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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Entries in interview (201)

Saturday
Dec292012

Interview: Julie Weiss on Visitation Rights to "Hitchcock"s World

We haven't talked Costume Design much this year -- course correct, course correct! -- so  let's talk about two time Oscar nominee Julie Weiss and her work on Hitchcock. Hitchcock met with rather cool reception from critics and the public when it debuted last month. Part of that was, I think, due to its all encompassing title. While not a great picture, it self-sabotaged by allowing expectations of a factual and expansive biopic of the Master of Suspense when it actually only had plans on taking a lightly comic snapshot of one year in a famous Hollywood marriage.

Peggy (Toni Collette), Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) and Alma Hitchcock (Helen Mirren) in 1960s Hollywood

Though inside showbiz pictures are rarely big hits, movie buffs and those who are actually inside showbiz tend to like them -- go figure! Julie Weiss is no exception. We spoke on the phone but I could swear her eyes were lighting up each time she talked about the honor she felt recreating Old Hollywood.

"That's what we want!" she told me emphatically. "We want the visitation rights to all of these worlds."

Julie Weiss attends a Hitchcock screeningI wondered if she felt the need to let loose creatively in the non-Psycho scenes since she wouldn't have felt as restricted by previously established conography but her passionate response surprised me. She didn't feel hemmed in by Psycho at all.

"Fidelity is an interesting word when memory comes into view," she said explaining that exactitude wasn't the pressure at all. We certainly know Hitchcock but recreating the look of Psycho she reminds me was only part of her job. Especially since the legendary film was shot in black and white and this look back is in color. Color is a key factor in many costuming decisions and we spoke at length about the scene where Alma (Helen Mirren) and Janet (Scarlett Johannson) first meet, with Alma in her usual red and Janet in the palest of pinks.  

"When the costume becomes clothing you know it's the actor becoming the character," Julie explained, describing fittings as crucial to her desire to help the actors transform. "I'm far more interested in watching an actor becoming a character than have a gown stand by itself."

"Scarlett Johansson playing Janet Leigh playing Marion Crane," in particular she describes poetically as a "prism that turned three times." Hitchcock proved a difficult assignment since it encompassed famous film costumes, movie premiere glamour, and everyday period wear in Hollywood and beyond (the Ed Gein sequences). She had to accomplish it all with with little prep time. "So difficult but worth it."

The only time Weiss seemed disappointed in her latest costuming gig was when the conversation turned briefly to the shower scene.

As a costume designer, I wished she were wearing something."

Hee!

Weiss previously performed these old showbiz tricks with Hollywoodland (2006), the lower rent story of the mysterious death of past his prime Superman actor George Reeves played by Ben Affleck. But up until now Julie Weiss's most famous work came from three very different assignments: the dystopian hobo rags and space suits of Twelve Monkeys (1995, Oscar nomination) the pinata-colorful gowns of the art biopic Frida (2002, Oscar nomination) and the uniforms of suburban dysfunction within American Beauty

I told her that my favorite costume from American Beauty was the navy sheath dress on Annette Bening that made her blend in with her prized vertical striped sofa. 

"I'm so glad you noticed that. It means a lot when people notice," she said and shared that she was also made sure The Bening's gray dress matched the metallic of the gun. But before our chat spun into endless 'love your work' back-patting she poked at herself endearingly.

I still worry I should have put more dirt on her apron!" 

This last comment was funny and telling. Julie Weiss was surprisingly self-effacing in the end. Despite a celebrated career with these unmissable peaks, she's really just there to help us win visitation rights to these other worlds.

"I love just standing back and watching that universe come to life. What you really want as a costume designer is that when the person walks out of the theater that they don't remember the costume against a white piece of paper but that they remember the scene and the world."

related...
costume design articles
more on Hitchock
previous interviews 

Thursday
Dec272012

Interview: Eddie Redmayne Talks Live-Singing, Skinny-Dipping, Name-Calling

If there's a surprise name called out as one of the Best Supporting Actors this year on Oscar Nomination morning, might it be Eddie Redmayne? The rapidly ascending 30 year-old actor, a recent Tony winner for "Red" on Broadway, stood in as surrogate for our enduring communal crush on Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) in My Week With Marilyn just last season but the spotlight is even brighter now. Les Misérables' entire second act romantic structure spins on his swooning revolutionary Marius. In one of the quirks of movie awardage, male actors aren't generally honored for their facility with romantic drama, but Redmayne's secret weapon could well be his rendition of the grief stricken show-stopper "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" in which he mourns his fallen brothers who died at the lonely barricades... at dawn. He'll undoubtedly jerk at least some tears from the Academy's acting branch this week as they finalize their ballots (due on January 3rd).

Marius is getting married! Eddie Redmayne in "Les Misérables"

I asked Redmayne about the massive pressure he must have felt approaching this famous number in Les Misérables and our conversation stretched back to Oliver! The Musical on stage and on through his non-musical duets with Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, and Michelle Williams in his young but vivid filmography. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec272012

Interview: Kerry Washington on "Django" & Diversity

Kerry Washington and I were both blindfolded if not gagged when we spoke about Django Unchained. Metaphorically, you'll understand. Neither of us had yet seen Quentin Tarantino's latest revisionist revenge flick when we found a window in her schedule to talk but talk we did.

Kerry Washington as "Broomhilda" in Django Unchained

Amusingly we had quite different feelings about not having yet seen it. I was desperate to attend a screening. Kerry was, apparently, not. When I asked her if she enjoyed watching her films she laughed with a "No!" and a shudder...

It's a process I force myself to endure. Usually not more than once.

For the rest of us the prospect of seeing one of the screen's most stunning actresses is a lot more enticing than 'something to endure'. Since Kerry's big screen roles have rarely been as sizeable as her talent, a key role from an A list auteur is something to treasure while we have it.

In Django Unchained, Kerry found herself in the unusual position of playing a relatively non-verbal part considering the dialogue heavy nature of Tarantino pictures. She plays Broomhilda von Shaft, the wife of freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx) who aims to rescue her from the sadistic plantation of Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) where she currently resides.

Our conversation about Django, her TV work, and the politics of her screen career is after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec202012

Nicole Kidman Wore a Tiara To Our Interview

Nathaniel, it's Nicole!" 

[!!!] 

After the briefest of pauses in which we both waited for my bewilderment to pass -- Nicole Kidman is calling me (?) -- she let out a hearty familiar laugh, instantly delighting and relaxed. She was, as it happened, a full hour early to our scheduled interview, having just finished a day's filming on Grace of Monaco. 

Academy voters will be filling out their nomination ballots online for the first time this year -- they started voting this week and will continue through Thursday, January 3rd. One prays that this shake-up to their old school paper & pen system might also shake up their aesthetic palette. If it does, you'll hear Nicole Kidman's name read out for her genius star turn in The Paperboy. In this polarizing sweaty film, Nicole plays a tawdry beautician with a thing for violent inmates. This is not, as you have undoubtedly ascertained whilst reading about the film, the type of role which is usually nominated. This is, as you will undoubtedly discover while watching the film, the type of performance that deserves to be.

Early in our phone conversation, I shared with her my awe at her latest quick-change. "You've gone from Charlotte Bless to Grace of Monaco? Talk about an about-face!". She didn't skip a beat in her quippy response:

Kidman on the set of "Grace of Monaco"

 I'm standing here in a tiara and a white beaded dress and Cartier jewels."

As well she should.

Herewith our conversation...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec202012

The Perks of Being Logan Lerman: Son of "Noah"

"Wallflower" is probably not the right word to define Logan Lerman. Though he describes himself as "quiet" and makes more than a few self-deprecating comments, he isn't exactly a bundle of shy neurosis. Instead the twenty-year old actor has the kind of chill demeanor that comes from unfussy professional confidence. Once you stop to do the math, you realize he's already in his twelfth year of professional acting (his first screen role was one of Mel Gibson's kids in The Patriot , 2000).

Twelfth year!


Logan Lerman, photographed for Flaunt Magazine

So it's something of a perfect coincidence that his "senior year" in the public eye, if you will, would so perfectly coincide with a starring role in one of the best high school movies in ages. "Wallflower" doesn't describe him but The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the best illustration yet of his gifts as an actor. His soulful turn as the troubled young writer at the heart of the film won Lerman fine reviews and a well deserved nomination for "Best Young Actor" at the Critic's Choice Awards. 

This, you might say, is graduating with top honors. 

Interview after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec152012

Interview: Michel Franco, Director of Mexico's Foreign Film Submission "After Lucia"

Amir here. This year’s foreign language film race at the Oscars is so unusually packed with auteur names and festival successes that the typically middle-brow branch will really have to try hard not to get things right. Among this wealth of possibilities, one of the titles we haven’t heard much about is Mexico’s submission, After Lucia. I recently had the chance to watch the film and I was blown away by it. So much so that it now sits at the number one spot on my favourites of 2012.

It’s a confidently directed, outrageously frank study of bullying in the schools of Mexico through the experience of a teenager named Alejandra (brilliantly played by newcomer Tessa Ia). The richly conceived film reveals much while saying very little. Economically filmed and sharply edited, After Lucia is a devastating experience but an absolutely vital one. Yet, it’s too easy to see why Oscar pundits haven’t given it much thought. The voters in this branch have often preferred their social commentary sugar-coated and this type of brutality can make them feel like they’re subjected to the Ludovico technique. But before we write off its chances, let’s remember that Greece’s Dogtooth, winner of the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes -- which After Lucia also won,  found its way to the ceremony. And After Lucia might benefit from its tender subject matter and the delicate story of Alejandra and her single father who are dealing with death of the family's mother (the titular Lucia).

On the occasion of the film’s submission to the Academy, I spoke with the film’s director, Michel Franco, who took time off from post-production work on his next film to chat about After Lucia, the issue of bullying and his cinematic influences.  

AMIR: What was the starting point of the project for you? The family angle or the bullying angle?

MICHEL FRANCO: The point of the project, at first, was to deal with a father and daughter coming to terms with the death of the family’s mother. It had nothing to do with violence or bullying. As the project developed the bullying story became more important. The thing is, in life you always deal with a lot of things at the same time. The way each of these characters dealt with grief led me to the violence that exists in our society on a daily basis. Those things combined, and that’s what I thought was worth making this film about. [MORE AFTER THE JUMP]

Click to read more ...