Interview: “Glass Castle” Writer/Director Destin Daniel Cretton

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For WheretoWatch, I interviewed Destin Daniel Cretton, writer/director of “Short Term 12” and now “The Glass Castle.”

It’s not necessarily experiences that we have all gone through but I do think that there is something about The Glass Castle that still resonates and feels very familiar. We may not have gone through something to that degree but I think everybody has a Rex Walls in their life. Everybody knows what it feels like to want to love somebody so badly and have the struggle of how difficult that can be with someone who is either an alcoholic or has ups and downs in their life or who can’t be what we need from them. And it’s incredible to watch somebody like Jeannette go through something like that and come out the other end, not just learning how to accept that part of it but to take it and make it something that makes her so much of a better person. That’s really inspiring to me.

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Tribute: George Romero

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We mourn the loss of writer/director George Romero, a towering figure in the history of American film. The influence of his “Night of the Living Dead” is immeasurable. Not only did he invent an entirely new genre of zombie films, but it was a major breakthrough for independent films, and, as “Rosemary’s Baby” would do later, it was an original re-imagining of the horror genre by virtue of its setting, in this case not a spooky castle or a haunted mansion but the American countryside. Equally important, the film, released in 1968, one of the most tumultuous years in American history, was utterly revolutionary in having a black man as its hero. The political overtones in his films continued in, for example, “Dawn of the Dead,” again using the setting, this time a shopping mall, to make some sharp points about mindless consumerism.

May his memory be a blessing.

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Interview: Zoe Lister-Jones, Writer/Director/Lyricist/Star of “Band Aid”

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For rogerebert.com, I spoke to writer/director/lyricist/star Zoe Lister-Jones about her film,

“Band Aid,” made with an all-female crew.

Why did you insist on an all-female crew?

First and foremost, I just wanted to see what it would feel like to make art with other women and exclusively so. It’s so rare that there are even a handful of women on a crew, let alone an entire crew made up of women. So I just thought that it’d be really interesting to see how that lent itself to the creative process. And then I also was very aware of the under-representation of women on film and TV crews and I wanted to create opportunities for women in departments where they are very rarely afforded them.

How did that affect the production?

It was amazing. It exceeded my expectations and expectations were already pretty high. It was just a really distinct energy and everyone who came on set immediately acknowledged it. All the extras who came on set for the first time would be like, “Whoa. This is really different and cool.” It was just a very calm and patient and gracious community of people making work together. It really did give a communal energy to the work. And it was on top of that just super efficient and productive which is maybe the biggest takeaway.

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Based on “Wonder Woman” and “Book of Henry,” Shouldn’t Patty Jenkins Direct “Star Wars?”

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Jeremy Fassler is right. On Medium, he explains that based on one of the best and one of the worst movies of the year, “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins is a much better choice for the next “Star Wars” movie than “Book of Henry” director Colin Trevorrow, who is currently attached to the film.

Fassler points out the difference between the way Patty Jenkins was treated after her first, low-budget film (“Monster,” with an Oscar-winning performance from Charlize Theron), and the way Trevorrow was treated after his, “Safety Not Guaranteed” — he got to do the big, big budget (but bland) “Jurassic World,” where she did outstanding work on television series.

He is astute at recognizing the qualities in “Wonder Woman” that Jenkins handled with such grace:

hat makes Wonder Woman a great movie is that it transcends its genre (superhero) by embracing other various genres and subgenres swirling within its main storyline. As an antiwar film it stands with All Quiet on the Western Front and Paths of Glory, and the scene where Diana Prince saves a small French village from destruction, only to find it destroyed later, is a great comment on the needless slaughter of the First World War. It features the best love story, between Diana and Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor, of any superhero film since Spider-Man 2. It’s a “bunch of guys (and girls) on a mission film” in the tradition of The Dirty Dozen, particularly when they get into the castle. It’s an education film, in which the protagonist moves to a higher plateau of self-knowledge by learning the rules of another world. And of course, it is an extraordinary story of female empowerment, one that is being embraced all throughout the world as young girls can finally see a hero who looks like them.

I vote for Jenkins. The recent dismissal of very successful directors in the middle of shooting the young Han Solo movie shows how protective Disney is of this franchise. Here’s hoping they see the merits in Fassler’s argument.

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