In a piece for The Guardian, you wrote that with the popularity of DVD and subsequent audio commentaries and special features that the “directors whom the studios have treated as ingrates or nuisances are suddenly in demand again. Monte Hellman and Werner Herzog are essential elements, where DVD sales are concerned.” Do you feel that this a positive thing for filmmakers or just another marketing tool? ^ It is a positive thing now because there is a huge backlog of films on which directors can comment with the benefit of the passage of time. Now that delivery requirements include directors commentaries and DVD materials, they have become “part of the package” and will inevitably be less interesting.
You note among your influences, filmmakers like Peckinpah, Bunel, Kurosawa. Is it the technique or themes of their films that interest you most? ^ I admire Peckinpah’s and Kurosawa’s editing and certain of their story-telling techniques. I admire Bunuel’s persistence, individuality, and refusal to work long hours!
Would you consider yourself a subversive filmmaker? ^ I would like to be a revolutionary filmmaker if possible; failing that an artistic one.
As a filmmaker yourself, what, if anything, do you take from your favorite films? ^ I’ve learned/stolen all manner of stuff over the years, but what specifically would be hard for me to say. Why do critics and journalists ask filmmakers to analyze their own work? Isn’t that a critics’ job?
Have you ever seen a film and thought “I wish I made that.”? ^ “King Kong;” “Citizen Kane;” “The Mattei Affair;” “The Wild Bunch.”
What exactly is “My Friend Sam”? ^ A documentary – still in progress – about the American nuclear weapons complex. Sam Cohen was the inventor of the Neutron Bomb. You can download a clip from Exterminating Angel.
Is it just me or is there is a rather striking resemblance between the hit men in your film “Straight to Hell” and the hit men in “Pulp Fiction”? ^ Again, this is a thing for the critic/journalist to offer an opinion about. ^ Let’s see if anyone does.
Are there any young filmmakers today whose work you find interesting? ^ I like a Russian filmmaker called Alexander Bashirov (who made “The Iron Heel of Oligarchy”) and the Spanish director Fernando de Leon (“Barrio”).
Can you talk about your plans to do a filmed adaptation of “The Revenger’s Tragedy”? ^ The adaptation is by Frank Cottrell Boyce, from the anonymous play published in 1607. It takes place in Liverpool in 2011. The cast includes Chris Eccleston, Drew Schofield and Margi Clarke. It will, all being well, start shooting on 16 July, and be finished in November. The production designer is Cecilia Montiel, with whom I have often worked; and the cinematographer is Len Gowing.
If you were not a filmmaker, what would you be either by choice or by default? ^ I would like to work in public transport infrastructure, or be a computer programmer. Maybe both.
You seem to have a keen interest in public transportation such as your backing of the re-nationalization of the British Railways and it certainly features heavily in “Three Businessmen”. Where does this come from? ^ From all-too-frequent use of their services.
What is the last film you saw in a theatre and what did you think? ^ “Liam,” a Liverpool-based feature written by Jimmy McGovern and produced by Colin McKeown. I was very impressed by Colin’s efforts in pursuing the project over a number of years; unfortunately it seemed like the director wasn’t as interested or as committed.
Are there any plans to film the “Doctor Strange” screenplay that you co-wrote with Stan Lee? ^ I don’t know since I don’t have the rights to that magnificent project. But Stan Lee or Marvel would know more, I expect.
Can you tell me about “Emmanuelle – A Hard Look” and are there any plans to release it in the States? ^ It’s a documentary about the “Emmanuelle” films. Channel 4 International will know what foreign sales have been made.
Are you still planning to film a biopic of Buñuel? ^ Yes; with puppets.
What if anything would be your dream project? ^ Retirement.
For more information on Alex and his films, visit the official Alex Cox web site (yes, there is one) or his Exterminating Angel production company.
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Posted on May 25, 2001 in Interviews by Thom Bennett
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