One of the best films I saw at this year’s Sundance Film festival was director Vincenzo Natali’s Splice. Starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as genetic scientists that create a new life form with severe consequences, the film is original, dark, twisted, and awesome. Trust me, if you’re the kind of person that complains Hollywood never does anything original, you’re going to want to check out Splice this weekend.
Anyway, I recently got to sit down with Adrien Brody to talk about his work in Splice and all the other projects he’s working on like High School and Predators. As a huge fan of his work in such films as The Pianist, The Brothers Bloom, The Darjeeling Limited, I’ll admit to being very excited getting the chance to talk with him. Thankfully, he could not have been nicer and while our interview was scheduled for print (meaning no video), he agreed to let me use my new Kodak ZI8 flip camera. Hit the jump to check out what he had to say:
Writer-Director Rian Johnson is 2-for-2 with me, as I stand in awe of Brick, and The Brothers Bloom was my favorite film of last year. Now Johnson has revealed a synopsis of his next film, Looper, to Cinematical. You may recall that on Monday, Johnson had to use Twitter to correct the erroneous logline THR provided in their story about Joseph Gordon-Levitt possibly toplining the flick. Here’s what Johnson said to Cinematical about Looper in more than 140 characters:
Looper is a time travel movie, set in a near future where time travel doesn’t exist but will be invented in a few decades. It’s pretty dark in tone, much different from Bloom, and involves a group of killers (called Loopers) who work for a crime syndicate in the future. Their bosses send their targets hogtied and blindfolded back in time to the Loopers, and their job is to simply shoot them in the head and dispose of the body. So the target vanishes from the future and the Loopers dispose of a corpse that doesn’t technically exist, a very clean system. Complications set in from there.
I didn’t think I could be more excited for Johnson’s next film. I was mistaken.
With Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones getting released around the country tomorrow, it’s time for my final video interview and it’s with Rachel Weisz. The reason I got to speak with the cast is our partners at Omelete were invited to the international press day and they sent me to cover it. So a big thank you to them for making this happen.
The Lovely Bones is based on the novel by Alice Sebold and it’s about a 14-year-old girl named Susie Salmon who is lured into a makeshift underground den in a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer-the man she knew as her neighbor. From heaven, Susie keeps watch over her grieving family and friends, as well as her brazen killer and the sad detective working on her case. The film stars Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli and Saoirse Ronan.
During my interview with Rachel Weisz I decided to start off my asking a question she hadn’t been asked…so I asked about The Brothers Bloom. Of course we also talked about Lovely Bones, filming the movie, working for Peter Jackson, and we even talked about Twitter and Facebook. It’s a great interview so take a look:
The joy of list-making continues today as I’m running down who I thought gave the best performances of the year plus what I thought were the best quotes and kills of 2009. Please keep in mind that regarding the performances, I haven’t seen a few key films that could have very well changed the winners and runners-up: Crazy Heart (Best Actor), The Last Station and Bright Star (Best Actress), and a few others. If you think there was someone who clearly should’ve won or been nominated, shout out in the comments section and I’ll let you know whether I saw the film or not.
With this disclaimer out of the way, I present to you my picks for the best performers, directors, quotes, and kills of 2009. Hit the jump to check them all out.
I’m so happy that 2009 was a front-loaded year. Friends and family asked me on more than one occasion, “It’s the end of the year, so where are all the good movies?” I responded that this year, for whatever reason, was different and some of the year’s best films had premiered as early as Sundance (The Hurt Locker technically debuted in 2008 with its premiere at the Venice Film Festival). The scarcity of must-see year-end flicks worked out beautifully for me because I had the time to give more thought to films and have the opportunity to watch them more than once. I feel confident in my Top 10 in a way that I’ve been uneasy about in years prior. There was a wealth of great films to choose from this year and almost all of my favorites are now available to own or rent on DVD or Blu-ray.
If I had to sum up 2009 in films, I would say it was a year of surprises and disappointments. Films I expected to enjoy like Funny People, Bruno, Public Enemies were letdowns, while films like District 9, In the Loop, and A Single Man, came out of nowhere to blow me away. It’s also refreshing to see that movies like The Hangover, Paranormal Activity, and Avatar did so well at the box office despite not being adaptations or remakes.
I thought 2009 was a great year for film and while I seriously considered expanding this list to a Top 15 or even 20, I felt that ten was appropriate because while this is clearly a vanity project for me, I do hope it serves as a recommendation tool for people who can’t go see every movie. If you only see ten movies from this year, see these ten. Hit the jump to start the countdown.
In what is sure to be one of the stranger and perhaps more innovative moves by a director, Rian Johnson is releasing his commentary track for “The Brothers Bloom”…now. Like, right now. You can go get it right here.
“Did I miss the DVD release? Was the film that unpopular?” you cry. No! While the site says, “iPhone”, it’s an mp3 track. Any mp3 player should play it. The important thing to remember is that A) make sure you bring your headphones; and B) make sure the light on your device isn’t on or at least totally obscured so you don’t distract the other patrons from this fantastic film.
I’m planning to see the film again this weekend but if I go for a third time, I’ll definitely load this up onto my iPod.
Oh, and the film opens in the following cities tomorrow: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Washington D.C. Go see it. Everyone else, go see it May 29th.
I still can’t get over how much I enjoyed Rian Johnson’s “The Brothers Bloom”. Even after hearing nothing but positive reviews from trusted colleagues; even after sitting in awe of Johnson’s previous film, “Brick”; even after every piece of advertising made me more excited to see the film, I am stunned at how “The Brothers Bloom” just plain works. While this may sound like a case of a critic refusing to allow for the possibility of disappointment, Johnson isn’t afraid to open up his film from the very first frame and show you how elegantly it all fits together.
The story follows two brothers, Bloom (Adrien Brody) and Stephen (Mark Ruffalo), who have been con artists ever since they were kids and now Bloom is growing tired of the game while Stephen wants to play it forever. For Stephen, the best con is one “where everyone gets what they want,” and the question becomes how the heartbroken Bloom can get something real when his entire life is based on lies. The answer perhaps lies in the eccentric heiress Penelope (Rachel Weisz) who Stephen picks as “their last mark”. Of course, as with any good con movie, if you think you know what happens next, you’re being conned.
What “Brick” is to noir, “Brothers Bloom” is to con-artist stories. Johnson is a writer/director who innately understanding the conventions of a genre both in terms of its literary and cinematic origins. The literary part of that equation is important because it lends itself so well to the rhythm, character design, and structure of the work while the cinematic style provides nice visual nods and crafts the style and feel of the film. What Johnson has designed with this movie is a rich, vivacious study of artist to creation, finding truth in lies, and doing it all with such stylistic flourish that even as you’re considering these weighty themes, you’re still having the time of your life.