Interview: Michel Gondry talks ‘Green Hornet,’ ‘Thorn in the Heart’

03.24.10 8 years ago

AP Photo/Jeff Christensen

Michel Gondry has mentioned he’s an admirer of ’80s classic “Back to the Future,” but fans should expect the “The Green Hornet” to have a little more combat than it. 

The French director spoke to HitFix, describing the superhero film as “a little more violent movie.”
“[There”s] more action, more fight. It”s a bit of a cross between ‘Pineapple Express” and ‘Back to the Future,”” he said, alluding, too, to the remake”s comedy angle and tone. He mentioned he currently “finishing” the film, which will then give way to months of post-production and promotion for its December release. Seth Rogen stars and co-wrote the script, with Christoph Waltz as main villain Chudnofsky.
Click here to read HitFix”s story on Gondry”s forthcoming work with frequent collaborator Bjork.
Meanwhile, Gondry”s had in his back pocket “Thorn in the Heart,” a French-language documentary that, in contrast, is quiet and pensive, a reflection on family. He turned the camera on his aunt Suzette, a schoolteacher and family figurehead, and her relationship to his “pain in the neck” cousin Jean-Yves. Shooting took place not over months, but years.
He described the deeply personal interviews “terrifying,” an odd adjustment for the idiosyncratic, cinematically fearless director. Gondry said that maintaining his close relationship to his family trumped that of achieving some new height in filmmaking, but that certainly didn”t keep him from, for instance, making his beloved Suzette – who has by now seen the movie — cry on camera.
“There was a lot of dark stories,” he says in his thick accent, describing the struggle to get all sides of a story. “That is why I made her cry, but not on purpose…”
Gondry also tackled some of the criticism waged against the film, that the subject matter wouldn”t interest many outside of his fans or even his immediate family.
“Some people would think, ‘Why would you do a documentary on anyone like that?” I think that”s showbiz thinking. I read one guy says that said [something like] 85% of people in this life are boring and that”s why we invented entertainment. And I think this is very flattering for me to hear that. I believe exactly the opposite,” he says. “Ninety percent of movies we see are people who are already in the light, on the eye of the audience. Filming people for who they are… is very interesting.
“[Suzette] had failures like everyone. Each family has problem they don”t look at, sometime people stop talking, life goes by, you don”t see each other and then you die, and it”s horrible.
What I hope is that people will see [the film], that they don”t feel so bad about their own family.”
An overt theme in the film is a toy train, that “takes” viewers to the various small towns in which Suzette visited and taught. Gondry revealed that it was this train – his family”s, around since the ’60s – was and is an inspiration to his animation and visual style to this day, like those in playful sequences from “The Science of Sleep” and the landscapes of “Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind.”
“I was enthralled by this train growing up. We weren”t allowed to play with it,” Gondry laughs. “The way I do animation and the way I do nature models in my animation part of my work is very influenced by the train or by the nature surrounding it itself.” It taught him how to make model-scale replicas of mountains, water, scenery.”
Gondry is currently at work, too, on an animated feature film with his son Paul called “Megalomania,” penned by “Ghost World” creator Daniel Clowes. His teenaged son (who stopped by the interview wearing a ’30s-inspired suit, two mismatched shoes and two mismatched socks) is an illustrator and is behind the story and design for the movie. “He”s an amazing artist, so I don”t want him to feel like [there”s too much] of me in it,” Gondry the Elder says.
“Thorn in the Heart” premiered at Cannes last year, played at SXSW earlier this month, has an April 2 New York release date and will head to Los Angeles in May.

Follow HitFix”s Katie Hasty on Twitter for more music and movie news at /katieaprincess.

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