Edinburgh. Saturday, 23 August
Storyboard of one man's life
The penultimate day of Film Festival events kicked off this morning with a press conference for American Splendor. Harvey Pekar - creator of the American Splendor comic book, was there to answer questions. The cult comic that he began back in the 70’s, was based on Pekar’s life, his anxieties, his failures and well, pretty much whatever else he felt like sharing with his readers.
When asked about the autobiographical nature of the comic book, Pekar explained,
"I always asked the permission of my friends before I talked about them in the comic. I checked that they weren’t going to object." Then with a cheeky glint in his eye, he added, "Of course, if there’s someone I hated, I didn’t ask!" Paul Giamatti (who plays Harvey in the film) was there too – and mentioned that Leonardo DiCaprio had almost made it into the film. Leo’s dad, George DiCaprio was a comic book artist in the 70’s and he used to bring Leo along to the conventions as a child. Harvey Pekar and Leo have remained friends ever since but Pekar decided against letting him star in the film as, "There’s basically no-one living in Cleveland that looks as good as Leonardo."
(Citizens of Cleveland- I apologise wholeheartedly, those are Pekar’s words, not mine.)
A huge Hollywood contender dropped into the film fest today - film director Oliver Stone. The director of such whoppers as Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, Platoon and Natural Born Killers was in town to promote Comandante, his recent documentary interview with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The director was very chatty, intelligent and totally ego-free. In fact, to use his own words, he doesn’t like "to toot his own horn" despite his successful film career.
Oliver Stone soundbites
"He has true grit, and tremendous grace and speed – just as Alexander the Great did. And that mercurial Irish temperament of his. I think people will be truly surprised by his performance."
On his career in film:
"If you mention a date to me, I’d remember it in terms of what movie I was making at that time. My films are almost like a diary to my life. I couldn’t choose a favourite; they are like lots of different meals in lots of different restaurants."
Mutual Appreciation Society
Screen stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Velvet Goldmine, Bend It Like Beckham) and Clive Owen (The Bourne Identity, Gosford Park) came along for the press conference of I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.
The two sung the praises of director Mike Hodges (Get Carter, The Terminal Man, Croupier), saying that he was kind and gentle and the best director that they’d ever had the pleasure of working for, couldn’t remember a nicer, more stress free film set etc etc ad nauseum. In fact, it went on so much that Hodges himself chipped in, saying, "Perhaps this is when we should all just take our clothes off and start embracing or something!"
As for Jonathan Rhys-Meyers’ broody, dark and troubled performance in the film, it turns out that he actually had a stomach ulcer as they were filming and some of those pained facial expressions were not just good acting – more like real life agony.
Rather confusingly, the film’s scriptwriter, Trevor Preston wanted to point out that despite the film’s violence, revenge plot and male rape scenes (all discussed at length during the press conference), he was adamant that the film was NOT a male rape film, a gangster film or a revenge film. Righto. Clear as mud then.