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In “A Star is Born” and “Vox Lux,” the actresses offer very different perspectives on fame.

Fame is a tricky subject for established actors, especially ones with such recognizable faces that they can never fully immerse themselves in a role. In “A Star is Born,” director-star Bradley Cooper’s grimy and soulful installment in a decades-spanning tradition of tackling the rags-to-riches saga, Lady Gaga embraces the opportunity to endow a familiar showbiz drama with renewed intimacy. The established performer becomes a veiled weapon for her fragile character — a rising phenom named Ally — whose uncertainty about her talent is upended by our knowledge that she has it in spades; it doesn’t take much needling from Cooper’s renowned hard-drinking rocker Jackson Maine to drag it out of her.

“A Star is Born” may be a timeless formula, but the subject has particular resonance when our crazed media circus exploits creativity at any opportunity, only to spit it out the moment the juices run dry. And so, that remake has landed on the fall film festival circuit with an evil twin: “Vox Lux,” writer-director Brady Corbet’s fascinating, bleak enigma about the self-destructive path of a pop star who epitomizes the shifting temperaments of a country at odds with itself.

As the coarse, moody singer Celeste, Natalie Portman deliver a stormy interpretation of an icon saddled with a culture that projects its sentiments onto her. Beginning with a traumatic high-school shooting and culminating in a performance that feels like a very different sensory assault, “Vox Lux” is a jarring deconstruction of the industry that “A Star is Born” explores in more familiar terms.

Both movies deliver on vastly different ambitions. As a director, Cooper borrows more heavily from the John Cassavetes playbook than the story’s precedents, with a naturalistic drama that sticks close to its tearjerker potential without overplaying its sentimental hand. Of course, he’s mining a lot of obvious territory here, and from the moment Ally wanders out of the garage from her service job singing a gentle tune and the title card comes up, “A Star is Born” telegraphs its intentions hard and fast. There’s nothing particularly shocking about a story that finds the disheveled Jackson drawing Ally into his orbit, developing a touching romance, and catapulting her to unexpected new heights of appreciation. His substance-abuse problems enter the movie right on cue; as Ally’s career gains momentum, his own begins to wane. It’s a straightforward disconnect that gives these effective performers room to play, but Gaga’s dynamic screen presence elevates it beyond the realm of cliché. Her own cultural evolution in the public eye imbues the archetype with renewed authenticity.

Portman, on the other hand, brings a near-cartoonish intensity to her monstrous singer that elevates the movie to surreal heights. Corbet’s fascinating narrative unfolds across two time periods: In the first, set in the years leading up to 9/11, the teenage Celeste (breakout Raffey Cassidy, terrifically subdued) survives a near-death experience that leaves many of her classmates dead; when she sings a gentle ballad at a memorial service, it goes viral, instantly propelling her to national attention. Under the guidance of her foul-mouthed new agent (a wacky Jude Law), she travels to New York and Europe with her sister (Stacy Martin). The girls are eager, wide-eyed neophytes, dragging the narrow worldview of their Christian background on the road even as they discover the prospects of a hard-partying lifestyle. Corbet, whose daring stylistic approach shifts gears every few minutes, represents this process in sped-up home video footage as narrator Willem Dafoe deadpans about their experiences. Then 9/11 hits, and Dafoe puts national circumstances in context: While the nation mourned the school shooting through the youthful purity of teen Celeste, in the wake of 9/11, it lost its innocence along with her.

Enter the next chapter: Portman careens through 2017 scenes, where Celeste has become a jaded, hedonistic trainwreck. No matter how she’s put the attack behind her, the darkness comes in waves, and now she’s dealing with the fallout of a media whirlwind when terrorists wearing masks from her music video engage in a violent mass shooting. Considering her response while rolling her eyes, she swears and flaunts her attitude at anyone in vicinity, including her estranged daughter — played by Cassidy again, highlighting the surreal meta-commentary at the movie’s startling, provocative core. These aren’t really people; they epitomize a cycle of spoiled virtues that never really ends. While Gaga may be channeling Judy Garland in her role as a natural performer, Portman resurrects the unruly force of Gena Rowlands in “A Woman Under the Influence,” elevating the concept of an energetic train wreck to metaphorical terrain.

As a result, the two movies stand at a significant crossroads: “A Star is Born” explores the intimacy of stardom often obscured by the spotlight, while “Vox Lux” unearths its mythological ramifications. Their effectiveness depends on which experience audiences prefer to engage. “A Star is Born” offers emotional depth to spare, and delivers the musical goods time and again, in large part due to Gaga’s booming voice and raw screen presence. Portman, however, often looks as though she might pop off the frame alongside the movie’s big ideas. In a mesmerizing climax, her character performs the title album in a colorful set overloaded with blinding lights and glittery costumes. Ironically, Celeste looks markedly similar to Gaga’s stage appearance years before she polished up her act. Together, they illustrate dueling relationships to the celebrity machine. Whereas “A Star is Born” celebrates the perseverance of a beloved figure in the public eye, “Vox Lux” illustrates the psychological toll of being starved for attention.

Source: Indiewire

Actor-turned-director Brady Corbet’s devilishly entertaining Vox Lux premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Tuesday to a strangely polarized reaction. Some were delighted by the film, which tracks the rise and attempted reboot of a glittery, Lady Gaga-esque diva; others walked out of the press screening, which was met with scattered boos. Everyone agreed, though, that nobody could fault the 35-mm. musical drama with a lack of ambition.

Divided into two chapters, the film follows Celeste (Raffey Cassidy in part one), a sweet and musically gifted 14-year-old who survives a school shooting reminiscent of Columbine and parlays her newfound notoriety into music-biz stardom. When we pick up with her in part two, now played by Natalie Portman, Celeste has slugged it out atop the pop charts for the past 15 years, with all the scars and addictions to show for it—and an arsenal of all-new tunes by songwriter extraordinaire Sia.

On the day she’s meant to kick off her comeback tour, news footage emerges of terrorists wearing Celeste-inspired garb while killing innocents. Violence gave the singer her name, and now threatens to take it away.

We spoke with Portman and Corbet about the film, their respective careers, and why directing is like sex, shortly before Vox Lux’s red carpet premiere on Tuesday.

Vanity Fair: Natalie, I saw that you have an executive-producer credit on the film, as well as an acting credit. What has your relationship with this project been like over the years?

Natalie Portman: I do? [Laughs] That’s awesome! I didn’t have a relationship—I guess that’s something my agents added in, and I didn’t realize. [Laughs]

Brady Corbet: When you’re putting a film together, you always have to start with the cast—the film wouldn’t exist without Natalie’s participation, Jude [Law]’s participation, Sia’s participation. And so I would assume that was the producers’ reasoning. But I don’t know; I didn’t negotiate the deal.

Portman: [Still laughing] That’s hysterical! I totally didn’t know that.

Raffey Cassidy plays the teenage Celeste in the first half of the film, and Celeste’s teenage daughter in part two. Did you work with her to develop your shared character?

Portman: Not really. It was guided by Brady, because everything was fast and furious, shooting-wise. It was a bold choice of Brady’s that was really interesting, because it’s a constant reminder of the first half of the movie and what that character’s been through and that story, next to what’s kind of a different person 15 years later. It sort of reminds you of the past that brought her to where she is. Also, I think Raffey is such a strong actress.

Corbet: I think the idea is that Natalie is having a dialogue with herself, in a way. And yet it’s someone who has advanced a little bit, is a bit further along than she was at that age, 15 years [prior]. The idea was that the first half of the movie is minimalism, and the second half is maximalism. So you have this character who is like a seed in part one, and is not a fully realized character until part two.

Portman: She’s like a man-eating plant in part two!

When we return to Celeste, she’s spent the past 15 years in the public spotlight. You’ve been there even longer than that. Has the nature of fame changed in recent years?

Portman: It’s changed a lot. In some ways, it feels a lot more invasive, because of things like camera phones and the Internet, which did not exist when I was first starting, of course. But, also, it feels a lot more dissipated, because there’s just so much information and so much out there that every little bit seems less valuable and less important. So it’s also become more relaxed, in a way.

How did you get into the mind of a pop star?

Portman: I watched a lot of documentaries. I don’t want to reveal them, because I don’t want people to think it’s based on particular people, which it’s not. The writing was so specific and inventive that I don’t want people to say, “Oh, it’s a mix of this-meets-that,” or whatever. I watched all of them. [Laughs] All the documentaries about pop stars.

What about the music? What was your collaboration like with Sia?

Corbet: I needed so much material, and so basically we mined through tons and tons of musical ideas—unreleased material, etc.—and mixed and matched, putting lyrics and music together to make the soundtrack. So some of these songs, especially the songs in the first part of the movie, were written a long time ago. And we tried as much as we could, because sometimes we had trouble recovering the elements, because they were written and produced a long time ago. But we tried to keep as much [of] the original production as possible. And then the contemporary songs were, you know, contemporary.

Did you go to Sia and say, “I have this character. I have this movie. What can you do?”

Corbet: Absolutely. Yes. I went and sat down and listened to many, many, many different songs, or parts of songs, or demos. And I started to identify something that would function really well for the character. But, then, everything was reproduced and the vocals were recorded, or in some cases re-recorded [gestures towards Portman].

Portman: It was really fun and surprising to just see what they could do in the studio—how you can layer your voice. The whole process was completely new for me. We recorded with Sia’s people, so that was really fun. You’ve got the headset on, and you’re in this recording studio . . .

Celeste survives a school shooting. She becomes the face of it, and that fuels her rise to fame. Has it been surreal watching reality imitate fiction this year, seeing the Parkland survivors chart a similar course?

Corbet: Here’s the thing: the film is not that prescient. The writing’s been on the wall for this stuff for forever, right? I mean, we have a reality star in the White House. Parkland is just one of the many, many, many tragedies that seems like we’re repeating on a weekly basis. I wasn’t more cognizant of the Parkland attack than I was everything else that’s happened this year, or San Bernardino a couple years ago. [However, with the Parkland kids,] it seems like maybe things are getting healthier. We finally are giving a face to the victims, as opposed to only the attackers.

Celeste loses control of her image in the second half of the film, after terrorists use visuals from her music videos while committing unspeakable acts. As film artists, do you worry about people appropriating your work and image?

Portman: I don’t know if that’s a fear in my life that I think about a lot. But it is something interesting for the character—to have her external perception so out of her hands. She obviously wants to control the narrative a little bit more.

Corbet: I think any time you’re portraying acts of violence on-screen, it can be argued that they immediately become iconic. I was mostly focused on doing something that was quite banal. I tried to make sure that it was not an iconic act of violence in the film . . . The creative process is something very insular, so, really, all you can focus on is doing the work as well as you can, and try to do it with integrity, which is what I tried to do. I’m not particularly worried about there being any acts of violence that are associated with this film.

Both of you began your careers as actors, and have moved toward directing. How does such a background help you as filmmakers?

Corbet: Hopefully, it makes us especially sensitive to whatever everyone who’s in front of the camera is going through. The more radical and dramatic the material, the more vulnerable it is for the cast. So, hopefully, it made us very patient and understanding. Every time a day player comes in—even if they only have two or three lines—they come with so much responsibility and stress because they don’t know everyone; they’re not familiar with the group. I’ve been in that position many times, where I’ve come in and just have one or two scenes in the movie. So I especially felt for people like that, and so I think we achieved something that was even better than if I had been not patient and not understanding.

Portman: I think it’s lucky to come as an actor to directing. Mike Nichols always used to say to me that directing is like sex—you don’t know how anyone else does it. And you look at other people and just kind of imagine, “oh, they must be really good at it!” [Laughs] As actors, you know how everyone else does it, cause you’ve had sex with all them! [Laughs] Obviously not actually had sex, but you’ve worked with all of them. You’ve had the experience working them, of course, so you know how everyone does it.

What lessons will you take from your first experience as a director, now that you’re beginning to work on your second film?

Portman: I think you [better] know the editing-room experience, of seeing what you are missing, or what you wish you had done. I imagine—because I haven’t done my second yet—that that will be a big change. Also, the music—I feel like I would start [working on] the music much earlier. I feel like music happens so late in the process, and I realized that it takes a long time to find the right stuff, and you almost want to shoot to music sometimes. I just realized that for the next time I would do it, I would want it much earlier in the process, rather than something to just add on at the end.

What can you tell us about your next project, which is about the relationship between Dear Abby and Ann Landers?

Portman: It’s very, very early. We’re still working on the script, and I think it’s going to be a while. I’m really interested in how you can become your own worst enemy, and how identical twins [are] kind of a personification of fighting yourself.

Source: Variety

“‘Vox Lux’ is the most political film I’ve made,” said Natalie Portman, discussing “Vox Lux,” which world premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Tuesday and will next play at Toronto.

In Brady Corbet’s film, Portman plays Celeste, a dysfunctional American pop star who survived a school shooting as a teenager. Dealing with fame, gun violence and pop culture, “Vox Lux” has earned mainly positive reactions from critics but also some boos during its early press screenings.

“I don’t think any two people will leave the screening with the same feeling. It will leave people debating,” said Portman, who also revealed that financing the project wasn’t easy.

“It almost fell apart financially. They called me when I was at the airport as I was leaving to travel to New York and told me ‘we can’t make the film because we’ve lost the financing,’” said Portman, who said she decided to “stick with the project” no matter what.

“It all worked out eventually and the delay allowed me to let it sit, take the time to get into the character,” said Portman, who added that she shot her part in only 10 days. “It was a very fast shoot but I loved working with Brady — he understands the necessity of freedom and created the time and space to make us feel free,” said Portman.

The Oscar-winning actress said she watched documentaries about pop stars to prepare for the role. She said she also watched videos of people who survived school shootings, but was already familiar with the enduring trauma that mass violence can cause in people because she has “very close friends who have been victims of terror.”

Portman said she was not concerned about the fact the film didn’t yet have U.S. distribution in place. “‘Jackie’ (which earned Portman an Oscar nomination) was the same. Producers want to go to festivals first because if you get a good response it will help you sell the film to the best possible distributor,” said Portman.

Portman, who has just wrapped “Pale Blue Dot” (working title), said there seemed to be more role opportunities for actresses today but it was “still complicated.”

“I still feel that it’s hard to find good parts. I’ve had several roles recently which I feel very proud about but I don’t think ‘Oh, I’m reading so many good things and I have to pick one,’ it’s more that I’m searching to find roles that I can work with,” said Portman, who nevertheless noted that streaming services have opened up many opportunities for new content to get made. “There’s so much stuff happening right now. Streaming outlets have created so much demand for content.”

“TV is allowing women to access roles that show their different colors, behaviors and feel more human,” said Portman. Although she doesn’t have a TV project lined up, she’s looking into it. “I just need to find something,” said Portman.

Following her feature debut “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” Portman said she was working with a screenwriter and the production banner Big Beach Films on a project about the twin sisters Ann Landers and Abigail van Buren, who were famous advice columnists and became bitter rivals. Portman said she didn’t know at this stage if she will only direct or star as well in the film.

Source: Variety

A school shooting, a teen pop idol and Portman’s jaded diva raise questions about fame and notoriety in Brady Corbet’s social satire

It’s part satire, part social comment, all fragmented and downright inconclusive. But the biggest hint as to what Brady Corbet’s second feature actually is comes right at the end, as the credits scroll fashionably downwards instead of up. It’s “a 21st-century portrait”, we’re told. This might have been more useful at the beginning, but that’s not this director’s style. As he proved with his debut, the Michael Haneke-esque period drama The Childhood of a Leader – a study of the roots of fascism that seemed baffling when it debuted in Venice two years ago and made more sense three months later with the rise of Donald Trump – Corbet prefers to play the long game, and favours opening a conversation over narrative closure.

Corbet has always been an old head on young shoulders, and it should come as no surprise that his film about the pop world shows the spirit of the Danish provocateur Lars von Trier, for whom Corbet acted in 2011’s Melancholia. Split into chapters, with a dry narration from Willem Dafoe – another Von Trier favourite – Vox Lux charts a journey through recent history, starting in 1999 and ending in 2017. The start date proves immediately significant: in a veiled recreation of the Columbine school massacre, a troubled boy appears at a music lesson, killing the teacher instantly and spraying bullets at the teenage pupils. One girl, Celeste (Raffey Cassidy), refuses to be cowed and tries to talk the shooter down. For a second they seem to connect, then more shots are fired, catching Celeste in the neck and leaving a scar that will never heal.

The incident has unexpected repercussions. Recuperating in hospital, Celeste practises her music, tapping away on a keyboard with her sister Eleanor (Nymphomaniac’s Stacy Martin), who feels she somehow let Celeste down by not being in school that day. At a vigil for the victims, Celeste is unable to speak and instead offers a raw, plaintive, self-penned song. It immediately captures the nation’s mood (becoming, as The Narrator notes with amused disgust, “a hit”) and Celeste is thrown into show business at the age of 14.

Guided by her manager (Jude Law), a scruffy, even seedy-looking character who nevertheless always seems to have has her best interests at heart, Celeste takes the first steps into becoming a teen idol, dabbling with drugs and having a seemingly innocuous affair with a grungey rock star that will turn out to have consequences in the second half. So far, it’s been a freewheeling affair; Celeste and Eleanor’s first trip to Europe is a whirling, speeded-up Super 8 montage (a device Corbet uses throughout, to increasingly darker effect), and the girls are the best of friends. That is, until 2001, when a seismic shift in their private lives is echoed in the unseen aftermath of 9/11, where this particular chapter ends.

You might be wondering where the much-vaunted Natalie Portman figures in all this, and at around the midway point Lux Vox dramatically changes tone. It’s now 14 years later and Celeste is an adult with a teenage daughter (also played by Raffey Cassidy) from that casual fling. The transition is jarring; the meek, curious Celeste is long gone; in her place is a jaded thirtysomething diva, trying to hold on to her pop stardom after a scandal that her manager paid, apparently unsuccessfully, to go away. The colour palette is more aggressive now, and Celeste seems almost entirely transformed – a mash-up of chameleonic Lady Gaga, streetwise Madonna and autotuned Katy Perry – her hair hacked into a rock-chick quiff that will become more sculpted and artificial as the film unfolds.

This Celeste is a woman on the verge of yet another nervous breakdown, and there are hints, possibly unintended, of John Cassavetes’s Opening Night as she embarks on a series of comeback shows, starting in her hometown. Wavering between imperious arrogance and pathetic petulance, Celeste’s faltering confidence is further undermined when a terrorist cell in Europe starts to use part of her trademark iconography – a bejewelled mask – in their operations.

It all suggests that something major is coming, a finale that will finally bring these elements together with a payoff amounting to a sizeable scene or revelation. But Vox Lux is not about to resolve anything. Instead, it seems to be a series of equations, dealing most distinctly with the notion of fame in the modern world. It’s a film that asks, what is fame: promotion, manipulation or hero-worship? Can it really just be the end result of massive popularity? And how do we separate it from notoriety? It’s a good question to ask, even though, as the film readily shows, we’re far from getting the answer.

Source: The Guardian

Alright, alright, alright . Matthew McConaughey made quite the entrance last night at the RBC House for the premiere party toasting his latest TIFF offering, White Boy Rick . As he strutted into the room, in a way that only the Dazed and Confused star could, the energy immediately shifted to what can only be described as an uproar. Cameras flashing everywhere, people rushing at the invite-only event to get their snap and catch a sight, and boy, was it a sight to be had.

GALLERY: All the red-carpet fashion at TIFF 2018

Matthew wore a perfectly tailored burgundy Dolce & Gabbana suit and cozied up to his wife Camila Alves. Fellow cast members Richie Merritt, Bel Powley, RJ Cyler and Jonathan Majors were also all in attendance, as was rapper Joey Badass. I caught Matthew taking a call, clasping his phone with his heavily ringed fingers during the brief time that he was there (Perhaps a ghost call to deal with all the attention?)

Before the fever pitch of Matthew’s fete, I chatted with Jude Law at a late-afternoon cocktail hosted by Grey Goose vodka and Soho House Toronto to celebrate the North American premiere of Vox Lux, in which he reunites with his former Closer co-star Natalie Portman. In perhaps his most convincing role yet, the actor was so charming in our convo that he had me convinced his next role would be my husband. And unlike the stars who make quick cameos at their soirees, he enjoyed working the room, chatting and nibbling thin-crust pizza with Natalie before opening their circle to other attendees.

Natalie – who was wearing a sweet-as-can-be soft blush Dior couture gown – got her groove on as soon as the DJ started playing Cardi B. In a well-played move, he transitioned into “Natalie’s Rap 2.0” by The Lonely Island , a recurring SNL skit that sees the pint-sized star rap – and she couldn’t help but sing along and dance with her friends!

Meanwhile the Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott were at the IT House x Producers Ball Gala presented by NKPR and Scott Brothers Entertainment, where they were mingling with producers, talent, directors and attendees. Newlywed Drew had wife Linda Phan by his side, and the brothers were quick to charm the selfie-snapping crowd by hamming it up with props from around the room (like a ping pong racket).

In what was no doubt the grandest event of the eve, Hugo Boss and Amazon Studios hosted a star-studded bash at Soho House Toronto for the cast of Beautiful Boy. All four floors of the house were in play for “it boy” Timothee Chalamet, Steve Carelland Amy Ryan, who were feted by fellow notables like Amber Heard, Armie Hammer and his wife Elizabeth Chambers, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Hari Nef, Joe Zee, Joel Edgerton, Maika Monroe, Pablo Schreiber (Yes, Lievs bro!) and Sam Taylor-Johnson. A room-stopping/you really had to be there moment occurred as former Call Me By Your Name co-stars Timothee and Armie joyfully reunited.

Before 22-year-old Timothee left, I caught him in another moment entirely: After being escorted down the stairs by a handful of security, he was taken to the closed front door of the house, where fans were waiting behind a barricade outside in great anticipation. I saw him take a deep breath as his body guard looked at him for approval, then Timothee gave the approving nod, the door was opened for him and flashes and screams erupted. Fade to black.

Source: Hello! Canada

Actress Natalie Portman opens up about her new film “Vox Lux”, sharing how she prepared to play the role of a pop superstar who overcame tragedy through music.

Source: ET Canada

Natalie Portman in Vox Lux

Now playing – Natalie Portman in ‘Vox…

Although Brady Corbet’s much anticipated “Vox Lux” seems to have gotten a lukewarm early reaction from the press at Venice Film Festival on Tuesday, the movie has gained significant traction on the Lido, by judging from how packed the morning screenings and press conference were. Meanwhile, the performance of Natalie Portman, who stars as a dysfunctional pop star who survived a school shooting as a teenager, has been applauded on social media.

The Oscar-winning, Jerusalem-born actress, who has often been outspoken about current social and political issues, said she didn’t perceive “Vox Lux” as having a political message but instead viewed it as a “reflection of the world we live it.” “If anything, it’s a portrait of our society, and the intersection between pop culture and violence and the spectacle that we equate between these two,” said Portman.

Portman said she was “interested in the psychology of what violence does to individuals (as she is) from a place (Israel) where people have encountered it for so long.”

“Unfortunately, in the U.S. we also experience violence regularly with school shootings which are, as Brady said to me before, some kind of civil wars,” said the actress, adding that even “small acts of violence can create widespread psychological torment.”

Meanwhile, the Oscar-winning actress admitted that “playing a pop star was a dream” for her and that she had been a “fan of Sia for a long time.”

Portman then said she watched several documentaries about pop stars to prepare for the role but added, with a laugher, that she was “not inspired by a particular pop star.” Another key aspect of preparing for the part was the dancing which she nailed thanks to her husband, Benjamin Millepied, a high-profile ballet dancer and choreographer with whom she worked on “Black Swan.” “I did the dancing with my husband at home which was nice. It was very fun to work together again,” said Portman.

Corbet explained that while he approached “Vox Lux” as a drama only, he had to face all the lentghy preparations of a music movie. “There was so much preparation that went into the soundrack, choreography and lip sync. It was nearly a year’s work to put the soundtrack out a year before we started shooting,” said the actor-turned-helmer who made his feature debut with “The Childhood of a Leader” in 2015.

Besides Portman and Corbet, the presser for “Vox Lux” was attended by Stacy Martin and Raffay Cassidy. The movie is being represented in international markets by Sierra/Affinity, while Endeavor Content and CAA represent the US rights.

Natalie Portman recently opened up about her role in the upcoming Brady Corbet directorial titled Vox Lux. Marking Corbet’s second directorial venture, Vox Lux charts the journey of a singer who manages to attain fame worldwide. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival and will also be screened at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival, reports Far Out.

Discussing her role as Celeste, in the film, Portman says the character is both a “victim” and a “leader” of her times. Vox Lux, notes Portman, deals with how the 20th century was distinct in its “banality of evil” while the 21st will be hailed as the “pageantry of evil”. “She’s not designed to be a monster at all,” added Portman. “She’s as much a victim of the era as a leader of the era.”

Vox Lux also stars Jude Law, Jennifer Ehle, Stacy Martin and Raffey Cassidy along with Portman.

Talking about the impact of the film on her, Portman claims it’s just like art; organic, and not something that can be coerced. She hopes that Vox Lux enables viewers to notice the goings-on around them and recognise how it affects their lives.

Celeste’s 15-year journey as a singer is depicted in Vox Lux. Having had an unfortunate childhood, Celeste achieves considerable success later on in life. Talking about the rampant gun violence and school shootings in the US, Portman added, “It (school shootings) is a type of civil war and terror in the US and what that means for every kid going to school every day and how small acts of violence can create widespread psychology torment.”

Source: Firstpost

Speaking at a press conference at the Venice Film Festival on Tuesday, Natalie Portman says her role in “Vox Lux” has caused her to consider “the psychological impact” of America’s recent mass shootings.

Source: ET Canada

Natalie Portman in Vox Lux

Andrew Lauren and producing partner DJ Gugenheim are behind two of this autumn’s most anticipated movies: Natalie Portman starrer Vox Lux, which debuts in Venice next week, and Claire Denis’ Toronto-bound sci-fi High Life, starring Robert Pattinson.

In writer-director Brady Corbet’s Vox Lux, Portman plays a successful pop star who is also trying to raise a teenage daughter. Jude Law and Jennifer Ehle are among co-stars while Killer Films and Bold are also producers. Denis’ English-language debut High Life focuses on a group of criminals taking part in space a mission to find alternative energy. Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth and Andre Benjamin are also among cast.

Lauren, son of designer Ralph Lauren, is part of a wave of wealthy young sons and daughters who have over the past decade set up U.S. production shops [Annapurna, K-Period Media etc]. He made his entree with Noah Baumbach’s 2005 pic The Squid And The Whale, and followed that in 2013 with James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now, investing $3M of his own coin in the latter.

His New York-based production and finance company Andrew Lauren Productions has been relatively quiet in the past five years, but Gugenheim joined three years ago and the company is now busier than ever. We spoke to the duo about their two festival buzz titles, next projects and their investment strategy going forward.

How did you get involved in Vox Lux?

Andrew Lauren: I was introduced to Brady a while ago. I was very impressed by Childhood Of A Leader. The initial script we received was with Rooney Mara in the Natalie Portman role. We were trying to work out if it made sense for us. When Natalie came on board it pushed the button for us to say yes.

DJ Gugenheim: We made an offer on the movie contingent on the director meeting. We sat down with Brady for three hours in New York and I remember coming out and saying ‘that may be the best director meeting we’ll ever have’. Brady had an answer to every question.

Scott Walker did the score and Sia the original songs. Is it all Natalie’s voice for the songs in the movie?

DJ: It’s all Natalie singing and dancing. No CGI. She was great at both. You have a haunting juxtaposition of pop and contemporary classical sound in the music. Natalie was a natural. It was effortless as soon as she got on stage. Her dancing was the same. The finale is very ambitious and it took a lot of work.

How did you come to High Life?

AL: CAA reached out to us in the first place. We received a scripment of around 60 pages. It was an unusual format. It was Claire’s vision for the film. It was quite skeletal. The script really took shape as we were filming.

DJ: This is an ambitious movie. It’s a multi-territory European sci-fi co-production in the $10M range. Andrew had seen Beau Travail with his dad when he was younger. It seemed like a unique opportunity and very different. That’s what independent film should be about.

I’m a big fan of Claire Denis’ movies. This one sounds as interesting as ever. By all accounts, the deconstructed nature of the script and process was challenging for some of the actors…

AL: I think a lot of people take a leap of faith with Claire. They might not always know what they’re getting into but they have so much respect for her track record and filmmaking that they go with it. It was challenging. There were meetings when actors wanted to get a handle on characters and were confused. They wanted to know more about how space works. We had astro-physicists come down to talk with them.

DJ: Claire purposefully didn’t need her performers to understand every beat. Part of this movie is about the unknown and about characters who don’t necessarily understand why they are where they are.

AL: Everything was a work in process for her. It can be scary for everyone else but she ultimately knows where she is going.

Let’s talk about your company. Someone told me once the only way to make a small fortune in the industry is to start with a large one. Do you think that’s true?

AL: I would respectfully disagree. I’ve done well so far. We take risks but they are calculated. The goal is not to lose, it’s to win. Someone once asked me about being a patron of the arts but I see myself as a businessman. The goal is to build a strong slate but there are no guarantees.

Your last narrative feature was The Spectacular Now in 2013. Why the hiatus?

AL: I’m very particular about the movies I get involved in. But meeting DJ and assembling our team gave me confidence to get more aggressive and make more films. [The company now has a head-count of five with business affairs guru David Boyle on board as external counsel. It is also working on TV and plays]

I want to make strong, unique films that are commercially viable but also appeal to an art-house base and have breakout potential. It was crucial to have DJ to help me understand more about the business. It has made me more bullish.

You invest your own money, is that correct?

AL: Sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is. Ultimately, my track record is fairly good. I don’t make many movies but sometimes to get things going you need to take the lead. I hope people will think we’re worth taking a chance on and perhaps we can raise a fund down the line. I’m very fortunate to have money to invest and to have that autonomy.

So what’s the plan?

AL: I want to make more movies. These two opportunities were exciting. We initially said we wanted to do 2-3 films per year in the $5-15M range. But it takes some time to build that. That’s still the goal.

Does your dad ever give you business advice?

It’s all about passion. ‘Do you love this? Is this the type of movie you want to go see?’ [he says]. He jokes with me that I should make a happy movie. One day I will. But he’s supportive and proud.

What else is coming up?

DJ: We’re in post-production on an under-the-radar movie called Light Years. It’s an awesome low-budget comedy that Channing Tatum’s production company Free Association brought to us. We financed and produced it in partnership with them. The film follows a guy called Kevin who on the anniversary of his best friend’s death, takes a mushroom trip down memory lane, forcing him to relive a pivotal night from his adolescence. But when he starts tripping, within his trip he sees everyone through the form of his adult self. It’s written, directed and stars (in almost every role) Colin Thompson (It’s Us), a Vermont-based filmmaker. Also in the movie are Russell Posner (Paramount Network’s The Mist) and Makenzie Leigh (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk).

AL: It’s a movie about shrooms. If you’re ‘shrooming’, it’s possible you might see yourself in everyone. Hence Colin playing so many roles. The premise wasn’t in the plan to begin with, it was just a joke, but it made sense. We also have feature Lucky Strikes in development [which Deadline broke a story on yesterday]. DJ saw Ken Burns’ documentary on baseball. There was a segment on the G.I. World Series played in Nuremberg just after WWII. General Patton and the army was trying to keep the peace and thought why not host a baseball game. It’s a great story.

Source: Deadline