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August 2, 2020

How George Miller’s ‘Babe’ Revolutionized the Talking Animal Movie 25 Years Ago

Animation

Babe” turns 25 on August 4, and the sweet, endearing family drama from Down Under, about an orphan pig winning a sheepherding competition, revolutionized the talking animal movie in 1995. The underdog also became a surprising box office hit and Oscar contender for Universal.

“Babe” earned $64 million domestically and $254 million worldwide, and grabbed seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (for Chris Noonan), Best Adapted Screenplay (Miller & Noonan), and Best Supporting Actor (for James Cromwell as avuncular Farmer Hoggett). Yet its lone prize was for Best Visual Effects, beating Universal’s heavily favored “Apollo 13.”

Thanks to the landmark collaboration between VFX studio Rhythm & Hues (overlaying CG animation over live-action animal footage), and more advanced animatronics from London-based Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, and Australia’s John Cox’s Creature Shop and Robotech, “Babe” altered the landscape of the industry. “We weren’t just changing technology, we were changing filmmaking,” said Oscar-winning production VFX supervisor Scott E. Anderson (“Hollow Man,” “Starship Troopers”). “It was a huge step forward as far as using visual effects for telling a story. Instantly it started a different [performance-driven] trend.”

Babe Universal

“Babe”

Universal

“To my knowledge, ‘Babe’ was the first [live-action] film where animals were the leading characters that actually spoke their lines rather than the dialogue being communicated by a narrator,” added Neal Scanlan, the creature project supervisor at Henson, who most recently has worked on the “Star Wars” franchise. “In order to achieve this — and by far the greatest challenge — required utterly lifelike animatronics that could articulate their mouths in order to convincingly pronounce words. It also required CGI to do the same to the footage of the real animals.”

It began with “Mad Max’s” George Miller and his Kennedy Miller production company acquiring the rights to adapt Dick King-Smith’s novel, “The Sheep-Pig,” into a feature shot in his native Australia, helmed by Noonan (“Miss Potter”). But it took nearly a decade for technology to catch up with need to realistically portray talking animals (Miller even phoned Stanley Kubrick about cracking his talking pig problem).

“For me, it all came down to Chris Noonan saying on the first day, ‘I’m gonna shoot the animals like movie stars and I’m not gonna talk down to children.’ And for the next three years, that was my mantra. We needed the animals to look like movie stars and Chris was telling a real story.”

Babe Universal

“Babe”

Universal

The 500 animals that appeared in the movie were trained by the legendary Karl Lewis Miller (“Beethoven” and “Cujo”). There were 42 pigs alone for Babe, along with an assortment of dogs, cats, sheep, cows, horses, goats, ducks, mice, and pigeons. The VFX worked on two fronts — mouth replacement and face enhancement. To create the illusion of believable human expressions, Rhythm & Hues overlaid CG animation over the live-action footage of the animals.

“The earliest example of that from my experience was a lot of the projection mapping we had done on ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day,’” said Anderson. “So the idea that we could take something that looked realistic, split it, deform it, and reposition it made a lot of sense. Projection mapping had not been done on this scale, for this many shots, and with this subtlety. And they combined this with [other elements of] the CG mouths and internals, and then using morphing to help the animal performance around the eyes.”

Meanwhile, the craft of animatronics was pushed further with greater sophistication and nuance, controlled remotely by puppeteers, who took care of the rest of the necessary facial and body movements. “Although we had many years of experience in producing all types of puppets and animatronics at the Creature Shop, ‘Babe’ demanded that we reinvented the rule book,” said Scanlan. “Many new materials and techniques needed to be found and developed. A computer controller that allowed the puppeteers to control the characters was taken to the next level and the methodology of how to configure an animatronics for the numerous shots was revisited.

Babe Universal

“Babe”

Universal

“In order to make the animatronic puppets appear to be real, we decided to build them in the way nature does,” added Scanlan. “We started with a metal/ mechanical skeleton that had motors and cables so it could be operated by the puppeteers. For instance, for Babe there was a standing version, a sitting version, and a lying version. To this skeleton, we added muscles that would squash-and-stretch as the body moved and on top of this was the skin. Babe’s skin was a brand new material at the time, a semi-translucent flexible silicone. Each hair was punched into the skin one at a time and took many weeks to complete. This in-depth approach was the same for each of the different characters. The animatronics were [handled] usually by two puppeteers who could control the head, body, and all the facial expressions, including the dialogue in real-time as per the director’s wishes.”

The silicone provided a nice translucency with light scatter, which predated the subsurface scattering that has become the norm today with CG. The best example of this was Babe’s introduction to the farm dogs in the barn and a discussion about his identity, which was beautifully shot by the late, Oscar-winning cinematographer Andrew Lesnie (“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”).

The key here was studying and capturing real animal behavior rather than creating anthropomorphic performances. “What’s amazingly hard for people to understand and believe in this day and age is that, before the first minutes of this film, animals did not talk,” Anderson said. “And so the whole entry into the film with the arrival of Babe was all layered in at degrees to get the audience to accept talking animals for everything that would follow. And once we owned them, now we were fully telling the story.”

Source: IndieWire film

August 1, 2020

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Star Nicholas Hoult Knew He’d Made it as an Actor When Charlize Theron Spat in His Face

Five years later “Mad Max: Fury Road” is the gift that keeps on giving. With a Furiosa spinoff prequel on the way and continued play in best-of-the-decade lists, George Miller’s Oscar-winning 2015 action epic has stayed firmly in the cultural imagination. The film was toasted once again Friday night at a special drive-in screening in Los Angeles, with Kyle Buchanan of The New York Times moderating a Q&A with stars Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult.

As reported by Variety, Hoult recalled filming one challenging fight scene alongside Theron inside of a tractor. “I knew I really arrived as an actor when there was a scene when you spat in my face,” Hoult told Theron. “I think I asked politely, ‘Do you mind if I spit back?’”

Talk about a spit take! That kind of intense camaraderie on the set was also evident in an on-set feuding between Theron and co-star Tom Hardy. Stunt performer Dayna Grant recently opened up about the film’s “challenging” atmosphere and the actors’ rivalry during filming. Grant revealed that the Theron-Hardy feud was obvious from the earliest stages of the production, forcing a separation in how the action scenes were choreographed.

“We knew right from the get go,” Grant said. “We knew from the beginning that it was happening when we were doing the fight choreography…there was tension then. So we were told what was going on. And we were just told to try and make it work as much as possible, which was challenging, because usually you’re all in one big group and working together whereas we were kind of separated.”

Theron took some ownership for the feud during an interview with The New York Times published back in May, saying, “I didn’t have enough empathy to really, truly understand what he must have felt like to step into Mel Gibson’s shoes. That is frightening! And I think because of my own fear, we were putting up walls to protect ourselves instead of saying to each other, ‘This is scary for you, and it’s scary for me, too. Let’s be nice to each other.’ In a weird way, we were functioning like our characters: Everything was about survival.”

Source: IndieWire film

July 26, 2020

‘Kissing Booth 3’ Shot in Secret, Already in Post-Production and Coming from Netflix in 2021

The Kissing Booth 2,” the second installment in Netflix’s wildly popular franchise, is currently No. 1 on the streamer’s viewing charts. Riding high off the popularity of the new film and the 2018 original, both directed by Vince Marcello, Netflix has given the go-ahead on a third movie. But perhaps the most exciting piece of news, as reported by Deadline, is that “The Kissing Booth 3” has already finished filming after shooting quietly alongside “Kissing Booth 2” last year in South Africa. Marcello is reported to be currently in post-production on the film, which Netflix will launch sometime in 2021. Netflix confirmed the news to IndieWire.

The news was revealed by star and executive producer Joey King during a live-stream fan event hosted on Sunday. The third film will continue to explore the romantic ups and downs of Elle (King), her boyfriend Noah (Jacob Elordi), and her BFF Lee (Joel Courtney). “The Kissing Booth 3” will be set in the summer before Elle heads off to college. She’s been accepted into Harvard and Berkeley. Torn between her boyfriend and her best friend, which will she choose?

“The Kissing Booth” films are based on the novels by Beth Reekles, adapted by Vince Marcello, with Jay Arnold co-writing “The Kissing Booth 2.” In IndieWire’s review of the new film, Kate Erbland writes, “While the first film was rife with sexist rhetoric, casual slut-shaming, and a ‘bad boy’ lead who never met a put-down (or a punch) he didn’t like, its sequel tones down the offensive BS, finding something sweeter and far more enjoyable in the process. Even for audiences not turned off by the regressive attitudes of the original, its oddly aggressive tone was never, well, romantic, a misstep that Marcello now attempts to rectify. And yet the greatest strength of ‘The Kissing Booth 2,’ an overstuffed (clocking in at a whopping 132 minutes) mishmash of genre tropes and tricks, isn’t its many romances; it’s King, who finally gets to spread her wings and her comedic chops.”

“The Kissing Booth 2” is the latest in Netflix’s big foray into romantic comedies, particularly revolving around teens, including the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” film series. “The Kissing Booth 2” premiered on Netflix July 24.

Source: IndieWire film

July 26, 2020

11 Must-See Olivia de Havilland Movies That Aren’t ‘Gone With the Wind’

Two-time Academy Award-winning actress Olivia de Havilland passed away Sunday at the age of 104. Immortalized for her work in “Gone With the Wind” and “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” many might have actually missed the features that showcased de Havilland’s true range and talents. That’s where this list comes in. In honor of the woman who broke Hollywood’s contract laws and was one of the last living Old Hollywood legends, here are 11 features that, while not her most well-known, reveal her gifts as a screen icon capable of playing many roles.

Source: IndieWire film

July 26, 2020

Venice Film Festival: Jury President Cate Blanchett Joined by Joanna Hogg, Christian Petzold, and More

The Venice Film Festival is setting up quite the internationally starry jury this year. Running September 2-12, the festival has revealed all its jury members as led by president Cate Blanchett. Joining her will be Austrian director Veronika Franz (“Goodnight Mommy,” “The Lodge”), British filmmaker Joanna Hogg (“The Souvenir”), Italian writer and novelist Nicola Lagioia, German filmmaker Christian Petzold (“Phoenix,” “Barbara”), Romanian director Cristi Puiu (“The Death of Mr. Lazarescu,” “Sieranevada”), and French actress Ludivine Sagnier (“Swimming Pool,” “8 Women”).

Together, they will award the festival’s top prizes, including the Golden Lion, which last year went to “Joker” under jury president Lucrecia Martel.

Meaning, in the Orizzonti, or Horizons, section running parallel to the main competition, French favorite Claire Denis (“High Life,” “Beau Travail”) will lead the jury comprised of Oskar Alegria (Spain), Francesca Comencini (Italy), Katriel Schory (Israel), and Christine Vachon (USA).

Heading the jury for the “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film are Claudio Giovannesi (Italy) as president, Remi Bonhomme (France), and Dora Bouchoucha (Tunisia). The festival’s Venice Virtual Reality jury will be led by Celine Tricart as president (USA), and also include Asif Kapadia (Great Britain) and Hideo Kojima (Japan).

Daniele Luchetti’s “Lacci” will open the 77th edition on September 2. The selection is notable, as “Lacci” has become the first Italian movie to open the Venice Film Festival in 11 years. The last Italian opener was in 2009 with Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Baarìa.” Luchetti’s “Lacci” is based on Domenico Starnone’s 2017 novel of the same name about a potential affair that threatens a marriage. The cast includes Alba Rohrwacher, Luigi Lo Cascio, Laura Morante, Silvio Orlando, and Linda Caridi.

Slated to be the world’s first major film festival to resume operations during the pandemic, Venice will be a slimmed-down affair. Around 50 films will be announced as part of Venice’s official selection on July 28. The main competition, officially titled Venezia 77, will feature approximately 20 films. All other titles in the official selection will debut either in the Out of Competition section or the Horizons section. “Lacci” is included in the festival’s Out of Competition section.

The festival will also host outdoor screenings this year.

Source: IndieWire film

July 26, 2020

Olivia de Havilland, Star of ‘Gone With the Wind,’ Dies at 104

The link to Old Hollywood gets smaller with the announcement today that Olivia de Havilland, two-time Oscar winner and the last living star of “Gone With the Wind,” passed away at 104. De Havilland, who just celebrated her birthday three weeks ago, died of natural causes, her reps confirmed.

De Havilland was a trailblazer, and became a beloved bridge between the entertainment of today and the world of yesteryear. The star of over 60 film and television roles, the British actress became immortal after playing the goodhearted Melanie Wilkes in 1939’s “Gone With the Wind” and became swashbuckler Errol Flynn’s primary leading lady, working with him seven times, most notably in “The Adventures of Robin Hood.”

Outside of her film work, she created a shakeup in Hollywood that ended up having long-standing repercussions. In 1943 she filed suit against her home studio of Warner Bros. for extending her contract for longer than the standard seven years. Other stars of the era had attempted to stop this forced extension, most prominently Bette Davis, but all had failed. De Havilland’s lawsuit, equating the extensions to indentured servitude, was the one that won. The “de Havilland law” meant no studio could extend a star’s contract beyond the length originally agreed.

Olivia Mary de Havilland was born in Tokyo on July 1st, 1916 to a patent attorney and stage actress. Olivia’s younger sister Joan was born 15 months later. Joan — who’d go on to equal fame as actress Joan Fontaine —and Olivia had a fraught relationship with many decades of estrangement before Fontaine’s passing in 2013. The family moved from Tokyo to England, but a series of illnesses plaguing the girls compelled their mother to move them to California where their father eventually abandoned the family.

De Havilland, nicknamed “Livvie” by her sister, took a liking to the arts, studying ballet and piano at an early age. When she entered high school she initially had plans to become an English teacher. In 1933 she made her stage debut in an amateur production of “Alice in Wonderland,” which sparked an interest in the theater. She started to dabble in numerous school productions; unfortunately, this caused tension with her new stepfather, who forbade her from performing, and de Havilland would spend her teenage years living with a family friend to pursue acting.

In 1934, after graduating, she was offered the role of Puck in a community theater version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It was here that director Max Reinhardt’s assistant saw the young de Havilland performing and offered her the understudy position of Hermia in a production of the same play Reinhardt was producing for the Hollywood Bowl. De Havilland moved to Los Angeles to tour with the production and when Reinhardt was offered a chance to direct a film adaptation of the Shakespeare play, de Havilland was promoted from understudy to star. Despite early misgivings, de Havilland signed a contract with Warner Bros. and made her film debut in 1935.

De Havilland became a quick study of film techniques, this in spite of her early, fluffy roles. In 1935 she and fellow bit player Errol Flynn were paired up in an adaptation of Rafael Sabatini’s “Captain Blood.” The film was a success, securing four Oscar nominations and propelling both Flynn and de Havilland into the limelight. The pair would be teamed up to even greater acclaim, and film immortality, two years later for “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” The film would get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture in 1938 and become one of the most popular examples of studio filmmaking.

***FILE PHOTO*** Actress Olivia de Havilland Has Passed Away at 104. 1939 American western film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Ann Sheridan. Based on a story by Robert Buckner, the film is about a Texas cattle agent who witnesses the brutal lawlessness of Dodge City, Kansas and takes the job of sheriff to clean the town up. Filmed in early Technicolor, Dodge City was one of the highest-grossing films of the year. This was the 7th of 11 movies that de Havilland and Flynn appeared in together. Credit: Hollywood Photo Archive / MediaPunch /IPX

“Dodge City”

Hollywood Photo Archive / MediaPunch/MediaPunch/IPx

The next year would forever change how audiences’ saw de Havilland. Her role as Melanie Wilkes in “Gone With the Wind” secured her the first of five Oscar nominations for acting, and was the only time she’d be nominated for a supporting role. But in spite of the success of “Gone With the Wind,” de Havilland felt her roles weren’t challenging and by 1940 she was given the first of several suspensions by the studio for turning down work. She’d continue to turn down roles and be suspended while getting three Oscar nods in the 1940s, eventually winning her first in 1946 for “To Each His Own.”

Content to leave Warner Bros., the expiration of her contract continued to be extended due to her suspensions, necessitating the legal action that would pass the “de Havilland law.” Unfortunately, the lawsuit would result in her being blacklisted by the studio. She wouldn’t work anywhere for two years until 1945 when she signed with Paramount Pictures.

De Havilland would work steadily from there on out, continuing to rack up nominations for her work as a woman trapped in a mental institution in 1948’s “The Snake Pit.” In 1949 she’d win her second Oscar for playing the plain Jane seduced and disappointed by a beautiful man (played by Montgomery Clift) in “The Heiress.”

The birth of her son saw de Havilland turn to full-time motherhood, and while the actress continued to work on the stage, she took time off from filming. She’d do a lengthy run on Broadway in George Bernard Shaw’s “Candida,” before traveling to Paris and meeting Paris Match journalist Pierre Galante. The two would fall in love and marry in 1955 with de Havilland making France her home base. She’d continue to travel back and forth between Paris and the States, and in 1962 she published her first book “Every Frenchman Has One” about her time acclimating to the new country.

Actress Olivia de Havilland puts her Academy Award Oscar on her shelf after a long night speaking to the press and receiving the congratulations of friends after winning her second award for "The Heiress," March 26, 1950. (AP Photo/Frank Filan)

Actress Olivia de Havilland puts her Academy Award Oscar on her shelf.

AP

In the 1960s de Havilland would go the way of many classic film stars and turn to television and the horror genre. She’d star in the 1964 cult classic “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte” opposite Bette Davis, a role that saw the elegant de Havilland revel in cursing and maliciousness. She’d follow that up the same year with “Lady in a Cage,” wherein de Havilland is trapped in an elevator as a gang of hoodlums terrorize her and her house.

De Havilland stayed active in the film world up until 2003 where she was a presenter at the 75th Academy Awards. She also made appearances as part of her 90th birthday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She received a National Medal of the Arts in 2008 and was knighted in France in 2010. But within the last decade de Havilland regularly refused to attend events, citing issues with her health and the struggles of travel.

De Havilland is survived by her daughter.

Source: IndieWire film

July 26, 2020

Amazon Launching Voter Rights Doc with Stacey Abrams Ahead of Election Day

Amazon Studios announced on Sunday, 100 days out from this year’s U.S. Presidential Election on November 3, the documentary “All In: The Fight for Democracy” will open in select theaters on September 9 ahead of a release on Amazon Prime Video on September 18. From directors Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortés, “All In” features Stacey Abrams, the first Black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States and founder of voter suppression advocacy group Fair Fight Action. The film is produced by Garbus, Cortés, Dan Cogan, and Abrams.

The documentary examines the often overlooked issue of voter suppression in the United States ahead of this year’s election. The film includes personal experiences with current activism and historical insight, as led by Abrams, former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives. The documentary will take a closer look at the laws and barriers to voting that most people don’t know exist, or potentially threaten them as U.S. citizens.

Directors Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortés said: “With 100 days left until one of the most important elections in American history, we are thrilled to officially announce ‘All In: The Fight for Democracy,’ which will tell a powerful and harrowing story of the fight for the right to vote as well as arm citizens with the tools they need to protect this right. The film will be accompanied by an ambitious and visionary action plan to reach voters and educate them across the nation.”

“Today, we are 100 days out from Election Day —  a pivotal moment in our mission to protect our democracy — and we need to come together as a country and make sure every voice and vote is counted,” Abrams said. “The title ‘All In: The Fight for Democracy’ speaks to the importance and necessity that every American has the right to have their voice be heard and their vote counted. We know that if our votes were not important, so many folks wouldn’t be working so hard to take our right to vote away.”

Ahead of National Voter Registration Day, in coordination with the “All In: The Fight for Democracy” film release, the filmmakers and Amazon Studios will launch #ALLINFORVOTING, a social impact campaign with nonprofits and grassroots organizations to release digital content to combat misinformation about the voting process, and launch targeted campaign programming to educate and register first-time voters.

Amazon Studios acquired worldwide rights to “All In: The Fight for Democracy” from production company Story Syndicate.

Source: IndieWire film

July 20, 2020

StoryCorps From Home: Weekly Virtual Gatherings

Join us for our free “StoryCorps From Home” virtual get-togethers. Each week, you’ll meet StoryCorps staff members, listen to an uplifting story from our archive, and have a moment to reflect with friends of StoryCorps across the country.

StoryCorps’ Learning & Engagement team will be offering these sessions every Thursday. Join us for connection, listening, and reflection.

In this time of physical distancing, it feels good to connect.


StoryCorps From Home
Every Thursday, 9am PST/12pm EST
15 minutes

 

Source: SNPR Story Corps

July 19, 2020

As PTA’s New Film Circles Move to MGM, What We Know About His Ninth Feature

Reports have emerged that Paul Thomas Anderson’s ninth movie, a comedy-drama set in the 1970s in the San Fernando Valley, is moving from Focus Features to MGM. While MGM declined to comment to IndieWire on the report that first emerged in Deadline, the production is said to be leaving Universal-owned specialty label Focus Features, which propelled Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2017 romantic drama “Phantom Thread” to six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. The move is said to be a part of rebranded MGM’s interest in auteur-driven films.

The untitled upcoming project is still in pre-production, though Anderson is said to have finished writing the movie, which revolves around a high school student who is also an exchange student. It will be the fourth film that Paul Thomas Anderson has set in the San Fernando Valley, the Los Angeles area where “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia,” and “Punch-Drunk Love” unfolded in glorious color. The upcoming film is also Paul Thomas Anderson’s sixth period film, and his third trip to the 1970s after “Inherent Vice,” also set in Los Angeles, and “Boogie Nights.” This is said to be an ensemble piece, with multiple interlocking storylines. Anderson is also producing through his Ghoulardi Film Company banner.

The project was first announced in November 2019, when Anderson scored a $2.5 million California tax credit, among 13 projects to do so, including Damien Chazelle’s Hollywood period film “Babylon” for Paramount Pictures. While production on Anderson’s movie might be delayed, he hasn’t strayed from directing, most recently releasing several music videos to accompany pop-rock trio HAIM’s new album “Women in Music Pt. III.” The most recent video was “The Steps.”

Anderson briefly returned to theaters last year for the exclusive, one-night IMAX release of the Thom Yorke music video short film “Anima,” a mind-bending visual piece now streaming on Netflix.

As the deal on Anderson’s film reportedly comes to a close, MGM is busy prepping to finally (maybe) release the 25th film in the James Bond franchise, “No Time to Die,” on November 20 after being pushed off its original April date. Rumor has it the film could be moved entirely off the 2020 calendar.

Source: IndieWire film

July 19, 2020

John Waters on the Time He Got Arrested at a Drive-In, and Why They’re Ready for a Comeback

It will come as a surprise to no one that John Waters, as a wayward youth, once got arrested at the since-shuttered Carlin’s Drive-In in Baltimore. He used to spend lots of time at the local drive-ins, including Bengie’s Drive-In in Maryland, which is still open. Waters seems so synonymous with drive-ins, he even shot the final scene of 2000’s “Cecil B. Demented” at a local one.

“I spent a week in the drive-in filming that finale, so that almost cured me ever wanting to go back to the drive-in again,” Waters said during a recent in-person interview. The filmmaker donned an understated brown cloth mask, having just stepped out from his car after introducing the first in a double feature he programmed for the Provincetown International Film Festival over the weekend. We spoke in the fading dusk as ketchup-soaked killer bunnies appeared onscreen, our conversation occasionally interrupted by the honking of scared moviegoers.

“When I went to the drive-in as a troubled teen it was considered good form to honk every time you were scared,” Waters told the crowd in his introduction, his lively speech piped through clunky metal speakers, which date back to 1957 and can be dialed up and hung from car windows. “So please be scared, but every time you really feel threatened by a killer bunny please honk your horn. Honk for your life.”

Though the seaside festival had to delay its usual June date, it convened this year for PIFF Reimagined, a smaller version of the festival which paired virtual screenings with two live events hosted at the Wellfleet Drive-In just down the road. Friday night’s Waters double bill included “Night of the Lepus,” the Janet Leigh-starring killer bunny movie from 1972, and “Kitten With a Whip,” the more highbrow black-and-white Ann-Margret vehicle from 1964.

John Waters and John Cameron Mitchell at the Provincetown Film Festival Reimagined

Photo by Mae Gammino

“It wouldn’t have been the movie I would’ve shown if it was the regular festival, I was gonna show [David Cronenberg’s] ‘Maps to the Stars,’ which maybe I’ll show next year,” said Waters. “But we’re at the drive-in, you have to see drive-in kinda movies, and this one I just always remember being so ludicrous. I haven’t seen it since, but I always remember the title and I just remember it ends at a drive-in.”

As more drive-ins prepare for an influx of new revenue this season, the businesses would do well to lean into nostalgia-laden pastime. Theaters should take a cue from Waters and program more exploitation fare, just like the old days.

“Nobody went to see ‘Night of the Lepus’ ’cause it was funny; they thought it was scary. They didn’t go to see Russ Meyer movies ’cause they were funny; they came to jerk off,” Waters said. “The drive-ins purposely showed the most extreme exploitation movies, especially in the winter. They showed the raunchiest ones in the winter. And people would go in the winter. It was like a hotel room, a place you could get away from your parents. That’s what people came for — they were packed. Drive-ins were the opposite of today, all drive-ins showed exploitation movies. ‘Blood Feast,’ that was their bread and butter. Russ Meyer movies, that’s where they were giant hits.”

A John Waters retrospective would do quite well at a drive-in these days, where crowds might finally be able to appreciate his films in the nostalgic setting. Oddly enough, the filmmaker insists his movies rarely played drive-ins, and never did well if they did.

John Waters

Photo by Mae Gammino

“My films always worked in the smartest, richest neighborhoods. The opposite of grindhouse. It never worked there. ‘Cause the audience knew we were making fun of the genre. In the classiest art theaters they did the best; they did the worst in grindhouse,” Waters said. “I made exploitation films for art theaters; that’s a whole different thing. And no matter what you think of them, I was definitely one of the first people that did that. They were made for art theaters. I never tried to have a real exploitation film, but if you knew that genre, it worked parodying it in an art thing. And that’s what midnight movies ended up being.”

Now in his 56th summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Waters is laying low with his writing and staying away from downtown. He occasionally eats outside at restaurants, but hasn’t graduated to dining in.

“It’s switching holding cells from Baltimore to here, but I write every morning, it doesn’t matter where, and here I go to a beautiful beach, so that’s good. I’m happy I’m here,” he said. “I miss life. Am I going crazy? No, but life is a chore these days. It’s tedious.”

Source: IndieWire film