*As a follow-up to last week’s extraterrestrial explorations with Jason Bateman and Kristen Wiig, this week The Film Strip has their co-stars remarks. Nick Frost (Clive Gollings/Writer) says:
“I would ask them [aliens] what they eat and how they prepare it,” if he came face to face with an alien. His longtime friend, co-writer and road buddy Simon Pegg (Graeme Willy), in the film “Paul,” remarked that Frost is a “keen chef,” and added, “I would, I guess, enquire about the secrets of interstellar travel. I mean, they’d have to have overcome an extreme hurdle to get here. That’s the thing; I think there’s definitely life on other planets. There’s more chance of there being life than there is not, if you know what I’m saying. But the thing is that we may never meet because of the distances between our worlds are so enormous.”
Director Greg Mottola has his own theory about intergalactic travel.
“I always loved the mythology of aliens,” he allows. “I believe they have to be out there somewhere. Specifically speaking, there must be other intelligent life forms, whether they come and pull pranks on our livestock seems a bit unlikely, but I love the idea of aliens as folklore and it would be so cool if they were really here.”
When you look at science fiction, there are a lot of road trips whether it be “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” “Lost in Space,” or “Fantastic Voyage” that take place.
“I guess it’s a journey into the future itself,” Pegg explains. “The very nature of science fiction is about pioneering into a time that we don’t yet know or a technology that we don’t yet know. So in that respect it has the momentum of a journey. It’s sort of about uncharted territory and that’s what the road trip is all about, the voyage of discovery. It’s a metaphor for forward movement, forward momentum. For us, it was just about wanting to make ‘Easy Rider’ and put an alien in it. That was it. The agreement was to make Greg’s [Mottola] first film ‘Daytrippers,’ but instead of Liev Schreiber we’d have ET.”
At times in the film, fun was poked at religion and they say it comes with the territory. “I wasn’t bothered by it,” Wiig says:
“Because I really didn’t feel like we were making fun of it. It was an interesting character choice for someone who’s about to see an alien for the first time, because if you see one or if we realize they’re out there that does ask a lot of questions in regard to religion.”
“Maybe I’m an idiot, which I’ve been called,” Bateman says, “but seeing an alien wouldn’t necessarily debunk the creationism thing, because then wouldn’t the creationist say, ‘Well yeah, he created the aliens as well. He didn’t just create life on Earth, he also created life on all these other places, and we just haven’t been able to see them yet.'”
Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez and Ne-Yo made a pit stop in New York the day before “Battle: LA” opened. With so many films made about UFOs and extraterrestrials, I asked Eckhart why did he think this genre was so popular?
“I’m just an actor,” he muses, “but as far as I can tell it’s because people can sit back and [realize] it’s pure entertainment and what cinema was intended to be-we can leave everything at home.”
My sentiments exactly! Some filmmakers think entertainment is about doom and gloom and when you walk out of the movie theatre, you feel worse than you did when you went in, not to mention your wallet is a lot less heavy.
Besides entertainment, Eckhart went on to explain what “Battle: LA” means to him.
“This movie to me is about brotherhood, camaraderie, friendship, heroism, and leadership. That’s why I wanted to do it. I felt like I treaded in interesting waters in terms of playing a pedophile, a misogynist, this, that and the other. So I said, ‘I wanna go play a hero.'”
Not only did he play a but broke his arm in the process.
A big science fiction fan, Rodriguez talked about her favorite sci fi movies.
“`The Abyss’ is one of my favorites. And Jim [Cameron] falls under No. 1 for me, when it comes to depictions of what I believe aliens to be like. I think he’s just had a really great perspective about it. `Avatar,’ of course. The level of detail and mindset that goes into every aspect of his creation of that world is just beyond. I love `The Abyss.’ I thought ‘The Abyss’ was amazing. It was kind of like, ‘Will it take a creature from another planet to reflect on ourselves? Do I have to turn into some ugly lizard and attack you for you to love each other?’ It’s just really awesome.” Not able to contain myself any longer, I had to tell her that ‘The Abyss’ was on the top of my list also. “No way,” she enthused. “Yep,” I say and she came back with, “That’s awesome.”
Ne-Yo recalled his process when preparing for “Battle: LA.”
“I basically had to take a break away from music. I had put out an album every year, up until 2008, which is when we shot this. And basically, I did not have the time. There’s no way you can take the level of focus that it takes to do something like this film and the level of focus it takes to do an album and do them at the same time. It’s impossible. You’ll kill yourself. So basically when I came back, I was a new artist all over again. The album that I put out right after we got finished doing this movie-my current album, `Libra Scale’-I took a lot of things I learned from this film and brought them into the album; probably to a fault, because a lot of people didn’t get it.”
“Win Win,” a must see film, is emotionally charged and works well because of its authenticity. The hard times the family goes through in the movie is no stranger to a many Americans. The troubled teen with the drug addict mother is a real wrestler.
“There was an ad in the newspaper for wrestlers to come in and audition for a role and my friend suggested I do it, but I said no at first,” Alex Shaffer (Kyle) says. Although the wrestler came naturally, it was the acting that he had to tussle with. “It was hard to get into character at first. It was a crazy experience.”
Shaffer becomes an uninvited houseguest of Paul Giamatti and his wife in the film, Amy Ryan. If given the choice of a houseguest, Ryan says:
“Being a New Yorker I really wouldn’t want a house guest. But I suppose I would take President Obama. I’d like him to sleep over.” Ryan and Giamatti played house very well because of their undeniable chemistry. A modest Giamatti says, “It was all built into the script. It was incredibly carefully written. It was a wonderful thing and it doesn’t happen very often that you get to act with somebody under these circumstances. “We never even really needed to talk about it very much.
“When the cameras rolled, she would become this person and you’d just see it in her eyes. She was just there completely and kind of did for me what the character does for my character, which-she kept me on point and sort of steady…it was wonderful.”
Reflecting on the times, it is ironic that the title of the film has prophetic connotations, which director Tom McCarthy addressed. “`Win Win’ felt right because we kept talking about different moments in the movie and different scenarios, specifically that Mike [Giamatti] was getting himself into, win win kept coming up. `Take Leo, put him in a home, get cash, it’s a win win. Get the kid and you get the cash.
“And the climate that this world is set in, is because I think part of the reason we find ourselves in this current financial situation is that we were sold that bill of good, win win. No money down. Low rates. No rates. No nothing, just get, get, get, and we all kind of believed it because who wouldn’t? If the bank tells you to get a mortgage that you don’t have to pay anything on for 10 years, of course you’re going to take that. I think that’s something that we kept seeing a lot. You don’t see that term much anymore. We live in a little bit of a different place where people are a little more cautious.”
Continuing, as promised last week, with the discussion of the smart drug NZT in “Limitless,” Robert DeNiro said it is something that he probably wouldn’t mind trying once in a while, but wouldn’t “get hooked on it.” DeNiro’s screen time is minimal but director Neil Burger needed someone with maximum punch in order for the scenes with Bradley Cooper to work.
“We needed a very powerful character to play Bob’s role, somebody who, when Braley who was powerful in his own right. All of us thought who better than Robert DeNiro to be that guy.”
It is a fluke that “Limitless” is now a film. Screenwriter Leslie Dixon relayed her story on how it came to be:
“I was so burned out reading bad thrillers in galleys that studios wanted to turn into movies that I went into the Green Apple book store in San Francisco and asked the geeks that work there, because they read everything, what can I read that won’t suck? ‘Oh, we got it, we got it, this the bomb’ and they gave me ‘The Dark Fields.’ I was not looking for a job or an adaptation, I just wanted to read a book but got half way through and got up in the bed and say, ‘this is mine I’m gonna turn this into a movie…'”
Are the filmmakers afraid the film will give the wrong message about drugs, e.g., ‘Take this drug and you can become President’? ‘That’s the slogan on our poster isn’t it,” Burger says to Dixon. “Actually,” Burger quips:
“we almost came up with a marketing campaign where we had people like Michael Jordan or President Obama saying, ‘Powered by NZT’ or something like that, but we didn’t do that. Look, it’s a cautionary tale in a way. Obviously there are horrible side effects to the drug and there is always that danger when it comes to something like that. If you do a movie with people in the first third looking glamorous in a night club holding a cigarette and the last two-thirds they’re just rotting from lung cancer, there will always be people who would come away wanting to look like those people smoking cigarettes.”
Yes, there are a lot of films out there this week and “Desert Flower” is another film that should be on your must see list. Top model Liya Kebede portrays the real life super model Waris Dirie, who escaped Somalia at the age of 13 and spent her adolescence as a maid in her country’s London embassy. A regime change forced her onto the streets of London. While working in a fast food chain, she is discovered by a famous fashion photographer. Kebede and Dirie have more than modeling in common.
“Besides coming from East Africa and coming to the West, we have both worked for the U.N. [United Nations] and me also working for the U.N. on different things, but they’re quite similar. There’s a link to us that was sort of a bonus.
“But at the same time, it was wonderful for me to discover the differences we had-her life being a nomad in Somalia and what that really meant. I had no idea what that meant until we were there and we were living with them [Somali nomads] and seeing them every day, looking at how they lived and how, really, they had nothing. Through all of that, she knew in her heart what’s right and what’s wrong always, for some reason. She always did the right move for herself and didn’t worry about what others were doing. She had this blind faith in herself. If it were me having to decide to stay in London, not knowing anybody, not knowing the language, I found her story to be very inspiring.”
In addition to the movie being impelling, it’s informative. The Film Strip asked Kebede if the horrendous practice of female circumcision would ever be eliminated?
“It is a ritual that existed for over 3,000 years,” she explained. “It will take baby steps to do away with it. Us talking, and you writing about it. You know, 20,000 girls in New York City every year are mutilated. That is only in New York. It’s a number that really blows me away, and when I heard these numbers I said I have to do this movie. That being said, the movie is also about surviving, the chances you get; take them and make something out of your life.”