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The L: You've mentioned several incidents of characters who aren't named. What appeals to you about the unnamed characters?
DC: That's a good question. I'd like to know. I guess we're so used to naming everything that we see, and people that we see. When there's a character played by a famous actress like Joan Fontaine in the movie Rebecca—no one in the movie ever comments on the fact that she doesn't have a name, or asks what her name is—but then when you start telling people about the movie you say, "Oh I don't remember her name." And it turns out she doesn't have a name. I guess in that movie it's interesting because she's always in the shadow of the dead wife, Rebecca. But in a movie like Madame de... Is it that she's just the property of her husband? And then Last Year at Marienbad is a kind of existential narrative. Man and Woman and all these people are just people, they're all of us.
The L: Is it easier, in all those films, for the viewer to identify with an unnamed character? If the character is not named are we that character, in some ways? Like what you were saying about point-of-view, in Earrings especially. If the character's unnamed...
DC: Oh, we become her. Oh, interesting.
The L: Besides Ophuls, who are some other directors who you love, who inform your work?
DC: Oh I love Resnais, and Douglas Sirk, and Fassbinder, and Bresson. I love Anthony Mann, and of course that's a whole other genre, but I really think Anthony Mann's westerns are really melodramatic. The connection between the men is very intense and emotional.
The L: Have you ever read what Manny Farber says about The Far Country? He talks about space a lot, about the porch. It's really fascinating.
DC: Oh, I haven't. But I like the way westerns deal with space, inside and out. Like John Wayne in The Searchers, how they frame him in the doorway of that house; the inside really gets blacked out and the outside is so bright.
The L: So you think westerns are related to melodrama in some ways?
DC: Yeah, some of them get melodramatic in some ways. But then I start to get a little uncomfortable, because how do we define melodrama? Because there's something maybe not so classical about melodrama. Maybe aberrant. It's a little too much, you know? And I guess I like that about it. Because I think too much is real. It's so artificial, it's so fake. About melodramas people say, "No one really talks that way." But we do think people feel that way. Maybe that's what I like about them, that they express things that we can't say.
The Biennialist reaches surprising heights in new works at The Boiler in Williamsburg.
Apr 15, 2010