During this year's Tribeca fest, I had a chance to talk to Paul Soter, director of the noir romcom Watching the Detectives, starring Cillian Muphy and Lucy Liu. Paul's name is already probably familiar to anyone who knows Broken Lizard, but he's intent on branching out as a mainstream writer-director, and his first film is proof that he has the chops. A strange and intriguing mixture of film noir and romcom spoof, Detectives is sure to get a distribution deal and be remembered as one of the festival's success stories -- it's also further proof that Murphy has a Gary Oldman-like ability to disappear in just about any role. The same guy who played an Irish revolutionary in 1916 is now completely convincing as a video store slacker who can't believe his good luck, when a mysterious babe walks into his store and into his life.
The whole time I was watching this movie I thought it was set in L.A., but someone told me that's not the case?
PS: Well, it was shot in New York City, but set to be kind of anywhere. I had originally conceived it to be more like a college town. There's an area where I grew up in Denver where there's a lot of mom and pop indie record stores, comic book stores, kind of places like that. Originally, the idea was that I was going to shoot it in Austin, Texas, and then for various reasons and then it turned out that we had to shoot it in New York. It turned out to be kind of a tricky thing, to come out here and find a way to shoot something in this city, that hopefully didn't look like the city. So we ended up shooting in Brooklyn, Queens, Bayonne, New Jersey, sort of all over the place -- everywhere, but the city. You say there was something in it that made you think of Los Angeles?
It may be just the whole film noir vibe that runs through it, that made me think of L.A.
PS: I'm glad to hear it, because I always hope that I pulled it off and it didn't just look like, around the city.
Did you talk to the actors about actually injecting a film noir vibe into the film, the acting, the dialogue, and so forth? Lucy Liu's character has a very femme fatale thing going on.
PS: Yeah, definitely. I tried to explain to them that a lot of the idea behind making the movie was that you take the dynamic between the male and female that exists in so many film noir movies and try and transplant that into a current film set, in the current day. So, you know, yeah, in terms of Lucy being a sexy, mysterious, possibly dangerous woman and Cillian being this guy who sort of thinks he knows the score, but everyone but he knows that he's being taken for a ride. Yeah, I wanted them to sort of be aware that that's what was going on while they were doing it.