“Funny Face” is a superhero film only Tim Sutton could make. The film follows the story of a young guy named Saul, who is upset with his life and the direction he thinks New York City is headed. So, what’s a guy to do? Well, naturally, you grab a mask, team up with a Muslim girl who recently ran away from her family, and take on a greedy businessman. But that’s “Funny Face” in the simplest of terms. What Sutton delivers is something much more complicated and much more unique.
And in this episode of The Playlist Podcast, Charles, Mike, and Brian speak with Sutton about “Funny Face,” and how he aims to reclaim the superhero story for the common people.
“So I got this idea of how this mask allows this person to be this kind of sad, weird, anonymous superhero, but in a Joey Ramone kind of way, a punk rock kind of way,” said Sutton about the hero in “Funny Face.”
Every hero needs a good villain, right? In this film, Saul has to step up to face a greedy developer played by Jonny Lee Miller. And though he has some vague similarities to Donald Trump, Sutton explained who the real inspiration is for the character.
“I told Jonny Lee Miller…the only direction I gave him was be Jared Kushner. That was really the only direction and he knew what to do with that,” he said.
Considering “Funny Face” is a barebones superhero story, it begs the question of whether or not Tim Sutton is a fan of where superhero cinema is currently headed. And it’s probably not a huge surprise that the filmmaker isn’t really the biggest Marvel/DC fanboy out there.
“I like some Marvel movies, but I despise many. And the DC universe as well,” Sutton explained. “I think they’ve stolen the superhero away from the rest of us. The superhero isn’t just Robert Downey, Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch and hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. The superhero started out as kind of a Brooklyn punk or Queens nerd, and it was DIY stuff. So I wanted to reclaim the superhero story for the bodega group. To make a howling punk rock version of the superhero that can’t get things done. He doesn’t have superpowers, he just has himself and his borough.”
Naturally, when you talk to Tim Sutton, you know “Donnybrook” is going to enter the discussion. But in the interview, Sutton doesn’t just talk about his 2018 film. Instead, he talked about the legacy of the feature and how it was received by some critics. Upon its debut on the festival circuit, “Donnybrook” was immediately divisive amongst critics. And according to the filmmaker, the negative reviews sunk the movie before it even had a chance.
“But with ‘Donnybrook,’ I thought [the critics] did something really irresponsible,” he said. “You can criticize the film. But there were critiques that criticized the title sequence, that criticized the cover of the novel, that criticized shots that were moments of near-suicide, where we worked really hard to create this emotional void.”
He added, “And they tossed it off, like ‘Oh, it’s too dark, it’s not classy, blah blah blah.’ And it killed the film. The film premiered opening night in Toronto for The Platform competition. It won Fantastic Fest. And then it went away. And I think that’s because critics didn’t understand it and wanted to destroy it…Look, I can take [the criticism], but people didn’t get to SEE it. You make a movie for an audience to make their own decisions.”
You can hear our entire discussion with director Tim Sutton below:
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