If you stick around through the closing credits of Before Midnight, the latest film in the trilogy that also includes Before Sunriseand Before Sunset,you’ll see that the movie is dedicated to someone whose name even the most die-hard fans have never heard before: Amy Lehrhaupt. Almost 25 years ago, Lehrhaupt met a young man named Richard Linklater and spent a night with him that he never forgot. Their encounter inspired Linklater to conceive and direct Before Sunrise, the first film in the series. She never saw it, though; unbeknownst to Linklater, by the time that movie came out, Lehrhaupt was dead.
Linklater never mentioned Lehrhaupt by name in the press before promoting Before Midnight—Ethan Hawke has said that the director was uncomfortable mentioning her until “extremely recently”—but he has long made brief references to their encounter. From a number of interviews he’s done over the years, we can now piece together the complete story of how Lehrhaupt helped inspire the series.
Even as that experience was going on … I was like, “I’m gonna make a film about this.” And she was like, “What ‘this’? What’re you talking about?” And I was like, “Just this. This feeling. This thing that’s going on between us.”
But as the night came to an end, the paths of Linklater and Lehrhaupt began to diverge from the fictional storyline of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy). In fact, on The Q&A, Linklater revealed that the ending of Before Sunrise was in part a response to what happened with him and Lehrhaupt. Unlike Jesse and Céline, who agree to reconvene in six months, the real-life young lovers exchanged numbers and tried to keep in touch while they were away. They called each other a few times, but it was “that long distance thing” that did them in. “It sort of did the fizzle,” he says, “So in the first movie that was a thing, the idea that they would intellectually kind of get beyond that and say ‘Well, we’re on different continents. What are the odds that it’s gonna work. Let’s just commit to this night.’ ”
Linklater soon became involved with another woman, who “swept into [his] life … and took over for about a year or so,” and he and Lehrhaupt never talked again. He did think that maybe “she would show up at a Before Sunrise screeningor something.” In Before Sunset, Céline shows up at a reading of Jesse’s book This Time, which is based on their night together. “It would be so weird,” he said, in 2004. But she never did.
Linklater didn’t know then that Lehrhaupt had died in a motorcycle accident on May 9, 1994, before she reached her 25th birthday. Before Sunrise started filming a few weeks later. Linklater only learned of her death three years ago, when a friend of Lehrhaupt’s, who knew about the encounter, put it together and sent him a letter. “It was very sad,” Linklater told the Times. Ethan Hawke was similarly devastated when he heard it, though he reminded Linklater that if he hadn’t met her, then he never would have made these movies or met some of the people who worked on them with him. “Who knows how we reverberate through each other’s lives,” Linklater reflected in another interview, “But she’s an inspiration on this.”
In this way, Linklater did find another way to make that feeling, that “thing in the air” they once had between them, last: He turned it into cinema.
For nearly an hour, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive looked as if it was shaping up to be not merely the best film of Cannes 2013, but one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. Granted, I’m not sure how Jarmusch could have sustained what he was doing much longer, as the initial movement is essentially Woody Allen’s list of reasons why life is worth living (as enumerated by his alter ego in Manhattan) disguised as a vampire movie. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton, both ravishingly bedraggled, play a pair of amorous bloodsuckers (living in Detroit and Tangier, respectively, when the film begins) whose undead state has seemingly only whetted their appetite for beauty in all its forms; the movie functions for an amazingly long time as a catalogue of their passions, which include everything from vintage guitars to scientific nomenclature to seeing the house where Jack White grew up. I realize that may sound in bald description like the worst kind of hipster bullshit (which was more or less my reaction to much of The Limits of Control), but Jarmusch, Hiddleston, and Swinton pour so much uninhibited ardor into each and every moment that the movie constantly feels as if it’s about to burst from an excess of feeling. There’s zero irony here. What’s more, the vampire conceit, while superficially silly (the film is more or less a comedy, albeit an unusually heartfelt one), has the salutary effect of throwing human mortality into stark relief, creating a carpe diem sensation without actually saying anything so banal. Eventually, Jarmusch feels obligated to toss in some vague plot elements—Mia Wasikowska shows up as Swinton’s troublemaking sister—and while the rest of Only Lovers Left Alive is plenty of fun, it also, paradoxically, starts to seem frivolous, just a series of mildly amusing riffs. That’s exactly how many critics, even those who quite liked the film, seem to perceive it. But it clearly aspires to something more, at least for a while, and comes tantalizingly close to achieving it.
The original 1989 Bat-boots designed by Tinker Hatfield for Tim Burton’s Batman. As the story goes, Nike had a deal going with Warner Bros and wanted in on what would no doubt be one of the blockbusters of the year. Producer Jon Peters had initially proposed to use the Batsuit for a bit of product placement but lead costume director Bob Ringwood opposed it on the ground that 80s sportswear wasn’t going to fit in with the film’s 1940s look, as a compromise he suggested that Nike take care of the boots design instead. Ringwood was particularily fond of the 1988 Air Trainer SC (now Air Trainer III) and so Tinker Hatfield was brought in to turn his original design into boots. Working from a plaster cast of Michael Keaton’s calves, Hatfield made 18 pairs of knee-high leather-and-polyurethane boots complete with shin guards and instep armors. Unsurprisingly, the film features several detailed shots of the shoes.
The boots were a hit with Keaton and his stuntmen and Hatfield was brought back to work on Batman Returns two years later. Since the cost of creating new boots from scratch was estimated at $20,000, Hatfield decided to start once again with an existing design and customized a pair of 1991 Air Jordan VI (incidentally, some elements of the Jordan VI design are said to have been inspired by Hatfield’s work on the original Bat-boot).
The poster is so odd. I’m curious why you chose that particular image as the first thing many people will see about Upstream Color?
I felt it was a good contextualization of what the movie itself is interested in. There were a lot of ways to take some of the more striking imagery from the movie and sell it, like, “Whoa, you’ve got to see this movie folks! There’s pigs and worms! And wow, hey look: guns!” There were ways to try and sell things and try to get every last dollar. But when I see that image of two fully clothed people in a bathtub, and the distress that’s involved, I want to know something about it. Not how crazy the plot is that got them there, but something more. What emotional state did they have to get in for this odd thing to happen? (via)
August 1990, St. Marks Place. Priscilla Forsyth, one month shy of her fourteenth birthday and just home from summer camp, straddles one of the two lion statues guarding the downward staircase to the apartment building her family has owned since 1975. Naturally blonde Liza and dyed blonde Margaret idle with her. It’s hot out, and Priscilla is becoming more curious about the world beyond her sidewalk.
An energetic kid with a scrawny but chiseled build named Harold Hunter rides up on his BMX bike. “I’ve never seen blonde people in New York” before, he tells the girls, giggling. He was from the Campos Plaza Housing Projects nearby–a different world, to be sure, although he’d obviously seen blonde girls before.
“That was his little excuse to start talking to us,” Priscilla recalls. “Harold was known for that.” The superlatives, the tall tales and jokes, the genuinely amicable first encounters–anyone who knew him knew that was Harold.
A month later, Priscilla and her friends were meandering downtown drinking forties, celebrating her birthday. They passed the Astor Place cube, a favored location for New York City’s premiere skateboard crew at the time. Priscilla and her girlfriends exchanged numbers with the skaters, and joined them the next day at the Brooklyn Banks, a world-renowned skateboarding mecca underneath the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge–that is, until the city shut it down a few years ago to use as storage space for bridge restoration.
When the girls arrived at the Banks, they met Harold and his friends, an infamous crew of amateur and professional skateboarders who rode alongside moving taxicabs and jumped off building and museum steps. Wherever they went throughout the city, the boys rode with a gutsy and fluid style. “It looked like art on a skateboard,” says Peter Bici, a skater and close friend of Harold’s. “It was a combination of New York City and the movement of streets and constant continuity of the city’s energy.” The kids loved each other like family, and didn’t give a shit about what anyone else thought of them. “We were minding our own business,” says Peter. “We don’t bother you. You don’t bother us. We all had each other’s backs.” It was an era when skateboarding wasn’t cool. If they heard wheels coming down the street, they’d run after them.
When Harold saw the girls, invited by his other friends, he made sure everyone knew he met them first. Priscilla says this now, twenty-three years later, imitating Harold in the nasal, raspy voice his loved ones mimic when telling Harold stories; the impersonation brings a comical lightness to the forefront, just like Harold always did.
Harold started regularly coming to the Forsyths’ for dinner. He became Priscilla’s surrogate brother. “Families didn’t adopt Harold, he adopted families,” says Priscilla’s sister Jessica.
Priscilla, now thirty-six, and Jessica, thirty-nine, with a black father from Grenada and a white mother from the Cleveland suburbs, went to the prestigious Hunter College Elementary and High Schools, commuting each weekday to the Upper East Side. But it was in the East Village where they met the skater crew, and Harold started bringing his friends over to the the house too. Soon enough, the Forsyths’ apartment on St. Marks Place became another stomping ground, a clubhouse of sorts for this group of “lost boys.” Many, like Harold, hailed from broken homes.
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When the 1995 film Kids, written by Harmony Korine and directed by Larry Clark, was released, Newsweek called it “astonishing”; Janet Maslin of the New York Times said it was “a wake-up call to the modern world.” The Motion Picture Association of America initially branded the film with an NC-17 rating; upstart film producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein created a new distribution company to release it unrated into theaters. […]
Kids came from the minds of Korine, a skate kid from Tennessee whose grandmother lived in Queens and hung out with Harold and his friends, and Clark, already known for his gritty, sexualized youth photography. (Clark had started photographing the crew in the early 1990s.) It was the first film for both, and the camera barely leaves the kids, none of whom were actors at the time; all were plucked from Harold’s skater crew and elsewhere downtown.
Those of us who watched Kids as adolescents, growing up in an era before iPhones, Facebook, and Tiger Moms, had our minds blown from wherever we were watching–whether it was the Angelika Film Center on the Lower East Side or our parents’ Midwestern basements. We were captivated by the entirely unsupervised teens smoking blunts, drinking forties, hooking up, running amok and reckless through the New York City streets. Simultaneously, the driving storyline highlighted the terror of HIV and AIDS, which was at its apex in the mid-nineties.
Justin Pierce, who played Casper, took his life in July 2000, the first of several tragedies for the kids. Harold, who played himself in the film and is best remembered for swinging his dick around in the pool scene—he was that kid who wasn’t afraid, who radiated a magnetic and infectious energy both on and off screen—is gone too. He died in February 2006 from a drug-induced heart attack.
The film grossed millions and deeply impacted the lives and careers of all involved. Korine, who just released his newest film Spring Breakers, went on to artistic claim and fame. Clark continues making films and controversial photography, but Kids remains by far his most well-known project. Several kids went on to successful acting careers, most notably Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson. Zoo York, the skate brand created in 1993 and home base for many in the crew, blew up overnight. New York skaters went from mini-celebrities in the extreme sport world to global notoriety; while on a Zoo York skate tour, Harold was recognized by film fans as far away as Japan.
In a coffee shop on the Lower East Side this spring, Peter Bici, a pro skateboarding legend who appeared in the film, tells me it’s not about him–the film, the interview, this article. Now a New York City fireman with a wife and daughter, Peter speaks with a thick, classic New York accent as tears well up in his eyes. “It’s about Harold and Justin,” he says. “I just want to keep Justin and Harold alive with these stories. It’s not about me, really. It’s not. It’s about them. That’s why I’m here. They still live on.”