She has just finished a film called Orsay, with the Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien, which was fully improvised. "Before a shot you don’t know where the camera is going to shoot and you don’t know where you are supposed to be in the room. There’s no mark, and you don’t have the dialogue written." That kind of challenge is "now such a need for me as an actress. It becomes so much more [about] making movies out of trust and not out of fear. Because you have to trust that it’s going to happen, the impossible is going to happen." She leans out of her chair and reaches for a terribly French, skinny white cigarette. "Is it OK if I …"
â€œThere are a lot of projects that explore the dark side of suburbia and there is a reason for it because there is a dark side,â€ Burton continues. â€œItâ€™s got that mask of normalcy which is truly disturbing.â€ Not something of which Burton himself could be accused. If anything, it is his mask that is abnormal, the side he likes to project, with his black outfits and his wild mop of black hair. That, and the gothic preoccupations of his films, the skeleton imagery and obsessions with Frankenstein myths and the afterlife, have all conspired to give him the reputation of being â€œdarkâ€. Has he grown tired of that oft-repeated epithet? â€œYeah, because itâ€™s obviously not true,â€ he sighs. â€œReally. I could come out in a light-blue leisure suit and it still wouldnâ€™t change peopleâ€™s take on you. We all have our moments of depression or darkness but itâ€™s not like Iâ€™m hanging out in a cave.â€
"I’m really glad that people prefer it when I do characters like Raimunda," she says. "I just love that woman. I have seen those women, who could easily become victims but refuse to do that. She goes through things that could have destroyed anyone but she keeps fighting because her daughter needs her to survive. I know women like that. So you forget about yourself because you are playing a woman who is actually an hommage to all those women who have survived. They are very special people, and I wanted to give her that dignity."
In our last interview, you said you hoped the books would be made
into a "live action, mock Gothic, dismal musical." That doesn’t seem to
describe the Jim Carrey version.
One of my least favorite
moments in making that movie, actually, was toward the end. It was all
done. But there was an opportunity to put Stephin Merritt‘s songs in
the closing credits. I thought that would be cool. I sent the producers
these new copies of these songs. They would say, "Oh that’s a great
idea!" Then I would never hear back. The next time they would not
remember any of the conversation they’d had previously. But then they
were in the room with me; I had my iPod and I set it up to play the
songs. They were so impressed by my speakers — it was the dawn of iPod
speakers — that the conversation ended up being about them. It was at
that moment that I realized the songs would not be used.
The film, now acknowledged by many as a masterpiece, was panned, and Huppert’s chances of international stardom were nipped in the bud. "The rejection of the film was in a way political," she says. "It was a rejection of the film’s themes. It was too harsh a criticism of the States. It was an anti-Western."
She attended a school for the hearing-impaired to bone up on sign language until her command became strong enough to allow for a natural rapport with her non-professional, deaf-mute costars â€” especially Yuko Murata, who plays her best friend in the film. "It’s very strange, but when I’m around deaf people, [signing] now comes naturally," Kikuchi said. Eventually, her determination and insistence on inhabiting the part completely won IÃ±Ã¡rritu over. "I was always Chieko, even off the set," she said. "I dressed like a teenager and I tried to use sign language all the time. It was hard in a way â€” but I always found some pleasure in it."
"To me, they’re all yakuza. All the people in the film, all the people in that government. Pure yakuza." The director, however, points out that he doesn’t like gangster movies and, in fact, insists he’s never even seen a yakuza film. "But I know the style."
The film distinguishes between the original reggae-loving skinhead gangs and the politically extreme groups that followed them â€” a â€œready-made army, easy preyâ€. The first-generation skinheads, Meadows says, were white and black kids who sought work in factories and shipyards and were united in a love of Jamaican music.
â€œThe message was not so much anti-immigrant as anti-Thatcher. It was incredibly arrogant, of course. We were basically saying, â€˜Maggie Thatcher, you run the country how you like, but weâ€™re going to run our town the way we likeâ€™. It wasnâ€™t true, but it felt true at the time.â€
+ The crying game (Guardian)
+ Sweet side of the dark one (London Times)
+ Woman on the verge (LA Times)
+ An unfortunate demise (Salon)
+ Isabelle Huppert: Mystery and imagination (Independent)
+ The universal language of ‘Babel’ (LA Times)
+ Im Sang Soo: Unloading both barrels at the president (Japan Times)
+ Oi! Who are you calling a luvvie? (London Times)