Monday, April 27, 2015

S.P.I.T. (A short film by Mtume Gant)

Here's some more press on Mtume Gant's recent short film Spit over at CutPrintFilm.com

enjoy


Monday, April 20, 2015

WILD TALES ("THE STRONGEST" & "LITTLE BOMB")

Ever since I started doing the “whole history of my life” series over at The Pink Smoke (which you should all read if you haven’t yet), I’ve started to get a little more personal with my writing here on PINNLAND EMPIRE.
Unfortunately, I lost over 2,000 words in the sixth entry in the series and I don’t have it in me to re-write/revisit what I wrote at the moment (kidney disease, diabetes, etc). Until then, take this lil' gem as a “light" entry in the whole history of my life…

"Little Bomb"

I usually avoid most best foreign film nominees during Oscar season because I never feel that they best represent world/international cinema. Naturally there are a few exceptions like Dogtooth (2009/10), The White Ribbon (2009) & Timbuktu (2014), but generally speaking, movies up for the best foreign film Oscar are always a little "safe" and/or weak for my taste.
Because of this movie-snob defiance of mine, I avoided Wild Tales at first. Besides the fact that it just seemed to show up out of nowhere at the last minute pretty much for the sole purpose of being nominated for awards (in the U.S. at least), I thought it was another one of those multi-character/multi-storyline movies where everything & everyone is somehow connected like in Pulp Fiction or Crash. In 2015 I want NOTHING to do with those kinds of movies anymore (unless of course someone brings something new to the table). But when I discovered that the six stories in Wild Tales were separate and in no way connected (outside of some common themes) I made it a point to see it at BAM and I was pleasantly surprised.

What a rare beast in this post-Pulp Fiction world we live in - a film with separate/unconnected short stories.

While all six (WILD) tales do touch on the same subjects & issues (revenge, coincidence, class, privilege & entitlement), the two middle stories (“The Strongest” & “Little Bomb”, respectively) stood out to me more than anything else.
On the surface both stories play out like that famous Chapelle Show skit; “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong”...

“The Strongest” centers on two men who take their road rage with each other WAY too far while the appropriately titled “Little Bomb” is about a guy who allows his rage to get the best of him on multiple occasions until it becomes incredibly detrimental. Self control & anger are what binds these two middle stories together and is also what separates them from the rest. The first two (“Pasternak”& “The Rats”) are Pedro Almodovar-ian quirky dark tales about revenge (Almodovar served as a producer on this film), while the last two (“The Proposal” & “Until Death Do Us Part”) are about entitlement & dishonesty among the Argentinean upper-class.
Some of the themes in the bookend stories do seep in to "The Strongest" & "Little Bomb". I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the two guys who clash with each other in "The Strongest" are on opposite ends of the economic scale. And our main character in "Little Bomb" has this strange sense of entitlement (like some of the characters in "The Proposal") and feels that he’s never in the wrong.

But anger & rage are the real issues in the third & fourth stories of Wild Tales...

As I sat watching the [MALE] protagonists ruin their lives over petty nonsense in these stories I couldn’t help but see shades of myself (and just men in general) who have a difficult time letting shit go. The drama in both stories is sparked off by a middle finger ("The Strongest") and the defiance to pay a parking ticket ("Little Bomb"). Seriously, that's it. This film struck a chord in me so much that I mentioned it in a recent therapy session (side note – if you have the means, I recommend any & everyone, especially men who are looking to figure life out, to seek out therapy). I love movies but outside of certain specific films (see: the whole history of my life) I don’t often relate the movies I see to my own personal life (I know that may sound hard to believe but it's true). But Wild Tales was different. And what's strange is that overall this movie was just "pretty good". It's not even a personal favorite of mine.

a driver flipping the bird to another driver in "The Strongest" before things get out of hand

I know I’ve been getting very gender specific on here recently but I don’t really see too many women getting in to fatal roadside physical altercations over a middle finger, or conspiring to blow up the department of motor vehicles over a bullshit parking ticket. Sure plenty of women will get loud and/or belligerent in the face of something they feel is unfair (even at times when they’re in the wrong) but men are far worse in my opinion. When you hear stories of a mass shooting rooted in rage, or an explosion going off or a fatal case of road rage, 9 times out of 10 there’s a man with some bullshit sense of entitlement, behind it.

The longer I’ve lived in New York City and worked as an architectural draftsman, the more stressed & anxious I’ve become. Furthermore, I tend to (momentarily) take a lot of stupid and/or uncontrollable things personally like the characters in the middle section of Wild Tales. I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but when I’m on the subway and the service starts to go to shit (which it does a lot these days. You’re awful NYC MTA) I get so mad that I have these momentary thoughts of screaming at the train conductor (as if it’s his fault that the service is delayed) or screaming at the sick person on the train holding me up from being on time (as if they decided to suddenly get sick on the train just to screw my day up like I’m that important). When people shove their way on to the train before I have the chance to step off (which is fucking rude), I sometimes want to use my size (6’-3”, 260lbs) to push people out of the way. But as an adult I can't/shouldn't do that (I actually used to do that in my younger days but I’ve since cooled off).

I had a kidney transplant a few years ago. Because of this I’m forced to deal with health insurance companies for the rest of my life (once you have a kidney transplant you have to take anti-rejection medication forever and have to get semi-frequent check-ups). As some of you can imagine, dealing with health insurance companies is a major hassle. You’re trying to fix a situation or get a prescription refilled yet you’re dealing with a nameless dope/humanoid robot reading from a script that usually provides no help to your predicament. Again when this kind of stuff happens – I get so worked up that I develop these scenarios in my head where I find the headquarters to my health insurance company and show up and kick the shit out of everyone who works in the building. But seconds later I calm down and realize how silly that is. Sometimes dealing with health insurance companies becomes so aggravating that I get unnecessarily rude and entitled as if there aren’t millions of other people in the same position as me. That's when I have to breath for a second and realize that the world is bigger than me.

And in all honesty, had I taken care of my health issues earlier on in life, I wouldn't have needed a kidney transplant. This would have eliminated the endless prescription refills and annoying health insurance nonsense.
Some health issues are uncontrollable but in my case I had the power to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid all the shit I deal with today. There's a quote from Todd Haynes' Safe that applies directly to my specific situation...

Nobody out there made you sick. You know that. The only person who can make you get sick is you, right? Whatever the sickness, if our immune system is damaged... it's because we have allowed it to be...

Now...there's a lot more to that quote, but on some level what he's saying is kind of true. But we'll dig a little deeper in to my organ failure at some point later this year in part six of the whole history of my life.

"The Strongest"
"Little Bomb"

I work in the design industry as an architectural draftsman. Architecture, design & space planning involves non-stop changes, revisions, additions & reconfigurations. I’m also in an industry where folks will get caught up on text size & font style and where it should be placed on a drawing (seriously, at my previous job we used to spend 45-60 minutes debating shit like this). Basically – nothing is ever finished even when it is finished (make sense?). Unfortunately, I have the kind of personality that when things are done I like them to be done. For good. I’m just not a very nitpicky person. As you can imagine, I’m probably in the wrong industry (going on 11 years now). For years, I used to take all the nitpicky font size analysis and endless revision bullshit personally. I was nasty with my coworkers as if they were trying to make my life miserable when in fact it had nothing to do with them. It’s just the nature of the beast combined with my incompatible personality. The only person to place blame on is myself for taking things so personally. The industry of architecture & design is much bigger than me. No sense in getting worked up over a system I can't/don’t want to change. Had the main character in "Little Bomb" stopped for a minute and realized that he was trying to fight an almost unbeatable system that was bigger than him (and that he was placing blame on everyone & everything but himself) things would have worked out a lot better.

Not being able to let go is ultimately why our protagonists in "The Strongest" & "Little Bomb" meet their downfall. Sure it’s frustrating dealing with the DMV but you can’t resort to acts of terrorism in order to get your way. Yeah sometimes folks drive recklessly on the highway but flipping them off and insulting them, like in "The Strongest", isn’t going to make anyone a better driver. All throughout these two stories in Wild Tales our characters place blame on everyone & everything and hold grudges so deep that they end up dead or in jail.
I’m learning more & more how to not place blame on New York City or the MTA or my coworkers when something doesn’t go my way. Letting go is hard, but living longer (and happier) sounds a lot better.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

ALEX OF VENICE (CutPrintFilm.Com)

My latest review is up on CutPrintFilm. Check it out when you have a chance...


Monday, April 13, 2015

CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA: IRMA VEP PART DEUX


Writing about Olivier Assayas' latest film is going to be a little difficult because on some level I've already written about it in the form of Portrait Of The Artist (I even mention Assayas' filmography quite a bit throughout the review). I don't like repeating myself in write-ups but it's hard not too as both Portrait & Clouds Of Sils Maria mesh fiction & non-fiction in an almost identical way (some of the actors in both films play slightly fictionalized versions of themselves).
In Clouds Of Sils Maria Juliette Binoche plays an accomplished veteran actress ("Maria Enders") with a resume that stretches from big budget mainstream movies to foreign arthouse films. Sounds a bit like Juliette Binoche's actual career, doesn't it? Not only is Binoche a mainstay in the films of arthouse heavyweights like Michael Haneke & Leos Carax, but she's also appeared in more commercial films like Dan In Real Life & Godzilla. 
Chloe Moretz also plays a character in Clouds ("Jo-Ann Ellis") that's somewhat similar to her real self - a young up & coming actress that's mostly known for popular studio films & tween movies (as we all know, Moretz is known for her roles in films like 500 Days Of Summer, Kickass and the recent Carrie remake).
The only (main) actress in Clouds Of Sils Maria that doesn't play a fictionalized version of her real self is Kristen Stewart. Instead, she plays Maria's dedicated personal assistant "Valentine". Valentine does more than just fetch coffee and set-up interviews for Maria. They have a bond with each other. They travel together, know each other in & out and are friends on some level. A large majority of Clouds focuses on the unique relationship between Maria & Valentine. They're spiritually connected in the same way "Betty" (Naomi Watts) & "Diane" (Laura Herring) were in Mulholland Drive or "Alma" (Bibi Anderson) & "Elisabet" (Liv Ullman) in Persona. In the opening scene of Clouds Of Sils Maria we're actually introduced to Maria through Valentine...


The film starts with Maria on her way to Switzerland to accept an award on behalf of her mentor and frequent collaborator; "Wilhelm Melchior" - a legendary author, playwright & filmmaker (Maria & Wilhelm are not only frequent collaborators in both film & theater, but they've been close personal friends for more than two decades). Naturally Maria is making this journey with her assistant Valentine who spends her time juggling calls and fanning fires so Maria can rest and get away from Hollywood for a few days. However Wilhelm unexpectedly passes away right before the award ceremony.
In addition to dealing with the loss of her friend/mentor, Maria is going through an ugly divorce, she's prepping for her latest role and is also having a difficult time aging (she becomes fascinated by her younger co-star Jo-Ann who will be reviving a role that Maria played when she was 18). All of this obviously makes her insecure & vulnerable and for the rest of the film we watch Maria try to hold it together (imagine a more toned down version of Black Swan with elements of Cassavetes' Opening Night).

There are already multiple layers to Clouds Of Sils Maria within the first 10-15 minutes but that doesn't stop Assayas from adding on as the film progresses. Some of you that aren't too familiar with (modern) French cinema may not catch this, but the (fictitious) relationship between Maria and Wilhelm is very similar to the (real) relationship between actress Sandrine Bonnaire & director Maurice Pialat. Both relationships revolve around the mentorship/frequent collaborations between an older director/father figure and a younger actress. In interviews, Sandrine, who acted in three of Pialat's best films, said she always looked at him like a father figure. In Clouds, Maria never mentions her actual father, but she always speaks of Wilhelm as if he's her actual father.
Sandrine Bonnaire & Maurice Pialat in A Nos Amours

Not that it takes away from the film, but being a cinephile/movie nerd makes this even more enjoyable (just read back the wide range of movies I was able to name-drop through the course of this review). If you have a wide appreciation for all aspects of cinema you'll more than likely fall in love with Clouds Of Sils Maria as there's references to the X-Men films & Harrison Ford to experimental arthouse cinema.

The theme of "the aging actress" in Clouds Of Sils Maria also serves as a nice companion to Patricia Arquette's journey that many of us followed last year with Boyhood. Little bits of reality seeping in to fictional stories seems to be the theme in 2015 so far. This is obviously something a few filmmakers touched on last year with Birdman, Top 5 & Chef, but it's even more prominent this year. Besides Clouds Of Sils Maria & Portrait Of The Artist, I felt that Gerard Depardieu put real pieces of himself in to the character he played in Welcome To New York. And personally, I thought Viggo Mortensen's role in Jauja was an existential look at aging as well as a callback to all the physically demanding roles that brought him to prominence in the last 14 years or so (A History Of Violence, The Road, Hidalgo, Eastern Promises, LOTR). As an actor in his mid/late 50's, I'm not sure how many naturally physically demanding roles he has left in him without the help of CGI, lots of editing (like in the case of The Expendables) or extensive stunt double work (not to say those things haven't already been incorporated in some of Viggo's performances, but everything he does physically in front of the camera feels like it's all him).

I also found it peculiar that even though Clouds is partially about aging women in film, the (aging) character Binoche plays is actually 11 years younger than she is in real life (Maria is 40 while Binoche is really 51). I don't think Assayas is sexist or has something against older actresses like so many other filmmakers & producers in the movie biz (in fact, I think he's trying to call a lot of those sexist issues out) but it's still interesting that even though his latest film is about aging gracefully, the lead actress still had to portray a younger age.


Style-wise, Clouds Of Sils Maria feels like an extension of the obvious Irma Vep, but it also feels like Assayas combined the ambiance from his chaotic films (Demonlover, Boarding Gate & Carlos) with his more subtle/toned-down work (Summer Hours, Late August Early September & Something In The Air). He also incorporates some interesting editing techniques that I've never seen him use before. Some of the transitions between scenes slowly blend in to one another like in Kubrick's The Shining or Todd Haynes' Safe. Then other moments end abruptly out of nowhere almost in mid-conversation. And like the second half of Demonlover & Irma Vep, there are elements within Clouds Of Sils Maria that make absolutely no sense but for some reason we kind of accept it (like the sudden disappearance of one of the main billed characters 3/4 in to the movie).
It shouldn't go unmentioned how surprisingly good Kristen Stewart is in this. Yes, I can be a judgemental snob at times. When I heard that Kristen Stewart (and Chloe Moretz) were going to costar in Assayas' latest film I turned my nose up in suspicion. But I'm willing to admit when I'm wrong. She, along with Moretz, did a fine job.


I'm writing this review after having seen this movie less 48 hours ago so my thoughts could be a little tainted. Maybe I'm just excited having watched one of the few films from this year so far that wasn't lackluster, underwhelming or just "ok", but Olivier Assayas, along with Mike Leigh, might be my two personal favorite filmmakers working right now. For a while it used to be Denis & Haneke, but between Bastard (which I still like, but is a bit of a head-scratcher, and not for entirely good reasons) and Amour (which I've been losing excitement for over the last three years), I'm a little conflicted with their work. I like that Michael Haneke made Amour because I wasn't sure if he actually had a heart, and Bastards was kind of a return to Claire Denis' more aggressive side that I hadn't seen since Trouble Every Day. But I haven't felt the urge to revisit either of those films. Assayas (and Leigh) never leave me completely disappointed or feeling empty. Even Assayas' recent films that I'm conflicted about (Carlos) or not totally in love with (Something In The Air) still leave me with plenty to talk about.
Clouds Of Sils Maria is a multi-layered journey about aging, cinema & identity that's both unique & slightly original as well as a callback to some of the films I've already mentioned (Mulholland Drive, Persona, Irma Vep, Demonlover, etc).

Now that Assayas has worked with even more known/"mainstream" actresses in a successful film, perhaps this will open the door for Assayas to make even more mainstream/studio films in the U.S. (he received a golden globe nomination with Carlos and between Demonlover & Boarding Gate, he's worked with more universally known actors like Michael Madsen, Chloe Sevigny and even Gina Gershon for whatever that's worth). Not that it matters as Olivier Assayas is already an accomplished director, but mainstream American cinema could use a director like Assayas to add some variety to the mostly stale pot that we have today.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

ABOUT ELLY (CutPrintFilm.COM)

check out my review of Asghar Farhadi's 2009 psychological drama About Elly over at CutPrintFilm.com

enjoy...



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

AN INTERVIEW WITH SAMANTHA FULLER ("A FULLER LIFE")

From Wim Wenders & Jim Jarmusch to Jean-Luc Godard and, yes…even Quentin Tarantino, a large portion of this blog is dedicated to films from the School Of Sam Fuller (race on film is also a major component of this blog so we’ve had a nice share of White Dog references over the years as well).
Sam Fuller has a huge spiritual presence here at PINNLAND EMPIRE so it’s an honor that his daughter, filmmaker Samantha Fuller, would take the time out to answer a few questions about her recent film A Fuller Life 

Enjoy…




PINNLAND EMPIRE: Can you give the readers, in your own words, a brief synopsis of what your documentary is about?

SAMANTHA FULLER: A Fuller Life consists of 12 segments, each of which features an admirer of Sam's, dramatizing their interpretation of his memoirs ("A Third Face"). Set in the late director’s historic office, the cast channels Fuller amid his beloved Royal typewriter, massive collection of books, screenplays, treatments, war memorabilia, and, of course, the ever-present big fat cigar. A Fuller Life presents for the first time recently discovered 16mm films shot by Fuller, footage he shot on the front lines during World War II as well as location scouts and home movies. Every word spoken in this documentary, whether by a performer or from a movie clip, was written by him. This made the film a posthumous self-portrait .



PE: Was it difficult for you to essentially share parts of your father with other people/strangers?

SF: Everything said in the film is directly taken from my father's autobiography. There’s nothing that he didn't offer to share himself.
However, he didn't often invite people, let alone strangers, into his office. Being an only child, I've spent a lot of time by myself in my father’s office since he passed away. I'm never quite alone in there because in a way it feels like I’m spending time with him. The room is lined with rows of books, file cabinets filled with research documents, stacks of scripts, war relics and movie props. When you look around the room it's like a direct view into his brain. I enjoyed sharing this space with people.



PE: Are there still personal memories that you will always keep for yourself?

SF: There are many personal memories. Sometimes I meditate and reminisce about the cherished times we spent together. I aim my thoughts towards good memories like the time we held hands while observing a meteorite shower over the lake of Locarno on a balmy summer night. I had no interest including these kinds of personal memories in the film. I'll save those in case I write my own memoirs some day.



PE: Did working on this film about your father bring you closer with your own daughter?

SF: I made the film to honor my father's history. I dedicated it to my daughter and to honor her future. She was present throughout the entire filmmaking process and was very encouraging. She observed closely and asked many questions. I was glad to show her how it's done, how you can wake up with an idea to make a film one morning and persevere to make your dream a reality. I couldn't have done it without her enthusiasm & support.
In fact, she was very inspired by the process and is now planning her first short film. I couldn't be more proud!




PE: How long had the idea of making this documentary been formulating inside of you?

SF: I always thought that the story of my father's life would make a great film or a mini-series. But that's easier said than done. He experienced major milestones throughout the 20th century and I loved hearing firsthand about the historical events he witnessed. It was like a history lesson given by a man who had actually lived it. My father was a visual raconteur. This made it easy to paint a clear picture in your head while he'd tell his stories. He had so many great stories and he rarely told the same one twice. So transferring his words into a film had been lurking in the back of my mind for many years. I hadn't thought of presenting his story as a documentary until early of 2012 in an effort to commemorate his centennial. My father had me when he was 63. He always told me that we'd have a big celebration on his 100th birthday. Although he passed away when he was 85, I still felt like doing something special for his centennial. Making this documentary seemed like a natural way to celebrate his life.



PE: How long did it take to complete this documentary from start to finish?

SF: I began re-reading his autobiography and selecting passages in chronological order at the beginning of 2012. We filmed one segment per month throughout that year (12 total). Everything happened to coincide with his centennial so it felt like a yearlong celebration of his life. Every time we wrapped a segment it would conclude with a big meal (cooked by my mother) for the cast & crew. We spent just as much time celebrating (if not more) than actually shooting. I think it was my father’s spirit making sure we had fun while working on this. Between the shoots I began archiving & researching images to layer into the film. Editing & post production took another couple of months until the film made its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 2013.



PE: What was it like working with kickstarter?

SF: It wasn't easy. Kickstarter is all about putting the word out to everyone who might be interested in contributing to a project. The toughest part was raising as much awareness as possible before the deadline. Luckily my mother's assistance contributed tremendously (social networking, word of mouth, etc). Susan King from the LA times published an article about the film which ran during the kickstarter campaign. That was helpful. At the end of the Kickstarter campaign we linked a paypal account to the film's website so any latecomer could donate. In order to play it safe I had asked for twenty five thousand dollars, when in fact we needed more. We exceeded our goal but still had to rely on the post-campaign contributions (we also added some of our own personal money).



PE: What difficulties did you face will making A Fuller Life?

SF: No challenge I wasn't ready to face. Of course I owe a lot of that to my cast & crew who were true professionals. The toughest part was raising the funds and coordinating everyone's schedules. Once all that was settled, everything was a smooth cruise.




PE: A Fuller Life isn't a typical documentary. It's quite unique in it's format & execution. Were there any films or documentaries you watched in preparation before setting out to make your documentary?

SF: How could I make a typical documentary to honor the life and work of my father who was everything but a typical man!? I've watched many films & documentaries and indeed, you can't compare any of them to this film. I had my mind set on a different format. I knew that it was the right way to go. I just followed my heart and instinct.
There had already been a few documentaries about my father like The Typewriter, The Rifle & The Movie Camera (Adam Simon) and The Men Who Made The Movies (Richard Shickel). Both of those documentaries feature interviews. There are no interviews in my film. Everyone is speaking Sam's words and telling his story the way he had written it. It's an unconventional documentary in the same way my father was an unconventional man.
However, I did ask everyone to tell me a story about my father (almost like an interview) which will be included in the bonus features of the DVD.



PE: Were there any particular reviews of A Fuller Life that stood out to you and made you proud?

SF: All the reviews are good in the sense that I'm glad the film is being talked about. Some praised the film more than others, but all in all, each one made me proud. Some really appreciated the fast paced storytelling. Others said they wished I had gone more in depth about his film career. Those who thought the latter just didn't get the point that his entire life relates to the films he made. My father used to say "As long as they spell my name right". This always made me laugh.



PE: Was there a particular actor/filmmaker/writer/artist that you were surprised to discover was a fan of your father's work?

SF: Everyone involved in the project was already familiar with his work. That's the main reason they agreed to participate. They also respected what he stood for: good story telling.

Sam Fuller (right w/ cigar) in Godard's Pierrot Le Fou

PE: In my opinion, French cinephiles seem to appreciate Sam Fuller's work more than American cinephiles (not to say Americans don't consider your father a legend, but still...)
Do you agree? If so, why do you think that is?

SF: Sam loved France, and France loved him back. He was self-exiled twice during his life - First in the 60’s then again in the 80’s through the mid-90’s. French new wave filmmakers revered him and welcomed him with open arms. One of my favorite cameos is when he appeared in Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou. I believe he embraced the independence of new-wave filmmaking. He had mostly worked within the studio system in America and he always had to fight to tell his stories the way he wanted. In France there is much more artistic freedom, no formula, less structural guidelines. It's a good thing he was attracted to France in the sixties. Not only in a creative sense but because that's where he met my mother: the love of his life. He brought her back to America where he made a couple more films including one of his best; The Big Red One. After the fiasco with the U.S. release of White Dog in the early eighties, they decided to return to France where he continued to make films. He was happy in France and enjoyed many long discussions with fellow filmmakers and cinephiles at the corner cafe.

Samantha Fuller's cameo in White Dog

PE: What's next for you in terms of filmmaking? Do you have a new project on the horizon?

SF: I have a couple documentaries in the works. One of them consists of using the remaining footage that my father shot during WWII, which I wasn't able to include in A Fuller Life. The footage will be paired up with his war correspondence and illustrations that he sent to his family while on the front line.
I'm finishing up another film about a 95 year old Nisei artist. Her name is Harumi Taniguchi and she's a real firecracker. I've been filming her successively during the past couple of years. She's published over one thousand poems and she reads some on camera. She's also an active painter and ballerina. It's an inspiring film about the dynamics of creativity.
Besides those projects, I'm planning a feature film to be shot next year if all goes as planned. I wrote a screenplay adapted from a play my mother wrote. I've been captioning it as "a philosophical thriller". The topic is about the provenance of hate in mankind. It is set during inter wars in Vienna in the 1920's when Hitler was on the rise.
In the future, I'd love to make some of the films my father wrote that never saw the light of day. I'm keeping his unmade scripts in reserve for when the time is right for me to handle them.



PE: Are there any particular filmmakers working today that you admire?

SF: Agnes Varda is my favorite living director and she's still going strong at 86 years old. She is everything a director should embody: strong yet sensitive and one can always rely that her films are diverse and artistic.
I love Kathryn Bigelow for her guts to play hardball in a field dominated by men. And while I'm at it, I'll throw in Lena Dunham who's wit has taken her to a place well deserved in a sometimes humorless business.
Allison Anders is another director I admire for her wild personality and strong female protagonists.
Ana Lily Amirpour did an amazing job with her first feature (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night) and I'm excited to see what she's coming up with next.
I always enjoy watching the films of A-List directors like Spielberg, Scorsese, Tarantino etc. They never fail to entertain. I loved The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson. I enjoy all his films for their quirky humor and whimsical design.
I know that I'm leaving many out, but I don't have time right now to go on & on…



PE: What recent films have stood out to you personally?

SF: I saw 71, by Yann Demange a few weeks ago and I'm sure looking forward to his next film in the hopes it will be as effective combining action and emotion. I Am Michael by Justin Kelly. He did a great job adapting a news article into film. I love seeing films that are spun from a headline or an article. My other favorite recent films are Birdman, Whiplash and Nightcrawler. Jake Gyllenhal and Renee Russo's performances were fabulous. The story was right up my alley and the cinematography was stunning. I also savored every minute of Mr. Turner.



PE: Any closing words for the readers?

SF: I manage the FB page for A FULLER LIFE, where anyone who's interested in seeing the screening schedule or asking any questions is welcome.





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