On feta and fidelity, long conversations and longer takes
Beginning with "Before Sunrise" and followed up by "Before Sunset," one of American independent cinema's milestones continues (or possibly concludes) with "Before Midnight." Reuniting director Rick Linklater with stars and co-writers Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, "Midnight" continues the intertwining lives of Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy.) The two met on a train in 'Sunrise," reunited in Paris in "Sunset" and now, in "Midnight" find themselves married with twins, in Greece on a writer's retreat, where the passage of time has made their conversations -- and their wounds -- all the deeper. We spoke with Linklater, Hawke and Delpy in Los Angeles about getting the band back together, why some women find Delpy's character "insufferable" and the horrible indignities of couple's massage.
MSN Movies: Let me just start by asking the obvious question, which is when exactly do you come upon the decision to say, "Let's get the band back together"?
Richard Linklater: You know it happened similarly now that we've done it twice. It was still this kind of six, seven year gap I think when we don't have .. as much as we would all like to work together, we're not going to do it just to do it, you know? We have to realize Jesse and Celine have something to say.
Julie Delpy: And we have something to say.
Linklater: And we can't know that. I mean time is such a big player here, it has to be like six or seven more years of life accumulation. And then it's like Jesse and Celine, these parallel characters we've created, kind of emerge and kind of maybe have something to say about this new station they find themselves at. So that's how it's worked twice. We kind of have the same trajectory where we joke about it, there's funny titles thrown around ...
Delpy: (Laughs) "Before the Grave."
Linklater: Yeah before, you know, there's... But then at some point it gets a little more serious, then something of substance hits the table, and it takes on a slowly different tone. And we realized Jesse and Celine are sort of reemerging in a potentially real way, but it still takes awhile. That's at year six. And then we get two years of what-if this what-if that. And we get to use that luxury of the time we have to actually explore maybe what they have been doing for nine years.
Does it ever happen that two-thirds of the constituency are on board and one has to be cajoled or convinced? Or does everybody roughly sync up at the same time?
Seventh film set to go back to Los Angeles
The Coens finally make their return, and the Fortnight offers up its first stunner
Guess what? It doesn't work
Star takes a break to play ball with some kids (in costume!)
"I don’t know when we were told that we have to sacrifice story and character and acting and performances for the sake of action ..."
On a balcony overlooking a sprawling city, Vin Diesel is affable, laughing and a gracious host, wearing a crisp polo only slightly bluer than the sky. Diesel has managed to find a career path that mixes big, burly action films (like "Fast &Furious 6," as well as the upcoming "Riddick") and also managing to turn up in other films that have much more to do with brain than brawn ("The Iron Giant," Call Me Guilty"). We spoke with the man behind Dom Toretto in London, a quarter-mile at a time.
MSN Movies: How great is it to shoot driving action in London, one of the biggest, busiest cities in the world? It's pretty crazy, isn't it?
Vin Diesel: So, so crazy. If you would've asked me back in 1997 when I was here doing my first acting job, "Saving Private Ryan," that 15 years later I would be destroying the streets of London with a Dodge Daytona I would've thought you were crazy. And that's exactly what happened. We loved shooting in London, we loved the contrast to Rio, and we loved the idea that we, after Rio, after the fifth one ... we realized that the audience kind of enjoys traveling with us, going to new places. Somehow we've become their favorite tour guide.
Their favorite global tour guide, and we kind of try and live up to that ...
You see the world's great cities, and you destroy them, and you're kind of this anti-tourist advertisement.
Yeah, yeah. We leave rubble in our path.
And also, how great it is ... most of the time when you say to an audience, "Oh this is part six of a series," they're like, "Ugh." But this people look forward to. How fortunate is that? And what do you think explains it?
If we had continued the franchise in the way that we made the first three we would've gotten that reaction. When we came back for the second trilogy, (films) 4, 5, and 6, there was a very specific way that we changed the dynamic of making these movies. And that was, we no longer thought of it as a franchise where we make do whatever you want then slap the brand name on it and sell it. We thought of it as a continuing story, and you see that in the bookend style that we use. But we were very conscious about ... I know this sounds crazy, but almost rewarding the audience for the movie that they saw before.
And making the investment.
And making the investments. So if you saw 4 ... I mean, one of the executives at Universal thought they were really cute, they said, "On the poster for 'Fast Seven,' we're going to write, 'If you ain't seen 1 through 6, you ain't invited.''" (Laughs)
(Laughs) That's a bold statement.
Bruises, dream cars, chipped teeth and how the audience is the final ingredient ...
Considering that many of the "Fast and Furious" gang have been working together for up to a decade, it's got to be a trick to find the right actors to comfortably jump on board a vehicle that already has plenty of passengers and more than a little velocity. But this time, the new additions are perfect fits -- specifically, Luke Evans, who plays bad guy Shaw, and Gina Carano, the MMA-fighter and actress who plays Riley, the right-hand woman to Dwayne Johnson's hard-charging globo-cop Hobbs. We spoke with Evans and Carano in London about bad guys, fist-fights, fast cars and joining the party ...
MSN Movies: How great is it to come onboard a series where people are actually excited about a part six? That's pretty rare in Hollywood. By the time you get to part six it's usually lather, rinse, repeat. But your characters are a new shot to the arm of the series. How does it feel to enter this kind of weird film family of actors and creators?
Luke Evans: Well, you sort of answered the question really. It's a fantastic place. It's very rare to see a franchise in its sixth installment still creating a buzz ... but not just a buzz, the biggest buzz of the whole franchise. I mean they've built and built and built, and it's coming off the back of "Fast Five," which I thought was a fantastic movie. They've brought back the fantastic Justin Lin, the brilliant director who had an amazing idea, some crazy stunts, some ideas for cars, and wanted to bring a leading antagonist into the movie this time, an antagonist that wasn't just going to be helping the plot move along but actually was part of the story and the plot. And so yeah, and what is created is a new generation. This is a new, like you said, it's like a shot in the arm. They've added something to the mix.
But also he's created a film where, Ms. Carano, you get to do a 360-spin kick in the belly of a Russian cargo plane.
Gina Carano: Yeah.
I mean when you see that level of ambition, is it exciting on the page, never mind when you do it on the day?
Carano: It's just, it's fun. I get to play.
Carano: I mean that's a plane, and I get to do that, and experiment with my body and see where I can take it as far as action and other people's bodies. That sounds kind of strange, but, yeah. Violently.
We'll keep it in context.
Carano: (Laughs) Yes.
The acclaimed writer/director continues to explore the foibles and complexities of the human experience
Though Noah Baumbach’s new film, “Frances Ha,” opened in only four theaters last Friday (in New York and Los Angeles), it was the #1 film in the country in per-screen averages, bringing in almost twice as much per theater as “Star Trek Into Darkness.” True, it’s a bit crazy to compare small, introspective films like “Frances Ha,” co-written by and starring the delightful Greta Gerwig, with huge studio juggernauts like “Star Trek into Darkness” which opened in nearly 4,000 theaters nationwide—talk about apples and oranges! Still, it’s nice to see that audiences for such a limited release were chomping at the bit to see this funny, poignant tale of a socially awkward 27-year-old dancer in New York who is struggling to figure out how to live her life. The well-received film, shot in glorious black and white, features a talented ensemble cast that includes Mickey Sumner, Charlotte d’Amboise, Adam Driver, Grace Gummer, Michael Zegen, Juliet Rylance, and Josh Hamilton. Since his first film, 1995’s “Kicking and Screaming,” Noah Baumbach has become one of the most respected writer/directors working in independent films. I spoke with him in Los Angeles.
MSN Movies: This is such a great collaboration between you and Greta Gerwig. Because she had such a big hand in developing the character, were there ever moments during the filming where she felt something didn’t feel right for Frances?
Noah Baumbach: Part of what’s so unique about Greta as a writer and an actor is she can really separate the two. When she was playing the part, there was very little indication that she had written the lines. She was just very present as an actor and she wanted to be directed. We were very rigorous on this movie. We did many takes so it was kind of strenuous—I guess you could say it took a lot of effort to make it look so joyful and breezy! It’s the same thing for me as a writer/director—once I’m directing, I’m treating the text as something that I’m interpreting, even though I also invented it.
All of your films feature such interesting female characters—complex, real women who are dealing with some heavy emotional issues. How do you think Frances falls in line with Joan in “The Squid and the Whale,” Pauline and Margot in “Margot at the Wedding,” or Florence in “Greenberg?”
In the context of my work, Frances is one of the easiest characters to like! I just loved her— she’s so understandable as a person and she has such goodness. Frances has this kind of joyful and hopeful approach to life despite all the crap that life can bring you. I felt like I was inspired in a way, both in writing and directing, to protect her but at the same time give her the opportunity to grow. What I really liked about making this film is that it’s a movie about the romance of practicality and Frances was the perfect character to document that.
I was inspired by Frances’s unique way of accepting reality, even if it sometimes takes her a while to do so. Greta Gerwig is so great in this part, but so are all of the actors in the film, even those who only appear for a minute or two.
I like that about the movie, too. I feel like it’s a great snapshot of some of the best actors who are in New York right now. Some of them have already broken out in other things. When we made the movie, for example, Adam Driver was still filming “Girls,” it hadn’t happened yet. I think we’ll more of the other actors in big things coming up.
It’s hard not to compare the world of this movie to Lena Dunham’s “Girls” even though they’re very different. How do you respond to such comparisons? I also hear the movie discussed in the same breath as Woody Allen’s New York-based films.
I think it’s cool that there is more than one thing going on about young women in New York—there’s no reason that they can’t both exist happily together. Lena’s great, and I think what’s she’s doing is great. As for Woody Allen, I can only take that as a compliment. I think his movies are brilliant.
And speaking of Woody Allen, I so admired the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography in this film. Is that still a hard sell these days?