Dodge College had the honor of hosting a Q&A with director Todd Field followed by a screening of his most recent and Oscar-nominated film Tár on Feb. 15. The Dodge College Career Center’s very own Joe Rosenberg moderated the Q&A. For months, since Joe saw Tár in September at Telluride, he has been non-stop talking about the film. I spoke with him afterward to discuss his love for the film and his experience interviewing director Todd Field.
What was your knowledge of the film before seeing it at Telluride in September?
I didn’t [have any knowledge of the film prior to seeing it]. What I did know was Todd Field made a new film. I loved his two other films In The Bedroom and Little Children. I was excited to see what was his first film in 16 years. I think I had read somewhere what it was about, but I didn’t know anything about the character or the story. And so I was completely, in the best way possible, surprised and mesmerized.
What was your immediate reaction coming out of the theater after your first time watching?
I thought it was brilliant. On every level the film was impeccable. I remember thinking, “This is why I got into the movie business years ago in the first place.” It was films like this.
How many times have you seen the film since then? Do your feelings/reactions/takeaways change every time? (Over time, have you realized more about the film than you did on a first watch?)
I have seen it one other time, two times in total. I loved it the second time. And I think I saw more clearly some of the themes, or at least for me what some of the themes were. The biggest theme for me was how do you separate art and the artist? How do you separate out what people make and who they are? And that is just such a great theme to explore. Because, like all of us, our lead is flawed. She is deeply human, Lydia Tár.
Could you tell me what you thought about Cate Blanchett’s performance? Do you think this is one of her best performances of all time?
I love Cate Blanchett. I think she’s the best actor working today. She was in every scene of the movie. Just watching her, I mean, it was a tour de force. I think it is her best role. She was incredible.
Could you go in-depth on the feelings you expressed in the Master Class when you said something along the lines of “films like Tár are the ones that inspired me to go into the industry so many years ago?”
There definitely were films that inspired me to go into the movie business. Both Godfathers, Shampoo, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Rosemary’s Baby. Just a few that come right off the top for me. Tár is definitely one of those films. It’s a signature film. Nobody else could have made it. It’s an original work of art.
Why do you think the movie works as a whole?
It’s a smart and well-crafted story. She’s a great character. It’s completely cinematic. All the supporting characters were really well-developed and fleshed out. She was a character that I invested in from the start.
There were three things about it: I felt an emotional connection, I thought it was novel — I had not seen a story like that before, and it was memorable. I thought about it a lot after I saw it, and to me, that makes a great film.
What did you think about the Todd Field Master Class? What question were you most excited to find out the answer to?
I really enjoyed talking to him. I had never met him, and I found him very humble and conversational. It was easy to connect. I remember thinking when I was about to start that this is not an interview, this is a conversation and what questions would be the most beneficial to our students. That was the most important thing to me. Hearing about his own experiences in film school, how he broke in, what his process is like, what’s important to him as a filmmaker, what he had done in the time period between the last film and this — all of it takes courage.
Any other comments?
I really enjoyed doing it. The last thing I will say. This is in gratitude toward Dean Galloway: the level of guests that we all get to talk to and hear and learn from is on another level. We really are fortunate that all these great artists come every semester to share their experience, strength, and hope. I love that.