Floria Sigismondi’s Runaway Movie

Floria Sigismondi’s Runaway Movie (photo)

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On the Paramount stage in Austin with Cherie Currie, Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, it was Floria Sigismondi who shined brightest, and it wasn’t just because of her sparkly black dress. Credited by Apparition chief Bob Berney for bringing them all together on this evening at SXSW, the filmmaker, photographer and visual artist who was born in Italy, raised in Hamilton, Ontario and traveled the world making otherworldly music videos for the likes of The White Stripes, Sigur Rós and Incubus settled down in Los Angeles and wasted no time in chronicling one of the area’s most legendary (and short-lived) rock acts, the ’70s all-grrrl group The Runaways, for her feature directorial debut.

Featuring Stewart and Fanning as Joan Jett and Currie, “The Runaways” may seem at first glance like the all-too-usual tale of a band that burned bright before burning out after just four years together, but Sigismondi is less concerned with the career trajectory of The Runaways than the emotional rollercoaster of the young, rebellious rockers who are patched together by the screwy impresario Kim Fowley (played by a particularly demented Michael Shannon). Although hits like “Cherry Bomb” are naturally cranked up, Sigismondi’s most inspired move is to dial things down to a slow simmer, lingering on long takes and filming in cramped quarters to convey the intimacy of the era. While at SXSW, Sigismondi took the time to talk about being patient in making her film debut and the film itself, as well as being pestered by the paparazzi and the pessimism of young people.

Did you have a connection with the Runaways growing up or did this seem like a good movie for you to direct?

Yeah, I had a connection in art college – I’m younger, so I didn’t experience [The Runaways] firsthand, but they were still playing them ten years later at a club that I used to go to work at actually as a beer bar girl through art college. For some reason, “Cherry Bomb” was a staple and I remember dancing to it. But [my representatives] gave me Cherie Currie’s book — it was a captivating story because of how young she was and everything that she had gone through, and Joan, being her first band and how that’s informed the rest of her career — it just felt like it was the right thing to do. They were at the forefront of something — I think they really put themselves out there and I admired that.

03202010_Runaways5.jpgFor you personally, was this a situation where the time was right to make a feature?

Yeah, I had been wanting to make a feature for a while, just nothing stuck and [“The Runaways”] happened like three months after I moved to Los Angeles, so it was okay, this is why I’m here. I took it as a sign. And after making a film you realize how many things can go wrong and when they come together, you know when it feels right.

Is it difficult to move from a medium of music videos where your story is in service of the music to features where the music is in service of the story?

I had a little bit of back and forth on that because I would get information from the Runaways’ songs and I’d use them to tell the story, like using “Love is Pain” near the end where it served the storyline there and then in the airplane going to Japan [where the band plays their first major concert], “I said I want you! I want this! I want that!”, the people were grabbing at them — it was all about wanting, so I did use the songs in that respect; I listened to them, listened to their words and these were young girls singing about their lives and that kind of was the first time I think there was music talking to people of their age. I found that in writing the script, the more I listened to the music, the more it actually inspired me to come up with scenes, maybe because I’ve done that in the past so often that it’s the trigger for creativity.

03202010_Runaways1.jpgIt was interesting how this film seemed to deal more with the creative process of the band than the decadence of fame and success that is standard of most rock-related movies, which most people probably have a good idea of in the case of the Runaways.

I think everybody does, too, especially today. My God, it’s so crazy. That part to me was sort of easy, you need one scene to say maybe when they arrive in Japan and for me, the most exciting part was how do they react to that fame, so I kept it kind of insular and made it about this little fight that happens backstage more than about how they end up signing autographs and becoming this thing, which we’ve seen a thousand times. Actually, in any kind of rock movie, there’s something about that, so I wanted to stay away from those kind of clichéd things and keep it about how does it affect them personally.

Carol Cate Blanchett

Spirit Guide

Check Out the Spirit Awards Nominees for Best Male and Female Leads

Catch the 2016 Spirit Awards live Feb. 27th at 5P ET/2P PT on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Wilson Webb/©Weinstein Company/Courtesy Everett Collection

From Jason Segel’s somber character study of author David Foster Wallace, to Brie Larson’s devastating portrayal of a mother in captivity, the 2016 Spirit Awards nominees for Best Male and Female Leads represent the finest in the year of film acting. Take a look at the Best Male and Female Leads in action, presented by Jaguar.

Best Male Lead 

Christopher Abbott, James White
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea

Watch more Male Lead nominee videos here.

Best Female Lead 

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Bel Powley, The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Tangerine

Watch more Female Lead nominee videos here.

Chloë Sevigny Has a Case of the “Munday”

Chloë Sevigny Has a Case of the “Munday” (photo)

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Downtown NYC cool kid-turned-actress Chloë Sevigny (“Boys Don’t Cry,” “The Brown Bunny,” HBO’s “Big Love”) is well known for turning down high-paying roles in favor of the kind that simply appeal to her indie-arty sensibilities. Her latest project is writer-director Chris D’Arienzo’s comedic feature debut “Barry Munday,” making its world premiere at this year’s SXSW. Patrick Wilson stars in the titular role as an oblivious, womanizing office drone whose life turns to shit after he wakes up in a hospital to find that he’s lost his testicles in a brutal attack by a young girl’s angry father. Making matters worse, he’s slapped with a paternity suit from an equally angry frump named Ginger (Judy Greer) with whom Barry was too drunk to remember sleeping with.

In a scene-stealing supporting performance, Sevigny co-stars as Ginger’s sister Jennifer, the “pretty daughter” who drives poor ball-less Barry crazy by trying to seduce him right under everyone’s nose. Last weekend, I sat down with the ever-stylish Sevigny at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin to talk about pole dancing, fashion and her other SXSW premiere, “Mr. Nice” — but before all that, I began with a standard ice breaker:

Are you tired of talking about yourself today?

I was tired of talking about me 15 years ago. [laughs] It’s never been my strong point.

Have you eaten any Tex-Mex in Austin yet?

I’ve had a lot. I had a breakfast burrito this morning, actually, at Joe’s. It was delicious. I could eat a million tacos. In New York City, there are no good tacos.


Carrie Brownstein, From Sleater-Kinney to NPR to Movie Star

Carrie Brownstein, From Sleater-Kinney to NPR to Movie Star (photo)

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Carrie Brownstein ought to write a movie about rock and roll. She’s played guitar for the eminent rock band Sleater-Kinney. She has a music blog on NPR.org called Monitor Mix, and has also written for Slate and the Believer. And she’s acting in her first feature-length film, “Some Days Are Better Than Others,” which premiered Sunday here at SXSW. In the film, directed by Matt McCormick, she stars alongside fellow Portland musician James Mercer, formerly of the Shins and currently of Broken Bells, this year’s featured band at SXSW. Her double duties at this year’s fest — as an actor and as a curator for NPR’s showcase — have her feeling invigorated. Over the phone from a hotel room in Austin, Carrie recounted Sunday’s cringing movie-viewing experience, broke down her transition from musician to writer, and hinted at a Sleater-Kinney reunion as but one of her near future musical endeavors.

“Some Days Are Better Than Others” premiered Sunday. How was the reception?

I think it was good. It’s really hard for me to be objective about the film. I spent a lot of time with my head in my hands and my fingers in my ears, trying not to hear my voice. So I’ve only seen certain parts of the movie. I felt like at the end of the screening it was just like I was taking my first breath.

I’ve seen the trailer. Everybody in it looks pretty sad and adrift. What’s the storyline?

It is a story of sad and adrift people. But it’s also a lot about — whether it’s people or objects or cities — things that are no longer needed or wanted. There was a lot of sadness and embarrassment the very beautiful summer of 2008, having to cry for many months as my character.


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