“Every time you write and direct a movie,” says director Evan Oppenheimer. “It is personal. It springs out of usually some kind of emotional experience at the least.”
Lost In Florence centers on Eric (Brett Dalton), an athlete whose romantic trip to Florence leads to heartbreak after his girlfriend (Emily Atack) rejects his proposal. With a little support from his cousin (Stana Katic) and her husband (Marco Bonini), Eric is back on his feet, finding passion in a traditional sport of Calico Storico. He also finds love with Stefania (Alessandra Mastronardi), who’s also the girlfriend of his Calcio Storico teammate Paolo (Alessandro Preziosi).
Oppenheimer’sLost in Florence journey began years ago, as he lived in the city the summer before he attended graduate school. Over the years he would return to Florence to work on the movie’s screenplay and, more importantly, marry his soulmate.
“My wife and I got married in Florence on New Year’s Eve,” says the filmmaker. “Actually in Fiesole, a town right above Florence which is right where Eric and Stefania have their outdoor love scene. You’re actually looking right at the castle where my wife and I got married – it’s an amazing thing.”
Along with its layered storytelling (Lost in Florence thankfully gives substantial time to the supporting players, giving the narrative an extra level of depth), the movie effectively captures Calcio Storico. Oppenheimer and his production shot extensive scenes at the stadium, which is built from scratch every year at the Piazza Santa Croce.
“We have footage of our guys in the middle of this maelstrom,” says Oppenheimer. “If we hadn’t been able to do that, we would have had to do it through visual effects to kind of create the background. But it wouldn’t have been the same. It really makes it feel real when you see your actors there in the true locations surrounded by thousands of screaming fans.”
With a science fiction thriller (The Speed of Thought), a romantic comedy (Alchemy), and now a romantic drama/sports film hybrid (Lost in Florence) under his belt, Oppenheimer can never be accused of creative repetition. I ask him if, even with these vastly different stories, there is a singular thread that runs throughout his work.
“Because they’re all different genres, it’s hard to find a thread,” says Oppenheimer. “But I think all of the things we’ve been talking about with this movie are things that have always been with me and are probably always with everybody. The desire to understand who you are and what your future is going to be. The search for self-definition. It’s the most basic human quest.”
Lost in Florence is now playing in select theaters and is available on VOD.
Director/writer M. Night Shyamalan’s psychological thriller Split was the #1 film over the weekend, beating out newcomer A Dog’s Purpose (#2, $18.3 million). Starring James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy, Split is one of Shyamalan’s best received films and it continues the momentum he received from the success of The Visit. Although Resident Evil: The Final Chapter managed just a fourth place debut with $13.8 million, the picture has already generated over $64.5 million worldwide. With a reasonable $40 million budget, this “final chapter” should turn a profit for Sony. Here’s the top 10:
1. Split – $26.2 million
2. A Dog’s Purpose – Controversy didn’t stop this family film from having a huge opening. $18.3 million
3. Hidden Figures – One of this year’s early sleeper hits. This weekend, it makes $14 million.
4. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter – $13.8 million
5. La La Land – $12 million
6. xXx: The Return of Xander Cage – This movie continues to plummet down the charts. Manages just $8.2 million in its second weekend.
7. Sing – $6.21 million
8. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – $5.1 million
9. Monster Trucks – $4.1 million
10. Gold – Matthew McConaughey film makes $3.4 million
Whether it’s The Matrix trilogy or his early work in Point Break, Keanu Reeves has worked in his share of action driven pieces. The overwhelming success of John Wick has led to John Wick: Chapter 2, a project which reunites him with The Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne.
Starring in a hit franchise that’s also universally loved is something the actor doesn’t take for granted. “I really enjoy playing John Wick and making the film,” says Reeves, who starred last year with Elle Fanning in The Neon Demon. “I love the training. I love the process. It’s a very satisfying role for me. It’s a pleasure to play, so I feel very lucky to go to work every day.”
One of the trademarks of John Wick were its elaborate fight sequences which, considering their elaborate choreography, was a challenge to pull off. Click on the media bar to hear Reeves talk about collaborating with Ruby Rose and Common for the action packed scenes featured in the film:
On this week’s episode of CinemAddicts, we go in search for Gold, an ambitious narrative featuring Matthew McConaughey as a prospector who doesn’t give up on his dreams. Other films covered on this week’s show include the indie comedy/thriller Get The Girl and the acclaimed documentary O.J.: Made in America.
Although Gold delves into Kenny Wells’ (McConaughey) relationship with his longtime girlfriend Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard), that union takes a backseat to his friendship and collaboration with geologist Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez). Kenny and Michael brave the Indonesian jungles to find this seemingly impossible quest for gold, and their journey serves as the film’s most memorable moments. Unfortunately, director/writer Stephen Gaghan’s tale doesn’t hit on every level and ends up being a bit derivative and two dimensional for its own good. Ramirez and McConaughey both deliver solid work, and they’re the best part of Gold.
Director Eric England’s Get The Girl starts off as intentionally innocuous romantic comedy but takes a detour into darker territory after a lonely guy named Clarence (Justin Dobies) stages a fake kidnapping to impress the woman (Elizabeth Whitson) he loves. When the woman’s life is actually endangered during the operation, Clarence must turn the tables on the kidnappers (aka his collaborators!) and save the day. Armed with shoestring budget, England crafts a diverting and twisted tale of love and vengeance that isn’t afraid to throw a healthy share of comedy into the proceedings.
One of 2016’s most underrated films, The Light Between Oceans centers on Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender), a lighthouse keeper who’s married to a free spirited woman named Isabel (Alicia Vikander). The couple live on a remote and windswept island off Australia, and apart from receiving supplies from the main land, they are completely off the grid.
When a lifeboat washes ashore with a baby, Tom and Isabel raise the child on their own, refusing to inform authorities regarding their discovery. Rachel Weisz co-stars in the feature as the person who throws a fateful wrench into their plans.
Based on M.L. Stedman’s novel and directed by Derek Cianfrance (he also penned the screenplay, The Light Between Oceans is a visually breathtaking and oftentimes heartbreaking look at a couple’s enduring love and their desire to raise a family even at their own peril.
The 16 minute featurette “Bringing The Light To Life” is an incisive look at Cianfrance’s creative process and attention to detail. The cast and crew actually lived on the beach that houses the Cape Campbell Lighthouse to give the movie a deeper sense of authenticity. A garden, livestock, and a set were built in the area (the actual lighthouse is still standing), with Cianfrance often letting the cameras roll during the domestic scenes between Fassbender and Vikander. The sequences on the island are actually the strongest aspect of the movie, and most of the “Bringing The Light To Life” featurette showcases those scenes.
The second featurette, “Lighthouse Keeper,” goes into further depth on the history of the Cape Campbell Lighthouse. The disco’s audio commentary between Cianfrance and film studies professor Phil Solomon is also informative. Both men are cinephiles, and there’s a ton of value added comment in their discussion. One of the commentary’s many insights include Cianfrance’s decision to shoot the film in digital. Though he initially wanted to shoot The Light Between Oceans on film, he details how the warm and rich hues of the film were created while shooting on the Arri Alexa.
The Light Between Oceans is now out on Blu-ray and Digital HD.