I am not aware of very many great movies that treat physical/emotional abuse in impoverished inner city homes as anything more than a personal character conflict meant to be overcome, instead of truly exploring the feelings of being trapped and degraded within. I hope that the film Precious can accomplish the latter, because it has been receiving considerable buzz from the Toronto International and Sundance Film Festivals, where it won many audience and panel awards, and appears to be one of the better films coming out this year (November 6th, to be exact).
And so Coming Soon has a very interesting interview with the film’s director, Lee Daniels, who has also produced Monster’s Ball and The Woodsman in the past. He discusses his childhood in Philadelphia, which serves as some inspiration for directing the film, his methodology, and the previous films that he has worked on. Here’s an excerpt:
CS: Between all the stuff you’ve produced–“Monster’s Ball,” “The Woodsman”–and now this, there is always some element of heavy drama or heavy subject matters. There’s always some amount of lightness and humor, but I’m curious what attracts you to such tough material.
Daniels: I don’t know. I think maybe just like watching… I remember… this is a first, I’m going to tell you this story. I remember downtown Philly going in and seeing “Pink Flamingos,” John Waters’ movie, and I remember… (starts laughing and clapping hands as he remembers) I remember going back with my mother and my aunt and watching their faces and they were like (laughs hysterically)… and I remember the feeling that I had…
CS: How old were you at the time?
Daniels: I was 18? 17? 16?
CS: Old enough to get into “Pink Flamingos” in the theaters obviously.
Daniels: I don’t know even when it came out, but it was definitely… I don’t know. I was a couple years out of high school. So I just remember how iconoclastic it was, and how bold it was, and I don’t know that it’s my favorite film, but it had an effect on me that it was just like he was doing his thing. He was doing his thing. Like “You know what? F*ck everybody else, I’m doing my thing!” And I loved that people could just do their thing, because every movie that I’d seen had a formula, and a happy ending! What I loved about the film was that I didn’t know what it was! But it was… and so for me, it had a very lasting impression on… I mean, I don’t know want to have someone scooping up (dog sh*t).
CS: But it effected you.
Daniels: Yeah, of course. Like what is this?!?