ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE - Only Lovers Left Alive out in the UK Today - REVIEW: The Guardian gives it 4 stars.>
The Guardian | 20 February 2014 | Peter Bradshaw
Only Lovers Left Alive – review
This retro-chic haute-hippy vampire flick gets its energy from the sulphurous chemistry between Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston
I have warmed up – or maybe rather cooled down – to Jim Jarmusch's beautifully made and exquisitely designed vampire movie since seeing it at Cannes last year. At first, it looked studenty and self-congratulatory. But if it is an exercise in style … well, what style. With its retro-chic connoisseurship and analogue era rock, this is a brilliant haute-hippy homage: a movie that could almost have been conceived at the same time as Performance or Zabriskie Point.
As the undead lovers, Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston hang out together very elegantly, exchanging worldly badinage and wondering what's in the fridge, like Withnail and Withnail, or I and I. Hiddleston is Adam, a reclusive vampire rock star hiding out from his fans in Detroit and savouring the necrophiliac ruin-porn thereabouts. Swinton plays his paramour, Eve, with her habitual queenly hauteur: she is living in Tangiers for the time being, pondering her literary collection (worryingly, this includes Infinite Jest) and chatting with Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), who appears to have been frozen in vampiredom in old age. Adam has a postcard of the Corpus portrait of Marlowe digitally tweaked to look like Hurt, so all that stuff about Marlowe being murdered at 29 must be untrue. (For people who love the dark, incidentally, neither has any interest in the seventh art.)
They get back together in Detroit, but when Eve's lairy rock-chick sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) shows up too, things go badly wrong. There is inexpressible languour to everything. I have had my crises of faith in the past about exactly how interesting or insightful vampirism is as a metaphor – that was part of my initial scepticism – and I still don't think this is in the same league as Abel Ferrara's The Addiction. Yet the sulphurous chemistry between Hiddleston and Swinton makes their 20-year age-difference irrelevant.
The damned have never looked so beautiful.
FALIRO HOUSE PRODUCTIONS - The Hollywood Reporter - Berlin: Greece's Faliro House Grows Footprint, Partners With FilmNation (Exclusive)>
The Hollywood Reporter | 11 February 2014 | by Pamela McClintock
Berlin -- Both auteur minded, Glen Basner's FilmNation and Christos V. Konstantakopoulos' Athens-based Faliro House Productions are partnering on a two-year fund that will pay for the development of four to eight projects a year.
The deal will allow FilmNation to further expand its strategy of acquiring high-profile development properties, while simultaneously broadening Faliro House’s slate with a number of marquee titles for the international marketplace.
Projects developed under the fund are intended to be financed with FilmNation's existing credit facility, allowing the production, sales and financing company to continue to build its pipeline.
“It’s an honor when a man like Glen Basner asks you to partner up,” said Konstantakopoulos, who is president of Faliiro. “This will greatly help our goals in Greece and abroad, and we very much look forward to working with Glen and all the wonderful citizens of FilmNation."
Founded in 2008, Faliro has been involved with a wide array of prestige projects, including Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter, Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive, Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups, Richard Linklater's Before Midnight and Alex Ross Perry's critically acclaimed 2014 Sundance Film Festival entry Listen Up Philip.
Upcoming Faliro titles include Athina Rachel Tsangari's Cheavlier, Babis Makridis' Pity, Yannis Economides' Stratos and The Lobster, from Oscar-nominated Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz (Protagonist Pictures is selling The Lobster at the Berlin Film Market).
Konstantakopoulos is the son of the late Vassilis C. Konstantakopoulos, a Greek sea captain, shipping magnate and entrepreneur who founded Costamare Shipping.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with such a well-respected producer and financier as Christos and his company Faliro House,” said Basner, CEO of FilmNation. “His exceptional taste in film aligns perfectly with FilmNation’s already existing slate and the support of this fund will greatly contribute to the success of future projects.”
The development fund was brought in and brokered by Victoria Cook of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC on behalf of Faliro House, and FilmNation’s COO Milan Popelka and EVP of Business & Legal Affairs Alison Cohen. The deal is effective immediately.
Aaron Ryder heads up FilmNation’s production arm, which made Nichols’ critically acclaimed box-office hit Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey. Coming out this year is Dan Beers' teen sex comedy Premature, which will world premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.
FilmNation is in development on Denis Villeneuve’s Story of Your Life, The Rules of Inheritance, starring Jennifer Lawrence, and The Good House, starring Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro.
Basner's company is representing international rights to several high-profile titles in Berlin this year, including courtroom drama The Whole Truth, starring Daniel Craig, John Carney's next film Sing Street and The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
THINGS PEOPLE DO - indiewire - Exclusive: Wes Bentley Takes Target Practice In Clip From 'Things People Do' Premiering At The Berlin Film Festival>
indiewire | 6 February 2014 | by KEVIN JAGERNAUTH
You may not know the name Saar Klein, but you've undoubtedly seen his work. He's the Oscar nominated editor behind Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" and Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous," who has a notable filmography that also includes "The New World" and "The Bourne Identity." However, he's transitioning to the director's chair, and his debut feature film "Things People Do" will be premiering at the Berlin Film Festival.
Starring Wes Bentley, Vinessa Shaw, Haley Bennett and Jason Isaacs, and executive produced by (among others) Doug Liman, the film tells the story of a man who turns to crime after losing his job, and falls in with a detective who no longer believes in the value of upholding the law. Here's the full synopsis:
Things are worse for Scanlin than he admits. Unknown to his family, he has lost his job as an insurance broker because he wasn’t making it hard enough for clients to claim insurance compensation. The bank shows no understanding when he fails to keep up his mortgage payments and this brings him to the brink of financial ruin. Like so many Americans, he is under enormous financial pressure. Scanlin’s strictly moralistic world view crumbles and he begins to identify with the stray dog that slopes around his newly built home on the edge of the plains, eating rubbish and drinking from the pool. Propelled by his need to survive Scanlin turns to crime and before long he becomes a modern Robin Hood who carefully chooses his victims before giving them a lesson – and bringing home the bacon again at last. His new friend is a policeman who doesn’t exactly follow the law to the letter. A world of double standards soon reveals itself to Scanlin.
It's an intriguing premise and approach to the current financial crisis it seems, and in this exclusive clip we see the family man and the detective making target practice out of what were once someone's belongings.
After premiering in Berlin, "Things People Do" will hit the SXSW Film Festival.
LOVE IS STRANGE - Variety - Berlin: Aussie Shingle Rialto Buys Three Titles>
variety | 5 February 2014 | by Patrick Frater
Australia’s Rialto Distribution made a trio of acquisitions on the eve of the European market.
It grabbed Australasian distribution rights to Ira Sachs’ “Love Is Strange,” the Roman Polanski-directed “Venus in Fur” and Michel Gondry’s “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?”
“Strange” which premiered last month in Sundance, stars Alfred Molina and John Lithgow as a gay couple, who finally get married, but are then forced to live apart. The picture was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for North America, Germany and Scandinavia.
“After the critical acclaim it received at Sundance, ahead of our theatrical release here in Australia and New Zealand, we are thrilled to be bringing local audiences another high-quality film,” said Rialto’s CEO Kelly Rogers.
The film is represented in multiple territories by Fortissimo.
“Venus in Fur,” based on the stage production, is repped by Lionsgate. “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?,” is Gondry’s documentary featuring a series of interviews with linguist, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky.
Rialto plans to give theatrical releases to all three pictures in Australia and New Zealand through 2014.
LOVE IS STRANGE - Focus Film - ‘Love is Strange’ Gets Picked by Sony from Sundance>
Focus Film | 5 February 2014 | by Jack Gattanella
Many films end up finding their distributor after screening at the Sundance Film Festival, and this year films across the spectrum found homes with companies, independent and connected with studios. Sony Pictures Classics, for example, picked up a new film starring Alfred Molina and John Lithgow called Love is Strange.
The film is directed by Ira Sachs (Married Life, Keep the Lights on his prior credits) and co-written with and Marucio Zacharias, and is about a middle-aged gay couple, played by Molina and Lithgow, who finally get married but when one of them loses his job they have to move in with other people to support themselves (a nephew and two gay cops, the setting in Brooklyn, New York). Rounding out the cast is Marisa Tomei, Cheyenne Jackson, Darren Burrows and Charlie Tahan.
The pic received some strong word of mouth at the festival, with Variety writer Peter Debruge starting his review with glowing praise: “Truth springs from the title and trickles down into every pore of “Love Is Strange,” an uncompromising yet accessible slice-of-life expression from Ira Sachs, one of the most perceptive and personal directors working in American cinema.”
Sachs expressed in a statement how pleased he is to be working again with Sony to release the film, praising Molina and Lithgow, and Sony shared the sentiment. “Filmmaker Ira Sachs, one of our most acute observers of humanity in modern times, has made his most accomplished film featuring two of the greatest actors in the English speaking world at the peak of their form. It is a privilege to collaborate with them on releasing LOVE IS STRANGE,” said Sony Pictures Classics.”
Sony will release the film in North America, Germany and Scandinavia; there are also plans through the Pretty Pictures company for a release in France. No word yet on any plans for the UK, however it is screening later this week at the Berlin International Film Festival, so more distribution deals may come after that.
At the festival, Lithgow noted about the subject matter: “Half the world is going to love this. The other half needs to see it.”
LOVE IS STRANGE - The Hollywood Reporter - 'Fruitvale Station,' Ira Sachs' 'Love Is Strange' Added to Altitude Film's Debut U.K. Release Slate>
The Hollywood Reporter | 5 February 2014 | by Stuart Kemp
The startup division of British company Altitude Film Entertainment builds debut theatrical release slate for 2014 and beyond.
Ira Sachs’ Love Is Strange, starring John Lithgow, Alfred Molina and Marisa Tomei and Ryan Coogler’s Cannes prize winner Fruitvale Station are among the titles added to the debut release slate for Altitude Film Distribution (AFD).
The startup U.K. theatrical division of Altitude Film Entertainment, the U.K. film company launched last year by Will Clarke -- founder of British indie distributor Optimum Releasing, which was sold to StudioCanal -- now has eight movies ready to rollout.
Sony Pictures Classics has Love is Strange for North America and other territories.
Also slated for a jaunt to British movie houses courteously of Altitude is All Cheerleaders Die, written and directed by Lucky McKee (The Woman) and Chris Sivertson (I Know Who Killed Me), which opened the midnight madness section at the Toronto International Film Festival 2013 and The Nightmare, a non-fiction horror film about the terrifying visions experienced by the victims of the surprisingly common phenomenon of sleep paralysis. Rodney Ascher mixes existing footage with cinematic recreations.
Altitude has also take U.K. distribution rights to Nick Read's Bolshoi Babylon, a behind-the-scenes documentary about Russia's famous dance institution, a project Altitude’s sales division is touting to buyers at this year’s EFM.
The titles join three previously announced debut slate titles; documentary 20 Feet from Stardom from Morgan Neville (Crossfire Hurricane) about backup vocalists, the untitled Amy Winehouse documentary, directed by Asif Kapadia (Senna) and The Loch, a character-driven horror thriller co-produced by Altitude Film Production with James Watkins (The Woman in Black), co-written by Watkins with Simon Duric who will also direct.
Altitude Film Entertainment chairman and joint CEO Will Clarke said: “For Altitude to be working with such highly talented, original and award-winning filmmakers with our first release slate is a fantastic position to be in. Ira Sachs, Ryan Coogler, Rodney Ascher, Asif Kapadia and Nick Read, are very different filmmakers in their creative style, but their films are, in their own ways, important, insightful, original and in pure terms, entertaining, and this is what Altitude wants to bring to UK audiences.”
Altitude Film Production has taken four films into production in just over a year including Big Game directed by Jalmari Helander, starring Samuel L Jackson and is currently halfway through its shoot. In addition to James McAvoy starrer Filth, Altitude has also produced The Hooligan Factory from emerging British filmmakers Nick Nevern and Jason Maza and Outpost 37 directed by Jabbar Raisani.
THE LOBSTER - Variety - Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz to Star in Yorgos Lanthimos’ ‘The Lobster’>
variety | 3 February 2014 | by Leo Barraclough
LONDON — Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz have come on board to play the lead roles in “The Lobster,” the first film in the English language by Oscar-nominated Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (“Dogtooth,” “Alps”). Protagonist Pictures will be selling the pic at the European Film Market in Berlin.
The pic is set to start shooting on March 24 in Ireland.
Farrell and Weisz join the previously announced Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux, Olivia Colman, Ariane Labed and Aggeliki Papoulia. Several other roles in the ensemble are being finalized.
Co-written by Lanthimos and his long-time collaborator, Efthimis Filippou, the film is an unconventional love story set in a dystopian future where finding a partner is a matter of life or death.
It is being produced by Element Pictures, Limp and Scarlet Films. Producers are Lanthimos, Lee Magiday, Ed Guiney and Ceci Dempsey, with Element’s Andrew Lowe acting as executive producer.
Partnering on the project are Christos V. Konstantakopoulos of Faliro House in Greece, Carole Scotta of Haut et Court (who will be both the French co-producer and distributor of the film), and Derk-Jan Warrink, Joost de Vries and Leontine Petit of Lemming Films in Holland.
The film is being financed by the BFI Film Fund, the Irish Film Board, Eurimages, Greek Film Center, CNC and the Dutch Film Fund.
Lanthimos said, “I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to work with such great actors. Their contribution to our film will enrich and expand the world we are trying to create and explore. Furthermore our team of old and new collaborators makes me very confident and excited to start making this film.”
Farrell, a Golden Globe winner for “In Bruges,” was recently seen in Disney’s “Saving Mr Banks” and is the star of Akiva Goldsman’s upcoming “Winter’s Tale” for Warner Bros. In post-production are “Miss Julie,” in which he co-stars with Jessica Chastain for director Liv Ullmann, and “Solace,” Afonso Poyart’s supernatural thriller in which he stars with Anthony Hopkins.
Weisz won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for “The Constant Gardener.” Her credits also include box office blockbusters “The Mummy,” “The Bourne Legacy” and “Oz The Great and Powerful.”
BEFORE MIDNIGHT - Variety - ‘Before Midnight’ Trilogy Might Look Improvised, But Every Word is Scripted>
variety | 29 January 2014 | by Jenelle Riley
Chatting with the trio behind “Before Midnight” — writer-director Richard Linklater and writer-stars Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke — is a bit like being in one of their movies. The conversation flows freely and quickly, with a great deal of overlapping dialogue and finishing of one another’s sentences.
The three recently gathered at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel the day after winning the Critics’ Choice Movie Award’s Louis XIII Genius honor for their work on what has come to be known as the “Before” trilogy: 1995’s “Before Sunrise,” 2004’s “Before Sunset” and 2013’s “Before Midnight.” Or, as Hawke jokingly calls it, “the lowest-grossing trilogy in the history of motion pictures.”
While they may not be making blockbusters, they’re not losing money — “Midnight” has grossed $11.2 million worldwide against a budget of just $3 million. And the triumvirate has achieved something that’s perhaps even more difficult. Over the course of 20 years, they have created beloved characters with a passionate following. All three films have earned critical raves, and the last two earned Oscar nominations for adapted screenplay.
The premise of each movie is simple, centering on Celine (Delpy) and Jesse (Hawke), who meet cute on a train in “Sunrise” and are reunited for one day in “Sunset.” That film ended with the possibility of the two remaining together, and “Midnight” opens to show that they are indeed married, with twin daughters. On the surface, not much appears to happen: The couple talk, fight, make up, move forward.
The co-writers say the sequel scripts generally begin as jokes. “We have a six-year break or so between movies where we don’t talk about it except to toss around goofy ideas,” Linklater says. “Like, what if we jumped genres entirely and found Jesse and Celine working as international spies.”
In early 2012, Linklater said they would shoot “Midnight” that summer, in Greece. Weeks before the August shoot date, the collaborators met to finalize the script and rehearse. But achieving the spontaneous feel of the films takes a lot of work. “I know it seems naturalistic, but it’s really hard on us,” Delpy says. “That’s why we take nine years to recover between films!”
In fact, there is no improvisation. Every word is scripted, including the overlapping dialogue. Linklater admits he feels both flattered and frustrated that people believe the movies utilize improv. “That is the objective, to make it seem like that,” he notes. “I’ve had so many directors pull me aside and ask how we do the overlaps.”
Linklater says it would be technically impossible to improvise many of the scenes, citing, for instance, a 13-minute single-shot scene at the start of “Midnight” that takes place entirely in a car. “Think about the technical side of that,” he notes. “We had to shut down roads. We had lighting, moving cars, a focus puller. You can’t do all of that on the fly.”
Delpy and Hawke point to that scene as one of the most difficult, both as writers and actors. “Nobody wants to be the person who spoils the take in the last minute,” Delpy says. Hawke estimates that early drafts of the car scene were as long as 38 pages. During rehearsal, the trio would get in a car and drive around and read it out loud. “We would decide what was too long, what was too boring, then go back to the hotel and rewrite and cut,” he adds.
While another installment for Jesse and Celine is not in the cards, their creators will likely partner on future projects. Linklater and Hawke just premiered “Boyhood,” a film shot over the course of 12 years, at the recent Sundance Film Festival.
How does Delpy feel about being left out? “I’m a little pissed off,” she jokes. “And I feel a little guilty,” says Linklater. “But we started that film before we did ‘Sunset.’ ” Adds Hawke to Delpy: “You’re not in it, and that’s why it won’t work. It’s the one that might finally reveal Richard is untalented.”
Linklater is quick to disagree. “Every film threatens to do that,” he deadpans.
LISTEN UP PHILIP - Vulture - Elisabeth Moss and Jason Schwartzman on Their Sundance Drama, Listen Up Philip, and Golden Globes Speeches>
vulture | 27 January 2014 | by Jada Yuan
This time last year, Elisabeth Moss was at Sundance debuting Top of the Lake, the Jane Campion miniseries that premiered in its seven-hour entirety at the festival and won Moss a Golden Globe earlier this month. The Mad Men star returned to the fest this year with two movies: the comedy-thriller The One I Love (co-starring Mark Duplass), and Listen Up Philip, in which she plays the long-suffering girlfriend of an increasingly self-absorbed Brooklyn novelist (Jason Schwartzman, who gets to say all kinds of fun lines like, “I hope this will be good for us, but especially for me”). Below, Moss and Schwartman talk Golden Globes experiences, playing an asshole, and updates on the Bored to Death movie and the end of Mad Men.
Moss: We met here last year!
Then we ran into each other in New Orleans, then you won the Golden Globe!
Moss: Then I won the Golden Globe. [Laughs.]
Schwartzman: Was it scary to sit up there and look at all those people in the audience, or were you not thinking about it?
Moss: So not thinking about it. It was like my words in front of my face trying to think of what to say and who to thank. And then the wrap-it-up thing.
And were you like, I’m going to be defiant about this and just keep going? Drag me off?
Moss: No, it was my first Golden Globe. I didn’t want to be that person. I was like, Yes, I will wrap it up. Thank you. Thank you so much, monitor. Wrapping it right up. Will do. On it. Watch me wrap this in a bow. Right there with ya. The thing is, you have a weird consciousness of how stupid it is to feel so thrown off. You just won an award, which, by the way, you dressed up for, you went all the way to the venue, you had all this time to think about the fact that you might [win]. It’s not like they just punked you.
Schwartzman: “Oh, I just thought this was dinner.”
Moss: You’re up there and you’re definitely like, “I can’t breathe, and my entire body is shaking and I feel like an idiot for being like that.”
Schwartzman: It’s funny, because it didn’t look like you were shaking. I wonder if you can’t really perceive shaking unless someone’s holding paper. Shaking maybe doesn’t translate.
Moss: But my legs were shaking and I was wearing a dress that showed my legs.
Schwartzman: You looked great, by the way. I loved that dress.
Moss: Thank you.
I will say, this rapport is very different from what I just saw ten minutes ago.
Schwartzman: Oh, you just saw the movie.
Yeah, I feel like I have to wash off some self-loathing.
Moss: We actually did get along really well. We’ve known each other for years. Pre-Rushmore, and pre-anything I ever did …
Where did you meet?
Moss: He was in a band [Phantom Planet], obviously, and I had a friend who dated a bass player in Maroon 5. And I just started becoming friends with those people before they were Maroon 5, and they would always play. It then became this big social group; everyone hung out together. And so [Jason and I] were friends and we got along really great and in rehearsal [for this movie], we would laugh in between takes and sometimes laugh during takes. But then we would have to fight and he had to be an asshole and I had to be super upset with him all the time.
Are we supposed to think that Philip becomes more of an asshole as he goes along? Because how did he get all of these women to fall in love with him and then hate him so much?
Schwartzman: About girls liking him, that’s not for me to answer.
Moss: We were talking about this last night, and I think [Jason’s] wife agreed. There were like four girls in the car, and all the girls were like, “Yep, totally would fall in love with that guy … totally get it.” I think girls understand it more than guys do. And he shows a lot of charm and he shows a lot of humor.
Schwartzman: I think Alex [Ross Perry, the director] said one time that this is a story about everyone who is in one of the worst times in their lives.
But it’s supposed to be the best part. He just published an acclaimed novel.
Schwartzman: There’s just something about this person … he’s not good right now.
Moss: And people handle success in different ways.
Schwartzman: At the end of the movie, Alex is like, “You’re not supposed to feel sympathy, really. You’re just supposed to feel like, Jesus." And that’s an experience that I’ve had in my life: It’s like you see people from a distance and you go, How is that person not getting it? How can that person act that way? They’re not aware of anything that they’re doing. That’s sort of what’s going on.
Jason, were you basing Philip on any assholes you know?
Schwartzman: I do believe all of us have every sort of basic instrument in us. We have a little violin, a little flute. He’s an extreme personality. I think Philip is really single-minded and just has extremely high standards. I just made him impossible to please. I was also thinking maybe he was just a curmudgeonly old man combined with a baby.
Schwartzman: Stubborn, like, “No. No. No!” You can’t win with a baby. You can’t really begin to reason with a 2-year-old. You’ve got to take control of certain situations. Kind of like an old man baby, cornered bird situation.
Were you and Alex friends before this, Jason?
Schwartzman: No. I was in Phantom Planet, and Alex, when we started to shoot the movie, showed me a picture of me and him. I must have been 21? Or 20? And he was 16 or 17. In Philadelphia, when Phantom Planet came to play, we took a picture together. And so I met him then but I don’t really remember.
Moss: That’s so funny!
Schwartzman: [After I read the script], we sat down to have dinner together. We almost had a date in a weird way. We had a really long dinner and went and had drinks. I was like, “So, can I call you?” But here’s an example of a total Philip thing: We had this great night. It was, like, the best. I say to Alex, “I love the movie, and you, and if you would want to do this, I would love to do this.” He said, “Really? Oh, great. Wow, that’s just amazing. From where I’m standing, there’s really only two people who can play this and you’re one of them, so I’d be so happy.” And I was like, “Who’s the other person?” It was the weirdest sentence to me ever. It was exactly something Philip would say.
Moss: Who doesn’t say, “There’s only one person”? You just lie and say that there’s one.
Schwartzman: There are only two people that could possibly play this. Oh, okay. Thank you.
So you feel like Alex really gets the character?
Moss: The thing is, Alex is way funnier. He’s nicer. He’s not an actual asshole. He’s not a dick. He has that confidence, and he has a sense of humor, and he has that honesty. Like, no filter.
Jason, is the Bored to Death movie moving along?
Schwartzman: Apparently Jonathan Ames is writing it. If all goes well, it should be made.
Are you so excited?
Schwartzman: I’m trying to keep my hopes at an altitude of more like sea level. To do a Bored to Death movie, you know, eight things have to happen perfectly for it to happen. So I just hope that all eight do. I don’t want to get my hopes up too high. But I’ve talked to Zach [Galifianakis] and Ted [Danson] and Jonathan ... and we're SO excited. I’ve even talked to them recently where I was like, God, I wish we were still doing it right now. My dream is that they would just pick us up for a fourth, fifth season.
You’ve just got to get TBS to do it.
Schwartzman: It was just so much fun. Maybe you could put in your article, that could we come back for more seasons? I’d like to go back to series.
Do you have residual detective skills?
Schwartzman: I do find that it sparked a thing in me that I want to get to the bottom of things in a way that I used to not want to. Like, How did this towel get here? Because you said you used it to dry off our dog … You know, that kind of stuff. More home stuff. I’m more of a domestic detective at this point. A domective.
So, Elisabeth: John Slattery is here. Christina Hendricks is here. Everybody is in movies from your show. Slattery said to a friend of mine at Rolling Stone that he’s ready for Mad Men to be over. So I’m curious what your feelings are on that.
Moss: It’s bittersweet. I keep saying that word, but it really is what it is. We all have done the show for nine years because we’ve taken such uneven breaks.
Schwartzman: Holy shit.
Moss: I know. We made the pilot when I was 23, but we didn’t start until a year later. And then we took a year off [owing to the writers' strike]. Nine. Years. So it will have been 23 to 32 that I will have done the show.
Schwartzman: You flip the numbers.
Moss: Yeah. I can’t believe we’re shooting the seventh season. We’ve been around longer than any other show right now. Boardwalk Empire’s ending. We were around before Breaking Bad and we’re still here. So I can’t complain. It’s going to be very weird and sad; it’s just going to be really weird not to play that character anymore.
LISTEN UP PHILIP - indiewire - Interview: Jason Schwartzman & Alex Ross Perry Discuss Misanthrophy Of 'Listen Up Philip'>
indiewire | 27 January 2014 | by KRISTIN MCCRACKEN
One of the most buzzed-about films at Sundance last week was Alex Ross Perry’s latest, “Listen Up Philip,” starring Jason Schwartzman as a misanthropic novelist without a filter in what’s being called “his best role since 'Rushmore' " (read our A-grade review here).The stellar cast is rounded out by Elisabeth Moss as Philip’s long-suffering girlfriend, Jonathan Pryce as his egotist-author role model (based, most likely, on Philip Roth), and a string of past and potential paramours (Dree Hemingway, Joséphine de La Baume, Kate Lyn Sheil). Even the peripheral acting by Krysten Ritter and Jess Weixler is first-rate, allowing Perry’s work to shine like it never has before.
Perry’s writing here is on fire too, with Schwartzman often delivering I-can’t-believe-he-said-that lines with a visceral and hilarious punch. (The story is moved along by Woody Allen-esque narration by dry wit Eric Bogosian.) At the same time, Pryce and Moss’s characters are given substantial screen time, allowing the audience to see both the (somewhat?) cause and effects, respectively, of Philip’s unhinged bile. Visually, audiences will recognize cinematographer Sean Price Williams and Perry ’shomage to the style, music and color palette of classic films by master directors, including John Cassavetes, Woody Allen and Wes Anderson, to name just a few.
We were lucky enough to connect with the quick-witted Perry and deadpan Schwartzman this week at Sundance, where we discussed the script’s inspiration, the actor’s glee at playing such a hateful person, and why Paul Schrader is “a king.” Interview below.
LISTEN UP PHILIP - Movie City News - Sundance 2014 Review: Listen Up Philip>
Movie City News | 25 January 2014 | by Kim Voynar
I almost didn’t see Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip at Sundance this year. I wasn’t a huge fan of Perry’s previous film, The Color Wheel, and thus was on the fence about seeing this one. A friend encouraged me to catch it anyhow, thinking I might like it, so when I wandered into the P&I tent after a canceled lunch date to see what the TBA was and found it was this film, I shrugged and took a seat. I’m so glad I did, because this film shattered whatever preconceived notions I’d had going in. Which is an object lesson for me, I guess, in not holding prejudice against a particular film just because I didn’t connect with the director’s previous work. So noted.
The story here revolves around Philip (expertly portrayed by that master of brooding man-boys, Jason Schwartzman), a talented writer who’s decidedly lacking in “works and plays well with others” on the report card of life. When we meet Philip, he’s channeling some serious anxiety over the publication of his new novel, along with some equally serious rage at the world. You could maybe excuse him if he was just having a rough time of things, but the film makes it clear early on that this is who Philip is: a talented but tragically solipsistic man whose issues go far beyond the mere stereotype of the difficult, selfish artist. He’s mean, he’s arrogant, he lacks empathy for others, and he views everything that happens through a lens tinted sharply by his favorite subject: himself.
Schwartzman brings this egotistic, misanthropic writer to life on screen with what can only be described as absolute commitment. With every tic of facial expression, every glower of darkly brooding brow, he owns Philip unapologetically. If he was going to take on the part of this asshole, he was going to do it thoroughly, and boy, does he ever. But while Philip may be a completely unlikable, unlovable character, Schwartzman manages to make him real and very human in spite of – perhaps because of – his many flaws.
Philip develops a relationship with a mentor, Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), a older writer and fellow misanthrope who sees in Philip a younger version of himself (though, as he keeps reminding Philip, he himself had achieved far more in the literary world by the time he was Philip’s age). Philip connects with Ike in a way he doesn’t with anyone else, and yet he’s somehow unable to read his own future in the allegorical tea leaves of Ike’s isolation from others and his utterly dysfunctional relationship with his daughter Melanie (Krysten Ritter). Instead, Philip just goes plowing along as he has been, tearing through and discarding relationships with both his longtime photographer girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss) and Yvette (Josephine de La Baume), an attractive professor at the liberal arts college where he lands an adjunct teaching position. I found it interesting that both of these educated, otherwise intelligent women have extended relationships with this man who cares for no one more than he does himself, and I suspect for some viewers, this aspect of the film will feel like wishful projection.
But here’s a truism about men like Philip: smart women who tell themselves they would never put up with his particular brand of bullshit no matter what nonetheless can and do fall prey to the allure of the reclusive, temperamental, misunderstood genius, and will keep coming back for more. Men like Philip present a challenge to overcome, a puzzle to solve – until the women in their lives finally have enough and say “no more.” And then those men end up alone, feeling misused and mistreated, looking everywhere save within themselves for the answer to the riddle of their loneliness and isolation.
While both The Color Wheel and Listen Up Philip deal with inherently unlikeable and self-absorbed characters, in the sense of both story and technical skill, this film represents a huge leap in maturity, style and substance from Perry. Although he’s working again with cinematographer Sean Price Williams, who also shot The Color Wheel, there’s a completely different level of artistic sensibility going on with this film, in everything from the way shots are framed, to the use of music, to the overall color design, which lends a warm, golden tone to the film that serves to contrast starkly with the coldness of Philip’s behavior and personality in a way that works very well. The film looks absolutely gorgeous in every frame, evoking a beauty that’s absent from the soul of its subject.
I’d heard a lot of mixed reactions from press folks around this film, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Philip goes beyond the mere unlikable; he’s the kind of person many of us would go out of our way to actively avoid having in our lives. And yet, I found myself, if not exactly liking Philip, at least not hating him. As a character, Philip’s not unlike many artists I know, though many of us wouldn’t necessarily want to see ourselves reflected in the choices he makes. Being an artist, a person not only committed to creating, but who cannot imagine doing anything else, does require a certain degree of selfishness. Creating art requires time and solitude and mental space, and if the best art comes from within us, it also demands that we spend enough time in our own heads to be able to draw out our own truths and weave them into something we can share with the world.
Philip takes this to an extreme, yes, and his misanthropy certainly isn’t typical of every artist. But in his insularity, his willingness to put his work above all else, even his relationships, there’s a glimmer of recognition many of us who work in the creative realm can identify with, even as he makes us cringe in moments of self-awareness as his focus becomes more about himself and less about the work. How much Philip’s truth reflects Perry’s own truths as the film’s writer and director, I couldn’t say. But I can say, without reservation, that with Listen Up Philip he’s certainly speaking a truth, and doing so with a rare, unflinching honesty, even if it’s sometimes hard to watch Philip’s tragically miserable existence unfold.
LISTEN UP PHILIP - Fandor - Alex Ross Perry’s LISTEN UP PHILIP “If THE COLOR WHEEL was his PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT, then LISTEN UP PHILIP is his LETTING GO.”>
Fandor | 25 January 2014 | by David Hudson
“The acerbically funny Listen Up Philip counts as a great leap forward for Alex Ross Perry after his generously received second feature, The Color Wheel,” writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. “Narrated by an anonymous man off screen (Eric Bogosian), a kind of authorial presence who bores into the characters’ thoughts and feelings, Mr. Perry’s latest is at once a riff on a Philip Roth novel and a sly gloss on some of the criticisms of the same. Its dyspeptic lead character, Philip Lewis Friedman (a very good Jason Schwartzman), is a 30-something New York writer who’s being rapidly devoured by his narcissism. On the eve of the publication of his second novel, he effects a scorched-earth policy—sometimes appallingly funny, sometimes just dreadful—toward almost everyone in his life…. Although the typeface used for the movie’s title self-consciously mimics the exaggerated one used for the original cover of Portnoy’s Complaint (among others), Mr. Perry’s story takes some of its cues from the fictional relationship between Mr. Roth’s famous alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, and E. I. Lonoff, a literary recluse first featured in Mr. Roth’s The Ghost Writer who has been long-viewed as a stand-in for Bernard Malamud.”
“Philip lives with his long-term girlfriend, Ashley, played by Elisabeth Moss in what may be the performance of her career to date, Peggy Olson notwithstanding,” writes Criticwire‘s Sam Adams. At one point, “as Philip reaches the heights of its protagonist’s misanthropy, Perry does something quite unexpected: He cuts away, for quite a while, to Ashley, a trick he repeats later with other characters, a structure supported by the film’s novelistic framing. Even when we’re riding shotgun with Philip, we’re not encouraged to see the world the way he does, or even, necessarily, to empathize with him.”
“Listen Up Philip is decidedly less weird, and more accessible, than The Color Wheel,” finds the AV Club‘s A.A. Dowd. Still, it “out-Baumbachs Noah Baumbach in its portrait of toxic narcissism.” And “Schwartzman, in one of his best performances since Rushmore, turns the character’s complete self-absorption into wickedly funny shtick. Was the part written for him or was he just the perfect choice to occupy it?” Grade: B+.
This is “a quantum leap forward from [Perry's] last feature,” finds Rodrigo Perez at the Playlist, “and it’s thanks in large part to great actors making the excellent script really sing.” As Philip’s mentor, novelist Ike Zimmerman, Jonathan Pryce delivers “what might be a career-best performance.” And with Krysten Ritter, Joséphine de La Baume, Dree Hemingway, Jess Weixler and Kate Lyn Sheil, “Philip has a first-rate, up-and-coming indie supporting cast.” Grade: A-.
“Cinematographer Sean Price Williams’s hand held camera does justice to both the characters and the stylized interiors they inhabit, whether swirling gracefully around rooms or staying tight on faces,” writes Emma Myers for Indiewire. “Although the film drags a bit in its second half, it nevertheless manages to articulate ephemeral notions of success, perception, and longing.” Grade: A-.
“If Perry’s savagely funny The Color Wheel was his Portnoy’s Complaint, then Listen Up Philip is his Letting Go,” writes Jordan Hoffman at Film.com. “If you aren’t adequately versed in the poet laureate of Weequahic, what that means is Listen Up Philip is big, sprawling and tortured, if a little lacking in focus—while funny in parts, it isn’t really a comedy.” Grade: 8.9/10.
“I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this odd 16mm odyssey,” writes Ben Umstead at Twitch. Interviews with Perry: Filmmaker and Indiewire. Ioncinema‘s Sundance “Trading Cards”: Perry and producers Katie Stern (more from Danielle Lurie at Filmmaker) and James M. Johnston. BlackBook‘s Hillary Weston talks with composer Keegan DeWitt.
Viewing. The Hollywood Reporter talks with Perry and his cast (3’33″). And James Joiner meets Schwartzman for Esquire (5’02″).
LISTEN UP PHILIP - The Film Experience - Sundance: Sophomore Directors Soar in 'Listen Up Philip' & 'I Origins'>
The Film Experience | 25 January 2014 | by Nathaniel R
Watching Alex Ross Perry’s mumblecore comedy The Color Wheel or Mike Cahill’s ambitious, but disappointing Another Earth in 2011 can’t really prepare you for their sophomore efforts, both of which premiered in Park City. Both Listen Up Philip and I Origins demonstrate a near stratospheric development for the pair in virtually every conceivable way. Cahill, especially, appears to have finally found a compelling way to conclude his high-concepts, which was one of the most frustrating elements of his debut. Perry on the other hand, has taken all of the promise found within his Indie Spirit-nominated gem and spun it into a literary tapestry that unfolds delicately and yet at breakneck speed.
You’d be forgiven for being taken entirely by surprise with Listen Up Philip thanks to its vivid, golden colourful strokes of 16mm beauty appearing in stark contrast to the minimalist aesthetic of his debut. Even more surprising is the structure that delightfully plays with audience expectations regarding the direction of certain characters. Just when you think Perry’s astute screenplay is teetering on the verge of monotony, it veers ever so delicately so that you may barely even notice. It’s a wonderful little game of bait and switch that helps make the film feel more intricate and less like two straight hours of people talking.
Thankfully, Perry has assembled a cast that is game for the dialogue-heavy responsibility of turning these arch characters into people worth investing time in. Schwartzman especially is somehow able to turn the prickly Philip, a likely cousin to Nicole Kidman and Noah Baumbach’s Margot, into more than just the insufferable bore that any real life version would surely be. Jonathan Price, Krysten Ritter, Jess Weixler and Eric Bogosian as the best disembodied narrator since John Hurt in Dogville, add ample support, but the real star of the show is Elisabeth Moss who has well and truly shed the idea that she’s nothing more than Mad Men’s Peggy. This is genuine awards-worthy work from Moss who is the emotional glue that keeps the film from truly descending into bitterness. One scene in particular even had me scribbling in my note pad “kidman in birth” in reference to a scene where it feels like every emotion under the sun is conveyed on her face. It’s a moment of rare human beauty in the film and shines like a beacon because of it. Frequently viciously cruel and hilarious, imbued by a cynical New York City, Listen Up Philip is a vital step forward for an exciting new talent.
Grade: B+ (although I have a feeling it will grow into an A- over time thanks to Moss)
Distribution: None yet, but if The Color Wheel can get even a minor release…
The direction that Mike Cahill has gone in isn’t as radically unexpected of a surprise, but is no less of a creative achievement. With I Origins, Cahill continues his collaboration with the curiously magnetic Brit Marling in another science fiction tale that goes more grandiose than the very lo-fi Another Earth, and yet remains thrillingly Earth-bound in its exploration of the scientific implications of God, reincarnation, and ethically dubious experimentation.
As if casting one actor that audiences seem cold on wasn’t enough, Cahill went and gave the lead role of romantically conflicted scientist (how about that for a wacky log line?) to Michael Pitt, and yet he is rewarded with what is likely Pitt’s finest work to date having thankfully shaken off the twitchy, affectedness that so often plagues his work (even if the science lab scenes are the shakiest and less thought out of the film). Marling, however continues to intrigue with her no-nonsense performances that remind me of early Jodie Foster in the way she seems determined to play characters in ways that could be easily come across as unlikeable, even when the role calls for sympathy.
As somebody who definitely believes in evolution, I was still able to find its very realistic and respectful take on the potential for a higher existence fascinating. It’s a can of worms type of situation regarding the science, even though much of it is invented it will likely incite debate, but sometimes that can be thrilling even if one doesn’t necessarily agree with the hypothesis that a film suggests. While the direction that I Origins goes into doesn’t necessarily surprise, it’s a tense thrill to watch Cahill gradually reveal his intentions and to realise that he’s not entirely playing the easy short game. A mid-credits stinger (which many audience members at my public screening missed due to their weird need to leave a film as soon as the credits begin) adds not only a striking denouement, but adds one last, chilling blow to the gut for viewers that may have calls for a sequel reaching fever pitch before mass audiences are even allowed to see it. Marvel’s post-credit tags look even more inconsequential and pointless in comparison.
I Origins is bigger, bolder, and altogether more intellectually ambitious than Cahill’s previous debut. The scale is improved to such a degree that one has to wonder what exactly happened in the three years since Another Earth. The relationships are more complex, the drama more three-dimensional. It asks big questions, but never tailspins into flights of fancy. It’s a marvel of restraint and perfectly judged for the material that will likely endear itself to audiences that found Upstream Color’s DNA dalliances too kooky as well as those who enjoy the more human-oriented sci-fi of Contact. The initial promise of Mike Cahill has finally been proven right.
Grade: B+ / A-
Distribution: Somebody has to buy it eventually.
LOVE IS STRANGE - Comingsoon.net - Love is Strange and Sony Pictures Classics Get Hitched>
comingsoon.net | January 24, 2014
Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired all North American, German and Scandinavian rights to Ira Sachs' feature Love is Strange. Love is Strange made its world premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, where it has been one of the most well received films by critics and audiences alike.
Academy Award nominee John Lithgow and Alfred Molina star as a longtime couple who lose their New York City home shortly after getting married and as a result must live apart, relying on friends and family to make ends meet. The cast of Love is Strange also includes Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei, Darren Burrows, Charlie Tahan and Cheyenne Jackson.
Written by Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias, Love is Strange is produced by Sachs, Lucas Joaquin, Lars Knudsen and Jay Van Hoy of Parts & Labor, and Jayne Baron Sherman.
In Love is Strange, Ben (Lithgow) and George (Molina) finally wed in Manhattan after 39 years together. However, once the Catholic school where George has had a longtime job hears of the marriage, he is fired, and the couple is forced to move into two separate households as they can no longer afford their Manhattan apartment. George moves in with two gay cops who live downstairs, and Ben moves to Brooklyn with his nephew, his wife, and their teenage son. While trying to find a new place to live together, Ben and George feel the pain of living apart while testing the strength of their relationships, both with each other and with those who have taken them in.
This acquisition also marks a reunion between Ira Sachs and Sony Pictures Classics, as the company previously distributed Sachs' Married Life in 2007.
"I'm thrilled to be working with Michael, Tom and Dylan again," said Sachs, "What was clear from our meetings is that they understand the film as a New York love story anchored by two powerhouse performances by Lithgow and Molina.'
"Filmmaker Ira Sachs, one of our most acute observers of humanity in modern times, has made his most accomplished film featuring two of the greatest actors in the English speaking world at the peak of their form. It is a privilege to collaborate with them on releasing 'Love is Strange,'" said Sony Pictures Classics.
LISTEN UP PHILIP - L.A. Times - Sundance 2014: Schwartzman, Moss & tough loves of 'Listen Up Philip' (video)>
Los Angeles Times | 23 January 2014 | by Mark Olsen
In just its few short years as part of the festival’s program, The NEXT section has become the place where many of the freshest, boldest new voices appear at Sundance. That is certainly true with Alex Ross Perry and his film “Listen Up Philip,” which examines with sharp, literary insight and a blunt power love, ambition, the meaning of success and the ripple effects of bad behavior.
The story revolves around Philip Lewis Friedman (Jason Schwartzman), who is just having his second novel published. His selfish behavior has finally become too much for his girlfriend, Ashley Kane (Elisabeth Moss), and they break up. Philip reaches out to Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), an older, established writer he idolizes and who has recently befriended him, and goes to stay with him. The cast also features Jess Weixler, Krysten Ritter, Keith Poulson, Josephine de la Baume and Dree Hemingway.
The film is Perry’s third, after “Impolex” and the Spirit Award-nominated “The Color Wheel,” but it is his first to play at Sundance. Shooting on Super-16 film with cinematographer Sean Price Williams, the film has an anxious, sometimes slightly woozy feel to it as Philip spins out of control, a catalog of poor responses.
Perry, Schwartzman and Moss sat for a video interview this week at the L.A. Times’ studio on Main Street. Perry explained that rather than any sort of auto-biography, the film chronicles events, ideas and arguments he wishes to avoid.
“I put all the scenarios in the film in hopes that they would never actually happen to me,” said Perry. “I felt that if I lived them this way and spent two years with them, then I could avoid actually having that one argument with somebody. And I’ve found it to be cathartic. But unfortunately now I feel like they’re all going to happen.”
The film shifts away from Philip at times, spending time focused on Ashley or Ike, giving the film a structure more akin to a novel than many films. It also features a narration, read by Eric Bogosian, which adds to the film’s literary feel.
While shooting some of the scenes over which the narration would be heard, Perry would read it aloud on set, which allowed the actors to both get the timing right and also know exactly what to express.
“It was interesting because there are scenes that, as they are written, our characters would stare at each other for a long time, knowing there would be narration over it,” said Schwartzman. “And the narration in fact has a lot to do with what’s going on in our bodies, and Alex would read that narration on set and it was very helpful.”
“It was like an inner monologue and then you didn’t have to talk, someone else was talking and you’d just stand there and emote,” said Moss. “It was like a silent film in a way.”
“Emote control, we’d call it,” joked Schwartzman.
Perry noted how despite all of Philip’s bad decisions and bad behavior, he still wanted the audience to feel for him, although he draws a distinction between pity and sympathy.
“The last 10 minutes of the movie are when it’s time to lay all the cards on the table and see if anybody can see through him and forgive the preceding 90 minutes of misery that you’ve seen him cause people,” said Perry. “If the ending works, by the last scene people are just thinking, ‘I feel bad for that guy. He is not good at being a human being.’”
Schwartzman added, “I think you could also say, 'I don’t feel bad for him, but, wow, that guy has got it all wrong.'”
“I wanted it very clearly to be these are the worst times in all of these people’s lives,” said Perry. “Twenty years from now all of these people would say, ‘You know, probably the worst time in my life was this one period.’ And when the movie ends the worst period of their lives ends.”
LOVE IS STRANGE - Deadline - Sundance: Sony Pictures Classics Near Deal For ‘Love Is Strange’>
deadline | 23 January 2014 | by MIKE FLEMING JR
Sony Pictures Classics is acquiring Love Is Strange, the film scripted and directed by Ira Sachs that stars Alfred Molina, John Lithgow, Marisa Tomei, Cheyenne Jackson, Darren Burrows and Charlie Tahan. The timely film is about two longtime gay lovers who finally get married.
One of them then gets fired and is unable to pay the rent. The couple must move in, separately, with a nephew and his family in Brooklyn and the two gay cops next door. The film got a strong response when it premiered last Saturday at the Eccles Theater. The deal is being made by WME Global. The film also got a French distribution deal with Pretty Pictures right after its premiere. SPC previously acquired the opening-night film Whiplash, and then the comedy Land Ho!
LOVE IS STRANGE - The Wrap - Sundance Video: John Lithgow, Marisa Tomei, Ira Sachs Discuss Politics of Gay Marriage in Film >
The Wrap | 21 January 2014 | Wrap Staff
“The Love Is Strange” cast stops by TheWrap’s video lounge at Tao in Park City
Is America ready for a mainstream story about a middle-aged gay couple who face troubles once they finally marry? In “Love is Strange,” Ira Sachs’ new drama, Alfred Molina loses his job as a choir director in a school after he finally marries his longtime partner, played by John Lithgow.
The cast of the movie, including Lithgow, Molina, Sachs, Marisa Tomei and Darren E. Burrows came to TheWrap’s video lounge at Sundance to talk about the movie, which has been greeted high emotion along with several other films dealing with marriage equality.
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE - parkrecord.com - Jarmusch is in the Sundance Spotlight with 'Only Lovers Left Alive'>
Park Record | 22 January 2014 | by Jay Meehan
The fact that a new film by American independent cinema icon Jim Jarmusch is screening in the Spotlight category at this year's Sundance Film Festival is certainly cause for much joy among the cognoscenti who have followed his every move since his "Stranger in Paradise" received a Special Jury prize at the Festival back in 1985.
Having premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival last May, "Only Lovers Left Alive" is, in the filmmaker's words, "an unconventional love story between a man and a woman, Adam and Eve. These two lovers are archetypal outsiders, classic bohemians, extremely intelligent and sophisticated—yet still in full possession of their animal instincts.
Did I mention it was a May-September relationship? Eve (Tilda Swinton), an obvious Cougar, has been around 3,000 years or so while Adam (Tom Hiddleston) only for only about 500.
"They have traveled the world and experienced many remarkable things," Jarmusch adds, "always inhabiting the shadowed margins of society. And, like their own love story, their particular perspective on human history spans centuries—because they happen to be vampires."
As they say, however, this isn't your father's vampire movie. "For our film, the vampire is a resonant metaphor—a way to frame the deeper intentions of the story. This is a love story, but also the story of two exceptional outsiders who, given their unusual circumstances, have a vast overview of human and natural history.
"Adam and Eve are themselves metaphors for the present state of human life—they are fragile and endangered, susceptible to natural forces, and to the shortsighted behavior of those in power."
To Jarmusch, who never met a film genre he couldn't tweak, there is always a back-story and a moral center to his work. And his range has always been remarkable.
From his prison comedy-crime-drama "Down Law" featuring Tom Waits , John Lurie , and Roberto Benigni to his post-modern western "Dead Man" with Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, and Crispin Glover and on to his rock-doc "Year of the Horse" with Neil Young and Crazy Horse and "Broken Flowers" with Bill Murray , Jessica Lange , and Sharon Stone , Jim Jarmusch, the poster child for "Idiosyncratic," has refused to repeat himself.
"Set in the very distinct cities of Detroit and Tangier, and taking place almost entirely at night, Adam and Eve must have human blood to survive." Did I mention the classic Jarmusch predilection to use place and mood as characters?
"But they now live in the world of the 21st century where biting the neck of a stranger would be reckless and regressive — for survival, they must be certain the blood that sustains them is pure and free of disease or contamination." Ah, there's the rub!
"It is the lovers who last the longest, who hold the most magical cards, who can shimmy through the gnarliest cracks and come up laughing," says Swinton of her character Eve's quest for survival with Adam. "It is the capacity to love that dies latest in a spirit. It is our capacity to love that we can rely upon right up until the final, rustiest wire — and beyond."
"Only Lovers Left Alive" contains the entire Jarmusch skill-set: perfect casting, sexuality, gorgeous cinematography, spellbinding music, off-center humor, drive-bys of the highest and lowest charkas, and reflections upon "art, science, memory, and the mysteries of everlasting love." And not only that, it never mentions the word "vampire," even once.
Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive" is one of the Spotlight films of the Sundance Film Festival. It will screen on Friday, Jan. 24, at the Broadway Centre Cinema 6, 9 p.m., Salt Lake City.
Saturday, Jan. 25, 8:45 p.m., Egyptian Theatre, Park City.
LISTEN UP PHILIP - indiewire - Sundance Review: Terrific & Remarkable ‘Listen Up Philip’ Starring Jason Schwartzman & Elisabeth Moss >
indiewire | 22 January 2014 | by RODRIGO PEREZ
Even the simplest melody can sound marvelous when played by a virtuoso, and in cinema, it’s amazing what well-trained, naturally gifted professional actors can do to with even basic material. Just look at the gigantic gulf between early Joe Swanberg movies featuring unrehearsed amateurs and his more recent, creatively successful films starring professionals: there’s a world of difference. Similarly, Alex Ross Perry’s terrific third feature, “Listen Up Philip,” is a quantum leap forward from his last feature, the micro-indie “The Color Wheel,” and it’s thanks in large part to great actors making the excellent script really sing.
Because aside from the terrific, attention-getting performances, it is a remarkable piece of work from this distinctive writer/director. A hilariously acidic look at the New York literary world and the complex and fragile egos within, “Listen Up Philip,” is a marvelously contoured picture and Perry’s most successful film to date by a wide margin. Jason Schwartzman in his best role since “Rushmore,” plays Philip, a bitter, narcissistic, up-and-coming novelist who is still consumed with anger despite his success. Normally internalizing his rage and saving it for his novels–as the affected literary narrator voiced by Eric Bogosnian informs the audience–on the rare occasion of meeting up with a pretty ex-girlfriend, Philip vomits up a backlogged torrent of abuse, recounting all the ways his ex-paramour was never supportive of his work. Emboldened by the feelings awakened from this change of heart, Philip even reconnects with an old friend from college to condemn him for not pursuing and securing his dreams of creative writing success (uproariously, this friend tells him to eat it and then shuffles on in his wheelchair).
Ostensibly proud of him for his excoriations, Philip's photographer girlfriend Ashley (a wonderfully nuanced Elisabeth Moss), is really just trying to mask the fact that their relationship is slowly deteriorating. And then, on the verge of the release of his second novel, “Obidant,” and convinced of its impending success, Philip is crushed by the news that the New York Times is going to give the book a negative review, and then heartened to hear that his literary idol, the Gore Vidal-like famed novelist Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce in what might be a career-best performance), loves the book and wants to meet him. Enamored of everything the elder statesman has to say, Philip soon accepts the generous offer to stay at Zimmerman’s upstate summer house so he can peacefully write, outside the noise of New York City (amusingly, Philip had no such issues before, but parroting his mentor, the young writer is soon incapable of spending time creatively in Manhattan).
While upstate, Philip’s strained relationship with Ashley falls apart further, as he starts to embrace the monstrously selfish qualities within himself that Ike is keen on encouraging and in general transforms into an even bigger asshole than the enormously self-absorbed one we first meet. Both a censure of and salute to the literary world, its neurotic creative types and the tiny/gigantic egos that need constant nourishment, “Listen Up Philip” is remarkably well-observed and rich. And the skewering of these appalling characters is often riotously funny.
Willfully difficult, arrogant, indifferent to promoting his novel and as self-centeredly assholish as possible, Philip is a piece of work, but also incredibly specific and well-drawn. This may be the most likable prick we’ve seen on screen since Steve Zissou in “The Life Aquatic.” Hewing close to a modern New York classic a la “Frances Ha,” the acerbic, witty, erudite echoes of Noah Baumbach and his belligerent characters are discernible. But Perry borrows from several influences to make something unique and idiosyncratic, so he's also a pricklier Woody Allen, a less fastidious Wes Anderson, and so on. In fact, one could facetiously call it "Philip Roth: The Movie" for all the similarities it bears his characters in its supercilious Jewish New York author incapable of meaningful connection with women; Roth's "Ghost Writer" even features a similar plot construct. Cassevetian in form, especially from his ‘70s period (though Perry also loves the close-ups of “Faces”), “Listen Up Philip” often features an aggressively roving camera not afraid of intruding into the face and never too concerned with focus. And shot on Super 16mm by Sean Price Williams (“Somebody Up There Likes Me,” “Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo”), it looks great (unlike some other Super 16 Sundance films we won’t name) its grainy, instagrammy filters give it a timeless quality, even though it takes place in present day (you won’t see one cell phone though).
On top of how tremendously textured the writing and performances are, “Listen Up Philip” boasts an ambitious triptych structure shifting focus from Philip to Ashley and then to Ike (rounding back to Philip once again). And wisely the tone makes adjustments where necessary (Ashley’s section is far less neurotic, but lonelier as Philip's absence is deeply felt). At two hours length, Perry’s sprawling film (long for a comedy) does lose a little steam in its third act, but the tortured despair of the protagonist has to be fulfilled and it’s hardly a major blight on what is so effervescently creative till then. Featuring clever rapid-fire dialogue, ‘Philip’ has a wonderful vitality and scored by Keegan DeWitt ("This Is Martin Bonner," "ColdWeather"), it has a contrastingly languid, Miles Davis-esque jazz score that is further reminiscent of Woody Allen and sustains the idea of this refined and cultured milieu.
Co-starring Krysten Ritter, Joséphine de La Baume, Dree Hemingway, Jess Weixler and Kate Lyn Sheil, 'Philip' has a first-rate, up-and-coming indie supporting cast, but the troika of Schwartzman, Moss and Pryce, all at the top of their game, and their layered inter-dynamics are more than enough to suffice. Trenchantly reflecting on the mishandling of success, blind ambition, idolatry, hero worship and the complex and competitive nature of artists in romantic relationships, “Listen Up Philip” is brilliantly chock-a-block with resonant observations. And while Philip himself is unconditionally unpleasant, Schwartzman imbues his obnoxiousness with an undeniable charm that cuts the tart personality.
A deeply misanthropic portrait of narcissism, the brittle nature of artistic talent and the struggles of living in New York City, this toxic comedy pulls very few punches when it needs to get really nasty. Philip's unpleasant self-regard is such that he poisons every relationship with his insecurity, contempt for others and need to always circle every conversation back to his favorite topic: himself. ‘Philip’ also cuts deeply on the idea of being so selfishly obsessed with women that a healthy relationship with any single member of the opposite sex seems like an impossibility. To reuse the Baumbach parallel, if "The Color Wheel” was Alex Ross Perry’s “Kicking And Screaming,” then “Listen Up Phillip” fast-forwards straight to “The Squid & The Whale”; we don't have to wait a picture or two for the one where Perry has truly found his voice and fulfilled the promise of his enormous potential. He’s already made it. [A-]
LISTEN UP PHILIP - Esquire Magazine - We Talk to Jason Schwartzman About Listen Up Philip>
Esquire | 22 January 2014 | by James Joiner
The Sundance Film Festival is a week of what seems like hundreds of movie premieres, but there's always a few that stand out, be it because of the names attached, the PR blast, or an organic buzz. Listen Up Philip is a combination of all three, starring indie darling Jason Schwartzman and recently anointed Golden Globe winner Elisabeth Moss as a couple on the brink of implosion while Schwartzman's character, an unrepentant, as he puts it in the interview, "asshole," angrily awaits the publication of his second novel. He eventually goes to stay in a remote vacation home belonging to his favorite writer, played by Jonathan Pryce. We sat down with Schwartzman to talk to him about what drew him to a role that seems removed from his usual scope as well as the film itself.
LISTEN UP PHILIP - indiewire - Sundance Review: Jason Schwartzman Does Well Under The Literary Influence in Alex Ross Perry’s 'Listen Up Philip'>
indiewire | 22 January 2014 | by EMMA MYERS
“Hopefully by the end of this you’ll feel like you’ve just read a novel,” director Alex Ross Perry said before the premiere of his film, “Listen Up Philip.” Employing voice-over narration and an episodic structure that recalls the chapters of a book, Perry’s third directorial effort marries the best of showing and telling. Its titular character is a cantankerous novelist played by a hirsute and well-styled Jason Schwartzman. Petty, self-obsessed, and fixated on a very recognizable form of success, Philip’s increasing solipsism is defined by his relationships with those around him. Importantly, the protagonist disappears for a sizeable chunk of the film’s mid section (a device Perry borrowed from William Gaddis’ novel, “Recognitions”) and we learn as much about him in absentia as we do from being in his overwhelming presence. A languorous yet methodical comedy, “Listen Up Phillip” unfolds like a sociological proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity.
We first meet Philip en route to meet an ex-girlfriend for lunch in Manhattan. She’s late, and the interior perspective afforded to us by the deep voiced narrator (Eric Bogosian) explains the extent to which Philip takes her tardiness as a personal insult. By the time she sits down, he’s worked himself into a fury. Ego bruised, he gives into spite and decides not to give her the advanced copy of his new book that he’s already inscribed for her. “So, you don’t get this gift from me,” he tells her. The line is delivered with the spirit and intonation of “Rushmore’s” Max Fischer and indeed, Philip is exactly the kind of man Max might have grown up to become.
Philip’s growing distance from his girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss) stems from the fact that her career as a commercial photographer is much more fruitful than his own, which he views as a detraction from his sense of self-worth. Finding more validation in a newfound friendship with his literary hero, Ike (played by a note perfect Jonathan Pryce), Philip leaps at the invitation for a one-week writing getaway at Ike’s idyllic country house. A week turns into an entire summer and when summer bleeds into a fall teaching job upstate, Philip doesn’t discuss his decision to leave New York with Ashley so much as her informs her of it, packing his vintage suitcase and heading for the well-lettered hills.
Rather than dropping out on Ashley to immediately follow Philip, Perry wisely stays with her for a chapter, and as she revisits her memory of him the audience becomes privy to the qualities that attracted Ashley to such an unlikable man in the first place. It’s a crucial move which, coupled with Schwartzman’s charm in the role, saves his character from being totally alienating. For her part, Elisabeth Moss delivers a performance that is as subtly emotive as it is stoic, gradually revealing the extent to which Ashley and Philip’s differences perhaps stem from their similarities.
Philip is the kind of man who writes his life rather than living it. Playing the part of both the successful author and a character in one of his own books, he speaks in pre-scripted lines of dialogue and dresses in tweed even in the height of the summer heat. “Ever since high school I wanted to fall in love with a French girl,” he tells Ike one day, so when the opportunity for romance with a young French faculty member arises Philip pursues the idea of the relationship rather than the relationship itself.
An expert at self-curation, he similarly clings to a romanticized version of Ike that blinds him to the older man’s glaring faults. Ike is just as selfish as Philip, feeding off his sycophantic company more than anything else. The cynical spin on the traditional mentor-mentee relationship is played out to comedic avail and it’s only Ike’s daughter, Melanie (Krysten Ritter) who is able to shed real light on her father’s character, revealing the hurt beneath what Philip sees as the glamor of Ike’s literary success—namely the womanizing and egotism that destroyed her mother and left her neglected.
By creating a world with contemporary concerns and antiquated aesthetics (right down to the title font, which is a direct nod to the book covers of Philip Roth), Perry is complicit in the actualization of Philip’s idealized existence. It’s a world from which modern gadgetry has been wiped out: rotary phones replace cellulars and typewriters stand in for computers. Enhanced by Keegan DeWitt’s atmospheric jazz score, the film is steeped in a sense of nostalgia for the kind of literary life that no longer exists—and perhaps never really did—one of single malt scotch, doting female fans, and exclusively brown clothing.
Cinematographer Sean Price Williams’ hand held camera does justice to both the characters and the stylized interiors they inhabit, whether swirling gracefully around rooms or staying tight on faces. Although the film drags a bit in its second half, it nevertheless manages to articulate ephemeral notions of success, perception, and longing. Resembling the work of Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach and Woody Allen circa “Husbands and Wives” in style and tone, the script’s deadpan wit makes its appeal more cerebral than emotional. Like its central character, “Listen Up Philip” exudes a kind of highbrow affectation that charms more than it alienates.
LISTEN UP PHILIP - The Hollywood Reporter - Fireside Chats: Jason Schwartzman on Almost Getting Arrested on the Set of 'Listen Up Philip'>
The Hollywood Reporter | 22 January 2014 | THR Staff
During a visit to THR's video lounge, Jason Schwartzman shares how he almost got arrested in New York while filming a scene in Alex Ross Perry's drama. The film, about a writer (Schwartzman) with anger issues, also stars Elisabeth Moss and Jonathan Pryce. "We describe it as the feel-bad movie of the year," jokes Schwartzman.
LISTEN UP PHILIP - Film.com - Sundance Review: ‘Listen Up Phillip' >
Film.com | 21 January 2014 | by Jordan Hoffman
"8.9 of 10" -> "I've never laughed so hard at a joke about allergy medication." -> "TOP PICK"
Writer/director Alex Ross Perry has some real Philip Roth affection going on – the credits of his films are in “that typeface” – so I’ll lay this out in appropriate language. If Perry’s savagely funny “The Color Wheel” was his “Portnoy’s Complaint,” then “Listen Up Philip” is his “Letting Go.”
If you aren’t adequately versed in the poet laureate of Weequahic, what that means is “Listen Up Philip” is big, sprawling and tortured, if a little lacking in focus – while funny in parts, it isn’t really a comedy. The plot of this 120 minute film (long for an indie these days) can be summed up in a sentence fragment, but the rich scene work and unpredictable storyline make for a probing inquiry into the film’s three main characters.
The titular Philip is Philip Lewis Friedman (Jason Schwartzman), an angry and arrogant novelist awaiting the publication of his second book. Will financial success follow? This isn’t a top concern, especially since the famed Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), a little bit modeled after Roth, claims to love the novel and wants to meet up. A mentor-pupil relationship begins, and Philip pulls up stakes from his Brooklyn apartment to tap away at his typewriter in Zimmerman’s country home. It’s just as well, as he and his live-in girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss, in a role miles from “Mad Men”‘s Peggy) have grown distant.
But growing distant is something Philip seems to be doing by design. The film begins with a series of blunt disconnections, as Philip lays into his few friends and basically tells them how horrible they are. It’s not an easy way to get to know a new character, but with Eric Bogosian reading pointed prose via narration, these acts (and all others) take on something of a larger, archetypal significance. Philip is a “type,” but Perry is unafraid to take the cliche of a prickly author head-on.
To his great aid, Schwartzman is absolute perfect casting. There’s a smidgen of his affable “Bored to Death” character in his snarky line readings, so when he’s being, let’s face it, a colossal douche, it’s impossible to fully dislike him. Even when he’s telling his publishers he refuses to do any press, even when he’s dismissing fans who didn’t read his first book, even when he’s cursing a colleague who dared to commit suicide, thus cementing his literary career.
There are rock-solid zings throughout the film. I tried jotting some down but the sheer number made this an impossibility. All I know is that I’ve laughed so hard at an allergy medication joke before.
As in “The Color Wheel,” Perry sticks with close-ups of faces with occasional prop inserts. The effect is a little claustrophobic, which works wonderfully for the uncomfortable party scenes and arguments in cramped apartments. “Listen Up Philip” also retains the earlier film’s joke-telling-through-editing, where unexpected cuts mid-sentence often reveal the direction of a full scene by showing you what you missed. (Kate Lyn Sheil gets one of the better exits in recent movies by just vanishing from the frame.)
“Listen Up Philip”‘s original and ubiquitous score reminds me of the Miles Davis-Gil Evans collaboration “Sketches of Spain,” just one of the movie’s many “classy” influences. Perry’s world is one without cell phones (hell, the film is shot on film!) and the absence of prevalent modernity eventually becomes a presence. (No talk of eBooks at the publishers’, either.)
Another interesting choice are the lengthy departures Philip takes from the center stage. Pryce’s Zimmerman and Moss’ successful photographer Ashley have their lives greatly changed by being near the black hole that is Philip, and the film takes its time to observe the ripple effect in their worlds.
If “Listen Up Philip” isn’t fun in the traditional sense, no doubt that is by design – “Philip” is a striking portrait of a guy you don’t really want to know, but the feeling is assuredly mutual.
SCORE: 8.9 / 10
LISTEN UP PHILIP - The Salt Lake Tribune - Sundance red carpet photos: "Listen Up Philip" with Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss premieres>
The Salt Lake Tribune | 21 January 2014 | by Rick Egan
Follow the link below to view the photo gallery ...
LOVE IS STRANGE - Variety Review : John Lithgow and Alfred Molina steal our hearts as a gay couple forced to live apart shortly after taking their long-overdue marriage vows>
Variety | 20 Jan, 2014 | By Peter Debruge
"Truth springs from the title and trickles down into every pore of “Love Is Strange,” an uncompromising yet accessible slice-of-life expression from Ira Sachs, one of the most perceptive and personal directors working in American cinema. Here, the helmer branches out beyond his own lived experience to imagine a same-sex relationship 39 years strong as it is tested immediately following the couple’s long-overdue marriage. This beautifully observed ensembler shines on the strength of its two leads, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, who conjure four decades together as they enter the “for better, for worse” phase of their union.
Keenly aware that it is the “sexual” part of homosexuality that seems to offend the family-values crowd, Sachs has shrewdly focused on an example where hearts lead the way — so much so that the couple’s progressive New York family look to their old gay uncles as role models in romance. That’s not to say that painter Ben (Lithgow) and music teacher George (Molina) are an idealized pair. They still bicker and fuss, and in one of the film’s most moving scenes, an errant husband apologizes for his past indiscretions.
These two may as well be real people, which is precisely how Sachs and co-writer Mauricio Zacharias have conceived them, leaving room for the actors to breathe life into the roles. It takes a bit of time for audiences to acclimate, leaving the early scenes feeling somewhat stiff as Ben and George exchange vows, while characters we haven’t had a chance to meet clap and smile from the sidelines. Like a film by Altman or Cassavetes, Sachs’ movies can be overcrowded this way, as the director’s generosity makes it impossible to exclude anyone from the picture (apparent in the way the camera privileges virtual strangers with dedicated closeups in group scenes), though his gentle humanism recalls the more reflective empathy of “Tokyo Story” in particular this time around.
In short order, the key players emerge, courtesy of a family powwow in which the elderly newlyweds face the consequences of making their commitment public: Though the administrators at the Catholic school where George teaches music had long known he was gay, they’re forced to fire him after diocese officials gets wind of his marriage. Without George’s income, the couple can’t afford their mortgage and are forced to impose on their inner circle for a place to stay.
George crashes with “the policewomen,” as they affectionately refer to their butch gay-cop buddies (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez), while Ben lands with his workaholic nephew Elliot (Darren Burrows) and his write-from-home wife Kate (Marisa Tomei), where he shares a bunk bed with their teenage son, Joey (Charlie Tahan), who’s at just the age when privacy would be preferred. Though this makeshift arrangement could easily sustain a sitcom, Sachs and Zacharias confine the comedy to the realm of relatable human moments, such that laughs arise out of recognition rather than contrivance.
But isn’t the entire concept contrived? Maybe on paper, but in practice, “Love Is Strange” never feels anything less than authentic, like a true story shared by close friends. One can almost imagine the same thing happening to an evicted pair of grandparents (as it did in Leo McCarey’s “Make Way for Tomorrow”), though in that case, Kate probably wouldn’t be quite so uncomfortable with the idea of Ben asking Joey’s best friend (Eric Tabach) to pose for a painting. Although the couple’s friends and family are far from homophobic, living in such close quarters certainly strains their tolerance of one another. As Ben confides to George by phone one evening, “Sometimes when you live with people, you know them better than you care to.” Judging from Tomei’s delicately understated supporting turn, it can safely be assumed that the feeling is mutual.
More important than the challenges of living with others is the enormous difficulty of trying to live apart, however temporary the arrangement. In depicting that struggle — illustrated through lovesick evenings spent alone and unapologetically affectionate reunions — “Love Is Strange” poignantly makes the case for the validity of Ben and George’s relationship.
But theirs isn’t the only love that matters here. The script pays careful attention to the feelings of the other characters as well, especially young Joey, whose parents begin to suspect he might be gay, and his dad, who might be having an offscreen affair. Like the Eric Rohmer of modern Manhattan, Sachs opens his arms wide and embraces the emotional complexity of his entire ensemble, allowing the focus to shift organically between players. The film even shares a touch of the French director’s sun-dappled aesthetic, courtesy of “Before Midnight” d.p. Christos Boudoirs (not to mention his recurring seasonal motif).
Generally speaking, Sachs favors an unfussy style that privileges his characters over flashier aesthetic choices. The lone exception is the use of a rolling-piano score, composed primarily of Chopin numbers (a staple of George’s tutoring session), which invite yet another layer of reflection without hammering a specific emotional response. Ultimately, as embodied by the likes of Lithgow and Molina, love may be strange, though it could hardly be considered unnatural."
LISTEN UP PHILIP - The Hollywood Reporter - Sundance: The Hollywood Reporter Fetes 'Listen Up Philip' Cast After Premiere>
The Hollywood Reporter | 20 January 2014 | by Rebecca Ford
PARK CITY – The Hollywood Reporter celebrated the premiere of Listen Up Philip -- Alex Ross Perry's comedy starring Jason Schwartzman as a self-involved writer -- with an intimate party at Cisero's downstairs bar on Main Street on Monday night.
The cast of the film -- including Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce, Krysten Ritter and Joséphine de La Baume -- arrived with Perry at the exclusive event directly after the premiere, still riding high from the warm reception they received at the Library Theatre in Park City.
"I've never had a premiere of a movie of mine with more than a dozen people before," said Perry, whose 2011 film The Color Wheel was nominated for an Indie Spirit Award. "I felt very confident with what we had with this film."
Perry, who posed for photos with his cast before snacking on vegan hors d'oeuvres at the event, which was sponsored by American Airlines, told THR he had been in Park City for four days, which allowed him to see several films -- including Happy Christmas, The Guest and Wetlands -- before embarking on his own press tour for Listen Up Philip.
Moss told THR that the premiere was the first time she'd seen the film, and that she was very happy with the audience's reaction.
"That's always a bit scary," she said. "It seemed like they liked it. They laughed a lot, which is awesome."
Moss, who said she's about halfway through filming the next season of Mad Men, was still glowing from her recent Golden Globe win for Top of the Lake.
"I was so genuinely surprised," she said of her recent win.
She told THR that she was lucky that AMC's Mad Men was willing to give her a few days off to attend the festival, where she was promoting two films. Along with Listen Up Philip, Moss also starred in Charlie McDowell's directorial debut The One I Love opposite Sundance vet Mark Duplass.
"I just stand in one place and they switch movies around me," she joked.
LOVE IS STRANGE - Indiewire Review : Another winner from Ira Sachs at the Sundance Film Festival: Love is Strange, starring Alfred Molina and Officially John Lithgow>
indiewire | Jan 19, 2014 | By Eric Kohn
"Sundance Review: John Lithgow and Alfred Molina Give Their Best Performances In Years As Struggling Couple In Ira Sachs' Tender NYC Drama 'Love Is Strange'
New York filmmaker Ira Sachs' best work is steeped in understatement and introspective characters, from the disgruntled music producer played by Rip Torn in "Forty Shades of Blue" to the troubled gay couple in "Keep the Lights On." In between those two projects, Sachs took an uneasy step into more traditional big budget filmmaking with the quasi-Hitchcockian "Married Life." Like that movie, Sachs' new work "Love Is Strange" features name actors and a polished look, but it remains remarkably faithful to the strongest ingredients in his other work: Featuring extraordinarily sensitive turns by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as an aging married couple forced to vacate their Manhattan apartment, "Love Is Strange" is a sophisticated take on contemporary urbanity infused with romantic ideals and the tragedy of their dissolution.
The movie opens on the celebratory wedding day for Ben (Lithgow) and George (Molina), who have been a couple for nearly 40 years and finally get to legally tie the knot. Surrounded by friends and family, including the 71-year-old Ben's grown nephew (Darren E. Burrows) and his wife Kate (Marisa Tomei, matching the movie's leads with a deeply believable mixture of delicacy and obstinance). Sachs lays out the prevalent happiness that defines the groups' lives: Ben, a painter, lives happily with his creativity while George maintains a steady job leading the choir at a local church. Seen charming their house guests after their marriage with a piano duet, their happy existence takes on utopian dimensions — an upbeat atmosphere that intensifies the gloominess to come.
Abruptly fired from the church where he's worked for years due to congregation members complaining about his sexual orientation, George is suddenly left without any resources to support their cozy world. This shift features Sachs' repeated means of skipping ahead to significance moments rather than weighing down his story with exposition: From George's tense exchange with his former employer about his faith, Sachs cuts to a scene in which George and Ben explain to their close friends that they've decided to sell their apartment. Suddenly forced into a nomadic state, the men have no choice but to split up — physically, anyway — by staying with different friends willing to squeeze them into their own tiny abodes.
George winds up in the living room of mutual acquaintance Ted (Cheyenne Jackson) — a uniform-clad, socially active gay man whose energetic lifestyle casts a significant contrast with George's settled ways — while Ben squeezes into his nephew's place, sharing a bedroom with his angst-riddled great-nephew, teenager Joey (Charlie Tahan). These ingredients don't lead to major twists so much as a series of observations about the ways that this imprecise arrangement impacts both men. Uneasy in their makeshift homes, they exchange doleful phone conversations while making awkward attempts to blend in. But with no professional hope on the horizon, their situation starts to feel more like a frozen state than any sort of limbo, which heightens the sense of unease about their prospects. While Ben struggles to remain invested in his freelance teaching gigs, George lies around feeling uninspired until he attempts to paint Joey's close teen friend, a decision that leads to consternation in his nephew's household.
Constantly uncertain of their next moves and always on the brink of hopelessness, the couple's quandary is written on the actors' faces: Molina, eyes routinely heavy as he gets lost in one train of thought after another, has a more complex screen presence than anything he's done on the big screen in years; Lithgow, playing a klutzy introvert on the verge of senility, emanates both depression and slapstick in his struggles to keep his mind going. This erratic quality gives "Love Is Strange" a fascinating perspective as it veers from a placid take on desperation to a galvanizing consideration of life's unpredictable ironies.
Sachs follows this conundrum with a patient rhythm while elaborating on the community of people surrounding the two men. The formidable supporting cast draw out the sense of great motion encircling the couple's increasingly static lives. Tahan, as George's angry, confused great-nephew, stands out as the film's great counter-point to the quieter struggles of the older men.
Filmmaker Ira Sachs.
Yet the environment of "Love Is Strange" is nearly as intrinsic to its appeal as the performances. Christos Voudouris' swooning urban cinematography, often set to a tranquil Chopin score, lends an air of elegance to the plot while pitting it against the main dilemma. Most scenes take place in the claustrophobia of middle class Manhattan apartments, an apt reflection of the couple's limited mobility as well as the shrinking personal space that typifies contemporary big city life.
But Sachs rarely overstates his themes. "Love Is Strange" is largely a restrained drama about the loss of comfort. "When you live with people, you know them better than you want to," George tells Ben, giving voice to their inability to make peace with any company except each other. It's a conceit expressed even better in visual terms, when George pays a late night visit to Ben and simply embraces him for seconds on end, weeping softly. Sachs' patient camera simply observes the couple, and for a moment the movie nearly freezes all semblance of narrative and transmutes it into sheer emotion. That "Love Is Strange" manages to squeeze in these tender asides while retaining a wholly straightforward narrative is indicative of the refined filmmaking capabilities on display.
Still, "Love Is Strange" gently pushes its story along by leaving major developments off-screen, making the texture of their ramifications especially pronounced. The result is a consistent look at the ceaseless passage of time that sometimes forces audiences to do too much guesswork and has a distancing effect. Nevertheless, the approach reaches a stirring outcome in the final, lyrical images that mark a generational transition from the older characters to the movie's youngest star. It's during this phenomenal ending, one of the best found in any recent American movie, that "Love Is Strange" progresses from a rumination on the past to celebrating the wonder of anticipating a sunnier future."
Criticwire Grade: A-
LISTEN UP PHILIP - Slash Film - ‘Listen Up Philip’ Teaser Trailer: Jason Schwartzman Does the Reclusive Writer Thing>
slashfilm | 17 January 2014 | by Germain Lussier
Jason Schwartzman‘s latest film will premiere Monday at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and a teaser trailer has been released to celebrate the occasion. The film is called Listen Up, Philip and it’s written and directed by Alex Ross Perry. Schwartzman plays a successful writer fed up with busy city life who goes into seclusion. Elizabeth Moss, Krysten Ritter and Jonathan Pryce are along for the ride.
BEFORE MIDNIGHT - The nominations for the 86th Academy Awards have been announced. Before Midnight has been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.>
BEFORE MIDNIGHT - Forest Whitaker and 'Before Midnight' team to receive BFCA honors at Critics' Choice Movie Awards>
hitfix.com | 14 January 2014 | by Kristopher Tapley
""Before Midnight" scribes Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater have been tapped for the Louis XIII Genius Award, to be presented by actor Matthew McConaughey. Given inaugurally to Judd Apatow last year, the honor recognizes an unprecedented demonstration of excellence in the cinematic arts."
BEFORE MIDNIGHT - Before Midnight wins best romance from the 15th Annual Golden Tomato Awards>
It also comes in First-Runner Up for all wide-release films in 2013.
BEFORE MIDNIGHT - Los Angeles Times - Bruce Dern and Judi Dench top AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards >
Los Angeles Times | 9 January 2014 | by Amy Kaufman
At the box office, young people still hold the buying power -- sending caped crusaders and archery-loving heroines to the top of the charts.
Iron Man and Katniss Everdeen don't mean much, however, to the editors at AARP's The Magazine -- the publication aimed at the 50-plus set. This week, the magazine released the winners of its 13th annual Movies for Grownups Awards, which -- no surprise here -- honor films for mature audiences.
Many of the winners on AARP's list have been staples on the award-season circuit over the last few months. The lead actress nod, for instance, went to 79-year-old Judi Dench for her performance in the British dramedy "Philomena," while 77-year-old Bruce Dern was recognized for his turn in "Nebraska." Meanwhile, Steve McQueen's critical darling "12 Years a Slave" -- considered a frontrunner for the best picture prize at the Oscars -- was named the ultimate movie for grownups.
There were, of course, some more, uh, interesting selections. Best buddy picture went to "Last Vegas," starring Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman as four friends celebrating a bachelor party in Sin City. Roughly 47% of the moviegoers who saw the film on its opening weekend in November were over the age of 50.
At 43, Ethan Hawke is the youngest nominee of the bunch, nominated alongside cowriters Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater for their "Before Midnight" screenplay.
AARP will host a gala to celebrate its honorees in Los Angeles on Feb. 10.
The full list of winners follows.
Best Movie for Grownups: "12 Years a Slave"
Best Actress: Judi Dench, "Philomena"
Best Actor: Bruce Dern, "Nebraska"
Best Supporting Actress: Oprah Winfrey, "Lee Daniels' The Butler"
Best Supporting Actor: Chris Cooper, "August: Osage County"
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, "Gravity"
Best Screenwriter: Richard Linklater (with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke), "Before Midnight"
Best Grownup Love Story: Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini, "Enough Said"
Best Comedy: "The Way Way Back"
Best Intergenerational Movie: "Nebraska"
Best Documentary: "20 Feet From Stardom"
Breakthrough Accomplishment: Mary Steenburgen singing in "Last Vegas"
Best Foreign Film: "Renoir"
Best Buddy Picture: "Last Vegas"
Best Time Capsule: "American Hustle"
Best Movie for Grownups Who Refuse to Grow Up: "Saving Mr. Banks"
Judge's Award for Extraordinary Merit: "All Is Lost"
Reader’s Choice: "The Butler"
BEFORE MIDNIGHT - HITFIX - Linklater, Hawke and Delpy discuss their 'Before' trilogy and why 'life is magic enough'>
hitfix.com | 7 January 2014 | by Kristopher Tapley
For Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, the goal of three unique films — 1995's "Before Sunrise," 2004's "Before Sunset" and 2013's "Before Midnight" — that have followed the lives of Celine and Jesse, a pair of love-struck individuals, has been to make viewers feel like they know them. These are people trying to be understood, and the idea is "to get in on their communication," as Linklater puts it. The films have aimed to depict Celine and Jesse as fully as they can, and the result has been one of the most singular on-going cinematic experiences in the modern canon.
To that, Delpy adds that a desire for complexity has been at the forefront. "They're not melodramatic," she says. "It's kind of real and a very small window in the life of these people. It's very important not to make them flat characters."
Celine is unusual in that the opportunities to convey such a complex female character are so few and far between, particularly in the Hollywood sphere.
"The problem, probably, is very insidious," Hawke says, "which is that young women are told at a very young age that what's most interesting about them is being pretty. It's a kind of soul-gutting thing to do to our young women. Whereas men are never taught that. The man who overvalues his looks is really sneered at. If you just flip through the channels and how often you see a woman disrobing in some way or dead or in some state of violence being put upon her, it's shocking. It's rare to see a woman not in one of those positions. So that's what's so remarkable about Celine. And also she's a flawed person. It's not a glamorized portrait of a woman. It's a dimensionalized portrait."
It was obvious to everyone involved from the first film that Celine was heading in a direction that is not a simplified version of a human being. Linklater adds by way of caveat that it's rare that you get this sort of latitude to express a full like, but nevertheless, says Hawke, "I think one of the things Rick and Julie and I are most proud of is Celine, just what a fascinating figure she is."
The logic behind the first film certainly didn't necessarily make specific room for sequels. It was just an independent venture with three creatively motivated artists painting a portrait with passion. When the trio came back together for Linklater's animated feature "Waking Life" in 2001, which featured a brief interlude with Celine and Jesse, that got the gears turning on revisiting the story.
"That's when we looked at each other and said, 'Maybe we should do it,'" Linklater says. "That was the big leap, doing the second film. Committing to that in the vacuum of no one wanting it, except three people and maybe Martin Shafer at Castle Rock. It's the moment we realized Jesse and Celine are still alive that we have something to express through them at a new phase or where they are in life. And it's not that conscious. It just bubbles up amongst us and it's when we realize we're all on the same page, what the movie would be."
What's interesting is that each film has mirrored the film industry and where it has been with each release, Linklater says. "The first film, while only a $2.7 million film, was distributed by a major studio, Columbia Pictures, through Castle Rock," he says. "They had a deal there. Small release, but studios would release a small film, it's worth it to have in their library. The second film was Warner Independent, gone, but an indie release. And then this film, we had no industry financing whatsoever. It was like private equity money, then acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, thankfully. We've had similar results with the three films, but who financed it? Three very different things."
The collaboration since "Before Sunset" has been one that credits Delpy and Hawke as writers on the projects as well. The three were nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for that film and have just received a WGA notice for "Midnight."
Leading into the third film, Hawke sat down and watched the first two back-to-back. What it did for him, he says, is unlock the tone. "Those movies have a unique tone and they can withstand a certain kind of humor and not another kind, and a certain kind of cynicism but not another kind," he explains. "There's a unique world to those first two movies that the third one needed to fit into and then push beyond. So you can't break the tone or the spell dies. And what's funny is it changes who I thought Jesse was when I played him in 1995. It's different than how I look at him now. What I thought was confidence I now read as arrogance and insecure. Lots of things change."
On the writing recognition he and his partners have received over the years, he surmises that what people probably think is most unique is what they've done on the page. After all, "most of these movies would be kicked out of any decent screenwriting course in America," he says. "They don't follow any of the necessary rules. The idea of collaborating on a screenplay with your co-star would be rare, but to do it three times in 18 years, it's particularly rare. And it's become a great experience for us."
It feels a lot like getting a band back together every time, he says, and the bar is raised whenever they step back up to the plate. The fantasy and romance of "Before Sunrise" gave way to the added complexity of the tête-à-tête in "Before Sunset," and now, "Before Midnight" takes the stakes to a whole new level as a full-on battle of the sexes is waged.
With that in mind, it's interesting that "Midnight" is the first of the three that features any form of nudity, as Delpy launches into the argument that takes up the film's third act topless. She says it's funny, because no one in France ever asks about that, but it's nevertheless indicative of the spiked level of realistic intimacy the films have entered into.
"Here a lot of people ask me the question and say, 'Oh, don't you feel objectified,'" she says. "Little do they know I decided as much as those guys did! It's also there's a certain strength in a woman being naked starting an argument. I always remember that scene in 'Short Cuts' of Julianne Moore, the other way around, screaming at Matthew Modine. It's kind of like, 'Wait a minute. We're starting an argument but this person is naked.' It's kind of distracting and at the same time real and I think it does something to your brain, like, 'I'm in a real fight. This is not a Hollywood fight. This is not a movie. Those people are fighting.'"
Adds Linklater, "That scene starts out a love scene. People call it the fight scene but it certainly doesn't start that way. Like a lot of adult things, things swing kind of quickly. The moods, once you know someone, you can go from a great thing then one comment sends you down this alley and then it's hard getting back out of it. When you're falling in love with someone, it's different — confirmation bias. You're just looking for the connective tissue, what turns you on about someone, and everything's great. But longterm you can go the other direction. It was satisfying when people liked this one as much as the ones before because it's a less sexy era in your life. You're not falling in love. You're not breaking up. It's less dramatic."
But it's all part of the reality they're looking to forge. That's also why Linklater prefers to shoot so many of the films' scenes in long, extended takes, capturing all of the little nuances of performance and breaking the usual film language.
"It's to make it not seem constructed," he says. "Even though it couldn't be more elaborately a construct, scripted to the gesture."
"When I first saw 'Dazed and Confused,' I thought, 'You know what? Anton Chekov would love this movie,'" Hawke says. "What Rick is going for is exactly what Stanislowsky was trying to teach 100 years ago. It's getting rid of acting. Just getting rid of it. Why they would rehearse those plays for years was so they could stop performing."
On that note, the actor remarks that Linklater — with whom he has now collaborated on eight films, including the upcoming "Boyhood" — is developing into one of the great filmmakers of our generation.
"It's been one of the most rewarding aspects of my professional life, to watch that happen," he says. "When he first burst onto the scene in 'Slacker,' he was a really interesting voice. But a lot of times a voice rings out like that and never deepens or matures. Watching Rick grow and his compassion and his wisdom, he's evolving as a person and seeing things more deeply.
"And he's such an unflashy director. He's so simple and what he finds dramatic is so not in fashion today, you know? People want their movies to look like ads and they want everything to be glamorous, but he's kind of allergic to glamor. He's almost even allergic to drama. Whenever drama is highlighted and spruced up, it's almost saying that life isn't enough. It's not enough to be alive and spinning on this Earth. You have to be a CIA agent or involved in a helicopter crash. And Rick is the opposite of that. He sees daily life as infinitely fascinating and full of mystery. That's a wonderful viewpoint to be around. I love seeing life through his lens. It doesn't need any magic on it. Life is magic enough."
There are two upcoming opportunities to see the "Before" trilogy in all its glory. The series is currently screening at New York's Lincoln Center along with "Waking Life" (right next door to the theater where Hawke is currently performing in a production of "Macbeth," ironically enough). That series runs through Friday, Jan. 10. Additionally, the trilogy will be screening back-to-back on the closing day of the upcoming Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Feb. 9. Linklater, Hawke and Delpy will be on hand for a Q&A.
BEFORE MIDNIGHT - National Society of Film Critics - 2013 Awards>
The National Society of Film Critics on Saturday, January 4th, 2014, chose Inside Llewyn Davis as Best Picture of the Year 2013. See the following pages for all votes in Best Picture and other categories for outstanding film achievement.
The Society, made up of many of the country’s most distinguished movie critics, held its 48th annual awards voting meeting, using a weighted ballot system, at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Center as guests of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Scrolls will be sent to the winners.
Fifty-six members are eligible to vote, though a few disqualify themselves if they haven’t seen every film. Any film that opened in the U.S. during the year 2013 was eligible for consideration. There is no nomination process; members meet, vote (using a weighted ballot), and announce all on January 4th. There is no awards party; scrolls are sent to the winners.
Here is a list of the winners and runners-up, with vote counts from the final round.
*1. Inside Llewyn Davis – 23
2. American Hustle – 17
3. 12 Years a Slave – 16
3. her – 16
*1. Joel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis) – 25
2. Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) – 18
3. Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) – 15
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
*1. Blue Is the Warmest Color – 27
2. A Touch of Sin – 21
3. The Great Beauty – 15
BEST NON-FICTION FILM
*1. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer) – 20
*1. At Berkeley (Frederick Wiseman) – 20
3. Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel) – 18
*1. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke) – 29
2. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen) – 26
3. American Hustle (Eric Singer and David O. Russell) – 18
*1. Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel) -28
2.Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki) – 26
3. Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael) – 19
*1. Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) – 28
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) – 19
3. Robert Redford (All Is Lost) – 12
*1. Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) – 57
2. Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Color) – 36
3. Julie Delpy (Before Midnight) – 26
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
*1. James Franco (Spring Breakers) – 24
2. Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) – 20
3. Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) – 14
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
*1. Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) – 54
2. Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) – 38
3. Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) – 18
3. Léa Seydoux (Blue Is the Warmest Color) – 18
• Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel)
FILM HERITAGE AWARD
• To the Museum of Modern Art, for its wide-ranging retrospective of the films of Allan Dwan.
• “Too Much Johnson”: the surviving reels from Orson Welles’s first professional film. Discovered by Cinemazero (Pordenone) and Cineteca del Friuli; funded by the National Film Preservation Foundation; and restored by the George Eastman House.
• British Film Institute for restorations of Alfred Hitchcock’s nine silent features.
• To the DVD “American Treasures from the New Zealand Film Archive.”
BEST FILM STILL AWAITING AMERICAN DISTRIBUTION
• Stray Dogs (Tsai Ming-liang)
• Hide Your Smiling Faces (Daniel Patrick Carbone)
DEDICATION: The meeting was dedicated to the memory of two distinguished members of the Society who died in 2013: Roger Ebert and Stanley Kauffmann.
BEFORE MIDNIGHT - DEADLINE - WGA Awards Film Nominations Announced>
Los Angeles and New York – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) have announced nominations for outstanding achievement in writing for the screen during 2013. Winners will be honored at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards on Saturday, February 1, 2014, at simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York City.
American Hustle, Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell; Columbia Pictures
Blue Jasmine, Written by Woody Allen; Sony Pictures Classics
Dallas Buyers Club, Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack; Focus Features
Her, Written by Spike Jonze; Warner Bros.
Nebraska, Written by Bob Nelson; Paramount Pictures
August: Osage County, Screenplay by Tracy Letts; Based on his play; The Weinstein Company
Before Midnight, Written by Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke; Based on characters created by Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan; Sony Classics
Captain Phillips, Screenplay by Billy Ray; Based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty; Columbia Pictures
Lone Survivor, Written by Peter Berg; Based on the book by Marcus Lutrell with Patrick Robinson; Universal Pictures
The Wolf of Wall Street, Screenplay by Terence Winter; Based on the book by Jordan Belfort; Paramount Pictures
Dirty Wars, Written by Jeremy Scahill & David Riker; Sundance Selects
Herblock – The Black & The White, Written by Sara Lukinson & Michael Stevens; The Stevens Company
No Place on Earth, Written by Janet Tobias & Paul Laikin; Magnolia Pictures
Stories We Tell, Written by Sarah Polley; Roadside Attractions
We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks; Written by Alex Gibney; Focus Features
Feature films eligible for a Writers Guild Award were exhibited theatrically for at least one week in Los Angeles during 2013 and were written under the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) or under a bona fide collective bargaining agreement of the Writers Guild of Canada, Writers Guild of Great Britain, Irish Playwrights & Screenwriters Guild, or the New Zealand Writers Guild. Theatrical screenplays produced under the jurisdiction of the WGA or an affiliate Guild must have been submitted for WGA awards consideration.
Documentaries eligible for a Writers Guild Award featured an onscreen writing credit and were exhibited theatrically in Los Angeles or New York for one week during 2013. Theatrical documentaries must have been produced under the jurisdiction of the WGA or an affiliate Guild to be eligible for awards consideration.
The Writers Guild Awards honor outstanding writing in film, television, new media, videogames, news, radio, promotional, and graphic animation categories. The awards will be presented jointly at simultaneous ceremonies on Saturday, February 1, 2014, in Los Angeles at the JW Marriott L.A. LIVE and in New York City at the Edison Ballroom. For more information about the 2014 Writers Guild Awards, please visit www.wga.org or www.wgaeast.org.
BEFORE MIDNIGHT - Examiner.com - 'Before Midnight' is easily one of the best films of last year>
examiner.com | 1 January 2014 | by David Voigt
It felt only fitting on this first day of the new year to revisit the love story that has enchanted movie going audiences for nearly a generation is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand for its third and easily its most compelling installment in "Before Midnight" which has resulted in quite simply one of the best films of the calendar year that we just finished.
Nearly two decades after their meeting on that train to Vienna and nine years after the events of "Before Sunset" we find Celine and Jesse (Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke) on vacation in Greece with their twin daughters and Jesse's 13 year old son from his previous marriage. Jesse is slightly melancholic as he sees his son depart for Chicago while in Greece and wanting to be closer to his son he suggests that they all move to America while Celine thinks it is a bit of a rash idea and Jesse will calm down once the initial shock of separation is over. As a departing gift, their Greek friends offer to take care of the kids for an evening and give them both a night in a luxurious seaside hotel, as Jesse and Celine wander through the idyllic countryside doing what couples do we also see the struggle to maintain that dying flame of romance and passion in the face of parenting, everyday responsibility and years of tiny resentments that eventually build up in every single relationship. The only questions remains is do Celine and Jesse push on together or does their story end, separately.
This third installment is both the sweetest, darkest, most realistic and very easily the best of the bunch. This ode to the imperfection of relationships and of life is such a grand sweeping narrative that even though the raw emotional nature of some moments are truly hard to watch, they are also incredibly rewarding all at the same time. Linklater who again co-wrote the film with his stars Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke gives us a firsthand tour as they navigate us through the complexities of the nature of not only their relationship, but relationships in general. Linklater shoots the stunning countryside in a near understated way that makes the audience not want to take our eyes off it even though it is so inconsequential to the crux of the narrative. With some very long camera takes, we are drawn into the relationship itself for better and for worse, feeling the ecstasy and the pain of it all in one fell swoop. Films like this have been done before, but they never work if the actors aren't up to the challenge and Delpy and Hawke do some of their best work to date in this stunning film.
As Celine and Jesse, both these actors bring this material to the next level making for some of the most griping and poignant entertainment that will be seen on screen this year. Mastering the second hand nuances of being in a couple comes through in such small yet powerful moments and through the uses of many long takes, we are placed directly in the awkward and painful ones as well. There was one particular use of nudity on Delpy's part that wasn't gratuitous, yet so powerful that was very reminiscent of a scene from the film "Short Cuts" where Julianne Moore was fighting with her spouse. Both Hawke (who is the midst of a bit of renaissance right now) and Delpy keep us engaged from minute one, we simply cannot look away.
Picture and sound on the Blu-Ray are top notch as expected, and the special features on the Blu-Ray include a feature length commentary track with writer/director Richard Linklater and stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, there's also a behind the scenes featurette and a Q&A session from a festival screening with the director and stars of the film.
"Before Midnight" transitions the characters and the audience away from some of the more idyllic elements of the story while grounding us in cold, hard reality of life, and it's not depressing in anyway shape or form but it is that moment where the relationship grows up and evolves into something more. That place where the imperfections that we all hold in various ways, shapes and forms are OK. Long after the credits roll and people leave the theater, will we all be talking about how this perfect film about the imperfections of us all, just might be the best film of 2013.
5 out of 5 stars.