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Behind The Scenes Of 'Rachel Getting Married'

Filmmaker Jonathan Demme and screenwriter Jenny Lumet discuss their collaboration on Rachel Getting Married.


Other segments from the episode on March 20, 2009

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, March 20, 2009: Interview with Don Bachardy; Interview with Jonathan Demme and Jenny Lumet; Review of two films "I love you man" and "Duplicity."


Fresh Air
12:00-13:00 PM
Documentary Celebrates 'Chris And Don'


This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies, senior writer for the Philadelphia Daily
News, filling in for Terry Gross.

Apparently, few people took the relationship seriously when the esteemed
writer, Christopher Isherwood, became involved with Don Bachardy, who was still
a teenager, about 30 years younger than Isherwood.

But the relationship lasted over 30 years, until Isherwood’s death in 1986.
Their story is the subject of the documentary, “Chris and Don,” which is now
out on DVD.

Our guest is Don Bachardy. His life with Christopher Isherwood reveals
something of what it was like to openly gay in Hollywood in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Isherwood was a British writer who became and American citizen in 1946.

He’s best known for his short story collection, “The Berlin Stories,” based on
his experiences living in Berlin just before World War II.

The Broadway show and movie musical “Cabaret” were adapted from those stories.
So were the play and film, “I Am a Camera.” Isherwood also co-wrote several
screenplays, including “Rage in Heaven” and “The Loved One.”

With Isherwood’s encouragement, Don Bachardy became a portrait painter. His
work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the
Smithsonian and the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Terry spoke with Don Bachardy last summer, when “Chris and Don” was released.


Don Bachardy, welcome to FRESH AIR. It must have been a real emotional
experience for you, being in this documentary, immersing yourself in an earlier
part of your life and your relationship with the late Christopher Isherwood.

Mr. DAN BACHARDY (Artist): Yes it was, and it still is. Every time I see it, I
can’t help being moved by it. That early footage of Chris and me seems very
touching to me now.

GROSS: You’re so young.

Mr. BACHARDY: Yes, indeed I was.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BACHARDY: And looked even younger than I was.

GROSS: Yeah, right. How old were you?

Mr. BACHARDY: Eighteen. And that same year, I went with Chris to New York for
the first time, and the serious rumor went around town that Christopher had
brought a 12-year-old with him from California.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BACHARDY: And people believed it, and I looked the part.

GROSS: Okay, so you were 18 when you started seeing each other, and he was 30
years older. Did you think of yourself as gay at that point? Had you had gay
relationships before? Were you certain of your sexual orientation?

Mr. BACHARDY: Oh, I was certain. I’d had a few encounters, but I was still
relatively green in my experience, but I certainly knew without a doubt that I
was queer.

GROSS: What was your first reaction to the 30-year age difference between you
and Christopher Isherwood? Did that seem like a lot to you? Did he seem way
older than you?

Mr. BACHARDY: He was actually a year older than my father, but he didn’t seem
so. He seemed ages younger, and he seemed really out of the category - anybody
that I might consider for a sexual relationship. But he was so boyish in his
look, and so witty and charming, and I felt at ease with him almost

And it wasn’t until many years later that I realized that in many respects,
Chris was much younger than I. He was much more curious. He was still capable
of being awed by his experience, like a young man, and that was really quite
sobering for me to realize.

GROSS: What were some of the difficulties of being in a relationship when you
were young, still a teenager, and unformed, and your partner was an older,
established writer with a circle of friends and colleagues, many of them
celebrities? Did it make you insecure at all? Did you have an identity crisis?

Mr. BACHARDY: Social situations were sometimes difficult, but then Chris was
always there to shore me up, and I felt his support. He never let me flounder,
and the fact that I was in his company meant that I didn’t have to worry about
making conversation because he was a wonderful conversationalist, and that
allowed me to drink in everybody that I met.

And that was very exciting, because often, they were the very movie stars that

I’d idolized since I was a child.

GROSS: Because you were so much younger, did some of his friends think that you
were just a toy for him?

Mr. BACHARDY: Oh yes. I looked like a toy boy. And while I enjoyed their
interest in me for my looks, yes of course, all young people want to be taken
seriously as mature personalities.

So – but I was quite pleased to be admired physically. But as I got older, I
wanted more, and that was good because it made me think seriously about how I
could make something of myself.

GROSS: One of the interviewees in the movie, “Chris and Don,” says about you,
it was as if Chris had cloned himself because you’d picked up some of his
mannerisms and some of his British accent. Were you aware of that at the time?

Mr. BACHARDY: Well, I gradually realized that I was and still am, an
unconscious mimic - that I instinctively took on the sounds of people I was
around with a lot.

And that happened very early with Chris. Within a year, I believe, I was
already beginning to sound a bit like him. But I wasn’t aware of it and got a
big shock when I first heard my voice recorded.

And there were several people in the room, and I looked around and said I don’t
sound like that, do I? And they all agreed yes, yes. That sounds exactly like

And I was horrified, because I knew that people who’d known me before I knew
Chris, would think I’d become wildly affected. But since I couldn’t hear it
myself, there was little I could do about it.

GROSS: Do you think he saw things in you that you didn’t yet see in yourself?

Mr. BACHARDY: Yes, I know he did, and he tried to help me to see them and to
believe in myself. Like many young people, I was lacking in confidence. I was
shy. Well, my mother was extremely shy, and I think I’d been mimicking her for

And my instinctive mimicry, it was only years later that I realized that that
was a very important aspect of my work as an artist. I always drew pictures of
people, and only people, and I began to realize that I was mimicking them, my
idols, when I was working with them because I had the wonderful experience of
being able to draw from life. Many of the people I’d drawn from magazine
pictures when I was a child.

GROSS: Christopher Isherwood sent you to art school when he realized that you
had talent. And you loved art school, and you developed into, you know, a
painter and sketch artist doing, you know, portraits of people.

Did it change your relationship with Christopher Isherwood when you became an
artist in your own right?

Mr. BACHARDY: Oh, it was very important change from my point of view because
I’d found my vocation. And once I got to art school, I worked at it day and

I went all day long, and I was often back for the evening class. And it was of
great importance to me to establish my own identity, and I knew that I had to
do that if the relationship between us was to be preserved.

GROSS: If you’re just joining us, my guest is Don Bachardy, and the new movie,
“Chris and Don,” is about his 33-year relationship with the writer Christopher

You were both always out as a couple. I mean, you never pretended that you were
heterosexual. You showed up at parties together. What was it like to be out in
Hollywood - and Christopher Isherwood was writing for Hollywood - what was it
like to be out in Hollywood in the ‘50s and ‘60s before Stonewall, before the
gay liberation movement?

Mr. BACHARDY: Well, I suppose without realizing it, we were early pioneers, but
we had really very little choice. First of all, Chris was a distinguished
writer who was fairly well known to be homosexual. So anybody that he appeared
with frequently was assumed - especially if he were youthful and presentable -
was presumed to be a boyfriend.

And we weren’t going to pretend that we weren’t living together. So it would
have been unnatural for Chris to leave me at home, and he wouldn’t dream of
doing that anyway, because he was an above-board personality. He wasn’t about
to cringe just because he was engaged in a relationship that was frowned on by
society. He was, in his heart, a genuine rebel.

GROSS: Now, you and Christopher Isherwood were friends with the actor Tony
Perkins, and my understanding is that he was trying hard not to be gay. He was
married, had a child. Was he in therapy, trying to, you know, like overcome
gayness, and did you watch him go through difficult periods?

Mr. BACHARDY: Oh, I think he spent years on therapy and hoping that he could
transform himself into a heterosexual. Thank goodness, that was never a problem
for either Chris or me.

And in fact, everything that I value in my life has come to me through my
queerness, and I’ve had an extremely lucky life. So, we understood Perkins and
sympathized with him, but that was certainly not a feeling that we suffered

We - both Chris and I were very, very pleased to be queer.

DAVIES: Don Bachardy, speaking with Terry Gross. We’ll hear more after a break.
This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: We’re listening to Terry’s interview with artist Dan Bachardy. His
relationship with British writer Christopher Isherwood is the subject of the
documentary “Chris and Don,” which is now out on DVD.

GROSS: The movie “Cabaret” and the Broadway show “Cabaret” are both based on a
short story that Christopher Isherwood wrote, based on somebody who he met in
the 1930s when he was living in Berlin.

And in the movie, you say that Isherwood didn’t really like the show that much
because Liza Minnelli was just such a terrific singer in “Cabaret,” and the
character of Sally Bowles is supposed to be a real amateur - so it was hard to
square those two things. But what did you both think of the whole idea of
turning the short story about Sally Bowles into a musical?

Mr. BACHARDY: Well, it’s so easy to lose the character of Sally Bowles because
as soon as she’s played by a very talented professional actress and singer, as
Liza Minnelli is, you lose an essential quality of Sally Bowles because she was
nothing if she wasn’t an amateur.

And Liza Minnelli would have been the toast of Europe, belting those songs out.
How could she possibly also be little, no-talent, Sally Bowles - however
charming she is?

And of course, Chris couldn’t help being aware of that. Before he saw the
movie, he actually thought Liza Minnelli might be very good casting. We’d seen
her in two films, “The Sterile Cuckoo” and “Junie Moon,” and she was clearly
very talented.

He thought she might be just wonderful. But as soon as she comes on belting
those songs, he said she’s not Sally Bowles.

GROSS: You went through a period in your relationship with Christopher
Isherwood, and this is described in the documentary about your relationship,
“Chris and Don.” You went through a period when you insisted that you needed to
see other men, that Isherwood had had a period of his life before he met you
when he had other relationships, and you needed to go through that period, too.

So how did you both deal with jealousy and possessiveness? Was that – was that
easy or difficult to…?

Mr. BACHARDY: Very difficult, because it required the maximum of tact and
consideration and delicacy. And always I felt a responsibility, and I know
Chris did too, to whomever we were seeing on the side to always make it clear
to the other that he was and always would be number one.

If one keeps that in mind - I do think one could do - miracle turns around
jealousy and resentment. But I, myself, was always very careful to let Chris
know there was no question that anybody would ever mean to me what he did.

GROSS: When Christopher Isherwood was dying of prostate cancer, you took care
of him. You also sketched him. You did a series of, I think it was pen and ink
drawings, on his deathbed. Why did you want to spend those last few days of his
life at his side, drawing him?

Mr. BACHARDY: Well, I always intended to look after him and keep him home, keep
him out of a hospital. That was his idea of a horrible death, a death in a

So for many, many years, that was my intention. And then when he got sick and
began to fail, we were often in the house alone together, and yes, I – there
were things I did for him, but what about the rest of my day?

So I canceled all my sittings, the last six months of his life, I only worked
with him. And I worked with him almost every day and often did as many as a
dozen drawings a day - fast ones, slow ones, the best I could manage.

GROSS: Did that kind of provide a structure for you both to be together, and
yet not have to talk, and…?

Mr. BACHARDY: Well exactly. And you see, when I work with anybody, as I was
speaking earlier, the mimicry, the identification with my sitter that is
instinctive and a very necessary part of my working technique - I was
identifying with Chris, even after 33 years.

And I was with him more intensely than I could be doing anything else. And so
it began to seem like dying was something that we were doing together. I was
with him. I was looking into his eyes and feeling him, as well as looking at
him, and that was so important to me.

There was no other way I could have been so intimate with him. And that was
wonderful for me. I was there in a way that was much more intense than if I
just stood by the bed looking at him. I was copying him. So I was with him the
whole time.

GROSS: In some of the sketches that you did of him when he was dying, he looks
like he’s in pain, and I was wondering if you let him…

Mr. BACHARDY: He was.

GROSS: Yeah, I was wondering if you let him see those drawings, or if you
wanted to protect him from looking at how pained he appeared to be. I mean,
obviously he knew he was in pain, but sometimes it’s not helpful to see how you
look when you feel that way.

Mr. BACHARDY: Well you see, it’s my habit to have my – ask my sitters to sign
and date my pictures of them, because I feel the way I work is a perfect
collaboration. And the better my sitter is - the stiller, the more concentrated
my sitter - the better the work I do is likely to turn out.

And when I began to concentrate only on Chris, those last six months, he signed
and dated the pictures I did for the first three or four months, and then he
got beyond it. He couldn’t sign and date anymore.

So one day, he was in bed, and I’d done six or seven pictures. And they were
all black acrylic, and the paint was still wet. So I’d spread some of the
pictures on the bed and some of them on the floor. And I was used, by that
time, to his not being able to sign and date the pictures.

So I hadn’t even suggested it, and in fact as I was picking up the pictures,
being sure that they were dry, holding them up to the light - I thought he was
asleep. And when I got the pictures together and was on my way out of the
bedroom with them under my arm, he said to me from his bed, I like the ones of
him dying.

And that absolutely threw me. I thought, my goodness, he’s with me still. He’s
still urging me on, praising me, for drawings of him dying. Now I don’t know –
I’ve never heard of anybody else capable of that kind of consideration in the
state that he was in.

DAVIES: Don Bachardy, speaking with Terry Gross. Bachardy’s relationship with
writer Christopher Isherwood is the subject of the documentary, “Chris and
Don,” now out on DVD. Bachardy will be back in the second half of the show. I’m
Dave Davies, and this is FRESH AIR.

DAVIES: This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies in for Terry Gross. We’re listening
to Terry’s interview with Don Bachardy, whose relationship with writer
Christopher Ishwerwood is the subject of the documentary “Chris and Don,” which
is now out on DVD. When they fell in love, Isherwood was in his late 40s,
Bachardy was 18. Terry spoke with Don Bachardy last summer.

GROSS: Marriage wasn’t close to being legal for gay people when you and
Christopher Isherwood were a couple but correct me if I’m wrong here, he – I
think this is when he was sick - he adopted you so that you could make medical
and legal decisions on his behalf because that was your only way of having some
kind of legal relationship that would be recognized for things like medical
decisions. How strange was that - that he had to like adopt you in order for
you to have a legal family connection to you?

Mr. BACHARDY: But even though I was determined to keep him home when he got
sick, there was a chance that he would have to go into hospital for some reason
or other and we were both worried that I wouldn’t be given access. That was the
only reason we adopted each other.

GROSS: Did it work? Was it recognized in the way that you wanted it to be? Did
it accomplish what you needed it to accomplish?

Mr. BACHARDY: Well, it didn’t really come into it. He did have to spend a few
days in hospital during those last six months, and I just had a cot put in the
room and I slept beside his bed, but it didn’t really enter into it. I never
got anyone saying you can’t go into his room. But I know Chris would’ve cheered
when gays were given the right to marry, we would both consider that a huge
time but it wouldn’t have changed our attitude. We - both of us agreed early on
that any kind of legalization of our relationship was just not necessary for
either of us.

GROSS: I was reading an article from 1997 in the Harvard Gay and Lesbian
Review. And in that 1997 article about you it described you as having a partner
who was 26 years younger than you, an age difference that was similar to the
difference between you and Christopher Isherwood. And you were quoted as
saying, I couldn’t find anybody to replace Chris so I thought I’d try and find
somebody who could play my role, so now I’m playing Chris. Are you still in
that relationship?

Mr. BACHARDY: No, it lasted for 10 years and many of those 10 years were
blissful years for me. And, yes he was 26 years younger than I and so I got
this extraordinary experience of playing Chris’s role with a much younger man
and it was so illuminating of all my years with Chris. And I was so often
saying to myself when my young friend did not - he’s asked me not to name him,
that’s why I’m being coy about his name. But when he and I would have quarrels
or disagreements or when we’d come together blissfully, I was always saying -
addressing Chris in my mind – saying, oh that’s what that situation was about,
that’s how you were feeling. Now I understand. And that was just - I believe
it’s called epiphany. Well if that’s what it’s called, then epiphany is great.

GROSS: Are you in a relationship now?

Mr. BACHARDY: I’m for the first time in my life I’m having a very satisfactory
relationship with somebody my own age. We were born the same year, in 1934, and
he’s actually three months my junior. And he was somebody that I met on one of
my trips to New York more than 40 years ago. And, of course, I was always frank
with the people I had sex with in those years. And how could I not be because
Chris was well known and I, as his friend, I couldn’t not be frank. So when the
job that I was doing in New York was over, I came back to California and I
never saw this friend again until about three and half, four years ago.

I had a show at the Huntington and he went to see it and wrote me a letter
telling me how much he’d enjoyed it. So I wrote him back and said why don’t you
come and sit for me again. I’d done drawings of him more than 40 years before,
both portraits and nudes, and he did come to sit for me. And he rang the buzzer
up at the gate. And I went out the house and down the stairs - came this man of
my own age. Now that was quite a surprise. And then I thought, well what do you
suppose he’s seeing. He’s seeing a man of his age too. It was a charming
reunion and we did several sittings together and now we spend a lot of time
together and very much enjoy each others company. So, that’s a pretty good
development from my point of view.

GROSS: Well, thank you so much for talking with us.

Ms. BACHARDY: Well, thank you.

DAVIES: Don Bachardy speaking with Terry Gross. Bachardy’s relationship with
writer Christopher Isherwood is the subject of the documentary “Chris And Don”
which is now out on DVD. Coming up the writer and director of “Rachel Getting
Married.” This is FRESH AIR.
Fresh Air
12:00-13:00 PM
Behind The Scenes Of “Rachel Getting Married”

Dave Davies, host:

While some filmmakers become known for a particular style or genre, the work of
director Jonathan Demme is striking in it’s sheer eclecticism. His films range
from comedies like “Married to the Mob,” to an exploration of AIDS
discrimination in “Philadelphia” to his horror classic the “Silence of the
Lambs,” which won five Oscars in 1992. He’s also done documentaries including
the concert films “Stop Making Sense” with Talking Heads, and “Heart of Gold”
featuring Neil Young and his 2007 film “Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains”.

Demme’s latest film “Rachel Getting Married” is a family drama shot in
documentary style. It’s just come out on DVD. The screenplay was written by
Jenny Lumet, daughter of director Sidney Lumet and granddaughter of Lena Horne.
“Rachel Getting Married” stars Anne Hathaway who plays Kym, a young women
coming home from a drug rehab center to attend her sister Rachel’s wedding.
Kym’s re-entry into the family leads to a number of painful confrontations and
arguments in the middle of the wedding festivities.

Mostly between Kym and her sister Rachel. In this scene the sisters are
fighting and their father is helplessly trying to bring them under control.

(Soundbite from movie, “Rachel Getting Married”)

Ms. ROSEMARIE DEWITT (Actor): (as Rachel) I mean in the language of psychology,
what’s to say you both suffer from acute boundary issues.

Mr. BILL IRWIN (Actor): (as Paul) Rachel, it is very nice that you getting your

Ms. DEWITT: (as Rachel) Oh God.

Mr. IRWIN: Don’t be patronizing. I’m sorry but it’s not - it’s ugly honey, and
it’s not becoming to you.

Ms. DEWITT: (as Rachel) What? How come she gets to spout off about paternal-
sibling issues, but God forbid I should even reference the boundaries, even
though I actually know what I’m talking about.

Ms. ANNE HATHAWAY (Actor): (as Kym) By the way I am not in crisis. I haven’t
been in crisis in a year.

Ms. DEWITT: You just got out of rehab.

Ms. HATHAWAY: Oh my God. Why is this so difficult for you to understand?
Rehabilitation. Crisis. You should really learn the difference. No, it’s like
you are not happy unless I’m in some kind of a desperate situation. You have no
idea what to do with me unless I’m in crisis. (unintelligible) (censored)

Ms. DEWITT: (as Rachel) You are so much more evolved in you are suffering.

Ms. HATHAWAY: I’m not - who is talking about that?

Ms. DEWITT: Your suffering is not the most important thing (unintelligible).

Ms. HATHAWAY: Who’s saying it is?

Ms. DEWITT: I have a life. I’m in school. I am getting married. I’m…


Ms. DEWITT: I’m pregnant.

(Soundbite of shouting)

Mr. IRWIN: (unintelligible) You’re pregnant now?

Unidentified Man: (as character) Are you serious?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Oh my God.

(Soundbite of shouting)

DAVIES: I spoke to Jonathan Demme and Jenny Lumet last fall when “Rachel
Getting Married” was released. Now, Jonathan Demme, this film is shot in a
documentary style. I mean, we see a lot of hand held cameras in which, you
know, the camera follows dialogue from one to another. Explain your approach in
shooting this film.

Mr. JONATHAN DEMME (Director, “Rachel Getting Married”): Well, I think two
things probably more then anything else. One is that over the years I put a lot
of energy into trying to find the most time-honored way of bringing the
audience into a scene through very, sort of, you know, with an eye on Hitchcock
techniques and stuff like that. And really kind of, I think, sort of, on my own
terms quote, unquote, “perfecting it.” And meanwhile I just, you know, “Mean
Streets” was the first time where I really, kind of went wow and saw – gosh,
look at the way this picture has been shot, you know and I - the immediacy of
that hand held camera and stuff and, you know, that hand held camera’s been
around before Martin Scorsese showed up especially in, you know, the Nouvelle
Vague and films of John Cassavetes but there was this urgency and I felt myself
feeling like, wow this is really happening the way Scorsese used it.

So, I’ve kind of admired that and I always try to get a little hand held into
the movie. And then more recently I’ve been shooting a lot of documentaries
with Declan Quinn…

DAVIES: Right.

Mr. DEMME: …one of the great cinematographers of all time. And after we did the
- we did a documentary together about Jimmy Carter, “Jimmy Carter: Man From
Plains,” about a year and a half ago. And coming off of that the way that
Declan’s able to make what’s really going on in real life feel so incredibly
immediate and cinematic made me think, well, gosh let’s shoot “Rachel Getting
Married” like that.

Let’s pretend it’s - we’re making a documentary. In fact, we won’t even
rehearse and we have to cast actors who are willing to not rehearse, to not
know when the camera was going to be on them. And what we – the kind of
feedback we are getting from the actors was they were really, really excited
that -bout working this way that it really helped keep the spontaneity factor
in full effect. That by not having, you know, blocked out shots and then
repeated a blocked out shots as we were try to perfect every angle, it kept
them feeling as much as possible that this was really going on. And, you know,
the one thing that Declan and I thought would be great, and one thing he really
wanted to do was – operating on the premise that almost - almost every single
scene here - in theory, someone could’ve had a little home movie camera with
them, including the family arguments, and if one was perverse enough they could
film these little arguments. And that’s just the way it went forth.

DAVIES: This film has something which is unique in cinema, as far as I know,
which is a duel on who can best load a dishwasher.

(Soundbite of laughter)

DAVIES: Which is a funny moment in which Rachel’s dad and I guess the groom in
the wedding get into this argument about who knows how to better load a
dishwasher. Jenny Lumet, where does that come from?

Ms. JENNY LUMET (Screenwriter, “Rachel Getting Married”): That is completely
pilfered. It - I grew up how I grew up and it wasn’t like, you know, famous
people were crawling out from under the sink when I got home from school, but
every now and again, there was a great artist in the house. And one time, the
director Bob Fosse was in the house for dinner. And see, you have to – this is
a very – Bob Fosse is - I was a little girl, I was 11 or 12 – and this is a
very languid, long graceful man. And the whole being, sort of, ends and extends
to the cigarette in the fingertips. And, sort of, ends with the cigarette in
the fingertips. And even the smoke is graceful around this man. And he has
dressed all in black, black Cashmere sweater, over the shoulders, you know,
black shirt, black pants, and this beautiful goatee. And there is my dad, who
looks likes a cantaloupe, completely spherical, with like a big tummy, wearing
a sweat suit with like vinaigrette stains all over him.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LUMET: And there is after dinner, and my dad is loading the dishwasher, and
Bob Fosse takes a big drag of this, you know, a Gauloises or whatever it was he
was smoking - You know, Sidney, if you put the salad bowls in the upper level,
you’ll get 10 percent more stuff in your dishwasher. And my dad, who is five
feet three, looks up at him and goes, Bob, go hmmm. I don’t think I can say
that on the radio. And so there then, there we have this - and for the next
hour and a half these guys, who one would think would have something else to
talk about other than loading the dishwasher, went at it like two people caught
in the grips of the worst OCD on the planet, with Bob Fosse turning the tines
on the fork upside down and calling Sidney a barbarian and Sidney saying, Oh,
you’re a - what do you know, dancer boy? I mean it was so demented, so
demented. And I did not remember it because I am prescient and thought a-ha, I
will use this, you know, decades later. I remembered it because it was
psychotic and disturbing behavior.

DAVIES: We’re listening back to a recent interview with screenwriter Jenny
Lumet and director Jonathan Demme. Their film “Rachel Getting Married” has just
come out on DVD. I also talked to Demme about his 1991 Academy Award-winning
film “The Silence of the Lambs,” starring Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.
Let’s hear a clip from the film.

(Soundbite of movie, “Silence of the Lambs”)

Ms. JODIE FOSTER (Actor): (As Clarice Starling) Dr. Lecter, who’s head is in
that bottle?

Mr. ANTHONY HOPKINS (Actor): (As Dr. Hannibal Lecter) Why don’t you ask me
about Buffalo Bill?

Ms. FOSTER: (As Clarice Starling) Do you know something about him?

Mr. HOPKINS: (As Dr. Hannibal Lecter) I might if I saw the case file. You could
get that for me.

Ms. FOSTER: (As Clarice Starling) Why don’t we talk about Miss Moffet? You
wanted me to find him.

Mr. HOPKINS: (As Dr. Hannibal Lecter) His real name is Benjamin Raspail, a
former patient of mine whose romantic attachments ran to, shall we say, the
exotic. I did not kill him, I assure you, merely tucked him away, very much as
I found him after he’d missed three appointments.

Ms. FOSTER: (As Clarice Starling) If you didn’t kill him, then who did, sir?

Mr. HOPKINS: (As Dr. Hannibal Lecter) Who can say? Best thing for him, really.
His therapy was going nowhere.

DAVIES: I wanted to talk to you just a little bit about “The Silence of the
Lambs.” It’s the film – it goes back a few years in your career, 1991, but it
swept the Oscars. And I read in an interview at the time that Janet Maslin said
that it was your opinion that every director dreams of making a film more
terrifying than anything he has ever seen. Is that true or was that just
something you tossed off at the time?

Mr. DEMME: Well, I’ll - what I can tell you is that - that I know when I saw
“Zodiac” and then again when I saw “No Country For Old Men,” there was a moment
in each of my viewing experiences where I went, damn it, this is scarier than
“Silence of the Lambs.” So I guess on a certain level that there’s something
there, yes.

DAVIES: You’ve been topped again.

Mr. DEMME: Yeah.

DAVIES: One of the hallmarks of some of your films is shooting scenes where
characters look directly into the camera or almost directly into the camera.
And I’m wondering, is there a particular reason or purpose for that technique
when you use it? I mean I see it in “The Manchurian Candidate,” the film you
did a few years ago.

Mr. DEMME: Yes. That is - the use of the subjective camera is an idea that’s
been around in movies for a long, long time. And that’s an idea that was seized
on very notably by Sam Fuller and by Alfred Hitchcock in two different very
kind of otherwise very different styles of filmmaking. And the whole point,
according to Hitchcock - and it’s right - is that, you know, if you go
subjective camera, you are for that moment putting the audience in the shoes of
the character. You’re showing the audience and making the audience share
exactly what it’s like to see what the character sees. So Tak Fujimoto and I,
when we started getting enough of a budget where we could afford the right
lenses, because we started out doing low budget pictures together, we started
experimenting with the subjective camera thing and we kind of fell in love with
the idea of using that as our close-up. Instead of having the camera slightly
off to the side, our thing was, well, maybe by using subjective camera in
ordinary dialogue situations, you know, we can bring the audience that deeply
into the film that way. And we were afraid that it might be kind of off-putting
or call attention to itself, but we found out - “Married to the Mob” was the
first time we did it, and nobody commented. The scenes that we used it went
really well. No one found fault with it.

So when we did “Silence of the Lambs,” we really wanted to town with it. We
just started using subjective camera for every dialogue scene, trying to pull
the audience deeply, as deeply as you possibly could, into the scene. So it was
really an aggressive way to pursue intense audience involvement.

Now, in this movie we didn’t use - in “Rachel Getting Married” there’s no
subjective camera. This time the energy and the effort to draw the audience as
deeply as possible into the movie comes from making them feel that what they’re
seeing actually happened. And in this way we try to take advantage of that -
kind of that truth factor that comes along with looking at your home movies.
This really happened. Look how shaky the camera is. Or we tried to make - not
too shaky. But that’s how we tried to really galvanize the audience into
believing what they were seeing and to getting as involved as possible.

DAVIES: Director Jonathan Demme. We also spoke with screenwriter Jenny Lumet.
Their film “Rachel Getting Married,” starring Anne Hathaway, is now out on DVD.
Coming up, David Edelstein on the new comedy “I Love You, Man” and the thriller
“Duplicity.” This is FRESH AIR.
Fresh Air
12:00-13:00 PM
Choices At The Cinema: Romance Or ‘Bromance’?


Among the movies opening this week are “I Love You, Man,” a comedy starring
Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, and the industrial spy drama “Duplicity,” the second
film by Tony Gilroy, who made “Michael Clayton.” “Duplicity” pairs Julia
Roberts and Clive Owen. Unable to decide between thriller and romance, critic
David Edelstein gives us a twofer and reviews both films.

DAVID EDELSTEIN: This week at the multiplex, we have a slob comedy and a swank
corporate espionage thriller. They’re both pretty good, and if you can’t get
into one, you’ll have a fine enough time at the other. “I Love You, Man” takes
an over-familiar premise and inverts it. In Judd Apatow movies like “Knocked
Up,” a child-man enters into a grown-up relationship with a woman and has to
face up to adult responsibilities, which means balancing buddydom and
domesticity, a classic theme since “Diner.” The gimmick here is a protagonist,
Peter Klaven, played by Paul Rudd, who’s slightly effeminate, mature to a
fault, engaged to a woman, and who doesn’t have close male friends, which won’t

make for much of a swinging bachelor party.

He needs what the movie calls man-dates. The question of hetero man love is
central to “I Love You, Man.” What do these filmmakers think it really is? It’s
unresolved, but a clue comes in writer-director John Hamburg’s so-so 2004
comedy “Along Came Polly,” in which a squeamish Ben Stiller plays basketball
with large shirtless men and finds his face mashed up against a wobbly, sweaty,
hairy, moley man-belly - very peculiar, this horror over physical contact with
males. “I Love You, Man” gestures broadly toward the notion of homosexual
panic. Peter has a gay brother played by Andy Samberg, so the issue is in the

Then Jason Segel’s big, unkempt Sydney Fife lumbers into one of realtor Peter’s
open houses for the free food, and they bond over Sydney’s scrutiny of male
body language.

(Soundbite of movie, “I Love You, Man”)

Mr. JASON SEGEL: (As Sydney Fife) That guy needs to fart. It’s pretty clear,
but he doesn’t know her well enough to do it in front of her so, so I’m
assuming they haven’t slept together.

Mr. PAUL RUDD: (As Peter Klaven) He does seem to be clenching.

Mr. SEGEL: Yeah, he doesn’t want to fart. Watch, when he gets enough space,
he’s going to let one rip, I guarantee you. Oh, that’s a good move. Hey, go
check out the kitchen, honey, I mean it’s in there. Now watch. He’s making his
moves, slowly, slowly but surely. Watch the leg, wait for it, wait for it.
Fart, boom, that’s a fart, that’s a fart.

Mr. RUDD: (As Peter Klaven) Oh my God.

Mr. SEGEL: (As Sydney Fife) Look at him, crop-dusting across your open house;
it’s a disgrace.

Mr. RUDD: (As Peter Klaven) He farted in my open house.

Mr. SEGEL: (As Sydney Fife) He sure did.

Unidentified Man (Actor): (As character) You know what, guys? I like it but I’m
thinking it might be a little bit small.

Mr. SEGEL: (As Sydney Fife) Totally, and it smells like fart.

EDELSTEIN: Segel is a howl, and Sydney a fascinating enigma. Is he a finance
wiz or a con man? An easygoing Lothario or a twisted freak? Is he closeted? The
movie finally ducks that question. But it does give Rudd his breakout role. The
actor uses his soft face to generate an astounding amount of sympathy. Watch
him miss high fives and mangle attempts to add bro or dude to sentences, then
wince in horror at the lameness of such lines as: Hey, Von Duderino.

Over on the other screen, Clive Owen in the corporate con-game thriller
“Duplicity,” does better with banter. Here he is meeting up with Julia Roberts
after she seduced him five years earlier — or did she?

(Soundbite of movie, “Duplicity”)

Ms. JULIA ROBERTS (Actor): (As Claire Stenwick) How did I know you?

Mr. CLIVE OWEN (Actor): (As Ray Koval) How do you know me? Wow. That
(unintelligible) strong play. Believe me, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking
what this would be like, where we’d be, what I’d said, what you’d said, but I
never thought…

Ms. ROBERTS: (As Claire Stenwick) I’m terribly sorry.

Mr. OWEN: (As Ray Koval) Do you really want to go this way?

Ms. ROBERTS: (As Claire Stenwick) You clearly have me confused someone else.

Mr. OWEN: (As Ray Koval) I don’t know. I mean, I’m not great on names. I should
be. I try. Faces I’m definitely better. Faces I’m like a B, B-minus. Where I’m
good, where I really excel, people I’ve slept with. That’s one a traditional
area of strength for me.

Ms. ROBERTS: (As Claire Stenwick) Ah, look, seriously, I don’t know who you
think I am, but…

Mr. OWEN: (As Ray Koval) You charm me, you seduce me, then you drug me and
ransack my hotel room. And how sick is this. You know, the last thing I
remember before I passed out was how much I liked you.

EDELSTEIN: Roberts is coming off a disastrous Broadway debut, and she’s tight.
She’s even more self-protective than usual. But that works here, because she’s
a CIA agent turned corporate double agent and we’re not sure what she really
thinks. Does she fall for Owen’s character or is she playing him? If
“Duplicity” were a David Mamet movie, you’d have no doubt. But writer-director
Tony Gilroy is half conspiracy theorist, half romantic. And if anyone could
break through Roberts’s tense mask, it’s the wolfish yet needy Owen. All his
emotions are on the surface — and in her face.

The plot revolves around rival corporations, with CEOs played by Paul Giamatti
and Tom Wilkinson who have a crazy hatred for each other and want to steal each
other’s secrets.

Gilroy goes in for split screens and a blasting score and does loop-de-loops
with the syntax. There’s an overture, then it’s five years later, then two
years earlier, then next week. It’s a brain-teaser. You don’t see the big
picture until the end. Much of “Duplicity” is laborious, and you can’t figure
out if you’re supposed to root for Roberts and Owen, who are after all thieves.
But the disorientation itself is fun. With all the scoundrels in the markets,
it’s nice to get conned and not lose more than 10 bucks, plus popcorn.

DAVIES: David Edelstein is film critic for New York magazine. You can download
podcasts of our show at
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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