Get it on 'till the break of dawn with truly exciting French action
There's a heist. Two men take down another two men, broad daylight in the streets of Paris. One of the robbers is stabbed, loses his ski mask, but they get the score -- 13 kilograms of cocaine. They hide the stash. Bandage the wound.
And go to work as cops.
Director Frederick Jardin and co-screenwriter Nicolas Saada aren't done with the surprises, though; the lead man of the robbery crew, the injured man, Vincent (a magnetic Tomer Sisley) gets a call from the local Corsican mob. They have his 13-year-old son Thomas (Samy Saghir). He has the cocaine. Logic suggests that each party can get what they want back. And so Vincent goes to a huge club, Tarmac, while not only trying to outsmart the Corsicans (led by Serge Riaboukine's Marciano, a civilized thug who drips with sarcasm) but also dodging I.A. cop Lacombe (Julien Boissileier) and his rookie assistant Vignali (Lizzie Brochere). And Marciano has to get the coke back because it's not really his coke, and he has to get it to Fedeyk (Joey Starr) a much less presentable Turkish gangster.
'Our definition of 'fantastic' runs pretty wide ...'
In part two of our interview with Tim League -- the Creative Director of Fantastic Fest -- we talk about the Festival's tradition of boxing-match panel discussions, random strangeness, and whether or not his new status as a dad will change his desire to stay up past midnight watching people get their faces torn off.
Is there ever stuff you see where it's like, 'I love this, but we have no place to put it,' or do you say, 'This is by definition fantastic, thus we shall carry it?'
League: If it's something we love but we don't think it fits -- either with our audience or our aesthetic for the festival, we usually know enough people at other festivals where we'll pass it along, if we think it's a discovery. We send a lot of things over to South by Southwest, if it's a little bit more dramatic and doesn't really fall into the categories. Our definition of 'fantastic' runs pretty wide. We can usually find a tangential stretch to make something into the fantastic realm if we want to.
Do you feel like a bit of an institution when you have directors returning? Does that feel like you've really tapped into the programming, or does it say you're the only place who'll have these freaks?
League: I like to think that if people come to Fantastic Fest with their film and they come in person and experience the festival that they'll be excited to come back and, when they have a new film, think of us. That has happened quite a few times. It's great. It's a double-edged sword, too, because occasionally we'll come into a situation where we'll have somebody that's made a film, and then we don't accept their next film. That's one of the really difficult things about this position, becoming friends with people and then not being able to invite them if the movie just doesn't work for whatever reason.
A little less "Immigrant Song," a little more straightforward mystery
The acclaimed British actor plays an American CIA agent with a past in the new Taylor Lautner film
I first saw Alfred Molina over 20 years ago in “Prick Up Your Ears,” the Stephen Frears film about playwright Joe Orton (Gary Oldman) and his lover, Kenneth Halliwell (Molina). That brilliant performance put Molina on the map and his career has been an actor’s dream ever since, with plenty of success on stage, TV, and in films. Molina was a regular on “Law & Order: LA,” appears with Dawn French in the funny British sitcom “Roger & Val Have Just Got In,” and has won over Broadway audiences in several roles including an atypical Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.” It would be hard to think of someone with a wider range of movie roles, from the evil Dr. Octavius in “Spider-Man 2” to tortured artist Diego Rivera in “Frida” to Carey Mulligan’s suspicious dad in “An Education.”
It was an honor to be able to chat with the gifted actor about his role as CIA agent Frank Burton in John Singleton’s new thriller, “Abduction,” starring Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, and Sigourney Weaver. It was fun to hear him speak in his natural London accent which he doesn’t get to use all that much in his work.
We talked about how for years CIA agents were portrayed in movies as the “bad guys” but how this is beginning to shift.
Molina: I think there are fashions in movies in terms of the good guys and the bad guys and this changes with the prevailing atmosphere and whatever’s happening in the world politically. During the Cold War years I was always playing Russians or East Germans. And then suddenly I was doing a lot of Middle Eastern characters! Then things changed again and now there’s a fashion of having the bad guys be Serbians or Middle Europeans. It adds a kind of extra responsibility for the filmmakers because you don’t want to necessarily pander to the prevailing winds. For one thing, that would mean the audience will probably just get ahead of you. In this film, I think John managed to walk a reasonably subtle tightrope regarding which groups the audience trusts.
What attracted you to the part of Frank Burton?
Molina: When I first read the script, I was impressed by the fact that this is a man who ostensibly seems to be on the side of good, on the side of right, but there’s something, he has some kind of issue, he may be hiding something.
Your character is fairly mysterious for much of the film. Is there anything you do to convey those grey areas? To keep the audience guessing?
Molina: Nothing too deliberate or calculated. The bottom line for me is always that you serve the text, you serve what the story requires. One of the things I always emphasize with people is that there’s nothing real about what we do, audiences aren’t hoodwinked into thinking these events are really happening. They know they’re sitting in a darkened room watching a movie and we all know we’re creating a fantasy so being “real” is not exactly the concern. My concern is simply to be authentic enough so that the audience is willing to suspend its disbelief.
Director Joe Carnahan follows up 'The A-Team' with this wilderness thriller
'Incredible storytelling...that just happens to have a hint of blood and guts.'
Austin, Texas -- which pulls eccentrics and devotees of all forms of art like a siren's call -- is, not coincidentally, the home of Fantastic Fest, a sprawling-yet-intimate event dedicated to presenting the best in horror, science fiction, action, drama and anything else. as long, of course, as its fantastic. This is a film festival where a crowd howled for Lars von Trier's "Antichrist" -- egged on by a substantial gentleman in a skimpy fox costume. This is a film festival where the Rza of the Wu-Tang Clan (presenting an award), Bill Pullman of "Independence Day" (presenting a film) and Elijah Wood of "The Lord of the Rings" (just, you know, man, chilling out) on the karaoke stage at the Highball, next door to the screenings at the infamous Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar Boulevard. This is a film festival where panel discussions start at podiums and end in a boxing ring, like last year when Alamo Drafthouse CEO and Fantastic Fest co-founder Tim League argued the merits of 3D with "Avatar" star Michelle Rodriguez before going a few rounds with her. We spoke with League in a two-part interview; this first part touches on the Festival's shifting mission statement, the ideal mix of professionalism and blood, why horror films can have the hardest time finding an audience and more.
If people don't know what Fantastic Fest is, how do you describe it in one sentence that doesn't get you sent to jail?
League: Sometimes we like to say it's a film festival with the boring parts cut out, but then we've added a few parts, too. That's not a very good sentence. I think it's a film festival that focuses all day long on having fun, both with movies and with parties and making an eight-day celebration.
Last year, you had everything from a live recreation of a radio play to a live theatrical production starring Jeffrey Combs as Edgar Allan Poe. How important is stuff like that to go outside the walls of a film festival -- even in terms of entertainment, never mind things like the trips to the shooting range?
League: I think it follows our philosophy with the movie theater, because Fantastic Fest was born out of the Alamo Drafthouse and the programming we do at the Alamo. I would never have felt constrained by the idea that everything we did in the movie theater had to be movies. A lot of times, we like to think what can you do in a space, a gathering of people, that has a big screen and has audio-visual that can be fun as well, above and beyond the movies. We're still first and foremost about celebrating great genre film, but I think you can have some tangential fun without actually stringing up the celluloid.
The young “Twilight” star is bursting with excitement about his first solo vehicle
There’s a sad history of young actors in Hollywood achieving great fame at an early age and then crumbling under the pressures of stardom. But none of those kids were as grounded as 19-year-old Taylor Lautner, better known among his legion of swooning fans as Jacob Black in the “Twilight” film series. Though Lautner has been working professionally since the age of 11, it was his role as the smoldering Black that catapulted him into the stratosphere of teen stardom. The fact that he now consistently makes People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” list doesn’t hurt a bit. Lautner is currently the highest-paid teenage actor in Hollywood.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with the actor for a one-on-one chat about his new movie “Abuction,” the first film that he is carrying on his own. “Abduction” is an action thriller directed by John Singleton about a teenager who tries to find his true identity after coming across his baby picture on a missing persons website. For all the attention being heaped Lautner's way, including by the hordes of screaming girls that were practically fainting at his feet at the film’s Hollywood premiere, Lautner comes across as the most normal 19-year-old guy you could ever meet.
Taylor has been studying martial arts since he was a little kid, and his skills were put to great use in “Abduction.” As a parent, I found myself biting my fingernails as I watched some of the crazy stunts in the film. I asked Lautner if his own family members freaked out watching his daredevil antics in this movie:
Lautner: Ha! I bet most of them assumed I wasn’t really doing it or there was some trick to it. I’m sure if they knew if I was pretty much doing exactly what they were seeing, it would have freaked them out! I know I was definitely freaking out the producers and the insurance company!
That first scene when you’re riding on the hood of the truck looked like a lot of fun but again, dangerous as hell!
Lautner: It was amazing, and to be honest, I was surprised they let me do it. I definitely had to negotiate for it. I told them, “I NEED to do that stunt!” At first they said, “No way, you are not getting on the hood of that truck,” but eventually I convinced them to allow me to do it. They said I could only go about 20 miles per hour but we got up to about 50! (Laughs.) It was so much fun!
Book by Levinson, music and lyrics by Crow, confusion by me
Looks like director Barry Levinson is not quite done with the film that started his career. Levinson is now bringing his 1982 feature film debut, “Diner,” to Broadway. The new musical is already handsomely packaged, with Levinson on board to write the adaptation’s book, with Tony Award-winner Kathleen Marshall set to direct, along with Sheryl Crow penning music and lyrics. You read that part right. Sheryl Crow.
Levinson’s film was set in 1959 Baltimore, and focused on group of friends who reunite for a friend’s wedding. The film’s cast was packed with emerging talent, and it’s often pointed to as the project that launched not just Levinson’s career, but those of his formidable young cast, which included Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Tim Daly, Paul Reiser, and Ellen Barkin. Despite the film’s general-feeling storyline, “Diner” worked almost miraculously well and still manages to speak to the almost inescapable ennui and fears of twentysomethings still struggling with what it means to be an adult.
Movieline reports that the new musical will focus on the same core group of pals, now with all their innermost feelings set to music and dance. Levinson said, “I’m excited to be embarking on this stage version, which affords me the opportunity as a storyteller to expand on my original vision and let the characters express their innermost feeling and thoughts through song.” While that all sounds well and good, I’m still a bit stuck on Crow’s involvement with the adaptation. Maybe the Grammy-winning songstress is a huge “Diner” fan who can do it tremendous justice? We’ll have to wait and see.
Levinson previously tried to revamp the “Diner” story for television, with a 1983 television short film that attempted to serve as a pilot. That try didn’t go down as easy.
The musical is aiming to premiere in the fall of next year. Would you go see "Diner" on Broadway?