November, 2013

  • SCREEN DAILY: “For Those in Peril” wins at BAFTA Scotland awards

    November 18, 2013

    For Those in Peril and Screen Star of Tomorrow George Mackay picked up top awards.

    Paul Wright’s For Those In Peril, about a young man in a Scottish fishing village reeling after a tragic accident, did the double at the BAFTA Scotland Awards 2013 last night.

    At a ceremony in Glasgow, honouring both Scottish productions as well as Scottish talent working in other UK productions, lead actor George Mackay picked up the coveted best actor/actress in film award.

    The film, which was selected for Cannes Critics’ Week, also won best film beating competition from documentaryFire in the Night and ganger feature The Wee Man.

    However, both runners-up picked up separate awards withFire In the Night winning best single documentary andThe Wee Man picking up the BAFTA Scotland Cineworld Audience Award, voted for by the public.

    Emma Davie and Morag Mckinnon both collected the best director award for I Am Breathing, their documentary about the last months of Neil Platt, a young father with motor neuron disease.

    The line-up of presenters saw Brian Cox and Kelly Macdonald join host Edith Bowman at Glasgow’s Radisson Blu Hotel.

    Alan de Pellette, acting director Bafta Scotland, said: “The quality and range in this year’s British Academy Scotland Awards reflects the sheer breadth of content being created in Scotland across film, television and games.

    “The work celebrated is inspiring to all of us working in the screen industries and it’s great to see so much talent being recognised tonight. Congratulations to all of our very worthy winners.”


    Actor/Actress Film
    George Mackay, For Those in Peril
    Warp X

    Actor/Actress Television
    Peter Mullan, The Fear
    World Productions Ltd for Channel 4

    Hart’s Desire, Gavin C Robinson

    Children’s Programme
    Comic Relief Does Glee Club Live Final
    Chris Hulme, Yvonne Jennings, Julie Kelling
    BBC Scotland for CBBC

    Comedy/Entertainment Programme
    Limmy’s Show
    Rab Christie, Brian Limond, Jacqueline Sinclair
    Comedy Unit for BBC Scotland

    Current Affairs
    Sins Of Our Fathers
    Mark Daly, Peter Macrae, Murdoch Rodgers
    BBC Scotland

    Emma Davie & Morag Mckinnon
    I Am Breathing
    Scottish Documentary Institute & Danish Documentary Production

    Factual Series
    Operation Iceberg
    Matt Barrett, Louise Ferguson, Mark Hedgecoe, Andrew Thompson
    BBC Scotland for BBC Two

    Features/Factual Entertainment
    Bank Of Dave – Fighting The Fat Cats
    Ian Lilley, Katie Lander
    Finestripe Productions for Channel 4

    Feature Film
    For Those In Peril
    Mary Burke, Polly Stokes, Paul Wright
    Warp X

    Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet
    Things Made Out Of Other Things

    Single Documentary
    Fire In The Night
    Michael McAvoy, Alan Clements, Anthony Wonke
    STV Productions and Berriff McGinty Films for BBC Scotland

    Television Drama
    Robert Jones, Birger Larsen, Kath Mattock, Rob Pursey, Matthew Read
    BBC Scotland and Touchpaper TV for BBC 1

    Robert Jones, Murder
    BBC Scotland and Touchpaper TV for BBC 1

    BAFTA Scotland Cineworld Audience Award
    Voted for by the public
    The Wee Man

  • VARIETY: “For Those in Peril” wins Best Actor at Stockholm fest

    November 15, 2013

    STOCKHOLM — Clio Barnard’s “The Selfish Giant” took the best film nod at the 24th Stockholm Intl. Film Festival’s gala ceremony hosted at Berns Hotel on Friday.

    A drama turning on the ambivalent friendship between two feral adolescents, “Giant” world preemed at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight to warm reviews. It’s repped by Protagonist Pictures and produced by Moonspun Films, with the backing of the British Film Institute and Film4.

    “Shattering, to the point, believable, delicate, humorous. The sensitive interaction between the two main actors has resulted in the most touching portrayal of friendship we’ve seen in film,” stated the jury, which was chaired by Kristian Petri and comprised Ai Weiwei, Helena Danielsson,Lena Endre, Moa Gammel and Hiner Saleem.

    Sundance Selects will distribute ”Giant” in the U.S.

    Continuing on its laureled path, Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station” won best first film. Pic bowed at Sundance, winning the Grand Jury and audience nods, and played at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, where it took best first film. It opened in the U.S. on June 12.

    A Weinstein Co. release, “Fruitvale” is based on the tragic true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old California resident who was fatally shot by a San Francisco transit police officer on New Year’s Day in 2009.

    Alexandros Avranas’s “Miss Violence,” a drama about a dis-functional family, co-written by Avranas and Kostas Peroulis, snatched up best script.

    The acting nods went to George Mackay for his perf as young Scottish misfit in Paul Wright’s “For Those in Peril” and Jasmine Trinca for her part as a caregiver of terminally-ill patients in Valeria Golino’s “Miele.”

    Amat Escalante’s “Heli” won best cinematography for DP Lorenzo Hagerman.  Escalante took the best director award at Cannes.

    Hans Zimmer won best music for his score of “12 Years a Slave.”

    The audience nod was awarded to Lea Becker’s “Swear.”

    The rising star nod, sponsored by Citroen DS, went to Adam Lundgren, the young lead actor of the Swedish drama “Shed No Tears.”

    Another important sponsor of the fest, the Swedish digital platform Telia delivered a film award to Calin Peter Netzer’s “Child’s Pose.”

    Steve McQueen’s “12 Years A Slave” nabbed a special mention for best film and Anna Odell’s “The Reunion” (Atertraffen) also took a special mention for directorial debut.

    As previously announced, French auteur Claire Denis, whose latest film “The Bastards” opened Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section, was honored with Stockholm Lifetime Achievement nod.

  • Variety: Emile Hirsch’s ‘Motel Life’ Launches Random Media Slate

    November 15, 2013

    “The Motel Life,” starring Emile Hirsch and Dakota Fanning, heads the slate unveiled by newly minted distributor Random Media, launched by veteran executive Eric Doctorow.

    Random, which is aiming to care out a niche in the home entertainment space, also has hired former Indomina Media and Netflix exec Rob Williams as senior VP and head of acquisitions.

    Random signed a multi-year distribution deal with Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment in June.

    “The Motel Life,” baased on Willy Vlautin’s novel, is directed and produced by Gabe Polsky and Alan Polsky. Stephen Dorff and Kris Kristofferson also star.

    Slate includes “Guardian of the Highlands,” an animated film voiced by Sean Connery and Alan Cumming star about an aging, skateboarding veterinarian who saves a fugitive beaver; “Around the Block,” starring Christina Ricci, which premiered at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival; “For Those in Peril,” which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival; “The Secret Lives of Dorks”; “The Last Supper,” from  director Lu Chuan; the documentary “$ellebrity; and “Meth Head,” starring Lucas Till.

  • VANITY FAIR: Emile Hirsch on The Motel Life, His Bonnie and Clyde Mini-series, and Playing John Belushi

    November 8, 2013

    Emile Hirsch has spent the last 12 of his 28 years testing his dramatic limits alongside such acting greats as Gena Rowlands, Laura Linney, Jodie Foster, and Sean Penn—his collaborations with the latter, Into the Wilderness and Milk, earning him the most critical acclaim. For his next project, The Motel Life, out on V.O.D. today, Hirsch veers into a more intimate indie direction with co-star Stephen Dorff, as a pair of drifter brothers whose bleak “motel life” existence is lifted only by their fantastical fictional adventures, told by Hirsch’s character and illustrated by Dorff’s.

    In anticipation of the film, adapted by brothers Alan and Gabriel Polsky from the novel by Willy Vlautin, Hirsch phoned us last week and told us about his adventures with Dorff in Reno, Nevada, his upcoming Bonnie & Clyde project, and the John Belushi biopic he just signed up for.

    Julie MillerThe Motel Life is such a gritty, intimate project about these two brothers, played by you and Stephen. Where were you in life when you found this project and thought this relationship was something you wanted to explore?

    Emile Hirsch: When I first read The Motel Life, I was in New Orleans filming Killer Joe with Matthew McConaughey. I read the script and I immediately connected with this story about two brothers who didn’t really have material wealth, but they had tons of wealth in terms of having love for each other. I found that it was a really sad story—and a very powerful sense of drama. These are sometimes my favorite kinds of movies and it doesn’t happen that often that you get to explore something this authentic. It was a drama that did not sell itself short and try to be anything it wasn’t.

    You and Stephen have to summon this complicated, co-dependent brotherly relationship. How did you get to the stage where you could comfortably do that?

    I feel like it was a really intuitive process. I don’t think that Dorff or I really overanalyzed it. It was more about just being in the moment and intuitively gauging it off of each other. Stephen is a really, really strong actor, so I just followed his lead a lot of the time.

    Did you get to spend a lot of time hanging out beforehand?

    Oh yeah. We spent a lot of time together just hanging out. We would visit casinos in Reno and restaurants and bars. We went all over that town together and kind of just explored a lot of it.

    Do you guys have a similar acting process?

    I don’t know how similar our processes are. He might more than I do. It just felt like a very easy kind of thing. I don’t even know if I have a process. I think it’s changed and been altered so many times over the years.

    In what ways?

    I like to think that I’ve evolved in some ways as an actor. I like to think that there is an ease I have now that I didn’t at the beginning, and that I can be a lot more comfortable in scenes and am willing to try different things. How confident are you in your acting? Is there ever a point where you think to yourself, during a scene, that you have completely figured it out? Yeah! But I’ve also felt that way and maybe been totally wrong. I try to just be instinctive. I try to think through scenes to a degree and think through who a character is, but I really do enjoy spontaneity in acting. I think the improvisational side of a performance is really strong and healthy.

    You also just played Clyde Barrow in a two-part series airing this December. 

    I hadn’t seen Warren Beatty’s version. I had never actually seen that movie and purposefully stayed away from it [because] I didn’t want to be influenced by his performance. And then when I actually saw the movie after I wrapped, I was so shocked. Because it was such a different interpretation of the role, and we had both probably seen and studied the same photos and history and accounts and came to utterly different conclusions.

    Why do you think that was?

    I’m not sure. My Clyde Barrow was kind of a serious, stoic badass tough guy. And Beatty’s was more of a smiley, goofy, clowner kind of guy. We were like polar opposites in terms of our interpretations. [Laughs.]

    And you just signed on to play John Belushi in Steve Conrad’s biopic of the late comedian. Are you studying old Belushi tapes at this point? Where are you in the preparation process?

    It’s really early right now. I know that the announcement just sort of came out. I am just sort of wading into it, a little bit at a time. But I am really excited. It’s pretty funny because everyone always told me I looked like Jack Black when I was younger and a lot of people always compared Jack Black to John Belushi. So I figure if I add a few pieces, I’ll be right there.

  • reviews THE MOTEL LIFE

    November 8, 2013
    Joan Didion famously wrote, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” And that’s what brothers Frank (Emile Hirsch) and Jerry Lee (Stephen Dorff) Flannigan do for one another in “The Motel Life”, directed by producers/directors/brothers, Gabe and Alan Polsky. Frank tells the stories, and Jerry Lee does accompanying drawings in a sketch book. They tape the drawings all over the cinder block walls of the various dingy motels they call home. Frank and Jerry Lee are grown men, but damaged and on the run, living in the permanent American underclass, and the stories are the lifeline they have created for one another, the context in which they operate as brothers. Jerry Lee pleads with Frank, “Tell me a story, Frank?” Based on the debut novel by musician Willy Vlautin, “The Motel Life” could have been a schmaltzy mess in less sensitive hands. It could have made kitschy and quirky that which is essentially poignant and heartfelt. But the directors and the cast, through a miracle of tone, mood, and emotion, have made a film that feels true, that is sweet and sharp and unbearable. Every frame feels right, every choice feels thought-out, considered. All adds up to a heartbreaking whole.

    The stories Frank tells are escapist cliffhangers starring the two brothers battling pirates and Nazis and triumphing over unimaginable odds. When they were kids, their father abandoned them, their mother died (but not before exacting a promise that the brothers would stick together), and, after a freak accident with a moving train, Jerry Lee had to have a leg amputated. Life has been one long sorry stream of bad luck ever since. In the stories Frank tells, Jerry Lee has two legs, of course. In the stories Frank tells both brothers are tall and handsome and strong and capable. We see these stories unfold before us in crackling pencil animations woven throughout the film, witty and riveting, a representation of Jerry Lee’s illustrations come to life.

    We meet the brothers in fragments and glimpses. We see them as kids, we see them as men. Their bond is unmistakable, and perhaps unhealthily so, but the film lives in the belljar of the brothers’ reality, where they have no one else in the world but one another. Frank has friends (people he can hit up for cash, that is), but Jerry Lee’s only contact with the outside world is through his brother. The motel rooms they live in are so unwelcoming you can feel how cold the tile is, how thin the stream of water in the shower, how dingy the blankets. Frank is the responsible one, and that’s not saying much. He scrambles for every dollar in his pocket. He is haunted by Annie (Dakota Fanning), a girl he dumped. She was sweet and loyal, and had similar escapist tendencies (she also liked Frank’s stories), but she was forced into prostitution by her horrible mother and Frank can’t forgive it. He’s obviously a one-woman kind of man. He cannot get over her. Jerry Lee seems challenged in a way that goes far beyond his physical handicap. Whatever might be wrong with him is not made explicit, and Stephen Dorff’s performance is a damn near masterpiece of pathos, bringing “The Motel Life” into “Of Mice and Men” territory, clearly one of the story’s original influences. When Frank steals a dog (it was going to freeze to death being tied up in that front yard anyway), and tells Jerry Lee about it, Dorff’s face cracks in a childlike smile that is almost unbearable to witness in its uninhibited joy, saying, “We always wanted a dog!” The “We” is eloquent.

    After a hit-and-run accident on an icy night when Jerry Lee accidentally kills a young man with their car, any small hand-hold the two may have had on stability is lost. Frank helps Jerry Lee bust out of the hospital (his prosthetic leg has been lost in their travels), and they hole up in a motel, hiding from the cops, trying to figure out their next move. Well, Frank does the figuring because Jerry Lee is in a panic and emotional tailspin. The intimacy between these two actors is a miracle to behold. There is one scene where Frank helps Jerry Lee into the shower to clean him off. Dorff is stark naked, and Hirsch is clothed, and at one point they start giggling about the nudity and the close quarters (“You got a big dick, Jerry Lee,” Frank comments with a mix of embarrassment and admiration), and it was a beautiful moment of levity in a story of restless heartbreak, but also a perfect encapsulation of the weird intimacy between siblings. Films often get siblings wrong. Actors often are unable to convince us that they go way back to childhood together and have emerged from the same family. With Dorff and Hirsch, you never doubt it for one second.

    Jerry Lee has an imaginary girlfriend named Marge, and he covers the walls of their motel with drawings of her, a buxom pinup with a 1940s hairstyle. Jerry Lee is in awe that his brother had actually been in love, and, more importantly, that a girl had loved him back. He, Jerry Lee, has never had that. His eyes fill with tears as he talks to Frank about it, the wreckage of his face displaying a whirlwind of loneliness. Dorff’s performance is magnificent, and is entirely lacking in big histrionic gestures or cathartic breakdowns or temper tantrums. His eyes look pained and gentle as he tries to comprehend what the hell this life has handed him. And Hirsch, as Frank, is a beautiful listener, a resourceful support system, and also damaged beyond repair himself.

    The supporting cast is all great, especially Kris Kristofferson as a used-car salesman and stand-in father figure for Frank. He gives advice that is actually sound (unlike most of the other folks in the film), telling Frank, “Don’t make decisions thinking you’re a low-life. Make decisions thinking you’re a great man. Or at least a good man.” The fact that Frank does not realize he is already a good man is one of the tragedies in the film.

    Motels are up there with the Automat, the drive-in, jukeboxes, and cars with tailfins, as emblematic of certain aspects of American culture. These things are familiar even if their heyday predates us. “The Motel Life” does not shy away from the seedy aspects of its world, but it also understands the dark glamor there (especially in a show-stopper of a scene through a casino). We have all been in such places, even if it is only through the movies, or through our books. We know those red leather booths, those cigarette machines, the neon, the geometric tile floors, the crappy art on the walls. It’s already in us, it’s a part of us.

    With super strong performances and a mood so melancholy-thick that you ache to comfort these men, “The Motel Life” is still a beautifully warm film with a very kind heart. It does not push the characters or manipulate them. It does not worry too much about its plot. The film is wise enough to just stand back and let its characters be. What a refreshing change. What a beautiful and sad film.