10 items from 2016
Director Gus Van Sant gave Casey Affleck his first acting job at 19—as one of the high school students Nicole Kidman seduces in “To Die For”—and they later became friends that collaborated on “Good Will Hunting” and “Gerry.” For this week’s cover story on Affleck and his performance in “Manchester by the Sea,” Van Sant talked to Variety about working with the actor, now 41, over the years.
“To Die For” (1995): “It was set in New Hampshire, and the Boston accent was semi-accurate to the area. It was actually Matt Damon who had come in for an interview about the role of Jimmy [later played by Joaquin Phoenix], and he said that we should meet. Casey just seemed really great for the character of Russel. There were a couple things about not casting Matt. He was older. The character was 16, and Matt was 23. And also, Matt was very all-American looking and the character »
- Ramin Setoodeh
The last person who’d ever want to watch a Casey Affleck movie is Casey Affleck. “I don’t like it, in the way you don’t like hearing your own voice on the machine,” Affleck says over a long lunch in a vegan restaurant in West Hollywood. The conversation starts with routine chitchat but twists at this revelation: Affleck hasn’t seen many of his big-screen appearances, including “The Finest Hours” (in which he plays the engineer of a sinking ship), “Triple 9” (a cop), “The Killer Inside Me” (a sociopath), the Eddie Murphy comedy “Tower Heist” (a concierge), or even Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” (the brother). “It’s a bummer,” Affleck says, “because I like Nolan, and I love science fiction. But I didn’t want to watch that.”
On a Saturday afternoon last January, Affleck broke his own rule when he quietly slid into an aisle seat »
- Ramin Setoodeh
Give “Desierto” credit for this: There has never been a more appropriate time for a tense thriller about Mexican immigrants avoiding the murderous advances of a gun-wielding American lunatic. Released a little over a year after Donald Trump labeled the majority of undocumented Mexicans living in the U.S. as drug-dealing rapists in the same breath as announcing his presidency, the first feature from director Jonas Cuarón (the son of “Gravity” director Alfonso, with whom the younger Cuarón wrote the screenplay) doesn’t deliver much in the way of ingenuity. But it’s baked in a topical kind of dread.
“Desierto” takes the form of a minimalist B-movie, spending only a modicum of time setting up the premise before settling into the prolonged cat-and-mouth dynamic that dominates the story. After a handful of Mexicans assemble on the outskirts of the U.S. border, surrounded by barren desert, their transit hits »
- Eric Kohn
It’s been six years since Casey Affleck attempted to fool the world with I’m Still Here – the infamous mockumentary in which Joaquin Phoenix retired from acting to become a rap artist. Since then, he has developed a number of potential new projects to helm, but Light Of My Life is seemingly the first to reach the point of becoming a real movie.
Being so early in the process, there are few details to be found on the project. What is known is that Affleck will be directing from his own script, and will also star as a father trapped in the woods with his young daughter in a ‘post-pandemic’ kind of situation. This makes Light Of My Life more of a survival movie, but with an interesting pedigree.
While, in terms of dramatic performances, Affleck certainly does seem to favour narratives of the more bleak persuasion (The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford »
- Sarah Myles
This fall semester I started taking an Italian language class two evenings a week with my daughter, and Thursday night I was looking to decompress after our first big quiz. (Scores haven’t been revealed yet, but I think we did just fine.) So I started rummaging through my shelves and came across the Warner Archives DVD of Francesco Maselli’s A Fine Pair (1968), an ostensibly breezy romantic caper comedy which reteams Rock Hudson and Claudia Cardinale, a pairing their public was presumably clamoring for after their previous outing together in Blindfold (1965), a Universal programmer written and directed by Phillip Dunne, the screenwriter of, among many other notable movies, How Green Was My Valley. I’ve had a mad crush on Claudia ever since I first saw her in Circus World (1964) with John Wayne when I was but a youngster, and I always welcome the chance to visit movies of »
- Dennis Cozzalio
Telluride, Colo. — “Oh, well, it’s about time,” Casey Affleck jokingly exclaims when asked about receiving a tribute from the Telluride Film Festival this year. In truth, he confides, it’s a bit embarrassing for him.
But he’s too modest. He’s actually a natural selection for the festival, which has a tendency to eschew “lifetime achievement” territory with some of its tributes, opting for artists who might be in the prime of their career, or even, at times, in its early stages.
Ostensibly, though, the celebration is an excuse to drum up attention for Affleck’s performance in Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea,” a withdrawn, breathtakingly internalized piece of work that could land him his second Academy Award nomination to date.
On the eve of the festival, Affleck sat down to discuss the film with Variety.
You’ve collaborated with Kenneth Lonergan on a number of theater projects and now, »
- Kristopher Tapley
At 41, Casey Affleck still has the air of a young man, but he’s hardly a newcomer. Once primarily known as the younger brother of movie star Ben, the Massachusetts native has paved his own path. With prominent roles in idiosyncratic American indies ranging from Gus Van Sant’s “Gerry” to “Lonesome Jim,” Affleck carved out a niche with his fragile, unassuming screen presence and the flashes of intensity that occasionally broke through. Those attributes have served him well in roles as diverse as his unsettling psychopathic turn in Michael Winterbottom’s “The Killer Inside Me” to Andrew Dominik’s poetic western “The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford,” which landed Affleck his first Oscar nomination.
Now he’s back on the awards circuit with “Manchester By the Sea, »
- Eric Kohn
“Mimosas,” the second feature from Morocco-based director Oliver Laxe, won the Nespresso Grand Prize at this year’s Cannes Critics’ Week, and Nespresso isn’t a terrible idea for anyone who walks in without preparation for this minimalist travelogue and crypto-Western, which offers relatively few clues to its goals and intents. Still, those familiar with the ethnographic works of Ben Rivers (who gets a thanks in the closing credits) and the films of Argentine director Lisandro Alonso (“Jauja”) will find much to admire in the movie’s combination of spiritual musings and stunning landscapes. Favoring longueurs by design, it is a decidedly noncommercial project that asks to be taken or left on its own terms.
Laxe’s first feature, “You All Are Captains” (which showed in Directors’ Fortnight in 2010), combined fiction and documentary elements, and he has said that “Mimosas” was inspired by his own travels with Saïd Aagli, who »
- Ben Kenigsberg
With 16 features in a career spanning over 30 years, Gus Van Sant remains one of the biggest anomalies in contemporary American cinema. After all, how can one director be responsible for such diverse films as the minimalist masterpiece Gerry (2002), the Sean Connery tearjerker Finding Forrester (2000) and a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho (1998), which is clearly the most bizarre narrative experiment to ever star Vince Vaughn? (Not counting the “rats” monologue from Season 2 of True Detective.) Van Sant is behind some of the more influential independent films of the last three decades, first with
- Jordan Mintzer
The Cannes Film Festival is known for being the home for some spectacular flops over the years, and last spring, that honor went to Gus Van Sant's "The Sea Trees." Oliver Lyttelton said it “mixes the thrills of ‘Gerry’ with the subtlety of ‘Finding Forrester’ and the originality of the ‘Psycho’ redo,” which is to say, it's not very good, and it's not a big surprise the movie was kept off the festival circuit after that. Read More: New Photos Of Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe, And Naomi Watts In Gus Van Sant's 'Sea Of Trees' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe, and Naomi Watts, the movie follows a suicidal American on his way to die in the the dense Aokigahara forest near Mt. Fuji, who befriends a Japanese man lost in the woods, and the two search for a way out. Here's the synopsis from Cannes: Arthur Brennan (McConaughey) treks into Aokigahara, »
- Kevin Jagernauth
10 items from 2016
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