Nicolas Winding Refn was already moderately well known before Drive tore onto the scene in 2011. His Pusher trilogy had earned him notoriety, and Bronson and Valhalla Rising cemented his reputation for visionary extreme cinema. Not that either made for easy viewing. But with Drive his sensibility coalesced into something stylish, classic and austere. The opening sequence alone, with Ryan Gosling’s Driver darting from police searchlights, using all manner of vehicular stealth to evade capture, was a bravura performance. So how did Refn evolve, with no film training, into a preeminent director? TIFF is running all of Refn’s films over the next week. Let’s take a look at some, after the jump.
Joseph Gordon Lovett (JGL) makes his writing and directorial debut with the romantic comedy Don Jon. If you’re thinking: why would a Hollywood veteran bother making a sappy, clichéd, trope-filled travesty of a genre film, be prepared to have your misconceptions skewered with the opening frames. JGL makes sure you know his debut is indie in its conception, execution and casting. This is not an emo love story, it’s not an indie film trying to brush up against Hollywood. This is a film that has a powerhouse behind it who can get a first time director’s movie made with big stars that actually has something to say. ‘Safe’ is not a word to use for JGL’s first film. It may have Scarlett Johansson, Tony Danza and Julianne Moore as the main characters in the film, but this could be considered anything but mainstream. Channing Tatum and Anne Hathaway also get funny cameo rolls, but as the $9 million opening weekend box office attests to, Hollywood does not consider this film a mainstream winner. And thank God for that. There is little evidence of Hollywood interference in a movie containing explicit drug use, in your face sex scenes and a narrative thread dedicated solely to porn.
For over two months, I’ve been buried alive.
As it turns out, being buried alive is actually pretty exciting. All-consuming for sure. Back in February, when director Paul Thompson pitched me the idea for a porn-star-mom stalked by a psychotic fan, and said, “let’s make a trailer for it and try to win a million bucks”, I thought, why not? Let’s go for it! I’ve done dumber things for much less motivation.
And so we plunged into the CineCoup Film Accelerator, competing with 91 teams across Canada to earn a million dollars in funding for our feature film ideas. Making the trailer itself was an exhausting rolling disaster, with locations pulling out upon learning the subject matter, a constantly changing crew, and only Paul and producer Rick Jang’s drive to finish holding our fragile enterprise together. With only two days to go before the competition entry deadline, they finished shooting our trailer for a thriller that doesn’t exist. Paul then madly edited it together, the first of what would turn out to be many marathon sessions with Final Cut Pro and a case of Coca-Cola.
Since then we’ve made countless videos, one a week, for two months. We’ve pitched our team. We’ve talked about the importance of soundtrack, post-sound and colour correction, relatively cheap tricks that give your film so much character. We’ve made posters for people to vote on (and a ridiculous ad-man noir vid as a very silly companion piece). We’ve made a silent(ish) sequence, with no dialogue, delving into our characters in a short but moving vignette. And it doesn’t stop there.
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Last week the Queen and I had a chance to watch the Canadian indie comedy Moon Point, staring Nick McKinlay, Paula Brancati, Kyle Mac and Kristen Gutoskie and directed by Sean Cisterna. The film follows 23-year old Daryl and his friend Femur on a quest to find Daryl’s elementary school would-be sweetheart, Sarah Cherry, now an actress filming a horror movie in…Moon Point. Traveling via a wagon hooked up to Femur’s electric wheelchair, along the way the duo meet up with an eccentric cast of characters, including the freespirited Kristen.
I dug the trailer for the film right when I saw, and the Queen and I wound up enjoying Moon Point quite a bit. The script is funny, the acting across the board is solid, and the landscape is pretty darn gorgeous; it is Canada, after all. The movie doesn’t go where you think it will, which made it even more of an enjoyable watch.
Check out the trailer for Moon Point below, and then after the jump you can watch our exclusive interview with Sean Cisterna, Nick McKinlay and Paula Brancati from the film. Our chat was a lot of fun, as you’ll see. The three of them had a natural chemistry and I believe it shows up.