Alexander Payne: Interviews by Julie Levinson

By Julie Levinson

Since 1996, Alexander Payne (b. 1961) has made six function movies and a brief phase of an omnibus motion picture. even if his physique of labor is quantitatively small, it really is qualitatively notable. His videos have garnered a number of accolades and awards, together with Academy Awards for top tailored Screenplay. As a couple of interviewer during this quantity issues out, he keeps a magnificent and unbroken successful streak. Payne’s tales of human strivings and follies, along his mastery of the craft of filmmaking, mark him as a latest auteur of unusual accomplishment.

In this primary compilation of his interviews, Payne unearths himself as an enthralling conversationalist in addition. The discussions accrued right here variety from 1996, almost immediately after the discharge of his first movie, Citizen Ruth, to the 2013 debut of his movie, Nebraska. Over his occupation, he muses on many topics together with his personal inventive techniques, his dedication to telling character-centered tales, and his abiding admiration for videos and administrators from throughout a long time of movie history.

Critics describe Payne as one of many few modern filmmakers who regularly manages to greenback the present pattern towards bombastic blockbusters. just like the Seventies director-driven cinema that he cherishes, his motion pictures are small-scale personality reports that have the ability to keep a fragile stability among sharp satire and actual poignancy.

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AP: Many fine actresses expressed interest in the part. TL: Well, you ended up with many fine actresses in the film: Swoosie Kurtz, Mary Kay Place, et al. Did you ever feel like you would be able to populate the film with such high-caliber performances? AP: I was prepared to shoot the film in Omaha for $300,000 on 16mm with no known actors, and that would have been fine, too. But how it ended up was pretty close to ideal. TL: How did you manage to snag Burt Reynolds, especially for the part of Blaine?

Enter Alexander Payne, the director and co-writer of Miramax’s new film, Citizen Ruth. His film stars Laura Dern as the unforgettable title character Ruth Stoops, a paint huffing homeless dimwit who ends up in jail and pregnant—and not for the first time. By sheer synchronicity, Ruth shares a cell with a passel of pro-life protesters just after a judge offers her a reduced sentence if she “takes care” of her pregnancy. Weekly Alibi had a chance to discuss this unique film with Payne. Angie Drobnic: Do you think the subject of abortion will affect the film commercially?

AP: I think you are. [both laugh] JT: I think the way I would describe the difference is: that you have a little more of an angry edge to what you do. TL: Alexander, your short film, The Passion of Martin, was certainly more extreme in its violence than Jim’s was. AP: Well, I had a lot of anger to express in that film. [both laugh] JT: I think I’m usually voting for the— AP: Safer route? JT: Umm—gentler? AP: Well, I remember when we were in the middle of writing this film, and you have so many doubts, and I hadn’t directed a feature yet.

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