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Entries in interview (209)

Thursday
Jun142018

In New York, A Repertory Film Renaissance

by Murtada Elfadl

The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

A film I desperately wanted to see that had eluded me for a long time was Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (1972). I promised myself that I wouldn’t succumb to watching it at home;  I’d wait and hope that it would eventually appear soon in a repertory theater. And sure enough it did, three months later. I got the full theatrical experience of the classic film, screened in celluloid glory. I’m glad I waited. My first screening of A Place in the Sun (1951) happened only last year, and was so exhilarating it was my favorite film I’ve seen in a cinema in 2017. Ditto Claire Denis’ Beau Travail (1999). I enjoyed all these films and more without distraction, in the dark, projected big and among fellow cinephiles...

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Wednesday
May232018

Interview: Director Haifaa al-Mansour & Actor Douglas Booth on "Mary Shelley"

by Murtada Elfadl

Douglas Booth and Elle Fanning as the Shelleys in "Mary Shelley"

The new biopic Mary Shelley is about the famous writer, played by Elle Faning, while she’s in the throes of writing the Gothic magnum opus Frankenstein, at only 18 years of age. The film tells the story of the events that led her there. Those include her tempestuous relationships with renowned romantic poet Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth) who would become her husband, and with her half-sister Claire (Bel Powley). The film takes us to the trio’s fateful stay at Lord Byron's (Tom Sturridge) house at Lake Geneva, where the idea of Frankenstein was conceived.

This is Haifaa al-Mansour’s second directorial project after the 2013 festival hit Wadjda. Wadjda was the first feature shot entirely inside Saudi Arabia, and the first ever directed by a Saudi woman, making al-Mansour a true trailblazer. It''s not surprising then to find her drawn to the story of Mary Shelley, another pioneer. I found a through line, despite the period setting and different locations, between the two films. Both stories of young women determined to chart their own destiny. So that was where I started my conversation with al-Mansour and Booth when they were in New York last month for the Tribeca Film Festival. THE INTERVIEW IS AFTER THE JUMP...

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Tuesday
Feb272018

Interview: James Ivory on "Call Me By Your Name" and the Merchant Ivory Legacy

by Nathaniel R

Highlight of 2017: Meeting one of my true gay heroes, James Ivory.

They say you should never meet your heroes. But "they" haven't met James Ivory. The legendary director, currently nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars for Call Me By Your Name (2017) is 89 years old but you wouldn't know it. He's sharp and talented and thoughtful as ever. It's his fourth nomination in a rich career that extends way back to the late 1950s though he's best know for the popular costume dramas he made in the 1980s and 1990s with his producer and life partner, the late Ismail Merchant (1936-2005).

I had the pleasure of meeting with Ivory at the Middleburg Film Festival earlier this season.  I didn't quite intend to begin gushing but it couldn't be helped. He was deeply formative in my life, one of the first two or three directors that made me fall in love with the medium that became my whole life. I groused about his lack of an Honorary Oscar and I eagerly told him about a couple particularly memorable trips to see his movies with my parents. He shared a few amusing stories he's heard from other fans. Then we settled in for our discussion of his rich career, the restoration of some of his films, and Call me By Your Name. Our interview is after the jump...

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Monday
Feb262018

Interview: Greta Gerwig on what kind of filmmaker she's going to be

by Nathaniel R 

Greta Gerwig directing the prom scene in Lady Bird. Look, she's even dressed for the occasion!The first time we spoke to Greta Gerwig in 2013 for Frances Ha it was over the phone. Her voice was so animated it felt like an in person interview. She was learning the accordion because of that seismically magical moment in the French film Holy Motors and revealing to me that she didn't think being an "actor-for-hire" in other people's work would be her path. Little did I know -- though perhaps she did -- that the exquisite Lady Bird was coming. In between she wrote and starred in Mistress America (2015) and gave what is arguably her best performance in Mike Mills 20th Century Women (2016). The rest is of course current celebration and future history: Lady Bird proved a mainstream breakthrough as a writer/director. It's up for five Oscars including two for Greta Gerwig herself as a writer and as a director.

This time, speaking in person, that familiar voice is just as lively but her laughter even more infectious. She radiates as much joy from talking art in real life as she often has creating it onscreen as a performer.

When I ask her her how the accordion is coming, she admits she's "rusty" and that it hasn't been a movie that inspired her lately but 'certain books' though she leaves them unnamed. Whatever feeds your soul as an artist, that's where you go.

on set directing Timothée and Saoire in Lady Bird (2017)

I reminder her about that comment about acting for others not being her path and she says "I know..." in a goofily apologetic way, like she always knew where she was heading but just hadn't told us.  Our interview is after the jump...

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Wednesday
Feb142018

Interview: François Ozon talks "Double Lover" and the greatest French actresses...

by Murtada

It might be surprising to know that François Ozon likes to learn what children think of his films. He says their responses are clever and innocent, especially if they believe the world on the screen. Though he realizes that he can’t always get their feedback since his movies often deal with adult themes, like the psychosexual thrillers Swimimg Pool (2003), Young and Beautiful (2013) and his latest Double Lover.

Ozon’s films cannot be easily categorized, he has also directed the campy musical 8 Women (2002) and the haunting WW1 romance Frantz (2016). He says...

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Friday
Jan122018

Interview: Jamie Bell on falling in love with Annette Bening and his "Billy Elliot" reunion

by Nathaniel R

Jamie Bell has been famous since he was 14 years old. His debut film Billy Elliott (2000) about a young boy who discovers a passion for dancing that puts him at odds with his blue-collar community, became a global sensation. The charming film earned over $100 million (on a $5 million budget), received 3 Oscar nominations multiple BAFTAs, and eventually spawned a similarly popular stage musical which took yet more prizes.

The film also earned its young star the BAFTA for Best Actor in February of 2001. And, seventeen years later, here we are again. Jamie Bell is BAFTA nominated for Best Actor for his latest movie Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool. The romantic drama, now in limited release, is about the last days of Oscar winner Gloria Grahame's (Annette Bening) life and the young unknown actor Peter Turner (Jamie Bell) she falls in love with, and whose life she essentially takes over moving into his parents home (where they're both mothered by Julie Walter). 

I had the opportunity to speak with Jamie Bell a few times this season at events which was a gift since the actor is so charming and his talent somehow still undervalued 17 years later. Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool should change that as his best performance yet. Our interview is after the jump..

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