J.A. Bayona‘s latest film packs a heavy punch. Bayona’s adaptation of author and screenwriter Patrick Ness‘ novel is a pure tearjerker, a movie that mixes the grand with the intimate. The film follows a young boy (Lewis MacDougall) struggling with his mother’s terminal illness. In need of help, he calls upon a monster (Liam Neeson), a talking tree that promises to tell Conor three stories as long as the boy reveals his deepest, darkest secret.
A Monster Calls deals heavily with the power of storytelling. After making only three films, Bayona has established himself as a very emotional storyteller. “Cold” is not a word that applies to the visual splendor of his work. We recently interviewed the filmmaker for his latest drama, which was originally based on an idea by the late author, Siobhan Dowd. Bayona discussed with us the music on set, King Kong, the silent moments in A Monster Calls, and his reaction to seeing Jurassic Park for the first time.
Below, read our J.A. Bayona interview.
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This weekend brings the release of A Monster Calls, the adaptation of Patrick Ness‘ book of the same name, winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Greenaway Medal back in 2012. The film hails from The Impossible director J.A. Bayona, who will next direct Jurassic World 2, and it follows a young boy coping with his mother’s illness by way of a monster who suddenly appears in his backyard.
Liam Neeson plays the monster in question (though Captain America: Civil War star Tom Holland stood in for him on set), and in an effort to get the audience in on the story a bit more, he sat down to read through the entire first chapter. There’s footage from the movie interspersed with his reading, and Neeson’s voice makes for a nice bedtime story tone.
Watch as Liam Neeson reads A Monster Calls after the jump. Read More »
A Monster Calls is a heartbreaking movie. When J.A. Bayona‘s (The Impossible) latest film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, in a nice bit of promotion, tissue boxes were handed out to those in attendance. That was a good call because the film certainly made our own Angie Han choke up once or twice. She praised the drama as a “five-hankie sobfest, a ruthlessly effective tearjerker even by cancer drama standards,” despite a few scenes she found too manipulative.
Below, watch A Monster Calls featurette, which shows how the story came about and evolved.
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Now that we’re n October, we’re starting to get a look at some of the movies that will be key players in awards season. But plenty of heavy hitters won’t be arriving until this winter. One of those potential contenders is A Monster Calls. Funnily enough, the film from future Jurassic World 2 helmer J.A. Bayona was slated to arrive in theaters later this month, but after a huge critical reception out of the Toronto International Film Festival, Focus Features decided it was worthy of a more prime awards season release closer to Christmas.
Now a new A Monster Calls promo has arrived in honor of National Face Your Fears Day today, showing some of the beauty this film promises with the story of a young boy, his imaginary friend, and his dying mother, played by Felicity Jones. Read More »
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When the smoke cleared, I ended up seeing 27 movies over eight days at Fantastic Fest 2016. The Austin-based genre film festival always has a strong line-up of odd, unusual, and unique movies from around the world, but this year was truly exceptional – I saw very few movies I wouldn’t recommend in some capacity. I even saw a handful of movies that are in serious contention for my end-of-the-year top 10.
For the sake of completeness, I have compiled all of my Fantastic Fest coverage into one place, with links to my reviews and smaller capsule reviews for everything that didn’t get their own post. If you’re looking for a something terrifying or unique or action-packed or tear-jerking or just plain unusual, there is something here for you.
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Posted on Friday, September 23rd, 2016 by Angie Han
These days, Tom Holland is best known as the new Spider-Man. But in between his web-slinging exploits in Captain America: Civil War and next year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, you’ll get to catch his work in a very different kind of movie. Only you won’t actually be able to see him or hear him.
As revealed by director J.A. Bayona, Holland helped out with A Monster Calls, the cancer drama that nearly drowned TIFF in tears. However, he didn’t have a traditional role per se. As it turns out, Holland was a stand-in for the monster, who is voiced by Liam Neeson. Read More »
Posted on Saturday, September 10th, 2016 by Angie Han
J.A. Bayona‘s adaptation of Patrick Ness‘ A Monster Calls is a five-hankie sobfest, a ruthlessly effective tearjerker even by cancer drama standards. The sniffles start with the premise. A boy (Lewis MacDougall) struggles with his mother’s terminal illness, and calls upon a giant tree monster for help. The monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) forces a deal upon the boy: he’ll tell three stories, after which the boy will have to reveal his own deepest, darkest secret.
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Posted on Friday, September 2nd, 2016 by Jacob Hall
This 2016 fall movie preview was written by Jacob Hall and Jack Giroux.
The summer is over and the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting milder and (fingers crossed) the movies are going to start getting better. The next four months offer an embarrassment of cinematic riches, with new films from Martin Scorsese, Damien Chazelle, Tim Burton, Gareth Edwards, Paul Verhoeven, Mel Gibson, Robert Zemeckis, Park Chan-Wook, Terrence Malick, J.A. Bayona, Jeff Nichols, Ang Lee, Denis Villeneuve, Kenneth Lonergan, and other filmmakers of note waiting in the wings.
We’ve narrowed down the list of must-see movies to 32 titles and have ranked them from “We really want to see this!” to “We will push you out of the way at a sprint to see this!”
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Right now we’re in a bit of a dead zone between the blockbuster summer season and awards season, but that’s going to change once Snowden arrives in the middle of September as we start to move into October. However, one of the movies that I was looking forward to quite a bit has just been bumped back from its original October release date into December.
A Monster Calls will no longer arrive this fall, but the good news is that this date looks like a vote of confidence in the film’s quality to potentially be in contention for some awards. Find out the new A Monster Calls release date below. Read More »
Posted on Wednesday, July 13th, 2016 by Angie Han
Who knew that lonely kids befriending gigantic but surprisingly sweet monsters would turn out to be such a big theme of 2016? Earlier this month we got The BFG, Steven Spielberg’s take on the Roald Dahl classic, and next month we’ll get Pete’s Dragon, David Lowery’s updated version of the 1977 Disney film. Then this fall brings A Monster Calls, J.A. Bayona‘s adaptation of Patrick Ness‘ book.
Lewis MacDougall leads the film as Conor, a 12-year-old who’s having a tough time all around. At home, he’s struggling with his mother’s illness; at school, he’s targeted by bullies. He escapes into a fantasy world with the help of a giant tree monster voiced by Liam Neeson. It all sounds very silly when I put it that way, I know, but A Monster Calls looks like a visually sumptuous treat and a real tearjerker to boot. Watch the A Monster Calls trailer below. Read More »