Max Minghella Shows Us Around His Old School LA

Even as his career shifts into overdrive, Max Minghella still makes time to stop and smell the refurbished leather. Son of the late filmmaker Anthony Minghella (The Talented Mr. Ripley, The English Patient), who passed away in 2008, the 26-year-old British actor dreams of eventually acquiring the perfect Los Angeles home and filling it with beautifully crafted vintage objects, and today he plans to chase that fantasy up and down Beverly Boulevard.

The Columbia University graduate, who portrayed Winklevi confidant Divya Narendra in last year’s Oscar-nominated Facebook saga The Social Network, has played everything from a prickly and precocious director (How to Lose Friends and Alienate People) and a charming brooder (Terry Zwigoff’s criminally underrated Art School Confidential), to George Clooney’s teenage son (the 2005 oilindustry thriller Syriana).

Next month, Minghella will reunite with his former on-screen dad for a lesson in dirty politics in The Ides of March. “I hadn’t seen him since I was about 17, so it was a lovely reunion,” he says. “George has always been so generous with me.” Written and directed by Clooney, who also stars in the film, the political thriller features Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. In it, Minghella plays Ben Harpen, a campaign worker for Clooney’s Governor Morris. “It’s based on a play I’m obsessed with,” he says, referring to Beau Willimon’s Farragut North, itself loosely based on Howard Dean’s 2004 Democratic presidential primary campaign. “I’ve never been more excited to be a part of something.”

Before the year’s out, he’ll also tackle two different but equally frightening monsters. The first, a scary space invader in the 3D sci-fi thriller The Darkest Hour, which he calls “a big, fun popcorn movie.” The second, his graduating class in Ten Year, an ensemble comedy (starring Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, and Ron Livingston) about a high school reunion.

A bowl of steaming mussels interrupts his excited banter about these upcoming projects, and as soon as the dish is placed in front of him, he digs in. “I come here more than any other place,” he says of Café Stella, a cozy, casual French restaurant in Silver Lake. Surprisingly, it’s not baguettes and berets he’s reminded of, but the annihilation of all mankind.

image Café Stella – 3932 Sunset Boulevard, 323-666-0265 What I love about this place is that your table always somehow expands, but never with people you don’t want to see. I go with my friends and my girlfriend, and we always have fun. I don’t have a “usual,” but I normally get the mussels. The short ribs are also amazing. A lady recently said it always feels like you’re in Rome when you’re here. Speaking of traveling, Russia [where Minghella spent four months filming The Darkest Hour] was really intense. We got hit by the hottest summer in over 1,000 years, then we had terrible smog [the result of wildfires caused by the heat wave], so we had to shut down and evacuate for about three weeks. We were basically shooting an apocalyptic movie during the apocalypse.

image American Rag – 150 South La Brea Avenue, 323-935-3154 I’ve gotten such great stuff at this shop: beautiful flannel shirts, a pair of old, fucked-up boots. It has this odd dynamic, which I love, of serving food and selling clothes all in the same space. Their breakfast is amazing. I’m not a massive shopper, to be honest, but I do appreciate beautifully designed stores. I figure that since we’re doing a photo shoot, it makes sense to choose somewhere photogenic.

image Rehab Vintage – 7609 Beverly Boulevard, 800-668-1020 This place has the craziest furniture in the world. I’ve never bought any of it because I can’t afford it, but I love coming here and fantasizing about the beautiful house I don’t own. They’ve got these great desks and cool industrial fans. There’s an amazing safe that I really want, but I think it probably costs about the same amount as my apartment. I’d love to fill it with all my secrets.

image New Beverly Cinema – 7165 Beverly Boulevard, 323-938-4038 The last thing I saw here was a Lost in Translation/Somewhere double bill. I’m a big Sofia Coppola fan, and watching those films back-to-back was a transcendent experience. But I saw them with other people and it felt like they were reading my diary. I wouldn’t say I necessarily relate directly to any one character, but there was something about the experience that was so personal, and it felt invasive to have other people with me. I was weirdly traumatized for about a week afterward. I went into a massive depression.

image Beverly Laurel Motor Hotel – 8018 Beverly Boulevard, 323-651-2441 I used to stay here when I first came to LA. Swingers diner is built into the hotel, and it’s one of very few 24-hour restaurants in the city. The hotel itself is affordable and interesting—totally unpretentious people stay here. A lot of the LA hotels can be such scenes, and I’m definitely not a nightlife person. I do, however, like places that are lit up at night, like the Griffith Observatory. I also like the shitty seats at the back of Dodger Stadium. One of my favorite things about LA is that it’s full of lights after dark.

Photography by Elias Tahan.

Yes We Cannes: The 11 Most Exciting Movies at This Year’s Fest

To the dismay of everyone within earshot of my desk, my excitement will not be quelled about how totally major this year’s Cannes Film Festival is going to be. In addition to new awards-contenders from the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Michel Gondry (who didn’t make the list, only because I couldn’t find much on his latest film, L’epine Dans le Coeur), the sun-soaked Riviera festival will premiere Sam Raimi’s return to death and evil, as well as Jane Campion’s first major release since the Kiwi director tried, disastrously, to make Meg Ryan edgy in 2003’s In the Cut. Penelope Cruz hugs a lot of people in Pedro Almodóvar’s Broken Embraces, Ang Lee takes Woodstock and Brad Pitt screams, “Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps … and I want my scalps!” Oh, and the late Heath Ledger might just get another Oscar. After the jump, the festival’s, if not the year’s, most anticipated films (with trailers).

Agora by Alejandro Amenabar. From the director of The Others and The Sea Inside comes a historical drama, starring Rachel Weisz and Max Minghella, about Hypatia of Alexandria, the Egyptian philosophy professor who fell in love with her slave. Minghella tells BlackBook, exclusively, “Rachel’s performance in the film is, objectively speaking, quite spectacular. Performances in historical films can so easily stray into frigidity, but she injects everything with warmth and modernity, which I really believe is a principle reason why the film is as accessible as it is.” Of his working relationship with Weisz, he adds, “I felt completely comfortable around her. We grew up on the same street in London, and now in New York our apartments are directly opposite one another — which is fantastic for voyeuristic reasons, but also a bizarre coincidence. Maybe it’s our shared geographic history, but I feel very at home around her.”

The White Ribbon by Michael Haneke. While it certainly would have been interesting to watch Haneke eke out another version of Funny Games, the master of torture’s latest project sounds incredible. Courtesy of IMDb: “Strange events happen at a rural school in the north of Germany during the year 1913, which seem to be ritual punishment. Does this affect the school system, and how does the school have an influence on fascism?”

Taking Woodstock by Ang Lee. Of course the director who turned Jewel into a cowgirl, Kevin Kline into a swinger, Eric Bana into a monster, and Jake Gyllenhaal into a pederast would eventually set his sights on Woodstock. Starring an incredible cast that includes Demetri Martin, Emile Hirsch, Live Schreiber, and Jonathan Groff, audiences surely won’t be able to quit it.

Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino. Unless you’ve been living under a very large, Brangelina-proof rock, this one needs no introduction. Still, I’m going to overlook the misspelling, and bypass the backlash by moving ahead to the backlash backlash, and just the love the guts out of this movie. Tarantino and Nazis? It’s almost better than Darryl Hannah and an eye-patch.

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky by Jan Kounen. Forget Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Tautou for a minute, and watch Anna Mouglalis transform into the gamine Rue Gambon icon as she navigates a relationship with composer and pianist Igor Stravinsky. And keep an eye on Mouglalis: up next, she’ll star in 2010’s Serge Gainsbourg biopic.

Drag Me to Hell by Sam Raimi. Full disclosure: I saw an unfinished version of this. And, as a huge Evil Dead fan, was excited to see what the director of Spider-Man might do with his return to full-on horror. Alison Lohman plays a banker who pisses off a geriatric gypsy, which leads to one of the best catfights ever to appear on film. That said, some of the effects felt a little amusement-park ride-y, but I’ll reserve judgment until watching the final cut.

Broken Embraces by Pedro Almodóvar. This is the return of “Penelepedro,” the unstoppable force of director Pedro Almodóvar and Penelope Cruz, who last captivated audiences with Volver in 2006. It’s got a film noir feel to it, centers on love and a car crash that leaves the protagonist blind, and features a soundtrack that includes Cat Power and Uffie. It sounds near perfect, really.

Map of the Sounds of Tokyo by Isabel Coixet. From My Life Without Me to last year’s Elegy, Coixet has proved herself a masterful storyteller, which is why we can’t wait for “a dramatic thriller that centers on a fish-market employee who doubles as a contract killer.” Tokyo stars Oscar-nominated actress Rinko Kikuchi, who, in my opinion, is one of today’s most revelatory onscreen chameleons.

Bright Star by Jane Campion. Kiwi director Jane Campion is to dark drama what Amy Heckerling is to romantic teen comedy — no matter how tragically their recent films have bombed, I still get excited when their names are attached to new projects. Like this one. Starring Paul Schneider and Abbie Cornish, Bright Star chronicles the love affair between 19th-century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, before Keats’ early death. Actually, I just got sort of bored writing that, but, hey, at least it doesn’t feature Meg Ryan getting her nasty on. Plus, Campion made The Piano, so she’s more than capable of a comeback.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus by Terry Gilliam. Doctor Parnassus might just be the most exciting of all of the offerings at Cannes this year. Yes, the last time Gilliam and Heath Ledger worked together, they created The Brothers Grimm, which was very much so. And yes, Gilliam’s last film, Tideland, was ugly, misanthropic, and bloated. But after Ledger’s tragic death, actors Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law stepped in to play the same character in various dream worlds. Plus, Tom Waits channels the devil, supermodel Lily Cole plays a damsel in distress, and Christopher Plummer transforms into the 1,000-year-old title character. Intriguing is a gross understatement.

Thirst by Park Chan-Wook. The director of Oldboy is back with a thriller about a religious man who turns into a vampire! That’s all you need. Oh, and this trailer.
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