On Sunday, February 1st, I was in "the first audience to see" the World Premiere of an independent film from Finland called "Eila, Rampe and Baby Girl (Eila, Rampe ja Likka)," a charming, funny, "trading places,""clash of generations and social classes,"comedy. The story focuses on Baby Girl, a young poet with eccentric parents and a "tiresome" boyfriend, Pirrka. Baby Girl is drawn to the depth and intellect of her japanese friend who is helping her translate her poetry. Her mother, thinking it's time for Baby Girl to get married, wants to impress Pirrka's mother and begins telling a series of lies that escalate out of control when they are all in the Finnish countryside one summer day. The story is fun with an underlying message that there is deeper meaning and loveliness in life, if we are able to be like poets and see what is really important.
The writer, Sinikka Nopola, and publicist, Oona Hemmi, were at the Q & A. Sinikka writes with her sister, Tiina Nopola, who was not at the screening. Together they have written many short stories, novels and plays and 50 books for children. This was their fifth film.
On the comment that there are lots of female characters in the film, Sinikka said, "It is easier to write female characters." On the stars, "Heidi Herala, who plays the mother, is a big actress in Finland. Pirkka-Pekka Petelius, who plays the father, is a big comic star in Finland. He is a very funny man." On the shoot,"The shoot took 5 weeks. My husband was the cinematographer."
This film was a reminder to me how important it is to see foreign films because of what they offer us in seeing other cultures. The tone, the personalities of the characters, the situations, the focus of this film put me in Finland, in a landscape I didn't know. As film has the capacity to do, I came away from the experience with new understanding like I had met this "cast of characters."
Sunday night at 8:00, the Arlington Theatre filled right up for all to see Chadwick Boseman ("Get On Up"), Ellar Coltrane ("Boyhood"), Logan Lerman ("Fury"), David Oyelowo ("Selma"), Rosamund Pike ("Gone Girl"), J.K. Simmons ("Whiplash"), and Jenny Slate ("Obvious Child") receive the Virtuosos Award. The Virtuosos Award recognizes a group of actors who have distinguished themselves through performances in film this past year.
Roger Durling, looking dashing with his black scarf, came to the podium with his usual electric enthusiasm charging through the audience. He noted that there had been a big crowd to watch the Oscar nominated film, "Leviathan," being shown at the same time as the Super Bowl, a statement for the love of film! Roger then explained how one might get recognized for the Virtuosos Award. "There are many ways to become a break-out star. You could be a Bond girl who captured the most shocking literary character. You could be a former SNL actor that surprises everyone with your range as Jenny Slate did or David Oyelowo or perhaps you took on your first role at 6 and it lasted 12 years! J.K. Simmons 'knocked it out of the park!'"
Chadwick Boseman, talked about his experience in, "Get On Up," "We started with the dance moves, and," he smiled with a kind of wink to the audience,"we saw there was potential." Chadwick continued, "We thought there should be a James Brown aerobic tape! I have to credit the choreographer, Aakomon Jones (who also plays a choreographer in the movie). He was a Drill Sergeant!" You could tell Chadwick loved this role as he said, "The critics said, 'you were a man possessed!' There are roles that are jobs and then with this, I would go, this wasn't a job!"
Ellar Coltrane on "Boyhood," "I did a lot of theatre when I was little. When I was five, my aunt, who was a fashion model, took me along with her to a shoot and they picked me out." Dave Gardner asked him about experiencing the story line of "Boyhood," "Was any of that traumatic for you?" Ellar answered, "Looking back, I think so. Even though you are pretending you are experiencing it." Ellar never thought of quitting though, "No, not ever. I felt responsible to Richard (Linklater, the Director). It felt good to have this responsibility. Richard, as a way to make sure he was doing okay, "would take me out to lunch a couple of times to talk to me." Ellar mentioned that he was homeschooled at the time.
Dave's question to Logan Lerman, ("Fury"), "Every actor from 20-25 wanted this part, how did you get it?" Logan replied, "I met with David Ayer ('Fury' Director) and told him I wouldn't work on anything else," relaying how passionately he wanted to be in it. On being with the cast and shooting inside the tank for so many hours and how it bonded them, "we were all really close." On his character, "You see this loss of innocence at hyper speed to this character." Garner's question, "How did this movie change you?" Logan answered, "I learned a lot about my personal limits. I liked being pushed like that."
David Oyelowo is the british actor who plays Martin Luther King, Jr. in "Selma," directed by Ava DuVernay. The film is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.
Dave Gardner mentioned,"You were cast before Ava, the Director, was brought on." Oyelowo said, "In 2007, I read the script. The screenplay was more focused on LBJ. I knew (somehow) I was going to get this part. Stephen Frears didn't want me. It wasn't until 2010 that Lee Daniels cast me. I campaigned hard for Ava. I went from being rejected to hiring the Director!"
Oyelowo mentioned that "the speeches in the film are not original. They didn't have the rights so they had to write new speeches."
Gardner asked him, "How did you become fuller in the face?" Oyelowo answered, "Macaroni and cheese!"
To the question, "What is it like to be 'Oscar snubbed?'" Oyelowo answered, "Black people have been celebrated, not when we are being leaders, but when we have been slaves and domestics. We've been leaders and kings who have changed the world. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated 50 years ago," Oyelowo commented as a way of giving context. He continued, "'12 Years A Slave' and 'The Butler' were told through the eyes of a white protagonist. We don't go into the pain, because there is a fear of white guilt. We need to see these things (and work through them) in order to move forward from them. Up until now, films about black people in their own narrative have been difficult to be made but now they are doing well internationally, critically, and otherwise." "'12 Years A Slave' and 'The Butler' brought in over 200 million which is why," Oyelowo mentioned with a bit of a smile, "Paramount saw that "Selma" could make money." Oyelowo enthusiastically followed that up with, "I love you Paramount! That's the truth!"
Referring to her role as Amy, the wife she played opposite Ben Affleck in "Gone Girl," Rosamund Pike was asked, "the character was so complex, what was it like to play her?" Rosamund had researched to prepare,"Narcissism is entitled but feels inadequate. I had studied the book (by Gillian Flynn) and 'dogeared' parts. I thought of those lines, like, 'My wife is a murderous sociopath but she's fun,'" to refer back to in order to better understand the character.
Rosamund making another comment on the interior of her "Gone Girl" character, Amy,"People who get famous and didn't earn it have trouble with fame."
Next J.K. Simmons was up. He had hosted Saturday Night Live the night before and had just flown in to Santa Barbara to receive the Virtuosos Award! He exclaimed, "I haven't slept!"
J.K. on what it was like first reading "Whiplash," "The script flew off the page!" He was asked if it was difficult to play the tough scenes to which he replied, "Tough scenes to play are badly written scenes and we didn't have any of those."
Jenny Slate was up next for her performance in "Obvious Child." Jenny said they shot the film in "18 days and very little money. I was staying in a place where there was no hot water!" Commenting on what she is most famous for, which drew a big laugh from the audience,"Marcel the Shell!"
After the panel, the actors came up individually to receive their Virtuosos Award.
Christopher Lloyd presented the awards, remarking, "As an actor, you have lived truthfully under imaginary circumstances. You have to live truthfully or nothing becomes believable." Good actors know how to make it real!
Photo Credits: Sally Fay