Wednesday, January 30, 2008

According to the official AMPAS press release (they seem to love deluging my inbox with about 5 a day), the final Oscar ballots were mailed today, and are due back February 19 by 5 PM.

In other words, studios have 19 days to get their films seen and convince the voters that their's is the best.

Monday, January 28, 2008

From Vanity Fair:

I, too, found Juno funny, well-acted, and entertaining enough to recommend. That was before Oscar season, however, when hyperbole stakes could be quantified by box-office gross and pop-culture saturation. Post January 22, Juno is no longer the quirky, low-budget sensation teeming with hamburger phones and the mile-a-minute bons mots of stripper-turned-screenwriter Diablo “Not Her Real Name” Cody. Or rather, it is all that, now vigorously challenging milestones like There Will Be Blood (my favorite) and No Country for Old Men for Oscar supremacy.

We’re cool, Juno, but this cannot be. I guess I’m glad that the Academy has, in consecutive years, cultivated a turbulent, media-friendly square-off between Juno’s quirky ilk and other, far graver contenders. We’ll have lots to discuss in the months ahead—everyone wins. But not everyone wins come February 24, and, frankly, I don’t want to see Juno within a thousand feet of the Kodak Theater. I want her and her twee champions stopped at the metal detector. I want her turned away for being underdressed. I want her Toyota Previa to run out of gas on the 405. I want Blood’s Daniel Plainview to barge into Ellen Page’s pre-Oscar interview with Barbara Walters and bellow: “I drink your Sunny D! I drink it up! Slurrrrrrrrrp!
And perhaps my favorite part:
“If There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men split the smart-person vote, and Juno actually wins, I will understand, even better than I do now, how the Unabomber felt in his cabin all those years,” wrote Mark Asch this week on The L magazine blog. New York magazine’s David Edelstein jabbed even harder, paraphrasing his target’s patois: “Diablo Cody might be one doodle that can’t be undid.

From the Salt Lake Tribute:
Daniel D. Thompson's business catered to Utah residents offended by something as racy as a PG-13 movie. Now the former film sanitizer is accused of a crime by Orem police that is far more salacious than any date movie.

Thompson and Lifferth were booked into the Utah County jail on suspicion of sexual abuse and unlawful sex with a 14-year-old. Lifferth also admitted to having sex with the teenagers' 16-year-old friend on multiple occasions, according to the documents.

Thompson formerly operated Clean Flix - a business in Orem that edited feature films to remove or alter conduct deemed inappropriate for children or discriminating movie-goers. The store closed in December after threats of legal action from Hollywood studios.

The booking documents state Thompson told the 14-year-olds that his film sanitizing business was a cover for a pornography studio. He asked the girls if they would participate in making a porn movie, but they refused, the documents state.

Police found a "large quantity" of pornographic movies inside the business, along with a keg of beer, painkillers and two cameras hooked up to a television.
More skeletons in the old conservative closet. If it weren't for the two 14 year old girls this would almost be funny.

What idiots. All of them.
From Cinematical:
This is a "movie" the same way some drunk idiot screeching "Oooh, behave!," "Dat's a-nice!," or "This ... is ... Sparta!" at the top of his lungs is "the life of the party." And yet, every year Aaron and Jason sit down to smoke waste a lot of weed and crib a bunch of really terrible jokes from other folks' popular movies. The duo's "films" are little more than mirth-leeching barnacles fastened to the lowest end of the comedy food chain -- but by shamelessly pandering to the lowest of the lowest common denominator, these fools have built a cottage industry out of being the worst of the worst filmmakers out there. And, of course, they love their work. (Ultimately I blame the audiences, because if nobody bought a ticket to this junk, Fox would tell Aaron and Jason to hit the freakin' road already.)
Wow. Great review - I haven't seen a total ravaging of a film that spectacular in ages.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

No Country for Old Men

Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

Julie Christie, Away From Her

Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

Ruby Dee, American Gangster

The Bourne Ultimatum

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Oh no. The Carpetbagger is reporting that "Falling Slowly," the gorgeous theme song from Once, may be ruled ineligible by the Academy, even though it has already been nominated for Best Original Song.

The Academy rule states: "An original song consists of words and music, both of which are original and written specifically for the film."

"Falling Slowly" appeared on The Frames' album The Cost, which was released in February '07 (several months before the release of Once), and also on The Swell Season's self titled album in August '06. Both bands included writer/stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.

The music branch will meet on Monday to decide the song's fate.

This song deserves the award, there is no question. And now are the Academy fuddy-duddies going to continue to prove their irrelevance, after the 4 Months, 3 Weeks, & 2 Days debacle, and their sudden decision to disqualify the excellent scores to There Will Be Blood, Into the Wild, and Enchanted?

If there is any way for them to possibly fuck up even more than they already have, it looks like they're determined to find it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Yet another reason to hate Juno - it has now been embraced by neo-con blowhard L. Brent Bozell of the conservative watchdog group (i.e. cult of stiff-necks with no life) Media Research Institute:
Abortion will forever be an emotional, divisive issue in our society, with great passion on both sides of the debate. But for once there is a movie whose message has brought cheers from both the pro-life and pro-choice camps. This is a good thing. Hollywood is applauding Juno. The public should applaud Hollywood for Juno, too.
Blah, blah, blah. OK whatever. It's not the pro-life angle of the movie that bothered me but the whole conceit of the thing. But Bozell's endorsement just turns me off of it even more.

I wish Juno had opted to have an abortion. Then there wouldn't have been a movie and I wouldn't have had to sit through it.

Seriously, the older this Oscar season gets the less I like this movie. Do people really, really think it's actually a better made film than There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, Zodiac, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead...I could keep going on forever.
New York Times critic A.O. Scott has recorded several pieces on films coming out of Romania, called Romanian Cinema Rising, in light of the current hype surrounding Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days.

Iaon Fiscuteanu in Cristi Puiu's 2006 The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

The films analyzed include Mungiu's 4 Weeks, Cristi Puiu's brilliant The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Corneliu Porumboiu's 12:08 East of Bucharest (which I am still kicking myself for missing at last year's RiverRun Film Festival), Cristian Nemescu's California Dreamin', and Radu Muntean's as yet unreleased The Paper Will Be Blue.

From The New York Times:

In “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” a ferocious, unsentimental, often brilliantly directed film about a young woman who helps a friend secure an abortion, the camera doesn’t follow the action, it expresses consciousness itself. This consciousness — alert to the world and insistently alive — is embodied by a young university student who, one wintry day in the late 1980s, helps her roommate with an abortion in Ceausescu’s Romania when such procedures were illegal, not uncommon and too often fatal. It’s a pitiless, violent story that in its telling becomes a haunting and haunted intellectual and aesthetic achievement.

You may already have heard something about “4 Months,” which was awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last year, only to be shut out from Academy Award consideration a few weeks ago by the philistines who select the foreign-language nominees. The Oscars are absurd, yet they can help a microscopically budgeted foreign-language film find a supportive audience. And “4 Months” deserves to be seen by the largest audience possible, partly because it offers a welcome alternative to the coy, trivializing attitude toward abortion now in vogue in American fiction films, but largely because it marks the emergence of an important new talent in the Romanian writer and director Cristian Mungiu.

Ms. Dargis is quite simply one of the best, and her take on Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (which opens today in NYC) hits the nail on the head.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I finally got a look at Brian De Palma's much maligned Redacted, and I was honestly surprised. To listen to many, Redacted was one of the worst movies of the year, an embarrassing partisan failure. But that is not the film I saw. It was flawed, yes, but spectacularly so. In fact I think it is one of the essential films to come from the Iraq war.

Shot from the perspective of the troops using hand-held camcorders, Redacted tells a fact-based, fictional story about a group of American soldiers who brutally rape and murder a 15 year old girl, and then slaughter her entire family.

This technique, interspersed with faux-news reports and insurgent internet videos (and then later with real pictures of dead Iraqi civilians), makes for an unsettling viewing experience, not unlike Cloverfield, in which the viewer is forced into the perspective of the soldiers - in other words, it feels real.

The main problem here though is that it paints with extremely broad strokes. Every American soldier is not a monster, just as every American soldier is not a saint. By leaning heavily toward the former, De Palma is just as guilty of whitewashing as the right-wing blowhards who insist that America is right no matter what, and anyone who says differently is unpatriotic. Surely there is a middle ground to be found here.

But its hard to deny that Redacted is a film of great passion. It feels like a knee-jerk reaction made in great anger, lashing out a conflict that is wrong and unjust, where innocents are killed everyday in the name of a mission few can even name. Movies about the Iraq war could use more of this righteous anger and passion to make a difference, instead of dry moralizing and beating in tired points. De Palma has something to say, and isn't afraid to say it in the most incendiary, in-your-face style possible, and you have to admire it.

Sure it's an imperfect film, but it's far too compelling to ignore. De Palma is on fire, and his latest film is far more successful in its aims than his last film, the miserable The Black Dahlia, even if it misses the target just as much as it hits it, it's never too far off the mark.

This is provocative, deeply personal filmmaking that, like it or not, is undeniably audacious. If it had made more than $65,388 at the box office during its extremely limited release (it never played in more than 15 theaters), then this might have been remembered as one of the most interesting films to spring from the current Iraq conflict. Maybe film historians will recognize its power and ingenuity in the years to come, but right now I think it's just too much for most people to handle.

It refuses to be pigeon-holed (Iraqis are seen in both positive and horrific lights), and is a shockingly brave piece of social protest. If only it had used more of the complexity it demonstrated in its portrayal of the Iraqis in its views of the Americans then perhaps it would have been better received. As it stands, Redacted is a bold, ambitious, and ultimately flawed portrait of an equally bold, ambitious, and flawed conflict.

GRADE - *** (out of four)

REDACTED; Directed by Brian De Palma; Stars Kel O'Neill, Ty Jones, Daniel Stewart Sherman, Izzy Diaz, Rob Devaney; Rated R for strong disturbing violent content including a rape, pervasive language and some sexual references/images
From The Village Voice:

Juno's knocked-up 15-year-old is at once provocatively precocious and primly pre-sexual. Her pregnancy is a miracle of bad luck—she simultaneously loses her virginity and conceives a baby. It's all but immaculate. Perhaps because, in this case, the preg protag is legally a child, Juno (unlike Knocked Up) is mature enough to employ the word "abortion." Still, disgusted by the yucky receptionist at her local women's clinic, Juno decides to have her baby. Not to worry: It won't be for keeps. She will donate the infant to a deserving careerwoman with a deadbeat husband and a stopped biological clock.

Even more than Juno's understanding father and benign stepmom, this act of charity is the movie's essential fantasy. It scarcely seems coincidental that Juno was released in time for Christmas. Pivot its scenario 90 degrees to the right and you have a more spiritual version of Knocked Up. People love clever little Juno because she isn't really a teenager, let alone a person. Juno is an angel.

The protagonists of 4 Months, by contrast, are recognizably human. Otilia and Gabita are not slangy wiseacres. They are messy, sometimes foolish, often naive, and increasingly desperate, but they are never unsympathetic—not even the whimpering Gabita. Their trouble is all too real, and there are moments—most powerfully when the true awfulness of the abortionist Mr. Bebe begins to dawn upon them—that they resemble wide-eyed children, at once vulnerable and resilient. And they have neither script, nor religion, nor a patriarchal order to help them.
Great review. I disagree with Mr. Hoberman's assessment of Waitress, as I think it succeeds everywhere that Juno fails, a film under whose self-conscious hipster facade I failed to detect a beating heart. But his take on 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days is dead-on. Waitress was sweet and clever without ever really trying...Juno just bashes us over the head with a skillet (of the home variety?) screaming I'M COOL! I'M QUIRKY! LOVE ME! as it becomes increasingly ingratiating and improbable.

By contrast, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, while not a comedy of course, meets the consequences of unwanted pregnancy head-on, a subject that Juno blithely ignores, because who could have any problems when they're clever enough to come up with witty classics like "honest to blog?" I wonder how long Diablo Cody took to come up with that brilliant line.

There are no consequences to Juno's actions because she is simply too cool for that, a post-modern hipster who solves all problems with a witty non-sequitor. It takes the easy way out where 4 Months refuses to do so.

It may seem folly to even try to compare the two, they are vastly different films with vastly different goals, but they are invariably connected by common themes. One is a brilliant film, the other a mediocre comedy that thinks it's more clever than it really is.

Which one should we really be seeing on that Best Picture list?
In searching for information on Cristian Mungiu's masterful 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (IFC, 1.25), I ran across this piece by Ben Walters from British film magazine Sight & Sound, whose critics poll just named 4 Months the best film of the 2007, and is their spotlighted film of the month.

Mungiu demonstrates great proficiency with suspense throughout. The opening 20 minutes, before the nature of Gabita's quest becomes apparent, evoke a growing, unspecified unease, while the director has aptly described the "thriller rhythm" of the final phase in which Otilia sets out to dispose of the foetus without incriminating herself. There are elements of noir to this guilty nocturnal sequence, which is bathetically foreshadowed near the beginning when Otilia narrowly evades a fine for travelling on the bus without a ticket. Amusing as the earlier scene is, it sets the tone of a life of near misses and tentatively offered bribes.

Unlike Lazarescu, after all, 4 Months is located in the past. The death throes of the Ceausescu regime have formed the backdrop to several Romanian titles - The Paper Will Be Blue, How I Spent the End of the World and 12:08 East of Bucharest - but 4 Months unfolds in its dog days, a drab, stagnant late-communist milieu partly familiar from Germany's Good Bye, Lenin! and The Lives of Others. There's no whiff of real resistance, let alone revolution, in the air, merely a Sisyphean bracing against the machinery of the state. As with the characters and narrative, the 1980s setting is conveyed through telling local detail - such as the boy in the shabby-genteel dorms who does a reliable trade in western cigarettes, gum and VHS cassettes.

Here is the film's excellent trailer:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cristian Mungiu's Palme D'Or winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days is a film that I had to let sink in a while before I sat down to write a review. It is a film the demands to be reflected upon and mulled over, because it is a film with so much to offer.

There was a moment in the film when I realized I was watching something truly extraordinary. Nearly an hour into the film, Otilia (Anamaria Marinca), a college student who is helping her roommate attain an illegal, back-alley abortion in Communist controlled Romania, goes to visit her boyfriend's family for the first time. It is a dinner scene that lasts for nearly eight minutes done in a single take with no cuts, that serves no real purpose in terms of plot, but means everything in terms of character.

Otilia, who has just done the unthinkable to ensure her friend gets the abortion she so desperately wants, sits in the middle of the shot, and while the conversation around her consists mainly of mundane bourgeois chatter, her facial expressions and her demeanor over the course of those eight minutes tell a story unto themselves.

Such is the beauty and power of Marinca's incredible performance as a woman whose devotion to her friend takes her to great lengths in a society oppressed by a totalitarian regime, where the government dictates a person's livelihood and suppresses personal freedoms, making abortions illegal and therefore much more dangerous to perform.

A brilliant example of the New Romanian Cinema, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, like Cristi Puiu's 2006 The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, uses long takes, few edits, and a lack of musical score to create a raw, earthy realism. It moves slowly and takes its time, but it's a gripping work, drawing the audience in and refusing to let it go. It's a sometimes agonizing build-up to the inevitable abortion, but that's not really the focus here. Many have called 4 Months a pro-life film, but I wouldn't say that. It confronts us with decisions too powerful to be ignored but it never stoops to preach. Instead it takes a neutral stance and lets the audience come away with its own feelings. But contrary to popular belief, this is not really so much a film about abortion as it is about oppression.

Under the Communist regime in 1987 Romania, people were forced to make terrible choices out of desperation, and 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days examines the profound emotional toll that one such decision makes on two women with nowhere else to turn.

Cristian Mungiu has crafted a fiercely engaging work of art, whose brilliance stems not only from its naturalism, but from the extreme effectiveness with which it treats a difficult subject. It refuses to make compromises, and it's a jaw-dropping oversight that the Academy did not see fit to even include this as a finalist for the Best Foreign Language film Oscar. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 3 Days is a searing, unforgettable film that is a future classic of the New Romanian Cinema, and the first masterwork of 2008. Opens Friday, 1/25 in New York, and 2/1 in additional cities.

GRADE - **** (out of four)

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, AND 2 DAYS; Directed by Cristian Mungiu; Stars Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov, Alexandru Potocean, Ion Sapdaru; Not Rated; In Romanian w/English subtitles

You would think that a group of actors would be exhausted after being subject to interview after interview all day long on the opening day of the highest grossing January release in history. But it's clear that the media are nothing compared to a giant monster bent on destroying New York City.

Lizzy Caplan, T.J. Miller, and Mike Vogel (pictured left to right) seemed in good spirits when they sat down to talk to around 20 college journalists last week about their new hit film, Cloverfield. Thanks to Paramount for providing the transcript.

Kirsten Anderson (Moderator): All right. Well thanks everyone for being on this. As she said, we have Mike Vogel, T.J. Miller and Lizzy Caplan. So what I'm going to do is just introduce the school and the publication and the journalist and then they will ask you a questions and then we'll go as around as many times as possible.
So first we're going to start off with Cal State Bulletin out of Los Angeles, The Daily Titan and it's Richard Tinoco.

Richard Tinoco: Hi guys.

Man: Hey Richard.

Richard Tinoco: …intercom. This is for well everybody but Lizzy, you were great in The Class. I just had to throw that in there. But…

Man: Lizzy.

Lizzy Caplan: Hey.

Man: (Unintelligible).

Lizzy Caplan: I'm sorry.

Man: She's got her phone.

Lizzy Caplan: No. Did you say The Class?

Richard Tinoco: Yeah.

Lizzy Caplan: Oh, I know, thanks man. That was the best show that…

Richard Tinoco: It was. I was there every Friday, but (just saying).

Lizzy Caplan: Thanks.

Man: You can fill that void in your life by watching Carpooler.

Lizzy Caplan: The reason why I didn't hear you the first time is because I was text messaging with Jon Bernthal from the The Class. Hey.

Richard Tinoco: I apologize guys. No but okay. Cloverfield. Lizzy you were quoted as saying as the movie was physically demanding and I was wondering if everybody could please explain in detail how the movie was demanding, physically.

Lizzy Caplan: Well, there was a ton of - we had to do like upwards of 40 takes for every scene and a lot of the scenes were running a lot of the time we were covered in like sticky blood and gross dirt.

And Jessica definitely had it rougher than I did since she was in played up high heels. But, you know, I had these platform boots on and the longer you run in them, the worse your feet feel and it was just rough.

I mean I haven’t gone to the gym in like a year. So I don't know if I was really ready for it. I mean I'm sure Mike Vogel had an easier time than I did. Because I mean he's on the cover of Men's Health. And, you know, he's obviously very physically fit.

But, I think that we were - I mean, towards the beginning in order to gear up for any scene where we were out of breath which was like basically every scene, we would run really fast up and down the streets so we would legitimately be out of breath. And then I think by like, you know, take fourteen, it's like guy I don't think I'm going to fake it. I'm going to fake it for this one.

Man: You were really serious with that so.

T.J. Miller: Oh, it's T.J and Mike.

Richard Tinoco: How are you?

Man: Hey.

Richard Tinoco: Like how was it physically demanding for you guys? Because T.J. you just spun around everywhere and Mike you got hit by the tail, so.

Mike Vogel: Or do I?

T.J. Miller: This is TJ. I said, you know, I was in every single scene. And I had days where I was like, you know, doing 12 hours on the set. So it was a lot and it was me holding the camera a lot and that was really hard. And so in that way…

Lizzy Caplan: It was a bigger camera than a regular little camcorder.

T.J. Miller: It wasn't a tiny little camera. So yeah. So it was demanding in that sense. And it was a lot - I was running also. We were constantly running. We were constantly screaming.

And it was - you know, when I was in the voiceover booth after the movie was done and we were doing post production, I had to be breathing hard and screaming and all that kind of stuff. So it was a little odd.

Lizzy Caplan: Know what I forgot about. We actually had, because with all the dust and all the hyperventilating that we had to do, they have like oxygen tanks for us which we had to (unintelligible).

Man: That's right. I remember that.

Lizzy Caplan: Yeah. Pretty crazy.

Kirsten Anderson: Let's move to (Jenny Davenport). She's from Hillcrest High School out of Dallas.

Man: Jenny!

Lizzy Caplan: Hi Jenny.

Man: Dallas, Texas.

Woman: Howdy.

Jenny Davenport: How you all doing?

Man: Doing good. How about yourself?

Man: Love, love, love, love Texas. Big fan.

Jenny Davenport: (Unintelligible). This is for TJ.

T.J. Miller: Yeah.

Jenny Davenport: What message do you want audiences to take away from this movie?

T.J. Miller: What message do I want them to take away from it?

Jenny Davenport: Yes.

T.J. Miller: I want people, you know, I think this is a good way to - we're horsing around on the other end. This is a really good way folks to experience this catastrophe without, you know, without actually having to go through it.

And I think it's important - what's important to me is that, you know, when something like this happens, we - when something like this happens - when something like this happens, we - it's so funny. Yeah, videophone. When something like this happens, all you can think about is the present.

And the movie is about how people are always looking to the future and making plans and thinking about tomorrow and next year and all that. And when the shit goes down so to speak, you just hold on to what you have and you need to - you care about the people that are around you and all you have is that time in the present.

And so I hope that people see this and, you know, leave and think oh, okay. You know, maybe I should pay a little bit of more attention to my life in the present and in the now…

Mike Vogel: and (unintelligible).

T.J. Miller: Yeah, I know…


T.J. Miller: And also I wanted them to take away that I'm fucking hysterical.

Kirsten Anderson: (Mickey Beta) from Boston University.

Mickey Beta: Hi. How you doing?

Man: How are you?

Lizzy Caplan: B U.

Mickey Beta: Good thanks.

Man: Good.

Mickey Beta: My question is for anybody who can answer it. This was Matt Reeves' first directing project for the big screen in over a decade.

Man: And boy did it show.

Lizzy Caplan: Yi Yi Yi Yi!


Man: (They changed the paw bearer) (unintelligible).

Micky Beta: In over a decade is what I (heard). Sorry.

Lizzy Caplan: There weren't - they - (it sounded) later than that with Reeve's was a little freaked out when they asked him to direct this because it's so not in his wheelhouse to do a movie like this.

But they really wanted a director who had mainly done work where it's, you know, actors having real emotional connections with one another whether it was on the (split city) or his next movie is literally people in a room talking.

So I think the main objective for this film was to give it like a real emotional (pole). And I don't know if they would have been able to pull it off with action director because in most action movies the emotional aspect like (unintelligible)…

T.J. Miller: This isn't - this isn't a Michael Bay film. I think we're all glad that it isn't. And I like his films. I like Transformers and that it's successful at what it did. But that's not a movie that I'm interested in being in because I don't think that it does much outside of being a Michael Bay film.

This film was so much more than a monster movie. It's a survivor movie. It's a comedy. It's a love story. It gives you motion sickness. I mean it is a really big - it's a big idea and a bold and ambitious move in filmmaking.

And I think Matt Reeves did what he needed to do. And JJ did what he needed to do. I mean acting was amazing. It was the best acting I've ever seen in my two years of looking at people act.

Lizzy Caplan: I'm about to make a bold and ambitious move all over you.

Kirsten Anderson: The next question is from (Braden Hendrix) from Duke University.

T.J. Miller: Hey and how are you?

Braden Hendrix: Hey I'm fine. How are you guys?

T.J. Miller: Hello. You're on the air.

Woman: Great.

Braden Hendrix: Cool. I think I read a quote from Miss Caplan saying like she had agreed to sign onto this film without really knowing what it was about. And she had, you know, no problems doing that.

And I was wondering for Mr. Vogel and Mr. Miller if it was the same way for you like were you just drawn by the scariness of this movie and you just agreed to sign on without really knowing what you were getting yourself into?

Man: No. I think it's - I think it's just that, you know, first of all each of are, you know, we're out there trying to work.

Braden Hendrix: Okay.

Man: Not me.

Lizzy Caplan: Yeah. He's trying to work it.


Man: And there was just something about, you know, about the ambiguity of this film. I think when we were all initially told it was a monster film, there was sort of a hesitation because it's - you've seen it done bad a lot of times.

But I think what the saving grace of it is the vision of a J. J. Abrams, the vision of a Matt Reeves and those type of characters that make you feel safe in doing what, you know, in being a part of something like this.

Kirsten Anderson: Jeff Mitchell from Arizona State University.

Jeff Mitchell: Okay. Great. Hey thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

Man: Hey Sun Devil. I like that we're having you out - where it's a phone thing.

Man: Welcome to New York.

Jeff Mitchell: Hey. Thank you.

Lizzy Caplan: Welcome to the Big Apple.

Man: It's (unintelligible) and the muskrat. You're on the air.

Jeff Mitchell: It's kind of cold out here today. It's only about 55 degrees.

Lizzy Caplan: Oh.

Jeff Mitchell: So, we've got - we've got our…

Mike Vogel: You'll be all right.

T.J. Miller: You'll be fine.

Jeff Mitchell: …winter jackets on.

T.J. Miller: All right. Next interviewer.

Jeff Mitchell: Okay. This question is for TJ but I'll open it up to anybody else…

T.J. Miller: No. No one else will answer. And it's my question.

Jeff Mitchell: Okay. Now in the movie TJ you had some great lines that brought some levity like when Beth was asking what was the monster. And you said hey something terrible. And then Beth and Rob were having a fight, they questioned you about, you said, but hey I'm documenting.

So how much of the film was adlibbing off the script? How much of an opportunity did you or the others have a chance to do that?

T.J. Miller: Every time you laugh at one of the lines that Hud says, I wrote that line. Every time that you don't like something that I said, that's someone else's fault.

No listen. I was given - the skeleton of the script was fantastic. Drew Goddard is really, really funny; really, really good at creating a character in a script.

And then Matt Reeves luckily knew that I come from improvisation and knew that that's part of what I bring to every project that I do. So I did improvise a lot. And he let me improvise on my own and Lizzy and I improvised in the film a lot together.

And, you know, but that was part of - part of that was to make sure that it was as naturalistic as possible. And part of it was because, you know, that's what they fucking pay me for. I'm the comedian that they brought in to make this part funny and have that aspect of the film be successful and so I hope that I did that.

And that, you know, that's what I want to do because I think some people react in the way that Mike Vogel did which is to be really, really hot and take charge.

And other people who are kind of funny and awkward are going to react in a way that you would laugh at. It's funny. And I thought that was - that was my whole thing with this movie is that I wanted to see a monster movie where people reacted like you really would. And I think that everybody in the film does that. And Hud's a funny character and he's going to react in a funny way.


Kirsten Anderson: (Kendrick Day).

Mike Vogel: I have a friend who…

T.J. Miller: This is my question.

Mike Vogel: Oh, I'm sorry. I'll be quiet. I have a friend who she laughs at the most inopportune times and the worst news. Like if you came to her and said my father just passed away. Out of awkwardness, she would start laughing in your face, not because she doesn't think…


Mike Vogel: …not because she's a bitch, but because her reaction that she has to things, she feels so uncomfortable. And I think that's sort of a bit of Hud's character in this. So I think it's - that's just my vote.

T.J. Miller: Well that's really, really sweet. And I think, yeah, and that was the whole thing is we wanted to do a for real reaction to a pretty fantasy unbelievable situation.

Kirsten Anderson: (Kendrick Day) from Moorehouse.

T.J. Miller: Moorehouse. I think I've had enough house. I'm teasing.

Lizzy Caplan: You're fun.

Kirsten Anderson: (Kendrick) are you on still? No (Kendrick).


Kirsten Anderson: (Nick Maslin).

Man: He didn't like that joke.

Kirsten Anderson: University of Miami.

Nick Maslin: Hey guys.

Man: Hey.


Man: Moons over Miami.

Lizzy Caplan: Oh, delicious.

Nick Maslin: Because of what your character went through and what not, I'm wondering, you know, I guess is, you know, nothing scary about pretending that a monster is chasing you. How was it to actually watch yourself on the big screen, you know, being attacked and how does it feel to see that.

Lizzy Caplan: Who was this to?

Man: Who's that to. Is it to everybody?

Nick Maslin: It's to - well everybody can answer, but I asked it for Lizzy because…


Lizzy Caplan: Yeah, what up?

Man: No, I was going to say I don't watch myself do anything in the movie. I'm not even on screen.

Lizzy Caplan: Okay. Well why are you answering the question then? Hello Miami. I think that it's always - I saw the movie two times, no three times now. Three times. It's going to be four times tonight.

But the first time it was a rougher cut and I left and kind of had a mini nervous breakdown because I really cannot stomach watching myself do anything on screen ever. So it could have been a monster movie or, you know, a commercial for lollipops…

Man: Toyota.

Lizzy Caplan: …(unintelligible) but who cares, you know, I would have been…

Nick Maslin: Do you think you almost had that breakdown? What about yourself on screen don't you like?

Lizzy Caplan: Well it goes past the like oh I didn't know my eye moved that way when I talk, but I think it's just I'm super critical of myself and there's always, you know, ten better readings that I think I could have done.

But a friend of mine told me recently to calm me down and talk me off the ledge that what I see on screen and - there's like a 3% difference between what I think is good and what I think is absolutely terrible and nobody else can notice which I try to remember.

T.J. Miller: But I think, you know, we all kind of - I think everybody was happy with their performance because it's such a different movie to make and it's so hard to act in a film that you've never seen of that style of film making.

So we did - we did the best we - we did the best we could because we, and by that I mean the director, the producers, all the actors, the crew, we were all figuring this out as we went along. And so that was a challenge. And I think we were successful in that sense. I think me more than anybody else.

Kirsten Anderson: Susana Rodriguez from Florida International University.

T.J. Miller: (Anna) it's TJ Miller.

Susana Rodriguez: Hi. It's Susana. How are you?

T.J. Miller: Can you smell the gin on my breath over the phone or no?

Susana Rodriguez: It's sweet and delicious.

Lizzy Caplan: Oh, yeah.

T.J. Miller: Yeah, oh yeah. What's going on Florida?

Susana Rodriguez: Okay. I had a question for all three of you and just about your characters. Are any of your characters bitter than Rob put their lives in danger just to find Beth because he has a epiphany at the last minute?


Lizzy Caplan: …it's a love story. Got you.

T.J. Miller: We all answered at the same time. Mike, you take that one. You're better at that.

Lizzy Caplan: You're better about the love stuff.

Mike Vogel: The love stuff. Could you ask the question one more time? Yeah we were…


Susana Rodriguez: Yes. Were any of your characters bitter that Rob put their lives in danger just to find Beth?

Mike Vogel: Well I was of course dead when that happened but…

Lizzy Caplan: Jealous.

Mike Vogel: …but I think, you know, I think the good thing about this film is that everyone will want to look and say well that's not realistic. This isn't realistic. I would never do that. That's the luxury of a film like this.

And I think that that's the draw to it is that people want to experience danger without having to experience danger. And that's why we go to films is to - we kind of look at the different characters that are there and say well I would react that way. No, I would react this way. This is more real. That's more real. It's subjective.

And so, you know, I don't know that there's a right or wrong answer to that except the film allows you the opportunity to think. It just so happens that that's the choice that he made. He was persuasive enough to pull everyone on board with him.

T.J. Miller: Well, I think when I first read that or I first saw that aspect of it, I tried to say well would they really - would they really follow this guy into this? Would you really, you know, risk it all to try and get to the girl that he loves?

But I think as the film ages, you're going to find out that, you know, it is realistic because that is what people do when faced with a disaster. They reach out for the things that they know and are important to them and that's what these characters do.

And for Hud it was to document it. For Rob, it's Beth. For Beth, it's Rob. For Lizzy, it's being bitchy. For Mike Vogel, it's the cover of Men's Health. And so, you know, we all just grab on to what we know.

Lizzy Caplan: Yeah, you really in a situation like that, a disaster situation, you really try to hold onto anything you have any control over. This is a mainly small mission that is potentially achievable. And also he definitely would have gotten laid again had she - if he found her alive which he did. So that drives a lot of people to do a lot of…


T.J. Miller: The sequel is a soft-core pornographic film called Loverfield.

Kirsten Anderson: (Catherine Bencort) from Nova out of Miami.

Catherine Bencort: Yeah. This question is for Mike as well as for the rest of the cast. Your character Jason tells your brother about the significance of moments in ones life.

Mike Vogel: Right.

Catherine Bencort: And we were thinking that your character helped to define the meaning of the journey behind this film. So ultimately for you as well as the other cast base, what moments inspire you when choosing to participate in a particular film, selecting a film role?

Mike Vogel: You know, I think it's a lot of things. One being having to feed yourself and survive. Another one being the creative aspect of it and you hope that eventually those two worlds collide.

I think, you know, I think for me what I set out to do in all this is just to not stay, you know, I think of a boxer not staying in one place. Someone who is constantly bobbing and weaving and you try and keep your resume as diversified as possible.

You know, there's definitely been some films in the same genre but by and large, you know, I've been able to do things that are just different. And that's what I want to continue doing.

Catherine Bencort: TJ and Lizzy, what inspires you when you select a role?

Lizzy Caplan: All of this like the premieres and the press and people, you know, recognizing you and all that, I could care less about any of that. The only thing that I like doing in this job is working. And I'm doing different stuff.

And to show up to work everyday and get to do something intensely physical, which is so not what I usually do, is just really appealing. And to work with new people and kind of get into a new genre and like, you know, I'm not exactly a sci-fi person and so to get to explore that world with the best possible sci-fi people behind us, I mean, is a privilege.

T.J. Miller: To me it is a - to me the most important thing is whatever project I do, I like to - okay we got (unintelligible) - to me, to me, it's what is is I want to bring comedy to whatever project I do.

And the reason I do standup and I do sketch and I do improv and I do film and television projects and I write and do all different mediums is because I think that comedy, it's important to express comedy within every single medium.

So in that way it was exciting for me the opportunity to do a sort of sci-fi horror monster film where I could bring comedy to it and my comedy. And so that's what I'm excited about and that's what I look for in every project is an opportunity for me to be a comedian within the parameters of whatever the project might be.

Catherine Bencort: So how difficult was it as a comedian in this part considering you weren't featured on screen to do that? I mean how challenging was it for you since you weren't seen on the screen as…


T.J. Miller: It was really fucking hard. Because, you know, there's only so much room for it. So here I am on set everyday trying to, you know, bring comedy to the role and Matt Reeves would often say no, no, we got to have this straight and this needs to be sweet and sensitive and not funny. And there was a lot of sort of back and forth between he and I…

Man: (Unintelligible).

T.J. Miller: …about this and the, hello, and the reason was you can only afford so much comedy with this movie. That's not what this movie's about. It's not a comedy. It's an action thriller monster flick. And so - and I think at the end of the day and with the finished product, he was really successful in using the right amount of levity.

Mike Vogel: That's (not true).

Kirsten Anderson: (Janie Carter) from Southfield High School out of Detroit.

Lizzy Caplan: Detroit.

T.J. Miller: Motor City.

Janie Carter: Hi guys.

Man: How are you?

Janie Carter: I'm fine. My question is what sets a scientific thriller apart from others in this genre? (Incorporates an) affect on your performances of actors and actresses. And this is for everyone please with comments.

Mike Vogel: I think what sets this apart from other films and genre is the style in which it was done. The fact that it's a single, you know, it's a single camera shooting style mixed with a lot of incredible effects.

And then take into account the film was done for $25 million, it sets a really high standard for other films to follow to show that it is possible without, you know, without busting a mega budget to do what could be a successful film and make it look incredible and different. So I think that's what sets it aside for me.

Janie Carter: How does that affect you as an actor, the film. Did it make it more difficult or did it make it easier? Did you get to do…

Mike Vogel: It made it - it made it a - it made it a lot more difficult I think because, you know, the manic style that it was shot in, it kind of put you in a position where you didn't get much time to really consider what you were doing.

We had 50, you know, 50 takes of a single shot and we had to make that work all in one. So it makes it difficult on actors because you may not always get to do exactly what you want to do. But you have to learn to live with your performance.

T.J. Miller: Here's the thing. This movie is not a regular movie. This is the real thing, you know. It's a completely different film. So we had to figure out what exactly we were going to do and how we were going to do it on the fly. And that is a real, real challenge. It's completely different than any other film that any of us have done. And it's my first take at motion pictures. So I, you know, my first experience with a major national release was that…

Lizzy Caplan: That time you (farted)…

T.J. Miller: What's that? Sorry we're horsing around over here. We've had a long day. It was that of being off camera and shooting a lot of the film and figuring out how to do this strange style of filming.

Kirsten Anderson: Next we have (Divon Taylor) from Colorado University, but…

T.J. Miller: Hey, hi mother fucker.

Kirsten Anderson: …for the sake of time, if everyone who also has questions specifically just ask one person because we want to get through this list and we have less than 10 minutes, so (Divon).

Devon Taylor: Hey. I'm (Devon) actually…

Kirsten Anderson: (Devon), sorry.


T.J. Miller: (Devon), you're absolutely divine. He dude, I'm from Denver. What up?

Devon Taylor: What's up man? Denver, Colorado represented.

T.J. Miller: Representing D Town, (Ballarodo). What's going on?

Devon Taylor: Well I was just wondering you were talking a lot about how you had to do a lot of stuff on the fly. What kind of preparation did you guys do for this film?

T.J. Miller: You know, we did a lot of prep. Well, we prepared in some senses and then in other senses, we couldn't. There was no way to prepare because we didn't know how - we didn't know how this process was going to be. I don't think anybody realized they were going to do 50 takes for every scene.

And I can't prepare for a role where I film a lot of the movie. I've never done that. I'm not going to take a camera out and film people. Don't ask me to do that. I don't understand why you're asking me to go and do that right now. But, you know, the preparation was just sort of allowing ourselves to go with the flow and figure out how to make it work when we made it work. Lizzy.

Lizzy Caplan: No that was just for you.

T.J. Miller: Okay. (Kris) next one. Ha ha.

Kirsten Anderson: It's Bobby Solorio from Sacramento State University.

Lizzy Caplan: Sacramento State.

T.J. Miller: Represent.

Bobby Solorio: Hey guys. How's it going?

Lizzy Caplan: Hey Bobby where you from originally? I hail from Los Angeles.

Bobby Solorio: Oh, I'm actually from Sacramento.

Lizzy Caplan: Oh, okay.

Bobby Solorio: I have family in Los Angeles so I guess that kind of counts.

Lizzy Caplan: It does. Let's talk more about you. What did you eat for breakfast today? Just kidding. The Paramount people are freaking out.

Bobby Solorio: Okay. I was just wondering. There's a lot of 911 imagery for the film.

T.J. Miller: Next question. Just kidding. Just kidding. Just kidding. Go ahead.

Bobby Solorio: I just wanted to get your reaction when you watched the film. Do you think people are going to react negatively to this 911 image?

Lizzy Caplan: Yes. I think some people will…

T.J. Miller: Yeah.

Lizzy Caplan: …react negatively because it does conjure up some disturbing images. But it was never our intention to exploit what happened on 911. I mean this is a fantasy movie. It's a monster movie.

And, I don't know. I think that people who make films, they need to be allowed to explore and not exploit, but explore these like relevant social issues like the fear that we all live in. And I'm talking about all of us every single day and that's what movies do.

That's what science fiction does in particular. And I think that the monster is really scary and I think that it was executed with realism and intensity. But, you know, it doesn't change the fact that it's a monster. Yeah, it's a massive angry one and it's a far easier target, you know. But being massive and angry, I still think it's a much easier target than the enemies that we face in real life.

Kirsten Anderson: (Alissa Shane) from Ohio State University.

T.J. Miller: Hey.

Man: Hey.

Alissa Shane: My question is since this is a monster movie, besides the Cloverfield monster, what is the scariest monster movie in your opinion?

Man: Well I can understand…

T.J. Miller: This is TJ. I think aliens is pretty fucking…

Lizzy Caplan: Yeah.

T.J. Miller: …scary. And I think, yeah, but what's exciting is this movie's scary but for me scary movies are things like the exorcist or the omen, a lot, you know…

Lizzy Caplan: The Shining.

T.J. Miller: …yeah, The Shining, sort of more psychological thrillers based around people or supernatural stuff. And this film I think is a genuinely scary edge of your seat moving picture. And it's from - because most monster movies are kind of campy and they're not really scary. And so that's what this movie achieves that other ones don't. (Kris).

Kirsten Anderson: Alex Plimack from Towson University.

T.J. Miller: Alex it's (Chris).

Lizzy Caplan: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Man: Towson, Maryland ladies and gentlemen.

Alex Plimack: What's that?


Kirsten Anderson: Go ahead and ask your question.

Alex Plimack: Question I've got is for you TJ. Throughout the movie you are the viewer. You are the eyes of the viewer. The stuff is what the viewer's thinking when they see the stuff on screen.

T.J. Miller: The star of the movie.

Alex Plimack: I guess like my question would be, you know, what did you do taking on that responsibility of being the viewer? You know, so to speak, what did you do to convey the viewer in your performance I guess is what I'm asking.

T.J. Miller: Well, you know what? I actually didn't think too much about that. I wasn't that concerned with trying to speak the audience's mind or try and be the sort of collective conscience of the movie-going public.

I was more concerned with being this character that we all kind of know and being real in the situation and really reacting in a real way to the events that were occurring.

And I think by doing that hopefully the audience then gets in line with Hud and agrees with - not agrees with him, but relates to his experience and I do sort of fuse with the audience. And I do - the audience becomes Hud and Hud is the audience. And that's why the saddest part of the movie is when his brain turns into an animal.

Kirsten Anderson: Matthew Lucas from Appalachian State University.

Lizzy Caplan: Appalachian State.

Matthew Lucas: Hi guys. Thanks for sitting down with us today.

T.J. Miller: Thank you. We're all standing. Keep going.

Matthew Lucas: My question is for TJ.

Lizzy Caplan: God damn it.

Man: Yeah.

Matthew Lucas: Sorry about that.

T.J. Miller: It's okay. I mean let's get to the meat and potatoes of this film for God sakes.

Matthew Lucas: I was curious as to how much of the actual camera work you did yourself…


T.J. Miller: Well, I'll tell you right now. One third of the entire movie was shot by me, T.J. Miller. And that's a quantitative and qualitative assessment.

You know, this is a weird movie because I did short it sort of and all the party scene stuff, anything where there wasn't big green screen special effects stuff, I shot all of that. And even some of that stuff I shot also.

And so it was a strange thing to be wearing that many hats. I was wearing about seven hats and there I was wearing a baseball cap and a top hat and a monocle. And so I was a cameraman and a comedian and an actor.


T.J. Miller: Well.


Matthew Lucas: …shot by or were there - were you given any leeway at all?

T.J. Miller: What's that?

Matthew Lucas: Did you have a plan that you had to shoot by or were you given any leeway at all?

T.J. Miller: Yeah, I mean, I was given leeway in the sense that they wanted it real; to shoot it like it's real. But it was, basically we - certain things had to be expressed and certain stuff had to be on camera. So I blew a lot of takes because I didn't whip pan to the right person or I didn't…

Mike Vogel: Because you can't act.

Lizzy Caplan: Because crew members takes.

T.J. Miller: You know, I wouldn't - I wasn't able to - because I'm not a cameraman. It's not what my training is in. So we just - I tried to do the best I could and after a while you get into a rhythm where I felt like I was in the camera part as much as I was a comedian. I felt more like I was in the camera part than the comedian. I didn't feel like a comedian. I felt like a plumber.

Kirsten Anderson: And final question for the day (Samantha Bonner) from the University of Cincinnati.

Samantha Bonner: Hi guys.

T.J. Miller: Hey, how you doing?


Samantha Bonner: …how are you doing?


Man: What's your name again?

Samantha Bonner: (Samantha Bonner).

Man: All right. Yeah.

Samantha Bonner: It gets pronounced the wrong way.

T.J. Miller: Ha ha. Yeah. You were afraid of…


T.J. Miller: …is pronounced as penis a lot. So I'll say PJ penis.

Samantha Bonner: Well this question is for Lizzy Caplan.

Lizzy Caplan: Whoa.


Man: You really want to talk to her?

Lizzy Caplan: Take it on.


Samantha Bonner: My question is…


Samantha Bonner: …as soon as I saw you on screen, I remember you from Mean Girls.

T.J. Miller: Yeah you did.

Samantha Bonner: So I was just wondering if you had any thoughts as to if you thought it was going to affect how people would view your performance in this movie knowing that you were from such a big movie as Mean Girls?

Lizzy Caplan: Well, they wanted to hire lesser known actors for this and I didn't go - myself and Mike Vogel were the two that like had been in some stuff that people had seen.

But Mean Girls was a long time ago, you know. And I played - like I definitely - that was a very specific character. But I will say that, you know, I think both characters have, you know, elements of sarcasm in their personalities.

But I do think that Mean Girls was like it turned out to be the best possible version of that high school movie. And I'm hoping that this will be the best possible version of a monster movie. So that way I don't have to do either type of movie ever, ever again.

Kirsten Anderson: Okay. Great. Thank you.

Lizzy Caplan: Yeah.

Kirsten Anderson: Thank you everyone for participating.

Lizzy Caplan: Thank you.

T.J. Miller: It was really fun. Tell all your friends that…


T.J. Miller: …this is what's happening.

Kirsten Anderson: And I apologize to Oklahoma, Birmingham and Memphis. They have to move on to further interviews.

As I said, there will be transcripts tomorrow, I mean Monday.

T.J. Miller: Hey, you know what? You know what? Oklahoma and Birmingham and whatever the other one is, if you want to ask a question to me just email me at my Web site and I'll respond.

Lizzy Caplan: Or call his cell phone, area code 363…

T.J. Miller: No, it's not. You can't - but you can email me.

Man: Well, (I watch you) I can't call you.

T.J. Miller: You can call me, 303…

Mike Vogel: Through the Web site.


Man: No, I'm kidding man.

Kirsten Anderson: What was your Website? They did ask.

T.J. Miller: What's that.

Kirsten Anderson: Your Website. They wanted to know.

T.J. Miller: Oh it's tjmiller does not have a Website dot com.

Lizzy Caplan: (Unintelligible).

T.J. Miller: Just Google me.

Kirsten Anderson: All right. Thank you everyone.

Man: Bye.

Lizzy Caplan: Same to you.