Jodie Foster Interview from Tribeca Film Festival

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: (L-R) Director Julie Taymor and actress Jodie Foster talk during the Tribeca Daring Women Summit during the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival at Spring Studios on April 19, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
Director Julie Taymor and actress Jodie Foster talk during the Tribeca Daring Women Summit during the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival at Spring Studios on April 19, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

 

Anthony Kirby reports from the Tribeca Film Festival where Jodie Foster talked to filmmaker Julie Taymor about how she has forged a position as an esteemed filmmaker in both film and television.  

Looking relaxed and at ease, director/ actor Jodie Foster and former theatre director Julie Taymor spoke to a capacity audience at the recently concluded Tribeca Film Festival.

“I first appeared in front of a camera at the age of three,” said Foster in reply to a question from a member of the audience. “So it’s over fifty years at this point. A big change came when Martin Scorsese hired me to work on Taxi Driver. I was just twelve at the time –  actually my older sister doubled for me in several of the sex scenes. Part way into the film Robert De Niro took me aside and said, ‘Jodie, you’re a gifted actress. You can have a great fulfilling career. However, you’re not giving enough. Just embrace this part and become it.’ I took Bob’s advice to heart. Taxi Driver was a high point of my early career.

“I always wanted to be a director. Working as an actor I learned what actors need in a director. I finally got to direct at age 27. The film Little Man Tate (1991) comprised some aspects of my own childhood. Of the three films I had previously directed, two, Tate and Home for the Holidays, deal with family dynamics; and the other, The Beaver, deals with depression, disenchantment and ultimately courage.” Talking about her latest film, Money Monster, Foster tells the audience that it “is about people without conscience. The character played by Jack O Connell shows the human aspects of the recent financial crisis.”

“I still have so much I want to express both as a director and actor. While my screenwriting is good, it’s not great. I’d rather leave that aspect to others.”

Referring to perhaps her most famous role, Foster said, “My favorite female director is Jonathan Demme. He was the one guy who really understood Silence of the Lambs and said, ‘this is a movie about a woman (Clarice) who’s our hero, and the film is informed by that.”

To the question of woman directors in Hollywood, Foster said, “I don’t think it’s a plot to keep women down; it’s neglect. It’s a bunch of people who weren’t thinking about it, including a lot of female executives who’d risen to the top and not really made a dent in bringing many women into the mainstream world. We don’t want to ignore it, it’s real. The more financial risk, the less risky the studios can be – people see women as a risk.”

Foster’s last role as an actor was in Elysium (2012).” I like fairly long breaks between projects as a way of absorbing more inspiration versus exhausting myself by moving from one project to another”.

Asked if she might consider starring in a sequel to Taxi Driver, Foster replied, “New York has changed a lot in those forty years since we lensed it… Uber Driver: The Sequel – I’m going to have to ask Columbia if that’s a good idea,” she laughed.

 

The 15th annual Tribeca Film Festival was held in New York City from 13 – 24 April 2016.

Money Monster, starring Julia Roberts, George Clooney and Jack O’Connell, will have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

 

 

 

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Cinema Review: Elysium

elysium

DIR/WRI: Neill Blomkamp •  PRO: Simon Kinberg • DOP: Trent Opaloch • ED: Julian Clarke, Lee Smith • DES: Philip Ivey • CAST: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga

Elysium is South African director Neill Blomkamp’s superb follow-up to the equally excellent District 9. His assured hand takes elements familiar from other sci-fi thrillers and demonstrates how it should be done.

It’s 2154. In the late 21st century, Earth became diseased, overpopulated and polluted. The wealthy constructed an alternative habitat, called Elysium, in a space station. The poor live in sprawling metropolises, such as Los Angeles, fighting illness and poverty. Some of them labour in huge industrial complexes owned by the rich elite, who live out their luxurious lifestyles in the heavens, where its authorised citizens live without worrying about sickness.

 

Young Max da Costa promises his childhood friend Frey that he will take her to the paradise. A work accident and exposure to radiation makes it necessary for Max to get to Elysium, where he can recover. A rogue Los Angelino, Spider, organises illegal transports to Elysium, thwarted by the cold-hearted power-hungry defence secretary, Delacourt. She conceives a plan to overthrow President Patel, whose politicking obstructs Delacourt in what she sees as the proper protection of Elysium. Max unwittingly foils her attempt, and she dispatches the merciless Agent Kruger to get him.

 

Clearly, many elements are not new. The best of humanity living on a space station, while the poor and the sick die off on the planet, perhaps fills the gap that WALL·E glossed over. Policing the poor requires armies of RoboCops. There’s also the creation of something like an Iron Man suit for Max, when radiation sickness threatens to debilitate his body as he sets off on his quest. So, in some respects, Blomkamp’s film is derivative and unoriginal.

 

However, as in District 9, Blomkamp touches on some interesting themes that make his film far more compelling and resonant than other works. The gap between rich and poor has become prevalent in contemporary American cinema. In Time saw poor people struggling to earn enough minutes to keep themselves alive, while the rich lived comfortably on an infinite allowance. In The Purge, the haves employ sophisticated technology to keep out the have-nots. Here, the gap between “the 1%” and the rest manifests spectacularly in the separation of Elysium from the planet, detached from real world problems of pollution and overpopulation, exacerbated by the industries that make their wealth possible and manufacture of the means of repression. Max works in a factory producing the robotic police forces that discipline the labouring class.

 

Access to healthcare is another issue. The rich never get ill, with medical bays in their houses to cure illness should it occur. Hospitals on Earth provide inadequate care. Max’s childhood friend Frey works as a nurse, and her cute daughter suffers from leukaemia. The hospital cannot offer her the care she requires. Elysium promises the facilities that the poor need. Matt Damon’s physical performance requires his body to endure the pain of makeshift surgery. “I don’t want to die” is his refrain.

 

Glimpses of the elite’s idyllic lifestyles appear as a cello plays Bach’s ‘Well-Tempered Clavier’ on the soundtrack. The inhabitants speak French, and Jodie Foster, as Delacourt, contributes a chilling performance as their defender, her compulsion to protect them coming from a resolute but fearsome maternal instinct. Garbed in grey formal suits, with short blond hair, Delacourt resembles, not a little, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF. Sharlto Copley, who played the lead in District 9, gets the best lines, playing Agent Kruger.

 

Max da Costa grew up in a Latino community. A nun encourages him to pursue his destiny, giving him a token to remind him of where he comes from and how beautiful Earth must look from Elysium. The struggles of poor Latinos attempting to emigrate to a better place reflects contemporary concerns with immigration, the Land of Opportunity and the American Dream.
Despite such serious thematic elements, Blomkamp knows his audience.  The film plays as an engaging and exciting thriller.  Pacing is perfect, transitioning swiftly from the necessary exposition to deftly handled extended action sequences, although sometimes frenetic cutting and handheld shots make it a bit difficult to follow the action. We can forgive him for some narrative gaps because he maintains the excitement and tension. Blomkamp returns with cinematographer Trent Opaloch, editor Julian Clarke, designer Philip Ivey, all of whom match the high standards set by District 9.  That film created high expectations that Blomkamp, with Elysium, has surely met.

John Moran

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details) 

109 mins
Elysium is released on 23rd August 2013

Elysium – Official Website

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Cinema Review: Carnage

DIR:  Roman Polanski • WRI: Yasmina Reza • PRO: Saïd Ben Saïd • DOP: Pawel Edelman • ED: Hervé de Luze • DES: Dean Tavoularis • Cast: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz

Roman Polanski’s first feature film Knife in the Water, which is 50 years old this year, is a masterpiece of power plays and claustrophobia. Carnage is not that, but it does play on the same ideas as Polanski’s debut, and succeeds to a large degree.

The film begins with a scuffle between children in a Brooklyn park that results in one child swiping at the other with a large stick. As the film’s drama opens we are in the apartment home of the victim, and the parents of both parties are hashing out an agreement about responsibility for the incident. The victim’s parents, nouveau riche and secretly uncultured Michael (John C. Reilly) and his pretentious, politically correct wife, Penelope, scuttle the amicable proceedings when they passive-aggressively imply that the parents of the young aggressor, stressed pacifist Nancy (Kate Winslet) and disinterested corporate lawyer Alan (Christoph Waltz), should pay to repair the damage done to their son’s teeth. Arguments ensue.

What should have been a simple meet-and-greet turns into a day of drunkenness and verbal violence as hosts turn on guests, husbands turn on wives and men and women turn on one another.

Based on Yasmina Reza’s play God of Carnage – a winner of both the Olivier and Tony awards for best play, perhaps the highest honours any theatre piece can achieve – Carnage suffers from its one location structure. While the play can hold the four characters in the apartment for the story’s duration, using that subconscious theatrical device that implies if a character leaves the stage they will somehow cease to exist, the film forces all four to remain in the apartment unnaturally. This is not 12 Angry Men! At one stage Alan refuses to get into the elevator to leave in case he loses phone reception for an important call, and subsequently they stay another hour. There’s only so much disbelief a film audience can be expected to suspend.
What Polanski and Reza, in their adaptation, lose in believability they win back in the performances. Reilly is a keg full of rage just waiting to crack open. Waltz is the manipulative snake we haven’t seen since Inglourious Basterds. The ever-reliable Winslet goes fluidly from repressed to outright hostile as the drinks flow, while Foster gives her best performance since Silence of the Lambs in a role seething with bitterness and resentment.
The film uses its top-notch performers well to bring out the dark comedy and carry the film’s satirical content; the moral here is man is, at heart, a selfish, amoral beast. The savagery of the personal attacks mirrors the childish scuffle they have condemned. Characters seem to care more for their personal belongings than the wellbeing of those around them. Alan is more concerned that a pharmaceutical company he represents may have its reputation damaged than the fact its faulty medicine is killing people.

Unfortunately, all the strengths of this film are largely undermined by the sudden and pointless ending. What possessed Polanski to end the film with an infantile punchline instead of the source material’s acceptance of mankind’s universal failings is beyond comprehension. The ultra-PC conclusion is totally out of keeping with the core of the film, and leaves a bitter aftertaste from what was an otherwise enjoyable adaptation.

Carnage, for all its successes, is a hard film to recommend due to its ending, but it should still be lauded as an entertainment and for its fine performances.

David Neary

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)

Carnage is released on 3rd February 2012

Carnage – Official Website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxX02-KdsXM

 

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The Beaver

Beaver

DIR: Jodie Foster • WRI: Kyle Killen • PRO: Steve Golin, Keith Redmon, Ann Ruark • DOP: Hagen Bogdanski • Ed: Lynzee Klingman • DES: Mark Friedberg • Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin

An interesting premise, The Beaver tells the odd story of Walter Black (Mel Gibson), an executive with severe depression. After being kicked out by his wife, Meredith (Jodie Foster), Walter attempts to top himself, but instead his drunken state sees him injured via television set. When Walter comes to, he begins conversing with ‘The Beaver’ a hand-puppet he’s working with a god-awful English accent.

In a curious turn of events, Walter’s creepy alter-ego begins to patch up his marital problems, and fix the financial problems at the Toy Factory he runs. Things appear to be looking up until some of the details surrounding his mental illness come to light. Meanwhile his troubled son Porter (Anton Yelchin) is having some girl troubles of his own.

This film goes much further into the realms of drama then the comedy it appeared as, on the trailer; dealing with the harshness of both Walter and Porter’s illness in a manor that is both gripping, and downright shocking at points.

Mel Gibson captures perfectly, the tragedy of the story but there’s definitely an element of warmth that’s missing from his character. It’s odd to think that both Steve Carell and Jim Carrey were at one point signed on to play Walter; in either case it would have been a completely different film. The supporting roles are superbly cast with Anton giving a great performance, and the master Jodie Foster being quite understated.

The Beaver is undoubtedly compelling and deep as is over all worth a viewing however there were some major issues that could not be ignored The camp, silly humour is misplaced among all that heartbreak. Walter lacks any sort of charisma and is fundamentally quite unlikable. The overall premise is silly and its hard to suspend disbelieve when characters are having meaningful discourse with a puppet.

Gemma Creagh

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
The Beaver is released on 17th June 2011

The Beaver – Official Website

 

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