Midgets and serial killers are two film topics that don’t seem to have any correlation unless you get inside the head of writer-director Matthew Bright which might be a one way trip to hell, or paradise. It’s then that the two subjects begin to seem eerily similar. In Bright’s world there are no box office considerations and no consequences for his actions, and certainly no prisoners. After years of struggling within the Hollywood developmental hell structure, Bright finally got his shot at writing and directing his own film in 1996 with the acclaimed and controversial “Freeway.” The “Little Red Riding Hood” inspired tale of a trashy runaway(played to the hilt by Reese Witherspoon)hurtled into a world of hookers, pimps and serial killers, became a lightning rod for censorship when it was released, but what stymies critics is the fact that all of Bright’s films feature strong female characters. There’s nothing sexist about Bright’s films, and there’s no on-screen sex. There’s a grain of innocence in his female characters that Bright protects at all times, even if they are deranged at heart.
Bright’s voice, like that of Quentin Tarantino, dominates every frame of film it occupies, even in other director’s films, like in the 1993 Tamra Davis directed road thriller “Guncrazy,” the film that showed Hollywood that Drew Barrymore could act. Bright may not have directed the film, but you could sense that he was the real vision behind it, just like Tarantino with Natural Born Killers. But don’t think for one moment that Bright is some twenty something film school wunderkind; he’s a fifty year old man, happy to just be making films. With his two new films, it looks like Bright may be shapeshifting.
Bright has spent the past twenty five years writing scripts for projects that never got made, and which didn’t seem possible to ever get made, given the dark subject matter. A chance meeting with Oliver Stone gave Bright the green-light, and full creative control, to make “Freeway” and its subsequent 1999 sequel “Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby.” These films gave Bright an opportunity to examine themes of women in distress, and how we judge people who exist on the fringes of society. The characters in Bright’s films may be freaks, but they don’t know that, and neither does Bright. Bright seems to accept everybody for who they are. There are no typical victims in any of Bright’s films. Everyone’s guilty in some way, and there is punishment, just ask Kiefer Sutherland.
In “Ted Bundy,” a hot seller at the American Film Market, Bright applies this cold, but honest look to the life of the notorious killer, a man that Bright claims we never really knew, not on TV, not in books, not anywhere. Told in completely stark terms, and grainy visuals, the film doesn’t flinch, taking a gory, revisionist look at the killer’s life. Bright’s upcoming film, the black comedy “Tiptoes,” also examines misunderstood people, but this time its midgets, not killers. “Tiptoes” offers Bright his first opportunity to work with a name Hollywood cast as Kate Beckinsale and Matthew McConaughey play an expectant young couple whose lives are disrupted when Beckinsale discovers that McConaughey hails from a long line of “little people.” But when she meets McConaughey’s “little brother,” played by Gary Oldman, she falls in love with him, complicating matters further. The sweet, gentle film, Bright’s fourth, is a totally unconventional love story about acceptance, a theme in all of Bright’s films. Another of Bright’s constant themes is the idea of beauty being in the eye of the beholder, whether he be a psycho or a young innocent, or Bright himself.
Get the interview in part two of MATTHEW BRIGHT: BIG BAD WOLF>>>