Tag Archives: Interview

The company of wolves: how we made snowbound mystery ‘January’

In snowy January, two men and a bird in a remote mountain cottage complex are greeted by a series of strange guests. Each one seeks an audience with Petar Motorov, the residence’s owner, who has disappeared in the woods with his sleigh. Then his horse brings back the sleigh minus its owner, but carrying instead a dead, frozen wolf. As various members of the group make their own journey into the mountains, the sleigh continues to bring back eerie, stiff wolves in the place of human drivers. What is going on? And is Petar Motorov ever coming back?

An international co-production, January presents an unusual proposition on paper: a black-and-white absurdist tale, with folk horror leanings, by a Bulgarian director who’s previously only made documentaries, and co-written with a British filmmaker who’s veered between fiction and nonfiction. Andrey Paounov (Walking on Water, 2018) is the director, with his co-writer being Alex Barrett, whose last feature was the modern silent film London Symphony (2017). Together they reinterpret Yordan Radichkov’s allegorical play of the same name for a universal audience. But, as the above synopsis may indicate, that doesn’t mean they’ve made it any less weird…

Full interview for the BFI

Nine Songs: Howard Shore

He’s a three-time Oscar-winner who’s composed music for over 80 films, yet – excluding when he’s returned for sequels or spin-offs of movies he previously worked on – no Howard Shore score sounds quite like another.

There’s a chameleonic quality to the oeuvre, perhaps reflective of how he tells me that every score he works on is deeply personal in its own way. Somewhat to my surprise, when speaking about his Nine Songs selections, each a pivotal composition in his life, Shore nominates just one piece purposefully written for a film: Nino Rota’s title theme for Federico Fellini’s 1973 film Amarcord.

“It’s pieces that influenced me,” Shore says of his final choices. “Mostly when I was younger when I was developing my ideas. It took quite a process, actually, because I was trying to show a range of influences.”

Talking with the great Canadian composer proves fascinating for how even the smallest attribute of a track can get the mind’s gears going for an artist finding their own voice. Bar one piece by someone he’s collaborated with in the past, it’s not immediately obvious, until he elaborates, how many of his jazz-heavy selections could have been a direct influence on his output for film, television and stage. But then, it’s perhaps daft to try assuming what Shore’s influences might be when his work is so eclectic in its own right.

In the mainstream consciousness, Shore is likely best known for the music of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, for which he received his three Academy Awards – one for the song “Into the West”, co-written with Annie Lennox and Fran Walsh. But while he’s worked on many grand epics (Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York and The Aviator, plus Jackson’s later Hobbit films), he’s just at home with small-scale comedies (High FidelityBigMrs. Doubtfire) or low-key dramas (SpotlightPhiladelphia). Or in the weirder fringes of studio films, such as Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, David Fincher’s Seven and The Game, and his iconic work on Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs.

His latest full score, for the sci-fi Crimes of the Future, is his 16th feature with director David Cronenberg. His earliest frequent collaborator, Shore has composed the scores for all of Cronenberg’s features since 1979’s The Brood, excluding 1983’s The Dead Zone. For as much as films like VideodromeThe FlyDead RingersCrash and A History of Violence may linger for their transgressive material and shocking images of human bodies in distortion, they’d not be nearly as impactful without Shore’s soundscapes in accompaniment…

Full interview for The Line of Best Fit

Park Chan-wook on ‘Decision to Leave’

Josh Slater-Williams speaks to Park Chan-wook about Decision to Leave, the latest characteristically genre-slippery film from the great South Korean director of Oldboy (2003), The Handmaiden (2016), Thirst (2009) and many more. The story sees a happily married detective get a little too close to someone under his surveillance: a wife suspected of wrongdoing regarding her husband’s mysterious death in the mountains.

A warning: while director Park doesn’t give away explicit plot spoilers in this interview, he does discuss a tonal shift in the film’s second half and also alludes to one specific scene from that section…

Full interview for Curzon Journal

Director Cécile Ducrocq Discusses Sex-Worker Drama ‘Her Way’

Coming from a largely female creative team, writer-director Cécile Ducrocq’s Her Way is a sex-work-positive drama that’s anchored by a very fine performance from Laure Calamy (My Donkey, My Lover & I [2021], Call My Agent! [2015-2020]). But although Ducrocq deliberately sought to make a cinematic portrait of sex work that’s more balanced and nuanced than audiences are perhaps used to, she’s keen to emphasise that Her Way is, at its heart, a family story.

‘For me, the film is not about a prostitute,’ Ducrocq says of her debut feature as director. ‘It’s about a mother-and-son relationship, and the love she gives to her son. She will do anything and everything for him. And she refuses that social determinism that because she’s a prostitute, her son cannot have a good life. I think this idea can be shared with everybody. The film talks about education, what you can give to your children, and, of course, how it’s easier if you have money’…

Full interview for Curzon Journal

François Ozon on his assisted-suicide drama ‘Everything Went Fine’: “The film is like a thriller”

French writer Emmanuèle Bernheim died from cancer in 2017, a few years after the publication of memoir Tout s’est bien passé (Everything Went Fine). That book chronicled how she and her sister, Pascale, handled the instruction from their 85-year-old father, André, for an assisted suicide in light of paralysis following a stroke. As such actions remain illegal in France, they looked into getting him to a specialist clinic in Switzerland.

Bernheim’s work has previously been adapted for cinema by Claire Denis, who turned her novel Vendredi soir into a feature in 2002. But her most frequent screen collaborator was the prolific François Ozon, with whom she co-wrote screenplays for his Under the Sand (2000), Swimming Pool (2003), 5×2 (2004) and Ricky (2009). Now, Ozon has honoured her memory in adapting Everything Went Fine, with Sophie Marceau playing Emmanuèle, André Dussollier as André, Géraldine Pailhas as Pascale, Charlotte Rampling as her mother, Claude de Soria, and Hanna Schygulla as the Swiss clinic representative.

As Everything Went Fine is released in the UK, we spoke with Ozon about tackling this complex subject and his past flirtations with other controversial content…

Full interview for the BFI

Men: Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear on Alex Garland’s nightmare ride

Men, writer-director Alex Garland’s spooky follow-up to Ex Machina and Annihilation, blends body and folk horror for an enigmatic mood piece.

In the aftermath of her husband’s death, Harper (Jessie Buckley) takes a solo vacation in the English countryside, only to be plagued by various male aggressors, all portrayed by Rory Kinnear in multiple guises.

We spoke with Buckley and Kinnear about collaborating with Alex Garland…

Full interview for SciFiNow

Vikings don’t cry: Thomas Daneskov on his off-grid comedy ‘Wild Men’

Dark comedy Wild Men opens in wintry Norwegian mountains, their visual majesty disrupted by a soundtrack of sobbing. Cut to a man, draped in furs and carrying a bow and arrow, crying his eyes out. Pulling himself together, he tries catching a ram in nearby woods. He appears to wound it, but it escapes. Unable to find further prey, he clubs a frog to death, cooking it that night. The next morning, he’s throwing up. 

Then, this apparent Viking finds a chocolate bar wrapper that’s floated upstream, revealing that we’re not in fact watching a period piece in the vein of Robert Eggers’ The Northman (2022). The man journeys to a gas station, attempting to buy groceries and cigarettes but forgetting his debit card.

This is Denmark resident Martin (Rasmus Bjerg), a husband and father who, experiencing a midlife crisis, has abandoned his family to live in a huge Norwegian forest, adhering as closely as possible to the lifestyle of his ancestors a thousand-plus years ago. It’s only been 10 days in the wilderness, and wife Anne (Sofie Gråbøl) still thinks he’s just away on a work trip…

Full interview for the BFI

Director Laura Wandel Discusses Her Schoolyard Drama ‘Playground’

Premiering to acclaim at Cannes in 2021, Playground, the full-length debut of Belgian writer-director Laura Wandel, deservedly later won the Best First Feature award at the London Film Festival.

Running at only 72 minutes, it’s a compact, confident work, with creative visual and aural devices impressively realised throughout. The film’s images are conveyed entirely from a child’s point of view, the camera’s position staying at the height of its young lead (Maya Vanderbeque). Meanwhile, the soundtrack lacks any musical score, and reflects only what the protagonist can hear from her perspective…

Full interview for Curzon Journal

Neil Maskell, Paul Andrew Williams talk ‘Bull’

Following his BAFTA-nominated breakthrough feature London to Brighton (2006), writer-director Paul Andrew Williams dabbled in horror-comedy and thriller territory with The Cottage (2008) and Cherry Tree Lane (2010). Then came a fairly surprising switch to inspirational drama with Song for Marion (2012), the sweet tale of a grumpy pensioner honouring his recently deceased wife’s passion for performance by joining her former local choir. Williams has kept producing films and directing television – including Broadchurch, A Confession and The Eichmann Show – but Bull is his first feature as director to play on the big screen in nearly a full decade.

It’s a striking return to the mode of film he first broke out with, while also expanding his palette with a slippery, supernatural edge to proceedings. British character actor favourite Neil Maskell takes centre stage as the eponymous Bull, who returns to his home town after a decade’s absence. Once an enforcer, he’s seeking violent revenge on former gangster associates, including David Hayman’s Norm and Tamzin Outhwaite’s Sharon, who double-crossed him all those years back.

With Bull out now, we chat to Andrew Williams and Maskell about the thriller and the current state of British independent film…

Full interview for VODzilla.co

Lucie Zhang: ‘The nudity was like wearing a costume’

With Paris, 13th District, director Jacques Audiard adapts three short stories by American cartoonist Adrian Tomine, merging them into a sharp, sweet portrait of sex, love and endurance in a Parisian high-rise neighbourhood. The ensemble includes Noémie Merlant, Makita Samba and Jehnny Beth, alongside Lucie Zhang in a star-making turn with her debut feature film role. She plays Émilie, a French-Taiwanese twentysomething with a flair for chaos…

Full interview for Little White Lies