New suspense-thriller “Allied” is one of those films that has risen to notoriety before its release not because of what critics have been saying about the film but because of the rumours and innuendo that have surfaced about its stars – Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. With all of those stories circulating it seems that everybody forgot that for the third time, Pitt was starring in a fairly decent war film.

Pitt’s co-star Marion Cotillard says it only took her reading through the script to realise that this was a film that she certainly wanted to do. “When I read the script I wanted to see the movie,” she says grinning. “I thought that it was such a beautiful story. It was a mix of a very entertaining film and very deep emotions and questions about love; it’s really a beautiful, beautiful love story and it has this spirit of ‘old movie’ about it and knowing that it would be directed by a visionary like Robert Zemeckis made the project even more exciting. It is at the same time very entertaining and it talks about what are you choices in an extreme situation like the war, especially when your work is being a spy and you are pretending that you are somebody that you are not. In the beginning of the movie both of us are spies and they don’t know anything about each other and they pretend to be this loving couple and it is going to turn into this very extreme situation that the war creates, so part of the movie is very entertaining and part of it is very serious with all the questioning about choices and all the questioning about love.”

Cotillard also admits that one of the reasons that she was attracted to making Allied was because she was a huge fan of the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis. “He was really part of my desire to be an actress,” she says thoughtfully. “I’ve watched all of his movies, and I knew what he wanted to tell with this story because when we first met, he said ‘I’m not used to telling love stories like this one, this is really new for me.” It was very exciting to see him be so honest and so committed to doing something that he is not used to delivering and he was so good at it, all the questions that we had, all that we shared during the preparation time that we had. We had little more than two weeks where we all sat together, with Brad Pitt, with Robert, with Steven Knight who had written this amazing script, and to have this period of time where we could get to know each other, get to really understand what we wanted to tell with this movie was really fascinating and I was really fascinated by Robert on set because of all the movies that he had directed already and all the special effects that he has been part of creating. He has really changed cinema with what he has done and the movies he has done. So yeah I was in awe a lot and really fascinated by the way he directed this one.”

When it comes to the man himself, Robert Zemeckis, he says it was the characters that really drew him to want to direct Allied.

“What I really liked about the project when I first read the screenplay was that this story had these two unbelievably well-written characters. These two characters were very complex and very passionate, that was what I was drawn to. The way that the screenplay was written so elegantly and these characters just really, really jumped right off the page, and that really attracted me as well. I think the question at the heart of the film is one that is universal, a universal question, which is – does love trump all? Is love the key driving emotion in everyone’s life and what happens when you love somebody and the circumstances get very, very complicated and what choices should we make?”

“Those questions are all very universal and have been there all through time, and they are the ones that I think are very dramatic and very interesting. That is one of the things that I like to do and one of the things that I think cinema does very well and that creates tension and suspense. It is interesting in this movie that the tension and suspense come from the emotions of these two characters, and this incredible passion that they have for each other in these circumstances that are very, very complicated and dire. To have that much tension and suspense come from within characters was a wonderful challenge for me and something that I enjoyed doing.”

Zemeckis also seems genuinely excited when he gets to talk about having to recreate the past for the film. “I did a lot of research,” he explains. “It’s one of the things that movies do really well, they can evoke and re-create past periods of time and the way that you do is you do a lot of research and look at a lot of photographs, a lot of footage – a lot of historical footage – and then you talk to people that really know – people like historians – what was going on. We were lucky on our film because the Imperial War Museum were our consultants, so we had great people surrounding us.”

This leads to being asked what was it like working with two of the biggest movie stars of current day – Brad Pitt and Marion Cottilard. “Working with both Brad and Marion was a real thrill because they were both professional and very focused and very hard working. Brad also a very good attention to detail and I was very impressed that he went down so deep and gave such an emotional performance, one that I had never seen him do before, so that was a thrill. Marion is amazing, I mean she is one of the best and greatest actresses that I have ever worked with. She is one of those actresses that can make anything work and she pays such close attention to her character and does an amazing amount of work on her own preparing, so when she comes onto the set, she is ready to deliver and does.”

Allied is in Australian cinemas now.

 

Written by David Griffiths

 

With Oscar season just around the corner, talk has once again turned to young actress Hailee Steinfeld being a strong contender to be nominated for the coming-of-age drama/comedy “The Edge Of Seventeen”. Of course, it’s not the first time that Steinfeld’s name has been mentioned alongside the prestigious awards – she was also nominated for 2010’s “True Grit”. Hearing Steinfeld talks about her role of Nadine, a depressed teenager who feels like she has been betrayed by her best friend you get a real sense that she had a personal connection to this film.

“When I was auditioning for this film I went in, talked to Kelly (the director) about a number of experiences that I had at school that were so similar to Nadine’s,” she explains. “It felt very weird going there and being like ‘I went through this’ because of course, you do want them to believe that you went through this or something similar, but it is just weird to be in this vulnerable state which I felt I was in because I did go in there and say ‘This is so similar to what I’ve been through in my life and what I know so many of my friends have’.”

Steinfeld is also quick to admit that Nadine is also a vulnerable character who has a number of different relationships throughout the film. “Nadine wears everything on her sleeve, and even when you know, she is trying hard not to let whatever she is going through get to her – you know how she is really feeling. There is something so refreshing about seeing someone feel. You know there is so much that she goes through with so many different people in this movie, from her best friend to her mother to her father to her brother. Her relationship with Krista (her best friend) is more than a best friend relationship. It is a relationship where if you aren’t in the same room you are texting the person, or you’re on FaceTime with that person talking about you’re doing or not saying anything at all because you’re just there. Then there is her relationship with her brother, and that is so complex, and again it’s so layered because there is so much hatred for this person that she looks at and sees that he got absolutely everything. She sees that he got everything beyond the looks, he’s got the grades, the school success, he’s got that thing where everyone that walks past him in the halls turns to him and gives him a high-five, and they show him attention and love. And then I walk down there, and people just look at me up and down. Although we are related people look at us like I am the last person that he would ever be related to because he’s so not like me, he’s so different. ”

 

Of course, Steinfeld is joined in the cast of “The Edge OF Tomorrow” by another Oscar nominated actor Woody Harrelson, and she says Nadine has an interesting relationship with his character, Mr Bruner. “Mr Bruner is the only person who pretends to show any interest in my conversation. And the great part about how it is written is he’s there for her, and he listens to her, and he welcomes her to an extent but he is just so unphased about what she has to say, and that has her on her toes and keeps her thinking of what she can possibly say for that shock value and I guess that is what I love so much about Nadine, she just doesn’t hold back, she just goes for it.”

 

Bringing Mr Bruner to life is Woody Harrelson who is quick to say that The Edge Of Seventeen is a very different film to what he is normally part of. “I suppose it’s not the kind of story I would normally see myself involved with,” he says with a small smile. “This story about a high school gal who is in the middle of all these crises, but you know it is really wonderful writing. It’s very funny; it’s very smart and also unique so… you know… I was psyched to jump in.”

 

He also says that audiences shouldn’t be expecting his character to be the ‘typical’ teacher that you see in most films. “I think Mr Bruner is one of these guys who is probably pretty good at his job, but he really is one of those guys who comes in, punches the clock, then looks forward to getting home to his girlfriend and his baby. So in some ways, he is not the model teacher ah but has a kind of special relationship with Nadine in that he really likes her. He tells her that she is his favourite student but only after he really upsets her, and he’ll make a joke about something after she’s been quite vulnerable so for some reason, Nadine, who in this scene is feeling really lonely and doesn’t connect with anyone else in the school, connects with my character and while my character isn’t the most sentimental guy it is obvious to her that he cares about her. I don’t think my character is the catalyst for all the changes that happen with her but I think I am her sounding board and like I said I’m not the most sentimental guy, so it’s not like I’m giving her deep and emotional advice or anything, but I’m kind of there for her”

When asked what it is like working with Hailee Steinfeld Harrelson says, “I think there is a kind of chemistry there. I think she is an extraordinary actress and I really was amazed when we did our first scene together. I was really amazed at how she just flows with everything and trying new things and she is just a very creative and a very smart actress. She really has the goods, and even when a scene is a little more complicated, she knows what she is doing. It’s great to see someone with that ability at this stage of her career, and I mean such an early stage of her career. I think she has the capacity to be acting for the next sixty years, she really is good.”

With that kind of glowing praise from an actor as talented as Woody Harrelson, it’s not hard to see why Hailee Steinfeld is shaping up as a real Oscar contender for her performance in The Edge of Seventeen. Now it is just a waiting game to see whether she gets the nomination or not.

 

The “Edge Of Seventeen” opens in Australian cinemas on the 1st January 2017.

Written by David Griffiths

ARTIST OF THE MONTH

NEAL WALTERS

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of Neal Walters if you have any hand at all in Australia’s alternative music scene, but if you haven’t then there’s an even better probability that you’ve encountered one of his shots without knowing the man behind the camera. He’s made quite the splash in music photography, which isn’t easy to do when there’s twenty photographers to two reviewers at every show you’ve been to in the past year. Having worked his ass off establishing his talent, Walters is now getting rightfully recognised, receiving The Unified Grant of 2016 for his upcoming photography book.

 

“I guess the process just revolved around me putting in an application”, he shared when describing how exactly he got involved with the grant in the first place, clarifying that it was for something he “believed in”. That something is a book that will capture portraits of music industry figures, presenting something that goes beyond a candid shot before they head on stage.

 

“Basically the book is going to be based on what makes people happy”, Walters states. Not only will there be a portrait of these people, but there will also be an elaboration as he calls it, “That person in what we’re calling their happy place”. Walters’ project is one of five that The Unified Grant has been awarded to, with other recipients including Ashleigh Hills (the founder of Tram Sessions), Georgia Beach (of Office Gossip Design), Michelle Grace Hunder and Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore (of Her Sound, Her Story) and mixer/producer/engineer/audio extraordinaire Aaron Dobos.

 

“It took me about 15 minutes to write the application”, he noted, “Because I knew everything I had planned it to be”. The point is to provide an insight that goes beyond what you’d see on the surface of a snap, and the strength of Walters’ convictions leaves little doubt that it’s going to be a success. The only question is when. “We’re starting early 2017”, he identifies, “but at this stage, I wanna say that it’s gonna take however long it takes”. If everything goes to plan, you might even have it by Christmas.

Considering how well his career in the industry is going, it’s interesting to consider the fact that Walters didn’t actually start out with a view towards being a music photographer at all. It was “relationships” that made up his path to this point in his life rather than an initial positioning towards this field. “I started by shooting my friends”, he explains. His friends started bands, and now he’s here.

 

Even though he claims that he’s not mature, when asked about the bands that he’s grown up with throughout his career he makes an effort to point out the longevity of his ongoing relationship with Melbourne outfit Storm The Sky. From where both parties started to where they are now has been a long distance, but Walters points out that they’ve been “a band I’ve been lucky enough to work with” over his and their tumultuous years, having undergone lineup changes without breaking up like many of the bands he started out with. “They’ve matured massively”, he states with pride. “Their last album wasn’t heavy whatsoever, but it was brilliant”.

 

It’s clear that even though Walters has a passion for photography, he also still cares about music, which is a nice observation to make in a scene riddled by jaded former fans. Walters has some damn good stories to share, some of which he’s probably not allowed to let loose, but he does recount one particular gem of a time that occurred in Germany.

 

“We were in Berlin with Northlane and Volumes and it was probably 4 am”, he starts his story with. “After the show in Berlin, we had gone out; obviously everyone went to numerous places and hung out. I think the bus was leaving when we got back, and Chris [Moretti] from Hellions was there”, apparently with “no pants on” and “sat on a traffic cone just on the side of the road”. There’s more to the story, as there is to every photo Walters has ever taken, but you’ll have to keep an eye out for his book to find out exactly what he wants to share about the figures that he tours with.

 

Even though he’s gotten to where he is, Walters still has doubts. “I still pinch myself”, he notes, but he also shares the alarming piece of news that the day before winning The Unified Grant, he almost stepped out altogether. “On that Wednesday, I was like ‘maybe this isn’t gonna work’”, he states. “And Thursday I got the call”. That’s good timing if we’ve ever seen it.

 

 

Written by Peyton Bernhardt

 

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