Category Archives: Interviews

Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges on acting as therapy

For Honey Boy, directed by Israeli-American filmmaker Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach), actor and performance artist Shia LaBeouf takes on screenwriting duties.

Much has been made of this, given that the film is a fictionalised account of his own childhood ascent to stardom. LaBeouf headlined Disney Channel shows as a pre-teen, which led to him starring in Michael Bay and Oliver Stone films in his early 20s – all before a very public crash-landing into rehab and recovery in recent years. Many of these experiences, naturally, find their way into the script.

But if your guard immediately went up at the idea of a barely disguised autobiography – in which the writer also plays a version of their own father – rest assured that Honey Boy is no exercise in indulgent narcissism. Rather, LaBeouf’s story is a deeply humanist, tragicomic memoir about mental health and trauma.

In the film, two actors play the character Otis Lort – based on LaBeouf – at different stages of a tumultuous career. Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird) plays Otis as an adult, where he’s a hot-headed movie star sent to rehab after a DUI.

Most of the film, though, is set in the ’90s, with British teen actor Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place) playing a younger Otis. He’s struggling with his childhood television work under the supervision of his leech-like father (LaBeouf), an ex-rodeo clown and felon who’s emotionally abusive to his son and sometimes physically abusive to those trying to help the boy.

Ahead of Honey Boy’s UK release, Huck spoke to Hedges and Jupe about ‘playing’ LaBeouf, their own relationships with child stardom, and whether they view filmmaking as therapy…

Full interview for Huck

Atom Egoyan: How we made ‘Exotica’ – 25th anniversary

Misleadingly marketed as an erotic thriller by Miramax, Exotica proved a notable box-office success for a Canadian film when it was released a quarter of a century ago. It was a commercial breakthrough for its Cairo-born writer-director Atom Egoyan, following well-regarded arthouse titles such as Speaking Parts (1989) and The Adjuster (1991). Nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes and recipient of eight Genie awards (Canada’s equivalent of the Oscars), Egoyan’s film remains one of Canadian cinema’s most enduring and influential titles, and – along with The Sweet Hereafter (1997) – the director’s most highly regarded feature.

Set primarily around the fictional Exotica strip club in Toronto, the non-linear narrative – in which Egoyan withholds many of the specifics of characters’ relationships until the very end – concerns the intertwining lives of Francis (Bruce Greenwood), a tax auditor; Christina (Mia Kirshner), a young dancer; Eric (Elias Koteas), the club’s DJ; Thomas (Don McKellar), a pet shop owner; and Zoe (Arsinée Khanjian), the club’s pregnant owner.

Exotica is largely about loss, mourning and the effects they have on human connections; how people’s attempts to cope with extreme, often concealed grief manifest in outwardly disturbing personal rituals. The final scenes are among the most emotionally cathartic of 1990s cinema, drastically reconfiguring your understanding of previous events, while also opening up many unsettling questions. Far from a shallow puzzle narrative, the film’s power only grows with repeat viewings.

With 2019 marking the film’s 25th anniversary, I spoke to Atom Egoyan about Exotica’s production and legacy while he was at this year’s BFI London Film Festival to give a career talk and support his new film, Guest of Honour. Our conversation spoils one narrative reveal from Exotica’s finale…

Full interview for the BFI

‘Judy & Punch’: Mirrah Foulkes gives the puppet-show a 21st-century twist

“I feel like it changes all the time. You’d think I’d have a roll-off-the-tongue synopsis by now, wouldn’t you?”

Australian writer-director Mirrah Foulkes has just been asked how she’s describing her tonally peculiar debut feature, Judy & Punch, not long before its bow in UK cinemas nationwide. “I guess I’m describing it as a dark and twisted 17th-century fable about puppeteers that’s very unexpected and hopefully not like anything you’ve seen before. I was really excited by the boldness of it.”

Judy & Punch doesn’t draw much from the historical origins of the traditional Punch and Judy puppet show, with Foulkes instead using the narrative of the show as a point of departure for a new tale, one re-imagining what might happen if Punch’s wife Judy were to not take his violent impulses in quite so submissive a fashion…

Full interview for the BFI

Adam Pearson: ‘I thought it was a really clever script and premise for a film commentating on the history of disability in cinema’

A meta filmmaking comedy set around the making of a low-budget horror, Chained For Life skewers and examines notions of on-screen representation of disabled or disfigured bodies to entertaining effect, while also avoiding being a patronising, didactic story.

Activist Adam Pearson transitioned into acting with Under the Skin, opposite Scarlett Johansson. In Chained For Life, he plays Rosenthal, one of a number of disfigured or disabled performers in the ensemble of the movie-within-the-movie, under the questionable direction of a supposed artistic visionary. Jess Weixler (The Good Wife) plays the able-bodied lead actor, whose role is as a blind woman, slowly connecting with Rosenthal in-between filming…

Full interview for The List

Kantemir Balagov talks ‘Beanpole’

Beanpole, the extraordinary sophomore feature of writer-director Kantemir Balagov, earned the young filmmaker the Best Director prize in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, where it also won him the FIPRESCI Prize for the section – his second in a row after Closeness in 2017.

Set in Leningrad after the Second World War, it follows a number of injured or, at least, traumatised survivors attempting to restart their lives anew any way they can. Although a number of compelling characters shine in subplots, Beanpole’s central relationship is that between Iya (Viktoria Miroshnichenko), a very tall, pale and softly-spoken woman, and Masha (Vasilisa Perelygina), a smaller brunette with a more outwardly fervent personality…

Full interview for VODzilla.co

The Sundance breakout taking on gentrification

Winner of two awards at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is stylistically bold and dryly funny – a soulful tale of friendship, gentrification and solitude, set in the titular city.

Jimmie Fails – who shares a writing credit with Rob Richert and Joe Talbot, the film’s director – plays himself in a narrative partly informed by his own experiences. The film sees the onscreen Jimmie, close friend Montgomery (Jonathan Majors) at his side, searching for home and belonging in a rundown part of SF.

An opportunity presents itself over in the Fillmore District when a Victorian-style house reportedly built by Jimmie’s grandfather is abruptly vacated by the current occupants in the now predominantly white neighbourhood. Jimmie sees a chance to reclaim the house, and all it represents to him – by any creative means necessary.

Huck spoke to Fails and Talbot at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where their film played outside of North America for the first time…

Full interview for Huck

When Black Children Were Farmed Out to White Families

Over a 25-year onscreen career, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has become a character actor favourite, balancing key supporting parts in blockbusters (The Bourne IdentitySuicide Squad) with steady TV work, including major roles in two of the most influential series of their time: Lost and Oz.

His autobiographical feature debut as a writer-director, Farming, now arrives with starry names like Kate Beckinsale and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in its ensemble. The title refers to a social practice in which Nigerian immigrants to Britain would temporarily give their children to white foster families, sending money for a child’s keep while they studied to make a better life for themselves. Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s onscreen surrogate, Enitan, is played as a teen by the magnetic Damson Idris, who picked up the Best Performance award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival where Farming also won Best British Film…

Full interview for Another Man