Split Screen 2000: Episode #62 - Projections: David O. Russell

From Faber & Faber's Projections: Tod Lippy's interview with David O. Russell

Tod Lippy: I know you're planning to move back to New York, but you've been in L.A. for close to two years now. How does the city strike you?

David O. Russell: I'll just start out by saying that, you know, there are ghosts in America. Cultural ghosts - just certain, very American ghosts. And in Los Angeles, they're really strong, stronger than they are anyplace else.

Tod Lippy: Why is that?

David O. Russell: Because this is their home territory. I'm talking about a particular American hopefulness and energetic-ness that translates into certain narrative conventions - like always requiring a narrative resolution. A certain narrative drive. Those ghosts are just really strong, and if you come out here, they will get into your cerebellum and you don^Rt even realize it. It's like ether - you're breathing it and suddenly it's influencing you. Even if you're making an irreverent or different or independent film, these narrative ghosts will still inhabit it.

Tod Lippy: And this is only in L.A.?

David O. Russell: Well, it's very potent here. I was watching this French movie last night, When the Cat's Away. Have you seen that?

Tod Lippy: Yeah, it's terrific. That's about to be remade, isn't it?

David O. Russell: Well, Miramax wants to do it; that's why I was looking at it. I would do it, but what's the point of a remake? I think there's something fundamentally corrupt about them. Anyway, as I was watching that movie - which I thought was brilliant - I was thinking, "This movie doesn't have any American ghosts in it." Every single thing about it is so real, and upsetting, you know? The fact that the guy you think she's going to get together with turns out not to be the right one. And the Arab who's taking her around is not the right one. And her gay roommate's not the right one. And his friend who comes to visit is not the right one. Everybody's really lonely and disconnected in a very consistent way - there's such a consistency of missed connection that's so real. I think Americans find that unbearable. I was aware of my own anxiety while I was watching it. Maybe because there is a terrible loneliness in America that we work really hard to deny through all kinds of luxurious, glossy entertainment, and theme parks, and Nike shoes.

Projections 11
New York Film-Makers on Film-making
edited by Tod Lippy
faber and faber
© copyright Tod Lippy, 2000

Split Screen: Projections - David O. Russell Credits

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