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March 02, 1987 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-03-02
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view. It came basicallyTwrough Sean.
Q. Do young actors come to you
for advice?
A. Sometimes-and I find this amus-
ing-I hear things like, "They're so im-
pressed that you're here." I find it so
bizarre, I can't connect with it.
I see a lot of good actors around.
Daniel Roebuck from River's Edge is a
good actor, and he's only 22. We had a
great time. I liked River's Edge a lot. I
don't want to give a rating to the films
we've discussed, but I find it's among
the best. It's not my best work-I don't
like the way my performance was edit-
ed in it. But the film is unique, and real
frightening. I find it scarier than Blue
Velvet. Blue Velvet lets you off. You get
some humor once in a while where you
can breathe and say, "Well, it's a mov-
ie." There's something about River's
Edge that gets me. The apathy of the
characters I find really scary. [The film
depicts what happens to a close-knit
group of kids when one of them reveals
he has murdered his girlfriend.]
Q. So how do you like all the at-
tention you've been getting?
A. Since Hoosiers opened, people
have been coming up to me and saying,
"I loved you in that movie." And I can
see from their faces that it's not Blue
Velvet they're talking about. People
come up and say "That movie" about
Blue Velvet, too, but they have fear in
their eyes. If they reach out at all, it's
with somebody in front of them. They
peer around and say, "God, you were
great in that movie."
Q. You must feel a little better.
A. Hey, I feel a lot better. It's better
just to be talked about.
A YEAR AGO, Dennis Hopper
seas planning to sit down and
prepare his autobiography.
Mention it to him now and he
blanches and withdraws. "I just felt
that I couldn't do it," he says at last. "I
mean, I'd have to deal with drug deal-
ing, relationships, guns, etc. It's just not
the time for me to look at that. I'd much
rather work." A hopeful smile comes
over him. "I don't feel at this time that it
would be conducive to my career!" He
laughs a boyish laugh. "Or healthy."
There is no doubt that someday biog-
raphies will get written about the long,
strange trip of Dennis Hopper. Like
John Barrymore, his life is the stuff of
legends. But unlike Barrymore, who
was resolute in his embrace of oblivion,
Hopper is showing that a living legend
can keep on living. Even with all that
past, he can still look for a future. *
Chris Hodenfield, a past contributor
to this magazine, was for many years a
staff writer for Rolling Stone. Parts of
this piece appeared in Film Comment.
20 Ampersand's Entertainment Guide

Coninuedfrom page 9
6th, and Fox needs prints three weeks
ahead of that. And still there's more
music to be recorded and several more
reels of the picture for which the last
subliminal subtleties of sound must be
mixed, the ones where death sounds
like sex if you close your eyes.
The director and the composer, Bob
Rafelson and Michael Small, are too
weary to go home, gazing out on where,
so recently, a 50-piece orchestra was
recording chunks of Small's very com-
plex, emotional music beneath a screen
where the work-print images of Debra
Winger and Theresa Russell went back
and forth, pursuing one another on a
Puget Sound ferry, then prowling
around some unspoken tension on a
cliff in Hawaii.
Only Small, conducting his own mu-
sic, could really see the screen, fitting
his own beat to the narrative pulse. By
February, it will all be beautiful, mar-
ried, perfect-and ours. Now it is the
makers' precious project still, and
though they are tired they can dream of
ways of making it better tomorrow, or
the next day, until time runs out.
"Don't you just love it," groans
Small, looking out at the littered studio,
nearly abandoned by musicians who
came in at six and did wonders with a
score they'd never seen before, taking
their proper breaks every hour, gather-
ing over coffee with stories of Ravel and
Joan Rivers, and then diligently con-
tributing their bits and pieces to the
passion on the screen.
"There's a moment making any
film," says Rafelson, "when you don't
want to go home. You don't want it to
H cw MANY TIMES CAN that mo-
ment come in a life like Bob
Rafelson's, a life in which he
will have alarmed himself
and frightened loved ones with the real-
ization that nothing else mattered, or
matters, to him as much as a movie? He
estimated once that he could see how in
a full career he might make just ten
pictures. He is 52 now, and Black Wid-
ow is only his sixth. Maybe the total
begins to look like nine, for there has
been a seven-year gap between this film
and Rafelson's last, the Jack Nichol-
son-Jessica Lange version of The Post-
man Always Rings Twice. Seven years
waiting for the all-out effort and pas-
sion. Seven years watching the business
make its pictures.
What does such a gap connote? Cer-
tainly not idleness or mere relaxation;
definitely not the performance of Post-
man. It didn't do as well as was expec-
ted in 1980, yet it is regarded much

"nore favorably today. Th7"VCR has
had this great benefit for good films: it
provides time to be felt and absorbed.
No, Rafelson has made no films be-
cause nothing worked out exactly right,
or at least the 85 percent level that a
battered perfectionist holds to. You
don't have to explain to him that that's a
shame: his belligerent, amused face
knows it, and the passion every seven
years or so wouldn't be what itis with-
out the towering force of impatience,
rage and desire to work that is always
building. But Rafelson doesn't do just
anything-certainly anything trite just
to keep working-nor will he do other
people's projects. Eight-years ago, he
was fired from Brubaker because the
studio wanted him to make the movie
their way. Ironically, that studio was
Fox. The front office is all changed
now-indeed, it's people like Rafelson,
with their yearning, intransigent na-
tures, who persist and abide, odd pillars
of a strange business. And this time Fox
has been supportive. In the end, the dif-
ficult people develop a stamina no one
else can match.
Not that the outsider doesn't appre-
ciate being inside-in a state-of-the-art
dubbing theater. Rafelson looks for-
ward to only ten big American movies
because he has both the will of the out-
sider and a mix of old-fashioned show
biz in him: charm, guile, stubbornness
and (if necessary) self-destructiveness
that can say to a studio, OK, guys, what
I would like is your $11 million, or your
$15 million, or maybe even your $21
million, so I can make this thing, this
little bit of terrific, and I would appre-
ciate making it my way, so that it will
require a miracle of grace on your part
(and I know you can do it). OK?
More or less-85 percent-the deal
works. But it leaves the artist very tired
from having to be a con man. While all
the bits and pieces of the movie are com-
ing together, Rafelson has to reconcile
the solitariness of creation with the col-
laborative chaos of movie-making, not
to mention the infinite needs of the cor-
porate structure. He cannot simply re-
fuse the calls from the Fox publicity
people asking if he will pose for a possi-
ble magazine cover just when he's judg-
ing whether to retard this sound effect
by four frames or six and working with
a genius sound mixer, Don Bassman,
who happens to do his work while he
smokes 55 cigarettes a day, so that the
artistic integrity of Bob Rafelson is hav-
ing also to decide whether to give up
giving up smoking.
THE HiocLYwoon outsider can-
not be defined simply, or sen-
timentally. Like the natural
American, he wants liberty
and the power and glory. Bob Rafelson

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