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Well, I was reading her autobiography actually...
What did she say?
She seemed to be a little embarrassed about it, because of some bad reviews. But she said she was proud of her performance and said that's what Mike Nichols thought, too. That's why he cast her in Carnal Knowledge.
Well, he was right. I mean, there's nothing to be embarrassed of. If only she saw it with the audience that we're gonna watch it with at Anthology...Which right away that proves it's an art movie! Art movie cred. Street cred. There's no better place. I mean, I look for their program every month when it comes and think, "My God, this is amazing." If ever the government should support a movie theater, this is the one.
When did you first visit Anthology? Do you remember?
Are you kidding? I used to read Jonas Mekas' column "Movie Journal" in the Village Voice when I was a teenager in Baltimore. Then I would run away to New York on weekends and go to the Filmmakers' Cooperative to see premiers of movies—and this was before it became Anthology, but it was all Jonas. And then they distributed Mondo Trasho, one of my first movies, at the filmmakers' distribution center. So, they were always a huge part of how I was formed, my aesthetic. Because Jonas was so radical, and the underground movies that they showed then were really important to me, and to Divine, too. So we would see these movies, but at the same time we would go see what was thought of as drive-in movies and B-movies like Kitten with a Whip, and then sort of put them together with underground movies and art movies and came up with what I make, really. So it was a big influence.
Did you see other movies there that had that kind of overlap?
I saw Kenneth Anger and Jack Smith and I saw the Kuchar Brothers, and all these movies are the ones that broke the censorship laws, that broke taboos. So they were incredibly important to me. That' s why I've said we always have to be friends with pornographers, because they can afford the lawyers that will fight the censorship laws so people like the Kuchar Brothers and Kenneth Anger can use the same laws to make art.
What do you think of the term "guilty pleasure"?
Oh, guilty pleasures to me are all like very serious art. Bresson is a guilty pleasure!
I was reading your year-end list and I noticed a movie on your list that I didn't see on anyone else's list that I wanted to ask you about. Ricky?
I loved Ricky! I'm a huge fan of Francois Ozon. It's really an amazing movie. And it is about a flying baby—it's like Eraserhead almost. It's surreal and beautiful. But where Eraserhead is scary this isn't scary—it's positive. Never did heterosexuality look so good. They should show it at heterosexual marches. At meetings!
That's so funny. And, speaking of that, there was a film that I noticed wasn't on your list, Black Swan. And that's a movie that J. Hoberman called "heterosexual camp." What do you think of that?
Well, you know, Black Swan is—talk about fun. To me, and I had written that Ten Best list before I saw Black Swan—Black Swan, to me, it delivers everything that Saturday afternoon at the movies should be. And I was very relieved when I read recently that Darren [Aronofsky] said he realized the movie was fun. Because to me it was fun. It was over-the-top, God knows, in some places...it was moments of—what, Winona stabbing herself in the head? But I love those moments. It was extreme, and you can't say you went to that movie and were bored. So to me, the melodrama of it, the excitement of it, the surprise of it really—because I thought, "what?!" and that was incredibly delightful for me.