a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘The Weinstein Co.’

Three Brits in Biopics Dominate Oscar Race at TIFF

So it’s come down to three Brits in Biopics, ruling the Best Actor Race at TIFF. That would be Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything”, Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game,” and finally Timothy Spall in “Mr. Turner.” I think one of them is the ultimate winner in this very crowded Oscar season. Well, the Best Actor race is very crowded. Best Actress sadly is not. It’s like tumbleweeds are blowing through that under-populated category.

I think Eddie Redmayne, 32-years-old and freckled everywhere is truly the one to beat. He does an ASTOUNDING job enacting all of genius Stephen Hawkings many, many levels of disabilities. It’s a seamless portrayal which Redmayne totally disappears into utterly. It’s transformative in that it will transform his career forever as a major actor, British or otherwise.

The skill and the adeptness (Did I just create a new word?) with which he essays this seemingly impossible role is simply breath-taking. And mind-boggling. How DID he do it? One keeps thinking. And if we want to hark back to the old Academy acting branch adage “The Degree of Difficulty” is ENORMOUS! It’s off-the-charts. And you LIKE him. Which counts for a lot with Oscar voters.

Cumberbatch is super-nova hot right now with his British TV series “Sherlock Holmes” garnering an unexpected SEVEN Emmy Awards last week. But he’s got a more difficult task in “Imitation Game” His character of ANOTHER British genius is terribly UNLIKEABLE. And difficult. And cold. And complicated mentally as Redmayne’s Hawkings is challenged physically. Alan Turing was not a likeable guy. Troubled, distant, stand-offish, to say the least, and gay. And finally persecuted for being a homosexual in the 1940s and ’50s in England, he ultimately kills himself. It’s kind of a terrible story. A tragedy really. But it is a story that certainly deserves to be told.

It’s a brainy, intellectual film that challenges the audience to keep up with it. Which is a good thing in my book. How many films today even ATTEMPT to do something like this? Virtually none. Except unfortunately for Cumberbatch’s Oscar chances “The Theory of Everything.” But “The Imitation Game” has something that “Everything” doesn’t. Which is the backing of Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Co. SOOOO adept, historically, at winning Oscars and certainly gaining nominations for all and sundry.

This is particularly good news, I think, I hope, for Keira Knightley, who delivers a career-best performance as Cumberbatch’s female counter-part and sometime partner. She’s a match for him intellectually and mathematically and supplies “The Imitation Game” with a much-needed beating heart. She’s extraordinarily good here, and you know how effective Harvey is in getting Best Supporting Actress nominations. And I do think Cumberbatch will be nominated, too.

If you crunch the numbers on biopic nominees in recent years, as my colleague Scott Feinberg is sure to do, maybe even as you’re reading this. (He’s at the Hollywood Reporter) , you’ll find that real life characters and their portrayals are almost always rewarded. By the Academy.

Timothy Spall is a suberb British character actor, and will probably be counted “Lucky To Be Nominated” for the epic British biopic “Mr. Turner” about the great British painter, J. M. W. Turner. This film is also going to pop up very soon at the New York Film Festival. And we’ll see how it does there. It was also at Cannes, where it was acclaimed. And where Spall won a surprising Best Actor award.

But just judging by the heat-on-the-ground at TIFF, it’s going to be a battle ROYAL between Redmayne and Cumberbatch. Stay tuned. It’s going to be a VEDDY British Oscar season, I predict.

 

 

 

Cate Blanchett’s Oscar Suddenly in Trouble?

No sooner had I typed the words “There’s nothing that can stop Cate Blanchett’s March to the Oscar” when there appeared in The Hollywood Reporter http://www.hollywoodreporter.com that indeed there WAS something. Something awful. And there’s been volley’s and cross-fires on http://www.awardsdaily.com and also http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com All are now essential reading. 

But the definitive piece, I think is http://www.showbiz411.com/2014/02/01/mia-farrow-uses-close-pal-journalist-in-woody-allen-war-writer-of-latest-piece-is-close-friend

By Roger Friedman.

You, dear readers, dear cineastes, can make up your own minds. I am more with Roger Friedman on this.

First the timing of the piece, right in the supposedly “Quiet period”, the two week before the AMPAS voters get there ballots. And the attaching of Cate Blanchett to this horrible story. The NBC news last night ran it with 20-year-old footage of Allen with the police, etc. etc. He had red hair in all the shots of him, that’s how old it was. But they didn’t link the story, with Cate Blanchett and “Blue Jasmine.”

While if you believe Dylan Farrow’s detailed account of her molestation by Allen, did she wait all these years to release this new salvo, and come out of the shadows, just now, when Cate Blanchett is poised to win yet another Oscar as one of Woody’s Great Roles of Women. “Midnight in Paris” won him ANOTHER Oscar last year for Best Original Screenplay and nothing was said. But now to attack and involve Cate Blanchett in this??? Smacks of another actress’jealousy, an actress who DOESN’T have an Oscar, and is probably never going to get one, and I’m looking at you, Mia Farrow.

Will this affect,, however Cate Blanchett’s Oscar win? Well it might and it might not. Look, the Academy awarded Roman Polanski Best Director for “The Pianist” and also it got Best Actor for Adrien Brody, in an unexpected (but not by me, who predicted it) on my TV show)win for Best Actor. But then again, it might. 

As I said in my previous post here on this blog, the BAFTAS are really going to tell the tale. And who would be the primary recipient of this really sad situation? I think it’s not Amy Adams, who gave one of the worst performances of her career in “American Hustle”, but 77-year-old Dame Judi Dench, who is also nominated in that category for “Philomena”. AND she’s got Harvey Weinstein behind her, and the Weinstein Co.behind her.AND she’s going blind.

But I don’t think this will have any impact at all on the innocent party in this Cate Blanchett. If the Academy Awarded Roman Polanski, who really was at the center of HIS scandal from the ’70s, they’ll award Cate Blanchett who has nothing to do with this.

 

“12 Years a Slave” wins the People’s Choice Award at TIFF’13!

“12 Years a Slave” has just won the People’s Choice Award as final act of TIFF’13. It begins now it’s long, or maybe not so long, march “Slumdog Millionaire”-like march to the Oscars, which this year are now in yes, March.

I can’t seeing any other film toppling this lacerating, traumatic masterpiece. Critics groups will fall in line and award it left, right and center in the coming months. Nothing can stop it. It’s like finally the truth is being told about this awful topic, slavery. Even with a black president, Americans feel they have put slavery behind them, and this great film is so revelatory, so shocking, it clearly shows that it hasn’t.

The depths of horror,inhumanity and mutilation this film reveals are the only things standing in the way of its’ being showered with Oscars. Will audiences stay away or flock to it? How often does a genuine masterpiece come along at TIFF? The last time I experienced this at TIFF was when “Brokeback Mountain” broke there and changed the world.

“12 Years a Slave” had that impact that set Toronto reeling, too. And Brad Pitt, who produced this, comes on at the end as a Canadian(!?) and sets the abolitionist wheels in motion in the final act of the film. Solomon Northup is so beaten down at the end when he meets Pitt, that he is almost afraid to mention that he knows where Canada is and has been there, too. And Pitt’s character is astonished to find “a no-account, illiterate darkie” can speak, read and write. And travel. And Pitt will win his first Academy Award as the Producer of this stupendous film.

Chiwetal Ejiofer should win Best Actor for the hell he makes real in this movie. And Steve McQueen should be the first Black man (no, he’s not an African-American. He’s British!) to win an Oscar for Best Director and it’s about time, too!

There will be many, many awards in this great films’ future. The most difficult thing will be convincing audiences to endure the brutality of it’s two and half hour plus length. There is a happy ending as the title implies. And there will be a really happy ending for all involved with this film.

Coming in second is “Philomena” which is great good news for The Weinstein Co., showing them which really of their many, many movies this Oscar season is the real crowd-pleaser. I saw it, too, at TIFF, and loved it. Dame Judi Dench as the immensely sympathetic title character will no doubt garner another Best Actress nomination. Could she win? Well, Harvey had her over here to the Oscar rodeo before with “Mrs. Henderson Presents” and “Iris” but his magic got her a nomination but not a win. She won previously for her 12 minutes as Queen(Elizabeth I) in “Shakespeare in Love.”

And “Prisoners” which I am seeing Tuesday night back here in NYC came in third. I always wish I could stay at TIFF til this moment when they have a luncheon that announces this. but as usual I am back now in NYC. Oh! And the New York Film Festival starts TOMORROW!

Oscar Thoughts Pre-TIFF ~”August:Osage County” Out in Front

For those of you who MUST know what’s going on Oscarwise Pre-TIFF, it’s pretty clear to me. TIFF is absolutely essential to next year’s Oscar Winner. It is THEEE premiere Oscar launch pad, no question.

Last year, I remember being told there were TWO films I absolutely could not get into if I missed their Press & Industry or P&I screenings, which I
did. Those are the screenings, I, as an accredited journalist, are SUPPOSED to legitmately attend, and didn’t. I missed them both. They were “Argo” and “The Master” and of course, “Argo” won the Oscar.

That’s a pretty good indicator to me. And in recent years past, “The Artist” started there. And the year before that “The King’s Speech” which ended up winning the Audience Award there. That’s a pretty damn good average…and it continues to hold, I’m thinking.

All the major Oscar contenders are heading there “August:Osage County” main among them. And yes, it’s the Weinstein Co.AGAIN. It’s being shown there and only there before Thanksgiving screenings begin around its’ release date.

This is the classic pattern that both Weinstein winners TKS and TA followed exactly. To a “T” Why fix something that isn’t broken, thinks Harvey Weinstein, I’m so sure.

Sasha Stone posits at the always excellent www.awardsdaily.com that Telluride figures into this, too, but never having been there, I can’t say as surely as she can, who goes there every year now.

But she’s right in that even “The King’s Speech” started there. Not Toronto. It only preceeded it by a few days, but still. 

I’ll never forget future Oscar winning director Tom Hooper telling me the excitement he, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush all felt sitting together in the dark at Telluride and they’re sensing the audience’s excitement. By Toronto, it was totally clear to me that it had already won the race. And it did.

New York has had the dubious distinction of recent years in invariably opening the film that comes in SECOND.
“The Life of Pi”, “The Social Network”, “Lincoln”, “Hugo” and with Tom Hanks’ new vehcile “Capt. Phillips,” it looks like that my happen again. In fact, I think you can count on it.

The Industry Poo-Bahs have all decided that Toronto and TIFF are IT as far as Oscar is concerned and I bet every Oscar strategist out there will agree. Of course, Toronto is very risky. It can also sink a  film’s chances, too. It’s a risk you run, and it’s a brutal, competitive, bloody race, this Oscar dash to the finish line.

Which this year isn’t until MARCH btw. So it’s a long race this year too.

Having seen “August:Osage County” on the Broadway stage THREE times, I would place my bet on this pony, as Tom O’Neil, my idol, at www.goldderby.com would say.

I can tell you with surety though, that Harvey Weinstein will schedule an 8:45am press & industry screening at Toronto and that I will line up an hour early to get in. For “The King’s Speech” I remember getting up at 5:30AM to get to the inconveniently located theater on time. AND I was FIRST ON LINE! And the first one in  It was thrilling. And I’m betting I do it all over again for “August:Osage County.”

Oscar Maxims of Harvey Weinstein, Advice Taken and Not Taken

How dull would the Awards season be, that is now going full-throttle, well, at least the publicists are, during the holidays this year( more like Holidaze) because of the ridiculously truncated Oscar nomination voting period? How dull would it be withOUT OscarMeister Harvey Weinstein to continually spice things up?

Harvey has a couple of Oscar rules, I’ve gleaned over the years, more like Maxims, really. Words to the wise (if anyone’s really listening, and I know the Oscar strategists are, AND Scott Feinberg (*waves* to Scott) 1) The picture that is seen LAST has the most impact. And 2) Only one nominee(from the Weinstein Co.) in each category.

He certainly seems to have applied Maxim 1) to “Django Unchained” opening as it did strangely on Christmas Day, but the box-office and critical accolades seem to bear out Harvey’s wisdom in this case. I beg to differ on this one, but the Golden Globes nominated it all over the place. Though the SAGs did not get their screeners for “Django” in time, it is said. So no SAG nominations.

Started reading Liz Smith’s “diary” i.e., blog, i.e., column in the http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com and she says about the Hollywood Foreign Press something to the effect that “Who are these people? Nobody you’d ever know, except that once a year the come together to get everyone’s attention.”(I’m paraphrasing) i.e. the Golden Globe Awards.

And Harvey plays the HFPA like a symphony. So, of COURSE, they are going to award his “Django” with a Best Picture, Best Director(Quentin Tarantino), and two Best Supporting Actor noms(Christophe Waltz AND Leonardo DiCaprio). Leo and Christophe may cancel each other out. And THEN who would win? Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln”? Jones does seem ahead at the moment. His main competition, “The Master”s Phillip Seymour Hoffman is slipping every day. And NOT because of Hoffman’s stupendous performance. And “The Master” is ALSO a Harvey film. So he has THREE in this category! Which probably means that Jones does get it, because the THREE Weinsteins, may be just way too many nominees.

But right there in this past paragraph you can see that Harvey just contradicted himself big time. So while Maxim1 worked for “Django” with the Globes and at the Box-Office, Maxim 2 got him THREE nominees in the SAME category, something he  always says he wants to avoid. Some may call it an embarassment of riches, but Leo and Waltz and Hoffman could cancel each other out.

It seems HIGHLY unlikely to me that the Academy is going to embrace “Django” on any level. It’s just toooo bloody. One of the most violent films I’ve ever seen in the Oscar race. AND director Quentin Tarantno isn’t due.

The Golden Globes are really not a good indicator of anything anymore, except trouble. THEY are the main reasons for this shortened voting period. AMPAS wants to get the Oscar nominations out FIRST, BEFORE the Golden Globes are held. Which they will be doing, effectively trumping the GGs from having ANY influence on the Oscar nominations themselves, which are announced on Tues. Jan.10 this year. Sooooo early. The earliest ever. And making voters jam all their holidaze with viewing screeners.

There is said to have been more Oscar-oriented parties in L.A. this year than ever. I don’t know. I’m not there. I’m only reporting. In New York, it’s been more or less status quo, as far as that’s concerned, as far as I can see.

But this shortened voting period means the over-burdened Oscar voters have LESS time to see everything they have to see. So what do they do? They choose to see The BIG Must-Sees like probably “Les Miserables”, “Lincoln”, “Argo”, “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Life of Pi” and maybe even “Django” too. Others, like the suddenly on the cusp(and yes, it’s a Harvey film, too) “Silver Linings Playbook” and on down the line-up, may get seen less. Simply because there’s less time.

And speaking of “Silver Linings Playbook” I think it will win Jennifer Lawrence Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for the Globes. But in the Best Director category, SLP’s director David O. Russell got knocked out by – wait for it! Quentin Tarantino!!! So yes, that Maxim #2 really is something to go by.

Will O. Russell get Oscar nominated, like he was just a couple of years back for “The Fighter”?

I’m thinking not. And we don’t have any DGAs to guide us, as in previous years, because yes, they, too, won’t announce their five ALL IMPORTANT nominees til, yes, that’s right, AFTER the Oscar nominations are announced on the 10th.

Speaking of the 10th. if I were in L.A. and covering the nominations, they occur there at 5:30AM( here, EST, it’s at 8:30AM on the morning news shows) then THAT NIGHT there are the BFCA, the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards which are USUALLY the most predictive of the Oscar race. That is ONE long day for all the nominees and everyone else involved. Phew!

“The Master” is a Big Gay Movie! An accurate portrayal of the Closeted 1950s.

So FINALLY seeing “The Master” yesterday, I was astonished to find that my take-away from it was it’s A Big Gay Movie! Although clearly, it’s not being advertised as such. If only it were, I perhaps could’ve really loved it. But I found myself LIKING it more than I thought I would.

It really was to my great surprise a tortured, a VERY tortured gay love story, with two men who are so totally in the closet that they do not know what they’re experiencing as they both feel this inexplicable need and attraction for each other.

According to the Gurus o’ Gold, Daniel Day-Lewis in the still unseen “Lincoln” is right up there on the top of the list of Best Actors, separated by only one vote from Joaquim Phoenix’s tortured portrayal as Freddie Quell in “The Master.” And in Supporting, though again, he’s a LEAD, and shouldn’t be there, and he’s the title role for goodness sakes! Is Phillip Seymour Hoffman ‘s masterful portrayal of “The Master.” And he’s LEAGUES out in front of everyone else in that category. Maybe he’ll win his second Oscar for his role as Lancaster Dodd, the brutish, dapper, magnetic leader/creator/philosopher of “The Cause” a Scientology-ish cult.

The film is the story however of how Dodd, the Master, can NOT keep himself away from, or let go of the violent, abusive, lost drunken ex-sailor Freddie Quell. He becomes obsessed with him. He takes him with him everywhere, and his wife Amy Adams, does not like it. Unfortunately, her role is really nothing but pregnant wall-paper. She MIGHT get nominated if the film catches on with Academy voters, but there’s not much for her to do except, display her constant pregnancy and glare and glower at Freddie.

The fact that his wife is perpetually pregnant, and there is one scene in their bathroom, where she graphically masturbates her husband(Hoffman has his back to us, thankfully.) is meant to show that yes, the Master IS heterosexual, but NOTHING else explains this film and its’ existence except the explanation that The Master is in the closet and is in love with poor Freddie, who is also in the closet. In fact, the whole FILM is in the closet!

The Master”  starts out with a wrestling scene on a beach where a bunch of sailors in tight, brief  40’s navy-issue swim suits, their muscles glistening in the sun, are going mano a mano all around Quell. There is also a large breasted sand dune sculpture of a naked woman that Freddie masturbates, and gets himself a hand full of, of course, mud. Then HE jerks off, facing the ocean. Frustrated libido is everywhere. The film at the end returns to this shot of Freddie on the beach gazing at the gigantic sand woman’s breasts and nipples as he lies next to her on the beach.

Freddie has a girl friend named Doris who he deserts at the beginning of the movie. He’s a constantly in trouble ne’er-do-well, to put it mildly, and an alcoholic who is driven to drinking medicines from everyone’s bathrooms’ medicine cabinets to get high. His potions are so lethal, he accidentally poisons a man at one point a Mexican field hand, who drinks one of his concoctions of paint thinner and whatever else Freddie has devised to put into.And Freddie is then on the run from the law.

One night in a drunken stupor he wanders onto a boat where Lancaster Dodd is having a party that is about to set sail, celebrating his daughter’s wedding. They are to sail “through the Canal to New York” and Freddie stays on board and sails with them.

The Master likes Freddie so much at the outset because Freddie has put together the right combination of paint thinner and peach juice that DOESN’T kill The Master.

And this film is much more about Scientology than I thought it would be. WWII and the post-war 1950s are its’ backdrop and The Master’s control of all his followers in this cult that is called “The Cause” is really rather frightening and chilling. But as the film goes on and on and on(yes, it’s WAAAAY to long) it seemed to me that Hoffman’s portrayal of Dodd got more and more effeminate. And the big gay pay-off scene is of the Master and Quell rolling over and over each other, smiling and laughing, giggling even, as they embrace on the grounds of The Cause’s current posh residence. Over and over and over they roll on top of each other. And they both seem to be having the time of their lives doing so.

It’s the only scene in the film where you see the two men(or any of the characters in this bleak, chilly film) actually expressing human warmth towards each other and having FUN.

There, yes, is a scene, where Freddie, who is prone to alcoholic hallucinations, sees all of Dodd’s female followers dancing around the Master nude. But tellingly,none of the men are.

Clearly, Freddie can’t find happiness with a woman and his only positive, ongoing relationship is with Dodd. Freddie is such a lost soul, you can see why he’s drawn to the charismatic Dodd, but why is Dodd so drawn to Freddie? He loves him. He wants to save him. He wants him with him for the rest of his life. It homo-erotic to say the least.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Master expresses every nuance that is required of him.

And that includes Dodd’s sick, controlling side, too. Which is frightening when it explodes. He HAS to be in the power position over all these people, and to me, he was sublimating his homosexual impulses into this scary, and sometimes violent, controlling persona.

But when Dodd calls Freddie transatlantic from London and says “I need you!” it was a quintessential  gay moment, closeted, of course, to be sure. Freddie is watching a Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon in an empty balcony of a movie theater when this moment happens. But it is telling nonetheless. It was the ’50s! THIS is how closeted gay men expressed themselves, the only outlet they had. Everything was coded, or sublimated. At that time, it was a love that couldn’t even be mention to those that felt these emotions.

So Freddie expresses it in violence and drunkenness and the Master expresses through his obsessive need of  control over others. It’s a disturbing film, but it may bring Phillip Seymour Hoffman his second Oscar.

Joaquim Phoenix’s Freddie Quell has to duke it out with Daniel Day Lewis’ Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln.” Only a vote separates them on the Gurus o’ Gold chart. When we can see “Lincoln” in its’ entirety, we will know who really is on top for Best Actor.

“The Master” is a divisive film, because it doesn’t wear its’ homosexuality on its’ sleeve, so you don’t know what is REALLY going on between these two men, but it is there, though unstated, nonetheless. And that was the pre-Stonewall America to a T.

Interview with “Intouchables” co-director/writer Olivier Nakache

The Intouchables” the first Weinstein Co. Oscar seeker is out in theaters this week and “The Intouchables” French film director/writer Olivier Nakache was in town to talk about its chances, his heavily buzzed Senagelese star Omar Sy and its’ incredible box-office triumphs all across Europe. It’s the highest grossing film in French cinema history. Will the same lightening strike in America? I sat down with him and a translator to talk about it in the Weinstein Co.’s offices in Tribecca in French and in English, bien sur.

Stephen Holt: In The New York Times, film critic Stephen Holden said that there was going to be an Oscar campaign for Omar Sy? (pronounced “See”) Is that true? Is this happening?
Olivier Nakache: Yeah. Maybe. (SH laughs) It depends.
Translator(translating from his French): It’s in the process of being decided.
ON: Yeah, yeah. But I think, yes. I think maybe the Weinstein Company wants to play the game of the Oscar with Omar. But last year you have already all these French guys. I think the French cinema is in great shape. Great shape.
SH: Pourquoi?
ON: Because now you have a new generation of French directors.
SH: Exactement.
ON: And we are very close. Because…Michel Hazanviscius, we are very close.
SH: I interviewed him, too, and I told him he was going to win the Oscar and he was like “Quoi??” He didn’t know what hit him. And I was right!
(Both laugh)
ON:Yeah, can you imagine? But if I told you one year ago the subject of our movie, if I told you – OK, I’m Michel and “I want to make a movie in black and white about American movies, with no dialogue.” I said, “Are you crazy? It never works!” And if I told you that I wanted to make a comedy about a quadreplegic man(Francois Cluzet and a man from the ghetto(Omar Sy), a comedy. (you would say) “Quit! Buy a bakery and stop! Quit the cinema!”(SH laughs) Je crois que l’audace payee.
Translator: The audacity pays off.
SH: Oui, d’accord.
ON: It’s original. It’s new. It’s not Number Two, Number Three or a sequel or a prequel, you know what I mean? It’s new. It’s Fresh air.
SH:Unique.
ON: Oui. It’s unique. It’s fresh. It’s fresh. And for “The Intouchables,” I think that people are touched by the fact that it’s a tough subject, a deep subject, but we put humor on it so il fait le subject a peu legee.
Translator: It makes those issues lighter.
ON: Lighter, but (pounding his fist) strong!
SH: D’accord, encore une fois. So, the sucess of this film in France and all across Europe, it’s incroyable!
ON: C’est incroyable. C’est vraiment le mot, incroyable. Terrific. Amazing. Unexpectable. Y’know, because we knew that we got something special for the movies. Because we made in France, and I think the same thing in the U.S., we made a big tour before the release to –
Translator: To start fires everywhere.
ON: En francais, aussi, la bouche a oreille. Do you know this expression?
SH: Non, non.
ON: La bouche a oreille.
Translator: Word of mouth. From mouth to ear.
ON: Mouth to ear. And you can imagine, for this movie, c’est tres important.
SH: And also, the challenge is unique, because he can’t move. Francois Cluzet’s character can’t move. He’s a quadreplegic millionaire in a wheelchair. So you have perhaps a very stationary, static situation, for a film. It’s more like for a play. But you never think of that in this movie.
ON: Of course. But we want to show this comedy like a drama, and we thought how can we be –
Translator: How can we pace the film?
ON: The rythmn is really important, (Snapping his fingers) because he won’t move. And around him, there is great, great movement
.
SH: Yes. It never stops.
ON: That’s why when Phillipe hire(s) Driss(pronounced “Dreees”) in the scene in the office at the beginning of the movie, Omar moves. He moves a lot. Move. Move. We don’t want just a scene with two people –
SH: Sitting down, yes.
ON: During all the movie, we knew that we (snapping his fingers) have a fast edit, movements, music, to create movement around somebody who can’t move.
SH: I just missed your directing partner, who just took off for the airport. We have to mention that you just didn’t do this film by yourself. And his name is -?
ON:My partner? Eric. Eric Toledano.
SH: Do you do certain parts of the film, and he does others? How does that work? Is it difficile? Simple?
ON: To make a movie, it’s difficile.
SH: Oui, oui. C’est vrai.
ON: We learn together. We began together. And we move forward together. We write the script together. It’s our fourth movie.
SH: Wow.
ON: So it works. It works. I think maybe one day, one will want to do something alone, but the other (one of us) will not be far.
SH: Formidable.So, you both discovered this very strange topic, and it’s based on a true story?
ON: Yeah, yeah.
SH: And you discovered it together on French television?
ON: Yeah, exactly ten years ago, I saw a documentary. Very tres tard de la soiree.
Translator: Very late at night.
ON: Very late at night. And I text to Eric, “Put your TV on, please.” And we saw this documentary “A La Vie, A La Mort “and I phoned to him “Do you think what I’m thinking?” And he said ” Yes, I am thinking what you’re thinking. It’s a great story for a movie.” But we were too young. We were not mature. We, at this time, we never make a feature film. We just make short movies.So we wait to learn the tools of the cinema. We wait –
SH: To grow up.
ON: To grow up And also, we met Omar
.
SH: He’s incredible.
ON: We wrote the script for him.
SH: Oh! Ah, vraiment.
Translator: And if he told them, “I am not interested, they would not have made the movie.”
SH: RIght. Wow! Wow. Is he an established actor? Is he known in France?
ON: Not as a actor. He’s known. He’s really, really famous as a comedian.
SH: Like Jean Dujardin is.
ON: Not really Not really not like Jean Dujardin, because Omar has got his own TV show.
SH: Oh!
ON: But a tiny TV show. Really tiny ten minutes each day. It’s a daily show. With a partner. It’s a duet.
SH: Doesn’t Jean Dujardin do that with his wife? Also? A ten minute comedy show each day?
ON: Ah! Kind of. But not really. Not really.
SH:Let me tell you an interesting story about the Rendez-vous (with French Cinema. In March) I was interviewing everybody and I was very involved with Jean Dujardin and I loved “The Artist” and this was right after it and Jean won the Oscars, and all the other actors there, the big French stars, they were so jealous. The men. They were tres jaloux. And they were like “But he is just a comedian! He is not an actor!” And again, this is the success of another French comedian in America. Omar, I mean. It’s looking like it.
ON: A lot of actors come from Saturday Night Live here.
SH: That’s true. OK.
ON: It’s exactly the same for Omar. Omar is a kind of Saturday Night Live. Because it’s not like Jean Dujardin, because his show, it’s like a fiction. With a woman.
SH: It’s a sketch comedy show, Jean Dujardin’s show. With his wife.
ON: Yes, a sketch. Omar talks directly to the camera, to the people, about politics, about the scene.
SH: What’s the name of Omar’s show by the way?
ON: It’s difficult to say in English.
Translator: Customer Service. Post-Sale Service.
SH: (laughs) That’s so funny.
ON: He critiques the other TV (shows), the politics, and what is happening in the world. So he can talk about Obama, and he creates characters. It’s very different.
SH: What is the racial situation like in France? Since America is so hung up on race. The racial situation I think historically in France for black actors, like for instance Josephine Baker in the ’20s. There was no prejudice, nothing. It’s different.
ON: But you have to know that in France, I hope I am clear. In France, you have the immigrants, les emigres et les francais. In America, you have black people and Americans. Mexicans and Americans. In France, that is the same group. You know what I mean? They don’t live in a special community. They don’t live in a special part of Paris. They live in the housing projects.
SH: There’s no ghettos, in other words.
ON: It’s ghettos, but not for one community.
SH: It’s for all foreigners?
Translator: All foreigners. It’s like a melting pot. Where they’re all together.
SH: In these ghettos.
Translator: Projects.
SH: Projects, yeah. There are black and Hispanic and Asians all mixed in here in the projects, too. Americans will sort of go to, relate to the black and white theme here, too.
ON: The black and white thing. We have not the same history that you have. In France, we have emigre people.
Translator: Immigrants.
ON: And the French. The second generation,like me, because my parents were born in Algeria and Eric’s parents were born in Morocco, but we are French.
SH: So you have a very,very deep connection with this topic.
ON:We have a special history in France. We have the colonization. My parents were French, because Algerians were French. But for us, we call us les jeunes de banlieue.
Translator: Young people from the projects. It’s a social group.
ON: A social group. Banlieue. The suburbs. The housing projects.
Translator: Banlieue translates as suburbs.
ON: You know in the real story (that this film is based on), it’s an Arabic person, Abdel, the real character.
SH: Yes, I noticed that at the end of the picture. You showed the real people this film was based on, Phillipe Pozzo di Borgo and his caretaker, Abdel.
ON:But for a French audience, it’s exactly the same. Driss is from Senegal, but it’s exactly the same. It’s les jeunes de banlieue. Omar’s got the same past as Abdel. Omar came from the same type of housing projects.

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