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.

Good Luck With That: Australian Billionaire Sets Out to Replicate Titanic

Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the maiden voyage and subsequent tragic sinking of the Titanic, as well as the 15th anniversary of the very expensive and overrated movie that was made about it. So maybe Australian billionaire Clive Palmer was waiting for the tactful reflection period about the great nautical tragedy to end by waiting until 2013 to move forward with his plans to build a 21st-century replica of the great ship, or maybe he missed a great branding opportunity.

Either way, the ship, which may cost upwards of $200 million to build and a whole lot of power at its future construction site in Nanjing, China, is attracting quite a lot of attention from ship-heads. Palmer says he’s received bids from people to pay more than $1 million to be a part of the ship’s maiden voyage. ($2 million if they can have a private “draw me like one of your French girls” session and then have sex in the Renault in the hold.) And hey, at least with modern technology and the effects of global climate change, this voyage should pan out to be pretty iceberg-free! But will the boat sink under the hubris of this crazy idea? That remains to be seen.

In other ill-advised cruise ship news, yesterday, sensitive ‘90s alt-adult-contemporary bros Matchbox Twenty announced their Matchbox Twenty Cruise, which will travel from Miami to Nassau on the Carnival Imagination. Because the optimal time to announce your partnership with a cruise ship company is days after its worst PR nightmare ever, a nightmare so bad that all the headlines about it literally led with the word “nightmare.” “I know what will take people’s minds off of this disaster where people were stranded and using bags as toilets! Announcing an extra-special voyage with Rob Thomas!” Hey, some people might go for it. 

‘MythBusters’ Takes on the Eternal ‘Titanic’ Question

This headline is probably a bit misleading, as the eternal Titanic question (which has been answered by SCIENCE!) is probably how an “unsinkable” ship was able to sink on its maiden voyage. But the question to which we are referring, of course, is the one of the 1997 film Titanic, and whether or not Jack and Rose could have both fit on that plank and survived. In a rather fitting twist, considering Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman’s ‘staches would likely have been fairly at home in the pre-WWI era, the duo from MythBusters devoted a segment with some hard-hitting experimentation to the question that has plagued fans of the movies for the past 15 years. Children of the ‘90s, your answer awaits.

What they found was that, indeed, Leo DiCaprio did not have to become a human Freezy-Pop, but their rescue would have required a working knowledge of flotation devices. There was certainly room for both of them on the board, but they could only survive if they had been able to tie Rose’s life jacket to the bottom of the board to boost its buoyancy, otherwise their weight would lead to sinking and them both dying of hypothermia. The experiment involved several intense hypothermia tests involving a “Jack” dummy and a Special Guest Appearance from James Cameron.

So, there you go. There’s your answer. So now, to the apparently many fans who are still sending James Cameron hate mail about the outcome, at least now you have a point of contention proved by the powers of SCIENCE! 

Afternoon Links: Q-Tip Joins G.O.O.D. Music, Brooklyn Gets A Rough Trade

● Big Sean, if you’ll just scoot over a bit: Kanye West has signed former Tribe Called Quest member Q-Tip to his G.O.O.D. Music family. "I will do my best to present the most cutting edge music I can,” the 42-year-old rapper said. [Rap-Up]

● Unfortunately for the man who claims he waited fifteen years to see them, China has censored Kate Winslet’s boobs out of Titanic 3D. [Huff Post]

● James Franco, already a man of many talents, has added Rihanna to his repertoire. [JustJared]

● Upset by the media setup outside his apartment — and particularly with The Today Show crew that was there — Alec Baldwin suggested on Twitter this morning that he is "leaving NBC just in time." Baldwin is on contract for at least another season of 30 Rock, but could that be his last? [Vulture]

● When he was 14 years old, Brad Pitt played on a trophy-winning basketball team called The Rejects. [Us]

● Rough Trade, the London record store that helped foster punk, is opening shop in Williamsburg this fall. And better yet, in addition to the usual record store offerings, they’ve partnered with Bowery Presents to put on in-store gigs. [VV]

Afternoon Links: Ai Weiwei Sets Up Live Webcams, Mary J. Blige Commercial Pulled

● Ai Weiwei has installed four live webcams in his Beijing home — including one over his bed and two at his desk — as a nod to the 24-hour police surveillance he has been subjected to since his detention last year. [ArtsBeat]

● In Glamour this month, Lauren Conrad claims that, ever since someone "zoomed in" on her cellulite years ago, she has been "just petrified" of wearing a bathing suit in public. "It was so mean," she says. [Us]

● Noted astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson has for years been bothered by the inaccurate star-map used in Titanic‘s climactic scene, so for the 3D go-around, James Cameron changed it. "So I said, ‘All right, you son of a bitch, send me the right stars for the exact time, 4:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, and I’ll put it in the movie,’" Cameron said. "So that’s the one shot that has been changed." [HuffPost]

● David Byrne and Will Oldham have teamed up as the Pieces of Shit — a title which no one would endue the two — for the This Must Be the Place soundtrack. [Pitchfork]

● Mary J. Blige’s commercial for Burger King chicken snack wraps ("Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses, ranch dressing wrapped up in a tasty, flour tortilla," she’ll tell you to the tune of her “Don’t Mind”) already seems to have been pulled from YouTube. [Gawker]

● Nick Cannon has begun documenting his recent health troubles with an online series called the NCredible Health Hustle. "Hoping this series serves as inspiration for anyone dealing with kidney disease, lupus or ANY ILLNESS to keep pushing as well," he says. [People]

Kate Winslet Says Song from ‘Titanic’ Makes Her ‘Feel Like Throwing Up’

Celine Dion’s massive hit song "My Heart Will Go On" became the de facto theme to Titanic–and so much more–when it was released 15 years ago. To this day, it’s difficult for someone to go long without hearing it somewhere, whether it be on the radio or in a supermarket. And while the song brings a feeling of warmth to some, it  elicits less positive reactions from others. Take Kate Winslet, for example.

During a recent interview with MTV ahead of next week’s 3D re-release, the Titanic star was asked about the song that played over and over throughout the film that made her a household name. Here’s how Winslet responded:

"Like throwing up." That’s how Kate Winslet feels when she hears Celine Dion’s "My Heart Will Go On," the once-inescapable theme to "Titanic."

"No, I shouldn’t say that," Winslet added, thinking through her response before coming to this conclusion: "No, actually, I do feel like throwing up."

"I wish I could say, ‘Oh listen, everybody! It’s the Celine Dion song!’ But I don’t," Winslet admitted. "I just have to sit there, you know, kind of straight-faced with a massive internal eye roll."

Tell us how you really feel, Kate!

See the Titanic Wreckage Before It Completely Disappears

There’s apparently something in the ocean called Halmonas Titanicae, a recently discovered, iron-eating superbug, and it appears to have an appetite for the Titanic. The microbes are eating the wreckage of the iconic vessel so fast that scientists believe the ship, which sank in 1912, will completely disappear in 20 years. Yikes. Ed Coghlan, chairman of the Irish Titanic Historical Society, said “the reality to preserve it would cost an absolute fortune and is probably impossible.” But it’s definitely not impossible to see it before it’s completely devoured.

Luxury and More Travel, a high-end luxury travel operator, is offering Titanic-obsessed travelers the once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit the famous ship in what will probably be the last commercial opportunity ever. Those who book will not only get to dive two-and-a-half miles below the ocean’s surface, but they’ll also get to hang out with scientists, which is sort of cool if you’re into that. It’s $59,900 for the dive itself, so let’s hope the added bonus of “exclusively reproduced Titanic tableware china” by the original manufacturer for guests is authentic.

Disaster Voyeurism: Reliving the Titanic

I’m among the legions of guilty DiCaprites who stand at the front boats, arms spread, screaming, “I’m the king of the world!” à la Jack Dawson in Titanic. Come April 8, 2012, you can relive this moment of doomed glory will a little more authenticity on the maiden voyage of the Balmoral, which will commemorate the Titanic’s cruise a century after it first set sail, hopefully with a slightly different outcome.

The Balmoral—operated by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines—will disembark from Southampton, England with 1,309 passengers aboard, the same number as on the original voyage. It will follow the Titanic’s exact route, passing by Cherbourg on the French coast and stopping at the Irish port of Cobh before steaming across the Atlantic. On April 14, the day the original ship struck an iceberg 100 years earlier, passengers will take part in a special memorial service. The journey then continues to Halifax, Nova Scotia—the burial place for many that lost their lives—and ultimately dock in New York City on April 19.

The ship has already booked academics, history buffs, and hardcore Titanic fans, as well as those who actually had relatives lost in the tragedy. The Titanic-themed trip will do everything to replicate the 1912 experience, including era-appropriate meals, music, and entertainment. I’m sure passengers will also wear period costume. Twin cabins start at $5,185 and, believe it or not, there are only a few left. But should you book? There’s been some understandable controversy as of late. Disaster voyeurism, anyone?