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"For the life of me I will never understand why Audra McDonald isn't bigger outside of Broadway." - Brian

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Entries in Mike Mills (11)

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...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Apr032017

The Furniture: Repairs for the House in "20th Century Women"

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in much more magnified detail. Here's Daniel Walber...

"The house is a character in its own right," everyone says. It’s one of our more meaningless cliches, poltergeists notwithstanding. But the sentiment behind it is understandable. A building, though hardly alive, can still offer charisma. A dynamic visual language can be built from its beams.

20th Century Women has one of these abodes. The house in question belongs to Dorothea (Annette Bening), who lives with her son Jamie (Lucas Zumann) and two boarders, Abbie (Greta Gerwig) and William (Billy Crudup). As she explains to a fireman she’s invited to a party...

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Sunday
Jan152017

Podcast: "Silence" and "20th Century Women"

Nick and Nathaniel and special guest Chris Feil (who you read hear at TFE at least twice a week) talk new flicks in our post Golden Globe/DGA nominations world.

Index (43 minutes)
00:01 Globe & DGA intro...
04:00 Martin Scorsese's Silence 
18:31 Extremely wandering conversation alert: Silence, 20th Century WomenPaterson, Rogue One, new movie trailers...
27:00 The brilliant 20th Century Women
39:50 Aquarius, Demon, Pervert Park

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Continue the conversations in the comments, won't you? Are you planning to watch Aquarius on Netflix?

Silence & 20th Century Women

Tuesday
Jan032017

Talented Mr Linky

Must Reads
The New Yorker an evocative thoughtful profile of Mike Mills and 20th Century Women
The Muse Rich Juzwiak on the year in overrated pop culture, starting with Manchester by the Sea. ("A Masterpiece." "It's not tho")
The Metrograph Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy (Carol) reflects on Patricia Highsmith's dislike of the screen adaptations of her work - Metrograph is showing a handful of them his month. (Finally my chance to see Purple Noon on a big screen.)

Films which take place in 2017, Hayao Miyazaki's non-retirement retirement, Aquaman stunts, Broadway divas, and Postcards from the Edge after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct192016

Top Ten: Loving those "20th Century Women"

by Nathaniel R

Mike Mill's terrific new film 20th Century Women, inspired by his own mother with Annette Bening further fictionalizing her, doesn't open until Christmas (disappointing as RIGHT NOW or August might've been the perfect time for it). But since it played the NYFF and we said so little, it's time to attempt to share the joy it offers. In lieu of a standard review...

Ten Amazing Things About 20th Century Women
first impressions of a film that will surely make our 2016 top ten list

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct132016

NYFF: How Bogart, Fellini, and Ginger Rogers inspired "20th Century Women"

As part of NYFF Directors’ Dialogue series, 20th Century Women’s Mike Mills was interviewed by artistic director, Kent Jones. Here are excerpts from the conversation as reported by Murtada.

Bening, Mills and Elle Faning at NYFF premiere

Dorothea is Humphrey Bogart
Mills based the main character in 20th Century Women - Dorothea played by Annette Bening - on his memories of his mother. She used to always tell him “In my next life I’ll be married to Bogart”, so while writing the movie Mills would ask himself what would Bogart say whenever he was stuck. To him Dorothea was like many of the characters Bogart played; underdogs who don't win, fail valiantly, make great jokes along the way and always help the weakest person in the room.

Ginger Rogers in Stage Door
Dorothea was also inspired by the character Ginger Rogers played in 1937’s Stage Door. She is as subversive, wisecracking and knows her way with a witty putdown as Rogers’ Jean Maitland.

Working with Bening
Mills believes Bening was the only actor who could play Dorothea. He talked about how she’s exactly the right age, looks beautifully natural which is rare in actresses of her age and calibre. She also reminded him of his mother because, while professional, she has no interest in pleasing anyone, even her director. She would listen to his stories but kept her process private, so he had to learn to give her space. He loved what she delivered because she continously surprised him. While she worked out the character’s psychology, Bening did not work out the beats of every scene, opting for freedom and intuition.

Casting is Key

Mills movies are personal and based on his memories, in addition to Bening, Christopher Plummer played a character based on his father in Beginners (2010). So to avoid being precious he hands full authorship of the character to the actors or as he put it “give them the keys to the car”.

Federico Fellini
Mills revealed that 20th Century Women owes a big debt is Fellini’s Amarcord (1973). They both have multiple narrators and are love letters from their authors’ to where they grew up.


20th Century Women was the Centerpiece selection at NYFF and will be released on Christmas Day by A24.