The stars of the romantic drama and producer Will Packer talked to The Hollywood Reporter about what it means that Universal released the film on the big screen.
In Universal's recently released The Photograph, stars Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield take on roles different from both their familiar TV characters in Insecure and Atlanta, respectively, and their past film characters.
Instead, as the romantic leads in the drama, Rae and Stanfield play a couple falling in love as Rae's Mae grieves the death of her mother, learning more about the woman she was and fearing that, like her mom, Mae won't be able to commit to people she cares about.
And as she moves forward with her film career — Rae also has The Lovebirds out in April — the Insecure star said she's looking for projects that take her out of her "comfort zone."
"Anything that feels new or fresh or feels like it will challenge me, that feels outside of my comfort zone and movies that I would want to see," Rae told The Hollywood Reporter at The Photograph's world premiere in New York earlier this month of what she's interested in making. "I don't want to do movies just to do it. I want to be a part of things that will either provoke conversation or that feel fresh and fun."
For Stanfield, it was the chance to "stretch" and "do something different than what I'm usually seen doing" that was part of what drew him to his role as Michael, a journalist who meets Mae as he works on a story about her mother.
And going forward, viewers should expect more roles that keep them on their toes, Stanfield told THR at the Photograph premiere.
"Everything you see me do is going to be different than the last thing," he said. "I'm interested in challenging myself and taking on different things. You'll never be able to catch me."
The film's cast also features Kelvin Harrison Jr., who — after breakout roles in Waves and Luce — also wants to "keep trying to tell stories that challenge me."
"I just want to keep working with people that intrigue me, I think that's the biggest thing. And when you're in a job like this, you give so much out all of the time that I think it's important to feed yourself again," he said. "I think when I'm surrounded by artists that inspire me, art that challenges me, art that makes me want to research and discover more of the people around me, that makes it worthwhile, so I'm just looking to extend this."
Writer-director Stella Meghie has said that the initial idea for The Photograph came about when her grandmother was about to meet a daughter that she hadn't seen in nearly 30 years.
"That was the impetus for the backstory, like what are the things you don't know about your mother, what are the things that informed who they are...and how would that affect you," Meghie said.
When asked why she wanted to integrate revelations about Mae's mother, Christina Chanté Adams, and Christina's relationship with a man played by Y'lan Noel into the story of Mae's own, contemporary romance, Meghie said she wanted to tell the story of a daughter understanding her mother as a woman.
"I really just wanted to tell a parallel story. So many times when you're growing up, you don't realize your mother is a woman, soto show a mother and daughter at the same age going through the same things just to make those parallels stronger," she told THR.
Meghie said she also wanted black audiences to "see themselves" in a film with a predominantly African American cast.
The film's portrayal of black love is something that Rae, Stanfield, other cast members and producer Will Packer all said was key to getting them involved...
Rialto Pictures is bringing Francis Ford Coppola’s Palme d’Or winning 1974 movie The Conversation back to theaters, starting March 20 at New York's Film Forum and Landmark’s Nuart Theatre in L.A., with newly struck 35mm prints personally supervised by the five-time Oscar winning filmmaker.
The platform release will offer theaters an alternate DCP restoration remixed in Dolby 5.1 by 3x Oscar winning sound designer Walter Murch.The new poster for the 2020 re-release of ‘The Conversation’ Rialto
Written, produced and directed by Coppola, The Conversation stars Gene Hackman as Harry Caul, a paranoid, secretive surveillance expert who has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that a couple, on whom he is spying, will be murdered. Upon re-hearing the tapes, however, Caul believes he may be putting the couple in danger if he turns the material over to his client Robert Duvall, in an unbilled cameo. But what one hears can ultimately turn out to be quite different from what was actually recorded. Pic also stars a number thespians who continually worked with Coppola throughout his career including late Godfather actor John Cazale, Cindy Williams who starred in the Coppola Zoetrope produced American Graffiti, Frederic Forrest Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Teri Garr Coppola’s One From the Heart and Executive produced The Black Stallion, and Harrison Ford American Graffiti.
“I've always been especially proud of The Conversation, partly because it was from my own original story and screenplay” says Coppola. “I count it among the most personal of all my films and I'm happy the movie became the very thing it was about — invasion of privacy and its erosive impact on both victims and perpetrators. This was my goal when I conceived it over 40 years ago, and to my surprise, the idea still resonates today. I'm glad Rialto is bringing the film back to theaters so people can experience it the way it was first presented, on the big screen.”
In addition to winning the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, The Conversation was nominated for three Oscars including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Murch and Art Rochester for Best Sound, as well as four Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay. The pic also garnered accolades and nominations from the BAFTA Awards, the National Board of Review, and a Best Director award from the National Society of Film Critics. In 1995, The Conversation was selected for the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.
Fred Roos co-produced The Conversation, David Shire wrote the music, production design was by Dean Tavoularis with cinematography by Bill Butler.
Below is the current rollout for The Conversation:
March 20 — April 2 New York, NY | FILM FORUM New 35mm Print Supervised by Francis Ford Coppola
March 20 — 26 Los Angeles, CA | LANDMARK’S NUART THEATRE New 35mm Print Supervised by Francis Ford Coppola
March 20 Berkeley, CA | BAMPFA New 35mm Print Supervised by Francis Ford Coppola
April 3 — 5 Portland, OR | THE HOLLYWOOD THEATRE New 35mm...
It’s been 84 years since Martin Scorsese lit the internet on fire with his less-than-glowing words about Marvel movies. After weeks of superhero fans whipping themselves into a frenzy over what “cinema” entails, and outlets cycling through every auteur they can find to comment on the outrage, the legendary filmmaker is stepping back into the conversation. Scorsese published an essay in The New York Times explaining exactly what he means when he declares that Marvel movies aren’t cinema, and why the dominance of superhero movies could threaten the very face of the industry.
In a beautifully written essay for The New York Times, Scorsese notes that his comments on Marvel movies have been caught up in his definition of “cinema,” and that, “Some people seem to have seized on the last part of my answer as insulting, or as evidence of hatred for Marvel on my part.”
He admits that Marvel movies aren’t to his taste which is fine! but elaborates that the rigid structure in which a Marvel Studios movie is made is leading to a homogenized culture that, to him, is the antithesis of cinema:
“Many of the elements that define cinema as I know it are there in Marvel pictures. What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes.”
Cinema, he argues, is about risk. It’s about taking risks and breaking up a potential monoculture with new ideas that challenge the idea of art. Scorsese never once claims that superhero movies aren’t an art form. But he does suggest that superhero movies are made out of business decisions, first — to sell merchandise, to sell tickets, to sell toys — and artistic ones, second. Scorsese ascribes to the “auteur theory,” the idea that an individual artist’s vision is essential to cinema. And because superhero movies start out in the boardroom, that eliminates the risk:
“But the most ominous change has happened stealthily and under cover of night: the gradual but steady elimination of risk. Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption. Many of them are well made by teams of talented individuals. All the same, they lack something essential to cinema: the unifying vision of an individual artist. Because, of course, the individual artist is the riskiest factor of all.”
Scorsese’s essay is more damning of the studio system than superhero movies as “cinema.” It’s a battle that Scorsese has been fighting since he first started directing: rebelling against the studio system and its control over the commercial and creative aspects of the movie industry. And it’s within the rise of a superhero-dominated movie landscape, where studios won’t give a green light to any feature film that’s not from a major franchise or a familiar IP, that Scorsese finds a real danger. Mid-budget movies have all but disappeared from theaters and auteurs are finding it harder to get their movies made outside of streaming.
“The situation, sadly, is that we now have two separate fields: There’s worldwide audiovisual entertainment, and there’s cinema,” Scorsese writes. “They still overlap from time to time, but that’s becoming increasingly rare. And I fear that the financial dominance of one is being used to marginalize and even belittle the existence of the other.”
Superhero movies aren’t the only representation of this changing landscape, but a symptom. And if we can stop getting caught up in the semantics of what defending what constitutes art, than we could listen to what Scorsese is trying to diagnose....
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, filmmaker Stella Meghie offers up a cross-generational romance that imagines a pair of irrevocably linked relationships, both bolstered by stellar casting and the kind of chemistry woefully rare in studio features which have long appeared to cast romantic leads through a random process that finds far more hits than misses. And yet the open-hearted drama, titled “The Photograph” but perhaps better referred to as “The Photographer” or even “The Letter,” can never quite bridge its individual stories, awkwardly shuffling between the pair and never giving either their full due. Starring Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield as a modern couple brought together by the forces of the past the photograph, the photographer, the letter, Meghie’s film is also concerned with an ill-fated pair from the past, connected by a twist anyone will see coming from a mile away.
Meghie’s film, her fourth directorial outing and the third she’s written entirely on her own, opens in the past: with an introspective video interview that finds Christina a wonderful Chanté Adams unpacking some of her missteps in life. A talented photographer who left behind her small Louisiana hometown in favor of a career in New York City, present-day Christina is long gone by the time we meet her daughter Mae Issa Rae, similarly career-driven and out of touch with her emotions and wounded by the receipt of a pair of letters from her recently deceased mom, missives that reveal many long-held secrets. Back in Louisiana, journalist Mike LaKeith Stanfield goes hunting for a story in Christina’s birthplace, only to find a haunted Isaac played by Rob Morgan and Y’lan Noel across different periods, still holding fast to both a mantel full of photographs and the woman who took them.
You can imagine where this all goes, but the obviousness of what happens in “The Photograph” isn’t nearly as confounding as some of the other choices it makes. It’s plain as day that Isaac and Christina had a great love story that went awry, and when Mike and Mae meet ostensibly in service to a story Mike wants to write about Christina, a story that Mae has much to add to, there’s little doubt that they will pick up that same torch. And yet “The Photograph” opts to unspool a relatively simple conceit in convoluted ways that rob it of significant emotional power. Most telling: the film shows its most vibrant, sexy signs of life when Meghie leans into the obvious connections between the two love stories, from the inevitable shocker that brings all the characters together one that will be clear to anyone within the film’s first five minutes and scenes in which Mae and Mike unknowingly relive scenes from Christina and Isaac’s relationship.
There are many joys to be found in the threads between its two romances, but the split between the segments distracts more than any other narrative choice in the film. Still worse, the wraparound story that brings Mae and Mike together never makes much sense — Mike “discovers” Christina’s life story and work while investigating the effects of Hurricane Katrina on her small hometown, though it’s clear she was a very successful photographer not in need of rescuing by a self-obsessed writer who uses his latest project as a means to hit on a pretty girl — and is routinely dropped as a plot point. It must also be noted: Mike is a terrible journalist, the kind of character pulled out of a ’90s-era rom-com who makes his own hours, complains bitterly about his work, and then turns every story he writes into one that’s really about him. He is, of course, later rewarded with a snazzy new job.