Tag Archives: Boyhood


We are well into the new year but the year doesn’t officially start for me until I’m done with making lists about the last one. Like most years, I watched over a 100 indies (108 to be exact) in 2014, so here’s a comprehensive list of the indies I loved and liked and the ones that I really didn’t (I have omitted in the list the ones that are neither good nor bad – just unmemorable to even be talked about).

I have to say, after putting together my favourite indies of the year in this list, one thing struck me – EVERY film in the list is not only refreshingly original but also crazily innovative. From Birdman, which was shot like a continuous one-take, to Locke, which was completely shot in a car featuring a single actor, to Snowpiercer, which was shot in a moving bullet train, to Boyhood, which was shot over 12 years! This has been a fantastic year of cinematic originality and I think it’s an year that will stand out in this decade as one of the best years for film in a long, long time.

Ankhon Dekhi (comedy drama) – Because simplicity is underrated.
Birdman (comedy drama) – Because Michael Keaton’s comeback!!
Boyhood (drama) – Because RICHARD LINKLATER!!!!!!!!!!
Coherence (scifi) – Because how can a scifi indie made in no money be SO brilliant?
Comet (scifi romcom) – Because after ages a romantic film made me *feel* (also, scifi romcom!).
Filmistaan – Because the purity of friendship hasn’t been depicted so well in so long.
Frank (dramedy) – Because this is the most affecting dramedy I’ve seen in a long time and it stars Michael Fassbender in a giant head.
Locke (thriller) – Because 90 minutes of Tom Hardy in a car makes for a must watch!
Nightcrawler (thriller) – Because Jake Gyllenhaal is the f–king shit and this commentary on the state of media today has been robbed off awards glory (also Riz Ahmed!).
Pride (comedy drama) – Because the story of unlikely friendship between the LGBTs and the miners in 80s Brit is inspiring and heartwarming – and because *no one* does emotions like the Brits do (apart from Raju Hirani)!
Snowpierecer (thriller) – Because ‘a post apocalyptic thriller set on a train where the rich and poor are segregated’ is an AWESOME PLOT.
Sulemani Keeda (slacker comedy) – Because INDIAN SLACKER COMEDY WHAT MORE DO I NEED TO SAY?
The Fault in Our Stars (romance) – Because Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustader are my heroes and they can do no wrong.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson) – Because Wes Anderson.

A Most Wanted Man (spy thriller) – Because Philip Seymour Hoffman in a John Le Carre thriller is something we should have seen more of.
Bethlehem (war thriller) – Because its a gut wrenching take on the Israel-Palestine issue.
Blue Ruin (thriller) – Because this came out of the blue and thrilled the hell out of everyone!
Calvary (drama comedy) – Because there’s something about the collaboration between Brendan Gleeson and the McDonagh brothers that just makes sense.
Dear White People (dramedy) – Because it is the smartest take on the white – and black – culture, and a biting satire the likes of which we just don’t see often enough.
Enemy (scifi thriller) – Because a scifi thriller is another genre Jake Gyllenhaal NAILS.
Fading Gigolo (dramedy) – Because John Turturro has it in him to make a Woody Allen film.
Filth (Brit crime comedy drama) – Because James McAvoy on acid is even better than James McAvoy without it.
It’s a Disaster (comedy) – Because this is This is The End for adults.
Joe (drama) – Because this is Nicholas Cage’s redemption and you don’t even know it!
John Wick (action) – Because few things are cooler than seeing Keanu Reeves kick some ass.
Obvious Child (comedy) – Because Jenny Slate is da woman.
Ping Pong Summer (coming of age) – Because a coming of age comedy set in the ’80s featuring ping pong is rad.
Sunshine on Leith (comedy musical) – Because a Brit music comedy is the best genre of film you haven’t seen enough of.
The Inbetweeners 2 (comedy) – Because The Inbetweeners are f–king hilarious.
The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (documentary) – Because the story of Aaron Swartz is a story that must be seen.
The Guest (thriller) – Because Dan Stevens is SO great beyond Downton Abbey and this is indie thriller DONE RIGHT!
The Pretty Ones (romcom) – Because Zoe Kazan and Jake Johnson have enough charisma to make the romcom genre feel refreshing.
The Square (documentary) – Because this documentary on the Egypt revolution was shot *during* the revolution.
Tusk (horror comedy) – Because this is the most bizarre, creepy and f–ed up film you’d watch in a while with a helluva brave performance by the awesome Justin Long)

A Birder’s Guide to Everything (coming of age) – Because if a coming of age film stars Ben Kingsley in any role, you are home before the movie begins.
A Walk Among The Tombstones (thriller) – Because Liam Neeson kicking ass in a different decade is just as cool as him kicking it in this one.
Adult World (coming of age dramedy) – Because even with the cast of John Cusack and Emma Roberts, the movie surprisingly made me chuckle quite a bit.
Begin Again (musical romcom) – Because Keira Knightley singing is what you need when you’re alone.
Blood Ties (crime drama) – Because this was a super well done throwback to the crime dramas of the ’70s with a stellar cast (and reminded me of Deewar in some ways)
Cold in July (crime thriller) – Because a throwback to pulpy 80s crime thrillers is never a bad thing, esp when it stars Dexter.
Felony (cop drama) – Because this Australian films gives a decent ethical twist to the age old cop drama movie.
Horns (Fantasy horror) – Because Daniel Radcliffe being Satan against his wishes makes for a *very* interesting movie.
Love is Strange (dramedy) – Because John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are easily the most heartwarming couple on screen in 2014.
Maps to the Stars (drama) – Bizarre f–ked up drama from David Cronenberg about the bizarre f–ked up world of Hollywood starring an A cast.
Predestination (scifi thriller) – Because ‘time-travel indie sci starring Ethan Hawke’ is the best one-line intro of the year.
Rosewater – Because even with its uneven screenplay, the Jon Stewart directed film works because of the tenacity of the great Gael Garnia Bercel.
Rover (thriller) – Because Australia makes some badass gritty films and with a cast feat.  Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson and Scoot McNairy, how much more badass do you need?
The Hundred Foot Journey – Because Om Puri and Meryl Streep facing off in a movie about food is just too tasty a plot.
The Giant Mechanical Man – Because is there anything Chris Messina can’t pull off?!
The One I Love (sci fi romcom) – Because another sci-fi romcom (whaaat!) that stars Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass!
The Purge: Anarchy (thriller) – Because this was the guilty pleasure of the year.
The Raid 2: Berendal (action) – Because the beauty of the brutal action was lost in the chaos of the been there done that story.
The Skeletal Twins (dramedy) – Because Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig make for the best suicidal brother-sister casting ever (but can dramedies have ANYTHING new to whine about than ‘life’?)
The Two Faces of January (thriller) – Because Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac star in this 50s’ thriller throwback and no one knows about this!?!
Wish I Was Here (dramedy) – Because Zach Braff directing his second dramedy makes for the most promising indie ever (but wish it had as much heart as it did quirk)

About Alex (dramedy) – Because it’s got such a brilliant cast that all the cliches that it put forth can ultimately be overlooked.
After the Dark (thriller) – Because even with a spectacular lack of plot, the premise of ethical dilemmas in a post apocalyptic world is quite interesting.
Bad Words (comedy) – Because after a hilarious first half, the movie spiraled down in the second else Jason Bateman would’ve been one of the indie debut directors of the year.
Chef (road trip comedy) – Because even though it was the most overrated indie of the year, it still had a fantastic cast that pulled off some fun moments.
Finding Fanny (road trip comedy)- Because even with its forced quirkiness, Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapur and Dimple Kapadia are a riot to watch.
Hello Ladies: The Movie (comedy)- Because it was a nice little bow on a sometimes-awkward TV series about loneliness in big cities.
Life After Beth (zombie romcom) – Because zombie romcom starring Aubrey Plaza as a zombie is SUCH a fun premise (if only the movie was *that* much fun)
Men, Women and Children (drama) – Because the internet is worse than flesh-eating zombieland and that’s fun to watch (but tell me something new yaar #TMSNY).
Rob The Mob (crime Drama) – Because even with its B-movie looks, it is not a bad take on the mob world.
Paolo Alto (drama) – Because high school in genereal is worse than flesh-eating zombieland and that’s fun to watch (but #TMSNY)
Premature (comedy) – Because groundhog day meets American Pie is not a bad idea at all.
Some Velvet Morning (drama) – Because Stanley Tucci is brilliant to watch even in a two-actor movie remake of a play.
The Drop (crime drama) – Because with a cast of Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini and Noomi Rapace, we deserved more than a tired crime drama.
What If (romcom) – Because Zoe Kazan is charming and awesome and Daniel Radcliffe is not Harry Potter (but Adam Driver should have been lead! Also #TMSNY)

C & below
A Long Way Down – Because this is the worst executed Nick Hornby adaptation in the long time, even with SUCH a fab cast at its helm.
Homefront – Because Jason Statham saving himself/family/someone is older than the Bible now, so #TMSNY.
Someone Marry Barry – Because it flushes the comedic talents of a great cast down the drain with its abominable writing.
The Bachelor Weekend – Because Andrew Scott as a romantic one-sided lover on a bachelor trip is not a film you want to see.
This is Where I Leave You – TELL ME SOMETHING NEW YAAR (What a waste of a spectacular cast).
Two Night Stand – Because the dialogues are so painfully cliched that Miles Teller and Analeigh Tipton (AND JESSICA SZOHR) should file a suit for wasting their time.
Veronica Mars – Because all that kickstarter money should’ve gone into writing at least an average plot.

P.S. Here are the indies I’m yet to see (and I’m looking forward to catching up on) and I’ll keep updating this list as and when I see them:
’71, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, A Most Violent Year, Appropriate Behaviour, Are You Here, Before I Go To Sleep, Bird People, Camp X Ray, Cold Comes the Night, Cuban Fury, Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead, Force Majeure, Get On Up, God’s Pocket, Goodbye To All That, Growing up and Other Lies, Hector and the Search for Happiness, Hellion, Ida, I Origins, In Your Eyes, Infinitely Polar Bear, Inherent Vice, Kill Me Three Times, Laggies, Leviathan, Life of Crime, Life Itself, Listen Up Phillip, Love,Rosie, Magic in the Moonlight, Merry Christmas, Mommy, Night Moves, No Good Deed, Northern Soul, Omar, Only Lovers Left Alive, Plastic, Road to Paloma, Song One, Selma, St Vincent, Starred Up, Stretch, Take Care, That Burning Feeling, The Babadook, The Big Ask, The Captive, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, The Double, The Grant Seduction, The Homesman, The Humbling, The Immigrant, The Longest Week, The Mule, The November Man, The Riot Club, The Signal, To Be Takei, Top Five, Trip to Italy, The Voices, They Came Together, Third Person, Tracks, Ugly, Under the Skin, Vinyl, White Bird in a Blizzard, We Are The Best, Wetlands, What We Do In The Shadows, Wild, X/Y, Young Ones.

ICYMI: Here are my TV recommendations – 50+ TV shows to watch from 2014 (out f 119): https://tanejamainhoon.com/2015/01/26/bestof2014tv/

What are your favourite movies of the year? Agree/disagree with  this list? Any movies I missed out on? Do leave your favourites in the comments below 🙂

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The Best of Best Of Lists 2014 – Movies

(Read The Best of Best of Lists 2014 – TV here: http://goo.gl/fbDQ1f)

‘Tis the season of Best Of Lists! And now that there are *SO* many out there, it’s quite difficult to get a real idea of films that have truly stood out in the year – since the lists of every individual critic varies just that much. So I’ve drawn up the best of lists of some of the best film critics out there.

Unlike ‘The Best of Best of Lists 2014 – TV version (read here), there seems to be very little unanimity in the movie lists. Film critics have generally not agreed upon the best films of the year, saving a very few; while TV critics have pretty similar lists over all, barring a few personal choices.

So here are some of the things that stood out after going through all the lists:

The only film on *everybody’s* lists: Boyhood (Read my interview with director Richard Linklater here: http://goo.gl/ErdfnS)
The only other films on *almost* everybody’s lists: The Grand Budapest Hotel & Selma
The documentary film surprisingly on a lot of lists: Citizenfour
The highly buzzed films surprisingly on very few lists: Foxcatcher,  Gone Girl & Interstellar
The worst reviewed film (among these) surprisingly on some lists: Lucy
The foreign film on most lists: Ida (Poland)
The British film on most lists: Mr. Turner
The only animated film on the lists: The LEGO Movie
The only straight-to-DVD film on the lists: Snowpiercer

Here are the lists, that will be updated as more lists come up (The name of the critic links to his/her Twitter page):

Hitflix’s ‘Top 10 of 2014’ – By Drew McWeenyhttp://goo.gl/Ro2waf
(1 to 10) Inherent Vice, Boyhood, Wild Tales, Selma, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Force Mejeure, The Tribe, Nightcrawler, Snowpiercer, The Raid 2

Indiewire’s ‘Best Films of 2014’
 – By Eric Kohnhttp://goo.gl/TOh0Rz
(1 to 10) Boyhood, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Mankamana, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Leviathan, Ida, Starred Up, Only Lovers Left Alive, The Double, Inherent Vice

Little White Lies’ ’25 Best Films of 2014′ – By David Ehlrich: http://goo.gl/NXs5kf
(1 to 10) The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inherent Vice, Under the Skin, Nymphomaniac, Gone Girl, Only Lovers Left Alive, The Double, God Help The Girl, Force Majeure, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Boyhood, Goodbye to Language, Ida, Paolo Alto, The Babadook, Mommy, Why Don’t You Play in Hell, Starred Up, Godzilla, Listen Up Philip, Love is Strange, Selma, Timbuktu, We Are The Best!, Lucy

Rolling Stones’ ’10 Best Movies of 2014′ – By Peter Travershttp://goo.gl/ahbG5b
(1 to 10) Boyhood, Birdman, Foxcatcher, Selma, Gone Girl, Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Unbroken, Under The Skin, Interstellar

The Guardian’s ’10 Best Films of 2014′
 – By Peter Bradshawhttp://goo.gl/5lHFPR
(1 to 10) Under The Skin, Boyhood, Inherent Vice, Whiplash, Leviathan, Two Days One Night, Nightcrawler, Ida, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The LEGO Movie

The New York Times’ ‘Top 10 Movies of 2014’ – By A. O. Scotthttp://goo.gl/NyLZxl
(1 to 10) Boyhood, Ida, Citizenfour, Leviathan, Selma, Love is Strange, We Are The Best!, Birdman & Listen Up, Philip & Mr. Turner, Dear White People, The Babadook

The New Yorker’s ‘Best Movies of 2014’ – By Richard Brodyhttp://goo.gl/kWMnzV
(1 to 30) The Grand Budapest Hotel, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, Goodbye to Language, The Last of the Unjust, The Immigrant, American Sniper, Listen Up Philip, Actress, Memphis, Butter on the Latch, Evolution of a Criminal, Gone Girl, Happy Christmas, It Felt Like Love, Jimmy P, Life of Riley, Magic in the Moonlight, Soft in the Head, Story of my Death, Stranger by the Lake, Jealousy, Jersey Boys, Life Itself, Manakamana, Marvin Seth and Stanley, The Missing Picture, Selma, Tip Top, The Unknown Known, What Now? Remind  Me, One Day Pina Asked…

TIME Magazine’s ‘Top 10 Best Movies’ – By Richard Corliss: http://goo.gl/egfzcX
(1 to 10) The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, The LEGO Movie, Lucy, Goodbye to Language,  Jodorowsky’s Dune, Nightcrawler, Citizenfour,  Wild Tales, Birdman

Thompson on Hollywood’s ‘Top Ten Films of 2014’ – By Anne Thompsonhttp://goo.gl/ygGhJB
(1 to 10) Birdman, Boyhood, Mr. Turner, Nymphomaniac Volumes 1 & 2, Only Lovers Left Alive, Ida, Selma, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wild Tales, Beyond the Lights

Vanity Fair’s ’10 Best Movies of 2014′ – By Richard Lawsonhttp://goo.gl/Buc3Wd
(1 to 10) Love is Strange, Mommy, Force Majeure, Citizenfour, Boyhood, Selma, Snowpiercer, Mr. Turner, Pride, X Men: Days of Future Past

Vulture’s ’11 Best Movies of 2014′ – By David Edelstein: http://goo.gl/7E87WI
(1 to 10) Boyhood, Selma, The Babadook, Whiplash, Tales of the Grim Sleeper, Only Lovers Left Alive, Citizenfour, Mr. Turner, Two Days One Night, The Immigrant, The Overnighters

Edgar Wright’s ‘Top 10 Movies of 2014: http://goo.gl/PQkT4i
(no order) Birdman, Boyhood, Edge of Tomorrow, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Interstellar, The LEGO Movie, Nightcrawler, Snowpiercer, Under the Skin, Whiplash
So, obviously, after I made this list, I realised there are other such lists out there too. So I’ve kept this list exclusive to critics whose reviews I read and love. You can read other compilations with even more lists here:
Indiewire Compilation: http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/critics-top-10-films-2014
Metacritic Compilation: www.metacritic.com/feature/film-critic-top-10-lists-best-movies-of-2014
Also, here’s a great article by Anne Thompson on ‘How to Make a Ten Best List in Five Easy Steps‘: http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/how-to-make-a-ten-best-list-in-five-easy-steps-20141210


What are your favourite films of the year? Do leave your favourites in the comments below 🙂
Follow the blog on your left and like The Tanejamainhoon Page on FB: /
Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoononTwitter:
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© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

Interview: American filmmaker Richard Linklater #Film #Indie

Is there an easy way to introduce Richard Linklater? An icon of American independent cinema, often credited with paving the way for the era of low-budget, light-comic, self-exploratory gen-X movies, Linklater’s legacy as a writer-director is deep and varied, his films fiercely original and undeniably interesting. He has managed to forge an inspiring film career by living and operating at the periphery of the American film industry in the era of clone blockbusters, and is one of the few remaining high-profile filmmakers who work not for money, but for the love of cinema.

Before Midnight, the long-awaited third film in Linklater’s utterly beautiful and romantic Before… series starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, released across the world earlier this year, premiering in India at the recently- concluded Mumbai Film Festival. In his first ever interview with an Indian publication, over the phone from his home in Austin, Texas, the director of cult classics like Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Waking Life and School of Rock offers an insight into his mind and craft. And he’s just as amiable and charming as every one of his films. Excerpts:

Q In the 18 years it’s taken to complete the Before… trilogy, how has your idea of love personally changed?

A Now that I think of it, for Julie [Delpy], Ethan [Hawke] and I, making these films sort of introduced [to us] this subject of long term relationships and the definition of love or what love even means. That’s become the subject of our lives, you know. I find myself reading a book on that or reading articles or statistical data on couples.

Movies are like that—when you are making a movie, you tend to feel that you are doing a Masters [degree in] whatever the situation is. Over two decades now, this subject [has] really made me follow notions of relationships of long term, and question how things change and how things remain the same.

I don’t know if that’s an answer, but it’s definitely a subject in our lives and I’m always constantly thinking, ‘Oh this could be good if we ever do another movie—this notion or piece of information’.

So we can look at it both emotionally and scientifically, and we have our own lives going on with our long term partners, and it’s involved in there too.

Q In this time, how has the idea of love changed for Hollywood? Is ‘romance’ still relevant today?

A (laughs) I don’t know. I mean, the first film, Before Sunrise, wouldn’t happen today, or at least in the same way. It certainly wouldn’t have the same result, like they wouldn’t exchange numbers. I mean, they would get each other’s emails or texts, you know. People communicate differently today. That film was a little old fashioned even then.

I don’t think young people would approach love the same way [now], but I still think the core of that movie—two people meeting, that moment of attraction, of falling in love—that never goes away. That’s relevant. That was relevant 500 years ago and will be relevant 500 years from now. Nothing’s going to change in that area between people. There is something about that that is eternal, but the details of it change generation to generation.

But I can honestly say that Before Midnight covers an area that is not covered a whole lot in movies today, for obvious reasons. It’s not about the beginning of a relationship, it’s not about the end of a relationship. It’s about when they are having their problems. It’s kind of the middle area, which is not often used as subject matter for something in the romantic realm. It’s not very commercial. You don’t see a lot of compelling films made on this. Hollywood would never touch these films.

We have a low budget, and we make these independently, so we can do whatever we want and express things that don’t need to fit into a Hollywood romantic comedy construct. We can make something that we feel is much more honest, but we know we don’t have a huge audience for these movies. We just kind of figure our audience might appreciate some of the blunt honesty (laughs) of our characters in their situation.

Q I’m also asking about love in the time of the movie studio, because the Before… trilogy is one of the few movies where romance is real and uncontrived. How did you manage that?

A That’s a compliment, thank you. I think it’s just the approach. It’s what you are going for, you know? What is real? I don’t pretend any of it is actually real. I mean, they are not documentaries; they are actually scripted and rehearsed excessively, very well thought out, very constructed.

But the effect I am going for in the viewer’s mind is [for them] to accept it as some kind of reality, to feel like it’s real.

I don’t know if people want to feel that way. I like going to movies often, going into someone’s unreality. When you go into a Tim Burton film or a James Cameron film, you will enjoy being in their reality, [which] you know is not real but it’s wonderful. I’m not asking people to be in some kind of parallel reality, but to relate to [a film] on a closer level.

That’s what I love about the way people perceive movies. I kind of like that a film could be anything and mean something different to every one; it just has to be true to the story you’re trying to tell. People just come along for the ride.

Q When Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and you got together to write Before Midnight, how did you find common ground for it, considering that you might all have been in different places emotionally after 18 years?

A I think we just incorporate our different moods, you know. Whatever changes in character or whatever vibe you get from this movie that’s different from the last one probably reflects our changing mood, the atmosphere, the things we’ve all been through. I’ve tried to incorporate our personal reality into this film, into something that’s real for Jesse and Celine.

I think Ethan, Julie and I trust each other artistically, so we don’t have to work too hard to find common ground. I think we are all trying to be honest when we write something that means something to us. Julie not feeling good about something or being paranoid about something, you know, some of that might find its way into the movie. Or if Ethan is feeling creatively satisfied and has such ideas, then we’ll work that in. So we’re kind of basing the film on where we are at, to some degree. Our writing sessions were like comedic therapy (laughs). We’d sit around, laugh a lot, and just talk for hours and hours.

Q How would you say you have evolved as a writer and director in these 18 years?

A You know that’s a good question, because I don’t know if I have that much (chuckles). Stylistically my movies are still very similar—well, I do that on purpose—but I don’t know if I’ve matured that much. With anything you do, you get a little more confident, you get a little more experienced. I guess that’s all good, but I don’t feel I have changed significantly. I think my concerns are pretty much very similar. What I’m getting at is that I’m always surprised I’m much more similar than different.

I would say the same about Jesse and Celine: it’s not so much how they have changed; it’s really more interesting how they have stayed the same. And to think of it, am I that different than I was at 24? I am more mature and more experienced, of course. Life has a way of doing that whether you like it or not. But the gist of my life, what I’m interested in, what I care about, artistically, it’s still kind of similar.

Q You’ve mentioned that your films are semi-autobiographical. How many movies do you think you’ll need to express all facets of yourself completely?

A (Laughs) Well that’s really the question, isn’t it? I don’t know. I wonder if Ingmar Bergman [would say] at the end of his life… that he expressed himself completely in his movies. I don’t know if that’s even possible, if any filmmaker is totally satisfied. [Michelangelo] Antonioni, towards the end of his life I think, finally wrote a book [That Bowling Alley On The Tiber: Tales Of A Director] to say, ‘Here’s 30 movies I’ll never make.’ He had ideas, and a few pages about each of them. A book about unrealised movies—I could do that book now. I have 10-15 unrealised films (chuckles).

But to answer your question, you’d have to make, like, a hundred. Every film does say something. In every one, you are communicating something. But that’s sort of the challenge artistically, isn’t it? To try to express what you want to express. And some novelists or writers have perhaps spent thousands of pages trying to do that. I admire people though who kind of say, ‘No, I’ve said all that I have to say,’ and [then] quit writing, quit making movies, quit painting or quit making music. But I don’t really believe it. I don’t think you can retire from expressing yourself.

Q Do you write to discover something about yourself or do you already have philosophies you centre your films around?

A To be honest, I am always trying to discover something. I don’t look forward to the day that I have some knowledge to impart. If I have something worth making, it’s something I [either] have mixed feelings about or am trying to discover something about, or I’m not totally sure what I think about it, and that’s why I think it makes it fertile ground to try to make a movie.

To make a movie about something, specifically, that I definitely have strong feelings about and then [to] convey them exactly—that’s a lot less interesting, I think. Things you have strong opinions about find their way into the general tone and core of the movie anyway.

Films are truly much more about the exploration of your thought and lot of exploration is just the process of making a movie. And I’m inclined to think that everybody feels that way. I wonder if [Alfred] Hitchcock felt that way. Was he just physically manifesting what he had all planned out or was he discovering his deeper feelings about the subjects that he made [films about]? For example, in Vertigo. I don’t think anyone just renders something they’ve just printed out, as much as they try.

Q Your movies are very dialogue heavy, and that goes against the conventional wisdom of cinema, except if you are, say, Woody Allen. Why is dialogue so important to you?

A I don’t know. You’re right; that is Film School 101. (In a stern voice) ‘Don’t talk about things, show it’ (laughs). It is a visual medium.

The first time I turned on a camera and heard the characters, I thought that people talking revealed a lot; that was as interesting as any landscape.

I’m not that verbal myself. I’m not much of a good talker; I’m more of a listener.

When you fall in love with cinema, it’s usually visually, but it’s just the way you evolve. Like I said, I’m as surprised as anyone!

When I was making my first film, I thought strictly in visual technical terms; I wasn’t thinking so much dialogues or character, even though I had a background in theatre. I should have known that was coming.

I never improvise on camera. Never. Ever. That’s never made sense to me, I don’t know how to do that. It’s always very scripted and rehearsed. You know, it can be a loose idea, I can sit with the actors, but by the time the cameras are rolling, we have worked it out. We know what we’re doing. I don’t leave it to chance.

Q Even with your fascination with dialogue, you don’t just direct to, say, deliver the poetry of a script, as in the case of an Aaron Sorkin movie. You take direction very seriously, don’t you?

A Yeah, I mean, cinema is the most important.

I remember every movie of mine having a little cinematic scheme in mind—visually. I mean, I’m not, like, uber-stylist; I’m not that interested in that. But I do really believe in a cinematic design to the story you’re telling. And you spend a lot of time to work on it. I think people who come strictly from writing backgrounds, might not think that way.

But I always felt that it was primarily a director’s job to think cinematically, in terms of pictures and stuff, you know? What’s the particular tone, style, approach to a movie—I’d have really strong rules in that area. I plan all that, even though, again, it doesn’t drive too much attention to it I hope.

But, you know, it’s about creating a parallel world of characters and trying to make that work when it all comes together in the movie. I don’t see anything as separate; [it is] all part of the same thing, which is trying to tell the story appropriately, and that’s different from film to film.

Q Comedy has also always been an important part of your films, even when you are dealing with subject matter as serious as death (Bernie) or drugs (Waking Life).

A I think it’s just the way I see the world. Everything’s funny, you know! I’ve done a lot of comedies where most of what I do is pretty comedic, but Bernie was a challenge because it is about death. There is some dark subject matter swirling around that movie. But I think to make that a consistent comedy was a real challenge. That world’s so much like ours, even though it’s tragic [and] there’s a lot of ups and downs. I think it’s not a bad way to see the world through a comedic lens. Whatever tragedy, hardship or struggle, comedy is a pretty good way to offset it. And not more consciously—again, that’s just in films—but in the way you naturally see the world, I think, and the way you approach drama too. I just can’t help but see the humour. And I admire that in movies I like.

For example, Raging Bull is a movie that would never be listed as a comedy.

It’s just too dark a subject and what you take away emotionally from that movie is anything but comedy. And yet, if you really sat down in front of it, you would find yourself laughing very consistently throughout that movie.

And I thought that was brilliant! I mean, when I saw that movie, something clicked in me—this was before I was even thinking about making movies [myself].

It’s kind of like how I see the world: in the middle of fights, in the middle of all the horrible stuff, I would have these funny thoughts. Even as a kid, when things were bad, or parents were mad at you, there was always something ridiculous about it, something funny. I always liked that tone.

So even with Before Midnight—people wouldn’t think that film’s a comedy, in fact it’s an extreme opposite of it—when they fight in the movie, Julie and I think that’s pretty funny. Celine and Jesse don’t think it’s funny, far from it; but we, the audience, do. And I like that mixture—a little uncomfortable, a little real. I think it’s the right approach to a movie and to life.

Q Do you ever find it surprising that living in Austin, outside of Hollywood and the studio system, you have managed to have such a spectacular career?

A Yeah, well that would be my point of view—and I guess it’s yours—but Hollywood wouldn’t look at it that way. They would look at my career as an underachievement or a failure, you know. Whatever (chuckles). It’s all perspective.

When I go to LA, I do feel like a nobody, because I don’t fit into that world so well, you know. I haven’t made all that money. What I mean is that our concerns are not exactly the same. They are sometimes, yes, but it’s nothing I think about a lot.

It’s just the way it all worked out. I’m lucky to live in my own bubble and managed to make a life and living out of my kind of cinema. I’ve been lucky to get a lot of films made, because it’s hard to do, and it’s harder to do today. I think I came around at the right time. It would be tougher to get started now, doing what I’ve been able to do.

Q What would it take for you to come back to the studios? A superhero film?

A (Laughs) I don’t know about super heroes, but I’m always on the lookout for comedies. You know, when you are trying to get a story told, some need a bigger budget and studio backing because some are inherently more commercial. So obviously, I’m not averse to that.

School of Rock and Bad News Bears are good examples in the last 10 years of times I found myself way into a story where I felt I could express [something] or I was the right director for, but those are probably the only two films [I have done] that maybe would have existed without me. Like, if I wouldn’t have done them, someone else would have. None of my other films would exist as movies, you know, if I wouldn’t have done them. But those two, they are part of the system.

But I like the system. It’s nice to have that support. They have $30 million, a 50 day schedule, you can do it right. It’s kind of nice to have the—if you’re lucky enough—subject matter they think it warrants. Usually, I’m in the area where they say, ‘Oh! This isn’t a very commercial movie; we’ve got to do it for nothing!’

That’s okay, but that’s tougher over the years too. Bernie would have been a studio movie 10-15 years ago, but by the time I did it, it was like an [off-beat] independent movie.