Jack & Diane

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Apr 21, 2012 1:03 am

In this interview with Complex, "Jack & Diane" director Bradley Rust Gray talks about how Ellen Page was initially attached to the project, but also how she changed because of the Juno fame. I think it is worth reading.
Tribeca 2012 Interview: "Jack And Diane" Director Bradley Rust Gray Talks His Powerful, Horror-Infused Lesbian Love Story
By Matt Barone | Apr 20, 2012 | 12:12 pm

Anyone who’s ever truly felt that romantic kind of love for another person knows just how monstrous the sensation can be, especially if it’s the first time. The desire to see your object of affection consumes you, and it’s a nightly ritual to keep that trusty iPhone nearby at all times, just for the purpose of immediately seeing, and responding to with corny emoticons, a mushy text or catch the latest phone call. And when love really becomes serious business, it can be emotionally disabling. Just be thankful, though, that the feeling won’t ever take the form it does in Jack and Diane, the horror-infused but tender-hearted romance from independent writer-director Bradley Rust Gray that’s about to have its worldwide premiere tonight at 9:30 pm. EST, as part of NYC’s 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

Even without its gruesome genre tinges, Jack and Diane would still be unconventional, and, in turn, refreshingly bold and elegantly told. In the film, which Gray has been trying to get made for over nine years, Juno Temple and model-turned-actress Riley Keough give excellent performances as Diane and Jack, respectively, two young girls who randomly meet in Manhattan on a nondescript, very hot summer day, quickly fall for one another, and have their affections tested by a possible long distance separation and close-minded family members. Oh, and there’s also that grotesque-looking, snarling, bloodthirsty beast that Diane turns into whenever love’s powers engulf her, though the transformations only happen in her mind.

Gray, whose previous films include the girls-becomes-a-seal drama Salt (2003) and the intimate character study The Exploding Girl (2009), Jack and Dianeas it exists today is the result of endless false starts, financial stalls, and multiple recasting. In the project’s earliest incarnation, the pre-Juno pair of Ellen Page (Diane) and Olivia Thirlby (Jack) were attached to star, but post-Oscarcomplications led to the former dropping out, while the latter hung on a few years longer before she also had to bail. Thanks to the fearless and wonderfully talented Temple and Keough, however, Jack and Diane is a complex, haunting, and touching fable of urban love, one that’s definitely worth catching during Tribeca, before the film takes a seven-month hiatus en route to its official November theatrical release.

Complex recently caught up with Gray for a lengthy, candid, and entertaining chat about Jack and Diane’s checkered past, the unexpected hardships triggered by the “Hollywood machine,” how he found two diamonds in the rough through Temple and Keough, and why horror fans should approach with knowledgeable caution.

[...]

When did you first start working on it, exactly?
Probably 2003, maybe. It’s been a long, long process. I first sent the first draft of the script out to producers the day we began shooting my wife’s first film, In Between Days, and she made three films before I shot Jack and Diane. [Laughs.]

It was really long. I finished the script, and then we had Ellen Page attached, so it was just me, my wife, and Ellen. And then we got Karen, the producer, onboard, and that’s how it was for some time. It was probably a year and a half before we found Olivia [Thirlby], and then the cast changed even more as the project went on and on.

After Ellen Page and Olivia Thirlby were both attached, Ellen Page dropped out and then Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) came onboard in her place. On your end, how was it dealing with the task of keeping actresses attached throughout the film’s slow, years-on-end road to production?
Ellen and Olivia were really, really supportive of the project. We got the money to do the film a few weeks before Juno premiered in Toronto. And, also, they were attached to this way before they made Juno, so it was a big coincidence that they were in both films together. They both emailed me and said, “So Juno is doing really well out here in Toronto. Can we talk about Jack and Diane during the Toronto Film Festival press meetings?” And I was like, “Yeah, of course! That’d be fine!” [Laughs.]

So they were really supportive of it, but then Juno just became this huge, huge, huge movie, and then Ellen got nominated for an Academy Award. Then, that world just became too sort of massive, in the sense that she became a commodity, and worth a lot of money. I think a lot of people wanted to steer her in a certain direction—the Hollywood machine sort of came in. We were told that we’d have to wait a year for her to sort out what she had to do.

At that point, I had spent so much time working on the film that I couldn’t imagine anybody else playing the role. So I came up with this idea to do this other film, which was my second film, The Exploding Girl. That was a project that I did within the year that I was waiting for Jack and Dianeto come back. After that year, Ellen was kind of a little bit of a different person, so we started looking for other people. And that’s just part of the project—you think it’s going to be one way, and then you find somebody else.

There’s definitely an element of, if Ellen would have never been there, it wouldn’t be the same film; like, there are specific scenes that were written for her. She was on the project for three or four years, and we’d talked so much that I definitely changed things to fit her, and a lot of those things are still in the film. I think there’s a big part of her in the film. And with Alison, too, we talked, and she wasn’t attached for that long, but I think there’s a little bit of her presence in the film, as well. And now with Juno [Temple], we changed it again; now, Diane is going to be English.

So all those things influence the film in certain ways, and when you finally finish the film, you see that the journey was with it. You wouldn’t have the same film without all of these different pieces. At the time, of course, it was very frustrating.

You said that Ellen Page, after Juno, got caught up in the “Hollywood machine.” Do you think Jack and Diane’s dark, edgy subject matter, from the creature to the gore to the nudity, factored into people’s decisions to steer her away from it?
Yeah, I do. I think of the film as a love story, and it’s straightforward, but there’s definitely stuff in it that’s more different than a mainstream film. I didn’t really get this until now, that I’ve seen it and experienced it through her and knowing more actors now, but you have less options, I think… Actually, I don’t think you do, but you’re told you have less options. When you’re at the point where she was before everything took off, you have more options to do whatever kinds of films that you want; like, she was a huge fan of Lynne Ramsay, so I said, “Why don’t you call Lynne Ramsay and ask her if she wants to do a film?”

The films that she had done when we first started talking were stuff like Hard Candy; she was known as somebody who played really difficult, tough-edged characters. Jack and Diane was supposed to be this film where she’d play somebody who’s a surprise to that: somebody who’s really soft and sweet [the Diane character].

I think a lot of the stuff in that bigger, more mainstream world is based on fear; like, if you do this then you might lose this and this other opportunity, and people might typecast you because you’re in this film. The people who are saying that know that part of their investment is on this person’s career, and they want that person to be in a certain field. And I also think it’s more difficult for girls—there aren’t a lot of parts available for girls. If you think about it, there aren’t that many girls who transition past the age of 25; there’s always a new slew of young girls in films. But, on the other hand, if you see actress who’s doing things that she really loves, and that you respect, then that becomes part of what makes them worth something. You’re excited about seeing them again.

[...]

Read on at the source below.
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Apr 21, 2012 4:44 am

Thanks for finding this article Dominik -it sheds some light on the inner workings of Hollywood and Ellen's career.
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Apr 23, 2012 5:16 am

Is it me...or the tone of the article is kinda negative, and unfair, to Ellen? And, with other actresses leaving the project besides Ellen, something tells me that maybe things are not all that appear to be with the film.
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Apr 23, 2012 6:07 am

Well, a lot of assumptions are made here. I don't think film-makers are being really negative but I doubt they are entirely aware of what influenced Ellen and what frame of mind she was truly in when she dropped the film. And even if she had changed her mind after Juno, she had good reason to since it was a pretty big event in her career. She's well within her rights to choose the projects that she wants as an actress. I suppose they focused on her because she was the first one involved and the 'biggest name' attached, to be fair. But I'm not taking all these comments as fact.
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Apr 23, 2012 9:05 am

UCFRdWarrior wrote:Is it me...or the tone of the article is kinda negative, and unfair, to Ellen? And, with other actresses leaving the project besides Ellen, something tells me that maybe things are not all that appear to be with the film.
I don't feel that it is, to me the interview seems grounded in reality. Gray seems to understand how the Hollywood machine works and aims his negativity at that. Not to mention, with any movie that struggles to be made for nine years, there is going to be change in the cast. It happens all the time, actors get attached to projects, and then have to leave them when time frames change. Especially something like this that had many false starts, production company says "hey we finally have some money, lets shoot in April". Cast member says, "hey I have this thing called'"Smart People' my agent really wants me to do and it's shooting then, so I can't do it." They start looking for somebody else, funding falls through, and now they have no actor and no shoot. Wash rinse repeat. :noclue:
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Apr 23, 2012 11:48 pm

Judging from these reviews, it seems it was the right decision to drop out of the project :rolleye:
Tribeca Review: 'Jack And Diane' An Unsatisfying & Empty Relationship Movie
by Christopher Bell | April 21, 2012 9:59 AM

Though the descriptor "werewolf-lesbian-psycho-drama" piqued immense interest when word first got out, Bradley Rust Gray's "Jack And Diane" doesn't follow through on its weirdo/intriguing premise. Little work is done from the get-go to make the emotional connection between the titular characters feel believable (a huge error considering the movie's core is based around this relationship), and without that rational groundwork, the film feels forced and hollow for most of its duration.

Diane (Juno Temple), a young British teen on holiday in New York, finds herself in a pickle after losing her cell phone upon arrival. With no way to call her Aunt Linda (Cara Seymour, "An Education"), she searches frantically for someone nice enough to lend their mobile. The hunt leads her to a tiny clothing store where she first sets her eyes on Jack (Riley Keough, "The Runaways"), a cute skateboard-wielding gal who likely sees herself as the bad egg most parents lose sleep over. Mutual attraction emerges and Gray's camera tracks every close touch and admiring gaze, cementing their interest in each other. Once the cell phone debacle is sorted the two sneak into a club, but Diane's nerves get the best of her -- a nosebleed sends her to bathroom where her severe anxiousness turns the blonde into a ferocious werewolf. She quickly regains composure and returns to the dancefloor as a human; almost immediately Jack escorts her to a quieter section of the bar and they proceed to lock lips.

When Diane finally ends up at her Aunt's apartment she is promptly grounded for staying out so gosh-darned late. On the flipside, Jack skates through the streets, blissfully listening to a sugary song on a vintage walkman. Suddenly she smacks into a taxi cab, surviving, but with a pretty nasty gash on her face. The tape player she held also lives to tell the tale, but the cassette inside (which holds considerable sentimental value -- it originally belonged to her deceased brother) seems beyond repair. Undeterred, the couple meet at Jack's apartment and attempt to play the broken tape while the punker explains the significance of it, of how she vowed to only share it with someone very special. The relationship continues from here with its fair share of obstacles and ups and downs (Aunt Linda continues to be a stick in the mud; Jack flips upon discovering that Diane is only in town for a week) and each protagonist transforms into a snarling werewolf when dealing with their deepest fears and misery.

Gray's narrative is flawed for numerous reasons, but the prime issue would have to be the presto-bond that surfaces between the leads. Given their young age and seemingly lonely worlds we can grant them some leeway, but the director's impatience for them to get together makes the relationship feel completely empty. He relies too heavily on their unspoken connection by placing them in similar situations or showcasing their identical behaviors/mannerisms -- and while that is clever, it doesn't do anything to make their love for each other feel organic enough to buy. Initially tied together out of isolation and lust, the filmmaker would like us to believe they're intimately close but we're never convinced of that. Even on the first date, Jack and Diane don't seem to have anything to say -- shouldn't they be getting to know one another at least a little bit? This is a very necessary foundation that's not given a single brick and nearly every scene suffers due to its absence. Why would Jack reveal such a personal thing to Diane (re: the cassette tape) if it doesn't even seem like they know each other's last names? Portraying them as anything other than friendly strangers feels like a lie.

So eager is the filmmaker to keep the women together that every hurdle is quickly dismissed, destroying any semblance of stakes and rendering any obstacle in the script absolutely pointless. Aunt Linda's existence is defined by being a pushover: every time she puts her foot down the pair walk all over her. When she reveals to Jack that Diane's stay is limited, the former becomes cold and disengaged -- until she stumbles upon a trashy Internet video involving Diane's sister, which compels her to break the silence and provide a shoulder to cry on. This is a pretty strong element -- the video itself is appropriately disturbing without being too extreme -- but it's taken care of too quickly before its weight can even be felt.

Temple and Keough's performances contain some charm, but Gray can never seem to ignite that spark that the story calls for. Cute moments are created out of each's peculiar choice of snack (Jack enjoys sushi with ketchup, Diane gags), but missing is the energy or warmth that should exist between people so crazy about one another. Things instead feel incredibly flat and detached, leading one to wonder why either is bothering with the other -- their relationship severely lacks any sense of heart. And while the characters are certainly naive, their overly stupid confessions to one another ("I want to unzip my body and put you inside." "Can I sleep in there?") sound less like people drunk with love than second graders with puppydog crushes.

For variety there's some humor to be found within the film, particularly in Keough's deadpan wisecracks which lend some life to otherwise withdrawn scenes. But other comedic constructs feel terribly out of place; more at home in this year's "American Reunion" than in the indie drama Gray is making. After her Aunt suspends phone communication with Jack, Diane convinces her twin sister to call her beau and pretend to be her -- a nonsensical decision born out of guilt, we suppose -- which leads to the sibling stumbling through the conversation and Jack directing the dialogue towards phone sex. The relative is unmasked before the sitcom gooferies really take off, but its speedy conclusion doesn't make any less jarring. A similar example occurs when Temple struggles to cut her pubic hair, a shaving cream endeavor that leaves her calling for assistance. It's not that the movie should be bereft of comedy, but the attempts shouldn't feel so alien.

Thankfully the tinges of horror involving the wolf are well done, with the legendary Quay Brothers lending their stop-motion skill to the mutations from human to beast. Gray incorporates these well and they're appropriately frightening, displaying a knack for suspense we didn't know he had. A later scene finds the girls stuck in a basement and the filmmaker keeps the entire frame black, lit only for a fraction of a second when Diane uses the minimal light from her camera's flash to search for a way out. Meanwhile, Jack's immense fear of the dark results in her becoming the monster -- a predictable transpiration, but so nerve wracking it works -- and Gray builds up to its appearance masterfully.

The power of this scene carries over to the few remaining scenes, and as the couple ultimately go their separate ways, "Jack And Diane" manages to close on a high note. Unfortunately, the film's cracks cannot be paved over so easily and it's still an utterly unfulfilling experience. Now worlds apart, the characters miss each other dearly... but upon further reflection, we still have no idea why. For us to care about the relationship between two characters, it has to make some sort of sense and have a genuine infrastructure, but the movie never bothers to build one. We dig the aesthetic Gray employs, but the substance just isn't there, and "Jack And Diane" is regrettably a major disappointment. [D+]

Source: blogs.indiewire.com
‘Jack & Diane’ is a Long-Simmering Disappointment [Tribeca Review]
Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2012 by Angie Han

Sometime around 2007, Juno BFFs Ellen Page and Olivia Thirlby signed themselves up to reunite as teenage lesbian werewolves on Bradley Rust Gray‘s Jack & Diane. Funding fell through, however, and after years of delays, both actresses quietly dropped out of the project. Page was then replaced by Alison Pill, who in turn was replaced by Juno Temple, while Thirlby’s part was recast with Riley Keough.

This year, Gray’s completed Jack & Diane finally made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival. And while much about the film is tough to understand, what’s clear is that Page and Thirlby have dodged a bullet by leaving the project early on.

The story, also written by Gray, centers around two teen girls. Diane (Temple) is a soft, wide-eyed innocent, while the tomboyish Jack (Keough) walks with a streetwise swagger. The pair meet cute one day in New York City and quickly develop a passionate romance. But there are two major roadbumps standing in the way of happily ever after. One is the fact that Diane is in town for only a week before she heads to fashion school in Paris; the other is that Diane’s blossoming sexuality is leading to monstrous dreams.

Jack & Diane starts out promising enough. A creepy vision of hair-rope winding through flesh lends a dark fairy-tale aura, and an opening scene of Diane getting attacked sets up terrors to come. But it’s all downhill from there. Stuffed with slow, pointless scenes that go nowhere and tell us nothing, the 93-minute Jack & Diane feels both interminably long and severely undercooked.

The problems start early. Jack and Diane’s first encounter sees them engaging in halting, half-hearted small talk for what feels like hours before they finally decide to just make out. (In their defense, kissing has to be way more interesting than whatever inane conversation they were having.) The whole scene winds up telling us little about either character or the nature of their attraction to each other and is boring to boot. Yet we’re expected to believe it was a night of such passion that the two are now soulmates.

Gray does show some promise in his treatment of Jack & Diane‘s horror-movie side. Gory, mysterious visions like the one that opened the movie recur throughout, and while they get old after a while, they never stop being creepy. There are also a few nice moments of suspense. In one of the movie’s rare highlights, the couple find themselves locked in a pitch-black basement. For several minutes, only the occasional flash of Diane’s disposable camera allows us to see what’s happening, even as one of the girls gets attacked. It’s a tense, genuinely frightening sequence. So it’s hugely disappointing that the werewolf angle builds to nothing at all. I left wondering why it was even brought up in the first place.

Still, much of this could be forgiven if Jack & Diane at least gave us a convincing romance to rally around. But remember how I said the first scene tells us nothing about Jack, Diane, or their romance? Neither does any other scene. By the end of the film, we still only understand each girl in the broadest strokes, and their affair feels less like the natural result of all-consuming first love than a plot point decreed by a distant screenwriter. Making matters worse, Keough and Temple are fine individually but have zero chemistry together. If Jack and Diane didn’t spend so much damn time talking about how much they like each other (Jack: “I want to unzip myself and put you inside me, like a sleeping bag”), you’d have no clue that these girls felt anything more than a casual interest in each other. It’s a very, very bad sign for a cinematic romance when the only thing telegraphing the passion is the dialogue.

On paper, a teen lesbian werewolf romance sounds like a heady combination, or at least the setup for an interesting failure. I give Gray credit for coming up with an unusual twist on the horror and teen romance genres, and for at least trying to do something novel with Jack & Diane. But the sad truth is that all the effort in the world doesn’t guarantee good results. In practice, Gary not only fails to deliver on the premise, he fails to deliver, period.

/Film rating: 3.0 out of 10.0

Source: www.slashfilm.com
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Apr 24, 2012 4:55 am

Good. :laugh:
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Apr 24, 2012 6:19 am

bluetoes591 wrote:
UCFRdWarrior wrote:Is it me...or the tone of the article is kinda negative, and unfair, to Ellen? And, with other actresses leaving the project besides Ellen, something tells me that maybe things are not all that appear to be with the film.
I don't feel that it is, to me the interview seems grounded in reality. Gray seems to understand how the Hollywood machine works and aims his negativity at that. Not to mention, with any movie that struggles to be made for nine years, there is going to be change in the cast. It happens all the time, actors get attached to projects, and then have to leave them when time frames change. Especially something like this that had many false starts, production company says "hey we finally have some money, lets shoot in April". Cast member says, "hey I have this thing called'"Smart People' my agent really wants me to do and it's shooting then, so I can't do it." They start looking for somebody else, funding falls through, and now they have no actor and no shoot. Wash rinse repeat. :noclue:
Makes sense to me. Thanks for explaining. Sometimes I just don't get all this here Hollywood stuff :) though I try



Ouch...Jack n Diane did not get good reviews at Beca.

At least Ellen and Olivia will not have anything like "Sean Connery turning down Lord of the Rings" to worry about :)
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Apr 24, 2012 9:52 am

UCFRdWarrior wrote: At least Ellen and Olivia will not have anything like "Sean Connery turning down Lord of the Rings" to worry about :)
Reputedly Ewan MacGregory, Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith all turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix...
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Apr 25, 2012 6:18 am

bluetoes591 wrote:
UCFRdWarrior wrote: At least Ellen and Olivia will not have anything like "Sean Connery turning down Lord of the Rings" to worry about :)
Reputedly Ewan MacGregory, Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith all turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix...
I remember reading that Will Smith turned it down...did not realize those others passed on it

Hey I wonder if they turned down The Replacements, too...LOL Go Keanu
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Apr 25, 2012 2:23 pm

... what’s clear is that Page and Thirlby have dodged a bullet by leaving the project early on.
Either Ellen is very clever or very lucky. I think it's both :satisfied:
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