You may not have heard too much about the new film, The Final Cut which frankly surprises me. It stars Robin Williams and Jim Caviezel, so right there you’d think it’d be more out in the public eye than it is.
It opened in limited release on October 15th, and so far it’s gotten some great responses from those that have seen it. The film is about a future society in which microchips have been implanted into ever living human in order to record their lives. Williams plays a cutter, one of the one’s responsible for making sure lives are edited together well, but finds out information about his own life that puts him right in the middle of danger. Caviezel plays the leader of a group that’s opposed to the entire “Rememory” process.
Our West Coast man, Sean Clark, recently got the chance to sit in on a round table with the film’s director, Omar Naim, and Jesus Christ himself, Jim Caviezel. The results follow.
Q: Okay Omar let’s start with a technical question.
Omar Naim: Okay, hit me!
Q: How does the Zoe Chip select a 2.35:1 aspect ration from the entire range of eyesight?
ON: Because it’s programmed to put in the aspect ration that is most familiar to a movie audience? (Laughs)
Q: No matter how much you explain an answer you open up a door for everyone’s imagination.
ON: Absolutely, but we never thought. We really thought the idea and all that was just a metaphorical starting off point to get to the human things. But they can’t hold up to too close of scrutiny, you sort of have to take a poetic leap with the movie.
Q: Jim, what was it about the character that appealed to you? Would you want to have your memories recorded to play back later?
Jim Caviezel: Second part, no. I wouldn’t want that, but I’m getting it recorded right now anyway. (Laughs) I was drawn to Omar’s script as a whole. It didn’t necessarily have anything to do with my character particularly, although I was very interested in him. I’ve seen scripts that were good and even characters that were much more extensive and were the main character, but the story as a whole was strong. I like the indifference of the character, the situational ethics. The departmentalization of all those things that allowed me play in this, more so than anything else was Omar’s vision. (To Omar) How old are you now, eighteen? (Laughs) For a kid to write and direct something like this, with the themes of it being so complex, I can see why Robin Williams was drawn to it. I can see why Tak Fugimoto would read something like this and know it was going to be something very unique. I wasn’t planning on doing anything right after the Passion of the Christ, but this was perfect so I’m a pig and I had to do it. (Laughs)
Q: If you had your own memories recorded what would you want taken out and what would you definitely want kept in?
JC: That’s too personal. I can’t say. There are things I have done in my past that I wish I had never done but you learn from those things. Like for example if I could go back in my life and pick out things that I made critical errors in, I wouldn’t be acting. That was honestly a mistake. Instead of doing my homework where I got bad grades in I was watching Saturday Night Live. (Laughs)
Q: Omar, how did you come up with the idea for Final Cut?
ON: I think the idea came in several different stages. First of all I was editing my documentary film at school. I was the only person in the editing room. The school had just got the first Avid so I spent nine months there and I sort of became the school’s editing guy. So I was editing everyone else’s movies because I had access to it. While editing my documentary it really became clear that this sort of myth of objectivity in documentaries is just myth. It’s all the style and manipulating, it’s drama. So that was one part of it. The second part was that I was away from my family who were on the other side of the world and I started thinking that if my life goes on like this, I’m going to start seeing them less and less. So I thought what I should do is shoot these really long interviews with my parents, like twenty-hour interviews that way I could get all their little antidotes and stories out of them and I could always watch that and enjoy their company. (Laughs) But I never did that because that because it’s not them. That would be replacing my actual memories. Fading as my memories are already. We all take pictures or each other and we all have home movies and there is a need we all have to visually preserve our lives. That combined with this realization about editing is how this idea came about.
Q: Are you a fan of this kind of genre?
JC: I’m a fan of great scripts. I like great books. I’d put this script up to a book in the genre of Animal Farm or 1984. As far as films, it’s this Alfred Hitchcockian kind of mystique that I love. When a director writes something and I love what he wrote, there’s not much you can do to screw it up. Of all the material I looked at this is the best. I’m just fascinated with this kid’s mind; he’s just a real talented person. I was glad that Robin Williams believed in it because you have to have that confidence. You’re only going to come across this kind of material so often, and I happened to be at the right place at the right time and that is how I look at it. What I was drawn to in this story more than anything was that this is a dark color but truth still comes through. You may not walk out of this thing feeling warm and fuzzy but that’s not why I got into movies. I make stories that I feel are truthful.
OM: I just want to interject; he’s making sound like this glowing golden script was presented to him. I mean if Jim, Mira, and Robin hadn’t agreed to this movie it would not have happened. (Laughs) I mean at all. Everyone’s faith in this project and doing it for the right reasons (because they liked the material) is why we got into film in the first place. I know I’ve been spoiled this first time out because I know it’s not always like this. It’s not always that everyone is there to really make a film. I just needed to say that.
JC: I just saw TXH-1138 for the first time, the genesis for Star Wars and I was telling him that I felt the same way when I saw this movie.
Q: Since making the Passion of the Christ how has the reaction been from people on the street? Religion can be a very fanatical material. Have you had any fanatical experiences with fans looking at you in almost a Christ like way?
ON: Not without the beard. (Laughs)
JC: That’s exactly right I’m a completely different person. I’m not all beat up.
Q: Jesus, why did you get a make over? (Laughs)
JC: Yeah they come up to me and say, “Hey Jesus!” and I say, (Shaking his finger in disapproval.) “Heeeeey.” (Laughs) I say I’m still the Count of Monte Cristo. (Laughs) I worked really hard for that.
Q: Was it hard to pitch this as a science fiction film?
ON: I went out of my way to say it’s a drama, a thriller and a science fiction movie. There are very few science fiction elements. There’s only enough to get ideas boiling. I think the newer sort of wave of science fiction movies, even stuff like Being John Malkovich, can be called science fiction. It’s a more intimate, more like finding a metaphor to talk about now, which is how science fiction started. I think the sort of, “bling-bling” science fiction as I call sort of took over for a while because we found out, “Whoa, we can do anything!” and it sort of lost touch with what science fiction was initially about which is us now and the human condition which is a small poetic device to sort of get things going.
Thanks to Lions Gate for letting us be part of the junket. Be sure to seek out The Final Cut in a theater near you!