Hal Hartley – INTERVIEW

90’s independant cinema’s icon, Hal Hartley wrote and directed the “Long Island Trilogy” (The Unbelievable Truth, Trust, Simple Men) rerunning today.
We met him in Deauville where Trust was awarded in 1991.

Interview and text by Jacques Braunstein and Theo Bosschaert
Images Franck Lebraly and Lisa Muratore

Reading time 4 min.

Hal Hartley

Interview

Dark humour, monastic gravity, screwball comedies’ dialogues, for about 30 years, Hal Hartley fed the independent American cinema with his singularity. Heir to the radicalism of Cassavetes but influenced by the Hollywood golden age, its fiddly writing, its still shots with jerky choreographs, constitute his identity.  He rekindled his genre in the 90’s with the “Long Island Trilogy” (The Unbelievable Truth, Trust, Simple Men), perfect representations of the simplicity, the efficiency of his oeuvre.

Such as Whit Stillman or Atom Egoyan, other 90’s staples, his work has been shadowed. Only his first second trilogy film (Henry Fool) was distributed in France. Death sentence to any independent American filmmaker. Sentence that never felt on Tarantino nor the Cohen brothers. Even in the author American cinema, action is expected equally in France and the United States. But Hartley’s films aged well, it even enriched. The optimism and minimalism of his movies could influence positively the new Sundance generation, miserabilistic and flashy.

In the last years, Hal Hartley directed e few episodes on the excellent Red Oaks (Amazon) produced by the troublemaker David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Prince of Texas, Halloween…). Around a conversation, Hartley remembers his discussions with Quentin and Steven (Tarantino and Soderbergh), showing his proximity with the most talented minds of his generation.

Heir to the radicalism of Cassavetes

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