Jordan Galland’s ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD is one of those ideas for a movie that can go one of three ways: Moment of wild inspiration is never acted upon because it’s just too ridiculous, the script is written and the movie is made and everyone wonders what the hell they were thinking in the first place, or the “it’s just so crazy it might work” idea turns out to be just that. The nearly everything but the kitchen sink horror comedy about a 2000 year old conspiracy involving Shakespeare, vampires and the Holy Grail entertains and gets the silly laughs. But one of the primary reasons that it all works is because of the grounding presence of Jake Hoffman as a young theatre director sucked (yes, pun intended) into a web of vampirific intrigue. Deadpan is the only thing that can save him and he definitely knows how to use it.
How did you become involved with the film?
I’m old friends with Jordan. He asked me to do the table reading and afterwards he said ‘wanna do it?’. I was just relieved he was talking about the movie.
Have you ever had any real involvement in the New York theater world?
Recently I did my first play, “Christmas Present” By Amy Herzog, part of the EST’s 30th annual marathon of one act plays.
For a modestly budgeted indie-film, your fellow cast members of ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD are an eclectic collection of names (Devon Aoki, Ralph Macchio, John Ventimiglia, Jeremy Sisto, Polina Frantsena among them). Did you ever look around during crew meals and have a thought toward the relative randomness of it?
Hmm. I think about the randomness of life all the time. And I grew up loving Ralph’s movies, so that was pretty cool.
Your character in the film not only can claim Devon Aoki as an ex-girlfriend, but he also has a parade of beautiful actresses finding their way to his bed. Did that scenario make the job more fun or did it just add to the challenge of pulling off a role as a “lothario”?
I guess I thought of him less as lothario and more of a lost romantic. But to answer your question, it was fun.
You seem to have a natural affinity for the dead pan. Where do you think that comes from?
I’m not sure but appreciate the compliment.
Seriously, do you think that Jordan just made up that story about meeting Tom Stoppard?
I think Tom Stoppard made up the story about meeting Jordan, and Jordan doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. Jordan’s a nice guy.
Rumor has it you were spinning records at LA Fashion Week. If so, can you give us one of your go-to no-doubt-about-it song mixes?
I DJ as a hobby sometimes. Actually, when Jordan comes to hang out and hear me spin, I usually pay homage/embarrass him by playing some vintage Dopo Yume.
A lot of people in the film had to work with the fangs. Give us the scoop: who struggled with it and who were naturals?
John Ventimiglia was really convincing. I’m still a little freaked out.
ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD screens Friday, March 27 at 10:15PM @ NorthPark 3 and Sunday, March 29 at 4:15PM @ Magnolia 4.
Jake Hoffman will attend the first screening and participate in a Q&A afterwards.
2009 AFI DALLAS International Film Festival Presented by NorthPark Center, Founding Sponsor Victory Park Announces Fifteen Titles in Official Selections
FILMS INCLUDE THREE WORLD PREMIERES AND THREE U.S. PREMIERES
Dallas, TX, February 3, 2009—AFI DALLAS 2009 International Film Festival Presented by NorthPark Center, Founding Sponsor Victory Park announces fifteen films that will screen at this year’s festival (March 26 – April 2) including the World Premieres of the documentaries ONE NATION, PLAYGROUND and ROCK PROPHECIES as well as the U.S. Premieres of FOOD, INC., GIGANTIC and THE SEVEN OF DARAN.
The three world premiere documentaries include:
Justin Wilson’s ONE NATION – the film utilizes a pastiche of images and sounds to create an artful profile of the year, 1968. The film examines the struggles of power vs. protest, affluence vs. poverty, and human rights vs. the tyranny of want and ignorance.
Libby Spears’s PLAYGROUND – Executive produced by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney, the film follows a young woman and other children like her, who are victims of the American child sex trafficking industry. Examining America’s legal and social system, the film delicately and responsibly details our country’s most alarming, insidious secret.
John Chester’s ROCK PROPHECIES – The film is a backstage pass into the eccentric world of rock n’ roll from the vantage point of an obsessed photographer, Robert M. Knight, who at 18 years old captured and befriended Jimi Hendrix and the members of Led Zeppelin, well before they became the iconic stars we know them as today.
Among the U.S. premieres are:
Robert Keener’s FOOD, INC. – The documentary takes a look at food preparation, industrialized and otherwise for the mass population, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that’s been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, the USDA and FDA.
Matt Aselton’s GIGANTIC – Starring Paul Dano, Zooey Deschanel, John Goodman, Jane Alexander, Edward Asner, the offbeat comedy is centered around a mattress salesman who wants to adopt a Chinese baby, and a young woman he meets at his store. Together, they negotiate their increasing intimacy, and the appearances of their many eccentric relatives, as Brian awaits the call from the adoption agency.
Lourens Blok’s THE SEVEN OF DARAN – Children’s tale follows an English boy on an African adventure with the help of a talking giraffe and a precious medallion.
AFI DALLAS also announces three films that recently played at the Sundance Film Festival that will screen for Dallas audiences for the first time at the festival – ART & COPY, CHILDREN OF INVENTION and MOON, as well as ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD, which just debuted at the Slamdance Film Festival.
“These initial 15 selections are indicative of the exciting variety of films we will offer Dallas audiences with this year’s programming. They represent accomplished directors, including Guillermo Arriaga and Doug Pray, compelling subjects, and both provocative and entertaining work,” said Michael Cain, AFI DALLAS Artistic Director.
The fifteen announced selections include:
ART & COPY (USA)
Director: Doug Pray
Documentary explores the creation of the modern advertising industry, the people behind it, and its influence on popular culture.
THE BURNING PLAIN (USA)
Director: Guillermo Arriaga
Cast: Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger
A drama with employs multiple storylines featuring a mother and daughter who try to form a bond after the young woman’s difficult childhood.
CHILDREN OF INVENTION (USA)
Director: Tze Chun
Cast: Cindy Chung, Michael Chen, Crystal Chiu
Drama follows a Chinese American family as they struggle to achieve the American Dream in suburban Boston.
FOOD, INC. (Canada)
Director: Robert Kenner
Documentary takes a look at food preparation, industrialized and otherwise for the mass population.
Director: Matt Aselton
Cast: Paul Dano, Zooey Deschanel, John Goodman, Jane Alexander, Ed Asner
Comedy is centered around a mattress salesman and a young woman he meets at his store.
HUNGER (United Kingdom)
Director: Steve McQueen
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham, Stuart Graham, Liam McMahon
Drama takes a harrowing look at the last six weeks in the life of imprisoned Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands.
MOON (United Kingdom)
Director: Duncan Jones
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey
Drama follows the lone occupant of a lunar mining base as he prepares to return to earth and his life at home.
ONE NATION (USA)
Director: Justin Wilson
Documentary provides an artful look at 1968 through a pastiche of images from that year.
Director: Libby Spears
Executive Producers: Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney
Documentary explores the rampant worldwide child sex trafficking industry.
RIP A REMIX MANIFESTO (Canada)
Director: Brett Gaylor
Documentary looks at the changing landscape of music in The Internet Age focusing on the line between musical inspiration and copyright infringement.
ROCK PROPHECIES (USA)
Director: John Chester
The documentary is a backstage pass into the eccentric world of rock n’ roll from the vantage point of an obsessed photographer, Robert M. Knight, who at 18 years old captured and befriended Jimi Hendrix and the members of Led Zeppelin, well before they became the iconic stars we know them as today.
ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD (USA)
Director: Jordan Galland
Cast: Jake Hoffman, Devon Aoki, Ralph Macchio, Jeremy Sisto
Comedy about a theater director who finds himself in the middle of a two thousand year old conspiracy involving Shakespeare, the Holy Grail and vampires.
THE SEVEN OF DARAN (USA)
Director: Lourens Blok
Cast: Jonathan Harmse, Ketrice Maitisa, Caroline Goodall
Children’s tale follows an English boy on an African adventure with the help of a talking giraffe and a precious medallion.
SKIN (UK/South Africa)
Director: Anthony Fabian
Cast: Sophie Okonedo, Sam Neill, Alice Krige
Set in 1955 and based on a true story, the film looks at the social and personal impact on two white Afikaner parents and their daughter in rural South Africa, after the girl is born with dark skin.
Director: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Cast: Algenis Perez Soto, Rayniel Rufino
Drama about a Dominican baseball star that is signed to a minor league contract.
AFI DALLAS 2009 will run March 26 – April 2, 2009. Passes go on sale February 6, Tickets go on sale March 2. Passes and tickets will be made available via online (www.AFIDALLAS.com), phone (214.720.0663), and in person at the Box Office located at the AFI DALLAS locations at NorthPark Center and Victory Park.
Back at Sundance – Day #1
After two years away due to the initial AFI DALLAS launch and scheduling issues the second year, I’m back in Park City to get a head start working on the films we’ll be picking up, get some face time with the journalists in town and possibly help Artistic Director Michael Cain and the programming dynamic Dallas duo of James Faust and Sarah Harris maybe find a couple more must haves that they somehow didn’t catch in their exhaustive non-stop movie search. Oh – and I’m also doing a Sundance story for Envy Magazine as they continue to stretch the boundaries of the “local social/ entertainment” magazine.
First impression – the reminder that you can’t park a car in Park City. Unless of course, you have a roll of bills like a mobster at hand to pay or you won the parking lottery. Point is – they don’t want you to park here. They don’t want you to have even owned a car. Ever. It’s understandable why. I mean, of course, I get it. And the public transpo is great. But there’s kind of an angry aggressiveness about the parking moratorium. And the tow trucks? Like sharks. Trolling for cars left behind by the weak-willed and desperate to make a movie or a meeting.
Scary. If you happen to have a car here – like me.
Anyway, if you’ve been here before then you know the drill and if you haven’t, you’ll learn fast. And ultimately, you won’t care because it’s all about the movies. Because if you’re here, even if it is for work, you likely view movies a little differently than the general public. At my first press screening, I asked a guy what he had seen that he had loved. He said, “I haven’t fallen in love yet, but I would sleep with PAPER HEART.” He also said he would have a one-night stand with LYMELIFE. Which leads me to think he would also buy PAPER HEART dinner a couple times as well.
The first film I saw was BIG FAN. The film follows a sad sack parking lot attendant who loves his New York Football Giants like no other. Until a disastrous incident occurs during a flukish meeting with his all-time favorite player, that is. I’m interviewing Patton Oswalt, the star of the film, tomorrow – AND I had insider info that it was gonna be a good one so I was looking forward to it. And it didn’t disappoint. It’s funny in a “real” way and it’s not afraid to go to some serious places you wouldn’t expect of Mr. Oswalt. But not earnest Oscar grab kind of going to those places. Probably because that sort of play would never enter Patton’s head in the first place. Written and directed by Robert Siegel with the same unflinching look at both the humor and you have to say it – pathos, that he brought to the script for THE WRESTLER. There’s also a nice understated turn by Kevin Corrigan as Oswalt’s character’s partner in fandom. The film draws conclusions that may not be the best on paper for all concerned, but (and I’m going to hate myself as I write this) that’s why they play the game. Finally, BIG FAN has, hands down, one of the best payoffs I have seen in a very long time.
Nice start, huh?
Film number two was THE COVE. Again, I was looking forward to this one from the moment I heard about it. The film is an expose’ on the dolphin industry and in particular the wholesale slaughter of dolphins that takes place in a little cove in Taiji, Japan. And it is as riveting as it gets as we follow a group of activists who hatch and execute an elaborate OCEAN’S 11-type operation for the express purpose of filming and documenting what goes on there. Led by Ric O’Barry who has been on a crusade for some 35 years to thwart an industry he feels greatly responsible for inspiring due to his work as a dolphin trainer on the original FLIPPER TV series, the group and the film work toward unmasking the many wrongs – animal cruelty to the nth degree and the willful spread of mercury poisoning to the entire country (with an emphasis on their children) among them. THE COVE invites immediate comparisons to SHARKWATER, which we had at AFI DALLAS in 2007 and which won the prize for Best HD Feature. And that comparison weighs very heavily in THE COVE’s favor. While SHARKWATER’s campaign against the illegal shark finning industry was easily just as genuine, it was burdened by the weighty ego of its filmmaker and “star.” O’Barry and the principals involved with THE COVE never waver on where their focus and concern lies –with a species with an intelligence and self awareness that could possibly exceed our own. And our kind’s typical bent to destroy that. Don’t miss this film when you get the chance to see it.
Number three? Chris Rock’s documentary, GOOD HAIR. This was an eye opener. Black women’s (and some men’s) love affair with relaxer (or “creamy crack”) and weaves is equal parts hilarious and frightening. Not surprising, mind you. Not when, as Nia Long describes the desire for “white hair” – there has long been a steady drumbeat for generations of black women to seek “the lighter, the brighter, the better,” as she says. To see what the principal chemical component in relaxer can do to a coke can in 3 or 4 hours is bad enough. Realizing that same stuff is being put on the heads of children after hearing the horror stories of the scalp burn from people like Ice T (yes, that Ice T), places it in a whole other arena. And then there are the secret societies of women with weaves, descriptions of how they pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for those weaves and how women in India literally have their hair “stolen” – cut off while they’re asleep or watching a movie in a theater – to fulfill that demand/obsession. It’s a lot to take in. And while I laughed throughout, I actually have gained much empathy for the men who must negotiate their way around their woman’s weave. Because, Rock makes it very clear – she may be worth it, but that’s some heavy lifting.
Finally, it was off to Slamdance to see a film we are romancing to bring to AFI DALLAS – ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD. First off, there was a gift bag on the seat for everyone attending the premiere with a poster, fangs, t-shirt, etc. Thoughtful. Vampire thoughtful. And the film was proceeded by a short film – bonus, right? Entitled HORSEFINGERS 3: STARFUCKER, it was everything you would hope from a twisted bizzaro little short about romance and tough it is already to date without also having to work around having two giant hooves (or “horsefingers”) on your hands.
While describing the film, the director (Kirsten Kearse) had the second best quote of the day, “People are boring. But put them in animal outfit…”
As far as the feature presentation is concerned, what can you say about a film that follows a theater director’s struggles as he finds himself caught in the middle of a two thousand year out conspiracy involving Shakespeare, the Holy Grail and vampires? It was funny, it was silly, it was inventive. That’s what you can say. You can also say it starred Jake Hoffman (displaying some natural dead pan talent), Devon Aoki, Ralph Macchio and Jeremy Sisto among an eclectic cast. And music by Sean Lennon. Mind you, I saw the film during its world premiere which might have doubled as a cast and crew screening so it was a mad house and a very happy, giddy mad house. But Jordan Galland’s dead little valentine would have held its own regardless and brought the funny. This will be a fun movie to have in Dallas and a great cast to have on a red carpet.