|RESISTANCESTAR WARSTHE STAR|
Jesse Eisenberg, best known for his roles in movies such as Zombieland and The Social Network, is staying quite busy these days. Much of the time, in recent years, that is spent on slightly smaller indie movies, which vary greatly in scope and genre. Case in point, Eisenberg is starring in not one, but two movies that are coming out on the same day this week in Resistance and Vivarium.
In the case of Resistance, directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, Jesse Eisenberg portrays real-life mime Marcel Marceau who went on to become something of an unlikely hero during World War II, becoming a member of the French Resistance, which helped to save the lives of thousands of children. On the other side of the fence, we have Vivarium. Directed by Lorcan Finnegan, this contained sci-fi flick reteams him with his Art of Self-Defense co-star Imogen Poots and sees them as a couple looking to buy a house and they become trapped in the labyrinth of a development, forcing them to live in a suburban nightmare.
I recently had the good fortune of speaking with Jesse Eisenberg on behalf of both movies. It's actually the third time in a year I've spoken with the actor, a tradition I hope to see continue. We discussed their commonalities, what sets them apart, how the current coronavirus pandemic is influencing the way in which they will be viewed and much more.
Hey man, are you doing alright?
Jesse Eisenberg: Yeah! We're about to drive cross country in an RV.
Oh man. That's wild.
Jesse Eisenberg: It's pretty weird, yeah. So unbelievably surreal.
I don't know if you remember but I got to interview you twice in the last year. I got to talk to you for The Art of Self-Defense and Zombieland 2, so I guess we're making this something of a tradition when you have a new movie coming out.
Jesse Eisenberg: [laughs] That would be great! And hopefully this won't end, given the current pandemic.
Touching on that a little bit, we're here to talk about Resistance and Vivarium. You have two movies coming out on the same day at a time when people could really use a break from life. How does that feel for you? You mentioned the word surreal.
Jesse Eisenberg: Yeah. Also, you make these movies with a certain kind of intention and they end up coming out at a time that will necessarily affect the way they are viewed. Vivarium is this kind of claustrophobic fever dream of a movie about characters that are totally isolated who literally have no interaction with anybody besides themselves and their increasingly stir-crazy child. I think it will be filtered through the gaze of being stuck at home and quarantined now. And Resistance is this really beautiful, uplifting movie about a guy who is keeping these children entertained and distracted through a war. Again, I think it will be filtered through the lens of parents keeping their children occupied when they are not allowed to go outside or play with other...
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...
Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?
This week we overcome being an ugly duckling, spend some more time with those with autism, have our third eye melted, look at some hip hop legends, and get exonerated for crimes we didn’t commit.Autism: The Sequel
Director Tricia Regan is bringing hope at just the right time.
Revisiting the subjects of the 2007 Emmy-winning documentary Autism: The Musical, Autism: The Sequel offers a heartwarming inside look into the daily challenges and triumphs of adults on the autism spectrum.
In 2006, HBO debuted the 2007 Emmy®-winning Autism: The Musical, a poignant, heartwarming film that followed five children on the autism spectrum as they wrote and performed their own musical. We revisit the stars of this musical 12 years later in Autism: The Sequel as the original subjects, now in their early 20s, navigate what independence means to them as they manage challenges and triumphs as adults.
If there was a way to excise the uplifting string arrangement towards the end of the trailer, I would do it. It’s not to say this documentary isn’t an uplifting story, but when you consider that these kids, who are now adults, are still struggling to live day-to-day with autism, it seems like a different approach could have been made to reflect their current accomplishments. This is a story that will continue long after this doc is done. This specific story is a celebration, but, also, there is the very real fact that there are more mountains for them to climb. It’s inspiring.The Innocence Files
True crime aficionados, rejoice!
Through the lens of The Evidence, The Witness and The Prosecution, The Innocence Files shines a powerful light on the untold personal stories behind eight cases of wrongful conviction that the nonprofit organization the Innocence Project and organizations within the Innocence Network have uncovered and worked tirelessly to overturn. The Innocence Files is executive produced and directed by Academy Award® nominee Liz Garbus, Academy Award® winner Alex Gibney, Academy Award® winner Roger Ross Williams; with episodes also directed by Academy Award® nominee Jed Rothstein, Emmy Award® winner Andy Grieve and Sarah Dowland.
You have a veritable who’s who of directing talent who have lined up to tell some very real stories. Stories that, without question, cast a deep and long shadow over the criminal justice system. No one deserves to be wrongfully convicted, much less jailed, for an...