AfterSchool -- a look at the way we live now in one of our "better" private high schools -- a movie as uniquely conceived and executed as it was appalling to witness. (It also gave us one of our first up-close-and-personal views of that very good actor Ezra Miller.) AfterSchool was both hypnotic and exotic (in a kind of sick way), and so is Simon Killer, though for me it is not quite as interesting a movie, stylistically. Nor is its universe as "special" as that of the former film. It's leading character, Simon, as played by actor Brady Corbet, below, consistently puts us off, as befits the socio-unto-psychopathic personality this fellow inhabits.
Mati Diop, of 35 Shots of Rum), although we might wish that Campos had been a bit more egalitarian in his use of full-frontal. As usual, the female anatomy gets the once-over, while the male remains discretely covered.
IFC and running 101 minutes -- opens today, Friday, April 5, at the IFC Center in Manhattan, then hits VOD the following Friday, April 12.
TrustMovies met with filmmaker Antonio Campos (shown below) and actor Brady Corbet (further below) in the restaurant of the Crosby Street Hotel for a brief Q&A earlier this week. Both men were pleasant and as eager to talk as you could expect from folk who've been doing the this meet-your-public thing for probably a little longer than they might like.
When I saw Simon Killer, I couldn't imagine that it had come from the same guy who did AfterSchool. They seem so different, beginning with their location and style....
I feel like the two movies are cousins. If you'd seen my short films, as well, you might find a through-line.
I'll have to do that. Still, style-wise, the difference is pretty immense. What were the biggest differences in filming the two?
(To Corbet) How do you feel about improv. Do you enjoy it?
Well, no. Not really. The thing is that I am terrible at improv. It's not my forte. I was just working on a movie last week, and the director says, 'Just say this and this and this...' And I tell him -- 'No, you've gotta write that down.' With this film, we had some scenes that were loose, but that by the time we were shooting, we would have improvised at rehearsals, and then Antonio would transcribe what was working well during those rehearsals. Some scenes were half improvised, where I knew generally were we were going. The thing that's really hard is when you are in a position where the director wants you to be really angry, and then you run out of things to say after about 15 seconds. There's nothing I hate more than seeing an actor searching for words, because it shouldn't be about the words. People have this thing about improv, where they think it'll be more realistic. But it's not.
Watching your film, it didn't seem to be improv. It seemed real -- but not improvised.
Antonio adds, "If anything, this is more like the Mike Leigh approach to improv."
To Corbet: How did you deal with working on a character who is so dark?
Because of the nature of this character's psychology, we tried to be true to him in every moment. Like when, early on, he's a victim of aggression. But then, the thing is, an hour later, he will no longer be that victim..
No, he's the victimizer.
Yes, he is living in a psychology where he isolates everything, moment by moment. I didn't have to internalize anything that's going on with anybody else in the film. Just stay with Simon. And there he is, having a good time.
Hee's a narcissist.
To Campos: Do you have another film in the works? Or maybe you've already finished it?
Not yet, but I am writing a second draft of something right now. It's a feature based on a documentary about a murder trial.
So you are staying within this sort of dark realm?
I guess so, yeah.
Well, it's the world we're living in right now.
It's always been the world we live in.
Hmmm. Maybe the speed now....
The speed and the access to it. The technology makes things happen faster. Technology has made it easier and quicker to hurt each other. (Brady laughs and agrees with that assessment. As does TrustMovies.)
of independent film, and his actor, and await his next
foray into death, shadows and troublesome personalities....