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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Like Crazy

Oscar season: Some films let you make your own ending

January 2, 2012 |  2:25 pm

Woody Harrelson in Rampart
We live in an open-ended era with question marks hovering over our lives. So maybe it isn’t surprising that a quartet of current movies conclude ambiguously, leaving their characters’ fates not on the screen but in the minds of the audience.

We spoke recently to the filmmakers in question -- those behind "Rampart," "Like Crazy," "Martha Marcy May Marlene" and "Shame" -- about their cryptic conclusions. Needless to say, if you haven’t seen the movies (and, really, why haven’t you?), you’ll probably want to come back to this after you’ve first formed your own conclusions.

“Rampart”

The ending: His personal life and career in tatters, Woody Harrelson’s LAPD officer Dave Brown drives silently through the night, lost in regret.

First choice or later decision: “Rampart” originally had a substantially different ending, centering on a now-removed subplot involving bad cops, gangbangers and Officer Brown. “There was a killing spree, followed by a getting-killed thing,” Harrelson says. “When [writer-director] Oren [Moverman] first showed me a rough cut, I was a little startled.”

“No. He was shocked,” Moverman says. Midway through filming, Moverman began to feel that the dynamics of Brown’s family life were becoming the core of the movie. The shootout ending, he says, felt too “routine.”

“I felt like we had the opportunity to go deeper and shed the things more familiar from genre movies and concentrate on the interior voyage we take with this character,” Moverman adds.

Leaving the door open: “That drive is clearly a metaphor for the purgatory that he’s going to be driving in for the rest of his life,” Moverman says, “no matter if the rest of his life is five minutes from now or the next 30 years.”

“Like Crazy”

The ending: Immigration issues resolved, young lovers Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin) finally reunite. It’s not exactly magical. They take a tentative shower together at Jacob’s L.A. loft while the film flashes back to more innocent times. The final shot of Jacob indicates resignation but no resolution.

First choice or later decision: “We had an extra scene that was on top of that, kind of a double beat with Anna and Jacob in the loft space on opposite ends of the frame,” says writer-director Drake Doremus. “But the shower scene ended up being so strong that we just ended the film right there.”

Leaving the door open: “My favorite films have endings where the rug gets pulled from underneath you and you’re stuck dealing with your emotions,” Doremus says. “That’s what I wanted to do here. Love stories are too often tied up in a nice, neat bow, and that’s not my experience in relationships. Love is gray. They don’t have conclusive elements sometimes. This is my version of that.”

“Martha Marcy May Marlene”

The ending: Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) believes that members of her old cult have found her. She's on the way to New York with her sister and brother-in-law when their car nearly hits a man walking across the street. Is it the same, familiar-looking man that Martha saw watching her swim earlier in the day? Martha looks back. The man is still there. She’s frozen in fear.

First choice or later decision: “We never talked about anything else,” says writer-director Sean Durkin. “I never thought it would be so discussed. People always ask me what happens. And it’s pretty equally divided. Half believe she’s paranoid. Half think they’re coming to get her. We tried to give as little information as possible. I was far more interested in creating the moment and having it feel true.”

Leaving the door open: “It’s the honest way to end the movie,” Durkin says. “It takes years to recover. She’s always going to be looking over her shoulder, thinking someone’s following her. The goal was to put you in her shoes.”

“Shame”

The ending: Brandon (Michael Fassbender) spies on the subway the same sexy redhead (Lucy Walters) he noticed on an earlier commute. They again lock eyes. She seems very open to the idea of cutting her subway ride short. Do they or don’t they?

First choice or later decision: “When I came to New York to start production, I had an ending, but I wasn’t happy with it,” says “Shame” writer-director Steve McQueen. “And it was one of those things. I was always riding the subway to work every morning, and the ending just came to me. It felt right to circle back to that woman he saw at the beginning of the film.”

Leaving the door open: “Does he change or does he stay on the train?” McQueen muses. “I’m not making a Disney film where he falls into the arms of his new love and lives happily ever after. That’s just not the way it is with addiction. It’s a struggle, and I hope that Brandon fights it in some form. But I don’t know if he’ll ever recover.”

RELATED:

'Shame': Michael Fassbender's chameleon power [Video]

'Like Crazy': Filmmaker Drake Doremus casts his leads [video]

Golden Globes: Funny Woody Harrelson was 'liberated from concern'

-- Glenn Whipp

Photo: Woody Harrelson in "Rampart." Credit: Millennium Entertainment


What’s the most underappreciated movie of 2011? (Part 1)

December 29, 2011 |  9:36 am

 

Jessica Chastain in "The Debt"


Last year it was “Never Let Me Go” and “Let Me In.” This year we’re asking the question again — what movie just didn’t get the proper respect, from audiences or critics, over the past 12 months?

We took an informal poll around the office and among some contacts to get a fix on what people felt were some of the least recognized gems of the past year. The list they returned was an eclectic one:

Among the titles that came up: “The Debt,” the long-delayed Nazi-hunting thriller starring Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington that finally came out this summer; “Rio,”  the Brazil-set animated film that didn’t get the same buzz as some of its CG counterparts; “Fright Night,” Craig Gillespie’s remake of the 1985 horror-comedy that might have gotten buried a little upon its late-summer release; "Win Win," Tom McCarthy's dramedy about a high-school wrestler; and “Warrior,” the Nick Nolte drama about the world of mixed-martial arts.

A pair of Sundance acquisitions also made the list: “Margin Call,” the drama about the financial crisis that unfolds over one nerve-racking night; and “Like Crazy,” the emo love story that was mostly improvised by Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin.

Please vote in our poll below, and use Twitter, Facebook and otherwise comment on any movie we didn’t suggest ("A Better Life"?). We’ll let you know the results in the next few days.

 

 

RELATED:

What's the most under-appreciated movie of 2010 (Part 1)

What's the most under-appreciated movie of 2010? (Part 2)

— Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Jessica Chastain in "The Debt." Credit: Focus Features


'Like Crazy': Filmmaker Drake Doremus casts his leads [video]

December 14, 2011 |  3:29 pm

Like Crazy

Felicity Jones went to unusual lengths to audition for writer-director Drake Doremus' "Like Crazy," including videotaping herself in the shower for the film's concluding scene. Jones also help cast the actors who played her parents in the film. "It was important that her parents seemed like they could be her friends," she said. In this excerpt from The Envelope Screening Series, Jones, costar Anton Yelchin and Doremus discuss how they came to make the movie together.

RELATED:

'Like Crazy' director Drake Doremus on his improvised approach

Movie review: 'Like Crazy'

The Directors: Drake Doremus, 'Like Crazy'

Felicity Jones talks about her impulsive character in 'Like Crazy'

--John Horn

Photo: Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin in "Like Crazy." Credit: Fred Hayes


'Like Crazy' director Drake Doremus on his improvised approach

December 12, 2011 |  4:00 pm

Like Crazy
With compelling performances by Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin as two young people madly in love but struggling to maintain a long-distance relationship, the low-budget love story "Like Crazy" has earned praise from critics and won the top prize at Sundance. Writer-director Drake Doremus and his stars recently visited the Envelope Screening Series and explained how their unconventional, largely improvised approach helped shape "Like Crazy" into a tender, believable romance.

"We start with the idea of a story first, and then we spend a lot of time structuring that story and getting the story right through the outlining process," Doremus said. He added, "Through the course of rehearsal, the dialogue sort of came. But the dialogue is sort of a function of understanding the story and the characters, so the dialogue always comes last."

"The idea is that there are certain points that we would have to hit," Jones said. "There were certain things we have to say to further the plot. But it's about how to get there in the most naturalistic way possible."

See more of what Doremus, Jones and Yelchin had to say in the video below.

RELATED:

Movie review: 'Like Crazy'

The Directors: Drake Doremus, 'Like Crazy'

Felicity Jones talks about her impulsive character in 'Like Crazy'

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Drake Doremus (standing) directs Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones in "Like Crazy." Credit: Fred Hayes / Paramount Pictures


"Beginners," "Tree of Life" tie for Gotham Film Awards

November 28, 2011 |  8:07 pm

CA.0408.beginners.049
Mike Mills' semi-autobiographical drama "Beginners," about a young man whose widower father comes out of the closet, and Terrence Malick's mystical family epic "Tree of LIfe" tied for best film of 2011 at the 21st annual Gotham Independent Film Awards given out Monday evening in New York City.

"Beginners," which stars Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, also won for ensemble cast. Felicity Jones took home the breakthrough actor award for her role as a lovestruck British woman in 
"Like Crazy." Breakthrough director honors went to Dee Rees for "Pariah." The documentary prize went to "Better This World."

Other awards given out included:

The Best Film Not Playing At a Theater Near You: "Scenes of a Crime"

Festival Genius Award, which is voted on by filmgoers online: "Girlfriend"

Spotlight on Women Filmmakers "Live the Dream" Grant: Lucy Mulloy, "Una Noche"

The awards are presented by the Independent Filmmaker Project, which is the oldest and largest U.S. organization of indie filmmakers. It is one of two key awards given to independent films. Nominations for the other, Film Independent's Spirit Awards, will be announced Tuesday.

PHOTOS: 21st Gotham Film Awards arrivals

Besides the competitive awards, career achievement awards were given out to actors Charlize Theron and Gary Oldman, director David Cronenberg and co-chair and chief executive of Fox Film Entertainment Tom Rothman.

Last year's top winner, "Winter's Bone," went on to receive four Oscar nominations including for best picture and lead actress (Jennifer Lawrence). The Gotham's 2009 selection, "The Hurt Locker," won the Academy Award for best picture, director and original screenplay.

Related:

"Descendants," "Beginners" among Gotham Independent Film nominations

Gotham Awards give top prize to 'Winter's Bone'

— Susan King

Photo: Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor in "Beginners." Photo credit: Andrew Tepper.


'Like Crazy': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week [video]

November 16, 2011 |  6:00 pm

“Like Crazy” is such a refreshing cut at young love that it’s hard not to go crazy for it.

The tiny indie stars a group of new-generation actors, led by Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin. They beautifully pierce the heart as Anna and Jacob, a couple who connect in college and try to keep their transatlantic relationship alive as her visa expires and she returns home to London and he sets down roots in California.

What makes this love story so charming is the way it marries the new-age and old-fashioned romance. Director Drake Doremus is shaping up to be something of a relationship specialist. “Like Crazy” is the sixth Doremus project on the subject and is a more serious, and sentimental, look than the director has taken before.

Though it’s interesting to see him tackling his favorite themes in more grown-up ways, mostly it’s great watching all the ups and downs that real relationships go through and remembering when falling in love was so easy to do.

RELATED:

Word of Mouth: Paramount makes 'Crazy' bet [video]

Chat transcript with 'Like Crazy' filmmaker Drake Doremus

Young Hollywood: Mel Gibson 'intense human being,' Yelchin says

-- Betsy Sharkey


Word of Mouth: Paramount makes 'Crazy' bet [video]

October 27, 2011 |  4:18 pm

Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones in "Like Crazy." Drake Doremus' low-budget, largely improvised, semi-autobiographical love story "Like Crazy" sparked an intense bidding war at this year's Sundance Film Festival. But the winning bidder was not a specialized film company that typically ends up handling such art-house fare. Rather, Paramount Pictures--the distributor of the "Transformers" and "Iron Man" movies--beat out Fox Searchlight, Focus Features and the Weinstein Co. for "Like Crazy's" worldwide rights.

Having paid (it split the deal with independent producer Indian Paintbrush) some $4 million to acquire "LIke Crazy," Paramount now has to sell the movie to two different audiences. Young moviegoers should relate to the  long-distance love affair between a Los Angeles furniture designer (Anton Yelchin) and London-based journalist (Felicity Jones), while older patrons could be motivated by the film's glowing reviews and film festival credentials.

Times film reporter John Horn, who wrote about Paramount's marketing challenges in this week's Word of Mouth column, talks about the film in this video:

RELATED:

Movie review: 'Like Crazy'

A 'Crazy' little thing called love

Paramount doubling down on 'Like Crazy' promotion

-- John Horn

Photo: Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones in "Like Crazy." Credit: Fred Hayes


Live chat with 'Like Crazy' filmmaker Drake Doremus on Nov. 2

October 26, 2011 | 11:24 am

Drake Doremus
Writer-director Drake Doremus, whose own long-distance relationship was the inspiration for the new feature "Like Crazy," will be joining us for a live online chat at noon on Nov. 2.

After its premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival, the drama about the sometimes troubled love affair between a Los Angeles furniture designer ("Star Trek's" Anton Yelchin) and a London journalist ("The Tempest's" Felicity Jones) sparked a spirited bidding war, with Paramount Pictures and independent producer Indian Paintbrush grabbing the film for some $4 million. The largely improvised film, whose cast includes future "Hunger Games" star Jennifer Lawrence, opens this weekend in Los Angeles and New York to strong  reviews.

The 28-year-old Doremus, whose last feature was the 2010 Sundance selection "Douchebag," recently completed principal photography on his next feature, which also stars Jones. The as-yet untitled movie also stars Guy Pearce, Amy Ryan and Kyle MacLachlan.

To register for the live chat and schedule a reminder, please fill out the form below. And be sure to join us next Wednesday.

RELATED:

The Directors: Drake Doremus, 'Like Crazy'

Love story 'Like Crazy' takes top prize at Sundance

Sundance Film Festival: 'Like Crazy' director Drake Doremus is a romantic

--John Horn

Photo: Drake Doremus, center, directs Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones on the set of "Like Crazy." Credit: Fred Hayes

 


Hammer, Yelchin, Wood and Dunst set for Times roundtable

October 14, 2011 |  6:00 am

Armie Hammer, Kirsten Dunst, Anton Yelchin and Evan Rachel Wood will be on this year's LA Times Young Hollywood roundtable at AFI Fest
They're in some of this fall's most-talked about films and each, in his or her own right, stands among the most buzzworthy actors of their generation: Armie Hammer, Anton Yelchin, Evan Rachel Wood and Kirsten Dunst.

And at this year's AFI Fest, all four will gather to discuss their careers during the Los Angeles Times' second annual Young Hollywood roundtable, moderated by staff writer Amy Kaufman.

During last year's panel -- which featured Oscar nominees Carey Mulligan and Jesse Eisenberg and new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield -- the up-and-comers discussed everything from how to ease red carpet anxiety to the experience of working with veteran filmmakers. 

Many of this year's participants may be able to shed light on the latter topic. Hammer, for one, is starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in the upcoming Clint Eastwood-directed biopic "J. Edgar," which is the opening night film at 2011's AFI Fest. The actor, 25, earned acclaim last year for his portrayal of two characters -- the jilted Winkelvoss twins -- in the Oscar-nominated Facebook flick "The Social Network."

Wood, too, has been directed by some of Hollywood's A-listers. The 24-year-old -- who plays a sultry intern who seduces Ryan Gosling's character in the recent film "The Ides of March" -- was Woody Allen's muse in 2009's "Whatever Works." She also played Mickey Rourke's daughter in "The Wrestler," and has appeared on HBO's popular television series "True Blood."

Dunst, meanwhile, has had her share of top directors as well, from Brian De Palma to Neil Jordan to Michel Gondry. Her most recent film, "Melancholia," has taken some heat after director Lars von Trier made some controversial comments at a Cannes Film Festival press conference that suggested he was a Nazi. The outrage that followed, however, did not overshadow Dunst's performance and she was awarded the festival's best actress prize. Dunst, 29, has been acting since she was a child, and was nominated for a Golden Globe award at age 12 after starring opposite Brad Pitt in "Interview With the Vampire."

Yelchin has recently been turning heads for his performance in the intimate romantic drama "Like Crazy," which was beloved by audiences at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Earlier this year, the Russian-born 22-year-old played Mel Gibson's son in "The Beaver" and starred in a remake of the '80s horror flick "Fright Night."

The roundtable will take place at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, at the Mann Chinese 6 Theater in Hollywood. The evening is in partnership with AFI Fest. Tickets are free, but you must RSVP at the AFI Fest site.

If you have a question for one of the panel participants, submit it in the comments section below or on our Facebook page. We will select some to ask during the roundtable. We will also videotape the conversation, so check back for clips from the event on 24 Frames next month.

RELATED:

Eastwood's 'J. Edgar,' starring DiCaprio, to open AFI Fest

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L.A. Times Young Hollywood Roundtable: Jesse Eisenberg gets feedback

--Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo, from left: Armie Hammer (Getty Images), Anton Yelchin (Associated Press), Evan Rachel Wood (Associated Press) and Kirsten Dunst (Getty Images).


'Like Crazy' team will get 'Through to You'

March 21, 2011 |  1:19 pm

Craz

EXCLUSIVE: Perhaps no filmmaking team was hotter at Sundance this year than Drake Doremus, Jonathan Schwartz and Ben York Jones, the group behind the multiple-award winner "Like Crazy." Now the trio will collaborate on a new film, reuniting with "Like Crazy" distributor Paramount Pictures.

According to a person who was briefed on the project but not authorized to speak about it publicly, the studio and "Up In the Air" producer Montecito Picture Co. have acquired rights to the novel "Through to You," a youth-themed science fiction romance. The plan is for Doremus to direct, Jones to write and Schwartz to produce (those deals are still being negotiated). A Paramount representative was not immediately available for comment.

Emily Hainsworth's young-adult novel, set to come out from HarperCollins in 2012, centers on a grieving teen who discovers a parallel world in which his girlfriend is still alive. (On its face the project has some similarities to another Sundance hit, "Another Earth," which also deals with tragedy and alternate universes.)

The Doremus-Schwartz-Jones triumvirate proved that it can make an affecting love story with "Crazy." That movie, which Paramount will release later this year, is a long-distance romance starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones that won rave reviews, as well as Sundance's grand jury prize and a special jury prize for Jones. Now the filmmakers will look to bring the romance with a genre twist.

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones in "Like Crazy." Credit: Paramount Pictures


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