Ethan Hawke Talks “Logan,” Festivals & More

Going by critical aggregate sites, James Mangold’s “Logan” is not only one of the best superhero films of the past few years but also one of the best overall films of last year. Shot for $97 million and grossing over $600 million worldwide even with an R rating, it was seen as a major success on all fronts.

Certainly much of the praise for the film is due to its avoiding the all too familiar template of most superhero films, skipping many of the large-scale action sequences and attempts at four-quadrant appeal in favour of a grim, adult character study more akin to a western.

One person who wasn’t a major fan though was actor Ethan Hawke. Hawke has become a champion of independent film in recent years, and has scored rave notices for his work in “First Reformed” this year. In a recent interview with The Film Stage he discussed the importance of film festivals. During the talk his opinion of “Logan” came up, a film that despite its more artistic pedigree he still sees as very much a studio film and a product of big business concerns:

“Now we have the problem that they tell us Logan is a great movie. Well, it’s a great superhero movie. It still involves people in tights with metal coming out of their hands. It’s not Bresson. It’s not Bergman. But they talk about it like it is.

I went to see Logan cause everyone was like: ‘This is a great movie’ and I was like, ‘Really?’. No, this is a fine superhero movie. There’s a difference but big business doesn’t think there’s a difference. Big business wants you to think that this is a great film because they wanna make money off of it.”

While indie films have to fight for financial success and awareness, studio genre films are more often finding themselves dealing with the issue of a lack of recognition and respect – especially amongst cinephiles. It’s an interesting interview piece as Hawke also goes into the increasingly common issue of how good smaller films get lost in the cracks amidst today’s overabundance of entertainment options:

“I’m always astonished, I’m sure you are too, you can go on Apple TV now and see that Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow made a movie together that I never heard of. What? And like, Matt Damon’s in a Clint Eastwood movie I never heard of? So many things get lost in the cracks and if those big names are getting lost, where are the Gattacas of right now?

It might be like other art forms where it might take 50 years to curate what’s happening right now. That’s why film festivals have become so important because you guys at film festivals are like curators of, like, what does the world need to be paying attention to. What should be seen? If we didn’t have these festivals, big business would crush all these smaller movies.”

The full interview can be read at The Film Stage.