Last month at Fantastic Fest, I sat down with director Jim Hosking and screenwriter David Wike to discuss their new film An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn. We agreed that it might not be for everybody, but for those that key into its bizarre, utterly genuine sense of melancholy and romance, this comedy will cut deep. Love is a mystery, and we should not question how or why it infects us. We should only chase it, and cherish it.
Those anticipating another grindhouse prank akin to The Greasy Strangler will be disappointed. Their follow-up certainly comes from similar sensibilities, but its goals are quite different. Hosking freely admits that he is putting his heart out on his sleeve with An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, and he may even be a little concerned with how it’s received.
You can read the first part of our conversation by clicking HERE, or just dive right into the second half below. We discuss why An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn was the necessary film to follow The Greasy Strangler, and when Hosking was confident that this film was working as a whole. Somehow, we get sidetracked by the tenacious brilliance of Hal Ashby and knowing exactly when it’s time to end an edit on a movie.
Here is our remaining conversation in full:
I think this is the perfect follow-up to The Greasy Strangler. It shows a very different range of storytelling and emotion.
Hosking: I hope so, yeah. It’s got a different feeling to it I think. And I think if people don’t understand that then it’s just… you know.
It’s also certainly not going to be for everybody.
Hosking: No, that’s for sure. There was like… something in a review, wasn’t there, where it was like… yeah, I kinda didn’t read it in reviews and then I think someone said, “Oh, there’s a really good review in Variety or something. Read that.” And so I read this review. But within that, there was something about how I was daring audiences to walk out when Tyrone’s mom has a coughing fit. And it’s like, no, this is what I find funny. I’m trying to make you laugh, that’s what it is.
So, you go to shoot this thing. You’re feeling good about the script, you’ve got your crew assembled. Is your confidence strong through the entire shooting process?
Hosking: Yeah, I mean, I do fine when I’m shooting. I don’t really get stressed out. It’s really just about trying to get like each day felt like a bit of a mountain of just trying to get it done. But I find that I’ve got really good people that I’m working with and the actors are so enjoyable and I love the dialogue, but it becomes a race against time sometimes, that’s the thing. What I found most challenging, I mean the shoot was fucking challenging, and you know I’m pretty skinny and by the end of it, there was nothing left of me. There was no time to eat. But the edit, you know, it’s tough to try to combine the tones of the absurdity and the eccentricity with the heart and the emotion. That was the stuff where it was trying to get that balance right. There’s a lot that is not in the finished film. More extreme dialogue or moments or whatever.
I want that blu-ray.
Hosking: We definitely took out quite a lot of stuff that felt like it was gonna hinder you from caring about the characters. It was a good experience for me anyway.
When is it all done for you? When do you feel like, “This is the movie. I’ve got it.”
Hosking: There’s different moments within it, but it’s generally where there’s like a moment where you feel like nobody can take hearing you say one more time, “I just gotta fucking tweak this thing.” And also you just can’t do it anymore. It’s like there’s a point where your mind sort of melts and it’s like you lose perspective and there’s just a natural point. I mean, what do you think? There’s a natural point where you feel like, I think this is the best it’s been, I can’t think of what else I can do with it, and I feel like it’s good to say this is the film.
Wike: I mean it’s all unfinished. I mean it’s all it’s going to have.
Hosking: You could keep going if you wanted.
Wike: Hal Ashby made probably arguably one of my top favorite five films, Being There.
Hosking: When you say arguably, do you argue with yourself about it?
Wike: Yeah, hourly. But he won an Academy Award for it too, or someone did in that film, or it was Best Picture. He gave all the footage to USC, where I believe he either taught or went, just donated it to the film school and said, “I still believe,” as one of the great editors, “I believe there’s a better film in there than I made.” That was his, that film really was a real big masterpiece and he said, “I know there’s a better film. Someone might be able to find it.” So I kinda look at that-
Hosking: The thing is no one else knows what else might have been in his head, or what he was intending. You watch Being There and it feels like everything’s exactly how it should be. But you know, he might have been totally tormented about some of the scenes in that film.
Wike: But just the fact that he had that. I mean, that was the only film he did that with, which is interesting.
Hosking: But didn’t he run off with the dailys for one of his movies. Was that Being There?
Wike: Coming Home, or Harold and Maude, I think?
Hosking: Yeah, I think he stole them all.
Do you think of your films as being in the great VHS rental place in the sky? Do you see your movies next to other films?
Hosking: What, like do I think that people will watch them in the future, do you mean?
Not only that but can you imagine your film sitting next to Being There? Or are there films that you want that film to sit next to?
Hosking: Oh God, I don’t really have any perspective on that. I just feel like, yeah, I have no perspective on that. Yeah, this is not answering your question, but what I would love to have been able to do would be to watch – this will sound so narcissistic – but to watch one of my films not having been involved in any of it and to see what I thought of it. The funny thing about filmmaking, I think, is that you make something because you want it to exist and you want people to experience it and so it’s really coming from you, like with personal films or more independent films and stuff. And then you spend all this time doing it and then at the very end of the day, you’re the one person who can’t enjoy the film. It’s just not possible.
Well, David can observe.
Wike: Yeah, I was kinda around through every step of the process.
Hosking: He’s got a bit more distance from it than me.
Wike: We’ve been hanging around each other throughout part of the edit. So I was very much excited as someone that was witnessing all departments making decisions in the thing and the casting. Yeah, and the music and stuff. I have a little more distance. You can feel it in an audience when there’s this and that and you can walk away. I guess the whole goal, in the end, is literally, you’re excited about the thing because you want someone to just walk away feeling something. Having their day altered somehow, having the conversation not stop 10 seconds after leaving the cinema, if it makes them irritated and they think about it in the morning the next day, or if something lingers or it affects their day in some way.
Hosking: I want more than that. I want…it’s more like a specific feeling if there are some people who fucking love it. That kinda reaction.
Wike: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. If someone walks away not with this like, “Oh, that was fun.” You want to impact a few, you know. It’s to have someone have some sliver of the excitement that you had in the process and the years you put into making it, that there’s people it may affect.
Well, I guarantee if you’re in the lobby tonight and the films coming out, you’re not going to hear, “Meh.” You’re going to have people who are going love it and people who are going to be like, “Oh, that damn movie.”
Hosking: We’re going to get beaten up.
Yeah, you’ll get both sides.
Hosking: Although I still do get quite sensitive about people not liking stuff, I suppose. Or maybe just with this film because I feel like there’s more… I mean, it’s funny, but I feel like I have put myself more on the line with this than I did with The Strangler, which is probably not what people would think. With The Strangler, to me, I just didn’t… I mean like if people hated it I thought it was hilarious.
I read the Guardian newspaper film column back home and just seeing what’s out and they give reviews out of 5 stars. With The Strangler, they reviewed it three times, like at Sundance, and like they have a Friday and Sunday critic when it comes out in the cinema. And it went from getting 4 stars to 3 stars, and then in the last review, it got 0 stars. I didn’t even know you could get 0 stars, and I’ve read this newspaper for years and years and years and I’ve seen a lot of 1-star reviews that would just completely assassinate films. I was like, “Fucking hell.” It was actually like I couldn’t breathe for about 5 seconds. Someone said, “Oh, yeah. It’s been reviewed in the Guardian. Not a very good review.” Then I went and checked it out, and I just thought it was just a mistake they haven’t colored in some of the stars here because there’s none of them.
I don’t know. I’d cut that out. I’d put that on my fridge.
Hosking: Yeah, yeah. Then the producers were tweeting about it, “It’s a badge of honor.” And it’s like, “I’m the fucking director and I feel pretty weird about it.”
Are you the type of filmmakers who are going to sit in the back of the theater tonight?
Hosking: Oh I’m not. I think Dave might.
Wike: I might. I feel… a game-time decision.
Hosking: I find it really difficult.
Wike: But I might. It’s just a fun theater.
Hosking: Yeah, I get way too sensitive about that.
Wike: And also, it’s a theater where people are having a little fun in there, so there might be-
Hosking: We sat through the first screening at Sundance but… like sitting next to Aubrey, she and I are probably very similar kind of like, “Ugh.” We can spin things into the negative pretty easily if we wanted I suppose. But people were laughing their heads off at that screen and we still came out and were both like, “Oh that was so traumatizing.”
An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn is now playing in select theaters and on VOD and Digital HD.