Love Conflicts -- Nailing Neil

Your Friends' writer/director takes a wicked route through relationships

LaBute and Patric worked hard to make the sequence one that people would remember long after they'd left the theater, much as people still recall the scene from Men in which a black officeworker is asked to drop his pants. "Jason and I raced down to the New Beverly [Cinema] to see In Cold Blood," to time a monologue near the film's end where the convicted killer addresses his executioners, says the director. "I remember Jason putting on a stop watch to see how long it was before they cut away."

Trying to shoot and edit Patric's dryly sadistic speech for its eventual television appearance was nearly impossible, recalls LaBute. "We tried to find as many variations on the word 'fuck' as we could -- we went through the whole Sinatra lexicon, of 'fetch,' and 'frig,' and 'flip' and 'fly.' Jason said, 'We can't even get this into the theaters, what are we worried about TV for?' "

Nonetheless, LaBute admits he's pleased that his film could draw the wrath of the MPAA. "I really appreciate the power of what words can do. When I got the NC-17, I said, 'Wow, after all that film can do, words can still unnerve people so that someone under a certain age can't see it.' "

But, he adds, he was glad his movie ended up with an R instead of the dreaded NC-17. "One doesn't want to be just notorious," he says. "There are much better ways to be seen and heard.

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