The sun breaks across rooftops in the early days of a Brooklyn spring. The sidewalks are quiet, and Ethan Hawke is inside editing a movie he’s directed about a shot-to-death singer most people have never heard of. The screen fills with a misfit’s raucous delight at banging on drums and mocking Richard Nixon. Hawke laughs. Then he leans forward, scratches his graying goatee and turns serious.
“You think we’re trying too hard to make that joke work?” he says.
“I’ve always liked the uncomfortableness of it,” says Jason Gourson, his editor.
They look at their screens. Images fast-forward like blurred ghosts.
“The more manic we make the beginning,” says Hawke, “the more...