Armie Hammer Reflects On Emotional Journey With ‘Call Me By Your Name’


Call Me By Your Name is getting a ton of critical acclaim, and the project has shined a pretty big spotlight on up and coming actor Timothée Chalamet (he also stars in Lady Bird and the upcoming Christian Bale Western Hostiles). For co-star Armie Hammer, the film was also a turning point acting wise. Though he’s done his share of character driven work (The Social Network, J. Edgar), Hammer’s best known for such high profile studio projects like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Lone Ranger.In the 1983 set Call Me By Your Name, Hammer plays a 24-year-old student who falls in love with his professor’s son (Chalamet) during a summer in Italy.

The actor reflects on his creatively fruitful collaboration with Guadagnino. “It just seemed like a challenge for me as an actor to make me that emotionally accessible and vulnerable,” said Hammer. “And I think that was one of the things that I really credit Luca with is the fact that he saw that and was not going to let anybody fake anything. It was all about him dragging and pulling that honesty out of us.”

Click on the media bar below to hear Hammer elaborate on his collaboration with Guadagnino:

Call Me By Your Name, co-starring Michael Stuhlbarg, is now playing in select theaters.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

Michael Stuhlberg Has A “Singular” Experience With ‘The Shape of Water’


Michael Stuhlbarg is getting his share of critical acclaim in director Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name as a loving father, and he also delivers fine work as a dedicated scientist in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water.

Set during the Cold War era in Baltimore, the tale centers on Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute janitor who works at the Occam Aerospace Research Center along with her lifelong friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer). Her life is forever changed when a creature (Doug Jones, whose character is simply named the “amphibian man) is transported to the building for a bit of research. Though this creature finds a loving bond with Elisa and a bit of concerned sympathy from Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Stuhlbarg), the amphibian man is abused by his malevolent handler (Michael Shannon).

Click on the media bar to hear Stuhlbarg explain why working with Guillermo del Toro was a “singular” experience:

The Shape of Water opens in select theaters Friday, December 1.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

Review: ‘Call Me By Your Name’ Is A Love Story For The Ages


It may sound like overpraise due to all the cinematic narratives that have come before it, but Call Me By Your Name is a transcendent tale that, along with receiving its share of Oscar nominations, will be remembered for years to come. Based on André Aciman’s novel, the feature hits on all creative cylinders and offers a fitting ending to director Luca Guadagnino’s “Desire” trilogy (I Am Love and A Bigger Splash were the previous installments).

It’s 1983 somewhere in an Italian countryside, and Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is a 17-year-old  who spends his days transcribing and playing music at his parent’s (Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar) villa. When Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives at the domicile to spend the summer interning for Elio’s father (who’s a professor), the connection is instant. What begins as an innocent handshake gradually develops into something deeper, as the pair hover each other like satellites, waiting and wondering if they will ever make that highly anticipated love connection.

Credit goes to Guadagnino for letting his story breathe (the narrative runs for 132 minutes), and whatever romance ensues comes about in an organic (and thus seductive) fashion. Both Elio and Oliver are confident in their own respective charms (both actually carry on flings with neighborhood girls), but initially their attempts to connect with one another has its share of underlying tension.

The chemistry between Chalamet and Hammer is electric, but that’s not the only selling point behind the story. Stuhlbarg delivers a monologue that, although it seems a bit out of place amidst the film’s relative lack of wordy exposition, will possibly leave a healthy share of moviegoers teary-eyed.

Call Me By Your Name’s thematic heart and soul lies in its encouragement for both these lovers to push forth and explore their romance rather than regress in complacency. An excellent choice of music (Maurice Ravel, Surfjan Stevens, Psychedelic Furs and John Adams) weave in and out of the sensually languorous and beautifully shot compositions (Sayombhu Mukdeeprom is the DP) to support the performances, with Guadagnino successfully blending all of these elements into an ultimately unforgettable experience.

The film was shot in Crema, where Guadagnino calls home, and this intimate connection gives it a loving personal touch. It’s also great to hear that a sequel for Call Me By Your Name is in the works, with Esther Garrel, who also delivers a nuanced performance as Elio’s heartbroken girlfriend, possibly having a deeper role in the sequel.

For now, let us at least enjoy Call Me By Your Name (the sequel won’t be out until 2020) and considering the true to life beauty within this tale, that’s more than enough.

Call Me By Your Name is now playing in select theaters.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

Review: ‘Steve Jobs’ Powered By Sublime, Bravura Filmmaking


Audacious to the core and infused with bravura filmmaking, Steve Jobs is a biopic that will immediately cater to tech geeks and iOS enthusiasts. Jobs’ prodigious contribution to the world, right down to the tactile way we interact with our phone and laptops, is undeniable, but making an entertaining movie about the Apple co-founder isn’t exactly a sure thing (2013’s Jobs, starring Ashton Kutcher, is uninspired at best). But thanks to Oscar winning writer Aaron Sorkin’s crackerjack dialogue, director Danny Boyle’s penchant for oftentimes breakneck, propulsive storytelling, and top to bottom first rate performances from the ensemble, Steve Jobs exists on an entirely different plane.

Sorkin, who’s adapting from Walter Isaacson’s authoritative biography on Steve Jobs, streamlines the narratives by breaking down the film into three distinct acts. Each section deals with Jobs’ (Michael Fassbender) backstage interaction with his inner circle during the day of a respective product launch. Act one starts with Jobs ready to introduce the Macintosh in 1984, and as the king of his own domain, Jobs is an egomaniacal force who unironically mentions Igor Stravinsky and Julius Caesar at the drop of his hat when discussing his ambitions. Whether it’s bullying computer scientist Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) into fixing a computer glitch before hitting the stage or refusing to acknowledge the accomplishments of Steve Wozniak’s (Seth Rogen, excellent in his verbal jousting with Fassebender) Apple II team during the Macintosh launch, Jobs is uncompromising to a fault.

This alienating behavior stretches to his relationship with his daughter Lisa (played through the years by Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, and Perla Haney Jardine) and ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston). Initially questioning if he’s Lisa’s actual father while also refusing to supply Chrisann with sufficient financial support, even though he’s worth millions, continues to add to Jobs’ unlikable and highly fallible nature.

Jobs’ true companion through the three launches, which includes the 1988 introduction of the black cube designed computer model from his company NeXT to his triumphant return to Apple with the 1998 unveiling of the iMac, is his right hand woman and “work wife” Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet). Hoffman is the only person who can go toe to toe with Jobs and actually have him seriously listen to her side of an argument, and their close-knit relationship leads to a revelatory exchange during the film’s final act.

Sorkin’s dialogue contains words and phrases that jump out of the page and crackle with life, all the while propelling the story forward. This skill is at its apex with Jobs, as every discussion and interchange, though some Sorkin critics may deem a bit showy and bombastic, paints a deeper picture of Jobs and the people who shaped his life. Jeff Daniels, who previously worked with Sorkin in HBO’s The Newsroom, is also in fine form as former Apple CEO John Sculley, a father figure to Jobs who was instrumental in his surprising exit from Apple.

Steve Jobs isn’t just a story of a visionary who changed the world, but it’s also a look at how we relate to technology. Jobs’ passion for a closed off Mac ecosystem was continuously at loggerheads with Wozniak’s understandable passion for wide reaching compatibility. For Jobs, his products were methods for enhancing our relationship to the world, and its this specificity and innovation of which has led to continued growth of this flourishing (and some would argue all too reverent) iOS community.

We are not defined by our gadgets, and Steve Jobs is a pointed reminder that although technology is an integral element to our existence, the people we bond with and love along the way may be our saving grace.  One of this year’s finest films, Steve Jobs will undoubtedly receive a healthy share of nominations come Oscar time, with Fassbender leading the pack with a spellbinding turn that rivals his work from 2011’s Shame.

Steve Jobs opens in select theaters October 9.

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Posted By: Greg Srisavasdi

Filmmaker Ivan Reitman Promises ‘Hitchcock’ Will Be An Appropriate Tribute

hitchcock-lgFox Searchlight just announced that 11/23 is the date for the limited theatrical release of the much anticipated biopic HITCHCOCK. Said to be a dramedy set during the period HITCHCOCK was filming his classic thriller PSYCHO, the film also delves into the relationship between the eccentric filmmaker and his wife Alma. Directed by SACHA GERVASI from the STEPHEN REBELLO book ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE MAKING OF PSYCHO, the cast includes ANTHONY HOPKINS, HELEN MIRREN, SCARLETT JOHANSSON, DANNY HUSTON, TONI COLLETTE, JESSICA BIEL and MICHAEL STUHLBARG.
We sat down a few days ago with IVAN REITMAN (one of the film’s producers) while he was doing press for the upcoming Blu-ray release of his political comedy DAVE and he took a moment to assure that HITCHCOCK would be a fitting tribute to the legendary movie-maker.

HITCHCOCK opens in limited release 11/23
DAVE will be available on Blu-ray 9/25