Todd Haynes, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara talk ‘Carol’

From the New York Film Festival premiere

On Oct. 9, Examiner.com was on the red carpet for the New York Festival premiere of “Carol” at Alice Tully Hall. Director Todd Haynes, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, writer Phyllis Nagy, producers Christine Vachon and Elizabeth Karlsen, and composer Carter Burwell were all in attendance. Blanchett and Mara give stellar performances in the film, which is already getting Oscar buzz. Mara won best actress at Cannes for her work in “Carol” earlier this year. The film follows a wealthy suburban wife and mother (Blanchett) and an aspiring photographer (Mara) who fall in love and risk everything to be together. The film is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s early novel “The Price of Salt” about closeted desire in the early 1950s. The Weinstein Company release hits theaters on Nov. 20.

Blanchett had been attached to the project for many years and serves an executive producer. She said it was made without compromise and it didn’t become a film until Todd and Rooney came aboard. Todd shot the film on Super 16 film. He first used it when he made “Mildred Pierce” for HBO. To Blanchett, the film is about the process of falling in love and maturity through heartbreak. Todd, Cate and Rooney discussed each scene during their two week rehearsal period and were very aware of whose perspective each frame was shot. Todd said in his research of the period it was a tenuous time in the country and the effect of WWII was evident. New York looked like a distressed, war torn place.

When asked about bringing the relationship to life, Mara commented that chemistry isn’t something you can work on or create. You either have it or you don’t and it was easy for her to pretend to be in awe of Blanchett’s character because she really admires her in real life. For most of the film, there is a tension between the characters. To prepare Rooney and Cate worked with dialect coaches. Rooney added that the clothes helped inform her performance. Cate said that she loved Judy Becker’s production design. It was austere and minimalist. Producer Elizabeth Karlsen and Cate said the reason why the film looks so perfect is Todd’s attention to detail.

On the red carpet, Cate wore an edgy Aouadi Paris dress. Cate spoke about the team who worked on the film. She said, “Todd makes it seamless. He provides a musical landscape, he provides a play track for the atmosphere you’re going to be existing in. You’re also working with Sandy Powell so you get a sense very early on how the character can move within the constraints of what they’re wearing, how fast you can run, so to speak. In working with Ed Lachman again, he’s incredibly generous with the visual landscape and Judy Becker created such an austere world which I found surprising … By day one you’ve already imbibed three quarters of the atmosphere and then you get to work with Sarah Paulson and Rooney Mara and Kyle, who I had worked briefly with before in a Terrence Malick film.”

When asked about going from “Carol” to “Truth,” she said, “How lucky and I? You step off one set, that is so medically sealed like a snow globe, that’s what it felt like being in ‘Carol,’ it was a complete universe and then you’re thrust into the brutal world of television journalism and ‘Truth’ read like a freight train so you just have to step on that conveyer belt and not get off … I skyped a lot with Mary and we met several times. I was on stage in New York, fortunately, and she came to meet me, so it was great. I just picked her brains mercilessly and she generously let me do so.”

Shaina Moskowitz: What do you admire about Todd?

Cate Blanchett: Todd has incredible critical facility, but he is one of the least judgmental people I’ve ever met and you can tell him anything. He sees through things to a place which, you think you think quite creatively … or outside of the box and then you work with Todd and often his suggestions are very left of field. He’s incredibly fluid and he has the facility and the mastery of an auteur, but yet he still has the hunger of a student filmmaker. So you feel like anything’s possible and it’s quite dangerous on set which is a really really exciting way to work.

SM: How was working with Rooney?

CB: Rooney’s fearless. She’s got incredibly good taste, but she’s able to park that at the door and go to places which kind of even surprise her. She laughs at the most random, left of field things, and I found her very generous and I’ve really admired the choices she’s made as an actress, not only the external choices, she’s made in terms of who she’s chosen to work with and the material she’s chosen to work on, but the choices within a moment, like the film she made with Soderbergh “Side Effects.” I had no idea that she could turn a character inside out like a leech on barbed wire. She’s really exciting to watch, but exciting to work with.

SM: What attracted you to the project?

Todd Haynes: It was just something as simple as this incredibly compelling novel that describes falling in love in a way that made it feel so universal and just tapped into these shocking revelations that are very small and very human. Even before it’s about two women, it’s how you feel about inventing love when it first hits you and you’re completely thrust out in the world and into your own mental chamber and that was so well described in the novel and it was really cool and something I haven’t done before.

SM: Speak about working with Cate.

TH: She is both this actor who has an amazing range, can work on stage, can work in film, can be so strong and powerful but then also the smallest details and elements of communication matter. She can navigate in ways that I can’t quite get my head around, that whole expanse, and knows what those two mediums require and has done just amazing and consistently good work.

SM: Can you speak about collaborating with Todd and what you admire about him?

Rooney Mara: There are so many things that I admire about him. I don’t think I can just pick one. I love how sensitive Todd is, and how he is a gentle, warmhearted person. He made it very easy for me to feel like I was working in a place where it was safe to be vulnerable, which I had to be in order to play this character. He is an incredible storyteller and he is incredible at telling stories about females and he has a great ability to do that.

SM: And can you speak about the highlight of working with Cate and what that experience was like?

RM: Working with Cate was a dream come true. I’ve loved her since I was thirteen years old and looked up to her. It was incredible and made my job very easy to sort of, run around being in awe of her as the character is.

SM: What attracted you to produce the project?

Elizabeth Karlsen: I have always been a fan of Patricia Highsmith and it was just a very spectacular book that was written in typical Highsmith style and yet it is about two women and it is the most extraordinary love story and it is an exploration of the pathology of love for women who are circumscribed and confined at that time, in 1950’s America. Yeah, wonderful, female-centric love story, and I just was so passionate about it the first time that I read it.

SM: And how long ago did you read it?

EK: I commissioned the writer, Phyllis Nagy, to write a script called “Mrs. Harris,” which I then hired her to direct, which we did for HBO with Annette Bening. And she mentioned to me at the time that she wanted to do it but the rights were tied up and so I read it twelve years ago because my youngest daughter was six and she is now eighteen. And then I managed to get the rights and we were filming with Todd and Christine Vachon two and a half years later.

SM: So speak about working with Todd.

EK: Todd is a consummate professional, he is an artist. He has this rigor and intellectual application and collaborative spirit that I just think is second to none; it was an absolute pleasure. And at my ripe age as a producer, I felt that I learned so much from him and his method of working was absolutely inspiring and I think he is one of the most important contemporary filmmakers that we have, so it was a dream come true to work with him.

SM: And speak about working with Cate.

EK: Cate, she is in a class of her own. And again, the shoot was a real challenge to make for many, many reasons on the production level and she was just extraordinary. She worked with such intensity and such focus, she brought so much to the part, such depth of understanding, and I think the way that she plays the role of Carol is just mesmerizing. And I think this is one of her absolute finest performances. And again, me as a producer with Stephen Woolley and Christina Vachon, to get to work with a caliber of actress like Cate, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

SM: And speak about working with Rooney.

EK: Rooney came on board just after Cate, and again, she was just an absolute pleasure to work with. I think her performance, people are just absolutely amazed by what she produces on screen, and to hold your own against an actress at the caliber of Cate is not easy, and Rooney does that. It was beautiful.

SM: Tell me how you first got involved to write the screenplay.

Phyllis Nagy: It was a long time ago, when I was young… And there was another producer involved and she went to my agent and she said, “who could write this?” And my agent suggested me and that was my first screenwriting job way back when. So a lot of water under that bridge now.

SM: So how exciting is it for you to be here in a place where people are finally going to see it?

PN: It is pretty great. I can’t wait for it to open. I grew up in New York so I love being here.

SM: Speak about your adaption process.

PN: Well, I had to decide what the structure of the screenplay would be like and what to keep from the book and what to eliminate and once those decisions are made it is pretty easy, for me anyway, and I think about something a long time before I write it, to not waste time.

SM: Did you get to work with Todd?

PN: Yeah, we talked and I was on the set and it was great.

SM: And what was one of your favorite scenes to write?

PN: I would have to say the scene in the lawyer’s office with Cate and Kyle Chandler.

SM: And what is coming up next for you?

PN: I am working to direct my next movie and we are in early days in financing.

via Examiner

Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford Talk ‘Truth,’ Guns, and the Legacy of George W. Bush + Truth TV Spot

The stars of the excellent new drama Truth, about the Killian documents controversy and subsequent resignation of Dan Rather, sat down to discuss the film and its timeless message.

One of the best films I had the pleasure of seeing at this year’s Toronto Film Festival is Truth.Directed by James Vanderbilt and adapted from former 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes’s 2005 memoir Truth and Duty: The Press, The President, and The Privilege of Power, the film reexamines the controversial 60 Minutes story questioning George W. Bush’s service record in the Air National Guard—heretofore known as the “Killian documents controversy” or “Rathergate.”

In the months prior to the 2004 presidential election, Dan Rather (Robert Redford) and his longtime producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) sought to confirm rumors that Bush had received preferential treatment while serving in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. As part of the evidence in their story, they focused on three memoranda allegedly authored by Bush’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, who’d passed away years ago. The60 Minutes segment aired on September 8, 2004, but when the documents were proven to be false, the fallout was huge. Rather, the longtime CBS News anchor, was pressured into an early resignation, and Mapes was dragged before a review panel—co-chaired by Dick Thornburgh, U.S. Attorney General under George H.W. Bush—interrogated at length, and then fired.

The entire saga is captured in thrilling fashion in Truth, which boasts award-worthy turns from Blanchett as the embattled Mapes and Redford as the steady Rather. It opens on October 16.

The Daily Beast sat down with Blanchett and Redford in New York for a wide-ranging conversation about George W. Bush, America’s mass shooting problem, and more.

 

We’ve just had yet another mass shooting in Oregon, and Cate, your home country of Australia is in a lot of ways the model for gun control—since, following the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, Prime Minister John Howard enacted very strict gun control, and there have been few mass shootings there since.

Cate Blanchett: Doesn’t it have to do with the relationship this country has with its Founding Fathers and its Constitution? We’re trying to get changes to our Constitution to finally recognize indigenous Australians who were classified until 1969 as part of “flora and fauna.” We want to finally get constitutional recognition of them and it’s very difficult for a government to open the door to change the Constitution. But it seems profoundly impossible for this country to reassess that amendment that deals with the right to bear arms.

Robert Redford: I think when you get to the core of American life, it has to do with independence. We were a country founded on independence—we wanted to break away from England—so we were going to have our own rules and our own laws, and guns made that possible. And we needed guns to fight the British, fight the Indians, and all that. So that just sticks. And somehow, I think guns have become a symbol of our independence and they don’t want to give it up. They see it as an unalienable right that they don’t want to give up, and the NRA moves on it, and just uses that. But I think it’s really, really sad.

It does seem to be an American problem. When you look at a country with few guns like Japan, there aren’t mass shootings. There’s the occasional mass stabbing, but stabbing someone is a far more intimate act than hiding behind the barrel of a gun.

Blanchett: It’s also analyzing just how many kids in schools in America are on medication and the FDA and the amount of corn syrup in food, and what that does. There’s a whole intersection of issues apart from guns themselves. Certainly I know my children get nervous about the idea of coming here and going into school, but yeah, it’s an issue.

Redford: I’m obviously very pro-nature. Art and nature, those two things come together for me. I remember raising my kids in New York when they were little, because I was in the theater. I had a place out West, this cabin in the mountains. I wanted to be completely free of any civilized stuff, and I wanted my kids to understand both worlds. I hunted in those early years because I started when I was a kid. We were sleeping outside in sleeping bags and I woke up one morning and the two kids I had at that time were there. I looked up and there was a deer that put its nose down at the foot of one of my children’s sleeping bags. I said, “That’s it.” When I saw that and I saw their reaction to it, I put the two together and said, “That’s it. There’s no more hunting. It’s over.”

It’s interesting. The film Truth is very much about journalism, and the importance of getting a story completely right. Take for example TheNew York Times and the Iraq War—we’ve had so many stories in this day and age crumble, and the consequences have been catastrophic.

Redford: That’s right. I think a lot of that has to do with the competition. The competition’s gotten so strong because there are so many voices out there, and it’s forced people who are in the lead like The New York Times to maybe rush it a little bit, and then they might stumble.

Blanchett: But in the country I live in [Australia], we have such a centralization of media ownership that in a way we don’t have enough outlets. So it’s a balance, isn’t it?

Let’s say the Killian documents were actually real and this story was done properly. This story could have had major ramifications and swung the 2004 election in Kerry’s favor.

Blanchett: But could that have happened in September 2004? If Mary and Dan made a mistake, they underestimated the toxicity of the political atmosphere—and it was explosive whichever way it fell out. I hope that the film is presenting all the characters warts and all, but what it does point to is that the story very quickly got lost in the details. In a way, you can pick anything apart. There’s an interesting scene in the film where Mary says, “The documents are a very small part of the story,” but what happened was the horse had bolted, and because the story was rushed then they were open to criticism.

Redford: Now, they can take a small thing and enflame it on the other side. I think Dan and Mary probably underestimated the degree and the lengths that the other side would go to discredit the story. I think they were doing the best they could. They certainly knew they were going to be against the odds and knew what they were going after was going to create repercussions, but I don’t think they underestimated the degree, detail, and lengths the other side would go to discredit them.

Rather describes in his book how a Viacom lobbyist was on record stating that they tried to influence the story, and the fallout.

Blanchett: Well, Sumner [Redstone] is saying, “I vote for Viacom.” But that’s part of the atmosphere. The interesting thing is they’re guilty of rushing. What journalist doesn’t want to break the story first?

Where do you two fall on the subject of George W. Bush’s service in the Air National Guard? It does seem quite fishy.

Blanchett: Mary was accused of obsessively chasing the Bush/Guard story, but she lived in Texas, which she describes in the book hilariously as “the intergalactic capital of shit happens.” It’s such a great definition. If you’re going to report on politics, it’s the perfect place, and it really did balance out the East Coast-centric reporting on politics. But she had known of the story like a lot of journalists in Texas—that there had long been a question mark over Bush’s service—and the piece didn’t say it definitively, it just said, “We are raising these questions.” She got [General] Hodges to say it on the phone—and she still kicks herself to this day that she didn’t press “record”—but journalists write stories with unnamed sources, so they weren’t doing anything unusual.

Redford: How were they motivated? Maybe they were motivated by something that happened earlier that never got treated right, which was 9/11 and Bush and Cheney and Wolfowitz. What those guys did with Iraq we now know was pretty criminal. [Rather and Mapes] knew it, but the other side was successful in sliding past that. Maybe down deep somewhere was the motivation to write something and use it to right a wrong.

Rather and Mapes did screw up the story, though, and the bogus documents aside, did a lot of other things that were journalistically questionable—like producing all of the follow-up segments defending their work themselves.

Redford: It’s good that the film brings up that it was not flawless, their behavior, but it was motivated by speed and desire. With the election, they had to move quickly to have the full benefit of the story. One of the things I like about the script is that it points out those flaws—it’s not totally one-sided.

I know all presidents get a higher approval rating once they leave office, but how do you feel about George W. Bush having a positive approval rating post-presidency? It seems like a bizarre slice of revisionist history. Now, he’s being portrayed as this eccentric painter.

Redford: It’s insane. So much so that he’s going to be a benefit to his brother [Jeb], right? He’s changed the subject and been this down-home guy in Texas, and they forgot about the Iraq War and forgot about all the lies and so forth. Maybe we have a short attention span. But I’m with you on that one. Have we really forgotten the damage that Bush caused? But stories like this begin to hack at it and chip away at it.

Blanchett: I’ll never forget that moment with the second inauguration [of Bush] where, for the first time in American history, the cavalcade up to the White House was completely closed black cars. It was one of the most sinister things I’ve ever seen in my life.

via The Daily Beast

And the first Tv Spot for Truth


Gallery Links:

Carol – Reviews from NYFF

Not once salacious, Todd Haynes‘ Carol is a subtle and elegant telling of a romance between two women in the 1950s. Cate Blanchett is the title character and Rooney Mara is the young woman smitten by her. Their affair is brief but not without it’s repercussions.

Todd Haynes knows a little something about 1950s style from Far From Heaven and the mini-series, Mildred Pierce. He captures this era with incredible detail in everything from the costumes to set design to the color coming across on screen. Blanchett’s outfits are absolutely stunning and they convey the level of sophistication of her character.

As for cinematography, all I can say is, WOW. There are so many illusions to hiding and the Liz pointed out the use of windows is especially worth noting. It’s almost as if the film was shot for black and white, but it’s in color. The framing of each scene is focused, yet reveals so much of the story.

Now for the story. While I did appreciate the style, the story was really flat and underwhelming. There’s barely any idea of the affair being forbidden and no one seems to pretend it’s not what it clearly is. Perhaps it’s just hard to think of an affair between two women as an outlandish idea anymore. On one side, I really appreciated this about it, but on another, it really loses something by not illustrating how much of a big deal it was.

Blanchett melts into Carol, but I had a hard time with Rooney as the love interest. That deer-in-headlights look only goes so far. Kyle Chandler was impressive as Carol’s husband evoking a desperation that’s completely transparent.

It may not be the Oscar contender for Best Picture, but certainly could get a nomination for Costume Design.

via Reel News Daily

That obscure object of desire in “Carol”

Desire is a subject well-suited to cinema — the haunting stare, seductive voice and allure than draws in the object of affection, and us. As we see in Todd Haynes’ new film, “Carol” (which debuts today at the 53rd New York Film Festival), it is also the hard-to-define quality that can set rigidly-ordered lives tumbling.

In 1950s New York City, a department store shop girl, Therese (Rooney Mara), spies a woman, Carol (Cate Blanchett), looking for Christmas presents for her young daughter. You can almost hear the thunderclap as Therese remains riveted on the elegant, married beauty, unsure what the attraction is.
Carol is estranged from her husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler), who desperately wants to halt their ongoing divorce proceedings and just return to the life they had. But his desire for normalcy doesn’t fit with Carol’s determination not to live a lie, following the revelation of her lesbian affair with an old school friend, Abby (Sarah Paulson). But Carol is also wary that any appearance of “immorality,” such as an affair with a woman, might jeopardize maintaining custody of her daughter.

Therese has a boyfriend, Tommy (Cory Michael Smith), who dotes on her and presses her to join him on a trip to Europe. Therese is one who generally goes along with the flow, because she’s never questioned what it means to do what others ask or expect of her. Indeed, while she might see herself as selfless, giving in to other’s demands, one character calls her out as being selfish — refraining from any decisions about what she wants, thus forcing others to direct her life for her.

Therese finds herself aching with thoughts of Carol, who suggests joining her on a road trip. She agrees, and their close-quarters travels enables an intimacy that marks a turning point in both their lives. Their trip also prompts Therese, perhaps for the first time, to make demands — to be selfish.

The film is adapted from the novel “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith, who based her story loosely on her own affair with a married socialite who lost custody of her child over allegations of lesbianism. Haynes (“Safe,” “Far From Heaven,” HBO’s “Mildred Pierce”) directs with great sensitivity and a sharp eye for period detail, making the viewer feel as trapped in the suffocating strictures of 1950s social mores as the characters.
Mara (who won the Best Actress Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for her performance) excels in her role of an aspiring photographer who lacks focus in her life, and who hopes that devotion to an older woman may fill that gap.

Blanchett’s character — as straying wife, doting mother and confidante — reeks of stifled passion, stamped down by a judgmental society, but she is still resilient enough to lash out at threats to herself and her family. And in the face of accusations of immorality, Carol remains defiant, maintaining that hate and slander are ugly emotions and, she reasons, “We’re not ugly people.” Indeed, “Carol” shows that, then and now, dishonesty is the real ugliness.

via CBS News

53rd New York Film Festival – Carol Premiere

53rd New York Film Festival – Carol Premiere

Cate attended the premiere for Carol at the 53rd New York Film Festival tonight, here are the first photos!

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – October 8th

At the end of the day, Cate Blanchett was a guest at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Watch the clip below and see the screencaptures in the gallery.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ywuyXl3e90


Gallery Links:

TimeTalks Conversations: Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Dan Rather and Mary Mapes

Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford were joined by Mary Mapes and Dan Rather during a conversation hosted by The New York Times, in the evening of October 8th.


You can watch the video here


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Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, James Vanderbilt and Dan Rather attended AOL Build Show

Yesterday Cate Blanchett attented several shows to promote Truth. After lunch she attended the AOL Build Show.


You can watch the show here.


Gallery Links:

Cate Blanchett on Good Morning America

Cate Blanchett went to promote Truth on Good Morning America on October 7th. Watch the clip below and the screencaptures in the gallery!

https://youtu.be/txTmL0JqjTg


Gallery Links:

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