Sarah Polley

Looking for Alaska

If you’ve managed to heave yourself back into your safety canoe after floating away adrift in a sea of your own wracking sobs for the past three weeks, no thanks to The Fault In Our Stars, maybe you’re finally emotionally stable enough to hear word about John Green’s next tearjerker — Looking For Alaska. The news comes from the author himself; Sarah Polley (Stories We Tell, Take This Waltz, Away From Her) has signed on to adapt Green’s other novel, taking on both writing and directing duties with the coming-of-age dramedy. You can stop holding your breath right now, because this one is devoid of any and all cancers; don’t get too relaxed, though, because it’s still going to be a nightmare of emotions and feelings and worries about your misspent youth. Were you ever really that carefree and beautiful? Or knew that many literary references offhandedly? Kids these days.

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Stories We Tell

Even if you don’t buy into the game and you prefer not to live in a world in which the term “Oscar snub” is used with a straight face, sometimes a lack of recognition for worthy nominees can still sting a little. Such was the case with the conspicuous absence of Sarah Polley’s name when the Best Documentary Feature nominees were announced two weeks ago. After two strong narrative explorations of romantic relationships in the bitter winter of old age and the summer splendor of late youth (Away From Her and Take This Waltz, respectively), Polley redirected her interest in the world of human coupling by turning the camera on herself – or, more accurately, her family, or, even more accurately, who she thinks may be her family, or… Well, just see it if you haven’t already, because Stories We Tell is one of the more passionate, involving, and incisively intelligent mainstream documentaries to be released in quite some time. AMPAS has had a history of recognizing more conservative, journalistic notions of “documentary” and shown favor for the crowd-pleasers (like this year’s Sugar Man-esque hit 20 Feet From Stardom). But that only speaks more in Polley’s film’s favor, as it potentially joins the ranks of other productively unconventional yet contemporaneously unrecognized documentaries that we continue to regard as seminal well after their release, like Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line. Regardless of the reputation and recognitions of Stories We Tell, now or in the future, Sarah Polley is certainly a filmmaker […]

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Mr Nobody

If you’re a Jared Leto fan, then this is your lucky weekend. Leto has two movies arriving in theaters, and both of them feature two of his strongest performances to date. The one that will be the most talked about is Dallas Buyers Club. That awards contender is an all around good film, but the Jared Leto performances that will truly shake minds are in Mr. Nobody where Leto plays many versions of a man floating through several different versions of his life. The long-delayed film is finally coming to the United States this weekend. The only question is: is it one of the best films of 2009 or 2013? The $47 million production is a pricey personal project for director Jaco Van Dormael, but the gamble paid off with a beautifully ambitious drama. With Mr. Nobody finally hitting theaters, we’ve got an exclusive clip to share. Here’s a young Nemo Nobody meeting his future wives (played by Diane Kruger, Sarah Polley and Linh-Dan Pham):

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Memories have a way of perverting the truth. Over time, we idealize past events to better suit our present and recount them to so many others that the memories become altered, like in a game of telephone. Each person can interpret the same event differently, thus begging the question: what is the real truth? Sarah Polley makes a thoughtful examination of memory and interpretation in her film Stories We Tell, a masterfully constructed documentary through which she looks for answers to an important part of her own life: her true parentage. Polley weaves together interviews with her family members, as well as intimidate narrations and Super 8 footage in attempt to piece together the intricate “whole story” of the past. Though that past that is admittedly shaped by it’s director and therefore not as objective as it may seem.

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Sundance: Stories We Tell

The first thing that director Sarah Polley asks of the subjects of her documentary debut, Stories We Tell, is for “the whole story.” She asks for it with little fanfare and with an obvious desire to allow her subjects as long as they need to tell that whole story. But, more than anything, Polley asks for that truth honestly, believing that there actually is some whole story to be revealed and that enough time and patience and questions will allow it to show itself. It’s a wild idea, really, asking for honesty and cohesion, even when it comes to documentary filmmaking, a process that, more than anything, aims to illuminate truth and real stories. And yet, it’s also an insane demand – stories are subjective, memory so fickle, experience so fractured – can we expect people to give Polley one satisfying story? On the other hand, we can’t blame Polley for asking for such truth because, after all, she’s not just the film’s director – she’s also its subject.

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ronhoward_contemplating

While it might normally seem appropriate to scoff at a multi-hyphenate powerhouse like J.J. Abrams and a name brand director like Ron Howard taking on a new adaptation of a foreign TV movie that’s nearly a decade old, producer Abrams and now-attached-director Howard have certainly picked a potentially compelling project to team up on. Vulture reports that Howard is now set to helm a remake of Israeli TV movie Kol Ma She’Yesh Li, to be titled All I’ve Got (per its English translation) that Abrams is producing through his Bad Robot shingle. The original film was written and directed by Margalit Keren. If you don’t know who Margalit Keren is, that’s fine, but most other outlets seem intent to report that she also wrote “numerous episodes” of the Israeli show Be’Tipul, which Showtime ultimately adapted into its In Treatment. It’s okay if that bit of trivia doesn’t help you get a grasp on Keren and her work, because it hasn’t done much for us either. Lucky for all of us, the film sounds compelling!

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THR Directors Roundtable 2012

One of the highlights of the Oscar season is the series of round table discussions produced by The Hollywood Reporter, and for good reason. We spend much of the fall and winter comparing drastically different films only on the most basic of levels, who is deserving of awards and who isn’t. Any real conversation between the creators of the best movies of the year is therefore worth watching. Unfortunately, the list of the participants is not often as diverse as the films themselves. This year’s directors’ round table was made up entirely of men, as was the one last year. The same is true of this year’s writers’ panel. Meanwhile, the one real opportunity for us to hear a genuine dialog between women in cinema, the actresses’ panel, was bungled by the typical soft and silly questions that plague American actresses. As Monika Bartyzel so astutely points out in her piece over at Movies.com, it might not be intentional on the part of THR but that doesn’t make it any less problematic.

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Sarah Polley

With Sarah Polley‘s first documentary, the autobiographical Stories We Tell premiering at the Venice Film Festival this week and starting to make its festival rounds, it’s only appropriate that the production’s first trailer has arrived. The doc was first teased as centering on a “family of storytellers” and the way they all communicate and interpret the same shared stories – enticing enough, and all the more so when Polley revealed just yesterday that both the family and the story were her own. The film’s first trailer adeptly obscures the ostensible heart of its own subject matter (which Polley blogged about yesterday), instead tantalizing us with the promise of revealing a look at Polley’s mother’s entire life by way of lots of archival footage (her mother was also an actress) and interviews with much of her family, including Polley’s own father and siblings. It is, at turns, funny (Polley directing her own father is a sweet and amusing way to reveal her involvement), sad (her siblings remember the passing of their mother in very personal ways), and intriguing (just what is that thing they’ve all joked about that proves true?). But what’s really most compelling about this brief first look is Polley herself, sitting quietly in a chair, having taking a time out from an interview that’s clearly proved too hard to handle, head in her hands. It’s a tiny moment, but enormously moving. Check out the first trailer for Stories We Tell after the break.

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Sarah Polley

Last month, a press release revealed that multi-hyphenate (and multi-talented) Sarah Polley had lensed her very first documentary feature, Stories We Tell, which had been previously kept somewhat under wraps. We didn’t know much about the film back then, just that Polley had been working on it for a number of years, that it would premiere at the Venice Film Festival (kicking off today), and that it centered on “a family of storytellers” who all approached the same subject in different ways. It didn’t seem as if Polley was being willfully obtuse about the film, just that perhaps the film’s very nature was best suited for a bit of cloak and dagger (similar to something like Dear Zachary or Catfish or even The Imposter). As it turns out, Polley wasn’t hiding the plot of Stories We Tell, she was just preparing herself for the big reveal – because the family of storytellers at center of the documentary is her own and it’s Polley’s very life that is the focus of the film. In anticipation of the film’s premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Polley posted a guest post over at the National Film Board of Canada’s blog (the film was made in collaboration with the NFB and their CFC/NFB Feature Documentary Program) which reveals that Stories We Tell centers on Polley’s discovery and acceptance of the news that the man she had spent her entire life believing was her father was not, and that she was the product of an extramarital […]

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Stories We Tell at Venice

Multi-hyphenate Sarah Polley has already lovingly crafted two beautiful feature films – Away From Her and Take This Waltz – and is now expending her directorial repertoire to include a documentary that sounds as if it will fit perfectly inside her already immensely accomplished work (we’re fans of her, okay?). That new film, Stories We Tell, is now set to debut at the Venice Film Festival, and the only question more pressing than “wait, how expensive is it to fly to Venice?” is “wait, just what is this film about?” The film is Polley’s first venture into documentary filmmaking, and one she’s been working on since 2008, when the CFC/NFB Feature Documentary Program was first unveiled. Little is known about the film, including the details of its subjects, but we do know that it centers on “a family of storytellers” that Polley interviews about the same subjects with unexpectedly different results. Stories We Tell will have its World Premiere in the Venice Days program as part of the Venice Film Festival later this summer (August 29 –  September 8). Produced by Anita Lee and Silva Basmajian, the film was made in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and their still-blossoming feature documentary program. Check out the film’s official (though still vague) synopsis after the break.

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In 2003, Sarah Polley starred in Isabel Coixet’s wonderful My Life Without Me as a young wife and mother who discovers that she has terminal uterine cancer – and only two months to live. Keeping the news from her loved ones, Polley’s Ann assembles a list of things to do before she dies – things like making tapes for her young daughters to listen to on their birthdays, finding a new wife for her beloved husband, and having a sexual relationship with another man. The driving force behind Ann’s decision to (eventually) embark on a passionate affair with no less than Mark Ruffalo (who can blame her) is Ann’s imminent demise and her desire to fill her last days with rich experiences. It’s one of her best performances as an actress, and it’s perhaps one of the best ways to approach Polley’s second directorial debut. In Polley’s Take This Waltz, Michelle Williams‘ Margot suffers in a way not wholly different than how Ann suffered in My Life. But Margot’s particular death sentence is of the Hamlet variety – she’s not sick and she’s not obviously falling apart, but Margot is decomposing of her own volition, dying since the day she was born, and both unable and unwilling to notice her blooming unhappiness. In short terms, Margot is bored and doesn’t realize it.

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Nothing says “summer at the movies” quite like a metric ton of big name blockbusters flooding theaters near you – superheroes on top of superheroes, classic television series brought back from the dead, animated gems about finding yourself – oh my! But with the cinema summer growing ever-larger, the stakes being pushed ever-higher, and enough content to keep audience members in their seats ever-longer, a line has to be drawn somewhere. Which is why all the members of the Voting Body of Film School Rejects gathered together in our secret chambers to vote on just which films have won our Most Anticipated nod. Twenty films emerged from our complicated, decades-old voting process (read: a Google doc) to be crowned winners. Why twenty? Well, there are twenty weeks in the cinematic summer season (if you count May, which we do – April will be included next year if Hollywood keeps this up), and that should give you movie-lovers a reasonable goal to meet for the viewing season. We’ve even managed to pinpoint our most anticipated movie-going weekend of the summer – June 22nd, when four films open in theaters, all of which made our list. But beyond the mathematics that went into picking the summer’s best weekend, there were also some genuine surprises on the list – including big tentpole films missing completely (sorry, Battleship and Dark Shadows), some indies that sneaked in with lots of votes, a battle royale that went down between our number one and number two picks, […]

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It will be perhaps my greatest cinematic accomplishment of the summer if I can somehow manage to walk out of a viewing of Sarah Polley‘s Take This Waltz without feeling an abject loathing for Michelle Williams. Even now, watching the film’s longest trailer to date, I am filled with a deep, hissing hatred for her character, Margot. That is actually a good thing – it shows just how effective even a monologue- and music-heavy piece of marketing for the film can be, setting the stage for a big, gorgeous, moving film. Polley’s latest film stars Williams and Seth Rogen as seemingly happy married couple Margot and Lou. But when Margot meets a handsome new dude (Luke Kirby) who, oops!, just so happens to live next door to the pair, all bets are off and Margot struggles against her deep and unresolved desires for Kirby’s Daniel. Surprise – she doesn’t succeed, “succumbing to the moments” that this monologue skirts around. Think about the meaning of wedding vows and check out the trailer for Take This Waltz after the break.

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It looks like fans won’t have to wait five years between Sarah Polley directorial projects this time around. Even though it took that long between Away From Her and Take This Waltz, The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that she’ll be writing and directing a project called Alias Grace based on the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name. The book, which is inspired by real life, explores the psychological state of Grace Marks – a young maid who was put in jail for murdering her employer and suspected of killing his mistress in 1843. The story is bubbling with drama and controversy as Marks was both considered by some to be an unwilling participant and was ultimately pardoned after being in an asylum for three decades. All of this took place in Canada, but in spite of popular belief, it was not the only murder to take place there in the last two hundred years. This is great news because Polley has a keen talent for both story and character, but a lot will hinge on what teenage actor she gets to play the part of Marks. It will undoubtedly be a demanding role, but it’s an exciting challenge to see Polley take on. However, it also means we probably won’t get to see Polley make sweet, sweet love to a creature she made in a lab with Adrien Brody for a while.

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage. Synopsis: Hipster scientists Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) have humanity’s best interest in mind as they try to genetically engineer animals that can revolutionize medicine. After their would-be humanity-saving experiments tear each other apart, Clive and Elsa create a new creature with human DNA. Thus the couple begins a downward spiral of bad decisions with the best of intentions. Miraculously, this new creature doesn’t die, so they secretly keep it alive in the lab, hoping it can lead to medical advancements. Silly hipster scientists. As the experiment (which they’ve affectionately named Dren, which is “nerd” spelled backwards) matures, Clive and Elsa soon realize they are in way over their heads… and maybe a little turned on.

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During a recent Howard Stern appearance, comedian Sarah Silverman talked about her upcoming foray into the film world. Silverman is set to co-star in the Sarah Polley-directed film Take This Waltz alongside Seth Rogen and Michelle Williams. The IMDB plot synopsis of the film says that it’s, “A funny, bittersweet and heart-wrenching story about a woman struggling to choose between two different types of love.” But what IMDB fails to mention is that Silverman is going to be showing her goodies in it. Silverman told Stern that when she recently met President Obama and he asked her what she was working on next and she said, “I’m going to be naked in a movie,” to which Obama responded, “Oh, you’ll have to send me a copy of that.” This exchange proves two things: that Sarah Silverman is going to be naked in a movie, and that President Obama is pretty funny. Silverman fanboys shouldn’t get too excited about the prospect of seeing her onscreen nudity, however, she warns that, “It’s not sexual. It’s like a shower scene at the YMCA. So of course it’s not going to be well lit. I know people are excited to see [the nude scene], but they’re not excited to see it like [if it was] Megan Fox naked in a movie. They’re excited to see it [like when] Kathy Bates was naked in About Schmidt.” Okay, so probably I’ll be excited to check it out anyways. That Kathy Bates had some killer gams. Source: Worst […]

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If this were a tabloid, the headline above would refer to a strange sex tape involving comedian Sarah Silverman and Christoph Waltz. However, being just slightly better than a tabloid, it refers to Silverman’s revelation that she’s done a nude scene for noted actor/director Sarah Polley (Away From Her). The scene is for Take This Waltz, a dramedy that also features Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen in lead roles. We reported on the odd acting pairing back in January, and it looks like they’ll be joined on screen by full frontal Silverman, a reality that Silverman claims, “is going to be awful. It’s so not pretty.” Silverman is known more for stand-up and for her television show, although she’s appeared in films like School of Rock. Still, it brings yet another strange dimension to an already interesting-sounding project. [Moviefone]

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kevin-reportcard-header

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr grades four new films: Get Him to the Greek, Splice, Marmaduke and Killers.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Neil makes a triumphant return to the Magical Studio in the Sky and celebrates the occassion by seeing one of the four movies opening this week. Sadly, Kevin is not that much farther ahead, having only seen one and 9/10th of another due to a freak lightning storm.

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Splice Movie

I demand some sort of concrete idea buried within the futuristic society or the advanced science that is metaphorically explored or I expect it to pull double duty as a good horror film. I think Splice does both remarkably well. In fact, it’s one of the better Sci-Fi films I have seen in quite some time.

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