Fabio Frizzi’s Film Jukebox

Fabio Frizzi (live in concert)

Italian maestro Fabio Frizzi is the composer of film scores for cult horror films including The Beyond and Zombie Flesh Eaters, and his brooding, synth-powered compositions are amongst the most memorable of the entire genre. On 29 October 2016, Frizzi returns to London’s Union Chapel for an evening of Chills in the Chapel, a show that includes new orchestrations of his scores for cult films by Lucio Fulci, mixed with explorations of his work outside of his longstanding collaboration with the Italian director. Below, Fabio Frizzi discusses his 10 favourite films.

1. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)
My favourite film, at least to date, is this great parable of human existence. I’ve seen it many times in all the various versions, and I love that there is always something new to discover. Some films have the ability to teach you something, or give you something important to think about. These are the movies I love the most. For this reason, Blade Runner is my number one, and the soundtrack by Vangelis was hugely important and inspiring for me.

2. Play It Again, Sam (Herbert Ross, 1972)
Play it Again, Sam confirmed my adoration for Woody Allen’s work. Despite having a very different background and life experiences compared to mine, there are many things I relate to. There is his passion for good music, and having some familiarity with psycho-analysis and an ironic (often self-deprecating) approach to things in life. I found the main character irresistible, and it was wonderfully directed by Herbert Ross. From this moment, and for a long time now, I’ve been a big fan of Woody Allen.

3. Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973)
A surreal film which feels like a balance between a dream and reality, as with a lot of Federico Fellini’s work. As a boy I often spent holidays in Romagna and moments of the film played on my memories (the title actually means ’remember’ in local dialect), and this captivated me. I saw the film on the big screen and many characters reminded me of people I knew as a child.

4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
This film really unites different generations of fans. It’s a big production but you simply can’t forget those actors or that classic score. The story mixes action and archaeology and is able to grab even the most distracted viewer. One of those rare movies you can go back and re-watch time and again.

5. Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone, 1984)
A great Italian film, directed by someone I knew well. Fulvio, my father, was a man of the cinema and a close friend of the great Sergio Leone. Much of the crew were Italian with a team of mostly American actors, and it was a very high profile production at that time. The result is an extraordinary and intense movie experience. It’s a film I’ve seen many times, always discovering new details. Huge artistic credit should go to Ennio Morricone, who enriched the epic story with his beautiful musical score.

6. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
Another fantastic film, in fact this ‘Film Jukebox’ is making me do a real examination of my own conscience! Who hasn’t dreamed about travelling back in time, to see how their parents lived as young people? Plus, we all want a friend like Doc, a bit of the crazy type, but the perfect companion. Back to the Future is another film that never gets old and you can watch again and again.

7. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
When we are small we love fairy tales. Forrest Gump is a beautiful fairy tale with a happy ending that captures your imagination every time. As usual, the actors are absolutely crucial and here Tom Hanks is a real showman. I like how his incredible journey in time is punctuated by big moments in life. It makes you forget where you are and live through that little boy’s experience with a box of chocolates. Finally, the musical score is beautiful, and I always admired the work of Alan Silvestri.

8. Face/Off (John Woo, 1997)
Among the many thrillers I’ve seen (a genre I’m very passionate about) this is the one I love the most. What fascinates me in this kind of sci-fi inspired story is the huge range of both characters, the good guy becomes the bad guy and vice versa. This works well because of the great performances from both Nicolas Cage and John Travolta.

9. Sliding Doors (Peter Howitt, 1998)
What appealed to me about this film, in addition to the great production style and Gwyneth Paltrow’s performance, is the venture into a totally surreal territory. Life can change, completely, if just one event turns out differently, if the light turns red or the doors of the subway close before we can jump on. The theme of fate fascinates me and this film made me really reflect on living life to the fullest.

10. Cast Away (Robert Zemeckis, 2000)
This is a regular theme of discussion, especially between friends: what if you were trapped on a desert island? A fascinating answer comes from this beautiful Robert Zemeckis film with Tom Hanks. I am fascinated that, for much of the film, the protagonist lives in total isolation. This whole experience is a monologue with the psychological aspects varying continuously between highs and lows. It’s a story that focuses on our fears and the desire to fight back and the extraordinary power within each of us.

One More Time with Feeling: Interview with Andrew Dominik

One More Time with Feeling

Seen at Venice International Film Festival, Venice (Italy)

Format: Cinema

Release date: 8 September 2016

Distributor: Picturehouse Entertainment

Director: Andrew Dominik

UK, France 2016

112 mins

The Australian filmmaker talks about working with Nick Cave, directorial tactics and his favourite song from the new Bad Seeds album.

For one night only, on 8 September 2016, Andrew Dominik’s beautifully moving and sad documentary will give audiences around the world a special opportunity to hear songs from Skeleton Tree, the latest album from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, and see a glimpse of how it got made. The project originally started off purely as a promotional film to support the album release, but ultimately turned into something bigger, much bolder and undeniably richer, mainly driven by the emotional trauma Nick Cave found himself in after the death of his 15-year-old son Arthur in July 2015.

Like Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s recent documentary 20,000 Days on Earth, which offered an intriguing and highly original look at Cave’s life, One More Time with Feeling is anything but a standard take on the great artist and his irresistibly captivating music. From experimenting with mixing 2D and 3D black-and-white cinematography, to the shrewd staging of the songs, and Cave’s magnetising voiceover, Dominik (Killing Them Softly) manages to not only capture the artist at work but encourages him to gradually open up about his emotions and the sheer bewilderment and haunting grief that surrounds him and his family since the terrible ‘accident’ (a word that Cave himself doesn’t use easily). The result is illuminating and as deeply affecting as the music itself: fragile, fragmented, powerful and utterly poignant to its hauntingly dark core.

Pamela Jahn talked to Andrew Dominik at the Venice Film Festival earlier this week, where the film had its world premiere.

Pamela Jahn: The original brief for this documentary was quite different to the final film. How did it come about?

Andrew Dominik: Basically, the original idea was to just do some sort of live event that would be shown in a bunch of theatres, but Nick didn’t want to do it, maybe because he thought it was too much pressure, and so they decided to make a film instead. And he originally just asked me if I’d shoot the songs from the record, like a performance or something. But that would have only added up to 35 minutes, so we had to put other stuff into this, and what that other stuff would be we didn’t really know. It all happened quite organically. I knew obviously that the film had to deal with the trauma, because that was really the only thing that was happening, or that was the thing that was under everything. It was just a question of how directly we would deal with it, because as a friend, you don’t want to go too much into it, but as a filmmaker you’ve got to try to get to the subject matter at hand, and I kind of felt that that’s what he wanted me to do, that that’s my job, and so that’s what I did. And then the film took shape little by little. I came up with the idea of the voiceover, because Nick’s life is this swirl of activity, but at the centre of that he disappears into whatever goes on inside him, and I felt like we needed that to be expressed. But I didn’t want it to be polished. Nick is always controlling and I wanted to get in the way of that, so he could reveal himself.

Did you have any arguments?

Yes, all the time.

About what?

Nick doesn’t like to wait around, and he didn’t. For example, when we were going [to the studio] to shoot overdubs, he wouldn’t tell me when exactly he’s going in to do a take, because they’re trying to fool themselves that they are not working. It’s more like, they’re going to do something that happens to be recorded. Because he doesn’t want to deliver anything, he just wants something to happen. But you can imagine from an organisational point of you that’s a fucking nightmare, when the guys are not even going to tell you when it’s happening. And especially with 3D, everything is difficult. Even if you just want to change a lens, it takes an hour. So all I wanted from him was some indication about what’s going to happen during the day, and he wouldn’t give it to me.

At some point early on in the film Nick asks you, ‘Is this some sort of directorial tactic?’ – Was that true, did you actually have a tactic when it came to directing him?

I do believe in difficulty, I believe in making things difficult for people, because they reveal themselves when you do that. But it’s not malicious or deliberate. I don’t try to manipulate people but I am naturally manipulative, depending on the person. You have to basically adapt yourself to every person that you deal with. Nick, for example, is very suspicious, he’s not trusting necessarily, and he’s a very impatient person and he sees all sides of things. He’s actually a relief to deal with because he’s really bright and he understands what you’re doing structurally. But at the same time, Nick is anxious because he wants to get to the studio to start working on the record, and he’s got to wait around because we’re fucking working out this camera in the car, so at that point you mentioned there, he was serious. He thought I was trying to slow him down to provoke a reaction from him, although I wasn’t.

The title is part of a song from the new album. Whose idea was that?

It was my idea. It’s just a superstition really. I looked at all the music documentaries and all the ones that were good, the title was an action: Don’t Look Back, Shut Up and Play the Hits. So we just went through the songs and this one seemed to make sense.

How do you perceive Nick Cave has changed since what happened?

He’s like Nick, but more so. He says himself that he’s a lot more compassionate. I think he always was compassionate, but he used to be a very armed person, he was never afraid of making things difficult for other people and I think he’s a lot less like that now. And he’s a very ambivalent person, but I am not sure that’s changed, but he’s certainly much more patient with people than he used to be.

It’s said in the film that women are more 3D. Do you agree?

Yes. There is much more depth to women than men. And also, when you are dealing with actresses, they have a lot more speed. If they were like a bike, men have got three speeds and women have got like 15 speeds.

Was it clear from the beginning that Nick’s wife Susie would talk to you as well, and be in the film?

No, and it took a little bit of convincing. But I thought, his family is his life, I mean he goes on tour but at the end of the day he’s a family man, and every time you talk to Nick half of what he says is about Susie and the kids. So it didn’t really seem possible to make a film about Nick without including Susie. Also because what happened didn’t only affect Nick and it didn’t just affect Susie and Earl, it affected everyone. So to not hear from them would have been weird, I think, because it happened to them.

Which track from the new album is your favourite?

I think I like Jesus Alone the most, the first one. Because it’s real, I mean, they’re actually recording it as we shoot it, and the other songs are performed. So purely the one I think I captured the best was that one, probably. But I do like them all really, because ultimately they all mean different things to me.

Interview by Pamela Jahn

Skeleton Tree is released worldwide on 9 September 2016.

Watch the trailer: