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Peter saw his first movie when he was just a little boy, and has never gotten over that experience.

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Ellen Toasts Christopher Plummer

Posted February 29, 2012

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Yesterday Ellen Degeneres invited Christopher Plummer back on ELLEN to toast him for winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in BEGINNERS. Indeed. Bravo, Mr. Plummer.

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LA Times: The Heroic Journey of Making BEING FLYNN

Posted February 29, 2012

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In the Los Angeles Times, Steven Zeitchik reports on the film's history in "BEING FLYNN finally comes into being with De Niro and Weitz." The story of turning Nick Flynn's critically acclaimed memoir into a film seems as heroic as the characters in it. As Zeitchik sums it up, "This weekend -- after 30 screenplay drafts, eight years, three studios and one title change -- a film version of that book, now called BEING FLYNN and starring [Robert] De Niro and [Paul] Dano, hits theaters." The story of how it got made is a real lesson in how powerful the original story is and how much conviction the filmmakers had in it. For Weitz, the story is something everyone one can relate to:

The book felt like a fable of that utterly recognizable circumstance where a guy [is] in a pressure-cooker situation that's destabilized by something...It's also the quintessence of everybody's experience in mythologizing their parents: Are we fated to become our parents, and can we do anything to change that?

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Paul Weitz Tell All to ComingSoon.net

Posted February 28, 2012

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At ComingSoon.net, Edward Douglas sits down with Paul Weitz, the writer/director of BEING FLYNN. A very smart, wide-ranging discussion that covers the film's development, casting of Robert De Niro, involvement of Nick Flynn (who wrote the original memoir) and the film's unique mix of humor and hard-topic issues. At the end, Douglas asks Weitz about his use of Badly Drawn Boy (aka Damon Gough), who'd previously scored About a Boy, to create the soundtrack for BEING FLYNN as well.

I'd been listening to Damon's albums over the years, and while I was shooting it, I was listening to his most recent album, "It's What I'm Thinking Of." It's pretty funny 'cause I called him up and I said, "How'd you feel about doing another movie with me?" Then I sent him the film and I'd copped some of his songs in there, and also some piano pieces by Bach that would play under De Niro, because De Niro thinks of himself as a classic writer. Damon called me and said, "Well, it seems like very different music from what I write," so I said, "Well, how would you feel about trying to do Bach-ess versions of the themes of the songs that you're going to write for this?" He did it, and even if I'm the only one who feels it, there's some connection between the whole story. When it's following the two characters' stories equally, I think it's a great benefit to have one artist doing all the music. It was a joy, and also I'm just a fan of his.

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SF GATE considers Dads and Sons in BEING FLYNN

Posted February 27, 2012

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Pam Grady's San Francisco Chronicle article "BEING FLYNN: Mythic father figure drives director" spotlights writer/director Paul Weitz. Famous for such films as About a Boy and In Good Company, Weitz related to Nick Flynn's memoir about dealing with his father, partially because of his own father, John Weitz. A famous fashion designer, John Weitz became a celebrity whose name could be seen on New York bus ads through the 70s and 80s. In dealing with this story about a father and son, Paul Weitz thought, "There were a couple of central things which drew to me to the material in the first place and then became apparent as I worked more on it," he says. "The first thing was this question of whether you are fated to become your parent and whether you can create yourself, and if you're troubled, is it actually fatal to detach yourself from the troubling aspect of your heritage?"

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NY TIMES: The Stories Behind BEING FLYNN

Posted February 27, 2012

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In New York Times' article "Long Trip From Skid Row to the Screen," Ari Karpel reviews the remarkable trip from Nick Flynn's memoir of dealing with his father to the making of a feature film based on that story. In some ways the story is about two writers - the dad, Jonathan Flynn (played by Robert De Niro), who believes himself to be a great writer, and the son, Nick Flynn (played by Paul Dano), who is trying to become a writer. The making of the film, as the article points out, is also about two writers - Nick Flynn who wrote the original memoir, and writer/director Paul Weitz, who went through more than 20 drafts of the script to get it just right. What connected both of these writers is their image of their dads. Weitz explains, "My dad was a pretty successful fashion designer...But what he wanted to be in life was a writer, and he was a very loving but fairly tortured fellow. And so I've always wanted to react to that, to try to avoid some of his specific brand of pain, coming from creativity."

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Gary Oldman chats with NY TIMES

Posted February 22, 2012

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In Melena Ryzik's "A Word With ... Gary Oldman," the Oscar-nominated star of TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY talks about his career and life. It's a fun interview that dives into Oldman skill in playing bad guys and his desire to do some comedy. At one point, he defines the character of George Smiley in relationship to his more high-octane characters in terms of music.

There was something about  George. He did wonders for my blood pressure. [In my] career playing characters who - they burn from the first bar, they're like rock 'n' roll, and to me George is jazz. You slowly work to the solo.

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AFI Q&A with Gary Oldman

Posted February 22, 2012

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On February 16, Gary Oldman talked with the AFI about TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY and why the role of George Smiley was the perfect part at the perfect time. See the clip here.

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David Bordwell unlocks TINKER, TAILOR stagecraft

Posted February 21, 2012

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In his post, "TINKER TAILOR once more: Tradecraft," film scholar David Bordwell has dug deep into the structure and style of John le Carré and the narrative strategies deployed in TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY - both novel and film - to highlight some fascinating connections between storytelling and spying. It becomes clear that TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY's enigmatic structure is in perfect sync with the complicated hunt for a mole that is at the story's center. At one point, Bordwell analyzes in depth the scene in which Peter Guillam attempts to steal a file from the Circus, and how what we see only tells us part of the story. The other part is conveyed by what we hear, but don't right away connect to the story.

The Tinker Tailor film, of course, had to be much more squeezed down. I mentioned in the earlier entry that the screenwriters compared their structure to a mosaic, and I followed this out in my discussion of how the narration was elliptical and fragmentary, leaving out redundancies that are usually required in popular film. Many scenes are both spacious and laconic. The rhythm is slow, and we're given time to see and hear everything; but that "everything" might be only a voice dimly overheard, or a doorbell, or an image that gives one piece of information.

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USA Today Spotlights Christopher Plummer

Posted February 21, 2012

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In USA Today, Elysa Gardner's article, "No Beginner: Christopher Plummer Could Win His First Oscar," surveys the magnificent career of the actor now up for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Mike Mills' BEGINNERS. Plummer, ever gracious, points out how many great actors didn't get Oscar buzz till late in his career, if at all: "If you look back, men like Claude Rains were nominated (for an Academy Award) but never won. ... And Charlie Chaplin didn't get one until he was 83. Can you believe that?" But while much of the article points the spotlight on Plummer, he redirects the attention to the film, explaining, "I'm thrilled if, in any way, (my) winning some awards and being nominated here will help bring it back into people's minds." Plummer, in defining his part, explains: "Hal is a man who is determined to have fun; he's so relieved and fulfilled to finally be out in the open. He's shocked when he learns he's going to die, but he recovers. It's a terribly human little story, and a rather important one."

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LA TIMES visits BEGINNERS Home

Posted February 17, 2012

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In the Los Angeles Times "L.A. at Home" section, David A. Keeps's interview with set decorator Coryander Friend "Set Pieces: The Neutra house in Mike Mills' BEGINNERS" takes a tour of the architecture landmark that houses Hal (Oscar-nominated Christopher Plummer). As the piece explains, "Hal lives in the Lovell Health House, the 1927 modernist masterpiece in the International Style by architect Richard Neutra." (To learn about other L.A. landmarks, see our video "Los Angeles For BEGINNERS.") Friend goes on to explain the way they matched the architecture and décor with the character of Hal, and where they got the interiors for the set:

We were lucky enough to have access to a lot of Mike's family furniture -- a mix of turn-of-the-century European design, African and Japanese. Shane Valentino, our production designer, acquired a bunch of mint mid-century Modern furniture from a family friend. The bentwood rocker is Thonet, loaned to us by Todd Cole, our set photographer. We all pitched in. In fact, the couch Mr. Plummer sits on throughout the film is actually from my own collection. It was given to me by a production designer friend who used it in an Orkin commercial. I think he got it from the Salvation Army.

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