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Woody Allen to Fernando Trueba: "I am very pessimistic about the aspect of things. For example, the emergence of the extreme right"

2019-10-13T00:45:42.064Z

The idea that a Woody Allen movie was going to stay in an Amazon drawer, and that movie lovers would be left without seeing it for fear of network reactions.



The idea that a Woody Allen movie was going to stay in an Amazon drawer, and that movie lovers would be left without seeing it for fear of social media reactions , for an issue that was already acquitted in two Sometimes by the courts, by the damn political correctness or whatever, I rebelled. So when I learned that Woody had recovered his last film and the Spanish distributors proposed a meeting / talk / interview, I did not hesitate. Especially after watching the movie in a press pass. Rainy day in New York seemed like a delight, a movie full of charm, like a song by Cole Porter, like a dance in which the couple did not set foot on the ground for a second , like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sharing (with us) Isn't This a Lovely Day? from Irving Berlin ... When I left to see her I thought it was a long time since a movie was not treating me so well ...

The first time I heard about Woody Allen was at the beginning of September 1972. I was 17 years old, I had traveled by auto-stop in France, I had worked to collect apricot in Roussillon, where I had read Rimbaud in Livre de Pôche, and after the summer I was going to go to study cinema at the Faculty of Information Sciences, branch of Image. They had closed the EOC (Official School of Cinema), where from the age of 15 he dreamed of entering. When I returned to Madrid I ran to the kiosk to buy Triunfo and I find an article by my beloved Umberto Eco, author of Open Work and Apocalyptic and integrated . The article was about a new American comedian. According to Eco, the best since the Marx brothers: "Woody Allen is the coolest of the comedians alive today in the world, and it is incredible that people have not yet noticed it ..." said Eco.

People? I was the people. And no, I hadn't noticed it. How was that possible? I, who spent the day in the film library, the university cinema-clubs and the double programs of the neighborhood cinemas, who never saw less than one movie a day, but that some days I could see four and up to five. On the big screen! How was it possible that I didn't know who this guy was?

According to Umberto Eco, Allen was the best comedian since the Marx brothers

Fernando Trueba

Take the money and run , his first film, had been betrayed in August, the date for films that lacked commercial possibilities. I had to wait a few weeks until I could catch it in a neighborhood cinema. It became a classic for me and my friends. We even sang the prisoners' song at the slightest opportunity: "I'm going to see my Luisa, I'm going to the Mississippi!"

By those days in the cinemas of Madrid I had laughed with What happens doctor? Peter Bogdanovich and I had fallen asleep with Death in Venice by Luchino Visconti, which produced a huge guilt complex because Triunfo said it was the best film in the history of cinema ... Nothing less.

The following year, Dreams of seducer premiered, on a cinephile that appeared Humphrey Bogart ... (There and the identification reached pathological limits). And the other two premiered: Bananas , where he was raging about a Latin American dictatorship but also of the rebels who fought it, so they progressed twisted the gesture, although after a while they passed and kept laughing like crazy and then they told you that It was funny but "reactionary . " And El Dorilón , where Woody continued to parody the genres, now it was up to science fiction, and between gags that became part of our life, like the ball of pleasure we practiced with any spherical object, a watermelon for example, began to speak in the first person and informed us that he only believed in sex and death. In Spain, as Franco still lived, we only believed in the latter.

Elle Fanning and Timothée Chalamet on 'Rainy Day in New York.

At that time his first two books were translated, How to end once and for all with culture and Without Feathers (translated by José Luis Guarner), where his hilarious articles for the New Yorker were collected, in which he parodied from Raymond Chandler to Ingmar Bergman passing through Dostoevsky, Kafka and Van Gogh. The cultural references were so many that one was tempted to believe him when in one of those articles he claimed that he swallowed Joyce 's Finnegan's Wake on the roller coaster of Coney Island. Both became my bedside books. Literally. I always had them on the table and on countless occasions my irrepressible laughter woke my wife in the middle of the night. Today, almost half a century later, they are still on my bedside table.

The following was also a parody: Boris Grushenko's last night was titled here, although the title was Love and Death . Now Woody parodied nothing less than Russian literature. And the fact of choosing Robert Bresson's director of photography was significant: the comedian wanted to be an artist.

And that came with Annie Hall . That movie literally blew my mind.

Copy of the magazine 'Triunfo' with Umberto Eco's article on Woody Allen.

A few days before, everything you always wanted to know about sex had been released , but you never dared to ask , that it had been banned for more than five years by Franco's censorship and post-Franco's. It was a movie of Italian episodes, type The monsters of Dino Risi, in which Woody played a jester in the first sketch and a sperm in the last. In between he allowed himself from a parody of the then sacred Antonioni to the story of a psychiatrist who falls in love with a sheep. I don't know what could be dangerous except that in Spain there was always a lot of sheep.

By then Woody was part of our lives. We knew their scenes by heart, their gags , their dialogues ... And we hadn't seen any of their films less than 20 times. Then there was no video. So you found out that they were putting a Woody movie in a movie club, in a high school, or in a neighborhood movie theater on the other side of Madrid and there that we were going to see her again as a gang.

But with Annie Hall everything changed. It was as fun as the previous ones, even more. But also, "it was good." It is not that the previous ones were not, but you know, they were "laughing" ...

Woody's meeting with Gordon Willis, sponsor's director of photography and many others, was key. Willis did, if he did not lay his head, he did think about staging in another way.

I saw Annie Hall I don't know how many times. It was the year 78, we still had no video and had not yet edited the script. So I went to the movies and recorded the sound (folded and with the laughter of the audience) in a cassette. I don't know very well what I wanted to study, analyze or learn. Does not matter. Every time I listened to the tape, I laughed out loud again and forgot about the scientific-academic purpose of listening.

Annie Hall marked my life. I was 23 years old and, the following year, I shot my first film, obviously influenced, marked, by Woody's.

Annie Hall marked my life. I was 23 years old and, the following year, I shot my first film, obviously influenced, marked, by 'Annie Hall'

Fernando Trueba

My last job before starting to prepare Opera Prima was to cover the San Sebastian Festival as a critic for El País . There I saw Manhattan . It was the confirmation that there was no turning back: A black and white film, in scope and with Gershwin music! And with a new declaration of principles: "There are certain things that are worth living for: Groucho Marx, the second movement of the Jupiter Symphony , the recording of Louis Armstrong of Head Potato Blues , Flaubert's sentimental education , etc. . "

In between he had dared to imitate Bergman and piss off a high percentage of his followers with Interiors . He did it so well that I thought it was another of his pastiches. I like to keep believing it, even if it's not true.

The next 20 years of Woody Allen's work are dazzling. The waste of cinema, style, writing, intelligence and humor are unrivaled in all cinema history. They can only be compared to the decade of the 30's by Jean Renoir , where he chained a masterpiece with another without hardly any stumbling blocks. Golden ages of artists touched by grace ... Rafael Azcona used to say that Woody Allen should be given the Nobel Prize for Literature. Enough have it with less merit.

Movies like Crimes and Misdemeanors, Hannah and her sisters, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Zelig, Bullets on Broadway, September, Another Woman, Husbands and Women, ... are now movie classics.

And although some insist on burying it prematurely, its cinema has been and continues to be a key influence on the best of American cinema, from Richard Linklater, Whit Stillman, Alexander Payne or Wes Anderson to Noah Baumbach, Kenneth Lonergan or Greta Gerwig.

Having said all this, it is not difficult to understand that he will jump on the occasion of finding someone who has been so important to me, to my life, to someone to whom I owe so much.

Woody Allen and Fernando Trueba.

The meeting was at the Hotel Bristol, in Paris, at the end of a day of promotion and interviews ...

The first thing I do is praise the deep lightness of Rainy Day in New York , its lightness. And I mention the scene in which the protagonist returns to his hotel after a game of poker. I tell him that made me think of Lubitsch. His face lights up when he hears the name mentioned .

WOODY ALLEN. Lubitsch was one of the greats, one of my favorites. Do you like Lubitsch?

FERNANDO TRUEBA. I love Lubitsch!

WA Me too And do you prefer Lubitsch or Preston Sturges?

FT Do you know? For me, the holy trinity of comedy are Lubitsch, Sturges and Billy Wilder ... And I am happy with all of them. I don't need to choose ...

WA You don't want to choose, of course ... I like all three too. I have a personal passion for Lubitsch. Some of his films are so, so wonderful ... He had such a light touch, like a souffle .

I tell her that lightness I recognize her in her movie. It makes me think of the twilight Lubitsch of Heaven can wait . But Rainy Day in New York is not an old man's movie, it overflows youthful energy even though it is directed by an old wise man.

One of the most lubitschianos moments of Woody Allen takes place in a film not much appreciated, You will meet the man of your dreams , where the protagonist spends half a movie watching a beautiful neighbor from his window, and when he finally gets her to invite him his apartment ends up looking at his wife through the window of his own house ... Lubitsch would have loved it.

WA Yes, Lubitsch did that kind of thing and Wilder too ... What is your favorite Lubitsch movie?

FT It depends on the days, but ... I love Ninotchka , The bazaar of surprises ... To be or not to be ... Trouble in Paradise (A thief in the bedroom) ...

Again his face lights up.

No, this is not a very pleasant moment

Woody Allen

WA Trouble in Paradise is a masterpiece!

FT They all are! no?

WA Yes. Yes. All are great. But that is my favorite. I love The bazaar of surprises . But Trouble in Paradise for me ... it's amazing ... beautiful ...

FT Because it is the most abstract ... No? it's pure cinema ...

WA Yes. It's just ... the touch is so ... so perfect! And what is your favorite Wilder movie?

FT The apartment . For me it is one of the films of my life and my heart.

WA Excellent ... yes ... and do you like the other one with Kirk Douglas?

FT Ace in the hole ? I love.

WA It's great. Very little appreciated. And I don't know why ... It was such a wonderful movie!

FT Yes, it is a masterpiece. I was writing a script, in Los Angeles, and suddenly I read that they put it on the movie theater in Santa Monica. And I took my co-writer who was very young ... and I hadn't even heard the title! So we went together. And there the room was crowded and people stood up and applauded and I was very happy ... because although Wilder had already died then, his cinema was still alive ...

WA Well, where were those people when Ace in the Hole was released?

FT Yes, where were they?

WA Do you know? They weren't, and I don't know why the producers got nervous and changed the title for The Great Carnival ... It was a beautiful movie ...

FT Maybe he was ahead of his time ...

WA I think so. I think that movie was probably too sophisticated for the public, too cynical, too true, or too dark ...

FT A few years ago, in Chile, several people were buried in a mine and history was every day in newspapers and on television and, as in The Great Carnival , they set up a large circus to rescue those people from the mine. I think Wilder was more than half a century ahead of his time ... That was too much maybe at that time.

WA Did you work for Wilder?

FT No, but I met him, we were ... friends.

WA How interesting! And how did you meet him?

FT He was my favorite director. And, although I dreamed of meeting him, the first time I went to Los Angeles I did not want to disturb him, I thought that many people would go to see him and tell him how much they admired his films. Then I was embarrassed. And when I returned to Spain, the first night in Madrid, I dreamed that Billy Wilder had died. Then, 15 days later, I had to return to Los Angeles. We were working on a casting. And then a person who was a friend of Stanley Donen called him and Donen called Billy. And Billy returns the call and says: Come tomorrow at 10! This happened.

WA Really? And then you could spend time with him?

Yes. Every time I went to Los Angeles, the first thing I always did was call Billy Wilder, before calling home, my wife or whoever

Fernando Trueba

FT Yes. Every time I went to Los Angeles, the first thing I always did was call him, before calling home, my wife or whoever. I arrived in Los Angeles, left my suitcase on the floor and called him: Billy, I'm here! ... Well, come tomorrow ... Come for lunch ... or whatever. He was a very nice man. It was one of the treasures of my life to spend time with him.

WA How wonderful! ... And, in the end, I wasn't able to make more movies. That was tragic!

FT Not for him! One day he told me the following: "All these journalists saying that I can't make movies because the system is very cruel and Hollywood and all this ..." And he said: "I don't want to make more movies. What I would like to have done less: six less. " And I asked him: "How six? Are you six, less so in general or are you thinking of six concrete films?" And he looked at me and said: "No, I am thinking of six films and he said: The Emperor Waltz, Temptation lives up, The Lone Hero, Front page, Fedora and Here a friend ... He recited the six titles and then made a brief silence. And he added: "Imagine my filmography without those six films ... It would be almost perfect!"

WA So ... wasn't it really true that they wouldn't let him make movies? He didn't want to do them ...

FT Yes, it said: "I've already done too many." And he told that joke about the guy who goes to the doctor and says: "Doctor, I have a problem. I can't piss." And the doctor asks how old he is, and he says 95! and the doctor says: "He has already peed enough." That was his joke to explain why he didn't want to make more movies. He also sometimes said "If even the TWA has stopped flying! Why can't I stop making movies?"

WA How interesting. I thought the people of Hollywood just didn't want to produce him because he was old ...

FT He had money! If only when he sold 80% of his art collection at Christie's he got 36 million dollars in one day ...

Woody Allen, Timothée Chalamet and Selena Gomez in the filming of the film.

WA I only met him for five seconds in my life. I was in a restaurant in New York, and he was in the same restaurant I was eating with more people and he paid his bill and, on leaving, he passed by my table and said: "Thank you for all the nice things you said about me!" and kept walking and left. At no time did he say, "Hi, I'm Billy Wilder!" We have never officially met, we have never spoken anything ... just Thank you for all the good things you have said about me! Because I had said good things about him, I had written an introduction to Double Indemnity , and I said what I felt ... I said it was great.

FT Is Double Indemnity your favorite Wilder movie?

WA It's a great movie. I love. It's my favorite. I love her. Always, whenever they put it I see it. I've seen it many times, but I can never turn it off.

It comes to my mind once, chatting with Wilder about Woody Allen, in which he said "I love Woody Allen, except when he pretends to be the New York Ingmar Bergman." I smile to myself, but it doesn't seem appropriate to mention it.

WA Y ... and what are you working on now?

FT I'm riding my new movie ...

WA What is ...? What is it about?

FT It's a Colombian movie. Based on a book that was published in the United States, as Oblivion . It is the story of a father and a son. It's a true story ... The father was a doctor defending human rights and was murdered in Medellin in '87. Then, 20 years later, his son, who is a writer, wrote a book about his relationship with the father since He was a child, until he was killed. When I read the book I loved it, it broke my heart. It is the book that I have given more times. And in different languages, to friends from different countries, but I never thought it was a movie ... And suddenly, one day ... what never happens, to be offered a book you love, but I told them it was impossible. "You can't make a movie from this book. I feel very flattered, but it's impossible." And you see, now I'm finishing riding it!

WA Oh. Did you shoot it in Colombia?

FT I shot it in Medellín completely, with Colombian actors and a Spanish actor, Javier Cámara who, by the way, was the first person to tell me about your movie.

WA Oh yes?

FT Yes, he came to Colombia, to make our film from Rome, where he was filming The Young Pope , a series by Paolo Sorrentino with Jude Law. And he told me that Jude Law had told him wonderful things about your movie ...

WA Working with Jude Law is a pleasure. And speaking of Colombia, did you know García Márquez?

FT I met him years ago. I saw him several times, some in Mexico, and others in Madrid, because he used to come to Spain a lot.

WA Have you ever made your book a movie?

FT One Hundred Years of Solitude ? It seems that now one of his children is going to make a series. I don't know if he is going to direct or produce it. Maybe it's HBO or one of these new things. I don't know if you know ... but he was a movie madman.

WA Yes, I know. I was with him and was a fan of my movies. I felt very flattered. And at that moment I wanted Kurosawa to make the movie One Hundred Years of Solitude . But it never materialized. They never met, but that is the director who dreamed to film his novel. I do not blame him. It would have been great. However, I don't know if you can turn that book into a movie so easily ...

FT I don't believe it. And there is a kind of black legend according to which his novels do not work in cinema ... Several have been made ...

WA Yes, they don't work.

FT Yes. And that made him sad, because he liked movies a lot ...

García Márquez wanted Kurosawa to make the movie 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'. But it never materialized.

Woody Allen

WA Yes, I remember they made love in the time of cholera ... And it was not successful. And they had that wonderful book ... But One Hundred Years of Solitude is so iconic ... I think it would be difficult to turn it into a movie, get it to have the same impact as when you read it. He always wanted to take me to Colombia, to the Colombian Film Festival ... And I never went. I almost never go to festivals, I went to Cannes because it was easy ... But I have never been south of the United States border ... Never. So, is the assembly finishing and then ... what? Is there a company behind to release it or will you show it to the festivals?

FT The producers will show it to festivals, but it won't be finished until the end of the year, there's music and mixes and all these things ... But let's talk about Rainy Day in New York . How has it been to roll again in your city?

WA Oh great! I love shooting there ... Have you ever filmed in New York?

FT Yes. I did Calle 54 , a film about jazz. There were no actors ... It was just music from start to finish, 100% music.

WA Oh, aha ... it was a documentary about jazz ...

FT Not a documentary, because nobody talked. I like to say that it is a musical. Because there is only music. Do not?

WA And was it Latin jazz or American jazz?

FT It was mostly Latin jazz, there were some of the best: Tito Puente, Bebo Valdés, Michel Camilo, Cachao, Gato Barbieri, Paquito D'Rivera, Jerry González, some New Yorkers ... Latin American New Yorkers ... But also everything the world. My favourites. For me it was happiness. It was like being in heaven, every day having one of these musicians playing in front of the cameras in New York. We shot in Sony studios, on 54th Street. Hence the title. And I was always thinking ... Now the cornice of this building is going to fall on my head and kill me for being so lucky to be here making this movie and enjoying it so much.

WA And did you do it with live sound?

FT Yes, live sound ... and six 35mm cameras, six Panavision. It was a luxury ... Today you could not do something like that.

WA Very interesting. Well ... filming again in New York for me was fun. I love it because I live there, so, you know, it's a very easy and very relaxed shoot. I like to shoot where I live because I can live at home and it is more comfortable and it is so easy in New York ... As in Spain, or in France, where people when they see that you are making a movie, I am sure you have had this Experience, they are respectful. They like to watch, but they are very cooperative and friendly.

FT And when you are filming in other countries, in Italy or Spain, are you not a little anxious about not being at home and, perhaps, not knowing the culture and some things around you?

WA Yes, yes, yes ... There is always a bit of that, that you are not at home and that you are not totally familiar, but if you stay in Barcelona, ​​Paris and Rome, these cities, you tend to know them a little because you visited them as a tourist and with other projects ... But, you know, go and make a movie for me, say, in Colombia ... I wouldn't know where to start. I would have no understanding of the city at all. The soul of the city or the rhythm or what is important there. But have you spent a lot of time in New York?

FT Yes, yes. It is a city that I like very much. Even if some things are disappearing, right? Like bookstores.

WA Yes, it is disappearing because people buy things on Ebay. They buy online, and it's terrible. So, if you go on Madison Avenue, you find an empty store and the next one and the next one too ... And all those wonderful stores are empty because people like to shop at Amazon.

FT Yes, I remember that the last time I was in New York I was walking trying to find an old bookstore, Madison Avenue Bookshop, which I liked very much, and was no longer there ...

WA I know which one you say, at the height of 70th Street. They have closed one after another. When I moved there, there were three or four bookstores on Madison Avenue on 60, 70 and 80 streets. Now there are none. There are no libraries. This is something terrible, terrible. And this is doing a lot of damage to the city.

FT Do you feel nostalgic for all these things that are disappearing?

WA Oh, of course, of course. The best time in New York was before I was born ... in the 20s and 30s ... I was born in 35, I was too young to appreciate it, of course. But the 20s and 30s in New York were fantastic. And then the 40s were also quite good, and the 50s were fine, but the theater hours began to change, the ticket prices started to rise ... What cost five dollars now counts 200 ... And the shows became shows for tourists ... All serious writers, O'Neill and Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller ... William Inge and Edward Albee are gone. There are already only these musical shows and revivals and, and no more night clubs . No more Copacabana and no more Latin Quarter ... Life has changed. Now there is Uber and you know, you don't go out. I liked it when you went out and there were yellow cabs and you stopped the taxi, but none of that already exists. Now they are building very tall buildings and they are empty because people don't want to live on the 70th floor ... There are a lot of problems in New York right now. And, yes, the world is not in good shape while we are sitting here talking. I am very pessimistic about the aspect of things, the emergence of the extreme right. The proliferation of nuclear weapons. The overpopulation of the world. The lack of seriousness regarding climate change ... No, this is not a very pleasant moment.

Life has changed. Now there is Uber and you know, you don't go out. I liked it when you went out and there were yellow cabs and you stopped the taxi, but none of that exists anymore

Woody Allen

FT And the disappearance of private life too.

WA Yes, yes, yes.

FT That's something tragic.

WA Very difficult ... It would be a good time for Billy Wilder. He would have a lot to say in his films about what is going on. He would be the perfect filmmaker.

FT But at least you keep making movies, that's a good thing ...

WA Yes, you do them, but you don't know where they will look. Movie theaters are also closing one after another. We were used to being able to watch many movies. European movies, it is very difficult to find this now. Very difficult. The cinemas are closing and everything goes to television and ... now, children don't go to the movies. They sit at home with laptops in their lap and watch the movies there and they love it. It is a very different world, and in my opinion not so charming, but I am sure that children will grow and think. "Oh, when I was young everything was wonderful, I went home from school, took my laptop and got into bed, watched a movie on my mobile and ate popcorn in bed watching the movie!" Maybe they will remember it the same way we remember when we went to the movies and we were young.

Yes, it may be so and it has always been that way and it will continue to be. We will always believe that there was a past tense that was better, ours of course. I feel sad. Also because the interview is over, and I would like to continue talking with Woody for two more hours. Or all life. Have dinner with him every week and talk about movies and books and music ... But what are we going to do to him ... I will love to see Rainy Day in New York as soon as they premiere it. With my wife, with my son, with friends. And then talk about her in a bar drinking a wine. And to wish Woody, really to us, to continue making a movie a year for all those who have left to live.

I will never forget the day that one of his masterpieces, Crimes and Misdemeanors premiered in Madrid, and I went to see her at the Rosales cinema at the first session. I left happy, walked a few meters and suddenly, I stopped and thought, where are you going? Do you have anything better to do? And I turned around and returned to get an entry to see her again in the second session.

According to the criteria of The Trust Project

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