Talking with David Mackenzie of ‘HELL OR HIGH WATER’

David Mackenzie has been making films since 1994. He directed a string of lauded shorts which lead to his debut feature film, The Last Great Wilderness, bowing at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival. The Scottish native has since delivered nine feature films, bucking expectations at every turn. With a vast and varied range of influences and styles, Mackenzie hasn’t always enjoyed the critical success afforded him from his early work. But a recent string of successes – 2014’s universally celebrated Starred Up (which still claims at whopping 99% on Rotten Tomatoes) and Un Certain Regard nominee Hell or High Water (currently standing with an unfettered 100%) – has David Mackenzie back on top.

I spoke with David about bringing Taylor Sheridan’s Black List script to life, having pride in a finished product, new films as a reaction to prior films, the overwhelming positive response to Starred Up and Hell or High Water, letting tape run on Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham, his weird director’s cuts and that crusty T-Bone diner waitress who totally steals the scene. Read More


Out in Theaters: ‘HELL OR HIGH WATER’

Over a hand of cards, Ben Foster’s Tanner stares daggers at a rival player. “Don’t chase me, Comanche,” he taunts, pushing a healthy pile of chips towards the pot, bloodlust flaring in his pupils. Comanche chases. And wins. Tanner slinks away, tail defiantly untucked. The chip-rich champion carnivorously confronts him, “Do you know what Comanche means?” Violence seems imminent. It hovers; an invisible, palpable force. “Enemy to everyone,” the Comanche growls. Tanner stares back dead-eyed, unsure if this confrontation spells death. Not seeming to care either way. Pimple-inducing tension streaks through the scene like nudists at a Pride parade. Sweat drips down the screen. “You know what that makes me?” Tanner’s response stabs, barbed as a butterfly knife. “A fucking Comanche.”
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