To hear writer/director Luca Guadagnino tell it, his appearance at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis next weekend is part movie talk, part therapy session.
The “Call Me by Your Name” Oscar nominee, whose most recent movie was last year’s “Suspiria,” will be in conversation with his pal Scott Foundas, the former critic who heads up Amazon Studios. But Guadagnino is more interested in hearing the thoughts of Walker patrons.
“The audience is the author of the final cut of the movie, I believe,” said Guadagnino, whose “A Bigger Splash” (with Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton) and “I Am Love” (again with Swinton, whom Guadagnino calls a “sister in love”) also will be shown. “Sometimes I find out things about my work that I didn’t know. More importantly, someone in the audience may have guessed what my subconscious is trying to say to me.”
And, yes, the first-time visitor to the Twin Cities has a for instance.
“Someone asked if all the pools in my movies are because I’m maybe scared of water. I never realized that was the case, but, in fact, that is the case. I am terrified of water. And I do have many pools in my movies that are places of desire, places of conflict, places of death,” said Guadagnino, calling from Milan. (He lives in nearby Crema, Italy.)
He likes cinematic debates, and he knows his movies aren’t for everyone. In fact, it sounds like Guadagnino hopes for a hater or two, since he’s jazzed by divergent responses to last year’s “Suspiria,” which was loosely inspired by the 1977 Dario Argento horror classic of the same name.
“It has been incredible to see it come out in the world. It is my most personal film, and I’ve been working on it for a long time,” said Guadagnino, who loves horror movies and plans to make more of them. “I like that it was so polarizing, that people could say, ‘I hate it’ or ‘I love it,’ that it’s a masterpiece or it’s garbage. Indifference would have been worse.”
He has presented movies several times at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but there’s a reason the Walker series goes back only as far as 2009, ignoring the first dozen years of his career: Guadagnino is not a fan of the word “retrospective.”
“Particularly after the great success of ‘Call Me by Your Name,’ I am asked sometimes about retrospectives, but I don’t think my path in cinema is remotely to the place where we could stop and see, in a retrospective, what I have done,” he said. “We need more time. Maybe this idea will be part of my older age, the possibility to indulge in a retrospective, but not yet.”
He describes himself as unsentimental about his previous work. “When I’m done with a movie, I am quite done with it. I don’t understand colleagues who create a new cut of their films, a new version. That makes me confused. We all try to aim for perfection, although perfection is not of this world. But when it’s done, it’s done.”
Guadagnino said yes to the Walker because of its international reputation and because it’s a chance to talk about his deep-seated movie love. “I’m a very aggressive cinephile,” he said — meaning that he has been known to insist that friends must see certain movies.
Also an interior designer, Guadagnino recently met with colleagues for a presentation they were preparing for a client.
“There was a moment in the building, let’s say an architectural moment, that reminded me of David Cronenberg’s great masterpiece, ‘Naked Lunch.’ The architects didn’t know anything about that movie, and it made me very upset,” he said.
Very upset: “I believe in free will. But I may fire them if they don’t watch it.”
It’s not clear how Guadagnino will follow up “Suspiria.” There has been talk about a movie, to star Chloe Grace Moretz, based on Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks,” and he said that’s happening. But he’s less sure about the much talked about sequel to “Call Me by Your Name,” which all the actors say they’d sign up for.
“I believe in those characters and those actors, so I’m sure we will make some chronicle of the lives of those people,” he said. “I’m not sure when it will happen, but I am sure it will happen at some point.”
Whenever that happens, don’t expect to see the central lovers bonding over a swimming pool. Now that his obsession has been pointed out to him, Guadagnino said, he probably needs to find a new terror to place in his movies. Maybe the Walker audience can help him figure out what that is.