You may fantasize about an ex-lover returning, appearing at your doorstep bags in hand, ready to pick up the broken fragments of the past and start anew. But sometimes, a fantasy is just a fantasy and should remain as such—for if it were to become a reality, that would be an entirely different beast of its own. And in Neil LaBute’s latest biting bit of cinematic theater, we see him return to the roots that we know and love, presenting us with a lipstick-stained and sexually-charged verbal squash match between the sexes.
Starring the always wonderful Stanley Tucci and Alice Eve (in a truly revelatory performance), Some Velvet Morningfollows what happens when Fred (Tucci) waltzes up to the doorstep of Velvet’s (Eve) home—after not having seen her in four years—to announce he’s left his wife and is finally ready to confront his love for her and be together. And while that all seems well and romantic—a tender love story this is not. Both surprised and slightly frightened by Fred’s presence, and the quiet menace and possessive aggression that brings, Velvet tries to thwart his advances and although claims to be late for a lunch date, seems to be operating on a Bunuelian time table for leaving the house (she never does).
And working in the realm LaBute does best, the rough-tongued portrait of strange love unfolds into a dark place that both emotionally engages you in their conversational rally and shocks you with its potency, while providing a perfect vehicle for his actors to play. A few weeks back, I got the chance to sit down with Tucci and Eve to discuss the collaborative nature of working with LaBute, the physical and emotional strain of acting, and the hazy line between fantasy and reality.
Stanley Tucci and Alice Eve on Their Ferocious Performances in Neil LaBute’s ‘Some Velvet Morning’
From Jim Jarmusch to Ingmar Bergman, Here’s What You Should Be Seeing in New York This Weekend
As I find myself sitting on my knees typing away and thinking of the year behind and year ahead, I can’t help but wonder where the time has gone. Has it really been an entire year since I lamented over my least favorite films of 2012, or did I just blink a little too hard?But as 2013 draws the curtain on 2014, and for all of the myriad life changes, pleasures, heartbreaks, existential quandaries, and obsessions endured, a great deal of my emotional memory is centered around cinema. I can pinpoint my own state of being in correlation to the films I loved and the work that truly moved me. I look back on my absolute favorite film of the year, Shane Carruth’s confounding and beautiful Upstream Color and can remember precisely the person I was at that time and just what compelled me to see the film 23 times in a span of two months.
But whether it was 2013’s highly anticipated heavy hitters like Steve McQueen’s fearless 12 Years a Slave or hidden gems recently to have their premiere such as Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, it’s safe to say that it’s been a pretty damn good year for film. From psychotropic teen nightmares and 90s dinner party-esque Shakespearean adaptations to transcontinental love stories and visceral documentaries, the films of 2013 surely offer a bit of something to please every cinematic appetite. So although I’ve sadly yet to see some of the year end blockbusters—which I am sure they’re worth praising—I thought it still necessary to share my favorite films of the year, as well as a look back on our extensive interviews with the filmmakers behind the pictures. I’ve opted to not rank the films, as I believe they’re all vital and brilliant in their own right, but must give away my personal Best Feature award to my favorite treasure of the year. Hope you enjoy.
BlackBook’s 20 Favorite Films of 2013
Watch a Wonderful Interview with Robert Bresson From ‘Cinépanorama’ in 1960
The Best Movies to Watch Without Ever Leaving Your Bed: Essential Science Fiction Wonders
For me in a larger context, I knew I wanted to tell a story about two different people becoming friends. And ultimately, the real sort of thrust of the script was that. There’s something about Christmas time that says you have to reach out to other people and have to understand other people in a way that you’re more pressured to or expected to any other time of year. It’s not like you’re like, oh it’s Saint Patrick’s Day, I have to make amends. I really came to this as wanting to make a Christmas movie, and if there is any message, the message is Christmas related. It’s a holiday that demands compassion, and in my process of trying to find compassion in this experience that I went through, I think setting it at Christmas time facilitates that.
Dreaming of a Dark Christmas With Director Zach Clark and His New Holiday Tale ‘White Reindeer’
Making Martinis With Luis Buñuel
From Robert Altman to Billy Wilder, Here’s What You Should Be Seeing This Weekend in New York
When it comes to cinematic, musical, and literary preferences, I tend to carve out very specific works for the varying seasons of the year. The second the air begins to move from a haunting chill to the bitter cold that tingles your skin, I immediately turn to my Arthur Schnitzler and Harold Pinter, while cranking up the Aphex Twin, Max Richter, and Burial along with the heat.
But when it comes to films, although rife with options centrally focused on the celebrations at hand, some of the best films to watch during the season are those that really have no linear link to the holidays yet feel imbued with a deep sense of that particular winter psyche. Perhaps it’s their Christmas light lit cold demeanor that removes you from yourself and takes you on a journey into the dark of the unknown, or maybe its the chamber drama enclosed environments that beckon you in when the outside world is far too chilly for exterior reflection.
It’s a time of insular longing and hibernation, a solipsistic season that oddly forces you to interact with others along with the pressure to feel a certain sense of glee that, let’s be honest, is usually of cheap sentiment. But regardless, when all the turkey has been eaten and December begins, I start in on my favorite cinematic season of the year with a host of films from the late greats of your favorite auteurs and heartbreaking English classics to poetic explorations of the soul and 1970s American wonders.
Your Alternate Essential List of Films to Watch This Winter
I remember improvising in Carnegie Hall, I had five thousand dollars in cash in my underwear to take to David Crosby down in Nassau in the Bahamas because his engine had broken, and it had to be in 50 dollar bills so it wouldn’t be too hard to exchange down there. So then the money stuck out of my stomach because I was thin then and had on a slinky little satin gown, and I could not turn sideways because I had no place to put the money and I didn’t want to lose it. Anyway, so there was that and I was improvising and it was heady and fantastic and beautiful. That was in January of 1970 and that was what I did then.
Looking Back on Robert Altman’s ‘Nashville’ With Its Star Ronee Blakley