The Munich Film Festival’s retrospective of my films is moving forward. I’m heading over at the end of June. They’re going to show all 7 films which is pretty amazing to me. Not that they’re going to show them, but that I actually made them.

They’re starting with Johnny Suede which has never screened in Germany. I don’t know who this guy is with Brad Pitt but apparently they share the same hair product.

DiCillo and Pitt day one.

I did an interview with the Festival website recently. Some good questions. Some may find a few of the answers familiar; some may not. Here’s a sample.

Over the years, you kept screening your films at Munich. What kept you coming back? What do you like about the city?
TD. One of the things an independent director looks for when bringing a film to a European festival is the openness and curiosity of its audiences, the festival’s devotion and support of filmmakers, the taste of the city’s pilsner and the quality of porn on the hotel television. In my experience I have found Munich to excel in all these areas.

Posted by:Tom

44 thoughts on “ 92. IN(re)TROSPECTIVE ”

  1. Hi Tom,

    Nice interview! I especially agree with you on what the future holds for the film business; I find it incredibly sad that some people would sooner watch a movie on their iPhone than on the cinema screen for which it was intended. It is nice that the option is there but I just don’t understand how one can experience a film like that. I have noticed that several of the major studios now include a version of their films specifically for your iPhone when you buy a DVD…imagine watching Ben Hur on that thing!

    Another thing I have a problem with is Blu-Ray and HD televisions. When you watch a Blu-ray disc on a HD TV it simply does not look like a film, more like a TV show shot on a handheld store-bought camera, it does something to the image that I just can’t watch; I can see it’s advantages for digiitally animated films but this retrograded cleansing of older films that were actually shot on film but are now made to look as though you can jump through the screen and make out with Lana Turner (ah, to dream) is simply phony commercialism aimed at people who care more about the latest technology than actual film. Digital filmmaking in general leaves a sour taste in my mouth, especially when used on $100 million dollar projects. I know, I know, I’m a techno-phobe, hell I still collect old VHS tapes of rare movies and am quite happy to watch them, crap quality or not 🙂

    The Munich festival sounds like my dream week at the movies, only for the fact that I am doing some film history lecturing I would be there in a shot; good pilsner and a week of your movies would certainly make a fine time.

    Enjoy the beer and the, ahem, late-evening adult orientated movies, but most of all enjoy the festival, Tom!


  2. Very cool, I think I´ll need to have my own little Tom DiCillo-festival in my living room soon. As soon as I have all of your films on dvd, that is.


  3. Great interview, Tom 🙂

    I chuckled when I read your note about the photo of you and Brad Pitt; when I first saw the photo years ago, I wondered the same thing about the hair product. It’s a perfect shot accentuating both and yet probably unintended.

    We share a hatred of pretzels. Movie theaters now serve them. LOVED your quote of “like eating an entire roll of lightly salted paper towels.” Hilarious and quite true…

    Enjoy Munich, that sounds amazing. And post some pics to your blog when you return!


  4. Oops, now that I´ve read the interview I feel a little bad about my living room film festival comment. Maybe I should just head down to Munich instead. Great interview though Tom!


  5. Tom, I’ve just ordered two of your films off amazon just this moment

    Delirious and Living In Oblivion

    Never saw them before tom, so very much looking forward to this:)

    Also bought Steve Buscemi’s “Interview”,What’s your views on this film??.

  6. Hey Tom,

    Thanks for the hair photo. You know that always cheers me up.

    And Stuart, all I can say is you are in for a treat!


  7. Hey Wayne,
    Here’s a mindbender for you. A highly esteemed independent writer/director I know revealed to me a few months ago that he “refuses to own a computer.” Not entirely clear about his logic. Because what he does instead of watching films on his TV or computer screen is download them to his iPhone (not a computer) and he watches them while he eats dinner.
    I can tell you right now, I’d never do that. Not during dinner.

  8. Hey Sam M,
    I wouldn’t worry too much about your watching films at home. My feeling is that in this current age we probably need to watch certain films anywhere we can–just not on an iPhone–and definitely not during dinner!!
    But listen, the Munich Festival had to go through enormous effort just to locate actual 35mm film prints of my movies. This was really disturbing to me. And believe it or not the hardest one to find was Living In Oblivion. Apparently it costs too much money for distribution companies to store films.
    Seriously, I don’t think we’re too far away from the time when the only movies shown in real movie theatres will be the Lobotomites: those films which will require frontal lobotomies in order to enjoy. I understand some concession stands are already selling do-it-yourself kits.

  9. Hey Elaine,
    I’m glad you liked the photo. You know, it’s not easy circulating those kinds of shots especially when critics already think I spend too much time on my hair.

    Brad greatly impressed me just before shooting started by insisting that we make his already towering pompadour 4 inches higher.

    I’ll keep you posted as things develop with the Festival.


  10. Hey Stuart,
    While I’m flattered and pleased you are renting two of my other films part of me is just a little curious what took you so fokkin long?!

    Seriously, I’m glad you felt encouraged enough by When You’re Strange to venture out into some of my other work. I’d recommend starting with Oblivion. And may I say you have good taste. You’ve rented two of my personal favorites.

    I like Buscemi’s work as a director very much. One of my favorites that he directed is a wonderful film called Lonesome Jim. I’d highly recommend it.


  11. Hey Rai,
    You mean that particular photo always cheers you up? I was not aware of its potential. I should market it as such. Like the picture we’ve all got of the kitten hanging from the shower curtain rod, or the baby with the bowl of spaghetti on his head.

    Anyway, I’m glad you liked it. And thanks for giving Stuart a nudge of reassurance.


  12. Tom!

    Going Down in La La Land was made into a film! I wanted to share the trailer with you. Bruce Vilanch, Judy Tenuta, Perez Hilton are featured and it stars a talented newcomer named Matthew Ludwinski. Here is the link to the trailer.

    I think you’d get a kick out of it. I am going to start working on a screenplay now. Inspired by my college years here in New York, but with female protagonists. Love to talk to you about it someday. Anyways, hope we cross paths soon.


  13. Hey Tom,

    That is truly a head scratcher; brings a whole new dimension to the TV Dinner thing! “TV iDinner”.

    I guess I’m old fashioned in that I watch films on a big screen (not a phone) and when I’m at a dinner table I eat food. But, whatever floats peoples boats. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

    What next?! Hollywood becomes Applewood and films are shot, edited, and post-produced on an iPhone; Wayne goes insane, becomes a street preacher spouting theories that the film industry never really existed, it was a myth created in a Wall Street think tank with the desire to lull the masses into paying 10 Euros for a box of popcorn, 6 Euros for a cup of Pepsi and our sanity for the latest Seth Rogen atrocity. In fact, I am going a little doolally even thinking about this… :O


  14. Tom! what took me so long to check out the rest of your work?!?! i dont even know that, the only explanation i can think of is summed up by the john lennon quote-

    “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”

    I’ve not rented them tom! i’ve BOUGHT them!!!!!! i shall let you know what i think of them, i’ve watched the panel disccussion between you and Buscemi on the extras of “Living in oblivion”,both of you guys were pretty witty on it!.

    Keep up the good work and dont let your detractors get you down.

  15. Hi tom,

    Im sure you can help me with that. Im looking for the johnny suede soundtrack. Where i can fin it? Who are the artists there?


  16. Wayne – let me know the street corner you’ll be preaching on about *that* kind of material and I’ll show up in a choir robe.

    Stuart and others – Of course, Tom’s other films are wonderful! It’s been interesting to see how people will watch one film or another and then get the rest. Seeing Box of Moonlight on IFC late one night led me to buying all his others. And Delirious didn’t even go on sale on DVD until 2 weeks after Blockbuster had a preview copy without any of the extras on it. I couldn’t wait, I rented it and then bought a full copy 2 weeks later.

    Ah Tom, we love your hair. Ignore the critics 🙂


  17. Hey Stuart,
    You know I’m just pullin’ yer leg. I greatly appreciate that you spent your hard-earned cash and bought the two dvd’s. Take your time and watch them when you feel like it. I do like the way you watched the extras on Living In Oblivion first. Kind of like eating the crackers and cheese before the main course.

    As I recall, Steve and I were completely drunk during that onstage interview. I think the footage and our words will bear witness to that.


  18. Hey Wayne,
    Thanks for turning us westerners on to a new word for whacked, crazy, buggin’, nutso: “doolally”. I like it. I will attempt to use it in a sentence in Munich.

    Would this be the correct usage: “Are you fekken doolally?!!”

    T’om O’chillod

  19. Hey Cristian,
    Your question is a good one, but also a sad one. There was an attempt to get a soundtrack released to Johnny Suede but due to idiocity it never happened.

    And so, there is no soundtrack. But, some of the tracks that would have been on there are “Travelin’ Man” and “Teenage Idol” by Ricky Nelson. “Hotel Loneliness” and “Wild Side of the City Lights” by Link Wray. And three songs of mine called “Never Girl,” “Mamma’s Boy” and “Midtown.”

    You can find all those songs except mine on iTunes.

    Good luck,

  20. Well, Elaine; I did not know that story about you, Moonlight and IFC. Those were the old days I guess. Now they’re showing Pulp Fiction 24/7 with commercials and Armageddon in between.


  21. Tom, looking back… what’s your thoughts NOW on the criticism that you recieved for WYS?? AND In what ways would you say WYS gives a more objective view of jim??

    1. Hey Stuart,
      Well, that’s a pretty complex question–but a good one. Let me see if I can try to answer it objectively.

      First, there were some original criticisms that were accurate. The version of the film that went to Sundance had too many words. This was my first documentary and I will readily confess to making a few mistakes in finding the most efficient and dramatic way to present information.

      However, I think the tone of some of these early critics was exaggeratedly hostile and destructive. I am still puzzled at the extremity of some of the reactions.

      At the end of the day I can only offer my personal assessment of what works in the film and what doesn’t. I am extremely critical of my own work and have always put great effort into trying to see what the final film is as opposed to what I intended.

      In the case of When You’re Strange I think the film carries a strong emotional weight. It was my choice to use only original footage and have no talking heads. By keeping the film deep in the real time of The Doors it allows the audience to experience them on a more personal level. It allows them to feel they are right there with Jim, Ray, John and Robbie.

      I think this level of intimacy is something new for both the band and for Morrison himself. I tried to present as much real information about them both. I tried to blow the dust of myth and superstition off of both. To me, Jim was not a god, and not a devil. He was a human being and his greatest power comes from seeing him and his accomplishments as those simply of a man.

      Yes, the use of only original footage placed a huge importance on the narration to help keep the chronological information flowing. But, the words I wrote and that Johnny Depp spoke, are not standard documentary text. I risked trying to give them the hint of personal investment–and I know without question Depp did the same.

      It bewilders me also that so many people refused to open their eyes to the footage from Jim’s own film HWY. The knee-jerk swiftness which these people assumed (accused) these original images of being fake continues to disturb me. If they were so resistant to simply seeing the Truth right in front of their eyes it is no wonder that the more intricate truths of the film evaded them.

      Nonetheless, I am as proud of this film as any I’ve made. And it touches me deeply that people all over the world have not only seen it but have been moved and affected by it.


  22. Hi Tom,

    I must clarify that ANY photo of your hair cheers me up. There’s just something about it. That’s great that Brad suggested his hair be bigger.

    And to put my DiCillo movies in a random order – Living in Oblivion was my first & made me want more, Box of Moonlight was my favorite, then along came Delirious which then became one of my all-time favorite movies, period.

    Now don’t let that make your head big – just the hair, just the hair!


    1. Hai Rai,
      You know, it might have something to do with the fact that my old man made me have my hair cut next to my scalp for 16 years and so it is in a constant state of joyous, rebellious liberation.
      I’m glad you feel that way about Delirious. It is one of my personal favorites. I respect them all but something came through on Delirious that was different–and a bit closer to the truth for me.

  23. Hi Tom,

    I am a journalist and Doors fan from Munich. I am totally excited to see you and your films in my city.

    Is there any chance to meet up for a brief interview or chat?
    I thought to publish this request at your blog rather than writing a “formal” request.

    Would be great to hear from you.

    All the best,

    1. Hey Jochen,
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t know my schedule in Munich yet so it might actually be better for you to contact the Festival press office and schedule an interview that way. I saw a link on the festival site but can’t seem to locate it now. Maybe you can find it.

    1. Yeah, my thoughts are what the fu–? Thanks to you and another friend of mine I see these two have posted a video that steals frame for frame the first 3 minutes of When You’re Strange, calling it “from the film HWY.”

      The raw footage came from HWY, although some of it was not even used in the film. However the edited sequence in When You’re Strange was created completely in my editing room and exists nowhere else.

  24. Tom!!!!!

    Just noticed your “Pending” tab of your website, with a synopsis and info about your projects. They sound amazing and I can’t wait to see them once they’re made! Enjoy going to Munich for the honoring of your 7 films so far, and I’m cheering for other film fests to eventually do all 10 of yours 🙂

    Looking forward to seeing them – keep us posted on progress!


    1. Thanks Elaine,
      Yeah, I did some work on the site. Took a while to think of what to call the films that have been written and are struggling to come to life. And so, they are pending. They are there. They are waiting. And, let me tell you, I’m aching to make all three of them.
      At the moment the island film has the most momentum. Trying to keep all three active in my brain is almost beyond my capabilities.

  25. Hey Tom,

    Like Elaine, I too just noticed the “pending” section. Wow! Those movies sound intriguing, in particular “Years of Summer”, maybe because I am myself an aspiring academic of sorts (although with each passing blockbuster I lose faith in the study of cinema). When I think of academia portrayed onscreen I always think of that show “Thirtysomething” for some reason. I remember my favourite character in that show was a professor battling for tenure, yet he was most un-academic character personality-wise; then again professors and academics can be a strange, eclectic mix of people.

    How about approaching Sean Penn as the academic? Jeff Spicoli of the 21st Century! A changed man 🙂

    I can’t wait to see which film makes it out first, hopefully all of them.


    1. Hey Wayne,
      I like the Years of Summers script very much. It has a bright, irreverent vibrancy to it that I think would be very appealing. I think Penn is a brilliant actor but I must confess there was a mad genius in Spicoli that I miss and keep yearning to see again somewhere.

  26. Tom!

    I just came on here with the sole purpose of saying I am craving a new Tom DiCillo movie. Just to via Elaine´s comment discover the “pending” section. Holy shit that really made my night. Almost like I knew somehow. Love the sound of all three, I can´t even pick a favorite. Maybe the first one…or the third…but wait, the second one sounded damn cool! I even had to stop reading because I didn´t want too much info.

    At this point just knowing that these three films exist in your brain is enough to make me happy.


    1. Hey Sam,
      I’m glad you like the three scripts. I feel as you do, that either (or all) of them would make a great film. I’m hoping that sooner or later someone with money will share this belief. If you are craving a new Tom DiCillo imagine how I feel.
      Thanks very much for the support, Sam.

  27. Hey Stuart,
    I like that you are discovering some of these essential “ancient” films. Yes, I have seen Rashomon, probably about 10 times. As I have seen The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Breathless, Masculine-Feminine, Viridiana, Woman In the Dunes, La Strada and other films from some of my favorite directors.
    My thoughts on Kurosawa’s work only echo the thoughts of many film historians infinitely more qualified than me: he is a Master.

  28. Hey Tom,

    I’ve bored you before about how Johnny Suede is my favorite ever movie. I’ve always wanted to see it in a cinema.

    I was filled with a nervous excitement when I discovered it was showing in Munich. Could I really justify flying all that way to watch one film? It quickly became obvious that…yeah, I had to. I’m catching the showing at the end of the month and can’t wait.

    Wish they could have put this on in London!…



    1. Hey Tim,
      Well, I am deeply flattered you are spending the time and the cash to see Mr. Suede projected. It will be the official Director’s Cut version, released everywhere but the US. I’m looking forward to seeing it myself. Let me know what screening you’re going to and we’ll say hello.

      Note: I don’t believe there is a single director who would ever be “bored” by hearing someone’s enthusiasm for their film.


  29. Hi Tom,

    What’s this about a Suede Director’s Cut??? I’ve owned the film on VHS, Laserdisc, and DVD – is the version on these not the Director’s Cut?

    Soooo wish there would be a Tom retrospective in the US. Wow. Quite Jealous.

    Best Regards,


    1. Hello E, first thank you for being almost the sole purchaser of Johnny Suede in all media in North America.

      The story of what Miramax did to the US version is long and complicated. The short story is that the most recent DVD release is my Official Director’s Cut. It is quite different from the film that appeared on tape and disk in 1992. The new version is my cut, the cut that won Best Picture at the Locarno Film Festival. It is the version of the film that was released everywhere else in the world except here.
      If you liked it before, I think I can safely say you will like it in its original form.

      The Munich retrospective was amazing. I will do a post on it when I can find a second.

      Thanks for writing.

    2. Hey E,
      Check the date on your DVD–and look at the post in my archives I wrote about the latest Suede DVD. If yours doesn’t look like the one I show then you don’t have the latest. It came out about a year or two ago. It is the Official Director’s Cut. It is quite different from whatever appeared here on VHS, DVD and Laserdisk in America. What was released in theaters here (and on VHS etc) was a bastardized, shortened, voice-overed version foisted on my by Miramax. I hated it. It was not the cut of the film that won Best Picture at Locarno. That version was released all through Europe and was not seen here until this latest DVD came out.

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