Hal Hartley Hearts Terrence Malick

As a huge fan of Hal Hartley’s The Unbelievable Truth, Trust, Simple Men, and Henry Fool, I can’t wait to see his Henry Fool sequel, Fay Grim. Here he is talking about it with to Choire Sicha in a special for The LA Times:

Sicha: It’s a crucial component to “Fay Grim” that Fay goes off and becomes involved with the drama of Europe.

Hartley: I wanted Fay to be the representative American of a certain type: well-intentioned but ill-informed. This is a story of her getting tossed into the wider world, and hearing and learning about all the complexity at a political level. And she’s sort of being a stand-in for people like me — as hard as I try to understand everything, I never trust that I have a real good grip on it.

Sicha: What movies are you looking at?

Hartley: I’ve been re-watching Terrence Malick films — “The New World” and “The Thin Red Line” — a lot recently. I’m very moved by those.

Sicha: With Malick, it’s amazing how he has no one speak — but that’s very, very different from you, even as your interest in verbal comedy has changed.

Hartley: His last four features over the last 40 years have been like that. He can think that way. He makes the images and language as two separate strands. “The New World” was a real masterpiece. The kind of scenes I make now — I might not even be the best person to detail what the changes are. I do remember in the earlier films, I really built everything on dialogue. It was dialogue as action. Everything had to do with the words, misunderstandings, and inspired by a wide range of things — the plays of Molière, which were very helpful to me in my early years. Then Preston Sturges movies, or Howard Hawks. Then as the years went on, I wanted to outgrow that approach.


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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.