Gaspar Noé – Climax

April 25, 2019 by  
Filed under Interviews

Provocative French-Argentine filmmaker Gaspar Noé (Irreversible) might be the first to admit that his new horror-dance movie Climax isn’t necessarily something audiences haven’t seen before, but you might beg to differ.

In Climax, Noé introduces moviegoers to a large group of dancers who are celebrating a successful day of rehearsals with an after-party at their studio. The evening begins with the dancers enjoying each other’s company – gossiping, drinking, and dancing – but spirals out of control when they realize the sangria they’ve been consuming all night long has been laced with LSD.

From there, Noé’s scriptless dance party transforms into a nightmarish scenario where the dancers slowly lose their minds and find themselves participating in some of the most deviant behavior imaginable, including extreme violence, self-mutilation, and sexual perversions.

During an interview with me last week, Noé discussed where the idea for Climax originated, how shooting without a script was a liberating experience and why he decided to flip the camera upside down for long stretches of the film.

Where did the idea for Climax come from?
I was thinking of a disaster movie or a zombie movie. Some of those movies look so realistic when they’re shot in documentary style. I was thinking about a community that builds up something and then everything goes wrong. It could be a cult movie or a disaster movie or a horror-zombie movie. I started watching videos online of dancers in Paris and decided to mix these stories together. Even if [Climax] starts as a sort of musical comedy, it turns into something like a realistic horror movie.

I really like the idea of creating something beautiful and then destroying it in a horror film.
Yeah, if you’ve seen the movie Shivers by David Cronenberg, it’s about a perfect building that has been constructed for all the richest people in town and then something goes wrong. It’s like The Towering Inferno where the fire starts in the middle of the building. Human creations take a long time to build up and then it can all be destroyed. In this case, there is a substance (LSD) that is put into the sangria and everyone turns crazy and paranoid and aggressive. It’s about a whole community turning into reptiles because of their fear.

How difficult is it as a director to make a film as demanding as this without a script?
I’m lucky because [Climax] is produced by the best producers in France. They like cinema and they wanted the movie to exist, so they invested their own money. Without them, this movie would never have happened. I heard that [legendary French filmmaker Jean-Luc] Godard could get financing for his movies with just two pages of a script. I always dreamt of being as free as Godard could be at that time. He was allowed to do movies in a way that weren’t usually done.

As a filmmaker, is it important to you to make audiences feel like they’re watching something on screen that they’ve never seen before?
Yeah, but there’s nothing new in this movie. You’ve seen many movies with crane [camera shots] over dancers. You could look at movies like La La Land or Fame. There are movies about dancers in a school where things go wrong. There’s been disasters movies where rich people are dying. There’s nothing new in this movie. It’s just kind of different, but I did not invent anything. The only thing I hadn’t seen before that’s in this movie is an upside down title card. I liked that idea.

Well, you also turned the camera upside down for long stretches of the film, too, which I don’t think I’ve seen before.
For a long time, I wanted to see a movie with the camera upside down. There are some painters who exhibit their painting and portraits upside down, but I had never seen that in a movie. I always wanted to see a whole scene in a movie upside down, so in this movie I finally did it. As a director, you get bored, so if you can find any new idea that makes you feel like you’re not replaying your own movies or someone else’s movies, it’s very enjoyable. I also had never seen a movie with the main credits in the middle [of the movie], so I did that, too. You have to have fun and amuse yourself.

I have to admit, during the long upside down scene, I cheated and turned my head upside down to watch for a while until I realized it was going to go on for a while.
(Laughs) Did it look better? If you put it in the right sense, there is less going on than if you put it upside down. Upside down seems scarier because you can’t really read the images.

How else did you keep yourself from getting bored making Climax?
For the first time I used a drone! We improvised the opening scene. Probably now I’ll be addicted to drones.

Was it ever an idea to allow your cast to become method actors and actually drop acid to shoot this film?
Nah, because we had such a short time to shoot it – 15 days. I didn’t want anyone to be drunk or wasted in front or behind the camera. We were all being very professional. We couldn’t fail. And to tell you the truth, most of these dancers are between the ages of 18-23 and when I asked them about drugs, none of them really used or tried any. They were all clean by choice because when dancers are wasted or drunk, they turn into bad dancers.

Jason Drucker – Bumblebee (DVD)

April 3, 2019 by  
Filed under Interviews

In what most critics are calling the best film in the Hasbro “Transformers” franchise, “Bumblebee” follows the titular robot character, a member of the Autobots who finds refuge on Earth as the villainous Decepticons attempt to track him down.

While on Earth, Bumblebee (AKA B-127) meets Charlie (Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld), a 17-year-old outcast who pulls the broken-down robot (disguised as a yellow Volkswagen Beetle) from a scrapyard and makes it her new car. She soon realizes that Bumblebee is much more than just an old junker when the Decepticons land on Earth with plans to destroy him and the planet.

There to support Charlie and Bumblebee is her family, including Charlie’s younger brother Otis (Jason Drucker), a funny and sarcastic kid who knows how to annoy his older sister, but is there for her when she really needs him.

During an interview with Drucker, who is also known for the Nickelodeon series “Every Witch Way” and the 2017 comedy sequel “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul,” talked about how much he knew about “Transformers” before landing the role, working with Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld for the second time and revealed the actor he would most like to work with in the future.

“Bumblebee” was released on DVD and Blu-ray on April 2.

I know you’re 13 years old now. How old were you when you shot “Bumblebee?”

I believe we began shooting in the summer of 2017, so I was 12. I think I turned 12 on set.

Does it feel like a lifetime ago?

It honestly does feel like a lifetime ago! I just remember waiting for the premiere. Waiting a year is pretty long. It might as well have been 10 years. We worked very hard on the film.

What was your initial reaction when you got the phone call that you booked the role of Otis?

I was in a complete state of shock. I got it on my first audition, so I thought that was already pretty impressive. And, I mean, it’s a “Transformers” film, so that is amazing. I never really imagined that I would be this fortunate in this industry. But I’m really grateful and thankful for all the things I’ve accomplished already.

You are way too young to have watched the original “Transformers” cartoon growing up, but did people tell you about it when you landed this role?

Yeah, my dad did. I’m pretty sure he watched them. He showed me a few episodes on YouTube. I just grew up with the 21st century cartoons and, of course, the films that already existed. I’ve seen the first, second and third ones. I was already a pretty big fan of [the franchise].

Well, personally, I think “Bumblebee” is easily the best “Transformers” movie of the franchise, and I’m not alone in that regard. How do you feel when people tell you it’s the best movie out of the bunch?

I feel really grateful because I am a part of a franchise that has been so successful. It seems like everyone is really liking [“Bumblebee”], including myself. It was such a blast to film. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it – that I’m in a “Transformers” film.

Your character, Otis, is a bit of a sarcastic kid. How close in real life are you to him?

(Laughs) Honestly, I think [Otis] has a big portion of my true personality. This is actually the third character I’ve played that almost resembles me – chatty and sarcastic half the time. Sometimes I can be a bit rude to my siblings like Otis is with Charlie. But, of course, like in the movie, I do become accepting of Charlie, so that resembles me, as well, in real life.

Something a young actor like yourself doesn’t always get a chance to do is work with an Oscar-nominated actress like Hailee Steinfeld. What was the experience like working with her?

Something a lot of people don’t know is that this is my second film with her. (Drucker and Steinfeld also starred together in the 2015 adventure-comedy “Barely Lethal”). Getting a second film with her was great. But like you said, she is very talented – acting and singing. She is very wise as well. A couple of times on set, she pulled me to the side and spoke to me about education and how my life was going. It’s always a blast to work with her.

What about someone like John Cena? Were you a wrestling fan at all?

I wasn’t a superfan like my friends were. It was actually my friends that got me into WWE and I watched it for a good half year. Of course, John Cena was my favorite wrestler. Now, he’s getting into movies as well. I’ve seen a couple of them. So, to be in a movie with him is just insane. Getting to meet him was awesome, too.

Can you give us any news on any sequel talk that might be out there?

For the most part, it’s all classified, but if there is a sequel, I would love to be in it.

Moving forward in your career, is there anyone you would like to work with specifically – and actor or a director?

Jim Carrey. He would definitely be an honor to work with. I’ve seen a bunch of his movies. I love his comedies. To be able to work with him or at least meet him would be an absolute dream.

What’s your favorite Jim Carrey movie?

“Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” for sure. Actually, both of them. I just rewatched the second one (“Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls”) two weeks ago. It’s even funnier the second time. Will Ferrell is also another one of my idols.

It’s too bad they already made an “Ace Ventura Jr.” movie a few years ago. You were too young to star in it back then.

Wait, they did?!

Yeah, it’s Ace Ventura, but he’s a kid.

Oh, dang! I’ve gotta watch that!

OK, so we know you’re definitely into comedy. Would you like to try another genre – maybe drama or horror?

Oh, a horror movie, for sure. I am a huge horror movie fanatic. I’ve seen every horror movie possible, so to be able to work on a horror movie would be insane.