This week’s movie releases

This week’s movie releases

FILM: THE NIGHT BEFORE
CAST: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lizzy Caplan, Seth Rogen Anthony Mackie
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Levine

From Jonathan Levine, the director of ‘50/50’, comes the new comedy ‘The Night Before’. Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have been friends since childhood, and for a decade, their yearly Christmas Eve reunion has been an annual night of debauchery and hilarity. Now that they’re entering adulthood, the tradition is coming to an end, and to make it as memorable as possible, they set out to find the Nutcracka Ball – the Holy Grail of Christmas parties.

According to Rogen, it’s important that the movie takes place at Christmas. “At first, we thought we would just make a movie about people going out on Christmas and they party and get messed up and it’s funny,” he says.  “Later, we realized that Christmas has this inherent emotional weight to it, and why not indulge in that?”
In that sense, the film’s co-writer/director, Jonathan Levine, says he was inspired to make a film that would follow in the footsteps of certain genres, but become unlike any other movie. “I wanted to make a New

York movie, a hangout movie, and play with the stylistic elements of a Christmas movie, and play with the rules of the genre. We got to make a movie that was very grounded on one level, but also contained elements of magical realism. But the really cool thing about making a holiday movie is your number one mandate is to make people happy,” he says.
Levine adds that the film is inspired in part on his own experiences. “I used to do something like this with my friends in New York at Christmas,” says the filmmaker. “It’s a weird time to be out, especially in New York City, because you stumble upon little enclaves of people and weird stuff always seems to happen. It’s like a secret club of people who would just go out on Christmas – and that gave me the idea for the movie.”

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Maggie-Smith-in-the-The-Lady-In-The-VanFILM: THE LADY IN THE VAN
CAST: Maggie Smith, Dominic Cooper, James Corden
DIRECTOR: Nicholas Hytner

This film is based on Alan Bennett’s autobiographical play of the same name. It tells the true story of his strained friendship with the singular Miss Mary Shepherd, a dotty and stubborn former nun, and now a transient woman of uncertain origins living in her car. The two form an unexpected bond after Shepherd “temporarily” parked her van in Bennett’s London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years.

As a young director living in North London in the early 1980s, Nicholas Hytner often used to walk down a glorious Victorian sweep of a street called Gloucester Crescent. Then, as now, Gloucester Crescent was a pretty, leafy street on which lived many famous names from London’s stage and literary worlds, including director and TV presenter Jonathan Miller, writer and journalist Claire Tomalin, playwright and novelist Michael Frayn, novelist Alice Thomas Ellis and playwright Alan Bennett. As Hytner strode through on his way to the urban bustle of Camden High Street, he would try to work out who lived at which house. He knew Bennett lived at number 23. It was a lovely house not dissimilar to others in the street. But what marked out number 23 was the entirely unlovely, dirty and decrepit yellow van parked in its drive, under which was crammed various layers of detritus, old shopping bags and bits of carpet.

Hytner was aware an old lady of indeterminate age lived in the van. She was a well-known figure around Camden Town – what locals tend to call a “character” – sometimes mocked and persecuted by passers-by.  Hytner also noticed a strange system of wires running between the van and the house. What he didn’t know was what the van and the lady had to do with Alan Bennett.
“I could not work out what this yellow van was or who this old lady was.  I wondered briefly if she was his mother. But then I thought he can’t be keeping his mother in a van in the drive,” Hytner recalls.  “I would walk on by.”
The director and the playwright did not meet properly until several years later in 1989, which turned out to be just after the lady had died and the van had gone.

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Daniel-Radcliffe-and-James-Macavoy-in-Victor-FrankensteinFILM: VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN
CaST: DANIEL RADCLIFFE, JAMES MCAVOY, JESSICA BROWN FINDLAY, ANDREW SCOTT, CHARLES DANCE
DIRECTOR: PAUL MCGUIGAN

Radical scientist Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) and his equally brilliant protégé Igor Strausman (Daniel Radcliffe) share a noble vision of aiding humanity through their groundbreaking research into immortality. But Victor’s experiments go too far, and his obsession has horrifying consequences.
Only Igor can bring his friend back from the brink of madness and save him from his monstrous creation.

‘Victor Frankenstein’ sets forth to be a “Frankenstein” movie unlike any other. While inspired by Mary Shelley’s classic novel and the countless interpretations of that story, screenwriter Max Landis’ “regeneration” focuses on the relationship between Victor and his best friend and assistant Igor. In fact, it’s the first story to be told largely from Igor’s perspective. “It’s a love story between these two men, really,” notes director Paul McGuigan. “Victor and Igor need each other; in fact, Victor needs Igor probably more than Igor needs Victor in his life.”

Moreover, the film, though set in 1860, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, has a contemporary sensibility. “I don’t think of it as a period film,” says Daniel Radcliffe, “but as being completely modern. Victor and Igor have cutting-edge ideas; they’re the tip of the spear. They view science as being more than just observational. They believe it could be creative and re-shape the world.
“I like the film’s irreverent tone and how it avoids being Victorian and ‘buttoned-up,’” Radcliffe continues. “Victor and Igor are forward thinking.”
Adds McGuigan: “These two young men are changing the world.”

‘Victor Frankenstein’ is also, notes James McAvoy, a love letter to the myriad films featuring those characters and themes. “This film has many of the familiar elements you expect to see in a Frankenstein movie, but adds unexpected dimensions of character, relationships and entertainment.”
“Max Landis has done nothing less than capture the zeitgeist of all the Frankenstein movies he’s watched,” says McGuigan. “He’s cherry-picked ideas and created his own ‘monster,’ so to speak.”
McGuigan was especially drawn to Landis’ decision to tell the story through Igor’s eyes.

That notion points to a key misperception about the character and his role in Frankenstein lore. Igor was not a character in Mary Shelley’s book, nor did he appear in most of the subsequent film interpretations. Actor Dwight Frye’s hunchbacked lab assistant in James Whale’s ‘Frankenstein’ (1931) is the main source for the “Igor” of public imagination, though the character he played was actually named Fritz. Most moviegoers know the character through Marty Feldman’s performance in Mel Brooks’ beloved comedy ‘Young Frankenstein’, though Feldman’s character insists on being called “Eye-gore”.
A different kind of moniker mix-up accompanies Victor himself. Many people attribute that name to the monster, instead of its creator – the good doctor. “So we give the name ‘Frankenstein’ back to the scientist – to Victor Frankenstein,” says McGuigan.

McAvoy relates that, “Whenever somebody asked me what I was doing at the moment (during production of ‘Victor Frankenstein’), I would say, I’m playing Frankenstein, and they’d reply, ‘You’re a little short to be playing the monster.’ And I’d correct them and say, ‘No, no, it’s the doctor.’ So, yeah, we’re giving the name back to Dr. Vic.”
A pivotal moment for both Victor and Igor is an early scene where Victor straightens Igor’s hunchback, which McGuigan says is “a metaphor for the entire movie.” Having rescued Igor from a London circus, Victor takes him to his flat and within minutes throws Igor against the wall and produces a massive syringe with which he performs a lightning-fast medical procedure on his new “patient.” Moments later, Igor’s hunchback is corrected. “If you think you knew Victor, the first few minutes of the film will prove you don’t,” says McGuigan. “He’s dangerous and fun to watch.”

Radical scientist Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) and his equally brilliant protégé Igor Strausman (Daniel Radcliffe) share a noble vision of aiding humanity through their groundbreaking research into immortality. But Victor’s experiments go too far, and his obsession has horrifying consequences.
Only Igor can bring his friend back from the brink of madness and save him from his monstrous creation.
‘Victor Frankenstein’ sets forth to be a “Frankenstein” movie unlike any other. While inspired by Mary Shelley’s classic novel and the countless interpretations of that story, screenwriter Max Landis’ “regeneration” focuses on the relationship between Victor and his best friend and assistant Igor. In fact, it’s the first story to be told largely from Igor’s perspective. “It’s a love story between these two men, really,” notes director Paul McGuigan. “Victor and Igor need each other; in fact, Victor needs Igor probably more than Igor needs Victor in his life.”
Moreover, the film, though set in 1860, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, has a contemporary sensibility. “I don’t think of it as a period film,” says Daniel Radcliffe, “but as being completely modern. Victor and Igor have cutting-edge ideas; they’re the tip of the spear. They view science as being more than just observational. They believe it could be creative and re-shape the world.
“I like the film’s irreverent tone and how it avoids being Victorian and ‘buttoned-up,’” Radcliffe continues. “Victor and Igor are forward thinking.”
Adds McGuigan: “These two young men are changing the world.”
‘Victor Frankenstein’ is also, notes James McAvoy, a love letter to the myriad films featuring those characters and themes. “This film has many of the familiar elements you expect to see in a Frankenstein movie, but adds unexpected dimensions of character, relationships and entertainment.”
“Max Landis has done nothing less than capture the zeitgeist of all the Frankenstein movies he’s watched,” says McGuigan. “He’s cherry-picked ideas and created his own ‘monster,’ so to speak.”
McGuigan was especially drawn to Landis’ decision to tell the story through Igor’s eyes.
That notion points to a key misperception about the character and his role in Frankenstein lore. Igor was not a character in Mary Shelley’s book, nor did he appear in most of the subsequent film interpretations. Actor Dwight Frye’s hunchbacked lab assistant in James Whale’s ‘Frankenstein’ (1931) is the main source for the “Igor” of public imagination, though the character he played was actually named Fritz. Most moviegoers know the character through Marty Feldman’s performance in Mel Brooks’ beloved comedy ‘Young Frankenstein’, though Feldman’s character insists on being called “Eye-gore”.
A different kind of moniker mix-up accompanies Victor himself. Many people attribute that name to the monster, instead of its creator – the good doctor. “So we give the name ‘Frankenstein’ back to the scientist – to Victor Frankenstein,” says McGuigan.
McAvoy relates that, “Whenever somebody asked me what I was doing at the moment (during production of ‘Victor Frankenstein’), I would say, I’m playing Frankenstein, and they’d reply, ‘You’re a little short to be playing the monster.’ And I’d correct them and say, ‘No, no, it’s the doctor.’ So, yeah, we’re giving the name back to Dr. Vic.”
A pivotal moment for both Victor and Igor is an early scene where Victor straightens Igor’s hunchback, which McGuigan says is “a metaphor for the entire movie.” Having rescued Igor from a London circus, Victor takes him to his flat and within minutes throws Igor against the wall and produces a massive syringe with which he performs a lightning-fast medical procedure on his new “patient.” Moments later, Igor’s hunchback is corrected. “If you think you knew Victor, the first few minutes of the film will prove you don’t,” says McGuigan. “He’s dangerous and fun to watch.”