THAT’S A WRAP: Spike Jonze shot Chloe Sevigny for an Opening Ceremony “commercial” and his short “Scenes From Berlin,” an offshoot of an Arctic Fire video, bows at next week’s Berlin International Film Festival, but the publicity-shy director was all about Maurice Sendak at an event earlier this month. The pair became fast friends during the five-year stretch it took to make the flick, “Where The Wild Things Are,” which is based on Sendak’s children’s book. So much so that Jonze decided to consign their conversations to posterity, by filming “Tell Them Anything You Want,” a documentary about the octogenarian author and illustrator. “I don’t want to be famous — I just want to be rich,” was one of the curmudgeon’s many lines that left The Ace Hotel crowd laughing, but there were a few gasps along the way too. Sendak described hating his parents who told him (on many occasions) that his life was the result of a failed liquid abortion. He also spoke at length about his lifelong obsession with death, stemming from when as a boy he caught a newsstand glance of a photograph of the Lindbergh baby’s remains. (The seldom-seen image was pulled from The New York Daily News’ second run after Charles Lindbergh threatened a lawsuit.)
However grim some subjects were, Sendak’s indomitable candor only made the audience want to know more. During a Q&A, Jonze recalled watching a screening of the documentary with Sendak for the first time. “Right when it ended, he leaned over and said, ‘What is wrong with me?’
Jonze, who thanked the crowd several times during his chat, promised to relay their amusement to Sendak whom he visits regularly. The director also “dragged along” another Sendak fan Catherine Keener, who offers to marry him in the documentary. In town playing a violist in “A Late Quartet” with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken and Imogen Poots, Keener couldn’t linger. When Jonze asked where she was headed, she shrugged, “Six a.m. call tomorrow.”
Time is not essential when Jonze works with Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon. “I love doing things with Humberto. Any time I have an idea or he has an idea we just do it. They takes about a minute to make. We like calling them commercials as if we have had months of meetings,” Jonze said.