Notes On The Season: Julia Roberts On Making A Difference; Quincy Jones Loves ‘Green Book’; Norwegians Court Spielberg

QUINCY JONES GETS PERSONAL WITH 'GREEN BOOK'
I guarantee you that, having seen this gripping and rather incredible true story at another awards screening on Monday, it would have found much favor with the Academy's foreign language committee and definitely had a shot. Not every film has the kind of budget you need to compete in the modern Oscar race, where money can make a big difference in getting you into, and keeping you in the game (just ask Netflix). is the name) as the country's official selection, a decision that could well cost them a spot on the shortlist of nine finalists that the Academy will be releasing Monday afternoon. The film was so successful that, for whatever logic, the national committee that selects the single Norwegian entry for Oscar's Foreign Language contest instead went with a much smaller, less heralded movie (What Will People Say? Too often political or other considerations interfere with what should be purely artistic choices. The Academy ought to finally lose that one-film-per-country rule. That doesn't stop some dreamers from trying, and such is the case with a superb new World War II-set film from Norway called The 12th Man, which became the sixth-highest-grossing movie ever released in that country and a movie that actually beat the latest Star Wars when it was in theatres there last year.
Here are these families, and for me if we can do that, if we can reignite the human conversation about this then that is everything to me." And it is a crisis that has gone on for so long. So this to me reignites the human conversation of people. We are all these people. "It’s not just this boy and his mom. Roberts is proud that it covers a wide tent of those affected. Here are these people. Written and directed by Peter Hedges and starring Roberts as a mother determined to save a severely addicted son (Lucas Hedges) from drugs, it is a sober warning against the increasing opioid crisis in this country, but also a gripping thriller that serves as the rare film that entertains as much as it informs. Everybody really represents everyone in this kind of global experience, because we are all the sister, the neighbor, the churchgoer. Sadly, there is just so much bad news. This has become just numbers, statistics. There is only so much that can go front-page above the fold. It’s not numbers, it’s not just Big Pharma and this and that. "It’s not just this boy," she told me. We don’t really have conversations about it. I love that he in some quiet, subtle way represents everybody in this sort of horrible crisis of drug addiction.
A column chronicling conversations and events on the awards circuit.
In a way it is like a Norwegian version of The Fugitive, and every bit as compelling. The film is about Jan Baalsrud (rapper-turned-first time actor Thomas Gullestad), a Norwegian Resistance fighter on the run from an obsessed Gestapo Nazi General (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) in snowy conditions that make The Revenant look like Bambi. Nevertheless the film, which inexplicably was released through IFC Midnight (a label usually reserved for horror film fodder) in May, now is being pushed for Oscar attention in other categories by the filmmakers (including director Harald Zwart) themselves and on their own dime.
The nearby Malibu Twin Theatres also shut down, so for these AMPAS Westsiders this new theater could be a smart campaign stop for contenders. They got a big boost from none other than the Princess of Norway, who came into town to shake hands with Oscar voters at a debut launch for the new Cinepolis Pacific Palisades theater, where a packed group of numerous AMPAS members turned up. Realistically they hope for at least a Makeup/Hairstyling nomination and created a handsome booklet showing the process used in the film. Considering a couple of Scandinavian films have landed in the category in recent years, they could have a shot there. Spielberg wasn't at the screening, but they got a response and got to send a copy of the film over to his Amblin offices. Never say never for resourceful Oscar hopefuls, even if you have the longest of shots and nothing close to Netflix-style money.” /> One famous Palisades resident the filmmakers were hoping to lure was Steven Spielberg, and in order to get his attention, they shot an ambitious special video featuring that Princess from Norway, Märtha Louise, complete with a cameo from a Jurassic Park dinosaur. The Palisades is rich with voters, and the new theater — the first since the old Bay Theatre disappeared in the same location decades ago — is a plus for getting potential voters in the area out of their expensive homes.
Julia Roberts is back in the awards conversation this season, not only with her latest film, Ben Is Back, which has been winning her some of the best reviews of her career, but also her Amazon series Homecoming, which got a two-season initial order and has racked up Lead Actress nominations right out of the gate for her at the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards after just a 10-episode first season.
PRINCESS OF NORWAY INVADES OSCAR RACE
Despite blowback from a few critics who feel it should have been grittier in dealing with racial tensions, Green Book continues to be an audience-pleaser, having cleaned up on the festival circuit in terms of audience awards starting at Toronto. Even at my KCET Screening Series (sponsored by Deadline), which concluded Tuesday night with a great screening of Barry Jenkins' If Beale Street Could Talk, the total of votes for Green Book as favorite film of the nine-movie series was the largest margin of victory by any film in the 17 years I have been hosting this series.
The film has yet to figure in the early precursor critics group nominations or at SAG, but it is one that clearly could make a mark if it gets seen by enough voters. It certainly ignited a conversation at the reception last night that followed the CAA screening, Everyone seemed to have a personal story — a family member or friend affected by this epidemic — and the film made them feel free to talk about it, not only with Roberts but also director Hedges, who also was there. More on my Julia Roberts interview next week. There was a similar response at a Writers Guild screening last weekend, where Hedges fielded several personal stories from the audience. Among those in the crowd, many visibly shaken by the film, were Sean Penn, Marcia Gay Harden, Sally Kirkland, Camryn Manheim, Howard Rosenman, Teddy Schwarzman (one of the film's producers) and so many others from various AMPAS branches.
Mahershala, you did an absolutely fantastic job playing him, and I think yours and Viggo’s performances will go down as one of the great friendships captured on film. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to do it alone with just a driver. So Peter [Farrelly, the film's director-writer], thank you for telling this story of our country’s not-so-distant history and capturing on film the ties that can bind us when we spend time listening, talking and living with one another." "I hope that you all enjoyed this very special film about friendship and the power of music to bring people together," the Grammy-laden Jones told the audience. "I had the pleasure of being acquainted with Don Shirley while I was working as an arranger in New York in the ’50s, and he was without question one of America’s greatest pianists … as skilled a musician as Leonard Bernstein or Van Cliburn. … So it is wonderful that his story is finally being told and celebrated. Jones added that he had been there as well about the same time when the movie was set in 1962. "I did that 'Chitlin Circuit' tour through the South when I was with the Lionel Hampton band, and let me tell you … it was no picnic. And we were a band.
In his case it took on extra meaning because, as he explained in his welcoming speech at the post-reception at Ysrael on Fairfax, he knew Don Shirley, the acclaimed concert pianist Mahershala Ali plays and so far has earned Globe, Critics' Choice and SAG supporting actor nominations for playing (as has his co-star Viggo Mortensen in the corresponding lead categories). Quincy Jones did that at another Thursday night screening on the circuit for Universal and Participant Media's Green Book. As is the custom this time of year, there are numerous screenings of movies being hosted by well-known industry figures who otherwise have no personal connection to the film they are loaning their name to in order to draw a crowd.
I caught up with her Thursday night at CAA for an interview set to run on Deadline next week. We talked as a full house, largely Academy members, watched Ben Is Back. She's justifiably proud of the movie, which just began its limited runs last week and will expand through Roadside Attractions to the top 25 markets next week as it continues to widen during the season. Even though it is set in a 24-hour period starting on Christmas Eve, it is like no holiday movie you have seen, to be sure.

‘Downsizing’ Production Designer Stefania Cella On Contemplating What It Means To Be Five Inches Tall

How much of the size tricks we see in this film came down to forced perspective techniques in production design?
The Alondra was all built with scenic large-scale wood, large objects built for making the inside of a trailer as a kind of project housing—the trailer where Ngoc lives. We built four floors, so the others were added digitally, but “added digitally” meaning that we shot the pieces and then we tiled on top of them. All of those were built: We built a gigantic side of a trailer for the exterior of the Alondra. So, it was physically all real. The exterior, for example, when the bus goes through the wall and arrives in the square with the trailers, we built an entire square with all the trailers, and then we scaled down and built a gigantic façade for our five-inch tall people to enter.
Bringing a breadth of experience in commercials and feature films to bear, Cella collaborated closely with cinematographer Phedon Papamichael and VFX supervisor Jamie Price to create Paul's economically friendly, miniaturized world, from the perspective of average-sized humans and the tiny individuals who inhabit Leisure Land.
I had almost nine months of prep. There's all that, as well—the intensity of light. Of course, you know higher camera angles makes you look smaller; lower camera angles makes you look bigger. We did a lot of models, we did a lot building in 3D to see where we wanted to put the camera, and what was going to be the best angle to do this. I did a lot of photographs on macro [lenses], to see how all the texture transforms when we are five inches tall. Bright light, you are smaller, because the light is much brighter if you're five inches tall.
Everything was becoming a part of that world. The funny thing is at one point, all day long for a year and a half, we talked about what it means to be five inches tall, and we were talking about it as if it were the most normal thing in the world. It became such a part of our daily life.
Can you describe the intersection of cinematography, production design and visual effects on Downsizing?
I took inspiration from there, and from a mix of golf courses and retirement communities in Florida. So, we leaned on an urban planning firm, who helped us to design the size of the roads, the sidewalk—a lot of details that we didn’t know. We wanted to be really real—you can't fake it, because then it becomes a toy, and it doesn't have the same view you have when you're landing in Nebraska. We had a couple of urban planners that were consulting for us as we designed a city that, from far away, when you're up above, has the iconic characteristics of a real city.
Is that the real scale?" It's about scale. The whole village was built in a quarry, with larger-side wood boards, so the houses look a little bit like toys. Something that was important for me was that I didn't want to make it exaggerated, and make people be distracted all the time by the difference of size. Because it's not a child's movie—the story is important, so I wanted [the design] to be quiet. I wanted to be subtle; I wanted people to ask, "Is that what I'm seeing?
Those are built with metal, aluminum, and wood, and painted. For example, the spatula, where Matt [Damon] gets picked up, it was a real oversized spatula that we put on a crane. We had to build an engine that made the same movements as a hand picking something up from a gurney, so we had to study the exact movements, and we put it on a cherry picker.
We wanted to be normal and believable and real; we didn’t want to do a fairy tale, so you had to contain yourself with the instinct of overdoing it.” />
What experiences prepared you for the unique technical logistics of this shoot?
Employing forced perspective tricks and a complex interplay of cinematography, production design and visual effects, Payne's latest satire is a departure from his traditional style, playing nonetheless as a human, character-driven story—and intentionally so. While Downsizing's protagonist, Paul (Matt Damon), is shrunk down to five centimeters in height in the pursuit of a better life, Italian production designer Stefania Cella found herself creatively stretched on her first Alexander Payne-directed project.
Downsizing marks your first collaboration with Alexander Payne. How and why did you come on board?
Even if you have knowledge of the technique, something like that could bring you to discover a new way to do things. I've done a lot of commercials with a lot of visuals, and I learned it along the way, with Jamie and Phedon. It was a learning curve for all of us together, including Alexander. Because we didn't want to do anything that was necessarily how they normally do it. Again, we wanted to do it in a human way, and so we experimented. We learned and we decided that we wanted to do it in a different way.
Then, a little bit of inspiration was the ideal of a city of the Renaissance architects, where the urban plan is circle and the center is the square. Those are very repetitive themes through all the centuries of architectural history because every map the architect has tried to design, they're all ideal cities. So there was a lot of material.
What was it like shooting in Norway, on the water and in the post-apocalyptic sanctuary you created?
Even if there is a lot of technology that allows you to do a lot of tricks, in terms of designing 3D, Alexander’s stories are very real, so this was [largely] built in-camera. Even with Jamie [Price, visual effects supervisor], we shot a lot of the stuff that needs to be turned [into a bigger version]; and we shot models, and then they become bigger elements. Phedon [Papamichael, cinematographer] has the same vision that I have, in terms of trying to build as much as we can and shoot it on camera.
The water has a different consistency if you're small. There was a lot of that. We built a gigantic document when he signed his divorce, we built the gigantic table where the lawyers come. But of course, there was a lot. Of course, we did [use forced perspective with] the carry boxes, the big roses, the water bottle. We had two studios. I had like 10 stages. It was there, but it wasn't intentionally a mockery, or the main subject of the movie. It was all about that, but without being Ant Man, which is all about that.
To me, after reading the script for 10 minutes, I forgot that they were small. I wanted to do the same for the audience, and not just keep bringing in the big/small factor. I think the reason why we found each other understanding the script the same way, was because I never saw it as a big science-fiction movie, but a story of a man, and I didn't want to turn it into just a visual attraction that was disturbing the human story.
But the kind of movies that I’ve done till now were more [in the style of earlier] Alexander Payne—the ones that are less visual and more a human story. Then, we decided, actually, that because I’d never done science fiction, I was the right person to do it. I've done big commercials for Apple, and stuff like that, with a lot of visual effects.
When I take a meeting, I always do a visual presentation of how I see it. We started with that and then developed it from there. I try to be as specific as I can be, because my dialogue can just be visual. So, I brought in visual references of photographer, or I did a few Photoshops. I did the story kind of scene-by-scene with a document, then had a couple of visual renders designed that I was working with.
All the traveling boxes—the buses, the airplane—all that, was built big and small, meaning we built the models, and then we built the larger size of the models to shoot the actors in them. The scale was seven times more [in the traditional human world]—everything was seven time larger on a normal human being.
The village was built in Canada, near Toronto, in a quarry near a lake—so, the village was dropped digitally into the fjord. But the boat and the port and the wagon, that was all in Norway. Obviously, there was a long research process on how to reproduce Norway in Canada. I went to Norway several times. But we had to go a year before, and I hired a crew from Oslo.
We shot in the very North of Norway, so we were above the North Pole and it was beautiful in the summer. It was amazing. We went to Norway the year before, and we found the yacht the fjord that we wanted to use. We had to decide everything almost a year before we went to shooting because then when we started, we knew that you could reach the Northern part of the island.
We wanted to build a perfect, banal world—I'm talking about Leisure Land specifically. Of course, there are a lot of visual effects on the landscape, and on the distance. But we tried to shoot as much as we could on camera. Leisure Land is a mix of 1950s real estate boom with Disneyland, golf courses and gated communities with houses.
Everything that you desire. It was inventing a new world that hasn't been seen yet, so the first stipulation to me was the real estate boom of America, post-war in the '50s, especially in the West, where they were selling the American dream of the perfect world, with a stable economy and the association of a perfect life with material goods. That is a very interesting question because to me, that was a very interesting part of the design.
Were there certain visual inspirations or references you brought to the task at hand?
It's not Transformers, where everything can be digital. A lot needed to be on-camera, to be believable and approachable. We built a lot of the stuff that is small into exaggerated scale, because that this was a particular movie that has a balance between science fiction and reality that had to feel real.
How did you achieve the manufacture of the giant props you mentioned?
Can you expand on the process of designing the homes we see in Leisure Land?
We met, he hired another designer; then, something happened, and then he brought me back in. A year before we started to do Downsizing, he sent me the script, and I did a visual presentation. I met him several years ago for Nebraska. I’ve never done big science fiction, so maybe there was that kind of insecurity of, Is she going to be able to do it or not?
[laughs] There was all that flying camera, all over the stage, through cables, to find the distance at a human height—all that wonderful stuff. For the carry box [at the high school reunion], we had to put it on an engine that is made out of pistons that came from Vancouver, where it was mocking the same movement as the guide, and carried the traveling boxes for them so we were able to shoot them on kind of a gimbal.

Young Jeezy – Never Settle

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

[Verse 1]
I’ma leave the bars to Kendrick and Cole I speak that real life
I-75 with them O’s know what that feel like
So how could you compare me to niggas? You can’t be serious
Ain’t the type to ask all the questions, you got me curious
Bout the only nigga in it this solid, bitch I’m a kilo
They like "who that you got there with you Young?" Oh that’s just my ego
Back to the business at hand, I need a four way
And I don’t give a fuck where it’s at, I go to Norway
Tryna be the first to the spot just like Colombus
The residue done clogged up the sink, they called the plumbers
Let down the window, tossed out the phone, I heard static
It’s time to get all them dirty clothes up out the attic
The more you niggas doubt the more ambitious I get
I’m going out like Tony, I’m busting, talking my shit
Can line my haters up, everyone of them motherfuckers
Can open up my eyes, I see none of them motherfuckers

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

[Verse 2]
How you gon’ stop some shit that’s unstoppable?
Why you speaking logic to some niggas that ain’t logical?
They know a room full of hatin’ ass niggas ain’t an obstacle
I see you got them VVS around you neck, look like a popsicle
I put on for my city before I even wrote the song
If I’m ever out the house with you, you know the rope was on
Picture worth 1000 words don’t need to take it out the frame
But the nigga right beside you tryna take you out the game
Like oh, see me (?) with bosses and bad bitches
And I don’t fuck with industry niggas, they ass kissers
I had a million niggas that told me I wouldn’t make it
Then I sold a million records, the talent you can’t fake it
Look, one time for that nine ho, two times for that grind though
They wanna see you light skinned, make sure that you shine though
That’s why I sit back and just roll up the weed
Let’s talk the bullshit that’s just what a nigga need

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

Young Jeezy – Never Settle (On Wendy Williams Show) (Live) letras

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

[Verse 1]
I’ma leave the bars to Kendrick and Cole I speak that real life
I-75 with them O’s know what that feel like
So how could you compare me to niggas? You can’t be serious
Ain’t the type to ask all the questions, you got me curious
Bout the only nigga in it this solid, bitch I’m a kilo
They like "who that you got there with you Young?" Oh that’s just my ego
Back to the business at hand, I need a four way
And I don’t give a fuck where it’s at, I go to Norway
Tryna be the first to the spot just like Colombus
The residue done clogged up the sink, they called the plumbers
Let down the window, tossed out the phone, I heard static
It’s time to get all them dirty clothes up out the attic
The more you niggas doubt the more ambitious I get
I’m going out like Tony, I’m busting, talking my shit
Can line my haters up, everyone of them motherfuckers
Can open up my eyes, I see none of them motherfuckers

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

[Verse 2]
How you gon’ stop some shit that’s unstoppable?
Why you speaking logic to some niggas that ain’t logical?
They know a room full of hatin’ ass niggas ain’t an obstacle
I see you got them VVS around you neck, look like a popsicle
I put on for my city before I even wrote the song
If I’m ever out the house with you, you know the rope was on
Picture worth 1000 words don’t need to take it out the frame
But the nigga right beside you tryna take you out the game
Like oh, see me (?) with bosses and bad bitches
And I don’t fuck with industry niggas, they ass kissers
I had a million niggas that told me I wouldn’t make it
Then I sold a million records, the talent you can’t fake it
Look, one time for that nine ho, two times for that grind though
They wanna see you light skinned, make sure that you shine though
That’s why I sit back and just roll up the weed
Let’s talk the bullshit that’s just what a nigga need

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

Týr – The Rune letras

Down from the mountain, cries of an headless love, high above
Cold seems to me your kiss from the ocean deep, in my sleep
I see you go south on the evening tide, end your fight
Futile attempts, you can’t change the way, of our day and age of heathen and Hel

I’ve been living here from when I was born
And my heathen kin it was that found and then populated this land
Who is then this man who demands my scat
He whose mighty ancestors drove mine out of Norway to seek new lands

Which are slipping through my hands
Hold they nothing more divine
Than the property of land
Set the thing here and then

Line my booth with cloth, black as ravens wings
See to that these men are dealt as those mighty kings men that came before
Line my booth with cloth, black as ravens wings
Here in darkness with my silver bags, let them come in and take what’s mine

All the islands should be mine
But were running out of time
Wield the axe and make them mine
I will rule within my time

Here in pain
Here in darkness
Here in decadence
Lies my land like a rune that’s written by gods upon the
Ocean deep, so it reads, thou shalt not enslave thy kin, I
Swear this oath, I’ll keep my faith and I’ll keep my
Kin from all harm, raise the song to the mountains majesty for thee

Now that millennium has gone
And the sad and weary tales
Of the subsequent events
Are what’s left of greater times