From the GATW Archives: TIFF 2010 Review: Richard Ayoade’s SUBMARINE

Editor’s note: This review was originally published on September 18, 2010 as a Toronto International Film Festival review.

Rating: 5/5

WritersRichard Ayoade (screenplay), Joe Dunthorne (novel)
DirectorRichard Ayoade
Cast: Craig RobertsYasmin PaigeNoah TaylorSally HawkinsPaddy Considine

Here we go folks, my favorite film of the festival - SUBMARINE.

Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) wants the simple things in life: love, his parents to be happy together, light arson, and the world to express their sorrow when he dies. Oh, and he’s only 15. His love interest is Jordana (Yasmin Paige), whom Oliver notices has eczema from staring at her so much, and his parents are Lloyd (Noah Taylor) and (Sally Hawkins), whose love begins to burn out when an old, mulleted flame comes back around. These are the most important people in Oliver’s life for the duration of SUBMARINE. Well, and the girl who falls into the pond, she’s pretty important, too.

Our love story is set in motion when Oliver, Jordan, and a small group of people chase around a girl in the woods. While tossing her bag around to one another close to a pond, Oliver accidentally knocks the bullied girl towards the pond, sending her well on her way into the water and him to regret. He types her an apology letter and gives it to her only friend, the lunch lady, but it never gets to the girl  - Jordana gets ahold of it and swears to show the school if he doesn’t do a few things for her. In high school, a bad reputation is just as bad as death. Soon after, Oliver and Jordana are going steady, and they embark on a journey throughout the film doing things that people who are too cool for the world do. They sit and stare at each other in an isolated bathtub on the beach. They set fires in trashcans and watch the flames. It’s beautiful.

Oliver’s parents growing-stale-fast marriage frames up the second part of SUBMARINE. As Oliver finds love, the Tates are losing it. Papa Tate doesn’t talk much and drinks water from the same unwashed glass every day, and Mama Tate starts acting weird when her former flame Graham (Paddy Considine) moves in next door. Graham is a motivational speaker of sorts, and has a gnarly mullet and dresses like a ninja.

SUBMARINE was written and directed by Richard Ayoade, who’s best known as Moss onThe It Crowd. Ayoade knows how to use sarcastic, awkward, and twisted comedy, and he spreads them out  perfectly throughout the film. At the beginning, Oliver ponders how people would react to his death. Cut to fake news specials, candlelight vigils, and interviews with fellow schoolmates talking about how cool he was. At another point in the film, Oliver  discusses with the audience that his parents haven’t had sex in over eight months, and he knows this because he’s been keeping tabs on the way they dim the lights in their bedroom. Dark comedy like this is relatable, at least to me, and makes the movie much more personal. Ayoade takes us into the mind of Oliver, and shows us the truths and consequences of being a rebellious teenager.

Everyone in this film plays their characters well, but it’s Craig Roberts who brings out the awesome in our Oliver. Oliver is the guy you wish you would have known in high school, but were too proud to speak to at the time. He’s young and wants to live forever. He’s the misfit that shows us how to understand those who are different.

SUBMARINE is a story about growing up all while not wanting to get older. It’s what HAROLD & MAUDE would have been if they had met in high school.

From the GATW Archives: TIFF 2010 Video Review: Richard Ayoade’s SUBMARINE


Discovering little indie gems is the finest perk of attending a film festival. Last night I did just that when I saw SUBMARINE, about a boy who is set on scoring the girl of his dreams and saving his parents’ marriage. This has already been stamped as my favorite film of the festival, and I’m still here. Wes Anderson fans are going to devour this film whole.

I saw SUBMARINE last night with Jordan Raup (The Film Stage), Alex Billington (First Showing), and Peter Sciretta (Slash Film), and shortly after, Jordan and I shot a quick video review (with a full review written to follow soon). Check it out after the break!


From the GATW Archives: TIFF 2010 Interview: NEVER LET ME GO’s Andrew Garfield


A few days ago, I took part in a roundtable interview with future webslinger, Andrew Garfield, who’s here at the Toronto InternationalFilm Festival to support NEVER LET ME GO, in which he plays one of the leads alongside Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightly. Garfield is a very humble guy that just wants to act. Studio budget or self-financed, if he finds something beautiful in a film, count him in.

Check out the interview after the break. And a big thank you to Katey Rich from Cinema Blend for sending me the transcript.

Was there ever a point where you thought there was a point of no return, taking on this franchise? You are basically not going to be able to come back to small films for a while.

No, I don’t think so. I haven’t thought about it like that. I just like acting. I just want to act for the rest of my life, and get lost in roles and just explore the diversity of what it is to be a human being, and the different experiences we all go through. Maybe that’s naive, I don’t know. I feel really excited. I’m only going to do something if I really am excited to do it, for the right reason. If I were going into something with the wrong intentions I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. Doing this film is so beautiful, I don’t want to do anything but tell the story in the most simple and transient way, from novel to cinema. I don’t know if we achieved it, but everyone’s intention was the same. We just wanted to honor Kazuo’s story. My attitude is very similar. Size doesn’t really come into it. I want to be an actor, and I just want to explore what that job means. And be a vessel for someone else’s words, be a vessel for someone else’s story and facilitate that with whatever I may or may not have.

Do you want to reach more and more audiences?

That’s a byproduct maybe. But it’s not something that comes into my thought process. I want my life to be my life, and I want my work to be my work. I don’t want to identify one with the other. What’s important is life comes first. My family comes first, and my friends, and my happiness comes first. It just so happens I get happiness out of working hard. I get happiness out of working on something hard. The idea of fame isn’t something that interests me, the idea of celebrity isn’t something that interests me.

Do you at least appreciate the fame?

I don’t know. I don’t feel that I’ve had to deal with that yet. It’s really nice when someone comes up to and says, “I really liked your film, it really moved me.” “I really liked your film, it really made me think.” Or, “I was interested in your film, I don’t know if I liked it, but maybe we can talk about it.” That’s fascinating. That’s all I’ve really had so far. I just cross bridges if and when they come. There’s no point in worrying about the future. I’m just trying to be an actor. I want my kids to have normal lives, as normal as they possibly can be.

This is the first round of press you’ve done since the SPIDER-MAN announcement. Has it occurred to you that you’ll be answering SPIDER-MAN questions for the next ten years?

You just put that in my head! No, I haven’t really given it that much thought. As I was saying, I’m going to approach it like I approach any other role. I’m just going to work as much as I can, because it’s been such an important symbol to me since I was four years old. It’s meant so much to me, and it’s given me so much hope as a skinny little streak of piss, who feels more powerful inside than he looks on the outside. Every skinny boy’s dream. I’m very lucky.

Do what extent does the role give you advantage, to be able to bring awareness to smaller films?

That’s not my job. I think if I got caught up in that I would just stress myself out. If I was so calculated, I think it would just detract from the good stuff. I’m obviously aware of how difficult it is to — actors can’t get work. I’m an actor. I’m happy to be working, that’s all. It’s difficult to get work. There are people much more talented than I am, that I know, who aren’t working. Actors are at the mercy of other people, sometimes foolish people — because their eyebrows are too big — I’m just talking about myself — or whatever. Or they’re too skinny, too in perfect shape, their jawline is too attractive or too flabby. It’s death out there man, it’s tough. No, I’m just happy to work. I just soak up every moment I can of being allowed to be creative in that respect. You can only do so many Shakespeare speeches on your own in your room before starting to feel like you want to give up. That’s, to me, what purpose feels like, when you’re giving of yourself and exposing of yourself, to serve a story and therefore to serve an audience being told a story that is in tune with the universal themes of being alive.

Did you spend much time with the boy who played you as a younger?

We hugged out a bunch and chatted and talked about the role and just got to know each other. We chatted about his school and what it means to be an actor and why we both wanted to be actor. We’d muck around, we’d talk about girls, kissing girls and stuff. We’d play Frisbee, we’d play hide and seek, just the general getting to know you friendship thing. He was so good. He was so open, excited, enthusiastic, talented and raw and right there in the moment. And we all did that with our counterparts. It was set up that way by Mark and the production time. We got weeks of rehearsal together, and all just bonded and became very intimate with each other, discussed the themes of the book and themes of the movie. Every came at it with the same intention. Everyone wanted to tell Kazuo’s story in the most pure form, without any ego or imposition. Just tell the story in a really lovely way, in a really intense and pure way.

Is this the SPIDER-MAN diet?

I mean, it’s food that I’m eating. It’s all starting up, that thing. All I know is I’m probably going to have to move a lot, so I’m trying to be as healthy as I can. But that’s all me. It’s very difficult, because I like cookies a lot.

The more I hear you talk about having no interest in celebrity and whatnot, your attitude seems very similar to Heath Ledger. Was your attitude influenced by him, or did you have that and that’s why you clicked as actors?

I don’t think anyone can be defined by an influence from someone else. I admired Heath, I continue to admire Heath, incredibly. He was truly exciting to be around. He was fiery, and I don’t want to get into personal opinions about that, because it’s not my place. But I can speak highly of him still. He’s just incredible, as an actor, as a human being. Maybe there’s something in that. Maybe I saw his happiness and his life, and he was just a very creative person. I just love creatives. I love being around them— it inspires me. I got to work with such incredible people. And on that film there was terry as well. He lives for it. And with this, being with Mulligan and Knightley and Mark and Alex and Ishiguru, it was just a gift. Being with Jesse Eisenberg for THE SOCIAL NETWORK, that boy is constantly creating something, whether he’s writing a play or musical or a series of incredible jokes, he’s just a genius. Just that being the focus, and not allowing all the periphery stuff to infringe, because it takes up headspace that could be better used, whether it’s painting something terrible or buying a present for my mum. I’d rather be doing something that’s going to serve someone.

What happens to Tommy between the time that he has his original outburst at Hailsham and the outburst he has later on?

Something happens to him, and he becomes very acquiescent. I think he does what’s necessary. He does what we all have to do when we’re in a situation. We deal with the situation. We deal with what it is to be alive. You become a man, and you suppress things, and you get burned. You get burned, and then you have to heal your scar to cover it up, bandage it up, and then you have to avoid that pain again. I remember the first time I broke up with someone. It was the greatest pain ever. It made me never want to love again. We all know that feeling. So you do everything you can to distract yourself. I feel that’s what Tommy is doing. He has to somehow hold on through this free-floating anxiety, this knowledge that there’s something not quite right in this life. What’s around the corner, and it’s death. it’s inevitable. We have no frame of reference to deal with death. So he does what we all do, he deflects, he ignores. It’s like if there was a live tiger in this room right now and all we’re doing is focusing on everything that’s not that tiger. Just trying to survive, and we have to somehow live. It’s so relatable, we all do it. There are these burning, upsetting tingling in all of us. These dissatisfactions that we’re not being looked after, these worries that there’s nobody above, worries that there is no purpose. If you are constantly in that thought process and consciousness, we would all be constantly screaming. Because life is fucking unfair, and life is impossible sometimes. Once you own up to that and see that it’s very difficult not to scream and shout. Because we’re given this consciousness. We’re not just animals, unfortunately. We have a consciousness to supposedly elevate us, but it does more harm than good sometimes. I think in-between he’s trying to come to terms with life, like we alare. He has that hope for deferral with Kathy, and he goes to great lengths to make sure that he has the opportunity to it. he has hope. It’s a religious hope. He’s lived his life as well as he could. He’s looked after this body, he’s done everything he can. One should be rewarded for being moral, for being good, for not betraying anyone, for looking after yourself. There should be some payback for that, and there isn’t he finds out very brutally. There’s silence. He screams, and no one rescues him. He gets held very tightly by someone he loves. That’s what Ishiguro is trying to say. We have very short time here, and love as much as you can, and love as many people as you can. Hold on to the people that mean something. I think that’s a microcosm of what he’s talking about. It’s very simplistic, but obviously it’s much deeper and richer than that.

Talking about Facebook, Twitter, social media. It’s a way for non-celebrities to feel famous and report on their minutiae. What’s your perspective on that given your role in THE SOCIAL NETWORK?

Luckily my role in THE SOCIAL NETWORK doesn’t know much about that. He’s an economics major. So my research wasn’t Internet-based, it wasn’t social media-based. He’s actually naive to it. He’s being exposed to it gradually as the film goes on, so I didn’t have to do much work in terms of that. I had to do work elsewhere. Yeah, I think I admire it greatly. They are the wizards of our generation, they are the alchemists. I just got given an iPad as a gift for my birthday, and it’s unbelievable. It’s truly magic. Zuckerberg revolutionized the way we communicate globally.

Do you have a Facebook account?

No, I don’t have one. But I’ve of course been on. It is so simple and genius, because everyone wants to be on their own [magazine] cover, and that’s what it’s giving people. It’s kind of an extension of what our playground society is. I admire it greatly. Unfortunately we could all be very rich if we had been on that bandwagon. They are the great people who are defining our time. Surrender to it, it’s fucking great.

Can you talk about your discussions with Marc about your interpretation of Spider-Man?

We’re starting to talk about it. It’s all very early stages. I haven’t really got much to say, because I don’t have anything to say about it. It’s all very early and the exploration stage.

Most times it’s a decade until a series is rebooted, and this is like three or four years. Does that give you any pause to do something different?

No. What’s wonderful about Spider-Man is it’s no one’s and it everyone’s. It means so much to so many people. It’s mythology and a legacy. There is no definitive version. You look back at the Dick Cook Stan Lee comics to the Ultimates and the Incredibles and the Amazings, then you go to the original cartoon series in the 70s and how that translated to the one in the 90s that Avi Arad was involved in, it’s constantly shifting and reflecting the time and being as relevant and topical as it can be. I think it’s going to shift again. I don’t know in what way, but it’s going to be defined by where we are as a society, and hopefully people are going to enjoy it, because I think we’re going to enjoy making it.

Have you met Stan Lee yet?

No, I haven’t. That’s going to be very cool though.

You have a BACK TO THE FUTURE watch?

I do, yeah. My girlfriend just got it for me. It’s a limited edition. Zemeckis made 20 of them for his electrical crew because they worked so hard on the first one. It was a starting gift for the second one. My girlfriend got it off of eBay. That’s like the best film ever made.

From the GATW Archives: TIFF 2010 Interview: NEVER LET ME GO’s Carey Mulligan


Carey Mulligan, what a beautiful and talented young lady. Her first burst on the scene got her an Academy Award nomination, and now she’s starring alongside Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley in a much-buzzed-about TIFF film, NEVER LET ME GO. The film is directed by Mark Romanek and is based off the novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro.

As with Andrew Garfield, I sat with various journalists in a roundtable and interviewed Mulligan about NEVER LET ME GO, WALL STREET 2, and what it’s like work on independent films versus studio-budgeted. Check out the interview after the break. Big thank you to Katey Rich from Cinema Blend for sending me the interview transcription.

Are we in control of our own fates?

Oh, God. I just woke up! Well, no, not ultimately. We could all be hit by a bus tomorrow. But you can make choices to live the life that you want to.

And do we live for ourselves or for other people?

I don’t know. I suppose that’s individual to the person.

What about you?

I don’t know. I suppose I’m sort of in the position where I can be pretty selfish. Because I don’t have a family or kids or anything. I have my parents and my friends, that’s as big as my world gets.

Had you read the book before all this?

Yes, I had. My mum is a big Ishiguro fan, and I read it pretty much as soon as it came out, because she said I should read it and I loved it. I thought if they made a film, it’s in the book she’s 31 at the end, so I thought that was a couple of years away. Then they brought the ages down and made it so we could play them from ages 18 to 28. But I love the book, I was always in love with the book. I read it six times between getting the job and now.

What did you love about the book?

I hadn’t read anything else. I hadn’t even read Remains of the Day, which is the book pretty much everyone has read. I loved his writing. I loved how unsentimental it was, and how much he said in these little tiny phrases. And I love how his writing isn’t overly intellectual and doesn’t exclude the audience. It invites the audience in. Ishiguro is an incredibly intelligent person, and his writing could be really cerebral, and it’s not.

What is the trick to adaptations when you’re developing this character? You’re balancing between the character in the book and the character in the script.

When I was reading the script I was really nervous, because I always hate it when adaptations do a bad job. I wanted them to do it right, and I felt like they really did. The script really captured the book perfectly. There’s always a scene that you miss, and the whole way through the shoot I was asking if we could put in scenes from the book that we just didn’t have time for. So I think Alex [Garland, screenwriter] really got the book perfectly, and the way he divided it into three chapters was really smart. I think you have enough time with the characters and it’s not a long, laborious film. I got a lot from the script. I was with the book every day, always going back to look at the book. We had two weeks to talk about it, two weeks to sit around. I think the voiceover was the biggest indicator of who she was. It was so faithful to how unreliable she is as a narrator in the book. She’s always skirting around the subject, always diminishing her feelings. She’s saying, “I felt a tiny stab of pain,” these tiny statements that mean a huge amount. That’s what I loved about Kathy’s role in the film, how little she had to say. Most of the characters I’ve played have been really emotionally articulate and expressive and said everything on their mind. With Kathy, she really never does. Even in the voiceover she holds back so much. She says, “I reminded myself I was lucky to have any time with him at all,” and that sounds very virtuous and sweet, but it’s bollocks really. She’s talking herself into this state of acceptance all the time. And I thought that was cool, that she has the least dialogue.

What’s the accent? It sounds Northern.

I don’t know. Isobel, who played the younger Kathy, we just tried to have the vague accent.

Is it funny to be promoting this, realizing how much has changed since you shot it, before WALL STREET and the Oscar nomination?

I don’t know. Yeah, this was after Sundance, and before the film came out, and before I got WALL STREET. Well, I got offered WALL STREEET as we were wrapping NEVER LET ME GO. I suppose it is. It’s the polar opposite of WALL STREET. And in WALL STREET, she’s always emoting and expressing and saying everything.

Has the Oscar nomination changed you at all?

No, not really. I haven’t worked since WALL STREET. It was all a big surprise. It was quite nice though, because I was really ignorant to the whole process of this festival wards, buzz, all that stuff. I was just dancing around Telluride with Lone [Scherfig, director of AN EDUCATION], having a really nice time. I wasn’t aware of all the people on their Blackberries checking reviews and going all crazy. It’s different this year. I feel like I know what’s going on. It makes me a bit uncomfortable. I don’t like that its heading towards that the only merit a film can have, the only value it can have is if it gets nominated for an award. That seems like such a shame, because all we wanted in this film was to make the best film possible, and most faithful film, and try not to mess up what Ishiguro wrote. That’s the only thing that’s changed; I’m slightly more aware of the industry going around these things rather than just the films. Last year was a lot more relaxing.

Then does something like a comedy intimidate you?

I was the straight man in AN EDUCATION, but I don’t think any of us thought — it’s only when you’re in front of an audience that you realize when things work and when things don’t. I don’t think I’m interested in like a straight-out comedy, with no real heart or anything. I definitely lean toward drama. But I wouldn’t want to do something, just a vacuous comedy about nothing. I like FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, things that have a heart and then there’s funny surrounding it.

With NEVER LET ME GO, you’re working with younger actors. Can you talk about the difference between that and moving on to something like WALL STREET, where you’re playing Michael Douglas’s daughter and being directed by Oliver Stone. It’s quite a leap.

NEVER LET ME GO felt quite comfortable, because I knew a lot of the crew, I had worked on TV things with them, and I kind of knew the producers really well byte he time we were shooting. Keira and I have been friends for years. It was nerve-wracking because Kathy is supposed to be holding the story together — not holding the story together, but I felt kind of pressured, because she’s the narrator, to not upset fans of the book. That was always running through my mind to make sure we were faithful to the book, and would my mom think that’s a good choice, because she’s a massive fan of the book. So when you’ve got her in your mind every day… and WALL STREET, yeah, I kind of wanted to be in a big boy’s film and be intimidated. There were other roles going on in England that I was kind of involved in, but there was nothing going on that I would wake up in the morning and go, “oh, shit, how am I going to do this?” The challenge was to try and make the girlfriend role in a Hollywood film effective and not just redundant. I think a lot of the time, through no fault of the actress, the girlfriend can be marginalized and just an accessory to the plot. I thought there was something to play there, and more than just the girlfriend. That was sort of exciting. I did want to be one of the few women in a big, masculine film. And it was fun. Oliver didn’t treat me like a girl. I don’t think he saw me as a girl, because I had short hair or something. I do think I got equal treatment. I loved working with all of them, including Michael. We sort of kept a distance from each other. We didn’t get all cuddly off set, we were quite removed, so when we played those scenes, I didn’t really know him, and that was appropriate because I didn’t know him in the film.

Did you go back and watch the original WALL STREET, not just to get a sense for the story but see how Daryl Hannah’s character existed in that masculine world?

Yeah, I did. Oliver wanted me to watch it to try and glean Gekko-isms. There wasn’t much I could do, because the character was so different. Not really Daryl Hannah’s character so much. She was in that world and attracted by those things in a way that Winnie’s not. There wasn’t any need to study her so much. The reason I looked at it really was to glean what Gekko’s doing, to look at my mum in the film to gain some sense memory of her. But she’s not in the second film, she’s disappeared by that point.

Is it true your parents didn’t want you to become an actress?

Well, no, it’s a silly job. Not a silly job, but it’s difficult to be able to get a break to work at all, and then work consistently. They wanted me to have something else that I could do if the whole acting thing didn’t work you. They would have let me have a go eventually, but they wanted me to go to university, get a degree, be able to teach at least or do something sensible. I was very angry at the time, but then I get it. I know so many brilliant, talented, way more talented than me— and they don’t work. They haven’t had that one meeting that sparks off another meeting, and they haven’t gotten that one job that gets them seen. It’s like a chain of events that gets you somewhere safe.

How did they finally change their mind?

When I got my first job, when I got PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, they were behind it. I didn’t even expect to get another job after that. But they were supportive from then.

Do you feel like an exception in Hollywood right now, in terms of casting a young woman your age?

No, not really. I don’t know. I think there are brilliant young actresses my age. I did a Vanity Fair cover with twelve of them — I was like, “fuck, you guys…this is scary.” I haven’t worked this year because I haven’t found the one — everyone’s looking for something different. There are parts out there, but there weren’t parts out there that were dramatically different from what I had already done. I’m starting one later this month.

From the GATW Archives: TIFF 2010 Review: WHAT’S WRONG WITH VIRGINIA


Rating: 3.5/5

Writer/DirectorDustin Lance Black
CastJennifer ConnellyEd HarrisAmy MadiganEmma RobertsHarrison Gilbertson

Something’s wrong with Virginia. What that is, we’re not entirely sure of. The film opens with Virgina (Jennifer Connelly) being carried out of her house by Sheriff Dick Tipton (Ed Harris). There’s a little blood on her collar and she looks like she has no clue of events that just took place in her life. These events are explained by Virginia, however, later in the film.

Cut back to a few weeks prior and here our story begins, leading up to the carried Virginia by that big bad sheriff. Virginia lives in a small, quiet town in Virginia (naturally) where religion is a must, everybody has dirty little secrets, and nobody really understands the value of honesty. Virginia isn’t quite all there. In fact, we find out early on that she’s a mentally ill single mother who wants nothing but to see her son (Harrison Gilbertson) live - like, really live. And she has some big plans to get them out of that town.

But here’s where things get really, really complicated. Virginia has been sleeping with Sheriff Tipton (who’s married) for the last 16 years, and it’s questionable whether or not he’s the father of Virginia’s son. Tipton doesn’t want anything to do with the him, he’s only interested in Virginia’s body and all the sex toys he’s been buying online. He’s also running for public office and everybody in town looks up to him. The boy, Emmitt, is convinced Tipton isn’t his father, so the idea is all but forgotten by both parties. But Emmitt has a big reason for this - he’s in love with Tipton’s daughter Jessie (Emma Roberts). As you know, big secrets like these can’t last forever.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH VIRGINIA was written and directed by Dustin Lance Black. For a film so enriched by a great cast and a rough story that works, I’m very impressed with his directorial debut. VIRGINIA tangles itself with so many people who are living perfect lives outside the skin, but under, they’re more rotten than a three week old banana. It’s no surprise Black used “Dick” as Dick’s born name. The man is evil, and Satan himself would probably feel cold air against his red hot flames if this man walked by. As viewers, we are supposed to be emotionally involved with the story’s characters, whatever emotion that may be. Ed Harris brings out the hate for VIRGINIA, and my God he does it so well. His stares and wicked gestures are what can bring out the pink elephant in any room.

But when we get right down to the emotions of the film, our best character is certainly Virginia. She’s been lost her whole life and still can’t get things right, despite trying her hardest. She doesn’t listen to the advice she needs and attempts to make things right with what she thinks is best. She’s adorable, yet very sad. Jennifer Connelly is normally the bombshell and that’s still here, but her comedic elements come into full fruition which loses a little bit of the sex appeal and adds more of the “this girl got herself acting chops” appeal. In a scene I don’t want to give away, I just have to note that it involves her and and a gorilla mask.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH VIRGINIA is a story about how little white lies can grow and grow and grow and can literally kill other people. I now know what is wrong with Virginia, and I recommend you find out as well.

From the GATW Archives: TIFF 2010 Interview: NEVER LET ME GO director Mark Romanek


In the third part of our interviews for LET ME GO, we spoke to director Mark Romanek. You might remember Romanek’s ONE HOUR PHOTO, which broadcasts one of the many weird sides of Robin Williams. With a background of directing music videos, Romanek has a very unique vision for film and he seems very passionate about every project he takes on.

This week, NEVER LET ME GO released to the public. After you see the film, read this interview. Romanek goes into a lot of great detail on why this movie is very effective when it comes to life intimating art and the feelings you should pull coming out of the movie. Interview after the break!

So at what point did you come onto this project and how long did it take to get made?

We finished about three months ago. We shot about a year and a half ago, I think. It hasn’t been sitting around on the shelf too long. I got involved with it about two years ago. Peter Rice recommended me to Andrew McDonald, and Alex [Garland] and I went and met with them in London and met Kazuo [Ishiguro]. I guess they liked my idea as a movie, it jived with what they wanted to do. From that point on it was all about finding the right Kathy. Peter Rice saw Carey in AN EDUCATION at Sundance and sent all of us a four word text that said, “hire the genius Mulligan.” I asked him why it was such a brief [text] and he said, “because the movie isn’t even over yet.” He knew that we were struggling to find the right actress and he saw this girl, and just like everyone else in the world they went “holy crap, she’s amazing.” He said “that’s Kathy,” and at that point the movie was greenlit.

At that point were you wanting to make Kathy a little bit younger than she is in the book?

We were just looking for the right actress and it didn’t seem to be a big deal if she was a bit younger than in the book - it didn’t seem to change anything fundamentally, so when we found Carey we made her a little bit younger. I didn’t see the matter, as long as they were pushing the late twenties.

It is funny, though, that when the movie was made, obviously people in the industry knew who Carey Mulligan was and we have Andrew [Garfield], who looks to be on his way to stardom. When you shot it, Keira Knightley was the biggest star, and in five years people might be [saying], “oh, this has Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan in it.” Why do you think this is all happening for them?

They have it, whatever “that” is. They’re brilliantly good. There’s an appeal that they have. They’re both beautiful to photograph and yet unusual looking in a way - not traditionally or classically beautiful - and they have the chops. They’re serious young actors.

What kind of discussions did you have about filming the donations? It’s one thing to read about things, it’s another to watch them on-screen.

We felt like it would be a cop out to not deal with the reality of what’s going on. It’s meant to be shocking, it’s not meant to be disgusting. I tried to infuse it with a sadness and emotion to it when she’s sort of left there all alone, like a piece of meat, and so it’s not just shocking and gratuitous. I think it would have felt wrong to not deal with it directly at some point.

Do you see yourself continuing in the independent arena? You kinda had flirted with big budget studio stuff.

Yeah, probably for a couple more films. I’d love to make a bigger film if [we had] resources, if the story is exciting to me.  But I’d rather do it when I have more autonomy to navigate the studio process, which I didn’t really have the last time around. Look at David Fincher or Christopher Nolan, they’ve worked themselves into the position where they can make big budget films in the way they ‘d like to. I’d rather wait until I get to that place, if I’m lucky enough.

We are in a time when a lot of people, after one independent film, are getting offers. SPIDER-MAN is the ultimate example of that happening. Do you feel like you have to be especially wary since someone could be dangling a lot of money in front of you and then push you around?

That’s a yes or no question and the answer is yes. You know, it’s a jungle out there. I had a really nice experience on this movie. All the director wants is their idea of the movie to be believed in. And for the producers to facilitate, you do the job that they hired you to do. People underestimate how, if a film comes out well, how it has to be beautifully produced as well, not just beautifully directed and acted. Sometimes producers get a bad wrap and on this film, I think you met some of them, Alex and Kazuo are technically producers. It was a very supportive and collaborative thing. Whether you like it or don’t like it, it’s the film we wanted to make.

The thing I think is kind of interesting with this movie is it fits in the sci-fi era where we’re talking about cloning, but in the past. Normally I’ve seen topics like this dealt in the future. Did you feel like you had to approach it in any different way, because normally in the future you see everything is very modern and sleek?

Yeah, it’s more hard sci-fi! First of all, I wasn’t making a science fiction movie, I was making a love story. I always felt like the science fiction, maybe Kazuo said something similar, is really just a delivery system for these more interesting themes about immortality and friendship and love and how we choose to make use of this brief time we have in the world and how we come to the end of our lives and regret not lived it. These are the things that Kazuo writes about in a lot of his books. I was making a love story, the science fiction is the suit that the whole thing played out in, and it’s Kazuo’s original conception to be in alternate history, not futuristic, so it never felt right. You know we dabbled with some more futuristic-looking buildings or some of the sci-fi tropes you’d expect in sci-fi films…it never felt right. Since the film is about the preciousness of time, the brevity of our time, having things show the patina and age of time and the wear, having things be old, and show the effects of time, it felt like a more evocative setting for the themes in the movie. It’s one of the things that makes it an original idea as a novel.

Since you’re dealing with those themes every day, before you start, while you shoot, as you’re putting it together, do you have a different approach to life now?

Well, I think the book affected a lot of people. It affected me before I made the film. It made me think about how every day is so precious. We really are here for a very brief amount of time. I have two beautiful children and a beautiful wife and every day I put this [iPhone 4] away when I’m with my kids and I try to make those moments count. One of the nicest things I had someone say to me about the film was that they called their father, because they realized they haven’t spoken to him in like, three or four weeks, and called him to say ”I love you, Dad. Thanks for being a good dad.” And, you know, this moved people to tell people that they love them because that’s what’s important.

Things like that can be a part of movies a lot, but not necessarily spoken out loud. You know how they always say there’s the seven stories. That’s one of these themes. Is it hard to kind of deal with that, you know “live every moment” thing, and how did it feel original when you’re making a movie like this, because the story is original, but the themes are as old as time?

You’re lucky enough to find that, some original new idea for a story or a tone of a film you haven’t quite seen before, and yet the themes that are in it are sincerely expressed and meaningful - that’s what you’re looking for. That’s why I wanted to do it. I felt it was sincere and that I could do something that I hadn’t quite seen before. It’s not wholly original, there are other films that have similar plots. There’s other cloning stories or whatever, but the tone of it I felt I hadn’t really seen. I couldn’t find a template for a movie that had handled this type of thing, so it felt a bit out on a limb. There’s like, Truffaut’s FAHRENHEIT 451 is kind of a literally subtle science fiction, but you know, it’s not the same. Godard’s ALPHAVILLE is a subtle science fiction film, but that film’s much more of an arch.

So subtle science fiction you think is a good banner?

No, I mean it’s a love story and science fiction gives it an original twist. I mean this sort of patina of science fiction gives the love story an original twist, but I’m very concerned that people come to see it [as an] emotional story and engage with it emotionally. If they think they’re coming to see a film with ideas on social commentary and the ethics of biology and stuff they’re going to miss the movie. They’re going to be watching the wrong movie.

Be sure to also check out Kate’s review of NEVER LET ME GO, along with my interviews with stars Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.

From the GATW Archives: TIFF 2010 Interview: “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” author, Ned Vizzini


Interviewing Ned Vizzini was a dream come true for me. I first read his third novel, “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” about three years ago, when my mom bought it for me for Christmas. The kind of funny story on my end is she thought I would relate to the main character Craig, and I really did (high school was rough, man). I fell in love with this book and read it over and over and over.

When it was announced that the novel would be made into a feature film, I sought out Vizzini and we began messaging one another (via Facebook) about doing an interview about the book and film. If you’ve seen my TIFF coverage, you would have seen that I did see the film and spoke with its directors and main cast. This was a true delight. After the break is my interview with Vizzini. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did conducting it - this one hit close to home.

I have kind of a funny story about how I got ahold of this book. My mom got it for me for Christmas about three years ago. She said, “Chase, I read the synopsis and I instantly thought, ‘This has Chase written all over it.’” I’m still not sure whether or not that’s a compliment, but I’m flattered either way. With that, I know that this is semi-autobiographical. 1) How much of this is your story? and 2) How difficult was it to spill out some of the depression you were battling?

What a kind mother! Thank her for me. My mother is always sending me articles about alternative mental-health remedies; she’s more concerned about me than I am.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is 85% true. I was actually depressed; I was actually in a psych hospital in Brooklyn. I freaked out while I was trying to finish a book and my mental state spiraled and I called a suicide hotline and they told me to go to the hospital and I did. I had a singular experience in there; I met people who made me look at life in a different way. When I left and started writing about it, I made the main character a teenager as opposed to a guy in his early 20s and added the love triangle because those always make novels better.

You might think depression was difficult to write about, but it was a huge relief. It came to me naturally. Seeing the words on the page got them out of my head.

The story deals with a very serious topic, but handles it in a sort of light-hearted and funny way. What kind of troubles (if any) did you have going about it that way?

I believe in the healing power of humor. I believe that anything that can be laughed at can be controlled and handled.

When I was in the hospital, there was one point where I was desperate to use the phone. They had one payphone in there and it was like prison; there was a social hierarchy behind who could use the phone and if you didn’t get in line early you would miss the cutoff at 7pm and that was it — no phone for you. I missed the cutoff and was despondent until this other hospital patient looked at me and went, “What are you so stressed about? You want to make a call? Just use the banana phone!” And he held a banana to his head like it was a phone.

How was I not supposed to laugh at that? Humor in the psych hospital is one of the few things people have.

Since I related so much to our main character, Craig, I’m certain others have as well. So many times the media use the “life imitates art” aspect when something bad happens - do you feel any sort of pressure or responsibility when you publish your books or articles about teen angst (which just so happens to be the title of your first novel)?

I don’t feel any pressure or responsibility to do anything but entertain people with my writing. That’s enough. I have enough problems making the writing good.

I know some authors want to give some input on books they’ve written that are being adapted into a film, and some want the director(s) to have complete creativity. What kind of involvement did you have (if any) for IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY?

Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden had complete creativity with the film and I was very comfortable with that. Based on my first meeting with them, I knew they understood where the book was coming from, so I trusted them. I did suggest a song for the film, “Happy Today” by the WoWz, that ended up on the soundtrack; also before the “Under Pressure” scene one character wears a T-shirt for the San Francisco band Drunk Horse — that’s my T-shirt. It’s in my closet right now. Have fun trying to spot it!

This is your first book adapted into a film and the film premiered last week at the Toronto International Film Festival, which is one of the most prestigious festivals on the planet. How cool did that feel?

Less cool, more lucky. That would be the best word to describe how I felt seeing IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY premiere at Toronto. A whirlwind of other emotions came into play too but honestly I could write an essay about them and probably will, so let’s stick with lucky.

Do you realize how badass your last name is? I’m willing to bet you’ve gotten PRINCESS BRIDE quotes all your life. I’m sorry brings back bad memories, but it’s just so awesome.

Vizzini is a fairly common southern Italian and Sicilian last name; I’m half-Sicilian. I used to hear PRINCESS BRIDE references but people preferred to make fun of me for other things as a kid, like talking too much. I did once meet Wallace Shawn, who plays Vizzini in PRINCESS BRIDE, and he’s had it rougher than me. He’s an accomplished writer and actor and he’s still got people coming up to him going “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”

Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr.?

Dinosaur Jr. Because I mentioned to a friend of mine that I liked a Dinosaur Jr. song and he’s one of those people who has 60,000 hours of music on his computer he gave me their whole catalog (not including 2009’s Farm) and so I’ve got so much of their music on my computer that I prefer them by default. But Nirvana beats both these bands.

From the GATW Archives: TIFF 2010 Review: LET ME IN


Rating: 4/5

Director: Matt Reeves
Writers: Matt Reeves and John Ajvide Lindqvist (screenplay), John Ajvide Lindqvist(novel)
Cast: Chloe MoretzKodi Smit-McPheeRichard JenkinsElias Koteas
Overture Films

Editor’s Note: This review was originally published on September 12th, 2010.

Nobody really knows when love will first chomp at them. For Owen (THE ROAD’s Kodi Smit-McPhee), it happens at a very tender twelve years old, when he meets Abby (KICK-ASS’s Chloe Moretz) in Matt Reeves’ LET ME IN. But the the first time they encounter one another, she tells him “we can’t be friends.” She means well and has very good reasons - she needs blood to survive and can’t come into a living quarters without being invited.

She’s what us modern suckers call a vampire.

If you’re reading this (thank you, by the way), then you probably know this is the American remake of the 2008 Swedish film, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, which was in turn based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel of the same title. It’s nearly impossible to write this review without comparing (or simply referring back) to its original, but I’ll do my best. The plot of LET ME IN is the same, the kills are based around the same scenarios, and in some sequences, it’s shot-for-shot from the original. But what Matt Reeves brings to the table is his own unique spin on all those elements - the story, the kills, and the shot-for-shots.

It’s all about the visuals for Reeves. The man took his time to make sure not to upset fans of the original and to honor it with his work in LET ME IN. There’s a particularly fresh scene in the film that will not leave my mind. It involves one single take, one car, and one major crash, which all turns the events of the film. It’s one of the most intense car crashes I’ve ever seen committed to film. “Holy shit” is the only phrase that comes to my mind to describe it - it’s that much of a show-stopper.

One thing I really appreciated about LET ME IN was Reeves’ more intimate focus on Richard Jenkins’ character, The Father. This is a man who genuinely loved Abby and dedicated his entire life to seeing that she gets her blood without her having to destroy her own innocence in its pursuit. Jenkins finely displayed the sloppiness that an aging soul will start to embody when growing both tired and hungry for all the madness to end.

Some people might not give LET ME IN a chance solely based on it being a remake of a beloved original. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN grew a pretty large fanbase for itself after hitting the U.S., so skipping this so it “doesn’t ruin the original” might seem logical. I assure you, however, this is one of the best film of its kind in the recent years. It’s not better than the original, but that’s not what Reeves set out to do - the man wanted to make a solid film and he did just that with LET ME IN.

From the GATW Archives: TIFF 2010 Capsule Reviews: ATTENBERG, REPEATERS, and Max Winkler’s CEREMONY


ATTENBERG opens with our two main females standing in front of one another (seen above). They begin to show us the literal meaning to “French kiss,” and swirl their tongues around and around. Marina (Ariane Labed, right) doesn’t like the feeling, so she starts growling and sticking her tongue out. Then both of them jump around like dogs and the scene ends. This is pretty much the entirety of ATTENBERG, with a subplot of Marina spending time with her father during the last days of his life. Marina hates men too, she’s 23 and despises even the thought of a penis. Then she stumbles upon a man who fascinates her.

ATTENBERG was written and directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari, who served as an associate producer on the much talked about movie DOGTOOTH. After walking out of ATTENBERG, I couldn’t decide if I really hated it, or really loved it. I still can’t decide. Tsangari definitely has her foot in the door of arthouse cinema, but ATTENBERG stretches this genre to “WTF!?” Our lead, first timer Labed, was fantastic in it. She’s a natural at being awkward; the Michael Cera of women.


REPEATERS is GROUNDHOG DAY in hell. Three patients in a rehab hospital get this weird electricity charge through their bodies on a stormy night, which forces them to repeat the same day over and over. At first it’s a rush. One time they rob a liquor store. One time they break into their male nurse’s house and find porn magazines all over the place. As the repeats start to get worse and worse, one of them (Richard de Klerk) starts to go on a crime spree, and killing whomever gets in his way.

For an indie flick, REPEATERS was really well-made and a lot of fun to watch. Director Carl Bessai takes us on a journey  of raw, unplanned mischief, the kind you probably always thought about venturing on didn’t want to face the consequences. It’s one of those films where you don’t know whether to root for the bad guy or the hero, or even who is who.


CEREMONY was written and directed by MICHAEL AND CLARK’s Max Winkler. This marks the debut of his first feature as well. CEREMONY stars Michael Angarano as Sam Davis, amateur children’s book writer, and former flame of Zoe, played by Uma Thurman. Davis has big dreams: become an established writer and marry Zoe.  There’s a few problems: Davis is awful at his writing and illustrations and Zoe is soon to be married. So what does he do? Convince his friend Marshall (ROCKET SCIENCE’sReece Thompson) to take a road trip with him, unknowing to him Davis has plans to break up a marriage. They end up staying at the mansion Zoe, her fiance, and their entire wedding party are staying at, and things become, well, a lot more complicated.

CEREMONY is hilarious and very surreal when it comes down to the moments on life-changing decisions. Winkler knows how to balance his comedy and drama. With Angarano as our lead, he nails his character as a young Vince Vaughn: the out of place winks, the full confidence in situations he has no way of gaining. CEREMONY’s title might throw off the young crowd (this is not your typical rom-com), but it’s a lot better than sitting through an actual ceremony. Nobody cares about those things.