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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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Silence of the Lambs Retrospective

"Don't help the man with the broken arm! Don't get in his van! Too late... She does it every time. Which is why this is such a good movie: it really makes us care, and even when we know what's going to happen, we hope it won't."- Edward

"Such a great BP winner. I remember seeing it when I was a teenager and even then I noticed the eyelines being so close to the camera, and the way Clarice was framed in a male-dominated world as though she was being watched and judged." - MSD

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Entries in interview (142)

Thursday
Jan072016

Interview: Affonso Gonçalves and the Art of Editing Great Actresses

Affonso Gonçalves with this ACE win for editing True Detective (2014)Affonso Gonçalves is a man that every actress lover ought to both thank and envy. Over the course of his career in TV and film he has been privvy to a consisently vivid series of strong and sometimes downright iconic performances by several of our greatest actress. He's helped shape the way we see them, too.

His career began in earnest with as an assisant editor on Todd Solondz's cult hit about a nerdy teenager Dawn Weiner in Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) and soon thereafter he was editing multiple films for Ira Sachs and other independent minded directors. In the 20 years since his debut he's edited performances by Tilda Swinton (Only Lovers Left Alive), Kate Winslet (Mildred Pierce), Kerry Washington (Night Catches Us), Michelle Williams (The Hawk is Dying), Kim Basinger (The Door in the Floor), and  Patricia Clarkson (Married Life). More famously he's edited two star-making young performances that went on to be Oscar nominated for Best Actress in Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone (2010) and Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012). Next week he'll likely be able to add two more Oscar nominated performances to his editing triumphs with Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara's duet in Carol.

I had the pleasure recently of grilling him about watching and shaping these Best Actress performances in Winter's Bone, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Carol. Here's our conversation (edited for length and clarity) with very mild Carol spoilers if you haven't yet seen it. The film opens in additional theaters this weekend. More after the jump...

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Thursday
Jan072016

The Revenant's Costume Designer Jacqueline West on Terrence Malick, Ben Affleck, and... Anaïs Nin? 

Jacqueline West at the premiere of The Revenant.© Frazer Harrison for Getty ImagesClothing was always in her blood though Costume Design came later. Two time Oscar nominee Jacqueline West (Quills, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), the daughter of an avante garde designer, originally pursued fashion. After building a successful clothing line of her own her career made a sudden fate-filled turn in the late 80s via a favor for a personal friend, the director Philip Kaufman.

Her filmography in the subsequent 25 years has been a grab bag of film genres --  her latest The Revenant (2015) is a 180 from Henry & June (1990) you must agree -- but the consistent throughline is that she's in demand with the auteur set. She's worked repeatedly with Terrence Malick, David Fincher, Philip Kaufman, and Ben Affleck. The Revenant marks her first, though one assumes not last, collaboration with Alejandro González Iñárritu. To get in the right mindset, she drew on her personal history -- she was intimately familiar with the Hugh Glass story before Inarittu and Leo were all about making it for the screen-- and eventually read a ton of journals by fur trappers, including the invaluable "40 Years as a Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri.

Our conversation starts with The Revenant but you know yours truly won't let this talented woman go without talking Henry & June and other more glamourous gigs...

NATHANIEL R: You've designed many gorgeous movie costumes over the years but for The Revenant your challenge is so different. I imagine a lot of your job this time was making the clothes look disgusting!

JACQUELINE WEST: [Laughter]

NATHANIEL: They're overworn. They're muddy. They're bloody. [More...]

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Wednesday
Jan062016

Odile Dicks-Mireaux on Enhancing Saoirse's Journey in "Brooklyn" / Reuniting with Rachel Weisz for "Denial" 

Odile Dicks-Mireaux. Image via Female FirstThe thing about Brooklyn is that everyone can relate to it. Stories of immigration touch almost everyone, or at least run through their family's DNA. Even the move from one state with a personality quite unlike your original home, can feel like a reinvention.  Nearly a year after seeing Brooklyn for the first time it's strange to think that I worried that people wouldn't connect to it! Who needs sensationalistic drama when a story is this really. When it's power can sneak up on you? 

I had the pleasure of discussing this universal resonance, and the job of defining Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) through her costume changes with the designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux, who herself related to the story. Her mother was French and her father British and they met, both immigrants, in Brooklyn in the 1940s, and built a life in a foreign country together. Odile is London based and was best known, prior to know, with her frequently BAFTA nominated work on British television miniseries like Gormenghast and Great Expectations though she's also designed Oscar nominated dramas like The Constant Gardener and An Education

Here's our interview. 

NATHANIEL R: I first saw Brooklyn at Sundance and I loved it but I remember feeling that I had no idea how people would react to it when it was released.  Which in retrospect was kind of foolish of me.

 ODILE DICKS-MIREAUX: You never know when you're making a movie how it's going to turn out and whether it will hit a nerve. Would it be too much of a simple story or too old fashioned? So it's been a real pleasure that it's resonated. [More...]

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Wednesday
Jan062016

Interview: Phyllis Nagy on Patricia Highsmith, Sunset Blvd, and "Carol" 

Phyllis Nagy in Palm Springs with Cate BlanchettMonday night through Tuesday evening was a special 24 hours in the lives of Team Experience. At the NYFCC awards gala, Alec Baldwin, presenting the Best Director prize to Todd Haynes (Carol), quoted a Film Comment piece by our dear friend and podcast mate Nick Davis. That same night Phyllis Nagy was honored for Best Screenplay by the Pulitzer winning playwright/screenwriter Tony Kushner (Angels in America, Lincoln) himself. Though I was not in attendance for the Carol-heavy NYFCC gala on Monday night where the film also took Best Cinematography and Best Film), I had the opportunity to congratulate Nagy the next evening on her fine work adapting the year's best film from the original 1952 Patricia Highsmith novel "The Price of Salt." The occassion was a cocktail event for the movie hosted by former and future Todd Haynes muse Julianne Moore (here are a few photos of that reunion.)

It was our second chat with the sharp and talented Phyllis Nagy, who up until Carol had been best known for her stage plays and the HBO film Mrs Harris (2006) which she wrote and directed.

Here's our original conversation which we hope you'll enjoy...

NATHANIEL: So Phyllis I started this  as kind of a joke to myself but then decided to commit to it and have literally asked every person I interviewed from Carol ... How come you're such a genius? 

PHYLLIS NAGY: Well, practice. [Laughs] In this case, yeah, practice, many years of it. Which ultimately aided it, it didn’t hurt it, it may have felt like that from time to time...

NATHANIEL: You mean the long gestation period?

PHYLLIS NAGY: Yeah, when no one wants to [make a film], it gives you the opportunity to obsessively go over it again and again on your own time, at least make it a document that you’re proud of. So, luckily...

[Patricia Highsmith's interiority, great actors, and tough rewrites after the jump...]

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Tuesday
Jan052016

Interview: Nathan Nugent on Cutting those Beautiful Performances in "Room"

Nathan Nugent won an Irish Film & Television Academy statue for his first collaboration with Lenny Abrahamson. "Room" is their third film together.Editing is often referred to as "cutting," arguably a holdover word from the days where film edictors actually had to slice frames apart and then tape them back together. But cutting, figuratively, remains one their undeniable jobs, pruning away at hours and hour of footage for a given movie. It's a puzzle and a discovery as they work at assembling a single identity for a movie that has so many different identities in its unfinished form. Though the days of film editors hunched over their moviolas is over, the job's creative challenge is the same when hunched over the computer.

Moviegoers are probably quickest to note film editing in the action genre, where the speed of cutting tends to make the "invisible art" ever so slightly more visible. But it's a complicated art regardless of genre to create cohesive and rhythmic visual and narrative and performative throughlines with a series of spliced together images and multiple takes.

So we were excited to sit down with rising film editor Nathan Nugent, who has been making a name for himself in films that you might safely call 'actor's pictures.' Room is Nugent's third consecutive film with Lenny Abrahamson who he met through a film producer with whom Abrahamson went to college. As with the birth of many classic collaborations in any industry it was a matter of networking, opportunity and good timing. Or as Nathan humorously puts it.

"He had said to Lenny, 'Oh, you know, you should try Nathan. And I was available and very cheap.'"

What Richard Did (2012), Frank (2014), and Room (2015) followed in close succession. 

NATHANIEL: You've been working with Lenny Abrahamson a lot but you didn't start out in dramas. You started in documentaries. 

NATHAN NUGENT: My wish in film school was always to work in drama. But looking back, I’m glad of that -- that I took that documentary route --  because it certainly had an effect on how I see footage.

NATHANIEL: In what sense?

Nugent's answer and more on Room's beautiful acting after the jump...

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Monday
Jan042016

Interview: Lucinda Coxon's 11 Years With "The Danish Girl" 

One of this season's most talked about movies, The Danish Girl, set tongues wagging long before anyone had seen a single frame. Years before in fact. It wasn't just the subject matter, though the subject matter would have been enough. The Danish Girl tells the true story of married painters Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) and Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) who struggle to come to grips with Einar's true identity, Lili Elbe. Lili was one of the first trans women to ever undergo gender confirmation surgery which was then an experimental series of surgery. It's a difficult subject to dramatize, and a difficult subject to talk about particularly given how quickly the verbiage and discourse has changed across the decades. People didn't know how to talk about it in 1930 when the story was a very current sensation in Denmark and Germany and do people really know how to talk about it now? A quick perusal of any trans story around the internet will tell you the answer is still no. 

It's always a particular challenge for heavily buzzed pictures to get out into the marketplace and form their own identity outside of everyone's pre-screening perceptions of them. Oscar winner Tom Hooper's (The King's Speech) latest is definitely no exception. Even the casting, which wouldn't have been all that controversial even a handful of years ago other than in a rubber-necking kind of "Oscar bait" way, has been the subject of spirited debates along the lines of "shouldn't a trans actor be playing the part?" But films take a long time to make. Who could have known the happy development in the past few years in regards to trans visibility in Transparent, Tangerine, Orange is the New Black

The Danish Girl's complicated gestation period is where I began when i sat down with the woman who'd been with the project the longest, its screenwriter Lucinda Coxon. Our interview is after the jump... 

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