Rambo Is a Pussy. Director David Gordon Green Is Not

Before Hollywood snatches David Gordon Green away in a cloud of pot smoke, BAM will host a series of the auteur's downbeat, down-home dramas (from his debut, George Washington, to the recent Snow Angels), along with a sneak preview of his first potential blockbuster, the stoner action-comedy, Pineapple Express. Brooklyn Academy of Music's weeklong event also showcases five features that Green says inspired him. Green was out pulling weeds in the yard of his New Orleans home when I phoned.

So you're screening The Night of the Hunter, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Picture Show, and Bless the Beasts & Children, but also Tango & Cash? I saw it in Dallas, and I went nuts—[especially] that line [where Sylvester Stallone mutters], "Rambo is a pussy." It was the perfect '80s buddy/action movie: It took all the clichés that had come before it and put it all into one movie. When we were going into productionon Pineapple Express, [co-writer/star Seth Rogen] and I wanted that kind of tone, where [the movie] was taking itself seriously but mocking itself also.

What inspired the pot humor in the new film? I've always hung out with a lot of stoners because they make me laugh all the time. I enjoy Cheech & Chong, but most half-baked, cartoon representations of potheads are boring. In high school, a buddy of mine was in a high-speed cop chase while he was smoking weed, which is in Pineapple. When he told me that story after he got arrested, it was the funniest shit I had ever heard in my life. Stoner movies are usually about people sitting around, cracking jokes and watching TV, but we wanted to heighten circumstances and build an action movie around the concept of "Yeah, but what if they were high?"

Does it feel strange to venture from low-budget art-house films to competing commercially against The Mummy 3? It's perfect! I have such a positive attitude that I think everything about this business is funny—this big-ass, framed Pineapple Express poster showed up at my house this morning. A lot of the crew are just my buddies from the last eight years of making movies and the last 15 years of hanging out. There's not a curveball you could throw me that wouldn't be funny. If it's really successful, that'll be hilarious. If it totally tanks and becomes the next Cabin Boy, that's pretty funny, too.

If it does succeed, will you continue making big summer spectacles? Right now, I'm working on this movie that Danny McBride wrote, called Your Highness. It's a medieval movie, so we want a bunch of Ray Harryhausen Clash of the Titans effects. We've been watching Beastmaster and Yor, the Hunter From the Future. We want to make a movie on a big scale, but utilizing pre-CGI effects like matte painting, animatronics, and puppets. It's about a prince who smokes weed and fights dragons.

David Gordon Green @ BAM, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-777-FILM & July 17-24

Rooftop Films
May 31–September 27

You could molder on a blanket watching musty classics in Bryant Park, but the most provocative programming en plein air belongs to this nonprofit collective, now in its 12th year. Regularly accompanied by live pre-show music, Rooftop screens under-the-radar features and shorts atop a dozen inspired locations, from East Harlem's El Museo del Barrio to Gowanus's Old American Can Factory.& Rooftop Films, various locations, rooftopfilms.com

Operation Filmmaker
June 4

Won over by Baghdad film student Muthana Mohmed's charming appearance in an MTV doc, Liev Schreiber hired the kid to crew on Everything Is Illuminated and asked filmmaker Nina Davenport to document it. Ironically, Davenport ends up with the stronger film—her tricky, maddeningly funny portrait of a brash young manipulator becomes a volatile analogy for a war that won't end. & IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue, 212-924-7771

Mother of Tears
June 6

Italian splattermeister Dario Argento's giddily perverse-as-hell phantasmagoria—perhaps his only watchable film in two decades—is also the conclusion to a loose trilogy including 1980's Inferno and 1977's Suspiria (soon to be remade by David Gordon Green). Ubiquitous daughter Asia plays an art-restoration student in Rome who discovers her supernatural powers. Monkeys and witches give chase. Also, a woman is strangled with her own intestines during the first 10 minutes. Inebriated viewing is highly recommended. & Sunshine Cinema, 143 East Houston Street, 212-330-8182

Open Roads: New Italian Cinema
June 6-12

Mr. Argento aside, how many other modern Italian filmmakers can you name today? Among the underrepresented at this annual cinema paradiso, the standouts include Wilma Labate's labor-strike drama Signorina Effe, Andrea Molaioli's provincial murder mystery The Girl by the Lake, and Biùtiful Cauntri, an inconvenient truth about the eco-crimes committed by the Camorra, the Neopolitan version ofthe Mafia. & The Film Society of Lincoln Center, West 65th Street and Broadway, 212-496-3809

New York Asian Film Festival
June 20–July 6

For the discerning fanboy who prefers salted duck eggs to Sour Patch Kids, the seventh edition of this Asian-culture schlock fest offers more hyperkinetic skirmishes and guilty glee than a whole summer at the multiplex. Takashi Miike's lysergic, spaghetti-stained freak-out Sukiyaki Western Django headlines, and "Lady Whirlwind" Angela Mao (Bruce Lee's sis in Enter the Dragon) will introduce two newly discovered prints from her ass-kicking oeuvre. & IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue, 212-927-7771 and Japan Society, 343 East 47th Street, 212-715-1258

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