Saturday, February 06, 2010

Interview: Claire Danes & Temple Grandin talk HBO movie

In today's column, I interview Claire Danes and Temple Grandin about HBO's terrific "Temple Grandin" biopic, which premieres tomorrow night at 8.

UPDATE: Bumping this up in case anyone watched the movie tonight and wants to discuss it.

13 comments:

april said...

I got to see a sneak preview of this movie this week, and it is excellent. Despite not being too interested in another story about a person diagnosed with Autism or a movie about livestock, it really does a fantastic job of showing things from Temple Grandin's view and showed her as different, not less.

Elena said...

Read her book "Animals in Translation" it is one of my favorite books ever. And I admire that she loves cows, yet works within the system to make their lives and deaths more humane. Most who connect with them as she does would be vegan and join PETA or something. Its much harder to visit the slaughterhouses and work for improvements. She is amazing.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Elena, I would say that her autism is what makes that odd dichotomy possible. Temple has emotions and she certainly feels a bond with cows, but she's also (by dint of the way autism has wired her brain) pragmatic and unsentimental. She recognizes that cows are going to provide milk and food for humans, and she therefore wants them to be treated as well as they can until they meet their ultimate fate.

The night after I interviewed Temple at TCA, I had dinner with her and a few reporters and HBO people, and she dug into a very big, juicy steak.

JustJoan said...

This morning I called Time Warner Cable and signed up for HBO just so I could watch this. I simply could not wait until it was out on DVD. Aside from my eagerness to see what I am sure is an amazing Danes performance the person and achievement of Temple Grandin has captivated me ever since I read her first book. And perhaps, as the daughter of a butcher who was taken as a 12 year old to a slaughterhouse as a treat (!!) I want to understand better her contribution to humane animal husbandry.

David Clarke said...

I really enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Usually biopics are a chore to get through, but this one avoided so many of the pitfalls that make them a slog. Mainly, while it was about Temple and her life, it also focused heavily on the work, and because it's of someone not in entertainment, it was all very new to me. It offered a great introduction into both the world of autism and animal husbandry. And that animal husbandry reminded me how glad I was that it didn't take itself too seriously.

I also thought that unlike other biopics, which tend to be a wikipedia page/celebrity impersonation, this actually felt like it needed to be a movie. She says that she thinks in pictures, and that theme continues through the whole film and never becomes overbearing. It's used really artfully, and sometimes comically. It was fun watching Catherine O'Hara crow like a rooster.

Trilby said...

Not to rain on anyone's parade, but I was wondering while I watched if Danes' performance wasn't a little, um, over the top...? just a little. Everyone else loves it so it's prolly just me.

Sonia said...

I watched this wonderful movie last night and again this AM with my daughter. We both just loved it! It was quite clever how they were able to show how Temple processes thoughts, how her literal interpretations were both problematic and refreshingly insightful. She is an amazing and remarkable woman (and glad to hear from Alan that she eats more than jello and yogurt).

I was so sad when it was apparent that other people didn't understand her -- but it was the 60s and 70s and autism was treated so differently back then. I felt so bad for the mother (Julia Ormond, who I normally can't deal with at all, was wonderful in this) when she was told by the doctor that it her daughter's autism was likely due to something that she didn't do for her daughter...like holding her when she was a baby. It breaks my heart to think of how many parents still to this day blame themselves if their children have autism. I think Temple's mom adn her aunt were pretty remarkable as well.

I have a dear friend who has a son with autism. This movie made me feel so hopeful for him.

Bravo HBO!

schoolbooksue said...

@trilby Most definitely not over the top. I have worked with high functioning autistic kids for many years and my first thought was, "Oh My Gosh! She's just like **" a boy I taught several years ago. The odd voice, the posture, and the lack of eye contact were spot on but what really got me was Clair Danes's ability to capture the absence of facial expression that many autistic people have. This was a much more realistic portrayal of autism, its characteristics and its challenges than "Rainman."

ellie said...

Claire Danes is so winning an Emmy for this performance. If I had just been flipping channels, and run across this, I would never have known it was her. As others have commented, her ability to maintain the flat affect was striking.

I really liked that they showed and explained her designs and connected them with her thought processes. ("Animal husbandry" and "getting up with the roosters" - lol)

I watched this with my husband and sons. They all enjoyed it, but for the latter, everything, sooner or later, gets around to Simpsons references, so there was a lot of joking about the Laughter House. Sigh.

Bob In SA said...

One of the best movies I've ever seen. My son is interested in cattle production and is learning disabled. He couldn't keep his eyes off the movie. I think he realized by the end that his limitations make him different, not less.

greatreader said...

As a cost cutting measure, we just canceled our HBO. I meant to DVR this movie before we did and forgot. Now, I'll have to wait for the DVD and am kicking myself.

Patty O. said...

I have listened to many interviews with Temple Grandin and I would say Danes totally nailed it. She sounded exactly like Temple Grandin to me. I was amazed.

I am so happy the HBO made this movie for so many reason. Grandin is a pioneer in animal husbandry and also in autism.

As the mother of a son with high functioning autism, this movie was a revelation. It was fascinating for me to have a small glimpse into how Grandin thinks and sees the world. While I know she and my son are different people, I think this movie helps me understand him better.

And I appreciate how the movie shows the world that autism is not a disease; it doesn't make people less, just different.

Thunderpen said...

I very much liked the movies. I was raised with cows and love them as a rule. Generally, except when they are in heat, they are peaceful. "Sweet breath of cows," said Dylan Thomas. I also relate to swine very well. Right now I am not eating bacon -- imagine a life without bacon! If I know the farmer or raise the pigs myself and know they had some quality of life, that is. Pigs showed up in my dreams several times and asked that I help them achieve a better quality of life. So in this regard I am much like Temple; I can eat pork, but only if I know they've had a life that brought them some freedom and joy.