"It's about the situation time travel sets up and how the characters deal with it." Now playing is one of the best films you'll see all year - Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as the same person from different times. The brilliant mind behind the film, both writer and director, is Rian Johnson, of Brick and The Brothers Bloom previously. Because I interviewed him earlier this year, this time talking about the film in-depth, I wanted to go all out, and cover the spoilers, cover all the pressing questions you might've had after seeing Looper. Hence the slight delay posting this, as we cover all the spoilers, and get in-depth about his decisions writing & directing, structuring time travel storylines, and much more. Enjoy!
It's been over a year since we heard about Greetings from Tim Buckley, a film from Daniel Algrant (director of People I Know and some "Sex and the City"), that would follow the true story of the days leading up to Jeff Buckley’s breakthrough 1991 performance at his father’s tribute concert at St. Ann’s Church. However, the film played at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival last week, and a trailer to build buzz for the film has ended up online. Penn Badgley sings his heart out as the younger Buckley, and Imogen Poots looks to put in a solid performance, but the trailer feels a little cliche and familiar. Watch?
"I am the law!" Ready to talk about Judge Dredd? Arriving in theaters this weekend is the gritty, badass new take on the 2000 AD comic book character, played by Karl Urban this time around. Dredd 3D is directed by Pete Travis, but the screenplay is credited to Alex Garland, well known in the sci-fi world as writer of the scripts 28 Days Later, Sunshine for Danny Boyle and Never Let Me Go. I first saw Dredd at Comic-Con (and loved it), but it also just premiered in Midnight Madness at TIFF, where I was given the chance to meet-up with Garland for a quick interview. He's one of my favorite writers and I jumped at the opportunity.
At Sundance in 2010 I was first introduced to Derek Cianfrance, an ambitious, brilliant filmmaker who I have become very fond of. At that time he was premiering his second film, Blue Valentine, which went on to earn a lot of acclaim - one of my favorites of the year. Two years later he is back with his third feature, The Place Beyond the Pines, which just premiered at TIFF 2012 last weekend. I caught the premiere and was mesmerized by the triptych film starring Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes and Bradley Cooper. I was granted an interview with Mr. Cianfrance and we talked about everything from why he loves movies (naming Psycho) to the ideas and themes behind Pines, his inspiration from music and working with Mike Patton, and more.
The rest is history. Wrapping up the 37th Toronto Film Festival today is the announcement of the festival's awards, most notably the People's Choice Award. It's notable because (as TIFF reminded us with tags in front of every film) in past years Slumdog Millionaire and The King's Speech were winners of the "Audience Award", later going on to also win Best Picture as well as the hearts of the entire world. But of course, just because it won here doesn't mean much, besides that it's a damn good movie that most audiences love. This year's big winner is Silver Linings Playbook, the "sleeper hit" of TIFF which took everyone by surprise.
I'm currently sitting at the Bell Lightbox in Toronto (website), the Toronto Film Festival headquarters built a few years ago. It's where a number of screening rooms are located and where I spend most of my time up at Toronto during this festival. I'm heading back home to Los Angeles tomorrow, wrapping up my two weeks here at the fall film festivals. Years ago, Peter from SlashFilm and I used to travel for 30 days straight through September from fest to fest (to fest), but we've taken a big step back nowadays. It's exhausting. But it's always invigorating. Whenever I return home, it feels like I've turned over a new chapter in my film life.
Oh Terrence Malick, what are you up to? Your films are always beautiful, but they just wander. Following up The Tree of Life last year, legendarily reclusive director Terrence Malick has delivered his next film, To the Wonder, starring Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko, and for about 15 minutes, the lovely Rachel McAdams. Whereas Tree of Life was a visual portrait about family and childhood, To the Wonder is about love, and the pains of it, and the ebb and flow of it. But it just shows it, it doesn't really say anything about it in the end. Instead, it asks endless questions, to which there's no definitive answers given or even hinted.
There are many terrifying experiences in this universe that result in tragedy. In the last decade alone we've watched the world experience some of the worst natural disasters in history. One kind of disaster that has come to cause an enormous amount of death and destruction are tsunamis. J.A. Bayona's The Impossible tells the story of one family torn apart by the Indian Ocean tsunami that hit Southeast Asia in December of 2004. Visiting Thailand for a Christmas vacation, this multicultural family (based on a real Spanish family) is unsuspectingly ravaged by the destructive waves that smash ashore one morning. It is intense to watch.
"But above all I am a man. Hopelessly inquisitive man, just like you." In a year where we have new films by Paul Thomas Anderson, Derek Cianfrance, Steven Spielberg, even Terrence Malick, it's tough to get into a discussion about the best of the best. In fact, it's honestly hard to sit down and process some of these films, especially considering how layered, complex and "heavy" they are. Especially these two in particular, PTA's The Master and Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines, which premiered at TIFF 2012 this past weekend. I caught both films (and reviewed Pines in text) but wanted to actually chat about them in person.
"Fear. Belief. Love. Phenomena that determine the course of our lives." It's the movie of the year. A bold, ambitious, grand storytelling accomplishment that I dare say is a true cinematic revelation. I have been anxiously/impatiently waiting to finally see filmmakers Andy & Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer take on adapting David Mitchell's epic novel Cloud Atlas, which seamlessly blends six different storylines in an attempt to look at the meaning of life and the decisions that impact this universe. I will forever be able to say - I was there, at the Cloud Atlas premiere, that ended with an enormously deserving standing ovation.
Karma. Fate. Sheer luck. Violence begets violence. These are some of the bigger themes touched upon in The Place Beyond the Pines, the latest film from Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance. Going in to the world premiere screening at TIFF 2012, I had no idea what we were going to get, besides a blonde-haired Ryan Gosling playing a motorcycle stunt driver. Where would it go from there? What's the actual story? Where does it all lead? Cianfrance tells a massive, generational story that spans beyond just Gosling into the lives of two families from the small town of Schenectady in upstate New York. And it's mesmerizing.
It's my 6th year back at the Toronto Film Festival (aka TIFF), my 5th at Telluride, 4th year in Cannes, and earlier in the year, my 7th back to Sundance. I love film festivals, and as long as I can continue to cover them, I'll be back to these four every single year. The ludicrous precedent I set for myself, years ago back in January of 2007, was an insane day at Sundance. Somehow I caught 6 films, did 2 interviews, and survived to live another day. Anyone who attends film fests knows that, even with a perfect schedule, squeezing in 4 or 5 films in one day is the limit. But if I can pull that off, and do some interviews, it's a perfect festival day.
If you haven't seen the touching documentary Young@Heart, get a box of tissues, and give it a watch. But if documentaries aren't your thing, you might get the same emotional journey out of the new film Song for Marion, playing at TIFF 2012 this month. The film follows Arthur, a bit of a grumpy old man (Terence Stamp), who has little reason to smile anymore when his wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) becomes terminally ill. While Marion still finds joy singing with an elderly choir (singing unconventional songs for their age like Let's Talk About Sex and Ace of Spades) it's going to take more to cheer up Arthur. Watch it!
"You know the rule: never let your target escape." Holy crap this movie is awesome. That's how I'm going to start this, because it's really the first thing that came to mind as the credits started rolling. It also came to mind multiple times while watching it, during some of the badass action moments, and during some of the more brilliant, but not overly complex, time travel elements. Filmmaker Rian Johnson's third feature film (after Brick and The Brothers Bloom) is Looper, an excellent time travel sci-fi action adventure starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a mobster in the past who meets himself from the future. And oh, is it awesome.