The Letter is a brand new film starring Winona Ryder and James Franco, and I think Winona is a beautiful as she has ever been. She was a big A-list star when she was younger, but then she had some legal problems that seemed to derail her. She resumed worked though in high profile projects like The Black Swan, Mr. Deeds, and The Dilemma playing bad girls. James Franco is also a big name and has a high profile, even co-hosting the Oscars (though that did not work out very well). Franco has a tendency to do lots of oddball projects. His projects are ambitious and far-reaching. He has big project coming up from his Spider Man director that serves as a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. He seems willing to take chances.
The Letter is an odd project. Winona (Martine Jamison) is directing a play, and the film is dreamily narrated by her as free-form thoughts. An early glimpse of a play of hers seems arty and serious. It seems she writes her plays as well. As we see her and hear her thoughts we know that she seems somewhat disconnected, and we are not sure she is just searching her way through the creative process.
James Franco (Tyrone) seems like a hostile presence, but in a coy, vague way. He seems supportive of Winona, though. It seems everyone is off kilter and ill at ease. It seems that Winona might be losing her mind slowly, but we are not sure. The performances are subdued and cryptic. The other actors in the play seem confused by whatâ€™s going on. This is a workshop production, and the actors are seeming to lose footing as to what is going on. Artists are known to be temperamental and demanding, so it is easy to attribute Winonaâ€™s moods to her searching artistic journey.
Then a hit and run accident occurs that severely injures a journalist that had started interviewing Winona. The detective investigating is trying to identify a voice on a tape the journalist was using. It might be James Franco. His actions actually become even more suspect and inscrutable. This is the kind of project that is made to deliberately try to provoke the audience. One thing that is noticeable is that there is no music (or it is very muted). This lends the project a very non-movie, pseudo-documentary style. It is obvious that Winona is confused and distressed. The question is is she crazy? The style of the piece is unusual and challenging. It seems that the writer/director Jay Anania had a real desire to do something different and thought-provoking. It is, but that is not always a good thing. The film continues to get harder and harder to decipher. Some explanations seem to occur but considering how unreliable the narrator is, can we trust these explanations?
In the end, this is a project for discriminating tastes. It is arty and difficult and may require more than one viewing to unravel. If you are the kind of person who is up for that, then try this out. If you are looking for excitement and fun, steer clear.
This interview was done during Venice festival. Check it:
“Iâ€™ve loved making movies,” Winona Ryder said in Toronto earlier this week when reflecting back on her 26-year career. “I feel like Iâ€™ve been so lucky because Iâ€™ve gotten to be in movies that are some of my favorites, regardless of my being in them — like ‘Heathers.'”
Ryder — who turns 41 in October (though she still looks like she’s 30) — made her official debut in the 1986 high school drama “Lucas.” The small, well-recieved role helped lead to a duo of late 1980s leads — as Lydia in “Beetlejuice” and as Veronica in “Heathers” — that propelled her to become an icon of her generation.
“I was very lucky because Tim Burton really gave me a career,” she said. “I donâ€™t think Hollywood wouldâ€™ve known what to do with me. If I hadnâ€™t done ‘Beetlejuice,’ I think I wouldâ€™ve just gone back to my school.”
Ryder also rightfully considers “Heathers” — released a year after “Beetlejuice” in 1989 — a pivotal moment in her early career.
“They didnâ€™t want me for it,” she recalled. “I wasnâ€™t pretty enough. I had to go a mall and get my makeup done, and then I just begged them and begged them. That was a kind of turning point because that was kind of the first movie where Iâ€™d played someone who was attractive. And then that led to a lot of films.”
But when talking to Indiewire during the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this week (where she’s promoting her latest film, Ariel Vromen’s “The Iceman”), Ryder is quick to discourage young actors currently trying to follow in her footsteps.
“If I were 18 right now, I wouldnâ€™t want to become an actress, I know that much,” she said. “It’s just a different business now. Instant access surveillance, itâ€™s just crazy. Now everyone wants to know everything in such a different way… I mean, there’s already so much pressure when youâ€™re a kid. You’re uprooted and move to L.A. First they like you, then youâ€™re told they donâ€™t like you. Itâ€™s a lot of pressure when at the same time you’re going through puberty. But now these paparazzi literally follow people around. Itâ€™s really criminal stuff and itâ€™s scary to me.”
While Ryder may never have had to experience the intensity of being a teen actress in today’s paparazzian landscape, she’s hardly avoided it altogether. Her relationship (and breakup) with Johnny Depp’s was most definitely the early 1990s pop-culture equivalent to Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. And, of course, her 2001 shoplifting arrest didn’t exactly go unnoticed.
But Ryder has shifted her priorities as of late, finding comfort in a quieter life outside of Hollywood.
“I’m based in San Francisco and I love my life there,” she said. “I have my family and my friends. Itâ€™s equally as important to me to be a good friend, and a good sister, and a good daughter. Iâ€™m very close with my family and friends. It became all about me when I was at the height of it all in the 1990s.”
Of all the reboots, sequels and continuations on our “Please, Hollywood, make it!” movie wish lists, the rumored sequel to “Beetlejuice” is definitely near the top. And unlike other seemingly pie-in-the-sky projects, there are multiple reasons to believe we might eventually see a second chapter to Tim Burton’s delightfully dark and hilarious classic.
Seth Grahame-Smith is in the midst of writing a script commissioned by Burton, who is onboard with the project as long as Michael Keaton returns to his iconic role.
Because of our continued interest in seeing the sequel come to fruition and to theaters everywhere, MTV News asked star Winona Ryder if she had any inside info on the film.
“You tell me â€” I don’t know!” Ryder said from the Toronto International Film Festival, where she was promoting her film “The Iceman.” “I’ve heard from journalists, that’s how I found out, but I’m seeing Tim next week, and I will let you know.”
If Ryder delivers on that statement, she has plenty of pertinent questions we’d love for her to have answered.
“I’m trying to think about how that would work. Obviously I’m not [the focal point]; it’s got to be Michael. So is it happening?” she wondered. “It’s being written, but is it happening? Tim hasn’t confirmed it yet [officially].”
Burton has confirmed his interest in exploring a sequel, and if Ryder is interested as well, we’re guessing she could also be involved in some way via flashback or cameo, especially since frequent Burton collaborator Johnny Depp seemed plenty game to pop in a frame or two for fun. [MTV]
It was released today a featurette with behind-the-scenes of “Frankenweenie”, featuring interviews of Winona Ryder, Martin Short, Tim Burton. Watch it:
A second trailer for “The Iceman” has arrived!
Thanks ChrisB for the heads up!