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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

The Dead Girl breathes: Karen Moncrieff

TDG_BM_-12.jpgI like this writer-director: “I understand making an unrelenting film may make some people feel like ‘Life’s difficult enough, I don’t want to see a movie that’s going to make me that uncomfortable for that amount of time… I feel like I’m making films for people who are like me, who like to go to movies and be shaken up,literally taken by the throat and shaken up for an hour and a half. And moved and forced to look at things that are ugly, forced to contemplate the darkest moments any of us can imagine.” Karen Moncrieff tells LA Times’ Mark Olsen about making her forceful, focused new $4 million-budgeted film, which is divided into five vignettes and stars Toni Collette, Giovanni Ribisi, Rose Byrne, Brittany Murphy, Mary Beth Hurt, James Franco, Marcia Gay Harden, Kerry Washington and Nick Searcy. [It’s often possible to assemble a cast this powerful when the roles are many, small, and forceful, making lesser demands on the actors’ time.] Olsen writes that The Dead Girl “has a relentless consistency from story to story, a somber, death-stained look at lives in stasis, in desperate need of new directions, though it is leavened by slight slivers of hope.” Alluding to troubles at Miramax when her first feature, The Blue Car, was ill-released in 2003—”the seemingly waning support of a then-floundering distributor” is how Olsen phrases it—the piece details how Moncrieff’s pregnancy and the interest of First Look’s Henry Winterstern, and Lakeshore Entertainment’s Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi affected the production. [Rosenberg enthuses.] “Somebody asked me if it would be better if the movie was uplifting,” Moncrieff recalled. “And I said, ‘Well, to me this is uplifting.’ To me what’s depressing is to see lies on-screen, to see lives sugar-coated, a fake version of life as I know it or I feel it. Anything less than that and I’d feel like I hadn’t done my job. There are other people who are much better at shining a light on what’s funny or what’s sweet. Maybe my calling is to feel deeply some aspects of human pain and grief. Maybe I’m working something out in my work, but it’s what I’m attracted to. People making choices, struggling to do better and change, to me is uplifting.”

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“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster

“If there’s one rule Hollywood has metaphysically proven in its century of experimentation, it’s that there’s no amount of money you can’t squander in the quest for hits.

“Netflix has spent the past couple years attempting to brute-force jailbreak this law. Its counter-theory has seemed to be, sure, a billion dollars doesn’t guarantee quality but how about three billion dollars? How about five billion dollars? Seven?

“This week’s latest cinematic opus to run across no-man’s-land into the machine-gun emplacements has been the Jared Leto yakuza movie ‘The Outsider.’ Once again, debuting on Netflix, another thing called a movie that at one glance doesn’t look like any kind of movie anyone has ever seen before, outside of off-prime time screenings at the AFM.

“If you’re working at a normal studio, you have one or two of these total misfires in a year and people start calling for your head. How many is Netflix going on? Fifteen? Twenty? This quarter? Any normal company would be getting murdered over results like that.”
~ Richard Rushfield