For a filmmaker, being lost in the woods of development or financing is never fun. We always lament the absence of a filmmaker who’s spent far too much time away from the game trying to get a labor-of-love project off the ground (you can see examples of such features here, here and here); the purgatory must be a frustrating type of hell.
One filmmaker who hasn’t made a feature-length effort in seven years is Larry Clark of “Kids” fame. While he’s clearly worked in the interim -- he made some shorts in the portmanteau pictures "Destricted" (2006) and "42 One Dream Rush" (2009) -- his last feature was 2005’s “Wassup Rockers,” which saw the often controversial director deliver another film based on the teenage experience, but one in a more jovial mood.
The 69-year-old’s latest, “The Marfa Girl” (read our review here), just made its world debut at the Rome International Film Festival, and once again the film tracks this favorite subject: teenagers trying to navigate through the confusing period of adolescence, this time set in Marfa, Texas (the same location as the final James Dean pic "Giant" and the location of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood”).
What about "El Santo," about a boy in L.A. who runs out on an abusive family, originally titled "Wild Child," then “Savage Innocent,” that was to star Ray Liotta, Rory Culkin, and Dakota Johnson? Clark was unclear whether the original cast is still attached, but said the movie could shoot in Mexico next year. There’s also the wonderfully titled “The Smell Of Us” -- the idea stemming from poet Mathieu Landais whom he met during an exhibition in Paris -- which Clark said may shoot in in France next year. “It’s a French film that may shoot this winter,” he said. “Made in Paris and in French. I was supposed to shoot it this fall, but they didn’t quite have the financing ready in time. So we’ll see if that happens.”
Making headlines in 2009 was Clark's mooted remake of Neil Jordan's 1980s Brit gangster pic "Mona Lisa" starring Bob Hoskins and Michael Caine, which was to star Mickey Rourke as the ex-gangster who falls in love with a prostitute played by Eva Green. (Heresy, you say? Here’s a good interview with Clark explaining his intentions on why he’d bother remaking this ‘80s classic). Well, don’t get too excited: it’s dead. “It’s not happening,” he said bluntly.
What is in the works however is a trilogy based on the “Marfa Girl” films. “Well, the future project is ‘Marfa Girl 2.’ This was shot when [the lead actor] Adam [Mediano] was 16, on his birthday,” Clark said. “And he’s one day older than [the film’s co-star] Mercedes [Maxwell] and they’ve known each other since they were eight years old. But when I cast them, I didn’t even know they knew each other.”
Without spoiling the film, Clark said there’s many cliffhangers in the picture and many ways certain endings of the film could go, hence the planned sequels. “So, on his 17th birthday, I’m shooting the second film, and on his 18th birthday, I’ll shoot the third one. It’s a trilogy with him and Mercedes, and the Marfa Girl will likely come back.”
Well, after seven years in the woods, it looks like Larry Clark is back with gusto. More from our interview in Rome soon. -- Interview by Jessica Kiang.