“Music Will be a Prism That You Can See the Whole Movie Through”: Director Zachary Wigon on Story Beats, Miles Davis and His BDSM-Themed Thriller Sanctuary

A close-up shot of a woman in a blond wig smiling as she bites down on a pen.Margaret Qualley in Sanctuary.

The poster for Sanctuary features a blonde Margaret Qualley whispering to a mysterious Christopher Abbott. Its imagery — a seeming femme fatale, an unknowing male prey and all the imagined chaos in between — evokes the height of the cinematic erotic thriller era. But the strength, elegance and wit of Micah Bloomberg’s (TV series Homecoming) script and Zachary Wigon’s (The Heart Machine) direction is their interest in subverting your (and the characters’s) expectations at every step. In Sanctuary, Abbott plays Hal, a hotel mogul’s son and heir. He has ordered a fancy meal to a decadently opulent hotel suite where Rebecca, played by Qualley, awaits with paperwork. They’re about to review his capability to take over his father’s empire as its…  Read more


“Annoying, Finicky Placement Stuff”: DP Jody Lee Lipes on Shooting Two Rachel Weiszs for Dead Ringers

Jody Lee Lipes on the set of Dead RingersJody Lee Lipes on the set of Dead Ringers

Cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes says that shooting an actor playing twins is like learning a new filmmaking language. By now, he’s fluent. Lipes lensed all six episodes of the 2020 HBO miniseries I Know This Much Is True, with Mark Ruffalo playing identical twins. As an added complication, the coverage of each brother was shot months apart as Ruffalo took a hiatus to gain 30 pounds to physically transform himself into the other sibling. On the new Amazon series Dead Ringers, it’s Rachel Weisz starring as twin New York City gynecologists who meet a tragic end. The show is a new take on David Cronenberg’s 1988 film of the same name. The original took advantage of recent technological advances—a smaller portable motion…  Read more


“The Sweat of Desperation Does Not Translate to a Series Regular”: Jeff Hiller (Back To One, Episode 255)

A photo of actor Jeff Hiller.

It is extremely hard not to love Jeff Hiller’s character Joel, opposite Bridget Everett’s Sam, on the hit HBO series Somebody Somewhere. Their friendship is sweet, revelatory, and concerningly codependent, all at the same time. On this episode, he talks about how he got good at auditioning while wondering if he’d ever play someone with an inner life, “or a name.” He tells the story of landing “Joel,” the surprising connections he shares with the character, the secret ingredient that makes his chemistry with Everett work so well, and much more. Back To One can be found wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher. And if you're enjoying what you are hearing, please subscribe and rate…  Read more


“It Really Does Take a Village”: Ted Schaefer on Giving Birth to a Butterfly

A woman sits on an empty old-fashioned trolley, she sits and stares straight ahead and the windows let in flat, white light.Annie Parisse in Giving Birth to a Butterfly.

Our projected identities—and the constant performance inherent in presenting ourselves—fuel the surrealist philosophy of Ted Schaefer's Giving Birth to a Butterfly. The filmmaker's directorial debut, from a script he co-wrote with author Patrick Lawler, delves into a psychedelic psychology of what truly constitutes "the self" (very fitting for a collaborative duo who met through a mutual therapist). Giving Birth to a Butterfly largely consists of a roadtrip odyssey shared by Diana (Annie Parisse), a pharmacist stuck in an unfulfilling marriage to aspiring chef Daryl (Paul Sparks), and Marlene (Gus Birney), a heavily pregnant young woman who's dating Diana's son Drew (Owen Campbell) despite him not being her child's biological father. Originally turned off by the idea of Drew and Marlene dating—and…  Read more


“I Had Three Art Directors and Two Cinematographers”: Rodrigo Moreno on The Delinquents at Cannes 2023

Daniel Elias and Margarita Molfino in The DelinquentsDaniel Elias and Margarita Molfino in The Delinquents

It’s the rare three-hour film that has as light a touch as The Delinquents while keeping a deft hold on the audience. That’s partly down to its surefire bank heist plot, borrowed somewhat from Hugo Fregonese’s 1949 Argentine noir Hardly a Criminal: a longtime clerk steals enough money to retire on, stashes it, then goes to jail, planning to recover the loot upon release. Morán (Daniel Elias) is the nebbishy thief in Rodrigo Moreno’s new film, which premiered in Un Certain Regard at Cannes to general delight. But his accomplice on the outside, Román (Esteban Bigliardi), gets distracted by another kind of escape from drudgery, in the form of a radiant free spirit, Norma (Margarita Molfino), he meets in the…  Read more


Cannes 2023: The Pot-au-Feu, Portraits of Ghosts

Benoît Magimel in The Pot-au-Feu

To celebrate Cannes is to celebrate film history itself—or at least so the fest would have it. But while there's certainly meaningful and genuine overlap, any self-venerating mythology is going to breed unwelcome byproducts, as at the premiere of Jean-Luc Godard's "final" film, Trailer of a Movie That Will Never Exist: "Phony Wars." (Its actual finality status is TBD, as Goodfellas has more of his work, in whatever form, still to sell.) The short was preceded by a French TV documentary, Godard by Godard, which was fairly useless in part because it ignores half of his life and work while playing the most obvious hits. Space is given to May '68, when Cannes shut down as a byproduct of political unrest and…  Read more


Cannes 2023: Awards, A Prince, Directors’ Fortnight, Close Your Eyes

Pierre Creton's Un PrinceUn Prince

Cannes wrapped another edition last weekend, and a new batch of prize winners have been announced. I’ve typically used this final wrap-up to offer brief comments on many of said winners, namely those Vadim and I didn’t already address in prior dispatches. Ruben Östlund and co. did well, though, because the only victor currently unremarked upon is Wim Wenders’s Perfect Days, a poetic drama about a Japanese toilet cleaner for which its lead, Koji Yakusho, was awarded Best Actor. We already published my discussion with Wenders about his new 3D film, Anselm, which premiered as a Special Screening earlier in the festival and is a much more beautiful, innovative and inspirational work, and I’m content with leaving it at that.…  Read more


Cannes 2023: Club Zero, Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell

Jessica Hausner's Club ZeroClub Zero

Faith, divinity, transcendence and/or what one might otherwise call “magical” interventions remain thematic staples of arthouse filmmaking, not least in Cannes films that carve out a space for poetic languors and modest effects work which elevate non-commercial films’ often make-do or naturalistic mises-en-scène. Austere Austrian auteur Jessica Hausner is not necessarily in need of stylistic elevation—her ongoing collaboration with DP Martin Gschlacht produces immaculately, almost imposingly detailed front-to-back compositions—yet her work remains devoted to characters navigating the world’s capacity for miracles, spirituality or some great beyond. Despite an opening on-screen trigger warning preparing the audience for upsettingly frank depictions of eating disorders, Club Zero is, at heart, not too concerned with interrogating anorexia and bulimia or the climate impact of the…  Read more




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