Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Before I Go to Sleep ... I just have a question?


Is this the official poster for Before I Go To Sleep? Beats me! I just found this poster for the upcoming adaptation of SJ Watson's Before I Go To Sleep over at TeaserTrailer.  I don't know whether it's the real deal or a crafty piece of fan art; the site doesn't say where they found it, and there's still no poster, official or otherwise on the imdb.com site.  Either way its' striking deep blue metallic palate, the blank-faced Nicole Kidman fronting the almost double images of Colin Firth and Mark Strong makes for an intriguing promo piece for the thriller. 

The film, written and directed by Rowan Joffe (The American, 28 Weeks Later) is currently in postproduction, presumably in the able hands of editor, Melanie Oliver (Les Miz, Anna Karenina, John Adams). Before I Go To Sleep comes out in 2014. Unless they bring it in early and move it up into the end of the 2013 award eligibility season. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars: Six things author John Green learned on the first day of shooting the TFIOS film

Day One of  The Fault in Our Stars shooting has wrapped and author John Green, on set for the first week of filming is having an amazing time.  He's tweeting pictures of his own 'director's chair' emblazoned with his name and sharing that he had a good cry with "Shai" and Laura Dern. 
Just had a good cry with Shai and the wonderful Laura Dern. One of these days I'll make it to noon before weeping, but not today.
Here's what author John Green told TFIOS net; a great source if you want to check in with the drama on a daily basis as they'll be following the film every step of the way. 
"So The Fault in Our Stars movie started shooting today, which is amazing—so amazing, in fact, that I used the word amazing somewhere in the neighborhood of 41,000 times. Like:
1. It is amazing how many people are working on the movie, and how professional and organized they all are. There are like 100 people or something! It’s all amazingly efficient, and yet…
2. It’s amazing how much work goes into every single shot. These people work 12+ hours per day, and shoot at most a few scenes per day.
3. It’s amazing to watch good actors work, particularly young actors like Shailene and Ansel. How do they bring such nuance and depth to a performance? How can they understand these characters so deeply? It seems a little like wizardry to me.
4. The commitment to detail is amazing. I can’t wait until the movie comes out and I can be like, “LOOK AT [spoiler redacted]” and “DID YOU NOTICE THAT [spoiler redacted] IN HAZEL’S ROOM?”
5. It’s amazing how beautiful it all looks. Without getting into spoilers, the visual look of the movie—from the actors to the sets to the light—is very similar to a lot of what I imagined while writing, which is this very weird experience of feeling like your imagination has actually become visible. This is a very weird experience; maybe analogous to hallucination?
6. It’s amazing to think that the right people have come together at the right time with a very real shared passion for this story. I don’t know whether I have luck or providence to thank, but I am very grateful.  "
To read more about The Fault in Our Stars go to The TFiOS FiLE where I'm keeping all my own TFiOS posts.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Divergent: First Official trailer features Shailene Woodley, Kate Winslet, Theo James and Maggie Q.

The trailer for Divergent debuted at the VMA's yesterday. The screen adaptation of Veronica Roth's YA novel stars Shailene Woodley as Beatrice (Tris) Caleb, a young woman who discovers she’s a “divergent” who doesn’t fit into any one group in her futuristic society. Which you know is pretty much a bummer when the trailer begins with Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews pronouncing "The future belongs to those who know where they belong."  And continues with Nikita's Maggie Q. warning Tris "You're different; they can't control you. You can't let them find out about you."

And if they already know she's a divergent? Not good! 


But that's okay, handsome Four has her back. 

Divergent, the first of a trio of dystopian novels from Veronica Roth slated for adaptation, is poised to be the big new YA film franchise ala Twilight and Hunger Games. Kate Winslet, Maggie Q, Tony Goldwyn, Ashley Judd, Zoe Kravitz, Jai Courtney, and Theo James also star in the Neil Burger-directed sci-fi actioner. Miles Teller who plays Peter in the film (I didn't spot him in this trailer) can be seen opposite Woodley in the current indie hit The Spectacular Now (read my take on the movie) and Ansel Elgort who plays Tris' brother, Caleb Prior is Woodley's love interest in The Fault in Our Stars, which literally started shooting this morning in Pittsburgh. Divergent opens March 21, 2014. 

Here’s the trailer that debuted during the MTV VMAs. Take a look and let me know if you think they've upped Tris' age in the film. That sure doesn't look like a 16 year old age appropriate kiss with hunky Theo James - the man is almost thirty after all! 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Charlize Theron will relate to Corey Stoll in Dark Places

There's no denying this is Gillian Flynn's year; the upcoming David Fincher Gone Girl adaptation questions continue -  Why cast Ben Affleck as Nick? Isn't he too old? and Hmmm. Rosamund Pike? I can't wait to see her in Hector and the Search for Happiness but isn't she too young? See what I mean on the imdb.com Gone Girmessage board. Oh, we bookish fans love putting our two cents in!
But while all that grumpagrump is happening, Dark Places, another of Flynn's thrillers headed to the screen, - is fast forwarding with Charlize Theron co-producing and starring as the novel's protagonist, Libby Day. 





Charlize is a perfect match for Libby, a woman who says of herself "I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ." The roots of her 'meanness' stem from the horrific murder of her mother and two sisters when she was seven; an act she testified that her fifteen year old brother committed. The brother at fifteen is played by Tye Sheridan (Mud) but it's the older Ben Day, still sitting in prison twenty five years later and still maintaining his innocence that thrills me; Corey Stoll. 

Stoll (above) was Hemingway in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, and was MASTERFUL as the congressman with a substance abuse issue in House of Cards, and he's got This Is Where I Leave You and Guillermo Del Toro's The Strain coming soonHis face - huge, strong, soulful, not an ounce of pretty boy but powerfully magnetic - is simply inherently watchable. I am beside myself at the idea of Stoll in this part. 

Also on board, Christina Hendricks as a stripper who once accused Ben of an awful, awful act - before and completely separate from the murder charge.  Clearly Hendricks has the body and she's got a cat that ate the canary look that lets you know she knows it'll take a moment to get past the Rubenesque surprise of her; that when you do you'll see the talent. It's all there, her character's inner lives playing just beneath the surface of her face.
Her stripper is just one of the characters Libby encounters; spurred on by a bizarre group obsessed with solving old crimes called The Kill Club, the almost broke Libby goes on a countrywide search for the truth - in exchange for a fee from the club! 

In place since this past April, the much in demand Chloe Moretz, plays the younger version of Diondra, - with Andrea Roth portraying the older Diondra, a character who is less than kind to Ben. it's always disconcerting to remember Moretz is only 15ish; yes she was sweet in HUGO but never forget she's that KickAss girl and Carrie in Carrie;  Moretz will also be Mia in the screen adaptation of Gayle Foreman's If I Stay.
Giles Paquet-Brenner has written the screenplay and will direct; set to land in theaters next fall, the film should get going this autumn. To see the rest of the film's lineup, check into their imdb listing here.
UPDATED: Release date set for September 1, 2014.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Fault In Our Stars shooting script: "Off to a great start"


SCOTT Neustadter, half of the writing team behind The Fault In Our Stars screen adaptation tweeted the pic of the TFIOS script out to the cast & director with the message "off to a great start" today.  He was making a reference to his name incorrectly watermarked on the latest draft as STEVEN.  OUCH! Can't a writer get a little respect? LOL! Some poor production coordinator or staff assistant is going to get a talking to. But seriously, the Scott not Steven Neustadter/Michael H. Weber team deserves the love; the screenwriters behind 500 Days of Summer are the same duo behind the luminous The Spectacular Now (currently in theaters - here's my take on the movie ) as well as having Coraline - a story about the woman Romeo spurned with Lily Collins rumored to be attached - in the works.
More news for the TFIOS file; author John Green is going to do some sort of cameo in the film. I just love that!
So here's the casting that's been announced; it's most of the major players ... still waiting for Peter Van Houten.  

Shailene Woodley/Hazel Grace
Ansel Elgort/Gus
Nat Woolf/Isaac
Laura Dern
Sam Trammel/ Mr. Lancaster
Author John Green/His mysterious cameo has been cancelled :(

That's the roster as of this moment; I think the casting is shaping up nicely but for me it all hinges on Ansel Elgort as Gus. Having seen her in The Descendants and The Spectacular Now I have no doubt Shailene Woodley will shine as Hazel but I'm not at all familiar with Elgort as an actor. He's a little prettier than I pictured; not my particular brand of 'hot' but if he and Woodley click that's all that counts. It's all about Gus and Hazel.  I'm looking forward to seeing what lies beneath the cover of The Fault In Our Stars shooting script; are you?

Read More in The TFIOS FILE

By the way, notice they're on the first set of changes (blue) now ... I wonder how many colors they'll go through? After the white draft the order goes blue-pink-yellow-green-goldenrod-buff-salmon-cherry and then they start over again, the second set is labeled of course, ie "second blue revision"  Here are the guys under pressure to keep it real.

Director Josh Boone
Scott Neustadter/Screenwriter
Michael H. Weber/Screenwriter

Monday, August 19, 2013

If I Stay Casting News: the film adaptation will star Chloe Grace Moretz and Mirielle Enos

Mirielle Enos (The Killing, World War Z) has signed on to play Kat, rocker mom to 17 year old cello-playing, Julliard hopeful, Mia Hall played by 'creepy chic ingenue' Chloe Grace Moretz in the screen adaptation of Gail Foreman's YA standout If I Stay. Physically, the casting is perfection - Enos looks a lot like (a younger) Julianne Moore here; Moore plays Moretz' mama in Carrie, coming this fall. 

The big question in the book: if a horrible car accident takes your family, leaving you in a coma, would you live on without them or give into death? Mia, comatose in her hospital bed has an out of body experience; seeing and hearing her remaining family and friends who come to visit her bedside helps her decide. It does sound a little ghastly - what would prompt you to say "Should I stay or should I go now?"                                                                                                                                                                 Cinemablend, who get the credit for calling Moretz a ' creepy chic ingenue' makes the point that Chloe Grace Moretz is no stranger to If I Stay's dark subject matter:


The actress, who has played a child assassin (Kick-Ass), a lonely vampire (Let Me In), a brooding werewolf (Dark Shadows), and a bullied telekinetic driven to mass murder (the upcoming Carrie remake), has had plenty of experience playing deeply dark parts, so Mia shouldn't prove to tricky for her to tackle. 

The film is set to start shooting in October - when Carrie is released btw.  On the Casting To-Do list:
the roles of Mia's rock n' roll boyfriend Adam Wilde, her sharp and sarky best friend Kim Schein, her little brother Teddy—who may or may not have died in the accident—and her rocker dad Denny Hall. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Company You Keep: My take on the movie based on the book



The Company You Keep was just released on BluRay and DVD, includes four behind the scenes featurettes, red carpet footage and a press conference.

The Movie in a Nutshell
A former Weather Underground activist goes on the run from a journalist who has discovered his identity.

Adapted by Lem Dobbs
Directed by Robert Redford

Starring Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Sam Elliot, Brit Marling, Ana Kendricks, Terrence Howard, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Richard Jenkins and Jackie Evancho as Redford's daughter.


In 'my take on the book' post I called Neil Gordon's epistolary novel The Company You Keep, 'a superb political thriller with a wonderful soft underbelly of love, loyalty and the deepest ties of all, family.'

Robert Redford's film, which features Redford in the role of the former Underground member and Shia LaBeouf as the reporter closing in on him,  got no love at all on its release here in the states; I thought it was quite good if not equally superb.


Redford's Mug Shot as Nick Sloane
One of the novel's greatest appeals was the nostalgic trip down memory lane; while Redford and screenwriter Lem Dobbs (Haywire) don't have time to take us into the depths of historical context that the book provides; for audiences of a certain generation (mine), shorthand strokes like the FBI wanted poster of Redford in his 1970's mustachioed glory was all it took to be transported back to the good old, bad old days. I know I'm a marshmallow but the concept of all these former hippie types/now old farts with baggy jeans and cricks in their steps having had these long forgotten LIVES and BIG DREAMS and WANTING TO CHANGE THE WORLD in their youths planted a weird lump in my throat. But that's probably because I'm a liberal boomer, and while I think the violence of the far left was murderous and despicable and wouldn't ever choose or condone those actions myself, I understand that they felt our government's actions were equally murderous and despicable. The book is much more complete a picture but I think Redford as director tried to craft a somewhat balanced look back at left wing politics, using Shia LaBeouf's journalist to mock the nostalgic glow the activists like to paint the past with - I'm sure critics will feel he's airbrushed it for his own purposes as well. It all depends on politics. Beyond the politics, the book's emphasis of the connection between father and daughter was so strong, his desire to make her see and understand, so pressing that it really added to the impact; the film focuses more on the chase and mostly leaves philosophy on the side lines. I really enjoyed the film, connecting to certain aspects of it purely for that reason: nostalgia. I'd bet many a fellow boomer has seen it and felt the same. I didn't love it - I wanted to - but alas something was missing.

Mimi Lurie (Julie Christie) and Redford
The casting of Julie Christie as Mimi Lurie, Jim Grant's former lover and the one person who may be able to exonerate Redford's character, was shorthand as well. Christie, who had her heyday in the 60's and 70's (Darling, Dr. Zhivago, '65; Far from the Madding Crowd '67, Petulia '68; The Go Between '70, McCabe and Mrs. Miller '71, Shampoo '75 and Heaven Can Wait '78) brings the weight of the work with her as well as her life long history of political and environmental activism. The blonde beauty has aged well without too much Botox plumping her up; it took no leap of imagination at all to see Christie masquerading as a wealthy yacht club matron while running a huge pot business. The only thing lacking was a genuine connection between Redford and Christie as former lovers; a single bed slept in, the drape of a blanket around shoulders indicated the pair had reunited briefly but the point seems obligatory, lacking any bittersweet poignancy.

Susan Sarandon plays the small but pivotal part of Sharon Solarz; a woman who's been living underground as an ordinary suburban wife and mother for the past 30 years.  Solarz is captured by the FBI just as she's on the brink of turning herself in. Her arrest gets the whole ball started; Grant knows the feds will figure it all out and be on his trail soon. Sarandon is fine as the woman whose teenage kids are finally old enough to deal with it; in fact almost all the performances from the star-studded cast are excellent - if anything their appearances in the film are too brief.


Brit Marling (Becca) Shia LaBeouf (Ben)
LaBeouf gets the appropriately beefy role of the young journalist; he treads a fine line between driven young reporter and the twenty-something guy that just fell hard for a girl and can't get her out of his mind. In the novel Ben the reporter raves ad nauseum about the girl's exquisitely long neck; he's utterly enthralled; the daughter of the FBI agent originally in charge of the case is portrayed by Brit Marling in the film. I found Marling interesting looking, my twenty year old son was less enthralled.



Terrence Howard plays FBI agent in his sleep

The rest of the cast, in their smattering of small parts, are wonderfully overqualified for their roles; each performance rings with authenticity. Except for Redford and Jackie Evancho. I was afraid that Redford, who I have loved for a very long time, would too old for the part but Dobbs wrote in a line about Grant marrying a much younger woman which made the age factor less important.  Still there was something about Redford's performance that struck me as lacking. It was a question of connection. I missed it between Redford and Julie Christie and it wasn't there in Redford's scene with his young daughter Isabel; Jackie Evancho from Americas Got Talent. Instead Redford - as director - has Jackie 'act' adorably sardonic; and his father is- oh God am I really saying this -awkward; leaving the father/daughter interactions feeling forced.

Everyone else is really good though, and as I said, I did enjoy it.

Kudos to Dobbs for taking such a complex book and crafting such a good political thriller from it. The Company You Keep is in theaters now.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Austenland: The Awesome Costumes of Annie Hardinge

Jennifer Coolidge, Keri Russell and Georgia King in Austenland 
Sony Pictures Classics

I've seen a smattering of reviews for Austenland online; the only one I've read is this one by Michael Phillips at the L.A. Times but judging from the early results at Rotten Tomatoes, the critics aren't being kind.  Like 80% of Rotten Tomatoes audience responders, I still want to see the film myself. It's based on Shannon Hale's comic novel of the same name and if you read my quick take, you know I thought the book was delicious! Fun, frothy,a little silly and romantic. With a broad wink at all the Austen fanatics out there.

One of the great pleasures we get from period films is the chance to escape the present day mundanity of life - earnestly believing the past was perfect - and revel in another time and place. Next to the production design, the costume design is key to our transportation. While designer Annie Hardinge hasn't had to flex her muscle in a ton of period drama, she's best known for  Shaun of the Dead, Little Britain and Ali Gi, Hardinge seems to have risen to the occasion here, especially with the tongue in cheek opulence Austenland demands. 

The Style section of Time featured a spiffy Q+A with the designer; I've excerpted a couple of the extra good bits in Allison Berry's piece, and enhanced with images from the web:


Did you try to adhere strictly to this 18th century British style, or was it just a point of departure?
The baby-doll pastels are all froth and fun but check out those umbrellas! 
Image Source: aceshowbiz.com
"It was a point of departure as Jerusha Hess, the director, wanted to create a quirky look for Austenland and give the film a “heightened reality.” As the novel’s storyline is a modern take on the Regency style, we decided to use lots of color and to mix modern fabrics with period costume shapes, but to accentuate the look to create a parallel universe.

Georgia King, Keri Russell and Jennifer Coolidge 
Image Source movpins.com
How did you conceptualize the look of Jennifer Coolidge’s character Lizzie, particularly in contrast to Keri Russell’s Jane?
Jennifer Coolidge must have had a blast with her wardrobe; 
Lizzie's hat beats Jane's by a head.

"I kept Jane’s wardrobe as authentic and drab as possible with neutral colors and kept the patterns, trim and detailing on her clothes very subdued. As a contrast, Lizzie’s clothes reflected her big personality and her love of the color pink! All of her costumes were designed and made especially for Jennifer Coolidge with lots of embroidery, beadwork and opulent fabrics. The shapes of Lizzie’s dresses were authentic but slightly exaggerated, and I heightened her look by making each dress an homage to the color pink and by making each outfit as detailed as possible, especially emphasizing her extravagant hats and accessories.


Drab and dull per the designer; Keri Russell still looks pretty opposite Bret McKenzie in Austenland

Read the rest of the piece here and check out the trailer below. 



Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Fault In Our Stars Father Figure: Sam Trammell

News I've been waiting for; the part of Hazel's dad in The Fault In Our Stars has been cast. Director Josh Boone has selected Sam Trammell, who is both a respected television &  stage actor. The 40 something 5'8" (I pictured Mr. Lancaster taller, lankier) Trammell is best known as Sam Merlotte to fans of True Blood, and as Kit Marlowe's male lover in the eponymous off Broadway stage play. Mr. Lancaster isn't as large a part as that of Hazel's mother (Laura Dern) but it requires chops; Hazel's fathers' response to his daughter's cancer is to burst frequently into tears. Trammell, the New Orleans born, Brown University educated, Tony nominated actor does have an empathetic face. And the long and short of it is that's exactly who sweet old softie Mr. Lancaster is.

For more The Fault In Our Stars film info visit The TFIOS File; my gathering place for TFIOS film news that piques my interest. Okay? Okay.  (Too much? Too much.)


Shailene Woodley: On cutting her hair to play Hazel Grace; donating her locks.

Two items in The Fault In Our Stars movie news today; the first is rather sweet. Shailene Woodley who is cutting her hair in preparation for playing Hazel Grace - shooting starts on the 26th - is donating her very long locks to childrenwithhairloss.us.  Along with John Green, and the film's producer, Wyck Godfrey, she's encouraging fans who have 8 inches of length to spare, to join in. It's heartening to see the response; lots of people planning on donating and tweeting their pictures at #hairforhazel. Woodley took to tumblr to talk about it; it's such a decent gesture from the TFIOS team that I'm pasting her post in its' entirety below; excuse the funky cut and paste job, try as I might I can't fix it. The 'Shailene' has been cut off, obviously. Still, perhaps her post will inspire you to take up your scissors too. The other TFIOS news? I'll post it separately for easy filing in The TFIOS file where I'm gathering all my TFIOS news after appearing here first.



AUG 14, 2013 / 1,776 NOTES
hello brotha’s and sista’s alike! as some of you may know, i will be cutting my hair off this coming weekend in order to help morph my physical body into that of the incredible Hazel Grace Lancaster—-and i couldn’t be more amped. not only do i have the opportunity to externally shift my current establishment of self, but i have the blessed gift of donating my long locks to a wonderful organization who will then create a wig for someone in need. WHAT AN HONOR.
john green (author of T.F.I.O.S.), wyck godfrey (producer of the film), and i all decided that this could be a beautiful opportunity to rally the troops of mankind and ask for some warriors to help contribute to the cause. any of you have 8 inches of hair to spare? or maybe know a friend or family member that does? if so, consider JOINING THE #hairforhazel TEAM! i’ve already got my mom committed, and possibly a few friends as well. i know the thought of chopping off part of your image is frightening, which is why i want to share with you my personal relationship with my hair (woah, that was a lot of “with’s” and “my’s”)
okay!
so!
my hair!
for the past five years i’ve been on an i-want-to-grow-my-hair-as-long-as-possible kick. before cutting it for a project last december, it was almost down to my bum. holy wow it was long. about half way through my hair-growing escapade, i began to deeply look at WHY i was so keen on creating flowing locks down my spine. was it because of my obsession with pocahontas as a child? kind of. was it because of my admiration of native american culture? maybe. was it because of my kneading desire to dodge the chemical smell of salon lairs? oh yes. after much thought and curiosity surrounding the subject, i finally came to the conclusion that hair, for me, was a symbol of strength. it was a symbol of commitment to my power. of connection to my ancestry. of recognizing my natural beauty. that which exists without chemical dyes, or hairspray, or scissors. a symbol of my sovereignty. of my humble desire to feel grounded within my own skin. not the image magazines and reality shows desperately try to throw in our faces, but the image of authentic beauty. funky hairlines included! (anyone else have an eccentric hairline? because mine decided to be super-original and all over the place)…. allowing my genetics to take control and produce long, luscious locks was my way of paying homage to my kindred spirit. i felt powerful, in control, strong. i felt connected to my womanhood, connected to my ancestors… and for the longest time, i was committed to never chopping it off. cut to: now. on saturday, it will be the shortest it’s ever been. and i feel so relieved, so ready, so dedicated. about 6 months ago, my amazing kick-ass younger brother (get ready world, he’s on fire!) played me a song by regina spektor. it’s called “ghost of corporate future” (do check it out…it’s a winner), and in it resides a very special tid-bit of wisdom (which just so happens to be completely relevant to todays topic): “maybe you should just cut your own hair, ‘cause that can be so funny. it doesn’t cost any money and it always grows back, hair grows even after you’re dead”…. upon hearing these words, i was immediately inspired to cut my own hair off with abandon. shed old layers and practice the art of playfulness. out of nowhere, i did a complete 360. i went from sacralizing the length of my hair, to appreciating the spontaneity of chopping it off. and also recognizing the beauty of freedom. i think there is something so exceptionally admirable about one’s commitment to allowing their face to shine without hair blocking it. it’s all about balance i suppose. about knowing what’s right for you on your own personal journey. there was a time when growing my hair out symbolized something for me, but the power of sharing that choice, sharing the ability to have long hair with someone feels far more powerful right now. i know what it feels like to have wind blow through my wavy locks, and i am over-the-top grateful i get to share that gift with another.
so i guess this was my attempt at asking you to take a look at your own situation. if you are in a place of absolutely loving your lengthy dreds, then GO YOU AND KEEP ON GROWIN‘ IT OUT! on the other hand, if you are in the position to cut off 8 inches of your hair, then i strongly urge you to do it. there are so many human beings out there who would LOVE the opportunity to possess long hair, but simply can not because of their current situation…. let’s share!
…and remember what regina said, HAIR GROWS BACK…. :)
you can donate your locks to http://www.childrenwithhairloss.us and use hashtags (is that the correct use of that word?!) #hairforhazel and #itgrowsback to help spread the word!
PS! AS I’VE BEEN WRITING THIS, JOHN GREEN HAS BEEN EMAILING ME WITH UPDATES ON HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE ALREADY DONATED! i am in tears. HOW GRATEFUL I AM FOR OUR ABILITY TO GIVE!
yay!!! :)))

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Spectacular Now; Behind the Scenes

Shailene Woodley and Miles Tenner as Aimee and Sutter in The Spectacular Now

I love going behind the scenes of movies, especially movies I love. If you read my take on The Spectacular Now, you know I'm a fan of current indie hit. Everything about the film, from the leads - Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller - to the look and feel of it, sang with authenticity. I've been curious about director James Ponsoldt's vision; and how he managed to make it come to life on screen. I found a two really informative looks online at the making of The Spectacular Now at Below the Line, The Voice of the Crew and at Filmmaker Magazine.


His Look Book

Nervous about adapting Tim Tharp's prize winning best seller, Ponsoldt's fears were allayed after reading Scott Nuestadter and Michael H. Weber's script. From there Ponsoldt layed out his own vision - including shooting in Athens, Georgia - in a 60 page 'look' book; a collection of images - art, stills from other films, examples of sets, costumes, even color preferences - used to help producers visualize where the director is going. 


"When he sat down with the producers, Ponsoldt came in with an incredibly detailed 60-page “look” book to illustrate the “hyper-personal” movie that he wanted to make. The book illustrated “exactly what the film would look and feel like, and what the film’s vocabulary would be.”
He also shared the book with his key department heads.

The Cinematographer: Jess Hall
Ponsoldt went in not knowing British cinematographer Jess Hall but knowing he wanted to shoot on 35mm film and that Hall had tons of experience with anamorpic film, and "worked really well with natural light."  As you can see ...


Jess Hall's cinematography enfuses the film with a timeless look and feel.

The quality of light, something indefinably hazy about the look, are part of what grounded the film in a almost gritty reality, and at the same gave it the 'timelessness' Ponsoldt talks about to Filmmaker -

"The director loved the “emotionality” and “texture” of the 35mm anamorphic film format, as well as the feeling of “space and scope that creates a timeless quality that doesn’t timestamp the film as right now.” 


The Production Designer: Linda Sena
The pair worked together on Ponsoldt's Smashed so they already had a good collaborative relationship in place. 


The stadium provides a remarkably romantic background; Sutter and Aimee are beautifully framed by the architecturally appealing windows by the tall slender tree trunks; highlighted softly by the glow of the stadium lighting.
 “We really share value systems,” said Ponsoldt. “It goes to honestly representing the characters and being aware of the socio-economics of the environment. All these things will affect what kind of furniture they are going to have, whether they are going to have new siding on their house, what kind of car they have. Linda is really fantastic about that. She is obsessive in the best possible way, very detail orientated and great at helping create a world.” He collaborated closely with her and the cinematographer to create the color palette, the look and the feel of the film.

The Costume Designer: Peggy Stamper 
Atlanta based Peggy Stamper did the non-costumey costumes. I'd really love to know her process; from the modestly cut yellow prom dress you see in the poster to the unflattering grey mens' cut t-shirt that a self-conscious girl like Aimee would throw on;  Stamper supported Ponsoldt's vision.



Ponsoldt told Filmmaker -
“She helped create a world for these characters that was honest, that was unpretentious, that really represented who they were, that didn’t comment on them, that didn’t make them look like little fashion plates,” noted Ponsoldt. “She was so wonderful to work with.”

Makeup:  Denise Tunnell
Judging by the no makeup look Shailene wears throughout most of the film - she gets gussied up with a bit of mascara and gloss for the prom - the makeup department's mission seems to have been let it all hang out. To the point where the actor's own eruptions were right there on screen. Exactly what Ponsoldt wanted.

It was important to Ponsoldt that Sutter and Aimee look like real kids, flaws and all.
He told the site -
"... the makeup on this movie was minimal to the point of non-existent. I mean we definitely had hair and makeup there, and they were great. But the goal really was to be an antidote to the depictions of adolescents in a lot of other films where there’s a fixation on fashion and music that really dates the films and makes the kids look like models. I told [the actors] right off the bat, there’s basically going to be no makeup. I’m casting you for who you are, your imagination, but also, the scars on your faces, your blemishes, your sweat stains — I want those to be part of the movie."

The Editor: Darren Navarro
Ponsoldt and Navarro were friends and cinematic soul mates prior to The Spectacular Now. The director has warm words for the vital partnership -
“Editors are the unsung heroes of film. They are storytellers. The best editors don’t just execute the vision of the director; they challenge the vision of the director. They bring out something that is more rich and expansive. Darrin was absolutely a collaborator helping shape the narrative of the film.”
At which point it seems appropriate to plug in the trailer and see that storytelling skill in action ... enjoy.


Ponsoldt is doing an adaptation of the musical Pippin next - WHAAAT?  Hell, who'm I kidding, I'll be watching.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Is the Gone Girl movie, um ... going yet?

Image Source: Celluloid and Cigarettes
Steadily and surely, yes, the Gone Girl movie is coming along. YAY!? The last we heard officially, Ben Affleck was onboard as Nick with Rosamund Pike still considering the offered role of Amy in David Fincher's adaptation of Gillian Flynn's best seller.  I also told you back on July 26th that both Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris were said to have been offered roles; naturally speculation as to what parts each would take ensued. Gone Girl has now been updated on imdb.com  including both Pike and Neil Patrick Harris along with Affleck but currently the cast list doesn't indicate what part Harris is playing. Now that I've given the book a re-read, I'm sticking with Harris as Desi, Amy's former college beau. While Perry is not on the imdb list - which doesn't mean he's not in the movie - I'd love to see him as the celebrity lawyer, Tanner Bolt. Yes; Flynn has written Bolt in the book as a flashy white guy with a penchant for faux suntans and designer suits. To hell with the color of the character's skin; I'd like to see Perry bring it. He has the heft and the charisma. A reminder that Gone Girl author is co-writing the script with Fincher; whatever tweaks are made are done so with her blessing (or her arm twisted). 



To tell you the truth I'm a little wary about the screen adaptation. It's not Fincher;  I'm a fan; with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I thought Fincher upped the stakes beautifully in his very visceral take; he knows how to build and create tension. The Social Network and The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons are among my favorite films. But I question his casting here, especially of Affleck (again, a fan) as Nick who is supposed to be younger and full of boyish charm before he turns into that awful guy. Maybe Fincher is banking on Affleck oozing his personal cache onscreen; there's something about him - and he may be the nicest guy in the world - that makes you think he could be a slime-bag.  Not that he is, but he's got that cocky grin, and he did diss his wife at the Oscars basically saying their marriage was work, and, well he comes off a bit as an a**hole. Maybe Fincher has something; you don't have to be a younger man to be an immature sob. Alongside Affleck, Pike wiIl be fine although clearly not older like Gillian's Amy in the novel. Mainly I just wonder how you translate the dual (duel? haha) narrative from the ultimately unlikeable pair on screen? The unlikeability of the key characters and unsatisfactory ending of the novel being key factors. I loved reading the book but at the end; bleh. Kinda hated it.  So I don't know.  



 Fincher favorite, DP Jeff Crenoweth,was nomintated for his work on 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Image source: Skimation.blogspot

At the very least the movie will look good: THR  reports that director of photography Jeff Cronenweth is reteaming with David Fincher on Gone Girl. Cronenweth is a fantastic and natural choice; he previously earned Oscar nominations for his work on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network; both Fincher films. For whatever reason Croneweth isn't  on the imdb listing yet; but THR is usually reliable and the choice makes absolute sense so I'll take their word for it. 

Will Donald Burt Graham, the Oscar winning production designer for 
David Fincher's 
The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons be back for Gone Girl?       

Image Source: The Art Departmental

Another production folk of note is Sue Chan for art direction - you saw her work under production designer William Arnold in Crazy Stupid Love; what that means is that the production designer has already been hired; probably months ago. And it's the production designer who hires the art director; probably with Fincher's okay.  I can't imagine Fincher not having - and wanting - approval of everything and everyone, especially key players, he's such a perfectionist. I also can't imagine Fincher not bringing back Donald Graham Burt, his Oscar and BAFTA winning production designer from Benjamin Buttons. Burt (Graham Burt?) also worked on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Social Network with Fincher and Cronenweth; Fincher would be a fool not to keep the threesome in place and Fincher is no fool; I think only Graham Burt's (I've decided) lack of availablilty could keep him from the film and professionally, at least, he's available. I'm going to go out on the cliche limb and make a wild prediction and say he's the man. Time will tell. 


Daniel Craig's journalist looked hip and sexy courtesy of Trish Summerville's
costume designs for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
 
  Image Source: theshoesrtragic.tumblr.com
The other below the line job of note listed is Tom Macdonald listed as Key Set Costumer; another position indicating his department head, the costume designer has already been hired. No idea if TGWTDT's costume designer, Trish Summerville will be back but I hope so.  She should have won an award for bringing out the hip and accentuating the sexy in Daniel Craig's Michael Blomkist. I'd like to see her have her way with Ben Affleck. Stylistically speaking. She should be rested as her last project wrapped awhile ago; The Hunger Games is in post right now, readying for this fall's release.  Gone Girl will come out sometime in 2015; I'll keep you posted along the way. But tell me, what do you think of the casting? Have you come to peace with Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne?
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