The Hardcore Vision Behind the Cult Director's First Digital Release
The ever-provocative photographer and filmmaker Larry Clark delves into the making of Marfa Girl, his first feature in seven years and the winner of the Marco Aurelio Award for Best Film at the Rome Film Festival, in today’s video by NOWNESS regular Matt Black. Set in the eponymous Texas desert town, the new work focuses on the culture clash arising from the area’s mix of Mexican Americans, ranchers, border patrol police and a creative scene founded by minimalist artist Donald Judd, who moved there in the 1970s. Starring a cast of mostly non-actors, Clark’s latest film returns to his signature themes of adolescent sexuality, the dark side of American youth and its unseen subcultures. The 69-year-old maverick achieved notoriety with his seminal 1971 black-and-white monograph Tulsa. His raw, intimate debut feature Kids – the controversial tale of a handful of nihilistic New York skaters – shot him to international fame in 1995, simultaneously launching the careers of Chloë Sevigny, Harmony Korine, Leo Fitzpatrick and Rosario Dawson. “He has a very authentic way of documenting sexual freedom, drug abuse and darkness,” says Black, Clark’s Tribeca neighbor. “When you pick up fashion magazines today, so much of the editorial is done in Larry’s street style. His visual codes are part of our language now.” While Clark’s documentary aesthetic has inspired generations of artists and filmmakers, in Hollywood he remains an outsider. Ratings and censorship led him to the decision to bypass distributors completely this time, making Marfa Girl available exclusively to watch online via his website larryclark.com. “Larry’s in a special position,” says Black. “He’s hugely respected in the fashion industry, the art industry and by young people. Heavyweight artists like Richard Prince and Christopher Wool love him. He can put this film online and everyone will want to see it—whether they like him or not.”
The English Songstress Performs a Tale of American Heartbreak in Vincent Haycock's New Video
A relationship falls apart in the desert towns and fog-soaked coast of California as the baroque pop chanteuse and Karl Lagerfeld and Gucci muse Florence Welch takes on a cinematic role in this second collaboration with LA-based director Vincent Haycock. After helming the narrative music video for Welch’s Calvin Harris-produced disco hit “Sweet Nothing”, Haycock wanted to further explore singer’s interest in acting in his film for “Lover to Lover”, the latest single from her hit sophomore album Ceremonials. “She wasn’t just Florence, she was playing a character,” he says. “It was exciting to take someone who’s built such an iconic visual style, with the floaty dresses and distinct look of her videos, and do something really different.” Performing opposite Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn, who stars alongside Brad Pitt in the forthcoming flick, Killing Them Softly, Welch's on-screen interpretation echoes the track’s heart-aching refrain, “There’s no salvation for me now.” Beginning in a drab Los Angeles house and building to a cathartic gospel frenzy, the romance ends as the lovesick heroine disappears amid mist into the Pacific Ocean. “The waves were enormous, it was freezing cold and four in the morning—I was weeping all the way in I was so scared,” recounts the MTV Award-winning singer, laughing. “It was the most intense experience because we shot the whole day before; I went back to the hotel, slept for three hours, woke up and dove into the sea.”
How did the concept for this character come about?
I was going through a phase where I was thinking about what I wanted from life, asking, do I want a husband and a child? Why do I think I need that?
What was it like to film such intense scenes with a proper actor like Ben Mendelsohn?
It was an emotional day and it brought up a lot of things. I’d come to the end of this massive tour and just needed to go home. I was tired and disoriented because Southern California doesn't have seasons--everything's getting cold back home and the leaves are falling but in LA everything’s in this stasis. I think I was screaming, “This isn’t real, I don’t know what’s going on!" and Ben was screaming back, “You’re here, you’re here!”
Did you have a script?
It was completely improvised. I had to think about things that I was actually angry and upset about. It is cathartic, but you have to literally let yourself go. Ben is so sweet and accommodating--afterwards he gave me this massive hug and made me feel so comfortable.
Do you plan to take some time off now?
I’m not going to tour for a year after this one. I’ve been doing it since I was 21 and I think it’s time really to settle into moving out of my mum's! But I’m not going to stop writing. Playing live is my biggest passion, but I’ve got a lot of ideas, and I need the space to work on them.
Matt Black, New York City
Your signature cocktail:
Black cocktail dresses.
Your go-to karaoke song:
“Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones.
Your most treasured possession:
Black ink on me.
The book that should be required reading for everyone you know:
The Black Dahlia.
Your indispensable album on a long trip:
Black Celebration by Depeche Mode.
The work of art you would most like to own:
“Ultrablack” by Pierre Soulages.
Your workplace essentials:
A black Sharpie.