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The recently released dramedy Stuck in Love focuses on the complicated relationships between a famous successful novelist Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear), his ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly) -- who left him for a younger man -- and their two children, collegiate daughter (Lily Collins) and 16 year-old son Rusty (Nat Wolff), a hopeless romantic.
The supporting cast includes Logan Lerman as Lou, a classmate of Samantha's and her love interest and Liana Liberato plays Kate, Rusty's first love with a troubled life.
Stephen King as himself and Kristen Bell as Tricia offer delicious cameos.
The 18 year old Nat Wolff and Liana Liberato step into the interview room just as an exclusive one-on-one ends with director Josh Boone, an impressive young filmmaker who has also written the feature.
Though this is his first feature, Boone has assembled this impressive cast including Wolff and Liberato who themselves have already lined up an impressive set of credits.
The one on one with this precocious film couple starts right in following up on a comment from the conversation with Boone.
Q: We were talking about the various records we like...
Nat Wolff: That was one of the reasons I got cast in this movie because Josh and I connected on favorite movies and books and music.
Q: What were some of them?
Liana Liberato: Josh actually asked me to read a book and said it would change my life. It’s called The Secret History. I’m in the middle of that, it’s difficult but I’m enjoying it so hard.
NW: The main thing that Josh and I bonded up on was a real appreciation of movies from the 70s. We love Jack Nicholson and Dustin Hoffman movies; Five Easy Pieces and Kramer Vs. Kramer and all these movies that were really more character based which we both want to bring back. Midnight Cowboy, there’s a lot of movies that are so lasting but are really of the time and I get a sense of that era.
Q: This movie has a touch of that.
NW: I think that instead of trying to be clever or trying to be hip, it just goes for honesty and real characters.
Q: How did you developed your characters. How was that family forged into a cinematic reality?
LL: Well Nat and I knew each other before this film and wanted to work with each other for a while.
NW: She sent me a script, and I also knew Lilly since I was 11 and always had a brother sister type relationship and I told her that she needed to read this script and that she’d be perfect for it.
She was the first person I thought of so I want to take credit. She fell in love with it like we did. For my character, it was so well written. I didn’t realize that he was based on Josh when he was younger but it makes sense because it’s so honest.
I come from a family of musicians and actors and that creates a household of people who like to talk about the same thing and it ends up with a lot of conflict that comes out of that. In this movie, it’s about people who are really obsessed with the same thing which makes it easy to relate to but also difficult in some ways.
LL: In the previous drafts, we did have a scene with Rusty and Kate having dinner at her parents and it seems that someone could draw from the fact of how troubled she is that her parents are really distant and disconnected from her life.
My parents are definitely not like that. I kind of had to go around and do some research on people who have the same issues that she does because I have never really been exposed to that.
Q: What did your parents think about you pursuing the acting world?
LL: They’re supportive. I’ve been doing it for eight years and they haven’t complained yet so hopefully they’re ok with it.
Q: What did you think of the music choices for the film?
NW: For me, one of the most exciting parts of the whole process was seeing my songs on the soundtrack and my songs in the movie. Seeing that between Elliot Smith and the idea that that is on the same cd is amazing.
Q: What do your parents do?
NW: My dad is a jazz musician and my mom is an actress.
LL: When we walked into our hotel rooms when we first got in, Josh had made us all mixed cds for each of our characters. Music was very present.
Q: You’ll have to play a jazz musician sometime.
NW: I would love to. That’d be great. So much fun.
Q: Having your mother actually be an actress, did you have expectations of what it would be like working in films?
NW: I started off working with her when I was younger and it was her idea, the show. I think as I got older, I sort of pushed away and don’t work with her anymore but she will always read the scripts that I’m gonna do and she always has great ideas. It’s always been to my benefit not to just be an insolent teenager and push her away. As much as I sometimes want to, because she is my mom, she has so many good ideas and things to say.
Q: Do you ask her about what you should be in?
NW: Not really at this point. I think I’ve developed my own taste that is separate from my parents but I really do value their opinion. Think my own taste has developed from watching what they’ve gravitated towards because they’re both really true artists.
Q: You did the David Schwimmer directed Trust and had as hard hitting role (as a sexual abuse victim) as is this one. They’re both victims but in very different ways. Where do you find within yourself the insight for playing these kinds of roles?
LL: I feel like a lot of research because I have never been a drug addict or been taken advantage of by an older man. When I first tried out for Trust, David took me to a foundation that he’s a part of called the Rape Foundation and I was able to listen to young girls talk about their experiences and that was incredible helpful.
Q: Did you go to a rehab center for this one?
LL: Yeah, I did. I talked with a girl who was a recovering addict who went through a very similar situation that Kate did when she was 17 so I was able to pick her brain about the type of things that she has to deal with in her everyday life.
Q: Did you ask yourself why you would have that boyfriend in the first place?
LL: Well, she’s troubled.
NW: Girls always fall for those jerky guys in the beginning and then they know better.
LL: In my head, he introduces me to drugs.
Q: How was it working with Stephen King and did you talk to him?
NW: I had never met or talked to him before. I got Greg to call and do a Stephen King voice and talk to me. Because of Josh, and I really love a lot of film adaptations of his books like Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption and I read The Body, but I wasn’t an obsessive fan like Josh was. Through getting to know Josh, I became a bigger Stephen King fan. For me, in that scene, I related it to Paul McCartney calling me on the phone and asking me about talking about my phones. That would be the feeling.
Q: How do you divide your mind between acting and music and do you try and do projects where you can merge the two?
NW: Yeah, hopefully I can. It’s really a wonderful thing when those two worlds come together. When I’m doing them separately, I think I’m equally passionate about both but I’ve been really lucky because I haven’t had to pick one or the other.
Q: Do you think you’ll do an album that’s inspired by a film idea or a film that’s inspired by an album?
NW: That would be really interesting. I know music plays a very important part for me on set. I’m always listening to music and it’s nice to have a playlist given to you by the director because you can listen to that. I know as a performer, sometimes I can feel a little uncomfortable and I find myself building an onstage character and I don’t think I could do that without being an actor.
Q: Did you see High Fidelity?
NW: I love that. I read the book too.
Q: You and Greg Kinnear have great chemistry with each other in the movie. What was it like working with him?
NW: Great. I was a huge fan of his before I did the movie. He was one of my idols and I’m even a bigger fan now. He’s a wonderful actor but he’s really calm onset. He always seems like he’s not working that hard but in reality he is.
It took me a while to realize that he’s just laughing with the crew but is in reality making himself comfortable enough to do his thing.
LL: He apparently would call Josh at all hours of the night with random thoughts and ideas. He thought of very tiny thing to. Like the scene where Rusty takes Kate back to his house, he was just supposed to walk in and have a quick conversation with us and then leave and he did the smallest thing but it was so brilliant because it made him more human, he got a bowl of cereal and it makes the whole scene.
Q: What about how was working with Jennifer Connelly who plays your mother in the film?
NW: What’s great about her is she’s not going to be working on a movie unless she really cares. She cared so much about this project that it spread to everyone.
The only actress that I’ve worked with who is as easy to work with as Jennifer is probably Liana. It’s weird that they’re not playing mother or daughter because they are really similar in a way. Acting with both of them is like breathing air. It’s just so easy. They give so much.
Q: Have you made any lists of songs and records that you’ve been listening to lately?
NW: Of course. Top bands would be The Beatles, The Clash, The Stones, The Replacements. I’m just thinking bands because can’t get into songs. Probably Simon and Garfunkel too.
LL: He’s so much more present in music than I am.
Q: What about movies then?
LL: Don’t ask me that either. I don’t know.
Q: Try one off the top of your head.
NW: I gave her a list of movies to watch myself.
LL: I’m going to say this and you’re going to think it’s really cliche because apparently every single girl says this but one of my favorite movies is Girl Interrupted. That’s one of my favorites.
A really recent movie that I have a strange obsession with is 127 Hours. I just love that movie.
NW: We saw Blue Valentine together and that movie is unbelievable.
Q: What are you doing next?
NW: I did a movie called Behaving Badly with Selena Gomez which was a wild scene, we called it Ferris Bueller on crack. I also did this movie called Palo Alto with James Franco. I play what is the devilish version of James when he was a kid. There’s the angel version done by someone else and I’m the evil version. I played a really awful guy and it was fun.
LL: A week ago, I left Colorado having just finished a film called Dear Eleanor with Jessica Alba, Luke Wilson and Josh Lucas.
Music by Matt Sax, lyrics by Matt Sax and Eric Rosen Book and direction by Matt Rosen Performances through June 30, 2013
While performing his one-man show Clay at the Duke on 42nd Street in 2008, Matt Sax probably had little idea that his next musical creation, Venice, would draw from Shakespeare, Rent, hip-hop and the modern security state. Venice’s journey from commission to an extended run at the Public Theater (which ends June 30) has been long but rewarding for Sax and his director-co-creator Matt Rosen. Sax recently spoke by phone on a rare day off to discuss the show.
Read more: Theater Interview: “Venice”...
"Why would I bother to read Joyce?" is the cri de coeur from James Joyce's wife that opens Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna's engaging documentary In Bed with Ulysses. Free-thinking, uninhibited Nora Barnacle served as the model for Molly Bloom in Joyce's masterwork Ulysses.
Yet she would also come to feel that she was "in bed with a novel," as we learn while the film reconstructs the seven-year saga behind the fiction and exposes how Joyce engineered marital drama for the sake of his art. Both muse and antagonist, the impassioned Irishwoman provided the love theme and the conflict of Joyce's opus and, by extension, of this filmed annotation.
Esteemed Joyceans including Ulysses publisher Syliva Beach, Irish novelist Colum McCann and actress Kathleen Chalfant advance the project through a mix of archival footage, sage commentary and staged readings. Along the way, we uncover such historical nuggets as Joyce's decision to set his story in 1904, the year of the anti-Semitic riots that flared up in Limerick.
Joyce chose protagonist Leopold Bloom because he wanted an outsider to enact his own role within Irish society, Adelson told FilmFestivalTraveler.com at a screening at Manhattan's Symphony Space in anticipation of Bloomsday, June 16. (Symphony Space will also show the film on June 2 and 9 at 8 pm.) "The theme and humanism of the novel are a scathing indictment of bigotry and intolerance," Adelson explained.
Editor and co-director Taverna joined in for an exclusive conversation about the filmmaking duo's creative affair with Ulysses.
Q: What made you want to bring Ulysses to today's audiences?
AA: The drives that Joyce explores -- male insecurity, the need to be relevant -- foreshadow the enormous alienation which began in modern society in the 1960s and has lingered like a plague over our lives ever since. Bloom's wanderings and his need to connect to human beings resonate eloquently. His humanity, his honesty, his compassion, his courtesy, his modesty, his flaws...make all other human beings' lives easier.
Q: Including the lives of writers?
AA: Joyce set out to redefine to art form of fiction. He got his way, but at an enormous price.
Q: The price being...
AA: It took an enormous toll on his family and his health. He was going blind. He nearly went mad three times during the writing of the novel. His daughter was probably schizophrenic, if we apply contemporary diagnoses. His son became an alcoholic and had a very difficult time finding any place in the world as well. That tore the heart out out of James Joyce.
Q: How did the structure of the novel shape your filmmaking?
AA: We looked for points when the Joyces' lives coincided with moments in the novel, because it is so autobiographical and because we wanted to follow parallel tracks with the novel and being at home with the Joyces.
Q: For example? AA: On their first date, when they went down to Dublin Harbor, Nora put her hands into Joyce's pants, which made a lasting impression. In the novel there's a moment when Bloom is thinking of Molly's hand on him the same way, and how wonderful it felt. We cut between narrating what happened on Jim and Nora's first date with that passage in the novel. Those moments continued to provide us with the touchstones when the parallel tracks would intersect with one another and speak to the way that Joyce built this novel out of his own love life.
Q: What else besides sex did Molly's "yes" mean?
AA: I think she's saying yes to life. She's refusing alienation. She has lost a baby son. She's had her husband at least half collapse; he's no longer functional as much of a lover to her. And she has refused to, as she puts it, "get into the glooms" about that. Instead she has built a psychic life for herself that's as fervent as any moment in modern literature with all of the associations that a sensual and intelligent woman can have.
Q: Nora's intelligence has been a subject of some debate.
AA: She portrayed herself as highly anti-intellectual. Joyce more or less disdained her lack of intellectual interest. She was not much of a reader. It galled the piss out of Joyce that she never read Ulysses. She had heard that Molly Bloom is fat. She resented that. But she is passionately alive and an inspiration to all of us. "Yes indeed!"
Q: Which other women played critical roles in Joyce's life?
AA: Wrapping around [the film's the staged readings] like a double helix is the narrative about Joyce writing the novel, censorship and the seven women without whom that novel would be totally unknown today. He burned relationships, almost constantly, especially with men. The women hung on, and a number of them were quite wealthy, such as Harriet Shaw Weaver, who deplored her wealth and handed it on to the Joyces. She sponsored James Joyce's almost endless series of eye operations.
Sylvia Beach was by no means wealthy, but she also basically opened up her finances. All four members of the Joyce family chronically stopped by [her Paris bookstore] Shakespeare & Company and took money out of the till. They were addicted to haute couture and Paris and living swell lives giving huge dinner parties. Jim was drinking like mad.
Q: What's the drink of choice to take with your film?
AA: If you want to go the way Jim did, white wine.
Q: What's the film's big take-away?
KT: "Love loves to love love."
Laura Blum is Senior Editor of FilmFestivalTraveler.com.
Oliver Mahrdt, born in Germany met the late and legendary agent Hanns Wolters, who was one of Marlene Dietrich’s first agents in Berlin in the 20s and 30s, after studying directing at New York Film Academy. He started working at Hanns Wolters Theatrical Agency in 1996 and was responsible for key accounts like the Japanese film distributor Daira for which he attended film festivals worldwide and he was responsible for acquisitions of more than 200 European and North American feature films. After the passing of the founder he became president and Senior-Agent of the company and changed the name to Hanns Wolters International Inc. to reflect the new corporate structure.
Today, he represents among many others, the German Film Industry in the United States, as well as Canada. Mahrdt sat down with Film Festival Traveler's Brad Balfour to discuss Hans Wolter, how the distribution of foreign films is changing, and the international film festival circuit.
Q: How did you get started at the German Film Office?
OM: I was a junior partner at Hans Wolters [an office representing the German film industry abroad] in ‘96 and got my appointment to represent the German film industry in 2001.
Q: How does that work? Does Germany have a national culture office like there like Ireland?
OM: Yeah. uniFrance is our [French] equivalent. In every country there are people responsible for culture.
Q: What about film?
OM: Well we have the Kennedy Institute all over Germany and they have a film department within it… But it all ends up at the culture ministry of a country.
Q: Hans Wolter used to be a private agency until the family died off. Was the German film office merged with Hans Wolter?
OM: It’s a personal appointment and I just happened to be the boss of Hans Wolters, who’s also the representative for the German movie industry. In our corporate structure at Hans Wolters, it’s like our corporate client, and we have a couple of them.
Q: If you were not here, in NYC, would there be much an German film industry presence here?
OM: There have been before. It’s quite an old organization and deals worldwide, it’s just that the US is an important place to have someone. They closed all European offices because they say Florence is like a flight away from Munich or a drive.
Q: We know about national cinema in the sense of art films and we know about television, but it’s hard for it to distinguish itself except the rare moments where they get embraced by critics or artists, but now the whole dynamic is changed. Is it an easier area to negotiate or harder?
OM: It all depends. The devil is in the details. You have points where you go “it used to be a lot easier, over time it got more complicated.” Take a battlefield like New York for example. If you have someone working in the German book offices or the films office in New York, we all have to work together. How often is it that a German book is going be remade like The Life of Others?
It starts with the book rights and it becomes quite interesting when you don’t have one big office to orchestrate that, but you have separate departments like film and book and all these other cultural departments that we have here. It’s hard because you don’t have someone who oversees [everything].
It’s much easier when you’re a small country and you have one who’s responsible for every cultural thing and then you really have your finger on it. Where we really have to make a conscious effort to meet and discuss these things.
Q: Not to mention that a lot of countries are not speaking German. So you’re up against this issue that the German speaking community has its limits. Spanish is pervasive, but there’s a sort of rivalry between Germany and Austria.
OM: It’s so unique. It’s not like a year old flare up between the German and the French. It’s interesting to see how it’s separated. Everyone has its own distribution ideas. Germany helps you with German distribution and support ideas to get German films out. France does a lot more by itself.
We actually help American distributors release German films. The French do a lot, like they have their film series they do, then travel it through universities, which is something we don’t do. And it’s not a bad idea because they basically educate American audiences about what foreign films are.
Q: The Spanish have a chain of cultural centers -- the Cervantes.
OM: It’s interesting to see how we all have our own approach. It’s very, very hard. In the end I can always tell people that 93% of all movie theaters are a no-go because they’re all owned by studios. That means we all fight for 7% in the US.
Q: You mean owned by chains?
OM: Yes, [chains] that are owned by studios, so you can’t get into them. Then there’s the Art House Convergence, which is an association of the Independent Movie Houses, but it’s not a chain. It’s not like if you have one theater in New York that all of a sudden, oh cinemas that are independent will play your movie house. It’s a fight from movie house to movie house, not like when you produce a studio movie, and they see it’s working, you have this astronomical number of 2000 movie theaters that will play your film.
Q: Has digital distribution and the internet changed things for international cinema?
OM: With everyone cursing the internet, we really have to be happy that it exists because you can basically get any news like falls, riots, from every country fairly easily. It’s changed dramatically. In the old days I remember no one really cared [about] opening in France. Even in Germany they would say “hey, you share a border?”
It is interesting. You don’t want people to know when they travel across the Rhine and see that the movie has been playing somewhere else for two months. You cannot afford [that]. The movie has to start the same time in all major markets, otherwise you have these glitches that are potentially damaging because you could get the copyright infringed version over the internet before your movie has opened. It’s just a drastic change from how business was done before to now.
Q: Now we have all these film societies.
OM: And they all know how to play. In the old days it was like basically New York and LA opened, and the rest had to march to that drum. Now if you have a smash hit in one of the ten major markets in the US, you might force everyone from the other metropolitan areas to follow you. That has also basically created a dog-eats-dog atmosphere that’s frightening too.
Q: But it has opened doors for you guys.
OM: For everyone.
Q: More movies are done in Indonesia, Nigeria, and India, but now people can actually see them. There’s an audience for these things.
OM: You have direct access to these things now. If you’re interested in it, you will find it on the internet. Coming back to your first question, what I find helps us break into the US market is breakfast television with reading [scrolling] news on the bottom. With a busy screen every morning, people would be more used to watching foreign movies with subtitles. It has made things a lot easier. I really have to say over the years, it’s not like people say “I don’t feel like watching a movie” because then you’d have to say you stop watching breakfast television, which is the same thing.
Q: You have any films in Tribeca?
OM: We have a couple co-productions. They cut it down substantially and they have new strategies, and let’s face it, right now all our major movies get finished for the fall festivals after Cannes. We have right now a break and then an onslaught of German movies in Toronto and Venice We have all these sensational movies in the pipeline that I’m really excited about and they unfortunately didn’t get finished in time.
Q: Look at a director like Agnieszka Holland, she survives doing American TV, but she’s a master director.
OM: It’s a fascinating thing. Who would have thought that people could between television and film? In the old days it was unthinkable. Kathy Bates who wins an Oscar goes on to do a series like Harry’s Law.
Q: More actors want to get TV work now. Because they do a series for five or seven years they can pick and choose because they know they have these residuals.
OM: It’s interesting to see how people are weighing in whether or not to make an independent movie when they don’t feel comfortable with it. If you have a series going on you can relax and say whether you do it or not. As a talent agent, a lot of people go “you should do this” and they say “…if this backfires, how damaging could it be?”
Q: Are your directors getting work in America or internationally?
OM: [Doing something like] Law and Order is not a career hindrance. It’s nice to have on a resume because you have the action and you can prove you know how to work with unions. It is different if you shoot a movie in Germany as opposed to shooting one here. It’s a totally different beast. Just trying to explain to German directors the difference between cameramen and camera operator and they don’t do the same thing.
Q: Many more international directors are making American films?
OM: It’s very easy if you have a key market like Germany. You can say the bottom line, if everything goes wrong in the US and you have a German director that will bring XYZ out of Germany no matter what, that makes people in difficult financial times like now feel more secure to take a risk with someone foreign if they can bring something else to the table. That is why a lot of people look at what’s happening in Europe. If you wanted a horror movie, look at Japanese directors.
Q: What’s happening in Germany genre-wise? Look at what Luc Besson did for France.
OM: His company, EuropaCorp, has become a major player. Some of his stuff is nice to see, but they’re surprised how it works everywhere else, but not in Germany. The producers are looking at them confused.
Q: Do you find it difficult to get across comedies more than anything else? The one about East Germany….
OM: Goodbye Lenin. It came out here; it had a very good distributor. The luck of the draw was that Dutch dance movie that was nominated for an Oscar and it flew out. But after it didn’t work…
Q: What happened to Berlin Blues? Why didn’t that get a distributor?
OM: Sometimes I don’t understand why a movie isn’t sold either. When you’ve done this job as long as I have, you know every distributor. You know their niche, you know what they react to and what they don’t, what’s a deal breaker, and yet you have these films that you think will work, but then find out it doesn’t.
Q: You have a new opportunity with cross cultural directors.
OM: Same story with co-productions in general. What is a German movie? Right now we are fighting over what percent of the movie has to have, and that’s a healthy debate right now, if something has 5% German post-prod money, can that be sold in the US or is it taking because we have so many different movies in the film fund and we don’t have a budget high enough to good by all these movies. How much German representation is there?
Q: Who programs the thing at MoMA?
OM: MoMA. The Museum of Modern Art is picking the top German movies and I’m happy to be there, other foreign reps doing this are under fire, but I’m in a lucky position where I can say “you like it? Call MoMA.” It’s a museum and we cannot tell a museum, especially one as important as MoMA, “pick this movie because the producer is giving me a hard time on the phone.”
This is why MOMA is so special and why we’re so happy to be in a relationship with them. I like having this regular thing with MoMA once every year where it’s a chance for us to also showcase German films.
You have Wim Wenders retrospectives and other shows. Thank god we have a pool with a lot of people we can draw from. It’s a lucky position to be in. There weren’t always as many German films in the minds of the American public as now.
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