Ep. 93 – Split, The Founder, and a Lost in London recap

January 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” and the so-called “The Social Network with hamburgers” biopic “The Founder” starring Michael Keaton. They also recap Woody Harrelson’s live film “Lost in London” which was presented live across the country by Fathom Events.

[00:00-22:12] Intro/”Lost in London” recap

[22:12-36:19] “Split” review

[36:19-49:13] “The Founder” review

[49:13-59:32] Wrap up/tease
Click here to download the episode!

Anya Taylor-Joy – Split

January 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

Coming off her breakout role in last year’s most critically-acclaimed horror film “The Witch,” actress Anya Taylor-Joy says she continues to be “creatively fulfilled” as her young career moves into its next phase. In her new thriller “Split,” directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense”), Taylor-Joy plays Casey Cooke, one of three girls who is kidnapped and held captive by a disturbed man (James McAvoy) suffering from multiple personality disorder.

During our interview, Taylor-Joy, 20, who lived the first six years of her life in Argentina (her mother is half Argentine and her father is half Spanish), talked about her Latina heritage, working with Shyamalan and McAvoy and explained what kind of bad guys she’s most attracted to.

What do you remember about living in Argentina?

Warmth. I mean that from the people to the country itself. The sky is so big over there. That’s the first thing I think when I go there. It’s nature and warmth and animals. I had a really blessed childhood. When I moved to London, I definitely noticed how much I missed Argentina.

What do you think makes Latino culture different than other cultures in the world?

Again, I think it’s the warmth. I’ve always been a hugger. I’ve only realized by spending so much time in America that people don’t really hug when the meet each other here. In Argentina, it’s so normal. You meet a complete stranger and you hug them and you give them a kiss on the cheek. That’s the most normal thing in the world. I did it to an American and they kind of just stiffened up and I was like, “Aww.” I was probably too close for comfort. But I haven’t given it up. I hug every single person on set every morning, throughout the day and every night, too.

How familiar were you with M. Night Shyamalan’s body of work? You were only three when “The Sixth Sense” hit theaters.

Growing up, I was very close to my youngest brother, who is technically 10 years older than me. He showed me “The Sixth Sense” way too soon. I think he got really excited and thought, “Let’s watch it together!” forgetting that I was seven years old. I didn’t speak for a couple of days after I saw that movie. I loved “Unbreakable,” but I have to say that I didn’t go into [“Split”] with any expectations working with Night. It wasn’t like, “Oh my God, I’m going to work with M. Night Shyamalan!” No, I’m doing a script that I’m really passionate about and a character that I really love and I’m excited to meet this man because I think he’s brilliant. That’s all I was really thinking about.

What was it about your character in “Split” that led you to the role?

I loved her, but that’s something I share with all of my characters. If I read a character and hear her voice in my head and feel instant love for her, I know [the role] is for me. [Casey] and I are very different people, but at the core I think we’re very similar. She’s a lot quieter than I am. I talk a lot—like a lot, a lot. She’s quiet and observant and has an intense and deep internal world. She’s aware of everything, but she internalizes it. She doesn’t speak about it. I think that’s something that really saves her in this film because she’s able to collect information and then put it into use at the exact correct moment.

What kind of conversations did you have with M. Night about what kind of movie he wanted this to be?

When a script is very well written, it just makes your job really easy because you feel like with every word you read, you’re reading a biography on your character. Night wrote an excellent script. We definitely had a lot of conversations. He intimidated me a little at the beginning because he was like, “And by the way, this is my favorite character that I’ve ever written.” No pressure. I was like, “Oh, shit. OK, I better do a good job.” I think we both had intense love for [Casey] and it was very important for us to get her right. I think as an actor, if you can tap into the mindset of your director and understand their vision and what they want, it just makes your life easier. We were lucky enough to have a week of rehearsals, which was very important. By the end of it, I could do a take and if it wasn’t exactly right, Night wouldn’t even have to say anything. I would just hold up a finger and ask, “One more?” and we would just go. He kind of just told me telepathically and I knew what his vision for Casey was and we lined it up together.

What was the experience like watching James McAvoy play all these different characters in the film? Do you have a favorite?

I think he’s a genius. That’s not a word I use very lightly. I’ve been very lucky to work with a whole bunch of geniuses. I don’t think any actor could have done the work he does in this film. I was so close to his face all the time. When the camera is on his face, I’m right behind the camera. I’m literally inches away from him. I could tell which character I was talking to just by the way he flickered an eyebrow, by the way he held his mouth, by the way his eyes shifted, his posture. It was a really terrific, physical feat that he did. My favorite character is Hedwig, absolutely. Isn’t he the cutest? I know that’s a really weird thing to say because he’s living in the body of the man that kidnapped me, but he’s so cute! I love him!

What is more frightening to you–a real-world antagonist like the one in Split or a supernatural one like in “The Witch?”

I’m kind of attracted to the supernatural—probably more than Thomasin (her character in “The Witch”). If I encountered a bad guy that had supernatural powers, I’d be like, “Oh my God, teach me!” I think I’d rather meet someone with supernatural powers just to be like, “Hell, yes! Magic exists! Winning!”

What do you think about the controversy Split has garnered because of what some people are calling negative stereotypes of people with mental illness?

The thing about the way we utilized DIDs (Dissociative Identity Disorder) in this film is that it’s definitely a jumping off point. Anyone that sees the movie knows that we’re not trying to make a comment on people with DIDs in the real world. We take it in a fantastical direction. We’re not saying, “People with DIDs are bad guys.” We use our movie logic. I think if you see this film and you’re insulted, I’m terribly sorry because that was never the intention. [McAvoy’s character] climbs walls and bends bars. If you can show me a person with a mental disorder that can do that, then, yes, you can be offended.

You were one of the last actresses to work with actor Anton Yelchin before he passed away last year. Can you share something about him you remember fondly?

With all due respect, it’s still tender. He was very well loved. He’s terribly missed. He was a wonderful person.

So, ultimately, what are you looking for out of this career as actress? Do you have something specific in mind in terms of where you want your career to go?

I think I’ve been so lucky because every single one of my movies, I’ve loved to death. I’ve really killed myself working these last two years, willingly. I’m making movies that I’m so passionate about. I’m so passionate about the people I’m working with. I’m learning all the time. If I can just continue to do work that I love as much as I love the films I’ve already made, I’ll be the happiest girl in the world. There’s not a concrete goal. I just want to be creatively fulfilled at all times. Right now, I am.

Split

January 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable”)
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan (“The Visit,” “After Earth”)

Former Hollywood golden boy M. Night Shyamalan has been working on a comeback for longer than he was at the top of his game, and since the double-sided nadir of “The Last Airbender” and “After Earth,” Shyamalan has gone small, like a former world-class athlete rebuilding his game in the minors. 2015’s “The Visit” was a fun found-footage horror romp with zero big stars and a sly wink at the audience from time to time. With his latest, “Split,” Shyamalan starts to play a little hero ball like it’s 2001 again, shooting to spin an intimate psychological thriller into an epic tale of supernatural ability using showy performances and, yes, a twist–with mixed results.

At a birthday party for popular high school student Claire (Haely Lu Richardson), the quiet, introverted Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) remains an outcast, invited only so it wouldn’t be awkward in class. When it’s time to go, Casey hitches a reluctant ride with Claire, Claire’s dad, and Claire’s friend Marcia (Jessica Sula), only Claire’s dad is knocked out before he can get in the car and the three girls are taken by a stranger named Kevin (James McAvoy) and locked in an underground bunker. When the girls come to, they find that Kevin suffers from dissociative identity disorder, and they’re visited and/or tormented by several identities including manically methodical Dennis, taciturn Miss Patricia, and lisping 9-year-old Hedwig. These identities are revolting against the reasonable artist persona Barry, who keeps trying to break through and reach psychiatrist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) — who likens Kevin’s disorder to superhuman abilities — before an unknown entity known as “The Beast” arrives to devour the captive girls.

While McAvoy’s go-for-broke performance as the multiple personalities is bold and grimly funny at times, the nearly two-hour run time leaves a few aspects teetering on the brink of annoyance (I’m looking at you, Hedwig). Also puzzling is the inclusion of a grossly depressing backstory for Taylor-Joy’s Claire that does essentially nothing for the plot accept to provide a head-scratching end to the climax and an icky aftertaste in the epilogue. Why her character was made to suffer that fate to have such a confusing payoff is a mystery.

So, let’s talk about the twist—which, really, has more in common with the Marvel school of post-credits stingers that open up the movie’s world instead of turning what we just watched on its ear. It’s a bold decision, for sure, and it’s hard to decide if it’s a brilliant move or a boneheaded one. Either way, it will make you leave the theater talking. Although it’s a little like watching Kobe Bryant back in the day score 60 points in a game—thrilling, to be sure, but maybe an indicator that Shyamalan hasn’t quite learned his lesson.