Wednesday, February 7, 2018

27 Days of Oscar, Day 2: Reality Check and Dreamland (Interviewing Timothee, Ruben, Ildiko and Ziad!)

Before I get to the hard cold truth of what I can feasibly watch before the voting deadline for the Independent Spirit Awards I want to chat about the incredible experience I had yesterday interviewing not only Timothee Chalamet, but also three of the nominated foreign film directors.

First of all, I didn't think it would actually happen, not smoothly at least. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter I posted a snapshot of my calendar, and it was tight. Luckily Ruben Ostlund was running a bit behind, so there was no real mishap. Other than the fact that after checking multiple times that my ringer was on I missed Ziad Doueiri's first call because I had my phone on do not disturb.

Alas, it was fine in the end.

What poses a challenge with these interviews is the fact that they've been asked certain questions a gazillion times. So, it's up to me to make it more interesting or go a bit deeper. For example, am I really going to ask Timothee about the peach scene? Again? Probably not, but when I asked him about the final shot by the fire, I prefaced it with the fact that I knew he did 3 takes and that director Luca Guadagnino asked him to be more reserved in the beginning, "let them in" a bit more in the middle take and let loose in the third. (That's paraphrasing, btw) So I asked him for more. What was he actually thinking in that shot? I told him what I saw and we connected his process to my perception. It was an incredible conversation.

I asked him about LGBTQ cinema and what Queer films impacted him over the years. We talked about the audiences of the film...including what it was like to watch it here in Mississippi. I was able to ask him (something I don't recall anyone else asking) if he had considered Elio's sexuality and whether or not it mattered.

One of the biggest takeaways included how he utilized the Andre Aciman's book on set, not going to spoil that here!

I also, thanks to my friend Amy's suggestion, asked him about a scene near the end where a drunk Elio and Oliver stumble upon a trio of 80s beatniks listening to the very song they had danced to earlier in the film and what Elio was thinking as he had to watch the man he loved, yet again dance with a woman instead of him.

It was a great conversation, and I can't wait to put it down for you to read over at Awards Daily.

The conversations with the directors of the foreign films did not disappoint as well.  Ziad Doueiri talked quite openly about the residual resentment and conflict from the civil war between the Lebanese Christians and the Palestinians and how something similar is happening today in the US and Brittain. He gave me his cell phone number and told me to call anytime if I had any more questions. Always a good sign.

Ruben Ostlund, who seeming a bit exhausted, and I discussed how "The Square" came about from an art installation he co-created. Nothing he hasn't discussed before. We did talk much about the pacing of the film and the editing process, which was fascinating.

And finally I had a very moving conversation with "On Body and Soul" director Ildiko Enyedi, the only woman nominated in this category, about the reasons it took 18 years between this and her last feature film, the medium of television and the humor that was necessary to balance out the pain we are viewing on screen. FYI: "On Body and Soul" is now available on Netflix.

That piece will be published soon after the Queer Cinema piece. Much, much to do!

NOW...let's get real. I considered watching "Ingrid Goes West" last night (nominated for a couple of Spirit Awards) but realized that I had yet to finish "The Killing of a Sacred Deer." I did that and was exhausted afterwards. With the Oxford Film Festival beginning tonight I don't think I'll be able to watch an Oscary movie until Sunday morning. MAYBE Saturday.

So, considering the fact that I need to write and go to my job (the one where I actually get paid!) I think I will be able to watch 4, 5 movies max before the Spirit Awards voting deadline. SO...that means this. I won't be able to vote in a several categories (Best First Feature, for instance) because I want to vote on Screenplay, Female Lead, Supporting Female and Supporting Male. Therefore my honest Spirit Playlist is this:

The Lovers
Beatriz at Dinner
Life and Nothing More
Marjorie Prime
Crown Heights
Oh Lucy

That's 6! Oh, Oscars Phase 2! You are a nasty, nasty lover.

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