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Quentin Dupieux, writer/director of Mandibles

Mandibles opens at Angelika Film Center and BAM Rose Cinemas on July 23rd, 2021 via Magnet Releasing.

NYC MOVIE GURU:  Where does your sense of humor come from and how would you describe it?

Quentin Dupieux: You should be the one to describe my sense of humor. I don't know. It's really hard to tell. I like dark jokes, but that's not a way to describe my movies. These movies aren't just dark comedies. I guess it's a mix between French comedies from my childhood, so French comedies from the 90's and 80's maybe, but then, also, I like to be sitting at a table with friends in restaurants and say bullshit, just like you. It's hard to describe. I have no words.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Given that comedy is so subjective and hard to put to words, how do you know that what you've written in the script will work when it's filmed?  

QD: It's always challenging because the script is a piece of paper. When you're writing a script, you're basically dreaming. Everything is in your head and it's hard to transform this into something real. To answer your first question, I never know if it's going to work. Basically, shooting the movie is the hardest beat for this because then everything has to work. You have no choice. You have, of course, not enough time to do everything, so every day is a challenge. Sometimes you  don't see the problems coming, like, for example, sometimes you have a problem with a very simple scene and then it's not working, it's not funny and it's not interesting. You have a few minutes to find a solution. That's part of the excitement of shooting a movie. I know that in the US, especially for the big movies, the blockbusters, I know that everything is storyboarded and scripted perfectly and they do tests, so everything is premade in a way. For me, it's much more simple. I write the script. I believe that the script is the master and then, a few months later, I'm shooting the movie and I'm a slave to the script because you can't change everything on the set. You need to follow the script and trust it, but then every day is a new challenge to make something work better or simply work.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How much of the plot of Mandibles would you want the audience to know about before they see it?  

QD: In a perfect world, there would be no trailer. That's the way I enjoy movies the most. When I go to the movie theater, I love to know absolutely nothing about the movie---just a good poster and then let's see. This is the best way to discover a movie, but today it's impossible to do it like this. Almost everyone sees the trailer and marketing people want to put all the good beats in the trailer which is normal---I understand that. So, then there's no surprise anymore. It's almost impossible to talk about Mandibles without talking about the fly. It was impossible to cut a trailer without showing the fly, but, yes, I would love people to watch Mandibles just like that without knowing anything. That would be the best experience.

NYC MOVIE GURU: What was the process like for you to decide how much exposition to include in Mandibles?  

QD: This doesn't work in my world, I would say. It's the same for all of my movies. Even when I know stuff when I'm writing, I think about back stories and stuff like that, but I don't think that it's interesting for the audience. I think that it's better to jump in just like in real life. You walk on the street and meet someone and something happens. You don't know the backstory; you just meet someone and something happens. That's what's interesting. That's how I see movies, actually, but then I know for other scripts and for other directions, it's, of course, good to explain more. I think that I like to let things go unexplained.

NYC MOVIE GURU: I think that even though Mandibles's plot seems to be, on the surface, about Jean-Gab and Manu's experiences with the fly, it's fundamentally about their friendship. Do you agree or disagree?  

QD: Yes, yes. It is. That's the only subject. This layer is the best. You can't do just one subject is enough, but then it's like in real life. A lot of things are happening. There's a lot of stuff going on, but then there's a subject. It's hard to say. If you organize a dinner at your house and want to see some friends, the subject is "seeing my friends." Then you talk about everything: politics, someone dying, who disappeared or whatever, but the subject was "seeing your friends."

NYC MOVIE GURU: How do you feel about the word "weird" when it comes to describing your films?  

QD: I, honestly, don't like the word "weird" because I don't think that I'm that weird. There are so many weirder movies. I don't see myself as a weird guy. I have a normal life. I have kids, I have a dog, I have a family. Everything is normal and there's nothing weird. I don't even have weird dreams. So, I don't know about that word. I would say that life is absurd many times. Life is not scripted. I think, sometimes, movies tend to be too scripted and too rational. Like, everything is too logical---the good guy, the bad guy and stuff. I think that life contains absurdity every day. So, that's how I see my movies. I think that they're close to real life in a way.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Who are some French comedians would you like to have worked with from the Golden Age of French Comedy? Louis de Funès, perhaps?  

QD: Yes, him for sure, but there's a movie called Le Pere Noel Est Une Ordure [Santa Claus is a Stinker]. It's a very famous French movie from the end of the 80's. All of the actors in the movie, some of them are still alive today, but they're like French Golden Age Comedy people. I would love to work with them, but, of course, it's too late because they're, like, 80 years old now.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Thank you for making comedies. People in this world need to laugh more.  

QD: That's my only goal: making people laugh.

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