Reader Spotlights continue as we get to know The Film Experience community. This time we're talking to filmmaker Douglas Reese.
Hi Douglas! We started talking because of Spring Breakers for which you wrote a really impassioned review. What other movies do you think are misunderstood or underappreciated?
DOUGLAS: I find myself defending panned movies all the time. Even when I actively dislike a movie, I can't bring myself to not at least value one aspect of it - whether it be technical or on the level of camp. The horror genre is largely looked down upon unless a respected auteur is behind the movie or if it's more connected with drama. I can't for the life of me see how the ambitiousness of Rob Zombie's films goes unnoticed. His stuff just has a strong sense of style and ownership. His Halloween II film may be one of the trippiest slasher flicks ever made. I also like HellBent because of its engaging wit and then there's I Know Who Killed Me which is, like, the best Dario Argento movie that guy didn't direct. I feel Freddy Got Fingered is misunderstood - it's got a very sick sense-of-humor, but I find myself laughing and feeling disgusted with every comedic setpiece in it. It's just so bizarre and there's never been anything like it before. Southland Tales is a movie I also feel should be focused on a bit more. Even if the movie is a bloated, messy, weird piece of work - I can't think of a more biting satire of American tropes since Showgirls up until Spring Breakers came along. Also, speaking of foursome female leads with one of them being Vanessa Hudgens, Sucker Punch was wildly inventive so I'm naturally perplexed by the strong hate it gets. It's not often a Hollywood-funded blockbuster can also be consider arthouse.
Why do you read TFE?
The Film Experience was always easily one of my favorite Oscar sites (along with the now deseased StinkyLulu) not only because of my strong love for Nicole Kidman but, you were never afraid to admit that there are good camp films out there to enjoy. I always appreciate those who don't feel like the most technically impressive films are necessarily the greatest ever made. And I also enjoy how connected you have always been with your readers.
Thanks and yesssss Nicole Kidman.
No other actress, for me, defines the physical beauty that the camera can contain within a frame and still invoke work that is as stylistically different and well-rounded as hers. My absolute favorite.
Behind her it's easily Shelley Duvall and her quirky, highly original work in the films of Robert Altman throughout the 70s and her undervalued brilliance that was Wendy Torrence in The Shining. Behind them I'd go with Anna Karina - who, without a doubt, brought a sincerity to her character work in Godard's films; even when he obviously intended to just create his typical ciphers.
What's your first movie memory?
I recall quite vividly watching Disney's Pinnocchio in my diapers early in the morning at my grandma's farmhouse and finding it amusing and frightening. I'm grateful that movie still stands up for me today, because even now it's a totally wonderful experience to endure. Other than that, can I have another rewatch of Hocus Pocus, please? I don't think I've seen that enough.
You make films but your IMDb page is all mixed up with someone else's. What are we going to do about that?
I'm not sure why my stuff is on IMDb in the first place. Almost everything on there is experimental no-budget work I've done since 2008. I think they may have assumed I was this Douglas Reese guy who was on "The Dating Game" in the 1980s and just added my work to his credit. Over on MUBI, I offered them to add my work to their catalog and they happily did - and thus born quite a lot of positive (and negative) feedback for some of my stuff, so maybe I really should get the IMDb fiasco fixed? I just don't like to think of myself as a total professional filmmaker, because that's not why I make my films in the first place. My filmmaking aesthetic would definitely be that I'm not really wanting to make technically polished work, but films that capture how I'm feeling about certain things; social or personal. My film Cleaners, for example, was me wanting to capture a kind of American lifestyle currently going on that most people don't want to realize, so it was more social - but something like my movie Snake is otherwise interested in capturing this feeling of dread and depression that I was going through at that time in my life. I just love, more or less than anything, the concept of human suffering and want to showcase how incredible misery can be.
Cheers! Thanks for chatting Douglas.