, is not that old either. If you look back to the French naturalists in the 1860s, the idea that there have been so many stages since then, of the novel being interpreted- the poetic, the formalist, the naturalist… there are so many. So the idea of form at the essence of storytelling is what I’m often intrigued by. For example there are a lot of those chapters that is more like a diary and you see a scene from two perspectives. To me that is filmic, but it’s going off of just straight storytelling, like the best novels often do. It’s the potential of storytelling in novels I am interested in.

Another example is the visual potential in films of Terrence Malick or…Barry Lindon or in Good Fellas for instance, where a lot of narration is done, so you get a lot of the plot out of the way so images can be more filmic. you know what I mean? You can actually say that often times plot enslaves the image to tell a plot, which is not necessarily always so filmic. That’s actually something that literature also struggles with. The idea of plot is that it has to function.

My films are not plot driven. They are character, emotionally, thematically driven. So I’m having the same challenge as a lot of people in literature to find ways to let more tactile and philosophical moments mean something and emotionally engaging. This is quite complex and I don’t know If my answers are even clear. I hope it makes sense.

It does make sense.

It’s something that I ponder upon. But when you say literary cinema, I choose to take it as compliment because the same was said about filmmakers like Alain Renais or Truffaut, the people that I have been inspired by.

The film has an amazing cast. I know that we don’t have too much time but can you tell me a little about working with these actors? You have Isabelle Huppert, one of the greatest actress of our time, Gabriel Byrne whom I always thought a great actor who never gets a good role, then of course, Jesse Eisenberg and young newcomer Devin Druid…

Oh please! I’d love to talk about each of them if the time allows!

Isabelle got in touch with me after Oslo, August 31st. She liked it and she wanted to meet me and we started talking and…I think she is one of the greatest actor of all cinematic history. I think she’s one of the top people…she IS cinema history: working with her I feel one step closer to understanding why. She is a big risk taker. She is one of the bravest actress I’ve ever met. And she never goes safe. She always tries new things - you will get variations on a scene continually, which is… yeah she never goes for the safe choice or sloppy choice. She’s incredibly bold and brave.

As a side bar, I love shooting with a 50mm lens and I was talking to my cinematographer Jakob Ihre one day and she goes, “Oh, you guys, Chabrol always loved shooting with 50mm…” And it dawned on us that she’s worked with some of the cinema’s greatest directors. She knows modern film history and that she really IS film history!

Then we have, Gabriel Byrne. I agree with you who is a great actor. He is so humble, yet so precise. He always said to me, “You know I’m not really an actor. I never went to school in that way and I just do it and, I don’t know…” He is very very humble but if you get him in front of the camera, He’s always interesting. And he is a thinking man. He could be silent and observing and you go, what’s he thinking? That’s a great gift for an actor. He also takes a carer's responsibility. He is a very natural father in this family because he is a very kind and gentle in real life.

One thing I loved about his character is that he is not a typical patriarchal father you see. You don’t see that in American films often.

You see, men can also be carers. It is very important and I’m glad you bringing it up because for this film, I think many men would stay away from this role. I think there is slight prejudice. Yes we can discuss the very important issue of letting women play many different roles. In real life women play many more roles in society. I am a feminist and I believe it that absolutely. Very important. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight, at the same time, for men to be allowed to play different roles as well. We are all struggling existentially with being restricted, continually, in having to live up to expectations which don’t make us feel that we are allowing ourselves to be more than we could, you know, or be what we can be.

Gene’s story is not about patriarchy, playing the role of the authoritarian father. It’s about playing the role many mothers have played, as the carer, the one that ultimately is the pivot of the family. And he is the only one for the children to be present at the same time being pushed away, because of this idealized mother is no longer around. So that’s very much Gabriel.

Let’s touch on some of the other actors as well.


Jesse (Eisenberg) is remarkable. He comes from comedic tradition and he is very very funny. But he’s great with structure. He understands every beat of the scene and he is so well prepared. I don’t give notes between takes. I might try to insinuate emotions or directions or try to make this discovery in the actors. But with him, you can actually be very specific. You can say, “with that line, you can do this.” Like 5 or 6 points in a long take and he’s go, “got it.” He’s the only actor that I worked with whom you can give instructions like that. He's like a waiter taking an order around the table of twelve. (laughs)

He has a great capacity to remember these things and he likes to show off a little bit. He is a virtuoso in his way of doing things. But what I’m also happy about, is that regardless of his incredible skills, he is also allowing in this film to be emotional and…


That’s the word. I knew that that was very important for the role. It took a little bit of work for us to find the tone but I’m ultimately so happy that he opened up to doing more vulnerable work and I really appreciated working with him. He is a great guy.

Then there is this last role. We were nervous about finding a young kid who has to work with these great actors. Where are we going to find this 15 year old kid? And I was so happy that Laura Rosenthal, a great casting director brought Devin Druid to our attention. He is really really good. I can recommend him highly enough to other directors. I’m not just saying this as a director being nice. I’d love to work with him again. I’m so intrigued by how emotionally available he is. Because he is so young, I imagine people will think that it’s just luck. “Oh, he’s just spontaneous but he can’t be a great crafty actor because he's so young." His instincts for preparing and knowing how to use the knowledge that he’s given to make it playable is remarkable.

I’ll tell you, sometimes he’d be in an emotional zone and he discovered already in that young age what actors take years to discover- how to sustain that emotional state. You can shoot a scene with him like that all day. It can very hard and painful if it’s an emotional scene. People run dry quick. He was able to reengage with his own technique that I don’t really know how, in an emotional state that is sustainable for a long time. And at the end of the day he goes, "Oh I need to sleep now," (laughs) and comes back in and does something else. Devin is a very intuitive guy but there is more preparation in what he does.

If you'd allow me, I’d love to mention few other people as well, because this is an ensemble.

By all means.

I never get enough time to talk about Amy Ryan, David Strathairn and Rachel Brosnahan. I wanted to make an ensemble film. Like Lumet or Coppola, all these great American directors did so many of these great ensemble films. But I never imagined I’d get people like this in smaller roles.

Amy Ryan is amazing. She’s one of the best actresses in the world. My editor (Olivier Bugge Coutté), whenever the rushes came in with the scene with her, he was like, "Who is she? Everything is good with her!"

David Strathairn is remarkable. I mean he is one of the greats.


He is almost too cool. He is such a smart and generous guy. and there seems to be so much interesting and exciting stuff going on in his life so I don’t think he is chasing around all the available parts. He is very picky in choosing roles which I completely respect. So I felt honored that he actually came on set. I dig him. He’s like, oh I’ll drive to the set myself. He is very unpretentious. I love him.

Rachel Brosnahan, you know her from House of Cards. She is this new talent and what’s so great about her is she has natural grace in the way she appears in front of the camera. But there is no vanity with her. She came in and she does couple of scenes where she is exposing emotions where a lot of actresses would perhaps try to beautify it. But she creates beauty through just being real. She has a great instinct and knack for naturalism and I really respect that in her. In her generation of actresses, there are so many who is just choosing to be a pretty girl. She has that natural grace, she doesn’t need to, you know.

So Devin Druid and Rachel Brosnahan are the two young actors we will see more of in the near future?

Yeah I’d love that. It makes me happy to see that there are real great actors coming up in the next generation. It just makes me feel excited. That’s something that led me in the first place to make films in America, the actors.

There is a certain melancholy in your films. Even though there are many funny moments in LOUDER THAN BOMBS, There is certain sadness. I want to talk about the theme of death in your films.

Yeah. Louder than Bombs deals with, I guess, eroticism in death, a lot. We are also dealing with young mind, a 15-year old, who is going through adolescence and he is being infatuated with a girl for the first time, at the same time he is grieving his mother. So there is this sex and death thing going on. (laughs)

Also those eternal themes,I care about those things. To be personal for a second, I think I was quite concerned while I was very young. I was obsessed with memory and mortality. I was very worried about the short time we have on earth. I am an atheist, so I believe this is it. This time is all I got. I don’t believe in afterlife, at least not with this conscience. So that's a pretty tough premise. Much of our culture is in denial of that. At the same time, it gives us a purpose for action and to do things and can also be a trigger for creation even.

So my film reflects my existential curiosity. I don't want to be perceived as pretentious, I think it’s unanimous human quandary and I care about stories that deal with how we construct or accept ourselves through perception of memory and how we know that it’s not infinite and how that affects out relationships. In this film specifically - 3 years ago, a husband and two sons the mother of the family. That affects how each of them engage, with the women - the new women, new partners in their lives. What aftereffects does that have in the erotic and the ability to build a relationships. That's what we are asking in this film. And that has melancholic implications.

So what’s next for you?

I haven’t announced my next film yet because we are not one hundred percent sure yet. So I’m not talking about it so much at the moment. But what I can say on the record is that I am writing and hope to shoot it this fall in Norway. A quick one we’re working on- am working with Eskil at the moment: back in the room with my old friend. And we are coming up with some new things and we hope to get to make it and I think we will. So hopefully we will be talking soon again with something else. It’s in Norwegian this time but hopefully it will be in English again after that.

Louder than Bombs opens on Friday, April 8 at the Angelika Film Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas. National roll outs will follow.