Category: Interviews

 

Love or hate him Jesse Eisenberg has become one of the most important and diverse actors of modern cinema. His over seventy acting performances in cinema and theatre has seen him play roles as vast as one of DC Comics most well known villains in the form of Lex Luthor, a zombie hunter in the Zombieland franchise and of course Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the award winning film The Social Network.

Perhaps though it is Eisenberg’s most recent role that has most touched his heart. From Jewish descent himself Resistance sees Eisenberg play legendary mime Marcel Marceau before he found fame – at a time when he rescued and protected thousands of Jewish children during the Nazi invasion of France during World War II.

“The unfortunate thing is that Holocaust films always seem to resonate with modern day audiences,” says Eisenberg when asked whether or not the events in Resistance are things that audiences today can easily relate to. “With themes like racism, prejudice and tribalism and brutality they are things that still exist today…. unfortunately. More acutely while we were filming The Tree Of Life synagogue shooting happened in Pennsylvania, my neighbour’s from across the street sadly had their friends there at the time. Luckily they survived but that showed that anti-Semitism still exists and it reared its head while we were filming the movie.

While the film does look at one of the darkest times in human history Eisenberg says he does believe though that the film does have a silver lining.

“I think one of the nice things about the movie though, is that is about a guy who is unlikely hero who is a civilian who ends up becoming this important person without ever intending to be,” he explains. “I think it really does speak to us all and what we have the ability to do now. The world might be a crazy and chaotic place right now but this movie shows someone that uses their own skill set, which in this case was being mime – the last guy you would think could be helpful during a war – to help others. That makes me think about how we are calling people heroes today that we would never have three months ago. You re-look and redefine what bravery is and I think this movie clearly shows that.”

There has never been a shortage of powerful Holocaust era films over the years with films like The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas and Schindler’s List being considered classics while even last year the powerful yet quirky Jo Jo Rabbit reduced many people to tears and Eisenberg says as an actor he understands why filmmakers are drawn to making films about this time period.

“I think there are millions of reasons why filmmakers want to make films about this era,” he says slowly. “I can only speak for myself though, but when I was about twenty years old I started to research my family’s history and I discovered that my cousin who lives in Poland was a survivor of the War and I started to learn more about her story more intimately… I had even met her a couple of times when she had visited New York.”

“But then I went to Poland and stayed with her,” he says continuing his personal story. “And I learnt about her story and her story to me just felt like this unbelievable miracle and also included people like Marceau who were selfless but put their own lives on the line to protect and save people like her and her survival when she was a little girl and I wrote a play about that. It is a kind of Holocaust play but it is my take on it because it is a contemporary play and it talks about both modern day culture and the Holocaust, so to me when somebody says that there are a lot of stories that have been told about the Holocaust it is because different stories tell different themes. The thing I wrote is about a really important time in my family’s history and I thought it was important to tell.”

He goes on to say that he believes it was very similar for the writer/director of Resistance Jonathan Jakubowic. “I think for Jonathan he grew up hearing these stories because his family were Holocaust survivors and some of his family actually died in Krakow during the Holocaust so he felt like he had a thick connection but he did want to approach the story of a different angle so he told the story of Resistance by telling the story of an artist who come to terms with his inner kindness and comes to terms with a way to create his art in the worst possible circumstances so you could say that rather than being a Holocaust film it is the story of an artist with the Holocaust as a back drop.”

 

Resistance is currently unrated in Thailand but is for adults and is currently available on a number of streaming platforms.

 

One of the biggest criticisms aimed at the super-hero genre over the past few years has been that nobody out there is doing anything different. As far as the box office goes super-hero movies remain supreme. Place a new Marvel movie on the big screen and you are guaranteed to get a healthy return at the box-office and to many it has felt that has given the studios behind them an excuse not to be creative. Why change a formula that works, right?

Well it seems that Disney is about to buck that trend with the brand new super-hero flick Secret Society Of New Born Royals. The first film in what Disney hope to become a long-lasting franchise sees not only the arrival of fresh super-heroes to the Disney family but also the inclusion of the some brand new Disney princesses and that is something that is not lost on the star of the film – Peyton Elizabeth Lee (Scandal).

“I was super excited when I found out that I was gonna be a Disney princess, like who gets to say that?” says Lee laughing loudly as she talks to the press about her role of the rebellious Sam in the film. “It’s such this iconic group of people, and so to sort of be a part of that was really exciting. And then when I found out that it was not going to be your typical Disney princess but that they’re second-borns and that they don’t fit that sort of princess and prince mold, that just made me much more excited because it’s so important that we sort of break out of what people, you know, think you should be.”

When Lee says her character doesn’t exactly fit the normal Disney princess mold she is not joking. Early on in the film she is a skate-boarding rebel who finds herself in trouble with the law while her sister, who is about to become Queen, goes about her Royal duties. While that makes her very different to the other Princesses that call Disney’s castle home it was also one of the things that attracted the young actress to the role.

“I think one of the reasons why I connected so closely with Sam and  was so excited to play her is because she has all these, you know, quirks and unique personality traits,” Lee explains. “You know, she’s a princess but she doesn’t fit that mold perfectly and she has these rebellious tendencies but she’s also not, like, a bad person. And so sort of navigating those- that balance of who she is and that she’s not- she doesn’t fit into any one mold  was a reason why I connected with her and I think everyone can connect with her is because, you know, no one’s any one thing, you know, they’re a combination of so many different things.”

Lee is also quick to admit that the fact that Sam is so different to what most people will expect her be also made it challenging for her as an actress to bring to the screen. “Just sort of stepping into her head, you know why she does the things she does, why she cares about the people she cares about, why she’s upset about the things she’s upset about. I think really just getting into her mindset was the biggest component to playing her. At first she’s not really wanting to be a part of the team because at the beginning of the story, Sam’s not a great team player. But by the end of it, we sort of see her pull the group together and sort of come out as- as a leader for them and as sort a motivator for them.”

It is also perhaps those differences that we see with Sam that will make her most relatable to the film’s key audience – teenagers. As she wraps up the press conference Lee is quick to remind those about to watch the film that this film is about more than just entertainment. “I don’t want to, like, tell people what they should take away from it, but I think, you know, these superpowers that we all have are very symbolic of what’s unique about each of us and what makes you different from me and you different from your neighbors, you know, and- and that what makes us unique is what makes us special, is what makes us  important.”

 

While unclassified at the moment Secret Society Of Second Born Royals is for families and will be released on Disney+ on September 25th.

 

One of the best films to screen at last year’s Monster Fest was Australian director Mark Bakaitis’ film Cult Girls. Starring one of Australia’s most underrated actresses Saara Lamberg (Innuendo) alongside a cast that includes Jane Badler (V) and Dean Kirkwright (Charlie’s Farm). As an added bonus for heavy metal fans the film also features a very special performance from Swedish death metal band Tribulation.

“Originally we were looking to do a documentary about this Australian cult called the family,” says Bakaitis when we sit down to talk to him about the film’s home entertainment release. “We started to do some research into that and we realised that it was going to be pretty heavy doing interviews with victims and survivors and I don’t think we had the temperament to approach that subject really. So with the research I started to think that perhaps we could do something more fictional.”

Something more fictional is exactly what Bakaitis and his team did and the result was something phenomenal. A film that looks at home in an artistic cinema but contains the suspense normally reserved for a Hollywood blockbuster.

“We then had the opportunity to travel to Europe and go to Lithuania,” says Bakaitis as we begin to chat about how the film further developed after it was decided to go with the fictional angle. “We spent a few days in Germany and i was really inspired by the folk horror films of the late 1960s and the 1970s. I was inspired by films like Blood On Satan’s Claw and those classic folk horror films. I managed to weave that in some of the Lithuanian mythology that had been in my blood and came up in the film.. and we threw a little bit of black metal in there as well.”

You can listen to the full interview in our audio interview above.

Cult Girls is available on DVD now through Umbrella Entertainment.

If there was ever a week where Hollywood had to decide whether to be pessimistic or optimistic it was this week. Hot on the heels of Tenet performing well at box offices in countries where cinemas have re-opened came the news that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Robert Pattinson had tested positive to Covid-19 temporarily suspending the productions they were working on – including the blockbuster The Batman.

It would be enough to make any Hollywood producer wonder whether or not they should just give up on 2020 completely. One thing that happened this week was probably enough to make them realise there was still hope though – that was the smile on Yifei Liu’s face as she fronted the media about her new film Mulan.

It was obvious from that smile that Liu doesn’t mind the fact that the Disney epic is opening in cinemas in some countries and on Disney+ in others. She is just happy that a film that she is incredibly proud of is finally going to be enjoyed by film lovers right around the world. After all isn’t that why a film is made in the first place?

“I wanted to see how much more I could do as an actress,” the young Chinese star says when she is asked why she wanted to play Mulan in a film destined to become one of this year’s highest earners. “I wanted to see what my abilities were and I wanted to discover more and more and more. I wanted to learn more skills and I wanted to feel more. And I knew that she is facing extreme circumstances that not everybody every day could experience. I really did think I had the passion to explore that.”

From the trailers that had been shown to cinema goers over the past twelve months it was obvious that Disney alongside director Niki Caro wanted to expand on the originally animated version of Mulan and make this film an action spectacular with a solid character journey. That is something that Liu agrees with. “She is on a journey… she is discovering herself,” explains Liu going more in-depth about the title character. “That is not really on the surface, that is deep inside. She thinks that the perfect her in other people’s eyes might be that way but you do eventually realise that you can be that and you can be more than that.”

Of course alongside Liu in the film are some of the biggest names in Asian cinema including Donnie Yen and Jet Li, both of which Liu says was a joy to work with. “I think everybody was perfect for their role,” she says smiling. “I have to say that Jet, I worked with him ten maybe twelve years ago and it was so good to see him again. He was perfect to play the Emperor and Li Gong oh my God she is my Goddess… I am such a fan. I could not believe that I got this opportunity to work with her. So I was just so excited and on set I just wanted to always chat to her but I had to remind myself that I had to focus on my work.”

Whether you are lucky enough to watch Mulan on the big screen or whether you to get to watch it in the comfort of your own lounge it is obvious talking to the cast and crew that this is a film that has been made with complete dedication and love… and that is what we need from cinema right now.

 

Mulan is rated G and currently showing in Phuket.