Oct 24, 2021
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Front Page, Industry News

Splice director Vincenzo Natali injects Canadian creepiness into flick

VANCOUVER – “If I’m not a cult filmmaker, then I don’t know who is,” says Vincenzo Natali, half-serious, half-joking, and entirely self-aware.

“All my films have essentially flown below the radar, and yet made it to a fairly high level.”

It’s true: Ever since Natali popped – apparently fully formed – out of the central Canadian film womb with his feature debut Cube in 1997, he’s been courting a singular crowd of film lovers who appreciate more than a good story and cinematic craft.

Natali makes movies that push at the known boundaries of experience with the same trenchant wit as David Cronenberg.

Only Natali doesn’t mind it when things get messy. He almost seems to crave it, and in his latest effort, Splice, everything spirals out of control in a thick amniotic soup of science, technology and human ego.

“This was really a labour of love,” says Natali. “And like any labour of love, it also involved tremendous pain. I actually wanted to make it over a decade ago, but it just never happened. It’s not the kind of movie you can really make on the cheap. A central part of the story relies on special effects, and they can’t look awful if you want the rest of the story to work. They had to look perfect.”

Fortunately for Natali, he and the technical wizards nailed the creation sitting centre frame: The character Dren, a composite human spliced together by two young geneticists played by Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody.

When the film premiered in the Midnight Madness section of the Sundance Film Festival in January, it elicited the strongest crowd reactions in the entire program – largely as the result of the effects and the freakish plot that pushes at moral and ethical taboos.

When Natali and producer Steve Hoban inked a deal with Warner Brothers for a big U.S. distribution deal, the surprise element – and perhaps the cult appeal – of Splice was compromised: You now see the monster in the marketing materials, instead of cringing for the reveal.

For fans of smart horror, the ads and trailers are a disappointment, but the movie itself will surely impress, because it’s riding a razor-thin edge of highly tenable fears about the future.

“I see Splice as my own mutant baby. It just refused to die,” says Natali, a former storyboard artist who has directed TV serials, as well as a chapter of Paris, je t’aime, when he’s not in feature mode.

“There was so much room to reinterpret the Frankenstein story in our modern era of technology. I was surprised that no one had really done it yet.”

A brief discussion of the ill-fated Island of Dr. Moreau arises, and quickly ends, with the conclusion it was an unmitigated disaster.

“It’s funny, as I was putting this movie together over the past decade and thinking about it, it’s like there was this convergence taking place between the ideas I had on paper, and what was actually happening in the real world,” he says.

“There wasn’t a week that went by where I wasn’t reading some bio-tech story about the latest advance in splicing. I mean, one day I saw that picture of a human ear growing on the back of a rodent. That’s odd. Or, on the other side, seeing some new advance in film technology that would make the creation of Dren that much more convincing.”

Pieced together using several different techniques, from puppetry, to green body stockings and complete digital animation, the effects are convincing, because they feel organic and three-dimensional.

“I wanted most of the action to come from a real performer and not a computer-generated creation. I just think you can tell, at some deep level, when something is there or not. And there are so many scenes in this film where Dren just has to feel tangible and human – especially with Clive (Brody).”

Natali says he’s not a fan of the modern movie ethos that says “fix it in post(-production),” just because you can.

“I like to get it right the first time – in camera. I think it’s part of my responsibility as a filmmaker.”

That’s not the only role he takes seriously. Natali says he feels compelled to ask questions that others may be loathe to ponder, particularly when it comes to moral responsibility vis-a-vis technology.

“This movie moves in tough directions, and really pushes some primal buttons. I think it has some similarities to Eraserhead, the way it relates to parenting a creature, but also because there are parts in this movie that I find quite funny — but also deeply disturbing.”

Canadian science fiction is particularly good at straddling these two disparate sensibilities, whether it’s found in the literary works of Margaret Atwood (Oryx and Crake, for instance) or the space-set oddities of William Gibson — whom Natali is reportedly working with to create a script for Neuromancer.

“I think the central difference is the way we look inward, where Americans tend to look outward in their science fiction. It’s about inner space – not outer space.”

Natali says onscreen, it comes down to one question: Is the movie about some fantastic threat or monster? Or is it about human beings?

“Canadian stories tend to be more involved with discovering human truths than extraterrestrial life.

“I have to say, I really like Clive and Elsa (the central geneticists/protagonists) as people. They are smart. They are funny. They have ambition and courage. They are as much artists as they are scientists,” he says.

“And what they create could be seen as a work of art. Besides, evolution is just another word for deformity, if you think about it. . . . It shows how we get lost in the moral maze with genetic technologies,” says Natali.

“I don’t think the question should be: ‘Should we or shouldn’t we?’ It should be, ‘We’re going to do it anyway – so how do we do it?’ “

Splice opens in theatres nationwide Friday.

Source: The Vancouver Sun

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

Splice director Vincenzo Natali injects Canadian creepiness into flick

VANCOUVER – “If I’m not a cult filmmaker, then I don’t know who is,” says Vincenzo Natali, half-serious, half-joking, and entirely self-aware.

“All my films have essentially flown below the radar, and yet made it to a fairly high level.”

It’s true: Ever since Natali popped – apparently fully formed – out of the central Canadian film womb with his feature debut Cube in 1997, he’s been courting a singular crowd of film lovers who appreciate more than a good story and cinematic craft.

Natali makes movies that push at the known boundaries of experience with the same trenchant wit as David Cronenberg.

Only Natali doesn’t mind it when things get messy. He almost seems to crave it, and in his latest effort, Splice, everything spirals out of control in a thick amniotic soup of science, technology and human ego.

“This was really a labour of love,” says Natali. “And like any labour of love, it also involved tremendous pain. I actually wanted to make it over a decade ago, but it just never happened. It’s not the kind of movie you can really make on the cheap. A central part of the story relies on special effects, and they can’t look awful if you want the rest of the story to work. They had to look perfect.”

Fortunately for Natali, he and the technical wizards nailed the creation sitting centre frame: The character Dren, a composite human spliced together by two young geneticists played by Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody.

When the film premiered in the Midnight Madness section of the Sundance Film Festival in January, it elicited the strongest crowd reactions in the entire program – largely as the result of the effects and the freakish plot that pushes at moral and ethical taboos.

When Natali and producer Steve Hoban inked a deal with Warner Brothers for a big U.S. distribution deal, the surprise element – and perhaps the cult appeal – of Splice was compromised: You now see the monster in the marketing materials, instead of cringing for the reveal.

For fans of smart horror, the ads and trailers are a disappointment, but the movie itself will surely impress, because it’s riding a razor-thin edge of highly tenable fears about the future.

“I see Splice as my own mutant baby. It just refused to die,” says Natali, a former storyboard artist who has directed TV serials, as well as a chapter of Paris, je t’aime, when he’s not in feature mode.

“There was so much room to reinterpret the Frankenstein story in our modern era of technology. I was surprised that no one had really done it yet.”

A brief discussion of the ill-fated Island of Dr. Moreau arises, and quickly ends, with the conclusion it was an unmitigated disaster.

“It’s funny, as I was putting this movie together over the past decade and thinking about it, it’s like there was this convergence taking place between the ideas I had on paper, and what was actually happening in the real world,” he says.

“There wasn’t a week that went by where I wasn’t reading some bio-tech story about the latest advance in splicing. I mean, one day I saw that picture of a human ear growing on the back of a rodent. That’s odd. Or, on the other side, seeing some new advance in film technology that would make the creation of Dren that much more convincing.”

Pieced together using several different techniques, from puppetry, to green body stockings and complete digital animation, the effects are convincing, because they feel organic and three-dimensional.

“I wanted most of the action to come from a real performer and not a computer-generated creation. I just think you can tell, at some deep level, when something is there or not. And there are so many scenes in this film where Dren just has to feel tangible and human – especially with Clive (Brody).”

Natali says he’s not a fan of the modern movie ethos that says “fix it in post(-production),” just because you can.

“I like to get it right the first time – in camera. I think it’s part of my responsibility as a filmmaker.”

That’s not the only role he takes seriously. Natali says he feels compelled to ask questions that others may be loathe to ponder, particularly when it comes to moral responsibility vis-a-vis technology.

“This movie moves in tough directions, and really pushes some primal buttons. I think it has some similarities to Eraserhead, the way it relates to parenting a creature, but also because there are parts in this movie that I find quite funny — but also deeply disturbing.”

Canadian science fiction is particularly good at straddling these two disparate sensibilities, whether it’s found in the literary works of Margaret Atwood (Oryx and Crake, for instance) or the space-set oddities of William Gibson — whom Natali is reportedly working with to create a script for Neuromancer.

“I think the central difference is the way we look inward, where Americans tend to look outward in their science fiction. It’s about inner space – not outer space.”

Natali says onscreen, it comes down to one question: Is the movie about some fantastic threat or monster? Or is it about human beings?

“Canadian stories tend to be more involved with discovering human truths than extraterrestrial life.

“I have to say, I really like Clive and Elsa (the central geneticists/protagonists) as people. They are smart. They are funny. They have ambition and courage. They are as much artists as they are scientists,” he says.

“And what they create could be seen as a work of art. Besides, evolution is just another word for deformity, if you think about it. . . . It shows how we get lost in the moral maze with genetic technologies,” says Natali.

“I don’t think the question should be: ‘Should we or shouldn’t we?’ It should be, ‘We’re going to do it anyway – so how do we do it?’ “

Splice opens in theatres nationwide Friday.

Source: The Vancouver Sun

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

Splice director Vincenzo Natali injects Canadian creepiness into flick

VANCOUVER – “If I’m not a cult filmmaker, then I don’t know who is,” says Vincenzo Natali, half-serious, half-joking, and entirely self-aware.

“All my films have essentially flown below the radar, and yet made it to a fairly high level.”

It’s true: Ever since Natali popped – apparently fully formed – out of the central Canadian film womb with his feature debut Cube in 1997, he’s been courting a singular crowd of film lovers who appreciate more than a good story and cinematic craft.

Natali makes movies that push at the known boundaries of experience with the same trenchant wit as David Cronenberg.

Only Natali doesn’t mind it when things get messy. He almost seems to crave it, and in his latest effort, Splice, everything spirals out of control in a thick amniotic soup of science, technology and human ego.

“This was really a labour of love,” says Natali. “And like any labour of love, it also involved tremendous pain. I actually wanted to make it over a decade ago, but it just never happened. It’s not the kind of movie you can really make on the cheap. A central part of the story relies on special effects, and they can’t look awful if you want the rest of the story to work. They had to look perfect.”

Fortunately for Natali, he and the technical wizards nailed the creation sitting centre frame: The character Dren, a composite human spliced together by two young geneticists played by Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody.

When the film premiered in the Midnight Madness section of the Sundance Film Festival in January, it elicited the strongest crowd reactions in the entire program – largely as the result of the effects and the freakish plot that pushes at moral and ethical taboos.

When Natali and producer Steve Hoban inked a deal with Warner Brothers for a big U.S. distribution deal, the surprise element – and perhaps the cult appeal – of Splice was compromised: You now see the monster in the marketing materials, instead of cringing for the reveal.

For fans of smart horror, the ads and trailers are a disappointment, but the movie itself will surely impress, because it’s riding a razor-thin edge of highly tenable fears about the future.

“I see Splice as my own mutant baby. It just refused to die,” says Natali, a former storyboard artist who has directed TV serials, as well as a chapter of Paris, je t’aime, when he’s not in feature mode.

“There was so much room to reinterpret the Frankenstein story in our modern era of technology. I was surprised that no one had really done it yet.”

A brief discussion of the ill-fated Island of Dr. Moreau arises, and quickly ends, with the conclusion it was an unmitigated disaster.

“It’s funny, as I was putting this movie together over the past decade and thinking about it, it’s like there was this convergence taking place between the ideas I had on paper, and what was actually happening in the real world,” he says.

“There wasn’t a week that went by where I wasn’t reading some bio-tech story about the latest advance in splicing. I mean, one day I saw that picture of a human ear growing on the back of a rodent. That’s odd. Or, on the other side, seeing some new advance in film technology that would make the creation of Dren that much more convincing.”

Pieced together using several different techniques, from puppetry, to green body stockings and complete digital animation, the effects are convincing, because they feel organic and three-dimensional.

“I wanted most of the action to come from a real performer and not a computer-generated creation. I just think you can tell, at some deep level, when something is there or not. And there are so many scenes in this film where Dren just has to feel tangible and human – especially with Clive (Brody).”

Natali says he’s not a fan of the modern movie ethos that says “fix it in post(-production),” just because you can.

“I like to get it right the first time – in camera. I think it’s part of my responsibility as a filmmaker.”

That’s not the only role he takes seriously. Natali says he feels compelled to ask questions that others may be loathe to ponder, particularly when it comes to moral responsibility vis-a-vis technology.

“This movie moves in tough directions, and really pushes some primal buttons. I think it has some similarities to Eraserhead, the way it relates to parenting a creature, but also because there are parts in this movie that I find quite funny — but also deeply disturbing.”

Canadian science fiction is particularly good at straddling these two disparate sensibilities, whether it’s found in the literary works of Margaret Atwood (Oryx and Crake, for instance) or the space-set oddities of William Gibson — whom Natali is reportedly working with to create a script for Neuromancer.

“I think the central difference is the way we look inward, where Americans tend to look outward in their science fiction. It’s about inner space – not outer space.”

Natali says onscreen, it comes down to one question: Is the movie about some fantastic threat or monster? Or is it about human beings?

“Canadian stories tend to be more involved with discovering human truths than extraterrestrial life.

“I have to say, I really like Clive and Elsa (the central geneticists/protagonists) as people. They are smart. They are funny. They have ambition and courage. They are as much artists as they are scientists,” he says.

“And what they create could be seen as a work of art. Besides, evolution is just another word for deformity, if you think about it. . . . It shows how we get lost in the moral maze with genetic technologies,” says Natali.

“I don’t think the question should be: ‘Should we or shouldn’t we?’ It should be, ‘We’re going to do it anyway – so how do we do it?’ “

Splice opens in theatres nationwide Friday.

Source: The Vancouver Sun

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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