Best known for her depiction of April Ludgate on NBC’s hit sitcom Parks and Recreations, Aubrey Plaza has found a niche in the tv and Hollywood stratosphere as the perpetually awkward, alarmingly tongue-in-cheek millennial type. Quick with a jab and quicker with an eye roll, Plaza has flexed her thespian muscles lately playing Lenny Busker on FX’s standout superhero series Legion and her resume shows no signs of slowing. Her most recent venture, playing an irreverent nun in Jeff Baena‘s subversive slice of per-Renassiance feminism The Little Hours may see the star angling in familiar waters but the fit is perfect nonetheless.
Sam Elliot‘s baritone has taken on an almost mythic quality. Be it his narration of the Coen Bros cult hit The Big Lebowski or his iconic “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner” ad campaign, everyone knows the distinction growl of the California native with a classic Southern Drawl. And we haven’t even brought up his iconic mustache yet. Of late, Elliot has undergone a twilight career resurrection, offering a number of standout performances in smart, sensitive independent drama, including his excellent co-star role in Paul Weitz’s Grandma, but perhaps none is more personal than his turn in Brett Haley‘s The Hero.
The cast and crew of The Book of Henry have lamented its critical spanking but none moreso than director Colin Trevorrow. It’s no easy task to usher a film into the world, much less-so when the day finally arrives and critical voices rally their pitchforks. Though The Book of Henry has its fair share of issues, my conversation with Trevorrow shed some much needed light on why the film turned out the way it did. Read More
In Buster’s Mal Heart, Rami Maleck plays a man at war. Struggling to overcome bad wiring, Rami’s “Buster” (or Jonah as he’s called in earlier memories) is a fractured individual in the throes of a crisis of faith and self. Writer and director Sarah Adina Smith cleverly skirts objectivity, opting for storytelling that operates in moody abstracts, whose core is more about emotionally resonance than narrative distractions. Her surreal deconstruction of a man mentally and spiritually fractured defies easy answers which had us all the more excited to chat with her about her work. Read More
From the Peruvian rainforest to the Katmai Alaskan Wilderness, the depths of the Chauvet caves of Southern France to McMurdo Station in Antarctica, Werner Herzog is a journeyman who has long questioned man’s relationship with nature. In Salt and Fire, Herzog takes us to Bolivia’s sprawling Salar de Uyuni, the worst’s largest salt flat. A desolate beauty of biblical proportion, here transpires a kidnapping and desertion in this eco-minded quasi-thriller that feels like a natural extension of Herzog’s last documentary, Into the Inferno. The auteur again twisting his most recent obsession (volcanoes) into narrative form to varying success. Read More
Man of vision Olivier Assayas is not your average filmmaker. The Parisian director is the kind of filmmaker that makes critics blush, his last feature Clouds of Sils Maria making its way onto a sizable share of Critic Top Ten Lists circa 2014/15. Dedicated to making bold, often female-led poetic musings, Assayas is celebrated for helping shape rounded, vibrant characters. For the second time, Assayas pairs with Kristen Stewart to tell an unconventional ghost story in Personal Shopper, a woeful tale of a woman’s tedious professional life and search for peace after her brothers passing ingrained within larger themes of spirituality and self-doubt. Unsurprisingly at this point, Stewart is phenomenal in the role, with more emotion spilling from her jittery, anxiety-wracked texting fingers than in some lesser performer’s entire arsenal. Read More
Fans of the darker side of cinema may recognize Mark Webber from last year’s excellent Green Room where Mark played a Nazi trying (and failing) to defect from a gnarly order of backwoods skinheads but his roots in the film world run deeper than you’d think at first glance. A seasoned actor and filmmaker both, Webber has not followed a traditional path but has found success nonetheless. With his latest feature, a documentary-cum-drama, Webber has pioneered something unclassifiable, a powerfully pure art piece where the lines of reality and fiction become blur and indistinguishable. Read More
David Mackenzie has been making films since 1994. He directed a string of lauded shorts which lead to his debut feature film, The Last Great Wilderness, bowing at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival. The Scottish native has since delivered nine feature films, bucking expectations at every turn. With a vast and varied range of influences and styles, Mackenzie hasn’t always enjoyed the critical success afforded him from his early work. But a recent string of successes – 2014’s universally celebrated Starred Up (which still claims at whopping 99% on Rotten Tomatoes) and Un Certain Regard nominee Hell or High Water (currently standing with an unfettered 100%) – has David Mackenzie back on top.
I spoke with David about bringing Taylor Sheridan’s Black List script to life, having pride in a finished product, new films as a reaction to prior films, the overwhelming positive response to Starred Up and Hell or High Water, letting tape run on Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham, his weird director’s cuts and that crusty T-Bone diner waitress who totally steals the scene. Read More
Taika Waititi is the second coming of the New Zealand film wave, but he would never admit it. The NZ native quickly outgrew his indie roots and has evolved massively since his debut feature Eagle vs Shark, which starred frequent collaborator and Kiwi compatriot Jemaine Clement, and has gone on to deliver a string of critical smashes in Boy, What We Do in the Shadows and, most recently, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Before Waititi switches hats completely and goes on to deliver his first certifiably blockbuster for Marvel with Thor: Ragnarok, the tongue-in-cheek actor/director got to bask in the critical and box office adoration of Wilderpeople. Read More
Viggo Mortensen is one of the greatest actors working today. Of that, I have no doubt. He stormed the screen as Aragorn in Peter Jackson’ epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, lead David Cronenberg’s outstanding crime thriller A History of Violence (which lead to a three-film collaboration between the two) and thinned down to a troubling frame in John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and for all the variety Mortensen injects into his roles, the one consistent thread is his supreme dedication. So it will come as no surprise that when I got to sit down with the thespian behemoth for his newest feature Captain Fantastic, we had much to discuss. Read More