Thursday, January 31, 2013

Guest post: 'Clive' review by Jared Elber

Let me begin by saying I have never seen or read anything about the play Baal that Clive was based off of.  I went to the show with little expectations other than the fact that I love Ethan and Vincent and that there was no way I would miss the two of them on stage together.  Entering the Acorn Theatre I quickly realized that three people I were with and I were the youngest people there by ten years at the least.  That being said we all loved it.  I noticed that the majority of the time that we were laughing and enjoying the “new school” music references and jokes, that we were generally the only people in the theatre laughing.  After reading several reviews of people saying how disappointed they were after seeing this play, I decided to write this review to show my support for the show.  Maybe it was the little that I knew about the original play, or the fact that we were much younger than everyone else there, but I absolutely loved it and could not stop laughing the entire time.  I found some of the characters confusing at first because of the small cast playing different characters; however I was quickly able to follow and understand what was going on.  I plan on seeing Clive again in the last week that it is open and am anxious to see how much it changes since the preview show that I attended.   The talk back that the cast did after the show was also a great way to ask questions and hear more about how the show came to be.  On an additional note, meeting Vincent, Ethan and the rest of the cast after the show was great and they were nothing short of amazing on and off the stage.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

'Jonathan Marc Sherman on the Inspiration For Clive & His 20-Year Collaboration With Ethan Hawke'


Jonathan Marc Sherman on the Inspiration For Clive & His 20-Year Collaboration With Ethan Hawke
Jonathan Marc Sherman
This is the third play of mine that Ethan has acted in, and the third play of mine he's directed, but it's the first time he has worn both of those hats together.
About the author:
Playwright Jonathan Marc Sherman first teamed up with his friend Ethan Hawke in 1991 to create New York City's innovative Malaparte Theater Company. Hawke and Sherman became artistic collaborators—Hawke starred in Sherman’s short play Sons and Fathers, then directed his full-length dramedyVeins and Thumbtacks. After reuniting on Sherman’s well-received Things We Want in 2007, the duo has returned to off-Broadway's New Group to debutClive—a play (with music) written by Sherman, directed by Hawke, and starring them both, together with Vincent D'Onofrio and Zoe Kazan. Below, Sherman shares his inspiration for the new project, and how his latest collaboration with Hawke is like "doing it without a net."

It started because Sir Tom Stoppard saw Ethan Hawke play Autolycus in The Winter's Tale in 2009, and mentioned to him that he should play the title role in Brecht's Baal. Ethan asked me if I had read the play. I said I might have read it while stoned at college.

Ethan thought adapting the play might give me a chance to write about a darker period in my life. I've been clean and sober for 11 years, eight months, and counting. I titled the play Clive to free myself up, and because I like the sound of the word, and because I got my Equity card at age 14 when I played The Artful Dodger inOliver! in the summer of 1983 in Pittsburgh, and Fagin was played by Clive Revill. There was another, more personal reason, for my choice. Before I cleaned up my act, I had a name for my wasted persona, and that name was Clive. It came into existence after a friend of mine, whose boozy nickname was “Grabby the Clown,” turned to me one night and pointed out that I got loaded just as much (indeed, far more) than he did, yet I had no boozy nickname. So I became “Clive.”

Brecht wrote the first version of Baal, when he was 20 years old and still a college student, in response to the play Der Einsame by Hanns Johst, which glorified the life of 19th century German playwright Christian Dietrich Grabbe. Clive is less concerned with the glorification of 19th century German playwrights or poets, and more concerned with the glorification of 20th and 21st century artists, particularly those who become more legendary in death than they were in life.

When I turned 20, I was in the first term of my junior year at Bennington College and the first production of my first full-length play [Women and Wallace] had just closed two days earlier in Playwrights Horizons' old pre-renovation building (a former strip club) on 42nd Street between Ninth Avenue and Dyer Avenue. It's a quarter of a century since then, and now I'm in previews with a play on the same side of the same street on the same block.

There's a beautiful library at Bennington, but I don't remember reading Baal there. I do remember reading Wallace Shawn's terrifying play Aunt Dan and Lemon there, and also one of the wonderful accompanying essays in particular, "Notes in Justification of Putting the Audience Through a Difficult Evening", which has been on my mind lately. It ends with this line:

“What's important, of course, from the world's point of view, is not what's in our heads, but that our behavior should change—our behavior and the attitudes which underlie it—but how can we start to change our attitudes or our behavior if we haven't first thought about why we must change and in what direction?”

A couple of other quotes gave me guidance during the writing ofClive. One was from Stoppard, whose comment to Ethan began this whole experiment in the first place. In his Paris Review interview, he says about adaptations that "you're not doing an author a favor if the adaptation is not vibrant.” Another quote was Brecht's himself, via Eric Bentley: “Anyone can be creative, it's rewriting other people that's a challenge.” I certainly found it challenging, and for that reason all the more thrilling.

I tried to find one example of a way people mistreated each other in the original play that had been eradicated in the intervening decades, and told myself that if I could, I was off the hook and free to write something else (perhaps a light comedy). People are, alas, still abusing substances and other people in all the same old ways, it seems, and in some new and awful ways as well. So here I find myself, putting the audience through a bit of a difficult evening.

This is the third play of mine that Ethan has acted in, and the third play of mine he's directed, but it's the first time he has worn both of those hats together. We've acted together in four plays before, as well, but I only wrote one of those. Having the director onstage and the writer onstage was part of the point, to do it “without a net,” which has made the process of working on the play unique and exciting and dangerous for the whole company (and hopefully, now, for the audience). So if you're on the block and in the mood, I invite you to come check out our experiment.

'JENNIFER LYNCH Interview – Writer and Director of CHAINED'

JANUARY 29, 2013 BY 

chained dvd 212x300 JENNIFER LYNCH Interview   Writer and Director of CHAINEDChained is the latest feature from American writer-directorJennifer Lynch, daughter of David Lynch. It’s a psychological horror, about a man called Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio) who – having suffered years of abuse as a child – has become a predatory killer of women under the guise of a taxi-cab driver. Bob crosses paths with a young boy called Tim (Evan Bird) who gets in the taxi-cab with his mother (Julia Ormond) after a trip to the cinema. Bob takes them to his isolated home in the middle of nowhere, before overpowering and killing the mother with Tim listening to her final screams.
Rather than killing the witness, the perverse Bob sees an opportunity and keeps the boy alive – he renames Tim ‘Rabbit’ and chains him to the wall. He is now Bob’s domestic slave to clean-up after him when night after night he kidnaps and then slaughters women. Bob tells him ‘This is your world now. It’s only you, me and them’ and for Rabbit that’s true for ten long years. Now a young man, Rabbit (Eamon Farren) is being groomed to become Bob’s protégé. So he may have to become what he hates to finally get released from his chains.
I was lucky enough to chat to Jennifer about her new film, as well as her future projects, her approach to writing and directing, and of course her famous father. She was an engaging interviewee, with an infectious laugh and a clear passion for film that oozes from every pore. The following interview provides an excellent insight into film-making from an accomplished writer-director who is carving a name for herself in her own right.
Filmoria: Your latest film Chained is being released in the UK on 4 February 2013, so what can you tell our readers about the film?
Jennifer: What can I tell your readers… that they should buy it (laughs) No, for me Chainedwas an exercise in looking at how the human monster is made – real monsters. And hopefully, I think humanises monsters, because I want to bring to the surface that child abuse is what builds those horrible people.  In no way do I mean to justify or excuse the horrible behaviour because there is no excuse for it, but there is an explanation.
And so, in looking at the cycle of nurture versus nature, maybe there’s a kind of a fascination of why one man grew up one way and the boy grows up another. And what happens to you when you receive that kind of damage.
…for me Chained was an exercise in looking at how the human monster is made – real monsters.
chained still 300x200 JENNIFER LYNCH Interview   Writer and Director of CHAINEDFilmoria:  Although you wrote the screenplay, the actual story is based on a screenplay by Damian O’Donnell. So how much of the script did you change and what elements did you keep?
Jennifer: The producers came to me with a script that was incredibly well written, but that I felt was a bit too gratuitous or – for lack of a better word – more torture-porn than psychological horror. And that doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means that it wasn’t a film for me.
But when they asked: “What would you do with it?” – I said I wanted to focus on the relationship between our taxi-cab driver and the boy, and that ten year relationship that they go through. I removed the detectives searching for the killer and I removed the killings that didn’t tell me anything about my killer.
Filmoria:  It’s quite a subtle film I thought when I was watching it, even though it’s got this big, brazen ‘Chained’ title. Like you said, the torture-porn elements have been removed and you’ve very much gone for the less is more approach like Jaws.
Jennifer: And you should know too that the original script was called ‘Chained’, and when I re-wrote it I called it ‘Rabbit’ and when I shot it, it was called ‘Rabbit’. But apparently the powers that be said they didn’t know how to sell a film called ‘Rabbit’. I think that ‘Chained’ is misleading as a title because it suggests more of Saw or a Hostel and that’s not what this movie is. So I’m grateful to hear that hopefully people are seeing it, even though the title suggests something it isn’t.
Filmoria: Exactly, and the scene at the start of the movie where young Tim/Rabbit is locked in the taxi-cab and can hear his mother being killed signifies that approach. And personally, that’s one of the most horrifying things I’ve seen in cinema and you don’t see a drop of blood.
Jennifer: I’m so glad you think so. To me, there is so much more terror in not seeing something and seeing just the reaction of what Tim is feeling when he hears his mother screaming. Because what the audience can create as far as what’s going on behind that door is far more devastating than anything I could show them. And hopefully that bonds the audience to the boy and stays with them through the movie.
Filmoria:  Have you got any flak from the taxi-driver unions in America for the film?
Jennifer: I have not (laughs) not yet. Don’t give ‘em any ideas (laughs)
Filmoria: I haven’t got in a cab since to be honest.
 JENNIFER LYNCH Interview   Writer and Director of CHAINEDJennifer: Yeah, suddenly more people are walking and asking friends for rides (laughs). But what really thrilled me about the idea of him being a taxi driver was that he is what we think as a “normal guy”. He can go anywhere and you get into his car without thinking twice. Just the idea of something you’re not thinking as a dangerous situation, could be incredibly dangerous. And because Bob doesn’t kill everybody he drives around it’s all the more frightening.
Filmoria: And when you were writing the script was Vincent in your mind from the word go?
Jennifer: I knew by the end of it that’s who I wanted, but I wasn’t writing with him in mind necessarily. Without sounding too creepy, the way I tend to write is that every character comes from me because I’m thinking of what I would do if I were them. And then I separate myself from them and think who could do this? The second it was done he was on my mind.
Filmoria: It’s a great fit as well, and I think he’s fantastic in it.
Jennifer: Thank you. I think he’s incredibly wonderful, and he was so brave and generous. And not many people would have trusted me like Vincent did – so I’m deeply honoured and tickled that he did.
…the way I tend to write is that every character comes from me because I’m thinking of what I would do if I were them
Filmoria: In terms of developing the character of Bob, with his emotions and mannerisms – was that collaborative or did Vincent bring all that to the table?
Jennifer: I’d say it’s collaborative. The first thing Vincent said was “Do you need me to lose weight?” and I said don’t you dare! I said what’s really important is that Bob is not stupid, Bob has been hit in the head a lot so he’s like a seasoned boxer. So his words are heavy in his mouth, he has to really concentrate or everything gets slurred. His body is really heavy on his bones. And he’s as much the angry man as he is the frightened confused child – the boy he was when all that abuse was going on.
So, I said stay that weight but know that everything is heavy on you. And Vincent developed the speech impediment. Our budget was very low, and Vincent had his own dentist make him up a mouthpiece so he really had to work hard at annunciating words.  Then I just let Vincent go – once I had told him what I felt was going on there to remind him that the boy is still in there, and the body is heavy on him. And I didn’t want him to think that Bob is stupid, because Bob is not stupid he’s scared. And that’s often confused with ignorance and stupidity.
Filmoria: The role of Bob was quite demanding, but so was the role of Rabbit – played by two actors Eamon Farren (as the older Rabbit) and Evan Bird (as the younger Rabbit). How did you cast them? And did they shadow each other to develop the character of Rabbit?
Jennifer: Believe it or not, I hired them both over the phone and Skype. And I knew after speaking to them both that they were the right people, and that was after quite an extensive search. Eamon has probably one of the strongest Australian accents I’ve ever heard, and you would never know it in his performance. And Evan – you still protect him because he’s a child – but he is just a wise little man.
What I had was Eamon arrive for the entirety of the shoot and watch Evan’s performance, so he could adopt some of mannerisms that I was giving Evan or that Evan innately had in himself. And I think that was really beneficial, I think it made Evan feel good to have Eamon there and I think it was incredibly helpful to Eamon to see what he was supposed to look like as a boy – and to figure how to change that and how maintain some of it. I think both of them did a phenomenal job, and both of them expressed to me that it was a great comfort and help to have each other there – so I think it was the right choice.
Filmoria:  So you didn’t opt for rehearsals, you shot chronologically instead?
Jennifer: Yeah, it’s not a very popular opinion but my opinion is that rehearsals are B.S. I think the first time something’s done should be on camera, but there should be a dialogue about it first. Conversation is incredibly helpful to me, it’s more helpful to me than rehearsal. Blocking is important – absolutely – the actor’s familiarity and sense of safety with who they are, what’s expected and what they want to bring to things. But to run through it over and over, and over again with full emotion is totally useless to me and I think damaging.  To have say to an actor ever “Can you do what you did in rehearsal?” is devastating, and I never want to do that to someone. So running lines – yes, but you don’t run lines with full emotion. You block, you run lines and you discuss – then you turn that camera on and do the scene.
Filmoria: You pinpointed a key part of the film – it’s wrought with tension and emotion. And I’ve heard you say you shot it in 15 days, so how challenging was it get the right levels of tension and emotion when you’ve got such a short timescale?
chained poster 222x300 JENNIFER LYNCH Interview   Writer and Director of CHAINEDJennifer: You’d be surprised (laughs). It was not difficult to reach those levels, the pressure almost helped the tension. And also – not to make us all sound like horrible people but to remind ourselves that we were human beings – there was a tremendous amount of laughter in between takes and joy on the set. Not laughter at the subject matter, but almost as a way to preserve our sanity and not to become overly exhausted with the schedule and the weight of the material.  That in fact helped them go back into it each time with an equal amount of tension.
And you know, I gotta say that I adore digital for many reasons but the one that’s really most precious to me is that I don’t have to worry about running out of my mag. I can just say “Okay still rolling, stay in the moment, let’s go again” with this in mind, and the actors don’t have to leave their space, they don’t need to get up and shuffle around – we can stay in the moment and nobody’s worried about running out of film. And that’s an incredibly potent gift that film does not allow.
Film is film, this is digital. And I adore them both for very different reasons. I’ve found digital to be very helpful in terms of honouring what the actors are doing. And being able to keep them in a space that I see is working and make just subtle adjustments. And respecting what they’re doing – it looks like actors have clothes on, but they’re really quite emotionally naked. It’s nice to keep them in a safe space and not snap them in and out of stuff.
To have say to an actor ever “Can you do what you did in rehearsal?” is devastating, and I never want to do that to someone.
Filmoria: And I guess you’ve taken that approach into your next film, which is called A Fall from Grace and it’s another serial killer film. So what can you tell us about that it?
Jennifer: I guess the best way to describe it is that it is about the human wound and wreckage, and the reality of that. Tim Roth plays the lead, and he is a homicide detective who has been wounded and has become addicted to drugs and alcohol due the pain he has – physically and emotionally – for not solving a particular case. We go with him through the city of St Louis, trying to unfold both his own demons and the demon that is killing young girls.
Filmoria: And Vincent D’Onofrio makes an appearance in this film as well. So who does he play?
Jennifer: Vincent plays a next door neighbour to Tim Roth called George, who is a working class man whose son has been killed. He is completely devastated by it.
Filmoria: Just going back to Chained briefly, it had its UK premiere at last summer’s Frightfest in London and you attended the festival. How do you think it went down with UK audiences?
Jennifer: It seemed to be great you know, but the only people who came up to me were the people who loved it thankfully. So if anyone hated it, they didn’t tell me (laughs). I think it went great, I sleep a lot better at night thinking it went that way. It was an incredibly powerful experience. It was in one of the most beautiful theatres (the Empire Leicester Square) that I’ve ever seen – it was quite a thrill to be sitting in a theatre that large, and hearing people react and experience it. I think it went well, do you know something I don’t? (laughs)
Filmoria: I was actually at one of the screenings and it was my favourite film of the festival, and I think one of the Frightfest organisers said it was his too. So I think it went down pretty well.
And sorry to throw a quote back at you, but in the Q&A session at Frightfest you said “I’ve a fondness for serial killers, I’ve a fondness for Mother Teresa – I like to figure out why people do what they do, good and bad” So is the film after A Fall from Grace going to be the Mother Teresa biopic?
Jennifer: (Laughs) Yeah, after that it’s the Mother Teresa biopic ‘Why would you do such good things?’ (laughs). I am fascinated by human behaviour. I have not figured out myself or other people, and that is a great source of material for cinema (laughs).
Filmoria: In terms of future projects, are you looking to do something a little bit lighter?
Jennifer: After A Fall From Grace, I’m scheduled to do a really great film which is a horror-comedy called The Monster Next Door written by Jim Robbins. It’s hysterical, it’s sexy, it’s fun and it’s got vampires, werewolves, zombies and nerds in it. I’m super, super excited about it.
Filmoria: I’m sure you’re probably sick of getting questions asked about your dad in interviews, so apologies for that, but have you guys ever talked about collaborating again? With you writing and him directing, or co-writing/co-directing – is that in the Lynch family plan?
Jennifer: You know I don’t know. For a while we were talking about making a Diane Arbus (a famous twentieth century American photographer) film together, because we both love that Diane Arbus. But when we talk it’s about other stuff, more than just the work. But you never know what’s gonna happen in the future, and he’s about to make a film that’s gonna blow the world’s mind. So for now we’re both doing our own things and patting each other on the back.

'Interview: Jennifer Lynch On Chained And Her Star Vincent D’Onofrio'

DIY One of the more interesting interviews we took part in during last year's FrightFest was with Jennifer Lynch, and ahead of the release of Chained on 1st February (on DVD and Blu-ray 4th February), we can now share it with you.

The daughter of David Lynch made her film debut in 1993 with the controversial Boxing Helena, and after the hysterical, scathing attacks on the twisted drama about obession, Lynch left the public eye. She returned in 2008 with Surveillance, which earned Lynch awards at Festival de Cine de Sitges and the New York City Horror Film Festival. 2010's Hisss appears to be a blip on Lynch's career, as she is back with her most accomplished work yet with Chained.

Chained stars Vincent D'Onofrio as a taxi driver and serial killer who keeps the young son of one of his victims imprisoned in his remote home for a decade. Nicknamed Rabbit, the child grows into a young man (Eamon Farren), and Lynch's fascinating, intelligent and disturbing drama examines the effects of this warped upbringing on a boy, while featuring a terrifying performance from D'Onofrio.

The remarkably candid and friendly Lynch joined us for an intimate round table chat last summer, where she spoke honestly about her struggles as a filmmaker ("I live paycheck to paycheck and there are many dry spells - I apply for a lot of waitressing jobs and I clean a lot of houses") and the gap between her debut and follow-up (I had three spinal surgeries, I had my daughter and I was a single mother, so I devoted my time to my child and getting better physically). Thankfully, Lynch appears to be on a roll after the critical success of Chained, and you can learn about her new projects below.

How did Chained come about?
The film came about as I was really in need of a job, and two producers Lee Nelson and David Buelow who had a script called Chained, which they sent to me as they were looking for a director. I read the script and really loved the idea of this kind of killer, a taxi cab driver - he's not your masked guy in the woods, he's out there in the world. It could happen to any of us. The storyline is essentially what you see, he picks up a mother and son, kills the mother and keeps the boy for a decade, and there was the twist ending. But it was incredibly graphic and there were detectives following him, and Bob's name was the Dicer, and he would removed pieces of these women and torture them slowly. That didn't grab me by the short and curlies and turn me on. I first asked the producers why they thought of me for something like this, and I guess the general consensus is that I'm a very dark, violent person! [laughs] I don't think of myself in that way; I'm curious and I'd love to end up studying that. I'm not afraid to go dark, I like it. But it came to me that way, and I asked them if I could keep their premise, as that's what they'd paid for, but make it more about how this monster was created and the interaction between him and the boy. They were all for it. 

A snapshot of horror from FrightFest shows a borderline misogynistic trend. Was the lack of exploitation in your otherwise disturbing film a conscious one?
I would say definitely misogynistic! It was how I wanted the vision to come across. There was consciousness to it but not in the sense of I'm not going to be exploitative, it's just that that's not what scares me. What gets me is knowing the people, and for an hour and a half living someone else's experience. That's what cinema is to me, that invitation to be in someone's world. I don't get excited when I don't know the girl screaming and getting stabbed. These women, I wanted to see them so briefly, so it was more about what he did, than about torture. It's not necessary to me, and it doesn't tell a story. There are people who want to do it, and are very good at it, and there's a large audience for it. I just don't think killing people is interesting. 

How hard was it to balance the sympathy with Bob [D'Onofrio]?
I don't know if hard was the word, but I made a conscious choice to try and offer up an explanation of what had happened to be him. But just enough so we didn't say, oh poor Bob. Just so we understood that this guy was not born a bad man, and that there was a humanity to him. Because that to me is, for want of a better word, touching and interesting as well as more terrifying. Because if the guy who is going to kill me is very much like me, I'm just shocked. How can I negotiate with him? You can't negotiate with him. Bob just wants to kill you, as that's what he does, that's how he feels better. I don't want to justify what he does at all, but explaining it brings a whole other element to it that is more terrifying and touching.

What is it like working with Vincent D'Onofrio?
Vincent is a fucking genius. This is such a cornball answer, but he's so great. He's generous and trusting of me. He's brave - I've always said the bravest thing I can do, or anyone else can do, is say "I'm afraid" but keep going. It's the chickenshit that says "I'm not afraid" and doesn't want to do anything. The bravery he exhibited in taking these chances and not being big - there's only that one moment when he's like [rages] gets big, and that's a childlike thing, as he's always that kid. He's so good to the other actors, and willing to risk his own embarrassment to tell this man's story, and I have so much respect for him, and a deep gratitude to him and everyone who was in the film for playing it as quiet as he did. He really is one of the most underrated actors in TV and cinema. There's nothing that guy can't do, and I hope people see this. That's my only sadness with the performance is that as we're not getting theatrical in the US, the Academy won't recognise his performance. The more people who see it, I hope he is honoured somehow, even if it is just by word of mouth. There aren't a lot of people who would've trusted me in this situation, and there were a couple of times I asked him to do something that occurred to me while shooting, and he'd nod and say he'd do it once. Fortunately there was a camera there, so I got to capture it. 

Did you have him in mind while writing?
Not when I was writing it, but the moment it was finished. I really had him in mind. He can be so small in this big body, and so big in a way that isn't the traditional big. There was a little bit of a flavour of Lenny in Of Mice and Men, where he doesn't know his own strength maybe, and I love that. Bob is always this kid who tries to relate by talking about puzzles. It's really about how we are forever these children in adult bodies.

Can you talk about casting relative newcomer Eamon Farren as the older Rabbit?
I was looking for an innocence, yet a strength we could all relate to. Again, there's nothing more powerful than something whispered, because it can be so loud. And Rabbit is a whisper, but he's stronger than we expect. I had heard about him from the casting agent, and I was having a really hard time finding somebody. There were your good-looking young guys, and your awkward young guys, but nobody really had that. Rabbit's not a normal kid. She said there's this Australian guy I really think you'll like; he's done very few things but he's got a great face. He sent an audition from Australia and I got about a minute and a half into the audition and said I gotta get on the phone with him. Basically hired him after talking to him, as I knew he got it. I love his face. He looks very similar to Evan [Bird, the young Rabbit], who was cast after Eamon, also over Skype. Eamonn is such a big personality, and he's jovial and happy and hella Australian! That man's got an accent you can't believe and he can drop it in a heartbeat. I hope people interview him a lot, as people will be astonished how different he is from Rabbit. It's testament to what a great actor he is.

You've spoken about wanting a director's cut - what did you have to lose?
There are three small scenes that are really important to me that I want to put in the centre of the film, in the main bulk of the experience in the house. Then there's a two minute section where it's not revealed in voiceover so much, but in visuals, of the end. Those are important to me, but I needed to make it work without doing that. I can't stand voiceover. It's a visual medium, show don't tell me. Again, I lost that battle. I lost the battle for the title, certain scenes. A scene I really want in the director's cut, is after we reveal from behind the TV that Rabbit is older now, that shot doesn't end there. It continues over and there's a bound woman sitting next to Vincent on the chair, just like his mother was in the flashback, and she's whimpering. Both Rabbit and Bob go "shush!" and go back to watching TV. That to me, is the example of how long he's been there, and now this is normal. He's a kid trying to watch his TV show. Everybody felt this was Rabbit being too complicit. But to me it's a perfect example of how normal his life is. Little things that tell us what damage is done stays. 

Do you have a favourite scene in the film?
I'd love to show the whole card game, which goes on for a round each. I love Bob's nightmare and his flashback, and I love Vincent saying "Are you trying to make me fucking insane?" because it's just so ridiculous he's asking the kid this! I like Rabbit doing the silent scream at him, like it's the only thing he can do to this guy. I've seen kids to that to dogs, too, to see what they can get away with when the dog wasn't looking. 

Can you tell us about the design of Bob's house, as it's the main location throughout the film?
There was a production designer also on Surveillance called Sarah McCudden who I just think is incredible. For five bucks, Sarah can give you the Taj Mahal. We only shot over 15 days and we had very little money, and I walked on to the sound stage when another film was finishing, and I could save lumber costs if they didn't tear it down and I just bought the wood from them. I tried to make it look like some old couple's home, as I didn't want to know how Bob got this house, I just wanted it to look like it had been there a while and it was a home. Choosing practical lights and trying to keep it disgustingly warm and cosy in there. It was the genius idea of the cinematographer to put a coat of varnish on the wallpaper in the living room, which really gives the light a strange kick when Bob's sitting there. 

Can you tell us about the closing credits of the film? SPOILERS
That was weird. I had 11 minutes left in the final mix and they wanted to put a song over it, but there was no right song. You just don't want a Journey song over it, a bit of Etta James. SPOILERS I just wanted the idea of what it sounds like when Rabbit gets back to that house, as it's the only place he has to live, and it's what he knows as home. So I took all of the sounds of Bob and he moving around the house and played them over the credits, so there's the acknowledgment of him doing what he's done, but there's enough for the audience to think what next? There is the sound of Angie breathing, as I think she's just fine. The only thing that bothers me is that the sound of him bathing sounds like him pissing, but I figured he's got to piss. END OF SPOILERS

What's your next project?
It is called A Fall From Grace, again I'm examining damaged children. It stars Tim Roth as a detective. He is for several different reasons fairly damaged himself, and is an alcoholic and drug addict and is trying to solve a series of cases while also dealing with an underground ring of paedophiles. So it's a romantic comedy. It's a lot like The Bourne Identity and Bridget Jones' Diary [laughs]. 

Would you want to tackle another genre?
I've been directing a lot of comedy TV, I love comedy and in fact there's a film I want to do after A Fall From Grace called The Monster Next Door. It's a vampire, zombie, werewolf nerd comedy. It's a great script from Jim Robbins, and it's an opportunity to still play around with effects and gore, but also laugh really loud. Hopefully it's Superbad meets American Werewolf in London [laughs]. I love love stories, I'm a human being. I just haven't been presented with that opportunity. I'm more drawn towards things I don't experience every day, and that's why the darkness appeals to me. I have a very bright and shiny life for the most part! 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Photos: 'Clive' play with Vincent D'Onofrio


Observations on Clive

by Chris Metzner Carr on Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 2:24pm ·
I started writing a rather formal review of Clive but that was no fun.  The fact is I'm not a critic, and although educated, not a sophisticated theater goer, so my opinion on the artistic merits would be, well, not worth much.  So rather than a review, here are some observations from a Vincent D'onofrio fan after watching three consecutive performances of Clive this weekend.

The music was great, and I wish there were more of it.  I don't know if the song sung by Ethan Hawke with decreasing clarity throughout the show is an original work or not, but if it's available on iTunes, I'd like to know.  The number of times I've heard a new song and sought it out on iTunes?  None.  My iPod is full of 70s and 80s stuff.  It must have been good.

It accomplished what it set out to do. You don't go into an Indian restaurant and expect steak and baked potatoes on the menu.  This isn't mainstream theater and it doesn't pretend to be.  It is an intensely dark (although surprisingly funny in places) tale of what happens when the main character, Clive,  leads a life so carnal, so destructive, that one by one those who bought into his self-proclaimed awesomeness end up hurt or dead.  Including Clive himself.  The play tells that tale with great effectiveness.

The cast was stellar, from top to bottom, and they worked together so well.  I know I'm biased but I thought Vincent D'onofrio  ("Doc") and Ethan Hawke played off each other wonderfully.  The scenes which featured Clive and Doc were the most powerful because they were the most authentic.  Hats off to both of them.

Vincent D'onofrio knows how to use his size on stage with great effect.  His character is supposed to be larger than life and Vincent knows his size can help bring that across so every movement, every step, every facial expression, seems huge.  His was a commanding presence.

You will get much more out of this play if you see it more than once.  There are many things going on and just like any good movie, you are likely to miss some good stuff if you only give it one shot.  Seeing the play 3 times in a row was a luxury most people don't have, but it added so much to my appreciation of the play.  (How could I have NOT noticed there were live fish swimming around in a clear bucket of water in the last scene the first two times I saw it?  They were live fish for crying out loud!)  And the music grew on me too after hearing it a few times.  I hadn't planned to see the play that way, but I'm glad I did.

Audiences are like juries.  We assume they understand what they are seeing and hearing when to a surprising degree they don't, which is pretty scary.  Here are a few examples of what I'm talking about:

Woman behind me:  I don't like the set.
Husband:  Why not?
Woman:  It doesn't match.  The walls look grungy and dark and have beer cans in them, but the things hanging from the ceiling look too nice...too luxurious. 

(NOTE:  the "things hanging from the ceiling" were pieces of beer cans sliced up.  I guess we all have different ideas about luxurious means)

Different woman behind me:  I know it's based on a play by Brecht but I hope that's not true.  I hate Brecht. 

(I'm sure they just advertised the play that way to bring in all the diehard Brecht fans out there...a bait and switch kind of thing.  And you came to this play why exactly?)

Woman to her husband on the way out:  That Doc guy was so evil...what an awful person!

(Doc was probably the only character in the whole play with any redeeming qualities which her husband patiently pointed out)

And, my personal favorite:

Woman to her friend on the way out:  Too bad they had to get an understudy for Vincent Onofrio.

(Not only did she not know what he looked like, she couldn't pronounce his name.  I almost got violent with this one.)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: 'Clive'

Having enjoyed The New Group's production of Jonathan Marc Sherman's play "Things We Want" directed by Ethan Hawke about five years ago, I was looking forward to seeing "Clive," Sherman's adaptation of Brecht's "Baal" directed by and starring Hawke. To say I was disappointed would be a gross understatement. Although it's only January, this is my nomination for worst play of the year -- any year. It's an incoherent, indulgent, boring mess! About the only good thing I can say about it is that I enjoyed seeing Vincent D'Onofrio onstage again. Other cast members include Brooks Ashmanskas, Stephanie Janssen, Mahira Kakkar, Zoe Kazan, Aaron Krohn, Dana Lyn and the playwright. Derek McLane's high-concept set included seven doors that double as musical instruments. Catherine Zuber's costumes are clever, which is more than I can say about the play. I would rather undergo root canal surgery than sit through this play again. Running time: one hour, 40 minutes without intermission.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Another review for 'Clive'


Clive by Jonathan Marc Sherman, based on Bertolt Brecht's Baal, directed by Ethan Hawke, The New Group

What a disappointment!  I went to Clive because of two actors, Ethan Hawke, who was outstanding recently in Ivanov at Classic Stage, and Vincent D’Onofrio whose superb acting I watch with fascination on “Law and Order CI” and was excited at the chance to see him on stage.  The upshot:  Hawke gives a stellar, energetic, balletic performance in a play that goes nowhere and has no reason for being, and D’Onofrio’s great gifts are beside the point in the role he plays.     
Clive is a talented, successful but self-defeating singer-musician-songwriter whom women flock to and whom he treats badly, one after the other after the other.  That’s pretty much the play.  The four women, all sexually used and rejected in various brutal ways, are hard to tell apart except for one, Clive’s friend’s girl, who stands out because she starts off as virginal and wearing little girl white knee socks  -- virginal for the friend, that is, but not for Clive, who attracts her with his irresistible sexual pull and drives her to death. 
Eventually Clive, having killed his bearishly good natured friend Doc, flees to Canada where he dies dissolutely and decidedly unloved.  This is not a development, because Clive is a dissolute narcissist from start to finish -- he doesn’t change.  That’s the main reason why we don’t need this play.  Hawke is magnetic but he needs a decent vehicle.
D’Onofrio’s greatness lies in his subtlety that lets you know what's going on inside his head -- there are small changes in his face and body language that signal large outward and inward events.  Even when he lets loose emotionally, he illuminates the character, now and through his history.  Here, as Doc, he plays a big guy who mainly squeezes out animal growls and snarls like someone trying not so playfully to scare a child.   (Why, Mr. D’Onofrio, would you ever take this part?) 
The set, by Derek McLane, is stunning -- a beautiful abstraction made of the differently textured bottoms of whiskey bottles and beer cans, with an allover heavenly tone of silvery blue.  Open to view when one enters, it makes one all but certain there's a wonderful evening of theater ahead.  There isn't.  Clive's a parcel of wasted talent. 
Clive plays at Theatre Row, The Acorn Theatre, on West 42nd Street in Manhattan through March 9.  For more information and tickets, click on live link of title.
Yvonne Korshak

'Vincent D’Onofrio gets back on the New York stage'


Thanks to pal Ethan Hawke, the TV gumshoe appears Off Broadway in Clive.

Photograph: Serge Nivelle

An unhinged soldier who kills his sergeant and himself in Full Metal Jacket. The human host for an alien bug in Men in Black. A modern-day Sherlock Holmes in Law & Order: Criminal Intent. With such diverse film and TV roles on his résumé, it’s no wonder Vincent D’Onofrio is known as an actor’s actor, a compliment he said “doesn’t mean anything” in the 2012 viral video “Hollywood D’os and D’on’ts.” But whether he accepts it or not, the chameleon-like performer is highly regarded by his peers. In fact, it was friend and frequent collaborator Ethan Hawke who brought D’Onofrio back to the NYC stage, after a 17-year hiatus, for Jonathan Marc Sherman’s Clive at the New Group. Inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s first full-length play, Baal, the expressionistic drama chronicles the drug-, sex- and alcohol-fueled demise of a licentious songwriter and his loyal pal. Hawke directs and plays the titular libertine, while D’Onofrio, ever the character actor, is his big, bald BFF. We spoke with the star about why he rarely does theater, whether he’ll reprise his signature L&O role and building sand castles. 

Unlike most Hollywood actors, you live here, in your hometown. And yet you haven’t been on stage since the ’90s. Why?

Vincent D'Onofrio: I just love films so much. Other than that, I have no idea why. I love going to the theater. But I wouldn’t be doing Clive right now if Ethan hadn’t asked me. He had tried to get me involved in stuff before, like I was supposed to do A Lie of the Mind [at the New Group in 2010], but then I couldn’t. I’ve just been blown away by everybody’s work on Clive and I’m having an absolute blast. 

Does that mean we’ll be seeing more of you on stage?
Vincent D'Onofrio: I don’t know. I’m not going to do Tennessee Williams or Chekhov or some normal classic. That’s not me. There are so many great theater actors, and I don’t pretend to be one. Maybe you’ll see me do Lear one day when I get older. That would be nice. But theater is hard work! The movie business is a vacation compared to this. And nobody ever asks me to do theater except for Ethan. Maybe if they start asking I’d consider it more. 

While there are darkly funny moments, Clive is super emotional and quite violent.
Vincent D'Onofrio: It’s intense. Clive and my character, Doc, go on this kind of narcissistic trip together. All of the violence in the play is driven by emotion. Some of it seems very American theater, like Sam Shepard or even Odets. But other parts seem like a song, even though they’re not being sung. 

Although you rarely play romantic leads, you have quite the female fan following. How do you feel about that?
Vincent D'Onofrio: Gregory Hines was a very good friend of mine. Years ago, we were walking down Madison Avenue and he had to stop a million times to sign autographs, and I said, “Wow, man, how do you deal with all that?” And he said, “If you do a lot of film and TV work, people don’t get a chance to applaud, and that’s all they’re really doing.” If you think of it in those terms, you feel much more gracious. I’m just happy that people like what I do.

Indeed! There are some very interesting tribute videos on YouTube.
Vincent D'Onofrio: [Laughs] I’m sure there are. I stay away from them. 

A lot of audiences know you best as Detective Goren on L&O: CI. Do you think you’ll ever reprise the role?
Vincent D'Onofrio: I’d play him again in a second, but I doubt that will ever happen. If Wolf Films thought that it could make a buck, then I would probably get a call, but I don’t think there’s any 
way of doing that unless it came back as a series. And I don’t see that happening. 

You often work with the same people over and over, like Hawke and director Jennifer Chambers Lynch. Is that by design?

Vincent D'Onofrio: Yes. I need real relationships in my life. I don’t do very well with businessy relationships. I’m not a good networker and I don’t get out much. I’m a real homebody. I’ve got three kids now, a wife of 16 years. I’m very lucky to be working at all. This is how complicated my life is not: My wife got a DVD on building sand castles so our family could compete in the Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest. We won first place last year. I’m very proud of that.
Click here for tickets to Clive.