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Max Winkler Following ‘Ceremony’ With 70’s-Style Character Piece

Written by on March 4, 2011 

The Playlist sat down with lauded indie director Max (son of Henry) Winkler, who dished about his planned follow-up for the well-received drama Ceremony, which TFS gave an overall favorable review.

Ceremony stars Michael Angarano as a man who stalks his ex-girlfriend (Uma Thurman) to her wedding ceremony in the Hamptons in an effort to win her back. Winkler’s film feels deeply inspired by the character dramas of the 1970’s, and the director spoke of his next film, which will owe heavily to a little-known character piece from that era:

“I just finished writing it and I’m very excited about it,” Winkler said about his next film. “It’s a love letter to the ‘70s rogue movies, something like ‘Scarecrow,’ that’s a movie changed my life. Our movie is about two brothers who are traveling across the country. It’s also similar to ‘The Last Detail,’ in fact, we had ‘Scarecrow’ on when we were writing it, similar to how P.T. Anderson had ‘Treasure of Sierra Madre’ on during ‘Blood.’ As for actors, hopefully there will be some of the cast that was in ‘Ceremony.’ I wrote it with Teddy Bressmen and David Branson Smith.”

Scarecrow won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973. Originally intended for Bill Cosby and Jack Lemmon, director Jerry Schatzberg‘s Scarecrow became a profound character study about two small-time drifters (Gene Hackman and Al Pacino) who share the road and develop a deep friendship.

Winkler has Scarecrow lodged firmly in the back of his head as he continues development on two other projects: The Adventurer’s Handbook, written with Jonah Hill and Matt Spicer and The Ornate Anatomy of Living Things, which was originally set up by Fox Searchlight in 2007 but has apparently stalled. The Jason Reitman-produced project is still alive, though:

“Reitman’s producing, it was originally set up as my first movie to direct but it was never going to get made with that budget, and so I think we need to polish it off a little bit, but I’d like to make that soon. We haven’t even looked at it since we had gotten it sold,” Winkler said. “It was the first script [me and Matt Spicer] had written out of college. We were both having nervous breakdowns post-USC Film School. I mean, you can’t exactly go up to the pearly gates of Sony with a mini DVD of your 4 minute silent black and white film. We decided to just write a movie and try and sell it, so we sat for a summer and wrote it, thankfully sold it. Clearly if I had made the movie then it would’ve been terrible, I wasn’t ready to make a movie. It was Jason who said that I should make a personal movie first, that was ‘Ceremony.’”

Winkler, a walking film encyclopedia, will hopefully have his next project lined up soon, though it won’t be Anatomy since there are no actors signed yet. In the meantime, Ceremony will see a Video on Demand release on April 8, and you can check out Scarecrow via Netflix (though not yet on Play Instantly… but soon you’ll be able to see everything, anytime.)

Have you seen Ceremony? What do you think of Winkler’s sensibilities as a filmmaker? And doesn’t he look a lot like The Fonz?

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