After dominating the TV landscape with ThisIs Us, Writer/Director Dan Fogelman has the big screen in his sights as he presented the World Premiere of Life Itself at TIFF. The Film is a multi-generational story revolving around two families and how they cope with tragedy, happiness and everything in-between.
Having watched This Is Us, I was prepared for melodrama, lengthy monologues and sheer moments of emotional devastation. All of these elements are accounted for over the course of Life Itself multiple times over, with some being a lot less effective than others. But what sets it apart from the popular Series is the pitch-black humour and surprisingly vulgar Script. Both are honest, unflinching and at times, shocking. The problem with all of this is that Fogelman never nails down a proper tone, which makes some scenes come off more awkward than they do genuine. The cast takes it in stride though, committing to every ludicrous plot turn Fogelman throws at them. Just be sure to bring a Kleenex box when you watch it.
Life, Itself screens on Saturday, September 9 at 6:30 PM at Roy Thomson Hall and 8:00 PM at Elgin Theatre, and Monday, September 10 at 9:30 AM at Elgin Theatre.
From the same man who brought us acclaimed TV Series THIS IS US, Dan Fogelman, comes LIFE ITSELF! See the new Trailer for the touching Film which hits theatres this fall!
As a young New York couple goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child, the unexpected twists of their journey create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes in Life Itself. Director and writer Dan Fogelman (“This Is Us”) examines the perils and rewards of everyday life in a multigenerational saga featuring an international ensemble including Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Olivia Cooke, Sergio Peris- Mencheta, Laia Costa, Alex Monner and Mandy Patinkin. Set in New York City and Carmona, Spain, Life Itself celebrates the human condition and all of its complications with humor, poignancy and love..
See the Trailer:
VVS Films release LIFE ITSELFFriday, September 21, 2018.
Already having worked with some of the greatest Directors of our day including Jeff Nichols, Terrence Malick, Bryan Singer and now Steven Spielberg, 21-year-old Tye Sheridan is bound for great things. The X-Men Franchise star is front and center in Spielberg‘s latest effort READY PLAYER ONE and he was in Toronto to promote the new Film, opening in theatres end of March.
While he didn’t get much sleep last night due to flight delays , Sheridan still made the most of his day having to cancel a few interviews, but doing Press including a taping of Global‘s The Morning Show.
See our Snap with him and a young fan and her mom. He was a true gentleman, shaking hands and introducing himself to everyone individually!
See the Trailer for Ready Player One:
Huge things are expected of this. Will you be seeing READY PLAYER ONE?
Warner Bros. Pictures Canada release READY PLAYER ONE on Friday, March 29, 2018.
(Photo/video credit: Warner Bros. Pictures Canada/Mr. Will Wong)
Universal Pictures Canada x Mr. Will want to give Readers in Toronto Wednesday, March 7, 2018 to see THOROUGHBREDS starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke + the late Anton Yelchin.
Childhood friends Lily and Amanda reconnect in suburban Connecticut after years of growing apart. Lily has turned into a polished, upper-class teenager, with a fancy boarding school on her transcript and a coveted internship on her resume; Amanda has developed a sharp wit and her own particular attitude, but all in the process of becoming a social outcast. Though they initially seem completely at odds, the pair bond over Lily’s contempt for her oppressive stepfather, Mark, and as their friendship grows, they begin to bring out one another’s most destructive tendencies. Their ambitions lead them to hire a local hustler, Tim, and take matters into their own hands to set their lives straight.
See the Trailer:
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Universal Pictures Canada release THOROUGHBREDSFriday, March 9, 2018.
TIFF fever continues throughout Toronto on the Festival’s fourth day! Premieres took place tonight including Fashion icon Tom Ford‘s NOCTURNAL ANIMALS starring Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and an in-absentia Jake Gyllenhaal. Also premiering tonight was Oscar bait DENIAL starring Rachel Weisz over at Princess of Wales Theatre. THE PROMISE starring Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale also premiered at Roy Thomson Hall tonight.An A-List Cast including Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Hudson appeared at the midday Premiere for Animated Feature SING over at Princess of Wales Theatre. The Premiere was followed by performances from both Hudson and Popstar Tori Kelly even.
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon started his Film career as a Production Assistant in 1990. Twenty-five years later he is being showered with unanimous praise for his second feature as a Director, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. “The response is so beautiful because it’s recognition for everyone who worked on the Film,” he says when asked about the critical and audience reaction to the Film. “It feels great.”
The Film tells the story of high school student Greg (Thomas Mann), who befriends Rachel (Olivia Cooke) after he learns of her being diagnosed with Leukemia. In his spare time, he likes making short Parody Films based on mainstream hits and obscure Foreign Films. He makes these shorts with his friend and “co-worker” Earl (RJ Cyler), and realizes that he needs to make a Film for Rachel.
While Mann and Cooke are industry veterans despite their youth, Cyler is making his Feature debut in Me and Earl. Gomez-Rejon tells us, “I’ve always loved discovering talent. I like when you have the opportunity to find new talent. People take chances on me all the time.”
It is no wonder people are taking chances on him; his credentials more than speak for themselves. He acted as a Casting Director on Babel, Eat Pray Love and an unrealized Terrence Malick Film, as a Second Unit Director on The Eagle and Best Picture Oscar-winner Argo, and has directed multiple episodes of Glee and American Horror Story. His Feature debut, last year’s Remake/Sequel The Town That Dreaded Sundown, only came to fruition when pre-production on Me and Earl fell apart. “Ryan [Murphy, the Creator of Glee and American Horror Story] said ‘You keep trying to make your Citizen Kane, why don’t you make your Boxcar Bertha?’ And so I did,” Gomez-Rejon explains. “Luckily this movie came back together and I jumped right into this.”
Me and Earl is Gomez-Rejon’s first “personal” Film and he found its intimacy to be “so refreshing” to work on. Drawing on the style of Classics like Harold and Maude and The Graduate, he says he wanted this Film “to be kind of like Greg: very playful, and big and exciting and energetic at the beginning, and then it calms down and becomes more intimate and still and quiet, quiet, quiet.” Despite the drama and emotion that comes later in the Film, he intended to “always [have] a little joke in there somewhere, to lighten it up until the very end.”
In discussing a pivotal scene late in the Film between Mann and Cooke, Gomez-Rejon notes that the shot “was going to be the master and then I was going to do two close-ups. But after [the first take] it just felt so good that I walked away from it. It only works because they’re brilliant in it.” He is even more enthusiastic talking about Cyler: “It was quite a beautiful process to see pure emotion come out of him as Earl. This is his first Movie, and you’re watching him and he doesn’t even know that he had this in him.”
While he is coy about his next project, Gomez-Rejon hopes to continue his work in feature Films: “I love the beginning, middle and end of it – it’s a journey you go through and it finishes, and you put it aside, and that’s who you were at that point. Scorsese has a body of work that reveals who he is. And I’d like in the next fifty years, if I’m still making Movies, being able to leave behind more and more of Films that I think will show who I am at that particular time.”
Echoing the sentiments of his Cast, Gomez-Rejon’s feels that Me and Earl is “not a Movie about dying. It’s a Movie about living.” But the Film was summed up even more eloquently for him by a high school student from Seattle. They had been grieving from the loss of a friend in a car accident and told him at a screening of Me and Earl that “When people leave their lives, they’re like a stained glass window. Their definition is not as clear but the beauty of their life is evermore present.”
Gomez-Rejon was so touched by the words of this student that he made sure to write them down, and take them with him everywhere he goes. “There’s an infinity of layers in all of us, and just because one of them is gone doesn’t mean that others remain,” he says. “We just have to pay attention and find them, and listen to them.”.
Fox Searchlight release ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL on Friday, June 12, 2015.
Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke may not be household names, but they will be this June after Fox Searchlight unspools Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The Film rocked Sundance this past January, picking-up the Audience Award and the Grand JuryPrize. But on a sunny Toronto afternoon, they are just two courteous young adults apprehensive of how the howling wind is going to affect our interview.
“I just don’t want it to mess with the sound because the air is bad for microphones,” Mann says as we hurry inside, dodging unsecure patio furniture.
At the suggestion of his mother, Greg (Mann) befriends Rachel (Cooke), who has just been diagnosed with leukemia. The Film chronicles their friendship, and the way they grow into adulthood when faced with this debilitating disease. RJ Cyler plays Earl, Greg’s friend and “co-worker” who helps him make short Parody Films based on their favourite Films.
Cooke was no stranger to ill characters before taking on the role of Rachel – her character on the TV Series Bates Motel struggles with Cystic Fibrosis: “I’m always drawn to the [roles] that are going to challenge me. I never approached it as ‘Oh my God I’m playing another dying girl again!’” Cooke shaved her head for the Film and worked on-set with Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon to track the five stages of Chemotherapy.
Mann was very cautious not to interfere with any of this. He says, “I purposely kept myself distant from her process. Greg has no idea about the stages of Cancer, and so I would just arrive on-set and see her in these different stages. It was just a very subtle, physical thing I would notice and it affects you.”
Despite what she goes through, Cooke was very precise on how she wanted to play Rachel, “You don’t ever want to see Rachel as a victim or as a tragic character, or anyone with Cancer as a tragic character. Because they’re still themselves.” She has nothing but praise for costume designer Jennifer Eve for helping her achieve this: “As Rachel got sicker, her clothes and her wigs and her hats became more vibrant and brighter because she’s like ‘I’m still me, I’m not completely vanished and disappeared because I’m deteriorating’.”
In discussing the content of the Film, Mann and Cooke were very strongly opposed to lumping the Film into the sick-fiction genre shared with Films like The Fault in Our Stars and If I Stay. “Cancer is more of a backdrop,” Mann says, “It’s so complex and I feel so many things about it, that talking about it is often really frustrating.” Cooke elaborates that “I feel like people like to pigeonhole, and it’s so annoying. You can’t compartmentalize it because it’s so many things at once. I feel like you can take the Cancer or the illness aspect out of it, and you’ll still have a really wonderful movie about friendship and discovery.”
And that friendship is what Mann really likes about the Film: “When you see a romantic couple on screen, you’re not taking a part in it. The fact that we’re friends, you feel like you could be one of us. If you like spending time with these kids then anything tragic that happens to them is so much more resonant.”
While the Film is emotional, there is a lot of humour and comedy scattered throughout. Mann had a lot of fun working on the Short Films Greg and Earl make in their spare time. His favourite was ‘Burden of Screams’, based on Les Blank’s 1982 Documentary Burden of Dreams, “That was the first day of shooting, and they’re like ‘You can do a German accent right?’ It’s just so ridiculous. I’m wearing this all-White suit with a straw hat. And there’s kids walking by, and I’m cursing at the top of my lungs.”
In the end, both Actors took something away from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Mann learned “to trust myself and trust Alfonso, and really just [learnt] to let myself go. I’m a more emotional person now. I cry when I watch movies, and I never used to do that before. I’ve grown as an actor, and hopefully as a person.” Cooke was just as emotional. When discussing romanticizing death, she says “It’s so stupid to waste your time on thinking like that. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.” Instead, she now wants to “just be more present and live.”.
Fox Searchlight release ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL on Friday, June 12, 2015.
Fox Searchlight + Mr. Will are thrilled to give Canadian Readers a chance to attend a v. special Screening of Winner of both the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and the Audience Award for U.S. Drama at Sundance this year,ME & EARL & THE DYING GIRL. The Screening will be attended by all three Lead Actors Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, Ronald Cyler II and Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon in Toronto on Thursday, May 21, 2015. You’ll definitely want to be a part of this!
Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann) is a high school student who is trying to get through his final year of high school. His way of getting along without drawing too much attention to himself is to be friendly with every social group at school, but in a superficial way, so that they think he’s a cool guy, but don’t get too friendly.
When his mother finds out that Rachel (Olivia Cooke), one of his classmates, has leukemia, she forces him to spend time with her. They slowly develop a friendship of sorts and he lets her watch the movies he and his best friend Earl (Ronald Cyler II) have made.
See the Trailer:
To enter to win, simply click “like” on this Post at Mr. Will on Facebook. You may click “share” on this Post from there for an extra chance or Tweet the below out:
http://www.mrwillwong.com/meandearandthedyinggirl @MRWILLW wants us to #win Passes to the Toronto Screening of #MEANDEARL with Cast in attendance!
Fox Searchlight release ME & EARL & THE DYING GIRL on Friday, June 12, 2015.
Universal Pictures Canada and Mr. Will want to give Readers in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, a chance to win Passes to see the scary OUIJA first! Screenings take place Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
A group of friends use a Ouija Board to try to make contact with a recently deceased friend, but end up putting their lives in danger when they inadvertently summon a dark presence.
OUIJA stars Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff, Bianca A. Santos and Douglas Smith.
Watch the Trailer below:
To enter to win, simply click “like” on this Post at Mr. Will Wong on Facebook and tell me in the comments section after watching the Trailer who you would communicate with via a Ouija Board!
Share this Post on Facebook with your Friends or Re-Tweet the below to double your chances:
http://www.mrwillwong.com/ouija @MRWILLW wants us to #win Passes across #Canada to see #OUIJA. Out 10/24!
Good luck, Willionaire$!
…. remember that time we met Olivia Cooke in L.A.?
Universal Pictures Canada release OUIJA on Friday, October 24, 2014.
(Photo/video credit: Universal Pictures Canada/Mr. Will Wong)