Prior to skyrocketing to fame courtesy of an Academy Award and “Precious,” Geoffrey Fletcher had another feature brewing, and one of an entirely different genre and tone at that.
“Violet & Daisy” stars Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan as the title characters, a pair of best friends who also happen to be a team of teenage assassins. When they’re not gossiping about their favorite celebrity, they’re armed, dangerous, and meticulous about their hits. Locked and loaded, the girls frolic off to what they think will be a short and sweet gig, but it turns out that taking down Michael (James Gandolfini) is no easy task and not for the reason they’d expect.
With the film due for a June 7th limited release, Fletcher took the time to sit down and discuss the transition from this to “Precious” and back again, the challenge of making a film that mixes drama with comedy while infusing it with a fairytale-like quality too, making the decision to nix a digital format and shoot on film, and more. You can catch everything Fletcher had to say about making “Violet & Daisy” as well as an update on “Attica,” a film about the 1971 Attica Prison riot to be directed by Doug Liman, in the video interview below.
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Who’s ready to take on a ton of pressure? Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal certainly must have been. Not only did Bigelow and Boal have to follow-up their Academy Award-winning work in The Hurt Locker, but the pair chose the most challenging material to do it with – the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Forget all the required research, possible political scrutiny and delicacy of the material; making the project even more demanding, bin Laden was actually killed just a short while before Boal completed his script detailing the failed hunt for bin Laden in the Toro Bora mountain range.
While participating in a press conference in New York City, Bigelow recalls, “While Mark was working on the screenplay, actually quite far along in the screenplay, May 1, 2011 happened and we realized, after some soul searching, that it was going to be a little difficult to make a movie about the failed hunt for Osama bin Laden when the whole world knew that he had been killed.” And so the plan changed and Boal refocused his script on the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad – the raid that ultimately resulted in his death.
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Using his experience with an American bomb squad to develop a fictitious story for “The Hurt Locker” is one thing, but writer Mark Boal’s decision to tackle the death of Osama bin Laden takes journalistic moviemaking to another level, one that comes with an immense amount of societal and ethical pressure, on top of the challenge of just making a good movie. But it’s a good thing Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow were the pair to take on that challenge because it’s highly unlikely any other duo could have pulled it off quite like them.
“Zero Dark Thirty” focuses on Jessica Chastain’s Maya, a top-notch CIA analyst sent to Pakistan to join a team tasked with tracking down high-ranking members of Al Qaida, with an ultimate goal of taking out Osama bin Laden. At first, Maya doesn’t take to the CIA Black Site’s brutal interrogation tactics, but as the years go on and colleagues lose their jobs and, in some cases, their lives, Maya’s determination peaks and she does whatever it takes to gather solid intel.
“Zero Dark Thirty” is a heavy-duty piece and Bigelow wastes no time putting the audience in the appropriate headspace. The film kicks off with a montage of 9/11 phone calls playing over black and the sequence is cut perfectly, rousing the heartache of that day through a sense of hysteria, but also by giving certain audio clips time to breathe, establishing a personal connection. By the time the film hits the “2 Years Later” title card, your heart is already pounding through your chest.
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Director Jake Scott has pressure coming from all sorts of angles when it comes to his new film Welcome to the Rileys. Not only does he have the Scott legacy to live up to (he’s Ridley Scott’s son), but he also has to get himself out of music video mode and ready to make a feature film. It’s been over ten years since Scott’s last feature, Plunkett & Macleane, and he sure chose a tough script for his return to the big screen.
In Welcome to the Riley’s James Gandolfini stars as Doug, a man struggling to cope with the death of his daughter. While on a business trip to New Orleans, Doug opts to ditch the convention for a strip club and that’s where he meets Kristen Stewart’s character, Mallory. Rather than getting down to business, Doug takes Mallory home and volunteers to clean up her place. He gets so enraptured by his relationship with Mallory, he almost completely forgets about his wife (Melissa Leo) back home, that’s until she decides to come and see what he’s up to.
Clearly this is a rather unique family drama and that’s exactly what attracted Scott to the script, the chance to conduct an emotional investigation. In fact, Scott spent a significant amount of time preparing the film alone, really thinking through the piece and dissecting the characters’ layers. Check out everything Scott had to say about the pre-production process, working with three top-notch actors and much more in the video interview below.
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It’s quite obvious that a key element of a family drama is the family aspect. Some actors are talented enough to make that dynamic seem real even though it might be far from it, but why put yourself through all the work when you can just develop a real life family-like relationship with your co-cast? It certainly worked for the cast of Jake Scott’s Welcome to the Rileys.
The film stars James Gandolfini as Doug, a man who hasn’t been the same since the passing of his daughter. The same goes for his wife Lois (Melissa Leo) and in her case, the pain is rather debilitating. She’s agoraphobic and refuses to step foot out of their house. While on a business trip to New Orleans, Doug winds up meeting a young stripper named Mallory (Kristen Stewart). Rather than leaving their business at the strip club, even though Doug had no intentions of getting on to any real business to begin with, he winds up driving her home and leaving with her for a bit. He takes it upon himself to try and help her disheveled house and her act, too.
In honor of the film’s October 29th release, Gandolfini, Leo, Stewart and Scott attended a press conference to remember their time working on the production in New Orleans. Not only do they look back on the gig fondly, particularly when it came to working with one another, but they still maintain the relationships they built on the set today. Check out all the details on the prep process, their characters and experience working with one another in the interview below.
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If you’re going to make a straight drama with zero bells and whistles, you better have a very fascinating story up your sleeve. Writer Ken Hixon may have developed a unique dysfunctional family film with curiously troubled characters, but on screen, much of that interest is extinguished by a lack of emotion, awkward relationships and primarily the film’s sluggish pace.
Doug Riley (James Gandolfini) isn’t a happy guy. He lost his only child in a car accident, his wife Lois (Melissa Leo) is agoraphobic and his only real solace comes from an extramarital affair with a diner waitress. While in New Orleans for a business conference, Doug just can’t get with it. Rather than adhere to the schedule, he ditches the convention and heads straight for a local strip club. That’s where he meets Mallory (Kristen Stewart), a supposedly 22-year-old stripper he winds up taking home and spending the night with. No, not for any dirty business, but just to be nice.
The next morning Doug awakes not to rush off to work, but to get to the store to buy the tools necessary to refurbish Mallory’s dilapidated abode. As the days go on the two begin to develop a father-daughter-like relationship with the exception of the fact that Doug pays Mallory $100 for every day he stays with her. Then again, the fact that he docks her a dollar for every F-bomb she drops, puts the connection right back into daddy-daughter territory. Meanwhile, back at home, Lois is desperately trying to overcome her fears and drive down to New Orleans to reunite with her husband.
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