Interviews

tucci

Stanley Tucci can now add “LaBute’s classical ass” to his profile. Writer/Director Neil LaBute has always been known for writing vicious men who put their female counterparts through the ringer. Naturally, that’s what Tucci’s character does in Some Velvet Morning. Tucci plays Fred, a man attempting to worm his way back into Velvet’s (Alice Eve) life. He toys with her, manipulates her, and tries to break her down just enough that she comes crawling back into his arms. Some Velvet Morning is set in one house with two characters, which means Tucci and Eve are in the camera’s eye for all 82 minutes of its runtime. It makes for a challenge, but Tucci was more than game for the film’s fast schedule. Of course, there were a few things that helped.

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cooper

43-year-old Scott Cooper didn’t direct his first feature film until he was 37.  2009’s Crazy Heart scored Jeff Bridges his first oscar, and it also made Cooper a director on the rise. The film cost only $7m and went on to earn more than $47m worldwide, making it both a critical and financial smash. That’s not a feat we see often, but for Cooper, he couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming result for his debut. His follow-up, Out of the Furnace, is an entirely different kind of film, featuring an ensemble cast, life and death stakes and suspense. Before it premiered at AFI Fest last month, one of the producers compared Out of the Furnace to The Deer Hunter, inferring that they didn’t set out to make a film that goes down easy. The talent in attendance clearly stated their intention: they wanted to make a movie about America. Not the big booming cities, but the small towns that have been left in financial turmoil. That wasn’t the story Brad Ingelsby‘s set out to write in the beginning. “The original screenplay was based on the idea of a man who gets out of prison and must avenge someone,” says Cooper, delving into the film’s subtext. “The rest all comes from a very personal experience. As I said in those opening remarks [at AFI], I wanted to show the turbulent world we’ve lived in the the last five years. I thought it was important to express my personal and artistic worldview through that lens, and out comes Out of the Furnace.”

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news oldboy1

For many years now a potential remake of Park Chan-wook‘s Oldboy has been striking fear into the hearts of fans. No matter the level of talent involved, scoffs were heard loud and clear around the Internet. Why remake such a recent classic? Probably because, outside of cinephiles, it’s not exactly well known. But that’s beside the point. Even when Steven Spielberg flirted with the project, fan interest remained low, which is a shame because when Spielberg really likes to get cruel as a filmmaker, it’s pretty spectacular. Like Justin Lin and others, Spielberg eventually moved on, as did one-time potential star Will Smith. However, someone who stayed with the project through the years is screenwriter/co-producer Mark Protosevich. Protosevich, who scripted The Cell and chunks of I Am Legend, has always been a serious cheerleader for this remake. I say remake, because, despite what Spike Lee and others tell you, Oldboy is definitely a remake, not a reinterpretation. There’s nothing wrong with that, and Protosevich, he doesn’t treat “remake” as a dirty word either.

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lawrence

For a variety of reasons, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is considerably unlike its predecessor. Structurally the sequel isn’t a 180-turn, but the world itself, while keeping in touch with what director Gary Ross achieved with the first film, has a different texture to it. When the girl on fire is on fire, it actually looks like fire. It’s a sequel, but also a new direction for the franchise, in both small and major ways. That’s what clearly piqued director Francis Lawrence‘s interest. Catching Fire is only Lawrence’s fourth film, but he’s faced considerable storytelling and technical challenges in the past, making him an obvious choice for the franchise. From his films, music videos, and television work, the director behind I Am Legend and Constantine is more than up to the challenge of adding new shades to an already established world. We discussed adding new building blocks to author Suzanne Collins’s creation, along with fandom, subversive blockbusters, and more:

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corbijm

U2, Nirvana, Depeche Mode, Arcade Fire, Joy Division, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds isn’t a shabby list of names to be associated with in any capacity, and those are just a few of the bands that Anton Corbijn has directed iconic music videos for. The renowned photographer and filmmaker has always presented his subjects through a vision of his own, leading to a long history of famous images. His feature films haven’t been huge hits with the public though. So far Corbijn has only made two pictures — Control and The American – and, by their own accord, they’re not for everybody. The American even downright angered some filmgoers expecting a more action-heavy Clooney picture, but those aren’t the viewers Corbijn is aiming to please. The director is the subject of a new documentary, Anton Corbijn Inside Out, and for the digital release of the film, Corbijn made the time to speak with us. Here’s what he had to say:

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Man of Steel

When I was a kid, we went on a lot of road trips. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. Summers usually meant that we were gone nearly every weekend in the travel trailer my dad hauled behind his suburban, off for a new campground somewhere in Texas. He even drove that thing to Orlando one year, taking my mother, brother and me to DisneyWorld, staying at Disney’s rustic Fort Wilderness. Great trip, but that is a long trip from the DFW Metroplex. This was the day and age before iPods, iPads, and Kindles, so I usually relegated myself to the way, way back with a stack of comic books, or a science fiction novel. Thankfully, my mom encouraged my reading, and a trip meant that she would pick up a book for me (or sometimes, even let me pick one) from the spinner racks at the grocery store checkout. Speaking of those, do they even exist anymore? These days you never see books for sale at the checkout, and if you do, chances are it’s a Harlequin romance. Blurgh. At one point, my mom picked up a novelization of a movie for me, giving me a chance to read the story before I’d seen the film. I can’t remember exactly which movie it was… probably The Empire Strikes Back. But I readily recall reading novelizations for The Last Starfighter, Tron, The Goonies, Explorers, and even a couple of Knight Rider adaptations, including the classic “Trust Doesn’t Rust” episode, which […]

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There are very few reviews out there for Dallas Buyers Club that don’t make mention of its stars’ Oscar chances. The movie is a real showcase for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto‘s two larger than life performances, to the point where the Academy could use virtually all of their scenes for their nomination clip. Our Kate Erbland described their performances as the best from Tiff, saying that “Dallas Buyers Club lives and dies on the strength of its two lead performances, and it’s a solid pairing of both good luck and pure talent that McConaughey and Leto bring their absolute best to a film that requires nothing less.” It also lives or dies on director Jean-Marc Vallée. The filmmaker behind C.R.A.Z.Y. knows how to capture those quality performances on an exceptionally tight deadline. Speaking with Vallée, he expressed appreciation for his two leading men, while also delving into how exactly he shot McConaughey, Leto, and co-star Jennifer Gardner’s performances. Here’s what Vallée had to say on the subject:

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taylor

Thor: The Dark World may be director Alan Taylor‘s first feature film, but this isn’t his first rodeo behind the camera. Far from it, actually. Taylor has directed episodes for some of your favorite television shows: Mad Men, Deadwood, Rome, Bored to Death, and The Sopranos. Taylor brought those series to real highs. For The Sopranos, he helmed the episode where Tony killed his nephew Christopher — one of the most dramatic moments of that series. But it was Taylor’s time on Game of Thrones that landed him Thor: The Dark World. The first Thor often felt like more of a cartoon than a movie, and Marvel wanted to ground those rainbow bridges for the sequel. That doesn’t mean Thor: The Dark World is a gritty, humorless experience, but has a “dirt” to it, which is how Alan Taylor describes the style of the film. Speaking with Taylor from the London junket, he went into the differences between television and film, directing his first feature, and Marvel’s Kevin Feige.

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nighy

Bill Nighy is a chameleon. He’s an actor who can go large and then, as we see in his new film, About Time, craft an effortlessly grounded performance when needed. When Nighy discusses the idea of a performance without thinking about “acting,” it makes for an interesting contrast to his work as Davy Jones. The Pirates of the Caribbean villain is a job that consistently reminds you you’re acting with the tech involved. Wearing those dots on your face and that mo-cap suit probably can’t make your job any easier, and yet Nighy still managed to bring gravitas to Jones and that series as a whole. There is no transformation in About Time, which, to some actors, is an even loftier challenge. But it’s a task Nighy seems up for any day of the week, especially if it’s Richard Curtis behind the camera. Speaking with Nighy, his fondness for Curtis rang loud and clear. Not only that, Nighy stressed an important little detail for all the young actors out there. Read on to find out about Nighy’s discovery:

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ENDER

Director Gavin Hood received mass acclaim for his 2005 film, Tsotsi, before moving on to direct Rendition and eventually land the gig for 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That comic book adaptation didn’t sit too well with critics or fans, but its shortcomings don’t all fall on the feet of Hood. That production was reportedly plagued with creative differences and had a script constantly in flux, which is likely why Hood says, while discussing his new film, Ender’s Game, how beneficial it is to have a completed script before shooting. His adaptation of Orson Scott Card‘s sci-fi classic centers around a young boy, Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), who literally has the world’s fate placed on his shoulders, and it’s a remarkably faithful adaptation when it comes to the book’s emotion and the finale its fans are familiar with. Hood sat down with us at the film’s press day to discuss the challenges of remaining faithful to Card’s book. Here’s what he had to say:

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curtis

Love Actually is one of the most beloved romantic comedies of all the time. That film is only ten years old, but it’s already fair to claim the film is a classic. Initially the web of down-to-earth love stories didn’t receive uniformly stellar reviews or massive box office numbers, but what kind of madman doesn’t watch it when it’s on cable or come Christmas time? That wasn’t a shabby way to kickoff the directorial chapter to an already successful career. By 2003, Curtis had written Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Notting Hill, so he was no romantic comedy rookie when he hit it big behind the camera. Since then, he’s directed two films with The Boat That Rocked and his latest, About Time. The time travel dramedy is about life, love, sorrow, children, and (unsurprising if you follow Curtis’ work) most everyday facets of life. The movie feels like a swan song for Richard Curtis, who is retiring from filmmaking. Speaking with Curtis at the press day for About Time, the writer/director discussed his reasons for retirement. Here’s what he had to say:

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franco

James Franco‘s Sal follows actor Sal Mineo’s final hours with a fly-on-the-wall approach. In the film we see the bright young actor, played by Val Lauren, prepping a directorial feature he won’t make any compromises on. After seeing Sal, it’s easy to draw comparisons between Franco and Mineo in that regard. Franco has spent the last few years directing personal projects that are nothing if not uncompromising. Behind the camera, he’s taken on norm-defying adaptations like As I Lay Dying, the experimental recreation of lost scenes from Cruising and a documentary focused on his guest starring appearances on soap opera General Hospital.  Those projects, along with Sal, aren’t overtly commercial endeavors (as you may have noticed), but Franco’s directorial features have certainly found their audience. He works fast, and, as Franco tells us, that work ethic isn’t a matter of simply rushing through project after project. Despite being insanely busy, he sat down with me to discuss that work ethic and the prospect of making even more movies.

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stone

A lot of film fans had their eyes opened by the trippy blur of David Lynch, who showed them that movies need not be literal or especially concerned with losing audience members for one or two or all the moments. For me, such a cinematic shakeup didn’t come from Lynch, but Oliver Stone. Much like his underdog characters, he continually challenges the norms of his field. Throughout his career, Stone has been able to shift between yarns spun with either a calm eye or full-on bombast, whether he’s showing modern gladiators in Any Given Sunday, the fractured life of Richard Nixon, or hell’s dirty underbelly as depicted in U-Turn. It’s also obvious that Stone is a history nut, and, with The Untold History of The United States, he spent these past four years crafting a project he’s called his most “ambitious.” It’s a comprehensive, warts-and-all look at the behind-closed-doors shaping of America, all done in an approach we’ve come to expect from Stone. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Stone to talk about that approach, his greater body of film work and his antagonism toward perfection.

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Kill Your Darlings

Watching a few young pretentious writers for 90 minutes should be as unpleasant as it sounds. For the first half of Kill Your Darlings these young rebels, including Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), ramble on and on about shaking up the system and starting a revolution. Imagine being stuck in a room with these young men and trying not to strangle somebody. Now try to calm your rage because Kill Your Darlings is far from a naval gazing experience. Part thriller, part romance, part coming-of-age tale, and part murder mystery, it’s a wild blend of many ideas and genres. At the center of it all is Radcliffe, playing the young, howling poet. I got to sit down with the actor who explained, amongst other things, the difficult choices that come with a stack of scripts and how he transformed into a young Allen Ginsberg (pretentiousness in tact).

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cody

Going from screenwriting to directing isn’t an easy transition for most. Some writers have found great success behind the camera, while others have buckled under the pressure. It’s a different job with its own set of demands. With Paradise, Academy Award winner Diablo Cody takes her first crack at directing with the story of a young girl named Lamb (Julianne Hough), who visits Las Vegas after a serious plane crash leaves her with burn scars and a desire to explore places outside of her religious community. Whether we’ll see Cody direct again is a real question mark. Instead of proclaiming how amazing her experience was, Cody expressed to us her problems with the job and the way certain critics respond to her flawed female characters. Here’s what she had to say about those critics, writing women and, of course, her take on Gravity:

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taylor

From a visual standpoint, Thor: The Dark World is an interesting sequel. It’s a serious departure from the world Kenneth Branagh set up with the first film, which was light and cartoony (in a pleasant way), but all those dutch angles and color-y rainbow bridges sure did make some snicker. For the sequel, there’s a grime to Asgard, and there’s a tangibility that director Alan Taylor was clearly hired to put on screen. The folks behind Terminator 5 are probably hoping he can bring that exact grit to the upcoming reboot. Now, Alan Taylor says his attachment to the semi-reboot remains a “rumor,” but while speaking with him this morning in support of his feature debut, he stated that in such a way that makes it seem far more than just another meritless rumor. When asked if Terminator 5 would keep more in touch with James Cameron’s films than the series overhaul we see in Thor: The Dark World, Taylor described his take on this “rumor”:

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Kimberly Peirce Carrie

In a span of 14 years writer-director Kimberly Peirce has only made 3 films. She hit the scene in a big way with 1999’s Boy’s Don’t Cry, and she didn’t follow that picture up until 2008’s Stop-Loss. In that nine year gap Peirce struggled getting projects off the ground. Being a writer/director who focuses on personal stories is never going to make life easy. She’s now returned with her first adaptation, Carrie. Her remake of the 1976 film is notably different. Structurally it’s reminiscent, but Peirce’s interpretation has a warmth that wasn’t a part of Brian De Palma‘s project. There’s a more humanistic approach to Carrie’s relationship with her mother, which was a key ingredient to Peirce’s motivation to taking on the project. Here’s what Kimberly Peirce had to say about the film, telling personal stories in a commercial system and more.

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Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 1.07.36 AM

Coming off the highly marketable Twilight movies, director Bill Condon decided to go a bit more mature but stick with a pasty pale figure that strikes fear into the heart of many: Julian Assange. It’s fitting Condon’s approach is radical in its own way. Assange himself has publicly taken issue with the film, and when you see the warts and all portrait, you’ll understand why. Thus far the movie has been as splitting as the man in question. Critics have been mixed, including our own Kate Erbland who reviewed the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it’s the reaction Condon expected. It’s probably not the response he wanted, but, as he says, it happens. Condon sat down with us to discuss those responses to the film, as well the battle between great characters and real life.

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paulson

In Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave the main Louisiana plantation we see, run by Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), is an authentically cruel environment. McQueen makes you feel the heat, tears, and fear there. Among all that sweat is Marry Epps, an Ice Queen played by Sarah Paulson. She’s unfazed by the sweltering brutality, engaging in it in a way that’s as terrifying as her husband Edwin, if not more so. McQueen and Paulson turn her movements into moments of pure tension. She’s a villain seemingly without remorse, making her a character most actors might shy away from. Paulson, though, isn’t afraid of taking on the challenge. Speaking with her, it was obvious that under the right circumstances she’d be game for almost anything.

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all-bright-640x426

We’ve seen Nicolas Cage lose his shit. Not just on the big screen, but with an infamous compilation of Cage’s finest moments of insanity. The only question is: why hasn’t Paul Giamatti gotten a video of his own? His performance in Ironclad alone would provide enough content. That’s just one example in a long line of Giamatti’s more bizarro choices — choices that Giamatti is proud to be able to make. As for his newest film, Phil Morrison’s All is Bright, Giamatti is fairly grounded as Dennis, an ex-con who heads to New York to sell Christmas trees with his old partner in crime Rene (Paul Rudd). All is Bright is a New Yorker dramedy with two Canadians at the center of it. We discussed the film, along with a wide range of topics, with Paul Giamatti at its press day:

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