First Look: Stunning New Posters for Tim Sutton’s ‘Memphis’ Premiering in Venice This Week

Set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival on August 31st, Tim Sutton’s stunning new film Memphis enters off the heat of praise from his debut feature Pavilion, which premiered last summer. With a filmmaking style that captures the ineffable beauty in the smallest of moments and the hypnotic power of melding image and sound, Memphis was developed through the Venice Biennale Cinema College over the past year.

Starring singer Willis Earl Beal, who wrote and recorded the soundtrack for the film, Memphis’ cast is comprised of cast of non-actors plucked by Sutton, in a film that follows Beal as a man “surrounded by beautiful women, legendary musicians, a stone-cold-hustler, a righteous preacher, and a wolfpack of kids” and who is  ”working less on his music and more on the state of his soul.” 
 
And after falling prey to the emotionally moving and visually arresting trailer last week, we’re proud to share with you the first posters for Memphis—shot and designed by Caspar Newbolt of Version Industries, who joined Sutton down in Memphis this past spring while shooting the film.
 
Speaking to his directorial affinity for creating a narrative that breathes as it develops and the process of collaboration, Sutton told us:
The thing that most defined the filmmaking process, even more so with Memphis than even Pavilion, was the idea of designed creative autonomy. I would set the day—scene by scene—which included a minimalist storyboard and often would leave plenty of room for the story to multiply or divide. Then the cast and crew would have a great deal of autonomy to inhabit and capture the spaces as they felt most natural—from Willis to Chris Dapkins (our DP) and also Bart Mangrum (production designer) and my other collaborators. Everyone was asked to take a certain amount of control, as long as it served the world we were creating.  This form of collaboration works even more so with Caspar, who really has carte blanche as far as how to approach typography, still image, and overall design for print, site, and titles/credits.  John Baker, our producer, and I asked that the first round of posters be focused on Willis within the mythic world of Memphis the film lives in.  Then Caspar does what Caspar does.
Of their work together, Caspar notes:
When we were first asked to work on Pavilion the film was basically done and Tim was already pretty keen on certain shots as being representative of the film. So I riffed off of those, really embedding into them a concept we’d agreed upon about Max, the main character, slowly disappearing in front of our eyes. The urgency of the bold, italic type treatment just felt right, as did the colour in terms of the vibrant, fearlessness of these kids.
 
What isn’t on the page however is the relationship that formed between Tim and us based on an understanding of why making the kinds of films he does is important. As with anything what’s most crucial is the discussions that go on as you’re doing the work. Not long after I’d started working on Pavilion did I find myself getting drunk with Tim in a Manhattan hotel bar. He had just bellowed as loudly as was perhaps still polite that he felt Gaspar Noé’s film Enter The Void was "the Citizen Kane of our generation!" Now Pavilion didn’t scream that message of course, but there’s a sense in its very modern blurring of the lines between narrative and documentary that it understands, like Enter The Void, what needs to happen next with films.
 
Fast forward to the Memphis shoot. I’d been invited to spend the last two weeks of the shoot on set. Stills camera in hand, I was invited to just be there and soak everything in. I didn’t know it yet but my candid photos were going to be the photos used in the posters for the film, not film stills or posed shots. What’s important about this is that my photos were often taken when the camera wasn’t rolling. I was there between takes, off book, capturing the actors just being in Memphis, dealing with the heat, figuring out the next scene and generally talking shit with the crew. This in and of itself once again blurs the line between what is the film and what is just reality in a way that’s true to everything Tim is trying to do as a filmmaker.
 
There are of course other stories to tell, but for now I hope everyone enjoys the deeper insight into the making of Memphis that these two posters allow.
See the posters below, as well as the film’s fantastic site (make sure to click “Think God” for a nice treat.)
 
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Gaspar Noé’s Animal Collective Video Predictably Trippy

One day, the culture-bloggin’ world will use more effective modifiers for both Animal Collective and Gaspar Noé than "trippy," and yet, here we are. The Argentine filmmaker and big Kubrick fan, who previously blew minds/melted faces/what have you with the neon-lit thriller Enter the Void and gut-wrenching Irréversible, helmed the latest video from Animal Collective’s very-good 2012 release, Centipede Hz. In the video for the spiraling, spacious "Applesauce," a pixelated woman slowly eats fruit against a stuttering, flickering bright colored background, like a screensaver on the fritz. 

Watching it in the dark intensifies the colors, the sensory overload and the unwitting feeling of dread, almost like being at a popular dance club on the wrong night and everyone around you is just a little too sweaty and it’s all a bit too claustrophobic. Try for yourself below, and be wary of potential seizure risk caused by the images. 

‘Enter the Void’ Director Gaspar Noé Uncensored

Gaspar Noé is a man with few limits. In his 1998 feature directorial debut, I Stand Alone, the 46-year-old French auteur tackled squirm-inducing topics such as incest, suicide, and rape. Turns out he was just getting warmed up. With Enter the Void, which opens today, Noé serves up a buffet of less-than-appetizing scenes, from the backseat view of a head-on car collision to an inner-vaginal view of a penetrating penis. Not surprisingly, his work has been lauded and derided in equal measure.

Enter the Void, the story of Oscar (newcomer Nathaniel Brown), an American drug dealer in Tokyo, is no exception. Whereas Manohla Dargis of The New York Times called the film, which also stars spitfire Paz de la Huerta, “exceptional,” Variety’s Rob Nelson thought it was “tiresomely gimmicky.” As became clear early on in our conversation last August, Noé wouldn’t have it any other way. From the Bowery Hotel’s back terrace, the enfant terrible of experimental cinema discusses the upside of drug abuse, 3D porn, and the anaesthetization of New York City.

Your films are divisive, to put it mildly. Do you thrive on both positive and negative responses to your work? I didn’t expect Enter the Void to be controversial. I thought this would be the movie that everyone could agree on, but now they’re disagreeing. I’ve gotten the best and the worst reviews of my career for this movie. I guess there is something about losing control of your perceptions, as an audience—the out-of-focus effects, the dreamier aspects of the film—that causes some people to freak out. Some people have been repulsed by the movie and hate it with all their guts. I can’t help thinking you get off on that repulsion. I’m not willing to be loved. I’m not willing to make commercials. I’m not willing to go to Hollywood. I’m only willing to make movies that I would want to see, and the movies that I watch most are divisive: Deliverance, Kenneth Anger films, 2001: A Space Odyssey. They’re movies that weren’t driven by money or recognition.

Is it difficult to raise enough money to create the type of movies that you want to create? We used commercial successes like Mulholland Drive and Trainspotting as references for the producers of this movie. [Noé’s last feature film, 2002’s] Irreversible made money, and so I said, Let’s gamble again. We won once, so we might win twice. But I actually don’t know if they’re going to get all of their money back [on Enter the Void] because the movie is more experimental than I expected. Some people told me that after they came to see the movie, they went back to their hotel or their house and they cried because of some weird post-traumatic stress.

I’ve spoken to similarly experimental filmmakers like Michel Gondry and Lars von Trier, both of whom work through personal mommy issues in their films. It seems like something on which you’re also fixated. For someone who has never had a baby and has never gone through an abortion, I have an obsession with pregnancy. [Noé’s 1998 film] I Stand Alone is about a pregnant woman. And in Irreversible, Monica Bellucci is pregnant when she gets raped. In this one again, you see the birth of a baby—maybe I’m struggling to repress the natural law of being a father. But if Lars von Trier is obsessed with his mother, maybe I’m more obsessed with the idea of time: What is the present? What is memory? I started thinking about this movie back when I was a teenager, when I was worried about dying before having done anything. Now that I’m 46, I’m concerned with death because I don’t think there’s anything after it. There is life in the present tense, but then the present dissipates into the past, and what’s left? Nothing.

Although it’s morbid, Enter the Void does in some ways feel like a celebration of a young man’s life. It hasn’t been my experience, but I know a lot of kids [like the film’s ill-fated protagonist, Oscar] whose only goal is to do drugs and fuck girls, or fuck boys. And, if I’m being honest, in my twenties, besides directing short movies, my main goal was to get laid and get drunk.

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Do you see a lot of yourself in the character of Oscar? I almost wanted to call the character Gaspar. Although I’ve never dealt drugs, there are many aspects of the movie that are biographical.

Have you had many frightening experiences with drugs? I always played it safe compared to some of my friends, who were taking acid and mushrooms without limits. I can’t really smoke marijuana because I’m kind of already too paranoid without it. Each time I dropped acid or ate mushrooms, I’d consider the things I was hallucinating from a cinematic perspective, most likely with this film in mind. I always wanted to make a movie from the perspective of a stoned main character. So each time I got stoned I’d think, How can I reproduce this? But when I started production on this movie I really stopped doing anything, even on weekends, because it seemed dangerous to my social behavior.

Most people would assume that you’d need to be high in order to make a film that replicates the experience of being high. Not only did I abstain from drugs over the course of the shoot, but I also asked all of the actors and crew to abstain. Some people can work on cocaine, but most people who take it argue and get into fights, while marijuana can turn people stupid. My main actress [Paz de la Huerta] is kind of an alcoholic, so after working 14 hours every night I had to go get drinks with her, but I found myself drinking too much vodka, so I had to slow down.

Have you stayed sober since the film wrapped? The next project I would like to do is an erotic movie, so I’m not into burning my brain right now.

There’s been speculation that this erotic film might be shown in 3D. Are you considering that possibility? If you want to see non-professionals naked, you need a small crew, and I don’t know if 3D cameras require a lot of people to operate. If they do, then I’ll just stick with two dimensions. Another problem with 3D films is that they’re often shown in multiplexes where daring movies can’t be shown. Once I start pre-production on the movie, I’ll check to see if 3D might be an option. If it’s not a problem on set, then why not?

With a few exceptions, there aren’t many mainstream filmmakers willing to show actual intercourse on camera. It’s going to be a mix of real sex and simulated sex. Sometimes it’s easier to simulate because if the guy doesn’t have a hard-on that can make things difficult. But there are other issues, too, like maybe one of the actors has a boyfriend or a girlfriend. For real couples, having sex is an intimate thing, and so they don’t necessarily want people watching their intimacy. So I’ve decided that the best way to show real sex is to cast two single people who used to be a couple. I’m not a voyeur or a peeping tom, but I’ve seen people having sex in front of my eyes and it’s fun.

You don’t seem easily shocked. When you were filming in Tokyo, was there anything that surprised you? The limits of what can and cannot be done in Japan are very different. They’re much more into S&M, but in a playful way. The Japanese have a very different perception of what sex is and what sex should be. When I visit a new city I always ask, What’s the strangest place you can bring me to? Maybe they’ll bring you to a rollercoaster and maybe they’ll bring you to a restaurant run by transvestites.

What was the weirdest place in Tokyo? I went to a few of them. I went to a host bar, where all these rich ladies came in with their Chihuahuas and had young men serving them drinks.

Do you feel like New York is much more tame by comparison? Tokyo today is what New York was in the ’70s. There are few cities today that are as wild as Tokyo—maybe Paris and Berlin. New York is very restrained compared to what it used to be. It’s started looking like Switzerland. Where are all the sleazy areas that we used to see in movies like Taxi Driver?

Movie Reviews: ‘Buried,’ ‘You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,’ ‘Howl’ & More

Buried – Here is an abbreviated list of phobias that might be triggered by Buried, the first English language feature from acclaimed Spanish director Rodrigo Cortés: claustrophobia (fear of restriction and suffocation), taphophobia (fear of being buried alive), achluophobia (fear of darkness), autophobia (fear of being alone), and ophidiophobia (fear of snakes). Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds), an American truck driver working in Iraq, regains consciousness after receiving a blunt blow to the head, only to find he’s been, yep, buried alive in a wooden coffin under several feet of desert sand. With only a cell phone, a lighter, and fuzzy memories of his convoy’s ambush, Paul attempts to lead rescuers to his grave through a series of frustrating calls to his government, his family, and the insurgents who put him there. A lesser actor wouldn’t have been able to carry the film, but Reynolds is sublime, conveying fear and resolve with every gasp of rapidly thinning air. —Victor Ozols

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger – If New York is Woody Allen’s one true love, then London, at least around the release of 2005’s Match Point, was his oversexed mistress, a place where the legendary filmmaker was able to “recharge his batteries.” This is precisely the effect that Charmaine (newcomer Lucy Punch) has on Alfie (Anthony Hopkins), who marries the young prostitute shortly after his divorce from Helena (Gemma Jones), his wife of 40 years, in You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Predictably, the spark soon fizzles between Alfie and Charmaine, not unlike Allen’s brief but exciting European affair. At its best, the film is a pleasant morality play focused on a warring British couple (Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin, as the Allen stand-in) and their extramarital conquests (Antonio Banderas and Freida Pinto, respectively). At its worst, this grass-is-always-greener tale of ennui and moral vacuity is Anything Else with an affected accent. —Nick Haramis

Howl – Poet Allen Ginsberg once wrote, “It isn’t enough for your heart to break because everybody’s heart is broken now.” It’s a kernel of wisdom that most biopics—so often manipulative and pandering—should heed, and it’s precisely what makes filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl such a frenetic, charged piece of cinematic poetry. The film is divided by three caesurae: the much-ballyhooed obscenity trial centered on Ginsberg’s Howl; an interview with the poet, whose every tic and quirk is brought to life by James Franco; and an impassioned coffeehouse reading of Howl set to out-of-time animation that champions all of the beauty and filth of the American classic. By focusing, as the title suggests, on the poem rather than the poet, one actually gets further into the mind of the man for whom a generation was “destroyed by madness.” —NH

Never Let Me Go – Most film adaptations of great literary works don’t deserve to share a title with their source material. Fortunately, Kazuo Ishiguro’s haunting disquisition on the future of medical science fell into the capable hands of director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) and screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine). Centered on three students at a boarding school in England’s hinterlands, Never Let Me Go follows Tommy (Andrew Garfield), Ruth (Keira Knightley), and Kathy (Carey Mulligan) as they go about their seemingly charmed lives. From the onset, though, it’s clear there’s something unusual about the students, their school, and the mysterious squad of authority figures who monitor their every move. Ominous words like “donation” and “completion” are exchanged, and, as these living, breathing trial studies grow to maturity, we’re forced to examine exactly what constitutes a human life. With moving dramatic performances from the leads, the film humanizes a future that feels disturbingly, inevitably close. —Eiseley Tauginas

Enter the Void – For all its sweeping camera tricks and otherworldly lighting, Gaspar Noé’s latest orgy of muck and ire is hopelessly ugly. It will certainly draw criticism for its cheap, exploitative thrills: the first-person perspective in a head-on car collision, the unrelenting abortion scenes, and the inner-vaginal view of a penetrating penis. But despite its rampant adolescence, Enter the Void is also searching and soulful, a piecemeal memento mori of a young man’s troubled life after it is cut short during a botched drug deal. Wayward Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) is told that death is life’s greatest trip—something he experiences firsthand, moments after being shot by Japanese police, when his spirit considers his strong (and possibly incestuous) bond with his sister, Linda (Paz de la Huerta). Flawed and perhaps ill-paced—the film runs long at 150 minutes—Enter the Void is also a lighting bolt of visual mastery, jolting and unlike anything that’s come before it. —NH

Trailer for Gaspar Noé’s ‘Enter the Void’: Decadent and Depraved

A Japanese trailer for Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void has cropped up on the web and, despite a mountain of misgivings, I submitted to watching it this morning. Straightway I’ll assert that it’s NSFW, though anyone familiar with the director’s previous work—Irreversible, I Stand Alone, et al—will take this as a foregone conclusion. A devotee of gruesome violence and thematic banality, Noé is rightly renowned as a miserablist of the first order, and Enter the Void looks like it will do little to alloy that reputation. The story of a dead boy’s ghost hovering over that of his still living sister may sound innocuous enough on the surface, but early reviewers have already dubbed it “unwatchable”, “pure trash” and an “hallucinatory mindfuck.” I still get the megrims thinking about Irreversible, particularly the interminable Monica Bellucci rape scene, so it’s with more than a little trepidation that I even consider seeing the somehow-even-more-egregiously-unpleasant-sounding Enter the Void. Trailer after the jump.

As a rule, I’m disinclined to cast aspersions on the character of a particular filmmaker, despite whatever issue I might have with his or her work, but Noé begs for an exception. As a colleague of mine cannily put it: “dude is fucked up.”