"I like to arrive in front of the camera with all the information that I can possibly need." He's a legend. I was lucky enough to get a chance to meet up with actor Ian McKellen in New York City earlier this week for an afternoon interview. I met at his hotel near Central Park, and we spoke briefly before his appearance on a Reddit AMA. We could've chatted for the entire afternoon, but I didn't want to delay him any further. I interviewed him for his new film Mr. Holmes, where plays an aging Sherlock Holmes. I saw the film in Berlin and loved it so much that my effusive quote is featured in the trailer and on the official poster for the film. He's played many of my favorite characters, and I tried to ask some interesting questions about acting.
"There was a lot of unrequited dino love out there." A few years ago, a little film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival called Safety Not Guaranteed. It earned praise from critics and introduced a filmmaker, Colin Trevorrow, who later landed the gig of a lifetime - directing a brand new Jurassic Park movie, to restart the series again after it died with JP3 in 2001. Colin Trevorrow is the director of Jurassic World, a continuation of Michael Crichton's vision of a dinosaur theme park that Steven Spielberg made us all believe in back in 1993. It's already breaking box office records. A week before it hit theaters, I was lucky enough to spend 15 minutes chatting with Colin (on the phone) talking about creative control, Spielberg, the attention he's getting nowadays, and how he pulled off a movie like this as only his second feature as a filmmaker.
"If there are mountains, let's climb them. If there are buildings, let's jump off them." One of the most inspiring documentaries I've seen recently is Sunshine Superman, which premiered at TIFF and the New York Film Festival last year. It's an exhilarating and amusing and nostalgic story of Carl Boenish, one of the founders of BASE jumping, a man full of so much joy. Sunshine Superman is directed by Marah Strauch, a young filmmaker making her feature debut, but she made her mark and is definitely going places. I was lucky enough to catch up with Marah while she was in New York City for a brief visit, and I asked her a bunch of questions about how she made Sunshine Superman, and what her plans are moving forward now.
"Go into a shoot with a bad script, and you're in big trouble." Playing in theaters now is the new sci-fi film Ex Machina, directed by screenwriter turned filmmaker Alex Garland. Garland is making his directorial debut with this film after writing the scripts for The Beach, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go and Dredd. A few years back I met up with him for an interview about Dredd, and we talked a lot about science fiction, and how the genre pushes itself forward. I met up with Alex Garland again, this time while he was in New York City to promote Ex Machina, and we again chatted about sci-fi and how much he loves the genre. As always, it was fun to sit down and talk with Alex about filmmaking and much more. Fire it up!
It Follows, indie writer/director David Robert Mitchell's follow-up to his acclaimed 2010 debut, The Myth of the American Sleepover, couldn't be further from the coming-of-age-in-suburbia drama. In terms of tone, that is. His latest is similar in that it deals with teens in suburban Detroit, but the comparisons end there. It Follows is a nightmarish tale of one girl and the unstoppable curse that has latched itself onto her, a ghost who's hauntings can only be transferred by some good old hanky-panky. The entity follows her relentlessly until it either catches her or she can pass the curse onto another, unlucky person. Mitchell utilizes these two simple ideas to create one of the scariest, cinematic experiences to come along in awhile.
Congratulations Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu, winner of the Oscar for Best Director! This is now four years in a row that I've interviewed the Best Director winner. Though at the time, I wasn't thinking about awards or anything else besides what to ask about the film and their process as a filmmaker. In an industry that loves data and obsessing over success, I can't help but notice a bit of a pattern here. Not that I am any indicator or predictor or grand wizard of the Oscars, but if anything I have my eye trained on very talented filmmakers and outstanding films. With Iñárritu winning this year, that makes four years in a row of winners interviewed, including Alfonso Cuarón, Ang Lee, even Michel Hazanavicius (of The Artist).
One of this year's must see documentaries is Citizenfour, directed by Laura Poitras, an inside look at the story of whistblower Edward Snowden. Poitras was contacted by Snowden early on and was right there with him, filming the entire event, as he leaked the information from Hong Kong about the NSA's spying program that stunned the world in May of 2013. Poitras has made two other provocative docs previously, The Oath and Flag Wars, and she's back with another one that is a bit more intimate, but still as powerful. I raved about Citizenfour after catching its premiere at the New York Film Festival, and I met up with Laura for an interview in New York City. What follows is a fascinating discussion about the power of storytelling.
"I wanted to make the ski trip to hell!" That's exactly what he has made. I really, really love Ruben Östlund's Force Majeure, it's one of my favorite films this year and if you're looking for something fun and original to watch give this one a look. I've been pushing this film and highlighting it as much as possible because it's not easy to get Marvel audiences interested in Swedish films about a family on a "ski trip to hell". But this is one of those great films that stands out in a crowd, and you will probably want to visit the Alps after. While traveling to promote the release, I met up with Swedish writer and director Ruben Östlund (of the films Play, Involuntary and Gitarrmongot previously) to talk about Force Majeure. Watch the full video below.
It has been a while. So, how are things? Over the many years I've been running this website I've had a few amazing chats with Jason Reitman. I first met Jason way back in 2007, interviewing him for his second film Juno at the Toronto Film Festival. That was followed up with the legendary gondola interview from the Telluride Film Festival, where Peter Sciretta from SlashFilm and I talked with Jason about making Up in the Air as we slowly rode a gondola up the mountain and back down. It has been five years since I've sat down for a formal interview with Jason, despite meeting up at film festivals for Labor Day last year and Men, Women & Children this year, but as always it's so much fun to talk with him. Here's our latest chat.
One of my favorite documentaries, in fact one of the very best documentaries this year, is one called The Overnighters from director Jesse Moss. The film follows a wild, almost unbelievable story set in North Dakota about a local Pastor named Jay Reinke who risks everything to help his new neighbors. It won over crowds at the Sundance Film Festival this year, picked up a Special Jury Prize, before going on to play at the Tribeca, Sheffield, Montclair, Sydney and New Zealand Film Festivals, winning awards at Full Frame, Miami and San Francisco, too. Drafthouse Films bravely picked up the doc and it's now playing in select theaters. I was lucky enough to meet up with Jesse Moss for an interview in New York last week and it was wonderful.
One of our favorite movies out of Fantastic Fest 2014 was Keanu Reeves' new action vehicle John Wick, in theaters this week. The Golden Briefcase hosts Tim and Jeremy were honored to sit down for a chat with Keanu Reeves at Fantastic Fest to talk about playing John Wick. The guys spoke to him about his Fest experience, revenge for dogs, kung fu and more. They also talk about working with John Wick directors Chad Stahelski & David Leitch and to their extensive stunt career when handling the action throughout the film. Be sure to check out Jeremy’s review from the Fest and go see John Wick in theaters starting this week.
One of the highlights of Fantastic Fest 2014 was Drafthouse Films' own anthology horror sequel ABCs of Death 2. The Golden Briefcase hosts Tim and Jeremy had a chance to sit down with two of the filmmakers in the anthology (of the letter 'V') to discuss their segment further during Fantastic Fest. It's a bit late, but here's the interview. Director Jerome Sable + writer/producer Nicholas Musurca are the minds behind 'V is for Vacation' (see our first look). The guys talk about the thought process behind the approach to their short and talk about some of the takeaways from viewing the first film that helped guide their segment.
"A journey should always be mysterious…" One of the best films of 2014 is Birdman, the fifth feature from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, following up Biutiful four years ago. Birdman premiered at the Venice Film Festival and Telluride Film Festivals, and will also play at the New York Film Festival before landing in theaters this October. After catching the premiere up in the mountains in Telluride (my review), I met up with Iñárritu for a 15 minute chat about all things: from life to filmmaking to laughter to turning 50 and the lessons he has learned. It happens to be one of the best chats I've had with a filmmaker, and it's rejuvenating to listen to him talk. "If you don't do something that does not terrify you, why do it?"
"Action is a magic trick… And good editing and good sound are your friend." In theaters this weekend is Fury, the latest from writer/director David Ayer, following-up his Schwarzenegger flick Sabotage and the LAPD movie End of Watch before that. This time he brings us a movie set during World War II, following one American tank as it continues to work its way through Germany near the end of the war. I really loved the movie, it's brutal yet emotional and was everything I was hoping to see out of this kind of tank action movie. I met up with David Ayer in New York City earlier this week for a chat about making action movies. "Action takes time, and it takes articulation. And you've got to think of it like stop-motion photography."