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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 (116)



This weekend is an important one for a myriad of reasons: Quality Best Picture candidates Brooklyn and Spotlight are expanding; The Hunger Games is wrapping up; two foreign Oscar submissions are arriving (Lithuania's lesbian romance Summer of Sangaille and France's must-see Mustang); the all star remake of the Oscar-winning Argentinian film The Secret in Their Eyes is upon us; People are prepping their Thanksgiving festivities. But all of those reasons pale in comparison to the big news:

Todd Haynes' exquisite 50s romantic drama Carol starring Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara is now in theaters!

Sadly Carol is only on 4 screens which means many readers will have something of a wait to experience its glory. We'll hold off on going Carol-mad just yet though we're planning a whole Carol week (for real, DATES TBA) but we'll wait until more of you have seen it so we can get detailed.

But for now a little silly stanning to celebrate. You see, whilst I was in Los Angeles I was able to interview five key members of Carol's mega-talented team. As something of a goof about my own obsession but a goof that spiralled out of control and into actual reality I started each Carol interview with the same question and here are the actual answers...


Affonso Gonçalves, Editor: Sure. Let's start with that. [Laughter] I don't get called that - I'm going to tell my mom.

Judy Becker, Production Designer: Well, the question is 'why is Todd such a genius?' Todd is a genius.

Phyllis Nagy, Screenwriter: Practice. [Laughter]

Carter Burwell, Composer: Um... [long silence]

And we conclude with Sandy Powell the much lauded costume giant who has three Oscars to show for it... but curiously none from her Todd Haynes' collaborations.

NathanielR: I started this as a joke about my Carol obsession this morning but I've literally asked everyone why they're a genius today. So...

Sandy Powell: [Interrupting] You've asked every single person?

Nathaniel: Yes.

Sandy: Has anyone admitted to being a genius?

Nathaniel R: Phyllis.

Sandy: [LAUGHTER] I can say why everyone else is a genius but I don't think I can say why I am!



Full Carol interviews are coming. Stay tuned...






Mustang Interview: "There’s not just one way of being a director or looking at the world." 

France's Oscar submission Mustang (previously reviewed) focuses on five orphaned sisters going through adolescence in a Turkish village where hormones are considered to be the ultimate evil. Worried about their reputation, their grandmother decides the best way to care for them is by marrying them off as soon as possible, but the sisters have very little to say in the decisions made for them. They don’t understand why hanging out with boys is wrong, or why they should be married to strangers. Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, in her feature length debut, tells a revelatory tale of oppression, but for all the hardships on display in the film, she keeps the style playful and fresh, reminding one of what it feels like to be a teenager oblivious or careless of the darkness in the world.

Most impressive of all, is the director’s work with the five actresses playing the sisters - Lale (Günes Sensoy), Sonay (Ilayda Akdogan),Nur (Doga Zeynep Doguslu), Ece (Elit Iscan) and Selma (Tugba Sunguroglu) - who through subtle touches make us believe these young women have always lived together, and have formed an indestructible bond. In a bold, wonderful move Mustang was selected as France’s Foreign Language Film submission for the Oscars, and with the warm response it’s received in festivals all over the world, it might make it all the way to the final five. I spoke to Deniz Gamze Ergüven and was not surprised to realize she’s as smart, refreshing and sincere as her film.

Our interview is after the jump...

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Interview: The Filmmakers of Dominican Republic's Oscar Entry 'Sand Dollars'

Jose  here. In the sensitively told Sand Dollars, we see love become a transaction, as aging tourist Anne (Geraldine Chaplin) buys the affection of local girl Noeli (Yanet Mojica) who indulges the wealthy woman by providing her company and sexual favors. However soon we learn things aren’t as clear as we thought, and we realize there is much more than meets the eye in the relationship between these women. Directed by Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas, in their third screen collaboration, Sand Dollars explores sexual tourism in an unexpectedly touching way. Rather than being a “social drama” or a morality tale, it’s an acutely observed portrait of people optimizing their best way of survival. For the rich white lady, this comes in the illusion of regained youth, for the young woman it comes through economic benefit, but also in the sense of emotional safety provided by Anne.

Both characters are portrayed beautifully by the lead actresses, Mojica is a force of nature, and Chaplin has truly never been better. Sand Dollars has been selected as the Dominican Republic’s official Oscar submission, and with the film currently being shown in New York cinemas, the filmmakers were kind enough to answer a few questions I sent them via email.  

JOSE: Was it difficult to get funding for a film about an interracial lesbian romance ...?

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Interview: Germán Tejeira on 'A Moonless Night,' Uruguay's Oscar Submission

Jose here. When I scheduled my interview with director Germán Tejeira who is based in Montevideo, I hadn’t been counting on the internet being unaware that Uruguay had gotten rid of their own Daylight Savings Time, a practice which was deemed “old fashioned” and “inefficient” by the progressive government. We had to reschedule the interview, but Tejeira was kind enough to laugh the confusion off and even sent me an article which explained how this new practice had brought chaos within his own country. It was an anecdote I found peculiarly surreal, something out of a movie perhaps, and one that for that matter reminded me of Tejeira’s own A Moonless Night, a charming account of three men trying to find their, existential, way in the Uruguayan countryside during New Year’s Eve.

Cesar (Marcel Keroglian) is a cab driver spending the holiday with his ex-wife’s new family, Antonio (Roberto Suarez) is a magician en route to a presentation whose car breaks down stranding him and his rabbit Oliver, Molgota (Daniel Melingo) is a singer released from jail a day earlier so he can perform at a New Year’s party. Their routine is altered by a blackout, but to say their stories cross paths in a traditional way would be a disservice to Tejeira’s lovely screenplay, and his perceptive direction. The film has been selected as Uruguay’s Oscar representative and I discussed that with the director, as well as his perception of what films should provoke in spectators, and whether Uruguay has a well defined “cinematic identity”.

Read the interview after the jump...

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Interview: The Star of Philippines' Oscar Submission 'Heneral Luna' on the Subjectivity of History

Jose here. Since its release in the Philippines, historical epic Heneral Luna has been shattering box office record after record, not only managing to break even in almost no time, but also drawing very young audiences, some of whom might have taken advantage of a half-off student discount (take note Hollywood!). The film which chronicles the campaign by General Antonio Luna to combat American invaders in the late 19th century is directed with flair by Jerrold Tarog. Thanks to its commercial and critical success not only did it open Stateside in late October, it was selected by the Philippines as their official Oscar submission.

The star John Arcilla gives a ferocious lead performance as the titular army officer. 
Arcilla is one of the Philippines’ most respected actors, having made a name for himself as a star across television, stage and film. In America, he will be best known for a supporting performance in The Bourne Legacy, and his terrific work in Metro Manila, but as shown in Heneral Luna he can carry an entire epic on his shoulders. Despite the terrible reception that kept interrupting our phone interview, Arcilla also proved to be an incredibly insightful conversationalist, making remarks that made me wish I could sit down and talk history and politics with him for an entire afternoon. We talked about his process when playing historical characters, remembering the subjectivity of history and what an Oscar nomination might bring the film.

full interview after the jump...

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Interview: 'Theeb' Director Naji Abu Nowar on Bedouin Culture and Being Selected as Jordan's Oscar Submission

Jose here. Set in 1916 Theeb centers on the title character, a Bedouin boy, played by Jacid Eir Al-Hwietat, who’s lived his whole life in the desert. He is being trained as a guide by his older brother Hussein (Hussein Salameh) and the opportunity for him to try his new skills arrives when a British soldier (Jack Fox) and his companion (Marji Audeh) hire the siblings to show them across the desert. As they discover they are being tracked by enemies, Theeb is forced to fend for himself in the unknown. Combining elements of coming-of-age stories and adventure films, director Naji Abu Nowar is able to craft the rare film that entertains and enlightens. He subverts genre conventions in unexpected ways, for instance this time around it’s the nameless white man who treats others with contempt and shows little regard for their traditions.

If anything Theeb is a necessary film, which might be why it was selected by Jordan to represent them at the Oscars. I sat down with director Nowar to talk about the autobiographical elements in the film, learning film distribution lingo, and how instinct is what matters the most when it comes to directing.  


JOSE: Let’s get started with a business question. How is it to have your film being distributed in the States?

NAJI ABU NOWAR: It’s amazing! I lived in the desert making this film with the Bedouin, and the edit was done very close to them in case I had questions, so we really almost finished the entire film completely separated from the industry. We just assumed since we weren’t an English language film we would never play in America, so it’s been such an amazing ride to see the film do really well in Britain, and to now see it in America is unbelievable. We hope audiences respond.

JOSE: The film won awards at the 2014 Venice Film Festival, but I’m sure as a filmmaker your purpose is to do films that go beyond festivals? Especially because Theeb is essentially an adventure movie, not an art film. [more after the jump]

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Interview: Laia Costa Talks "Victoria" and Her Favorite Actresses

Jose speaks with the star of the must-see one-take German drama Victoria (now in theaters!)

 Few performances this year have been as electrifying as Laia Costa in Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria. Playing the title character she combines innocence with determination in thrilling ways. When we first meet Victoria she is dancing the night away at a club unaware that before the night is over she will be part of a high stakes heist with three men she just met. Schipper’s film is notorious because it was shot in a single, uninterrupted take, no digital trickery in this one, although people have been comparing it to 2014’s Best Picture Birdman all over,  “comparisons are inevitable” but “Victoria is punkier”, says Costa when we speak on the phone. “Someone said that everything has already been invented, we can’t invent anything new” she adds laughing.

Talking to the actress you get a sense of the camaraderie she developed with the cast and crew of the movie. She refers to her director and co-star by their last names, and you can tell she has endless anecdotes about the challenging shoot. Costa will be familiar to fans of the television series The Red Band Society, but Victoria is her biggest screen role to date and has already won her the German Film Award for Best Actress (the first time a Spanish actor has won this accolade). Audiences in Spain can currently see her in Carlos, Rey Emperador where she plays Mary of Austria, a process she calls “more artificial, they’re interested in facts about Spanish history not seeking truth in the characters”, but very necessary because as an actress she seeks to learn by working in as many genres as possible.

JOSE: How many Red Bulls and espressos did you need to shoot Victoria?

LAIA COSTA: Not a single one. It was all just concentration (laughs).

JOSE: You’ve mentioned that making the film was like being on drugs…

LAIA COSTA: Yes, because it was a shooting style I’d never done before, which allowed me to live Victoria’s life for two and a half hours, and go on a “trip”. [More...]

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