• Свързано изображение1. The filmmaker meets the band …

    Looking for some inspiration after finishing 20th Century Women, writer-director Mike Mills reached out to the National’s Matt Berninger about doing a video for the group’s 2017 album, Sleep Well Beast. (Mills has always loved the band and listens to its music while he writes.) Berninger, himself a fan of Mills, handed over a dropbox of cast-off fragments from various recording sessions and told the director, “Whatever you want to do, we’d be up for.”

     

    2. The actress meets the filmmaker …

    Alicia Vikander had reached out to Mills after seeing his film Beginners,saying she’d like to collaborate, and the two kept in touch over the years. Mills invited her to brunch with him and his friends when she visited L.A.

     

    3. The actress and the director come up with a concept …

    Vikander, a trained dancer, told Mills she wished she could use those skills in something. This fit with an idea Mills had for a short: “Reducing a life to a list and including highly banal things alongside highly poignant things, flattening it all out.” Mills also felt Vikander had the technical ability to play someone from a baby to an old woman without makeup. The events in the script varied from an abortion, to a marriage, to an affair, to death.

     

    4. The concept becomes a film …

    Vikander improvised the character’s life from the bare outline of Mills’s script, which she recalls nearly brought her to tears. She came up with everything from the way the character dances to how she walks as a toddler: “I was YouTube-ing baby videos.” Mills appreciated that this made his life easier. “I directed the least I’ve ever directed,” he says. Vikander suggests Mills did a lot more. “He’s like a good conductor,” she says.

     

    5. The film becomes an album …

    Mills assembled the soundtrack by sampling from the music Berninger had sent him. After seeing early cuts of the short, the band decided to both refine the fragments in the film and expand on the ideas in a full-length album. “Mike Mills threw a little flashlight in a bunch of different directions, and of course we all went running after it,” Berninger says. He and his wife, Carin Besser, who took on a larger role in writing lyrics for this album than she had in the past, wrote new songs inspired by the themes from Mills’s film.

     

    Резултат с изображение за alicia vikander the national

     

    6. The director helps produce the album …

    In the studio, Mills offered radical suggestions that redirected the National’s sound. “We’re critical of ourselves, and we edit things down to kind of destroying them,” says band member Aaron Dessner. “Mike was more generous, like, No, I want this to breathe and to be big and to have drastic shifts in tone.” Mills’s presence also changed the National’s working dynamic. “Aaron and I have been fighting on the same playground for 20 years,” Berninger says. “And some guy comes [and] gets the Greasers and the Socs to get along.”

     

    7. The album changes the band’s sound …

    The 24-minute film Mills and Vikander made helped forge a new direction for the National. “For me, it’s an ode to this woman,” Mills says. “It smells to me like a bunch of men thinking about women and trying to do justice in some kind of portrait of them.” In keeping with these themes, the National added new voices with guest appearances on the album by female vocalists such as Lisa Hannigan, Eve Owen, Sharon Van Etten, Mina Tindle, and Kate Stables.

     

    8. … The director titles the band’s album

    Mills insisted on using the lyric “I am easy to find” from a song called “Washington” as the album’s name and asked to retitle the song as well. He thought the deceptively fugitive phrase captured the themes of the film and the album. “[Vikander’s character] is in every shot,” Mills says. “It’s like, ‘I’m easy to find, but I’m not.’ It’s not revealing the thing; it’s just saying that it is easy to find the thing.”

     

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    Written by Alissa on
    May 5th/2019


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