Six years after The Brown Bunny, Gallo is now close to completing a new film, Promises Written in Water. The work is self-financed. “It’s only a few hundred thousand dollars. It’s not a lot of money … it’s a lot but it’s not unbearable,” he says.
The film is about a beautiful young girl who is terminally ill. She decides not to go to the hospital or have treatment but to wait until the pain becomes unbearable – and then to end her life. Her one fear is what is going to happen to her body when she is dead. She wants to be cremated. She reaches out to a photographer she meets, asking him to make sure that her wish is fulfilled. He takes a job in a funeral home so that he has the experience to perform the cremation. It sounds morbid in the extreme. “What I have tried to do in this movie is to make choices as if this was the first movie ever made and not to buy into the story of what cinema should be,” explains Gallo. This means making the film on the hoof, without much in the way of preparation.
“I shoot a bunch of stuff – improvs, things when people don’t know they’re being filmed. I look at the footage and separate it into filters. The first category is anything that is beautiful, photographically … beautiful could be out of focus, it could be a mistake. Beautiful can be intentional. It can be just luck, it can be because the film is processed a little funnily … Now, I take the film and start to look at the people in the film and I want them to be beautiful. Again, beauty is relative. Beauty can be beautiful ugly. It can be the back of their heads … "
Continuity editing is deliberately askance. Characters don’t wear the same costumes from scene to scene. The director wanted the film to be “honest”. He didn’t want his cast to “perform” but instead demanded that they behaved naturally on camera. They are mainly unknowns, although Sylvester Stallone’s son, Sage, appears.
“He was awful!” Gallo gasps. “I was off camera, screaming at him at the top of my lungs. Then afterward, I just cut out my voice and what was left was him answering these screaming questions – pick the phone up, put it down! – and what is left is this performance that is number one in cinema history. It opens the movie. It’s four minutes long – it’s just a miracle I have this scene.”
Whether we’ll ever get the chance to see Promises Written in Water is a moot point. Gallo made it for himself, not for the world at large. “I have no intention of expecting anyone to see it. I am so tuned into it that I can’t imagine if it will have the same impact for someone else who doesn’t know all the things I know.”
As long as Gallo is satisfied with the film himself, he says that will be enough. “Don’t take this the wrong way if you’re going to write about it. I am giving zero attention to what the audience thinks. It’s not that I resent them or don’t care about them. I feel that if I am going to make my best work, I have to take that attitude … I don’t care if it ever gets released, I don’t care if anyone ever likes it.”
Thanks for the thread. Hopefully Gallo will decide to release the film…
He’s rather eccentric isn’t he? He sounds like a narcissitic ass.
That fact that he chooses to develope in his own way, slowly and without much fanfare, in a hype-saturated world of cookie-cutter, by-the-numbers foolishness is commendable. A little respect, right?
Of course KJ, I offer no criticism of his work as I have seen none. From what I have read he seems to rather full of himself. I believe this man would fall under the trope of seperating the artist from his work.
Brown Bunny wasn’t much of a confidence builder ….
They all are, aren’t they? To believe that you have something to say that requires other people to invest large sums of capital in your fantasy; to seduce others still into being a part of your endeavor- actors, technicians, what have you; finally, to imagine that all this, once completed, is compelling enough for others to want to invest ninety minuets or more of their time experiencing the fruits of your labor. They’re all full of themselves. Hubris, among other qualities, is a necessary component of the job. Some, though, even possess humility and grace. We might think that hubris would cancel the other two. Not always.
I would consider this rather excessive:
I would make this a more tidy link but I don’t know all the tricks yet.
Of course. It’s complicated by his personality. I don’t know him. I’m reading, like you, impressions captured by a journalist. Sure, some who do know him don’t like him. Like I said, it’s complicated. As a director, he hasn’t cornered the market on that. Not by a long shot.
Both of Gallo’s films are pretty awesome in my opinion, but the dude is your stereotypical artist whose inspiration and style is based solely on his inability to find a middle ground between over confidence and total insecurity. He’s always going back and forth between the two and it explains his craziness to a certain degree. I’d love to watch this but from the way he’s described it, it sounds pretty stupid and I think he’s just falling further off the deep end.
KJ: “That fact that he chooses to develope in his own way, slowly and without much fanfare, in a hype-saturated world of cookie-cutter, by-the-numbers foolishness is commendable”
couldn’t one agree that because he gave that interview and said the things he said about his new film makes him fit that mold of “hype-saturated world of…”. the mere fact he said those things starts the hype. if he truly didn’t care to “not to buy into the story of what cinema should be”, then he wouldn’t explain his film. he would just make it. he wouldn’t talk about how different and beautifully on the spot it is. i say all this because he seems to say he is just making this for himself, but then is also saying “hey eveyone, look at what i did. it’s different”
i kind of agree with ben on the “narcissitic” line. seems like gallo just couldn’t help himself. he just had to express how this film is special.
i apologize if i seemed to hard on the guy. his new film does seem intriguing though.
I agree with both your statements. Thank you both for your input.
I wasn’t impressed with Buffalo ’66 but I do agree that Gallo is a clear example of separating the man from the artist. I’ve heard nothing but terrible, repulsive things about the man – his racism, homophobia, and narcissistic behavior. If Buffalo ’66 was half as good as he thinks it is, I might give him a pass. But it’s not that great of a movie and I remember seeing him on Howard Stern years ago, before I’d seen his film, and thought he was an absolute slimeball.
Having said that, I thought he was absolutely perfect for Tetro.
I think of Vincent Gallo the person as some kind of weird performance art installation. I can’t take anything he says at face value. This film looks insufferable though.
“The film is about a beautiful young girl who is terminally ill… Her one fear is what is going to happen to her body when she is dead…She reaches out to a photographer she meets, asking him to make sure that her wish is fulfilled.”
Le Feu Follet? Taste of Cherry? Nevermind..
Look, Vincent Gallo is the guy who once said; “I stopped painting in 1990 at the peak of my success just to deny people my beautiful paintings; and I did it out of spite”.
called Roger Ebert a “fat pig with the physique of a slave trader” and put a hex on Ebert, wishing him colon cancer.
He has stated that his fantasy is “becoming more like the stereotype of the Republican Party.” and has been seen at a New York fashion show with George W. Bush’s daughters Barbara and Jenna.
Whats not to hate about this wretched guy?
The way he describes the film it sounds great. I will have to see it first but I’m looking forward to it.
Don’t know him personally, don’t care about public personas.
He would interesting to talk to, even if all we talked about was him.
The new film sounds awesome. Gallo’s always a jerk in interviews, but what I like is he’s also a jerk in his films.
I like Gallo even through his egocentric tendencies…Self-proclaimers like him and Von Triers are great for cinema in my opinion because they keep people guessing…I’ll always keep an eye out for Gallo’s films ( I would also rank Buffalo 66 is one of the top american indies in the last while…)
Gallo can be brilliant (Buffalo 66)
Gallo can be awful ( The brown Bunny)
I think he needs structure and boundaries.
If he is given free reigns, the result will most likely be boring and meandering, like in the case of The Brown Bunny.
But if he’s given a limited amount of shooting days, given a fixed budget- given boundaries, in other words, the result can be genius, like in the case of Buffalo 66.
(The same thing with David Lynch- he had all the freedom in the world when he made “inland empire”-
he shot on dv- he could shoot for years and years and edit for years and years- and he made the worst film of his career. “Inland Empire” was a film better suited for art galleries.)
“Promises Written in Water” sounds, unfortunately, like it’s closer in spirit to “The Brown Bunny”, which is too bad.
cant wait to see this
an egomaniac with no talent…sad.
Would that mean he’s the arthouse answer to Jesus Franco?
the film’s premise is interesting in how it can create some dialogue( hopefully not too sparse) for the characters unlike Brown Bunny so I’m really looking forward to it.
Ulrich, it sounds like you’re the one who needs structure (when it comes to watching Gallo’s films). I would say that Gallo’s approach to narrative structure in The Brown Bunny is much more rewarding than a usual story arc. If you really think that The Brown Bunny’s spaced out sense of time is “meandering” then you are clearly missing the point. Think about it as a blurring of the line between everyday perception and story-telling perception. Is your longing for someone an exciting adventure with an arc, or is it more like the shots in The Brown Bunny: sitting alone in your car, driving, listening to music, eating alone, etc.?
This is still not listed on IMDB. WTF? Anybody hear anything. I imagine a 2010 release is out.
I haven’t heard anything about this project since the initial news either, although I did read an article that accused Gallo of basically hijacking the film from another director.
Here’s the article
Maybe he’s having some legal or financial issues. or this:
Whether we’ll ever get the chance to see Promises Written in Water is a moot point. Gallo made it for himself, not for the world at large. “I have no intention of expecting anyone to see it. I am so tuned into it that I can’t imagine if it will have the same impact for someone else who doesn’t know all the things I know.
The as posted by OP sounds interesting but hijacking a film is just low.
I’m just not a Gallo fan at all, his voice, his look. I could stand him in Tetro, but… eh.