NOW PLAYING

reviewed - out in theaters

review index

HOT TOPICS


Welcome

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R

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

 

Powered by Squarespace
Comment Fun

COMMENT(s) DU JOUR
"I like thinking about the red dress"

The red dress trope is possibly my favorite and certainly the best clothing-related trope out there. When you want to announce to the audience from the rooftops that this character has: PASSION! PERSONALITY!! or is MAYBE DANGEROUS!!!...you put them in a fitted red dress.❞ -Mark the First

Beauty vs. Beast

The Power of Poll Compels You

vote! Chris MacNeil vs. Pazuzu

Keep TFE Strong

Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

For those who can't commit to a dime a day, consider a one time donation for an article or a series you are glad you didn't have to live without.

What'cha Looking For?
Twitter Feed
Subscribe

Entries in interview (70)

Tuesday
Jun242014

Filming Dance in "Test"

One of this year's best indies Test is about a young understudy dancer in San Francisco. Though it's only made a teensy bit of money in a microscopic theatrical run (that's happening to more and more indies) at one point it climbed to the top 15 on iTunes' indie chart.

TEST's dance troupe at rehearsal

It's a topic for another time perhaps but I wonder how far we are away from box office reports that include money from On Demand and iTunes now that so many films hit all three venues at once or in quick succession?

The following are unused excerpts (edited for length) from my Towleroad interview last week with Chris Mason Johnson the director. I thought they were well suited to you cinephile savvy musical-friendly nuts anyway. It's rare that we get such attentively filmed and beautiful dancing onscreen so I had to ask him about the camerawork and how his history as a dancer played into the movie.

Chris Mason Johnson with his prizes from "OutFest"Nathaniel: Test is your second movie and it feels confident.

CHRIS MASON JOHNSON: Well after The New Twenty (2008) -- making movies is a combination of a hugely difficult set of skills. In the old days all the famous directors we know from the classic era, they apprenticed forever. I think Robert Altman did 11 TV movies before his first feature. In our culture it's this crazy kind of 'come out of the door fully formed and go to Sundance' mythology. It's bullshit. TV is the new Hollywood in a way -  people can learn their craft there.

Why the long break between your two movies?

I tried to get something much more commercial off the ground. It was the classic story of waiting on money. Almost getting going, etcetera. It was such a demoralizing experience because you have no power. At a certain point I said 'Screw it. I know how to make movies and I'm going to do something small and personal.' 

Dance gives the familiar backdrop [the AIDS crisis in the 80s] such a fresh angle. 

It's just as much about dance as it is about anything else. In terms of the dance, I did a fun thing with the dance climax scene where the understudy goes on. That's been the über dance narrative from 42nd street through The Red Shoes through The Turning Point through Black Swan. That's always the story and I wanted to do that again but I wanted to do it how I'd experienced it. I'd gone on multiple times, one time with Barysynikov, one time in New York and you prove yourself and it's amazing. And then you go back to work the next day, the person gets better, and you're watching it again.

It's very different than the Broadway version where you become a star. So I put the dance in the middle of the movie. That's always the climax of those movies but I put it smack in the middle which is a different kind of structure. 

As an aficionado of musicals, I have to tell you that it was hugely refreshing to see a complete dance number that didn't cut every second to a new angle or stay with closeups. That makes me so crazy. You pulled the camera back. Thank you!

It makes me crazy, too. In terms of the overall style we wanted to hit this perfect balance where real dancers would like it and it was real dancing but also just fun for an audience. We knew we wanted to do really exciting contemporary dance. In terms of framing there's this happy medium where you frame the full body and you respect the space but you also cut enough and move the camera enough for dynamics. Otherwise it would be inert. Pina did a genius job of that. I loved that.

For me the moving camera is like a moving body is in choreography so I love playing with that. 

The cinematography is beautiful which surprised me. That's a craft that's hit & miss with indies.

This was $200,000 [budget]. In some sense people really only understand indies on that microbudget level if they look microbudget: down and dirty and gritty. Everyone gets that mode. When you get something that looks really polished and cinematic, it's harder for people to make sense of it on a microbudget. My cinematographer's name is Daniel Marks. It's his first feature out of AFI but I've known him for ten years. He's just super talented. The script was not dialogue based so we planned it as images. I really love an image based cinema and that's not the dominant strain in America.  I'm really happy with the way it looks.

Even though you've said you'd like to move toward TV, I hope you're planning to continue with dance. TV needs more dance that's not reality show competitions.

The question is did Smash ruin the theater for network? From the powers that be point of view 'Oh we tried it, it didn't work!'

Have you seen Test yet, readers? Do you love the trope of the understudy who goes on?

Monday
Jun162014

Bobby Holland Hanton: The Man Who Has Been Thor, Batman, and Bond

Bobby Holland HantonHave you ever fantasized about being a superhero? Bobby Holland Hanton doesn't need to. He's done it time and again.

Though he's only been in the movie business since Quantum of Solace (2008), the young fit Brit stuntman has already worn the Batsuit, Thor's cape, James Bond's suits, and... well whatever it is anyone was wearing on the set of Green Lantern before it was replaced by CGI. You can see Bobby somewhere in the battle sequences of Maleficent at the moment, albeit much less foregrounded than he usually is due to doubling a who's who of A list leading men.

A former gymnast, he competed for Great Britain until he was 17, he lives a very regimented life. Before any shoot, he shifts the training to "match" the body of whoever he'll be stunt doubling for. He's stepped in on the difficult stuff for Christian Bale, Daniel Craig, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, and Channing Tatum. He's with Chris Hemsworth all the time now, which is hard work due to his size.

Hemsworth is huge and when he's Thor he's massive"

To prepare for The Avengers Age of Ultron he was training six days a week, twice a day to look like the God of Thunder. You'll see Bobby -- but you won't know you're seeing him since that's the magic and the craft  -- as Hemsworth's more acrobatic twin on two 2015 pictures: Heart of the Sea and the superhero sequel. He's also doing Captain America stunt work on Ultron somehow though we hope not in the same scene. 

I spoke to this in-demand stunt man by phone. Superpowerless mortal that I am, I couldn't very well fly to South Korea to drop in on the day's filming of The Avengers! He was out of Thor's wig on a rare early finish day (it's usually "six to six and longer") and he'd already had dinner, trained, showered and applied all his Dove Men + Care products*. He'll start the routine again the next day in the wee hours of the morning, for makeup and costuming, clipped and banded into Thor's long blond tresses all of which is rough on the hair and skin, hence the products. [*Yes, this is your requisite product placement scene within the movie. Bobby is a spokesperson for the line. I received a set in the mail after the interview which was a most welcome surprise.]

I'd never spoken to a stuntman before so at first I had to get the skinny on how one gets started. Gymnasts are naturals which should surprise no one...

[Bobby talks Hemsworth, Tatum, Batman & Bond  AFTER THE JUMP...]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Mar222014

Interview: Alfre Woodard on Her Favorite Roles

Alfre Woodard has been an American treasure on screens large and small since the early 80s when she first broke through in a big way with her Oscar nominated supporting role as "Geechee" in Martin Ritt's Cross Creek (1983). Yesterday we learned that Alfre will be co-starring in a new series pilot "State of Affairs" starring Katharine Heigl as a CIA Operative. Woodard is tapped to play none other than the President of the United States who Heigl counsels.

That'd be shocking given how slowly American politics moves toward inclusiveness, were it not for Woodard's natural gravitas. Last year, that formidable screen presence was put to uncommonly good use as the fascinating Mistress Shaw, a slave who married her master, in the Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave. We recently celebrated that small but pivotal role right here in our own awards.

With 12 Years now on DVD and the announcement of her new role, it seemed like a perfect time to look back on her career beginning with that amazing cameo and working our way backward to her favorite roles. They might surprise you...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb252014

Interview: Patricia Norris on 12 Years a Slave, Scarface, Twin Peaks

Patricia Norris with her lifetime achievement from the Costume Guild in 2007Patty Norris is a national treasure but I believe she'd be the last person to say so. When I spoke to the enduring costume designer over the phone about sixth Oscar nomination for 12 Years a Slave, she shocked me again and again with her modesty and her absolute lack of sentiment about what I've always thought of as a very illustrious Hollywood career. But her honestly was, shall we say, refreshing.

The 82 year old's career, as we know it at least, began over just over 40 years ago with westerns like Rio Lobo (1970) and Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971) but she doesn't get misty-eyed or nostalgic about her filmography. "I think it was just luck. I started as a stock girl at MGM and I've always been comfortable with clothes," she explains. But to hear her tell it, her developing career wasn't born of and ambitious creative drive, but from practicality.  "I was married but I was left with five children and I had to support them! So you start taking almost any work. There are a few I would like not to think about!" 

I instantly worry (aloud) that I'll touch on one of those accidentally but if I do in the ensuing conversation, she doesn't let on.

I assumed her current flurry of work (Killing Them Softly, The Immigrant, 12 Years a Slave) was a sudden return from retirement but she corrects the impression. She's just picky since she's been frugal. "It's one of those things. Save your money and you don't have to do anything. I do just what I want to do. If it doesn't come along I just do housework." 

Happily for fans of costume dramas, The Immigrant and 12 Years a Slave came along. And these she definitely wanted to do. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb242014

Interview: Matthew McConaughey and the Body

McConaughey and those haunted eyes in True DetectiveIt's hard to get a moment with a major movie star. They're tightly scheduled and you have to go from 0 to 60 once you're in front of them, recorder on. Nevertheless the stars themselves usually seem relaxed enough through their long promotional efforts for Oscar films as the world's slowest seated wedding line commences with one journalist after another sitting down with them one by one for a quick conversation. I'm sure our faces all blur together forming one lumpy mecha-journalist for the star. Their faces, on the other hand, remain individualized and imprinted in each of ours from frequent exposure and mythology.

The first thing I notice about Matthew McConaughey in person, apart from the inevitable "how much weight has he gained back?" instant check, is his eyes. They're blue, sure, but the darkest blue I've seen up close and more than a little intense. They're so inky blue, in fact that they look dangerous and unfamiliar despite years of movie appearances. (I hadn't yet seen True Detective in which they reappear). The voice counterbalances them surprisingly well, instantly familiar and Texas friendly.

I sat down with McConaughey last year as his Oscar buzz was building for Dallas Buyers Club (he was on a weekend break from filming Interstellar when we spoke). I was surprised to hear that despite his busy schedule he's been getting the weekends off which he says he needs though he was sacrificing some to support his now Oscar nominated film "Which I am happy to do!" he added, quickly. I had planned to stay off the topic of weight loss (he lost 47 lbs for the role), which has been discussed too often for an award-winning performance that is most impressive for its emotional content, but I made the mistake of leading with it. And it's a topic he kept drifting back to. But then, why shouldn't he? His body has hardly been easy to separate from his acting, either, whether he's playing hunky romcom leads, male strippers, pumped up dragon slayers, or, as recently, an emaciated AIDS patient or an eerily stiff and sinewy police detective.

Our interview after the jump

Click to read more ...