Friday, September 01, 2006

Blogosphere Multiplex: Dylan Meconis

We normally do the Interviews on Monday but that's a holiday, sillies. So enjoy this early "quirky" bird. Readers who followed me over to my guest posting gig @ Modern Fabulousity will remember I was breathless over some illustrations of the Battlestar Galactica cast as Simpsons characters. That witty fusion was brought to you by Dylan Meconis, an illustrator hailing from Oregon. You can read Dylan's blog, see her website, or visit the communal pants press sketchblog that she frequents.

Dylan is very talented and, as turns out, really fun to chat with. Here's the interview:

10 questions with Dylan Meconis

Nathaniel:How often do you go the movies?

Dylan: Two to three times a month, although since I've moved to Portland, I've been going more often. I live within shooting distance of three or four excellent old-time movie houses that show second-run and classic shows for a pittance, and serve pizza and microbrew beer. It's kind of hard to resist seeing Mary Poppins for three dollars, especially with an IPA and a three-cheese pizza backing it up.

Nathaniel: Dear Lord! If I wasn't so happy with Manhattan that'd be like an effective recruiting campaign for Oregon. I hear you just got back from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. What did you see and what is your favorite Shakespeare film adaptation?

Dylan: This year I only saw three plays. This time it was Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, Intimate Apparel (a contemporary play), and a really fun production of Two Gentlemen of Verona.

As for my favorite Shakespeare film - the one that has made the biggest impression on me is Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. I went to see it as an 8th grader at the local arthouse theater in my Seattle neighborhood, and I came out with eyes the size of dinner plates. I just thought it was marvelous and vibrant and that Branagh wasn't afraid to be very bold in his directing choices - but he avoided any big gimmicks with the setting or staging.

Really I like all of Branagh's Shakespeare films - Henry V (the prologue, read by Derek Jacobi, striding through all the studio equipment...gah! Awesome!), Much Ado About Nothing, Othello...all very enjoyable. As for my least favorite, well, She's The Man was pretty horrifying.

Nathaniel: Which movie stars would you switch teams for?

Dylan: Ooh...tough one, since I've played both sides... However, let it be known that I would totally marry Alan Rickman and Catherine Zeta-Jones. At the same time. The ceremony would be lovely.

Nathaniel: Ha ha. love it. Though I must say I find the combo baffling. I'm reading on your blog about your kung fu injury... Goodness you're a girl of many talents. Which martial arts heavy films do you love?

Dylan: I've never been much for the martial arts genre, so I'm mostly lame and like the Kill Bill movies. I have to say that all the wire-fighting, super-fast kung fu stuff doesn't do it for me - I really prefer stage combat to have weight and consequence. Kill Bill was obviously fantasy, but at least I believed in the physical damage being inflicted. I think I'm the one person on earth who didn't like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Don't hate me.

Nathaniel: It's too late. No I kid. I can't hate you after reading that post you did on Tony Jay and his voicework on Hunchback of Notre Dame. I totally agree. I love pieces of that movie so much. What are you favorite films or characters from animated films?

Dylan: Oh, well, obviously Frollo from Hunchback, and for that matter, Phoebus and Clopin from that movie, as well. Such great character animation and voice acting! I was completely obsessed with that movie as a teenager, and I still adore it.

Probably my favorite animated film of all time is The Incredibles, though. It's just flawless. I could watch it on loop and never get sick of it. I also think Spirited Away is pretty amazing. The rest of Miyazaki is pretty and I enjoy it, but he's not very good at telling coherent stories, and Spirited Away is just abstract and dreamy enough that you don't mind so much. For classic Disney, you can't beat Sleeping Beauty ---gorgeous, with all of those painstakingly researched and handpainted backgrounds. And Maleficent, who's another magnificent cartoon villain.

As for things I can't really justify in any way, I really like the Korso character (voiced by Bill Pullman) from the inescapably mediocre Titan A.E. I have no idea why. Maybe it's an illness.

Nathaniel: I have just started looking at Bite Me!, your webcomic. I am a huge fan of vampires. Who are your favorite cinematic vampires and why do you think they never go away from pop culture? It's not like frankenstein is continually in vogue.

Dylan: I love vampire stuff too, but I also realize how ridiculous it all is. Which just adds to the fun, really. Favorite cinema vampires...well, that's easy enough. I'm not a Tom Cruise fanatic by any stretch of the imagination, but he was brilliantly cast as Lestat in the original Interview film. (Brad Pitt as Louis was a sad mistake; I hold that Johnny Depp would've been much more accurate casting.) Other than that, you have to give props to Christopher Lee's nine million Dracula appearances. And on the anime front, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is still one of the most perfect vampire flicks ever. Still waiting for a decent female vampire role; Parker Posey in Blade 3 was at least funny.

As for eternal appeal (ha, ha), well, vampires are cool. They are sexy. They dress fashionably. They can be heroes OR bad guys. They can live forever, but die with extreme flare. There's just a lot of immediately enjoyable features to draw from, and you can pick and choose. Whereas Frankenstein's monster kind of, what? Lumbers, and throws small children into lakes, and groans with pathos? Only so much you can do, there.

Nathaniel: Hee. so true, though I have to say we part ways on Tom Cruise as Lestat. That movie hurts me. And not in the good way.

OK. last time I interviewed an illustrator I had to ask this and I will again. What's your feeling on movies about artists -- Girl with a Pearl Earring or artist biopics like Friday. Any general or specific feelings about the genre... hate? love?

Dylan: I can't say as I seek them out. I really enjoyed Frida, but in general, something bothers me about artistically interpreting an artistic interpreter. It seems a little bit like a snake eating its own tail. And, frankly, a lot of wildly famous artists are depressing, narcissistic jerks.

Frida I enjoyed in part because the artist herself was actually decent as a human being and a woman, despite all of the hardships life threw at her. Even when her art expressed pain, it was vibrant and joyous, and the film captured that. I adore Julie Taymor, who did such a wonderful job at turning the whole look of the film into a sort of living Kahlo painting in that way. Of course, now I look at Kahlo art and have a false impression that I "know" Frida Kahlo, which isn't true. I know an impression of her as presented by the people involved in that film. That bugs me.

Nathaniel: Interesting. But to some extent isn't that true with all biopics?

Dylan: Sure it is, but's it particularly extreme in the case of artists - art about art is kind of a dangerous feedback loop if not done very well.

Nathaniel: That "knowing" affect is true of our culture of celebrity, too. We feel like celebrities aren't complete strangers...which of course they are. If you could hang out with an actor, director, or a movie character who would it be?

Dylan: If I could hang out with an actor, I'd honestly be interested in somebody like Hugo Weaving, who's played a really wide variety of roles in everything from huge stupid American smash-up movies to Australian fringe theater. I sort of want to be him when I grow up, and it'd be neat to hear his war stories. For dead actors, Leslie Howard, who gave Bogart his big break.

For directors, I know the folks I admire, but they all strike me as being a bit intense and possibly unpleasant. Glen Keane is directing for Disney now, though, and he would be really fun to hang out with and talk animation. And movie characters...can I be a total dork and say David Thewlis's portrayal of Professor Lupin, from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? Not to make out with him, just to chat quietly and roam about Hogwarts. That sounds nice.

Nathaniel: You are always welcome to be a total dork! Speaking of: Here's a geeky sophies choice for you: Arwen or Eowyn?

Dylan: Hell-oooooo, Eowyn! I have little use for a lady who can't be described as "feisty". Arwen is mostly good for weeping crystal tears and having somber visions shot through gauze, whereas I get the feeling Eowyn would be totally down for wacky roadtrips, boxing classes, and cuddle sessions in fleece pajamas in front of old Tracy/Hepburn flicks. Also, she would buy me a pony and I would ride it with her across the great plains of Gondor. That would be hella romantic.

Nathaniel: That's great. OK. Wrapping up now: They make a movie of your life. Who plays you? Who directs? What's the title? rating?

Dylan: Playing me: Since Winona Ryder can't really act and is in career hell, I'm going to have to go with Johnny Depp in yoga pants drag. It would be amazing. Really. I would trust no one else to portray me with such honesty. However, they will probably cast Natalie Portman: it could be worse.

Directing - well, me, of course. Unless I'm dead, in which case, Rian Johnson. My only stipulation to him would be the inclusion of the musical saw and the theremin in the score, and at least one original David Bowie song. The title: Heroine of the Hour: the Dylan Meconis Story Rating: Oh, let's go with a PG-13. Enough to make it edgy, without cutting into ticket sales. I want this in the art house AND the multiplex.

Thanks Nathaniel! I had fun.

Nathaniel: Thank you. And best wishes on a blooming illustration career.

Film Experience (for newbies):
Previous Interview w/ Martha of Cinematical * An Object of My Obsession -Moulin Rouge! * Far From Heaven vs. Brokeback -Whose side are you on? * She's a Bitch (@ the Movies) * The FB Awards -My Annual Prizes *

Tags: movies, Shakespeare, Frida, Hamlet, The Incredibles, Interview with the Vampire, cinema, Hugo Weaving, film, animation, celebrities, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Oregon, vampires, Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp


Anonymous said...

Fuck yeah Branagh's Hamlet! That was an amazing adaptation of my favorite Shakespeare play thus far. Why isn't that brilliant film out on DVD yet? 'Tis a crime, I say, a crime!

Emma said...

He's a quirky bird all right, but a cool one at that.

Robb said...

"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is sooooooo underrated.I'm glad to see that others appreciate it too.Word!

Anonymous said...

Mysticdollarredemption--she's a quirkybird, dear.