Memphis Movie: A Wrap
Q: So, Sandy, welcome. Memphis Movie is a wrap, isn’t that right?
A: Yes, Donald, that’s right. We have finished the film and most of us have moved on now to other projects.
Q: Well, we appreciate you staying behind long enough to answer a few questions.
A: My pleasure.
Q: First, for all those who don’t know, you were not the director when the film began shooting in Memphis.
A: That’s right. This film is really Eric Warberg’s film. We finished it in honor of him.
Q: And why was Eric unable to finish the film?
A: It’s complicated.
Q: Give us a simple version.
A: Well, there is no simple version. Eric is from Memphis. This became a burden to him as shooting went on. He was unable to create the necessary distance from the material an artist must master. Memphis became the subject of the film for Eric. And, for Eric, the subject of Memphis is, in a way, overwhelming. He became overwhelmed.
Q: I don’t quite understand.
A: I told you it was complicated.
Q: Where is Eric now?
A: I don’t know. I haven’t talked to him in a week or so.
Q: Will he be directing again?
A: I have heard a rumor that he’s already picked up another gig.
Q: Can you tell us about that?
A: Just a rumor, mind you, but talk is he was offered the new Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan comedy, If this is Heaven then I must be Dead.
Q: Isn’t that a remake of—
A: Yes, Here Comes Mr. Jordan.
Q: I’ve heard it’s been turned down by every A-list—
Q: Ok. Ok. Let’s see. How are you with working with actors? I have a quote here from you about a certain leading lady. You were quoted as saying, “She’s a waste of good shampoo.”
A: Ha-ha—no, no, that was certainly taken out of context.
Q: So actors.
A: Unlike Hitchcock I see them as collaborators, cohorts, cohabitants, co-conspirators. There’s probably a few more co-s I’m missing.
Q: This leading lady—
A: Can we talk about Memphis Movie?
Q: Of course. Tell me how you want this movie to be perceived. Tell me your vision of the movie, or for the movie.
A: My vision? I don’t know. It’s a good picture. It’s a story made of words, really, which, as you know, is a sticky wicket in film, it being an almost totally visual medium. What I wanted for the ending—at first—was this backward montage at double speed—triple speed—showing the story rewinding all the way back, scene by scene, backwards—denouement to beginning, so the characters undevelop, back through to the opening scene, to the opening credits, and, finally, back through that to the director in his—uh, her chair, through the set, outside the set, zooming through the tunnel of the unconscious, and ending with the writer putting down his pen.
A: But that didn’t pan out, so to speak. I rewrote that.
Q: You are a writer, correct? You also wrote the movie.
A: Yes, I wrote it.
Q: So, naturally, you are a word person.
A: Unnaturally, perhaps. (She laughs.)
Q: Tell us the storyline.
A: Oh, a recounting of the storyline only bores. I’ll leave it to
the trailer people to capture it
Q: Rumors have it that the film is all about sex. That its sex scenes will surpass all previous sex scenes. This is hyperbole, I imagine.
A: I sense a question in there. The sex in Memphis Movie? It’s real, not in the sense that the actors engaged in actual intercourse on film, but in the sense that it is true.
Q: And there is a lot of it?
A: I don’t know what a lot is. Listen. It is all about sex, filmmaking I mean. Hollywood breathes in sex and exhales sex. Every scene in every damn movie is about sex, about seduction, about man wanting woman and woman wanting man or man to man, woman to woman. Every scene. You get me? E. T. Watch it closely, it’s about sex, desire. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Romancingthe Stone. What are they in actual fact looking for? The old in-out. Consummation. Bambi. Godzilla. Sex is all Hollywood knows. Or, what’s the biggest damn movie of the past decade, Titanic. Jesus, sex sex sex. Ram thaticeberg! Hell, it may be an accurate representation of the world. Maybe sex is the only question and the only answer. In Hollywood everyone sits around watching themselves. You see?
Q: Well, that’s certainly a provocative statement.
A: I was not aiming at provocation.
Q: Well, quickly, Sandy, before we have to end, can you give me a plot summary, something, a reason you finished the movie and Eric could not, something in the writing? Something in Eric Warberg’s character and the movie’s premise? What about Memphis Movie drove Eric away and brought you onboard?
A: (After a long pause.) I’m sure I don’t know what you’re getting at. Memphis Movie, which may be renamed—they are now playing with titles—Ralph Meeker’s Blues is one, Bananas onBananas another, and there was a cryptic message left on my voice mail—a young girl’s voice—with I believe another suggestion, Boo Enema, or my choice, which is Regicide—but this movie exists because of Eric Warberg. It is Eric’s movie. And I will tell you this last thing, maybe it’s important, maybe it’s only another soap bubble. Here is the tagline they will use to sell this movie. Ok?
Q: Yes, please.
A: “In Memphis he went searching for soul. Unfortunately, he lost his.”
Q: That’s it?
A: That’s it.
Corey Mesler has published in numerous journals and anthologies. He has published two novels, Talk: A Novel in Dialogue (2002) and We Are Billion-Year-Old Carbon (2006), a full length poetry collection, Some Identity Problems (2008), and a book of short stories, Listen: 29 Short Conversations (2009). He also has two novels set to be published in the Spring of 2010, The Ballad of the Two Tom Mores (Bronx River Press) and Following Richard Brautigan (Livingston Press). He has also published a dozen chapbooks of both poetry and prose. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize numerous times, and two of his poems have been chosen for Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac. He also claims to have written, “Gitarzan.” With his wife, he runs Burke's Book Store, one of the country's oldest (1875) and best independent bookstores.