Bret Easton Ellis on American Psycho, Christian Bale, and His Problem with Women Directors
What are your thoughts on women directors? After you saw Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank, you tweeted that you might have to reevaluate your preconceived notions about them.
I did. And after I saw [Floria Sigismondi's] The Runaways, too.
I loved it.
I wish I'd loved it.
Well, I wasn't looking forward to it. I avoided it, and then I was with some people and they said, "It starts soon at the Arclight. Let's go." So yeah, I do have to reevaluate that, but for the most part I'm not totally convinced, [except for] Andrea Arnold, Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola...
Not Mary Harron?
Mary Harron to a degree. There's something about the medium of film itself that I think requires the male gaze.
What would that be?
We're watching, and we're aroused by looking, whereas I don't think women respond that way to films, just because of how they're built.
You don't think they have an overt level of arousal?
[They have one] that's not so stimulated by the visual. I think, to a degree, all the women I named aren't particularly visual directors. You could argue that Lost in Translation is beautiful, but is that [cinematographer Lance Acord]? I don't know. Regardless of the business aspect of things, is there a reason that there isn't a female Hitchcock or a female Scorsese or a female Spielberg? I don't know. I think it's a medium that really is built for the male gaze and for a male sensibility. I mean, the best art is made under not an indifference to, but a neutrality [toward] the kind of emotionalism that I think can be a trap for women directors. But I have to get over it, you're right, because so far this year, two of my favorite movies were made by women, Fish Tank and The Runaways. I've got to start rethinking that, although I have to say that a lot of the big studio movies I saw last year that were directed by women were far worse than the sh***y big-budget studio movies that were directed by men.
Which are we talking about?
I mean, do I want to say this on the record? Did you see The Proposal? Anyway, whatever.
Lionsgate did eventually make a sequel to American Psycho, and I guess you've seen it?
I have. I think it went straight to DVD, and I didn't even watch it on DVD. I think I watched it when it was on cable. Yeah, it's not good. I think we all know that.
And somehow, Mila Kunis was the Patrick Bateman figure this time. Luckily, her career survived.
We like Mila Kunis a lot. Mila Kunis is wonderful. She's really good, she's unique.
Was she unique in that film?
No one could be in that film. It didn't allow the actors room for that, and it was so tongue-in-cheek, it was difficult to take any of that seriously. It's not particularly bloody, it's not particularly scary, it's kind of campy, kind of a joke. When a movie doesn't take itself seriously, then why are we taking it seriously?