Posted on Sunday, February 14th, 2016 by Angie Han
It’s taken a few years, but Alexander Payne is finally getting close to the start of shooting on Downsizing, a high-concept comedy starring Matt Damon and Reese Witherspoon. When it’ll open is still unclear — earlier reports indicated Paramount was eyeing a late 2017 release — but we do know Payne is already starting to make plans for the next film after that.
Payne, the director of Sideways, About Schmidt, and Nebraska, is looking to tackle another road trip movie. This one is based on My Saga a pair of articles written by Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård and published by The New York Times Magazine last year. Read More »
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Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2015 by Jacob Hall
Director Sam Mendes is guest-editing next month’s issue of Empire and he really delivered the goods. He could have easily just coasted on this gig and used his temporary position to just remind people that Spectre is coming out on November 6th, but instead, he rounded up a bunch of Hollywood’s biggest and most respected directors and asked them simple questions about their filmmaking process. The answers are fascinating.
To check out some highlights from the Sam Mendes interviews, hit the jump.
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Director Alexander Payne carved out his niche as a chronicler of the mundane, a filmmaker who mines comedy and drama from high school elections and road trips across the midwest. So the fact that his next movie, Downsizing, is a high-concept science fiction comedy should come as a bit of a surprise. Yet he’s the kind of guy whose low-key films rack up the Oscar nods and attract big-name talent. So, left turn genre hop or not, Downsizing has already attracted some movie stars… and the attention of a major studio.
Learn all of the details of the Downsizing Paramount acquisition after the jump.
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Posted on Friday, April 3rd, 2015 by Angie Han
Alexander Payne is still working on getting the pieces together for Downsizing, but he may already have his eye on another new project. He’s reportedly circling Septillion to One, based on the true story of four-time(!) lottery winner Joan Ginther. The romantic comedy is described in encouraging terms as “Silver Linings Playbook meets Ocean’s 11.”
More on the possible Alexander Payne Septillion to One movie after the jump. Read More »
Posted on Thursday, January 8th, 2015 by Angie Han
Are tiny people the next big Hollywood trend? Tuesday brought us the first trailer for Marvel’s Ant-Man, and now we have an update on the other upcoming movie about an incredible shrinking man.
Alexander Payne‘s Downsizing has just found a female lead in Reese Witherspoon, who starred in Payne’s Election 16 years ago. Matt Damon is already attached to play the lead. More details on the Reese Witherspoon Downsizing casting after the jump. Read More »
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Posted on Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 by Angie Han
Several years ago, Alexander Payne was working on a project called Downsizing. He got a good cast on board led by Paul Giamatti, but the film never quite took off and so Payne went off to make The Descendants and Nebraska instead. Now that those are done, he’s circling back to Downsizing. And it already seems to be off to a promising start as Matt Damon has joined the cast.
Hit the jump for more on the Matt Damon Alexander Payne project. Read More »
We don’t see many new films produced in black and white, and even fewer that get major studio distribution. And even then, there’s often a color version kept in reserve for use in certain markets. Such was the case with Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska, released last winter. Payne had to cut the budget of the film in order to get Paramount to agree to the black and white aesthetic. Cinematographer Phedon Papamichael shot the film digitally, and due to certain TV deals, he and Payne created a color version. Payne hoped that version would never be seen, but now the Nebraska color version will be broadcast on the Epix network, along with the original black and white version. Read More »
You’ve never seen Will Forte as you’ll see him in Nebraska, directed by Alexander Payne. The actor has cemented himself as a favorite comic talent who can play surprisingly intense guys with a vulnerable core, but he has never been at the center of a dramatic movie, much less something like this laconic black and white road movie.
Forte plays David Grant, a bit of a sad-sack, and the child of Woody Grant, played by Bruce Dern. When Woody insists on making the trip from Montana to Nebraska to claim sweepstakes winnings that David (and the rest of their family) know to be bogus, the younger man agrees to drive his father, both to guide him, and to strengthen the weak bond between the two men.
The film is quiet and meditative as it touches on family and the deep roots of individual characters, but also often gently comic, and occasionally uproariously funny. The funniest bits, however, are delivered by actors other than Forte, who spends much of the film as the straight man to Dern. He’s quite good at it, too. In fact, the shy but determined caregiver that emerges through Forte’s performance is something of a revelation from the actor.
I spoke to Forte in Los Angeles, and our conversation naturally ran towards the new territory in which the role placed him. But we also touched on his own obsessive and nervous tendencies, the pleasure of working with a seasoned pros like Dern and Stacy Keach, and briefly about the long-tail appeal of MacGruber. Read More »
Bruce Dern has seen it all in Hollywood. His TV work in the early ’60s positioned him to be right in the middle of the New Hollywood explosion that happened late in the decade. He’s in a mind-boggling array of great films, from Hang ‘Em High to They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, to The King of Marvin Gardens and The Driver — it’s impossible to reel off a quick summation of his career without feeling like you’ve left out five essentials.
Or maybe Dern has seen almost all of Hollywood. Dominating as the heavy, he’s never quite broken into lead status, and he’s never won an Oscar. (He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1979, an Oscar year thick with great performances, for his role in Hal Ashby’s Coming Home. Christopher Walken won, for The Deer Hunter, even as Jon Voight and Jane Fonda won the Best Actor and Actress trophies for their own work in Coming Home.)
So Nebraska feels like a singular moment in Dern’s career. He’s directed in the film by Alexander Payne, one of the modern filmmakers who feels most creatively connected to the biggest years in Dern’s career. He’s got a lead role, and it’s one which forces him to look past his own natural tendency to unleash a torrent of conversation. As scripted by Bob Nelson, his character, Woody Grant, barely talks at all. Even as we wonder about his mental capacity, he’s fixed on a goal: claiming the million bucks a piece of junk mail tells him he’s won. Dern approaches the work with quiet intensity and a real vulnerability, bouncing off co-star Will Forte‘s own uncharacteristic straight man role. The result is unlike anything else you’ll see this year.
I spoke to Dern in Los Angeles, and we discussed acting challenges and risk-taking, Payne’s quiet direction, and the goal of becoming a character, rather than simply performing as one. There’s even some trivia about The Exorcist in here, for good measure. Read More »