Problemista’s Julio Torres wants us all to be curious like kids

Julio Torres is among the nice millennial oddballs. The Saturday Evening Stay author and Los Espookys co-creator, author, and star is a soulful weirdo who pours his singular comedic voice into reveals about queer horror nerds scaring folks for enjoyable and revenue and comedy specials the place he talks at size about his favourite shapes. His newest work is Problemista, a film finest described as his try at a fairy story.

Torres wrote and directed Problemista, and he stars as Alejandro, a younger immigrant who’s dealing with deportation again to El Salvador after he loses his (unusual) job at a clinic the place wealthy folks go to freeze themselves for the longer term. His one lifeline is Elizabeth (Tilda Swinton), a tough artwork vendor he wants to persuade to sponsor his work visa so he can pursue his (additionally unusual) dream of constructing odd toys for Hasbro.

Just lately, Torres spoke with Polygon over Zoom to speak about Problemista’s autobiographical facets, his curiosity in inanimate objects, and why individuals who use voice notes are simply the worst.

This interview has been edited for concision and readability.

Picture: A24

Polygon: Alejandro’s curiosity in making uncommon toys is comparable to your stand-up work in My Favourite Shapes. What attracts you to telling tales about inanimate objects?

Julio Torres: As a baby, my first stabs as a storyteller have been like, casting toys and objects as my actors after which arising with little tales for them. That’s a apply I’ve continued. It turns into a very enjoyable, inventive train of kinds. I believe that’s one thing most individuals did after they have been kids, however most individuals develop out of it. And I simply didn’t.

Do you suppose that’s essential to your comedy or your work? Reminding folks of issues they may have grown out of?

Possibly, yeah. Or like, methods of considering. Kids are very curious. Kids ask a variety of questions. After which as we age, there’s a shift — as a child, you ask a variety of questions. After which someplace alongside the road, we’re advised that asking a variety of questions is unhealthy, or that being too curious shouldn’t be a great factor. It all the time pissed me off in center faculty, going into highschool, with the instructor saying, “I’m gonna explain it one time, and you have to listen to it.”

OK, properly, a few of us want to hear it greater than as soon as! [Laughs] Like, you don’t need to be losing your breath explaining one thing? I hated that. I used to be all the time, all the time, all the time inspired by my mother and father to ask questions. My father is a really curious particular person. I believe that curiosity is the gateway to empathy. And that’s an important human high quality.

Proper, and within the context of Problemista, the antagonist is type of this paperwork that’s meant to stonewall any questions.

Proper. You can not ask it questions.

Alejandro’s wrestle isn’t towards an individual or group — folks or teams hostile to immigrants exist, however a variety of the fear is so mundane. You utilize this nice picture, the place each immigrant has an hourglass they will’t see.

Julio Torres smiling in a hoodie in a NYC restaurant in the film Problemista

Picture: A24

Yeah, my path as I lived it — it was dealing with up towards methods that have been faceless. You realize, methods the place there are folks employed to uphold these methods. If you discuss human-to-human, they don’t actually join with or agree with the principles they’re upholding. So then it’s like, What is that this invisible factor we’re preventing?

One of many film’s finest jokes about that is the dream situation the place a financial institution worker yells “I stand with Bank of America!” by means of tears, as a result of she will be able to’t assist somebody, she will be able to solely implement paperwork.

In order that’s my buddy River [L. Ramirez] enjoying that lady. River is an absolute genius. However what I like about River’s efficiency is that there’s actual humanity there. You see somebody who — you realize, we gave her a reputation, Estefani. She’s carrying her little badge. And it’s like, this lady has to pay her payments. This lady has a job at Financial institution of America. And this lady has a household who failed, this lady is married, she’s carrying a hoop, and she or he’s put ready the place if empathy comes up, that would price her her job. We’re all trapped in a technique or one other.

A number of the movie is about Alejandro’s relationship together with his tough boss, and a technique you present that issue is that she makes use of voice notes.

The factor about voice-notes customers is that in case you have the voice-notes gene — when you uncover it, you simply don’t return. And in case you don’t have the voice-note gene, getting [recorded memos] is so annoying. As a result of it’s like OkK, now I’ve to cease what I’m doing to hear to this, and it’s like, Uggghh, why don’t you simply write it?!

Do you will have the voice-notes gene?

I don’t.

Problemista is now enjoying in theaters.

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