Category: Millennium Entertainment

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1 Movie

1 is an action documentary showcasing the glamour, speed, danger and excitement of Formula One Grand Prix racing. Narrated by Michael Fassbender, the film tells the story of the golden age of Formula 1, when the sport became terrifyingly dangerous. In the late 1960s, Formula 1® cars doubled their engine size and sprouted wings, making them incredibly quick, but even more hazardous.

With money pouring in from sponsorship and a new worldwide television audience, superstar drivers were born, thrown like gladiators into the ring. The drivers were legendary with charisma and raw talent, but many of them paid the ultimate price. 1 follows the story of the drivers who raced on the edge and those who stood up to change the sport forever. It is about the greatest show on earth, Formula 1.

1 Movie Poster

1

Directed by: Paul Crowder
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Niki Lauda, Michael Schumacher Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button
Screenplay by: Mark Monroe
Film Editing by: Paul Crowder
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Millennium Entertainment
Release Date October 11, 2013

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Plush

Plush Movie

Taglines: They got too close, too fast.

After losing her band mate and brother to a drug overdose, rising rock star Hayley finds herself in a downward spiral. The new album from her band Plush is received as a critical and commercial disaster. She finds new hope and friendship in Enzo, the replacement guitarist who inspires her to reach new creative heights. But soon their collaboration crosses the line and Hayley, who is married with two children, retreats from Enzo’s advances. As Hayley slowly discovers Enzo’s dark and troubled history, she realizes she may have let a madman into her home and that her mistake may cost the lives of people closest to her.

Plush is an American erotic thriller film directed by Catherine Hardwicke and co-written by Arty Nelson with music by Nick Launay & Ming Vauze. The film stars Emily Browning, Xavier Samuel, Cam Gigandet, Dawn Olivieri, Thomas Dekker, and Frances Fisher.

Plush Movie - Emily Browning

About the Production

In 2012 Hardwicke announced her intentions to film Plush based on a script she wrote with Artie Nelson. IM Global was named as the financier for the film, which would star Emily Browning as the lead character. Principal photography began on August 27, 2012 in Los Angeles.

A tie-in novel based upon the film was released on July 27, 2013. The book, which is also entitled Plush, was written by Kate Crash, who also contributed several songs to Plush’s soundtrack. The novel tells the story of the film and the nine years prior to the start of the film.

Critical reception for Plush has been predominantly negative and the film currently holds a rating of 33% “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes based upon six reviews. Christy Lemire gave the film a half a star, criticizing it as “inauthentic at every turn”. In contrast IndieWire gave the film a “B+”, commenting that although Plush wasn’t “high art”, it did “commit fully and follow through with the courage of its convictions”.

Plush Movie Poster

Plush

Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Starring: Emily Browning, Cam Gigandet, Xavier Samuel, Thomas Dekker, Frances Fisher, Elizabeth Peña, Marlene Forte, Kennedy Waite
Screenplay by: Catherine Hardwicke, Arty Nelson
Production Design by: Katie Byron
Cinematography by: Daniel Moder
Film Editing by: Julia Wong
Costume Design by: Olivia Miles
Art Direction by: Alexi Gomez
Music by: Nick Launay, Ming Vauz
MPAA Rating: R for sexual material, violence, language and some drug use.
Studio: Millennium Entertainment
Release Date: September 13, 2013

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Stuck in Love

Stuck in Love Movie

Taglines: A story about first loves and second chances.

Stuck in Love is an American independent romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Josh Boone. The film stars Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins, Nat Wolff and Logan Lerman. It focuses on the complicated relationships between a successful novelist, played by Kinnear, his ex-wife (Jennifer Connelly), their college daughter (Lily Collins), and teenage son (Nat Wolff). The film began a limited theatrical release in the United States on July 5, 2013.

Stuck in Love started shooting in Wilmington, North Carolina in March 2012, primarily in the Wrightsville Beach area. Filming wrapped on April 6, 2012. On March 6, 2012, it was announced that Lily Collins, Logan Lerman, Liana Liberato, Nat Wolff and Kristen Bell had joined the cast. It was also announced that the film would feature a cameo from Stephen King, as well as actors Rusty Joiner and Patrick Schwarzenegger in supporting roles. In November, the working title of the movie, Writers, was changed to Stuck in Love. In Australia and New Zealand it was released under the title A Place For Me and distributed by Becker Film Group.

Stuck in Love Movie

About the Story

Meet the Borgens. William Borgens is an acclaimed author who hasn’t written a word since his ex-wife Erica left him 3 years ago for another man. In between spying on Erica and casual romps with his married neighbour Tricia, Bill is dealing with the complexities of raising his teenage children Samantha and Rusty. Samantha is publishing her first novel and is determined to avoid love at all costs – after all she’s seen what it has done to her parents.

In between hook ups, she meets “nice guy” Lou who will stop at nothing to win her over. Rusty, is an aspiring fantasy writer and Stephen King aficionado, who is on a quest to gain ‘life experiences’. He falls for the beautiful, but troubled Kate and gets his first taste of love and a broken heart. A tale of family, love (lost and found), and how endings can make new beginnings. There are no rewrites in life, only second chances.

Stuck in Love is an American independent romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Josh Boone. The film stars Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins, Nat Wolff and Logan Lerman. It focuses on the complicated relationships between a successful novelist, played by Kinnear, his ex-wife (Jennifer Connelly), their college daughter (Collins), and teenage son. The film began a limited theatrical release in the United States on July 5, 2013.

Stuck in Love Movie

Novelist Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear) has been struggling to keep it together after his wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly) left him for a younger man three years ago. Instead of working on a new book, he obsesses about his ex, spies on her and her new husband while pretending to be jogging, and insists that their sixteen-year-old son, Rusty (Nat Wolff), set a place at the Thanksgiving table for Erica every year, even though she never comes.

This Thanksgiving, their 19-year-old daughter Sam (Lily Collins) comes home from college with momentous news: her first novel has been accepted for publication. Bill is thrilled, since he has been raising his children to be writers since birth, and annoyed, since she wrote the book without any help from him. When he suggests that Sam share her good news with Erica, she balks, refusing to have anything to do with the woman she believes betrayed her father.

Deeply wounded by her mother’s departure, Sam has constructed a wall between love and her. She pursues only one-night stands and uncommitted hookups to protect herself from being hurt. When her classmate Lou (Logan Lerman) tries to initiate a real relationship with her, she ridicules him and leaves before she has to reveal that he has touched her. When Lou stops coming to the writing seminar they both attend, Sam tracks him down and follows him to the house where his mother is dying. Not even cynical Sam can resist Lou’s gallantry in the face of tragedy.

Stuck in Love Movie

Meanwhile, Rusty is just the kind of guy his sister abhors—romantic, needy and hoping to rescue a damsel in distress. He gets his chance when Kate (Liana Liberato), the secret crush he dedicates his poetry to, has a fight with her abusive boyfriend; he steps in. Even though Kate has drug addictions, Rusty is so blinded by love that he can’t see how troubled she is.

When Erica attends a launch event for Sam’s book, she is devastated by her daughter’s rejection. As the Borgens family reopens old wounds and inflicts some new ones, Kate spins out of control. When Sam gives Kate champagne—even though she’s underage of Kate’s addictions—Kate goes back for more and goes home with Gus, a guy who was at the party. The Borgens track her down; Bill and Erica find her in Gus’s apartment, asleep in his bedroom after a night of drinking and doing drugs. Kate is loaded into the car. Rusty lifts the blanket covering her body, and realizes she had slept with Gus. He cries over her.

Distraught, Rusty turns to alcohol and comes home drunk almost every night. Rusty encounters Kate’s ex- boyfriend one day in a convenience store. Rusty is badly injured in a fight with Kate’s ex. In the background narration, Kate writes Rusty a letter telling him how sorry she is and that she’s in rehab. She says she wishes that one day, she could be worthy of somebody like him. Bill, worried about Rusty, grounds him. Rusty writes a story and finds that it’s helped him heal the wounds. Later, he gets a call from Stephen King, who is an author he highly admires. Rusty’s new story was put into a magazine.

Stuck in Love Movie Poster

Stuck in Love

Directed by: Josh Boone
Starring: Kristen Bell, Lily Collins, Greg Kinnear, Logan Lerman, Jennifer Connelly, Stephen King, Liana Liberato, Katie Garfield, Barbara Weetman
Screenplay by: Josh Boone
Production Design by: John Sanders
Cinematography by: Tim Orr
Film Editing by: Robb Sullivan
Costume Design by: Kari Perkins
Set Decoration by: Gia Grosso
Music by: Mike Mogis, Nate Walcott
MPAA Rating: R for language, teen drug and alcohol use, and some sexual content.
Studio: Millennium Entertainment
Release Date: July 5, 2013

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Killing Season

Killing Season Movie

Taglines: The purest form of war is one by one.

Killing Season is an action movie set in the Appalachian Mountains about an American military veteran (De Niro) who has retreated to a remote cabin in the woods. When a rare visitor, a European tourist (Travolta), appears on the scene, the two men strike up an unlikely friendship. But in fact the visitor is a former Serbian soldier bent on revenge. What follows is a tense, action packed battle across some of America’s most forbidding landscape that proves the old adage: the purest form of war is one-on-one.

Killing Season (previously titled Shrapnel) is a 2013 action film written by Evan Daugherty and directed by Mark Steven Johnson for Millennium Films, as the first on-screen pairing of actors John Travolta and Robert De Niro. The film pertains to a personal fight between an American and a Serb war veteran. Daugherty’s script caught the attention of producers after winning the 2008 Script Pipeline[8] Screenwriting Competition. The film received negative reviews from critics.

Killing Season Movie Poster

Killing Season

Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson
Starring: Robert De Niro, John Travolta, Milo Ventimiglia, Elizabeth Olin, Diana Lyubenova
Screenplay by: Evan Daugherty
Production Design by: Kirk M. Petruccelli
Cinematography by: Peter Menzies Jr.
Film Editing by: Sean Albertson
Costume Design by: Denise Wingate
Set Decoration by: Melinda Sanders
Music by: Christopher Young
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, some torture, and language including some sexual reference.
Studio: Millennium Films
Release Date: July 12, 2013

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The Iceman

The Iceman Movie

Taglines: Loving husband. Devoted father. Ruthless killer.

Inspired by actual events, The Iceman follows notorious contract killer Richard Kuklinski (Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon) from his early days in the mob until his arrest for the murder of more than 100 men. Appearing to be living the American dream as a devoted husband and father; in reality Kuklinski was a ruthless killer-for-hire. When finally arrested in 1986, neither his wife nor daughters have any clue about his real profession.

The Iceman is an American crime thriller film based on the true story of longtime notorious hitman Richard Kuklinski. Released in 2013 at the Venice Film Festival, the film was directed by Ariel Vromen, and stars Michael Shannon as Richard Kuklinski, Winona Ryder as his wife, Chris Evans, and Ray Liotta.

The Iceman showed at the 2012 Telluride Film Festival and the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival before receiving a limited release in cinemas in the United States on May 3, 2013. It expanded into more cinemas in the USA on May 17. It was released to DVD on September 3.

A Movie Is Born

In 1992, HBO aired the disturbing documentary, “The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Hitman.” It was a series of one-on-one interviews with Richard Kuklinski, a known contract killer, who was serving a life sentence in a New Jersey prison for killing 100 men. In the documentary, Kuklinski details how he committed the murders, showing no remorse except when he talks about his family, who had no idea of his heinous acts until his arrest in 1986.

The Iceman Movie - Winona Ryder

The haunting documentary mesmerized filmmaker Ariel Vromen, who had directed two movies at that point in his career, one of them being the well-received Danika, which starred Marisa Tomei and won Best Feature Film at the San Diego Film Festival in 2006. “I was amazed by the story,” Vromen recalls. “The weirdest feeling that I had was that I liked the guy.”

Convinced that Kuklinski’s life contained the seeds of a compelling story, Vromen teamed up with writing partner Morgan Land (Rx) to pen the screenplay The Iceman. Determined to direct the project, he then reached out to veteran producer Ehud Bleiberg (The Band’s Visit, Adam Resurrected), whom he had previously met with for another project. Bleiberg, who has produced more than 30 films, was moved by Vromen’s passion and recognized the potential for an intriguing portrayal of a man who somehow managed to balance two wildly conflicting realities.

“Here was this guy who has some experience in his childhood that caused him, from my point of view, to do things that normal people don’t do,” Bleiberg explains. “He could kill people without blinking — no feeling, no anything. That was one part of the story. The other part of the story was the family. What does the family know? A guy comes home from work after he kills someone. It’s hard to believe how he could live with his family while doing these terrible things. His balance of the two worlds interested me very much.”

The Iceman Movie

Believing in Vromen and his story, Bleiberg was on board. However, mindful of Vromen’s short track record as a director, the producer needed a way to showcase Vromen’s directorial chops for potential investors. Bleiberg and Vromen settled on the novel idea of doing a screen test of one of the script’s most crucial scenes. For Vromen, casting the scene was as critical as any other skill in his director’s toolkit.

“I realized that in order to showcase anything at that stage, it was most important to show that I have a good eye for choosing who I want to star in this film,” the director says.

For Vromen, there was only one actor who was capable of playing the role of Kuklinski — Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, “Boardwalk Empire”). “I became obsessed about him doing that role,” Vromen says, adding that he first met the Academy Award-nominated actor at an Oscar party and told him he’d started writing the script about Kuklinski. “He didn’t know about the story but he was very intrigued,” Vromen recalls.

A couple of years later, Vromen ran into Shannon again, this time sitting next to him at a restaurant bar. Vromen brought up the project and floated the idea of Shannon playing Kuklinski in the screen test, which was to be a one-day shoot in Los Angeles. Shannon agreed.

“Michael walked into my house the day before we shot it,” Vromen says. “He thought he was doing a test against a wall and would read a couple of lines. So when someone put a moustache on him and a costume, and then the next day he saw that we had a little set organized, that was pretty impressive. I think that’s what made him understand it was something that we all were serious about.”

Shannon did the test scene, which has since been posted on YouTube, where it has garnered almost 200,000 views. “It was an opportunity for Ariel to get a little warm-up because he wanted to make this film for such a long time,” Shannon says. “I think it was good to get that practice run and see what it was like. And it was a lot of fun.”

Although the scene ran for just four minutes, Shannon’s performance so impressed Vromen and Bleiberg that they knew they’d found their man. “We spent a lot of money for that day of shooting, like a regular day on the shoot for a film,” Bleiberg says. “But when we saw Michael’s performance, we’re like, ‘This is the Iceman!'” Vromen concurs: “It was almost like the role was meant for him. No one else could play that role. Luckily, Ehud supported me on that.”

The test scene served the dual purpose of confirming Shannon as the right man for the part and helping Bleiberg secure the much needed financing from Millennium Films — even though Shannon was not yet widely recognized as the star he is today.

“To my eyes, Michael Shannon was already a star, and unbelievable at that, but he wasn’t known by the people who would want to put that kind of money into a movie,” Bleiberg says.

To get around that issue, the filmmakers’ strategy was to surround Shannon with a supporting cast of A-list actors that would be more familiar to investors. But they needn’t have worried; HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” became a hit with Shannon in the riveting role of FBI Agent Nelson Van Alden. Now, other name actors wanted the opportunity to work with Shannon and agreed to review the script, knowing he was attached to star. “It was almost perfect timing,” Vromen says.

For the challenging role of Kuklinski’s wife, Deborah, the filmmakers cast Winona Ryder. “Winona was fantastic,” Shannon says. “It’s a very difficult role she was playing. It’s hard for people to believe that Richard could have kept his violent job a secret from his family. That was something that Winona had to wrestle with, but she’s got a really big heart and throws herself into what she does. You just feel for her every time she is on screen; you feel what she is going through.”

Ryder says she has always been a fan of mob films like The Godfather, but The Iceman offers a different take on the genre. “It goes right into the very core of questions about right and wrong and humanity. Can someone that’s capable of so much death and destruction and brutality also be capable of the tremendous love for his family? That alone is a very intense question. For Kuklinski, it was just business. For us, it is monstrous. Michael has played unhinged characters before, but this is a very interesting portrait painted across his face. It’s unique and very complicated, and there is heart in there and also terror.”

Ryder says she was blown away by the experience of working with Shannon. “Michael Shannon is one of the best actors that I’ve ever worked with and I’ve worked with some pretty great actors,” she says. “Every once in a while, someone comes along and you feel like they’re almost yanking you by your throat into the actual moment of the scene and it just wakes you up. It’s exhilarating and it’s intoxicating and it’s very inspiring to watch someone sort of walk into the fire, and in this case into the very core primal place of our humanity.”

Ryder says Shannon’s performance in a sense made her fall in love with acting again. “His skills and his talent are stunning,” the actress says. “I don’t remember a moment in any scene where he wasn’t just completely present and, when someone is like that, it forces you to be as well and it’s an amazing feeling. You sort of look for that for the rest of your life.”

Ryder says she first became aware of the magnitude of Shannon’s talent through his role in the 1999 drama Jesus’ Son and was excited when she met with Vromen and he told her that Shannon was on board to play Kuklinski.

“I really liked Vromen’s take on the film in the sense that he really wanted to go into the duality of the character obviously, but also he wanted to make a comment on the way people live in denial, which has more to do with my character. We all have lived in denial in one way or another. This just takes it to a very different level.”

That aspect of the Deborah Pellicotti character made it very challenging for Ryder to prepare for the role because so much information about Kuklinski was available for people to read online and in books.

“I had to shut myself off from all of that,” Ryder recalls. “I sort of had to unlearn anything that I knew about him, I had to do the opposite of what I usually do, which is research. I had to take out all of the pages in the script that I wasn’t in or that my character wouldn’t know. I had a Sharpie and I would just cross out anything that my character was either in denial of or unaware of.”

In a curious way, this approach helped Ryder get into her character’s skin. “In a way, it was almost a good thing because I think Deborah was doing that — she was unlearning, she wasn’t asking any questions, she was pretending like she didn’t know things to a certain extent. So there’s a parallel there in the way I approached it and the way she was living her life.”

For the role of Mr. Freezy, Chris Evans, who played Captain America in this summer’s blockbuster, The Avengers, came in for two weeks. Evans lists Shannon among his favorite actors working today.

“It’s amazing when you get the chance to work with someone who is so fantastic, who you respect so much,” Evans says of Shannon. “It’s a little intimidating because Michael’s so good. His commitment to authenticity and to the truth is real. He has such artistic integrity and sets the bar high, which is fantastic. He’s not going to do it if it’s not right. It’s a great experience as an actor to learn from someone like that, to watch their process and understand where they refuse to compromise.”

For his part, Shannon says he and Evans shared a good camaraderie on set. “He was very creative and full of energy and very serious about what he was doing,” Shannon recalls. “He really contributed a lot to the picture — even to enabling it to happen in the first place.”

Other actors who joined the cast include Ray Liotta (Goodfellas), David Schwimmer (“Friends”), John Ventimiglia (“The Sopranos”), Jay Giannone (Safe) and Robert Davi (“Profiler”). In addition, Stephen Dorff (Public Enemies) and James Franco (127 Hours) each worked one day, making cameo appearances in key roles opposite Shannon.

For Vromen, being able to direct this movie was a dream come true. “It’s so difficult to do an independent movie, so to speak, but here we’ve done it,” he says.

The result, Bleiberg says, is no regular mob movie. “Richard Kuklinski was not part of The Family; he was an outside contractor. He was contradictory. He was a family man with his family, but on the other side he was different. He killed people so that no one knew they had been killed. He operated for two decades without anyone knowing who he was.”

As for the impact of the movie, Bleiberg predicts that the unsettling dichotomy embodied in Kuklinski will work overtime on audiences’ minds and emotions after they see the film: “They will wake up in the middle of the night and think, ‘How did Richard Kuklinski go for two decades killing people and no one knew what he did?'”

Evans concurs. “I love true stories, first and foremost,” the actor says. “But I think any time that you have a story about someone who’s done things that are so foreign to the majority of us, it’s just mind-blowing to watch them — to see one human’s capacity to commit evil. For me, that’s the stuff I go to the movies to see; that’s the compelling drama.”

As for his experience playing such a twisted title role, Shannon waxes philosophical: “I guess any time I take a job, I’m not afraid to dig into something, no matter how ugly it may be. To me, that’s where the stories are — that ugly, dark, confused place. Those, unfortunately, for better or for worse, tend to be the most interesting stories. People are fascinated by them.”

The actor says the film is like a portrait. “Any time that you look at a portrait, it’s just a deeper understanding of whatever it is that you’re looking at,” he says. “The value of making this movie is to give you some idea of what Richard Kuklinski’s life might have been like. Here’s a fellow that people are intrigued by and want to know more about. Hopefully, we’re giving them that insight.”

The Iceman Movie Poster

The Iceman

Directed by: Ariel Vromen
Starring: Chris Evans, James Franco, Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, David Schwimmer
Screenplay by: Anthony Bruno, Morgan Land, Ariel Vromen
Production Design by: Nathan Amondson
Cinematography by: Bobby Bukowski
Film Editing by: Danny Rafic
Costume Design by: Donna Zakowska
Set Decoration by: Teresa Visinare
Music by: Haim Mazar
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, pervasive language and some sexual content.
Studio: Millennium Films
Release Date: May 3, 2013

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Upside Down

Upside Down Movie

Taglines: Two worlds. One future.

Ever since Adam (Jim Sturgess) and Eden (Kirsten Dunst) fell in love as teens, their bond has faced astronomical odds. The pair are separated not just by social class and a political system bent on keeping them apart, but also by a freak planetary condition: they live on twinned worlds with gravities that pull in opposite directions—he on the poverty-stricken planet below, she on the wealthy, exploitative world above.

Their budding but illicit romance screeches to a tragic halt when interplanetary-border patrol agents catch them and Eden suffers an apparently fatal fall. But when, ten years later, Adam learns she is alive and working at a vast corporation whose towering headquarters connects their planets, he sets out on a dangerous quest to infiltrate the company and the upper world to reconnect with her. UPSIDE DOWN is a visually stunning romantic adventure that poses the question: what if love was stronger than gravity?

Upside Down (French: Un monde à l’envers) is a Canadian-French romantic science fiction film written and directed by Juan Diego Solanas, starring Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst.

Upside Down Movie - Kirsten Dunst

About the Production

Upside Down began as a single image seen in a dream by writer-director Juan Solanas. “I saw this man on top of a mountain, looking up and seeing a woman on top of another mountain but upside down,” Solanas recalls of that seminal moment. “It left a strong impression on me.”

From that image, Solanas began teasing out a story line, and soon knew he had found his next movie project. Almost immediately, he started writing down his thoughts, with the image ultimately becoming the all-important meeting of two star-crossed lovers living on twinned worlds and separated by opposite gravities.

It’s not the first time Solanas, a former photographer and the son of renowned Argentine film director Fernando Solanas, has created a full-blown film from a single image. He took the same path for his surreal and evocative short, The Man Without a Head, which won a raft of prizes around the world, including the Jury Prize at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for the Palme D’Or for Best Short. His award-winning 2005 feature film, Northeast, had a similar origin.

“Deep down, I’m a photographer so I am totally visual,” Solanas says. “It’s probably the result of an unconscious process. Once the image calls me, I look and I understand the story that comes with it. It’s been like that each time.”

Upside Down Movie

Solanas took his dream-inspired ideas for Upside Down to his longtime collaborator, producer Aton Soumache (Renaissance), who had worked with him on The Man Without a Head. Soumache recalls being blown away by the richness of what Solanas presented to him.

“The world that he created with these two opposite planets was so incredible,” Soumache recalls. “We were so excited. We came up with thousands and thousands of ideas.”

The men worked on the script for more than two years, blending elements of classic love stories like “Romeo and Juliet” with fantastic flights of imagination to create a poetic fairytale that’s as original as it is arresting to the eye.

“Visually, I’ve never seen anything like this,” says the film’s female lead, Kirsten Dunst(Spider-Man,Melancholia). “There’s this whole idea of these parallel universes that connect, and there’s a political aspect to it, there’s a romance, and there’s a whole new era that’s created at the end of this film, as well. It’s got a lot of huge themes, but it’s done in a very funny, quirky way.”

The grand innovation of the concept is the twinned planets with their opposing gravitational fields. On the one hand, there is the impoverished, so-called “Down Below,” where people live in simple clothes with no money and no electricity. On the other hand, so close that it all but hides the sky, is thewealthy “Up Top,”which exploits the resources of the lower world but shares none of the benefits. Lovers Adam and Eden live on — and are separated by — these different worlds.

Upside Down Movie

It’s a conceit that’s rich in metaphoric overtones that hint at more earthbound issues such as slavery, apartheid, environmental exploitation and interracial relationships, says the film’s male lead, Jim Sturgess (Cloud Atlas,Across the Universe).

“In any good love story there are always obstacles that prevent the couple from being together,” Sturgess says. “And in this case, gravity plays a huge part in that — the fact that these people don’t even exist in the same gravitational pull. It’s one of the biggest characters in the film really.”

As excited as he was about Solanas’ ideas, Soumache was initially unsure they could be made into a film. But Solanas, who is praised by cast and crew alike for his raw, creative energy, was insistent that it could be done if they could assemble an exceptionally talented crew. They did just that, recruiting A-list production designer Alex McDowell (Fight Club, Minority Report); visual effects supervisor Francois Dumoulin (Demonlover), who had also worked on The Man Without a Head; and cinematographer Pierre Gill (Outlander, The Art of War).

Soumache says having a production designer of McDowell’s caliber was essential to the making of the film. “We really needed somebody who was able to create a unique world,” the producer says. “There are not a lot of production designers who can do this kind of movie — maybe four or five in the world.”

McDowell loved the script and, after Solanas flew from Montreal to meet him in Los Angeles, signed on to the project quickly. “It was a highly seductive project so it actually went very fast,” McDowell says. “I’m always drawn to films that have a real personal kind of interior world that is being built — one that has real meaning to the director. This was something that was absolutely built from a vision Juan had, and so that in itself was very interesting. And then, of course, the idea is quite fantastic.”

Upside Down Movie

McDowell says Solanas had spent a lot of time working out a “great interior logic” for the film. For example, the dual gravity is governed by three rules: First, all matter is pulled by the gravity of the world that it comes from, and not the other; second, an object’s weight can be offset by matter from the opposite world (aka inverse matter); and third, after some time, matter in contact with inverse matter burns. Solanas had also gathered mountains of photographs and pictorial material to work from.

“It’s an amazing design challenge to think about this idea of two worlds, somewhat parallel to our own, but with this proximity — and two gravities, and all the complexity that that involves,” McDowell says. “And the political and social undertones were really interesting to me. There was a real sense that he had a vision and knew what he wanted from it.”

Director of photography Pierre Gill, who signed onto the project after Solanas flew to meet him in Paris, also found the project irresistible.

“It’s like a dream come true for any filmmaker,” he says. “It’s unique. It’s very creative, very colorful, very amazing. When I went to Juan’s apartment, the first thing he showed me was the book with the visual references. The artwork was outstanding.”

As for Solanas himself, he quickly overcame any doubts that he would be up to the task of helming the multi-million-dollar project, which was a huge step up from his previous films. McDowell says he for one had complete confidence in Solanas’ ability, given his filmmaking pedigree and previous careers as a photographer and 20 years as a cinematographer.

“Juan is a great visionary,” McDowell says. “There’s no question that everybody signed on to this film because he had this totally original idea and vision driving everything.”

Upside Down Movie Poster

Upside Down

Directed by: Juan Diego Solanas
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Jim Sturgess, Timothy Spall, Agnieshka Wnorowska, Jayne Heitmeyer
Screenplay by: Juan Diego Solanas
Production Design by: Alex McDowell
Cinematography by: Pierre Gill
Film Editing by: Paul Jutras
Costume Design by: Nicoletta Massone
Set Decoration by: Paul Hotte
Art Direction by: Isabelle Guay, Jean-Pierre Paquet
Music by: Benoît Charest
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence.
Studio: Millennium Entertainment
Release Date: March 15, 2013

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