Category: Fox Searchlight Pictures
In a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes’ celebrated play, the holiday musical drama Black Nativity follows Langston (Jacob Latimore), a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother, as he journeys to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett).
Unwilling to live by the imposing Reverend Cobbs’ rules, a frustrated Langston is determined to return home to his mother, Naima (Jennifer Hudson). Langston embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey and along with his new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family.
Black Nativity is an American musical drama film directed by Kasi Lemmons. The script, written by Lemmons, is based on Langston Hughes’ play of the same name and released on November 27, 2013. The film stars an African American ensemble cast featuring Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Jacob Latimore, Vondie Curtis-Hall, and Nas.
Directed by: Kasi Lemmons
Starring: Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Jacob Latimore, Tyrese Gibson, Mary J. Blige
Screenplay by: Kasi Lemmons, Langston Hughes
Production Design by: Kristi Zea
Cinematography by: Anastas N. Michos
Film Editing by: Terilyn A. Shropshire
Costume Design by: Gersha Phillips
Set Decoration by: Diane Lederman
Music by: Laura Karpman, Raphael Saadiq
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material, language and a menacing situation.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: November 27, 2013
Based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender) as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) forever alters his life.
12 Years a Slave is a historical drama film and an adaptation of the 1853 slave narrative memoir Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, a New York State-born free African-American man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., in 1841 and sold into slavery. Northup worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for twelve years before his release. The first scholarly edition of Northup’s memoir, co-edited in 1968 by Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon, carefully retraced and validated the account and concluded it to be accurate. Other characters in the film were also real people, including Edwin and Mary Epps, and Patsey.
This is the third feature film directed by Steve McQueen. The screenplay was written by John Ridley. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup. Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, and Alfre Woodard are all featured in supporting roles. Principal photography took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, from June 27 to August 13, 2012. The locations used were four historic antebellum plantations: Felicity, Bocage, Destrehan, and Magnolia. Of the four, Magnolia is nearest to the actual plantation where Northup was held.
12 Years a Slave received widespread critical acclaim, and was named the best film of 2013 by several media outlets. It proved to be a box office success, earning over $187 million on a production budget of $20 million. The film won three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for Nyong’o, and the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Ridley. The Best Picture win made McQueen the first black producer ever to have received the award and the first black director to have directed a Best Picture winner. The film was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts recognized it with the Best Film and the Best Actor award for Ejiofor.
12 Years a Slave
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Edwin Epps, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Paul Giamatti, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ruth Negga
Screenplay by: John Ridley
Production Design by: Adam Stockhausen
Cinematography by: Sean Bobbitt
Film Editing by: Joe Walker
Costume Design by: Patricia Norris
Set Decoration by: Alice Baker
Music by: Hans Zimmer
MPAA Rating: R for violence / cruelty, some nudity and brief sexuality.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: October 18, 2013
Determined to get engaged before her youngest sister’s wedding, flight attendant Montana Moore (Paula Patton) finds herself with only 30 days to find Mr. Right. Using her airline connections to accidentally meet up with eligible ex-boyfriends and scour for potential candidates, she racks up more than 30,000 miles and countless comedic encounters, all the while searching for the perfect guy.
Baggage Claim is an American romantic comedy film directed by David E. Talbert and written by Talbert based on his book of the same name. The film is scheduled to be released on September 27, 2013. It stars Paula Patton, Adam Brody, Djimon Hounsou, Taye Diggs, Christina Milian, and Derek Luke.
Pathologically single, 30-something, flight attendant, Montana Moore (Paula Patton) is on a mission to get her overbearing, frequently married, mother (Jenifer Lewis) to stop pressuring her to get married. After being jilted by her only prospect (Boris Kodjoe) just as her younger sister, Sheree (Lauren London), becomes engaged, Montana and her friends (Adam Brody and Jill Scott) devise a plan to help her find a potential husband before Sheree’s wedding. Over the course of 30 days, Montana flies all over the country (with the help of a colorful team of coworkers) hoping to reconnect with a litany of ex-boyfriends that include a misogynistic politician (Taye Diggs), an irresponsible entertainer (Trey Songz) and a commitment shy multi-billionaire (Djimon Hounsou).
Though her quest to find a husband proves to be a disaster, Montana is oblivious to the developing romance with her long time best friend (Derek Luke). Once Montana realizes that she doesn’t need a husband to live a fulfilling life , she finally stands up to her mother and gets her proposal from “Mr. Right.”
Directed by: David E. Talbert
Starring: Paula Patton, Adam Brody, Djimon Hounsou, Lauren London, Christina Milian, Tia Mowry, Jennifer Lewis, LaLa Anthony
Screenplay by: David E. Talbert
Production Design by: Dina Lipton
Cinematography by: Anastas N. Michos
Film Editing by: Troy Takaki
Costume Design by: Maya Lieberman
Art Direction by: Bo Johnson
Music by: Aaron Zigman
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and some language.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a masseuse, a mother of a teenage girl and a divorcee attends a party in Pacific Palisades with her friends, married couple Will (Ben Falcone) and Sarah (Toni Collette). She meets a poet, Marianne (Catherine Keener), and Will introduces Eva to his friends, Jason (Phillip Brock) and Albert (James Gandolfini). After the party, Albert asks Will for Eva’s number and though hesitant, due to the lack of physical attraction, Eva agrees to go on a dinner date with Albert, which goes well. Marianne contacts Eva for a massage, and she takes an automatic like to Marianne and they become friends.
Eva finds herself more and more fond of Albert and they have lunch with his teenage daughter, Tess (Eve Hewson), who, like Eva’s daughter, is graduating from high school and moving away to attend college. A few days later, Eva goes to her massage appointment with Marianne and realizes that Albert is Marianne’s ex-husband after she tells her a story about how he eats guacamole – the same story Albert told her. Tess then arrives at the house and Eva’s suspicions are confirmed. Marianne tries to introduce Eva to Tess, but she hides behind a tree to avoid the meeting. Eva continues seeing Albert, keeping her friendship with Marianne a secret; likewise, she does not tell Marianne she is seeing him.
Eva encourages Marianne to complain about her ex-husband Albert so she can identify potential problems in her relationship with him. To the encouragement of Eva, Sarah and Will invite her and Albert to a dinner party, which goes badly after Eva begins finding fault with Albert, which upsets him. At another appointment with Marianne, Eva is exposed when Albert arrives to drop Tess off at her mother’s. He is angry that Eva kept her friendship with Marianne a secret, and breaks up with her.
Eva and her ex-husband take Ellen to the airport for her flight to college. A few months later, on Thanksgiving Day, Eva drives by Albert’s home and stops in front of the house on her way to pick up Ellen from the airport. He sees her and she awkwardly waves. He eventually comes outside, to Eva’s surprise, and sits with her on the porch and they begin to renew their relationship.
Enough Said received widespread acclaim from critics, ranking as the fifth best-reviewed wide release of 2013. Additionally, it emerged as the most critically and commercially successful work in Holofcener’s filmography to date. The film also received several major award nominations, including for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, two Independent Spirit Awards and four Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. In particular, stars Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini received notice for their work, along with Holofcener’s script.
Directed by: Nicole Holofcener
Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lennie Loftin, Jessica St. Clair, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Tracey Fairaway
Screenplay by: Nicole Holofcener
Production Design by: Keith P. Cunningham
Cinematography by: Xavier Grobet
Film Editing by: Robert Frazen, Nick Moore
Costume Design by: Leah Katznelson
Set Decoration by: Douglas A. Mowat
Music by: Marcelo Zarvos
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, comic violence, language and partial nudity.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: September 18, 2013
Taglines: Jude Law is Dom Hemingway and you’re not.
Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) is a larger-than-life safecracker with a loose fuse, funny, profane, and dangerous. Back on the streets of London after twelve years in prison, it’s time to collect what he’s owed for keeping his mouth shut. Traveling with his devoted best friend Dickie (Richard E. Grant), Dom visits his crime boss Mr Fontaine (Demián Bichir) in the south of France to claim his reward. But Dom’s drunk and drug-fueled ego decides what he’s lost can’t be replaced. One car accident and a femme fatale later, Dom realizes his priority must be to reconnect with his long-lost daughter.
Dom Hemingway is a British black comedy–crime drama film directed and written by Richard Shepard. The film stars Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demián Bichir, and Emilia Clarke. It was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
About the Story
Safecracker Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) is released after spending 12 years in prison and seeks payment for refusing to rat out his boss Ivan Fontaine (Demián Bichir). He reunites with his best friend Dickie (Richard E. Grant) and they travel to Fontaine’s villa in the French countryside. Dom flirts with Fontaine’s Romanian girlfriend Paolina (Mădălina Diana Ghenea) and becomes angry that he spent 12 years in jail for Fontaine. He begins to mock Fontaine and storms out. At dinner, he apologizes and Fontaine presents Dom with £750,000.
They spend the night partying with two girls, one of whom, Melody (Kerry Condon) strikes up a conversation with Dom. When the group go driving in Fontaine’s car, they crash into another car. While unconscious, Dom has a vision of Paolina asking for his money. He wakes up, resuscitates Melody, and finds Fontaine impaled on the car’s fender. Dom and Dickie head back to the mansion, where they find Paolina has taken Dom’s money, but they see her leaving in a car. Dom runs through the forest and into the road, where he is almost hit by Paolina. She asks him if she looks like a woman who wants to be poor and drives away. Dom meets Melody, who tells him that because he saved her, he shall gain good luck.
A few days later, Dom returns to London and collapses outside the apartment of his estranged daughter, Evelyn (Emilia Clarke). He wakes up and Evelyn’s boyfriend Hugh (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) introduces Dom to his grandson, Jawara. Hugh says that Evelyn is upset that Dom left her and was in prison, missing out on her childhood and his wife Katherine’s death. Hugh suggests Dom visit Evelyn after her concert at a local club and attempt to reconcile.
He goes to the concert, but leaves and meets Dickie. Dom says he wants to work for Lestor McGreevy Jr., the son of Fontaine’s old rival. Dickie says Lestor is even worse than his father, but Dom says he needs work. Dom follows Lestor on his daily jog and learns Lestor holds a grudge for Dom killing his cat when he was a child. Lestor tells Dom to go to his club that night. They make a bet. If he opens an electronic safe he gets work, if he fails to open it in 10 minutes, Lestor will cut off his cock and balls.
Directed by: Richard Shepard
Starring: Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir, Emilia Clarke, Kerry Condon, Jumayn Hunter, Madalina Ghenea, Nathan Stewart Jarrett, Jumayn Hunter, Kaitana Taylor
Screenplay by; Richard Shepard
Production Design by: Laurence Dorman
Cinematography by: Giles Nuttgens
Film Editing by: Dana Congdon
Costume Design by: Julian Day
Set Decoration by: Ute Bergk
Music by: Rolfe Kent
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, some violence and drug use.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: November 15, 2013
Taglines: Spy on us, we’ll spy on you.
The East is an English-language thriller film directed by Zal Batmanglij and starring Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, and Ellen Page. Writers Batmanglij and Marling spent two months in 2009 practicing freeganism and co-wrote a screenplay inspired by their experiences and drawing on thrillers from the 1970s.
The American studio Fox Searchlight Pictures had bought rights to distribute Batmanglij’s previous film Sound of My Voice and also collaborated with the director to produce The East. With Ridley Scott as producer and Tony Scott as executive producer, Fox Searchlight contracted Scott Free Productions, headquartered in London, to produce the film. The East was filmed in two months in Shreveport, Louisiana at the end of 2011. The film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2013. It was released in theaters on May 31, 2013.
About the Story
Sarah Moss (Brit Marling) is a former FBI agent who now works as an operative for the private intelligence firm Hiller Brood, headed by Sharon (Patricia Clarkson). Under the pretext of going to Dubai, Sarah is dropped off at Dulles Airport by her boyfriend, Tim (Jason Ritter). Instead of going through security Sarah descends to Arrivals where she takes a cab to a motel. At the motel she begins the process of going undercover to become a traveler.
Disguised, she hits the road in search of The East (an underground activist group) with the mission to locate their headquarters and feed information about the group to Hiller Brood in order for Sharon to protect her corporate clients. While riding the rails Sarah encounters a posse of rag-tag drifters, who are roughly dispersed by railroad police.
In the process, she winds up in Luca’s (Shiloh Fernandez) van and deduces that he must be a member of The East from a compass on his rear-view mirror that points only east. While Luca searches nearby dumpsters for food, Sarah cuts her own arm with a discarded Coke can. When Luca returns to the van he notices blood on Sarah’s sleeve and wants to see her arm. Sarah reveals the gash claiming she got it from jumping the fence earlier. Luca insists on taking Sarah to see a doctor. He blindfolds her and drives her to an abandoned house in the woods where The East is squatting and Doc (Toby Kebbell) seals Sarah’s cut with Super Glue.
Sarah is given two nights to recover before she is to leave the squat but when a member of the group goes missing Sarah is recruited to fill the missing member’s role on a “jam” (criminal ecological activism). After seeing the effectiveness of the pharmaceutical jam compounded by her growing attraction to the charismatic Benji (Alexander Skarsgård) Sarah gradually questions the moral underpinnings of her undercover duty. Sarah reluctantly participates in The East’s next jam and comes to learn that each of The East has been personally damaged by corporate activities.
One East member, Izzy (Ellen Page), is the daughter of a petrochemical CEO. The group therefore uses the father/daughter connection to gain access to the CEO and forces him to bathe in the waterway he has been using as a toxic dumping ground. This jam goes wrong when security guards arrive and shoot Izzy in the back as she and The East try and escape.
Back at the squat, the Doc’s hands tremble too much (a direct result of being poisoned by the McCabe Grey antibiotic years earlier) and therefore he cannot perform surgery on Izzy. Sarah offers to do it for him if he tells her what to do. She bravely removes the bullet from Izzy’s abdomen, yet nonetheless Izzy dies and is buried near The East’s house (which we have previously learned is Benji’s deserted, burned-out family home).
Even though Sarah and Benji have fallen in love (and Sarah’s boyfriend Tim has left her) and Sarah implores him to runaway with her he insists that they go together to complete the final jam. Sarah refuses at first but finally gives-in and the two head by car for the last jam. When Sarah awakens, after a night of sleeping in the passenger seat, she realizes that Benji is driving her to the Hiller Brood headquarters outside Washington, D.C. He reveals that he has always suspected her of being an agent and that Luca brought her in on purpose because he too suspected her of being a Hiller Brood operative.
Benji wants Sarah to obtain a NOC list of Hiller Brood agents all over the world. This is The East’s third and final jam. Sarah confronts Sharon about the firm’s activities, thus revealing her new allegiances and Sharon has Sarah’s cell phone confiscated as she leaves the building. Sarah tells Benji she’s failed to get the agent data and he leaves her at truck stop as he heads out of the country on a semi-truck. In truth, Sarah still has the data and the film ends with an epilogue of her personally contacting her former coworkers and attempting to change their minds about their undercover activities and instead join her in ecological activism.
Directed by: Zal Batmanglij
Starring: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page, Toby Kebbell, Shiloh Fernandez, Danielle Macdonald, Hillary Baack, Patricia Clarkson, Sedef Seren
Screenplay by: Zal Batmanglij, Brit Marling
Production Design by: Alex DiGerlando
Cinematography by: Roman Vasyanov
Film Editing by: Bill Pankow, Andrew Weisblum
Costume Design by: Jenny Gering
Set Decoration by: Cynthia Anne Slagter
Music by: Halli Cauthery, Harry Gregson-Williams
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, violence, some disturbing images, sexual content and partial nudity.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: May 31, 2013
Trance, directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) and co-written by Oscar-nominated long term collaborator John Hodge (Shallow Grave, Trainspotting) is a seductive and enigmatic thriller starring James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson.
Fine art auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy), in league with a gang led by underworld boss Franck (Vincent Cassel), plots the audacious theft of a masterpiece by Goya from a major public auction. When Simon double-crosses the gang during the robbery, Franck retaliates violently and knocks him unconscious.
In the aftermath of the heist, Simon sticks stubbornly – and perhaps shrewdly – to his claim that the violent trauma has left him with no memory of where he stashed the artwork. Unable to coerce the painting’s location from Simon, Franck and his associates reluctantly join forces with a charismatic hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) in a bid to get him to talk. But as they journey deeper into Simon’s jumbled psyche the boundaries between reality and hypnotic suggestion begin to blur and the stakes rise faster and far more dangerously than any of the players could have anticipated.
Trance is a British psychological thriller film directed by Danny Boyle with a screenplay by Joe Ahearne and John Hodge from a story by Ahearne. The film stars James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, and Rosario Dawson. The world premiere of the film was held in London on 19 March 2013.
After director Danny Boyle filmed Shallow Grave in 1994, Joe Ahearne sent the director his screenplay for Trance, seeking Boyle’s encouragement. Boyle thought that the project would be “quite difficult” for a beginning screenwriter. Ahearne later turned the script into a 2001 television movie.
Boyle never forgot it, and almost two decades after their original conversation he contacted Ahearne about turning it into a feature film. Partially based on Ahearne’s 2001 British television film of the same name, Trance underwent script doctoring by screenwriter John Hodge – marking the fifth motion picture collaboration between Hodge and Boyle.
Principal photography began in September 2011. After filming wrapped up, the film was placed on hold in order for Boyle to work on the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Post-production was then picked up again in August 2012. Boyle said that this is “the first time I put a woman at the heart of a movie.” He also said that he originally intended to set the movie in New York City, but it was filmed in London and in Kent instead, as Boyle’s Olympic ceremony duties meant he had to stay in the UK.
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel, Danny Sapani, Matt Cross, Tuppence Middleton
Screenplay by: John Hodge
Production Design by: Mark Tildesley
Cinematography by: Anthony Dod Mantle
Film Editing by: Jon Harris
Costume Design by: Suttirat Anne Larlarb
Set Decoration by: Dominic Capon
Music by: Rick Smith
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, some grisly images, and language.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: April 5, 2013
Taglines: Do not disturb the family.
Stoker is a British-American psychological thriller film written by Wentworth Miller and directed by South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook in his English-language debut. It stars Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, and Nicole Kidman, and was released on March 1, 2013. It was the last film produced by Tony Scott, who died after production.
When India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) loses her beloved father and best friend Richard (Dermot Mulroney) in a tragic auto accident on her 18th birthday, her quiet life on the family’s secluded estate is suddenly shattered. Exquisitely sensitive, India’s exhibits an impassive demeanor which masks the deep feelings and heightened senses that only her father understood.
India finds herself drawn to her father’s long-lost brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode), who unexpectedly arrives for the funeral and decides to stay on with her and her emotionally unstable mother, Evie (Nicole Kidman). While India initially mistrusts her charming but mysterious uncle, he fascinates her as well, and she begins to realize how much they have in common.
As Charlie reveals himself to her little by little, India becomes increasingly infatuated with her charismatic relative and comes to realize that his arrival is no coincidence. With her uncle to guide her, she is about to fulfill her unusual destiny.
Stoker’s Path to the Screen
Filmmaker Park Chan-Wook has created a singular body of work during his more than 20 years as a writer, director and producer of some of Korean cinema’s most innovative and original movies, crafting feverish scenarios that combine lyrical beauty with shattering acts of violence and operatic emotion. STOKER is a dark and disturbing thriller about a mysterious and isolated American family. Even the film’s title makes metaphorical allusion to evil, invoking the name of Dracula author Bram Stoker, whose groundbreaking novel is as much about an opportunist who preys on the innocent as it is the supernatural world of the vampire.
Fittingly, STOKER’s path to the big screen began with a mystery of its own. Scott Free producer Michael Costigan received a phone call from a top Hollywood agent offering him a new script. “But she wouldn’t tell me anything about the writer,” he remembers. “And she wouldn’t email it to me. I had to pick it up at her office. I was of course very intrigued, so after dinner that night I had to have a look. And as I read, I found I couldn’t put it down.”
Starting with the script’s opening image of a young girl playing a piano as a spider creeps up her leg, Costigan was riveted, shocked and enthralled by the story as it unfolded to its inexorable conclusion. The producer found himself lost in the eerie, improbable and self- contained world of the Stoker family.
“These people are completely pure,” he explains. “If they have an emotion, they have to follow it through, but they don’t fully understand the ramifications of what they’re doing. They are brilliant in an overall sense. They’re highly perceptive. They see things other people can’t see. But they also are obsessed with their own self-preservation, and if someone gets in their way, they’re going to do whatever it takes to protect themselves and their needs.”
The story begins as India Stoker turns 18. India, played by Mia Wasikowska, is introspective and seemingly passive. “But she is about to come into her own,” says Costigan. “She shows nothing on the surface, but clearly has an excess of emotion and perception on the inside. She actually sees and hears minute details that most of us miss, and it overwhelms her.” Of course the producers wanted to know more about the screenwriter, but the agent who sent the script refused to give more information. “She wouldn’t tell me anything,” Costigan says.
“She said he was out of town. Finally I got a call from him and I thought the voice on the phone sounded very familiar. I was shocked when I realized that ‘Ted’ was Wentworth Miller, and that this was the first screenplay that he had ever written.”
Miller, an actor perhaps best known for his work on the groundbreaking television series “Prison Break,” worked on the script over a period of about eight years. Because he believed that no one would take an actor’s first screenplay seriously, Miller convinced his agent to submit his work under a pseudonym. He decided to call himself Ted Foulke. (Foulke is Miller’s dog’s name.) The script eventually landed up on the 2010 Black List, the prestigious unofficial list of the best unproduced films available.
As the script’s reputation built, a number of top directors expressed interest in signing on. First choice, though, was a Hollywood outsider: Park Chan-Wook. Winner of the Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix in 2003 for OLDBOY and the Jury Prize in 2009 for THIRST, “Director Park,” as everyone involved with STOKER calls him, is celebrated around the world for his elegant depictions of cruelty, destruction and revenge, as well as for his radiant and jarring visuals. His recent short film, NIGHT FISHING, was shot entirely with Apple’s iPhone and won the Golden Bear Award for best Short Film at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival.
The script was sent to Park, but Costigan doubted that the auteur filmmaker of some of his favorite movies would read an unsolicited screenplay. “I imagined that he wrote all his own material with a collaborator in Korea and that’s just how it was. Then we got a phone call saying that Director Park wanted to speak with us.”
During that first phone call, Park offered up unique ideas about the characters and some of the indelible visual metaphors that would come to define the film. “He started talking about the saddle shoes,” says Costigan. “He had this idea that Uncle Charlie had been sending India a present every year for her birthday. The box would be left in some remote part of the house or in the garden or in the trees. On her 18th birthday, he arrives, and this time it’s a pair of crocodile stilettoes. In his mind, she’s ready to be who he believes she really is.”
“At that point, I knew that we had to have him,” says the producer. “Not only did he understand the script, he already had incredible ideas about the characters. It was his movie to direct from that first phone call.”
Park, who has said his interest in directing began with Alfred Hitchcock’s claustrophobic masterpiece, VERTIGO, was drawn to the film’s unconventional and tautly woven love story, as well as its severely restricted physical world. “The locations are limited,” he notes. “There are a small number of characters and it takes place over a short period of time. The constant tension almost suffocates. Something is about to explode, like a kettle of boiling water with the lid on tight. A story that takes place in a confined space becomes a small universe unto itself.
“I also liked the fact that it was not a story that revolves around dialogue,” the director continues. “That was an advantage for my first English-language film. My Korean language films have not been dialogue-oriented either, so I was already comfortable with telling the story in a more visual way.”
The script fits well into the director’s existing oeuvre, according to co-producer Wonjo Jeong. “Director Park’s films are very reflective,” he says. “They deal with right and wrong, and where the line lies between them. His characters are torn between their choices. And every choice has consequences. He subverts the conventions of narrative, and in doing so, draws us into the questions about social class, ethics, morality and religion.”
Park also cites the influences of filmmakers such as David Lynch, David Cronenberg and the sleek, sexy stylized world of Brian De Palma as well as writers Edgar Allen Poe, M. R. James, and Wilkie Collins.
“In STOKER, which is a microscopic observation of these people and their universe, he tells a bigger story about the world at large,” continues Jeong. “The characters are flawed, much as we are all flawed. By putting them in such extreme circumstances, he’s reflecting experiences that everyone goes through in life, but in such a vivid and dark mirror that we want to look more closely.”
Directed by: Chan-wook Park
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, Dermot Mulroney, Matthew Goode, Jacki Weaver
Screenplay by: Wentworth Miller, Erin Cressida Wilson
Production Design by: Thérèse DePrez
Cinematography by: Chung-hoon Chung
Film Editing by: Nicolas De Toth
Costume Design by: Kurt and Bart
Music by: Clint Mansell
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent and sexual content.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: March 1, 2013