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If you’ve ever longed to see a movie about a homicidal sentient tire or a lovelorn pet owner finding solace in the memories of his dog’s poo, then the films of Quentin Dupieux are for you. His films are like a extended cinematic hallucination that are equal parts funny and unsettling.
At the beginning of Dupieux's last movie, "Rubber,” there's a long, hilarious monologue about how there's fundamentally "no reason" for anything. And if there's a central organizing philosophy behind Dupieux's strange, surreal movies, it's that. Palm trees turn into pine trees. Dog turds have memories. Abandoned tires murder people. Why? No reason.
His latest movie, "Wrong," which opens this weekend at selected cities and is available on Video On Demand , is similarly bizarre. The film opens with Dolph Springer, a mustached sadsack, asleep in bed. It seems like normal, peaceful scene until his alarm clock ticks from 7:59 to 7:60. When Dolph Springer wakes up, he realizes that his beloved dog is missing. Then things really get weird. His gardener dies and comes back to life. There’s a perpetual rainstorm in his office, though no one seems to notice that they are getting sopping wet. Eventually, Dolph crosses paths with Master Chang (played by William Fichtner in a ponytail), a self-help guru/dognapper who delivers an impassioned monologue about pets in an accent that’s impossible to locate.
Jonathan Crow: This movie and "Rubber" are really hard movies to think of questions about because it's sort of like taking apart somebody else's dream.
Quentin Dupieux: Yes, I'm glad you said that because that's exactly the point.
JC: It could make you feel like you're in a dream?
QD: Yeah, it works like a dream. Well, you know that's where almost everything is possible. When you can jump from one thing to another, and one character dies and then he is alive again. That's exactly like how a dream works.
JC: At the beginning of "Rubber" you have this hilarious monologue where you have this guy talking about how things happen for "no reason." Is this movie a continuation of your "no reason" philosophy, or is this a departure, or is it both?
QD: No. It's basically the same. I could have used this same monologue at the start of "Wrong." Basically, I would love to put that monologue at the start of all of my movies because it makes sense all the time. I do think that life is absurd and it's full of "no reason" every day. I just love that monologue because it's a very good summation of my movies.
JC: I'm assuming you're not expecting to get a whole lot of calls from Hollywood.
QD: I honestly think that most movies are too logical compared to life. I don't know how to explain this, but I'm sure you understand. I'm just trying to make movies that are more like real life, basically.
JC: More like real life?
QD: Yeah -- for example, "Wrong." It's a dream. But when you see a dream in a movie, it looks like something written for the movies. I don't know if you follow me.
JC: Yeah, it feels scripted --
QD: I think the best way to see "Wrong" is to see it like a dream, but not like a movie dream -- more like a real dream. Time is weird, and we think we understand time because we have watches, but we don't. Time doesn't exist. If you look closer, life is really crazy and a little scary sometimes because we don't understand everything. We don't understand a lot of stuff. I'm just trying to make my movies, thinking about all of this stuff. I don't know if it makes sense; my English sucks.
JC: It sounds to me like you're reacting against a lot of the cliché, the way that Hollywood writes scripts --
QD: No. Not really. I know my movies are for a small audience. When I watch a movie on a Sunday night, I just want the regular mainstream thing. I'm just like everyone. I'm just trying to offer something different. I'm not a good writer. I'm just trying to find my own voice. I think there's a lot of space, actually, to create different movies because a lot of movies are a little bit the same these days. I'm just trying to open a small door of freedom to suggest a new experience.
JC: Can you tell me about your process of writing scripts?
QD: Yeah, I mean, it's hard to describe it. I was just trying to write stuff that comes from my body more than from my brain. I try to get a good feeling instead of finding clever ideas. It's just like, when you're writing, something comes and you know it's good or not. It's super hard to describe it. We have no rules. Sometimes I'm super busy writing for 10 hours a day, super focused, and sometimes I just go to sleep to let my brain go and find ideas.
JC: My favorite character in this film is Master Chang; can you tell me about him? And why you've cast a rather unlikely choice of William Fichtner to play him? And also, what's with that accent?
QD: We knew we needed someone strong for this character. So we started looking at some names, and Fichtner's name came up. I don't know, I just saw a photo of him and I knew he was the guy. But Bill came up with the idea of this weird accent. I don't know where he found it, but he just came to the first meeting and he told me, "OK, I'm going to read you the scene with an accent, and you're going to tell me if you like it." And he just read a piece of the script with this weird German/Indian/whatever accent, and then he said, "OK, you like it? Because if you don't like it, I have nothing else." I loved it because he was, like, bringing his piece to the movie.
JC: From what I understand, you're not a dog owner, but "Wrong" really does sort of tap into very deep emotions that dog people have. Why did you tap into this world?
QD: Let's say it was just a twisted way of talking about love without really using the love thing between human beings.
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Check out this clip from 'Wrong':