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Is It Ok To Go To The Movies On Your Own?

  

Is it ok to go to the movies on your own?

 

That’s a question that I’ve been asked many times.  I know some people who would say “don’t be a fool, of course there’s nothing wrong with that.”  I know others who think the complete opposite.  A good friend of mine (who falls into the later category) accidentally locked himself out of his unit once.  He reluctantly went to a movie all by his lonesome while waiting for a spare set of keys to arrive.  I don’t think he enjoyed the experience but maybe that because he was watching Nicolas Cage in The Ghost Rider.

 

For me, the answer to this question is simple.  I see more than 200 movies a year and for at least half of that total, I’d be on my own.  Don’t worry.  I’m not a loser.  I don’t think so anyway.  In my defence, I say (1) some previews are during the day and most of my friends work, and (2) some movies look that bad that I’d feel guilty dragging a friend along.  I now present The Bounty Hunter (with Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler) as exhibit A.

 

Maybe it’s just me but I also feel a lot of pressure when taking friends to see a movie.  Often running though my mind is “I hope they like it.”  I hate taking people to something they don’t enjoy.  They may as well of sat home and watched the X-Factor on TV.  Well, maybe not the X-Factor but you get my point.

 

If the film is a comedy, it’s easy to gauge someone’s opinion from the number of times they laugh.  For other films, it’s trickier.  I’ll often sneak a glance and check their body language to see if I can pick up on anything.  All is revealed on leaving the cinema.  I can put forward the same question every time – “sooooo… what did you think of it?”  Hopefully the answer is a positive one.

 

As I’ve spoken about before, there’s often a danger in hyping up a movie.  I took 5 friends to see Inception a few weeks ago.  I’d already been to the preview and given the film an enthusiastic thumbs up – my only A+ of the year to date.  Two of my friends hated it and another was unable to form an opinion (due to the amount of time he spent asleep).  I know it’s fun to argue about movies but I still felt somewhat deflated.  I wanted them to like it.  I wanted them to see it for the amazing cinematic achievement that it was.

 

There are other advantages to seeing a movie on your own.  Firstly, you can sit wherever you want.  Tony Martin and I are on the same page when he says the best seat is the one “away from the f***wits”.  I aim to sit up the back and near an aisle (trying to avoid the major crowd).  I have to make this request every time I go to Event Cinemas because of their reserved seating policy.  It’s good to be away from the bulk of the audience because (1) there’s less chance of having people talk around you, and (2) you can often spread out.

 

As much as I dislike reserved seating, it can be of benefit if you’re buying just a single ticket.  If a session is almost sold out, it’s pretty hard to find two seats together unless you’re prepared to take on the front row (guaranteed torture for any film with subtitles).  If on your own, you can sneak in at the last minute and nab that one-off seat in the back row.  Hopefully it’s not in between a guy who has smuggled in a kebab and a girl who spends the whole movie typing texts into her glowing iPhone.

 

Another big plus is that you can see a movie whenever you want.  If you’re trying to line up a group of friends, it can be tricky finding a time and day that fits snugly into their Outlook calendars.  This can be dangerous for movies only getting a small release.  If you wait longer than a week, you run the risk that it’ll disappear and be replaced by more profitable Hollywood fare (e.g. Sex & The City 2 running on an endless loop).

 

Above all else though, seeing a movie on your own can be a great way to unwind.  I’ve come out of many movies feeling a lot better than before I went in.  I’d hate to miss that awesome feeling just because I couldn’t find someone to see a movie with.

 

I confess there are times when I’ve felt uncomfortable sitting on my own in a movie theatre.  My case in point - seeing a film targeted at pre-teens.  To have a middle aged guy sitting on his own in the back of cinema full of screaming kids might look a little strange.  Thankfully, my sister sacrificed two hours of her time and saw The Spongebob Squarepants Movie with me in 2005.  I wasn’t so lucky with the Hannah Montana / Miley Cyrus 3D concert movie back in 2008.  It was embarrassing enough buying the ticket from the pimple-faced teenager at the counter.  I really think I need to start taking a pen and pad to these kind of movies.  I need to at least look like a critic.

 

When I’m waiting of a movie to start, I often peruse the audience to see if there are any other folk on their own.  You generally don’t see too many.  They tend to be more frequent in action films (I’m guessing the wife/girlfriend had better things to do).  Film festivals also tend to throw up more people willing to go it alone.  I guess their love for film outweighs the possible awkwardness that many perceive.  Nice to see.

 

Am I in the minority when I say yes, it is ok to go to the movies on your own?  I hope not.

Speaking With Caitlin Stasey, Star Of Tomorrrow When The War Began

   
Caitlin StaseyLincoln Lewis & Mitch Lewis
At the Emporium Hotel and speaking with Caitlin Stasey,
star of Tomorrow When The War Began
With Lincoln Lewis, star of Tomorrow When The War Began
and his brother Mitch, fellow critic from Nova 106.9.
 

For the third week in a row, I bring to you another exclusive Film Pie interview.  My stars must be aligned at the moment.

 

I’m speaking with Caitlin Stasey, star of the new Australian action-thriller, Tomorrow When The War Began.  Many will remember Caitlin as playing Rachel Kinski on Neighbours between 2005 and 2009.  This is her first major film role and she’ll be worth keeping an eye on in the near future.  Here’s what she had to say…

 

Matt:  Many people dream about being an actor and they never actually make it.  Only the small minority get through.  Where does your love for acting come from?  How did you start out?

 

Caitlin:  My mother instilled a love for arts in me from a very young age.  I’ve always loved watching old movies.  I loved Gone With The Wind, Wuthering Heights and things like that because I loved pretend, I loved make believe.  I started off with a child agency and I strongly urge that parents don’t sign their children up to agencies.  It really increases your sense of self but not in a good way.  It makes you so aware of how you look.  It makes you quite vein.

 

That said, I was lucky with mine because as a result of signing, I got a job on The Sleepover Club and then with Neighbours.  I’ve got a lot to thank my first agency for but in retrospect, I wonder if maybe I should have waited a little longer.

 

Matt:  How old would you have been when you started out on Neighbours?

 

Caitlin:  With Neighbours I was 14 turning 15.  I was very young.

 

Matt:  How do you balance up the school work?

 

Caitlin:  I sort of didn’t.  I’m not proud to say that I didn’t.  I loved learning and I still have a real thirst for learning and research but I didn’t care for things I was learning about at school.  All the history we were doing was about the dark ages and I didn’t give a stuff about the dark ages.  It’s a time when religion ruled the world and there was no progression – morally and intellectually.  The books we’d read were really dull as well.  I love things like To Kill A Mockingbird, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and things like that but they’d force us to read these other books I couldn’t stand.

 

I did homeschooling for a long time – from 17 onwards – but that kind of fell away.  When you’re young and you’re in an adult environment, your priorities are somewhat altered.  You want to hang out with these adults and spend time doing adult things.  School work doesn’t qualify.  Part of me wishes that I had of paid more attention at school because I never actually finished.  I’ve put my studies on indefinite hold for now.  I hope to go back eventually but to do what, I’m not sure.  I’d love to study sociology.

 

Matt:  You mentioned some of the books kids are forced to read at school.  Apparently Tomorrow When The War Began is the new craze.  All the kids are reading it…

 

Cailtin:  Yeah.  We didn’t get to read that at school.  We had this new wave of Australian literature about farmers and the dreamtime because people have such varied opinions about the invasion of Australia and the stolen generation.  At the time, it didn’t really interest me but now I love reading books about Australia and things like Tomorrow When The War Began.  When they were forced on to me, I couldn’t care less.  I wanted to read about wizards and vampires.

 

Matt:  I’m guessing you had to read this book at some point.

 

Caitlin:  Yes, I read it when I was handed the script.

 

Matt:  I went along to the Queensland premiere which was a big night.  The first reaction I had when I saw the film was… wow, you’re in this a lot!

 

Caitlin:  Yeah, it’s told from my perspective so there’s no way of avoiding Ellie.  It’s her story.

 

Matt:  How’d you land the role?

 

Caitlin:  I was fortunate enough in that Stuart Beattie, the director, had been looking up pictures of Australian actors on Google for whatever reason.  He doesn’t know how he came across the photo but he found a picture of me.  He said that’s what Ellie should look like but he didn’t know if I was an actor or some completely random girl on the internet.

 

I went for my first audition and then got a call back.  I sat with Stuart for about an hour or so – just chatting for the most part… and then yeah, I found out that I’d been awarded the role.

 

Matt:  We should talk a little bit about the film.  It’s about a group of teenagers who are out camping in the bush and then they come back to find the world has changed.  Their town has been invaded.  All these characters are very different.  How would you describe Ellie as a character?

 

Caitlin:  Ellie is essentially an every-day girl.  The girl next door.  She’s very logical, very grounded, very intelligent but she’s also a little reserved with her emotions.  She finds it hard to “feel” things – she’s always thinking and she’s always coming from a diplomatic point of view.  She’s just a girl who has been thrown into an extraordinary circumstance.

 

She’s incredible under pressure but a lot of that is a result of her upbringing.  She’s not a hero per say but she’s a reluctant hero.

 

Matt:   It is a good role.  The character goes through quite a transformation during the film.  She’s a lot more courageous in the end.

 

Caitlin:  Yeah.  The war is a huge element of the story but it’s more about Ellie coming to terms with her feelings for Lee and her friends.  It’s a coming-of-age story essentially – her right of passage.

 

Matt:  What I liked about the film was the tension.  There’s that first scene where you’re trying to work out what’s going on and you’re hiding amongst all the cars.  It’s a really intense scene.  How do you build yourself up for that as an actor?

 

Caitlin:  It’s scary when you think about it.  We’ve got a dozen or so people running around behind the cameras but if you focus in on the fact that there’s three of us in this massive car park and we’ve no idea where our families are.  Although you can’t empathise, you can relate in a way.  You know that you would panic, you would be terrified in that situation.

 

There are also these men running around with guns.  I’m really uneasy when it comes to gun even if they are fake.  They make me feel really uncomfortable.  That was helpful I suppose in making me look uneasy.

 

Matt:  There must be a lot of special effects involved – there are guns and a car chase.  This would have all been new for you as an actor?

 

Caitlin:  Definitely.  I’ve never experienced anything like that before.  With Neighbours, we didn’t have (a) the budget, or (b) the make those kind of scenes.

 

Matt:  With the guns and the explosions, are you actually in there?  Or did you need a stunt double?

 

Caitlin:  Yeah, most of the time we were in there.  I think there was one explosion where we weren’t but that’s because it was fairly dangerous and people had to be set on fire afterwards.  Most of the time, Stuart liked seeing our faces.  He wanted the audience to feel like we there.  The thing that makes this story is that these are ordinary teenagers that teenage audiences would love to do so you need to see them and realise it’s them that’s doing it.  It’s not an adult pretending to be a 17-year-old girl who is doing it.

 

Matt:  Now the director is an Aussie – Stuart Beattie.  First time as a director but many people will know his works.  He’s written a lot of scripts including the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies.  What was he like?  How did he operate as a director?

 

Caitlin:  Incredibly generous.  I said to him I don’t know what I would have done and how lucky I was that my first film experience was with him.  He’s never been this imposing figure.  He’s never been Stuart Beattie the famous screenwriter.  It was just Stuart our director and Stuart our mate.  The whole process was incredibly collaborative.  There was no middle man between us and him.  It was always – “go directly to Stuart and talk about anything you need.”

 

I would talk to him about personal matters as well.  I had anxiety over the fact that Ellie had to be done perfectly and come across as she is in the books.  I was terrified of letting people down but he always had faith in me and was so patient.  I can stress enough how patient and wonderful and kind he is.

 

Matt:  Do you still get your opportunity to put your own mark on the character?

 

Caitlin:  Yeah.  I’d say “I don’t think I’d say that” and “a teenager doesn’t talk like this”.  We trusted Stuart implicitly about everything other than his sense of music.  He has dreadful taste in music.  We all sent him our songs and suggested you should listen to things like the Flame Trees by Sarah Blasko which is now in the film.  There were a bunch of songs we sent and said “you should use this in the film”.  Thank god he listened because he wanted to have 80s power ballads.  We love him to death but it’s funny to think this man is so out of touch with his music tastes.

 

Matt:  So if I’m buying the soundtrack it’s kind of a best of album from the cast?

 

Caitlin:  It’s basically all our favourite songs and I think that’s really important.  The score is beautifully written too and I think teenagers are more acceptable of classical music these days because it’s been integrated into our modern day music.

 

Matt:  I get the impression that the film is aimed at a younger audience.  Who would you say this is marketed at?

 

Caitlin:  I know our main demographic is from 15 to 25 or so.  The books have been out since about 1993 so a lot of people who started reading them are well into their 30s by now.  We’re aiming it at teenagers because it is a story about them.  It’s a story about your everyday teenager who has been flung into this completely alternate reality.  Of course we want their parents to love and we want their grandparents to love it but I suppose our main target audience are the teens of Australia.

 

Matt:  Has there been talk of follow ups?  Sequels from other books?

 

Caitlin:  Yeah, we want to make 2 and 3 but we can’t commit until we see know how well the first film has done.  We’d love to be part of it though.

 

Matt:  Let’s talk quickly about all the PR side of things.  I’ve heard you on the radio and seen you at red carpet premieres.  This must be all pretty new for you as well.  Does it get tiring or is it energising?

 

Caitlin:  It is tiring but it’s also nice.  The main problem with marketing Australian films is that their budget never allows them to do so.  With us, our main priority is pushing the film as hard as we can.  It’s rewarding but it’s exhausting.

 

Matt:  I’ll finish by asking what’s next for Caitlin Stasey?

 

Caitlin:  I’m going to be the next Doctor Who.  I think it’d be a great idea to make Doctor Who a female. 

 

Matt:  Caitlin, thank you very much and I hope the film is a big success.

 

Caitlin:  Thank you very much.

 

 

My Interview With Taika Waititi, Director Of Boy

   

 Taika Waititi With Matthew Toomey

 

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky to sit down with New Zealand director Taika Waititi and talk about his new film Boy.  It’s become the highest grossing local film in New Zealand history and is now getting a release in Australia.  Taika was a very down to earth guy and great to speak with.  Here’s how it went down…

 

Matt:  We’ll start with your background.  You’ve had quite an interesting start to your career.  You’re only two years older than myself and I’m sort of jealous that you’re already so successful in the film world.  How’d you get started?  When does the interest come from for film?

 

Taika:  I’ve actually only been doing film for about 5 or 6 years.  My background is in painting and visual art.  I’ve basically done that since I was a kid.  Along the way, I was encouraged by parents to do creative stuff.  My dad’s a painter and my mother’s a school teacher and a writer.  Right from an early age, I was encouraged to do that sort of stuff.  Filmmaking was something I hadn’t tried out and I wanted to give it a go.  I’d acted in some films and on television and I was interested in what the director was up to with the “behind the scenes” stuff.

 

I remember one day watching something with a TV show I was on and I thought “I could do that better than you.”  I didn’t say it out loud but I went off and started writing my own stuff.  It started off as dialogue between some kids in a situation involving them for their parents to come out of a pub.  I wrote this piece which I thought might end up being a theatre piece – a little one act play.  I sent it to a friend of mine who said “hey, you should make this into a short film”.  I thought I’d give it a go and I found that I really loved the experience.  The film did phenomenally well and was nominated for an Oscar.

 

Next thing, I was being encouraged to keep doing film stuff.  I was hesitant at first.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this as a job.  I then made another short film which did incredibly well.  I finally kind of gave in and thought it would be a good job.  I never really had a proper job before that and I hadn’t stuck with something so long.  It’s a good job, a great job.

 

Matt:  You’re doing pretty well for yourself, so far anyway.  You mentioned that you were nominated for an Academy Award for the short film Two Cars, One Night.  Did you find that opened up a lot of doors for you?

 

Taika:  Absolutely.  It led me to making my first feature in New Zealand which got fast tracked.  A lot of people get put into “development hell” trying to make their first feature but I had the benefit of being nominated for an Oscar and then by October that year, I was shooting my first feature.

 

Matt:  This is Eagle Vs Shark.  It was a real cult hit.  Did that surprise you how well it took off?

 

Taika:  It did actually and I was really happy with that.  There was a certain expectation I was going to do a Mauri-style film because my short films dealt with those themes.  I wanted to move away from that and the expectations and make something that was more awkward and which stemmed from my comedy background more than my theatre background.  I loved the experience.

 

I wrote the script for Boy before I wrote Eagle Vs. Shark.  It was actually the first script that I wrote.  I took it to the Sundance Writer’s Lab in 2005 and workshopped it for a couple of weeks.  I then took a break from it.  I felt so strongly about the script and I thought this would be my most important film in stepping onto the filmmaking scene.  I thought I owed to the film to be a good director.  I had no idea how to make a feature film and I can’t just stumble into this and hope for the best.

 

So I decided to take a break from it and go and make Eagle Vs. Shark.  I wrote that and made it really just to learn how to make a film.  It was to test myself.  Some people can make the transition from short story writing to novel-ing.  Some people can do it and some people can’t.  Some people can make a short film and then massacre a feature film.  I wasn’t sure which I was.  I made Eagle Vs. Shark and I learned from that.  I made a few mistakes, stumbled a bit but the point was to take a risk with something which could handle the bumps and learn the craft of making a feature.

 

Matt:  Well you learned well considering how many people loved Eagle Vs. Shark.

 

Taika:  It was fantastic.  It was such a small, delicate little film and people loved it.  It was really encouraging.  I realised there was an audience for this kind of film that has a mixture of tone.  It’s not just broad comedy but there’s some sad bits, some beautiful bits in it.  I think that’s turned out to be my sensibility – mixing up tones.  I took that into Boy and it shares a similar feeling I think.  It’s got this nice, haunting soundtrack by the Phoenix Foundation.  It uses animation but not for comedy or fun but more to highlight some truths that are going on in the kid’s heads.

 

Matt:  Who did those drawings in the film?

 

Taika:  Me.  I did those.

 

Matt:  We should talk about the film because that’s why we’re here.  You’re the director of the film, you’re the writer of the film and you’re one of the stars of the film.  I’ve never had the chance to speak to Woody Allen because I know he does that so well.  How do you juggle all those roles while going through the process?

 

Taika:  It takes a little getting used to.  The first week we were shooting when I was acting for the in the film was a little bit of a juggling act.  I was trying to re-write scenes on set while figuring out how we were going to shoot the thing and then think about how to say the lines.  Eventually, we worked out a system where I would “block” the scene and then get a stand-in so I could see how it would look.  I’d then kick everyone out and then figure out what I had to do and shoot out.  We got into a routine where it all kind of worked.  By the second week, I knew the character really well and knew how to “fall into the character” quite quickly.  It was quite easy in the end.

 

Matt:  I’m getting the impression you like spending more time behind the camera than in front of the camera?

 

Taika:  Yeah, I think I am a better filmmaker than an actor.  Having said that, acting is something I’m more experienced at.  I still love it and the fun aspects of acting.  I’m not the kind of guy who wants to do the “method thing” and take it really seriously.  Like, lose 100 pounds to convince people that I’m skinny and that I’m a “real actor”.  I want to keep doing it but I don’t really have time to commit to acting in other people’s things.  If I feel like acting, I think I’ll just put myself in my own stuff.

 

Matt:  We’ll tell people a little about the film.  The central character is an 11 year old kid named Boy.  He lives with his grandmother and his younger brother, Rocky.  His mother passed away a few ago and his dad hasn’t been around.  He’s at a very impressionable age, looking for a bit of guidance and then wham – your character, the father, returns out of the blue.  It’s an interesting character - he’s cool, he’s funny, he’s laid-back but I think he’s just as immature as the 11 year old.  Where’d you come up with this character?

 

Taika:  He’s really a mixture of men that I know.  There are elements of myself in there.  I just think that men in general don’t grow up.  We pretend very well but I don’t think we’re that mature in general.  I tried to take all the fun, eccentric elements of people that I know and things I find interesting to look at in characters.  I cobbled them together and wanted someone who feels so unpredictable that it’s fun to watch them but you know that underneath is a deeper problem, a serious problem.  There’s some stuff he’s not dealing with and his only way of trying to deal with it is to act like a kid and keep believing his own myths that he’s putting out there.

 

What’s interesting is the story is about this kid who doesn’t know his dad and as a result, the only way he can feel like that he knows his dad is to make up fantasies about him.  So he’s always fantasising that his dad is off having adventures around the world and doing these incredible things.  When the dad arrives, we all know that the dad’s not going to be the same as a kid’s fantasies.  But then the dad starts perpetuating these myths as well by believing he’s a samurai warrior and he’s starting a new gang.  He’s got this romantic idea about who he is and that he’s some sort of outlaw who is on the run all the time.  That’s what compounds the situation.  Both of them are living in this fantasy about who the dad is.

 

His younger brother, Rocky, is also trying to understand who the dad is.  So you’ve got this weird triangle between the two brothers and the dad and the shifting of allegiances.  In the beginning of the film, Boy is obsessed with the father and doesn’t really think about his mother that much.  Rocky is obsessed by the mother and doesn’t really want to know the father.  By the end of the film, those alliances change a little bit and that creates more of a balance.  People start getting “real”.

 

Boy knows who his dad is by the end of the film.  We all know that’s going to happen – that he’s going to have a dose of reality and come to the realisation that his dad isn’t who he thinks he is.  But at the end he still makes up fantasies about him.  I think that’s an important thing – it’s ok to make up fantasies about people if you know the truth.  I still make up stories about my parents and in my mind, imagining them as far more amazing than they are.

 

Matt:  You’ve spoken about Boy and Rocky.  Every time I see films with young actors, I’m so amazed and wonder where they find these people.  Was it a tough process trying to find the two kids?

 

Taika:  Yeah.  The kids actually came from the same area around the coast.  We wanted local kids so it would feel authentic.  We didn’t want a “city kid” to pretend to be from the country.  But it’s not a place where many kids get to do any acting so we knew that none of the kids had acted before – it was their first time.

 

We wanted someone who was going to be natural.  You can always tell when a kid is acting especially when they’ve acted before.  These kids were so natural and so very real that it’s actually shocking to watch how good they are.

 

Matt:  I think the audiences are going to fall in love with them.  The 80s setting I have to ask about.  Especially the clothing – it’s so daggy.  Why the 80s setting?

 

Taika:  Well I don’t really know what kids are into these days and I don’t particularly care for the latest fashions and I don’t really care too much for the music of today.  But I really like the 80s aesthetic and I like how the 80s were a coming of age time for New Zealand.  We had this flood of American culture coming through which threatened to take over our Mauri culture as well.

 

Then, you’ve got someone like Michael Jackson who epitomises that period for me.  As a kid, this was a hero who was not only the greatest entertainer in the world, but he was also super-rich and spending his money on stuff that kids find cool.  He lives in a castle surrounded by zoo animals and he’s got Pepsi on tap.  It was a time of disgusting excess where being a kid growing up in a really poor area of the country where you have nothing, you see this “world” by watching Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous on TV and that’s what you aspire to, it’s what you want.  That’s basically the environment.

 

You’re in the middle of nowhere with nothing but all you can think about is owning a Lamborghini.  It’s so strange that your world is surrounded by that stuff but you’ve got no tangible evidence of it even existing in real life.  I didn’t see a real Lamborghini until I was 17 or something. 

 

Matt:  The film was an enormous smash hit in New Zealand.  I think it was number 1 at the box-office for 4 weeks beating all the other American films that had come out.  The public really took to it.  Then it became the number 1 grossing local film in New Zealand history.  That’s just fantastic.  Has it been difficult releasing to try to release the film overseas, like here in Australia?

 

Taika:  A little bit, yeah.  With the current financial climate, it makes it very difficult to sell a film like this.  I think there is a market here in Australia and I know that people here will “get it”.  Internationally, I think audiences will love it but the problem is finding someone who can figure out a way of marketing it to America.  It’s a big risk to try and put a film out like this.  At the moment, people are flocking to see films like Avatar and Inception – any film that takes out of reality because reality is not so great.  When you go to the movies , if you get the chance to go to another planet for 3 hours in 3-D, that’s what people are going to spend their money on.  It’s very difficult but I know there is an audience for the film and so we’ll see.

 

Matt:  Looking forward, I believe you’ve been working on Green Lantern which is a big super-dooper blockbuster.  Was it a cool experience?

 

Taika:  It was amazing.  It was really cool coming from my filmmaking background.  I’d never seen a set as big as Green Lantern and there were hundreds of people working on this thing.  It was amazing for me to see how it’s done.  I’ve always been amazed by big movies and how they make them – the organisation and the disorganisation.

 

Matt:  Do you think as a director when you’re on the set?

 

Taika:  Yeah.  I spent most of my time watching what was going on with a director’s eye.  As an actor, I can’t say I was really “acting” – I was more just standing in front of camera with words coming out of my mouth.  I didn’t do any action stuff.  My character is pretty normal – an every day guy, a tech geek.  I didn’t get to fly around or anything.

 

Matt:  I look forward to seeing it when it comes out next year but right now, everyone can check out Boy.  Thank you very much for joining me.

 

Taika:  Thanks.  Cheers.

 

Chatting With Patricia Clarkson About Cairo Time

  

I’ve reviewed close to 3,000 films on my website but this week, I’ve got another Film Pie first.  I was lucky enough to score an interview with Academy Award nominee Patricia Clarkson, who has appeared in films such as The Green Mile, The Station Agent, Pieces Of April and Good Night & Good Luck.  It was a special opportunity so I needed to make the most of it.  For the very first time, I'm reviewing a film with one of its stars listening down the telephone line.  Here’s how it went (with 612ABC’s Spencer Howson offering a few comments at the very end)…

 

Matt:  I can’t help but be excited this morning because I have a very special guest.  I’ve never been to the Oscars myself but I think is about as close as I’m going to get.  I’m speaking with an Academy Award nominee.  She was nominated in 2004 for her performance in Pieces Of April.  I say a very good morning to Patricia Clarkson.

 

Patricia:  Hello, hello.  Yes, I’ve still got my Oscar dress on from 2004.

 

Matt:  We’re here of course to talk about your interesting new film which has just come out but I want to talk about your background a little bit.  If I was an actor, I’d love to have your resume – films like Shutter Island, Elegy, Good Night & Good Luck, The Station Agent, Far From Heaven and The Green Mile.  You’ve got to let us in on the secret.  How do you keep picking these great roles?

 

Patricia:  I guess I’m drawn to the story first.  I do want to play a great part but as great as a part can be, you have to live within an entire movie.  So I am first drawn to a script, a movie, a project that moves me in some way – comedically or dramatically.  Maybe I have a little bit of luck on my side which you always need in this business because so much of it is serendipitous.  I’m lucky that great directors come to me… but I’m knocking wood as I say that because I’m very superstitious.  So I’ve just been fortunate that wonderful people have brought me their movies and have asked me to be in their movies... and I’m smart enough to say “yes”.

 

Matt:  Well I think you’ve made a lot of great choice.  You’ve been in the business for over 20 years now and it must be something that you love doing because you keep doing it.  What is it that you love most about the profession?  What keeps driving you as an actor?

 

Patricia:  What I’ve always loved since the time I started acting when I was 12 or 13 in junior high school.  I love the creative process.  I love that it’s a communal effort.  I love finding a character.  I love meeting different people – people that you’ve never met in your life who come from different lives and backgrounds.  You develop a bond for the love of creating something that’s meaningful.

 

Matt:  My day job is as an accountant and I love having this life outside of work where I can go and see all these movies.  As an actor, is it the flip-side of that?  If you spend all your day acting, do you have time to go and watch a lot of movies outside of what you do?

 

Patricia:  I probably don’t see as many movies as I should.  I see films movies that my friends are in.  I’ll go to their premieres or I’ll go pay and see it when it comes out.  I’ll see films that I hear are fantastic – I’m not going to miss a great film.  But I don’t go as often as I should.  I work a lot and sometimes when I have a night off… like tonight… I’m doing interviews to Australia!  Often I like to just have a quiet dinner and relax.

 

Matt:  So do you like getting out to the cinemas or do you prefer lying on the couch watching a DVD?

 

Patricia:  I don’t like to watch DVDs.  I much prefer to be in the theatre.  I will first and foremost try to see a movie in a movie theatre because it’s a completely different experience.  One that I value obviously as it’s my livelihood.

 

Matt:  Are you caught up in the 3D craze?  Do you think it’s a fad or something that’s here to stay?

 

Patricia:  Maybe at some point in my life I’ll be in a 3D movie and I’ll be all excited about it.  It’s beautiful but it gives me a bit of a woozy feeling.

 

Matt:  Do you actually read reviews yourself Patricia for the films that you’re in?

 

Patricia:   No.  I try not to so the fact that I have to listen to an oral review coming at me… (laughs).  It’s fine.

 

Matt:  Ok, we’ll keep it delicate.  In this film Cairo Time, you’re playing Juliette – she’s a magazine editor in her 50s, she’s gone to Cairo to meet up with her husband who has been working in Gaza for the UN.  When she gets to Cairo her husband has been delayed and she’s waiting in the hotel room on her own.  I must say it’s a beautiful hotel room.  Were you staying in something like that?

 

Patricia:   It’s somewhat similar.  Yes, we shot at the Shepherd’s Hotel and we stayed there.  We got a deal which is what we needed seeing as this was a small budget film.

 

Matt:  I loved that scene where you’re sitting out on the balcony for the first time admiring the view of Cairo.  It’s just a beautiful city.

 

Patricia:  Yes, it’s a breathtaking city.

 

Matt:  You’re couped up in the hotel room and your character is going a bit stir-crazy.  You step out onto the streets of Cairo to have a look around and I’ve never been to Egypt myself (it’s on my bucket list) but was that your first trip?  Have you been there before?

 

Patricia:  This was my first trip to the Middle East.  I must say that it delivered.  Cairo packs a punch in many, many ways… in unexpected ways.  It was a life changing experience for me this whole project.  Shooting this movie, being in Cairo, being the lead of this film and working every single day.  It was rigorous.  It was quite a journey.

 

Matt:  There’s a moment in the film where you’re walking and a group of guys are following you and they’re leering at you.  One of them even touches you.  You manage to escape by popping into a store and it’s quite a striking moment in the film.  Was it actually like that in Egypt?

 

Patricia:  There is an element of that absolutely.  It’s not overrun by fundamentalists but it’s a male driven society.  You do have to be careful as a Western-looking woman walking the streets with my blond hair.  I had to be careful and I had a fairly similar event happen about three days into Cairo.   I never went anywhere alone again.  It’s just in certain parts and certain sections, not everywhere in Cairo, just certain places.  They do love women of any age.

 

Matt:  In the film you strike up a friendship with one of your husband’s former colleagues – he’s an Egyptian local named Tariq.  You go out and see the sights and there’s something that develops between the two of you.  It’s not like a traditional Hollywood type relationship as in let’s kiss, off the bedroom, passionate love affair and that sort of stuff.  It’s a really subtle relationship.  How would you describe what happens between Juliette and Tariq?

 

Patricia:  It is restrained.  Not just because of their cultures and customs.  I think it’s restrained because of who they are as people and what is at stake.  I think they’re honourable people but very sexy!

 

Matt:  There’s a beautiful scene late in the film where you’re at the pyramids and the camera is looking up with the pyramids behind while you’re sitting on one of the great stones.  That must have been pretty surreal?

 

Patricia:  Yes and it’s real.  There’s no CGI in the film except for a little scene on a train but everything else in this film is exactly as it was.  When I was telling friends I was in Cairo they were asking if I’d seen the pyramids.  Did I see the pyramids?  I sat on the pyramids!  I hugged the pyramids!  Everything is very real and every location was a real location.  Nothing was created or modified and I think it’s an honourable part of the film. 

 

Matt:  Well I think it’s a really good film.  I was a worried at first when it was a little bit slow to start.  There’s a large focus on the city.  But the focus then turns to Juliette and by the final act of the film, I really enjoyed the interaction between Juliette and Tariq.  There’s not a lot of dialogue.  I’m giving this the thumbs up and will give it a B+.

 

Patricia:  Oh good.  Ok, ok.  (breathes sigh of relief)

 

Matt:  Does that mean you’re going to give it an A, Patricia?

 

Patricia:  Of course I give it an A (laughs).  But a thumbs up and a B+ is a very good thing.  I’m thrilled with that.

 

Spencer:  That must have been terrifying for you?  Like sitting there with the headmaster or something?

 

Patricia:  Yes, a little bit.  But it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  I survived it.  (laughs)

 

Matt:  Thanks Patricia.

 

Patricia:  Thank-you so much guys.  You guys are fun!  Take care.