By: Jordan Gass-Poore
A tale of love and fungi will feed audiences hunger beginning today as its filmmakers hit the road with the Texas Independent Film Network for a month-long, statewide promotional tour.
Other Side Drive: Tuesday
The drama “Now, Forager” follows Lucian and Regina, a married couple who by trade gather wild mushrooms in New Jersey’s woodlands and sell them to New York restaurants. As the seasons change, so does their relationship, which is put to the test by the couple’s individual desires.
Austinites Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin (HAL-per-in) came up with the film’s premise after discussing the “romantic and metaphorical” nature of food movies, which tend to portray inaccurate cooking methods and make the skill secondary.
SB: “It was more about eating than it was about cooking. We thought, ‘Gosh, that’s something we’d like to see as a film that was kind of more focused on the realistic treatment of ingredients and labor and the process of doing things.”
The duo first met as UT grad students in the mid-1990s and, after working as festival programmers for Cinematexas, used their restaurant experience and firsthand knowledge of foraging to craft last year’s “Now, Forager.”
Halperin, who serves as the co-director, producer and editor of “Now, Forager,” says filming began in New York during the spring of 2010 and lasted about a year in an effort to capture the East Coast seasons accurately.
SB: “You can’t pretend that the northeast spring is really the northeast fall: the light is different, the foliage is different. There just isn’t any way to do it if you don’t respect kind of what actually is happening in the natural world.”
Originally, the film was set on the West Coast, but Cortlund says while he and Halperin were in New York working on development and fundraising for another project, they found more of a mushroom-friendly culture in the Empire State.
SB: “We’re very interested in regional filmmaking and it makes more sense to kind of put that type of a story in that landscape. When the winter happens up there, it really does shut down that particular location, which is something that drives part of our story.”
Even though Cortlund and Halperin lived in Brooklyn before-and-during shooting of “Now, Forager,” she says they brought a “scrappy” Austin sensibility and “can-do” attitude with them to this production, which included “everything but the breakfast tacos.” Even some Austin-based crew joined the shoot.
Cortlund wrote “Now, Forager,” which was nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award, and is also credited with crafting additional close-ups of fungi for the movie.
Cortlund says his experiences hunting, fishing and foraging as a kid helped with the film’s casting, as the character of Lucian is supposed to be knowledgeable about the technical aspects of these trades.But he wasn’t originally cast in the role.
SB: “Both Julia and I came into film as actors. We had auditions and a couple of days we were short male leads. So, I would read with the potential Reginas. While we were reviewing the tapes, we liked how that worked better than anybody else.”
While Cortlund has no aspiration to build a career as a leading man, he says viewers should go into “Now, Forager” with an open mind and that the film is designed to work against stereotypes.
Much like filmmaking, foraging is a risky business, for both the supplier and the consumer: Lucian’s narration details how eating certain mycological specimens can result in “vomiting, cramps, bloody diarrhea, liver and kidney failure (even) death.” The ending credits of “Now, Forager” contain a disclaimer that gathering mushrooms should only be done with expert assistance.
Now that’s food for thought.
“Now, Forager” official website: http://nowforager.com/
By: Andrea Rodriguez
Tired of your traditional zombie characters that have a sick craving for human flesh? Well, Andrea Rodriguez has a new type of zombie character that is awkwardly charming for you to check out!
Other Side Drive: Tuesday
For the sci-fi movie buffs that have a twisted fetish for brain-eating zombies, and for the vampire and werewolf obsessive lovers that can’t get enough of mystical creatures hoping to find love in their complicated lives, well then I have an imaginative zombie film for you that will knock your socks off at first bite.
Warm Bodies is a zombie film that meets romantic comedy, sci-fi, drama, and a little bit of horror.
Director Jonathan Levine puts a twist on the whole zombie genre by introducing a mix of romance and comedy. Zombies have taken over, yet for one, who goes by the name R (Nicholas Hoult) has a conscious mind of his own who is not your typical zombie. Hoult does a wonderful job in playing the awkward teenage zombie that longs to connect with life. He will have you laughing out loud with his inner dialog, which makes for much of the movie’s comedy.
“What am I doing with my life? I’m so pale. I should get out more, I should eat better. My posture is terrible. I should stand up straight. People would respect me more if I stood up straighter. What’s wrong with me? I just want to connect. Why can’t I connect with people? O right…It’s because I’m dead. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself I mean we’re all dead. This girl is dead. That guy in the corner is definitely dead.”
This is where the movie puts a twist on your traditional zombie plots; R soon falls for a pretty girl Julie (Teresa Palmer) who is very much alive. It’s a Romeo-Juliet type of relationship; Julie is a resistance fighter whose father Grigio (John Malkovich) lleads the humans in the survival against the zombie apocalypse and R well… he’s a zombie. Their love is so powerful and undeniable that it starts to change the rest of the zombies- they start to feel alive, but unfortunately not everyone is warming up to their love. Grigio will take any measures to keep his daughter alive even if that means shooting her zombie boyfriend.
“Dad you have to listen to me. I know we lost everybody, I know you lost mom but you and me are still here…we can fix all this, we can start over. They need our help. Please dad, look at him he’s different. He’s bleeding, he’s bleeding dad!”
Warm Bodies is fun, fast-paced, and clever. I absolutely recommend this unique film. The directing, writing, and pretty much everything in the film was well done. I have no complaints. It delivered what it said it would and exceeded my expectations which are rare these days when it comes to teenage mystical creatures falling in love. If you want to to know how this bizarre Romeo and Juliet relationship turns out, if he live or if she dies, and what happened to the rest of the zombies, then this film is for you, especially if you’re asking yourself “Do they live happily ever after?”
Want to see an incredible film, a true cinematic achievement, and maybe will be the first 3D movie to break through, then Andrea Rodriguez has a film for you to check out that will take you on an incredible journey!
Other Side Drive: Tuesday
For the film lovers seeking a 3D movie to feast your eyes on, or a thrilling adventure to enjoy on the weekend, I’ve got the film for you.
Life of Pi is a rare masterpiece that has taken a perfect book and transformed it into a beautifully well-crafted 3D movie that takes you on a journey by a master filmmaker, Ang Lee.
“I was born and raised in one of the most beautiful places on earth. It was a time filled with wonder that I will always remember, but when my family chose to move our zoo halfway around the world that is when my greatest journey began.”
Life of Pi is about a sixteen year old boy who is stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger in the middle of the Pacific. And so the adventures journey of an innocent young boy with life a threatening feline animal begins.
“My name is Pi Patel. I have been in a shipwreck. I am on a lifeboat alone with a tiger. Please send help.”
Through the journey of the main character, Pi learns so many important life lessons and things he can use later on in life. The film shows that while he does go through some very difficult and challenging times he does not quit, or give up and has the willpower and the faith to continue even if at times everything looks absolutely hopeless.
“I never thought a small piece of shade could bring me so much happiness; that a pile of tools a bucket, knife, pencil might become my greatest treasures, or that knowing Richard Parker was here might ever bring me peace.”
It’s very easy to connect with Lee’s movie; as you may feel like you’re in the middle of an ocean; isolated from civilization. The Life of Pi is so well-crafted that it moves effortlessly between a story of youth to a story of adulthood. It’s a magical vision. I felt like I was wrapped in the story from the beginning. I was so impressed with the quality of the 3D and the actual story. I highly recommend this film that will take you on a journey that is eye popping, terrifying and exquisitely beautiful; so for me it doesn’t get any better than that.