There is a wonderful eagerness with which Sam — Andrew Garfield (“Breathe”) at a career high — accepts the miraculous nonsense of “Under the Silver Lake.”
His refusal to spend more than one perfect facial reaction questioning the bombardment of bizarre is, in large part, why director David Robert Mitchell (“It Follows”) gets away with the most unrelentlessly odd film of the year. It’s how he out-Lynches Lynch and out-Jonzes Jonze.
Sam is 33, white, horny and unemployed in L.A. He’s not just “working on a script” unemployed, he’s directionless without seeming to want direction. Or rather, he thinks direction will come find him, preferably in the form of secret codes planted by other modern geniuses in popular culture. When his mysterious neighbor Sarah (Riley Keough, “American Honey”) disappears as quickly and seamlessly as she appears, Sam is finally called to action. The universe demands he quit his day job of spying on his aging, topless neighbor and uncover what the hell is going on under the Silver Lake. Sam follows the bread crumbs that align so perfectly (the film more than earns this narrative ease) it’s a wonder he didn’t plant them himself.
He takes us through a version of L.A. that bears a striking resemblance to “La La Land.” Not in its choice landmarks per se, but in the way it constructs the city around cinematic homage. Extremely meta. But while “La La Land” earns charm from its referential existence, “Silver Lake” gets an added layer of unease. What came first: Los Angeles or the on-screen version of it? Mitchell has more than just Hollywood in his sights though, as Sam’s journey drags the audience deeper and deeper into the maze (sometimes literally) of the film’s plot. It becomes obvious Sam believes the world was created just for him. Beyond the codes and keys and messages in songs, Sam believes he deserves everything just because he exists. His undeserved want manifests itself brilliantly in the way he views women.
From the moment we meet him, behind a pair of binoculars on his porch, Sam is the leering male gaze incarnated. He wants women so they should want him. He wants sex so he deserves it. The infatuation that sets the plot in motion is born, more than anything, out of an unresolved sexual fantasy. Andrew Garfield’s specifically twitchy brand of skinny-guy acting has never been better. He is equal parts compelling and unsettling as Sam. It is as satisfying to see him succeed, as it is to see him fail. “Under the Silver Lake” plants a thousand seeds and reaps every single one.
Although inane, the trail Sam follows is airtight. Every twist and turn pays off. As he did with his other two features, Mitchell reimagines what is possible for a genre and pushes his film well beyond the limits of the expected. “Under the Silver Lake” is brilliantly acted, a perfect neo-noir and a biting social commentary. And it’s fun — it’s so much fun
Golden Globe nominee Riley Keough and producer Gina Gammell have launched a new production company, Deadline reports.
The company, Felix Culpa, has already acquired the rights to three books and will collaborate on film and TV projects with producers including Studio 8, Scott Free, Pilgrim Media Group, and Regan Arts.
“Gina and I are so excited to launch Felix Culpa with three distinctive, character-driven stories,” said Keough, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance on The Girlfriend Experience. “We are, very simply, lovers of film and literature. Our company is dedicated to developing material that gives a voice to talent and stories that deserve attention and need to be heard.”
“While Riley and I are interested in telling all kinds of human stories, as women filmmakers, we are proud that the first three projects out of the gate for Felix Culpa happen to feature wild, complicated, intelligent female protagonists,” Gammell said. “We look forward to discovering new, compelling material to bring to the screen.”
Sweet Lamb of Heaven is an intense domestic thriller that follows a woman fleeing her estranged husband, while Heartthrob tells the story of a woman who receives a heart transplant and then falls in love with a master thief who also happens to be the donor. The Curse of Beauty is a thoughtful, investigative look into the life and death of 1920s actress and artist model Audrey Munson.
Felix Culpa’s first three productions sound incredibly promising, and we can’t wait to see what else the company has in store.
With “Girlfriend Experience” and “American Honey,” can we start with what 2016 meant to you? What was that year like?
It’s weird because I’ve been doing independent film for eight years. I was just doing my thing, and, all of a sudden it was just a bigger deal than normal. [Laughs] I was totally surprised. I don’t know. It’s weird.
Why did it all come together?
It was a mixture between timing and the roles and life and what’s happening in the world. It’s just timing.
Also, if you do good work long enough it gets recognized.
What does the awards recognition mean to you?
I don’t know. It was really great because I felt really supported by Independent Film, which was really cool. That made me really happy. The Spirit nomination meant so much to me. I watched it for years and was like, ‘That’s the room I want to be in. These are the people that I like.’ It’s just really special. It’s funny because I don’t know how I feel about awards necessarily. I was actually trying to figure out what it means to me because it’s not something I’ve thought about much until it happened.
You can’t plan for it.
Totally. I think I have to simplify it because people can get weird about it. For me, if you get awards or nominations, it does help you do more. I was talking to Andrea about this at Cannes, and she was like ‘Awards have helped me further my career.’ And just to be recognized by people you look up to is really nice.
You’ve done Sundance a few times. How is this Sundance different?
It’s an emotional thing for me. I love Sundance so much. I love being around people who love film so much and their energy. So I always love being at Sundance. It’s definitely one of my favorite festivals because it feels alive and excited. I really love it. It’s different in a couple ways. It’s different in that my schedule is a little more chill. I just have this and I’m more supporting so I’m not obliged to do everything. Last year my schedule was really crazy. It was fun but I can be able to see movies this year. Last year, I wasn’t able to see anything and you feel like an idiot. People are like ‘What have you seen?’ And you’re like, ‘My own movie? Three times?’ Also, it’s nice to be here right now where we’re all so, I think, like-minded. We’re still just doing our thing and trying to change things in the world. It’s a very supportive community and I feel really lucky to have that, especially today. We’re all trying to put our attention to art.
Let’s get to the movie. What attracted you to this project?
I love Charlie. And, also, I read the script, and it’s something I’ve never seen tackled directly before.
The afterlife. And not being super-ambiguous about it. This is what happens. It’s an interesting take on it and I’ve never thought of it before and I think of a lot of things. [Laughs] Pat myself on the back. It was a take I had never really seen. Also, there’s this element to it that was about family emotions and it was purely just sci-fi. It was in this sort of genre when I read it where it was a few different things.
Like “The One I Love.”
Exactly. So, it was a few different things. It was not something I read before …
So is that important to you when you get a script? Originality?
Oh, yeah. That’s like my main thing. If I read something and I’m like ‘I’ve never read something like this before,’ that makes me so excited. To be a part of it.
How important is it who you’re working with? I looked at what you have coming up …
And you see it’s very impressive. [Laughs]
Yeah. Yes. It’s really important. Trusting your director is essential. For me, it’s having the same taste—films I like.
So, their previous work.
Yes, their previous work, exactly. A lot of the times it’s just that the artists I’m obsessed with want to hire me. [Laughs]
You’re a fan.
I’m a fan. I’m a HUGE fan. And then it’s the script. It’s all those things. I love working with newer filmmakers. By newer, I mean three movies. Charlie. David Robert Mitchell. Trey Shults. It’s super-innovative and exciting to me. Then I also love old-school. Steven Soderbergh.
How’s Charlie different from all these people?
Charlie is an interesting mix between … he’s super low-key and that energy is so important when you’re working. It allows you to do what you want and not feel restricted. But he also knows what he wants, so it’s not ‘Yeah, do whatever. Do your thing. I’ll watch.’ It’s not that loose. He’s chill, which allows you to feel free as an artist, but he also knows what he wants. He’s really easy to work with.
You don’t have as much back-story or material as Jason or Rooney, but you make an impact. How much back-story do you do for a character like this to make sure you make that impact?
A lot. I go as far as I can with everything. For me, I have to or else something will come up I don’t know and it freaks me out. I had figured out her whole story for myself.
Do you do that every time?
Mm-hmm. I don’t know. It would be weird for me [not to].
Do you do that alone or with Charlie?
A lot of times I’ll get what the director says and get the main things and then I’ll find stuff for myself that’s personal to me. I find if I talk about it then it gets weird. I listen to what they think and then add a bunch of random shit.
An actor once told me every movie is a learning experience so what did we learn here?
It’s so true. [Thinks] I learned how to openly be resentful. I know that sounds crazy. She decided to be unapologetically fucking angry and hurt, and that’s something I have a problem with. I tend to go inward. It makes you think, ‘Is that the right thing to do?’ It made me think a lot. I always do movies that make me think but I don’t really know what the result is. [Laughs]
What was the most challenging element of this?
I think existing in her struggle and being uncomfortable. I had anxiety when we were shooting. Being in her universe and having anxiety was a weird combination, but it was a really cool experience.
“The Discovery” premieres on Netflix on March 31, 2017.
Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road, American Honey) and Danish star Sofie Grabol (The Killing) have joined the cast of The House That Jack Built, the upcoming drama from controversial Danish director Lars von Trier (Nymphomaniac).
Keough and Grabol will play two of the women who cross paths with Jack, the film’s titular serial killer, played by Matt Dillon.
The film is told from Jack’s point of view. He is a highly intelligent killer who has spent a decade perfecting the art of the perfect murder. But as the police begin to close in, he starts taking greater and greater risks in his attempt to create the ultimate artwork. Originally planned as a TV series, The House That Jack Built is set in the 1970s, before DNA evidence was used in murder cases.
Swiss actor Bruno Ganz (Downfall) will play Verge, a mysterious man who engages Jack in a recurring conversation about his actions and thoughts.
Shooting on The House That Jack Built will begin in Trollhattan, Sweden in March and move to Copenhagen in May. The film will mark the first time von Trier shoots in his native Denmark since Dancer in the Dark in 2000. The Copenhagen Film Fund is backing The House That Jack Built with $1.15 million (€1.08 million) in production subsidies.
“Copenhagen Film Fund is incredibly proud that Lars von Trier will be shooting parts of his upcoming feature in Copenhagen, Denmark after shooting abroad for years,” said Copenhagen Film Fund CEO Thomas Gammeltoft. “Besides that, it is always exciting to see that Lars is able to attract high profile actors from all around the world, who all see it as an opportunity to grow and a privilege to work closely with him. We will do our best to make sure they have an amazing stay in Copenhagen and we are most proud to be able to contribute to the making of this major international feature.”
Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgard and James Badge Dale will star in Hold the Dark, Netflix’s adventure thriller from director Jeremy Saulnier.
Riley Keough and James Bloor are also cast in the project, which is Saulnier’s follow-up to his acclaimed Anton Yelchin thriller Green Room.
Dark adapts the book by William Giraldi and is set in a remote Alaskan wilderness in which wolves have taken and killed children. A wolf-expert biologist is called in to investigate, but finds himself in between a secret-harboring mother, who disappears, and her husband, who goes on a maniacal spree when he returns from Iraq and learns of his son’s death. White, cold snow runs red with hot blood.
Wright will play the biologist caught up in the spree, while Badge Dale is a detective who wants to catch the husband, to be played by Skarsgard. Keough will play the mother and Bloor a creepy drifter.
The movie is looking at shooting in Alberta, Canada, in March.
The Actors’ filmography:
Skarsgard last year starred as Tarzan in The Legend of Tarzan and appears opposite Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon in HBO’s Big Little Lies. He is repped by CAA and Hansen Jacobson.
Badge Dale was part of Michael Bay’s 13 Hours and recently wrapped The Empty Man, Fox’s adaptation of a Boom! comic. He is repped by CAA and MJ Management.
Keough, who appeared in Mad Max: Fury Road, has two films recently wrapped: noir thriller Under the Silver Lake by It Follows filmmaker David Robert Mitchell and Logan Lucky from Steven Soderbergh. She is repped by WME.
Bloor, repped by CAA and Grandview, is a newcomer who will not only be seen in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot Leatherface, but also in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.
While at Sundance Film Festival, the reporter Jordan Raup of the Film Stage sat down with the actress Riley Keough to discuss the emotional sci-fi film, how realistic it might be, the ethical questions behind it, as well her promising upcoming year, her favorite sci-fiction films, her thoughts on television after The Girlfriend Experience, and much more. Check out the conversation below.
The Film Stage: There’s great world-building right from the beginning, and I was curious if it was all in the script, or did Charlie talk to you about backstories with any characters?
Riley Keough: We talked a little bit about backstories, definitely with Lacey, because I mean we kind of touched a little bit on her backstory in scenes. I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know what he’s done in terms of cinematography, but I saw the trailer… and it looks so beautiful. So I don’t know what he’s done. I kind of get a sense that it looks very beautiful and cool and amazing.
Yeah, the cinematographer, Sturla Brandth Grøvlen, also shot Rams and Victoria. Did you see either?
Rams, yeah. I love Rams!
This movie is more emotionally grounded rather than something like Primer, where it gets scientific. Did that emotional core attract you?
Yeah. It’s funny, because I read it and it felt almost like an emotional family journey a little bit, you know? And that was interesting to me, in this sci-fi world.
And one of your best scenes is with Robert Redford, where you kind of stand toe-to-toe. It’s probably one of the most emotionally vulnerable scenes of the movie.
I wouldn’t know. [Laughs]
What was it like just being next him?
It was a trip. It took me a couple of days to get used to not just being in a scene and being like, “This is Robert Redford.” [Laughs] By the time we shot that scene, I’d hung with him and luckily that wasn’t my first scene with him, so I was able to kind of get into the characters. It throws you when there’s someone like that, you know? It was also one of those moments, where I was like, “Oh my God, this is the coolest thing ever.” And now being at Sundance in a film with Bob, it’s crazy.
One of the other performances I loved was Jesse Plemons.
He’s just incredible.
His character is so disheveled.
He’s so wild, I love him. I just couldn’t stop staring at him.
There’s like a few scenes where he’ll just do his own thing. Did that surprise you on set?
I think that’s just him, or his character. I found it really fascinating. I found a lot of love for him. We worked together like six days or something, but I felt like I just wanted to hug him. He’s just so brilliant and interesting.
Did you see The One I Love?
Yeah, I loved it. I think Charlie’s amazing. It’s so different from this so. It’s funny when you’re trying to get the sense of what a film is going to be like when it’s completely different from their past films. He’s just a really good filmmaker.
Yeah, with only two films it’s crazy what he can do.
The world is so fascinating. I only read the basic logline before I saw the film and was surprised. Literally 98% of the film is about death, but it’s also really funny.
Were you interested how he would create the afterlife?
Totally. That’s a hard thing to do. I didn’t really know until the trailer, and I’ll see it tomorrow, but how he was going to do it. Once I got into the house, the mansion where we were filming in, and I could kind of see the vibe. He sent me pictures before we were shooting of locations, things to sort of get the tone. And I thought it was super interesting, I’ve never seen anything like it before.
What are some of your favorite sci-fi films?
I love Shane Carruth’s films. I honestly love sci-fi. So I loved Arrival. I love Alien, Predator. I love all that shit.
I was actually thinking about Arrival a lot with this movie, because the way he weaves in different backstories and it builds to a crazy conclusion that only gets revealed at the end.
When you were reading the script were you guessing ahead or were you surprised at the ending?
I was surprised. I have never read anything like it. So I when I first started reading it I was like, “Oh, it’s this thing.” And then I kept reading this I was like, “Oh no, it’s this thing.” And then I was bit confused and then, you know…
Then all is revealed.
Kicking off with The Discovery, you have quite a year with It Comes at Night, Under the Silver Lake, and Logan Lucky. They are probably four of my most-anticipated films of the year.
Yeah, you are waiting to see them too! How do you choose your projects? Do they come to you? Or do you seek out these directors?
I just try and stick with things that I love. Things that I can’t not be in. They’re different. It Comes at Night and Under a Silver Lake. Both of those I read and I was like I haven’t seen this movie yet. It excites me and I have to have that feeling in order to do something.
I know they are both very secretive movies, but I will ask you about the directors’ previous films. What was your reaction when you saw It Follows?
I loved it. I was like this is crazy! I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t know the background. I didn’t know it was arthouse. I didn’t know anything about him and I just saw it randomly on TV. And I was like, that was so trippy. And then I looked into it, and saw like, oh, it was being recognized.
Krisha was a little different. A24 picked it up and it was overlooked, but they have kind of nurtured him as a filmmaker. And that’s a pretty amazing film.
Oh my God, yeah. It’s so obvious. If you give a guy like $10 to make this film and it was brilliant. To me it was an indie classic. It’s so funny because he’s such a normal guy. You are always expecting filmmakers to be a bit weird, and he’s just so easy and normal and chill and nice to be around. And he just feels kind of like your brother, which is cool.
So, do you usually wait like for the premiere to see your film?
It depends on the filmmaker. Sometimes I don’t even want to see the film. I like to see it before I do press because I like to know what I’m talking about. Sometimes they’ll cut things or change things. But generally it seems like consistently that filmmakers want you to wait for the premiere.
With this movie Netflix is releasing it in March. I’m curious how do you mostly consume movies?
I love going to the theater. I also love watching movies at home. I’ve been making time this last year to go to the theater more than I normally do. But I am busy and I do watch things on my computer and on my TV at home. I like both. There’s so many different ways to watch movies.
Speaking of watching movies at home, I just caught Lovesong since I missed it last year. It was just an incredible performance, and your chemistry with Jena Malone is great. What was your experience bringing that to Sundance last year?”
It was so cool. I love Sundance. It’s the one time I get to pretend I went to film school. It’s just such a good environment, out of all the festivals. The enthusiasm towards independent films is like, “I want to live here forever and just talk about movies all day.” It’s my favorite thing to do. Last year was amazing because I had The Girlfriend Experience premiere here and Lovesong. So I had a week of talking about movies and hanging around interesting, cool filmmakers and I loved it. I love Sundance.
With The Girlfriend Experience, it almost felt like a movie because it’s such a cinematically interesting show. Did that open your eyes in the future of maybe being more interested in television?
Definitely! It was the first TV thing I’ve ever done, but the transition was super easy, because it was basically like, “We are filming this like one long movie.” It wasn’t anything different from what I’ve been used to. So it was an amazing experience. And at first I was like, oh, this is good because I only have to do one season and then if I don’t like it, I’m not stuck. But now I’m kind of bummed, because I really liked it and I love all those guys. I’m excited to see season 2.
I read an interview with you last year where you mentioned maybe being interested in writing and directing yourself. You’ve already worked with so many amazing directors already. What do you glean from them?
Yeah, I watch and hang around as much as possible. Most actors just work and then go to their trailer and sit down. I feel like a nerd because I want to go hang out and see what’s everyone’s doing. I’ve always watched everybody and see how people work. I think what I’ve learned is that there’s just no right or wrong way. You just have to stick to your aesthetic and what you like, because everyone’s so different. Sometimes I’ll work with someone and they’ll be like, “That’s right.” Just get it on the first take and then you are good. And that’s that. And then I’ll work with another director that does like 800 takes, but that’s also really cool. I just think you have to find out what works for you and stay true to who you are as opposed to trying to be somebody else.
You recently worked with Soderbergh again. What was your experience on Logan Lucky?
It was amazing.
It was his first movie in three or four years. What was is like seeing him back? Was he just having the time of his life?
He’s just so funny. You never know what the hell he’s thinking. Because he’s not a man of a lot of words. He’s great. I love him to death. He’s one of my favorite people. It means a lot.
I just remember when the casting was coming out how every new actor that joined, it was completely unexpected.
Yeah, it was so random.
When you were learning that were you wondering how it was going to fit together?
Yeah, it’s funny with Steven, you just have to go with it. You don’t know what you’re getting into sometimes and he’s just so brilliant. And I’ve seen enough of it to get the vibe I just think it’s going to be pretty great.
Well, back to The Discovery. One of the interesting things it brings up is the ethical quandaries where four million people and counting have committed suicide. Do you think if this actually happened, is this a realistic depiction of what the world would be like?
I don’t know. I never thought of that before. And the funny thing is, one of the reasons I want to do this film is because I think about this shit all the time. I think about what happens after you die probably every day. I probably spend way too much time thinking about it and having an existential crisis about it. And it’s never something I thought of. It just seems so simple. If the afterlife is proven, probably a lot of people would kill themselves. I think that it would happen. For sure. If it was proven that it was a somewhat decent place to go.
I like how the movie gives you answer for the afterlife, but doesn’t answer everything.
Yeah, I talked to Charlie about it a lot. I had never read something that was such an openly stated thing. It wasn’t something super ambiguous. He made a decision. And that was cool to me.
Yeah. You’re not guessing if there’s an afterlife. The movie jumps ahead. What was the prep process?
I met Charlie. I was an hour late to our meeting, because I had the wrong time. [Laughs] He still was there, which was great. We just talked about about life, the afterlife, the film. I just really liked him and then I heard that he wanted to use me for Lacey. Then we just talked a little bit about her backstory. His thoughts on it, my thoughts on it.
Specifically with your character and the group you are with, they bring up the question of whether it’s a cult. What’s your take on Robert Redford’s character? His power over these people?
I think anybody who is smart, innovative, and intelligent has power over people. That doesn’t mean that they’re wrong. If someone has the presence to command this many people, I think that’s accurate. Because if you look at people who are in high positions it’s because they are so genius. Maybe they are a little kooky, but generally, there’s a reason for it. There’s a reason people are listening to them. I thought that it was super interesting reading the script.
Anton Yelchin, Catherine Keener and Riley Keough Star In Dysfunctional Family Thriller Source