JULY/AUGUST 2014 NEWS

08.28.14

It appears that the the Norwegian black comedy, IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE, is getting all kinds of releases and new posters but no word about a US release! The film bowed in Berlin back in February, and has spent recent months on the international film festival circuit, coming off the back of an award-winning appearance at the recent Fantasia Film Festival, where it won Gold in the Best International Film category. The Hans Petter Moland-directed film features Stellan as an introverted and hard-working snow plow driver names Nils. When he's told his son has died of a heroin overdose, he knows it's not true and soon uncovers evidence that his sonw as a victim in a turf war between the local crime boss and his Serbian rivals. Armed with heavy machinery and a good dose of beginner's luck, Nils embarks upon a quest for revenge that soon escalates into a full-blown underworld gang war. What fun!

In the UK the film will have a theatrical release on September 12th. In France the release is set for September 24th and they've changed the name to "Reproidis" which means "Cooled". That's the second poster below. Don't like it at all. The next two posters are from Italy and Poland where the film was released back in May.

Swedish media sources indicate that Stellan will be attending the Venice Film Festival, which starts today and runs through September 6th. The first volume of NYMPHOMANIAC also debuted at the Berlin Film Festival and now the second volume is headed to Venice with a new photo and silly poster. Venice is actually screening the director's cut for both volumes in their Out of Competition category. On Monday Volume I will be screened at 2 pm with Volume II at 7 pm. That's a combined running time of 5 1/2 hours. And what's this all about? In a nutshell, it's the wild and poetic story of a woman's journey from birth to the age of 50 as told by the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac  played by Charlotte Gainsbourg.  I could barely get through Volume I so I salute anyone who could bear 5 1/2 hours. Whew!

08.20.14

Stellan has confirmed that he will show up in Marvel’s AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON for "a small appearance." The Avengers sequel marks his fourth time portraying Eric Selvig, following both Thor films and the first Avengers. The film will be released on May 1, 2015. He also confirmed that when Selvig returns, he’ll be in the nude again!

"Yeah, I was naked again," he said. "They called my agent and said, 'Do you think Stellan will mind being naked?' My agent laughed his head off. Yeah, I almost insist! Sometimes with a contract you get a nudity clause, which is fantastic. It’s supposed to protect me from having my genitals exploited, which I doubt anybody would make a dime on."

Aside from getting naked again, what is Stellan doing in the Avengers sequel? He offered one cryptic tease: "I don’t know what I’m allowed to say. But usually they call me in if they need something explained. There’s a lot of explanations to do when it comes to that universe."

He also said that he enjoys working with Marvel because they know what they're doing. "Even if it's owned by Disney now, it's really run by four or five people and they know exactly what they're doing. I like working with them because if I have a problem with the scene, I have Kevin Feige's number. I can call the head of the studio. You can't do that when you work on a normal Disney film or with Warner Bros or Paramount."

08.14.14

With the death of actor Robin Williams this week, several of his peers who worked with him over the years have shared their thoughts. Robin won his only Oscar for his supporting role in "Good Will Hunting" (1997) and, as we all know, our Swede was his co-star. Stellan told the press, "People take their own lives for many different reasons, and it's not unusual among comedians that comedy is a way of keeping the darkness at bay. That may have been the case with him." 

Working on the film, Stellan described the atmosphere as feeling like a small intimate group where they all became very close.  He added, "Robin Williams was complicated. If you were alone with him, he was calm and serious and we could talk about everything. But as soon as more people entered the room, it was like he felt compelled to be funny. And then he was like a different person. It was like he had three brains which were constantly revving. No take with him was like any other, and it was immensely exciting."

While filming 17 years ago, Stellan had these comments, which mirror his sentiments of today - "Working with Robin is very different. He varies scenes and comes up with new lines. His quality is in surprising himself and his fellow actors, and I found that very enjoyable. On one take, suddenly he is Jack Nicholson. Every take is new. He really explores the material and follows his impulses without discretion. He has two or three brains instead of one. Sometimes, he says, 'I have a stupid idea,' and he has to have an extra take to get it out of his system. He's a different kind of animal. And that very funny and warm vibe you get from him up on the screen is the same vibe you get walking down the street with him. He is from another galaxy."

Kenneth Branagh's CINDERELLA will reportedly offer some refreshing script writing talent and some really fascinating cinematography. Eric Eisenberg of Cinema Blend, who was among those who watched the special screening of some of the film's footage during CinemaCon, said, "While we were told before the footage that some of the special effects had yet to be completed and that the movie is still very much a work in process, I was definitely impressed by what I saw. There is an interesting mix of tones at work, as heavy drama is lightened by some funny dialogue and rapport, and the film looks gorgeously shot. Of course, this is the footage that Disney wanted us to see in order to get us excited for the film, but my interest is definitely piqued." The film will premiere next year. It stars Lily James in the title role, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchette, Hayley Atwell, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi and Stellan as the Grand Duke.

And what does Stellan have to say about the film? He says, "It went well, I think. I hope it turns out well. He's (Branagh) made a Disney Cinderella like the old way. It's a story that's been around for more than 2500 years in different versions. It's a story about a good person. She's the very idea of good, as Emily Watson was the very idea of love in Breaking the Waves. I have a soft spot for those fairytales."

He also recently commented on his acting in the film - "I like to have the lid on and have a lot of stuff happening underneath. I don't usually act a lot within the lines. Most of my acting is between the lines. Now, you will see in both Cinderella and Our Kind of Traitor, it's pretty exuberant acting from me. And whether it works or not, that's about half the question."

Come August 8th, volumes I & II of NYMPHOMANIAC will be available for Netflix members with either DVD or streaming plans. Both volumes can also be purchased on Blu-ray at Amazon for only $17.99.

07.25.14

HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS has been chosen by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and will make its North American premiere on September 7th. The film will be released in the UK next month with a September 19th date slated for the US. Film critic Cameron Bailey writes, "Audiences have come to know and love Simon Pegg for his quirky sensibility and wry humour, but in his effortless yet complex performance as Hector, he shows us so much more. Punctuated by playful cameos from Stellan Skarsgård, Jean Reno, Akin Omotoso, and Christopher Plummer, and buffered with enchanting animation sequences, director Peter Chelsom's latest feature achieves the perfect balance of whimsy and drama."

07.15.14:

The Criterion Collection has announced the release date of their Blu-ray edition of INSOMNIA. The Norwegian thriller will be available on July 22. The highlight is a 20-minute conversation between director Eric Skjoldbjærg and Stellan  filmed this year with the pair reminiscing about the production and the impetus behind the film's creation. Skjoldbjærg cites Francis Ford Coppola, Jean-Pierre Melville, and Nicolas Roeg as filmmakers he had in mind while shooting, while Stellan reveals that he had substantial doubts about both the script and Skjoldbjærg's capabilities as a director when agreeing to do the film, though he remarks that he believes Insomnia holds up well. I have to admit that the new artwork is very boring!

Two more of Stellan films will become available on DVD next month. Halle Berry's FRANKIE & ALICE and THE RAILWAY MAN starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman are among the DVD releases for the week of August 12th.

Nathan Rabin of The Dissolve cleverly points out, "In theme and structure, Frankie & Alice bears a strange resemblance to Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, which also involves a troubled, brazenly sexual woman unburdening herself to a scholarly old man played by Stellan Skarsgård. On one level, Skarsgård’s characters in these films are contemplating the enigma and complications of very specific women, but on another, he’s wrestling with the mystery of womanhood as a whole."