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Hey, FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE Is an Insider Film Fan Anthem, Take That THR

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Who doesn’t love The Hollywood Reporter, a trade paper of record since 1930 at the dawn of American Cinema? So what do you do when THR lukewarmly reviews a film that is a fantastically written exploration of the interplay between fans and films, between human superpowers and caped crusaders? You write a counter-review, and here it is: this is about co-director Liz Graham and Matt Jacobs’ freshly screened FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE. It’s playing on a weeklong run at Laemmle Music Hall that began last Friday, June 16, so you still have time to catch it.3 shot

Starring Eve Annenberg (writer-director of Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish) in a tacky bridal gown on an LA Metro Bus odyssey after a near-miss at matrimony, her veiled crusader of personal discovery teams up with  Bradley J. Herman, Maxx Maulion, stage actress Nija Okoro, local standup Isadora O’Boto, MMA champion Krzysztof Soszynski (Logan), Linda Bisesti and Chia Chen. It’s not exactly The Justice League, but they all have pop cultural references that thread together the multicultural experience that is Los Angeles. And it works wonders for Wedding Woman.

Just to cheat the system for you, and give film fans fair access to the movie, here are actual press notes on the film, with a synopsis so you get a gist of where this film is headed.

“In the city of Angels, everyone is on a quest.  A disheveled, middle-aged woman in a bridal gown boards a Metro bus on Hollywood Blvd in the middle of the night. As the bus heads further west, she meets an assortment of eccentrics and social outcasts who make her question where she’s been and where she’s going.  Each person she meets is at their own personal crossroads, who in turn shape the course of her bizarre journey.”

Ironically, coming from the film’s publicity folks, this is lacking in hyperbole and the extra “tulle dimension” that FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE offers diehard film buffs. ‘Tangerine Meets Canterbury Tales Set in Glitterati LaLaLand,’ is a more fitting tagline, but they got the quest part right.

Here’s something very insider fanboy and fangirl already: if you Google the title it will return results for the trip from Hollywood to Rose Avenue in Venice, which is awesome in itself. Not to mention the iconic Ballerina Clown is shown for its weirdly unpredictable staying power as a local icon despite the place going from Muscle Beach to Silicon Beach these days, with nosebleed rents and attitudes you used to only see on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, ps. So the movie also shines a spot on a place that once was cool and is now so overpriced you want to pitch a tent in protest.

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Taking on the Marvel Universe, Willow, Blade Runner, Bruce Lee, even that reptilians-live-inside-the-hollow-earth yadda, FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE does a mind-meld for film fans that is of epic proportions. It taps into the inner stat and Easter Egg zone in those movie people who show up at Comic-Cons in full regalia, know what cosplay is, and collect lobby cards.

Plus there’s a gummy bear fight with the near-miss sister-in-law and crazy people we see on the street every day take on a mythic significance as the canaries in this coal mine we are all currently living in. Let’s face it, the remake of Blade Runner with Ryan Gosling has most of us a little nervous, but hopeful that the 1982 Blade Runner is celebrated even more for its cult replicant allegories to our plastic surgery dystopian now.

Embedded in this so-called Woman-in-a-Wedding-Dress saga is a full display of the power of great movies to make great memories and bring out the best in people. (No, I’m not kidding. Ever wonder why movies are America’s number one lifestyle export? Because they are magical when done correctly.)From_Hollywood_to_Rose_Postcard_V2

You’ve got exceptional writing here from Matt Jacobs and a standout threading of stories from the debut team of Liz Graham and Jacobs. There is not one moment of dead air, and the film treats people’s obsessions and adoration of pop culture rabbit holes with reverence.

FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE points out that we all wear costumes is real life, not just in DC Comics, as a Bus Driver disrobes and frees himself. It also pokes hard at the emotional reactions to a simple white gown, a piece of clothing so imbued with primal subtext, it can literally freak people out. Not to mention the “fish lamp,” which is just as powerful as any Orb or Seeing Stone in how it moves the plot along.

The themes touched on here are the kind of uniting cross-generational, cross-cultural conversations that the Meaningful Movies inspire. Yes, including how important Batman is to some kids growing up, or Lord of the Rings to others, even seemingly hokey 80’s quest movies — all those adventure tales that somehow add you into the picture just by watching.

So embedded in this so-called Woman-in-a-Wedding-Dress tale about “a group of interconnected eccentric strangers over the course of one long night on the LA Metro system,” is a full display of the power of great movies to make great memories and bring out the best in people. With all due respect to The Hollywood Reporter, you’ll love this film because it’s about us, in front of the screen, fitting our lives into a darkened room with a bunch of crazy strangers waiting for us outside in real life.

RECAP

Liz Graham’s and Matt Jacobs’ From Hollywood to Rose premiered at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, where it took the prize for Best Comedy Film and went on to screen at the Manhattan Film Festival, winning Best Comedic Screenplay.  From Hollywood to Rose opened in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall last Friday, June 16th for a weeklong run.  

Get tickets and info here for The Laemmle in Los Angeles.

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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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