Tuesday, March 19, 2013

5 Off My His Head - What Made Xavier Xavier

If I'd written my review of Xavier Dolan's new film Laurence Anyways after seeing him speak at MoMA last night and not just before I think there's a good chance I would have been a little bit nicer. I mean I don't think I gave it a terrible review, I liked the film, but I think buried under my words there was a hint of dismissiveness that, hearing him talk in person about his work, I feel guilty about now. 

See, the Xavier Dolan in my head was this uber-pretentious hipster dude, totally stuck up his own ass, albeit with the ability to often successfully transpose that into really electrifying and pretty art. But with one fell swoop, listening to him talk about movies for a couple of hours, he tossed out all of my assumptions - he came off as intelligent, natch, but also totally down to earth and terribly terribly eager to let the air out of his own rarefied bubble. He totally seemed like any one of us, you or me, film geeks who love all kinds of movies. 

He talked openly about the issues he has with his earlier films - he didn't even want to choose a clip from Heartbeats because he was like grossed out by how there's music drowning every single moment; he said he learned a lot making the movie, that is was a good experiment, but he didn't seem to much like the film at all. Which you know made it a little bit awkward for the guy from MoMA selling this retrospective of his movies, but whatever.

But best of all was the section of the chat where Dolan chose five clips from five films (well four films and one TV show) that he said were huge inspirations to him. Whenever Dolan's movies get picked apart the subject of his influences always come up, because they can sort of seem like cobbled-together homages at times. A little Wong Kar Wai here, a little Almodovar there. Indeed Almodovar came up immediately, from Dolan himself - he's obviously gotten that a lot. He said that he's really only seen three of Pedro's movies, all relatively recent ones too, and that he's just not been the giant influence on him that people have been assuming.

Anyway I was so amused by what he did choose as his five cinematic influences, I figured I'd share. They make a lot of sense when you remember that Dolan's just turning 24 (tomorrow, actually). And here they be...

The scene in Batman Returns where Michelle Pfeiffer comes home
after he fall slash cat-resurrection and destroys her apartment

Titanic - This is apparently his favorite movie

That scene in Magnolia where Julianne Moore freaks out at the prescription counter - he admits he's stolen this scene twice now; indeed in my review of Laurence Anyways I made reference to the scene where he's riffing on it. He says Magnolia was the first movie to make him understand what it meant to be "free" as an artist.

 Friday Night Lights, the TV series - he said that Suzanne Clement, the actress he's used in I Killed My Mother and Laurence Anyways, had been crashing at his apartment while waiting to move into her new place, and the two of them laid around eating and sobbing watching the entire run of FNL, and it was the happiest time of his life.

Jumanji - His argument here was his argument for most of these things - that this is a film that know exactly what it's supposed to be and set out being what it's supposed to be with perfect finesse; that was his point about Titanic too. That you can be appropriately cheesy and broad, as long as that's built into the bones of what your monster's supposed to be.

Back to Friday Night Lights for a second though - Dolan is quite obviously entirely smitten with Taylor Kitsch (who can blame him?), who came up repeatedly - he said that John Carter made him feel like he was six years old, but then sixteen years old sometimes too, wink wink - and apparently Xavier wants to make his next movie (well the one after his next; he's already putting the finishing touches on something called Tom at the Farm, which stars Caleb Landry Jones) his first American movie and he really would like Taylor Kitsch to star in it, please. I think Taylor Kitsch is about at the point in his career where working for somebody like Dolan would be a really smart move on his part, no? Let's make this happen!


Dame James said...

Dolan and I finally agree: we both think Heartbeats is a terrible movie.

Jason Adams said...

Ha - I knew somebody'd say that! I'm glad it was you, DJ. :)

MrJeffery said...

he makes me feel old.