‘Maniac’ creator Patrick Somerville on making you question reality and normalcy

Based on a Norwegian show of the same name, Netflix’s limited series Maniac reunites Superbad stars Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, alongside a formidable ensemble cast that features Justin Theroux, Sally Field, Sonoya Mizuno, Billy Magnussen, Julia Garner, Jemima Kirke and Gabriel Byrne in recurring roles. Directed in full by Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective), the dystopia-tinged dark comedy sees two strangers drawn to the late stages of a mysterious pharmaceutical trial, for mind-repairing pills sold as being able to solve all of a test subject’s problems permanently. What they experience is hallucinations of different worlds and realities.

Ahead of Maniac’s arrival on Netflix, we spoke to writer, executive producer, and the man with the ‘Created by’ credit on the show, Patrick Somerville. Also an author, his previous writing and producing work in television includes fellow Scandinavian series adaptation The Bridge and The Leftovers, the latter also starring Justin Theroux…

Full interview for SciFiNow

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Aaron Katz on ‘Gemini’, LA, noir, and Bad Influence(s)

A few years on from his mystery comedy Cold Weather, affectionately dubbed ‘mumblenoir’ by some, writer-director Aaron Katz returns to the narrative territory of a non-detective investigating a crime. And this one’s set in Los Angeles, the home of film noir.

Led by Lola Kirke and Zoë Kravitz, Gemini concerns the complex relationship between a personal assistant and her Hollywood starlet boss. After maybe 30 minutes of getting to know the pair, the film switches gears and sees the PA, Jill (Kirke), go sleuth, after she is connected to a major crime, with a suspicious detective (John Cho) on her trail. Michelle Forbes, James Ransone, Nelson Franklin, Reeve Carney and Ricki Lake are among the supporting cast.

With Gemini now available to rent or buy on UK streaming platforms, here’s our conversation with Katz about Hollywood films, noir, and him not being the biggest David Lynch fan…

Full interview for VODzilla.co

Twin Flower (Laura Luchetti, 2018)

The meaning of Twin Flower’s title is revealed roughly 40 minutes in: preventing teenage trainee Anna (Anastasyia Bogach) from splitting a double-stemmed flower, a florist insists the plant’s parts are a rare thing that must stay together. As a unit, Anna and the film’s other teenage protagonist, Ivory Coast refugee Basim (Kalill Kone), are similar: two fragile things brought together by chance and stronger as companions in navigating the world…

Full review for Cinema Scope

The Dark (Justin P. Lange, 2018)

Writer-director Justin P. Lange’s debut feature, The Dark, opens with an extended sequence of a wanted criminal on the run. Played by Austrian actor Karl Markovics (The Counterfeiters), the man, Josef, has a fatal encounter with a testy gas station clerk before heading to a woodland area to hide out; in the back of his car is an unseen figure and presumed kidnap victim to whom he mutters some instructions. Where the man arrives is a place cursed by some sort of regular threat, as briefly laid out by the deceased clerk, and, sure enough, Josef is pursued by a cloaked figure through an abandoned property and out among the trees. Nearly 20 minutes long, this tense opening stretch would work well as an isolated short film in its own right (Lange’s earlier short of the same name that this expands from encompasses more of the story that follows in the rest of the full feature)…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Locarno Filmmakers Academy 2018: Meet Some of the World’s Most Exciting New Filmmakers

The annual Filmmakers Academy at the Locarno Festival in Switzerland selects some of the most promising talents in contemporary film from around the world, offering them vital networking opportunities, screenings at the festival for their existing short films, and masterclasses with a line-up of guest directors. This year’s talks from established filmmakers included musings from Bruno Dumont and festival jurors Jia Zhangke and Sean Baker.

During the festival, five participants spoke about their work to date, their aspirations, how the conditions for filmmaking in their home countries have informed their career progress so far, and what they expect to do next…

Full feature for IndieWire

The 10 best films from the 2018 Locarno Film Festival

As an indication of its ever-growing stature on the international film festival circuit, the current artistic director of Switzerland’s Locarno Festival for many years, Carlo Chatrian, has been snapped up to help programme the bigger Berlin Film Festival from 2020. As such, the 71st edition of Locarno seemed to have a bittersweet quality for the talkative festival veterans, as things might be very different next year. Even so, 2018 lived up to expectations of the event as an exciting space for new arthouse fare and as a celebration of older cinema that takes more offbeat choices in terms of paying tribute. We were particularly touched by the inspired choice to give the honorary Vision Award to title sequence designer Kyle Cooper (Se7en, among many credits), and not just because it gave programmers an excuse to screen Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film from a 35mm print.

Our personal highlight was the wealth of delights in the festival’s extensive retrospective of American filmmaker Leo McCarey, particularly a screening of The Awful Truth (1937) that had a packed audience in hysterics. That said, the new films on offer were hardly lacking in quality. In an unranked order, here are nine premiering feature highlights, plus one short. We should mention we were sadly unable to catch Mariano Llinás’ 14-hour La Flor, perhaps the most publicised title in competition this year…

Full feature for Little White Lies

Mark Cousins on ‘The Eyes of Orson Welles’, documentaries and Netflix

Director, critic and curator Mark Cousins returns with essay feature The Eyes of Orson Welles, a documentary, divided into five chapters, that explores the legendary filmmaker through a subject that’s rarely come up in the multiple existing biographical portraits of the man: his paintings and sketches, many of which have never before been displayed for public consumption outside of this film.

Invited to his Edinburgh flat to see a few of Welles’ drawings up close, prior to a summer exhibition in the city, we spoke to Cousins about collaborating with Welles’ daughter, Beatrice, avoiding clichés about the filmmaker, inspiring documentaries, Donald Trump, and his thoughts on Netflix’s handling of Welles’ final film, which is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival…

Full interview for VODzilla.co

Writing by Josh Slater-Williams