John Sayles, a Diner, and Me
Not too long ago I was given the opportunity to sit down and talk with John Sayles about his latest film Amigo. Amigo is an historical drama in theaters now. It’s a beautifully shot film set on a small, occupied island during the Philippine-American War. Although the cast is mostly unknown to American audiences, the performances are exceptional, performed by an appealing cast led by Filipino actor, Joel Torre. With a story that centers on a small village thrust into a war they understand very little about, the film’s theme holds a striking significance for the modern audience given the events happening all over the world today.
When I first arrived at the Du-Par’s (a well-known diner at the famous LA Farmers Market) I had intended to ask Sayles about his filmmaking process, from the point in which he becomes interested in a project to the development and producing of the final product. I was particularly interested in this because Amigo, like most of Sayles’ films (Brother From Another Planet, Matewan, Lone Star) has a certain degree of social consciousness, and yet manages to maintain a high level of entertainment throughout the picture. I had my list of questions carefully planned out. But you know what they say about best-laid plans.
Well, I didn’t actually get around to hardly any of the questions I had in mind. Instead, the conversation took on a life of its own. And well, I was enjoying listening to Sayles so much I just let the topic go where it wanted. It’s really the best thing to do when interviewing a master storyteller, because what they have to say is far more interesting than anything you may want them to say. And man, can Sayles talk. From observations about bicycling in LA, to the use of locals in his films, to memories of going to the drive-in as a kid, and more, Sayles tells a fascinating tale.
What you can hear posted on the Podcast page starts off with Sayles mid sentence reacting to the fact I rode a bicycle to the interview, and it just flows in all directions from there. If you like Sayles (or even just like listening to an intelligent director) you’re going to enjoy listening to him as much as I did. And if you don’t know Sayles, you’re going to want to after listening to this recording. I recommend starting out with Amigo since it’s in theaters now, and following up with putting Lone Star and Eight Men Out on your NetFlix list. I know you won’t be disappointed.