Interviews

Vincent Parannoud and Marjane Satrapi By David D'Arcy

"Persepolis is a simple story told by simple means," writes AO Scott in the New York Times. "Like Marjane Satrapi's book, on which it is based, the film, directed by Ms Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, consists essentially of a series of monochrome drawings, their bold black lines washed with nuances of gray. The pictures are arranged into the chronicle of a young girl's coming of age in difficult times, a tale that unfolds with such grace, intelligence and charm that you almost take the wondrous aspects of its execution for granted."

David D'Arcy talks with Satrapi and Paronnaud about the importance of humor, perils of miserabilisme, the current state of comics and animation, and the ways Iran is now perceived - and misunderstood.

 

Blog entry 12/25/2007 - 9:31am

Eastern Promises"If an audience is seeing a movie to live another life - which I think is one of the attractions of seeing movies; you get to be out of your own life and live some other life that maybe you [wouldn't] ever really want to live but you're curious about - so, I'm saying, if you're a Nikolai in the movie, then you're going to experience this. I'm not going to throw it away, do it off camera, and do it frivolously. All the hard work and the difficulty of killing someone, if that's what this character has to do, I want you to feel it and see it."

That's David Cronenberg, talking to Michael Guillé/a> about his new film, Eastern Promises. Also on hand to talk about this character, Nikolai, is the man who plays him, Viggo Mortensen.

Eastern Promises is now out on DVD.

Blog entry 12/22/2007 - 8:44am

By Michael Guillé/p>Walter Murch

"The Godfather - in the months before it came out - there was a general feeling that that film maybe wasn't going to work. Certainly when Apocalypse Now came out it was critically not very well received," recalls legendary editor Walter Murch.

But critics and audiences came around, of course. Will they come around to Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth? To further wear out a clichéalbeit one that has a certain ring to it when speaking of Youth Without Youth), only time will tell.

It may seem odd to mention a couple of books when introducing Michael Guillé/a>'s interview with a film editor, but Walter Murch is more than simply a superb craftsman. Filmmaker Brian Fleming has called Murch's In the Blink of an Eye "one of those books about one topic that, like Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, transcends its original purpose and becomes a useful filter for considering a range of subjects." Certainly Michael Ondaatje's The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film belongs on any cinephile's top shelf but also within reach of anyone who cares about any art. And we just have to mention two immediately clickable nuggets, talks with Murch in the Transom Review and BLDGBLOG.

For now, though, the subject at hand is Youth Without Youth. Take it away, Michael...

Blog entry 12/14/2007 - 9:53am

James McAvoyBy Jeffrey M. Anderson

He's only 28, but James McAvoy has already played roles originally conceived by a mini-pantheon of British literary greats: Shakespeare and Jane Austen, for starters. Evelyn Waugh and C.S. Lewis. And contemporaries such as Zadie Smith, Giles Foden, and now, Ian McEwan.

In screenwriter Christopher Hampton and director Joe Wright's adaptation of McEwan's widely acclaimed novel Atonement, James McAvoy plays Robbie Turner, a young man whose promising future is decimated by a single lie.

Jeffrey M. Anderson talks with him about class, war and getting into "the zone" for one very long, very celebrated shot.

Blog entry 12/06/2007 - 4:45pm

Jon Else

By Brian Darr

If you're anywhere near Chicago over the holidays, you might consider catching Doctor Atomic at the Lyric Opera. Composed by John Adams, with a libretto by director Peter Sellars, Doctor Atomic is an intense countdown to the very first test of the nuclear bomb - in short, the dawn of a new age.

The making of the opera was not without its drama, either. That story's told by Jon Else in Wonders Are Many. Brian Darr talks with him about revisiting the themes of his widely lauded The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb and about why Wonders would make for a good double feature with his friend Steven Okazaki's doc, White Light/Black Rain.

Blog entry 12/03/2007 - 12:53pm

Jessica Yu

By Aaron Hillis

Jessica Yu's followup to In the Realms of the Unreal, Protagonist, premiered at Sundance and we had two people on the ground who caught it and sent immediate word to the Daily. Brian Darr sets up the doc: "Posed with the problem of making a documentary with the great tragedician Euripides as an inspiration, Yu put out a call for people ready to tell their stories of a cathartic awakening that they had been traveling for too long down the wrong path." Craig Phillips noted that it "reminds me a bit of Errol Morris's Fast, Cheap, Out of Control, as it's an ambitious film with a quartet of subjects that don't always fully connect with each other but fascinate anyway."

Now that Protagonist is beginning a tour of theaters around the US, Aaron Hillis talks with Yu about interweaving four personal tales of catharsis and resolution.

 

Blog entry 11/26/2007 - 10:53am

By Sean Axmaker

Adrienne Shelly

Adrienne Shelly blossomed onto the indie film scene with her 1989 screen debut in Hal Hartley's debut feature The Unbelievable Truth. In the succeeding years, the diminutive, red-headed actress proved to be very picky about her screen roles, appearing largely in idiosyncratic indie films and guest-starring in East Coast-based TV shows like Homicide and Law and Order. She had come from the stage and continued writing, directing, and performing numerous stage productions in the independent theater scene in New York, and she was making a name for herself as a film director.

(Note: Her final film as director, Waitress, is now out on DVD.)

Blog entry 11/23/2007 - 12:55am

By John Esther

Considering the films he has written, directed and/or produced, it's not easy to see why Luc Besson and his film, Angela-A, were invited to this year's Sundance Film Festival. This is the festival, after all, that's supposed to be about finding great new voices outside of - and, ideally, who challenge - the mainstream entertainment apparatus.

Besson's newest feature, Angela-A, is now available on DVD.

Blog entry 11/17/2007 - 12:56am

By Sean Axmaker

Brian De Palma

"Brian De Palma is one of cinema's most hypnotic stylists, a virtuoso whose multilayered tracking shots can expand your perception of space, time, and motion onscreen; so it's a major statement when he throws away his jazzy technique and goes for something rough-hewn and immediate," writes David Edelstein in New York.

And that's precisely what he's done in Redacted, "a controversial film, a fictionalized portrait of real-life war crime in the current Iraq occupation, which De Palma has made more provocative by using the techniques of non-fiction filmmaking, TV news reporting, video diaries, and propaganda pieces to challenge audiences to question what exactly they're seeing," notes Sean Axmaker, introducing his interview with the director.

Blog entry 11/12/2007 - 6:51pm

Though its film stock had nearly turned to vinegar by the time UCLA stepped in with a timely restoration, Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep is of a vintage that only gets better with age. Its neorealist approach to the life of a neighborhood is rich, but the surprise is that it's also as fresh as the day it was made 30 years ago. Milestone Film and Video - the company that secured the music rights for the film (with the help of Steven Soderbergh) and encouraged the UCLA restoration of the work, is releasing it theatrically this spring and on DVD along with My Brother's Wedding (1983) this fall.

Susan Gerhard spoke with Burnett over the phone from Los Angeles, a few weeks before Killer of Sheep itself celebrated a milestone with the help of a film company that goes by the same name.

Killer of Sheep is now available on DVD, at long last.

Blog entry 11/12/2007 - 4:32pm

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