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Entries in interview (117)


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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Interview: "Labyrinth of Lies" Director on Obsession, Oscars and How Directing is Like Playing Music

Jose here. When we first meet Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling) in Labyrinth of Lies, he’s a tenacious, idealistic prosecutor, who refuses to let a young woman get away unscathed from a minor traffic ticket with the notion that the law should be abided no matter what. His world is turned upside down upon discovering that the system he respects so much is overcrowded with former Nazis who were never prosecuted for their crimes against humanity. When his boss Fritz Bauer (Gert Voss) sees his potential, he assigns him to investigate the crimes committed by former workers at Auschwitz. Directed by Giulio Ricciarelli, Labyrinth of Lies is a powerful thriller that touches on the subject of obsession in unexpected  ways. The film’s plot spans for almost a decade, which allows us to see the frustration and powerlessness felt by the characters. Even knowing the real life outcome, we sometimes doubt Johann will be able to overcome the corruption and indifference of those in power.

The film will represent German at the Academy Awards, and begins its US theatrical release today. I spoke to director Ricciarelli about his unique directorial style, the theme of obsession and creating supporting characters worthy of their own movies.

JOSE: Labyrinth of Lies is essentially a film about obsession. Can you talk about how you used obsession to shape the structure of the film and the character played by Alexander Fehling?

more after the jump

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Interview: Gillian Armstrong on Her Orry-Kelly Documentary and Why the Film Industry Needs Affirmative Action 

Jose interviews the director of a new costume design documentary at TIFF 

Orry-Kelly with Kay Francis. Photo courtesy of Scotty Bowers

In Women He’s Undressed, the extraordinary Gillian Armstrong paints a delightful portrait of Australian costume designer Orry-Kelly whose bold designs changed Hollywood forever (he was the first costume designer to draw the actors' faces on his designs!). The brilliant man behind Ingrid Bergman’s tasteful suits in Casablanca, Rosalind Russell’s larger than life gowns in Auntie Mame, and Marilyn Monroe’s nude dress from Some Like It Hot (he did Jack and Tony’s dresses too) had an exciting life that had him leave his small hometown to find a career in a budding industry across the world. From gangsters and plays with an unknown Katharine Hepburn, to affairs with Cary Grant and uprisings with Bette Davis, Orry-Kelly’s life was so rich that one wonders why no one had done a film about him before.

In typical Armstrong fashion, the documentary is told with whimsical flourishes (Darren Gilshenan plays Orry who reads from letters and adds commentary) and features interviews with Colleen Armstrong, Michael Wilkinson, Jane Fonda, Catherine Martin, Angela Lansbury and the legendary Ann Roth, all of whom express their admiration for Orry, and share anecdotes about working with him. The film played at the Toronto Film Festival, and I had the opportunity to talk with Ms. Armstrong about discovering Orry’s work, working with Ann Roth (“someone should do a documentary on her next, she’s extraordinary”) and her thoughts on the way the industry treats women.

Orry-Kelly, Australian Oscar winners, and artists as film subjects after the jump...

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Interview: The Filmmakers Behind 'Goodnight Mommy' on Working with Children, the Horror Genre as a Mirror, and Hopes of Oscar

Jose here. In the terrifying Goodnight Mommy, two angelic twin brothers named Elias and Luke (played by Elias and Luke Schwarz respectively) become convinced that their mother has been replaced by someone else after returning home from a stay at the hospital. And who can blame them? Their mother (Susanne Wuest) returns wrapped in Franju-esque bandages that only show her eyes, and she seems to have lost her good temper, patience and tenderness. Terrified of this unknown person, the twins proceed to torture her in order to get to the bottom of things. Directed and written by the team of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Goodnight Mommy is the kind of horror film that creeps under your skin because of how committed it is to its aesthetics and points of view.

There is not a single body-horror line Franz and Fiala are unafraid to cross, and the film features torture involving everything from superglued eyes to bondage by bandage; however, there is not a single moment in the film that feels gratuitous, and just like a song would serve a musical, the torture we see onscreen serves the story because it makes sense that these children would be terrified of someone they believe to be a total stranger, and if anything Goodnight Mommy has more in common with Home Alone than with Saw, if not in tone, at least in its intentions. The film has been selected to represent Austria at the Academy Awards and opens in the States on September 11. I had the chance to sit down with the filmmakers to discuss their techniques and tips for working with children, their favorite horror movies and what AMPAS members they wish to scare the most! Read the interview after the jump. 

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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...

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

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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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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