Tag Archives: Film Independent

RASHID JOHNSON’S NATIVE SON

For his directorial debut, Rashid Johnson has shot an update of Richard Wright’s controversial 1940 novel about Bigger Thomas’ seemingly irrevocable slide into the void. The screenplay by Suzan Lori-Parks changes some of the novel’s key plot points—”It’s not the book,” Elvis Mitchell told a recent Film Independent audience at the Arclight screening in Hollywood—but the expendability of black lives in this new NATIVE SON is, tragically, still contemporary.

“One of the criticisms of the book—and one I share—is the character’s lack of agency. Wright wrote them as archetypes.” — Rashid Johnson, at the Film Independent screening of NATIVE SON

As Bigger, Ashton Sanders (Moonlight) gives a performance of cool hesitation that recalls the voice and armature of James Dean and a young Keanu Reeves. For a scene at the home of Bigger’s rich, art-collecting employer, Johnson—in an audacious move—places his own 2015 painting Untitled (Anxious Man) directly behind Sanders as an angel/devil-over-my-shoulder figure.

NATIVE SON—which premieres tonight on HBO—co-stars KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk), Bill Camp, Sanaa Lathan, Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, Elizabeth Marvel, and David Alan Grier.

NATIVE SON, on HBO

From April 6.

Film stills, from top: Ashton Sanders in Native Son (2019); Sanders and KiKi Layne; Sanders; Sanders and Nick Robinson (right); Sanders. Photographs by Matthew Libatique, images courtesy Sundance Institute and HBO.

Film Independent photos, from top: KiKi Layne and Rashid Johnson; Elvis Mitchell, Johnson, and Layne. Film Independent Presents HBO Screening Series—Native Son, March 20, 2019, Arclight Hollywood, photographs by Araya Diaz/Getty Images.

KARYN KUSAMA’S DESTROYER

DESTROYER—a new template for sunshine noir and one of its greatest cinematic exponents since Chinatown—is the deeply evocative redemption song of an undercover cop (Nicole Kidman, jagged, reeling, transformed) on a contemporary odyssey across Los Angeles, finally making sense of a life marked and almost ruined by an act of hesitation seventeen years ago.

As director Karyn Kusama told a Film Independent Presents audience earlier this month at the Arclight Hollywood, “We all love genre, we all love criminals, but these kinds of movies get a little too easy… We want to see the consequences, the toll.”

Kusama was speaking for herself and her writers—her husband Phil Hay and his writing partner Matt Manfredi—and all three will return to the Arclight this week for post-screening Q & A’s, followed by Nicole Kidman during the first weekend in January.

DESTROYER

Now playing.

NICOLE KIDMAN and KARYN KUSAMA Q&A

Saturday, January 12, after the 7:30 pm show.

Cinerama Dome

Arclight Hollywood

6360 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.

 

NICOLE KIDMAN Q&A’s

Friday and Saturday, January 4 and 5, at 7:30 pm.

KARYN KUSAMA, PHIL HAY, MATT MANFREDI IN CONVERSATION

Wednesday through Sunday, December 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30, following the 7:15 pm shows.

Arclight Hollywood

6360 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Top: Elvis Mitchell, Karyn Kusama, Phil Hay, and Matt Manfredi at the Film Independent Presents screening of Destroyer at the ArcLight, Hollywood, December 12, 2018.

Above: Kusama, Arclight, December 12, 2018.

Arclight photographs by Araya Diaz/Getty Images, courtesy the photographer and Film Independent Presents.

Below: Nicole Kidman and Sebastian Stan (back to camera) in Destroyer.

Kidman and Stan photograph courtesy Annapurna Pictures.

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

“You have two fathers committing crimes to bail out a son who has committed no crimes—which is America in a nutshell.” — Barry Jenkins, December 5, Los Angeles*

Jenkins’ IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK—a lyrical cinematic elegy to familial love and shattered lives shot in amber and scored with apprehension—finally arrives in cinemas this week.*

At the recent Film Independent Presents screening in Hollywood, Jenkins and KiKi Layne—who plays Tish in the film—were joined by Out magazine’s Tre’vell Anderson for a post-screening Q & A, and over the weekend, Layne will return to the Arclight for pre- and post-screening conversations with her fellow actors.

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

BARRY JENKINS IN CONVERSATION

Monday, January 14, at 7:30 pm.

Aero Theatre

1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica.

Opens Thursday, December 13, at 7pm.

Cinerama Dome

6360 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood.

KIKI LAYNE, STEPHAN JAMES, and COLMAN DOMINGO IN CONVERSATION

Friday through Sunday, December 14, 15, and 16.

Cinerama Dome

6360 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood.

*James Laxton was the director of photography, and Nicholas Britell composed the music for the film. Both had previously worked with Jenkins on Moonlight.

From top: Tre’vell Anderson, KiKi Layne and Barry Jenkins at the Film Independent Presents screening and Q & A, December 5, 2018, Arclight, Hollywood; Layne and Stephan James in If Beale Street Could TalkRegina King in the film. Film images courtesy Annapurna PicturesArclight photograph courtesy Getty Images and Film Independent.

MICHAEL NOER’S PAPILLON

In 1931, the twenty-four-year-old Parisian thief Henri Charrière was railroaded on a murder charge and sent to French Guiana to do hard time.

His tales of incarceration, solitary confinement, escape, recapture, and eventual freedom were published in the 1969 nonfiction novel PAPILLON, an international bestseller centered on the relationship between Charrière (nicknamed “Papillon”; see sternum tattoo) and Louis Dega, a counterfeiter—and “soft” inmate—who befriended Papi for protection in exchange for Dega’s cash.

In a comedic, free-wheeling post-screening conversation this week with Elvis Mitchell of Film Independent at the Writers Guild, director Michael Noer talked about his new version of the book (previously filmed in 1973) as a “coming-of-age” story, a “love story between two men who are totally different, who are dealing with chaos and disorder.”

In the remake, Charlie Hunnam makes a visceral physical impact in the title role, and Rami Malek ably embodies Dega. Convict-turned-award-winning-actor Roland Møller (memorable in Land of Mine) lends an additional level of realism to a film that spares little in its depiction of the degradations of prison life.

PAPILLON, now playing.

ARCLIGHT CINEMAS

arclightcinemas.com/papillon

Top: Charlie Hunnam (right) as “Papi” and Michael Socha as Julot in Papillon.

Above: Roland Møller as Celier.

Below: Hunnam, director Michael Noer, and Rami Malek on the set.

ANDRÉ LEON TALLEY AT LACMA

“The late seventies, when André Leon Talley came into his own, is the period when designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Halston produced the clothes that Talley covered at the beginning of his career at WWD, clothes often described as glamorous. It is the period referred to in the clothes being produced now by designers like Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui. ‘It was a time when I could take Diana Vreeland and Lee Radziwill to a LaBelle concert at the Beacon and it wouldn’t look like I was about to mug them,” Talley says.

Daniela Morera, a correspondent for Italian Vogue, has a different recollection. ‘André was privileged because he was a close friend of Mrs. Vreeland’s,’ she says. ‘Black people were as segregated in the industry as they are now… André enjoyed a lot of attention from whites because he was ambitious and amusing. He says it wasn’t bad because he didn’t know how bad it was for other blacks in the business. He was successful because he wasn’t a threat. He’ll never be an editor-in-chief… No matter that André’s been the greatest crossover act in the industry for quite some time. Like forever.’ ” — Hilton Als, 1994*

Talley—Anna Wintour’s legendary right hand man—has been captured on film in Kate Novack’s new documentary THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ANDRÉ, presented this week by Film Independent at LACMA. The director and her subject will be on hand for a conversation after the screening.

 

ANDRÉ LEON TALLEY and KATE NOVACK—

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ANDRÉ

Thursday, May 10, at 7:30.

LACMA, Bing Theater

5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.

* Hilton Als, “The Only One,” The New Yorker, November 7, 1994, 110. (Reprinted in Als’ White Girls, 2013.)

Top: André Leon Talley and Yves Saint Laurent. Image credit: Getty.

Middle: Talley and Diana Ross dancing at Studio 54, circa 1979. Photograph by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images.

Below: Diana Vreeland and André Leon Talley working at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The model is Marlene Dietrich in the show Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design, 1974. Photograph by Bill Cunningham.