Mr. Beaks Interviews Quentin Dupieux, Director Of The Telekinetic Killer Tire Saga, RUBBER!
Quentin Dupieux's RUBBER is the bittersweet story of a car tire named Robert who, upon learning he possesses telekinetic powers, goes on a killing spree in the desert. As the great Samuel L. Jackson once said, "You either want to see that, or you don't."
And yet that logline really doesn't capture the spirit of Dupieux's film, which is as much about the arbitrariness of storytelling as it is an inanimate object blowing people up. The film is never really about Robert: it opens with a clever fourth-wall-shattering monologue from Stephen Spinella, and then introduces us to a group of "viewers" who observe the tire's progress via binoculars. It's only after this deconstructive perspective is introduced that we finally meet Robert - who, aside from exploding heads, has a thing for Roxanne Mesquida (indicating, if nothing else, that he has exquisite taste in women). From there, Dupieux shifts back and forth from absurd pseudo-horror film to the audience's analysis of what's transpiring off in the distance - like Neil Simon did in BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS.
Before embarking on his feature filmmaking career with 2007's STEAK, Dupieux was best known as the influential house/techno/electro/etc. producer Mr. Oizo - so it's hardly a surprise that RUBBER's score (composed with Gaspard Auge) is one of the year's most sonically adventurous. But it's what Dupieux has accomplished in every other aspect of the film's production - particularly with the visuals and editing - that truly impresses. Shot on consumer-grade digital cameras, RUBBER looks like the work of a seasoned director/cinematographer team. But while Dupieux's technical chops appear to be formidable, he has no interest in placing them at the service of a studio production or, quite frankly, anything that might be remotely commercial. He just wants to make movies that are "half-really-stupid and half-smart" on his terms. This strikes me as a completely admirable ambition.
Since I feel like RUBBER speaks very eloquently for itself as a film, I went into my interview with Dupieux eager to talk about his creative process and aesthetic preference for practical f/x over CG. For those of you worried about spoilers (even though this isn't the kind of film that's easily "spoiled"), feel free to wade in.
Beaks: When you spend this much time talking about a finished film [Dupieux has been promoting RUBBER since Cannes 2010], do you find yourself wishing you could go back and make tweaks?
Dupieux: No, no. I'm not that kind of [artist]. It's the same with music: I'm quite good at deciding when something is finished. Even if it's not perfect, you can always... for example, I did the editing myself. This could've been reworked with a professional editor, but no. To me, it was done in my mind. It was finished. Done. Next. I'm only obsessed by it when I'm doing it; as soon as it's done, it's done. It's like a piece of music: you press record, you like the recording, it's done. You don't have to go back.
Beaks: But in music, it's quite common to remix, to sort of re-conceive a song. That doesn't happen much in film.
Dupieux: That's the good thing about film. RUBBER has been a very quick process. From the first line of writing to the end of editing, that was nine months. It's been really quick, and that was the point. Suddenly, when you make something that quick - when you write in three weeks and shoot in fourteen days - you can't spend two years thinking about it. No, it has to be quick. That was the idea from the start. This way, you have a little chance to make something fresh. If you think too much, if you work too much, if you let the editing sleep a little bit and then you go back to it months later, suddenly you have a new vision you want to cut differently. For this kind of project, I think that's bullshit. I wanted this to be fresh. It's quite hard to control, the freshness; you have to go fast and be confident. But that's part of the project. I like that.
Beaks: What was the first vision you had relating to this film.
Dupieux: This story is really stupid. I wanted to do a movie about an invasion of cubes from outer space. One day, people wake up and there are cubes floating everywhere. Just cubes. They don't talk and they don't move. It's scary, but they're not attacking people; they're just here. I started to write this, but then I said, "How am I going to do this?" So I did tests, and a few empty shots, and a friend of mine did the cubes in CGI. I was not interested in that process. Shooting an empty space and creating the thing on the computer... that was boring to me. So I had to go back and find something simple I could shoot: something I could touch. Something real in a way. And I don't know why I picked up the tire.
But I think your question was more about the first vision I had, which was a tire rolling very slowly, following someone. I just had this strong vision in my mind - and it was so filmic in my head, you know, that I decided this was a good idea. I decided, "This could be strong. This is nice to shoot. Let's write something where I can put this."
Beaks: You mentioned CG, which is something that's obviously over-relied upon now. The nice thing about Robert is that he's a practical thing; he's a real tire - and you use different techniques to make him live. What is it about CG that bothers you?
Dupieux: I really like to shoot something, and then watch the footage and it's the movie already. I hate the process of shooting something and then working on the computer to make it better. I don't like this. I think I'm old fashioned. Every day on RUBBER, after every day of shoot, even if I was tired and exhausted, I was in my hotel room watching shots. That's why I do this job: I love filming. I'm not against CG at all; I just hate the process. Now they just shoot here (points out the window), and then someone puts a blue sky in. There's something wrong. I like to shoot real stuff. Obviously some movies are better because of the CG effects, but that's one category of movies.
Beaks: But it's a much smaller category of movies than use CG. I think we probably grew up on the same movies; I know you've cited Spielberg's DUEL as an influence. Surely, it's a generational thing, but to this day, when I watch John Landis's AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, I'm watching a man transform into a beast, not Rick Baker's f/x work.
Dupieux: It is different. The feeling you get when you watch that, it's very different. Since they're able to make perfect shocks with CGI now, they're not scary anymore. JAWS... (Laughs) the shark looks like shit, it's a shitty animatronic going "Ungh!" (Mimics Bruce flopping around on the Orca). It's stupid, but you got scared because there's something real to it. With CGI, they've created some kind of perfection, and you know it's not real because it's perfect. So, yes, I grew up with the John Landis werewolf movie you mentioned. It's a masterpiece. That moment, the transformation, it's huge! What you're watching is mindblowing. It's incredible because it's so real he's got this stuff on his skin. If you do it with CGI now, it will look like a cartoon. Like... (Pause)
Beaks: ... like THE WOLFMAN which came out last year.
Dupieux: I haven't see that. I'm not interested anymore. The good thing with CGI... it's good when you don't see it: when they use CGI for stuff you don't see and it doesn't disturb you. But all these f/x movies, it's too much. I know they're trying to entertain you more, but at some point it's too much.
Beaks: Do you think filmmakers of our generation might move things back to practical, or at least be more judicious with their use of CG.
Dupieux: I don't know. What I did was quite simple. It's just a tire rolling. When you need bigger f/x, that's expensive. Creating animatronics and stuff like that, it's super expensive and super risky - and when you do it you still have to paint the wires; you still have to go to a computer to help the movie. It's the same with zombies. The disgusting zombie movie in the supermarket, when you see the guts and everything. Now that you can feel that the blood is computer generated, it's not disgusting anymore. It almost becomes something nice to watch.
Beaks: RUBBER is a deconstructive film. It's commenting on genre and the nature of storytelling. Do you have any interest in working within genre, and perhaps doing something more classical?
Dupieux: No, no. I think I have one obsession: it's to create this special tone, which is half-really-stupid and half-smart. I'm always trying. I have two scripts written now, and it's always the same. I'm trying to do this strange mixture between... because usually you go watch a movie, and it says, "You're going to have fun!" or "You're going to be sad!" or "You're going to be scared!" I'm just trying to mix two things together because I think there's something cool about it. I don't want to be just funny or just smart; I like being between. I think that's why RUBBER is more interesting than just a tire movie.
Beaks: What informed this half-smart, half-silly sensibility?
Dupieux: I don't know! I just like both, and I don't feel like just doing a funny movie or a smart movie about a human being. I've watched RUBBER with a live audience a few times, and I love the way they laugh at some point, and then, two minutes later, everyone is quiet because they don't know how to feel about this. It's a nice mix between having fun and being disturbed.
Beaks: Regarding the audience reaction, would you ever use that to help shape your film? Like a test screening?
Dupieux: No. I want to stay small and do whatever I want. Like I've said many times, I don't want to be a professional. I want to stay in this low-budget economy because I'm free to do what I want. I know test screenings can help a lot when you do a big, big movie, when you need to know what people think about the ending to make everybody happy. But that's a different job.
RUBBER opens today in limited theatrical release (It's at the Nuart in Los Angeles). It is also available via VOD.
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April 1, 2011, 6:48 p.m. CST
CHOPPAH presents: "The Conspiracy Against AICN," a Special CHOPPAH Investigation by THE_CHOPPAH: Part 1 of 3
I. The Terrible Trio and "The Kobe Project" CHOPPAH has learned, through sources anonymous and hidden, that Mr. Beaks, Nordling and Devin Faraci have been running a long game, using sock puppets to infiltrate and provoke talkbackers into ban-nable offenses to illustrate how Harry has lost control of his site and to purge any malcontents. It's all to usurp Harry, whom they view as a corpulent geek version of King Lear entering his dotage, and assume control of his site, his resources, and connections to turn AICN into perfectly functioning site with police-state-like talkbacks that would increase their personal wealth by whoring itself out to the studios. "It's obvious that Harry uses the site to get 'pweasants' from his studio buddies," one of my sources tells me. "But AICN still has its shaggy-dog, shambling charms. Beaks, Faraci and Nordling have been conspiring to turn the site into a pure revenue-generating machine." Their legion of sock puppets includes: JettL93, lowes forehead girl, chickengeorge, viggeo_morgenstein, william_faulkner and their oldest, most brilliant creation: hey_kobe_tell_me_how_my_ass_tastes, a churlish, thuggish reflection of how the trio views talkbackers. "They called it 'The Kobe Project,' or sometimes 'Project: Kobe,'" another one of my well-placed sources told me. "My God, do they laugh and laugh when they use the kobe_ass_tastes handle, or whatever the fuck it's called." All three of the conspirators share a password to use the kobe name, often at the same time, to infiltrate and rupture talkbacker "groups" such as the Baleback and its eventual offshoot, the Pedalback. Looking back now, using state-of-the-art textual analysis, it is obvious to CHOPPAH that kobe had to be the creation of more than one mind: he is often condescending, snobby, grumpy and despicable all within the space of a few minutes or posts. He is the love-child of a troika of pseudo-intellectual bullies, an avatar of their insidious, arrogant hive mind. But his deranged trio's plotting pushed their conspiracy to even darker territories. Desperate to find the ultimate coup de grace, especially as Harry's health problems grew to a near-critical phase while he was distracted by the Famous Monsters of Filmland website they coerced him into taking over, they despicably seized upon the death of beloved film editor and Quentin Tarantino collaborator, Sally Menke. They would make their power play in Menke's AICN obit. ...
April 1, 2011, 6:51 p.m. CST
CHOPPAH presents: "The Conspiracy Against AICN," a Special CHOPPAH Investigation by THE_CHOPPAH: Part 2 of 3
Part II: The "Devin Faraci" Deception Beaks, Nordling and Faraci's plan took an unexpected turn when Devin, who had been appointed to rile up the talkbackers in the Menke obit talkback under the kobe_ass_tastes handle, ended up slipping on a greasy taco wrapper he dropped in haste as he rushed home to infiltrate the talkback. Devin cracked his head open on a rock, and he became comatose almost immediately. "It was nasty, man," said another of CHOPPAH's sources. "But Beaks and Nordling didn't care. They kept on going with their plan." Faraci's been in a coma ever since, and because he has no close friends outside of Nordling and Beaks, nor any family who cares, no one has bothered to notice that the REAL Devin Faraci has been rotting away in an LA hospital while Nordling and Beaks' newest sock puppet, "Devin Faraci," continues to blog, tweet and post on Facebook. "Look, I know Faraci is somewhat of a cunt, and a hairy, priggish cunt, at that," said a talkbacker who wished to remain anonymous. "But what DEƒUCK® are they thinking with this? First they create that tool kobe, and then this? A sock puppet for an actual living, breathing human? Despicable." Meanwhile, Nordling and Beaks went on to carry out their plan to exploit Sally Menke's death to purge the talkbacks of malcontents once and for all. Instead of waiting on hey_kobe_tell_me_how_my_ass_tastes, whom Faraci was scheduled to "drive" that day, they decided to make an example out of your faithful narrator, THE_CHOPPAH, and then they made a talkback saint out of D.Vader, dropping the Banhammer on both of us, among others. "In a way, their plan worked," said a former regular talkbacker who did not want to be identified by name. "Although the backlash might have ended up being too harmful in the long run. "Still, remember the wasteland the site became after Vades and others were purged?" he asked. "Or how william_faulkner was seemingly on every thread heckling anyone who dared stick up for Vades or you, CHOPPAH?" Indeed. CHOPPAH reminds you to also recall how "Devin" just happened to be posting on AICN regularly after betraying Nick Nunziata and CHUD while "he" waited to get "his" new blog up and running. This was none other than Beaks and Nordling carrying out their plan. So, all those talkbackers who suspected that Nordling was just a sock puppet for Devin Faraci? Wrong. It turned out to be the other way around. But Harry was powerless to stop their purges, nor did he want to, since he felt so strongly about Menke's death. Besides, Harry was about to enter the most dire stage of his rapidly declining health. And he didn't even -- couldn't even, really -- know what was happening right under his nose. It was uncertain whether he would recover, and Beaks and Nordling seized their opportunity. ...
April 1, 2011, 6:53 p.m. CST
CHOPPAH presents: "The Conspiracy Against AICN," a Special CHOPPAH Investigation by THE_CHOPPAH: Part 3 of 3
Nordling and Beaks had to keep up the illusion that Faraci was still around and writing his particular brand of smarmy, contrarian trollery. So, the two of them, for whom smarmy, contrarian trollery isn't much of a stretch, continued to write under the name of "Devin Faraci" on his blog, Badass Digest, and his Twitter/Facebook accounts. If people knew what the real Devin was up to as he attempted to dash home that fateful day in September, they might begin to ask unfortunate, difficult questions. Still, as time wore on, and the rage over the D.Vader Purges, as they've come to be known in AICN lore, burned, a mysterious talkbacker by the name of Gabriel_Grays_Cumshot_Frenzy began to appear. He began trolling the boards pretty hard, hijacking them with bombastic pronouncements that he had evidence that "Faraci," who had been posting at AICN through the wiles of Nordling and Beaks, indulged in child pornography. Gabriel began to threaten AICN's servers with a massive attack if they did not stop posting "Faraci's" articles and reviews. However, CHOPPAH has now learned, through several deep background sources, that Gabriel Gray was the work of none other than Beaks and Nordling. "It was them all along," one of my sources confided in me. "They wanted to attack the site under Gabriel's name and URL -- and they succeeded for a while, if you remember -- to shake Harry down into streamlining the place, thus making it easier for them to patrol talkbacks and implement their plan to eventually merger with 'Faraci' and his new operation, the laughably, pathetically named Badass Digest." This tactic ended up working, as Harry, whose health continued to deteriorate, had no choice but to "reboot" the site, with a slightly altered design. Unfortunately, and I have yet to confirm whether this is a coincidence or not, many AICN users' handles and passwords were compromised and even stolen. The site was down for about a week while Harry and his crew fought to reforge it. Unfortunately, the damage was done, and Beaks and Nordling's plan crept toward its insidious conclusion. However, a fortuitous thing has happened since then. Beaks and Nordling's plan suffered a blow as Harry, recovering from life-saving surgery, continues to make an unexpectedly strong recovery while assuming more control of his site. Many of the older and better talkbackers have stayed away since late last year, but some have returned to reclaim their old places in the talkback pantheon, including the Legend Who Walks Among Us, D.Vader. Beaks, Nordling and their "Faraci" sock puppet are still plotting, though, waiting in plain sight for their next opportunity. Witness the resurgence of Beaks as a leading voice on AICN and his and Nordling's shameless plugs for "Devin's" blog, particularly on the Batman reboot post or the new Hangover 2 trailer post. "Devin's" post on Batman was infinitely more detailed and compelling than Beaks' AICN post, by the way ... ahem. Witness Nordling's sudden rise to prominence on AICN, as another example. Harry may be getting better, but his power over AICN isn't going to last forever. It's only a matter of time before Beaks and Nordling push him over to the sure-to-fail Famous Monsters for good. And until then, none of us are safe. Not even THE_CHOPPAH. Sweet dreams, my CHOPlings.
April 1, 2011, 6:54 p.m. CST
I love trash-art!
April 1, 2011, 6:56 p.m. CST
April 1, 2011, 6:56 p.m. CST
April 1, 2011, 7:07 p.m. CST
I hope to squeeze in a Rubber screening this weekend. It sounds amazing and seems like it would be best experienced with an audience. Oh, and good work, Choppah. Always a great read.
April 1, 2011, 7:51 p.m. CST
April 1, 2011, 7:53 p.m. CST
Well done! April Fools on ME!!! You almost had me until I realized what day it is! Excellent set up. Fantastic delivery. A conspiracy theory on a movie geek website? You certainly know your audience. Kudos friend. I have been CHOPPED!
April 1, 2011, 7:59 p.m. CST
I love "The Kobe Project", and "Devin Deception", but we need a title for part 3. This could be the grandaddy of geek trilogy films! David Fincher could direct. Who's our dream cast?
April 1, 2011, 8:06 p.m. CST
Fuck, I left off part 3's title. It is on my earlier posts. Check out the Superman Blu Ray Talkback.
April 1, 2011, 8:07 p.m. CST
He must be "Faraci"-approved.
April 1, 2011, 8:08 p.m. CST
Armond White, Victoria Alexander, and Alex Billington are working together under the_choppah account to write the dumbest thing ever witnessed by man or beast.
April 1, 2011, 8:11 p.m. CST
and I would like to inform all of you that Robert (a newcomer to acting) is one of the finest Judo masters I have ever seen on film. He's got to be at least 6th Dan.
April 1, 2011, 9:26 p.m. CST
by Prior Walter
This site just ran an interview with this guy a couple of days ago, which covered pretty much the same things. Why?
April 1, 2011, 9:52 p.m. CST
Written like a true (and mysteriously brand new) sock puppet. Thanks for lending more credence to the Conspiracy.
April 1, 2011, 10:24 p.m. CST
This story is close to me heart as my old handle, TV’s Frank, was a casualty of the site “improvement.” You might be the next Soledad O’Brien.
April 1, 2011, 11:55 p.m. CST
The movie is boring. It has some cool shots, but it's not a good movie. The beginning "cop out of the trunk" dialogue was the best part. The rest sucked.
April 2, 2011, 12:22 a.m. CST
Trailer blows. Looks horrible. Move on. Try some real news.
April 2, 2011, 1:12 a.m. CST
RUBBER is the worst piece of shit I've seen in years. Just watched it on HDNET Movies and it was fucking painful. This is what the world has come to.
April 2, 2011, 10:38 a.m. CST
But shouldn't the story be removed?
April 2, 2011, 9:14 p.m. CST
to see this at the ritz so i stole it online. the first film in a long time that aicn introduced me to. wonderful movie. mr oizo seemingly made a movie just for me. i look forward to buying it and placing it in its rightful spot on the shelf.
April 3, 2011, 12:50 p.m. CST
wasn't he referring to "Snakes on a plane". And look where that ended...;) Anyway looking forward seeing "Rubber". It looks like a ton of fun.