Plus 'Maniac Cop,' 'Night of the Scarecrow' and more
The anthology film "Boccaccio '70" (Lorber Films) and Mario Monicelli's sex comedy "Casanova '70" (Lorber Films) both debut on Blu-ray this week. Videodrone's review is here. And Criterion debuts the 1939 "The Four Feathers" on Blu-ray as well as DVD, covered by Videodrone here.
Masaki Kobayashi’s samurai drama "Harakiri" (Criterion) is less an adventure than an indictment of hypocrisy hiding behind a code of honor. Tatsuya Nakadai plays an unemployed samurai who arrives at the manor of Lord Iyi to commit ritual suicide on his property, but first he has a story to tell. This Blu-ray upgrade from Criterion features the supplements of previous DVD release: a video introduction by Japanese film historian Donald Ritchie, archival interview with director Masaki Kobayashi (conducted by fellow director Masahiro Shinoda), video interviews with actor Tatsuya Nakadai and screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto and a booklet an essay by film scholar Joan Mellen and a reprint of her 1972 interview with Kobayashi. You can read Joan Mellen's essay on the Criterion website here.
Criterion also upgrades Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom" (Criterion), his notorious adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's opus of torture and degradation relocated to 1944 Fascist Italy, to Blu-ray. This is as unpleasant as films come. "It's certainly the film in which Pasolini's protest against the modern world finds its most extreme and anguished expression," argues Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Chicago Reader. "Very hard to take, but in its own way an essential work." Features the supplements from the earlier DVD release: three short documentaries, video interviews with set designer Dante Ferretti and director/film scholar Jean-Pierre Gorin and a substantial booklet filled with essays and art.
"The Bad Seed" (Warner)- Patty McCormack earned a Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the title character, a well-mannered little psychopath who uses her innocent looks to mask her murderous soul. Based on the Maxwell Anderson Broadway hit, the 1956 film stars Nancy Kelly as the trusting mother and co-stars Henry Jones, Eileen Heckart, Evelyn Varden, and William Hopper. Features commentary by Patty McCormack and Charles Busch and the interview featurette "Enfant Terrible: A Conversation with Patty McCormack."
The countdown to Halloween also brings Blu-ray debut of "Maniac Cop" (Synapse), the cult action horror from writer/producer Larry Cohen and director William Lustig starring Bruce Campbell and Tom Atkins as cops on the trail of a uniformed killer (the tagline is a classic: "You have the right to remain silent… Forever"), and the 1981 TV movie "Dark Night of the Scarecrow" (VCI). In addition to commentary, the Blu-ray includes a new featurette and Q&As with stars Larry Drake and Tonya Crowe and screenwriter J.D. Feigelson among the supplements.
"Last Exit to Brooklyn" (Summit), Uli Edel's adaptation of Hubert Selby Jr.'s cult novel, stars Stephen Lang, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jerry Orbach and the Blu-ray features commentary by director Edel and the featurette "The Making of Last Exit to Brooklyn." "Scrooge" (Paramount) is the 1970 musical incarnation of "A Christmas Carol" with Albert Finney and directed by Ronald Neame.
The recent BBC adaptations of the Jane Austen novels "Mansfield Park" (PBS), starring Billy Piper, and "Northanger Abbey" (PBS), starring Felicity Jones, plus the 2009 BBC version of "Wuthering Heights" (PBS) with Tom Hardy as Heathcliff, all debut on Blu-ray this week.
Plus 'South of Heaven,' films by Park Chan-wook and Catherine Breillat and more Asian horror
"Great Italian Directors Collection" (Lorber Films) collects Michelangelo Antonioni's debut feature "Story of a Love Affair" (1950), the anthology film "Boccaccio '70" (1962), and Mario Monicelli's "Casanova '70" (1966) in a four-disc set. Videodrone's review is here.
"The Four Feathers" (Criterion) gives the Criterion treatment to Zoltan Korda's 1939 Technicolor adventure of British imperial heroism and stiff-upper-lip loyalty. Quite the outdated Hail Britannia piece but a beautifully shot film with a rousing score. "This spectacular Sudanese War epic showcases both the best and worst of the Alexander Korda school of filmmaking," writes Mark Dugard for the BFI Online. On the one hand it is "satisfying as a war film, with stirring battle scenes - the jailbreak sequence is spectacular - and a spirit of breathless boy's own adventure throughout" but "the whiff of racism is unmistakable, and its celebration of empire is hard to stomach today." Features commentary by film historian Charles Drazin, a new video interview with David Korda (son of director Zoltán Korda), the archival 1939 short "A Day at Denham" featuring footage of Zoltán Korda on the set and a booklet with an essay by film critic Michael Sragow.
In J.L. Vara's revenge thriller "South of Heaven" (Synapse), bad guys Shea Whigham, Jon Gries and Thomas Jay Ryan inadvertently create a killing machine when they torture an innocent man and he returns for payback. ""South of Heaven" is a comedy, a western noir daydream, a bloody thriller, a kooky cartoon, a romance and (yes) even sort of a musical. (Kinda.)," writes Scott Weinberg for Cinematical. "So yeah: It's a weird little movie. Fortunately it's also smart, silly, and a little sick." Aaron Nee and Adam Nee takes the leads and Diora Baird and Elina Lowensohn co-star. Features three commentary tracks and three short films by J.L. Vara
The 1966 "Stagecoach" (Twilight Time) can't help but fall in the shadow of John Ford's original masterpiece, but it has its fans, a cast that keeps the wheels rolling (including Ann-Margaret, Red Buttons, Bing Crosby and Slim Pickens) and terrific poster art by none other than Norman Rockwell. "Producer Martin Rackin's remake, directed by the dependable Gordon Douglas, would be an acceptable show if its every frame did not invite comparison with the original," writes DVD Savant Glenn Erickson. "Taken by itself the 1966 Stagecoach is a colorful and eventful adventure, certainly the equal of most westerns from its year." The terrific score by Jerry Goldsmith is featured on an isolated audio track.
"I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK" (Pathfinder), an offbeat romantic comedy about two young adults struggling with delusions in a mental institution, is from South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook (of "Oldboy" fame). Slant Magazine critic Simon Abrams writes: "It took five years for "I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK" to get an official U.S. release, and while its not for everyone, the film is one of director Park Chan-wook's best." In Korean with English subtitles, with a short behind-the-scenes featurette without subtitles. It appears to adapted from a PAL master but is otherwise a decent transfer. Pathfinder also releases "Dirty Like an Angel" (Pathfinder), a 1990 production from French provocateur Catherine Breillat. In French with English subtitles.
From Britain's Rank Organization comes the 1978 adventure "The Riddle of the Sands" (VCI) with Michael York and Jenny Agutter and the 1961 "Flame in the Streets" (VCI), a drama about an interracial romance starring John Mills, Sylvia Sims, Brenda de Banzie and Johnny Seka and directed by Roy Ward Baker.
Foreign terrors come from "The Child's Eye" (Lionsgate), a Hong Kong production from The Pang Brothers, and "The Sylvian Experiments" (Lionsgate) from Japanese screenwriter turned director Hiroshi Takahashi.
Palisades has revived is old Tartan Asia Extreme and Tartan Extreme lines with new editions of some of its previous horror releases, all with supplements. "The Slit Mouthed Woman" (aka "Carved") (Palisades Tartan Asia Extreme) from Japan and "Root of Evil" (aka "Acacia") (Palisades Tartan Asia Extreme), a South Korean supernatural horror from Park Ki-Hyung, the director of "Whispering Corridors." "The Hillside Stranglings (Unrated)" (Palisades Tartan Extreme) is the unrated version of "The Hillside Strangler" and "Blood Curse" (Palisades Tartan Extreme) was previously released as "Bad Blood."
And the rest:
Freddie Highmore and Ving Rhames star in the new adaptation of Athol Fugard's "‘Master Harold’...and the Boys" (Image). The moon-people are here and "Lunopolis" (Walking Shadows) has the scoop on the conspiracy of the century. "Wasteland" (Cinema Epoch) is an indie apocalyptic sci-fi thriller from a director simply named Kantz. "Ron White's Comedy Salute to the Troops" (Vivendi) is a music and comedy special originally made for Country Music Television.
Plus the original "Casper the Friendly Ghost" and more
As the tongue-in-cheek spy show embarks on its fifth and final season, "Chuck: The Complete Fourth Season" (Warner) catches you up with the adventures of amiable nerd turned super-spy Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi). Videodrone's review is here. And while "Bones" has no end in sight, the upcoming season will be truncated due to the pregnancy of star Emily Deschanel (she gave birth to a boy in September), so the full-sized "Bones: The Complete Sixth Season" (Fox) will have to fill the void for some of us. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
The second season began on Comedy Central a few weeks ago but "Workaholics: Season One" (Paramount), the misadventures of three college buddies killing time in their new interim career as telemarketers. 10 episodes on two discs, plus commentary on every episode, deleted scenes, cast interviews and other supplements.
"Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1: Season 1" (Warner) is the is actually the new incarnation of the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim hit "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," renamed but as weird as ever. The set features the final seven episodes of the original New Jersey incarnation and the first ten episodes of the new show, where Meatwad, Frylock and Master Shake (plus their neighbor Carl) move to Seattle, rebrand themselves and even get a new theme song. And yet that doesn't really change much in their lives. The two-disc set also includes the bonus "Terror Phone 3." If you're a fan, you'll know what I mean.
"Casper The Friendly Ghost: The Complete Collection 1945-1963" (Shout! Factory) collects the 55 theatrical "Casper" cartoons produced between 1945 and 1959 plus 26 cartoons made for "The New Casper Cartoon Show." These are all exceptionally short cartoons, all under 6 minutes, and the set features commentary on ten cartoons by animation historian Mark Arnold and others, interviews with voice actor Bradley Bolke, Alison Arngrim (daughter of Norma MacMillan, voice of Casper) and Edmee Reit (widow of "Casper" co-creator Seymour Reit). Three discs in a box set of two thinpak cases.
"JEM and The Holograms: The Truly Outrageous Complete Series!" (Shout! Factory) collects all 65 episodes from the three-season run of the glitter-pop animated series created in conjunction with toy company Hasbro and its line of fashion figures. 11 discs in a box set of three standard cases with hinged trays, plus a video jukebox for the original songs in each episode, three retrospective featurettes, commercials, animated storyboards and more.
British comedian Matt Berry and American Rich Fulcher teamed up for "Snuff Box" (Severin), a hybrid sketch comedy show that ran only six episodes in 2006 but became a cult item among Britcom fans. Loosely framed around the dealings of a pair of modern-day hangmen with a real gallows humor about them, it is a demented and dark comedy built on the increasingly vicious antagonism between the two sort-of friends. Six episodes with commentary on three of them, plus featurettes, "testimonial" interviews from fellow comics, outtakes and a bonus CD with songs from the show.
Ross Kemp is a Detective Constable in Bristol who becomes driven in a search for a serial killer "Without Motive" (Acorn), a 2000 crime series that ran 12 episodes over two series. The complete story is collected on two discs.
"Gunsmoke: The Fifth Season, Volume 1" (Paramount) features 20 half-hour episodes of western justice from James Arness' Marshall Matt Dillon and friends on three discs, plus the tribute "James Arness: In Memoriam." John Carradine gust stars in the season opener. "Bonanza: The Official Second Season, Volume 2" (Paramount) presents 16 episodes on four discs with the Cartwright boys (Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker and Michael Landon) and their dad (Lorne Greene). Yee-ha.
And the rest:
"The War of 1812" (PBS), a documentary on the first American war after the revolution, arrives on DVD the day after its debut on PBS. And Christmas comes early with the TV movies "Call Me Mrs. Miracle" (Sony), with Doris Roberts, and "Christmas Lodge" (Vivendi).
Films by Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti, Vittorio De Sica and Mario Monicelli
"Great Italian Directors Collection" (Lorber Films) collects three features, one making its American DVD debut. Michelangelo Antonioni's debut feature "Story of a Love Affair" (1950) is a kind of dispassionate anti-noir: former lovers Lucia Bosé and Massimo Girotti are reunited when her jealous husband starts digging into her romantic past. Girotti’s fiancé died under mysterious circumstances years before and now they start plotting the murder of Bosé’s husband. Previously available from the now defunct label NoShame, it's back on DVD with all the supplements of the original release. A second disc includes the feature length documentary "Identification of a Masterpiece" with assistant director Franceso (Citto) Maselli and film critics Tullio Kezich and Edoardo Bruno, the interview featurette "Restoring a Masterpiece" with cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno and the featurettes "Story of a Peculiar Night" (shot at the screening of the restored film) and "Fragments of a Love Affair" (assistant director Franceso Maselli revisits the set).
The anthology film "Boccaccio '70" (Lorber Films), though released in the US as a trilogy, was originally created as a quartet of comic films. This DVD features all four sections and brings the film back up to its complete 208 minute running time. Mario Monicelli directs "Renzo and Luciano," starring Marisa Solinas and Germano Gilioli. Federico Fellini directs "The Temptation of Doctor Antonio" with Anita Ekberg as a model who steps out of a billboard and roams the world as a giantess. Luchino Visconti’s satire "The Job" stars Romy Schneider as an alienated wife who takes revenge on her husband (Tomas Milian) by charging for her favors. Vittorio De Sica concludes the film with "The Raffle," starring Sophia Loren as a woman who causes an uproar when she offers her favors as a prize in a lottery. In Italian with English subtitles. The supplements are limited to a gallery of posters and stills and the American trailer.
Making its American DVD and Blu-ray debut is "Casanova '70" (Lorber Films), Mario Monicelli's sex comedy starring Marcello Mastroianni as an army officer who only gets aroused in the midst of near-death experiences and Virna Lisi as his virginal bride. In Italian with English subtitles, no supplements beyond a stills gallery and trailer.
These are not necessarily major films but certainly major directors and the set presents new editions of films either long out of print or never available on DVD in the U.S..
The three films are collected on four discs in a box of three thinpak cases. "Boccaccio '70" and "Casanova '70" also debut in separate Blu-ray editions.
As the final season begins, revisit Chuck Bartowski's wild ride to the altar
"Chuck," the tongue-in-cheek spy show about an amiable nerd turned into super-spy, is heading into its fifth and final season on TV. Consider "Chuck: The Complete Fourth Season" (Warner) your chance to catch up with everyman super-spy Chuck Bartowski, implanted with a program called The Intersect, who begins the season retired from the spy game.
Right, like that's going to last, especially when he discovers his mother (Linda Hamilton) is in the hands of the enemy and the old Buy More store has been rebuilt as a high-tech CIA/NSA cover, and they want Chuck back in circulation. So while his sister has a baby, his mother plays double agent and he spends half the season planning the perfect proposal to his partner and paramour Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), Chuck remains busy taking out enemy agents, in particular this season's token international criminal mastermind Alexei Volkoff (a perfectly droll Timothy Dalton).
Actually, one of the show's attractions is its fun casting and this season gets Richard Chamberlain and genre figures Dolph Lundgren, Lou Ferrigno, Steve Austin, Robert Englund and Summer Glau, not to mention Harry Dean Stanton as a repo man in the season debut. And just as fun is "Chuck Versus the C.A.T. Squad," which opens as a parody of "Charlie's Angels" as a cheesy cable action show. And it all ends with a wedding, which goes just as smoothly as you would expect in a show where Chuck discovers an international criminal every time he blinks.
24 episodes on six discs on DVD and four discs on Blu-ray, plus the featurettes "Chuck Versus Directing" (on star Zachary Levi directing the episode "Chuck Versus the Leftovers) and "Operation Gomez: Spying on the Cast" (with co-star Joshua Gomez), and "Buy Hard: The Jeff and Lester Story," the complete five-part webisode series starring Vik Sahay and Scott Krinsky as Buy More slackers Jeff and Lester on the trail of an elusive video game. That's in addition to the usual deleted scenes and obligatory gag reel.
Exclusive to Blu-ray is "The Top Secret Chuckapedia Interactive Experience" video commentary to the episode "Chuck Vs. the First Fight."
Plus 'Beautiful Boy,' 'Mr. Nice' 'Zookeeper,' 'Judy Moody' and more
There is no denying the ambition of "The Tree of Life" (Fox), Terrence Malick's portrait of one boy's education growing up in Texas set against nothing less than the origins of life in the universe. Videodrone considers the ramifications here. "Green Lantern" (Warner), the big screen debut of the DC Comics superhero starring Ryan Reynolds, underwhelmed its fan base, but that hasn't stopped Warner from pulling out all stops for the Blu-ray release on Friday, October 14. Videodrone's review is here.
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play fictionalized versions of themselves as traveling companions in the Michael Winterbottom-directed "The Trip" (IFC). Ostensibly on assignment for a series of articles on the finest dining establishments in Northern England, they spend more time in comic one-upmanship, at least between Coogan's desperate attempts keep a failing long distance relationship together by cell phone with spotty reception. Their dueling Michael Caine impressions, clips of which were minor Internet sensations, is worth the price of a rental and, as MSN film critic Glenn Kenny notes, "The not-entirely-good-natured sense of competitiveness displayed therein nicely encapsulates the Coogan/Brydon relationship." The film is edited down from a six-part TV series and the DVD features over an hour of deleted scenes from that longer version, as well as a featurette.
Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis plot revenge against their "Horrible Bosses" (Warner), played by Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell and Kevin Spacey in this black comedy. The film is "a slapdash construction that substitutes (largely faked) bile and resentment for actual character development and story structure," complains MSN film critic Glenn Kenny, "And yet, I'm rating "Horrible Bosses" pretty highly, as bad movies go, because it did make me laugh more than a few times." The DVD features the theatrical version of the film but the Blu-ray features the extended "Totally Inappropriate Edition" along with a collection of lightweight featurettes, yet more deleted scenes and a bonus DVD and digital copy. Also available via Digital Download.
John C. Reilly is an eccentric high school vice-principal who helps out an outsider in "Terri" (Fox), an indie comedy from Azazel Jacobs with Sundance credentials. "Movies about high school misfits are common; this is an uncommon one. Terri, so convincingly played by Jacob Wysocki, is smart, gentle and instinctively wise," praises film critic Roger Ebert. The DVD and Blu-ray both include a featurette and deleted scenes.
In "Beautiful Boy" (Anchor Bay), Maria Bello and Michael Sheen are separated parents who turn to each other in shared grief after the death of their teenage son. The film is "clearly a passion project for all involved, but it isn't simply a vanity project," writes MSN film critic James Rocchi. "Bello gives her best performance since "A History of Violence," and "Both Sheen and Bello are raw and messy here… a rare chance to see real actors doing real work." On DVD and Blu-ray, with commentary by director Shawn Ku and collaborators and deleted scenes.
Rhys Ifans plays "Mr. Nice" (MPI), based on the crazed true story of a wildly successful British marijuana smuggler. "Rhys Ifans is an engaging protagonist, playing Marks as a passive and seemingly unflappable character whose iron nerve and ability to keep cool in a crisis get him out of more than one desperate situation," writes San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle. On DVD and Blu-ray, both with a making-of featurette.
Kevin James gets romantic advice from talking animals in "Zookeeper" (Sony), which is pretty much all you really need to know about this one. In the words of MSN film critic Glenn Kenny, "Even with the expectations bar lowered to the criterion Mr. James and his work represent, it is still rather surprising just how godawful "Zookeeper" is." The DVD features the usual selection featurettes and bloopers and the Blu-ray adds a game demo.
"Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" (Fox), a PG-rated kid comedy based on the children's book by Megan McDonald, got only slightly better reviews. MSN film critic James Rocchi describes it as "less a summer-fun story than it is the kid-film equivalent of "shock and awe," a bombardment so brutal that it leaves you cowed and crumpled in the force of its full-frontal assault." The DVD comes with featurettes, deleted scenes and activities and the Blu-ray features a bonus DVD and digital copy.
"Submarino" (eOne), the story of two brothers trying to overcome the damage of a violent childhood, is from director Thomas Vinterberg ("The Celebration). In Danish with English subtitles. "Leap Year" (Strand), a low-budget drama from Mexico, is "A gripping, mysterious use of no-budget cinema at its finest, and an intimate character study with surprising emotional power," according to Salon film critic Andrew O'Hehir.
Colin Hanks is "Lucky" (Phase 4), a lottery winner who happens to be a fledgling serial killer. Samuel Jackson and TV stars Nina Dobrev and Daniel Dae Kim provide support in "Arena" (Sony), a direct-to-DVD thriller about an underground bloodsport league.
The zombies are in London in "Devil's Playground" (Vivendi), where one woman's DNA may hold the answer to a cure, and in Argentina in "Phase 7" (Vivendi), where an epidemic turns neighbors into killers. And the indie-horror "VLOG" (Anchor Bay) is an anatomy of a webcast murder.
And the rest:
The documentary "The Harvest" [la cosecha] (Cinema Libre) investigates the reality of migrant labor in the United States. Not quite so documentary is "Adventures in Pornoland" (Walking Shadows), a comedy of desperate actors who slide into the adult film industry.
The gooiest crime show on TV is also the most fun
The upcoming season of "Bones," which gets a belated start in November this year, will be truncated due to the pregnancy of star Emily Deschanel (she gave birth to a boy in September), so the full-sized "Bones: The Complete Sixth Season" (Fox) will have to fill the void for some of us. Not to give any spoilers away, but yes, the pregnancy is worked into the show, but the season is more concerned with a new love for Agent Booth (David Boreanaz), the pregnancy of Bones' best friend Angela (Michaela Conlin) and the hunt for a former Army sniper gone rogue (guest star Arnold Vosloo) which becomes a very personal mission for Booth.
Full disclosure: "Bones" is my favorite TV show. Not necessarily the best or the smartest or the most inventive, but to me a perfect alchemy of fun characters, snappy dialogue, murder mystery complications, gooey forensics and, most important, screen chemistry bonded to perfection, and not just the tremendous love and loyalty between Bones and Booth. As the first episode attests, this team will do anything for another. There isn't a group of characters on TV I'd rather spend time with. Especially when it involves some of the most creatively decomposed fake human remains dripping across network screens.
23 episodes (two of them extended versions) on six discs on DVD and four discs on Blu-ray, plus commentary on two episodes, two featurettes, the obligatory gag reel and the pilot episode of the AMC original series "The Killing."
Not to mention 'The Help,' ' The Debt,' 'Take Shelter' and more films that have made 2011 her year
Jessica Chastain has been making films almost non-stop for the past four years. It only seems like she came out of nowhere this year. A Julliard graduate with experience on stage and screen, her first TV role was in 2004, she appeared opposite Al Pacino in his 2006 stage production of "Salome" and shot her first feature, a film adaptation of Pacino's "Salome" production, a year later. She's been making movies ever since but, through a curious quirk of fate, these films (apart from a few small productions that flew under the radar of most people) didn't start hitting theaters until 2011. Suddenly, it seems she's everywhere: "The Tree of Life," "The Help," "The Debt," "Coriolanus," "Take Shelter" and "Texas Killing Fields."
"I went to every festival this year," she recalls. Well not every festival, just Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Deauville, Toronto and Venice. "I had no experience with press at all and this year it's been all at once. What a steep learning curve." While shooting a new film in Toronto, she spent a rare day off doing -- what else? -- phone interviews for her many previous films. With "The Tree of Life" arriving on DVD and Blu-ray this week, we discussed working Terrence Malick, preparing for a role and, as is Videodrone's practice, what she's been watching when she's not making movies.
MSN: What have you been watching?
Jessica Chastain: I'm doing a movie called "Mama," produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Andres Muschietti, who made some amazing shorts. It's really, really creepy, kind of like a mix between "The Ring" and "The Orphanage." So everything in between has been these kinds of genre movies because it's a really new experience for me. I got "Ju-on" -- I'd seen the remake "The Grudge" but I hadn't seen the original -- "[rec]," which was remade as "Quarantine" with Jennifer Carpenter, I got the original "The Thing," I got all of the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" films, of course I have "The Ring" and "The Orphanage." I got "Psycho," "The Exorcist"… I'm scaring myself. (laughs) I have something playing in my trailer whenever I come in just to give me what that energy is of those films. Because it is different and I work very closely with the energy of what that piece is.
That's dedication. You come off the set of a horror movie and watch a horror movie.
Yes! And I have it in my trailer in between takes. You have to live in it as an actor. For me, anyway. When I was doing "The Tree of Life" I was reading about cultivating grace and gratitude and meditating and all these things that put me in a space of grace. Whatever I'm working on, I try to feel the energy. For "The Help," I watched all of Marilyn Monroe's films because there was that kind of diving head-first, this lust of life that she had in her character.
"The Tree of Life" is as much a film of privileged moments as it is a story of growing up. What kind of direction did Terrence Malick give you to create this impressions?
What he helped me do was he guided me toward certain paintings. I looked at Raphael's Madonna. I spent many hours in the Metropolitan Museum of Art studying paintings of the Madonna and seeing how these women held themselves, how they held their heads, their eyes. There's never a direct gaze, you never feel this aggressiveness, it's always this very soft, sweet, loving grace that they all had. He also suggested watching early movies of Lauren Bacall because even though it was a voice she had worked on with a voice teacher, there was something about her voice that was so slow and smooth. And he also gave me a piece written by Thomas à Kempis which is actually in the film, "The Difference Between Nature and Grace."