Xavier Dolan Writing His First American Film ‘The Death & Life of John F. Donovan’ & More from MoMA

Last night, the charming and unfathomably talented Xavier Dolan took to the stage at MoMA in conjunction with their Modern Mondays and Canadian Front 2013—which not only premiered his debut feature I Killed My Mother in the US, but screened his sophomore effort Heartbeats, as well as his incredible upcoming epic love story Laurence Anyways. The 23-year-old actor/director/writer sat down last night for a conversation with MoMA’s Raj Ray and Indiewire’s Peter Knegt for two hours, covering everything from his voiceover work as Taylor Lautner’s character in the French-dubbed Twilight films, the importance of childhood on his cinematic mind, and his next feature, his first American film.

And for someone so insanely gifted and young who makes these films that are not only aesthetically and atmospherically engaging and dynamic, but extremely intelligent with great emotional weight and complexity, you might assume when asked to give his influences he would throw around some movies from Truffaut to Malle to van Sant. But no, the clips he chose to show from some of his favorite works that echoed the absurd and playful yet genuine and honest sensibility that’s alive in all of his films. The videos he showed were from films that he fell in love with either in childhood or recent years, projects that fulfilled their mission to excite, engage, and entertain and have stuck with him. Jumanji, Batman Returns, and Titanic were three of those, with Magnolia and the beloved television series Friday Night Lights there too, of course. 

Dolan spoke about appreciating the Michelle Pfieffer’s performance in Batman as completely free and totally going for her character. He also went on to say he admired Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia for its sense of freedom as well, fully commiting to its absurd and wild nature—especially the scene of Julianne Moore in the drug store telling off Pat Healy because of how emotionally unfettered it is and how PTA allowed a character to be so raw and honest—a scene which Dolan says he stole in I Killed my Mother and Laurence Anyways (in a monologue which Suzanne Clement defends herself and Laurence, screaming at a older diner waitress, a moment so wonderful and powerful that when she finished speaking the entire audience erupted in applause when it screened this past Sunday). 

Friday Night Lights Dolan says he watched with Clement recently over a holiday break "all at once, while eating a lot." He admired how authentic and real the emotion and acting was, as if it wasn’t something to impress but to show you exactly what life is life. 

He also spoke about his follow-up to Laurence Anyways, Tom à la ferme, a "psychological thriller that is worrying and scary–I hope." Although we had assumed it would be, it turns out the film will not premiere at Cannes this year and is currently in the sound-mixing, color-timing stages. However, his follow-up to that, his fifith film and first American feature, he says is to be titled The Death and Life of John F. Donovan and tells the story of a "Dean or Brando"-esque moviestar whom "America has been waiting for," who becomes penpals with an 11-year-old boy. Dolan went on to say that the film follows what happens when the correspondence with the boy is exposed. He will be acting in he film as well but not as the titular character.

But for now, Laurence Anyways will be crawling into theaters this June and if you’ve loved his work in the past this is sure to knock you over. And if you’re unfamiliar with the young auteur’s ouevre, get ready to fall in love.

Enjoy a 10 Minute Study of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Use of Steadicam and Some of His Best Scenes

Attention film nerds: you’re going to want to watch this. If you’re a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson—which if you aren’t, what is wrong with you?—you understand that the 42-year-old genius has the most incredible gift for storytelling that’s as rich as reading any novel while remaining visually and technically skilled. It’s pretty incredible to think that with only six feature films under his belt, Anderson has become one of the most acclaimed directors of our time, not only awakening our love of cinema but showing us the ways in which a filmmaker can evolve with each movie he makes.

And when it comes to analyzing the work of PTA, Sight & Sound’s Kevin B. Lee has a intelligent and fluid understanding of his films. And in his latest critique Lee looks at Anderson’s work through the lens his affinity for Steadicam. He analyzes PTA’s love of a good tracking shot and the ways in which Anderson has changed his use of the style throughout his career. If you can carve out a solid ten minutes, I would suggest watching this and taking a look back on some of the dynmaic director’s finest moments.

The Career of Paul Thomas Anderson in Five Shots from Kevin B. Lee on Vimeo.

The Career of Paul Thomas Anderson in Five Shots

Magnolia, Restaurant Scene

Boogie Nights, Pool Party

Hard Eight, Gonna Light the Cigarette

Punch-Drunk Love, I Want to Bite Your Cheek

There Will Be Blood, I Drink Your Milkshake


Magnolia, I’ve Done So Many Bad Things



Hard Eight, Prologue



Boogie Nights, Opening Scene



Punch-Drunk Love, Phone Scene



There Will Be Blood, Church Preaching

Read the Opening Title Card for Lars von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac,’ Which Version Will We See?

It’s certainly something when a film sans teaser, trailer, poster, or really much of anything to go on, continues to make headlines daily. But after all, people love sex and people love to hate and hate to love the painful genius of Lars von Trier—so it’s really no wonder that his upcoming "masterpiece", Nymphomaniac, is generating such  sparking up so many conversations just in anticipation.

But it’s not only the sex that’s selling the film. Earlier this week, we reported that Magnolia had acquired the domestic rights to the picture for a VOD release, which raises its own discussion about the nature of independent distribution and where Hollywood is headed in terms of accessibility. But it also begs the question: which film will we end up seeing? Apparently, two versions of Nymphomaniac have been shot—one soft core using its actors (Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shia LaBeouf, etc) with the sexually explicit images blurred and then another hardcore version with porn actors that will show actual penetration. 

According to Devin Faravi at Badass Digest, he contacted Magnoia’s publicist who said they have bought "ALL rights to the film"—meaning both versions. In the same article he also posted the opening title card from the first page of the Nymphomaniac script, which reads:

"Text on black background: “Although the director on principle is of the opinion

that you should be able to show everything, he accepts, under protest, that this

will not be possible here. He will therefore stay within the limits of the law and

occasionally use blurred images."

This is definitely a massive amount of work for a director and film crew to take on simply to be considerate of their viewers. Lars is not trying to alienate anyone with his boundary-pushing material this time around but tweak his intentions to be open to all audiences that wish to see it. Also, the film would obviously screen nowhere if it was only the hardcore version. However, does it really make that big of a difference? We all know what sex looks like, just because an image is blurred doesn’t mean it isn’t as erotic or tantalizing as seeing the real thing. There are far more sexually stimulating images than most porn. But whatever. Faraci also made the case that he tends to, "err on the side of wanting to see a movie as it’s intended to be seen by the filmmaker. von Trier is a bit of a button-pusher, and I think he’s pushing lots of buttons with this, but I also think he’s smart and talented and pushes buttons in his movies when he’s making a point. This isn’t like his Nazi joke at a Cannes press conference; this is a calculated move. I’d prefer to see the movie he wanted to make. "

Don’t worry, I’m sure there will be a some new development tomorrow on the topic just in line for Valentine’s Day.

Magnolia Looking to Bring it Home With Lars von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac’

Filmmakers create their work to be played large and loud, not to be watched on your laptop—the visceral difference between watching Lars von Trier’s doomsday ballet Melancholia in a theater, the floor and walls shaking from the enormous the sound of the picture, compared to the comfort of viewing it modestly in your living room. But with the landscape of Hollywood today and the state of distribution, more and more films are finding themselves available in your homes rather than your local cinemas. And although some of that initial spark may be lost, watching a film on VOD is certainly better than not watching a film at all.

The limited theatrical/VOD model allows a film to garner an audience where there typically would be none, expanding the entire scope of independent film altogether. And off the $3 million success of their release of Melancholia, Magnolia Pictures is saddling up with a $2 million bid for Lars’ psycho-erotic drama Nymphomanic. The film is set to premiere at Cannes this spring and even without a trailer or pre-screenings, the hype around the film has been enough to know that Magnolia shouldn’t be worried about bringing in an audience. We’ve seen stills from the picture and know the general gist of what the Charlotte Gainsbourg-led movie will portray, but it’s Lars so who really knows? With the subject matter and Lars’ notorious fondness for extremes, who knows what sort of rating this will even receive and who would otherwise get the chance to see it. Releasing the film on VOD will definitely make for an exciting and more expansive conversation on the film as it scatters into homes across America. 

And with the model in effect for the past few years, filmmakers have been embracing this route—especially those like Ti West who told me back in Septmeber that:

It’s the sad nature of independent film and the age where we’re at theatrically. I’m here in Savannah, and there’s not an independent movie theater here that’s showing V/H/S. If I wanted to see The House of the Devil, tough shit; I’d have to drive five hours to Atlanta. My other option is to pay ten bucks and watch it, hopefully, on my 50-inch plasma TV with my $200 Best Buy sound system. It’s become conceivable that for not too much money, you can have a decent home watching experience. The hardest thing about accepting VOD as a filmmaker is that you spend a year of your life meticulously crafting these technical aspects of a movie to be seen on a big screen, in the dark, with loud sounds. So when someone’s like, “Oh, I’m watched it on my phone…” The ulcers that I got over the last year trying to do this right and spending all the time and money to do, and then you watch it on your phone? It’s just really defeating. But paying to watch it on VOD supports the movie and supports the company releasing the movie, which makes it seem like it’s important. If the movies seems like a good investment, then more movies like that will get made, which is great for me. But if you live somewhere with an indie scene, then yeah, you should probably go see it in the theater because that’s how it was meant to be seen. That opportunity is getting smaller and smaller by the minute so you should embrace that. 

In case you haven’t been following Nymphomaniac too closely, read further HERE and HERE for more on what is sure to be one of Lars’ most interesting works.

It’s Jon Brion’s Birthday So Let’s All Have a Cry

If this sounds incoherent, it’s only because I am listening to the Magnolia soundtrack and am growing too emotional to type. Sorry. But that only makes sense, considering today is the 49th birthday of cinematically minded musical genius Jon Brion. Although perhaps best known for his work in the PT Anderson-Fiona Apple-Aimee Mann world of collaboration, the whimsically dramatic singer/songwriter/composer/record producer has scored dozens of films—ranging from Adam McKay’s Step Brothers to his absolutely perfect work on Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind—while producing for everyone from Kanye West to Rufus Wainwright.

Although his projects may vary in medium and style, there’s a very specific sensation that wanders through all of his work—like gentle fingers plucking away at your heart strings, unhinging tearducts, and allowing you to journey even farther into the work it’s a part of. He isn’t melodramatic or devious with senitment, but provides an atmospheric, emotional through-line to guide you amidst the tangled worlds that his work speaks to. But however you see it, here’s a tasting of some favorites from his wonderful body of music.

Magnolia, “Stanley/Frank/Linda’s Breakdown” 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, “Phone Call”

Punch-Drunk Love, “Punch-Drunk Melody”

Hard Eight, “Sydney Doesn’t Speak”

I ♥ Huckabees, “Monday”

Magnolia, “Showtime”

Step Brothers, “Back and Forth”

Fionna Apple, “Fast as You Can”

Rufus Wainwright, “Damned Ladies”


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Full OST

The Jon Brion Show – Feat. Elliott Smith / Brad Mehldau

Magnolia, “I’ve Got a Surprise For You Today”

Where Celebs Go: Mark Ruffalo, AnnaLynne McCord, Emily Mortimer

Mark Ruffalo: My favorite restaurant in New York is Le Cirque. AnnaLynne McCord, at the “Shutter Island” premiere: I live in L.A. I don’t go out that much because I don’t drink, so going out, kind of, becomes work, in a way. But, as far as restaurants, I love Chart House in Malibu for good seafood. And good Spanish food – Mexican food – Spanish Kitchen on La Cienega, one of my favorites. I, actually, really like Chili’s [laughs], for a little chain restaurant. Those are three I can think of right now. What’s good at Chili’s? Oh, my God! The queso. I go in, sometimes just get the chips ’n salsa to go, and go home, but the queso — I love the chicken steak quesadillas, just, like, chain restaurant. I’m from Atlanta – that’s high-class dining when you’re in Atlanta, so! Fran Lebowitz: I would never tell. Then they wouldn’t be my favorites, anymore. Then everyone would be there. Do you think they would want to follow you? It’s not me. It’s like you tell anyone anything– look what happened in New York. It got turned inside out. Anything any New Yorker knew, they tell someone like you, and then there’s a million people there from out of town.

Michael Stuhlbarg: Well, goodness gracious! I guess it depends on what kind of mood I’m in. If I’m in a cultural mood, I’ll go to the number of museums here, and if it’s food, there are so many places all over town to go to. One of my favorite sushi places is called Japonica, down on University and 13th. I love the sushi there. That’s the one that sticks in my mind the most. If you’re lookin’ for sizeable, delicious portions of fish, go to Japonica.

Curtiss Cook: We love Aquavit. We have five children, so we don’t really get out to eat that often. We love the cod, and all their herring meals are really well made.

Nellie Sciutto: Oh, my God! I’m glad you asked that. I love the restaurant, House. It’s my favorite new restaurant in Los Angeles, ‘cause I love Capo – their [restaurant] in Santa Monica. House is like Capo light and less expensive – very fabulous place. House is northern Italian, like me [laughs]. And The Tar Pit, good bar lounge.

Teresa Palmer: In Los Angeles – I’m from Los Angeles – I like Magnolia. I dunno. Toast Café [laughs]?!

Dennis Lehane: I live in Boston and Tampa. I go to a lot of Irish pubs. I’m not Mr. —I don’t go to the hip places anymore. Which Irish pubs do you recommend in Boston? Ah, jeez, I dunno. I used to like a place called the Castle Bar. I used to like another place called the Irish Village. What about Tampa? They don’t have any in Tampa. I just go to a place called the Old Northeast Tavern [in St. Petersburg].

Paz de la Huerta: Lately, I’ve been going to Spa 88, which is a Russian bathhouse on Gold Street. And they have hammam and Russian rooms, so it’s just, kind of like, my hangout right now. Hammam? It’s a Turkish hot room. It’s not a bar, but it’s fun. A lot of Russian Mafia go there …. You can eat; you can swim; you can sauna; you get a massage; it’s a good time.

Emily Mortimer: I like to go to Tatiana in Brighton Beach. It’s a Russian restaurant, and I love it. You get very rude waiters, and you drink vodka and sit looking at the sea on the boardwalk, and it’s really cool. I like the dumplings – Russian dumplings – pelmeni, they’re called, and loads of vodka.

Sylvia Miles: I love upstairs at Joe Allen’s, and that’s really swell, if you go to the theater, ’cause everybody in the theater’s there and all your old friends. They have all kinds of appetizers, which is good. They have a different menu than downstairs at Joe Allen’s. It’s like a supper menu; it’s good; that lobster salad; the kind of things that you’d get if you weren’t going to eat a big meal. If I’m going to the theater, there’s a lot of old favorites. And a lot of them are gone. There’s a lot of nice places, like Philippe’s. And I go to Momofuku. But I don’t like places that have very rich food.

Mark Cuban, at the AlwaysOn Media conference: Restaurants in Dallas are Bob’s Steak and Chop House; McDonald’s, for their grilled-chicken salad; Jason’s Deli; the Motley Pub, at the American Airlines Center; Kenichi – those are my hangouts.

Mia Tyler, at the Fullfast and CelluScience press launch:: Oh, my God, I’m such a nerd now. I stay home. I don’t even go out. I live in L.A., so I live in this little, artsy, Silver Lake neighborhood, and I like lounges. I’m not even exciting anymore. What are some of the lounges you go to? I like to eat, so we’ll go to eat. I love sushi. There’s a place called Taiyo that I’m at, at least once a week, and, I, kind of, eat vegan, vegetarian food, so I’ll go to little, vegan places. There’s a place called Vegan House that I order from and I go to, all the time. I like these little off—off-the-track, off-the-path, little places. There’s a couple bars I go to that are just kinda divey. There’s a place called the Cha Cha Lounge, and I love it there. It’s really cute. And then there’s the Red Lion across the street from it. They got two-dollar PBRs.

One-Day Tour: Intro to New York’s West Village

Stay: A quaint neighborhood calls for an equally quaint hotel. Abingdon Guest House has the vibe of a small-town bed and breakfast — it’s not for everyone, but its location is ideal for the atypical visitor.

10 a.m. Regular patrons of ‘ino appreciate the dim, cozy bar for an evening glass of wine, but it’s also a perfect breakfast destination. Sit by the front window, read your paper, and order the famous truffled egg toast with a strong shot of espresso.

11 a.m. Set off on a walking tour. Stroll along Bleecker Street for a taste of the neighborhood ‘s eclectic vibe — Marc Jacobs boutiques (there are three of them), record shops, and antique dealers all peacefully coexist. Stop in at Cynthia Rowley for quirky tailored skirts and sweaters. Later, find your way onto Barrow and Morton for picturesque, tree-lined streets and brownstones.

1:30 p.m. For lunch with pretty scenery, head to neighborhood newcomer Kingswood. Aussie-inflected fare, like the Bronte burger, is served within view of blooming magnolias at the nearby Jefferson Market Garden. During the winter months, the interior is enough to keep the eyes pleased — butterflies and an ostentatious taxidermy peacock decorate the space. Or, for a local favorite, try Pearl Oyster Bar. Established by Rebecca Charles in 1997, it’s widely considered the best New England-style seafood shack in town. Sit at the counter for a skate sandwich and crisp glass of white wine.

3 p.m.. Move on over to Greenwich Avenue and get all of your shopping done on one street. Stop at the Christian Louboutin Boutique for a pair of decadent, bejeweled shoes, or Otte, for the latest from Loeffler Randall and 3.1. Phillip Lim. Jonathan Adler for whimsical home decor items like a playful giraffe-shaped sconce or ceramic squirrel ringbox. Finally, pop into travel shop Flight001 for the newest carry-on by Orla Kiely — you’ll need it to lug home all of your loot.

5 p.m. Skip the dreadful line at Magnolia and have sweets with a clean, green conscience. City Bakery’s Maury Rubin is also the owner of Birdbath — an organic bakeshop that‘s sustainable in every way, from its interior (the walls are made of wheat) to its food (organic and local, naturally). Portions are enormous, so share a chewy gingerbread cookie; or, if you’re vegan, go for the banana sesame agave cake.

5:30 p.m. Sports enthusiasts should check out the West 4th Street court, otherwise known as "The Cage", for some amateur basketball. Players can get aggro in such close confines — it just makes the games all the more interesting.

7 p.m. Have dinner at Mas, where acclaimed chef Galen Zamarra changes the menu daily based on what’s in season. Whatever is on the menu du jour is likely to be exquisite, as is the farmhouse meets townhouse vibe of the place.

9 p.m.. For something divey minus the stench of beer and puke, grab a brew after dinner at the Rusty Knot. The nautical-themed bar is a curious juxtaposition of high and low: an evening of 99-cent cans and tiki drinks command a surly doorman and long wait times, while a borderline trashy bar menu (pretzels, pigs in blankets) is cooked up by a talented, pedigreed chef.

Midnight Rev up your evening at the ultra-exclusive Socialista. Its breezy, tropical décor and sexy cocktail menu successfully evokes an evening in Havana. But be warned: Getting in can be a crapshoot.

Late Night Cap off your night with a late visit to Beatrice Inn, the speakeasy cool spot that keeps downtowners buzzing.