“I don’t like this whole Skype-speaker thing,” a friend told me, when I asked if they wanted to accompany me to see the IFF Q&A with Jason Schwartzman. “Like, it’d be better if they just got someone less famous, but in person, you know?”
I’m not personally a huge fan of Skype, so it surprises me that I actually strongly disagree. The quirky nature of these Skype presentations has worked almost perfectly for the speakers IFF has brought us via video chat. Last year’s Wes Anderson Skype Q&A, which was broadcast to two auditoriums because ticketing for the first sold out so quickly, was among the more memorable events I’ve been to on campus. Friday night’s chat with Schwartzman, who wore Beats by Dr Dre headphones and a scruffy black beard, followed suit.
Listening to Schwartzman felt very familiar because his manner of speaking is so distinctive, and so similar to that of the characters he has portrayed (think: HBO’s Bored to Death). He integrates self-effacing humor, or just bizarrely specific details, into articulate and intellectual sentences. When asked for his favorite works, or those he draws the greatest inspiration from, he replied “Hmm, that’s a great question, like one I’d maybe liked to have in an email an hour ago…” and then proceeded to rattle off Paul Shrader’s Mishima, Francois Truffaut’s work (in particular Stolen Kisses), and Al Pacino as favorites. “I’m trying to think of books, but I’m so embarrassed to even talk about books because you guys have read so many more books,” said Schwartzman, with stacks and stacks of books piled around his office in the background.