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Zadie Smith has a really great essay on the New York Review of Books site, where she talks about those two animated films (mostly Anomalisa) and that philosopher guy.
By aesthetic coincidence that evening I had a date to see Charlie Kaufman’s new movie Anomalisa, with my friend Tamsin, a professional philosopher, a Nietzsche scholar by trade, but not averse to the odd Schopenhauer reference, should a layman—or woman—try to force one upon her. [...]As we walked to the movie theater we considered the idea that all Kaufman’s movies have been somewhat Schopenhauerean, in the sense that they concern suffering in one way or another: the experience of suffering, the inevitability of it, and the possibility of momentary, illusory relief from it. This relief tends to arrive, for Kaufman, in the form of a woman (although these women are almost always the cause of much suffering, too). I thought of Catherine Keener, as Maxine, in the film Being John Malkovich all those years ago, ravishing in her white shirt and pencil skirt, offering a schlumpy depressive—a classic Kaufman protagonist—fifteen minutes’ relief from his suffering:
ERROLL: Can I be anyone I want?
MAXINE: You can be John Malkovich.
ERROLL: Well that’s perfect. My second choice. Ah, this is wonderful…. Malkovich! King of New York! Man about town! Most eligible bachelor! Bon Vivant! The Schopenhauer of the twentieth century!
Now, that last line was cut from the film, but I can take a hint. “It had puppets in it,” Tamsin noted, as we took our seats, “And this one’s all puppets?”
“All puppets.” (Source)
Thanks to Tram!Add a comment
The 35th annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon went down last Monday afternoon, at the Beverly Hilton. Here's this year's class photo. Can you spot Charlie?
Clicky to embiggen.
I've enlarged him, behind the cut. Also, visit Hollywood Reporter for the full rundown on who's who in the photo, and an even larger version of the pic.Add a comment
Here's an interview with producer Rosa Tran via The Film Stage.
“We were working together at Starburns Industries and wondering, ‘what’s the next project?’” recalled Tran. “Duke got a hold of [Kaufman’s] script from Dino [Stamatopoulos] and immediately wanted to make it.” When they initially pitched the project at various studios they were either rejected or told to turn it into an episodic format that could be aired on television.
Huh! Didn't know that.
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“I got involved in animation and it was like something clicked,” Tran said. “I call it the animation bug. You go onto a stage and it is beautiful.” She specifically tells the story of her days on the long-running stop-motion animated TV show Robot Chicken and how they had a Star Wars special. “You go onto the stage and there’s the scene where the AT-ATs are crossing over this icy terrain and I’m looking at the AT-ATs on this 20 by 20 set,” Tran noted. “I look at the computer monitor and I look back and forth and it’s like a magic trick. The snow is perfect. The AT-ATs are perfect. The little stormtroopers are perfect. When you look on the screen, it’s like the movie. The small details are so amazing.” (Source)
"Everything is intentional," says Charlie in this interview with The Verge's Tasha Robinson. "Especially in a movie that's animated. There are absolutely no accidents, because it's happening one frame at a time."
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What gave you the most technical problems as you were designing the film together?
Duke Johnson: Well, a lot of different technical problems came out of a lack of money. But mostly, specifically, it came out of a desire to want to have the most articulate-able puppets and the broadest range of emotions for the character performances. Typically, with low-budget stop-motion, you can get away with a cartoony style. But we wanted to have this authentic human experience, that's what we were going for, so it lent itself more toward a realistic aesthetic. So the level of nuance and detail goes up, so we had to figure out how to make these puppets relatable in a way that made that possible. Typically, stop-motion puppets can cost upward of $80,000. We had $100,000 initially to design all the puppets in the movie. So we had to find creative ways to do that.
The production studio Laika prefers to have individual animators tackle entire scenes, to enhance the continuity and give the scenes individual character. When I interviewed the directors of The Boxtrolls, I found out they had one ballroom scene done by a single animator who worked solely on that for 18 months. Do you prefer that method? Does it matter to you?
Johnson: That's ideal. It's an ideal scenario to keep one animator on a scene, because animators are like designers and actors. They have their own skill sets, and their own styles. But we didn't really have the luxury to do that on this film. We had animators coming and going, because we couldn't really afford to pay Laika rates. So we could only afford to keep animators a short period of time before they had to move on and take higher-paying jobs. And we didn't have the luxury of time — some of the scenes in this movie are extraordinarily long. Like, the hotel-room scene took the entire two-year duration of production to shoot, and we did it on multiple stages. So we had to put a lot of time into establishing these characters, and how they move, and what their specific character traits are, so all the animators could create a sense of solidarity. (Source)
Rosa Tran has a really engaging piece on Medium, giving us the producer's perspective on making a stop motion indie feature.
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I may not know the rules to the Game of Thrones or what happened to Shia LaBeouf, but I can tell you exactly when the binder will run out on the 3D printer. When it finally rains in LA, I can tell you exactly where the leaks will be in the building. I can tell where to go to buy more fabric to make more of Lisa’s shirts. I can tell you that you are doing a great job and I can’t pay you your full rate but we need you on our team.
When I look back at all of our challenges, I say to myself, “was I on a reality show?” I don’t even know how to share this experience. I don’t know how to convey the level of stress, the feeling of uncertainty, the fear that at any minute everything that we’ve devoted ourselves to will come crashing down.
Making a stop motion indie feature is guerrilla film making, times 10. What can I fix using duct tape? How can you reuse the duct tape? How can you fix something without any money? How can I BE creative?
Well I found that being nice gets you a long way AND sending a vendor a dozen cheese rolls from Porto’s in place of a very late past due payment can get you some more time. (Source)
Here's a great hour-long interview with Charlie and Duke, cinematographer Joe Passarelli, and producer Rosa Tran.
The interview's preceded by a 10-minute featurette about the puppet sex scene. [Edit: In the time since I watched the clip earlier today, it seems the featurette has been excised from the clip. Sorry! Originally it was 1:08:07 in length, and now it's 0:57:33]Add a comment
[Update: computer has been resurrected. All good now.]
I live 2 streets from a beach, and corrosion from salt air tends to kill my computers before their time.
A moment of silence, please, for the latest victim.
Hopefully it can be repaired. Meanwhile, updating the site via mobile is a pain in the butt, but I'll do what I can.Add a comment
Suzette Smith from the Portland Mercury has been watching Charlie's films stoned, and blogging the results. Someone had to do it, right? She has worked her way through all six of Charlie's films (including Confessions and Human Nature!) in the lead-up to Anomalisa. Here's part of Synecdoche:
Okay, I immediately regret watching this movie stoned. I feel like I’m missing a lot of important things, but I’m also unable to hold back that sinking feeling that accompanies conceptualizing the inevitable decline of existence. That’s my toast and tea when I’m not stoned. Shit!
[...] He’s dead, right? People keep saying stuff like: "Then you died." But they also tell him he abandoned his family when clearly his wife left him. The passage of time is suspicious. That also leads me to believe he’s dead.
[...] When I was done watching Synecdoche, New York I was still high and I felt like shit. My notes are: "I don’t know how I’m going to write about this. I want to put down my notes and walk away." (Source)
There are links to the other films in that post.Add a comment
This interview between Charlie, Duke Johnson and Ty Burr amuses me.
TB: I wanted to do something different with this interview, something a little “meta.” And my first question is, when you hear a reporter say “I want to do something different with this interview, something a little meta,” what emotion do you feel?
Duke Johnson: Numbness.
TB: What are the questions you don’t want asked about this project? The ones you dread.
DJ: “Why did this have to be animated?” It’s like —
CK: Asking “Why did this have to be live-action”?
DJ: Exactly. Why did you paint this picture with oil paints?
CK: Why did it have to be oil?
DJ: Why is it not watercolor?
CK: Why is it not Impressionistic? Why didn’t you do it in Photorealism?
DJ: Because that’s how I [expletive] painted it.
TB: “Anomalisa” name-checks and explores the Fregoli delusion[...] Are there other clinical delusions you’d like to make movies about? [...] Reduplicative paramnesia. Do you know what that is?
CK: No, but I like it. (Source)
Also a sad update on Frank or Francis:
CK: It’s not happening as far as I know. I want it to. We’ve been trying to raise money. No one’s interested.
And sad news for people who type things on the internet and would like to hear from the Kauf:
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CK: I would never interact with somebody online.