Saturday, August 11, 2007

Steve Buscemi follows Theo Van Gogh with Interview


This weekend, in many cities the arthouse theaters started a film called “Interview,” directed by Steve Buscemi, written by Buscemi but re-adapted from an original screenplay by Theodor Holman, for a 2003 Dutch film directed by Theo Van Gogh. (The distributors are Sony Pictures Classics and CinemaVault). The film should not be confused with an Australian thriller called “The Interview” (1999, directed by Craig Monahan about a police faceoff), or some other films with the same name. Buscemi plans to remale 06/05 (below) as "1-900" and "Blind Date".

Van Gogh is famous for the way his life ended, in an assassination in Amsterdam in 2004 from an Islamic extremist (discussed in detail by Bruce Bawer in his book “While Europe Slept", review here), after the religious offense to his short film “Submission,” a ten minute short (where a woman speaks about the patriarchal treatment of her in Islamic society) that was apparently intended to be followed by many pieces. I cannot find it on DVD and I will be glad to let readers know how to find it legally when I find it, or if it is exhibited in theatrical release or cable or Direct-TV. (If a visitor knows, please comment.) Perhaps Buscemi will finish the project.

Today, on Google, the film does show up, but it has been up and down a lot, apparently. The best way to find it is to search for "Submission, YouTube, Van Gogh". There is also a critical analysis (6 min) from Pfanderfilms.com which discusses why "Submission" has been removed a few times from Youtube, some verses from the Sura about the subordination of the value of women that some Muslims may not want viewers to hear. (He compares them to Ephesians 5). But I don't know whether the takedowns have been because of "offense" or copyright issues with the Netherlands television company that would have to release it for legal distribution license (to a regular American film distributor).

Most of “Interview” is a confrontation between an over-the-hill journalist (Buscemi) and an actress (Sienna Miller) in her Soho loft, after some preparation with a restaurant scene and a cab accident. Those preparations are the “beginning” and the confrontation is the “middle” and the “end” seems to come from the contents of the actress’s computer, as well as the reporter’s own story. We are left with wondering when art (diaries, scripts, screenplays, narratives) represent reality (real “confessions”) or are just thought experiments or entertainment – a question posed by the “Touching” case (Bindrim v. Miller) in California.

Van Gogh can be compared to other European artists like Jean Luc-Godard (“In Praise of Love”) and Lars van Trier (“Dogville”, etc.) who tend to make films as if they were musical forms with layers of abstraction. Later blog postings will talk about some of the other artists.

His best feature is “May 6th” (06/05) (from Koch Lorber), 2004, based on the book by Thomas Ross, where a young and charismatic tabloid photographer Jim de Booy (Thijs Romer) does a gumshoe investigation of the assassination of homocon Dutch politician Wilhelmus Simon Petrus Fortuyn.

Cool!” (from Picture This!, 2004) is a docudrama about some Dutch youths in a reformatory, and how they get led to a tragic end by a predatory gangster. This film was not as engaging for me, although it does make one wonder how well people living in a “liberal democracy” appreciate its values, or it they will overheat them.

Only 06/05 and Cool! show up on Netflix right now.

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