In 2015, Brady Corbet went from supporting roles in films like Catherine Hardwicke’s Thirteen, Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (US) and Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, to suddenly being lauded as one of the most exciting new directors working in American Cinema.
Corbet’s debut The Childhood of a Leader, a historical coming-of-age drama about a petulant 10-year-old boy growing up in a world pulsating with anger, was celebrated for its intelligent exploration of the conditions that led to the rise of fascism in Europe during the 20th century.
This month, Corbet returns with his sophomore feature, Vox Lux. Scrutinising the curation and construction of celebrity, the film follows a pop star named Celeste (Raffey Cassidy and Natalie Portman) and explores the reactionary relationship between art and violence. Positioning Celeste’s meteoric rise to fame against some of the most politically formative events of the 21st century, Corbet attempts to understand how an era defined by reality TV and acts of terrorism will be remembered in years to come. We sat down with Corbet earlier this month to discuss Vox Lux, and his career so far.
Patrick Gamble: Why did you choose music to explore the relationship between art and violence?
Brady Corbet: If you’re going to talk about the 21st century you have to talk about pop culture, and the best way to do that is to have your heroine be a pop star. The main reason is the omnipresence of pop music in our daily lives. Whether you’re in a taxi or at the grocery store these songs have a way of finding you. Whether you wholly embrace the mainstream or swim against it, it’s the one thing that connects us all. What’s interesting to me about pop music is how it’s designed by corporations. It’s the same with cinema too. We all know Marvel is pulling our heartstrings, but for me, the fascinating thing about modern culture is how it feels like there is no alternative to the mainstream anymore.
Patrick Gamble | @PatrickJGamble