Alexander Payne was just at the Tribeca Film Festival for a Director’s Series edition of Tribeca Talks, where he revealed that “Downsizing” was the most difficult film he’s ever made. Dick Cavett moderated the discussion, which eventually touched on the icy reception of his ambitious drama released last year.
Matt Damon and Hong Chau star in the film, whose out-there premise helped make it one of the most anticipated films of 2017. Payne said it was difficult on every level — writing, financing, editing — and also addressed the lukewarm reviews it was met with upon opening late last year, suggesting that its ambitious narrative may have been too much to fit into the framework of a single film. (That’s a little ironic, given that it’s literally about people who choose to shrink themselves.)
Payne was also asked whether any of his movies would be different if he made them today. “If you’re an open director, you cannot help but have the winds of history blow through your film,” he responded. “When you turn on a camera, you’re putting time in a bottle, and not just the time you’re in.”
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He also discussed the films that mean the most to him, saying he has “300 favorite movies” but that his go-to choices are Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai,” Hal Ashby’s “The Last Detail,” and Sam Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch.”