CAST: BRADLEY COOPER, JENNIFER LAWRENCE, RHYS IFANS, TOBY JONES, DAVID DENCIK, ANA ULARU
DIRECTOR: SUSANNE BIER
The North Carolina mountains at the end of the 1920s – George and Serena Pemberton (Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence), love-struck newly-weds, begin to build a timber empire. Serena soon proves herself to be equal to any man: overseeing loggers, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving a man’s life in the wilderness. With power and influence now in their hands, the Pembertons refuse to let anyone stand in the way of their inflated love and ambitions. However, once Serena discovers George’s hidden past and faces an unchangeable fate of her own, the Pemberton’s passionate marriage begins to unravel leading toward a dramatic reckoning.
Producer Nick Wechsler’s interest in the story of ‘Serena’ was piqued when he received the manuscript of the original book about a year before its publication: “I fell in love with it on my first read. I optioned it immediately and at that time I had a first look deal with 2929, one of the financiers of the movie, and they agreed to come in and develop the project with me.”
To get the project underway, Wechsler needed to find a writer capable of adapting Ron Rash’s book for the screen. He explains: “We looked at a variety of writers and Chris Kyle had a wonderful take – he really seemed to understand the material and we liked his vision for adapting it. We hired him, and we had a very good development experience with him in getting a great script for the movie.”
Writer Christopher Kyle was intrigued and drawn to the story from the moment he read Rash’s book. He explains: “My agent sent me the book a few months before it was published and I loved it. I called him before I had even finished reading it. It has such wonderful echoes of great tragedy like ‘Medea’ and ‘Macbeth’ in it, but also this wonderful language of the mountain people, so it was one of those books that as soon as I read it; I knew that I wanted to do it.”
With a first draft of the screenplay in hand, the producers set out to find a director who could bring a unique insight to the intense narrative turns of the film. Already an admirer of director Susanne Bier’s work, Wechsler was very interested in what Bier could bring to the project: “One of the reasons I thought that Susanne would be a good match for this film is that she’s exhibited an incredible flair for bringing out power in relationships between people – she’s very accurate in observing intimacy, vivid emotion and passion.”
Bier was intrigued by the subject matter and explains: “I read the script first and was initially attracted to the world of logging with these huge big trees, and then to the woman being in this man’s world which I thought was fascinating and I could also identify with it. If you look around a set there are 10% women and 90% men and in a way I thought Serena had the same fate – and I found that interesting.” She delights in “telling a story which I believe is meaningful or entertaining for a contemporary audience.”
“Susanne has a level of believability and a truth meter that you can see throughout all her movies…it was very interesting,” says Bradley Cooper.
Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Serena, also echoes an appreciation of Bier’s directorial truth. Lawrence explains: “My favorite thing about Susanne is the way that everything that she does is so real and it’s from this outsider’s perspective so that you don’t feel biased one way or another, which is a very interesting way to do a movie about somebody who is clearly a killer and is wrong. But for the longest time in the movie, the way that Serena goes about everything is that you could easily see both sides of it. There’s no manipulation in her movies. She tells a story and shows you these characters and shows you these situations but never once tells you how to feel.”
FILM: THE REWRITE
CAST: Hugh Grant, Allison Janney, Marisa Tomei, J.K Simmons, Bella Heathcote, Chris Elliot
Director: Marc Lawrence
Once upon a time, screenwriter Keith Michaels (Hugh Grant) was on top of the world – a Golden Globe Award and a hit movie to his name, a beautiful wife and son, and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of sexy British wit and charm. But that was fifteen years ago: now, he’s divorced, approaching fifty, hasn’t written a hit film in years, and is going broke.
Luckily, his agent has a gig for him – albeit far away from Hollywood. A university in upstate New York is looking for a writer-in-residence to teach a course on screenwriting, and with an empty wallet as his motivation, Keith can’t say no. In bucolic Binghamton, he quickly discovers that his celebrity status hasn’t faded – it’s almost too easy for him to bed a star struck young co-ed, Karen (Bella Heathcote), who is enrolled in his class, and his other students seem naïve and simple. Hoping to give minimal attention to his duties and focus on writing a new script, Keith inadvertently gets off on the wrong foot with a ranking faculty member (Allison Janney), a humourless Jane Austen scholar; though he does quickly befriend two eccentric faculty colleagues who promise to show him the ropes (Chris Elliott, J.K. Simmons).
Keith’s attitude begins to turn when he meets Holly (Marisa Tomei), a single mom working two jobs to earn her bachelor’s degree. Though Holly has a new boyfriend – and Keith isn’t very savvy about covering up his romance with Karen – the two find themselves connected by their mutual need for a second chance. When one of his pupils comes up with a screenplay that Keith knows will sell, he sees an opportunity to get out of teaching and go back to living the good life. But he’s also discovered that teaching has given him that second chance at becoming a better man – and finds himself equally tempted to stay and see where his new talents take him.
“‘The Rewrite’ is the story of the third act of Keith Michaels’ life,” explains Hugh Grant. “At the beginning of the film, he’s the guy who thinks that it all depends on how well he is doing as a screenwriter on the Hollywood board of snakes and ladders.”
“I wanted to write something about a professor,” says filmmaker Marc Lawrence. “I like the academic world – in a way, I’ve never left college. I dress the same way I did then. One of the first jobs I got out of college was working on the television show ‘Family Ties,’ which was like being in college.” Following the edict of writing what he knows best, Lawrence began to consider the possibilities of a screenwriter fitting into the world of academics. “Keith is a character who is being downsized against his will, getting older in a business that worships and values youth, and it’s becoming hard for him to find his place in the world. I see that happening to friends around me – the world seems to be changing around them – and I see that universal question: what is the next chapter of my life if the one I have been living no longer seems available to me?”
FILM: POLTERGEIST (3D)
CAST: SAM ROCKWELL, ROSEMARIE DEWITT, JARED HARRIS, JANE ADAMS
DIRECTOR: GIL KENAN
‘Poltergeist’, from legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi (‘Spider-Man’, ‘Evil Dead’, ‘The Grudge’) and director Gil Kenan (‘Monster House’), contemporizes the 1982 classic about a family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces. When terrifying apparitions escalate their attacks and hold the youngest daughter captive, the family must come together to rescue her before she disappears forever.
Kenan directs from a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David Lindsay-Abaire.
‘Poltergeist’ updates an iconic brand, creating a classic haunted house tale that plays to our innermost fears. The film was shot in native 3D, which enhances its scares and thrilling, edge-of-your-seat suspense.
“The art of suspense-building is about timing and delivery and playing upon audiences’ expectations,” says produce Sam Raimi. “(Director) Gil (Kenan) has become a master at that, and I think ‘Poltergeist’ is really going to keep audiences on edge.”