Filed Under: Interview
|Andrew Jarecki, director/writer/producer of All Good Things
Writer/director/producer Andrew Jarecki
's All Good Things
provides an absorbing theory about the Robert Durst cases the 1982 disappearance of his wife, and two subsequent deaths 20 years later. For All Good Things
, the names have been changed Durst becomes Robert Marks here to protect the possibly guilty.
After helming the spellbinding documentary Capturing the Friedmans
and producing Catfish
this summer, Jarecki makes his first foray into fiction film with All Good Things
). We spoke with the City Paper
about the recurring themes of his work true crime and family.
City Paper: What fascinates you about true crime, particularly stories where guilt is suspected by never quite proven?
I never ever thought, I'm interested in a particular genre. It's more that I hear an interesting story, and I take more of an interest in it. As I get closer to it, I start to realize it's similar to other things that I've done. I always think that I stumble into that situation and notice connections. But it's more like sleepwalking than a plan. I do try to listen to my intuition about things. If something interests me, I keep asking questions about it. I like things that are hidden. I think that when people hide things they're usually showing much more of themselves in the hiding than if they never hidden the thing to begin with.
CP: Do you identify with the people/characters/families you present on screen?
My family is unbelievably
complicated, and I guess that's what probably makes them like all families.
CP: How is your family complicated?
They are a bundle of fantastic contradictions. A lot of my family members have alternative lifestyles and ways they do things and they criticize other family members who have other alternative lifestyles that are just as weird. The good thing about my family and maybe it's liberating is that my father is very good about talking about these things. There's nothing he won't discuss; he doesn't get offended. Our family doesn't mind a certain kind of self-analysis, so I became an in-house therapist for a lot of people that are in my life. I guess I look at families from that perspective. How families operate interest me, and how people set responsibilities. What do we owe each other for being born in the same house? I know brothers and sisters who hate each other it's like the proximity of it that makes them go after each other. I love all the dividing lines and society rules. You're not supposed to have sex with your relatives, but millions of Americans do it. You're supposed to honor your brother and sister, but millions of Americans talk trash behind their back. These are rules we ignore.
CP: All Good Things and Capturing the Friedmans are both, in their way, about sins of the father. You have two young sons. What messages are you passing along to them in your work?
I sometimes think when I'm with my kids: What are the things I'm doing now that they will be made at me for later, and how do I avoid them? I know that my father did things when I was growing up he created some impediments for me. They were his job to create, part of the trials and tribulations you have growing up so you get tough and adaptable. Being with my dad is like swinging with two bats. Sometimes he makes things difficult, or your can understand that's what a father will do. Like animals do they fight internally so the young bucks become stronger and avoid trouble. In this film, the father behaves less like a father. The narcissism of this very powerful man ... his advice is meant to be taken as instruction. He doesn't think he is doing anything destructive.
CP: Katie (Kirsten Dunst) has a line in All Good Things where she says, "I've never been closer to anyone, but I don't know you at all." This could be used as the key to all of your films where the characters think they know someone but don't have a clue. Why is that a running theme through your work?
That's issue of identity is really important to me that there is still privacy in an individual. If you're with someone and sleeping with them and you're having childrenor notwith them, you are still independent and have secrets. I use that when I'm directing. I often will make an adjustment in a scene by going to one actor, and making an adjustment, and not go to the other at all. I think that that can have a really interesting impact. You're telling a secret to one actor, and it becomes like that game where one person knows something and the other has to guess. That's really how human beings operate with each other. If you try to do a business deal, or want to buy a house almost every human interaction, whether it's a love relationship or a business deal and in the Marks family, they are not totally unrelated you don't have all the information.
CP: How much do you think class was a factor in what transpired?
I think that the fact that the case was never understood, analyzed or solved has a lot to do with the privilege of class. I think that was the case back in 1982 when [Katie] disappeared. When you have an enormously wealthy or powerful suspect or later defendant, there is a kind of conspiracy without a conspiracy. If you can't be sure to get a conviction on a regular person, but you think that there's a good chance that they killed someone, you send them through the machine. Because you think there is a pretty good chance to get a circumstantial conviction and send the person to jail. If you only have circumstantial evidence, let's say you don't have a body and they didn't I think there is often the phone call that comes from the mayor's office to the chief of police that says, "I would never tell you not to pursue a murder suspect, if you feel like this guy killed his wife, I say hang 'em high, but if you're not sure you can get a conviction, we'd be doing a lot of damage here to a very important constituent. I'd never tell you not to do the work, but be sure you're right." But if you have a murder with no body, you're never sure you're right. Who's going to take that challenge? In Galveston, the judge sees that the defendant is a person of unlimited resources. The judge is going to spend a lot of time protecting the record so they can't get overturned. When you are in Galveston and get a case with a high profile, you know for sure there's going to be an appeal, you let them do almost anything they want in court like put the witness on the stand for two days and talk about tons of things that have nothing to do with the case. A poor defendant would never have that opportunity.
CP: Can you comment on the Durst lawsuit? The family wanted the film stopped...
Robert is a completely different animal from his family. His family is adamantly opposed to the film because the film doesn't work for their purposes, but he is adamantly opposed to his family. It was never his intention to sue us. He just wanted to see what he thought about the film for his own purposes. The Durst family wanting to sue us was a whole different thing, because they wanted to prevent us from shooting the movie. I don't think they were successful, but they certainly worked hard to keep the movie out of the public eye. It worked for a period of time.