Ruben Östlund and Johannes Kuhnke Talk FORCE MAJEURE, Filming the Avalanche Scene, Doing 30 to 50 Takes and More

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Force Majeure, Ruben Östlund’s wickedly funny and precisely observed psychodrama about a model Swedish family on a skiing holiday at a five-star resort in the French Alps, is Sweden’s official Oscar entry for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film.  When family patriarch Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) makes a split second decision in the face of an unexpected crisis, his relationship with his wife (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and children (Clara & Vincent Wettergren) begins to unravel.  Opening in New York today and in Los Angeles on October 31st, the film also features Kristofer Hivju and Fanni Metelius.

At our roundtable interview, Östlund and Kuhnke talked about the influence of Stanley Kubrick and Luis Buñuel on the film’s visual style, filming the avalanche scene, Östlund’s directing style, shooting 30 to 50 takes of each scene to allow the actors to develop the feelings and emotions of the characters, wanting to tell a story that highlights expectations about gender, the sociological studies that inspired the film, the appeal of playing Tomas, the power of moving images to change human behavior, Östlund’s criticism of the Hollywood film industry and the way filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino are reproducing a certain kind of character, and his upcoming feature The Square.  Check out our interview after the jump.

Kaitlyn Dever Talks LAGGIES, Working with Lynn Shelton, the Lesson She Learned from Keira Knightley, THE GREENS ARE GONE, and More

by     Posted 2 days ago

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Kaitlyn Dever is one of film and television’s fastest rising and most versatile young actresses and 2014 has been another busy year for her.  She stars in Lynn Shelton’s new comedy, Laggies, opening October 24th, in a supporting role with Keira Knightley and Chloë Grace Moretz playing a hard partying teenager with a sarcastic sense of humor who says whatever’s on her mind.  She also stars in Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children opposite Jennifer Garner which hit theaters last weekend.  Finally, she’s currently starring in the popular ABC sitcom, Last Man Standing, which followed her recurring role in the acclaimed FX drama Justified.

I recently landed an exclusive interview with Dever who talked about her reaction when she first read the script for Laggies, the appeal of the role, finding the right mindset to play Misty, the important lesson she learned from Knightley, what she enjoyed most about working with Shelton, her friends and family screening, playing a daughter in Men, Women & Children who’s trapped in the world of her mom’s strict rules, her thoughts on social media and college, her challenging role in The Greens Are Gone, her aspirations to write and possibly direct, her music, and the band she plans to start with her sister.  Hit the jump to read the rest of the interview.

John Hawkes Talks LOW DOWN, Working With Elle Fanning, Not Glorifying Heroin, and His Next Film THE DRIFTLESS AREA

by     Posted 2 days ago

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John Hawkes delivers a superb performance in Low Down as noted jazz pianist Joe Albany who played with musical greats Charlie Parker and Miles Davis but was torn between his musical ambition, his devotion to his teenage daughter (Elle Fanning), and a debilitating heroin addiction.  The bio-pic opening October 24th is directed by experimental filmmaker Jeff Preiss in his feature debut and based on the memoirs of Albany’s daughter Amy-Jo Albany who co-wrote the screenplay with Topper Lilien.  Set in the colorful, seedy world of struggling musicians and artists in 1970’s Hollywood, the film boasts a first-rate cast that also includes Glenn Close, Lena Heady, and Peter Dinklage.

In an exclusive interview, the Oscar nominated actor spoke about how he first heard about the project after meeting with producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, the appeal of the character, his preparation, not wanting to glorify heroin, working with Fanning and Close, his collaboration with Preiss, what he looks for in the roles he chooses, his experiences growing up in a small rural town, when he first knew he wanted to be an actor, his wild ride with a guy who had just robbed a convenience store, and his upcoming projects including the Off Broadway play Lost Lake and film roles in The Driftless Area, Too Late, and Everest.  Check out our interview with John Hawkes after the jump. 

Lynn Shelton Talks LAGGIES, How She Became Involved With the Film, Working With Keira Knightley and Chloë Grace Moritz, and Her Next Film I’M DOWN

by     Posted 3 days ago

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Remaining true to her indie roots while taking a step closer to the mainstream, Lynn Shelton brings her unique directorial voice to Laggies, one of her best films to date about a 28-year-old slacker (Keira Knightley) in the throes of a quarter-life crisis.  This is the first time Shelton has directed from a script written by someone else, but Andrea Seigel’s well written screenplay is a nice fit with the rest of Shelton’s body of work.  Laggies is also the largest scale film production of Shelton’s career and was shot in and around her hometown of Seattle.  Opening October 24th, the romantic comedy also stars Sam Rockwell and Chloë Grace Moretz.

In an exclusive interview, Shelton talked about how the project first emerged, what appealed to her about the story and characters, her fantastic collaboration with Seigel, letting others worry about the film’s financing while she focused on directing, creating an emotionally safe environment for her cast to take risks, what the actors brought to their roles, how her experience in television has made her a better director, directing the pilot for the Fresh Off the Boat TV series, her comedy feature in development entitled I’m Down, and aspirations to eventually develop her own show. Hit the jump to check out our interview with Lynn Shelton.

Composer Steven Price Talks Using WWII Weaponry for His FURY Score, Working with David Ayer, His Career and Process, Leaving ANT-MAN, and More

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Following his Oscar-winning score last year for Gravity, acclaimed British film and television composer Steven Price scores Fury, director David Ayer’s gritty WWII epic starring Brad Pitt as a battle-hardened sergeant who commands a Sherman tank and its five-man crew on a perilous mission behind enemy lines.  Ayer’s dedication to the accuracy of the film’s portrayal of war as the Allies make their final push into the European Theater inspired Price to give the film’s score a raw, guttural feel using mechanized rhythms within emotional moments to convey the intense action and character themes.

In an exclusive interview, Price talked about his collaboration with Ayer, his used of cellos and choirs to portray the war-torn solders and actual WW II weaponry to create percussion sounds that echo the bombast of tank warfare, how he layered the sounds of a huge orchestra with those of intimate instrumental groups to convey the weight and exhaustion of the characters, his roots as an artist, his experience on The Lord of the Rings and Batman Begins, what he learned from composers Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore and James Newton Howard, and why he decided not to do Marvel’s Ant-Man once Edgar Wright left the project.  Check out the interview after the jump.

Director Clare Lewins Talks I AM ALI, Working With Muhammad Ali’s Family, Ali’s Life Outside the Ring, and More

by     Posted 13 days ago

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In her new documentary, I Am Ali, director Clare Lewins gets to the heart of what makes boxing legend Muhammad Ali so special and reveals a very personal side of the man, not just as a fighter, but as a father, husband, brother, friend, and someone who stood up for what he believed in.  Ali lends his charismatic voice to his own story through audio recordings he made of his family and friends which have never been heard outside the family.  Along with present day interviews, archival footage, and previously unseen family photographs, they provide the narrative spine of this very unique film now playing in limited release.

In an exclusive interview, Lewins talked about how she first gained access to Muhammad Ali’s family, friends, and the inner circle of the boxing world with the help of his former business manager Gene Kilroy, the special bond she developed with Ali’s daughters Hana and May May, her surprise at discovering the audio tapes Ali had made of conversations with his family in the 70’s and 80’s, the deliberate decision to begin the film with Ali’s last fight, how the movie affirms Ali’s love for his family and his positive outlook on life, the financing for the project, Barbara Broccoli’s involvement, and what’s next.  Hit the jump to read the interview.

Writer Peter Landesman Talks KILL THE MESSENGER, Researching the Story, Gary Webb’s Outsider Status, the NFL Concussion Drama, and More

by     Posted 17 days ago

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Kill the Messenger screenwriter and former journalist Peter Landesman has learned from experience that some stories are just too true to tell.  When investigative reporter Gary Webb exposed a conspiracy that reached to the highest levels of our government, he became the target of a savage smear campaign to discredit him.  Landesman realized this was one of the great stories that had never been told.  By combining elements of Nick Schou’s book about Webb, Kill the Messenger, and Webb’s book Dark Alliance with his own research, he penned a cautionary tale that remains faithful to who Webb was and honors the spirit of his story.  Opening October 10th, the film stars Jeremy Renner.

At our roundtable interview, Landesman revealed what first drew him to the project, how Webb’s experience mirrored his own, his research for the movie, why Webb liked being an outsider and didn’t cultivate inside sourcing, why he felt compelled to re-report Webb’s story, Occam’s Razor and the release of the CIA’s 400-page report, Webb’s troubled relationship with his editor, the Webb family’s involvement in the film, the circumstances surrounding Webb’s suicide, how journalism has become so corporatized that the craft and the mission have been forgotten, and Landesman’s upcoming Untitled NFL Concussion Drama produced by Ridley ScottCheck out the interview after the jump:

Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, and Writer/Director Damien Chazelle Talk WHIPLASH, Shooting the Drum Solo, Creative Freedom, and More

by     Posted 17 days ago

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Writer/director Damien Chazelle turns the music movie genre on its head with Whiplash, an intense, exhilarating psychological drama that’s built around riveting, award-worthy performances by Miles Teller as an ambitious  young drummer and J.K. Simmons as his ruthless teacher.  For his impressive second feature, Chazelle pushes the boundaries in ways we’ve never seen, where precision musicianship is front and center, instruments resemble weapons, and the action unfolds on the unexpected battlefield of a school rehearsal room or on a concert stage.  Opening October 10th, the kinetic, inspiring and brutally funny drama also stars Paul Reiser and Melissa Benoist.

At the film’s recent press day, Chazelle, Teller, Simmons and Benoist talked about how the movie operated differently on screen than it did on the page, bringing to life the showy roles of Andrew and Terence, how streaks of tyranny have historically led to great musicianship, how Teller’s and Chazelle’s experience as musicians channeled its way into the film, the decision to shoot L.A. for N.Y., shooting the big drum solo, the questions Chazelle hopes the cathartic finale raises, how he allowed the actors the creative freedom to explore their roles, and why this was such a cool movie to be a part of.  Check out the interview after the jump:

Rosemarie DeWitt Talks KILL THE MESSENGER, Research for the Role, Playing a Real Person, MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN, POLTERGEIST, and More

by     Posted 18 days ago

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Rosemarie DeWitt stands by her man in Kill the Messenger, the dramatic thriller directed by Michael Cuesta from a screenplay by Peter Landesman based on the true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner).  DeWitt plays Webb’s steadfast wife, Sue, who remains by his side as he becomes the target of an increasingly vicious smear campaign to discredit him after he uncovers a link between U.S. intelligence and Central American cocaine smuggling.  Opening October 10th, the film features an impressive ensemble cast that includes Michael K. Williams, Ray Liotta, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Platt and Michael Sheen.

At our recent roundtable interview, DeWitt spoke about her research for the role, how playing a real-life person influenced her approach to the character, meeting the real Sue Webb and learning how she kept the family together as her husband spiraled down, what appealed to her about working with Renner, what she learned about journalists and their passion for getting to the truth of their story, her new film Men, Women & Children directed by Jason Reitman, and her upcoming projects:  Joe Swanberg’s Digging for Fire, Sam Raimi’s remake of Poltergeist with Sam Rockwell, and a small part in the TV mini-series Olive Kitteridge.  Check out the interview after the jump:

Jeremy Renner Talks KILL THE MESSENGER, Finding the Truth in Every Moment, BOURNE, CAPTAIN AMERICA 3, KING OF HEISTS, and More

by     Posted 19 days ago

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Jeremy Renner risks everything to get to the truth and break the story that nobody wanted told in the political thriller, Kill the Messenger, directed by Michael Cuesta from a screenplay by Peter Landesman.  Renner produces and stars as investigative journalist Gary Webb who landed a career-making story when he uncovered a CIA scheme to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. and use the profits to arm the White House-backed Contras in Nicaragua.  Opening October 10th, the film features an impressive ensemble cast that includes Rosemarie DeWitt, Michael K. Williams, Ray Liotta, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Platt and Michael Sheen.

At the film’s recent press day, Renner revealed what drew him to the project, how screenwriter Peter Landesman and the Webb family helped inform his version of the character, why his portrayal of Webb and his legacy was important to him, how finding the truth in every moment is one quality he shares with Webb, the challenges of telling the story, what he learned about investigative journalism, how being told “no” and knowing when to say “no” has fueled his career, and his exciting upcoming projects including King of Heists, McQueen, Slingshot, a Bourne sequel, and rumblings of Hawkeye joining Captain America 3.  Check out the interview after the jump:

Reese Witherspoon, Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Corey Stoll, Kuoth Wiel, Sarah Paker, Writer Margaret Nagle, and Producers Talk THE GOOD LIE

by     Posted 25 days ago

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The Good Lie is an inspiring film about love, survival and triumph over adversity and a powerful reminder of what’s really important in life.  Philippe Falardeau directs the moving story of “The Lost Boys” who were uprooted by the brutal Sudanese Civil War that lasted from 1983 to 2005.  Young orphans of war, both boys and girls, trekked thousands of miles on foot through hostile, treacherous terrain to escape the violence and find safety.  Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3600 of them from Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp to America.  The entertaining drama stars Reese Witherspoon, Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, Corey Stoll, Kuoth Wiel, and Sarah Baker.

At a recent press conference in Nashville, Witherspoon, Oceng, Duany, Wiel, Stoll, Baker, screenwriter Margaret Nagle, producers Molly Smith, Thad Luckinbill and Trent Luckinbill, and UNICEF’s Kent Page talked about the importance of telling the story with integrity, Nagle’s exhaustive research, the lengthy development process, the struggle for financing, finding the right cast for the film’s central roles, how the part of Carrie was written with Witherspoon in mind, why they chose not to play up the white girl coming to the rescue angle, how the African actors found making the film a difficult but rewarding experience, and their hope that it will raise awareness and create change.  The film opens limited October 3rd and goes wide October 24th.  Check out the interview after the jump:

Laika’s CEO and Lead Animator Travis Knight Talks THE BOXTROLLS, Making Enduring Pictures, the Funny End Credits, and More

by     Posted 30 days ago

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Travis Knight, The Boxtrolls producer and lead animator who worked on LAIKA’s first two groundbreaking movies, ParaNorman and Coraline, loves the 100-year-old art form and is always looking for bold and innovative ways to take it to places it’s never been before.  While ParaNorman and Coraline were contemporary American stories told with shadings of supernatural elements, The Boxtrolls is a period piece mashup of detective story, absurdist comedy, and steampunk adventure with a dark Dickensian twist.  Opening September 26th, the beautiful stop-motion 3D animated film features an extraordinary cast that includes Sir Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, and Elle Fanning.

At our roundtable interview, Knight discussed how animating in stop-motion is less about patience than the ability to focus your imagination intensely for long periods of time, why it’s crucial to find the right voiceover actors who can bring believability to the characters and emotional authenticity to the performance, why he wants to make thought provoking, emotionally resonant, and enduring films rather than pop-culture confections, his childhood inspirations for dynamic storytelling, how the film’s 3D elements were designed from the beginning to bring the best aspects of technology into this hand-crafted world, the funny bit in the end credits, and his next awesome project.  Check out the interview after the jump and please note there are some spoilers.

Isaac Hempstead Wright Talks THE BOXTROLLS, Finding the Voice, Live Action vs. Animation, GAME OF THRONES, and More

by     Posted 31 days ago

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Isaac Hempstead Wright, best known for playing Bran Stark on HBO’s Game of Thrones, lends his impressive vocal talents to The Boxtrolls, LAIKA’s stunning 3D stop-motion animated adventure directed by Anthony Stacchi.  Wright voices the character Eggs, an orphaned human boy affectionately raised by a community of quirky, mischievous, fantastical creatures who live beneath the cobblestoned streets of Cheesebridge.  When the villainous Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) threatens to exterminate all the Boxtrolls, Eggs teams up with his spirited friend Winnie (Elle Fanning) to save his adopted family.  Opening September 26th, the film also stars Tracy Morgan, Simon Pegg and Toni Collette.

At a recent roundtable interview, Wright revealed what appealed to him about the project and his character, the challenge of shooting Game of Thrones while doing The Boxtrolls, how he found the voice for Eggs, his reaction to seeing his character on screen, what it was like working with a stellar cast, the difference between performing live action versus animation, his love of classical music and the piano, his attempt at powering his way through Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, his adventure holiday in Jordan’s Wadi Rum Desert, and rumors he’ll play Octavius in a film adaptation of the Shakespearian thriller, Caesar.  Check out the interview after the jump:

Elle Fanning Talks THE BOXTROLLS, Her Inspirations for the Voice, the Appeal of Fantasy, Future Projects, and More

by     Posted 32 days ago

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Elle Fanning is superb voicing the feisty, upper-crust 11-year-old Winnifred Portley-Rind in LAIKA’s beautiful 3D stop-motion animated fantasy-adventure, The Boxtrolls, opening September 26th.  When scheming social climber Archibald Snatcher (Sir Ben Kingsley) attempts to exterminate the kind creatures that raised the orphan boy Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright), Winnie helps her new friend devise a daring plan to save his adopted family.  Not only was Fanning drawn to playing the sassy character with a big heart and a dark imagination, but she liked what the unique story had to say about love and courage.

At a recent roundtable interview, Fanning talked about finding the right frame of mind to play her character, her inspirations for Winnie’s voice, how her voice-over experience compared to regular acting, what it was like using a posh English accent, how she created the right environment in the recording booth, the appeal of fantasy and how it provides a fun escape, her interest in ballet, her plans to attend college after high school, what she’s learned from traveling around the world, her desire to one day write and direct, and her upcoming projects: Young Ones, Low Down, Trumbo and A Storm in the Stars.  Check out what she had to say after the jump:

Sir Ben Kingsley Talks THE BOXTROLLS, What Convinced Him to Voice an Animated Villain, His Opinion of the Shakespearean Snatcher, and More

by     Posted 34 days ago

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Sir Ben Kingsley lends his extraordinary voice to the diabolical Archibald Snatcher in LAIKA’s breathtakingly beautiful 3D stop-motion animated adventure, The Boxtrolls, loosely based on Alan Snow’s best-selling children’s book Here Be Monsters!  The mischievous, trash-collecting creatures known as Boxtrolls live beneath the cobblestoned streets of Cheesebridge where they struggle to elude the evil Snatcher who claims they have stolen an orphan (Isaac Hempstead Wright).  Snatcher is determined to exterminate them in exchange for admittance into the town’s elite White Hats.  Opening September 26th, the film also stars Elle Fanning, Nick Frost and Tracy Morgan.

At our roundtable interview, Kingsley revealed what convinced him to bring to life an animated villain, why he found Snatcher a great character to play, how the script rang true as a refreshing family film, his unique approach to voicing his character, how he found the recording experience very freeing, why he appreciated a narrative that revealed the darker side of life, his satisfaction at seeing what the animators did with his character, the parallels between Snatcher and tragic Shakespearean characters like Richard III and Iago, and his enthusiasm for his upcoming films Learning to Drive and Robot Overlords.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

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