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An object is never just an object in a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film, every artifact visible in his frames represents a piece of his wondrous imagination transmuted into its tangible form. Assertively, Jeunet refers to the collection of elements that compose a film not as a toolbox, but as a toy box in which every vibrant component serves a purpose to create a greater treasure. The auteur revels in the enchanting playfulness of his craft and propels it to new inventive heights with painstaking artistry. Each magical thought populates his worlds like unexpected gifts waiting to be continuously discovered with every viewing.
Such meticulously devotion for detail is as prevalent in the physical elements that construct his narrative as in the characters that emanate from his boundless ingenuity. Delightfully offbeat and adorned with endearingly eccentric qualities, they are all idiosyncratic children of his dark preoccupations and uplifting fantasies. From Amélie Poulain and her mission to spread joy, to Louison’s quirky quest for love in “Delicatessen,” or Mathilde’s unbreakable hope in “A Very Long Engagement," and even T.S. Spivet’s desire to use his genius for practical purposes to bond with his family. Each one struggling to achieve a triumph much bigger than themselves, while roaming Jeunet’s sublimely beautiful spaces.
Jeunet is magician who channels his visionary powers into stylistic marvels and poignant storytelling. Therefore, when after several years of arduous work he releases a new feature, it becomes a major event for cinema lovers around the world. Unsurprisingly, when I found out his most recent film was finally being in released stateside an overwhelming feeling of excitement took over me. However, it was strange that I had not heard anything about this release until the week of. It was only when searching that week’s releases that “The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet” appeared – two years after its original release in most countries.
On The Weinstein Company’s official site there was no mention of the film, neither on their Facebook page, YouTube channel, or Twitter account. It was as if they had no association with Jeunet’s film, yet it was well known that the company had acquired the rights early on. The director had been verbal about the uncertainty of the film’s U.S. release due to Harvey Weinstein’s desire to create his own cut of the film. Still, I refused to believe that a film by such an important filmmaker could simply be quietly dumped into theaters without any effort to promote it.
TWC never replied to any of my emails, and every PR person and fellow journalist I asked had no idea the film was even scheduled to open that week on Friday July 31st. After tracking down Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s French representatives, they pointed me to Gaumont, the French distributor and sales agent that handled the film. Both mentioned that neither they nor Mr. Jeunet were even aware of the U.S. release. “As you know, the worst or the best can happen with TWC. For this release we definitely face the worst,” added one them.
It’s outrageous and insulting to think that a filmmaker of Jeunet’s caliber still has to endure a distributor’s pressures to reedit a film or face retribution that directly affects the release of his work in a major market. Unfortunately, in the spectrum of Harvey Weinstein’s vengeful antics this has not been the worst. Regardless of whether or not critics dislike Olivier Dahan's “Grace of Monaco,” it’s ludicrous to think that the film that opened the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, starring Nicole Kidman, and bought by one of the U.S. most important distributors, could end up premiering on Lifetime. This paints a scary picture for filmmakers, as it seems that in order to receive a successful release from certain distributors they must compromise their artistic integrity.
To discuss this terrible occurrence and the film itself, Mr. Jeunet graciously agreed to speak with me via Skype from Europe. Despite the circumstances, it was a dreamlike experience to have the opportunity to chat with one of cinema’s greatest directors, whose films have filled so many with mesmerizing wonder.
Once I had introduced myself and thanked him for his time, Mr. Jeunet began the interview inquiring about the release of his latest film "The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet," which is ironically his most American work to date and has been blatantly disowned by its U.S. distributor.
Read More: Jeunet's Disarmingly Imaginative 'The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet' Analyzes American Duality with Dark Undertones and Awe-Inspiring 3D Cinematography
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Have you seen the film?
Aguilar: Yes, I've seen it twice now.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Did you see it in 3D?
Aguilar: Yes, I was lucky enough to be able to see it on the big screen and in 3D
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Where did you see it?
Aguilar: I went to the only theater in L.A. playing the film in 3D, the Downtown Independent.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: How many theaters in L.A. are playing "T.S. Spivet"? Is it only playing in one theater?
Aguilar: I think about 4 or 5 theaters in total, but only one of those played it in 3D.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: But there was no advertisement, no commercials, no promotion, no nothing, right? So I suppose the theaters were empty.
Aguilar: Yes, sadly there were only a few people there. I'm not sure if you are aware but the U.S trailer for the film came out on Thursday July 30th, just a day before the release. Nobody knew about the release as there were no press screening, a press release, or even any mention of the film in The Weinstein Company’s website. I found out the film was opening by chance. TWC was not replying to any press inquiries related to your film. Were you aware of any of this?
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Absolutely not. We learned about this by chance because they have a contract with Netflix. The contract says that you have to release the film in 100 theaters, no more and no less. This is the only reason they released the film, to keep that contract and keep a good relationship with Netflix. It's also probably because Harvey Weinstein is still pissed off because I refused to reedit my film. "T.S. Spivet" is a fake American movie because it's a movie produced in Europe and Canada, so I have the final cut. I always choose this specifically to avoid this kind of problem, but with Mr. Weinstein you never avoid this kind of problem, of course [Laughs]. You know, we had exactly the same story with "Delicatessen," a long time a go. With "Amelie" he wanted me to reedit it, but because it was a success he decided to release the film in the same version as Europe. He wanted Caro and me to reedit "Delicatessen" but we said, "Ok. We have another idea for a modification, you cut our names out of the credits," so they never cut "Delicatessen" either. However, "Delicatessen" only became a success on video because it had a very bad theatrical release. But this release of "T.S. Spivet" is just a caricature. [Laughs].
Aguilar: This is your most American film, which could have had a better chance with audiences here in the U.S. It's in English and you have big names like Helena Bonham Carter and Judy Davis. It's a shame the release took so long and was handled like this.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: It was an American movie. Kyle Catlett, the kid, is from New Jersey. He is an American kid. It's a pity because this is my only American movie and it was not distributed in the U.S. Now it's being distributed but not under good conditions. It's also a pity because when Harvey Weinstein signed the deal he said, "We will do something even better than with 'Amelie'" and when he learned I didn't want to modify the film he gave up because he wanted to reedit the film. He needs that to survive. He is like a dog who needs to pee on a tree.
Aguilar: What did he want you to cut or modify? Was it about the darker undertones in the film?
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: We don't know! It's a question of principle. He doesn't even know it himself probably. He needs to give the film to an American editor and say, "Do something!" There is not a specific problem, he just needs to reedit the film. He does that with every movie except "The Artist." You know why? Michel Hazanavicius told me it was because the score was part of the entire film and matched the entire film. If Harvey Weinstein had reedited the film he would have had to rerecord the whole score one more time and it would have been very expensive. So he didn't reedit the film [Laughs]. It was very clever of Hazanavicius in fact.
Aguilar: Were you angry that the film wasn't getting released in the U.S. for so long?
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: I was very sad, not angry, but very sad. Now it's been two years and I accept it. You can never deal with Mr. Weinstein. Of course I didn't do that, it was Gaumont the French distributor. Other U.S. distributors wanted "T.S. Spivet" and when they told me that Weinstein wanted it I told them, "Be careful, because we know him and he will want to reedit." They said, "No, no, he will respect your film. He knows that. He won't touch a frame." Of course, he cheats all the time.
Aguilar: Now tell me about the film. I know it's been two years, so hopefully you remember the details. But since you never got the chance to do any U.S. press for the films, I'm sure people want to know more. How did you become aware of the book? It feels like a perfect match. It's like if the book was written exactly for your sensibilities.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: I have a reader. He read the book and said it was for me. I was in Australia shooting some commercials and he send me the book and told me, "Read as soon as as possible because it's a book for you." Maybe it was a book too much for me because it's very close to my own preoccupations. I knew it wasn't going to be too easy because the main character is a kid and it's not a film for kids. That's probably the reason it wasn't a huge success everywhere. It's always the same story with films with kids, like the Stephen Daldry movie,"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," or the Terry Gilliam's movie, "Time Bandits." Every time that you have the main character be a kid it's not so easy.
Aguilar: I feel there's a connection between T.S. Spivet and Amelie Poulain. They both have this broken relationship with their parents after a tragic event and they are both incredibly creative. Is that something that drew you into the book?
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Yeah. You know, when I met Reif Larsen, the author of the novel, he told me, "When I saw 'Amelie' I had the feeling that someone had scratched my head." We have he same feelings, we use the same references, and we are now very close. He is kind of like a son to me.
Aguilar: Do you feel like you gravitate to these type of characters and stories whether you are writing them or adapting them?
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: It's very difficult to find a story for a feature because you are going to spend 3 or 4 years of your life on it. In some ways the story of T.S is always the same story of all my films. It's a story of a kid fighting against a monster. That's the theme of all my films. But this one was an opportunity to make something different for me because it was in English and with big American landscapes. It was also the opportunity to shoot in 3D because T.S. Spivet's objects or creations were an opportunity to create something original in 3D, so I was very happy to make this adaptation.
Aguilar: Tell me about working in 3D. It feels like today films use it in a gratuitous way or simply for commercial purposes, but in "T.S. Spivet" there is a specific reason for its use and it's always motivated by the story.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Absolutely, it was part of the concept from the beginning. During the writing and during the storyboard process I was thinking about 3D. It wasn't just a commercial reason because it's complicated, especially when you are picky. You spend a lot of time on it and you lose some time on set, you lose some time during the post-production to fix every detail to avoid, for example, anything that could cause headaches. We made something, I would say, almost perfect technically, although it's never perfect but it's not bad. We had the stereographer Demetri Portelli, he worked on "Hugo," the Scorsese movie.
Aguilar: So you got the best of the best in terms of 3D
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Yes, and we got every award related to 3D. We got three or four awards. One from the Advance Imaging Society, one from Camerimage, one Lumiere Award, and we got the French César for the Cinematography. We got a lot of awards for both the cinematography and the use of 3D.
Aguilar: For me the film is about a certain American duality, the one driven by intellectual pursuits, modernity, and invention, and the other that's more traditional, rural, and almost mythical. T.S.'s father is a cowboy and his mother is a scientist, but he is in between these two realities. .
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Yes. In someways I am T.S. Spivet because, like him, I love to draw sketches and to create some inventions. Sometimes I win an award like he does. I don't take the train - I'm afraid of trains - but I take an airplane to get my award and, like T.S., I like to go back to my ranch to draw sketches because I love doing that. I'm a lot like T.S. Spivet, but I'm not a genius.
Aguilar: It's also a film about American culture and some of its negative aspects. There is evidently a certain commentary about the culture of guns in this country, but there is also the talk show sequence, which is very much about how the media seeks conflict and exploits emotions as an spectacle.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: The guns especially are very American, but I didn't think about that when I made the film. But then, when you have an accident or a event involving guns happening in the U.S. almost every week, I realized I was speaking about that. The TV aspect is not only in the U.S., it's everywhere, even in France now. They are interested in controversy, scandal, polemic. That's everywhere now.
Aguilar: Tell about the production design, which is always perfect in your films. Every frame in every film you make is packed with so many whimsical details.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: I love that. I love to spend a lot of time to prepare and to create some objects just for the film. Now all these things are in my office in Paris. I have a collection of objects from all my films. I love details and I love to invent and be picky with everything. It's a kind of toy box. Orson Welles spoke about his electric train. It's kind of like a Meccano set in which everything is about making the most beautiful film you can. In this box you have the costumes, the dialogue, the music, the production design, you have everything, and the game is to use everything to build this toy.
Aguilar: Regarding "T.S. Spivet," were you concerned about the fact that one of the main plot points in the story is a young boy's death? Did you worry about how this would be perceived by the audience?
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: That was something in the book that I knew from the beginning wouldn't be easy. Of course, when you speak about the death of a kid it's not easy, especially for kids. But I accepted that because I was very moved by the speech at the end of the novel. That was a big moment to shoot with Kyle Catlett.
Aguilar: Dominique Pinon is in this film as in every one of your films. You always find a great role to include him.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: He can speak like an American because he was a student in the U.S, so I didn't see any reason not to include Dominique Pinon because he surprises me every time. This time it was very difficult because he only had two days and he came from Paris to do it. We shot for two nights and he came back for the premiere of the film in Paris tight before his theater play. Just in case Ron Perlman was ready to replace Dominique Pinon.
Aguilar: Kyle Catlett is incredibly charming in the film. How did you find the ideal young actor to play T.S. Spivet?
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: It's always the same story. You see thousands of kids and suddenly you have a surprise in front of you, by Skype now of course. My first reaction was, "He is too small, too little, too young. He is not T.S. Spivet" But when you have a kid who is a world champion in martial arts, he speaks five languages, and who is able to cry on command, you think, " Oh my God, this is an interesting kid. I have to meet him!" Little by little he became T.S. Spivet
Aguilar: Can you tell me about shooting the Amazon TV pilot, "Casanova."? I can't wait to see what you did with this story.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Yes. It's finished. They are be close to releasing it on Amazon. If I understand the rules of the game, if the spectators are happy with it they vote on the internet and say, "We want to see the first season of the series." If they don't say that it will be dead [Laughs]. Those are the rules of the game with Amazon, they are used to doing that. It's strange because they spent $10 million dollars to make something beautiful, and it's a project that makes me think about "Barry Lyndon" or "Dangerous Liaisons." I shot it like if it was a feature, thinking about the details, the costumes, and it was with my usual crew, almost everybody, and we made something beautiful. The director of photography is Pierre Gill, who was in charge of Second Unit in "T.S Spivet."
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: I had a great relationship with him. We became friends. Every night we were watching soccer together - the Champions League. He is a great actor and a good guy.
Aguilar: Are you working on a new feature film at all or are you waiting for the right project?
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: I was expecting an idea from you [Laughs].
Aguilar: You've worked in French and English, now you need to make a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film in Spanish.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Sure [Laughs]. I'm looking for something but it's very difficult because I would like to surprise myself. I always try to find something new and it's not so easy.
Aguilar: What's your take on the current state of cinema? TV is becoming more important and cinema is changing rapidly.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: There are so many movies now. When you want to watch a movie on VOD you have some many films to chose from, it's crazy. Now it's so difficult to make something that will endure like "Delicatessen" or "Amelie." Now it's very difficult because you have so many films. But I continue to think that I have to work just for my pleasure, which is very selfish in fact.
Aguilar: After so many years making films and facing all the struggles it involves, why are you still in love with cinema?
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: It's a pleasure to make. I also make something else just for the pleasure of it, and you can find it on my official site, which is English as well. In the news section you will find some pictures of animals I make with stuff found in nature. My wife finds some sticks, wood, or leaves, and I make animals out of them and it's the same process. It's a pleasure to make. Except with my animals I don't need financiers, I don't need money, I don't need a producer, and I don't need Harvey Weinstein to kill it. It's just a pleasure to make.
Aguilar: It's so unfortunate that the "T.S. Spivet" didn't get the released it deserved becasue of someone's control issues
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: It's a question of honor for him. He wants to reedit. He needs to reedit.
Aguilar: At least those lucky enough to see it will see your version. You've kept your creative integrity.
"The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet" is still playing in select theaters around the country. »
- Carlos Aguilar
Galloping into America’s heartland on a one-of-a-kind mechanical horse forged out materialized magical-realist fantasies, and wearing idiosyncratic boots drenched in saturated hues, French auteur Jean-Pierre Jeunet hand-crafted an adorably bittersweet and disarmingly imaginative odyssey in his most recent feature. Adapted from Reif Larsen's debut novel, "The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet" is imprinted with the director's unmistakable stylistic signature and it's thematically in sync with most works in his singular oeuvre. His whimsical eye for composition, production design, and overall aesthetic are magnified by the use of 3D cinematography in a story that touches on the duality of American identity via a heartwarming title character.
There was no one between than T.S. Spivet to serve as Jeunet’s exploratory vehicle into the United States, and given the filmmaker’s incomparable track record of visually marvelous journeys, he has the ideal sensibilities for the task of turning the book’s pages into live-action wonders. T.S. (Kyle Catlett) is a 10-year-old prodigy living an isolated Midwestern ranch with his atypical family. Like the director's most widely beloved character, Amélie Poulain, T.S. also feels disconnected from his parents after a tragic accident that killed his dizygotic twin Layton (Jakob Davies).
Obsessed with discovering a rare insect known as the “tiger monk beetle,” his mother Dr. Claire (Helena Bonham Carter) is emotionally out of touch with the family and finds refuge in her possibly-purposeless search. Meanwhile, T.S.’s father (Callum Keith Rennie), a straight-faced macho cowboy, is even less expressive. He refuses to discuss the incident or reassure his remaining son that he shouldn't feel guilty. The boy’s sister, Gracie (Niamh Wilson), is also not a reliable a source of comfort,as she a teenager captivated by the appeal of beauty pageants regardless of how these objectify women - a fact that her mother constantly reiterates.
Finding practical uses for abstract scientific concepts is T.S.’s strength, yet his extraordinary intelligence also alienates him from his loved ones. Not only does he live near the town of Divide, Montana, but his whole existence is marked by a divisive duality that places him at the intersection between academic brilliance and the unassuming rural lifestyle. His brother Layton was a country boy like his father, and together they enjoyed shooting their rifles, riding horses, and working the land. Being T.S.’s interest the opposite of that and more in tune with his mother’s pursuits, he feels ostracized.
Instinctively, when the Smithsonian’s Baird Award comes calling after Tecumseh Sparrow - which is what T.S. stands for - designs the first-ever perpetual motion machine, the young inventor has to lie about his age to Ms. Jibsen (a deliciously evil Judy Davis), the museum’s fame-hungry representative. Without informing his clueless family, T.S. embarks on a cross-country voyage to claim the prestigious decoration. Carrying a suitcase full of essential research tools, the skeleton of a dead sparrow that is said to have been found on the floor when he was born, a teddy bear, and his mother’s diary, the young Spivet is ready to catch a train ride This is by far not a conventional children’s adventure.
By employing his masterful ability to embed detailed imagery into all elements within the frame, Jeunet transforms every person and landscape T.S. encounters in his trip into an opportunity to juxtapose two versions of America. There is an America that thrives on innovation and another one that prides itself in tradition. The tiny hero leaves behind endless grasslands for geometrically perfect skyscrapers but finds himself perpetually stuck between the place where he needs to go to fulfill his potential and the place he calls home.
Polarizing concepts are not only visible in T.S. complex personal struggle, but they are also reflected in the way the director handles the risky tone of the film. Moments that veer into sentimental territory are countered balance with dark undertones that might prove harsh for some viewers, but which are necessary to paint a sophisticated picture of childhood without relying on simplistic and Disney-approved conventions. Death is real, guns are dangerous objects, parents are imperfect beings, and those who dare to challenge the norm are often misunderstood. But for all its truthful blows, Jeunet’s film is always adorned with gleeful innocence. Even its occasional plot missteps are redeemed by the genuinely delightful protagonist and the filmmaker’s decision to stay true to his playful nature.
It took a while for Jean-Pierre Jeunet and 3D cinematography to come together, but now that it’s happen it’s clear this technology was created for his wildly inventive mind. As T.S. dishes out incredibly specific facts about his world, nature’s processes, or unbelievable discoveries, these come to life in the form of animated diagrams that are prime material for cleverly used 3D. Though “The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet” is as astonishingly beautiful in 2D, when watched through the stereoscopic viewers (the more technical denomination for 3D glasses that T.S. would probably use), the artist’s intention is even more spectacular. It’s a luscious visual delicacy with a vibrant color palette and endless surprises along the way.
Inspired and in full form, Jeunet’s eye-popping elegance is unforgettable, but it wouldn’t be as touching without the correct sparrow looking for his pine tree thousands of miles away. Catlett’s performance is endearing, offbeat, and without the slightest sign of cynicism. T.S. is not an improbably naïve caricature, but a compassionate kid troubled by burdens beyond his age. He feels guilty over his brother’s death and doesn’t believe his father will ever love as much. Those emotional turn him from an inapproachable erudite into a child in need of guidance not from books but his unconditional family.
As the eternally distracted Dr. Claire, Bonham Carter delivers a handful of high notes, as does the rest of the supporting cast. However, a standout cameo comes from Dominique Pinon. He makes an appearance as a drifter by the name of “Two Clouds," to relay some rudimentary knowledge to T.S. only to have his thoughts pragmatically dismantled by the boy genius. Their shared screen time is brief but truly noteworthy. Pinon is perhaps Jeunet's favorite thespian as he has appeared in every single one of his features to date.
Boundless originality within a familiar framework defines “The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet,” and while it will certainly be as schismatic as the notion is confronts, it’s certain to be a rewarding pleasure for those fascinated with the director’s unorthodox filmmaking approach. Heartfelt storytelling and precise technique can coexist, just as scientific achievements and rural wisdom are not mutually exclusive. Intellectual obscurity only occurs in the indiscriminate separation of the two. Jeunet wants to find that utopian balance in which even the most theoretical of concepts can be connected to the more preciously mundane and often irrational aspects of life. Under Jeunet’s brush even T.S.’s most impressive invention eventually serves a functional purpose that ties his passion for empirical knowledge to the inner strength of his untainted heart.
Early in the film a museum lecturer (Mairtin O'Carrigan) asks his audience, “Those who pushed the boundaries of science were they not all poets? What if imagination started when science ended?” He asks those questions to prove that though most innovations feel implausible at first, there is always someone with enough disregard for impossibility to pursue such ventures. The dreamer and the scientist are one and the same.That’s how one can understand a visionary like Jeunet, as one of cinema’s finest Da Vincis whose voice manages to make the cerebral and the visceral sing in unison.
"The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet" is now playing across the U.S. »
- Carlos Aguilar
It was released here in the UK over a year ago [read our review here], but to coincide with its U.S. debut today, The Weinstein Company has released a new U.S. trailer for The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet, which sees French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet directing a cast that includes Callum Keith Rennie, Helena Bonham Carter, Dominique Pinon, Kyle Catlett, Judy Davis and Jakob Davies. Check it out here…
T.S. Spivet lives on a ranch in Montana with his mother who is obsessed with the morphology of beetles, his father (a cowboy born a hundred years too late) and his 14 year-old sister who dreams of becoming Miss America. T.S. is a 10 year-old prodigy with a passion for cartography and scientific inventions. One day, he receives an unexpected call from the Smithsonian museum telling him that he is the winner of the very prestigious Baird prize for his discovery of the »
- Gary Collinson
"They think I'm an adult." The Weinstein Company has put out a last minute new Us trailer for Jean-Pierre Jeunet's The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet. You've probably heard of this one before, because it opened in Europe two years ago, in 2013, and has been delayed by The Weinstein Company for release until now. They're quietly dumping the new Jeunet film in select theaters this weekend. We've posted at least one trailer for this a few years ago, but another brand new trailer has just debuted for this week's opening. Kyle Catlett (who went on to star in Poltergeist after making this) plays T.S. Spivet in this quirky adventure about a ten-year-old cartographer who travels solo across the country. I might still check it out sometime. The official Us trailer for Jean-Pierre Jeunet's The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet, via YouTube: The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet »
- Alex Billington
Harvey Weinstein, champion of auteur filmmakers? Not always. Earlier this year, Jean-Pierre Jeunet claimed Harv wanted to re-edit and/or recut his latest film, "The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet." It's a complaint that Bong Joon-Ho ("Snowpiercer") and Olivier Dahan ("Grace Of Monaco") have also recently leveled at the head of The Weinstein Company, but even their films got treated much better than this. Essentially being dumped into theaters tomorrow, the studio has finally released the first U.S. trailer for movie. How's that for support? Kyle Catlett, Niamh Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, Callum Keith Rennie, and Judy Davis star in the movie about a young boy who wins a contest at the Smithsonian Institute, which changes his life. Here's the official synopsis: T.S. Spivet lives on a ranch in Montana with his mother who is obsessed with the morphology of beetles, his father (a cowboy born a hundred years. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Reviewed by Stacey Beth
The second that news is released about any beloved horror film getting the remake treatment, there's usually a collective upheaval in the horror community and the film is almost immediately shunned. To be honest, I am not one of those horror fans that totally shuts a remake out; I'm an equal opportunity viewer. When it was announced that everyone's favorite haunted family was going to be given a contemporary spin, I was pissed...and then I wasn't...and then I saw the movie. I am pissed again.
If you're not familiar with the original story of Poltergeist, it follows a family whose home becomes plagued by spirits and when they're terrorized one night by all kinds of supernatural mayhem, these spirits kidnap the youngest daughter, Carol Anne. From there a group of paranormal investigators come in to help find the little girl with the aid of clairvoyant, »
Now playing in theaters is director Gil Kenan’s (Monster House) contemporary remake of the classic horror film Poltergeist. Produced by Sam Raimi, the redo stars Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt as parents trying to fend off a spiritual invasion and save their eight-year-old daughter (Kennedi Clements) from the evil forces trying to take her. The film also stars Jared Harris, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, Susan Heyward and Nicholas Braun. While some might be nervous about the remake, I was actually surprised by how well it’s put together. However, it’s definitely aimed at a younger audience, and it’s important to know that going in. For more on Poltergeist, here’s director Gil Kenan, the trailer, Perri’s review and a clip. At the recent Los Angeles press day, I spoke to Kenan. While I already posted part 1 of our conversation (he talked about his first cut of the film, »
- Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub
Now playing in theaters is director Gil Kenan’s (Monster House) contemporary remake of the classic horror film Poltergeist. Produced by Sam Raimi, the redo stars Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt as parents trying to fend off a spiritual invasion and save their eight-year-old daughter (Kennedi Clements) from the evil forces trying to take her. The film also stars Jared Harris, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, Susan Heyward and Nicholas Braun. While some might be nervous about the remake, I was actually surprised by how well it’s put together. However, it’s definitely aimed at a younger audience, and it’s important to know that going in. While I already posted the first part of my interview with Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt, it’s now time to watch them play “Save or Kill.” If you haven’t seen it yet, the game reveals which franchises, characters or bands someone »
- Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub
Chicago – Whether it’s the 1982 original or the remake just released in theaters today to the wrath of numerous fans, the lesson of “Poltergeist” remains the same: Don’t do a half-assed job when relocating skeletons for corporate greed, or suffer the supernatural consequences.
Fear not, however, as this is one remake that doesn’t just dress up a nostalgic skeleton for the modern horror crowd, but one that reminisces, and looks forward, with a mostly intelligent, genuine heart.
Produced by Sam Raimi and crediting its story to the one made Steven Spielberg, this remake of the 1982 Tobe Hooper film involves a new family, the Bowens, as they move into a house with its own bad mojo. There’s a weird electric air in their new home, which husband Eric (Sam Rockwell) and wife Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) have brought young Madison (Kennedi Clements), son Griffin (Kyle Catlett), and older daughter Kendra (Saxon Sharbino) into. »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
"They’re here." The 1982 horror classic Poltergeist, directed by Toby Hooper of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre fame, and highly influenced by Steven Spielberg, has been an influence for many horror films since its release. It's no surprise, especially for a horror film, that a remake would be inevitable. How does one fill the shoes of the original Poltergeist? You don’t. It’s impossible. Director Gil Kenan, who directed 2006’s animated Monster House, takes on the unenvied task of updating Poltergeist. With a few accomplished scenes and set pieces, this updated product hits all the highlights, but looses all the substance that made the original a portrait of quaint suburban life turned into a nightmare.
The Bowen family move into a suburban community and strange occurrences begin happening in their new home. Eric (Sam Rockwell) is looking for a fresh start after being recently laid off from his job »
- Monte Yazzie
Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist was one of my first horror movies and perhaps the first to give me nightmares (thankfully there’s 24-hour programming now because the thought of that late night TV sign-off still gives me the creeps). When you hold a film so near and dear, it’s tough not to walk into a screening of the remake ready to tear it apart for exploiting the original, but the new Poltergeist is actually a nice surprise. Is it as good as the original? No, but it does rock some fantastic performances, a very appealing sense of humor and a whole bunch of fun scares, too. It certainly won’t wind up becoming a classic like the original, but it’s still a good time if you’re looking for an entertaining thrill. Similar to the 1982 original, Gil Kenan’s Poltergeist focuses on a family of five, Eric (Sam Rockwell »
- Perri Nemiroff
Now playing in theaters is director Gil Kenan’s (Monster House) contemporary remake of the classic horror film Poltergeist. Produced by Sam Raimi, the redo stars Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt as parents trying to fend off a spiritual invasion and save their eight-year-old daughter (Kennedi Clements) from the evil forces trying to take her. The film also stars Jared Harris, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, Susan Heyward and Nicholas Braun. While some might be nervous about the remake, I was actually surprised by how well it’s put together. However, it’s definitely aimed at a younger audience, and it’s important to know that going in. A few days ago I sat down with Gil Kenan for a video interview. He talked about his first cut of the film, deleted scenes, what he learned from the test screening process, how he’s releasing an extended cut on Blu-ray, what »
- Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub
What made Tobe Hooper's -- or Steven Spielberg's, depending on whom you ask -- Poltergeist so iconic was how it blended a mix of humor, heart and character with the same atmosphere and tension. It became the rare mainstream Hollywood thriller with just the right technical and creative talent to shine. In turn, Gil Kenan's 2015 remake is disappointing in how it's basically the opposite: cold, generic and entirely ho-hum. It's by no means the worst horror remake of late, but that it has the skills behind-and-in-front of the camera to exceed and only settles on mediocrity makes this re-imagining almost as degrading. Kenan's take follows the Bowen family, which includes the recently unemployed Eric (Sam Rockwell), his wife Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) and their three children -- older daughter Kendra (Saxon Sharbino), son Griffin (Kyle Catlett) and youngest daughter Madison (Kennedi Clements) -- as they've just moved into a new suburban home. »
- Will Ashton
Here are the films opening theatrically in the U.S. the week of Friday, May 22. [Synopses provided by distributor unless listed otherwise.] Wide Poltergeist Director: Gil Kenan Cast: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris, Kennedi Clements, Kyle Catlett, Saxon Sharbino Synopsis: "The Bowens are like any other Californian suburban family. But one night their youngest, 5-year-old Madison, hears a voice from inside the television set. At first there is an invasion of friendly spirits, but then a force of evil threatens to destroy them." Tomorrowland Director: Brad Bird Cast: Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Thomas Robinson, Hugh Laurie, Raffey Cassidy, Kathryn Hahn Synopsis: "Bound by a shared destiny, a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor jaded by disillusionment embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space that exists in their »
- Steve Greene
Well, the big studios have finally gotten around to another summer cinema staple. Let’s see, for 2015 we’ve had a couple of sequels (Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Pitch Perfect 2), a reboot (Mad Max: Fury Road), and a brassy lady-driven comedy (Hot Pursuit). So now, it’s time for that other, often dreaded, “R-word”: the remake (usually called a “re-imagining” by sneaky PR types). Oh, and this is another 1980’s classic like January 2014’s Robocop. But we’ll go back a few years before that shoot-em-up satire of 1987. It’s 1982, the summer of Spielberg, when he had his biggest (at that time) box office smash with E.T. The Extra-terrestrial. Now Mr. S wrote and directed that one, but a few weeks before that opened, he produced and wrote another huge hit. Now, yet another prominent blockbuster director, Sam Raimi, is the producer of this new scare-fest. To paraphrase »
- Jim Batts
The players have changed but the story remains the same with a few slight alterations. And I do mean slight rendering this remake ultimately pointless. The Bowen family is down on their luck. Eric (Sam Rockwell) has recently been laid off from his longterm gig with John Deere and Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a struggling writer and stayathome mom. Their three children Kendra (Saxon Sharbino) Griffin (Kyle Catlett) and Maddy (Kennedi Clements) arent too jazzed to make this move to a lesser neighborhood a lesser house and a lesser life. But they are a unit and so they stick together. »
Though the calendar dawn of summer is still a month away, the 2015 summer movie season is already in full swing. So far, it’s off to a pretty strong start: whether you’re looking for a new tentpole release from Marvel, the thunderous return of a long-dormant franchise, or some brainy sci-fi, the multiplex has got you covered. All the same, it’ll take a number of other surprises and successes before 2015’s blockbuster season earns the same hallowed reputation as 1982’s “Summer of Spielberg.” E.T., Star Trek II, and Rocky III all landed within a two-week span of one another, making for a summer slate so crowded that even the year’s 8th highest-grossing film, Poltergeist, could seem like an afterthought.
- Sam Woolf
Opening this weekend is director Gil Kenan’s (Monster House) contemporary remake of the classic horror film Poltergeist. Produced by Sam Raimi, the redo stars Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt as parents trying to fend off a spiritual invasion and save their eight-year-old daughter (Kennedi Clements) from the evil forces trying to take her. The film also stars Jared Harris, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, Susan Heyward andNicholas Braun. The other day I sat down with Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt to talk about the film. They revealed what they liked about the script, memorable moments from filming, if they saw the original and if it scared them, and discussed why are clowns so horrifying. Watch what they had to say below. For more on Poltergeist, here’s the trailer and a clip. [complextv contentid="1qM3c3dTrZ4jotajkRoQqkmp_e2gNWCL" sitename="collider" playerid="26aa5f02d93f4c05a4546f6d5ecb59b7" adsetid="67a3ff9d3a842ae818bb9de1badc5b0" width="600" height="360" keywords=""] [caption id="attachment_396917" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Image via Fox[/caption]
- Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub
The new Poltergeist has its moments, but could have used a few more...
The 1982 Poltergeist was, almost entirely an analog film. Perhaps there was a digital clockface here or there, maybe the script passed through some kind of word processor, but it was definitely a product of old-school, 35mm filmmaking with nary a CG beastie in sight.
The new Poltergeist is, of course, anything but. This is a digital film, both in practicality and in theme. And it takes place in a digital world, from the the very first moments, when an intense close-up of LCD pixels floats in the 3D the space behind the screen, right through to the big centrepiece battle, with its employment of Ir cameras, Gps tracking and a flying drone.
Poltergeist has, both inside its narrative and on the set, been modernised. Perhaps this is most important in what it means for the dynamics of the central family. »
"Legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi (“Spiderman,” “Evil Dead”, “The Grudge”) and director Gil Kenan (“Monster House”) contemporize the classic tale about a family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces. When the terrifying apparitions escalate their attacks and hold the youngest daughter captive, the family must come together to rescue her before she disappears forever."
A remake of the 1982 film of the same name that was directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) and produced and co-written by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist is rated PG-13 and will hit theaters in 2D and 3D on May 22nd.
To read »
- Derek Anderson
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