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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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