BldWrsKate16

Kate Beckinsale Sails from LOVE to the UNDERWORLD Again In BLOOD WARS

SCREENMANCER KATE BECKINSALE ALERT – During a press roundtable for Whit Stillman’s latest movie LOVE & FRIENDSHIP, where Kate Beckinsale just kills it in a Jane Austen-themed reboot as devious Lady Susan, she was asked about her Burmese heritage. KateCropElbowIf you didn’t know, Beckinsale is one-eighth Burmese. There are so many things people don’t know about UK native Beckinsale (besides her huge male gaming fan base!). Perhaps the most remarkable gift is her incredible inner steel and staying power in an industry that is very tough on women, especially in action roles. This accounts for the success of her run as Underworld’s franchise-fronter Selene. And in the newest installment, she gets to go fang-to-fang with HBO’s “Game of Thrones” heavy Charles Dance. (You know, the one Tyrion killed with a crossbow whilst on the privy.)

So, without further backstory on the Other Kate (not Winslet or Blanchett), here is the storyline. This installment of the blockbuster franchise, BldWrsKate16UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS follows Vampire death dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) as she fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her.  With her only allies, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice. Sounds exhausting, right? Expect Kate Beckinsale to continue her tireless march toward the finish line in this franchise. And the recognition she deserves as a very talented shape-shifter who can go from playing tough-talking screen legend Ava Gardner (AVIATOR) to TOTAL RECALL’s remake assassin and back to  Selene, this sleek fanged one.
The director (Anna Foerster) on this one is a woman, an added plus for a female action starrer. We’re early on Blood Wars, the release date isn’t until Jan. 6, 2017, but Beckinsale is so fun to watch, and listen to, with that great narration going on.

Other Cool Things About Her

Kate’s Tweet Frequency

The Movie Trailer, Coming Soon…

Directed by:

Anna Foerster

Screenplay by:

Cory Goodman

Story by:

Kyle Ward and Cory Goodman

Based on Characters Created by:

Kevin Grevioux and Len Wiseman

& Danny McBride

Produced by:

Tom Rosenberg

Gary Lucchesi

Len Wiseman

Richard Wright

David Kern

Ben Waisbren

Executive Producers:

Eric Reid

James McQuaide

Skip Williamson

Henry Winterstern

Cast:

Kate Beckinsale

Theo James

Lara Pulver

Tobias Menzies

Bradley James

James Faulkner

and Charles Dance

Official Website:

Underworld: Blood Wars

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and want to see Kate Beckinsale get her due.

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Symbologist Paradise, Or Tom Hanks & Felicity Jones in Koepp’s Pre-Halloween release INFERNO

SCREENMANCER SIGNS & SYMBOLS ALERT – Almost Halloween, Oct. 28 to be precise, is the perfect time for David Koepp’s screen version of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code follow-up, INFERNO. Koepp, who is also a director, steps back into the screenwriter role for Brian Grazer and Ron Howard‘s IMAGINE production company. Today they had a photo call for Columbia Pictures in Italy, and everybody turned out looking pretty chill, which has nothing to do with the high-intensity plot and world-breaking storyline. What’s it about? Glad you asked.

Florence, Italy –October 7, 2016 - Tom Hanks at the Columbia Pictures, Inferno photo call at the Forte di Belvedere in Florence Italy.

Florence, Italy –October 7, 2016 – Tom Hanks at the Columbia Pictures, Inferno photo call at the Forte di Belvedere in Florence Italy.

So we’ve got Symbologist Tom Hanks with British Import Felicity Jones, nominated last year for THEORY OF EVERYTHING. After white-haired SULLY, Hanks is back in black, on the trail of a super villain who plans to mess up everyone’s DNA. Okay, that’s an oversimplification. Ben Foster and Omar Sy (Intouchables) also star. (Isn’t Ben Foster usually cast as a bad guy?) Let’s have the official version, please…

Academy Award® winner Ron Howard returns to direct the latest bestseller in Dan Brown’s (Da Vinci Code) billion-dollar Robert Langdon series, Inferno, which finds the famous symbologist (again played by Tom Hanks) on a trail of clues tied to the great Dante himself.  When Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), a doctor he hopes will help him recover his memories.

Florence, Italy –October 7, 2016 - Director, Ron Howrd and Felicity Jones at the Columbia Pictures INFERNO photo call at the Forte di Belvedere in Florence Italy.

Florence, Italy –October 7, 2016 – Director, Ron Howrd and Felicity Jones at the Columbia Pictures INFERNO photo call at the Forte di Belvedere in Florence Italy.

Together, they race across Europe and against the clock to stop a madman from unleashing a global virus that would wipe out half of the world’s population.The film’s screenplay is by David Koepp, based upon the novel by Dan Brown. Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are the producers.

Expect Tom Hanks to look 20 years younger with the darker mop, and he gets to run a lot, always good exercise on set. The movie has great lines like “there’s a switch, if you throw it, half of the people on earth will die… you are humanity’s final hope.” Watch the clip next…

Directed by:
Ron Howard

Screenplay by:
David Koepp

Based upon the novel by:
Dan BrownInferno1sht16

Produced by:
Brian Grazer
Ron Howard

Executive Producers:
David Householter
Dan Brown
William M. Connor
Anna Culp
Ben Waisbren

Cast:
Tom Hanks
Felicity Jones
Irrfan Khan
Omar Sy
Ben Foster
Sidse Babett Knudsen

#InfernoMovie

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and like Tom Hanks with darker hair.

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BradPittAllied

Movie Trailer Mash-Up, Or Brad Pitt’s Allied, Being Blunt & Get Out!

SCREENMANCER MOVIE TRAILER MASH-UP: Here’s a fun game, a visual one. Take your favorite movie trailers and together they tell their own story. In this case, we’ve heard Brad Pitt is a little down lately, so this one is just to cheer up an A-Lister. What do you get when you mash-up Pitt’s ALLIED, Emily Blunt’s THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, and spooky future release GET OUT!?  Alliedlogo16We’re not exactly saying Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, but it sure looks like that’s the message here. Okay, and now back to our regular trailer programming…

First, Brad Pitt Needs Some New Allies

France’s best export Marion Cotillard is so above the fray in life and the media. Plus she’s such an Oscar-magnet, this movie included. What’s it about? Nothing to do with the tabloids…

ALLIED is the story of intelligence officer Max Vatan (Pitt), who in 1942 North Africa encounters French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard) on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Reunited in London, their relationship is threatened by the extreme pressures of the war. The buzz on this film is great, despite the Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt domestic war chewing the media scenery around its release. Expect Marion to be nominated, or at least applauded for turning in a stellar performance opposite a Hollywood A-Lister.


Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Brad Pitt & Marion Cotillard

Facebook: on this click
Twitter: here
Instagram for the movie
Website: AlliedMovie.com
#Allied

Let’s Be Blunt, D-i-v-o-r-c-e, Always a Great Movie Premise

In the thriller, Rachel (Blunt), who is devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds. Is Emily Blunt always awesome, or what?

Based on Paula Hawkins’ bestselling novel, The Girl on the Train is adapted for the screen by Erin Cressida Wilson. Yes, Cressida Wilson, of the Chaucer-inspired name, wrote that freaky CHLOE (2009) movie with Amanda Seyfried who wrecks Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson’s onscreen marriage like a pro. The film’s executive producers are Jared LeBoff and Celia Costas, and it will be released by Universal Pictures.

Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux (hey, wait a minute, isn’t he Jen Aniston’s husband? Bingo!), Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Edgar Ramirez, Lisa Kudrow and Laura Prepon star in DreamWorks Pictures’ The Girl on the Train, from director Tate Taylor (The Help, Get on Up) and producer Marc Platt (Bridge of Spies, Into the Woods).

Expect Justin Theroux to make a splash here, and make his wife Jennifer Aniston proud. It’s not easy going up against a talent like Emily Blunt, but it can be done.

When Someone Says “Get Out!,” You Better Split Quick

In Universal Pictures’ Get Out, a speculative thriller (don’t ask us what a speculative thriller is, but it’s kind of like imagining a worst-case scenario) from Blumhouse (producers of The Visit, Insidious series and The Gift) and the mind of Jordan Peele, when a young African-American man visits his white girlfriend’s family estate, he becomes ensnared in a more sinister real reason for the invitation. And can you believe Catherine Keener plays a super heavy in this one?

Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya, Sicario) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams, Girls), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy (Catherine Keener) and Dean (Bradley Whitford, The Cabin in the Woods). At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined. Keener is hell-on-heels, mind control!

Equal parts gripping thriller and provocative commentary, Get Out is written and directed by Peele (Key and Peele) and produced by Blumhouse’s Jason Blum, as well as Sean McKittrick (Donnie Darko, The Box), Peele and Edward H. Hamm Jr. (The Box, Bad Words). The film also stars Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men series), Milton “Lil Rel” Howery (The Carmichael Show), Betty Gabriel (The Purge: Election Year), Marcus Henderson (Pete’s Dragon) and Keith Stanfield (Straight Outta Compton). www.getoutfilm.com

Disclaimer: So we’re not saying Brad Pitt should follow Screenmancer’s trailer mash-up advice here, but… while we’re reinventing how we see movies and movie marketing, he could reinvent himself in the uncoupling of the train-wreck that happens when you don’t know the light at the end of the tunnel is coming at you at the speed of an iron horse.

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies, get divorced, and are split between Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt.

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When Stellan Skarsgård Calls About His New Movie In Order of Disappearance, You Better Answer

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

The first thing you hear when Stellan Skarsgård and Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland call at 8:00 am LA time for a phone interview from New York is Stellan’s unmistakable laugh. This is a far cry from the stoic Nils he plays in their new movie In Order of Disappearance that opens Aug. 26. Between the -40 celsius setting and the operatic violence, whereby Skarsgård picks off a succession of formidable enemies, including Bruno Ganz (Downfall) as lead crime boss, In Order of Disappearance plays with the fine line between horrific scenes and a comedy of criminal errors.  StellanIOD16 Not to give too much away, In Order of Disappearance (originally titled Kraftidioten or “Morons”) is mostly in Norwegian, with Danish, German and a smattering of English and Serbian thrown in, as it runs down the saga of a drug ring infesting the pristine Norwegian landscape.

Skarsgård plays a snowblower business owner (Nils), who first receives a Citizen of the Year Award only to become embroiled in the hunt for a succession of responsible parties who have killed his son, in a hit job made to look like an overdose. The blowing snow from Nils’ menacing snowplow begins to echo the powder of the drugs and gives him the power to literally bury his enemies in a white rage. And yes, there is a twist.

When asked if playing in a language more native to him than English informs the character, Stellan scoffs in a good way. “It has nothing to do with language,” he corrects. “In the Marvel films (Thor) my character was used mostly as comic relief. I am the normal center of this film.” Skarsgård also adds that his performance in BBC’sRiver,” the 2015 TV Mini-series, as lead inspector John River was also a serious turn.

Director Hans Petter Moland (Aberdeen), who has worked with Skarsgård on a succession of films, seconds the misconception that Stellan tends to play ‘with a swagger’ in English. Then the Nordic silence between sentences is almost a rebuke. Together they make a formable two-on-one tag team; the camaraderie is unmistakable. HansPetterMoland16At this hour in LA, you’re just trying to get the ‘ring’ over the right “a” in the actor’s last name because that mark is actually part of the vowel not punctuation. Meanwhile, you’re just glad Stellan is every bit as punchy and quirky as you’d hoped he’d be, but the director with him this morning, on the other hand is serious as a heart attack. A less-known quantity in the United States, Hans Petter Moland is a top director in Norway, and you hope you don’t sound like, well, a kraftidioten, two coffees later.

“I think the film is a great mix of genres, and has a lot of satirical aspects to it,” Moland, an Emerson College alum begins. “One of my ‘delights’ was to take on some contemporary issues. The fear of immigration and fear of strangers. The drug thing was very real. When I started working on this story 15 years ago, I started thinking what if someone actually did what Stellan’s character does.” Meaning take revenge instead of pursuing the conventional lines of justice.

The immigration issues Moland refers to include drug crime bosses from Serbia, Albania —  and within Norway itself in home-grown dealer played by Pål Sverre Hagen. Hagen, incidentally, was in Kon-Tiki with Stellan’s son Gustav Skarsgård.

“Pål did such a surprising take on the character, that I said it was not what I thought of — so much fun working with him,” the director notes. “(His character) is not necessarily the smartest guy in the room, but good at smelling out deceit.”

A mix of hysteria and ruthlessness, Hagen’s performance is as “refreshing,” they both point out, as is the movie itself. Upon which you mention “Fargo,” thinking Fargo-meets-Pulp-Fiction-style cruelodrama, meaning cruelty meets melodrama… to crickets. IOD1sheet16

Later you notice somebody already referenced Fargo on the poster, oops. On the call, you can almost hear Stellan Skarsgard — a film icon in America and around the world at this point — sitting back and weighing the questions being posed. He does not suffer fools, and is just as you would imagine he is from his eclectic body of work. Stellan’s a thinking actor, a fun guy who would be great in a bar fight. Moland, his friend and frequent director, the straight man on this phoner, pivots back on point to reveal that most of his filmmaking influences are American. “Films from the 70’s, also Terry Malick.” He’s warming up now.

When you ask him about one scene, where Nils’ wife leaves him and leaves a very telling note: a sealed, folded, blank sheet of paper, Moland’s ice breaks. “That was in the script that way, the screenwriter’s idea. I remember when I read it at some point — laughing out loud. But it’s hard to show nothing on film. You liked it? I’m glad it played well.” In Order of Disappearance is one of those films you watch for its own merits, but undeniably for the body of work of Stellan Skarsgård.

As in all of Skarsgård’s roles, and one of the hallmarks of the best actors, you can literally hear him listening on the phone, every word parsed, remembering your name, commenting and laughing with such ease. Until the subject of his actor children is broached. With son Alexander Skarsgård tipped to enter the A-List with Tarzan’s $120+ M USD cumulative total at the box office, the topic is timely if a bit awkward. The frost descends, as it likely should.

“I don’t care much about that actually. Four (out of eight) of them are actors, and they are all good. I really enjoy it. I’m happy that they aren’t terrible. It would have been so hard to see them suffer defeat. In this business, suddenly you are splashed on every billboard all over the world, and two years later no one knows who you are,” Skarsgård remarks.

Going back to his film, when you say “it’s probably hard to show moral ambiguity in the cold like that,” Stellan laughs that easy laugh again. “It was motherfucking cold. Yes.” Then he relates the frozen milieu to the “a naturalistic style of acting” used. Moland jumps in with “if you go back and watch the film again, in the beginning of the film — when he meets the Centrist Party member where there is no blower — look at Stellan’s face. It is actually like a frozen mask.”

Incorporated into In Order of Disappearance, the Centrist Party tangent touches on Swedish immigration to Norway, which is coupled with a look at Serbian and Albanian nationals in country. All against the backdrop of a father’s grief-revenge story with a stellar cast, director, and of course another facet of the considerable talent of Stellan Skarsgård. He’s someone who broke through to American audiences as the math professor in Good Will Hunting, and has remained versatile enough to play in the Marvel Universe and in so many interesting iterations, also the just-released movie Our Kind of Traitor where he plays a Russian gangster, with clearly more to come.

In Order of Disappearance is a great addition to Stellan’s body of work, not only because he plays the lead, but it’s fun to watch. He evens gets to beat up the head wildling from Game of Thrones, Tormund Giantsbane, actor Kristofer HivjuKristoferStellan16Director Hans Petter Moland rounds out the interview with this gem “the only thing that isn’t in this film is Stockholm Syndrome,” referring to the underage kidnapping folded into this chilly tale.

In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten), produced by Paradox and championed by the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish film institutes, and Nordisk, among others, opens in a US roll-out beginning on Aug. 26, see Magnolia Pictures and Magnet at here for more details.

(Courtesy of FilmFestivals.com)

Official Press Notes:

IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE stars Stellan Skarsgård, Bruno Ganz, Pål Sverre Hagen, Jakob Oftebro, and Kristofer Hivju.  The film was directed by Hans Petter Moland and has a running time of114 minutes. Magnet Releasing will release the film in LA at the Nuart Theater and in select other cities as well as on VOD on August 26, 2016.

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and dig Stellan Skarsgård

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Naughty SAUSAGE PARTY Scores for Annapurna & Megan Ellison

LOS ANGELES, CA — Can we just say “I told you so” about how Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures have the corner on creative risks that payoff? Go Ellison.

Unsolicited High Five & Ketchup Hollywood! — Screenmancer

Here’s naughty SAUSAGE PARTY on the menu.

Wait, there’s more…

SONY Says This About SAUSAGE PARTY, “The First R-Rated CG Animated Movie,” PS

Sausage Party, the first R-rated CG animated movie, is about one sausage leading a group of supermarket products on a quest to discover the truth about their existence and what really happens when they become chosen to leave the grocery store.  The film features the vocal talents of a who’s who of today’s comedy stars – Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, and Salma Hayek.

Directed by:
Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan

Screenplay by:
Kyle Hunter
Ariel Shaffir
Seth Rogen
Evan Goldberg

Story by:
Seth Rogen
Evan Goldberg
Jonah Hill

Produced by:
Megan Ellison
Seth Rogen
Evan Goldberg
Conrad Vernon

Executive Producers:
Jonah Hill
James Weaver
Ariel Shaffir
Kyle Hunter
David Distenfeld

Cast:
Seth Rogen
Kristen Wiig
Jonah Hill
Bill Hader
Michael Cera
James Franco
Danny McBride
Craig Robinson
Paul Rudd
Nick Kroll
David Krumholtz
Edward Norton
Salma Hayek

Screenmancer is a gathering place for people who make movies & dig Megan Ellison.

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From The Last Tycoon to Woody Allen’s Café Society: Why We Love Stories About Hollywood

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Woody Allen’s newest film Café Society just opened July 15, and it fits into a cinematic history of stories about Hollywood that audiences love. But Woody Allen himself has been a lightning rod for so long, the electricity generated off the attendant controversies could power a small town. That said, we’re talking about a movie, folks, not the personal life of the director. CoreyBlakeWoody16With that caveat, Café Society will also be the movie that repositions Blake Lively as one of the most faceted young talents to come forward from the shadows of her contemporaries, including Kristen Stewart who, with romantic co-conspirator Jesse Eisenberg, stars in the film about “1930’s New York and Hollywood with a kaleidoscopic cast of characters that range from movie stars to millionaires, playboys to professors, and working girls and wise guys.” That’s a press kit quote, just to set up the anatomy of the picture.

This is the third pairing of Stewart and Eisenberg, from Adventureland (2009) and American Ultra (2015). Eisenberg is Bobby Dorfman, whose screen mother is legendary comedian Elaine May’s real-life daughter Jeannie Berlin. He is surrounded by excellent performances by Corey Stoll (House of Cards) as his thug brother Ben and Steve Carell as Phil, the Hollywood honcho uncle who is the narrative pivot that brings him to Golden Era Hollywood and into the plot involving his nubile assistant Vonnie played by Kristen Stewart. Blake Lively is the proverbial “beautiful socialite” who charms Eisenberg’s Bobby into another plot twist, but ultimately redefines brand Blake Lively. CafeSocFR1sht16Three minutes of screen time and you wonder how Lively is the same floozy in Ben Affleck’s The Town made over into an ethereal layered gamine-like presence. Oh, that’s right, one of the greatest living directors in the world is the human puppet-master here. Parker Posey also becomes the scenes she inhabits as Rad, half of a sympathetic couple for Bobby Dorfman in this Jazz Age confection. But Kristen Stewart is playing closest to life-meets-art here, involved with a married older man (Steve Carell), in a doppleganger life that could have been hers off-screen if she’d married Rupert Sanders, the seducer/director of Snow White who almost ruined her career. Hey, he was the grown-up. If nothing else, Café Society should remind us to give Stewart a pass, give this very gifted performer a clean slate for not having taken the sell-out path her character Vonnie takes. KstewWoodyJesse
Allen’s only misstep here is casting his own voice as narrator, because unlike Michael Gambon who thrills as voiceover-of-God in the Coen Bros’ concurrent release Hail Caesar!, Woody has a noticeable waver that distracts from Café Society’s seamlessness. But let’s allow the director to defend his choice on this. “I put myself in because I knew exactly how I wanted the words to be inflected,” Woody Allen explains, “I figured that since I wrote the ‘book’, it would be like I was reading a novel.”

“When I wrote the script, I structured it like a novel. As in a book, you stop a little while in this movie and see a scene with the protagonist with his girlfriend, a scene with his parents, followed by a scene with his sister or gangster brother, a scene with Hollywood wheeler-dealers, and then the café society with politicians, debutantes, playboys, and the people cheating on their wives or shooting their husbands. To me it was always a story not of one person but of everybody.”

Which is the perfect description of Francis Ford Coppola’s classic 1984 film The Cotton Club, starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere — but with much more music and impasto in the plot. The Cotton Club’s Gere then shows up, years later in Chicago, a musical homaging the period once again, but with velvet tasseled camp. These are favorite elements of the genre in other words. But this is not the Fred McMurray Café Society of 1939, either, about a spoiled socialite who runs off with a reporter and finds shipboard love. Caf19381sht16Even Sunset Boulevard captures the period in its periphery, because we love the stories that tell stories about Hollywood behind the scenes. Café Society is essentially entering the horse race classics of cinema history, in other words. Woody Allen is not alone, as mentioned, the Coen Bros are also in silks this year. Speaking of George Clooney-topper Hail Caesar!, far from Barton Fink, this latest saga includes capers, kidnapping, and a Communist plot — more Busby Berkeley gets high, than the non-ironic homage that Allen offers — also more fun. Yet 40 years ago, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Elia Kazan-Sam Spiegel film The Last Tycoon (1976), starring Robert De Niro and based on the unfinished novel, is more in the neighborhood of the kind of film Allen makes here, without the deep, rending sorrow of Tycoon.

So in a way, Woody Allen is harking back to a period he knows a great deal about, including being acutely aware of what has been produced in the past to reflect it. Referencing venue “The Cotton Club,” once located at 142nd St. in Harlem, Allen admits “that era has always fascinated me. It was one of the most exciting times in the history of the city, with tremendous theater life, café life, and restaurants. Up and down the line, wherever you were, the whole island was jumping with nighttime sophisticated activities.”

The word “tremendous” seems to be his go-to, and in the Woody Allen style of filmmaking, let’s insert a ‘knee play’ here, just to set up the backstory behind the press screening, because like a fascinating scene, it begs remembering.

On the night Café Society is screened in Santa Monica, the heavyweights, the veterans, take their scattered seats for the private showing. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times is doing his ritual pre-film separating of the pages in his archetypal Reporter’s Notebook, so the page turning won’t make noise during the show; Leonard Maltin strolls in to join his wife, who has been conducting some future business on one of his engagements on speaker-phone. The speaker-phone conversation is a mini-plot point in itself, which speaks directly to the intimacy of this gathering. There’s the venerable “sea of gray hair,” but also two younger reporters trading barbs to lessen the palpable tension. In a sense, this audience tells you everything you need to know about the difficulty in reviewing a film whose writer-director is still, shall we say, radio-active in the media.

You kind of live a story behind the story in your plush seat in a storied private Dick Clark Screening Room showing, just like the plot twists in Café Society. Woody Allen. Those two words have produced a lot of art and shaped a lot of lives, mine included, from seeing Annie Hall through Blue Jasmine to one of my favorites, Melinda and Melinda (Radha Mitchell, also with Steve Carrell).MelindaBridge16
In fact, there’s the same bridge scene locale used in Melinda in Café Society. CafeSocUS1sht16 The press kit includes every single title Allen has ever made, a gentle reminder of his gravitas. Then you make up your own mind about the whole panoply of issues, and watch for personal reasons… because you love the movies.

Café Society, written and directed by Woody Allen, is distributed by Amazon Studios and Lionsgate, for showtimes in a limited roll-out visit http://www.cafesocietymovie.com.

Café Society is A Woody Allen film

Directed and Written by Woody Allen

Produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, and Edward Walson

Starring Jeannie Berlin, Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, Parker Posey, Kristen Stewart, Corey Stoll, and Ken Stott

 

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Director Byrd McDonald Unpacks VINTAGE TOMORROWS, His Epic Steampunk Doc

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

That director Byrd McDonald (Haunters) is from Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, birthplace of Loretta Lynn speaks volumes about his path toward the making of VINTAGE TOMORROWS, a documentary about the movement known as Steampunk coming at you on July 19 from Samuel Goldwyn Films. Viewing this film is essential as part of any aficionado’s playlist. In the unpacking of facts as to why the Steampunk community welcomed Byrd as a “maker” of this film, about a very closely held movement, the Bionic Man could be a factor. Well, maybe that’s stretching things, but Lee Majors, another Kentucky connection, was the Bionic Man, who could be viewed as a proto-Steampunk Ambassador. Without the ubiquitous “top hat and goggles” of the genre as we know know it, of course. ObtainShannon16

If you’re starting to get the picture, steampunk is that odd-in-a-good-way intersection between Jules Verne and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Or, to put it more succinctly, steampunk is way beyond the common label of ‘googles on top hats’ and reflects a sentimental yearning for a time when substance and form had a fantastical quality. Think the 1893 Columbian World’s Fair in Chicago, when wizards like Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison wowed the public with electrical power put to practical magic applications in things crafted by hand from steel, wood, and wonder.
VTlogo16To quote the press kit, “VINTAGE TOMORROWS examines the Steampunk movement’s explosive growth, origins, and cultural significance, from its sci-fi beginnings into an aesthetic and DIY movement that influences art, fashion, design and music globally” though “interviews with the writers and artists credited with galvanizing” the term itself. But it also poses “the fundamental question: What does Steampunk tell us about history, community, and our complicated relationship with technology.”

If you’ve checked your smartphone for updates several times during this introduction, this film is for you. And it features pioneering luminaries such as Cyberpunk founder William Gibson (Neuromancer), Bruce Sterling (Gibson’s co-author on seminal steambook The Difference Engine), China Miéville, Cherie Priest, Gail Carriger; graphic novelists Paul Guignon and Anina Bennett, musicians Abney Park and Erica “Unwoman” Mulkey, artist/maker Shannon O’Hare and the Neverwas Haul gang, and “over 20 other denizens of the subculture.”


Byrd McDonald is quick to shoot down the notion that Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes franchise was an early cinematic foray into steampunk, although the film is riddled with echoes of the movement, from gadgets to pop alchemy. “Wild Wild West was like 10 years before that,” he notes, but does not endorse it. “And City of Lost Children is the film most people in the community refer to,” McDonald adds. ByrdonSetVT16La Cité des Enfants Perdus” is the French film translated as City of Lost Children that ignited the maker imagines in the steampunk ranks, but the term was coined in science fiction lore, as you will find out in VINTAGE TOMORROWS.

When Byrd McDonald first “reached out to people, there were a lot of people who were somewhat chilly because they had been approached by mainstream media before, and it never went well. They ended up on TV shows making them look ridiculous. Right now there is a steampunk reality show that makes them look ridiculous.” The fear was that this director would “want to talk about top hats” and accessories of the fashion rather than the cultural aspects. “What really broke down walls was that I was a queer kid,” McDonald shares. “That really opened the doors” because he was coming from an alternative perspective to begin with, plus “I used to do drag,” meaning he understood theatrical performance coupled with identity and a whole range of complex subcultural dynamics. “I really had to hang out with them and show them I wasn’t coming to them with any kind of agenda. I think it would be really hard for someone on the inside of that movement to make a film about that community that the general public could relate to.”

In VINTAGE TOMORROWS, a menagerie of hugely talented makers, thinker-tinkerers, and performers detail facets of their involvement, including the lengths they have gone in crafting personas as well as the bonds they have formed with like-minded individuals — who would not normally band together — but find refuge from the Digital Chill inside the incandescent glow of their imaginations applied to steampunk projects and events. Unobtain16Once displayed at Burning Man, there is actually a retrofitted fifth-wheel trailer contraption, much like a Mr. Toad wild ride house, created by the Neverwas Haul gang. And you can see the play on words there, which is very of the vein this movement has tapped.

Listen to what the filmmaker has to say here in his own words, then watch the film…

Q: How would you encapsulate yourself in Steampunk terms?

Lol!   Ahem….”I think of myself as a brass spyglass through which the curious can observe the world of steampunk.”

Q: What was your impression of City of Lost Children?

City of Lost Children is my favorite expression of steampunk in cinema, though some people might argue the film fits better under the “diesel punk” umbrella. It’s one of the most hallucinatory films I’ve ever seen. I probably love it most because it’s a mash up of horror, surrealism and steampunk.  It’s dripping with dystopian dread, but in the center of the darkness beats a very sentimental heart. It’s a gorgeous, frightening and incredibly moving film.

Q: Do you think the vintage clothing crowd and the Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang crowd merged into Steampunk or has it been subtext in Western culture since Da Vinci?

I don’t think I’ve ever thought about whether the 1400’s informs anyone about what steampunk is. Though I suppose DaVinci’s being remembered as one of the forefathers of mad invention could actually make him an extremely distant ancestor of the maker ethos.

One of the things that I found so intriguing about steampunk is the great number of avenues people took on their way to discovering it (or in some cases, discovering they already fit well within it).

In the course of interviewing so many people, we found some who really did start out as vintage clothing enthusiasts, and others who were tinkerers in their sheds who, perhaps subconsciously, were channeling the spirit of invention that Da Vinci is frequently associated with.

I think that when steampunk is at its best it combines all of those things together, creating fantastically costumed characters who are also capable of building wondrous objects. And perhaps that is why we were so drawn to groups like Obtainium Works, who are a great example of a group of people who encompass both sides of the coin.

Q: What’s the most odd/wild/unexpected aspect you learned while filming this community?

I met a lot of polyamorous steampunks.  I mean, a lot. VTLady16

 Here’s the brief history of this film from the distributorsVINTAGE TOMORROWS began its festival journey at San Diego ComicCon in 2015, released globally July 19, 2016 on VOD and digital by Samuel Goldwyn Films.  The film is currently available for pre-order on iTunes. According to Peter Goldwyn of Samuel Goldwyn Films: “We live in a world of mass-produced product yet everyone is looking for individuality.  VINTAGE TOMORROWS showcases uniqueness of character and creativity in a fascinating world that brings the past as well as the future together in a refreshing and entertaining format.” Filmmaker Byrd McDonald stated:  “Our documentary VINTAGE TOMORROWS showcases the amazing minds and artistic creations of dozens of individuals in the steampunk community.  We are overjoyed to be partnering with an indie-doc champion like Samuel Goldwyn Films.  Their expertise in distribution will help bring this vital and relevant cultural movement to a global audience.”CoreyRaygun16

Don’t miss a chance to experience steampunk’s close-up via this film. It may draw you in to become part of the movement. Incidentally Byrd said he’d also noted the addition of Digerati to the mix, with Arduino and Raspberry Pi enthusiasts on board. Which means steampunk is set for a 2.0 in its ever-changing shape-shift toward the mainstream. Meanwhile, director Byrd McDonald will be working next on a “feminist interpretation of Chainsaw movies.” Find out more about Byrd from Porter Panther, and see Vintage Tomorrows screening schedule, downloads and more possibilities online here.

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From Punch Cards to Stunt Hacking to Alex Gibney’s ZERO DAYS & Symantec’s Eric Chien on Stuxnet

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

You have to hand it to filmmaker Alex Gibney (GOING CLEAR), he has taken on everything from Eliot Spitzer’s political downfall to the Enron debacle to Lance Armstrong’s doping to soft-money “super-lobbyist” Jack Abramoff to Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, not to mention Nigerian music legend Fela Kuti. So it comes as no surprise that Gibney goes from wrestling Xenu to rattling the NSA’s cage with ZERO DAYS, his new “thriller” documentary about cyber-warfare phenom Stuxnet. ZeroDaysPoster16Released by Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media and Showtime, ZERO DAYS screens in theaters July 8, also on demand at Amazon Video.  Gibney’s doc defines Stuxnet as “self-replicating computer malware (known as a ‘worm’ for its ability to burrow from computer to computer on its own) that the US and Israel unleashed to destroy a key part of an Iranian nuclear facility, and which ultimately [mutated] and spread beyond its intended target.”

If that’s not enough to get your smartphone wiretapped, who knows what is? And that’s why this doc is really tricky: it names not only names, but Nation States. Plus it lets us know that among the three probable classes of cyber-attack originators, nation-states are the most dangerous. The two other classes being: cyber-criminals, and hacktivists.

But c’mon, for the rest of us workaday non-security-classified folks out there, it is a little difficult to fully grasp the “Olympic Games”-scale virus unleashed on Iran’s nuclear power facility — as detailed in Alex Gibney’s documentary ZERO DAYS via expert interviews — without some backstory on the issues involved. In a moment, Symantec’s brilliant code-cracker Eric Chien who is featured in this film with his boss Liam O’Murchu will chime in, for now let’s rewind the digital clock to analog times for some perspective.

Clear your mind, take a breath, and think about the technology issues from a long angle. Think about the progression from English mechanical engineer Charles Babbage (1791-1871), who with assistance from mathematician Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), came up with the first mechanical engineering computer, the Difference Engine, as a starting point. Mechanical computing (i.e.; tabulating polynomials, i.e. figuring out huge numbers calculations) in the Industrial Age leads to punch cards that control looms in the textile industry. This hold-over method, punch cards, remains in place even up until the 1980’s as analog goes 100-percent digital. A fast-forward timeline means punch-card key machines to vacuum tubes with wires to British polymath Alan Turing (1912-1954), who in the 1940’s added to the war effort by not only “cracking” the German U-Boat message encoder, Engima, but understood and foresaw the possibilities for “large scale digital technology” via the encrypted telephone messages between Churchill and Roosevelt. That said, all the elements are in place to usher in the world of cyber attacks. Consider the sabotage possibilities in the first punch-card driven looms.

If you’re familiar with “spook hardware” such as the Enigma and its US/UK code-breaking counterparts from WWII, ZERO DAYS scope is an easy leap. You just need an update on the acronyms and players we now face in Cyberwar. Cyber attacks, cyber terrorism, and all other penetrations into our enterprise-grade technology require counter measures — only now we’re talking software, or code, and the stakes are world-breaking with the nuclear weapon card in play.

Another helpful insight before seeing ZERO DAYS is the US’s relation to the Shah of Iran. Because before he was deposed, the Shah of Iran received the first piece of their nuclear technology from the US, in support of power generation. The Christian Science Monitor did a round-up once that put dates on the whole mess. “In 1967, under the ‘Atoms for Peace’ program launched by President Eisenhower, the US sold the Shah of Iran’s government a 5-megawatt, light-water type reactor… the foundation of Iran’s nuclear power program.” The Shah reigned from Sept. 16, 1941 until Feb. 11, 1979, when he was toppled by the Iranian Revolution. However questionable the Shah’s regime was, it’s axiomatic that something would go wrong once the largely secular world of his rule fell into theological hands as the 1980’s began.

Next things go from theological to zealot by US estimations, and then there’s Sept. 11, 2001. Allegations are Iran is inching its way toward the “bomb,” because it’s not a huge stretch from power-reactor fuel to weapons-grade material. You can see why the US Government would consider cyberwar in the wake of 911, especially since the hardware and software for their nuclear program comes mostly from the West (read: a way in via upgrades to the tech). Plus, would anyone ever find out? Someone high up likely gambled on the wrong side of “No.” So malware was secretly engineered, somewhere, to attack the centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz facility. Alex Gibney’s take on it is, “I started out making a small film investigating ‘Stuxnet…’ What I discovered was a massive clandestine operation involving the CIA, the NSA, the US Military and Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad to build and launch secret cyber ‘bombs’ that could plunge the world into a devastating series of… attacks on critical infrastructure, shutting down electricity… this science fiction scenario…”

That’s Mr. Going Clear for you, outing the whole gamut of international players from “three-letter agencies” to nation states. Gibney steps into the lion’s den, where most of us would shiver and recite the Cowardly Lion’s “I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks” from the Wizard of Oz. But then you talk to someone like Eric Chien, Technical Director of Symantec’s Security Technology and Response division, who was among the first handful to discover and name the Stuxnet virus, and it becomes clear that the message of ZERO DAYS is not rehashing old news about the perils of technology.

Although it is public record that Belorussian engineer Sergey Ulasen was the first responder to report the then-unnamed Stuxnet virus as a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) reboot over there in the Iranian nuke-related nest of computers; the message of this film is really about the knowledge gap between policy makers and digital purveyors, who, at the speed of technology, will reshape the world for us if we don’t watch out. 2016-06-28 11.17.02In person, Eric Chien is incredibly personable, a youthful exemplar of next-generation digital professionals (read: Not Nerds) in business casual attire with stand-up bangs and a friendly, open demeanor. He twists his wedding ring briefly, the only sign that being nervous is normal under the weight of the controversial topics involved. Then Chien uses his outdoor voice, launches into a patter that suggests he is used to briefing Subcommittees and Fortune 100 clients on the in’s and out’s of tech topics, which he does in real life. “We make Norton Anti-Virus,” he begins, to kind of define Symantec. He also apologizes that colleague Liam O’Murchu couldn’t make it. “He had his hands on it first,” Chien adds, meaning Stuxnet.

“Normally what we do, day-to-day, is we look at the latest (cyber) attacks. About one million a day. A lot of it is handled through automation, which automatically create fixes for them. When we come across some big attacks, we share (with stakeholders)” pieces of the code for others to monitor or give feedback on. “Recently someone tried to transfer $1 BN from the Bank of Bangladesh,” he said. This discovery brought back some similarities to the adrenaline of the Stuxnet discovery. It’s fascinating to watch Eric speak frankly and transparently from the super-secret cyber-crypto world where “pen tests” — penetration tests of security systems — make these reverse-engineers just as tricky as their malware-making counterparts. “You never want to roll out your own crypto,” he corrects. “You really want it to be peer-reviewed.”

Chien will let slip a few telling details that demonstrate how John le Carré his day job is, like “when you have black motorcycles, wearing all black following you, behind you, you start to wonder.” Or, on why Stuxnet wasn’t part of the Snowden leak, he casually mentions, “Edward Snowden didn’t leak this because those files are stored on a different server.” Then, ironically, Chien says he is not under an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), because “we don’t have a two-tiered system. We share this information with our clients… we would never work for hostile nations.”

This charming ambassador of tech will also note that ‘zero-day’ is a term that basically means the virus is discovered at the same time the vulnerability is revealed that makes the exploit even possible. (Think of it as a hole-in-one golf shot, but nobody knew there was a hole there until the ball hit. Now you’ve got two problems.)  “Stuxnet had not one, but four zero-days in it,” Chien emphasizes, “even one zero day is rare, but four?” This is how “we knew nation states must be involved.” But breaking the code, finding out what this virus was supposed to do “was the needle in the haystack. I mean it had a (kill) date in it, but it was not easy to figure out.” Then Symantec’s wizard recites that oft-quoted refrain that while most attacks take his team about “three minutes to crack, this one took three months.”

“Liam (O’Murchu) is the first one who picked it up. I then pulled it as well.” The first approach was “What is this thing? Is it trying to like hold my computer for ransom? Steal some documents?” But the most impactful theory was covert espionage. “As we began to rip (the code) apart, we saw that it was (targeted at) Siemens PLC.” PLC stands for programmable logic controller, which, from Siemens controls functions for a very specific piece of hardware, in this case the rotating nuclear centrifuge at Natanz in Iran. “We ordered the exact same model of PLC. We were expecting something the size of a mini-frigerator. But when the box came, it was the size of a book!”

There’s something admiring in the way Eric Chien describes the puzzle pieces from the dark side that Alex Gibney has detailed in ZERO DAYS. “The code was perfect, there were no errors in it, that’s how we knew it was a nation state,” Chien admits. “The way Alex incorporated the exact pieces of code (from Stuxnet) at exactly the right moment it is being discussed on screen really impressed us.” By “us” Eric Chien means the super smart people working on encryption, the white hats.

When pressed, Chien adds that most technology-related movies and TV projects are “ridiculously inaccurate,” but not ZERO DAYS. Or the USA Network TV show Mr. Robot, which he admits to watching, a huge endorsement.  But if you ask who his favorite hackers are, Chien demurs. “Today it’s just stunt hacking, I don’t find that interesting. Doing something just so you can show you can do it. Like hacking a PLC to show you can do it.” Then he pauses, “you know Captain Crunch? I liked him.” Captain Crunch (a/k/a John Draper) was Steve Jobs‘ favorite hacker, the guy ‘who stole from Ma Bell’ back in the old days of blueboxing by “whistling” analog tunes into a phone receiver to fool the network into thinking it was a digital tone to allow free long distance. Then if you ask: ‘Do you think smart people will take over the world, since there is such a knowledge gap with policy makers?’ Symantec’s distinguished engineer will smile, and come back with “the world is not a meritocracy,” as if the concept of brains over brawn has been debunked throughout history.

In one parting quote, Chien remarks “there’s something to be said for obsolescence. Because when Russia tried to shut down (the grid) in the Ukraine, their technology was so old, they could actually go to each site and crank it back on by hand.” That’s not in ZERO DAYS, but Nitro Zeus is. So now you’re armed with enough information on the backstory to grasp the enormity of ZERO DAYS. A must-watch, Gibney’s newest premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and opens July 8. To find out more, visit the official site here for screen times and venues.

 

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Alex Gibney Has ZERO DAYS, a Stuxnet Doc, on Deck for July 8

SCREENMANCER CYBER/FILM ALERT: Here’s what we know so far — Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media and Showtime will release ZERO DAYS in Theaters, on Demand, on Amazon Video, and on iTunes July 8, 2016. ZERO DAYS is directed by Alex Gibney, the fanatically precise director who helmed STEVE JOBS: MAN IN THE MACHINE and won an Academy Award for 2008’s TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE.

Here’s a Screenmancer First Look

Directed and Written by Alex Gibney

Starring: Colonel Gary D. Brown, Eric Chien, Richard A. Clarke, General Michael Hayden, Olli Heinonen, Chris Inglis, Vitaly Kamluk, Eugene Kaspersky

Official description below…

Alex Gibney’s ZERO DAYS is a documentary thriller about the world of cyberwar. For the first time, the film tells the complete story of Stuxnet, a piece of self-replicating computer malware (known as a “worm” for its ability to burrow from computer to computer on its own) that the U.S. and Israel unleashed to destroy a key part of an Iranian nuclear facility, and which ultimately spread beyond its intended target. ZERO DAYS is the most comprehensive accounting to date of how a clandestine mission hatched by two allies with clashing agendas opened forever the Pandora’s Box of cyberwarfare. Beyond the technical aspects of the story, ZERO DAYS reveals a web of intrigue involving the CIA, the US Military’s new cyber command, Israel’s Mossad and Operations that include both espionage and covert assassinations but also a new generation of cyberweapons whose destructive power is matched only by Nuclear War.

For more info: click here.

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Kate Beckinsale Is For Fangirls Too In “Love & Friendship,” Whit Stillman’s A+ Austen Romp

[From Filmfestivals.com, by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent, Opens May 13.]

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“It is a truth universally acknowledged” that Jane Austen (1775-1817) will be source material in the foreseeable forever, but it is actually surprising that director Whit Stillman (Last Days of Disco, Metropolitan) has so nailed her work in his new film Love & Friendship, that lead Kate Beckinsale should be Oscar-worthy for 2016.

And while giddy Fanboys still own Beckinsale for her sleek, sexy turn in the “Underworld” franchise, she is now property of Fangirls too. With her head-spinning role as Lady Susan Vernon, she creates a designing widow built on stellar speeches.

Based on Austen’s lesser known novella “Lady Susan,” basically a collection of letters outlining a virago and manor marriage-wrecker, Stillman has culled a character for Beckinsale that is not only a must-see but a must-see-again. (He also wrote a companion book “Love & Friendship, In Which Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated,” just to drive the point home for readers.) This is a tale spun from whip-smart mannered language and overlapping laugh-lines.

Chloe Sevigny (Mrs. Alicia Johnson) is also fantastic as the American ex-pat “exile” and coconspirator in manipulating the hapless gentleman in this romp. Tom Bennett is a scene stealer too, as Sir James Martin, an affable oaf with a substantial income to be “divided” wisely by the seemingly powerless women of this period who turn out to be power-brokers. A shotgun marriage of Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions, this film is set for a May 13 release, and Stillman literally raised completion funding himself with some of the same investors from his Academy-Award nominated cult hit Metropolitan. For now, here’s Kate Beckinsale and Whit Stillman on which roles Kate loves most, shooting in 27 days, how real-life over-the-top women are just over-the-top. Plus a bonus item: why Whit Stillman hates Stanley Kubrick.

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KATE BECKINSALE: Before we started shooting, I kept harassing Whit for a locked in shooting draft. Because I had that notion of, you know, when you rehearse a play, quite often like Shakespeare, you tend knowing the lines. He was very coy about that. Then I realized he likes to change it up on the day. So that can be quite challenging on this than it can be on some.  It’s a great, big speech, that gets moved around, it’s like a mental agility test. By the end I was pretty sure I didn’t have Alzheimer’s.

I really am attracted to characters that people don’t write that often, which are women who are — not necessarily someone you’d want to go on holiday with for two weeks — but that you are fascinated watching because they are difficult and tricky to watch. Lady Susan is just ruthless. They need someone to cheer them up. Whit is very good at writing this. He’s very allergic to Acting with a capital “A.” So he picked actors that are nuanced. Even the broader parts of the movie, Tom Bennett. He arrived with a complete character. Whit is very dignified and rather diffident and acutely aware of nuance and stuff like that. He can be quite brutal in his direction sometimes. He’s not shy of saying ‘I really don’t like that.’ But he says it so eloquently, and he’s usually right, so… we were pretty much on the same page.

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We were shooting in Dublin, February and March. Make-up was about 30 seconds, and hair was a bit longer. It was actually getting dressed that took the longest. Underneath, it was really cold, we all had thermal underwear, long leggings, so you really were like this stiff snowman baby kind of wheeled out of your trailer like Hannibal Lecter on that thing (a stretcher).

When I was sent the script, I remembered when I had done Emma, there was a fashion at that time of people writing in the style of Jane Austen, and I thought that’s what Whit had done. But it seemed atypical of a romantic literature heroine. I kept thinking ‘when is she going to get punished, when is she going to die?’ But in fact, she sort of gets every single thing she wants. I was sort of thrilled by that. Then reading the novella afterward, (Lady Susan) was even more extreme with her daughter, and we had to tone it down a little bit.

It’s my absolutely favorite thing (sharp comedic roles), then the thing I was doing as an experiment (“Underworld”) took off. I think people are used to seeing me with a machine gun. So it’s been an interesting journey, like a little bird in a birdbath, back to normal.

I’m definitely not like Lady Susan, she’s not interested in being a parent. Not a natural mother. Her daughter, if anything, is more of an inconvenience. I think if Lady Susan were transplanted to now, she would not be rushing to have a child. She’s got a fairly strong narcissistic streak which makes her entertaining, but not an ideal parent. I think, in terms of not judging her, as a woman it was a very constraining period of time especially if you’re an intelligent woman. You’re not expected to get a deep education, nor a fulfilling career, and your whole livelihood depends on marrying a man who has money, so that’s a very different situation. So, it seems to me, Jane Austen must have expressed some of her frustration through writing this kind of larger than life character. Which makes it seem very progressive now, but it speaks a bit to what she was facing.

(Drops her phone) I have two phones, like a drug dealer. One’s for England, one’s for here.

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I was always worried about the other people in the scenes, especially in the interior scenes. There were quite a few days, it was actually me banging on for 30 minutes, then the other person would have one line. And then I’d go off again. I thought ‘one of these actors is going to fall asleep,’ I’d be embarrassed, but they weren’t. It was lovely to have a chance to have a relationship with Chloe that wasn’t me bullying her and being mean, like we were in Last Days of Disco (also directed by Stillman). I love to see female relationships I like that, it’s not that common, but they just completely approve of each other. They approve of each other; they’re not in competition. The real love story is us, our friendship. There’s a complete lack of judgement and acceptance. Chloe’s character says so many times ‘well, nobody deserves you,’ as if it’s a fact. There’s something nice about seeing that female friendship, although they’re plotting terrible things and not being very nice. I love seeing that.

Whit Stillman, Being Himself & The Film’s Director-Auteur-Novelist

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WHIT STILLMAN: [He begins our interview with a this curveball…] You look like my sister. Hello, sister, hello Linda. [The redirect question was “how did you handle so much dialogue?”]

Well there’s was a lot more dialogue, before. This is a very relaxed adaptation. It was very relaxed, but a very long process. Like taking everything from (Jane Austen’s) letters, like a deck of cards. I did a very long version, and trying not to go back to the novella, just working from the script. Before it was close to being a film script, it was a reading experience. In the adaptations a lot of the comedy tends to get lost or left, but I think there must be some kind of deep character story in Austen that must be good to adapt (to any time period). Because when I read the novella, I thought it was really funny, like an Oscar Wilde play, but I wasn’t sure there was a good story. But I think that if people keep bringing it forward, changing the time period into a Clueless or a Bridget Jones Diary, there must be a deep story dynamic.

Kate can do this funny, egoistical over-the-top character. The first thing I saw her in was Cold Comfort Farm (adapted from the book) by Stella Gibbons. Kate was great in the movie. It’s sort of based on the novel “Emma.” Lady Susan is sort of malicious Emma.

I find dominant women characters over-the-top really funny. I mean I know some women like that. Then I realize they are just over-the-top. Lady Susan is so manipulating and self-confident and funny. You sort of like her more than the Emma character.

Kate and Chloe come at (acting) from very different directions. So they approach it really differently, but they end up coming together. I think people underestimate Chloe, because to listen and react to funny lines and not make it oppressive is very accomplished. Chloe has that ability to exist in space with her lovely eyes and her lovely expressions, it’s very relaxing. They are really, really disciplined. One reason we finished a day early, 26 days, is because Kate would just do her lines, no problem at all.

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[Bonus: Stillman talks about the music, soundtrack for “Love & Friendship.” The temp track first put in was a classical track with echoes from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001.”]

I have a strange relationship with Stanley Kubrick, because for a while he was the filmmaker I most hated. I remember my best friend and I going to see 2001, ‘a space odyssey,’ isn’t it? And we hated it. That was the first time I saw a director’s name in the credits. My friend said ‘Stanley Kubrick, you’re a marked man.’ Our Sound Editor had first put in Sarabande from Kubrick. One of the challenges we had was to get the music of Barry Lyndon (1975) out of our film. That first big scene, leaving Langford, the editor first put in (George Frideric) Handel’s Sarabande from Kubrick. Finally I found (Henry) Purcell’s Funeral March of Queen Mary; it worked really well, the drums. Then people say ‘oh Kubrick used that in Clockwork Orange.’ We couldn’t escape Kubrick.

Love & Friendship from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions open May 13, and watch for it to be nominated for Best Actress, Screenplay, and Film for Award Season 2016. The website is here for full cast and screening locations.

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