Whither David Fincher? Make room, Paul Thomas Anderson? There’s a somewhat new filmmaker on the world stage, Austrian writer/director Jessica Hausner, drawing comparisons to Stanley Kubrick. Her latest film, Little Joe, might be tough to categorize as it incorporates elements from genres like sci-fi and horror while also maintaining an auteurist stamp. But one thing that’s never in doubt is her command of the medium and her control of the story.
The plot itself may sound familiar: a working single mother, Emily Beecham’s Alice, feels torn between duties to her teenage son and her laboratory work. As a plant breeder, she’s on the cusp of a breakthrough on engineering a plant that can chemically induce happiness in its owner. However, her creation might be altering people in a more insidious and imperceptible way à la Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Where the film really excels is in her execution, which is both impressive and eerie in its remarkable precision.
Upon the occasion of a career retrospective at New York’s Film at Lincoln Center, I sat down with Hausner to discuss her exacting visuals and methodical approach to filmmaking.
Little Joe has elements of sci-fi, horror, thriller, fairy tale, parable. Is there any one thing or way you’d describe the movie as? Or is the fluidity of genre the point?
I would say there is a large part of genre film in it. The other genres you mentioned are maybe the other half. You could also say it is half genre film and half auteur film.
You’ve mentioned that you’re fascinated by “the fact that science doesn’t provide absolute truth,” which I think is a good point to raise given that scientific principles are still subject to the limitations of the human mind. Even things that we think of as settled science like gravity have changed over centuries. Is this something you think we should be considering outside the realm of genetic modification?
Absolutely. I think in all different times of humankind, the truth has always changed. It’s not only the scientific truth that has changed. The ideology of what we think is right and wrong has changed. For example, I made a film before Little Joe called Amour Fou, and it takes place in 1811 Germany. Back then, people thought democracy was not a very good idea and monarchy was providing much more stability and reason to political decisions. Now we live in a time where we think democracy is the best version we know, and monarchy is merely some dictatorship.
Our perception of right and wrong has also changed in terms of how women are represented in society. It has changed a lot … it should change more, but it has changed throughout the years. For example, my mother when she was young had to ask permission of my father to sign her working contract, which was normal back then. From my perspective already,...
Cursed Films, Shudder’s new series about the urban legends surrounding classic horror films, is a must-watch. They’ve already debuted an episode on The Exorcist, and this week they’ll be premiering a new ep devoted to Richard Donner’s 1976 classic, The Omen. We’re debuting an exclusive Cursed Films clip that features Donner and more talking about some of the spooky happenings that surrounded The Omen‘s production.Cursed Films Clip
Do you believe in curses? I don’t, but I sure love hearing about them. Especially when they’re curses associated with classic horror films. Shudder’s new series Cursed Films covers this very topic, and it’s a wonderful show. Rather than just sensationalize the material, the series – directed by Jay Cheel – actually takes the time to dig for the truth, and get to the bottom of it all.
One of this week’s new Cursed Films episodes focuses on The Omen, and in the clip above, you can hear all about the admittedly alarming amount of plane-related mishaps surrounding the pic. We learn that star Gregory Peck’s plane was struck by lightning when he was flying to England to shoot the film. Then, just a few days later, screenwriter David Seltzer was also flying to England and his plane was also struck by lightning. Lastly, we learn that still another plane Peck was supposed to be on actually crashed. And not just crashed, but crashed into a car carrying the wife and child of the plane’s pilot. Is that extremely bad luck…or the work of a sinister, supernatural curse? Cue the spooky Jerry Goldsmith music.
Cursed Films is a “five-part documentary series that explores the myths and legends behind some of Hollywood’s notoriously “cursed” horror film productions. From plane accidents and bombings during the making of The Omen, to the rumored use of real human skeletons on the set of Poltergeist, these stories are legendary amongst film fans and filmmakers alike. But where does the truth lie? Cursed Films reveals the events that haunted these productions through interviews with experts, witnesses and the cast, directors and producers who lived through the real-life events. Were these films really cursed, as many believe, or just the victims of bad luck and bizarre circumstances?”
The episode devoted to The Omen and another episode focusing on Poltergeist premieres on Shudder April 9.Source: Slashfilm.com