Hollywood Premiere Theater: Irene In Time
Although I’ve been invited to a few Hollywood premieres, I have an aversion to klieg lights, red carpets and Paris Hilton. Unless it’s for a really cool film and filmmaker. Like Henry Jaglom and his new IRENE IN TIME, a meditation on the tangled connections between fathers and daughters. Jaglom has a confessional, improvisational style that you either like or don’t, yet he’s one of the few genuine American autuers (he’s made over 18 truly independent films). He also gives actors a chance to plumb the depths of their characters through loose scripting. Though Orson Welles was his mentor, Jaglom eschews ostentatious camerawork or manipulative editing despite his reputation as an in-demand editor, cemented upon history by his work on EASY RIDER (1969).
Henry has always been generous with his time and for me represents the spirit of the Golden Age Of New Hollywood Cinema, that revolutionary period from 1967-1974 (and of course, he played the hippie who has a very bad trip in Richard Rush’s classic PSYCH-OUT (1968). He once invited me to an early cut of FESTIVAL AT CANNES (2001) and it was fascinating to see his ruthless editorial process at work between the version I saw and the final release. Interestingly, when I interviewed him for CREATIVE SCREENWRITING, he had this to say about IRENE IN TIME:
What was the first film that had a strong impression on you, the one that made you think, this is something I want to do?
Believe it or not, in about a thousand interviews nobody has ever asked me that before. Interesting you do since it has an effect on my current film I’m editing, Irene In Time; it was profoundly influenced by one of the very first movies I saw, Portrait of Jennie. Those ’40s movies, A Guy Named Joe, Stairway to Heaven, with love more powerful than death or time, put a sense of dreamy romance in me. But in the 1960s, I was knocked off my track by Fellini’s 8 1/2…also Bergman, Cassavettes, so on. Orson Welles said I had one foot in Europe and one foot in America. But the things that had an impact were being made in Europe.
Personal filmmaking, films about human relationships, and 8 1/2 changed my life, made me want to be a director. I was in New York and used to hang out in acting classes with Seymour Cassel. He invited me to Cassavetes first film, Shadows. That had a huge impact because I thought you can shoot on the streets, use real lighting and real people, it’s not Hollywood. That was the curve.
Your films have a reputation for improvised, intimate situations. I love that your films are about language.
Other people hate that. People who praise or complain them say the exact same thing: they’re intimate. My goal is to remove that distance. If you step back and say, what a beautiful shot, a gorgeous speech, and as soon as you’re thinking that, you’re not in the movie. I’m trying to erase your consciousness while you’re watching. But the good news is, whether they love them or hate them, they are my films. Frame for frame, I feel such a sense of luck that I get films made the exact way I want them. All my friends who became the biggest stars, directors are always complaining that they can’t get this or that done. I think I’m the luckiest person in this town.
IRENE IN TIME continues his interest in characters uncovering themselves exactly like the Chinese nesting dolls that serve as a thematic metaphor. The film’s star, Jaglom discovery Tanna Frederick, has an open expressivity and a real gift for tragi-comedy, as her first role for the director in HOLLYWOOD DREAMS (2006) also showed. There’s always something warm and real that I admire about Jaglom’s ouevre, but he never takes the way of easy sentimentality as this film proves by its thought-provoking end, reminiscent of his earlier, more elliptical films such as A SAFE PLACE (1970) and TRACKS (1976), my two personal favorites. After the screening, he wouldn’t divulge anything about the end, prefering to let it speak for itself. He’s right. Find out for yourself when the film opens on June 19 in Los Angeles and September 23 in New York.
The reception was lovely, meringue and champagne, and since this was a premiere, you’ll want some names. Besides George Chakaris from WEST SIDE STORY standing next to me in line, I had the thrill of Karen Black singing 1940’s songs to me while music archivist Miles Kreuger wowed her with a studio still from PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT (1970), and David Proval from THE SOPRANOS told me about working with Marty Scorcese on MEAN STREETS. Proval also did one of the voices for the cult hit WIZARDS (1977). And Tanna Frederick was kind and charming in person. I met many more lovely people and a splendid time was guaranteed for all. My kind of Hollywood Premiere.