Exclusive: Composer Howard Shore Talks THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES, ROSEWATER, MAPS TO THE STARS, SILENCE, and More

by     Posted 18 hours ago

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Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore is among today’s most respected composers and conductors.  He’s been a frequent collaborator with David Cronenberg for 35 years and has scored nearly all his films since 1979 including 2014’s Maps to the Stars.  He’s also had a long-standing collaboration with director Martin Scorsese on films that include Gangs of New York, The Departed, The Aviator, and Hugo.  However, he is probably best known for his work with Peter Jackson on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, including this year’s The Battle of the Five Armies.  Recently, he also composed the original music for director Jon Stewart’s biopic, Rosewater.

In an exclusive interview, Shore spoke about his creative partnerships with Cronenberg, Jackson, Scorsese and Stewart, his unique approach to composition and orchestration, the challenges of scoring an edgy drama compared to a large scale action movie set in a complex fantasy world, why he loves doing big epic films, his Canadian roots and early development as an artist, bringing Middle Earth to a worldwide audience by doing The Lord of the Rings scores live to projection with a symphony orchestra and chorus, and his upcoming projects:  Scorsese’s Silence and a concerto with classical guitarist Miloš.  Check out our interview after the jump:

Timothy Spall Talks MR. TURNER, Preparation for the Role, Painting Lessons, His Brush with Leukemia, and More

by     Posted 22 hours ago

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Timothy Spall paints a fascinating portrait of J.M.W. Turner in the new biopic, Mr. Turner, written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Mike Leigh and beautifully lensed by cinematographer Dick Pope.  The actor fully immerses himself in the role of the eccentric but brilliant English painter, water colorist and printmaker who elevated the art form of landscape painting in the 18th century.  Mr. Turner premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where Spall took the award for Best Actor and marks the seventh time in his career that he has collaborated with Leigh.  Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, and Paul Jesson also star.

At a recent roundtable interview, Spall talked about the challenge of playing the artist, his preparation for the role, the directing process with Leigh, their organic approach to building up the characters through improvisation, his painting lessons with British portraitist Tim Wright that helped him portray Turner convincingly, how he captured the extraordinary physicality of the character and used his voice to convey Turner’s implosive nature as well as his explosive expression when it came to his art, how his close brush with leukemia altered his outlook on life, and his upcoming TV mini-series, The Enfield Haunting.  Check out our interview after the jump:

Scott Speedman Talks THE CAPTIVE, His Complicated Character, the Backstory He Created, Upcoming Projects, and More

by     Posted 5 days ago

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Scott Speedman enjoys portraying flawed men who are pushed to the limit, make mistakes, and then have to recover, and his character in Atom Egoyan’s new psychological thriller, The Captive, definitely fits the bill.  Speedman plays Detective Jeffrey Cornwall, an edgy cop who makes a living hooking predators and searching for missing children online.  He’s immediately skeptical of Matthew Lane’s (Ryan Reynolds) story about his missing daughter (Alexia Fast), and his suspicions that the father is somehow complicit in the abduction lead him to push way beyond the ethical boundaries of his work.  Mireille Enos, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Durand and Bruce Greenwood also co-star.

At the film’s recent press day, Speedman spoke about his creative collaboration with Egoyan with whom he worked previously on Adoration, how Egoyan wrote the role specifically with him in mind, why he was drawn to the complicated character and enjoyed the challenge of an enigmatic story, the backstory he created for his character, his research with the Kitchener-Waterloo detectives, working with Reynolds and Dawson, how they had fun while doing serious work on a dark movie, and his upcoming films:  October Gale, a romantic thriller with Patricia Clarkson, and Out of the Dark, a horror-thriller with Julia Stiles.  Check out our interview after the jump:

Chuck Workman Talks MAGICIAN: THE ASTONISHING LIFE AND WORK OF ORSON WELLES, The Challenges of Documentary Filmmaking, Welles’ Legacy, and More

by     Posted 9 days ago

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Academy Award-winning filmmaker Chuck Workman’s new documentary, Magician:  The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles, takes a fascinating look at one of Hollywood’s most iconic figures.  Welles’ remarkable life began as a musical prodigy at age 10, a director of Shakespeare at 14, a painter at 16, a star of stage and radio at 20, and a filmmaker at 25 with the groundbreaking Citizen Kane.  Opening December 12th, Magician features scenes from almost every existing Welles film, clips from his television and commercial work, and detailed interviews with Welles, his family, and filmmakers including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Richard Linklater, and close personal friend Peter Bogdanovich.

I recently landed an exclusive interview with Workman whose documentary will be part of Woodstock, Illinois’ upcoming celebration marking Welles’ 100th birthday.  He talked about what made Welles such a singular filmmaking talent, how he was an indie filmmaker working outside the system in an era when there was no independent film, the challenge of shaping the film without destroying its integrity, how what’s often considered Welles’ greatest masterpiece was also the first film he ever directed, Welles’ progression as an artist with each film, his unfinished projects, his legacy, and Workman’s next projects. Check out our interview after the jump.

Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado Talk THE SALT OF THE EARTH, What They Discovered in Editing, Upcoming Projects, and More

by     Posted 10 days ago

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Wim Wenders’ masterful new documentary, The Salt of the Earth, explores the fascinating life and work of acclaimed Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist Sebastião Salgado.  Wenders, who co-directs with Salgado’s son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, takes audiences on a stunning visual journey that chronicles the 40-year career of the elder Salgado through his photography.  Sebastião Salgado travelled to over 100 countries for his photographic projects and bore witness to some of the most notable humanitarian events that shaped the world in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

In an exclusive interview, Wenders and Salgado revealed how the project first emerged, why this was an important story to tell, the innovative cinematic tool Wenders devised to film Sebastião as he discussed the genesis of various photographs and the emotions he felt while shooting them, what they discovered in the editing process, how the project brought father and son closer, how after witnessing famine and genocide Sebastião found inspiration in nature, Lélia Salgado’s pivotal role in her husband’s artistic journey, the Terra Institute, and the filmmakers’ upcoming projects:  Wenders’ Every Thing Will Be Fine, starring James Franco, Rachel McAdams and Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Salgado’s documentary on Amazonia and his first fiction feature film.  Check out our interview after the jump:

Writer/Director Atom Egoyan Talks THE CAPTIVE, His Writing Process, the Non-Linear Narrative, Dark Material, REMEMBER, and More

by     Posted 10 days ago

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In his disturbing child-abduction thriller, The Captive, writer/director Atom Egoyan explores the ambiguous nature of the human condition and how ordinary people react when drawn into dreadful circumstances.  Haunting events unfold against a wintry Canadian landscape and secrets are revealed out of time over an 8-year period as parents Matthew (Ryan Reynolds) and Tina Lane (Mireille Enos) are torn apart by the kidnapping of their young daughter (Alexia Fast) while two detectives (Rosario Dawson, Scott Speedman) investigate the case.  Kevin Durand and Bruce Greenwood also co-star.

At the film’s recent press day, Egoyan spoke about creating the atmospheric look and tone of the film, his writing process, the inspiration behind the story, tackling a difficult subject with care and sensitivity, approaching the narrative in a non-linear fashion, the impact of sophisticated new technology and how it can be abused, working with a low budget while attracting great actors to play roles they wouldn’t be able to explore otherwise, finding ways to keep dark material from becoming too grim, how his cultural background attracts him to themes that deal with unresolved circumstances, and his upcoming thriller Remember with Christopher Plummer.  Check out our interview after the jump:

Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, and Author Cheryl Strayed Talk WILD, Reaction to the Script, How It’s a Universal Tale, and More

by     Posted 17 days ago

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Wild, director Jean-Marc Vallee’s impressive follow-up to last year’s Dallas Buyer’s Club is a compelling film about determination, rebirth and taking the road less traveled featuring a fearless lead performance by Reese Witherspoon and a strong supporting turn by Laura Dern.  Inspired by a true story of personal triumph, Nick Hornby’s script and Witherspoon’s portrayal of Cheryl Strayed and her 1,100 mile trek along the Pacific Crest Trail are refreshing in the way they never play into stereotypes.  Wild opens today in New York and Los Angeles and additional select cities on December 5th.

At the film’s recent press day, I sat down with Witherspoon, Dern ,and Strayed who talked about their reaction when they first read the script, how they felt lucky to be part of the world Strayed created in her novel, what they think makes the film so fresh and compelling, how it’s a universal and timeless tale about a transformative journey that’s been told throughout human existence, Reese and Laura’s personal version of Cheryl’s epic trek, Witherspoon’s upcoming comedy with Sofia Vergara and Dern’s new drama, 99 HomesCheck out our interview after the jump.

Director Jean-Marc Vallée Talks WILD, the Length of His First Cut, Deleted Scenes, DEMOLITION, and More

by     Posted 18 days ago

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In his exhilarating new adventure epic, Wild, director Jean-Marc Vallée brings best-selling author Cheryl Strayed’s acclaimed memoir to the screen based on screenwriter Nick Hornby’s powerful adaptation.  Reese Witherspoon delivers a riveting performance as a woman who wants to change her life and decides to do it in an extraordinary way by embracing the call of the wild and embarking on a journey of self-discovery and redemption along the Pacific Crest Trail.  Opening December 5th, Wild stands out from other wilderness epics in the remarkable way it takes a woman’s moving, transformative experience in a different, less expected direction.

At the film’s recent press day, I had the opportunity to sit down with Vallée to discuss why he chose Wild as his follow-up to last year’s Dallas Buyers Club.  He revealed how the film changed from the initial script to the final version, the length of his first cut, the deleted scenes and extras we can expect on the DVD, how Hornby’s script and Witherspoon’s performance kept things interesting by refusing to play into stereotypes, what Witherspoon brought to her role, and his upcoming romantic drama, Demolition, written by Bryan Sipe and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper, and Judah Lewis. Check out our interview after the jump.

Cinematographer Yves Belanger Talks WILD, Rehearsal Process, Controlling Light, Choosing Angles, and More

by     Posted 18 days ago

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Cinematographer Yves Belanger teams up again with director Jean-Marc Vallée and brings their distinctively minimalist cinematic style to a wilderness setting in Wild, which was shot on location in California’s Mojave Desert and Oregon via the rugged Pacific Crest Trail.  The film is based on the best-selling novel by Cheryl Strayed adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby and features a radiant performance by Reese Witherspoon complemented by Belanger’s stunning cinematography.  The story chronicles one courageous woman’s transformative journey as she sets out to hike the PCT, the longest, toughest and wildest through-trail in America, completely alone.

In an exclusive interview, Belanger discussed his collaborative partnership with Vallée using hand-held digital cameras and natural light, their rehearsal process, his experience shooting on the trail with Witherspoon, the economy of doing everything in one slate for the shorter scenes with no cuts and no set-ups, controlling the light and choosing the angles, his core camera crew, why the Alexa was his camera of choice, changing the exposure as he operated the camera, using a remote focus puller, combining modern and old lenses to create the look of the film, and his upcoming films Brooklyn, Demolition, and Janis Joplin:  Get It While You CanCheck out our interview after the jump:

THE IMITATION GAME Producers and More Talk the Long Road to Getting the Film Made, Finding Their Director, Historical Accuracy, and More

by     Posted 24 days ago

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As we move into awards season, 2014 is proving to be an exciting year for films and no doubt there will be some year-end surprise contenders.  One of my personal favorites is The Imitation Game, directed by Norwegian filmmaker Morten Tyldum, about British mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) who is credited with cracking the unbreakable codes of Germany’s World War II Enigma machine.  Opening November 28th, the film’s intense and haunting portrayal of a brilliant, complicated man offers a fresh take on the biopic genre and features an impressive cast that includes Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, and Mark Strong.

At the Below The Line press day, we sat down with Producers Teddy Schwarzman, Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky, Production Designer Maria Djukovic, Costume Designer Sammy Sheldon Differ, and Music Supervisor Lindsay Fellows who discussed the development process with screenwriter Graham Moore, the challenge of bringing Turing’s story to the screen, the decision to have Tyldum direct, the vision he brought, what drew the designers to the project, how their research helped them design a period piece with historical accuracy, the actors’ input into their costumes, the musical choices, composer Alexandre Desplat’s score, their commitment to honoring Turing’s legacy, and his family’s positive reaction.  Check out our interview after the jump.

Director Gabe Polsky Talks RED ARMY, How the Cold War Influenced Hockey, the Russian Five, and Werner Herzog’s Role as Executive Producer

by     Posted 25 days ago

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Gabe Polsky’s new film Red Army (check out Matt’s review) is an exhilarating documentary about the Cold War on ice and how an incredibly oppressive system produced one of the greatest teams in sports history:  the Red Army Hockey Team of the late 70’s and 80’s.  The story is told from the perspective of its former captain and star defenseman, Slava Fetisov, who was at the center of an extraordinarily talented group of players – Sergei Marakov, Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov and Alexei Kasatonov – known as the Russian Five.  Fetisov’s impressive career took him from national hero to political enemy to Russian Minister of Sport under Vladimir Putin.

In an exclusive interview, Polsky spoke about using hockey as a window into a larger personal and political story, what inspired him to structure his documentary around the legendary Red Army Hockey Team and one of its greatest players, why Fetisov was an interesting interview subject, the challenge of finding the right archival clips to give people a sense of the place and setting, the visionary Anatoli Tarasov and what distinguished the Soviet style of play from that of North America, Werner Herzog’s role as executive producer, the impact of hockey on Polsky’s life and its influence on him as a filmmaker, and his upcoming projects.  Check out our interview after the jump.

Composer Alexandre Desplat Talks THE IMITATION GAME, Coming to the Project Late, Finding Continuity in His Scores, His Love of Conducting, and More

by     Posted 30 days ago

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Six-time Academy Award Nominee Alexandre Desplat is a remarkably versatile composer with a distinct voice who has collaborated with some of the world’s top filmmakers.  His films this year range from Wes Anderson’s The Grand Hotel Budapest, to George Clooney’s The Monuments Men, the blockbuster action thriller Godzilla, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken and Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game.  Desplat’s compelling score for the Alan Turing biopic starring Benedict Cumberbatch features lots of keyboards, clarinets, and fast arpeggios which support the pacing of the film and capture the story’s thrilling intensity and the humanity of characters who are racing against time to crack the Nazi’s Enigma code during WWII.

In an exclusive interview, Desplat discussed his collaboration with Tyldum, the tight schedule he was under to deliver the film, how he created themes that resonated with the storyline of a film that has an extremely complex structure consisting of many flashbacks and flashforwards, his themes for Alan Turing and his friend Christopher, how he strives to find a sense of continuity when he scores a film, why the chronology of music is important, why he finds each collaboration with a director a new adventure even when they’ve worked together before, and his upcoming projects including Suffragette.  Check out the interview after the jump.

Minnie Driver, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Director Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Producers Talk BEYOND THE LIGHTS

by     Posted 35 days ago

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When filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood imagined a love story set within the world of hip hop and R&B for her new film, Beyond the Lights, she found musical inspiration in Alicia Keys’ epic love song Diary and her favorite films — Purple Rain, Lady Sings the Blues, and The Rose.  Her romantic drama chronicles a young artist’s (Noni/Gugu Mbatha-Raw) struggle with sudden stardom and the man (Kaz/Nate Parker) who comes into her life at her worst moment and still sees the good in her.  Through his love, she finds the courage to shed the persona that’s been shaped for her and discover her own voice.  The movie also stars Minnie Driver and Danny Glover.

At the film’s recent press day, we sat down with actors Mbatha-Raw, Driver and Parker, writer-director Prince-Bythewood, and producers Stephanie Allain and Reggie Rock-Bythewood who talked about creating the music that is such a powerful thread throughout the film, Allain and Rock-Bythewood’s roles as producing partners, what appealed to the actors about their characters, the unusual date Prince-Bythewood set up between Mbatha-Raw and Parker to help develop their chemistry, her strong vision and directing style, the film’s most powerful scenes, and why the movie was fertile ground to explore what’s happening in the industry today. Check out our interview after the jump.

Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank Talk THE HOMESMAN, the Shorthand They Developed on Set, Jones as a Director, Swank’s Singing and More

by     Posted 37 days ago

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Tommy Lee Jones’ latest directorial effort, The Homesman, is a moving portrait of the harsh unpredictability of pioneer life in the mid-19th century American West told from the viewpoint of a resilient, resourceful woman.  The harrowing tale is based on Glendon Swarthout’s award-winning novel about Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank), an intrepid frontierswoman who convinces a low-life drifter (Jones) to accompany her on an arduous journey transporting three ill women across the Nebraska Territories to Iowa.  Opening November 14th, the film features an impressive supporting cast that includes John Lithgow, Hailee Steinfeld, James Spader and Meryl Streep.

At the film’s recent press day, Jones and Swank spoke about playing characters with so many layers of emotions, how they captured the authenticity of an era, why the film is not just a period piece but also parallels everyday life for a lot of people, the qualities of strength, vulnerability and relatability that Mary Bee possessed which appealed to Swank, working with Jones as both an actor and a director and the shorthand they developed on set, how Jones’ experience as an actor informs his work as a writer and director, Swanks’ singing scenes, and shooting on location in New Mexico and Georgia.  Check out our interview after the jump.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Talks BEYOND THE LIGHTS, Securing Financing, Research and Preparation, THE WHOLE TRUTH, JUPITER ASCENDING, and More

by     Posted 38 days ago

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Following her breakthrough role in Belle, British rising star Gugu Mbatha-Raw delivers another stirring performance set in the world of music in writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s contemporary romantic drama Beyond the Lights.  Mbatha-Raw plays Noni, a young award-winning artist struggling with the demands of sudden stardom until she meets Kaz (Nate Parker), a principled young man assigned to her security detail who genuinely sees her as a person not a persona.  Their love inspires her to find the courage to become the artist she was always meant to be.  Opening November 14th, the film also stars Minnie Driver and Danny Glover.

In an exclusive interview, Mbatha-Raw talked about how her character evolved once she was offered the role, the 8-minute presentation that helped secure the film’s financing, the two-year process of research and preparation, why she was intrigued by the film’s exploration of the emotional and psychological implications of fame, how she found the human being behind the fantasy interesting to play, the intensity and sophistication Driver brought to her performance, the real-life personal qualities that informed Parker’s character, and her upcoming projects The Whole Truth with Keanu Reeves and Renee Zellweger, the Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending, and the untitled NFL concussion drama with Will Smith.  Check out our interview after the jump:

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