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'Blonde': Pioneer filmmaker Joyce Chopra on key differences between her adaptation and Andrew Dominic

Well Known Strong Disagreement Surrounding Andrew Dominik ‘s NC- Biopic Blonde has the surprising effect of simultaneously boosting interest in another Marilyn Monroe project that might otherwise slip into the past. In 700 groundbreaking female filmmaker Joyce Chopra shoots for CBS A two-part TV miniseries based on Joyce Carroll Oates’ novel Dominik will later spend over a decade on Netflix brought the screen.

Dominic’s nearly three-hour telling of Marilyn’s story is harrowing because it focuses almost entirely on the many traumas in the Hollywood icon’s life, and on the There is little interest in the plot where she exercises her undeniable right to agency and self-determination. As the Hollywood Reporter’s chief critic David Rooney said in

comments of , “This is a treatise on celebrities and sexual symbols that confuses not only reality with fantasy, but empathy with exploitation.”

The film has also been slammed in some ways for its handling of abortion. Dominique Blonde describes Monroe as having two illegal abortions, both of which appear to have been imposed against her will and continue to haunt her her life. Through the effect of what can be accurately described as a CGI-rendered fetal cam, the film depicts Monroe’s fetus in the womb, and she was even asked, “You won’t hurt me this time, will you?” (Planned Parenthood later published Statement lamented “ Blonde ‘s creators chose to be anti-abortion propaganda.”)

In stark contrast to these shots, Chopra’s TV miniseries is getting a second look for its more empathetic and balanced treatment of Monroe’s entire life , while also being faithful to Oates’ semi-fictional 700 page novel as source material. The script for the miniseries was also written by a woman, producer and screenwriter Joyce Eliason, who died early 10 This year (by the way, she also made David 1235229880 Lynch’s Mulholland Avenue , same year Blonde on CBS company broadcast). A key creative choice in Eliasson’s script was to include a repeating installation of Marilyn, played by Bobby Montgomery, talking to off-screen interviewers in the series throughout the miniseries’ sequence, which produced Mary Lian has a sort of agency effect in telling her story — making the film her critique of Hollywood that abused her, rather than the directorial correction she needs from a filmmaker like Dominic.

A true pioneer of the male-dominated film industry, Chopra began her documentary career, including the landmark autobiographical feminist documentary Joyce at , examines how her pregnancy has affected her aspirations as a working filmmaker. After a series of innovative documentaries, her first narrative feature film, Talk , starred an undiscovered 10 Laura Dern, aged won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Adapted from Oates 17 short story Where are you going, you Where have you been? , this movie has been regarded as a cult classic and was released in by The Criterion Collection has a 4K restoration. In November, she will release Female Directors: Hollywood, TV, and Beyond The Hard-Won Progress of the #MeToo movement. The Standard Channel will also be showing six of her documentaries alongside the book’s release.

The Hollywood Reporter was recently on the phone with Chopra from her home in Virginia Discuss the differences in how she and Dominic approached the fictional telling of Oates’ acclaimed Monroe story.

So, first, your TV adaptation Blonde here it comes ?

Okay, I’m done Read Joyce Carol Oates’ novel for producer Robert Greenwald and I and loved it. Then Robert came up to me and said, “Do you want to make this a TV miniseries?” I said I’d love to — but I’m having a problem. I live in Roxbury, Connecticut, and Arthur Miller, who is not well described in the book, is a friend of mine. Not only that, I lived in the same house that Arthur took Marilyn to when they first got married. And actor Richard Widmark, portrayed in Joyce Carroll Oates’ novel as Marilyn forced to sleep with her to participate Don’t bother knocking , another neighbor who lives near me. So just as I’m trying to figure out if I should take the job, thinking about how I’m going to fix it and how I see all these personal overlaps, I’m weeding in my garden and it makes sense that this powder blue convertible pulls over Richard Widmark stopped to say hello and called out to me, “Joyce, how are you?” All I could think of was this character I read in Joyce’s book, when I hovered over him as I watched him wave to me and I thought, “Oh god, I don’t know how I could make this movie.” But that was a great opportunity, and I really liked it This book, so I guess it won in the end. Thankfully, I don’t think Dick or Arthur watched my miniseries because I don’t think either of them watched much TV at the time.

Wow. It’s all amazing. So how did you feel about watching Andrew Dominik’s adaptation?

Well, I love her [Marilyn] movies. She has such grace and charm that many of them are so touching. So we tried to make a movie like that. You know, I didn’t see an Andrew Dominic movie until yesterday. I’ve read all these scathing reviews that give me the impression that it might be better not to watch it. But knowing I’m going to talk to you, I figured I should pull it on Netflix. It was difficult for me because I knew the book so well and all the scenes he portrayed, I made another version. So it’s weird – it’s like another guy moving into your old house, you know?

How would you describe the difference in how you each chose to handle the material?

Well, our miniseries was written by Joyce Eliasson. This is a very big difference because Dominik wrote his own script. I think it’s an old story about the male gaze and how people look at the same person and story and come up with completely different versions. His movies are not what I can think of. For me, Marilyn is the center, really. One of the biggest differences is that Joyce Eliasson creates a lot of interviews in our script where Marilyn would speak directly to the camera and we could hear her voice and connect with her in a very different way. Aside from style, this is one of the biggest differences in storytelling. For me, Marilyn is a strong character with everything she’s been through. In the version I make, Marilyn is smart and she tries to do as much as she wants. You could say she was a victim of the system—of course, there were plenty of other actresses who went through that horror at the time, right down to the Harvey Weinstein story. But I guess I just feel completely different about it all because I don’t see her as the most important victim. The male gaze is an overused phrase these days, but Andrew Dominik has an entirely different passion. This is a man who has worked hard 10 for years to make his films and I have deep respect He does this – stick to your vision and passion like that. I just wouldn’t make the movies he made, and neither did I. In the version written by Joyce Eliason, she chooses to show a lot of early Marilyn, how her career started, and how she started taking nude photos — all of those stories . And I feel like you need the full overview to really understand her as a full character.

What do you think of the reaction to Dominic’s film?

Well, I want to tell you something I’ve been thinking about tonight. When our miniseries came out, it wasn’t well-received. People are upset about it. Our star Poppy Montgomery, like Ana de Armas, gets rave reviews, but this one The miniseries themselves were generally dismissed. I’m thinking that when you pick up Joyce Carroll Oates’ book — that magnum opus — you’ll accept that it’s a fantasy version of Marilyn Monroe’s life. But when you adapt it to screen, audiences get more confused about this for some reason. So when the CBS version came out, in the same way, people really didn’t know what to think. Before our version was on TV, I showed it to a journalist friend of mine and she was mad at me. She said, “How can you do that? I’ve written about Marilyn and she’s not like that at all.” So it’s probably a novel that shouldn’t be adapted, because Marilyn is still so important to a lot of people— – At least in my generation. I don’t know if today’s young people are interested.

You have adapted two works by Joyce Carroll Oates. Do you often seek her advice? She is one of the few notable voices who is very supportive of Dominic’s adaptation. When the New Yorker recently asked her if she was happy with his film, she said: “Oh yes. It’s a work of art. Andrew Dominic is a very peculiar director, so he appropriated the theme and made it his own vision. ”

Yes, this is her typical. She also had a lot of wonderful things to say about our miniseries. She is really great. When I did Smooth Talk, she never wanted to be involved in any way. She was very respectful and kept her distance. She has a lot of respect for filmmakers. I think she’d think, “That’s their medium, and mine is writing, so God bless them.” To me, that was fantastic.

So, Dominic made this movie for Netflix and created the winning movie to get With an NC-17 rating, this is something you can occasionally get licensed on streaming platforms ( And in every way, he’s very insistent on doing so). Your miniseries was made for CBS. There’s a lot of hard stuff in the books – it’s said to have been in Marilyn’s life. Did the limitations of Internet TV challenge you to tell her story? Would you have done anything different if you had the leeway of a streaming platform like Netflix?

Well, I didn’t know I would. Like I watched the first part of the miniseries just to refresh my mind, we had a similar scene with the character Mr. Z (Original 20 th Century-Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, who raped Marilyn Monroe in Dominik’s film). She thinks she’s been invited into his office to read the conversation and she’s looking at his stuffed toy display and he’s basically saying, “Come down, blonde,” and she’s sitting on the white carpet and you see him start reaching for him ‘s belt buckle – then it snapped. The next scene has her in the bathroom trying to clean herself up. You can figure out what’s going on – you don’t have to see it. That’s what we’ve done from start to finish. I don’t think I’m going to change that, even if we could. I mean, the audience is not stupid. They know what happened.

So, I would love to know how you met Arthur Miller and lived in In the house where he once lived with Marilyn.

Well, we were friends with Arthur before we lived in that house, but We got quite a bit closer later because he still lives on the road. My husband Tom Cole, who died not long ago, was a writer and he was very close to Arthur. I know Arthur socially, but we are not as close as my husband. They used to spend most of their time walking together, chatting and pouring out various things to each other. I’ve always lived in Los Angeles, but my husband wants to go back to Connecticut and be close to his old friend. So we rented a house there and were looking for a place to buy, and the real estate agent said, “I have a place that’s exactly as you described it.” But when she called it “Marilyn Monroe’s House,” I said, “No, I don’t want to see that” – because we knew Arthur and it just felt a little weird. But in the end, we couldn’t find anything we liked in this area, and as soon as we entered that house, we really wanted it because it still had all these wonderful built-in bookcases.It wasn’t until we moved in that we discovered – even the real estate agent didn’t know it – that on the hillside of the property, there was a The Shack, originally where Arthur wrote Death of a Salesman and The Crucible . We don’t know, but Arthur was thrilled when he first came to visit because he hadn’t been to the house in years. He likes it. He is someone I like very much. He’s very fun and friendly and a great company.

At the Venice Film Festival premiere, I had a chance Talk to Adrien Brody who played Arthur Miller in Dominik’s film. I told him that I really liked his performance, in part because he was one of the few characters in the film that wasn’t so scary for Marilyn. His sequence with her almost feels like a respite. He was happy to hear that because he said Arthur Miller was someone he admired a lot, and portraying him as somewhat positive was something he fought for during the production. Now that you know the real person, what do you think of his performance?

Oh, I think he’s great. He is a very good actor and very convincing. I can’t say how well Arthur did with Marilyn Monroe because I didn’t know him at the time. But I have a feeling. I’m afraid I’m a bit gossipy now, but after the death of Arthur’s good wife Ingramores, he was with another woman and he was so tender with her – it’s so nice to see. He probably did the same to Marilyn. why not? He is multidimensional. Brody does a good job of conveying the warmth that Arthur possesses, though.

Netflix Blonde One aspect of ) that has drawn a lot of criticism is the treatment of the abortion scene and the reuse of a realistic CGI “fetal camera” effect. Planned Parenthood even issued a statement criticizing the film as “anti-abortion propaganda,” and some abortion rights activists were very critical of the scenes.

Well, I haven’t thought about it too deeply – I just watched this movie last night — I was a little surprised to hear that Planned Parenthood was involved. But I think I can understand why people might have an issue with it. Most abortions are performed in the first trimester, and he acts like a fully formed child in these scenes. Then keep going back to it and have the baby actually say, “Please don’t hurt me…?” Give me a break.

But I do want to make one thing clear: I have full respect for Mr. Dominic who worked so hard and found a way to make the movie he wanted to make. It’s not a movie I want to make, but that’s what makes the world go round. I certainly didn’t mean to diss him. Nothing disgusts me more than someone accusing someone of trying to express their art.

Interview edited for length and clarity.



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