Collaborating worked out on “Frances Ha,” so writer-director Noah Baumbach and writer-actor Greta Gerwig — also a couple in real life — decided to do it again. The result is “Mistress America,” a shape-shifting look at the friendship between Gerwig’s flighty New York gal and an impressionable freshman played by Lola Kirke (“Mozart in the Jungle”). They even made the second half a lengthy screwball comedy set piece — a sequence that was tricky for both the actors as well as Baumbach. At least it gave him the chance to again put a favorite, possibly now cool pop star on his soundtrack.
Your last few movies have included Paul McCartney songs on the soundtrack. It seems like the cool kids have finally come around to his post-Beatles stuff.
I think it falls into that area where if you have as long a career as he’s had, you’re going to be everything at certain points. It’s true of a lot of guys from that era. People at a certain point decide to turn on them, and then everybody goes around and calls them a living legend. He’s always been cool to me.
I got scolded recently for defending “Wonderful Christmastime.” I think hearing “McCartney II,” during which sessions it was recorded, really unlocks that song as something bizarre, not a cheesy holiday tune.
Totally. I like that song. I love “McCartney II.” That whole record is great and odd.
You use “No More Lonely Nights” in “Mistress America,” which is also a song that I don’t think everyone’s come around to yet.
I guess. I still have the 45 I bought at the time. Back then, the movie it’s in [“Give My Regards to Broad Street”] — which I never saw, actually — it wasn’t well received. It maybe got lumped in with that. But it’s got David Gilmour on guitar. The cool kids should love it.
Both “While We’re Young” and “Mistress America” concern young people who run into trouble when it comes to using real people for their art. Did you view them as mirror images of each other?
Those are similarities I’ve become more aware of doing interviews [laughs] than I was when I made them. I didn’t think of that, actually, but I understand the similarities. Both of them are about idolatry and what you put on a person, what you make them out to be, even if that isn’t necessarily what they are.