I developed my first director crush in middle school. Let’s be honest, we all stayed up late, eyes glued to Skinemax, waiting for that softcore porn. Of course, all the cocks that I really wanted to see were hidden behind all the gratuitous vaginas. There was plenty of homo loving, however, and that’s how I found Gregg Araki.
The first movie I ever considered my favorite was called Nowhere. It involves this boy who falls in love with another boy (omg i love you Gregg), young people doing drugs and being apathetic, including Christina Applegate and Rose McGowan before they were famous, (omg Gregg, stop pulling at my heart strings), and some magical realism in the form of aliens (omg, Gregg, you just put all my fav things in ONE MOVIE ::squeels::). Netflix it, you won’t be disappointed.
In fact, Nowhere was part of his Teen Apocalypse Trilogy in the early 90’s, and you should watch them all. They are rife with young people and murder and drugs and fatalism and everything that you ever want in a movie because you are a lost youth that feels like this. He also directed Splendor, Smiley Face, and Mysterious Skin, with that dreamboat Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
He has a new movie out called Kaboom, which you MUST see if you were ever in your late teens to twenties.
Here is a sweet conversation we had about how Gregg is fabulous.
BYT: Your movies tend to have a lot of protagonists that are in their late teens and early twenties. Why are you drawn to that demographic?
Gregg Araki: Kaboom is something that I’ve been working on for a while. I didn’t really want to go back and make a teenage movie. It’s more for me to looking back on those college years and sexual orientation. For me it’s about making a story that I was really passionate about.
BYT: You seem to use magical realism in your movies. How do you use that to portray your characters?
GA: Movies aren’t really realistic or naturalistic in a sort of documentary way. As a film maker I have nothing against those fake documentary shaky hand held camera, lo-fi movies. But at the same time It’s just not what I’m interested in. My movies are really about creating their own universe. They take you away to this other world that’s more stylized and surreal and it’s lit a certain way and shot a certain way. Its just the kind of aesthetic that, as a film maker, is interesting to me. I mean I don’t really go to the movies to see upbeat ordinary reality. In fact, I find reality a little bit boring. The world of my movies is based in reality, but it’s stylized and kicked up a notch. I like that in the universe of my movies there is the feeling that anything can happen.
BYT: The main characters always feel like something is going to happen. How do you incorporate those feelings of destiny into your movies?
GA: That was one of the most fun aspects of Kaboom, creatively. Taking those feelings of impending doom and apocalypse. those feelings that are very common when you are younger. Taking those feelings and kind of making them literal, making them real.
One of my favorite scenes of the movie is when Smith is in the car talking about the end of the world. He is so full of dread and has anxiety about it. My experience is that when you are that age you frequently feel like it’s the end of the world. Like when you break up with somebody or things don’t go your way it feels like the world is ending. It’s a common emotion. For me the fun of this movie is taking that feeling and making it real; projecting it into the world. And maybe the world really is ending and maybe there really is a weird conspiracy going on where everyone is out to get you in some way.
BYT: How do fatalism and doom play into the characters you use?
GA: I think there is a general apocalyptic feeling in the air. I mean it goes in cycles as part of our culture. The world is in a state of chaos and unrest that there is an overriding anxiety. I mean we are on the brink of 2012. It’s something that in the movie we are having fun playing with.
BYT: My last question: Gregg, how are you so fabulous?
(Laughs hardily) Fabulous? I wouldn’t say I’m fabulous. I have a really awesome life. I love what I do. I love making movies. I feel grateful and fortunate for the life I’ve had and everything I get to do. It’s just part of why I’m a happy person.