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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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Entries in interview (106)

Saturday
Aug222015

Interview: James Ransone on Leading Man Duties in 'Sinister 2' and 'Tangerine'

Jose here. James Ransone had me at Haneke. As we sat down to talk about Sinister 2 I explained my hierarchy of scariest things, clowns come first, followed by children, ghosts, and snakes... He responded “I don’t get scared by that stuff, I get scared by Michael Haneke movies...Amour scares me”. It was one of many responses that caught me completely off guard, because unlike most interviewees at junkets for studio movies, Mr. Ransone seemed completely unscripted, he was just saying what he thought, which made for a truly refreshing conversation.

James Ransone photographed in NYC. Credit: Jose Solis

It’s this very same irreverent quality that makes Ransone so compelling to watch onscreen. Whether he’s in a miniseries like Generation Kill or an indie hit like Tangerine, which he made with frequent collaborator Sean Baker, Ransone’s characters always seem to be coming up with their dialogue on the spot (no offense to the truly great screenwriters he’s worked with). The actor’s presence is so natural that he makes for a hybrid of Brando and John Cazale, who both seemed to effortlessly conjure the essence of their characters.

Mostly seen in supporting parts, this weekend Ransone gets promoted to leading man in Sinister 2, in which he plays Ex-Deputy So & So, the self-deprecating, do gooder who sets off to protect a mother (Shannyn Sossamon) and her two kids who are being terrorized by demonic beings. I talked to the eloquent Ransone about his opening weekend expectations, his own experiences with the "supernatural", and what he thinks is missing in modern American cinema.

JOSE: This room’s setting made me rearrange the order of my questions, because it looks like a shrink’s office and I read that you read Lacan and Zizek…

JAMES RANSONE: Yeah...I mean listen, I’m not gonna pretend that I just sit around and read a lot of philosophy and masturbate to myself intellectually, because that’s really fucking dangerous, but they’re really influential on my thinking. Basically I’m always trying to figure out why society works the way it does, and a lot of these guys helped make sense and shape some of the things that never made sense to me before. Foucault too, big time.

Sinister 2 and Tangerine after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug142015

25th Anniversary: Looking Back at 'Metropolitan' with Chris Eigeman


Jose
here. Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan turns 25 in 2015, and you wouldn’t be able to guess it based on how fresh and original its dialogues and performances feel. Stillman, who once was touted as the heir to Woody Allen - but has proved to be a less nihilistic, brutally sardonic, slightly WASP-ier cousin - delivered a screen debut as powerful as it was unconventional. Perhaps the one thing that gives the film’s age away (other than the very late 80s hairstyles and costumes) is how interested the characters are in connecting to each other, in making a difference and affecting other people’s perceptions. Whether their agendas are strictly narcissistic or actually noble depends on the eye of the beholder.

The film marked Stillman’s debut, and it also introduced audiences to several actors including Chris Eigeman, who as the Mr. Darcy-esque Nick Smith proved to be the ultimate snob. The actor followed his work in the film with appearances in two more Stillman projects, not to mention films with Noah Baumbach and a recurring role in the beloved series Gilmore Girls. I had the chance to talk to Mr. Eigeman about the making of Metropolitan and also discussed his own directorial work, and the raison d'être behind his hilarious tweets.

JOSE: Can you believe it’s been twenty five years since Metropolitan premiered?


CHRIS EIGEMAN: Oddly I’m not surprised, because the film was shown at Sundance for its twentieth anniversary, so I had this anniversary in sight.

Read more after the jump...

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Wednesday
Jul292015

Nina Hoss on Searching for the Soul and Identity in 'Phoenix'

Jose here.

In her six films with director Christian Petzold, Nina Hoss has explored the roles women have played in German history during the twentieth century, in Jerichow she played a postmodern femme fatale trying to convince an Afghanistan veteran to kill for her, in Wolfsburg she played a mother being wooed by the man who ran over her son, in Barbara she was a doctor trying to escape East Germany in the 1980s, and in the post-WWII set Phoenix, which might be their greatest collaboration to date, she plays Nelly, a former cabaret singer who survived a Nazi concentration camp, but was left brutally deformed. As she tries to reclaim her past life through a surgery described as a recreation, rather than a reconstruction, she must come to terms with the fact that she is now living in a world that has very little to do with the one she left behind.

Hoss’ layered performance as Nelly is the kind of work that should be garnering awards buzz, as it helps her establish herself as one of the best living actresses, and places her as Petzold’s greatest collaborator, rather than his muse. In 2014, English speaking audiences got their first taste of Hoss’ brilliance as she managed to steal the show in A Most Wanted Man and Homeland (her character is returning for Season 5) and asPhoenix makes its Stateside debut, it’s about time we all start talking about Hoss more frequently. I had a chance to talk to her to discuss her work in Phoenix and how it relates to classic Hollywood films, as well as her preferred acting method and the career path she might take years from now.

Our interview is after the jump...

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Tuesday
Jun092015

Interview: Mary Harron on "American Psycho" & More

The actress Cara Seymour is guest blogging for the day! Please enjoy. - Editor

The following is an interview with director Mary Harron with whom I've had the great honor of working with twice in American Psycho (2000) and The Notorious Bettie Page (2005). Mary has more guts than anybody I have ever worked with and she's a profound humanitarian.  After I did the threesome scene in American Psycho she sent me a bouquet of flowers because she knew just how scary that was to do.

I sent her a few questions and she sent me back these fabulous answers...

Myself in The Notorious Bettie Page (2006) and Director Mary Harron

CARA SEYMOUR: Is there a film you return to as a source of inspiration?

MARY HARRON: I go back repeatedly to the films I saw when I was a child and teenager. Luckily my parents took us to a ton of art house films and old movies with no regard for whether they were suitable for children or not. I saw 8 1/2 when I was ten, and my sister remembers my mother arguing with a movie theater over the phone because they wouldn't let her take us to see Last Year at Marienbad. I think we were 9 and 11 at the time.

Rosemary's Baby and Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoise are two films I go back to. Night of the Hunter is a special favorite. Kind Hearts and Coronets. Anything by Howard Hawks and Sam Fuller and Fritz Lang. Drugstore Cowboy and Blue Velvet had a big effect on me when they came out because they showed me you could tell a really different kind of story in American film. But what I look at for inspiration really depends on what I'm working on at the time.

CARA: Are there any movies you've rediscovered, that you're loving right now?

MARY: The Bill Douglas Trilogy.(My Childhood, My Ain Folk, My Way Home) I saw My Childhood when I was 18 in a church hall in North London and it burned itself into my brain. It was one of the most intense film going experiences of my life. I saw the whole trilogy again a few months ago at Light Industry and it was just as amazing as I remembered. In these three films Bill Douglas recreated memories from his childhood with poetic clarity and such fierce accuracy that they seem more real than life itself. I guess they are a distillation of life. He used the same actors, filming his trilogy over seven years, taking his young hero from a child to a young man, Yes, this was forty years before Boyhood, and it saddens me that no critics mentioned that Bill Douglas did it first. As did Satyajit Ray in the Apu trilogy - I just saw the first film in the series, Pather Panchali at Film Forum in a gorgeous restoration.

CARA: How do you feel about the lasting impact of American Psycho?


MARY: I'm kind of sick of it by now, but at the same time of course I'm grateful that it has had such an effect on people. When something hits the zeitgeist like that it is like winning the lottery. And it's curious because it took many years for it really to become a success. I don't think it made a single critic's top ten list when it was released and Christian didn't get any nominations in the US for his amazing performance. People didn't know what to make of it, so it had a kind of delayed reaction.

CARA: Would you make another dark satirical comedy?

MARY: I would love to but it's hard to find the right material. Good satire is rare as hens teeth. And I never get sent anything like that. I just get endless generic serial killer scripts, which really isn't what American Psycho was all about.

Salvador Dalí & GalaCARA: What are you doing next?

MARY: A film about the last years of Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala. That has some dark comedy in it. They are both so outrageous.

CARA: If there were no financial restraints what kind of dream project would you make?

MARY: I would have an infinite amount of money for production design, wardrobe and locations. I would shoot chronologically, and go back and reshoot anything I wanted!

 

Friday
Mar272015

Interview: 'White God' Director Kornél Mundruczó on Twisting Genre, Working with Canine Actors and Opera

Jose here. Kornél Mundruczó’s White God opens with one of the most memorable scenes in recent films, as we see a the desolate streets of Budapest in the aftermath of a canine uprising which has forced all the citizens to stay inside their homes. All except one, a little girl (Zsófia Psotta) trying to find her beloved dog, who unbeknownst to her, is actually the leader of this revolution. While the film has been compared to Rise of the Planet of the ApesWhite God in fact has more in common with two 1960s classics: Spartacus and The Birds, which makes sense considering that Mundruczó has made a career out of paying homage to classic Hollywood films, while injecting them with darker political undertones.

The film was a sensation at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and was Hungary’s official submission for the Academy Awards; it could also very well become Mundruczó’s international breakthrough. On the eve of the film’s Stateside premiere I talked to the filmmaker about his career so far, the struggles of working under extreme circumstances and his love for opera.

JOSE: I thought the film was entertaining in a conventional thriller sense, but it was also such a powerful allegory for the rise of right-wing racism in Europe. How were you able to achieve a balance between the two?

KORNÉL MUNDRUCZÓIt was really personal, when I started to work on this movie I was really touched by the situation of the dogs inside Budapest. I went to a dog pound, for different reasons, not as a filmmaker, and I was so touched. Sometimes something just steps on your soul, and that’s what this felt like, I felt such a shame, I was in shock, I was part of a system that was supporting this. I wanted to talk about it and I believe that democracy is talking about things, so I decided I wanted to make a movie about one dog in Budapest. When we were developing the script, it was obvious that this was also a great allegory for what is the illness of our society. But this wasn’t something premeditated, I never thought “I want to shoot a metaphor”, I just wanted to tell this story.

Has there been a difference in how the film is received in countries like Spain and Greece which have seen powerful social uprisings in recent years?

Totally huge difference, I have no clue how it will be received in the US, but I feel that there are Eastern souls and Western souls, in France for example, they identified with the major society, but when people saw the movie in Mexico they felt “we are the dogs”. In Eastern Europe, we also felt we were the dogs. We have also had a lot of success in Turkey, which is very curious, since I had no connections with this country at all, but we’ve had lots of comments from there.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb252015

From the Vaults: Nathaniel's Audience with Julianne

It's your daily reminder that Julianne Moore is now an Oscar winner! I spoke to Julianne very briefly this season at a party for Still Alice. We laughed about her line reading of "Anne Hathaway. How does that work?" in Maps to the Stars (OPENING THIS WEEKEND!which she told me she was horrified she had to say. Sorry Anne! Which only confirmed how nice she always is. Five years ago, though, I met Julianne for a sit down interview on The Kids Are All Right (2010). Here's how it went if you've started reading the blog only in the past few years. 

Originally Published on July 8th, 2010

The occasion was the release of The Kids Are All Right, Julianne's 48th movie and one of her very best. Julianne plays "Jules" the flighty wife of "Nic" played by Annette Bening. They've raised two children together. Nic had Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and soon thereafter Jules had Laser (Josh Hutcherson). It's one of Julianne's best comic performances in a career that's mostly been noted for her dramatic magic with internally shell shocked women. But it wasn't always accolades. Julianne's big screen career started twenty years ago this summer when the horror flick Tales of the Darkside was released. Inauspicious beginnings but no matter.

My history with Julianne doesn't stretch back quite that far. I first took true notice of Julianne in Benny & Joon (1993) when she was playing a former (bad) actress turned waitress. In one of the movies most endearing scenes, Johnny Depp mimics her horror performance that he's memorized as they watch it together. She nearly dies of embarrassment. Five years later, I did more than notice her. I fell madly in love in her next bad actress incarnation as porn star Amber Waves. Though two 'bad actress' roles began the obsession the woman herself is the polar opposite: she's one of the greats.

The first incarnation of The Film Experience was actually a print zine called "FiLM BiTCH" in the 1990s and Julianne Moore was the first iconic (literally) cover girl. I painted her as a religious icon. I met her for the first time in 2002 on the Oscar campaign trail for Far From Heaven but it was a simple 'hello, good luck' type of public event and my girl friend snapped this dorky photo which you can see after the jump with the full interview...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb202015

John Boorman on His Oscar Experience

Jose here. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to sit down with legendary director John Boorman (Deliverance, Point Blank, The Tailor of Panama) in order to talk about his new film Queen and Country a sequel to his Oscar nominated Hope and Glory. Besides being a notoriously versatile director Mr. Boorman is also quite the cinephile, with a profound knowledge of silent cinema and obscure noirs, this led our conversation to stray into the topic of the Academy Awards...

John Boorman directs 'Deliverance' (L) 'Hope and Glory' (R)

You’ve been nominated for Best Director twice for Deliverance and Hope and Glory, can you share some of your memories about going to the Oscars?

First of all, it’s incredibly boring, because you leave the hotel at 2 in the afternoon and the show goes on until 11 at night, and you sit in the audience more often than not watching the commercials, or at least the gaps the commercials create. It’s very wearing! (laughs) I didn’t go when I was nominated for Deliverance, I went when I was nominated for Hope & Glory, I’d been nominated as producer, director and screenwriter. I was delighted that the film was nominated, but I didn’t win in any of the categories, and it makes you feel like such a failure (laughs).

You keep yourself active as an Academy member?

Yes, I see them all and vote, but the ones I vote for never win (laughs).

What were some of your favorites in the Oscar race this year?

In the Oscars this year, in the Foreign Language category, there are three films Leviathan, Ida and Timbuktu, and there are no three films in any other category that match up to these at all. I saw them recently and felt so proud to be a filmmaker! But what does their quality say about the other films? Quite good films even, like The Theory of Everything and Birdman and so on? There’s something calculating about these films, it’s a calculation that somehow the system brings up because of the way films are made. Scripts are supervised by studios and you feel these films have been overcooked, there’s something slightly contrived about them. They’re looking over their shoulder a little bit.

Queen and Country, Boorman's final film, is now playing in select theaters.