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Guy Maddin—My Winnipeg, Brand Upon the Brain!—5/2/08

/content/interviews/256/1.jpgWinnipeg-born filmmaker Guy Maddin is perhaps best known for his feature The Saddest Music in the World, starring Isabella Rosselini and Mark McKinney. But he has a large and growing catalog of features to his name, including last year's Brand Upon the Brain!, Coward Bend the Knee, Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary, Twilight of the Ice Nymphs, Careful, Archangel, and Tales from the Gimli Hospital. He has also made about a dozen short films that are likewise popular on the festival circuit. His latest film, My Winnipeg, sometimes called a "docu-fantasia," but better seen than described. Maddin brought the film, which he also narrates, to the San Francisco International Film Festival. On that occasion, he spoke to me in the offices of Karen Larsen & Associates, where our discussion began with narration.

Guy Maddin: I wish I was Lorne Greene. I lost my virginity to Lorne Greene narrating Lorne Greene's Nature Wildlife Theatre. I think he was talking about how bugs gnaw each other's heads off while screwing. And here I was, not losing my head at all. I was even sneaking peeks at baseball box scores on the floor during my first time. But Lorne Greene seemed to bring sort of a patriarchal voice of calm to the proceedings. What should have been a very nerve-wracking…maybe even a premature ejaculation or an erectile dysfunction, but he just sort of guided me through the whole thing, just like putting a saddle on a horse for Hoss…

Groucho: I think somehow that anecdote predicts my first question.

GM: (Laughs.)

G: So we should probably get started…

GM: You've got a good narrator voice there. You should work—it's strange you're in print. Do you do radio as well?

G: I do.

GM: Yeah, okay, that makes sense.

G: So the first thing I was going to ask you is: Brand Upon the Brain! touches on this Hardy Boys-Nancy Drew oeuvre—

GM: Yeah!

G: And this film shows you and your family in couch-potato mode.

GM: Yeah.

G: I just wanted to ask you about your pop-cultural touchstones. We all have them, especially North Americans—this junk art that's in our collective unconscious.

/content/films/3103/4.jpgGM: I must've been one of the youngest couch potatoes on record. You know, I've seen a million kids over the last half-century, but I don't think I've ever seen a two-year-old just lying on a couch the way I used to. (Laughs.) Two or three, those pictures: just lounging there with a potato chip, lying on a couch. What kid does that? Every other kid is out running around. Well, started off mostly just television, seeing all off-the-rack stuff from the tail end of the baby boomers, you know? (Adopting a Sullivan slur:) I can remember Ed Sullivan showing the Beatles. And all that stuff. But I don't know, pop culture quickly intersected with my private family life. There was this weird coincidence. It seemed to be triggered by Marilyn Monroe's suicide, which seemed to create a little epidemic of suicides in our immediate vicinity, among family friends and things. And then my own brother took his own life. And everything seemed mythically linked with pop culture somehow. At a very early age—I was seven years old. So Winnipeg is very isolated and only had two, and then a third TV station by the time I was nine or something like that. So I spent a lot of time listening to the radio I inherited from my brother, just listening to—I tried to tune in very mysterious and elusive radio stations from as far away as possible. And my sense of geography was informed by these static-y—. It was like listening to the audio equivalent of many wool sweaters piled on your ears, or it was steel wool, or something like that. With percussive musical beats pushing their way through. And I eventually became a huge follower of Major League Baseball games that I could get broadcasts of, but just in the summer. But you could only hear about one-tenth of the broadcast because these other stations would avalanche over top of them acoustically now and then. And so I sort of pieced together a dream model in my head, the way a blind person would have to about something he could only *feel* about what America was like. To me all the stadia were packed with galleries of characters from Weegee photographs, or things like that. Even though it was the '60s and the '70s while I was doing this, it seemed to be a world completely made up by me out of some sense of the world brought to me by, I guess, American television or something like that. But it was pretty real to me, and just because Winnipeg is so isolated—you know the pre-internet age and the pre-Cablevision age even. The isolation really was palpable. You could feel that news got to you a lot more slowly. American shows, American toys got to you a lot more slowly, and it really was a bit more like living in East Germany than you would think now. It was more isolated. And therefore more precious when you did get the stuff.

G: How did you move from the art that comes to you, through TV and radio, to refining your knowledge of art, and getting to Luis Bunuel and David Lynch—and Weegee, as you mentioned? How did you find this stuff?

GM: A person gets obsessed with things. So I finally sucked every last drop of juice out of these audio sculptures I was listening to on the radio, and baseball. And I met somebody who—and I was 24 years old when my first marriage broke up, and I no longer had to work at this lousy bank job. And I'd had an undergraduate degree in Math and Economics, very left-hemisphere. And suddenly I fell in with a bunch of people who were just watching movies at the university, and I just started my slacker life as a right-hemisphered person, where all of a sudden I was completely thrilled by the existence of this world in which there were no answers, in which it was the questions that were more interesting. And that style, actually, was something that could be almost measured, it was so exciting. And emollient. So, I don't know, I just rotated hemispheres halfway through my life. But to do it as an adult was interesting because, even though I was new to reading and serious literature—or anything, for that matter: I didn't even like reading comics that had too many words in them before that—but all of a sudden I was reading and watching movies and going to theatre because of this new sort of Bohemian gang of friends I had. It was just so exciting to me. I was adult enough to sort of process it as serious, but it was so new to me that it was hitting me with the wallop that Beatlemania had, so I had my own private, personal Beatlemania. But it was just '20s cinema, '30s screwball comedy, or '40s or '50s noir. Writers: Nabokov, Faulkner, Kafka, you know, Bruno Schulz. All these people, it was just like each one of them was a different Britpop North American invader. And I was the screaming little girl, you know? I loved it. And if that hadn't happened somehow, I don't even know what would have happened to me.

G: Still working in a bank somewhere.

GM: Yeah! Weeping in the vault everyday! (Laughs.)

G: It seems to me that you've hit a stride as a filmmaker. Do you have that same feeling, or did you have that same feeling ten, fifteen years ago? And if you do feel like you've recently really become completely in your skin as a filmmaker, are you conscious of developments in your style or developments in your approach, that brought you to this place?

/content/interviews/256/2.jpgGM: I do feel like I'm in a good streak right now. But I'm cautious. I don't know how long it'll last. I could just sleep on my arm funny and wake up and not have any more pictures in me. I felt I was going nicely after my first three features—Gimli Hospital, Archangel, and Careful—and then I just stumbled, and it took me the longest time to get enthusiastic about making movies again. But this century, I feel like I've been really enjoying what I've been doing and surprising myself a bit. And learning just enough—learning thankfully nothing about technology, but learning a bit more about how to access things that matter about myself, and learning a bit more about how human beings treat each other, and figuring out new euphemisms. And actually becoming a little bit more of a showman. Before I was a filmmaker. Before Brand Upon the Brain! But once you start introducing live elements, you really want to make a connection with the audience. The word filmmaker always connotes someone who's happy to please himself first. And while that's certainly true, I would never even attempt to snow myself, because I'd be the toughest person to fool, I think. I still want to please myself, but I desperately want— because there's so many elements in the air with live mounting of Brand Upon the Brain!, and sometimes I narrate My Winnipeg live, too—so I really am desperate to make a connection. And I want people to be able to assimilate to the words and the music and the plot easily so that maybe something—they'll feel comfortable enough to be intoxicated, maybe. So I feel like I've become a bit of a showman, finally. An entertainer almost. It sounds weird coming from me, I know, 'cause here I am, sort of a schlumpy, middle-aged man talking about being a showman, and I'm not exactly P.T. Barnum. But there still is a sucker born every minute, and (laughs) I'm hoping.

G: What brought you over that bridge from making films to also having the films be narrated, in some cases, or live effects and music?

GM: Yeah, well, my dilettante's handle on film history. I knew that silent films used to have whole orchestras. I'd heard that The Big Parade, when it opened the Egyptian Theatre in L.A. had seven foley artists on stage. I knew of Benshi narrators and explicators in Europe, in the early eras of film. Actually, the Benshi union, the Japanese narrators' union, was so strong, they delayed talking pictures in Japan 'til 1936. And so I was aware of these narrators. And I was aware of The Goat Gland, the silent movie that was taken back off the shelf when a producer realized if they just shot a couple of musical numbers and put them back into distribution, they could promote them as talking pictures. And so I wanted to do all four of those things, for Brand Upon the Brain!. And I did. And that's when I realized, through the experience of feeling terror every night, and then the immense relief that just makes a beer taste heavenly when the performance is finally over, and then going through it all over again the next day, I got kind of hooked. And I realized that I probably should have had these stakes in mind all the years I was just a filmmaker. And sometimes I'd be selling out! But I'm just determined to make more of a connection. I've always wanted to make a connection anyway. Its just hard—or it's hard for me.

G: And there is a unique marketing angle to it. There's no shame in that—

GM: No.

G: When you're an independent filmmaker.

GM: No, and festivals like it. There's a festival every day of the year almost. And maybe it makes it kind of hard. We did mount Brand Upon the Brain! as a commercial release, with fifteen shows in seven days as a regular run in New York City, and then it made its way out west. It was just logistically too difficult, but for festivals, festivals are really keen to have something than can be billed as an event, or a happening or something like that. That's why it's nice to narrate this thing. I'm sad that I couldn't narrate it live here, but it does require the setting up of kind of a karaoke version of it, and then you have to test it, and you have to have a rehearsal. So it means closing out a theater for the whole day, so the festival loses about three screenings while you're setting it up, so it's not always practical to have it. You have to have it on the first or the last day of the festival. So that's why I couldn't narrate it here.

G: Your style is, in a good way, overstimulating.

GM: (Laughs.)

G: And in writing about Brand Upon the Brain!, the phrase that occurred for the editing was "rapid image movement."

GM: Yeah, it's coming pretty quickly, yeah.

G: What 's the thinking behind those flickers of intertitles?

/content/films/2842/1.jpgGM: I was trying to go for—I have a neurological ailment that made me think eventually of this style. I have a kind of, this thing, it's very harmless. It's called myoclonus. And I got a cold back in 1989. Some people get them in their sinuses, some in their throat. I got one in the base of my skull. And it created just little neurological flickers that produced tiny little twitches, the kind you just sort of imagine you have most of the time. But just like a ghost touching you with the fingertip. I get them about ten times a minute, just in completely random different places on my body. And I would drive myself nuts thinking a) that I had MS or ALS or something with initials—'cause the doctors couldn't diagnose it for about a year—but it also just made me very aware of how the nervous system just works in such a scattershot way. And it reminded me of the way memory really does work, too. In movies, when you’re presenting memory, you can only ever present a facsimile of memory. Because people don't remember things in chronological order. I just sort of thought that—maybe I'll try presenting, for a change, a different facsimile of memory, using this kind of neurological skittish editing system. There's practical sides to it, too. If a performance ends up being kind of a bit slow, or having some bad stuff in it, you can bite the stuff out or skip it up or speed it up or slow it down—fetishize things. And that, too, is just a facsimile of the way we remember. You know, when you remember—let's say your favorite date ever. Y'know, you're going to skeet, skip ahead quickly to the best part and then go, "Wait a minute, I've got to back up and slow up into it. And then here it comes again. I'm going too fast." Back up and then approach it a third time. And then you finally get to the good part, and you slow it up, and suck all of the flavor out of it, and then go skipping off to the next memory, wherever your reveries take you. So it's just another way of doing it. It's also a way of keeping the shots interesting. Sometimes you find when you're cutting that the images just need some more breathing room and they need to be not cut for a while. But my taste runs to, if anywhere, that I'm less mainstream—well, this is where you'll see how unobjective I am about myself. But I know that that's—you can almost say that it's an MTV editing style, but not really. It's a little bit different. And it might be a little bit demanding. I've heard some people complain they get sore eyes and stuff like that.

G: Well, it does draw the attention in, I think, a good way.

GM: Yeah. I think it just draws your attention ahead faster sometimes. You have to just keep up with it a bit more. And I'm sure there's times where you just get tired, and then hopefully I anticipate that enough to slow things down at that point.

G: The essence of your stylistic approach has been fairly constant. Are you tempted, at this point, to do a Cinemascope, Technicolor epic?

GM: I think about it now and then, yeah. Or just something that actually tries to be contemporary, you know. I'd have to choose very carefully. 'Cause I have my strengths, and you don't want to abandon all of them, all at once. You know, you wouldn't ask a ballplayer to bat left-handed instead of right and become a pitcher and—you would maybe make some gradual tweaks. And so I have to sort of watch where I'm going. But I'm open to anything. As long as the script is good, and seems doable by me. And if the style, which represents a radical departure, seems doable by me, I've always tried to take steps that I could make. And a lot of times they're big steps for me. They may not seem like big steps for someone else, but when I made a ballet version of Dracula, I'd never really made anything that wasn’t claustrophobically, tinily setbound. And all of a sudden—y'know, it takes a ballet dancer a football field just to say "I love you." And so all of a sudden, my sets had to be bigger, and that was a completely different way of lighting that I wasn't aware of, and then there's also motion. I'd never really moved a camera before. Which is pretty pathetic. Other filmmakers move them all the time. But I hadn't done it, so it was a big challenge for me to actually be able to do it. And that sort of required me to cut the way I now do, as well, because I didn't move the camera so well lots of times, so I had to do repair jobs with this kind of hack job of cutting.

/content/films/3103/7.jpgG: I'm curious about casting for your films. My Winnipeg, for example—how did you go about casting this film?

GM: I had a casting agent help me out a lot. But I was really thrilled that—I gave him some photographs of my siblings, and he did find—especially my two brothers in the movie just looked exactly, especially once they were given their haircuts and their patented Maddin cowlicks. Ann Savage—I wanted to get my mother to play herself. But she was just not—she's losing a bit of energy. She's 91 years old now. And she's going blind, and she couldn't put in long work days. But meanwhile I had been talking to Ann Savage a bit about coming out of retirement. And I met her through a couple of friends. Eddie Muller, the film noir writer, introduced me. And so I finally thought I could just get Ann Savage to play my mother, and that would be more appropriate anyway. She is the most fearsome femme fatale in film noir history. And so who better to make a towering matriarch out of than Ann Savage?

G: Is there a curve that the actors go through in understanding the sort of film that they're in when they sign up for a Maddin project?

GM: I often wonder. I really kept my siblings in the dark. I sort of wanted to. I wanted to keep them feeling like guinea pigs a bit. Ann Savage I tried to be as upfront with as possible. 'Cause she's very cautious. She'd been asked to come out of retirement many times, usually to play some kind of imitation of Detour or something like that. So I had to tell her what I was up to. And she's really a sophisticated movie-watcher. She watches movies all the time. But everyone else, I think, is pretty much in the dark on the movie sets or anything. (Laughs.) I don't know.

G: It seems to me that your shoots would have to be happenings, as it were.

GM: No, that's good. I've tried to make them happenings, actually. I have, like, a houseboy instead of Craft Services—y'know, some sort of androgynous, baby-oiled thing with a palm frond comes up and feeds you fruit. You're not allowed to use your hands. The houseboy has to put it in your mouth and stuff like that. Try to make 'em happenings.

G: How do you run a set? Are you a taskmaster? Are you a ringmaster? I'm just curious what it's like, 'cause I know it's not the Winnebagos—

GM: Yeah, it ain't.

G: And showing-up-and-punching-the-clock kind of shoot.

/content/films/3103/2.jpgGM: I try to be a bit of a ringmaster. I try to whip up some enthusiasm. Since so many of the scenes are directed MOS—mitout sound—you can actually shout out directions while the cameras are rolling. And sometimes when you're directing kids or people that have never acted before, you've actually got to trick a performance out of them, however wooden, using whatever indignities you have to summon from yourself. So sometimes I do remind myself of some kind of ringmaster, where I'm actually more like the Lon Chaney character in He Who Gets Slapped, where I'm just, like, humiliating myself to extract something from somebody. But I do raise my voice a lot, and sometimes I'll just do the performance, so that the performers can imitate me. And then I'll just do it bigger and bigger and bigger so that they're just treating me like a reflection in a mirror. It's a little bit crazy. Half the time I realize what an ass I've made of myself in front of the parents of actors, that are visiting the set, or bureaucrats who funded the movie or something like that. And then the houseboy pops the fruit into my mouth at just the wrong moment. You know, it's kind of silly. But I try to make it so that it's fun. Movie sets—the first thing that struck me the very first time I visited a movie set—I was in this movie made in Winnipeg with Ellen Burstyn, back in 1979. Silence of the North it was called. I'm an extra in this scene where Ellen is breaking down. And I couldn't believe it took all day to film that scene. You know, it was just so boring. And so ever since then, I've felt very apologetic to all the extras who've come out to be in my movies. And the crew, because everything can be slow, so slow-moving. So I try to keep things moving quickly. And I try to keep it high energy.

G: I hope everyone, of course, will see the film, and I think it speaks for itself, or speaks for yourself—

GM: Thanks.

G: But I'll still ask you what was most important for you to communicate about Winnipeg—what was essential that you get into the film?

GM: Winnipeg didn't seem to exist in any real way outside of Winnipeg until it got—let's face it, for a few generations now, real mythologization involves getting embedded in the film emulsion. So I had to present a movie—(laughs) I just had to make the movie. That was the important part. And to get some things in it that really mattered to me: Fred Dunsmore, this hockey player I adore; the Winnipeg Arena. Just things that matter to me: my childhood home; my dog, my living dog, who just died yesterday—I'm really bummed out about it. But just to take a little core sample of this year, and mix it up with a core sample of the past and see what its shelf life is like, for myself and for the world. 'Cause now I'm spritzing little Winnipeg aromas out through the Film Festival and through distributors that are bravely taking on this probably undistributable film.

G: I was going to ask you about that.

GM: I'm so grateful [to have a distributor].

G: I think it makes sense because if you actually get the audiences in to see the film—

GM: They'll be so amazed that they were able to get there. That they even heard of the thing, yeah.

G: But it really is universal. It is about Winnipeg, and it is about you, but it's about anyone's experience of their hometown.

GM: Oh, I'm so glad to hear that. I really had hoped to be so insanely specific about myself and Winnipeg that I would push through all that specificity and be universal somehow.

G: I think that it plays that way.

GM: Wellll, that's good to hear.

G: Hopefully it'll play in Peoria, as they used to say.

GM: Yeah, exactly.

G: If it makes it there.

GM: Winnipeg envies Peoria pretty badly.

G: I do want to ask about the element of "truth" in the film.

GM: Sure.

G: Have you found audiences to be gullible about that at all? Because I think it is essentially true, of course, but you do—

GM: It's the first thing that comes up in every Q&A: "How much of that was true?"

G: Right, right, right. I think it's transporting, so I can see where people would take much of it at face value.

GM: Yeah! I can't remember exactly—I've been telling people that's it's 100% true, and then I remember there [are] a couple things that I got wrong. And a couple things that I willfully invented.

G: Sure.

/content/films/3103/5.jpgGM: But those should be pretty obvious. The Black Tuesdays hockey team, featuring some dead players. Players like the 1920s Olympic hockey team that I say is—y'know, if you do the math, they'd have to be 108 years old. So—but that one—I wasn't trying to insult anyone's intelligence there. I thought that was just—I'd gotten so far with the truth, and now it was just time for the truth to give a boost to something a little more lyrical. And to make it what Werner Herzog calls, what? An "ecstatic truth"? Something like that, you know. But I didn't want to insult anybody and make anyone feel gullible. The rest of it's all either true, or my opinion—and that's quite clear, too, when I'm saying, y'know "this being a travesty" or "We've been raped of our best hockey players." Y'know, these are opinions. And then some of them are just facts. And in some cases I got them wrong. Winnipeg isn't any longer the coldest city in the world in the wintertime. Ulan Bator, Mongolia is.

G: It's hard to keep track of these things.

GM: I know! With global warming, the rankings keep shifting around. We was robbed.

G: Is the notion of you saying goodbye to Winnipeg earnest?

GM: Sometimes. Yeah. Sometimes I really wonder how I allowed all those extra decades to go by without moving. I feel like a genuine Rip Van Winkle. Y'know, "Hey, I'm not—" And I really think I'm about 32 years old. I keep forgetting, like I feel like I slept through the last twenty years while I was busy making all these movies. And I think that's why I pegged the ersatz me on the train to be about that age. Because that's how old I was when I should have left, I think. I should have just gone to Toronto, where my daughter lives. Whom I saw lots, and with whom I remain very close. But I should have gone there, but I was just starting my filmmaking career, and there were all sorts of economic incentives for staying in Winnipeg.

G: So where is your place of residence?

GM: I have an apartment in Toronto and one in Winnipeg now. Paying rent in two cities, like any smart investor. (Laughs.)

G: I read that your next film opens in a Winnipeg bar—is that right?

GM: That's that—that's this movie, Death of the Reel or something. That's a student-workshop movie shot with a filmmaker named Benjamin Meade down in Kansas City. That's not one of my films. He's got me down on IMDB as co-director, but I never read the script, I haven't seen a cut. I did agree to make a cameo in it. Foolishly. I can’t stand watching myself in film. But no, my next projects aren't even anywhere near being shot. I'm working on a couple collaborations, one with the poet John Ashbery and another with the British writer Kazuo Ishiguro.

G: The internet project would be the first one.

GM: The Ashbery one, yeah.

G: I'm kind of curious about that.

/content/interviews/256/3.jpgGM: Yeah, it's called Keyhole. I'm trying to figure out a way of interweaving Ashbery's and my own glosses on lost films—you know, like Four Devils or Case of Lena Smith or London After Midnight. There's a bunch of lost films that exist only in publicity stills and plot synopses. We would just do our own retellings of them, the way, during that Salome craze in the late 19th Century, everyone had their gloss on Salome. Y'know, there was a Beardsley...an Oscar Wilde. And so we'd do our own glosses on these lost films, retellings of them. And somehow interlock them into some—after the structural fashion of a Raymond Roussel, like Ashbery's favorite writer. A concentric circle, stories within stories within stories within stories. I have it sort of mapped out somehow.

G: You said that that would be for the venue of the internet, right?

GM: Yeah.

G: I assume eventually DVD would be well-suited for that.

GM: Yeah, I'm a bit daunted by the technology because I really want to make it kind of interactive. I want you to be able to "choose your own adventure." I don't want to make it a video game. I have no interest in video games, I have to be honest with myself that way. Other people: crazy about 'em. But film and games will never really thoroughly belong. But I like the idea of playing with narrative. You get a little bit of choice, and then you're given what you deserve within these choices that you can make at certain points in the narrative. That's kind of what it is. How much that will cost I'm still trying to determine. And how it would work on a DVD, I don't know.

G: Conceivably, could it be an event in a theater, as well? Spin the wheel?

GM: Yeah, maybe, or just have people vote with their texts, text message votes in or something like that. Yeah, maybe. I think that would actually be pretty cool.

G: Maybe that could be a Festival event.

GM: That's not bad. That's not a bad idea. I never thought of that. I went to Expo '67: the Czechoslovakian Pavillion had something like that on film reels. Where every few minutes you would vote, you know "Should the protagonist get a clothed woman or a naked woman." (Laughs.) Then everybody'd vote.

G: (Laughs.) You wouldn't have to shoot the option.

GM: Yeah I know, they didn't shoot the clothed-one reel. But then the projectionist would have to switch over to the reel that the votes had determined. But then every reel ended up back at the same crux every time anyway to save time. To save having to ramify into eight hours of footage for a ninety-minute movie.

G: It probably would be a projectionist's hell.

GM: (Laughs.) Yeah, exactly.

G: There's a rumor that at least one of your films might hit the Criterion Collection this summer.

/content/interviews/256/4.jpgGM: Brand Upon the Brain! is coming out in August, on Criterion, yeah.

G: Great.

GM: With optional narrators and some short movies that I'm just finishing up right now.

G: Terrific.

GM: Yeah, I'm thrilled.

G: I wanted to ask specifically about David Lynch's influence on you.

GM: Mm-hm!

G: Because he's one of my other favorite filmmakers—

GM: I love the guy, yeah.

G: What was your sort of entrée into the world of Lynch?

GM: Eraserhead. A big influence. I was just very impressed. You could tell that the actors weren't acting in a style that I'd ever seen before. It struck me then—I was wrong—that they were bad performances, and that these bad performances still added up to a great movie. And that was very emboldening to me. I thought, "Geez, maybe I could make a movie." They aren't bad performances; they're really good. They're just stylized at a different point on the dial. And the movie's unbelievably controlled. But what struck me about it is: I knew instantly that Lynch had been a father in an unplanned pregnancy. 'Cause I had two. And 'cause I felt just as discombobulated watching that movie as he and I had been shortly after our babies had been born. And this was the first time I had seen a movie that everyone else just thought was bizarre and which had hit me right in the heart with a harpoon. As being so psychologically and poetically true. And I realized that something could be bizarre and true at the same time. So it emboldened me. And then, you know, just his use of ambient sounds and textures and shadows, of course. It served as signpost for further inspection of German Expressionism and stuff. And that's about it. 'Cause after then his movies go off in a different direction altogether. But I'm happy to acknowledge the canonical landmark performance of my first viewing of Eraserhead. Subsequent viewings haven’t been as disturbing for me. But that one came out of nowhere. I didn't know what to expect. And then I didn't expect to understand it. I wasn't used to understanding at a feeling level anything. I just was like any other kid. I just liked, you know, my action movies and, y'know, I had a guilty pleasure for Technicolor musicals and things like that. But all of a sudden this thing came. And I guess it was just one of those lightning-bolt moments. So it was big. And then of course I loved Blue Velvet. But it didn't influence anything. And I love Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr. and all his stuff, but now I'm just watching him as an ardent admirer. But Eraserhead just said, "Hey! You can do this too." Sort of. "I'm misleadingly simply, simply, not-so-simply put together." It's misleading.

G: "It might take you six years, but you can do this too."

GM: Yeah, yeah.

G: It's been great talking to you.

GM: Yeah, it was wonderful. Thanks so much.

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