You've Been Trumped NZ Herald Review: 4 Stars 24 November 2012
Crossfire Hurricane NZ Herald Review: 4 Stars 24 November 2012
Graham Reid considers a new documentary about the Rolling Stones' wild years and yet another greatest hits compilation.
In a voice-over at the end of the new, officially sanctioned but nonetheless ragged and candid Rolling Stones biopic Crossfire Hurricane, Mick Jagger says in a voice between amusement and disbelief that where once they were hated, now they were loved.
On the screen is the largest stage ever built for a live concert and a crowd of breathtaking dimensions - it's an outdoor show on their 1981 US tour - and Jagger strutting like a parody of himself.
And that's where the film ends, as if conceding the following three decades became business as usual: tours which could claim record breaking gate-takes, millions of dollars of merchandising, more albums ... The Stones became the emblem of what English writer George Melly called "revolt into style", or perhaps more correctly "stylisation".
But the two decades previous are the pivot of this two-hour film told through voiceovers, previously unseen footage showing the mayhem of their early tours, the hate-filled response by the British tabloids and American critics, and a time when they truly were in revolt, and often willfully revolting.
After opening scenes with US television host Dick Cavett as the Stones play a huge show in 72 and pull longhairs, the drug-addled, misfits and loyalists, the story folds back to them as a young and aspiring blues band, posited by their 19-year-old manager Andrew Loog Oldham as the anti-Beatles.
As Keith Richards gleefully notes, in movies if someone wore the white hat (good guys, the sheriff, the Beatles) someone had to wear the black (bad guys, the outlaw, the Stones). Later Richards notes with that distinctively hoarse laugh, in this movie the baddies didn't die.
Well, only founder member Brian Jones, about whom Richards is more charitable than in his recent memoir Life where he called Jones "a rotting attachment" and worse.
Jones' death in 69 marked the end of that first phase - the drug era follows with 20-year-old replacement guitarist Mick Taylor, then Ronnie Wood and the Stones stylisation - and that footage is compelling.
From this distance - Jagger knighted, Richards the senior statesman of drug survivors - we forget how extraordinary that period from 1965 was in the crossfire hurricane.
Astonishing footage of stage invasions, Jagger noting male fans in Europe would turn up just to fight the police (visual evidence provided), riots and water cannons, the band fleeing across a railway line, running for their lives from fans ... When it came to violence, social disruption and rabble rousing, the Stones had the Sex Pistols beaten on all counts.
Young Jagger - articulate, mostly poised - says their music attracted people dissatisfied with the generation controlling them. When asked what he's dissatisfied about he offers the same reason.
After that period, told through newsreels, live and studio footage, the arc follows the death of Jones, the Hyde Park concert two days after his funeral, that terrifying crucible of violence, Hell's Angels and serious drugs which was Altamont, their flight to the south of France to record Exile on Main Street (cue footage of seriously addled people), rot-teeth Richards' trafficking bust in Toronto and that rehabilitation in stadium shows at the dawn of the 80s.
There is better and superior quality footage of much of this in the DVDs Stones in the Park, Gimme Shelter, Rock and Roll Circus and Stones in Exile, but the blurry images, cheap stock and bleached home movies have a queasy and suitably off-kilter feel. And there's music too.
We see Jagger and Richards learning to write songs (picking their way through Tell Me), Jones in one last effort playing hypnotic slide on No Expectations ("to pass through here again"), the weave of guitars between Richards and Taylor, Bill Wyman stone-faced playing fundamental bass, drummer Charlie Watts furiously pounding in way he hasn't for decades, Woods as Richards' comedic twin ...
The music is the appeal, says Watts, early on, not the shock-horror headlines.
That music is collected on the three-CD collection Grrr! which closes with one terrific new song Doom and Gloom and the lesser One More Shot.
It scoops up 50 songs from half a century and it's telling that two thirds of them cover just the first 15 years when the Stones were loved and hated in equal measure. And were a band who signified social change driven by outlaws in black hats.
Crossfire Hurricane Stars: 4/5 Opens at the Rialto Newmarket, Bridgeway Northcote and selected cinemas on Wednesday.
Crossfire Hurricane Rolling Stones NZ Herald Interview 16 November 2012
"Once this starts rolling, I can't see it stopping..."
Rolling Stones fire up to mark the start of the second 50 years
The official line is "we'll see." But the Rolling Stones seem in such fighting trim, clear-eyed and focused, that it's hard to believe there's not more cooking beyond the current flurry of activity marking the band's 50th anniversary.
The archetypal rock 'n' roll band is booked for five concerts in London and the New York area over the next month. The Stones on Tuesday released yet another hits compilation entitled Grrr! and there is the HBO documentary on their formative years, Crossfire Hurricane, heading to cinemas.
"Without saying yes or nay," Keith Richards said this week, "once this starts rolling, I can't see it stopping. The band feels good about themselves, they still feel they've got something to offer. Obviously there are a lot of people out there who agree. We'll go along with it."
Fifty years is hard to fathom ("It's impossible," Richards cackles. "I'm only 38."). The Rolling Stones have been through death, defections and addictions, through classic discs like Exile on Main Street and Some Girls and forgettable ones, and are still operating with Richards, Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts.
Ron Wood, the new guy, joined in 1975.
"I thought it would be kind of churlish not to do something," Jagger said. "Otherwise, the BBC would have done a rather dull film about the Rolling Stones."
The Stones formed in London in 1962 to play Chicago blues, led at the time by Brian Jones and pianist Ian Stewart - both deceased - with boyhood friends Jagger and Richards. Bassist Bill Wyman and Watts were early additions.
Anniversaries usually aren't big on the band's agenda, but Richards said the Rolling Stones felt external pressure to mark this one.
"This band is famous for not obeying the rules and bowing to pressure or anything," he said. "But over the course of the year we felt more and more aware that there are folks out there counting on us. You can't let them down. At the same time, you realise that the folks are right. Playing together over the last five months you realise that there's this thing out of your life that's been missing."
They spent several weeks in Paris rehearsing five hours a day for their concerts. To mark the occasion, the band has dug back into its catalogue for songs like I Wanna Be Your Man and The Last Time, although Richards drew the line at resurrecting their first single, Chuck Berry's Come On.
Jagger didn't want the band to take on too much, "but I thought it was important to do some sort of a show, even if it was just a club gig", he said. "I didn't want it to be too nostalgic and I wanted to be pretty irreverent about it. My idea of the tour is calling it 'F*** Off, We're 50'."
Few people in the concert industry expect the Stones at ages ranging from Wood's 65 to Watts' 71, to mount one of the huge world tours that they have done in the past, said Gary Bongiovanni, editor and publisher of the trade publication Pollstar. But more live shows wouldn't be a surprise, perhaps as residencies in several large cities, he said.
Jagger was a driving force as co-producer of Crossfire Hurricane. The film focuses on the rise and classic years of the Rolling Stones, back when their shows were considered dangerous.
The film shows concerts cut short when enthusiastic fans rushed the stage and made it impossible to play.
"We were playing pop songs to 10-year-olds," Jagger said. "It was very weird. It's not that difficult. It's much easier to play three pop songs to teenagers than two hours of blues music to connoisseurs."
The film contains interviews from all surviving Stones, including former members Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor. None are seen as they are today; Jagger wanted to keep the emphasis on the era and not go back and forth between past and present.
Richards barely remembers the cameraman being backstage. "I'm crashed out in the dressing room with some babe with me," he said.
By David Bauder
Barrymore Christopher Plummer Interview 16 November 2012
"Plummer has always been reluctant to allow his stage performances to be captured on film."
Hard working actor says theatre recordings were pulled off well.
Nearing his 83rd birthday hasn't meant Christopher Plummer is slowing down. In fact, he seems to be putting the pedal to the metal.
"I've never worked as hard as I have in my life at the present time and I think it's wonderful," the oldest Oscar winner says. "It keeps me on my toes. It keeps me young. It keeps my memory going."
Plummer has enjoyed a late-career push that has included his first two Oscar nominations in the past three years. He won this year for his role in Beginners as Hal Fields, a museum director who becomes openly gay after his wife of 44 years dies.
Now two of his stage roles have hit the movie screens - The Tempest, which was recorded live over two days in 2010 by Des McAnuff, the artistic director of the Stratford Festival in Ontario, and his Barrymore, a two-person play exploring the life of actor John Barrymore that earned Plummer his second Tony in 1997.
"He is a force of nature. He is the tempest itself," says McAnuff, who is still stunned by Plummer's energy and skill. Right after winning the Oscar, McAnuff called to congratulate Plummer, but all he wanted to do was talk about his one-man show.
"He's got an insatiable appetite for hard work and for creativity."
Plummer has always been reluctant to allow his stage performances to be captured on film.
"I don't like it because it's always so cold. There's a barrier between you and the audience, which the screen always puts up, and so it loses a lot of its immediacy generally. So I don't approve really of just filming a play just straight on as it is."
The Tempest and Barrymore are more than just point-a-camera-at-the-stage recordings. In Shakespeare's play, the cameras swoop about the stage, creating close-ups and long shots.
In Barrymore, which was filmed over seven days in and around the Elgin Theatre in Toronto, director and adapter Erik Canuel used an empty theatre for some scenes and filmed others in alleyways. Plummer says the piece got more laughs in front of a live audience, but becomes more emotional on screen.
"I think film does the play justice in both cases. Barrymore is more filmic, but some of the magic does come through very well in The Tempest."
As for his own magic, Plummer hopes it keeps flowing. He laughs at all the accolades he's lately accepting.
"I think that's because I'm getting old. They're sort of saying, 'Oh, we better give it to him now otherwise he'll drop dead."
Who: Christopher Plummer What:Barrymore When: At cinemas now
Sightseers Ben Wheatley Interview 12 November 2012
"...there is something funny about a giant pencil."
Ben Wheatley was kind enough to take some time out from editing new picture A Field In England to be quizzed by The Skinny on this month’s Sightseers, and what he’s got coming up next.
Witty, urbane and with a dark streak a mile wide, 40-year-old Brighton-based writer-director Ben Wheatley has made an auspicious start to his filmmaking career. Beginning in TV with Modern Toss and Time Trumpet, he then made a splash with his micro-budget directorial feature debut Down Terrace, then cemented his reputation with last year’s excellent Kill List. What makes him stand out from the genre crowd is that he manages to retain the idiosyncrasies of British character and culture while still delivering the Kensington Gore.
Wheatley's latest film is Sightseers, a murderous road movie following a seemingly benign couple who go on a killing spree around various Midlands landmarks and museums. Written by co-stars Steve Oram and Alice Lowe, Sightseers is a similarly dark tale to Wheatley’s previous films, albeit with a greater emphasis on laughs. A need to lighten the load somewhat, and to ensure a variety to his work, appears to have been on the agenda for the director from the off.
"Yeah, I got offered it before Kill List, and I knew that Kill List was about to happen, and I kind of thought that I definitely wanted to do a comedy after doing a horror film," explains Wheatley. "That’s why I took it really; and that I knew Alice and Steve, and I’d actually seen the short film version that they’d done [with the same characters], so I kind of knew what the project was. And, when I began making films I always wanted to make sure that I didn’t end up doing the same thing again and again, if that was possible."
Filming someone else’s material for the first time, Wheatley seems to have hit the jackpot in colluding with likeminded artists. Oram and Lowe were also happy to collaborate, and the presence of Wheatley's spouse and Kill List co-writer Amy Jump on the writing team helped add familiarity to the project.
"Amy did a pass on the script, so it was kind of tailored to the kind of stuff that would fit with the way that we’ve been working," he says. "The script itself is very well represented on-screen. The improv stuff is extensions of those scenes – not a massive amount of new scenes, because it would be very difficult to work like that. You can’t just trawl about making stuff up randomly. But we would find locations, and we would make up extra scenes within those spaces."
Wheatley is particularly enthusiastic about these heritage sites, as evident both on-screen and in our conversation about their scouting. "The locations had come from a trip that Alice and Steve had done – a kind of research trip – a year or so ago. And the actual locations had been found by Steve’s dad, Eddie Oram, who knew the area really well all around the Midlands and up to the Lake District. He basically designed all that and said, you know, you want to go to the Pencil Museum, and the Tram Museum, and things like that."
The Pencil Museum holds one of the standout moments in the film, which could have been played to belittle the eccentric attraction. "I think it could’ve easily been that. You know, taking the piss out of those places, but I have an absolute affection for them. The comedy is about the characters, not the places. But, I mean, even the Pencil Museum is a really interesting place, you know… but there is something funny about a giant pencil."
The comedy of the characters is crucially juxtaposed with the full human effect of the couple’s crime spree. "You need to see the aftermath of what they’ve been doing. If you don’t, then somehow the filmmakers condone it, you know?" This is a doctrine Wheatley clearly sticks to, as evident by his body of work. "You don’t collude with the characters to say, 'it’s okay to murder people.' And you give the evidence to the audience to make their own decision, and then they can feel like, y’know, they like the characters, and they feel that they’ve got a point, but they also understand that what they do is wrong, and, if you don’t show that stuff, you’re basically saying that what they’re doing is right, and it’s not. It’s a bit like when you see The A-Team, isn’t it? They machine-gun loads of people, or barns explode and then people stagger out afterwards. It’s a very strange message, isn’t it? Because you’re saying that it’s alright to shoot at people, cause they won’t die. I don’t think that’s right!"
The marriage of comedy and horror seems set to continue with Wheatley’s upcoming projects. Along with A Field In England, the filmmaker has been keeping busy by directing a segment of highly-anticipated horror portmanteau The ABCs of Death, and beginning work on the decidedly John Carpentery sounding Freakshift, where hunters defend a world overrun with grizzly monsters. With a slated budget of $15 million, it’s a dramatic upping of the financial stakes for his team. "We’re in a kind of pre-pre-production mode at the moment, so we’re doing storyboards and designing creatures and starting to think about the casting of it, so, y’know, it’s pottering along. But it’s such a big movie for us, so it’s kind of going to take a bit more time to get together than the usual."
The ABCs of Death is something Wheatley is clearly excited about too: "I met up with Tim League, who’s one of the producers on it – he’s the guy who runs the Alamo Drafthouse in Texas, and he runs Fantastic Fest. Fantastic Fest gave Down Terrace, my first film, its first showing, and they really championed it, and we won some awards there; basically, I owe quite a lot to Tim. So, I ran into him in Cannes, and he went, 'D’you wanna do The ABCs of Death?' and I was like, 'Yeah, okay. Whatever.' The one we did was a kind of a vampire thing, and I just got the feeling I possibly will never get to make a vampire film, cause it’s kind of been so done. But I still wanna do one, y’know," he says with a laugh. "So, I got my chance to make a little version of it."
And what of A Field In England, which seemingly came together in practically a matter of days? "It’s a period film set during the English Civil War, and it’s got Michael Smiley in it, Reece Shearsmith, Peter Ferdinando and Richard Glover, who’s in Sightseers. Ryan Pope’s in it, who’s one of the guys I worked with on Ideal, who’s really brilliant, and Julian Barratt’s in it as well, and it’s kind of like a… it’s a period movie meets a Roger Corman psychedelic movie. So there’s a lot of mushroom taking in it. And magic." Sounds a suitable marriage of genres and good old-fashioned British weirdness to continue his current rich vein of form.
The Last of the Haussmans NZ Listener Review: 4.5 STARS Undated 2012
"Another brilliantly executed piece in the current series of NT Live"
NT Live: The Last of the Haussmans Imagine having your first play accepted for production by the National Theatre.
Actor-turned-playwright Stephen Beresford hit the jackpot and it’s not hard to see why. His family dramedy suggests at least shrewd observation if not first-hand experience (you have to wonder what his own family’s like), which he’s turned into a situation and characters that are sometimes painfully recognizable.
It’s a not unfamiliar set-up: family (the incomparable Julie Walters as an aging child of the 60s mother, with Helen McCrory – The Queen’s Cherie Blair – and Rory Kinnear as her children) are brought together when mother takes ill, and out crawl all the issues they’ve had with each other. But not in a cruel or lacerating fashion; this is at heart a comedy, and while not downplaying the conflicts, any “messages” are kept light, even a bit banal.
The strength of the play and Howard Davies’s direction is the crackling dialogue, in which bickering is elevated almost to art, especially when delivered with such timing and nuance by this cast. They’re a joy to watch and listen to. They can even get away with milking a second laugh from the play’s funniest line. And the production supports them with its own well-oiled timing and sprawling version of a crumbling family pile.
Another brilliantly executed piece in the current series of NT Live – with Timon of Athens and The Count of Monte Cristo to come – and some will be pleased to know that host Emma Freud’s wittering is kept to a minimum this time.
Sightseers Empire Review Undated 2012
"A uniquely British blend of excruciating comedy of embarrassment"
Plot Tina (Lowe), eager to get away from her domineering mother, goes on a caravan holiday with Chris (Oram), who has recently become her boyfriend. As the couple tour the English countryside, visiting camping sites and museums, their relationship deepens and darkens. A rash of violent deaths breaks out along the route the lovers are travelling...
Review If you need a high-concept pitch for Ben Wheatley’s third film, it’s Mike Leigh’s Nuts In May crossbred with Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers. Funny and horrible, it has that ghastly ring of truth which distinguishes Leigh’s sympathetic portraits of people you’d go out of your way to avoid, and yet finds room for video-nasty levels of carnage. Whereas Leigh lets conflicts and resentments simmer, exploding only in cutting insults or social gaffes, Wheatley lets the brakes off. Sightseers explores a contemporary Britain we can’t help but recognise, dotted with ridiculous ‘heritage’ spots like the Keswick Pencil Museum, and a mental landscape where priorities are seriously out of whack. “It’s no use,” whines sulky ginger sightseer Chris (Steve Oram) after the perhaps accidental, definitely bloody demise of a litter lout under the wheel of his caravan. “He’s ruined Crich Tramway Museum for me.”
Scripted by stars Alice Lowe and Oram, formerly you-know-the-face players with rafts of film and TV comedy credits (Lowe was one of the leads in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace), with additional material by editor Amy Jump, Sightseers is a showcase for both performers, who deliver awards-quality work as the oddest of odd couples. Escaping from a harridan mother who’ll never let her forget her responsibility for the absurd death of a much-loved dog, wallflower Tina at first seems a tagalong. However, as she realises how twisted her seemingly boring new boyfriend really is, she lets out her own wild side, whether in selecting sexy underwear to spice up the caravan-rocking nights with Chris or involving herself in incidents which inevitably pay off with someone who has crossed their path and annoyed them in some way winding up horribly dead. At first, there’s a sense that the corpses who litter the wet, green countryside are class enemies; then it becomes apparent that anyone might fall foul of one or other or both of these people and suffer the consequences, even people who commit the sin of being too much like them.
This makes for strange, sitcom clashes as Tina tries to match Chris’ exploits, though like all true anal-retentive sociopaths, he lives by a hard-to-explain code she finds it impossible to understand, let alone abide by. Bluntly, he’s mad because he wants always to be in control and she’s mad because she wants to embrace chaos. Whether or not a happy ending is possible, or desirable, is a question the film juggles deftly for much of its running time — and becomes all the more pressing when a rival for Chris’ attention comes along in the person of an equally boring, beardy fellow-traveller who has invented a bicycle-drawn ‘carapod’ that Tina thinks “looks like an alien’s coffin” but which tickles Chris’ fancy. Wheatley is confident enough to let the characters’ ‘issues’ emerge without the blunt instrument of backstory exposition — though, often, with any other blunt instrument that comes to hand. It’s incidentally, like Kill List, a British road movie which makes use of sinister, yet curiously appealing out-of-the-way locations and, of course, fully expresses the horrors of the British climate.
Verdict A uniquely British blend of excruciating comedy of embarrassment and outright grue, not quite as disorientating in its mood shifts as Kill List but just as impressive a film. Whether it ruins Crich Tramway Museum for you or prompts you to recreate Chris and Tina’s pilgrimage to the Ribblehead Viaduct, Wheatley’s film serves as a black-comic state-of-the-nation address.
BarrymoreNew York Observer Review Undated 2012
"Christopher Plummer is, without contest, one of the greatest, most versatile and most distinguished actors of our time. "
Barrymore becomes a celebration of not just one legendary star, but two.
Christopher Plummer is, without contest, one of the greatest, most versatile and most distinguished actors of our time. Unbelievably, he was 82 years old when he won an Academy Award for Beginners, in the Best Supporting Actor category. It was the wrong prize, for the wrong film. What he really deserves is a Best Actor Oscar, for recreating his Tony Award-winning stage triumph as John Barrymore in William Luce’s dazzling one-man show Barrymore. Adapted to film by Canadian director Erik Canuel, it’s the role—and the performance—of a lifetime, and Plummer plays every color, nuance, mood and variety of vocal power and body language in his enormous range. The artistry leaves you with your mouth wide open.
The year is 1942, and America is still reeling from the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Barrymore is well past his prime and showing in his dewlaps the bitter ravages of nearly three decades of alcohol abuse. Diminished but still capable of holding attention, he desperately wants to make a comeback in one of his biggest triumphs, Richard III,a role he played to great acclaim in 1920. Times have been rough, jobs are scarce, and the once-great star of screen and stage is considered unemployable. So he rents an empty New York theater for one day, drags in his props, costumes and greasepaint, and dives in to brush up on his Shakespeare.
What he assumes will be a private rehearsal with only his long-suffering prompter Frank hidden in the darkness offstage actually turns out to be an extravagant, self-indulgent monologue acted out in front of a full house of imaginary fans. Sipping “vital life-sustaining potions from my pharmacist and the Jungle Club on Seventh Avenue,” he can’t even remember the opening “winter of our discontent” line. But as soon as his loyal yet frustrated prompter arrives to help him with the line readings he’s long forgotten, he warms to his audience of sycophants with such gusto that it’s clear he’s more interested in playing the ham than the hunchback king. “I need to be taken seriously once more—before the man in the colored nightgown takes me away,” he says, but he fills up the time by sharing rude limericks and irreverent show business in-jokes about the legends he’s worked with. Shaking with the tremors of a massive hangover while mixing giant Manhattans from his portable bar, he keeps the audience entertained with ribald jokes, including self-deprecating one-liners at his own expense. (“When I get out of bed in the morning, I sound like Carmen Miranda’s castanets.”)
Once his prompter arrives, it’s clear how far gone he is. He takes a break after only four lines, confuses Richard with Othello and Hamlet, and is constantly distracted by invasive memories of childhood, incarceration in a German sanitarium for drunks run by a Wagnerian crone he calls Frau Himmler, and working with Garbo in Dinner at Eight—launching into a vaudeville turn singing “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo.” Each line from Shakespeare cues another memory, and Mr. Plummer invests a physically and vocally demanding role with so much passion, pathos and wit that Barrymore becomes a celebration of not just one legendary star, but two. Conjuring images of theatrical rooming houses, toxic affairs with, and four disastrous marriages to, glamorous women who all turned out to be near-lethal—“Each one lasted seven years, like a skin rash”—he is never less than mesmerizing. At one point, he even falls asleep and begins to snore in the middle of a sentence. Reminiscing about the horror of his own father’s death from absinthe and syphilis, his pain is palpable. And he does cruel but hilarious impersonations of Louella Parsons, siblings Lionel and Ethel, and producer Samuel Goldwyn. When Goldwyn was planning to turn Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour into a movie, Barrymore asked him, “You know it’s about two lesbians?” Goldwyn replied, “Well, we’ll make them Americans.”
When he emerges in full makeup and costume as the menacing, deformed Richard, you see vestiges of the old genius resurface—until he breaks character to sing “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby.” Like Tallulah Bankhead, Barrymore became a caricature of his former self, captivated more by his own mad sense of humor than his fading art. Still, Mr. Plummer shines a light on every corner of his turbulent self-destruction with heartbreaking candor. He compares his failures in both Hollywood movies and the New York theatre as “Gomorrah with palm trees, or Sodom with subways—it’s the same thing.” And the film offers the best description I’ve ever heard of the relationship between actor and audience. “Whether it’s Barnum and Bailey or Broadway, it’s still the same great hulking monster—2,000 eyes and 20,000 teeth breathing out there in the darkness—withholding, teasing, waiting to make or break men like me.” Mr. Plummer was electrifying in the play, but with the camera’s circling movements on the empty stage, swooping in for elegant close-ups, he seems looser, freer and more inspired. You see both the violent rages and the subtle tears in his eyes with an intimacy you could never get on a proscenium, yet the star understands both mediums completely. Camping up an imitation of Louella Parsons or investing some of Shakespeare’s historic speeches with fury and panache, Christopher Plummer is the one-man show at the center of this one-man vehicle. He will leave you stunned and cheering. So bring out the Oscar. He deserves another one.
"The best part is last: Plummer as Barrymore as Richard III—raising goosebumps and, I’m almost sure, the dead."
Christopher Plummer grew up idolizing John Barrymore as both a ham of genius and a self-destructive lush. He managed to arrest his own downward spiral, but in 1997 had a chance to channel Barrymore’s in William Luce’s play Barrymore. Revived in 2010, it’s now a dandy film directed by Erik Canuel.
It takes place in a theater in which the ravaged, ruined alcoholic rehearses for a comeback that will never come—all while boozing, declaiming Shakespeare, and trading insults with an offstage prompter.
God, I love Plummer’s performance—the twiddling fingers, the tipsy sway of the head, the reverberating roar, as well as the pathos of a man who can’t stop acting long enough to hear the cry of his own soul. The best part is last: Plummer as Barrymore as Richard III—raising goosebumps and, I’m almost sure, the dead. — David Edelstein
Electrick Children Stuff.co.nz Review 11 November 2012
"...director Rebecca Thomas creates a perfectly pitched exploration of religious dogma."
A mysterious, dimly lit opening scene establishes more questions than answers, as 15-year old Rachel (newcomer Julia Garner) sits happily in a cellar, seemingly being debriefed by an ambiguous Billy Zane. This strikingly naive character - halo-blonde hair and peasant dress evoking someone from a Jane Austen novel - responds good-naturedly, but we viewers feel distinctly uneasy. Just what sort of community have we stumbled upon?
When later, having fallen under the spell of some forbidden rock music, Rachel makes a dash for the bright lights of Las Vegas, she finds herself wondering the same thing. Venturing into that den of iniquity, she meets slacker-musician Clyde (an excellent Rory Culkin) and his gang, who are largely unfazed by the tenderfoot's awe of modern paraphernalia, such as mobile phones.
Raised in a Mormon community and thus well-versed in the lifestyle, director Rebecca Thomas creates a perfectly pitched exploration of religious dogma and the faith of the cosseted, which is neither preachy nor caricatured. It's a charming update on the Immaculate Conception, drawing several parallels while providing no more elucidation.
The performances are superb, and while a coming-of-age story has only so many cliches up its sleeve, the gentle chemistry between Garner and Culkin is touching in its awkwardness. Similarly, Rachel's parents are not portrayed as Bible-thumping bigots, but real people with real pasts, revealed in beautiful, hazy flashbacks.
Narratively, Electrick Children is a strange beast, at times so eerie and ethereal that it ceases to really plough the depths of what's going on for its characters. However, this well-crafted first feature marks film-maker Thomas out as one to watch.
Electrick Children Dominion Post Interview 8 November 2012
"I was a total dork."
Film-maker Rebecca Thomas is the first to admit it. "I played the piano for 11 or 12 years and I thought I was going to be a pianist. Then I decided to draw and take photographs. Then, when I was in my senior year at high school, I was in an AV [audio visual] club.
"I was a total dork."
But Thomas's dork phase has paid off. At 27, her first feature, Electrick Children, has been attracting worldwide acclaim with a cast that includes Billy Zane – best known for Titanic – and Rory Culkin, brother of Macaulay Culkin. It has also pushed to the forefront its teen star Julia Garner.
Garner plays Rachel, a member of a fundamentalist Mormon family living in rural Utah. She is turning 15, wears old-fashioned modest clothes and there is limited technology. Rachel discovers a cassette tape and for the first time in her life hears rock music. Three months later she is pregnant and claims she had an immaculate conception from listening to the music. Her parents arrange a marriage but Rachel flees, with her brother in tow, to Las Vegas, the nearest city. There she hopes to find the man who sings on the tape and encounters the larger world for the first time.
Thomas is Mormon, but while the film is not based on her own experiences or those of people she knows, there is still a strong connection.
"I was raised Mormon and raised in Las Vegas but I never gambled or drank or any of those things in Las Vegas," says Thomas, now based in New York. "The plot has nothing to really do with me. The movie is this sort of take on fundamentalist Mormons.
"I grew up [as a] mainstream Mormon, so I grew up with TV and Nintendo and a stereo. But I definitely think that the experience Rachel goes through is something similar to my own experience. I had experiences that opened my eyes.
"My grandparents live in southern Utah, so Utah has always been special to me and Las Vegas is my home. I really wanted to show a different side to Las Vegas."
Before Electrick Children Thomas had made two short films. She wrote the script for the feature while studying film directing at Columbia University in New York.
Some of the ideas for featuring a fundamentalist Mormon settlement came from having worked on documentaries about the varied strands of Mormonism. She also set the film in southern Utah and Las Vegas for practical reasons – she was familiar with the area and knew people there whom she could get to work on it or act in it, so it would be much cheaper. "I was just going to use my friends and family."
But this is where Electrick Children goes in a direction Thomas had not even dreamed of. Her goal was to make the film on a "micro budget", she says. So she joined a "crowd funding" website like kickstarter.com, hoping to raise US$20,000 (NZ$24,000).
In the process, a copy of her script got into the hands of film producer Richard Neustadter. He was so impressed he raised US$1 million.
"Literally overnight, it went from a US$20,000 project to US$1 million and we were able to make a bigger project. It was one of these weird, dreamy miracles."
The bigger budget meant Thomas and the producers were able to lure more experienced actors. Thomas was already a fan of Culkin, who plays streetwise Las Vegas rocker Clyde. Zane plays Rachel's father Paul and Liam Aiken is her brother Mr Will.
Garner was cast a week before the frantic 24-day shoot began.
"I really wanted someone who was authentically 14 years old. I looked at a lot of girls and I cast a girl. But I couldn't find someone who was believably 14 and virginal. All the girls were a little bit too sexy.
"Julia Garner came as a recommendation from a friend at film school. She was stunning. She had that white skin and bright blue eyes. She was just an angel. And she's an angel in real life too. She is surprisingly pure.
"She gave a fantastic audition, but even just sitting down with her and talking with her was a revelation for me. She is a very bold but innocent person and I think that's what the film needed."
Thomas says shooting the film was a rite of passage. The fundamentalist Mormon settlement was shot "in the middle of nowhere" in an old ghost town that was used in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
"It really brought the cast and crew together because of the weather. On day two lightning struck the middle of our set and we had to shut down, and every afternoon there was a huge rainstorm."
Thomas is determined to make more features. Like Electrick Children, her two new scripts shy away from the Hollywood norm. The first springs from her own experiences as a Mormon missionary in Japan for 18 months. "It was a really strange time but I learned Japanese and love Japanese culture and Japan. [The script] is a post-apocalyptic mermaid story set in Japan.
"The other project is a strange film noir set in New York City about a girl who falls in love with a girl who is running to be Miss New York. It's sort of bizarre."
Electrick Children is screening now.
Electrick Children NZ Listener Review 8 November 2012
"Rebecca Thomas’s first feature – she writes and directs – is a gentle coming of age story, very lightly dusted with magic realism."
Electrick Children A much less oddball film than it initially seems, and vastly less unlikely than it sounds in synopsis,
Rebecca Thomas’s first feature – she writes and directs – is a gentle coming of age story, very lightly dusted with magic realism. Julia Garner (who? …she was in Mary Martha May Marlene, she’s in the may-or-may-not-be-released-in-NZ The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and six other films slated to be released over the next two years, and she does sweet ingenue innocence extremely well) plays Rachel, a fundamentalist Mormon teenager living a life of Amish-style isolationist low-tech purity with her family.
She glimpses a piece of forbidden technology in her father’s office – a cassette recorder, and no, the film is not set in the 70s – and becomes fascinated by it. A few covert sessions of listening to music later, Rachel proudly announces to her parents that the music has made her pregnant.
Her parents receive this about as well as you’d guess. Rachel runs away, and the film very quickly settles into a quirky, undemanding series of stranger-in-a-strange-land encounters between Innocence and Modern America, shot through with moments of interesting but not particularly specific or profound religious reflection.
I suspect Thomas, who has a background in the LDS church, of not having fully worked out what she thinks of the faith she grew up in; this is not a criticism per se, because the film’s refusal to take a stance frees it to play with ambiguities in ways that are both likable and useful. But it does also try to pass vagueness off as wisdom, now and then
The Sorta Unofficial NZ Film Awards Nominations 5 November 2012
"Among the leading contenders for the Moas - "named in honour of something extinct" say the organisers - are Two Little Boys and The Orator with 11 nominations each."
New Zealand movie makers left out in the cold by the national telly awards dropping film categories from their annual prize-giving are still getting an annual gong-fest to call their own.
The Sorta Unofficial New Zealand Film Awards - organised by Hugh Sundae of nzherald.co.nz and Ant Timpson and presented by the New Zealand Herald and Rialto Channel - announced its nomination list last night, recognising the past year's Kiwi flicks great and small.
The SUNZFA categories take in fully fledged features, cinema-aimed documentaries, self-funded features and short films.
Among the leading contenders for the Moas - "named in honour of something extinct" say the organisers - are Two Little Boys and The Orator with 11 nominations each.
Best Director Dan Salmon - Pictures of Susan Miriam Smith and Christopher Pryor - How Far is Heaven Costa Botes - The Last Dogs of Winter Pietra Brettkelly - Maori Boy Genius Sam Peacocke - Shihad: Beautiful Machine
PLS Best Cinematography Christopher Pryor - How Far is Heaven Ben Freedman - Pictures of Susan Peter Young - The Last Ocean
Sightseers receives seven nominations at the British Independent Film Awards
5 November 2012
NOMINATIONS, HOST AND JURY REVEALED FOR THE 15th ANNUAL MOËT BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM AWARDS
Monday 5 November 2012
London, Monday 5 November The nominations for the 15th annual Moët British Independent Film Awards were announced today, at St Martins Lane, London by actor and BIFA Patron, Adrian Lester.
Joint Directors, The Moët British Independent Film Awards’ Johanna von Fischer & Tessa Collinson said: “In this our 15th year, we are delighted to welcome back six-time former host James Nesbitt. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our dedicated Pre-Selection Committee who watched over 200 films in order to produce the 2012 Nominations, which once again reflect the diverse range of British film talent, and also welcome this year’s appointed independent Jury who will now spend the next month considering the nominated films.”
The highest number of nominations this year goes to Broken with 9 nominations including Best Film, Best Director and Best Debut Director for Rufus Norris, Best Actor for Tim Roth and two Best Supporting Actor nominations for Cillian Murphy and Rory Kinnear. Sightseers and Berberian Sound Studio both picked up 7 nominations each.
Nominations for Best Actress go to Alice Lowe for Sightseers, Andrea Riseborough for Shadow Dancer, Elle Fanning for Ginger & Rosa, Judi Dench for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady. Along with Tim Roth for Broken, leading men hoping to take home the Best Actor award include Riz Ahmed for Ill Manors, Steve Oram for Sightseers, Terence Stamp for Song for Marion and Toby Jones for Berberian Sound Studio.
Directors who have delivered dynamic debuts this year and are fighting for the Douglas Hickox Award are Bart Layton for The Imposter, Ben Drew for Ill Manors, Rowan Athale for Wasteland, Sally El Hosaini for My Brother the Devil and as mentioned previously Rufus Norris for Broken.
Best supporting Actor nominations go toBilly Connolly for Quartet, Domhnall Gleeson for Shadow Dancer, Tom Wilkinson for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the two Broken actors Cillian Murphy & Rory Kinnear.
Alice Englert for Ginger & Rosa, Eileen Davies for Sightseers, Maggie Smith for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Olivia Colman for Hyde Park on Hudson and Vanessa Redgrave for Song for Marion are all nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Award.
Emelie De Vitis, Marketing Director for Moët & Chandon commented: “Moët & Chandon is delighted to support BIFA for the third year running. The nominations again reveal the amazing depth of film talent in Britain and we look forward to toasting the winners' success along with BIFA’s 15th birthday on December 9th’.
Amanda Nevill, Chief Executive of the BFI, comments:
“At 15 years old, the BIFAs are now firmly established as a key date in the UK film industry calendar and we’re delighted to be supporting this year’s awards. The BIFAs are the UK’s only awards focusing entirely on independent British films, as such they really help to shine a spotlight on the vast range and breadth of excellence in independent UK filmmaking - helping to promote independent British films to new audiences, and setting a focus on the Best of British just as the international awards season begins.”
The Raindance Award nominees for 2012 include: Frank, Strings, Love Tomorrow City Slacker and Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet. This award honours exceptional achievement for filmmakers working against the odds, often with little or no industry support. Elliot Grove, Founder Raindance Film Festival and Moët British Independent Film Awards added: "The Raindance Award has become the beacon for new talent. These five films show what Raindance is all about: great acting, storytelling and production values, each made with limited resources against impossible odds."
The Pre-Selection Committee of 70 members viewed nearly 200 films, out of which they selected the nominations, which were decided by ballot.
The winners of The Moët British Independent Film Awards are decided by an independent jury comprised of leading professionals and talent from the British film industry.
The Jury for 2012 includes:
Chair - Alison Owen (Producer), Adrian Hodges (Writer), Christine Bottomley (Actress), Danny Leigh (Film Critic), Iain Canning (Producer), Jamie Thraves (Director/Writer), Jina Jay (Casting Director), John Boyega (Actor), John Fletcher (Marketing Director, Paramount), Lesley Sharp (Actress), Maria Djurkovic (Production Designer), Michelle Eastwood (Producer), Nick Angel (Music Supervisor), Paul Franklin (SFX Supervisor), Tom Hiddleston (Actor), Tristan Goligher (Producer).
The winners will be announced at the much anticipated 15th awards ceremony which will be hosted by actor and BIFA Patron, James Nesbitt, who returns for his seventh year on Sunday 9 December at the impressive Old Billingsgate in London.
The Moët British Independent Film Awards is proud to announce the following nominees for this year’s awards:
BEST BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM
Sponsored by Moët & Chandon
Berberian Sound Studio
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Sponsored by AllCity & Intermission
Bart Layton – The Imposter
Ben Wheatley – Sightseers
John Madden – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Peter Strickland – Berberian Sound Studio
Rufus Norris – Broken
THE DOUGLAS HICKOX AWARD [BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR]
Sponsored by 3 Mills Studios
Bart Layton – The Imposter
Ben Drew – Ill Manors
Rowan Athale – Wasteland
Rufus Norris – Broken
Sally El Hosaini – My Brother the Devil
Sponsored by BBC Films
Abi Morgan – The Iron Lady
Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Amy Jump – Sightseers
Mark O'Rowe – Broken
Paul Andrew Williams – Song for Marion
Peter Strickland – Berberian Sound Studio
Sponsored by M.A.C
Alice Lowe (Tina) – Sightseers
Andrea Riseborough (Colette McVeigh) – Shadow Dancer
Elle Fanning (Ginger) – Ginger & Rosa
Judi Dench (Evelyn Greenslade) – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Meryl Streep (Margaret Thatcher) – The Iron Lady
Riz Ahmed (Aaron) – Ill Manors
Steve Oram (Chris) – Sightseers
Terence Stamp (Arthur) – Song for Marion
Tim Roth (Archie) – Broken
Toby Jones (Gilderoy) – Berberian Sound Studio
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Alice Englert (Rosa) – Ginger & Rosa
Eileen Davies (Carol) – Sightseers
Maggie Smith (Muriel Donnelly) – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Olivia Colman (Queen Elizabeth) – Hyde Park on Hudson
Vanessa Redgrave (Marion) – Song for Marion
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Sponsored by Sanderson & St Martins Lane
Billy Connolly (Wilf) – Quartet
Cillian Murphy (Mike Kiernan) – Broken
Domhnall Gleeson (Connor) – Shadow Dancer
Rory Kinnear (Bob Oswald) – Broken
Tom Wilkinson (Graham Dashwood) – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER
Sponsored by Studiocanal
Elliott Tittensor (Tits) – Spike Island
Eloise Laurence (Skunk) – Broken
James Floyd (Rashid) – My Brother the Devil
Paul Brannigan (Robbie) – The Angels' Share
Zawe Ashton (Joyce Vincent) – Dreams of a Life
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION
Sponsored by Company3
Berberian Sound Studio
BEST TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT
Sponsored by LightBrigade Media
Nic Knowland Bsc – Cinematography – Berberian Sound Studio
THE RICHARD HARRIS AWARD (for outstanding contribution by an actor to British Film)
To Be Announced
THE VARIETY AWARD
To Be Announced
THE SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
Announced at the Moët British Independent Film Awards on Sunday 9th December
Proud supporters and patrons of The Moët British Independent Film Awards include Mike Figgis, Tom Hollander, Adrian Lester, Ken Loach, Ewan McGregor, Helen Mirren, Samantha Morton, James Nesbitt, Michael Sheen, Trudie Styler, Tilda Swinton, Meera Syal, David Thewlis, Ray Winstone and Michael Winterbottom.
The Moët British Independent Film Awards would like to thank all its supporters, especially: Moët & Chandon, BFI, 3 Mills Studios, BBC Films, Company3, M.A.C, Raindance, Sanderson & St Martins Lane – Morgans Hotel Group, Soho House, Studiocanal, Swarovski, Variety, AD Creative, AllCity, Intermission and LightBrigade Media.
Electrick Children NZ Herald Interview 1 November 2012
"Electrick Children is an enigma of a movie in the best possible way."
Electrick Children is a quirky film about rock meeting religion. Its director talks to Helen Barlow.
Electrick Children is an enigma of a movie in the best possible way. Essentially, the eccentric American indie is the story of Rachel, a fundamentalist Mormon teenager experiencing an immaculate conception after hearing rock music on a cassette - a cover of Blondie's Hanging on the Telephone - for the first time.
For first-time director Rebecca Thomas, the film isn't just a riff on religion, it's personal.
"This movie is so close to me," admits 28-year-old Thomas, who grew up a Mormon, though in a less conservative environment. "I felt like I wanted to adapt a bible story; I wanted to tell the story of the Virgin Mary but updated. I thought if there was ever a Virgin Mary on the planet, she would probably be one of these fundamentalist Mormons, because it's such a closed community."
Thomas was born in California and raised in Las Vegas. At 21, in a break from her film studies at the Mormon Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City, she spent 18 months as a missionary in Japan. Since studying for a Masters in film directing at Columbia University, she has remained living in New York.
While she might be called a lapsed Mormon, she still has a strong connection to the faith, which she commends for its sense of community.
Her film draws on her early life when she shared her character's perspective of moving between the traditions of Mormon culture in Utah and the bright lights of Las Vegas, which she laughingly calls "the city of sins".
"I actually feel like both places are home to me - and California as well. I've long been fascinated by stories of teenagers who were kicked out of their Mormon communities and headed to Las Vegas still believing in their faith."
Set in the mid-1990s, the story first focuses on Rachel (Julia Garner) as she lives with her large family in a fundamentalist colony in the arid landscape of southern Utah.
Upon discovering she is pregnant, her mother helps her escape to Las Vegas, where she falls in with a group of grungey slackers, most notably Clyde (Rory Culkin).
The luminous, astounding Garner is in almost every frame. After small roles in Martha Marcy May Marlene and the upcoming Perks of Being a Wallflower, she's tipped for bigger things, especially with the attention Electrick Children has been getting on the international film festival circuit in the past year.
"I found Julia the week before shooting," explains Thomas. "I'd been looking for someone who was 14 or 15 but it's really hard to find a girl that age with emotional depth who isn't sexy. I think that by the time they are that age they are plucking their eyebrows, cocking their shoulder and swinging their hips in a certain way.
"She was stunningly beautiful and white, with this crazy yellow curly hair and these blue eyes. So I called my casting director and said, 'yes please'.
"Julia had the depth of an older sister, somebody who could take care of the younger kids and with a little work we quickly found that she was this girl; she was Rachel. She was naive and courageous and I am really proud of her. To walk on set the first day and sit across from Billy Zane and be able to deliver was amazing."
Who: Director Rebecca Thomas and actress Julia Garner What:Electrick Children, American indie film When and where: At selected cinemas from November 8
MET Opera: L'Ilisir D'Amore NZ Listener Review Undated
"If you haven’t discovered this wonderful series yet, then go on – spoil yourself."
The Met: Live in HD Launching the 2012-2013 season is Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, a comedy of lovelorn romance, blossoming female independence and outrageous quackery.
Opening here just over a fortnight after the filmed performance, it delivers, as ever, production values and singing that are reliably excellent, and an interpretation of surprising substance – principally because it doesn’t over-egg the comedy.
There are still the insertions of backstage peeks, interviews and nods to sponsors, to be enjoyed or endured depending on your taste, but this one is fronted by Deborah Voigt and seems crisper and more on point; and it is, after all, a small price to pay for access to such great talent.
There are eleven more productions from now through to July, including Otello, Aida, Parsifal and Rigoletto. It seems the Met has recovered enough from Robert Lepage’s Ring Cycle to have him back for The Tempest, and Voigt herself will perform Cassandra in Berlioz’s Les Troyens.
If you haven’t discovered this wonderful series yet, then go on – spoil yourself. Cinemas, dates and sessions on www.nzmetopera.com.
Electrick Children The Rag NZ.com Review 28 October 2012
"...an exquisite, eccentric piece of contemporary cinema."
There is simply no easy way to explain Rebecca Thomas’ Electrick Children suffice to say that it is an exquisite, eccentric piece of contemporary cinema.
Following the truly bizarre story of Rachel, a 15 year old Mormon girl on the cusp of maturity, as she searches for a man on a tape whom she believes made her pregnant with his music; there is no story quite like it bar the story of the blessed virgin herself. Over the course of her journey Rachel winds her way through the bright lights of Vegas with her retentive brother Mr Will in tow collecting a menagerie of deadbeats and airheads, all the while drawing ever closer to discovering her true self.
Thomas should be lauded for her treatment of the religious content, though not religiously inclined I found it refreshing that the director treated the matter with sensitivity and respect, and with only the most lighthearted of humour.
Also the writer of the film, her take on modern adolescence was a perfect balance of brave exposition and sweet nostalgia, crafted into a film at once bizarre and engaging, but ultimately very, very funny. Julia Garner’s performance as the wide eyed and pregnant Rachel was utterly flawless, heartbreaking and a beautiful thing to watch.
Highest praise however goes to Rory Culkin. The star shines in his role as dead-beat-made-good Clyde, with a performance that is both affected and genuinely funny. It would not be verbose to say that Electrick Children is one of the finest films to come out of a year that has been blessed with a bevvy of brilliant cinema. A true must see.
Christopher Plummer Possible Oscar Contention, The Hollywood Reporter 25 October 2012
"The 82-year-old, who became the oldest acting Oscar winner ever in Feb., could be back in contention this fall for his portrayal of legendary actor John Barrymore."
The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Erik Canuel's long-gestating Barrymore, which stars Oscar winner Christopher Plummer as the legendary thespian John Barrymore, will be theatrically released by BY Experience and Image Entertainment in New York and Los Angeles on Thursday, Nov. 15.
Barrymore, which had its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival -- where it attracted looks from Focus Features and Sony Pictures Classics, among others, but ultimately left without a buyer -- was adapted by Canuel from a 1996 Broadway production for which Plummer won a Tony Award for best performance by a leading actor. (Plummer, 82, has been a lifelong admirer of Barrymore, who died at the age of 60 in 1942.)
It is a one-man show -- quite literally. For almost all of its 83 minutes, Plummer is the only actor who appears on screen, depicting Barrymore in the months before his premature death as he tries to rehearse for a Broadway revival of one of his greatest triumphs, but can't seem to get out of his own way.
For better or worse, this production comes off a lot like a filmed play, with not much done to "open it up" for the cinema, but a performance at its center that is so engaging that few seem to mind. (Plus, earlier this year, a filmed version of Plummer's performance as Prospero in The Tempest was very well-received in several hundred theaters around America.)
Precious few films have ever been made with just one actor, and only one that I can think of has ever received any sort of awards recognition -- Give 'em Hell, Harry! (1975), for which James Whitmore scored a best actor nod for his portrayal of President Harry S. Truman.
Might Plummer, who won the best supporting actor Oscar last Feb. for Beginners (2011), and in so doing became the oldest acting Oscar nominee and Oscar winner in history, have one more awards run left in the tank? Time will tell.
Safety Not Guaranteed Denizen.co.nz Review 25 October 2012
Andrew Reinholds declares odd-ball comedy Safety Not Guaranteed as one of the must-see films for the year.
“Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed”.
An obscure classified ad becomes a chance for jaded and cynical magazine hack (Jake Johnson) to pursue a dead end story about a small town fruit loop missing a couple of screws and at the same time look up an old school flame living in the same small town. For company he drags along two interns, one a social recluse Darius (Aubrey Plaza), the other a social retard Arnau (Karan Soni) and together the three become drawn to the mysterious, mulleted and mixed-up nutter Kenneth (Mark Duplass).
Along the way all four characters undergo fundamental transformations and it’s the quality of performances from all four that ultimately transforms the movie into something more than what it might have been with a cast of lesser talent.
The storyline unfolds effortlessly with the smooth almost uncanny interaction between the characters to an extent that at times you really do believe you are along for the ride. Lines are delivered with impeccable comic timing that only add to the charm of this odd-ball sci-fi comedy.
Despite being cast in a role she could do with her eyes shut and as a result run the risk of being typecast as the clichéd uptight and disaffected youth, Aubrey Plaza delivers the standout performance that could see her move quickly on to much bigger things. She is that good.
Special mention also has to go to the time machine (yes there is one), definitely one of the hippest yet to grace the big screen. As to whether or not it actually works, well you’ll have to see for yourself.
It’s easy to see why audiences at the Sundance Festival fell under its odd-ball spell – ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ is a great watch and should definitely be on your list of must see films for the year.
Welcome Aboard Total Film Review 23 October 2012
"There’s plenty to savour in Chesnais’ expertly judged performance."
Life lessons and unexpected encounters in Jean Becker's gentle French drama
By Tom Dawson
The nostalgic films of veteran French director Jean Becker often hinge on an unexpected encounter between two seemingly opposed characters.
Here, renowned yet profoundly depressed sixtysomething painter Taillandier (Patrick Chesnais) is stopped by a feisty teenage runaway Marylou (Jeanne Lambert), fleeing from her abusive stepfather.
The story itself offers few surprises, with important life lessons being learnt by both the older man and the adolescent girl.
Yet there’s plenty to savour in Chesnais’ expertly judged performance, while Becker’s warmth towards the gentle pace of life in provincial France is palpable.
Electrick Children Concrete Playground Review Undated
"This highly engaging and unconventional coming-of-age story is about the journey of life itself."
In Electrick Children Rachel (Julia Garner) plays a rambunctious teenager from a fundamentalist Morman family in Utah who dreams of a world filled with bright red mustangs – a rather different world than the dull and dusty one currently dominated by her father Paul Lynn (Billy Zane).
Garner shines in director Rebecca Thomas' feature debut. She endows her character with a level of poise and strength rarely seen in such young actresses and carries the movie forward in almost every scene. Despite knowing it's forbidden, she listens to a cover of Blondie's Hanging on the Telephone on a blue cassette tape and mysteriously falls pregnant. Modern science would have us believe she must have broken her promise to god and done impure things. But Rachel believes the song has provoked an immaculate conception and her naivety makes it hard to imagine she could possibly be lying.
What follows is an adventure that will force Rachel to choose between those who believe her and those who question her and the outcome is surprising. After her brother Mr Will (Liam Aiken) is accused of improper relations with his sister (the only way her family can make sense of the pregnancy), he is forced out of the community. Later than night, to avoid an arranged marriage, and surprisingly with help from her mother, Rachel steals the keys to the pick up truck and flees to the bright lights of Las Vegas. She is completely unaware that her pain of a brother is secretly camped out in the back.
Once there Rachel follows the 'signals' to find the singer on the cassette tape who she believes is the father of her unborn child. She falls for Johnny, the lead singer of a hard-core rock band after noticing he's wearing a T-shirt bearing a cassette tape. But it's his right hand man, and ultimate good-guy in the story Clyde (Rory Culkin) who steals the show. With equal parts dismissiveness and compassion for her cause, he ends up falling in love with Rachel. He's the one person who has faith in her, above even her own family who are meant to believe that the lord once gave his only son to Mary.
The cassette tape also reveals a surprise plot twist as Rachel learns something important about her family history (she is her mother’s daughter it seems). This highly engaging and unconventional coming-of-age story is about the journey of life itself, about trusting yourself even when the world deems you crazy. As Rachel attempts to understand what love, faith and family are really about, we are taken on a trip that ultimately does not have a black-and-white destination. You just have to believe.
Safety Not Guaranteed NZ Listener Review 18 October 2012
"...it’s one of my favourite films of the year."
Safety Not Guaranteed is a film of understated gestures, quiet chemistry and things left unsaid, says David Larsen.
In a perfect world you would never find out that I really want you to go to Safety Not Guaranteed. You would just go to it. But we don’t live in a perfect world. That’s what the film is about.
“The mission is about regret,” explains Kenneth, a shambling nerdish boy-man who may or may not have built a time machine in his garage. Kenneth has placed an ad in the local paper asking for volunteers to help him go back and undo his past mistakes.
“This is not a joke. Must bring own weapons. Safety not guaranteed.”
This would be an odd thing to do even if he were not convinced he needs to hide his moves from the US Government, and it attracts the attention of a trio of bottom-feeding journalists, one of whom manages to talk her way into Kenneth’s time-travel trainee programme. Kenneth is played by Mark Duplass.
If you follow Duplass’s work as an actor (Your Sister’s Sister, Humpday) and writer-director (Cyrus, Jeff, Who Lives At Home), this tells you all you need to know: the film’s deadpan humour and gentle affection for even its least superficially likeable characters put it right in the middle of the Duplass zone.
But first-time film-makers Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow give more screen time to Aubrey Plaza, and in fact created a part specifically for her, after seeing her in the TV show Parks and Recreation. Darius, the young journalist who convinces Kenneth to trust her, and then finds herself wondering if he’s actually as crazy as he seems, is the biggest role Plaza has had to date. She knocks it out of the park.
Except exuberant language and home-run metaphors are exactly wrong for this movie. It would be better to say Plaza raises a sceptical eyebrow at her role, and unnerves it into submission. This is a film of understated gestures, quiet chemistry and things left unsaid. The more you expect from it, the longer it’s likely to take you to tune into its comic-indie-slacker frequency. So it’s a shame I have to tell you it’s one of my favourite films of the year.
Safety Not Guaranteed Stuff.co.nz Review 14 October 2012
"...strange, charming and rather clever indie tale."
Safety Not Guaranteed (M) 85 mins
A genuine newspaper advertisement which asked for putative partners in a time-travel mission - "safety not guaranteed" - to apply to a PO Box number in a small US town, inspired this strange, charming and rather clever indie tale from writer Derek Connolly. In Connolly's imaginings, a writer from a Seattle magazine spots the advert and embarks on a road trip with two interns to track down the time-traveller.
But the paid journo is using the road trip as an excuse to track down his high-school girlfriend, and it's the interns - a depressed college grad (Aubrey Plaza, from the US comedy show Parks and Recreation) and Indian naif Arnau (debutant Karan Soni) - who do the heavy lifting. And so Plaza finds herself befriending the advertiser, Kenneth (Mark Duplass) and is slowly drawn into believing his unusual world. This is also the film's greatest triumph, for the audience will also be slowly persuaded to see everything from Kenneth's perspective. At 85 minutes, it holds the attention and maintains the pace, smoothing off the odd rough plot edge - although I suspect audiences will either love or hate the finale (I didn't much care for it). And it also, during a tender and surprising love scene, features the best cinematic use of a zither since The Third Man.
Safety Not Guaranteed NZ Herald Interview 13 October 2012
"The [time] was spent very slowly getting him to trust me and to have confidence and faith that I wasn't going to ruin this thing."
Movies are often based on entire novels, but for Colin Trevorrow's acclaimed charming indie movie Safety Not Guaranteed, it was a six-sentence advertisement, which found its way online and became a sensation.
The classified ad, published in an American living-off-the-grid survivalist magazine in the mid-90s, read: "Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke ... You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety Not Guaranteed. I have only done this once before."
Trevorrow says he came across the ad, much like others did, as an internet meme and thought it was amusing. So did the film's co-writer Derek Connolly - he thought it was inspiring.
"There's a big difference between someone like me who sees that and is like, 'oh that's funny ... next', and someone like Derek who sees that and says, 'no wait a minute, there's a film behind this, there's a story here' and that's why I think he deserves all the credit he gets for writing this."
But before they could even think about the script, which this year won them the screenwriting award at the Sundance Film Festival, they needed to find the advertisement's author.
"We really bought the rights to those six sentences as if they were a novel," Trevorrow says.
"I had to track this guy down at the magazine he writes for, which is called Backwoods Home. It's out at northern Oregon."
He called the author, John Silveira, and they met. Silveira had placed the faux ad in his magazine as a joke to fill space. Still, he was suspicious when Trevorrow came calling.
"He actually brought a gun with him to the lunch, cause he carries his own weapons wherever he goes.
"We really had to form a friendship in a lot of ways," Trevorrow says of Silveira and in the months that passed from their first chat to him finally signing over the rights, that was what happened.
"The [time] was spent very slowly getting him to trust me and to have confidence and faith that I wasn't going to ruin this thing."
"It really is an important little piece of writing and especially in his life, in that ... it's going to outlive him, it's going to outlive me. I mean, it's a movie now."
Safety Not Guaranteed stars the deadpan Aubrey Plaza, who had the role of disillusioned college grad Darius written for her after Connolly saw her in the Judd Apatow/Adam Sandler movie, Funny People.
While interning at a magazine, Darius finds herself covering a story with fellow intern Arnau (Karan Soni) and their party-hard boss Jeff (New Girl's Jake Johnson).
Their job is to track down and do a tongue-in-cheek investigation of the owner of the ad (played by Mark Duplass who is currently to be seen in Your Sister's Sister) and see if it's real or a prank.
Trevorrow says he personally isn't sure whether time travel is possible, but has found things like Facebook have certainly affected those memories people might want to revisit.
He says in any other time, you would never be able to find that person you loved when you were 12.
"Now you can find him and you'll see that he's 50 pounds overweight and it might ruin that special memory that you have," he says.
"I think Facebook broke the rose-coloured glasses to a big extent and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
"It's almost made me want to not find certain people, because I want to keep those memories where they are."
In Safety Not Guaranteed, one character finds someone special from his youth and describes that feeling.
"Jake says it in the movie, like, 'you're like a fantasy in my head. You're like a unicorn essentially'," Trevorrow recalls.
"There's some people ... I want them to stay unicorns."
What:Safety Not Guaranteed, directed by Colin Trevorrow, starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass When: Sneak previews this weekend, opens at cinemas on Thursday
- TimeOut / AAP
By Caris Bizzaca
Safety Not Guaranteed TVNZ Review 12 October 2012
"...a gentle nugget of quirky cinematic genius."
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni Director: Colin Trevorrow
A quirky little indie film, Safety Not Guaranteed is a gentle nugget of quirky cinematic genius.
Aubrey Plaza is Darius, a grad who's unable to get a job and ends up working as an intern at Seattle magazine. When reporter Jeff (a Mark Ruffaloesque Jake Johnson) suggests he looks into an ad in a newspaper promising to take a trip back in time, but with "safety not guaranteed", Darius, along with studious intern Arnau head to Ocean View to find out more.
But while Jeff uses the opportunity to look up an old flame, Darius discovers that the guy who placed the ad, is a curious oddball called Kenneth (a brilliant Duplass). Kenneth works at the local store and is convinced the authorities are following him as he nears completion of his time machine.
So, the question is - is Kenneth telling the truth or is it the mutterings of a mid American nutjob?
Safety Not Guaranteed is a real charmer of a film and an unexpected humour filled delight, which will amuse and engage your heart too.
From its start where we first meet Darius being rejected for a job right to its final shot where something unexpected happens, it's a film which confounds your expectations and surprises you.
It's a low key, lo fi indie film in many ways which hits all the right notes; part rom com, part sci fi flick, part road trip and part relationships/ hipster film, it's a mash up of many genres and all of them sensitively and sensibly handled with charm and ease.
The central premise is an intriguing one and throwing together the trio works very well; from the lazy, just out to hook up Jeff to the uptight Indian intern Arnau, mixed in with a dash of sullen sarcasm courtesy of Aubrey Plaza, the final resulting cocktail works very well.
With an eye for some sharp dialogue as well, Safety Not Guaranteed is as much of a treat as you're likely to get at the movies these days. Thanks to some great central turns from Johnson, Plaza and Duplass who give 110% in a never anything less than riveting watch, you're engaged at every level and when the movie ends, you find yourself puzzling about what actually transpired.
As one character remarks "This mission has to do with regret, mistakes and is about love" - it's an adage which helps us identify with the characters and engage with what could be a lunatic proposition. With dashings of deadpan humour thrown in, and a final act which once again confounds your expectations by swiftly whipping the carpet from asunder, Safety Not Guaranteed deserves to be a hit thanks to its charm, performances and touchingly heartfelt and yet universal story.
NO REVIEW: Twitch Film.com 1 September 2012
"Pablo Larraín's NO is a fascinating, inventive look at the advertising campaign that helped unseat Chile's dictator in 1988"
I assume you're well-versed in Chilean politics of the 1980s. I mean, who isn't, right? But even if you're not -- even if you're, say, an American who barely recalls the name Pinochet and is already exhausted by the 2012 U.S. elections -- Pablo Larraín's NO is a fascinating, inventive look at the advertising campaign that helped unseat Chile's dictator in 1988.
What happens in NO isn't substantially different from what happens in every election year in every country. Which is to say, it's absurd, funny, and a little sad. NO was made for a Chilean audience, but Larraín is careful to summarize the pertinent facts for the rest of us (and, I suppose, for Chileans who weren't alive or weren't paying attention in 1988).
Gen. Augusto Pinochet, dictatorial president of Chile since a coup in 1973, has agreed to allow a vote on whether he will remain in power for another eight years, or whether the country will hold an open election to replace him. The referendum boils down to two simple choices: YES means more Pinochet; NO means no.
Each side is allowed 15 minutes of TV advertising per day, for four weeks leading up to the vote. The YES campaign has all the might of the Chilean government behind it, and the patricians running it are smugly confident that the dirty commie rabble-rousers behind NO will not succeed, never mind the torture, murders, and other atrocities that Pinochet has been responsible for. The NO campaign, on the other hand, is a multifarious group covering more than a dozen different political parties whose only common ground is that they all want Pinochet gone.
Enter René Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal), a scruffy ad-man who's been making a name for himself as a producer of slick, youth-oriented cola commercials and the like. He's recruited to oversee the NO campaign, displeasing his boss, Guzman (Alfredo Castro), who's moonlighting on the YES campaign himself. Saavedra's estranged wife, a political activist named Veronica (Antonia Zegers), thinks the vote is a sham, and that Pinochet will simply ignore the results if NO wins. She's not alone. In fact, the major problem facing NO isn't getting people to wish for Pinochet's ouster -- that sentiment is widespread -- but in getting them to believe it's safe to say so. Pinochet has a well-deserved reputation for making political dissidents disappear.
Saavedra brings to the NO campaign a much-needed sense of media savvy. The strident, idealistic men and women who have been handling it to this point have focused their TV spots on listing Pinochet's offenses, with grim footage of police violence and oppression. Saavedra takes it in a different direction, commissioning upbeat jingles and optimistic commercials emphasizing how much better Chile will be if everyone votes NO. The new slogan: "Happiness is coming!"
Larraín's crafty innovation is to use as much footage of the actual 1988 TV commercials as he could get his hands on -- and to shoot the rest of the film so that it looks similarly washed-out and VHS-y. As a result, there is no visual disconnect between Saavedra and his cohorts planning their campaign and the chunks of the campaign that we see. It's impossible for the casual observer to tell which parts of NO are from 24 years ago and which are careful recreations (except, obviously, for the presence of people like Gael Garcia Bernal).
More importantly, this visual style gives the film a sense of immediacy. The people planning the TV ads -- whose very lives may be in danger as NO gains traction and YES starts to get nervous -- inhabit the same analogue, low-fi world as the commercials they produce. We laugh, as Larraín intends, at the cheesiness of late-'80s fashions and technology, and the inelegance of some of the ads. ("We're uncomfortable with his literature!" is the literal translation of an anti-Pinochet song lyric.) But we also understand, on a subconscious level, that these characters live in this world. This matters.
The back-and-forth between the YES and NO campaigns in Chile in 1988 is fundamentally the same as between the Republicans and Democrats in America in 2012 (or any year, really). Some strategies work better than others; mud-slinging is simultaneously decried and practiced; everyone knows that sound bites and slogans count as much as policies and positions. YES paints NO as nothing but rowdy, disorganized socialists; NO (which has the artists and actors on their side) depicts YES as wealthy, complacent fascists. The parallels to last year's Occupy movement are obvious and thought-provoking.
But make no mistake, NO is also a lot of fun. With a zippy screenplay by Pedro Peirano (based on an unproduced play by exiled Chilean novelist Antonio Skarmeta), the film allows for good old-fashioned drama and intrigue in addition to the political activism. Though there is outrage behind some of the characters' sentiments, the film is sly and frequently very funny rather than angry. This is probably the best fact-based account of 1980s Chilean political advertising that I've seen this year.
YOU'VE BEEN TRUMPED REVIEW: View Auckland 8 July 2012
"Well made, RAGE-inducing documentary that gives a vital airing to a virtually unheard side of a truly sickening story"
Well made, RAGE-inducing documentary that gives a vital airing to a virtually unheard side of a truly sickening story, but it's also thoroughly depressing to watch and you can't help wishing Baxter had tried harder to confront the people responsible.
What's it all about? Directed by Anthony Baxter, You've Been Trumped sets out its stall early with some clips from Bill Forsythe's 1983 drama Local Hero, in which Scottish residents successfully prevent an American billionaire from buying up their idyllic coastline. Unfortunately, real life doesn't quite work that way and the rest of the film charts the local resistance to American billionaire Donald Trump as he bulldozes ahead with his plan to build two beachside golf courses, a hotel and luxury apartments on the Menie Estate, a supposedly protected Site of Special Scientific Interest in Aberdeenshire.
The Good Baxter is firmly on the side of the residents, each of whom has faced the threat of Compulsory Purchase Orders and who have had their cases roundly ignored by both the police and local government officials. Worse, with the SNP government overturning Aberdeenshire Council's rejection of Trump's plans in 2007 (swayed by Trump's promises of local jobs and a tourism boost), it becomes shockingly clear that the authorities and the media (who help demonise the residents rather than taking up their cause) are essentially colluding with Trump or at the very least, wilfully ignoring the plight of the residents.
When Trump backs down over the Compulsory Purchase Orders (one of the film's few victories), his organisation resorts to other, dirtier tricks instead, whether it's “accidentally” cutting off the water to a property (or at any rate deliberately dragging their heels when it comes to restoring it), trying to make residents pay extortionate fees after they remove fence posts from their own properties, or, as a seeming last resort, hiding the residents' houses from view by bulldozing huge mounds of earth all around them.
The Great The film becomes even more shocking when the Trump organisation eventually get wind of Baxter's presence (and the fact that he's armed the local residents with video cameras) and he's forcefully arrested, just for attempting to talk to the site contractor about the water issue. On top of that, the environmental damage recorded by the residents is truly devastating: at one point, a digger is shown burying an entire line of trees in an enormous hole in the ground, while the area's self-sustaining eco-system of sand dunes is utterly destroyed, despite Trump's claims to the contrary.
While strong on local voices, Baxter is weaker on the behind-the-scenes wrangling and you can't help wishing for a more aggressive Michael Moore type figure to magically appear and confront the people responsible for this shocking decision in the first place.
Worth seeing? You’ve Been Trumped is an important and shocking documentary that demands to be seen, but it will also leave you feeling depressed, powerless and consumed with RAGE. Down with Trump.
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED: Star Aubrey Plaza on falling in love with Bill Murray. 8 June 2012
Aubrey Plaza's first turn as a leading lady is, predictably, a little quirky. Her upcoming film, "Safety Not Guaranteed," is based on an ad-turned-Internet meme, which begins "Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me."
So it makes sense that Plaza, sitting in the Tuscan-style restaurant of the Bowery Hotel, is now talking about time travel. This then leads to relaying a drunken debate she had with an old friend: “She was like, ‘Time travel’s racist!'" Plaza lets out a laugh and a bit of an eye roll. “Sorry,” she says. “This is the worst interview I’ve ever given.”
"Parks and Rec's" dry-as-paper muse digresses. A lot. (Earlier, she explained how she talked her way into an NBC online dog-judging gig -- and then lost it by blogging about ugly pooches as her Sea Hag alter-ego. "I'm still bitter about it," she said in her signature drawl.)
While she stays true to her deadpan nature in "Safety," Plaza does much more than frown and eye roll. Here, she plays Darius, a toilet-cleaning magazine intern who ends up on assignment -- along with two others, (Jake Johnson and Karan Soni) -- trying to track down the time traveling-hopeful, Kenneth, played by Mark Duplass.
Plaza sat down with Moviefone to discuss her upcoming role, breaking away from deadpan characters and how she and Bill Murray fell in love.
I think you own the copyright on the word “deadpan.” Is that at all frustrating? Yes. [Silence] No. [Laughs] I don’t know how [being labeled as deadpan] happened, it doesn’t really frustrate me. It would only frustrate me if it prevented me from doing things that I want to do, but so far it really hasn’t. I mean, a little bit, but I don’t really mind it.
So you haven’t found it to be limiting? Well, not yet, but I’m, like, right at that place in my career…I’m trying to make some moves. But in the next couple years, every part that I go out for that I don’t get or [if] people aren’t taking risks on me because they see me as the glasses-wearing, converse shoes-wearing deadpan person, that would suck. But hopefully that’s not going to happen.
You definitely have an emotional arc in “Safety Not Guaranteed.” That’s why I wanted to do the movie because I recognized in the script that for me, as an actor, the cool thing about it is that it starts out in familiar territory, and I want to kind of be seen as someone who can do all kinds of things. But it’s hard to make that leap and to not be made fun of or to not be harshly criticized or something. So I’m hoping that doing something like “Safety Not Guaranteed” will bridge the gap, but who knows.
So will we see more emotion in your upcoming movies? Well, the movie that I am in after “Safety Not Guaranteed” is called “The Hand Job” or “The To Do List”… [Ed's note: The movie's original working title was changed from "The Hand Job" to "The To Do List" last June]
Are you pulling for "The Hand Job?" I’m pulling hard for "The Hand Job." I’m pulling really hard and fast. Because I want that title, that’s the movie I signed up for, but we’ll see… In that movie, my character, you cannot really use the word deadpan to describe her in any way at all, whereas most of the characters I’ve done up until now you can. But I’m [playing] a type-A, valedictorian. There’s no sense of irony in anything I’m saying or doing. It’s a really different character.
I heard you were about to die from nervousness at the Sundance screening of "Safety". Were you calmer when the movie screened at SXSW? Well, I’d seen it at that point. At Sundance, I hadn’t seen it at all -- and I hate watching myself to begin with -- I’ll never do that again, I don’t think. I was just straight-up terrified at Sundance because I didn’t know how it ended, I just didn’t know. And I don’t trust anyone, anyway. Like, anyone that I work with it’s like, “The movie’s great! You’re going to love it!”… I just look at everyone as potential liars.
In “Safety,” your character deals with the notion of time travel. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Well, I was obsessed with Judy Garland growing up. Like, obsessed.
That’s really surprising. I know. It’s a really weird little thing but I seriously, like, had a problem. You should see my bedroom growing up, it was [Judy] everywhere. So when I think about time traveling, I’d probably go to someplace where I could see a Judy Garland concert. Maybe in 1965 or something, like [at] the London Palace, and I could just sit there and smoke inside and watch her destroy herself.
Do you think you’re a part of the Judd Apatow crew? I hope so. I mean, I haven’t been in any of his other movies yet, but I hope that I am in his arsenal. I hope that he sees me like that because I think we have a very special relationship -- I really do feel like he changed my life in a lot of ways. His stamp [of approval] helped me get a lot of jobs and then I kind of went from there, so I’ll never forget that. And he’ll never let me forget it! [Laughs]… I consider myself a part of his posse but I could be delusional. Yeah, maybe he hates me.
You’re working with Jason Schwartzman again, and Bill Murray. How was that? It was pretty amazing. It was one of the best experiences of my professional life. [Bill Murray] is the king of just the world and everything. He’s the funniest person I’ve ever been around. It was like I was on drugs when I was around him: I couldn’t get enough. And we liked each other -- we kind of, like, had an understanding. I saw him for the first time in a makeup trailer, I was sitting in there and he came in and looked at me in the mirror and looked me up and down, no expression on his face at all. And I just looked back at him [and] didn’t say anything. I’m like, I’m not going to make a big deal about Bill f-cking Murray. I’m cool, too!
You were having a deadpan stare-off! Yeah. We were definitely having a stare-off in the mirror. And he kind of just nodded and then left. And then I went to the set and I knew he was going to be there… and he was just sitting [on a couch] and I had these heels that were strappy that I was trying to put on and I needed to sit to do that. And I was like, I’m not afraid of Bill Murray; I’ll sit next to him, no big deal. So I went and sat right next to him. I didn’t say anything to him, I was just struggling with my heels and I was pretending I didn’t care that he was there. And after about a good five minutes he looked over and he went “Do you need help with those?” And then I said, “Yes.” And I put my feet in his lap and made him put my shoes on. And he spent ten minutes strapping my heels on my feet and I was just, like, laying in his lap. We hadn’t even said hi. And that’s when we fell in love.
That’s amazing. It was one of the highlights of my life.
It sounds really sexy. Yeah. It was very sexy. It was really sexy.
Would you support another ‘Ghostbusters’ movie? Only if I was in it -- I mean that with all my heart. I’m a very selfish person. If they made a “Ghostbusters” movie with anyone else in it and I wasn’t in it, shame on that movie. If I was in it, if they cast me as a Ghostbuster, it’d the best movie of the last 10 years. Hands down. That’s really how I feel.
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED: View Auckland Review 28 April 2012 "...hugely enjoyable, frequently hilarious comedy with a brilliant script, an inspired premise, likeable characters and a star-making central performance from Aubrey Plaza."
Five out of Five stars Running time: 84 mins
Colin Trevorrow's impressive feature debut is a hugely enjoyable, frequently hilarious comedy with a brilliant script, an inspired premise, likeable characters and a star-making central performance from Aubrey Plaza.
What's it all about? Directed by Colin Trevorrow (making his feature debut) and written by Derek Connolly, Safety Not Guaranteed stars Aubrey Plaza as Darius, a grumpy magazine intern who jumps at the chance to join cocky journalist Jeff (New Girl's Jake Johnson) and another intern (Karan Soni as Arnau), when Jeff suggests they track down and interview a man who's placed a classified ad looking for a companion for time travel.
Driving to Ocean View, Washington, they soon discover that the man in question is scruffy supermarket employee Kenneth (Mark Duplass) but as Darius begins to train as his partner under the pretext of answering his ad, she starts to wonder whether he's delusional or whether he's actually onto something. Meanwhile, Jeff reveals that the real reason he's come to Ocean View is to track down an old flame (Jenica Bergere), but he also decides to help nerdy Arnau come out of his shell.
The Good Hitherto best known for scene-stealing support roles, Aubrey Plaza proves she can more than carry a film, delivering a wonderful performance that fuses her permanently grumpy, ultra-cynical screen persona (she's a regular on US TV's Parks & Recreation) with notes of sweetness and hope as she develops a strong bond with kindred spirit Kenneth. Duplass is equally good, refusing to soften Kenneth's edges and making you continually doubt his true mental state, while there's strong comic support from Soni and Johnson, who has strong chemistry with Bergere and, like Plaza, is surely destined for a bigger career.
Connolly's excellent script cleverly keeps you guessing till the end and maintains the perfect balance between quirky comedy and genuine, unexpectedly heartfelt, emotion (for example, when Darius and Kenneth eventually share their real reasons for wanting to travel back in time). Similarly, Trevorrow's pacey direction ensures a steady stream of decent laughs and the film builds to a genuinely thrilling climax.
The Great On top of that, the snappy dialogue is packed with quotable lines (“I like you – you're no-nonsense.” “There's no sense in nonsense, not when the heat's hot ...”) and Trevorrow orchestrates several delightfully off-the-wall moments, such as when Kenneth plays Darius a song on a zither. There's also an inspired cameo, which it would be churlish to spoil here.
Worth seeing? Hugely enjoyable and consistently laugh-out-loud funny, Safety Not Guaranteed is pretty much the perfect Sundance movie, thanks to an intelligent, witty script, assured direction and terrific performances from its superb cast. Highly recommended. .
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Stuff.co.nz Review 7 October 2012
"If you haven't yet seen one of the NT Live films of a play, here is your chance..."
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time NZ Herald Review 5 October 2012
"The way in which it brings his thoughts to theatrical life verges on miraculous..."
THE GREAT KIWI FLYER ROAD TRIP 26 September 2012
Christchurch-based director Tony Simpson will embark on a two week road-trip around New Zealand to promote his new feature film KIWI FLYER opening in cinemas nationwide on 27 September."
KIWI FLYER: Review by Stuff.co.nz 23 September 2012
"Put the Xbox away - this is a perfect opportunity for dads and sons (and daughters) to get in some family time. "
KIWI FLYER: Interview with Tony Simpson, NZ Herald 22 September 2012
Kiwi director Tony Simpson talks to Scott Kara about rekindling childhood thrills in putting the Nelson Trolley Derby on the big screen.
KIWI FLYER: Review, Nelson Mail 19 September 2012
"...and besides its appeal as a movie which serves Nelson well, it should be a popular school holidays fare in its own right."
JACKPOT: Review, NZ Herald 15 September 2012
"And if Headhunters suggested a Coen brothers' foray into Scandi-noir, the blackly funny, gore-heavy Jackpot is even more so."
JACKPOT: Review, Yahoo News 13 September 2012
"Jackpot thrives on the juxtaposition between pure gory chaos, and blisteringly witty repartee."
JACKPOT: Brutal Comedy Hits International Jackpot 1 August 2012
"The Americans really like the film because the genre is very familiar to them, but at the same time there's a polite craziness on top of that which is Norwegian."
JACKPOT: Impresses Internationally 10 May 2012
HEADHUNTERS is not the only Norwegian film winning the critic’s hearts in the United States these days. Read what the critics had to say below.
I WISH: Review by Stuff.co.nz 25 August 2012
"I just absolutely flat out loved this... insightful, honest, fresh, and completely entrancing."
I WISH: Review by NZ Herald 11 August 2012
The power of children's wishes to come true in ways they never imagined is the impelling idea behind the masterful new film by Japanese maestro Koreeda.
I WISH: Travels with Hirokazu Ko-reda. 24 July 2012
On the evidence of films such as After Life, Nobody Knows, and Still Walking, few would dispute Hirokazu Kore-eda as the finest Japanese filmmaker working today.
TAKE THIS WALTZ: Sarah Polley on the big ambiguities and unexceptional nudity. 12 July 2012
It’s much less common to see child actors following Sarah Polley’s arc, and making the leap from child actor to adult actor to filmmaker.
TAKE THIS WALTZ: Director Sarah Polley Triumphs Again. 29 June 2012
I always liked Sarah Polley as an actress (“The Sweet Hereafter,” “Dawn of the Dead,” “Mr. Nobody”) but I’m even more impressed with her writing and directing talents.
BEL AMI: Directors on moving from stage to screen, and working with 'wonderfully committed' Pattinson 01 March 2012
For their theatre work Nick operates as the designer, while Declan directs. But for film they decided to take a different approach, co-directing together.
TAKE THIS WALTZ: Cast Interview Undated
Rogen: [Polley] came to LA and told me about the film. She was so nice and so cool. I’d actually been a big fan of hers for a long time, both as an actor and director.