johnwells

When I hear the name John Wells, I think of paramedics hurriedly rushing onto the scene of an accident, arriving just in time to barely save someone’s life. I fondly recall verbose walk-and-talks in the halls of the Bartlett White House. And I remember following the romantic lives of skilled doctors in a Chicago E.R. In short, this man is partly responsible for some of the most thought-provoking, thrilling television ever produced.

Wells directed a movie called The Company Men that premiered at Sundance this year. With an all-star cast featuring Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, and Tommy Lee Jones, The Company Men follows the lives of three men as their company is torn apart amidst a recession. The film is a personal portrait of job loss, and while its scope is relatively small, the talent of the performances is not. Affleck, Cooper, and Lee Jones all manage to cpature the pain and humiliation of economic struggle with pathos and humor. The stories feel personal and subtle, even to a fault; few things particularly “dramatic” happen during the movie, and while the film can occasionally feel aimless, its depiction of joblessness also feels deeply rooted within vagaries of our reality. Thus, while there were no helicopter crashes or gun-shot wounds in The Company Men, Wells proves that as a director, he can smoothly make the transition to film (a medium he’s already very familiar with as a producer) and tell a story with nuance and skill. You can click here to hear a couple more thoughts about the film or watch the film’s trailer.

After the break, I chat with John Wells about what inspired him to make The Company Men, true stories of job loss, and whether or not The Company Men is really an independent film.

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winterbottomwhitecross

Directors Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross are premiering a new documentary at Sundance 2010 called The Shock Doctrine, based on the best-selling book by author Naomi Klein. The film posits that governments have used periods of crisis, or “shock,” in order to foist Milton Friedman’s free-market ideologies onto the people, often to negative consequences (e.g. poverty, an expanding class gap, etc.). It’s an interesting way to view world history, and if you’re not yet familiar with Klein or her theories, I think you’ll find it fascinating (although people not terribly interested in history may find it a bit dry). Winterbottom and Whitecross previously collaborated on the excellent film, The Road to Guantanamo, documenting the imprisonment and torture of three Guantanamo detainees. And, as I’ve previously mentioned, Winterbottom is one of the most interesting filmmakers around.

Almost as interesting as the film is its distribution method. The Shock Doctrine is one of the films available on video on demand right now via the Sundance Selects  program. In this interview, I talk with Winterbottom and Whitecross about the film’s release strategy, the difficulties of using archival footage, and the lessons of The Shock Doctrine. I also manage to sneak in a few questions about Winterbottom’s controversial new film, The Killer Inside Me.

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markduplass

One of my favorite films this year at Sundance was the Duplass Brothers’ film Cyrus (see our review here). While its storyline doesn’t do much to transcend the tropes of a standard romantic comedy/dramedy, the Duplass brothers make their characters seem so alive and authentic that you can’t help but feel like you’re watching something completely unique.

As an actor, co-writer and a co-director, Mark Duplass has proven himself adapt at capturing adult situations and conversations onto film, along with a healthy dosed of humor. After the jump, see/hear my interview with Duplass, in which he discusses the tough road to Sundance and why the term “mumblecore” needs to die.
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pattillman

In My Kid Could Paint That, director Amir Bar-Lev followed around the family of child prodigy Maria Olmstead, documenting her rise to fame and its subsequent painful backlash. But Bar-Lev’s film ended up becoming less a document of Olmstead’s life, and more about Bar-Lev’s own struggle to come to terms with the concept of truth and the role of journalism.

In The Tillman Story, Bar-Lev fixes his gaze on an almost equally contentious public figure: Pat Tillman. Tillman was famously offered a multi-million dollar NFL contract, only to give it up in order to serve in the military. When Tillman was shot and killed in the line of duty, the U.S. military spun the incident as a story of a brave soldier killed while fighting off Taliban forces. Later, it was revealed that Tillman was killed by friendly fire, and that the military had lied in its initial report about Tillman’s death. What went into these lies, and what actually happened to Pat Tillman? These are the questions that Bar-Lev examines in his film.

After the jump, a few thoughts about the film and my interview with director Amir Bar-Lev, in which he talks about the  of documentary filmmaking and the importance of holding government accountable.
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slashfilmcast550

futuristThe /Filmcast Interview is a series of conversations with actors, directors, and other key figures from the entertainment industry. In this episode, David Chen speaks with writer Rebecca Keegan about the struggles and triumphs of James Cameron, the future of 3-D, and the success of Avatar. Rebecca Keegan’s newest book, The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron, is out on bookshelves now.

Have any questions, comments, or suggestions? Want to be interviewed on the /Filmcast? Feel free to e-mail us at slashfilmcast@gmail.com. You can also call and leave a voicemail at (781) 583-1993.

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crazyheartThe /Filmcast Interview is a series of conversations with actors, directors, and other key figures from the entertainment industry. In this episode, David Chen speaks with Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper about the challenges of being a first-time director, how he achieved the film’s amazing sound design, and Jeff Bridges’ remarkable physical transformation. Crazy Heart is out in limited release today.

Have any questions, comments, or suggestions? Want to be interviewed on the /Filmcast? Feel free to e-mail us at slashfilmcast@gmail.com. You can also call and leave a voicemail at (781) 583-1993.

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cameroncropped

The /Filmcast Interview is a series of conversations with actors, directors, and other key figures from the entertainment industry. In this episode, David Chen speaks with legendary director James Cameron about his attitude towards technology, the theme of environmentalism in his films, the acting benefits of performance-capture equipment, and the potential of movies to create social change. Cameron’s new film Avatar is out in theaters today. Listen to the interview below, or read a transcript after the jump.

Special thanks to Matt Singer from the IFC News Podcast and Dan Trachtenberg from the Totally Rad Show for helping me put together the interview questions. Have any questions, comments, or suggestions? Want to be interviewed on the /Filmcast? Feel free to e-mail us at slashfilmcast@gmail.com. You can also call and leave a voicemail at (781) 583-1993.

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boondock-saints-2-posterThe /Filmcast Interview is a series of conversations with actors, directors, and other key figures from the entertainment industry. In this episode, David Chen speaks with director Troy Duffy about Overnight (the documentary chronicling his rise and fall in Hollywood), and about the long, winding, arduous path to getting the Boondock Saints back onto the big screen. The Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day will be in theaters on Friday, October 30th.

Have any questions, comments, or suggestions? Want to be interviewed on the /Filmcast? Feel free to e-mail us at slashfilmcast@gmail.com. You can also call and leave a voicemail at (781) 583-1993.

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a_serious_man_trailer

The /Filmcast Interview is a series of conversations with actors, directors, and other key figures from the entertainment industry. In this episode, I spoke with actor Michael Stuhlbarg about his role in the new Coen Brothers’ film, A Serious Man. Peter reviewed the film at TIFF this year, calling it his favorite Coen Brothers film of the past decade. I’ve also seen the film and I believe Stuhlbarg’s performance as Larry Gopnik is masterful for its subtlety and its remarkable capacity to evoke sympathy and empathy from the audience. I chatted with Michael about how he came to star in the film, his approach to the character of Larry, as well as his thoughts on the film’s ending (with verbal SPOILER warning provided during the interview).  A Serious Man is out in limited release and expands wider today.

Have any questions, comments, or suggestions? Want to be interviewed on the /Filmcast? Feel free to e-mail us at slashfilmcast@gmail.com. You can also call and leave a voicemail at (781) 583-1993.

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bigelow

The /Filmcast Interview is a series of conversations with actors, directors, and other key figures from the entertainment industry. In this episode, David Chen speaks with writer Mark Boal and legendary director Kathryn Bigelow about the process of creating their exciting new film, The Hurt Locker.

From the film’s production notes: “The Hurt Locker is a riveting suspenseful portrait of the courage under fire of the military’s unrecognized heroes: the technicians of a bomb squad who volunteer to challenge the odds and save lives in one of the world’s most dangerous places.” I’ve seen the film and think that it’s remarkable, functioning  as both an gripping action film and a moody war movie. Certainly for any /Film readers out there, it’s definitely worthy of your attention. The movie is out in theaters today in NY/LA and will expand wider in the weeks to come.

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Have any questions, comments, or suggestions? Want to be interviewed on the /Filmcast? Feel free to e-mail us at slashfilmcast@gmail.com. You can also call and leave a voicemail at (781) 583-1993.