April 23, 2014

Tag Archives: Tim Blake Nelson

“Detachment” paints a grim picture of public education

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: Most of the ideas in Tony Kaye’s Detachment are not revolutionary, especially not to anyone who has followed the last thirty years of debate regarding the public education system in America (Jonathan Kozel’s many works of nonfiction come to mind). And while the story is told in a style that sometimes veers in art-house cliche (sepia-toned flashbacks, first-person testimonial to an unseen listener, hand-held claustrophobia, etc), the picture is in the end devastating via its almost objective presentation of the issues at hand. Sure, Kaye is saying, we know that public schools are underfunded, understaffed, and stuck with various federal mandates and (worst of all, argues Kaye) a deluge of unmotivated students whose parents only take an interest when it comes to rebutting disciplinary measures. But told through the eyes of a substitute teacher who is far more caring than he wants to be, the picture wonders why we’re so accepting a system that doesn’t seem to be all that successful for any number of American youths.
The plot is pretty simple: Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody) is starting an extended gig as a substitute teacher in an unnamed public high school. Through his eyes we see the frustration, bitterness, cynicism, and acceptance of his full-time colleagues (played by, among others, James Caan, Lucy Liu, Christina Hendricks, and William Peterson, Blythe Danner, Tim Blake Nelson, and Marcia Gay Harden). The primary blame is placed at the feet of seemingly disinterested parents, although programs like No Child Left Behind with its unfunded mandates and reliance on arbitrary test scores as the be all/end all judgement for struggling schools, takes their licks too. Yes Mr. Barnes does provide token inspiration to his kids, almost despite himself, but it’s merely because they take his blunt cynicism as a sign of respect. This is, at its core, a character study of someone who has long since given up being the great inspiration to young minds, as well as a brutal deconstruction of that entire concept.
Much of what happens borders on cliche, especially when the film leaves the classroom. He struggles with a student who mistakes simple empathy for paternal/romantic affection, bonds with a female member of the faculty, and deals with a dementia-stricken grandparent (Louis Zorich). But the film works because of the sheer understated power of its frank storytelling. That last subplot plays out [...]

Adrien Brody attaches himself to Kaye’s “Detachment”

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Adrien Brody has accepted the lead in Tony Kaye’s “Detachment,” Which chronicles three weeks in the lives of several high school teachers, administrators and students through the eyes of a substitute teacher.
Brody isn’t the only Oscar winner in Kaye’s “class.” He’ll join Marcia Gay Harden in a faculty populated by Christina Hendricks, William Peterson, Bryan Cranston, Tim Blake Nelson, Lucy Liu, Blythe Danner and James Caan.
Brody will play Henry Barthes, a substitute teacher who roams from school to school, imparting modes of knowledge but never staying long enough to form any semblance of sentient attachment.
Production began on July 25, in New York.
Paper Street Films producer Austin Stark adds, “Director Tony Kaye’s vision of the American public school system is poignant and unique, and we are thrilled to be working with such a talented cast in bringing this important story to the screen.”
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Tim Blake Nelson joining Drew Barrymore on “Whale” ride

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Tim Blake Nelson wants to save the whales. On screen, at least.
The actor-director who was last seen sharing the screen with Edward Norton for the obscure “Leaves of Grass,” will join Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski in “Everybody Loves Whales.” No, it’s not a spin-off of the popular CBS sitcom, “Everybody Loves Raymond.” It’s an environmental drama set in 1988 that centers on a reporter (Krasinski) and a Greenpeace volunteer (Barrymore) racing to save three whales who are trapped beneath the ice of the Arctic Circle.
Nelson would play a wildlife expert, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Kristen Bell also has been cast in “Whales,” which is based on Tom Rose’s nonfiction book, “Freeing the Whales: How the Media Created the World’s Greatest Non-Event.”
Ken Kwapis is attached to direct. He previously worked with Krasinski on “License to Wed” and Barrymore on “He’s Just Not That Into You.” It’s expected that “Whales” would start filming this fall for a 2011 release.
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SXSW: Barely time to breathe

BY SEAN O’CONNELL
You could spend an entire day walking Austin’s riverside. Wide hammocks are set up at regular intervals, inviting you to plop down and snooze in the sunlight. More motivated people are pushing kayaks into the water for a row, or renting bicycles that look just like the one Pee Wee Herman rode in his “Big Adventure.”
Of course, during South By Southwest, there isn’t time to do any of this. Standing on a balcony at the Four Seasons overlooking the river, it reminds me what everyone ELSE in Austin might be doing. But we’re here for film, and man, is there plenty.
Spend one day at the SXSW film festival and you’ll immediately understand what draws hundreds of thousands of film aficionados to town each year.
In a 24 hour span, I managed to: Preview “Predators” footage; interview producer Robert Rodriguez and star Adrien Brody; screen the offbeat romantic comedy “Barry Munday” with Patrick Wilson, Chloe Sevigny and Judy Greer; interview Edward Norton and Tim Blake Nelson for “Leaves of Grass;” attend a screening of the French revenge comedy “Micmacs;” sit in on a Q-and-A with the film’s director, Jean-Pierre Jeaunet; watch the cringe worthy Sundance hit, “Cyrus;” and finally, attend a Q-and-A with the film’s leading men, John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill.
Forget about all of the things I had to skip, including a George Lucas documentary, the well-received “Cold Weather,” and countless parties.
SXSW is a buffet. And no matter how full you are, you want to keep going back to the table to see what else you can fit on your plate. Because you know when you leave the buffet, you’ll be back eating Hollywood’s equivalent of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. So you shift a few things around. Is there room on the schedule for “Dogtooth,“ that Greek horror film a close friend recommended? Can I score tickets to the IFC party? And how do I get down to the Alamo Lamar, which seems to be pretty far off of the grid?
There’s too much going on at SXSW. That’s a great thing. And from what I have seen so far, the festival is incredibly well organized. Sure, I’m hearing a few horror stories from colleagues who have worked the festival over the years. As programming has improved, the festival’s crowds have increased. It can be hard to get into certain movies you [...]

SXSW: Edward Norton delves into ‘Leaves of Grass’

BY SEAN O’CONNELL
Edward Norton stars alongside Keri Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon and … well, Edward Norton in Tim Blake Nelson’s “Leaves of Grass,” a twisty concoction of drug comedy and true-crime dramatics that blows the lid off of the drug-trading practices of Oklahoma’s Jewish community. As if you expected anything streamlined from Nelson, director of “O” and “The Grey Zone” and a frequent collaborator with Joel and Ethan Coen.
Norton and his writer-director met with a handful of journalists at the Four Seasons in downtown Austin to talk motion-capture technology, the draw of Oklahoma’s intelligent citizens, how “Fight Club” is a comedy, and the fine art of noodling. (A method of fishing with your bare hands.)
Hollywood News: There are a lot of Southern characters in film who are one-dimensional, stereotypical and go for the easy laugh. This film has a more layered, complex approach to its portrayal of Southern characters. As an actor and a filmmaker, do you seek out (material) that avoids these stereotypes?
Tim Blake Nelson: Yeah, I certainly do. I do grow tired of intelligence having such a limited manifestation in movies. And so when I wrote this, I knew immediately that the wisest and smartest characters in this movie would be the ones who either remained in Oklahoma or returned there. The smartest guy in the movie is Brady (played by Norton). I think that’s evident but it’s also stated by the mother. And the wisest character is Keri Russell’s character. She has chosen to return and to write in Oklahoma, and I think she gives the Bill character (also played by Norton) the wisdom that allows him to begin to move forward in his life as it’s collapsing around him. In answer to your question, I was eager to debunk certain stereotypes about Southern characters in this movie.
Hollywood News: To believe in the duality of the characters, you have to have a suspension of disbelief. I’d like to know how you achieved it through both your filmmaking and your acting.
Nelson: Suspension of disbelief in a story like this is essential. That said, I think you have to be responsible to your story, as a storyteller, to make it feasible enough. And I hope that this story is feasible enough. There are details peppered throughout that, you know, I didn’t want to bang the audience over the head with it. An obvious [...]

MacGruber leads SXSW 2010 Features Lineup

BY STAFF
The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival is thrilled to announce the complete features lineup for this year’s Festival, March 12 – 20, 2010 in Austin, Texas. Over the course of nine days, 119 features will screen at the festival, with 55 of those having their world premieres at SXSW 2010. These films were selected from a record 1,572 feature-length film submissions composed of 1,206 U.S. and 366 international feature-length films.
Among the major films added to the lineup are: Rogue’s MacGruber, from director Jorma Taccone; Mark Duplass’ Cyrus, Bernard Rose’s Mr. Nice, Tim Blake Nelson’s Leaves of Grass, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Micmacs, Michel Gondry’s The Thorn in the Heart, Alexandre O. Philippe’s The People vs. George Lucas, Shane Meadows’ Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee, Steven Soderbergh’s And Everything Is Going Fine, Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas’ American: The Bill Hicks Story, Mike Woolf’s Man on A Mission, Jacob Hatley’s Ain’t In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm, Mark Landsman’s Thunder Soul, Daniel Stamm’s Cotton, Chris D’Arienzo’s BARRY MUNDAY, and Floria Sigismondi’s The Runaways. They join previously announced films such as Opening Night film Kick-Ass, as well as narrative features Cold Weather and Elektra Luxx, and documentaries Hubble 3D, Lemmy, SATURDAY NIGHT and The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights.
“It was an incredibly competitive year with record submission numbers, and although we had to make really tough decisions, we are extremely excited about this lineup. I’m in awe of the talent on display throughout all the sections,” says Film Conference and Festival Producer Janet Pierson, “We feel we’ve achieved a great balance that continues our tradition of screening films across all budget lines and styles, and we take particular pride in witnessing the evolution of SXSW alumni as well as the vitality of fresh voices.”
The festival’s main competition categories once again find 8 Narrative Features and 8 Documentary Features, vying for their respective Grand Jury Prizes. The Narrative Feature Competition includes: Brotherhood, directed by Will Canon, Dance With The One, directed by Mike Dolan, Earthling, directed by Clay Liford, Helena from the Wedding, directed by Joseph Ifantolino, The Myth of the American Sleepover, directed by David Robert Mitchell, Phillip The Fossil, directed by Garth Donovan, Some Days are Better than Others, directed by Matt McCormick and Tiny Furniture, directed by Lena Dunham. The Documentary Feature Competition includes: Beijing Taxi, directed by Miao [...]