Rebecca Cutter likes carbs. The writer/director of the movie 'Eating' likes carbs and I know because she told me so. Actually, she wore the shirt. I know she likes carbs.
We met at the infamous Dresden in Los Angeles' Los Feliz, a community losing the LA version of the gentrification battle. Cutter had just returned from the Sundance film festival where 'Eating' was pretty ecstatically received. Peter Hanson of Film Threat, likened her to Paul Thomas Anderson, loved her fetishistic interest in '70s kitsch, and was salivating at the prospect of a feature-length debut in Eating's wake.
Eating catches central protagonist, Dave, at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting, reminiscing about a particularly vile adolescent evening, perhaps the one that brought him here, while the others in the meeting blether on.
Shot on 35mm film, Eating looks great, it sounds great, and the dialog is at once brutally painful and leading. Unfortunately, people say and do these things. Rebecca Cutter's camera never wavers as they do, and the revelation is as joyously painful as the start of an affair... It's like a Kathleen Edwards Failer reduction sauce, poured into 13 impeccable minutes. What it is, is Rebecca Cutter's a star is born turn.
She is sick. When we meet, she's so very sick. Ten days at Sundance on a steady diet of cigarettes and coffee and two hours of sleep a night have taken their toll on her physically. The seven screenings of 'Eating' buoyed her. "They were all sold out shows. I called up and even I couldn't get tickets. But then, all the shows at Sundance sell out. It's Sundance!"
Did I mention, Rebecca Cutter is currently LA's most self-effacing movie director?
The 80 shorts and 180 features shown during the festival are drawn from perhaps 4,000 entries. When I wondered how she surmounted such insurmountable odds, she says getting to Sundance was easy. "I just sent a tape in."
Sundance had brought her media attention but she's not certain it will enable her to make more of the types of films she's interested in: "More small twisted little women," she says. Or not so little? There is a certain pressure already for her to write something more obviously 'Hollywood'. Not the recent feature script for a Stalker movie. Despite her success, refreshingly, she retains an outsider's purview that is hard to find in an insiders town. Perhaps Johnny Depp should hire her to direct his Fatty Arbuckle project, she laughs... "Anything with fat in the title, I'm qualified!"
Is it okay to be fat in America, we wonder? "No it's awful. I was a fat child. I've lost a lot of weight. It's fine if you're okay with it. I don't care about the health issue. It wasn't fun for me being fat..."
You get paid more when you're thin. "You get more sex when you're thin," she says, "Try to get laid if you're very fat." She laughs, "Well, okay, it isn't hard if you're a girl, but the pickings are slimmer."
"In the film, because of one incident, Dave becomes an overeater, for me I was just born that way... There's a million ways it could happen."
And if she spilled a little of her dressing onto her finger at Denny's would she be a dabber, or a licker? "I'm a licker... I'd probably eat off the floor!"
Now lets look at an image of Rebecca hobnobbing at Sundance with the man who currently tops the cheap actor food chain. (While you don't read the section of the interview about the process of editing from 35mm through the computer back to 35mm. Fascinating stuff, although not for you.)
"I'm not that good yet..."
"I wear my heart on my sleeve, I don't try to copy. I don't really know the names of any directors, so I didn't have anyone to copy. I didn't see many movies when I was growing up."
Of recent films, she has seen Sideways, which she liked, although thought it could be shorter. Hey, Rebecca, some of us are just renting the seat!
"I'm lazy about going to the movies," she says, "It's an aversion, I can't stand going to the theater, I hate sitting with people, I am deaf - so if I can't rewind it, and I can't hear what they say... And if you go and it's a bad movie... bad movies just burn you."
Call us superficial but we've come to find some redeeming value in expensively coiffured stars, in reassuringly expensive films. Not Rebecca. "I find it infuriating when I see a bad movie that costs a lot of money. I want to make $2million films. I could make 200 of my films for one action movie... I have to keep doing it..."
Are all of your films going to be so, dark? "I'm not opposed to happy endings. It's just not something I think of."
For more info visit the Eating website at eatingthemovie.