Tag Archives: Movies

My interview with actor Richard Fancy

I am pleased to bring you my recent chat with actor Richard Fancy, an immensely gifted man you may recognize as Mr. Lippmann from Seinfeld. He’s also appeared in shows like Mad Men, Ray Donovan, Carnivale, General Hospital, The Mentalist, Crossing Jordan, 3rd Rock From The Sun, Friends, Star Trek: Voyager, Numb3rs, Gilmore Girls and more. His film credits include Being John Malkovich, The Girl Next Door, Species, Oliver Stone’s Nixon, Hollywoodland, Shopgirl, Rob Zombie’s horror films Halloween and The Lords Of Salem, and more. Take a look:)
Nate: I don’t see much of your background or training on imdb. Care to share how you got into acting, what about the craft that appeals to you, and where you trained?
Richard: I knew I wanted to be an actor when I was fifteen. Like falling in love with someone, it’s really impossible to say “Why.” I began studying at fifteen (I was living in LA then) and, when I was twenty two, I moved to New York where I studied for a year with Uta Hagen. I spent a year studying in England, came back to New York and studied with Peter Kass, Uta Hagen (some more), George Morrison, John Lehne, Kristin Linklater, Lee Strasberg, Sharron Shayne and I recently became a professional observer with full working privileges at the Actors Studio here in Los Angeles.  
Nate: You have a very mischievous aura to your work, a gleeful vibe that is very memorable (the moment in Ray Donovan when you realize they’re pulling a fast one on you is a perfect example of this, and one of my favourite character beats of your work) ). Is this quality something you consciously developed in your work, or just organically happened out of your personality?
Richard: Thank you for the compliment about my gleeful vibe. I think what you are seeing is just my response to creating a particular character; that response will unavoidably reflect my own personality and whatever glee that gives off:-)
Nate: The Lords Of Salem: what was it like for you working on a Rob Zombie film, especially such an intense one? Fun experience?
Richard: I loved working for him. The films are intense; the set is the most relaxed, supportive atmosphere you can imagine. Rob (I’m sure you heard this before) is a great guy.
Nate: Carnivle: One of my favourite shows of all time. Your role, although brief, was very memorable for me. Did you have a sense of the story when filming that, were you given a lot to go on in terms of that psychiatrist and who he was dealing with? Have you seen the show and do you enjoy it?
Richard: I had a clear idea when I got to the set the way this psychiatrist would walk, talk; I wanted a moustache and spectacles. He should start out in too much control. I wanted there to be a contrast between the very obsessively organized person he is when we first see him and the nut he becomes. Scott Winant who was the director on the first episode I did was wonderfully supportive and collaborative. A splendid director.
Nate: You have a tremendous gift for comedy, as can been seen with your work on Seinfeld. Do you enjoy working in lighthearted, funny stuff like that? How was working laying Mr. Lippmann for you?
Richard: Everything depends on the script and the people you are doing it with. I loved doing Seinfeld; it was unique. But I enjoyed working with Scott Winant on creating the character I played in Carnivale every bit as much. And, I see something funny in almost everything. I guess it’s built into the way I perceive reality.
Nate: If you had to pick a few roles that you’ve played that have been your favourites, what would you say?
Richard: The roles that have been my favorites have been in intimate theater in Los Angeles. . Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, Mr. Prince in Rocket to the Moon, Moe Axelrod in Awake and Sing and–now I’m doing Awake and Sing again, playing Uncle Morty. The intimate theater movement in Los Angeles has been producing extraordinary productions for thirty years now; Spring Awakening, a brilliant Los Angeles intimate theater production, just opened on Broadway to a huge rave in The NY Times. Intimate theater has unfolded here because LA is a place where there are a lot of excellent actors who work in film and TV and, itch to work onstage. If you play your cards right, you can see five brilliant intimate theater productions in this town for the price of a Broadway ticket. 
 Nate: Any upcoming projects, film or otherwise, you are excited for and would like to mention?
Richard: Right now I’m doing a play in Los Angeles. It’s Awake and Sing at the Odyssey Theatre (odysseytheater.com) and it is really worth seeing. It’s a great American play by Clifford Odets in an extraordinary production. It just got a critics choice in the Los Angeles Times.

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A chat with veteran film and voice actor Keith Szarabajka 

I’m proud to present my recent interview with accomplished actor Keith Szarabajka, who has many wonderful appearance in films including The Dark Knight as Detective Stephens, Argo, Clint Eastwood’s A Perfect World, We Were Soldiers, Staying Together, Billy Galvin, Missing and many more. He’s shown in up in television shows including Sons Of Anarchy, Prison Break, Charmed, 24, CSI, Archer, and more. A huge portion of his prolific career consists of an absolutely staggering amount of voice work, including video games and animated shows such as Halo 4, Bioshock, Fallout, Call Of Duty: Black Ops, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, L.A. Noire, Dead Space, Mass Effect, Darksiders, Metal Gear Solid, Batman: Arkham Knight, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Spider Man, Batman Beyond, and so many more. He is currently directing a play entitled Watching OJ  the Ensemble Studio Theatre in Los Angeles. He’s a great guy with a storied career. Enjoy!
Nate: How did you get into acting, did you always know it was something you wanted to do, or did you stumble into it? 
Keith: I was an altar boy for six years in grade school and high school, plus I was an officer in military school so I became accustomed to performing ritual in public. Then when I was 14, I discovered that being small left you out of a lot of school varsity sports, sports in which I participated vigorously prior to high school. I drifted into acting, as I had a knack for reading things well aloud. My first performance in public was at four when my mother made my cousin, Joyce, and I sing a duet of “I’ve Been Working on The Railroad “ in a talent night at the Bedford Park Community center near Chicago, Illinois. I’ve been hooked on applause and laughter ever since.

Nate: A Perfect World: Your character was extremely intense, and leaves a vivid impression despite only appearing in the first half. How was experience creating that character, and working with Clint Eastwood? 
Keith: Terry was very intense. I just reached into my inner self and pulled out my rage demons. It was fun, but as I said, very intense. I loved working with Clint. He’s one of my favorite directors ever. No B.S. with Clint. Two, maybe three takes at most. He knew what he wanted and he knew how to get it (and when he got it). I hope that I someday get the chance to work with him again. Though probably not, because he’s not big on working with people with whom he worked previously, especially villains (and who aren’t stars like Morgan Freeman or Gene Hackman.)

Nate:  At a certain point in your career, voice over work became a huge component of your work. How did you get into VO work? Do you enjoy it as much as in front of th camera in live action? How are they comparable? 
Keith: It was a natural segue while I lived and worked in New York. People in New York come to the theater, including ad execs and other creatives, so it just happened naturally. Of course I had a wonderful agent in New York for VO, Carole Ingber, who still represents me there. I have a long time VO agent in L.A. too, Tom Lawless @ VOX, Inc. , through whom I do most of my video game work.The great thing about VO work is you don’t have to learn lines or wear makeup. But don’t get me wrong, I like doing both acting and VO work. I like movies because you get to go on location and travel. I often confused my theatrical agent and my travel agent.
Nate: You mentioned that you have a play in the works that you are directing, when we spoke online. Care to speak about that? And any projects coming up that you are excited for. 

Keith: I just directed a new play at Ensemble Studio Theatre- L.A. Project, called WATCHING O.J. by David Mc Millan (where I am also interim co-artistic director). It’s a wonderful worms’ eye view of the O.J. verdict set in a small white-owned dry cleaners and its environs in a mixed urban neighborhood in L.A. on the day O.J. Simpson murder verdict came out, October 3, 1995. It was avery polarizing subject both in L.A. and the while US. It still is. We opened on the 20th anniversary of the verdict. (At this writing, last Saturday night. Still waiting on the reviews.)
Nate: You have a very distinct voice that stands out in the best possible way. It sure lends itself to voice over,  and I can see why that has been a major factor in your work. Have you done voice work, as in theatre classes or training? Or did the video game/animation work just kind of happen? 

Keith: As I said previously, it just kind of happened. I haven’t taken many VO classes. The one time I did, a promo and trailer class, I ceased working in that sector of the VO world. I guess it’s bad luck. I had the good fortune to live in the same building as the man, Isaiah Sheffer, who ran the Selected Shorts program at Symphony Space in NYC which aired on NPR here(our BBC Radio). We read short stories before live audiences at Symphony Space in NYC and at the Getty Center in L.A. That was in 1987, and I did Selected Shorts for as long as it ran until Isaiah died two years ago. The first time I did it, it was a cold February evening. I lived two blocks from Symphony Space, so after I did a sound check at 6pm there, I went back home and ate dinner. I expected very little from the show. When I returned for half hour at 730pm, people were lined up around the block to see it! I swear they were hanging from the rafters when we did the show! The atmosphere was electric. A lot of people in the industry in NYC came to see it and/or listened to Selected Shorts on the radio, so that’s a lot of the reason I made it into VO work.

Nate: The Dark Knight: you have an iconic exchange of dialogue with The Joker; how was your experience filming that with Heath Ledger, working with Chris Nolan, and portraying a Detective in the Gotham universe? Nolan has a reputation for seeking out actors. Did he come to you/your agent or were you submitted? 

Keith: I was submitted by my agent and auditioned. I didn’t hear from them right away, as initially they were trying for another actor, but ended up not making a deal with him. I received a call on Tuesday six weeks or so later, asking if I had a valid passport. I said yes, and by that Friday i was on a plane to London for a month. Heath was a complete pleasure to work with. Very friendly , very hard-working, very creative. It’s a loss for the industry and the world that he’s gone. Chris Nolan is … a very intelligent, very creative man as well. I would love to work with him again.
Nate: Some of your work is in some iconic games and franchises. Have you ever been asked to attend any conventions,  or comic con type things? Would you if asked? 

Keith: Sean Harry of Star Fury brought me to various UK venues twelve different times between 2003 and 2013, mainly for my work as Holtz in Angel. I loved meeting the fans and doing talks, and I got to see a lot of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland on those trips. I have never been invited to a com for video games. I would go if invited, but I don’t attend these things on my own dime. I once went to Dusseldorf, Germany on a Star Trek convention invitation in 2013.
Nate: from film work, what else do you like to do in life? Hobbies, interests? 
Keith: I love to cook. I used to parachute and rock climb, but have given those hobbies up for tamer interests, like mountain biking and scuba diving (Advanced Open Water certification). I also coached baseball and soccer for 16 years, but my sons are now aged out of my league. 
Nate: Thanks so much for chatting, Keith!

A chat with writer and director Howard Goldberg

I am proud to present my recent interview with the incredibly talented writer and director Howard Goldberg, the man behind one of my favourite indie films of recent years, Jake Squared. He’s a great guy with a lot to speak about. Enjoy! 
Nate: Did you experiment with film when you were younger, make any shorts etc? What led you to writing and directing.

 

Howard: I was always a film buff. Whenever the subject of film came up people would always say, “Ask Howard. He knows everything about film.” I remember always thinking, “Man, they’re nut! Little do they realize, I don’t really know that much.” I thought I had a bit of a phony reputation. But, then one day, I was looking through this long list of the greatest films ever made and I realized I’d seen them all! I thought, “Wow!! I really do know a lot about film.”

 

 I started officially making films when I became a Film major at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. I spent three glorious years there and made many short films – all pretty experimental in nature. Nice to see that after all those weird films, many years later I’m making really straight narrative films that are quite conventional in nature. Like “Jake Squared!” Oh wait, that’s right… “Jake Squared” is weird as all get out!

 

Nate: Care to talk a little bit about your writing process, envisioning characters on film, where your ideas come from, how your creative process works?

 

Howard: As Dorothy Parker said – “I hate writing. I love having written.” My writing process basically follows the time-honored tradition of sitting at the keyboard until my forehead bleeds. There are many writers who just spew it out, page after page after page. I am not, unfortunately, one of them. Hard work. Endless procrastination. Things percolating and stewing in my brain. Endless drafts. Great fun! But, “I love having written.” The end product is almost always worth the long process of getting there. At least to me!

 

Nate: I know how you feel, I procrastinate in my work as well. Interests, hobbies besides writing and filmmaking? I read that you have done sculpture as well, is that still something you are involved in?

 

Howard: For a long time, I was the only struggling filmmaker in New York who supported himself by sculpting. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was true. I was working on screenplays and constantly trying to raise money and, at the same time, I had fallen into a lucrative career as a sculptor. I did many fine arts piece and (financially) more importantly, many commercial pieces, like for The Basketball Hall of Fame, the Clio Awards, etc., etc.

 

I have two hobbies – My kids (which is not really a hobby, but a calling) and collecting old watches.

 

Nate: Jake Squared: How did that idea come about, how was the process of making it for you, did the final project resemble what you envisioned when writing it? (I ask because I write as well, and having gone to film school have seen how vastly different ideas on paper can become when put through the wringer of filmmaking) Also, I must ask, is the film in any way autobiographical?

 

Howard: “Jake Squared” just evolved. It came out of many hundreds of pages of writing all kinds of thoughts about all kinds of things. Somehow, out of all these unconnected scribblings, a character started to emerge and take form. Writing such a seemingly freeform piece became like juggling 7 balls at one time. When it was finally done, I was very happy and very satisfied.

 

Making the film itself was a dream. It came together the most quickly of any project I’ve ever done. Once Elias Koteas had signed on the rest of the cast started falling into place. From the time he said yes to the time we started shooting was only about 4 months. Unheard of.

 

I am completely and totally thrilled with the film. In terms of the script I wrote and how I originally envisioned the film, I think it turned out even better than I could have hoped. There is nothing I look at in it and say, “Wow, I wish I had done this or that or this differently. To me it’s the best incarnation of the film I wanted to make that I could have made. That being said, some people adore it and some absolutely despise it. That’s a different issue entirely. Me? I’m perfectly happy with everything about it.

 

Is it autobiographical? Well, yes and very much no. Many of the characters and situations have some small part of me in them, but they also have thousands of parts of other people, their lives and their situations as well. All of the characters and situations are really fictionalized and dramatized composites of many people and places.

 

Nate: In an interview I heard you say you made Jake Squared free from the pressures and permissions of powers that be- essentially on your own. What resources did you use, casting, equipment etc to pull that off? Because it looks so polished, the editing is out of this world and it seems like every aspect just really came together (Get used to me gushing about the film lol I’ve seen in 4 times already since June :P)

 

Howard: Since I produced the film and put together all of the financing privately with no pre-conditions, I was able to do exactly what I wanted to do. I love to collaborate, so I had a remarkable team, from actors, to makeup and hair, set design, cinematography, editing, etc. and that’s what makes the film great. But, I got to choose them all, listen to their advice, and rebel in their help in bringing about and even making better my original vision But, the bottom line was always me and that’s what I liked. The film is 100% my own artistic vision – so if one were to love the film or hate it, the buck stops here.

 

That being said, I couldn’t have made it look like I did without my incredible team.

 

Nate: Do you have any films you are trying to get made now? Scripts, stories, anything in the works you want to speak about?

 

Howard: I’m trying to get a new film off the ground right now called “Once in Blue Moon.” I wrote it with my friend, Broadway composer and librettist Paul Gordon. It’s a modern day “Midsummer Nights Dream” that take place all in one night, a night of a Blue Moon, at a restaurant/bar/indie-alt music club. It’s about love and regret and angels and music.

 

I also am just finishing a new screenplay, tentatively called “Clear.” That one I couldn’t possibly describe yet as I’m still trying to figure it all out. But, it makes “Jake Squared” look like a straight narrative!

 

Nate: What are some of your favorite Directors, films, stories, anything that has inspired your own work?

 

Howard: Jean Cocteau, John Huston, Martin Scorsese, Preston Sturges and about 500 more!
Nate: Awesome, Howard, thanks for sharing! 

THE HILL FILES: AN INTERVIEW WITH ACTOR ROBERT JOHN BURKE

I recently had the honour to chat with actor and firefighter Robert John Burke, a great guy and experienced veteran, appearing in excellent character arcs in Gossip Girl as Bart Bass, Rescue Me as Cousin Mickey, Law & Order SVU, Person Of Interest, Generation Kill, The Sopranos, Oz, Sex & The City, Homicide: Life On The Streets and more. He’s also worked in many films, including Robocop 3 in the title role, Limitless, Safe, Tombstone, Munich, 2 Guns, and the George Clooney directed films Good Night & Good Luck, and Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind. He’s one of my favourite actors, and I was beyond excited to be able to interview him. Enjoy!

Nate: How did you get into acting, was it something you knew you wanted to do at an early age, or did you fall into it? Did you got to school for it at all? Where?

Robert: I kind of fell into it, and for an acting degree I went to State University of New York, at Suny Purchase.

Nate: Robocop 3 happened pretty early in your career, with not a lot of film credits before that (or at least as far as I can tell from imdb). How did that come about, and did you enjoy taking up the mantle of such an iconic character from Mr. Weller?

Robert: Robocop 3 came about.. In God’s great earth they thought I was the only actor who could do it, I don’t know why. I think physically I poked like Peter Weller, and I had also had extensive karate training, pantomime training, and body training, and I fit the suit. I held out for a long time, I was very hesitant to do it, but then after about six or eight months I finally agreed.

Nate: You are are a certified NY firefighter, and from what I’ve read participated in rescue efforts following 9/11. Would you care to share your experience with that at all? Did that contribute to your being casted in Rescue Me, or is that just coincidence?

Robert: I became a firefighter in 2002, my best friend was a fire captain, Captain Patrick Brown, he worked at Ladder 3, and when I went down to the World Trade Center to dig and look for Pat, that kind of became the first time I operated as a firefighter, returned to my hometown, joined the volunteer force, and after thirteen years I’m now a captain.

Nate: You frequently play offbeat, corrupt higher ups and gruff lawmen or criminals, always under the radar, but always absolutely memorable. Do you find that a career as a character actor was what you saw yourself doing upon entering the industry? Or have you surprised yourself with the direction your work has taken?

Robert: It has surprised me that I’ve become kind of a character actor, and the style of roles, the gruff detectives. People say do you worry about being typecast, and the operative word there is ‘cast’. So if we leave out the word ‘type’, what they are essentially asking is do you worry about about being cast, and no, I don’t, it sure beats unemployment. I love playing the bad guy, it’s always more fun, always more interesting. Who wants to play the good guy? It’s boring.

Nate: Who are some of your favourite actors/films/filmmakers?

Robert: My taste in actors is varied, I’m not much of a cinephile to begin with. I’d have to say that my number one actor that I really, really like is Alan Rickman. I don’t know what it is about Alan Rickman, the guy is just a consummate artist. I love Bob Duvall, also Gary Oldman I love. There are a lot of different actors I like for a lot of different reasons, but yeah, those would be the top three.

Nate: Awesome choices! Rickman and Oldman are absolute favourites of mine. You seem to have a ton of fun in your work, even when playing contemptible pricks. There’s always a glint in your eyes and an infectious energy that radiates off the screen. Do you find that that rambunctious, mischievous quality happens naturally via your personality, or do you consciously use your training to create it?

Robert: I always seem to have a lot of fun even when playing ‘contemptible pricks’, (laughs) I love that usage. Um, it’s fun, like in Person Of Interest, this character Patrick Simmons, whose kind of over the top, the story of Person Of Interest, the CBS television show, it’s kind of a comic book type of adventure, so you get to be a wee bit arch. But as long as I’m doing the definitive interpretation of the role, then I just am so grateful to be doing what I’m doing, that I don’t really apologize for it. Yeah I’m having fun, an acting teacher told me, why do you think they call it a play?

Nate: Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind- the million dollar question haha. Your monologue in this one is just sheer comic brilliance, and lights up the entire movie like a beacon of knowing, satirical fun. My buddies and I re watch the scene on YouTube all the time and descend into fits of laughter. How did the nature of that come about? Did you take it upon yourself to lay the over the top, hilarious nature of that character into it, or was it in the script to have him like that?

Robert: With Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, that was my first audition after 9/11, I hadn’t auditioned in a year, I hadn’t acted in a year. I went for George Clooney and I read that scene, and he was.. snot was coming out of his nose he was laughing so hard. Then when I got up there subsequently to shoot it, I dialled it back a lot, and he said “What are you doin?”, and I said “well, I wanna be in the same movie YOU’RE shooting”, and he said “No, no, you have to do what you did in the audition, it was such a wonderful interpretation”, so I did it, and I really had fun with that. What was wonderful about George is that he’s an actor, so he allowed me to really just be fearless and not whatever the hell I wanted per say, but at the same time to reallyy stretch the boundaries of who this particular whacko CIA agent could be.

Nate: You have primarily worked in crime/action cinema. Do you find that a particular genre just kind of finds you based on your look, style and approach to the work, or did you actively seek out projects like that?

Robert: I think the reason that I work in these genres, of action adventure, well it’s not action adventure per say, but action. I guess it has to do with the way I look, you know, sharp featured, blue eyes. Western canon would say that I’m the consummate looking hunter, you know, killer. But I play a lot of military types, it’s interesting that that’s what is thrust upon me, I played like five or six Generals so far in the past three years. This is how I’m perceived, it’s kind of a surprise to me, but again it’s usually fun stuff, and interesting. I especially like doing historical work, playing someone who has actually lived, because then I get to do the research and being a history buff that coincides nicely.

Nate:  How is life these days? Do you have any projects you are excited for and would like to speak about?

Robert: Life these days is good, I do a recurring role on Special Victims Unit, and he really was a contemptible prick, and now they’re softening the character up. I just finished a turn in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, and my volunteer fire service, July August I took off, that’s our busy time of the year, so just getting the fire department and the training materials, everything up to snuff, lots of training, lots of EMS calls, and the odd fire. There’s a lot of fire safety these days, so it cuts down on your fire service in that respect. But the training I love, and I’m pretty fortunate to have such good guys around me.

Nate: Thanks for sharing, Robert, I really appreciate it!

OREN MOVERMAN’S TIME OUT OF MIND — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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At once formally audacious and emotionally direct, Oren Moverman’s exquisite new film Time Out of Mind is a bold and challenging work, a movie that dares to explore a subject so often swept to the side in our society (our nation’s homeless), while simultaneously acting as an impassioned plea to help those who are suffering the consequences of mental illness. This is a work that couldn’t feel timelier if it tried, and while it wasn’t made to point fingers or to offer up solutions, it’s a fairly monumental piece of work in that it strives to tell an inherently compelling story about something that could seemingly happen to anyone, set against a depressingly bleak back-drop, going to some areas that many people might find too upsetting or too believable for comfort. Starring an unforgettable Richard Gere as a man reduced to a ghost of his former self, Time Out of Mind reveals its stylistic hand and narrative intent quickly and immediately: This is a purposefully slow-moving, deeply introspective piece that isn’t looking to have everything (or anything) solved with a tidy bow by its conclusion, told in a slightly oblique manner, essentially conveying mood and story through visuals and sounds. Bobby Bukowski’s startling widescreen cinematography is some of the absolute best I’ve seen all year, and it’s because the aesthetic and the content feel so attuned to each other that this demanding and unconventional piece of cinema works as effectively as it does. Almost the entire piece was shot at a remove from the actors, with the camera peering through windows and glass, as reflections and lights and colors smear and streak off the actor’s broken faces. This impressionistic quality gives the film a dreamy (nightmarish?) atmosphere that has the potential to cast a spell on the viewer. And then there’s the fully immersive sound-work, recalling Kenneth Lonergan’s obscenely underrated Margaret and the collective works of Altman, where background noise from an entire city fills the soundscape, with the conversations of strangers fully audible, thus creating an sonic mosaic effect that melds perfectly with the stylishly off-kilter visuals and heightened color palette. I’m always fascinated by filmmakers and technicians who can communicate their ideas on a visual level first and foremost, and in Time Out of Mind, at least an hour passes before any sort of background information is organically doled out, leaving the viewer to fill in some gaps on their own, while deciding what is and what’s not important to wonder about.
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All you need to know about the “plot” of this film is that Gere is a homeless man, navigating the uncertain streets of NYC, bouncing from homeless shelters to park benches to churches, looking for any way to nab that next six-pack of beer, while trying to put some of the pieces of his past life back together. He’s got a bartender daughter (an effective Jena Malone) that he’d love to re-connect with, but in his heart of hearts, he knows he has a lot to make up for before he’s going to find any personal or familial solace. And then there’s his chance encounter with another homeless man, played by a nearly unrecognizable Ben Vereen, who is a literal motor-mouth of mentally broken fragments. The scenes between Gere and Vereen have a caustic edge to them, with tenderness slipping through the cracks now and again (that scene at the piano…). There’s nothing “Hollywood” about this movie, and even if the final moments HINT at something upbeat or potentially cathartic, Moverman is too smart of a filmmaker to reduce his powerful, incredibly intense film into something with phony sentimentality. And I loved how the film opened and closed in the same stylistic manner, reflecting the day-after-day quality that the narrative stresses at almost every turn. Moverman has been a serious and thought provoking filmmaker in the past, having co-written Todd Haynes’ trippy ode to Bob Dylan I’m Not There, and this year’s excellent Beach Boys/Brian Wilson examination Love & Mercy, as well as writing and directing the one-two-gut-punch of The Messenger and Rampart, both starring the utterly magnetic Woody Harrelson. Moverman’s strengths have been his driving sense of character and intelligence, always looking for an interesting angle to approach his subject matter, never content to settle for formula or easily digestible themes and narratives. This is the sort of mentality that I look for when searching for filmmakers to explore, as I’m constantly finding that I’m drawn more and more to projects that can’t easily be summed up by a logline, or that stress distinct and form-pushing artistic qualities rather than the demand to create sequels and merchandise and a hit soundtrack. Time Out of Mind is an art film that will be a very tough sit for some, but exactly the sort of filmmaking and storytelling that film lovers should be celebrating.

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CINEMATOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHT: STEVEN POSTER, ASC — BY NICK CLEMENT

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Veteran cinematographer Steven Poster, ASC has compiled a wide-ranging mix of theatrical and television credits throughout the years that stretch various genres and styles. After getting a start as a camera operator on Robert Altman’s brilliant 1978 comedy A Wedding, he moved into second unit work, getting a chance to cut his teeth on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blade Runner, Starman, and Big Trouble in Little China. In recent years, he’s developed a close working relationship with maverick indie director Richard Kelly on the cult classics Donnie Darko and Southland Tales, as well as the underrated sci-fi thriller The Box, which approximated the look and feel of the 1970’s in ways that few modern movies ever attempt. He shot the provocative Los Angeles sexual drama Spread from rising star director David Mackenzie (Perfect Sense and Starred Up), Ridley Scott’s 1987 neo-noir thriller Someone to Watch Over Me, audience favorite Rocky V, the subversive and totally wild sequel Big Top Pee Wee, and 80’s classics Strange Brew and The Boy Who Could Fly. In addition to his duties behind the camera, Steven currently serves as President of the International Cinematographers Guild, and in previous years, served as President of the American Society of Cinematographers. His upcoming projects for 2016 include the horror sequel Amityville: The Awakening, a new Richard Kelly movie, and the indie drama All Good Things. He’s an artist always looking to change it up with varying material and specific aesthetic choices, while always stressing smart control with imagery and a disciplined sense of camera placement.

Donnie Darko announced the arrival of the challenging filmmaker Richard Kelly, and the film became a calling card for the director, and for a generation of high school and college kids looking for something offbeat and unique. A big reason for the film’s overall level of success is the dreamy visual style that Poster brought to the project. Shot in 2.35:1 widescreen and frequently emphasizing the middle of the frame, the film has an ominous tone all throughout, with much of the story set at night, while Poster’s camera glides through one surreal cinematic moment after another, using slow-motion in a perfect fashion, heightening the emotional moments with force and purpose. Another Poster/Kelly collaboration is Southland Tales, the divisive, Dr. Strangelove-esque political and social satire that feels like 10 movies stuffed into one, with an aesthetic style that feels like a smart and logical extension from Donnie Darko, again maximizing the use of the widescreen space, filling the screen with hallucinatory images that wash over you like some sort of wild, psychedelic trip. The saturated colors favored by Poster in this film made the volatile world being presented in the narrative all the more seductive, while the final 30 minutes represent something of a stylistic freak-out on the part of everyone involved, with Poster emphasizing the otherworldly through lens flares, bold nocturnal images, with an exploding zeppelin and a floating ice-cream truck providing him with the opportunity to craft images that feel like nothing you’ve ever seen. And Poster’s work on Ridley Scott’s underappreciated thriller Someone to Watch Over Me is a clinic on how to shoot a neo-noir that never feels overly slavish to other genre entries, always taking cues from the past while imbuing it with a (for the time) slick and sexy visual style that feels oh-so-gloriously late 80’s in retrospect. Shadows, smoke, darkness, moonlight, neon, and all sorts of atmospherics played a big part in Poster’s overall mise-en-scene, and under the firm direction of Scott, Poster was able to craft one of the best looking films of his stellar career.

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