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 5 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 10 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 12 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 13 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:

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood Talks BEYOND THE LIGHTS, the Harrowing Experience That Influenced the Film, How She Assembled Her Cast, and More

by     Posted 15 days ago

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For a filmmaker whose every script has its own playlist, it comes as no surprise that writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s new romantic drama, Beyond the Lights, is fueled by music and unfolds within the complicated world of hip hop and R&B.  Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), an award-winning young artist, struggles with the pressures of newfound stardom and her tough-as-nails momager (Minnie Driver) until she meets Kaz (Nate Parker), a promising young cop and aspiring politician who encourages her to find her own voice.  Opening November 14th, the film also stars Danny Glover.

In an exclusive interview, Prince-Bythewood revealed how an Alicia Keys’ concert at the Hollywood Bowl and pivotal moments in her personal life moved her to write about this character and this world, her fight to cast Mbatha-Raw, how industry reaction to the finished script was positive but getting a commitment to underwrite production with a relatively unknown cast was difficult until BET and Relativity recognized the film’s potential and stepped in, what the actors brought to their roles, how well-chosen cameos lent authenticity, the film’s important theme of choosing life, her UCLA experience, and her upcoming projects:  I Know This Much Is True, Before I Fall, and an untitled original comedy.   Hit the jump for the interview.

Mark Strong Talks BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP, the Ambiguity of His Role, Working with Rowan Joffe, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, GRIMSBY and More

by     Posted 24 days ago

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Mark Strong has made a career out of playing some of Hollywood’s most cold and calculating villains, but in Rowan Joffe’s stylish new psychological thriller, Before I Go To Sleep, he keeps audiences guessing to the last second about his true intentions.  Strong plays Dr. Nasch, a neuropsychologist who is trying to help a vulnerable amnesiac, Christine Lucas (Nicole Kidman), recover her memories about her past without her husband Ben’s (Colin Firth) knowledge.  Cast in the unusual role of a sympathetic character, the actor reveals a quite different side of himself than we’re used to seeing on screen.

In an exclusive interview, Strong spoke about how he found the script to be an absolute page turner that was impossible to put down, why the ambiguity of the role appealed to him, his approach to playing a character that treads a fine line between being trustworthy or untrustworthy, his contributions to his character’s look, Joffe’s directing style, how his iconic image as a bad guy worked to the film’s advantage, his respect for Kidman’s phenomenal technique, his friends and family screening, being a part of The Imitation Game, and his upcoming roles in Kingsman:  The Secret Service, Grimsby, and Ad Inexplorata.  Check out our interview after the jump.

Rowan Joffe Talks BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP, the Importance of Nicole Kidman’s Involvement, Adapting Neil Gaiman’s THE GRAVEYARD BOOK and More

by     Posted 26 days ago

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Writer-director Rowan Joffe’s adaptation of S.J. Watson’s best-selling novel, Before I Go to Sleep, is a taut, stylish psychological thriller about an amnesiac, Christine Lucas (Nicole Kidman), who awakens each morning with no recollection of her past.  She struggles to comprehend the emotional impact of her always-new reality, but as fragmented memories begin to resurface, she starts to question everything she thought she knew about her life.  Opening October 31st, the film also stars Colin Firth and Mark Strong.

In an exclusive interview, Joffe spoke about how the novel first came to his attention, why he found it a riveting page turner, the journey from page to screen, the narrative device he adapted to film from the novel, why he feels emotion is the key to keeping a psychological thriller fresh and engaging, how Kidman’s movie star status was instrumental in getting the film greenlit, how Firth and Strong’s roles reveal a different side of them than we’re used to seeing, what he learned from Colin and Nicole about making a good thriller, the 70’s films that inspired him, and his upcoming projects including an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel The Graveyard Book for Disney and developing his own TV show called Tin Star.  Check out our interview after the jump.

Laura Poitras Talks CITIZENFOUR, Her First Impression of Edward Snowden, Her Commitment to Fearless Adversarial Journalism and More

by     Posted 30 days ago

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Documentary filmmaker and journalist Laura Poitras’ new film, Citizenfour, is a riveting real-life thriller that chronicles the encounters she and journalist Glenn Greenwald had with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong as he exposed how the U.S. government in the guise of monitoring global terrorism was spying on its own citizens.  Snowden reached out to Poitras because he knew she had long been a target of government surveillance and had refused to be intimidated.  When he revealed he was a high-level intelligence analyst ready to blow the whistle on the massive covert surveillance of Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA), Poitras persuaded him to let her film.

In an exclusive interview, Poitras spoke about her initial contact with Snowden under his code name of Citizen Four, her impressions when she met him in person, how the film about surveillance fits into her trilogy on post-9/11 America and is a portrait of those who make great sacrifices to expose injustice, how our moral compass as a country has drifted since 9/11, her collaboration with Greenwald, the founding of The Intercept with Greenwald and fellow journalist Jeremy Scahill, their commitment to fearless adversarial journalism, Poitras’ interest in doing more short-form visual journalism, and where this story goes from here.  Check out our interview after the jump.

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

by     Posted 32 days ago

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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 34 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 34 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 35 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

by     Posted 35 days ago

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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 45 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 49 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:

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