I've been tagged by one of our faithful readers, Marianna from Greece, to participate in a sort of chain-letter style blogger event in which one blogger interviews another. Then, as a result, a fellow blogger who reads the interview must make contact and ask me to interview them. Does this make sense? In any event, learning to participate in group activities--never a strong suit of mine as a child--is something I'm trying to get better at in middle-age, so I agreed. Below is my interview, questions courtesy of Marianna whose very nice blog can be found by clicking here.
1. If you had to choose one song to be in your life's soundtrack which one would it be and why?
Why one? I listen to music almost constantly--therefore picking one song would constitute a form of torture as it would be playing in constant rotation, driving me mad. (Apropos of this: Gore Vidal once said "What is a long life but a nightmare of endless repetition?") But if I were to pick a song which I considered the best, most poignant accompaniment to how I picture my own existence it would be the Art Tatum-Ben Webster recording of "All The Things You Are" by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein.
2. If you had to distinguish one moment, a moment you hold close to your heart, from your life so far...which one would it be?
So many come to mind of course--I've led a full and fortunate existence. But it would, I think, come down to any random moment I have with my son.
Because the most seemingly inconsequential moments with your kid are somehow to me the most delightful and profound ones. I'm talking about the moments where suddenly the miracle of their existence strikes you with full force--and usually they're doing nothing specifically wonderful at that moment, beyond of course existing.
Let me add one more specific moment that I hold seriously close to my heart: being in my old apartment in Greenwich Village one night and watching on TV as it was announced that my film "Two Family House" won the big Audience prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The joy was not just in nabbing the prize; it was in not being there in person to collect it, a fact the New York Times commented upon which made me seem (and feel) deeply cool.
3. In the movie "S1m0ne" Al Pacino plays a producer who finds working with a digitally-made actress easier and better than working with a real-life one. Do you feel that nowadays technology and the, so called, 'digital age' have the effect of making humans less and less needed?
No. Though I fit the classic profile of a Luddite, I am in fact enthused and enchanted with the so-called "digital age" and the various ways in which it is making precisely what I'm interested in more available and achievable. All progress comes with a cost of course--hasn't the automobile, so necessary in our lives, completely altered and uglified the world's landscapes? On the other hand, the car is a brilliant invention and many automobiles are even works of art. (Though none, I daresay, are being currently manufactured). Even if we are growing more isolated as a result of our much vaunted "interconnectivity", humans will always be needed to USE the technology that develops. Digital media--whatever purpose it may be serving--is ultimately a consumer tool, and the consumer will always be a human. And there are certain actors who I would have preferred working with a digital version of.
4. Is there something in your line of work that you saw and said "oh I wish I had done that!"? Did you admire anything to the point of healthy jealousy?
A great many things provoke the "healthy jealousy" you speak of, though I prefer to think of it as "honest envy". When I was a kid, the fight scene in the movie "Shane" made me want to be George Stevens, the director who staged it. (Funny that I've never shot anything remotely resembling that--although there is a pretty funny fight scene in "The Thing About My Folks"). Other movies that made me want to have made them: "All That Jazz", "Sunset Blvd.", "The Sweet Smell Of Success" and "The Awful Truth". Musically, anytime I hear Art Tatum or Oscar Peterson play the piano, it makes me want to quit everything else I'm doing and pursue that sort of excellence single-mindedly. And then there are great tennis players. I'm not one. But something about that particular sport's champions fills me with awe and envy. Perhaps it's because they are alone with their technique and not part of a team. They have only themselves to rely upon, which I somehow relate to. Certainly as a pianist it makes sense to me; but even in filmmaking, though it is a highly collaborative endeavor, the director is in an extremely lonely position. The final judgements are yours; they may not be what others want so you must rely on your instinct. So often on a crowded set, you feel that sense of isolation that I can only imagine a tennis player feels when staring at his or her opponent.
5. If you were given the opportunity to go back in time and change something from your past, would you choose to do anything differently or not? And why?
I can honestly say no to this since I've come to believe (just in the last few years) that everything follows a pattern that was established long ago, in some forgotten "war room" where our lives are doped out before we live them. We are merely actors--not the scriptwriters. Apropos of this, I'll quote a line from Steven Soderbergh's new Che Guevara movie: "Live your life as if you've already died". Isn't that a rather brilliant thought?
There. That's the interview. Below are the rules for continuing this little excercise. Thank you for the questions Marianna. And beneath the rules, I've posted an absolutely wonderful clip from another Gregory La Cava movie, "The Half Naked Truth" starring Lee Tracy and Lupe Velez, the latter of whom performs a mad jazz dance the likes of which you've never seen. The sequence is masterfully shot and the more I watch it, the more complex I realize La Cava's shooting and editing truly are. Now, is anyone interested in being interviewed?
1. Send me an e-mail or comment saying "interview me"
2. Then 5 questions will be e-mailed to you (questions I choose to ask you).
3. Answer them on your blog
4. Do not forget to re-post the rules along with your answers and offer to interview anyone else who e-mails you or comments that they wish to be interviewed.