An Interview with Matt Rager, writer of ‘As I Lay Dying’ and the upcoming ‘The Sound and The Fury’


Matt Rager is the co-writer, alongside James Franco, of Franco’s As I Lay Dying, an adaptation of the Faulkner novel. [Ed. note: you can read John D’Amico’s review of the film here.] He’s also the sole writer of the pair’s upcoming The Sound and the Fury, also based on the Faulkner book. Recently, we sat down over banana bread and talked about filmmaking:
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As I Lay Dying: Filming the ‘Unfilmable’


As I Lay Dying (2013)
Directed by James Franco
Screenplay by James Franco and Matt Rager
Based on the novel by William Faulkner


As I Lay Dying is James Franco’s seventh feature-length film as a director, but only his second to receive much of a release. The first was The Broken Tower, a biography of the poet Hart Crane, which was completed as his MFA thesis for NYU. Despite the fact that Focus picked it up and it starred Franco and Michael Shannon, that film felt like a student film through and through, and Franco received the critical berating he earned. Two years later, he’s back with another difficult work of American Modernism.

James Franco kind of stepped into a minefield with this one. The literary crowd is unimpressed with his famoused-my-way-into-a-book-deal poetry and prose, and his more mainstream fans are turned off by his occasional excursions into ‘pretentious shit’. Here, then, is a way to alienate two distinct fan bases at once.

I must just be a contrarian, because these are the sorts of films that interest me most.
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Spring Breakers: Holy Shit, Harmony Korine Made A Good Movie


Spring Breakers (2012)
Written & Directed by Harmony Korine
94 min.

That thing I said, in the title of this review? That’s a thing I never thought I’d say in a million years. I am not a Harmony Korine fan. I don’t like any of his movies. He has always struck me as someone with absolutely no comprehension of what parts of his films are good and what parts are weak, and somewhat proud of not knowing, and proud of editing in a slapdash way. For instance, in one of his notorious Letterman appearances from the 90’s (which I actually do enjoy watching, they’re awkward and fun and he has some genuinely witty improv moments) he boasts that he doesn’t care about plot, and that when he watches movies all he really remembers are characters and a few scenes, so he wants to create movies that consist entirely of random moments. That sort of thing doesn’t appeal to me whatsoever as a filmgoer or a filmmaker.
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Promised Land: Good Job, Gus


Promised Land (2012)
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Screenplay by John Krasinski & Matt Damon
Story by Dave Eggers
106 min.

Promised Land is a good movie.  And Gus Van Sant is a good director.  And Matt Damon and John Krasinski are good actors and writers.

This is a movie that nobody saw last year.  It’s a small movie, the kind that still gets made by mega celebrities like Matt Damon but that nobody sees because the market is pretty well taken over by other kinds of movies like Taken 2 and The Vow.  But I’m not here to wax pretentiously about lowest common denominato, fluff that ‘Hollywood’ is so ‘evil’ for churning out.  (The hipsters have that market well cornered.)  I’m here, rather, to talk about Promised Land.  But first, about Gus Van Sant.
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