Derek Hill is an American abroad, currently residing in rural Ireland. His writing has appeared in numerous print and online publications, such as The Third Alternative, VideoScope, Mystery Scene, Video Watchdog, Images: A Journal of Film and Popular Culture, and All Movie (previously The All Movie Guide). He was also a contributor to the three volume Greenwood Press Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy (writing about the Planet of the Apes film series and Close Encounters of the Third Kind). He’s currently writing a book for Wallflower Press’ Cultographies line about Alex Cox’s seminal 1980s cult film, Repo Man.
RA: Could you briefly describe the book, and tell us what motivated you to write it.
DH: The book is a look at contemporary (mostly) American filmmakers Richard Linklater, David O. Russell, Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze, Sofia Coppola, and Michel Gondry-a sort of new American New Wave if you will. Using the films of Charlie Kaufman as the center-pieces, so to speak, I felt that there were a number of filmmakers who had enough shared themes and comedic sensibilities to be viewed as a movement. It’s an unconscious, unplanned movement, to be sure, but a vital psychological one. I think that these filmmakers are some of the most engaging, imaginative, original, storytellers working in commercial film today. There’s a real sense of experimentation (especially with someone like Linklater or Russell), virtuosic style, and a peculiar mix of angst and comedy that seemed pertinent to these troubled times. There’s a real sense of dissatisfaction with a lot of the characters and the humor running through all of the films. And while most of these films are ostensibly comedies, there’s an underlying melancholy and seriousness in them as well which seems completely antithetical to what’s coming out of the Hollywood machine or even the indie-trenches for that matter. Many of the filmmakers had been written about only in terms of their loose affiliation as directors in the “independent film” scene or whatever… not in terms of their thematic or stylistic similarities. It just felt appropriate to engage them on an aesthetic or thematic level instead of a consumer-oriented level which would be much too broad for what I wanted to do.
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