The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Bertrand Bonello Day


‘”I was born in 1968. Thus for me, the question of pleasure and the time period was bound to be fundamental. I have the impression I was born into a generation that speaks seriously about things that are not very interesting, while I dreamt of intelligent things being said lightly. The film also comes a great deal from that.”

‘These words by the director, borrowed from the press release for De la guerre (2008), summarise something essential about Bertrand Bonello´s art into a few sentences. The central themes in Bonello’s films are time and epoch, youth, rebellion, the gap between generations and the longing for freedom – whether it is to detach oneself from the values and norms of society, from one’s own persona, artistry, personal relationship or normative sexuality. At the same time, like Bonello’s quote reveals, the year 1968 is linked in the director’s mind with dreams, something that not necessarily ever existed – or at least not in the desired form. Bonello’s films are tinted with a certain melancholia and a sense of being lost, something that often finds its consummation in strikingly beautiful scenes where gems of classical and sacral music (Bach, Händel, Vivaldi, Wagner, Mahler, etc.) detach the events from the storyline to certain kinds of pauses or breaks.

‘Bonello uses classical music in a sort of similar way to Pier Paolo Pasolini. The director’s films contain also popular music, particularly pop or rock pertaining to the epoch in scenes set in night clubs or bars. The uniquely intense relationship between picture and music and the director’s ability to create the visual expression in unison with the beat of the soundtrack undoubtedly comes from his background. Bertrand Bonello is not only a film director but also a musician and composer. In his films, Bonello does not create stories and narratives – instead he produces comprehensive, at times hypnotic experiences.

‘Bertrand Bonello’s films are an exception to the risk-free approach of mainstream cinema. He is not afraid to try out new forms and test the boundaries of cinema expression. The first ones represent the artist’s identity and creativity as well as their fragmented nature, as does the split screen segments of Saint Laurent (2014). Le Pornographe (2001) is a film depicting the relationship between father and son, but also an essay about filmmaking, i.e. a director’s choices and mise en scène. In all his works, Bonello proves that he is a magnificent director of actors. A good example is one of the most touching performances by Jean-Pierre Léaud as an adult film professional.

‘Bertrand Bonello’s films made prior to 2011’s House of Tolerance may hang in relative obscurity for American audiences, but they nonetheless offer essential evidence for contextualizing the writer-director’s overall concerns as an artist. In 2001’s The Pornographer, a director in the adult film industry feels trapped between his political ideals about sex as a revolutionary act and the lacking market for such a mode of pornography. That Jean-Pierre Léaud, arguably the poster child for the French New Wave, plays the filmmaker inaugurates Bonello’s ongoing determination to interrogate various periods of history through an interpretation of the present.

Characters search for meaning by managing their surroundings in Bonello’s films, an idea that takes on its most sadistic overtones in 2003’s Tiresia, in which Terranova (played by Laurent Lucas) kidnaps a prostitute who, to Terranova’s surprise, is transgender. On War, from 2008, finds the reflexively devised central figure—a filmmaker named Bertrand—struggling to create a meaning for his life after he’s accidentally locked inside a coffin overnight. Such existential questions of orchestrating one’s environment through the control of others reach an apotheosis in Nocturama, in which a group of young people plot and execute a series of terrorist attacks across Paris. Things get fuzzy after the violence; the logic behind their uprising is never absolute, especially as their plan to evade capture involves holing up inside a mall that quickly becomes a pleasure dome of recent fashion trends and popular music.’ — Satu Kyösola





Bertrand Bonello @ IMDb
Bertrand Bonello on Nocturama, Pop Culture, and Terrorism
Behind Closed Doors: A Conversation with Bertrand Bonello
10/10: Bertrand Bonello
Bertrand Bonello révèle ses 10 films préférés de la dernière décennie
“Je ne sais pas s’il y aura un prochain film”
Bertrand Bonello To Head Cinéfondation & Short Films Jury In Cannes
BERTRAND BONELLO as told to Erik Morse
You’ve Never Seen a Movie About Terrorism Quite Like ‘Nocturama’
Bored, Beautiful Terrorists With a Taste for Luxury Brands
Our critics agree that Nocturama may be the movie of the year
‘Nocturama’ is a haunting portrait of young French terrorists in action
Bertrand Bonello Takes on Teen Terrorism in the Hypnotizing, Estranging “Nocturama”
Un autre film est possible
Bar talk
Time to Spend: A Conversation with Bertrand Bonello
Ultra-Realist Abstraction



Rencontre avec Bertrand Bonello

Bertrand Bonello – Tracks ARTE

Bertrand Bonello à propos de “Twin Peaks – Fire Walk with me” de David Lynch

Masterclass – Bertrand Bonello


from Film Comment


In your short film Où en êtes vous Bertrand Bonello?, you recount the course of your cinematic journey to your daughter, and at one point there’s a line that moved me a lot: “Cinema harms men.” And in connection with that, I wanted to ask how you experienced the shooting of Antoine Barraud’s Portrait of the Artist—a film that deals a lot with the distress and solitude of the artist and that, to a certain extent, is also a portrait of you.

Portrait of the Artist is a particular kind of film because it was made over three years. Antoine wrote me a letter one day saying he was really in love with my films, and that he did portraits of artists: he had done films on Koji Wakamatsu and Kenneth Anger. And he said he wanted to make a documentary about me. I asked how long it would take, and he said a few days. Then we saw each other a couple of times, and he said that it would be interesting if while we’re doing the portrait, there is a sort of red mark that grows on my back. And from then on, the film became a fiction. It was a rather strange experience for me, because I didn’t know exactly where it was leading or when it would end. Every three months, Antoine would say: “We’re going to shoot for two more days.” But I think the fact that it was made over a long period of time gives it a very free feeling.

But did it also provide you with a space for personal expression?

I tried not to reflect on the film, because I think that’s the director’s job. I tried to be the actor that I like working with as a director. Someone who doesn’t ask questions, who lets go, and who tries to do the best he can at any given time. Someone who doesn’t have an overall vision of the film, because I think that’s the director’s work. So I tried to be as sincere as I could in every scene, I came in knowing my lines and I tried to do things the way I felt them, without having big ideas on the creation of the film. I tried to abandon myself as much as possible. Portrait of the Artist really belongs to Antoine, and that short film, the letter to my daughter, is really me at every word.

Your narratives are often elliptical, responding to poetic rather than causal or logical demands. How did you approach the question of time in Saint Laurent, in which you sculpt it a bit like Tarkovsky, blending past, present, future, reality, dream, and delirium?

It happened progressively. Early on, we structured the film into three parts, with a second time period for the third part. Then when we started getting into the details of the scenes, I realized that I wanted to enter Saint Laurent’s mind more and more as the movie progresses. And entering someone’s mind also means mixing everything up a little. I had this image, for instance, that the last hour would feel like entering a room with mirrors everywhere—each mirror reflects an image of Yves but it’s never the same. And that’s when we try to get into his brain a little with mental images like the snake or the Proust painting. But afterward it’s the question of how everything manages to resonate with one another, and that’s really not theoretical at all.

It’s something organic, to borrow the title of your first feature.

Yes, exactly, it’s about sensations. If for example we show Helmut Berger [as the older Saint Laurent] saying something, and then we go to Gaspard [Ulliel], suddenly that sentence echoes with him. So it’s more like painting.

In fact, you use the camera like a brush. You often favor long tracking shots that reveal the scenes as they are being constructed, creating an almost documentary-like immediacy. This idea of construction is at the heart of a scene like the meeting of Jacques de Bascher and Saint Laurent, in which the camera weaves the gaze like a thread. How did you conceive and execute that scene?

There are two things. It’s true that one of my obsessions was to do the club scenes successfully. First because I think they are essential to the film, and also because I am often disappointed when I watch club scenes in movies. I find that the sound is not done well—it looks like a music video or suddenly the music is lowered so we can hear people speak, and the extras keep dancing in the background but there is no music. So I really wanted to create an atmosphere or an ambience in those scenes. The second thing is that this was a club that Yves went to every night, and I thought that instead of doing four small scenes in there, we would do it in one step, so we would do a long scene that would last six or seven minutes. I thought that it was better to spend time with them in there, try to feel the world, the sweat. I have to say that I had brilliant extras. They gave everything they had and that helped a lot.

But then I thought to myself, how can I film a meeting without a word? And the idea came to me on the day of the shoot. I had certain shots in mind coming in, and one of them was just a tracking shot for something else. The club was like a square: there was Gaspard on one side and Louis on the other, and the crowd in-between. We had installed dolly tracks, and suddenly I thought to myself, what if we do a sequence shot rather than a montage, which would make the scene feel, not artificial, but a bit fabricated, and the sequence shot allows to isolate Gaspard, then suddenly we feel the ambiance, and we arrive on Louis isolated. So we can isolate the two by showing that they are separated by the crowd, and the sequence shot allows to really feel the scope of things, the duration and the distance, and I did it three times. It takes a bit of time, but I need that time to show how things develop in that scene. And when you have done that, you just need a shot-reverse-shot to make the scene work. But of course this doesn’t mean you arrive on set empty-handed. You have thought everything through in advance, but you can change your mind, because suddenly you see that something else might work.

And how do the actors experience a scene like that?

It’s extremely difficult because there are extras everywhere, and when the camera gets to a certain spot, I shout “Extras out!” and there is an assistant who gets behind them and pulls their sweater. It’s very technical because the shot is a very complex one to achieve, even if it doesn’t look like it. I rarely do this, but in that kind of a scene, the actors really have to be at the service of the mise en scène.

I read a phrase by Emmanuel Levinas that made me think of that scene: “To watch a look is to watch something that doesn’t surrender itself, doesn’t give itself over, but stares at you: it is to watch a face.” And I think the movie also ends a bit on this idea, with that shot of Saint Laurent staring at us. It’s as if the spell is broken, and we are brought back to reality, like at the end of House of Tolerance.

Oh, if I had departed from that Levinas phrase to construct that scene, it would have been petrifying! [Laughs] Actually, for Saint Laurent, I thought that the ending line “Move your arm to show that you are alive” was sublime. I thought that it was a line that was at once morbid and alive, that opened the movie rather than closed it. And there’s also something that Yves had, and Gaspard has it too, something very particular—that kind of immense smile that “crosses out” the face. The ending of the movie can be quite deadly in a sense. For me, ending on that smile combined with that line, it’s like taking simple elements and putting them together, and suddenly creating something that’s not simple anymore. House of Pleasures is the same. You have the jump to contemporary times, and suddenly we’re in another period but the actress is the same, we switch from 35mm to MiniDV, but there is still prostitution going on.

How do you manage the rhythm of that final shot in Saint Laurent? We see the smile only for a few seconds and then suddenly the music comes in and breaks it.

For me a shot is like a note, and I always ask myself when I need to hit the next note. And the thing is always to make it surprising, without it becoming ostentatious—to hit the note either too early or too late, so as not to fall into something metronomic.

One thing that strikes me in your early films—and that is absent in House of Tolerance and Saint Laurent, except in diegetic situations like the reading of letters or books—is the use of voiceover as a narrative tool, but especially as a way of penetrating the psychology of the characters. In a film like Tiresia (03), it has quite an unsettling effect because it feels like we’re inhabiting the thoughts of that obsessive esthete played by Laurent Lucas.

Voiceover has a bad reputation in cinema because people tend to think of it as a literary device. But for me it is in fact a very cinematic device, because it adds something to the image but also frees it from what is being said so that it can serve another purpose. So it creates a discrepancy or adds something complementary. I like that the image says something other than what is being spoken—it’s very enriching. Of course, I also use it as a kind of musical partition, which becomes something very intimate and personal for the characters.

In House of Tolerance, you seem to observe a world without intervening—abstractly speaking, of course, because you are in fact the creator of that world—but you simply show the life of these women, without romanticizing it, without a concern for plot, almost in the manner of a documentarian. What made you want to operate this way?

There was a lot of factual research involved in that project: private diaries, journalistic accounts, etc. So I had a lot to work with. And from brothels, we only knew what happened between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Many painters have depicted that setting, as well as several novellas, but mostly from the point of view of men, and therefore from a nocturnal point of view. I wanted to show what these women did between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. And inevitably, that becomes something like, I wouldn’t say documentary, but more like a chronicle. Because in fact what do they do? They wash, they eat, etc. Maybe these aren’t fascinating things script-wise, but I thought they were very beautiful to show.

So the script isn’t at the center of the film—it’s more about this idea of witnessing these women’s lives without them being watched by men. Because I quickly came to think of these women as actresses—they go onstage and then they return backstage. They are different at night and during the day, and the film was supposed to show the two. But in fact it’s the same for Saint Laurent. There’s Saint Laurent during the day and Saint Laurent at night. What’s not documentary-like about House of Tolerance is that there isn’t a single line that’s improvised—everything is very scripted. And I used the word “chronicle” because I think there is a sort of platitude in the movie that makes us live with these women.

Did you look at any paintings for House of Tolerance?

I was looking at paintings that were contemporary to the period of the film, but not so much actually. I was more interested in anything related to the representation of a group of girls, whether in 19th-century paintings, or even pictures in fashion magazines, just to get a sense of how to put all those girls together in the frame. But I examined 19th-century paintings also to understand how lighting worked back then. It’s quite a particular period because it’s during the arrival of electricity. So we had decided, arbitrarily, that we would only have electricity on the ground floor, and that the higher we went up, the less light there was, and in the end, there were only candles. These are sort of carnal or sensual ideas that come from looking at those pictures.

You’ve often talked about your desire to make the script “disappear,” to allow the film to be transmitted through the actors. How did you experience this idea on the shoot of The Pornographer, for instance, when you’re working with someone like Jean-Pierre Léaud?

When I watch a film, if I feel the script, if I feel the pages being turned, if I feel the plot or whatever, for me it’s not a film anymore. So it’s in that sense that I mean making the script disappear. But in order to achieve that, paradoxically you have to work on the script a lot. You have to see it as a path to the mise en scène. That’s why the script for me is something that’s somewhat badly written—it’s not meant to be read by itself, it’s meant to disappear, it’s a working document. And making the script disappear means not allowing it to show up in the image.

In terms of working with Jean-Pierre, he has such a particular connection with what’s real, what’s not real, with words. When he learns his lines and acts, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about anymore. It’s only a music in his head. That’s what I think makes his performances so distinctive. It’s not at all about psychology with him, about what the character does at a certain moment. He invents his own music. Afterward it’s up to us to know how to navigate his performance and integrate it in the movie. But he has already departed.

Your next film is called Paris est une fête. I know the title comes from Hemingway’s novel, A Moveable Feast, but maybe it’s also rooted in this line from The Pornographer: “We live in a time without feast, and we have contributed to it.” Is there a link between these two movies?

Yes, there is. It’s not a link that I looked for, but Paris est une fête, which is now titled Nocturama, tells the story of a group of young people who plant bombs in symbolic places in Paris. The Pornographer was about young people who already had revolutionary ideas, but they were more of a bourgeois youth and the kind of revolution they envisioned was more intellectual. In Nocturama, it’s much wilder because they actually take action. But it’s not only a banlieue youth. I don’t want the movie to stigmatize a religion or a geography in any way. The way the group comes together is told in the film, but there are people who come from the banlieue, others from the 7th arrondissement, some from Sciences Po [a preeminent research university]. I had written this movie after House of Tolerance, but the proposal for Saint Laurent came and I set it aside. But I feel like now is really the time to do it.

And to conclude, perhaps we can return to that phrase that I seem to have misinterpreted: “Cinema harms men.”

The answer would almost be in the character of Yves Saint Laurent. At a certain point we completely consume ourselves in doing things—it costs us a lot. At least it costs me a lot. That short film [Où en êtes vous Bertrand Bonello?] also speaks about the movies that I couldn’t make. And that’s a flame inside of me. When I say “cinema harms men” there is also this idea that it drives you mad. Because there is something megalomaniac in cinema—this mixture of art and industry—and it also harms the relationships that we have with other people.


11 of Bertrand Bonello’s 14 films
Quelque chose d’organique (1998)
‘Siberian characters wandering in an icy Montreal, a universe a bit autistic, a tone calmly desperate. Bertrand Bonello’s first secret film. It is hard to blame those whom this film repels. This is not a joke, but a sad and sad love story where all the characters have curious distant relations, including Paul (Laurent Lucas) and Marguerite (Romane Bohringer), married for five years, who are come to Montreal where they lead the lives of young people. While most films cultivate a mythical “viewer identification”, Bertrand Bonello began his career under paradoxical auspices, seemingly looking for exactly the opposite. Without Paul’s explanatory voice, we would not know who this mysterious young woman is (the wife), the sick child in a hospital (the son), and so on. The film is an illustration of the word “foreign”, declined in almost all its meanings. What unfolds before our eyes with a stubborn obstinacy is not society as we usually understand it, but a collection of individuals juxtaposed by a mere whim of chance and biological necessity, as the title suggests.’ — Vincent Ostria



Le Pornographe (2001)
‘Jacques Laurent (Jean-Pierre Léaud) made pornographic films in the 1970s and ’80s, but had put that aside for 20 years. His artistic ideas, born of the ’60s counter-culture, had elevated the entire genre. Older and paunchier, he is now directing a porno again. Jacques’s artistry clashes with his financially-troubled producer’s ideas about shooting hard-core sex. Jacques has been estranged from his son Joseph for years, since the son first learned the nature of the family business. They are now speaking again. Joseph and his friends want to recapture the idealism of 1968 with a protest. Separated from his wife, Jacques strives for personal renewal with plans to build a new house by himself…’ — David Carless




Tiresia (2003)
‘An early film by totally underestimated french director Bertrand Bonello. Tiresia is a biblic story from the start and evolves into one of the most radical criticism on christian culture and religion I have seen to date. It’s all about our desire to see everything, to know and to foresee anything, to force everything into existence. In doing so, we hide from our real desires which are represented in all the things we don’t want to see from now on: poverty, distress, all kinds of mutations, degenerations, people that are rejected by their presumed otherness. Tiresia tells us this story, how the emergence of modern european thought is dependent on it’s dark side: people we don’t see who are yet there. How the essence of our culture lies literally in the eye. Bonello’s cinematographic eyework serves this perfectly. This is like a Robert Bresson film for the new millenium.’ — Johannes/letterboxd




Cindy: The Doll Is Mine (2005)
‘If Cindy is, in the end, neither a school variation on Cindy Sherman, nor a fetishistic ceremony around Asia Argento, it is because the film is crossed, in a magisterial way, by an unforeseen event. The director of Pornographe and Tiresia thus begins to retain the American artist as his basic schizophrenia, his dual role as a photographer and model, putting himself in the scene in the most diverse situations and costumes. This gives two Asia Argento, one (brunette, male) directing the other (blonde, female) in a series of poses patiently chained in field / backlight.’ — Patrice Blouin

the entire film


My New Picture (2007)
‘A woman wearing a pair of headphones listens to music. Using their eyes and ears, the audience shares this sensory experience through the mental pictures generated by the music.’ — letterboxd



De la guerre (2008)
‘After spending a regrettable night in a coffin, Bertrand reviews his life and decides to withdraw to a remote, mysterious place, the Kingdom. He is welcomed by Uma, for whom the attaining of pleasure and joy amounts to a war to be waged against the modern world.’ — Cineuropa




House of Tolerance (2011)
‘The world of Bertrand Bonello’s fifth feature, House of Tolerance, is one where a thousand years of sleep doesn’t seem all that strange: Not many films have ever approached the possibilities afforded by the slippery subjectivity of cinematic time so directly, or with such intelligence. An obvious fact: From the very first cut, the cinema’s project of overcoming time has endured, only varying in the intensity of its discoveries. One finds it no less in the montage of Porter and Griffith, where time was first made to double back to meet the demands of the space of the movie screen, than in the discrete durations of Roberto Rossellini or Max Ophüls, where the triangular relationship between the shot, filmic convention, and the continuity of lived experience was exploited to achieve a sort of synecdochal forgery-representation of time. Bonello’s achievement in House of Tolerance continues the line of inquiry set in motion by Hou Hsiao-hsien’s films of the 1990s, a synthesis of the aforementioned dominant strains that’s then extended by being triangulated itself with our, i.e., each individual member of the audience’s, conception of history.’ — Slant Magazine


Interview Bertrand Bonello for House of Tolerance


Ingrid Caven, musique et voix (2012)
‘Ingrid Caven offers a rich repertoire of songs in French, German and occasionally English; at times, she dispenses with words and simply plays with sounds.’ — IMDb

NYFF Press Conference: Ingrid Caven: Music and Voice

Conversa com Ingrid Caven, Bertrand Bonello


Saint Laurent (2014)
‘In the penultimate scene of Bertrand Bonello’s “Saint Laurent,” the year is 1977 and a group of French journalists are informed of rumors that the titular designer has died. Upon hearing this, they quickly begin readying his obituary and formulating a headline. The group all rattle off quick and humorous soundbites to summarize the life and career of the couturier. He turns out to be very much alive, their attempts at writing him off proving unnecessary. This seems akin to the approach a lot of filmmakers take when making biopics; make a condensed and accessible package of the greatest hits of a well-known person’s life. Bertrand Bonello realizes the futility of trying to fully encompass someone’s life and identity. The film is a different breed to the onslaught of recent Oscar-winning biopics like “The Imitation Game” or “The Theory of Everything,” which seem to operate out of a misguided nobility to honor their subject with a definitive statement, brushing over any unpleasantries or ambiguities. “Saint Laurent” thrives on these tantalizing ambiguities, playfully mixing fact with fiction.’ — Clint Holloway



Anatomy of a Scene w/ Director Bertrand Bonello


Nocturama (2016)
‘To waste no time: Bertrand Bonello’s Nocturama has nothing to say about either Nick Cave or the Bad Seeds, and, more crucially, is not a film about terrorism. Perhaps a strange assertion, the latter, given that the movie spends all 130 of its sublime, stomach-churning minutes in the company of a crew of young men and women who are in the process of executing a meticulously coordinated bomb attack on Paris. But here, as in Julia Loktev’s­ Day Night, Day Night (2006) and Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves (2013)—two other semi-recent arthouse films that showed terrorism but were ultimately more concerned with matters pertaining to the psychology of paranoia, the fundamental complexity of morality, and the aura of their respective landscapes—ideology as a question or line of enquiry is provocatively mitigated in favour of purer, more abstract, and affective expressions. This isn’t to say that ideology is absent in Nocturama; on the contrary, it’s everywhere—all-encompassing, total, and final—and yet the film’s reticence toward obviously stating a position, its profound ambivalence toward passing the judgment on radicalism that a post-Hebdo and post-Bataclan audience perhaps desires, is glaring and improbably bold. So much so that our efforts to access it must re-route and search for alternative entry points if we are to be able to answer the question of what this movie even is.’ — Blake Williams



‘Nocturama’ Q&A


Sarah Winchester, opéra fantôme (2016)
‘An opera ballet that doesn’t exist. A ghost-like piece, played in Opera Bastille and danced at Opera Garnier, An almost mystical link between both scenes, A musician is testing sounds in Bastille’s pit, The choir are taking their place in the rehearsal studio, Both sides are fine tuning the work in progress of an opera ballet : SARAH WINCHESTER, her grief, her madness, her home and her ghosts.’ — IMDb

the entire film




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Same with people I know. I don’t know Freedomland, but you know I’m going to investigate the hell out of it. Thanks. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi, Dóra! No, I am not yet paid. That ugly saga continues. I’m glad the book festival was at least all right even at its lowest points. I guess you’re back to your job’s usual duties again now? I’m not sure when the Interview piece will run. Quite soon, I think. I’ll give out a link when it’s online. The Torino festival … it was cool being there. The festival workers were really nice. Our film was, as expected, a real weirdo in that particular festival, but the people who came to see it seemed to like it. But the festival itself? For instance, on the last day Zac and I saw this film ‘Hard Paint’. We both thought it was absolute epitome of a mediocre queer film, boring film school directing, so-so acting, obvious dialogue, lots of bare chests, a couple of ‘sexy’ non-XXX sex scenes, hit all the right buttons (interracial love, gender fluidity, online cam sex, etc). A total shrug of a film. We were, like, ‘Why do they even keep making films like that?’ That night we went to the festival’s closing ceremony, and what won the festival’s Best Film grand prize? ‘Hard Paint’. Good to see you! ** Sypha, Hi. Gotcha, I’ve added the link to the post. ** Misanthrope, Thanks, G. It was fun. I had never been to Torino before, so that was interesting. Oh, I’m sure I’ve lazily and thoughtlessly and probably referred to them as kids here too. What kind of massage? There are a lot of different types? Obviously, I say go for it. I mean, duh, why not? ** JM, Hi, man. That’s interesting. I guess I have this barely thought out idea that emotionally intensive performing would be like going to the gym for your insides or something. My email address is … Thanks in advance for the script. It might take me a bit to read it given my swamping workload at this moment, but I’ll look forward to it. And thank you about ‘Guide’. That novel was kind of a big breakthrough for me as a writer, I think. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. I hope Caitlin is still around out there somewhere and saw your comment. Oh, I’ll go see if I can find your Viz Profanisaurus Day and determine if I still have the makings for it on my hard drive. Did you get you computer issues sorted, I hope? ** Steve Erickson, Hi. I only barely know Paul Vecchiali’s films. I’ll investigate further. Settled with the producer, no? Demands have been made, and we’re waiting to find out when she’ll meet them, and how soon she does will determine the project’s future. Yeah, always check Bandcamp, I say. I go there pretty much first, as you know. ** Jesse, Hi, Jesse! Oh, limerence, very nice. Thanks a lot! ** Dom Lyne, Hey, Dom. Yeah, exactly, about the back stories, etc. In Zac’s and my films, we think of the characters as only existing when they’re onscreen. They don’t have other lives. If they don’t mention doing something that isn’t depicted, they were just disappeared and nonexistent outside of the film. Characters’ backstories are a slippery slope into conventionality and predicability. They also take viewers out of the film. We want people to be as immersed as possible in what they’re seeing with no predetermined exits. Yeah, I don’t believed in the pressure one puts on oneself to make/write something, or rather I don’t think it’s a positive or helpful thing. Artists who make things only because and when they want and/or need to are the ones who make the strongest art, I think. Good talking with you, buddy. Happy Thursday. ** Brendan, Hey, pal. It was cool too get too share that ride with you, man. Really, WOOZ really was boring? That’s too bad. Of course I was hoping it was just too complex for and over the heads of stupid Americans or something. Oh, well. I guess California used to have a lot of cheap, raw real estate and didn’t used to be boiling hot all the time and … ? But, yeah, it’s true. Take good care, B. ** Right. We’re caught up. Please spend the local portion of your day checking out the curious and sometimes really excellent works of the interesting French filmmaker Bertrand Bonello, won’t you? See you tomorrow.


  1. JM

    In some ways, emotionally intensive performing is similar to gym-for-the-insides! But it can also be really healthy and relaxing. Sometimes I come home from it and feel really clear. I’m pretty aware that this might be the hardest role I’ve done, though, and I’ve made an effort to cut loose a little and nail the affect rather than the portrayal of the role. If this makes sense. It might sound counterintuitive but it makes sense to me. I’ll be starting Period tomorrow. Saying goodbye to the Miles cycle will be rough, but it also means I’ll finally get around to cracking open that doorstop War and Peace… and hopefully finishing it. I’ve sent the LoG script to your email. No worries about length-of-reading! I reckon it’s about an hour-long in-your-head read (it took us two hours at our table read in character) for a proficient reader which… I’d assume you are, haha.


  2. David Ehrenstein

    Paul Vecchiali is one of the very greatest, but least known, of all French filmmakers. His “Corps a Coeur” (aka. “Drugstore Romance”) is my very favorite. Incredibly moving. He’s famed for making films so cheaply that a few times he’s made his on the “advance sur recette” alone. In Pasolini’s “Salo” the action comes to a halt at one point as Sonia Saviange and Helene Surgere — two of Vecchiali’s favorite actresses — so a scene from one of his little masterpieces “Femmes Femmes” Vecchiali’s greatest filmmaking passion was Danielle Darrieux and he was famed fro owning the largest collections of stills of Darrieux that anyone has ever scene. He finally got to direct her in “En Haut des Marches.”

    He posts frequently on Facebook.

    Bonello’s “Saint Laurent” is exquisite, particularly for this great scene

  3. Sypha

    Okay Dennis, thanks.

    I almost asked you as well to remove a sentence from my segment (where I explained what my interpretation of my story was, or what I felt the meaning of the story was), but changed my mind and decied to leave as is. That wasn’t even in there at first, and was only added in later… my friend Justin (who co-edited the book and also has a story in it) gave a copy to his dad (an old guy, a retiree, who I guess is really Catholic and ultra-right-wing), and his dad got back to him with super detailed reviews of each story, most of which he hated: my story in particular he shit all over on, and despite the fact that his dad is obviously well-read and literate (his reviews showed familiarity with the French Decadents, for example), I found it bizarre that he completely and utterly missed the point of my story, seeing it as exploitative. So that’s why I felt the need to explain my motivations for writing it a bit more. I really hate doing that, though. One thing I loved about Whitehouse’s old records was they didn’t give the listener any sort of context for their art at all, leaving it up to the listener to take this ugly material and form their own conclusions. You know?

  4. Steve Erickson

    There are a bunch of artists I’m trying to track down out-of-print music by: the mid 1980s indie rock Breaking Circus’ two EPs and album for Homestead, the 2 albums for American Recordings by doom metal band Trouble (it says something that these are unavailable but all the music they made for indie labels is in print!), the albums Slovenly made for SST, the Bizarros’ album for Mercury. The individual tracks I want from Breaking Circus and Trouble are up on YouTube, but I don’t want to download them song by song and then assemble the albums as iTunes playlists. They’re not in Bandcamp; I checked both artists. (There’s another Trouble who have music on Bandcamp. I think he’s a dance music producer.) I don’t know about Slovenly. In the case of the Bizarros, they also released a lot of music in the late ’70s on their own Clone label and there’s a lengthy compilation subtitled 1976-1980 available on iTunes, but I don’t know if it includes the Mercury album or just their indie releases. When I get my check from the Nation for my Flatbush Zombies review, I plan to download a few intriguing post-punk releases off iTunes, like that Bizarros collection, Tuxedomoon’s first album and Cherry Red’s compilation of the Glaxo Babies’ 1979-1980 material.

    Film critic Mike D’Angelo recently said on Twitter that we’re getting close to the days when people called for the Hays Code to punish all criminals and “evil” people in movies so that spectators knew exactly what the filmmakers thoughts about them. The idea that people whose attitudes and actions that have negative consequences could nevertheless be attractive in some ways seems to be increasingly seen as dangerous, even if signposting “TOXIC MASCULINITY” every time, for instance, Jake LaMotta appears in RAGING BULL is really disrespectful towards the audience and lessens the film’s artistic complexity. This came up on social media when writer Anthony Swofford recently blamed FULL METAL JACKET and R. Lee Ermey’s performance in it for his desire to join the Army in a New York Times editorial.

    Good luck getting the producer around to your page. I guess you’ll find out tomorrow?

    • Steve Erickson

      Weirdly, Trouble’s MANIC FRUSTRATION can be downloaded from Amazon on MP3 for $5.99, although their used CD prices begin at $25 and iTunes isn’t selling it as a download.

  5. Dóra Grőber


    Welcome back!! It’s very good to see you too!!
    I’m glad the ‘PGL’-related bits of the festival were rewarding but… yeah, this Best Film grand prize says a lot about the event in general. Of course, I haven’t seen ‘Hard Paint’, or not yet, so I don’t have a solid opinion about it but I can fully believe how alien ‘PGL’ must have felt among such “easy to swallow” movies… I tend to love aliens the best, though.

    The situation with your lacking payment is completely absurd at this point. Are you going on a strike next week, then? (Though I still hope that some miracle happens and you get paid tomorrow…)

    Yeah, I’m back to my usual duties. I’m really tired now, I desperately need a weekend full of free-style and lazing around. Luckily, I finish at 4 tomorrow (instead of 6) so there’s only a little more to go!
    How was your first day back home? I hope you’re well!!

  6. Chris Dankland

    Hi dennis !!

    I just heard your latest permanent green light interview w/ zac, and I enjoyed it a lot – I’m so psyched to see your movie !! it was cool to hear zac speak English – I was surprised that he doesn’t really have a French accent at all

    Congratulations about the tv show as well !! and the biography !! so much cool stuff going on, it’s very exciting to be a dennis cooper fan these days.

    Thank u for the xray compliments, and thank u greatly for the facebook likes and support, it always gives me and Jennifer a psychic caffeine boost for the day. It was funny when we moved in together to see my giant pile of DC books meet her giant pile of DC books and form like Voltron into a mega-stack. Now we have multiple copies for most things. Your books were one of the initial orbits that linked us together.

    What would you think about me putting together an xray post for the blog? We’d really like to send out the message to the blog’s readers that we’re open for submissions.

    Things are going great with me – I got a job as a teacher’s aide in a special needs class and have been working with a 14 year old teen who is autistic. He’s very sweet. He doesn’t really talk except for a small vocabulary of basic phrases. He’s so soft spoken that you have to lean in close to hear what he says. A lot of the time he wears headphones because hearing a lot of talking or crosstalk agitates him. He enjoys watching sesame street videos on his ipad – he’ll get obsessed with moments from certain videos and rewatch them over and over and over, like a two or three second scene. It’s difficult to have a conversation with him, but at times I can coax one or two word replies to questions.

    I’ve taught in special needs classes before – one of my cousins is special needs – so it’s not anything that I’m unfamiliar with, although I haven’t been in a special needs class for months at a time like this. I wouldn’t want to teach special needs as a career, but it’s a very interesting kind of job and I’m enjoying doing this for now.

    Sometimes I wonder if having autism isn’t a little bit like tripping on acid, in the sense that the brain’s editor disappears and you get so overwhelmed with a chaotic swarm of ideas, feelings, and mixed up sensory impressions that it’s very difficult or almost impossible to interact with the outside world or verbalize anything. I wonder if that’s something similar to the default experience of many people with autism.

    Thanks also for the GBV suggestions, I especially liked those EPs you mentioned. I’m not sure how this routine started, but i’ve been listening to GBV on every 20 minute drive to work and every drive back for months now, I’ve been making great strides through their catalog.

    Hope everything is going good with you !! thank u for the Bonello introduction, I’ll try to watch one of those movies sometime !! the collection of stills are so good

    Take care !!

  7. Brendan

    Yes it was nice to share a ride with you too! WOOZ might have been complex and over the heads of stupid Americans, but I was like 10, and not exactly an intellectual titan. So take my opinion with those caveats. Love, B.

  8. _Black_Acrylic

    My computer angst is nearing resolution, as the 3rd party Amazon seller is willing to give a refund for the malfunctioning laptop. If I order the replacement from the Apple Store online on Monday then it gets here for Tuesday and I can DJ at the Yuck ‘n Yum Compendium launch on Thursday.

    The Generator have ordered hundreds of black and white balloons for the event, and Morgan has done the same for the gallery opening in Seattle. On the night there’ll be a live video link between the two locations, so we’re hoping the identical decorations will make for a nice touch. Vinyl text for the wall outside the gallery has been ordered, the musical acts have agreed timings and I’ve volunteered to compere the thing too. Morgan and Alex both arrived in Seattle today and here is a picture of them.

  9. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Welcome back. I’m glad you had fun. Just the name of the city makes it sound fun.

    Yeah, “kids.” I’ve decided I’m gonna keep using it. 😛

    I was thinking deep tissue massage because I work out a lot. That was recommended to me by a few others who work out too. Probably won’t get to do it until next weekend or the weekend after.

    I promised a friend I’d go see I Feel Pretty or A Quiet Place with her this weekend. Then I’ll be seeing the new Avengers movie next weekend.

    Then again, I should check to see if this place has Sunday hours. If so, I’ll be there this weekend. Maybe.

  10. Kyler

    Hi Dennis, it’s that time of night with wine and cig that I contemplate writing to you. Sometimes too much wine, but not tonight. Thanks for your last words to me on tribulations never ending if you want to do things the way you want. Totally relate and I think about your words throughout the day. Latest news is that I haven’t heard back from the agent at all, after writing a really nice letter to her. My friends are outraged at this. She just hasn’t answered me before the letter or after. I’m really so relieved I’m going with my publisher and I’m looking forward to that. I’ll keep you posted and maybe we can do a day on it when it’s pubbed, hopefully in the fall. Feeling really good about doing it the way I want with hopefully a minimum of “tribulations.” So sorry you haven’t been paid yet. That sucks. Wishing you better luck with it very soon!

  11. Steve Erickson

    The new Sleep album is really an impressive slice of doom metal, with a willingness to stay busy on a riff and pound away on the drums until every last ounce of heaviness can be derived from it, and the lyrics are pretty funny. I wonder if they are still really as over-the-top weed-obsessed in everyday life as songs like “Marijuanaut’s Theme” claim.

  12. Nik

    Hey D!

    How was your trip man? Also, I’m kind of desperately hoping that the payment thing is figured out by now, no?
    I saw Nocturama on Netflix maybe three months ago, and I remember not really being able to get that into it. I was just getting into Bresson at the time (which came along with it’s own bag of miniature traumas) and it seemed a little bit like a not-so fully realized take on that style. I might have to check it out again though, or is there a better movie of his to start with?
    I also read above that you watched a total “mediocre queer film” that won some big prize, and I have pretty much all the same grievances right now with Temple’s Side Stage theater board. Because I’m leaving it wasn’t the biggest deal in the world, but I watched them pick their season based on wether the playwright was male or female without even going so far as to google the script!!! It goes to show how lazy this criteria is, and it’s really upsetting to think that this sort of bullshit really runs these sorts of festivals. I’d actually ended up finishing “Woodcutters” after the meeting, coincidentally, so it made for a pretty overwhelming experience.
    Also, not to ramble, but how has writing been going? Today is the first day I really felt like I’ve wanted to work seriously on writing again for the past few months, so process is super on my mind right now. Have a great weekend!

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