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By Thom Bennett | September 9, 2002

The tag of “independent” filmmaker has become more a name brand in recent years than anything truly meaningful. Alex Cox, the director of such legendary films as “Repo Man”, “Sid & Nancy”, “Walker” and “Straight to Hell, is living proof that truly independent-minded cinema is not dead yet. Currently based in Liverpool he is in preprodcution on his next film – a futuristic adaptation of the 1607 play “Revengers Tragedy” through his Exterminating Angel production company.

Throughout his career, Cox has managed to successfully to operate well at arm’s length of that thing called Hollywood and make the films (for the most part) that he wants to make. A few brushes with the “powers that be” aside the well documented “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” debacle, the butchering of his film “The Winner” Cox remains unscathed and continues to make his own brand of what can be described as sometimes quirky, often subversive but always interesting cinema. Recently, two of his harder to find films “Three Businessmen” and “Death and the Compass” were released on DVD by Anchor Bay along with his homage to his beloved Spaghetti Westerns, the amazing “Straight to Hell”. All of these films come with commentary and are a must for any fans of Cox who may not have seen them.

I recently had the opportunity to conduct an interview of sorts with one of may favorites, filmmaker extrordinaire Alex Cox, via that ever-so-personal medium of e-mail. The following is taken from two of those e-mails.

How are things in Liverpool?
Things are great here.

What is the first film you remember seeing as a child?
“Goliath Versus the Dragon”, a sword-and-sandal Maciste epic, with an animated dinosaur by Willis O’Brien.

While studying law at Oxford, what made you decide to pursue a career in filmmaking?
I did not find my studies particularly enthralling. Fortunately there was much student drama and student journalism to occupy those who didn’t want to work in a conventional way. Perhaps I should have worked harder. One of my contemporaries, a colorless chap who worked much harder at his law studies, is now Prime Minister.

How do you feel about many of your films being tagged as “cult” films?
It is meaningless. In this country and in the US they call Borges a “cult” author. In Latin America he is regarded as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. What difference does it make?

Most film director’s bank their career on making it one day to Hollywood, you have seemingly done just the opposite. Why is that?
Unfortunately my career began in Hollywood, doing a negative pickup for Universal pictures. So I had the worst experience at the very beginning, and things have been getting better since.

Do you feel that you are persona non-grata in Hollywood?
I don’t think about Hollywood at all.

Do you feel that your politics have created friction with the “money people” in the film industry?
Why don’t you contact some of these “money people” and ask them?

Read the whole story and get the scoop on Dogme 95 and Cox’s “Dr. Strange” film for Marvel Comics and much more in COX’D AND LOADED: AN ALEX COX INTERVIEW (part 2)>>>

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