Sayles on Sayles by John Sayles
(Directors on Directors S.)

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Synopsis

John Sayles is a filmmaker of many faces: the writer/director of authentically independent films rooted in good talk, character study and social reflection (The Return of the Secaucus Seven, Baby, It's You, Brother from Another Planet, Matewan, and Passion Fish). He has also crafted vibrant, sardonic projects for Roger Corman (Piranha, Alligator and The Lady in Red), as well as working as a screenwriter-for-hire (The Hollowing, Apollo 13).

Recent films such as City of Hope and Lone Star exhibit his great gifts as he follows his characters' complex journeys towards self-honesty and personal truth.

Twice nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, he has also written novels, short stories, a book on low-budget film-making, and created the television series Shannon's Deal.

In Sayles on Sayles, Gavin Smith takes Sayles step by step through the trajectory of his career and film-making practice, and in the process illuminates the work of the one of the truly authentic US independent film-makers.

Gavin Smith is a contributing editor to Film Comment.
 

About John Sayles

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John Thomas Sayles is a novelist, screenwriter, director, and actor. He was born in Schenectady, New York, on September 28, 1950. He earned a B.S. in psychology from Williams College in 1972. After graduating, Sayles earned a living as an orderly, a laborer, and a meat packer. Two novels and a collection of short stories were published in the 1970s. Sayles also wrote screenplays for B-movie king Roger Corman, contributing to such films as Piranha and Battle Beyond the Stars. In 1980 he wrote, directed, and acted in the film Return of the Secaucus Seven, which won the Best Screenplay award from the Los Angeles Film Critics and was nominated for an Academy Award. In 1983, Sayles received a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant," which provided him with $30,000 per year for five years. His work during this period included the films Baby it's You, Brother From Another Planet, and Matewan. Sayles also directed the Bruce Springsteen music videos, "Born in the U.S.A.," "I'm on Fire," and "Glory Days." He also created a television series in 1989 called Shannon's Deal. Sayles has received an O. Henry Award, a best director award from the Seattle Film Festival, a Taskforce Award, and Academy Award nominations for the screenplays for Passion Fish and Lone Star. He also wrote the screenplay for, directed, and performed in the critically acclaimed film, Eight Men Out.
 
Published February 19, 1998 by Faber & Faber. 216 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Sayles on Sayles

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As in his films, Sayles proves better over the short stretch, with his punchy dialogue and socially astute ear, while occasionally lacking the story drive to carry him through longer passages.

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With that Spanish title (translation: The Worms), and his liberal use of Spanish dialogue, Sayles is paying homage to the Cuban milieu of his first novel since Union Dues: a long, broken journey, starting in Miami, then weaving back through Batista's Cuba, Castro's Cuba, and Guatemala (training-g...

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He got his start with B-meister Roger Corman, cranking out quickie, though generously subtextual, genre scripts such as Piranha and Alligator--in which, as Sayles once remarked, ``the alligator eats its way through the entire socioeconomic system.'' He has also made money by taking on occasional ...

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Hod, the newcomer, is assured that American civilization will come through for him: remarks a fellow miner, “Got a steady man in the White House who understands there are fortunes to be made if the government will just step out of the way and let us at em.” Holy shades of Ron Paul, Batman.

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Publishers Weekly

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Novelist turned filmmaker Sayles returns to print with an ambitious story--a BOMC selection in cloth--of Cuban exiles in the United States over the decades since Castro.

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Marta, a young Cuban nurse in a Miami old folks home, enlists a ragtag team of Cuban men--former terrorists, a priest, members of her family, an orderly with a penchant for guns--to prepare an assault on Cuba.

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The most emotionally connected story line involves the black American soldiers who breeze through fighting in Cuba but get stuck in a quagmire in the Philippines while their families back home in Wilmington, N.C., endure a campaign of murder and intimidation that forces an affluent and educated b...

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Publishers Weekly

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Smith's book-length interview with independent filmmaker John Sayles chronicles Sayles's start as a novelist (Union Dues, 1977, was nominated for a National Book Award), his apprenticeship writing horror scripts (The Howling, 1980) for producer Roger Corman, occasional work as an actor and a play...

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