Kyle's Career Filmstrip: TV Series and Movies

Dec 19, 2015

‘Carol’ Tops Variety Film Critics Poll

Todd Haynes’ “Carol” is the best film of 2015, followed by Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “The Assassin” and George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” according to a survey of 14 Variety reviewers around the world.

Critical consensus, elusive under any circumstances, is especially hard to nail down at a publication with reviewers based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Paris, London, Rome and Hong Kong. Indeed, one of the purposes of this inaugural year-end poll is to provide a sense of the richness and diversity of this year’s offerings beyond American multiplexes and arthouses. Our critics outside the U.S. were thus invited to include films released in their home cities and from the festival circuit.

For ranked lists, a critic’s first choice received 10 points, the second received nine points, the third received eight points, and so on. For unranked lists, each title received 5.5 points.


1. “Carol” (57 points, 7 lists)
2. “The Assassin” (49 points, 7 lists)
3. “Mad Max: Fury Road” (44 points, 6 lists)
4. “Spotlight” (43.5 points, 6 lists)
5. “Phoenix” (35 points, 4 lists)
6. “The Look of Silence” (32 points, 4 lists)
7. “Inside Out” (27 points, 5 lists)
8. “Brooklyn” (26 points, 5 lists)
9. “45 Years” (20 points, 2 lists)
10. “Son of Saul” (19 points, 3 lists)

Dec 16, 2015

Kyle Chandler goes beyond being good guy with ‘Carol’

Read more here:

Nov 30, 2015

‘Carol’ Avoids Glut of Adult Dramas With Slow and Steady Release Plan

Cate Blanchett Carol
Courtesy of Weinstein Co.

Carol,” an elegantly wrought romance about two lesbians falling in love at the height of Cold War era conformity, is embracing an unconventional release strategy.

The film has received some of the best reviews of the year and is expected to be a major factor in the Oscar race, but instead of trying to push “Carol” into as many theaters as possible, the Weinstein Company is deploying a very deliberate distribution pattern.

“Carol” is still in the same four theaters in New York and Los Angeles where it opened two weeks ago and will not go into additional cities until Dec. 11.
“We love the movie, but we want to be cautious,” said Erik Lomis, the Weinstein Company’s distribution chief. “We want to take a smart, slow and steady approach.”

The caution may be warranted. “Carol” has done very well in its limited release, earning $588,355 since opening and scoring the second best per-theater average with $50,769 for the second weekend in a row. Moreover, stars Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett and director Todd Haynes have scored a rapturous response from critics. Some studios might be tempted to use the awards chatter to justify a nationwide launch.

However, it has been a brutal period for adult dramas. Films such as “Steve Jobs” and “Truth” have been unable to turn good reviews into solid box office, and others, such as Angelina Jolie’s marital drama “By the Sea,” flopped spectacularly. They follow a slew of Sundance Film Festival acquisitions like “Dope” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” that failed to turn Park City buzz into ticket sales.

The competition is only intensifying. Already, a pair of well reviewed dramas, “Spotlight” and “Brooklyn,” are in more than 800 theaters apiece where they are doing solid business. But some indie players privately fear there will be little left over for the rash of Oscar hopefuls flooding screens in the coming weeks.

The problem is that a rise in quality shows on television such as “Better Call Saul” and “Homeland,” as well as the popularity of streaming services like Netflix, are making it harder for people to justify abandoning the comforts of home for multiplexes.

In order to stand out, films need awards to succeed. But Oscar voters don’t have long memories and most major nominees tend to debut between September and December. That can lead to a bloodbath as a glut of indies and prestige pictures all duke it out for a diminishing crowd of cinephiles.

“These are movies that are aimed at a particular older audience that reads and cares about reviews,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “The problem is that more and more of them are coming and it gets to the point where there isn’t enough time to see them all.”

The Weinstein Company historically has had a great deal of success of capitalizing on Oscar nods, fielding best picture winners and box office hits such as “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.” Those films waited between four to eight weeks before unspooling in more than 600 theaters.

It’s a playbook “Carol” will follow closely. On Dec. 11, the studio will add a few more markets and will have the film in 15 to 20 theaters. It will expand to the top 50 film markets on Christmas day and plans to have “Carol” playing in 150 theaters. At some point between January 8 and 15, the picture will be on anywhere from 500 to 700 locations.

By then many major awards givers will have announced nominations or handed out hardware and the Weinstein Company will find out if in the case of “Carol,” slow and steady wins the race.

‘Carol’ Explores Lesbian Love in the 50s

Rooney Mara (Therese) and Cate Blanchett (Carol) first encounter in 'Carol.'
Rooney Mara (Therese) and Cate Blanchett (Carol) first encounter in ‘Carol.’
In a 1950s department store, young clerk Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) spots Carol (Cate Blanchett), an elegant older woman, looking at doll displays. Therese is enameled with Carol’s presence; and when Carol leaves her gloves on the counter, Therese grabs that opportunity to initiate a relationship.

With a child and husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler), Carol’s romance with Therese—she’s engaged to Richard (Jake Lacy)—is not only considered controversial but outright blasphemous during that time period.

Harge is very much in love with Carol and will stop at nothing to keep her. Even though she might lose custody and visitation rights in a divorce battle, Carol is determined to keep her lover. Meanwhile, Therese balks at Richard when he tries to pressure her into going with him to Paris, a trip they talked about before he purchased the tickets.

Kyle Chandler (Harge) in a scene from 'Carol.'
Kyle Chandler (Harge) in a scene from ‘Carol.’
That being said, The Film Strip asked the cast gathered together at a press conference in the JW Marriott Essex House, if this story was a classic case of “The heart wants what the heart wants”? After answering yes, Chandler pointed out that “Harge was very confused about what was going on because his character continued to love his estranged wife.”

Blanchett agreed that given all their obstacles, what was in their hearts was what mattered. “It is interesting that obsessive relationship between Therese and Carol is perhaps more so in the film than in the book,” Blanchette offered. “There’s this obsessive pursuit that Therese has of Carol.” Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy said she emphasized with both Richard and Harge, and their inability to understand the women’s growing attachment.

Emmy winner Chandler best known for his TV work, particularly “Friday Night Lights” and the earlier “Early Edition,” was cast as two-time Oscar winner Blanchette’s husband because Haynes needed a strong male image. “I lucked out [with Kyle],” Haynes explained. “ I’ve been watching Kyle’s work and have been so amazed by it as I’m sure most people would agree having seen ‘Friday Night Lights’ and the films he’s been in. Casting a man to play opposite Cate Blanchett is not an obvious task because a lot of male actors today are kind of grown up boys. You need to have a real grown up, I think, opposite Cate.”

While Haynes was heaping beaucoup praises upon Chandler, Blanchette interjected, “He’s an animal! ‘[Laughng]” To which Haynes responded, “And we found an animal in Kyle. But, no, it’s true I think he enters that era with such a sense of believability. It’s like when I saw him in the clothes the first time, I was like ‘it suits him so well.’”

This, of course, further emphasizes the statement, “The heart wants what the heart wants,” because Chandler was no match for Therese.

Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at

Nov 19, 2015

Kyle Chandler Thought Coach Taylor's Perfection Was a "Pain in the Ass"

Friday Night Lights' resident good guy explores a murky morality clause in Todd Haynes' Oscar contender, 'Carol.'

​Kyle Chandler is drinking a beer. An Amstel Light, to be exact. "It's eleven o'clock where I come from," he says in that gloriously sap-like drawl. "So I'm beating them." Them, of course, is the good folks of Dripping Springs, Texas, where the family man lives with his wife, their two teenage daughters, and a handful of dogs on a 33-acre ranch. But, for today, the 50-year-old career actor best known for his portrayal of unflappable football coach Eric Taylor on five seasons of the Emmy-winning Friday Night Lights, ​is dutifully stumping for his latest project, the Oscar-courting Cate Blanchett-Rooney Mara love story, ​Carol​.

The premise of ​Carol​ may sound tawdry—​in 1950s New York City, an older, married woman named Carol (Blanchett) seduces a twentysomething shopkeep, Therese (Mara)—but ​audiences looking for bodice-ripping fare may be disappointed. Because, at its heart, Carol is a love story, perhaps just not the kind we're used to seeing. And stuck between its two female leads is Harge Aird (Kyle Chandler), an of-his-era businessman struggling to keep his family intact. And though some may be tempted to dislike Aird—​one Facebook commenter, after seeing the picture below, wrote, "I hate him already"—​Chandler makes a compelling case for the guy who ultimately draws a wedge between Carol and Therese. "He went about it in certain ways—​the time period allowed him to do things that were a little different I suppose than he might do now​," Chandler says, his charcoal-and-blue eyes glinting. "The one thing that saved me, that usually saves me in roles, is truth. The truth, I think, is that he had a heart. He had love, and he wanted to protect it​." And then: ​"He's willing to accept certain things to keep his wife, to keep his child, and to keep his idea of the American Dream."​

Though much has been written about this groundedness—​the way Chandler's on-screen presence commands both respect and rapture—​less has been written about the actor's playful side. Several times throughout our 15-minute interview, which really isn't much time at all, he insists that Hollywood has no idea how funny he really is. "That's another thing you should write," he says. "I am hilarious." And little things, like the fact that he's drinking a lukewarm beer at 11:30 A.M. CT, wearing a neon friendship bracelet, and taking jabs at his character's unusual name—​"When I got the script, originally I had like seven different pronunciations," he says with a laugh—​suggest that, even when losing his cool as rankled John Rayburn on Netflix's Bloodline, Chandler is working hard to remain steadfastly composed. 

"That's another thing you should write," he says. "I am hilarious."
The coolheadedness we've all grown to expect from him might actually be a subconscious decision, after all. ​"Maybe growing up without a father"—​Chandler's beloved "pop" died of a heart attack when his youngest son was just 14—​"taught me how to be a father more so than I ever would have imagined," he says. "I do know that, on Friday Night Lights​ , I knew what the kids needed, because I didn't have it when I was a kid. So that could be very true that Coach Taylor was able to give people what they needed, whether they knew it or not, because I knew."

And despite what ​Bloodline​ cocreator Daniel Zelman once called his lead actor's "sense of certainty," the real Kyle Chandler—​goofy, casual, and a bit puckish—​is a little tired of playing such hedged-in characters. When I mention Coach Taylor's sometimes irksome perfection on ​Friday Night Lights​, Chandler perks up. "He was pretty perfect," he says, "and that was a pain in the ass. ... Coach Taylor didn't have a deviant dark side that we were ever going to see. You're not going to see him out at the bars pinching a girl's ass or something. That's a whole other show." One we'd like to watch, no doubt.

Kyle Chandler Knows How to Throw a Party

He may have played the shot-caller in Friday Night Lights, but Kyle Chandler is the first person to admit that it's the ladies of his life who have gotten him to where he is today, especially his wife, Kathryn.

"She told me, 'You're doing this," Chandler recounts talking about his upcoming movie Carol opposite Cate Blanchett. He had turned down the role at first, concerned about his abilities to keep up with acclaimed talents like Blanchett and director Todd Haynes. Of course, this is the same guy who initially turned down his Emmy-winning role as Coach Eric Taylor.

Kathryn's advice was sound, and Chandler triumphs in his scenes, playing a beleaguered husband in the 1950s who slowly comes to grasps with the fact that his wife, played by Blanchett, has lost feelings for him, and now is in love with a woman, played by Rooney Mara. The two women have already garnered attention for their performances, but it is Chandler's pivotal struggle that really takes the story home. Haynes has since gone to assert that he had difficultly seeing anyone else in the part, recently saying, "You have to cast a real man to play opposite Cate Blanchett."

Sipping an Amstel Light, waxing poetic about long motorcycle rides and paintball shootouts in his fleeting Texan drawl, there's no doubt that Chandler is a real man. He knows how to crack a joke, throw a party, and heed a good piece of advice when he hears it.

How did your wife finally convince you to take the role in Carol?
We bounce things back and forth. There have been a few times that I haven't listened to her. And in all of those cases, she was right and I was wrong.

And those cases were?
[Laughs] That doesn't matter. After 20 years I'm learning that she's got a pretty good read.

And you held your own against Blanchett.
We had done a day of a movie way back when with Terrence Malick. It was one of those projects where you walk on set and you don't know what's going to happen. Then you leave and you have no idea what just happened. On this film we got to really work together, and she's got this incredible presence. She's very powerful and intelligent. There's a lot going on in those eyes, and working with someone who's that smart is great because they can follow you wherever you're going.

You have to go to a pretty dark place in this. Are you able to shut it off when they yell cut, or do you stay in that mindset and wallow through the film?
I can't work like that. I'm the first one who's going to fuck around with the crewmembers or throw something at someone just to break it up. I can get back into it but I need that release. Or maybe that just means I'm unfocused. [laughs]

You've gotten into some very interesting roles — like The Spectacular Now, and Netflix's Bloodline. What set you on this course after Friday Night Lights?
I had this moment that really helped shape my career path a few years ago. I was having this great big dinner party back home in Texas. One of our family friends, a really nice lady, came up to me and said, "You play a lot of the same character. I'd like to see you do something different." I was like, "Oh. Thank you... I guess." She's just one of those ladies who just speaks her truth, and I respect her, so it got me thinking. Not long after that The Spectacular Now came to me. I read it and thought, "This guy is sort of the lynchpin of the whole film." If I screwed it up, I was going to screw it up for everyone. I knew I had to do it, because I was afraid of it.

A slight step up from Chandler's East Dillon polos. (The Weinstein Company)

Do you throw a lot of parties at your place in Texas?
I like to. I enjoy cooking for people. My family and I are pasture people. We like to get rocks and form a circle and do these big bonfire parties. Those are one of the great party requirements. Then when the fire is wrapping up, you go out to the pasture and play paintball. I have four semi-automatics.

What's your advice for throwing a great house party?
I like to be outside. No TVs or anything like that around. The grill should be going at all times. If you can, get some clams or some seafood and just throw them on there. The first big party I did I had some Maine lobsters, which I love, flown down. I have a place in Maine, the number is in my cell phone, and it shows up at your door no more than 48 hours after coming off the ocean floor.

Any games? Twister?
Yes, some Naked Twister goes down.

I'm not sure if I should believe you right now...
I also want you to know that I'm funny myself. That's going to be my next project: a big, fat comedy movie.

Who would you want to work with?
I'm pretty open. I'm waiting for the phone call. People don't know I'm funny. But I'm damn funny.

I believe you. You're cracking me up right now.
Talk about subtle humor? I'm all over it.

Seth Rogen is here in town for a couple projects.
Let him know that I'm funny.

What are you going to do with your free time until then?
I love motorcycles. That is one of my outs. I have a KLR 650. I want to do an Alaska trip, so I got the KTM 1290 SA, which is the new bike. I have about 1,700 miles on it so far. I like to drive. I like to hear the road. After a few minutes it turns into that hyperspace in Star Wars, where the real world disappears and connects with something else new. Like when you're on that second beer and it all just clicks.

'Carol' Red Carpet Movie Premiere Pics

Nov 18, 2015

Kyle Chandler, Future Comedian, Makes His 'Carol' Villain Human

Jordan Zakarin

Carol star Kyle Chandler is a far more relaxed a guy than you might expect, given the number of serious characters he’s played on screens both big and small over the last decade. The 50-year-old Georgia native made his name as the stern-but-sensitive Coach Taylor in the beloved football series Friday Night Lights, for which he won an Emmy in 2011. Since then, he’s played an array of law enforcement types in films like The Wolf of Wall Street, Argo, and Zero Dark Thirty. (He’s also currently starring on the Netflix drama series Bloodline.) Yahoo Movies recently sat down with Chandler at a hotel in New York, where he was playing against his screen image by joking and nursing an early beer, to talk about his new movie Carol.

In director Todd Haynes’ period romance (opening in select theaters Friday), Chandler plays Harge, the desperate and controlling husband of the title character (Cate Blanchett), a WASP-y housewife who falls for a younger woman named Therese (Rooney Mara) in 1950s New York. Based on the 1952 novel The Price of Salt by The Talented Mr. Ripley author Patricia Highsmith, Carol — which has been earning strong reviews since its Cannes premiere in May — follows the women’s fraught love affair as Harge rages about his disintegrating marriage. In the novel, he’s a paper-thin villain, but as Chandler explained, he worked hard to create a more human version who audiences rooting for Blanchett and Rooney’s characters could still understand.

The character in the novel is pretty thin. How did you create something more real for the movie? [Highsmith] is a great writer, but there wasn’t much. So of course I had to go off the script and fill in the lines in between. As I usually do, I create a backstory, and then I look at it and create an idea of what I wanted to do. You work with the director, and if it matches up, you’re in good shape.

Harge is definitely more sympathetic than he is in the book — even if he’s blackmailing his wife and trying to take full custody of their daughter.
This was a hard part, because if I came to the set to play it straight up — a stereotypical guy who says, “I’m pissed off, my wife wants another woman, you’re destroying the house, f— you” — that probably would have been a problem once I got there, because Todd had other ideas.

But it’s not very realistic, either. Because there’s a relationship — when [Harge and Carol] got married, they were in love. Also, in my mind, at some point, Harge had an idea that something was going on, before there were any other women. And Harge might have put on blinders at the beginning — he might not have done anything about it, because he didn’t want to destroy his world.

And then finally, it’s too much because it’s out in the open: There’s this young lady, and his wife is pulling away at that point. That’s where he starts going toward the point of, “What can I do to stop this from happening?” He doesn’t become violent, per se, but I think there’s always that chance that he could.
His heart is broken, he’s losing his family, he’s losing his child, he’s losing the woman he loves. But what can he do? The woman does not love him anymore.

It’s also the early ‘50s, so maybe he didn’t totally get it.
I didn’t think that. The script does lay it out. It is out there. And that’s what led me to the idea that in some way, Harge is letting this go — he’s able to let parts of this exist in his world, and still function if he can keep it together. I also think Harge, since it’s the ‘50s, he might have been overseas. I wrote [in my backstory notes] that he was in the war. And whatever he saw there, it also allows [him] to see everything in a different light. And I think that was part of his world. It gave him a different lens than other people might have.

You’re good at playing the conflicted patriarch. Was there anyone you knew you were basing your Carol character on?No. Harge was everything a man’s man was supposed to be during that time period. The interesting thing about Harge is he’s got this secret, and I think it’s just different from what you would imagine.

Since Friday Night Lights, people seem to cast you as an authority figure.
The last many years of my career, people have come to me, and they’ve said, 'Hey do you want to be a part of this?’ The ones I say yes to, they’ve turned out to be [authority figures]. There’s no rhyme or reason. I guess after one, people say, “Oh, he’s the guy in the suit.” For some reason, people see me as an authority figure — that I have a gravitas, which my friends might dispute.

The thing people don’t know about me is that I’m funny. My next project is going to be a comedy. It’s going to be one of the funniest comedies you’ve ever seen.

Really? What is it?I don’t know, because nobody’s called yet. But I’m dropping this. I’m letting everyone know I’m funny.

In the past, did you do comedy theater? Or do you just want to give it a try?
No, it’s just that the fact is: I’m funny.

So which comedians would you want to work with?I like dark, smart comedy. I even like situational comedy when it’s done right. But I’d like it to be honest.

What’s your favorite comedy?I wouldn’t want to say, because it wouldn’t be fair in the sense that people would go, “Man, that movie’s 40 years old!” I can’t explain it, but when you get out a camera, and you’re working with other people, and the writing presents a situation that has the opportunity for humor, there’s so much you can do in front of the camera to manipulate what the audience is sensing. I know it’s hard to explain, but people need to know that I’m funny out there.

You should start a Twitter or Vine account to get it out there.
I should. Or rent a plane and fly it over the city — get it out there. I am funny, man!

Nov 17, 2015

Why Kyle Chandler Stands Out in a Sea of Hollywood Hotties

The next time you can see Kyle Chandler on screen—yes, the man forever in our hearts as Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights—is Friday, Nov. 20, when he stars in the '50s period drama, Carol. He has a pivotal role in the film playing Harge, the husband to Cate Blanchett’s Carol. As her spouse, he is upset to find out that she’s been cheating him, and with a woman at that.

Turns out, casting his part proved a challenge for director Todd Haynes, who is known for his work on Mildred Pierce and Far from Heaven. “Casting a man to play opposite Cate Blanchett is not an obvious task,” Haynes said during a press conference for the film in New York City. “A lot of male actors today are kind of grown-up boys. They wear their baseball caps. You need to have a real grown-up opposite Cate.”
Courtesy of The Weinstein Company
And that’s what they found in Chandler. “I think you get what I mean,” Haynes continued, which caused Chandler to blush as he sat next to the director. But the answer was a resounding yes. He doesn't hit the streets in baseball caps but rather button-downs, sweaters, and perfectly tailored suits. So, yes, we do get it Mr. Haynes—he’s quite the man indeed.

Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Sarah Paulson, Todd Haynes, Jake Lacy, Phyllis Nagy Talk ‘Carol’

Posted by: Melanie Votaw

The cast of "Carol," along with director Todd Haynes and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, gather in New York for a press conference | Getty Images Photo
The cast of “Carol,” along with director Todd Haynes and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, gather in New York for a press conference | Getty Images Photo

Director Todd Haynes, screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, and cast members of “Carol” gathered for a press conference in New York on Nov. 16, 2015. Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Sarah Paulson, and Jake Lacy talked about their roles in the film, which is about a same-sex romance in the 1950’s.
Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, “The Price of Salt,” the movie is an unusual portrait of women in love with each other at a time when no one talked about such things. Read my review of the film from the New York Film Festival last month. “Carol” opens in theaters this weekend.

Cate plays the title character, Carol, while Rooney plays her love interest, Therese. Kyle plays Carol’s husband, Harge, and Sarah plays Carol’s ex-lover, Abby. Jake plays Therese’s fiance.

Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photos at the press conference, but we were given permission to use Getty Images of the event. Cate wore a jumpsuit with high-waisted black pants and a white top. Rooney has a small, delicate face that reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. Sarah wore her hair a la her character in “American Horror Story.” Kyle and Jake looked very handsome, as did director Todd Haynes (who directed one of my favorite films of all time, “Velvet Goldmine.”)

Kyle Chandler and Cate Blanchett in "Carol"
Kyle Chandler and Cate Blanchett in “Carol”

Below are highlights from the question and answer session:

Todd Haynes on what attracted him to the film:
I really was taking it on as if for the first time looking at the love story, something that I felt I hadn’t really ever accomplished directly in my other films. And that really began in reading “The Price of Salt,” Patricia Highsmith’s beautiful novel and the gorgeous adaptation of Phyllis’ script that first came to me with Cate attached. So, it was quite a bundle of incentives when it first landed with me in 2013.

But unlike war, which is about conquering the object, love stories are about conquering the subject. So, it’s always the subject who’s in a state of vulnerability and peril at some level. And through much of “Carol,” that is the character of Therese, who occupies a much less powerful position in the world than Carol, is younger, is more open, is sort of experiencing this woman with the freshness that is different from Carol’s life and experience. But what I loved about the story was how what happened to the two women really moves them through a series of events which change them both.

Phyllis Nagy on keeping the film very much of its time period in the 1950’s:
That was one of the things that I was intent on doing – to not overlay a contemporary psychology on any of the characters. When you overlay any kind of a psychology and overview, an ethos, you’re judging those characters immediately, and it seemed very important for all the nuances of the relationships among the central quartet that you don’t do that.

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara at the New York press conference for "Carol" | Getty Images Photo
Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara at the New York press conference for “Carol” | Getty Images Photo

Cate Blanchett on the character of Carol:
I think Carol’s a deeply private person whose sexuality in relationship to herself is not unsettled or ambiguous, but she lives in a quiet hell because she’s not able to fully express herself….

She has not been in a loveless marriage. I think that the complicated thing for Carol – and being confronted by Therese at the time in her life that it is – is that she’s got an enormous amount to lose. She’s found a sort of an unhappy balance (if you can find an unhappy balance with Kyle Chandler; it’s very difficult [laughter]) with Harge because of her love for her daughter. So, she’s risking a lot.

There was a beautiful line that Phyllis wrote describing Therese as being flung out of space. But I also think Carol’s describing that situation of being in uncharted territory, free-floating, as you do when you fall in love with anyone for the first time. You feel like you’ve never been here before. You’re being confronted with questions, confronted with sides of yourself.

Kyle Chandler and Cate Blanchett at the New York press conference for "Carol" | Getty Images Photo
Kyle Chandler and Cate Blanchett at the New York press conference for “Carol” | Getty Images Photo

Kyle Chandler on the character of Harge:
At some point, I realized that it could be a stereotypical character very easily, and portray what you would imagine of a guy from the 50’s under these circumstances….

The worst possible moment in a man’s life, or a woman, and they’re in love is when they realize they’re not in love anymore. And this character never realized he wasn’t in love anymore. He was always in love, and he was intensely in love. And he also had this little child – not just his wife, not just his child, but his family unit. So important to him and so important, to say nothing of his social status.

Todd Haynes on the character of Harge:
The interesting thing about Kyle’s character, Harge, is that we are introduced to Harge at an uncustomary period in his life as a character. One presumes that Harge has always pretty much taken Carol for granted most of their life. But when the film begins, he’s already reevaluated her value in his life, and the way he’s inviting her out and wanting to spend time with her and share time with her seems to be a new project, a new regimen.

Sarah Paulson and Jake Lacy at the New York press conference for "Carol" | Getty Images Photo
Sarah Paulson and Jake Lacy at the New York press conference for “Carol” | Getty Images Photo

Sarah Paulson on how she approached the character of Abby:
I really just tried to think about friendship and selflessness and kind of unwavering loyalty because I think Abby still has feelings for Carol. And I think it’s a challenging thing – I wonder what I personally would do if somebody I loved and still had feelings for … if I was called upon to come in and rescue the person that she currently loves. I don’t know.

It was, to me, a testament to her [Abby’s] friendship and her love, and I think the desire to be around Carol and Carol’s orbit no matter what. I think Abby’s sense of society – I don’t mean literal society, but her community, her friendships – they were probably quite narrow at that time. So, to lose something like that would be … the consequences of that would be too enormous.

Jake Lacy on the character of Richard:
I think Todd and I spoke when we first met about the idea for Richard that the world is there to take. He’s young, he’s in New York, he’s first generation American, he’s smart, he’s handsome, he has a job, he’s got a girl – the world is his for the taking, and yet, it slips away from him. And it’s sort of without knowing it, and thank God that it does because he’s 15 or 10 years earlier than Carol and Harge….

I think for all these characters, I think for Richard in particular, there’s a complete lack of vocabulary, a complete loss for how to describe this or experience it. He’s searching for someone to put a label on what this problem is, and even Therese is unable to define it for him as she’s going through it. And that speaks to Richard, I think, and to the time that they’re living in.

Todd Haynes and Phyllis Nagy at the New York press conference for "Carol" | Getty Images Photo
Todd Haynes and Phyllis Nagy at the New York press conference for “Carol” | Getty Images Photo

Phyllis Nagy knew Patricia Highsmith in the later years of her life, so what follows is a short discussion about Highsmith’s opinion of film versions of her novels:

Phyllis: She didn’t like many of the film adaptations of her work. She couldn’t stand them, especially “Strangers on a Train.”

Cate: Oh! What does she know?

Phyllis: From her perspective, the guys trade murders in that book, and the film, of course they don’t. And it was one of the first arguments we had when I said, “Oooh, I love ‘Strangers on a Train.'” She said, “Hmmm… really?” with disgust!

But she liked aspects of the films. Robert Walker she loved… So, I hope that she would find this entire enterprise extremely attractive. I think she would. I think we are all of us not betraying the intent and the tone of her work, which really, I think, is the only thing that you can do – to be reverent to a source material.

Everything else is up for grabs.

Cate Blanchett on wearing 1950’s girdles during filming:
There was a scene where Rooney was playing the piano, Therese was playing the piano, and I found this position on the floor. And I thought, “I have to be graceful,” and I rehearsed a lot so I could get up in one movement in a girdle, which was difficult.

Melanie Votaw

Melanie Votaw is a New York City-based freelance writer and the author of 15 non-fiction books. She’s a former actress/singer/dancer who started performing at age 4 and now loves to write about film, TV, and theater. Visit her Web site, Rule the Word, and follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Melanie Votaw has written posts on Reel Life With Jane.

Kyle Chandler talks 'Carol' on Live! with Kelly and Michael

Nov 16, 2015

Nov 12, 2015

The Best High-School Show of the Past 30 Years, Round Two: Beverly Hills, 90210 vs. Friday Night Lights

Photo-Illustration: Vulture
From late October through mid-November, Vulture is holding a High-School-TV Showdown to determine the greatest teen show of the past 30 years. Each day, a different writer will be tasked with determining the winner of a round of the bracket, until New York Magazine TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz judges the finals on November 13. Today's battle: Linda Holmes judges Beverly Hills, 90210 versus Friday Night Lights. After you read, be sure to visit Vulture's Facebook page to vote on which show should advance.

At first glance, Beverly Hills, 90210 seems to have brought a knife to a gunfight here, only the knife is acid-wash overalls with one strap fastened. You must figure you know how a mismatch of this magnitude is going to end, but hey — maybe the underdog can at least make it interesting. Don't head for the parking lot just yet. Perhaps 90210 is, in an ironic twist, the Matt Saracen of this bracket.

Friday Night Lights, adapted from the Buzz Bissinger book and the Peter Berg film about high-school football in Texas, is one of only a few broadcast-network shows that pops up in most discussions of the so-called modern Golden Age of Television. It's also one of the few in that category that relies so heavily on humanity rather than inhumanity as its driver of dramatic tension, and on a stable marriage of adults as the page on which it writes knee-weakening poetry about romantic love.

Beverly Hills, 90210, on the other hand, once devised a plot that required Shannen Doherty to make advances upon a young Dean Cain using a French accent so terr-eee-bull that to call it cartoonish would rightly draw indignant objections from Pepé Le Actual Pew.

Were this a Best Overall Show bracket, the pants-down spanking that Texas would deliver unto California here would be a clear case of a Division I team being sent out to face a non-conference clown college. A Division III clown college. A Division III clown college in the middle of five years of probation. But it's not: It's a Best High-School Show bracket. And it's pretty easy to argue for 90210 as a high-school show, precisely because it's so stupid and so fake. Because you know what high school is a certain amount of the time? It's so stupid. It's so fake.

The way to appreciate 90210 a couple of decades later is with a grain of salt and a gallon of ironic distance, which makes it a lot like high school. Friday Night Lights isn't like that; it earnestly wants your soul. It will still earnestly want your soul someday when it is a nostalgia property. That comes from who the kids are: Despite their realistically foolish mistakes, the high-school students of Friday Night Lights have the depth and insight to cast crisp shadows of the adults they'll be in a handful of years. You can often look at them as adults, as an adult yourself, and close the gap between them and you without an eye-roll.

The dum-dums of Beverly Hills, 90210, on the other hand, capture the narcissistic naïveté of a young life of privilege in a way best described as "face-scrunchingly gross but maybe not entirely unfair." They are suspended — in their own way, believably so — in the absurd moment when you believe that you'll have the same friends forever, the same crushes forever, the same stricken looks on your faces forever, and the same absolute confidence that you know everything forever. It's not only that the gang of West Beverly has the specific drama of adolescence; they have the lack of self-awareness and absent perspective that marks that time for a lot of kids who are lucky enough not to have, for the most part, real problems. High-school students as pure of heart as Matt Saracen are hard to find, but in many parts of the world, you can't fluff your man-bangs without hitting teenagers who are as puffed-up with the newfound desire to be good-doers, not to mention as limited by the absolute confidence of the blinkered egomaniac, as Brandon Walsh.

There's something real and almost adorable about how awful they are, how unformed they are. There's something believable about their entitlement and their obsession with their interpersonal foofaraws. The banality of their lives, in the absence of enough things of consequence to concentrate on, has an unintended bite of truth. They're meant to be believably sympathetic, but when I look at them now, what they are is believably wretched — if I may use wretched to mean "a long way from grown."

This is one of the things that makes real high-school reunions so weird and so great: You go back and you realize how surprised you are to see these same people as normals — they have kids now, they have jobs, they exchange pleasantries. They're not boring; they're just not in high school. It is a miraculous evolution. A Beverly Hills, 90210 reunion movie where it turned out that Brandon has learned to admit when he's wrong, Dylan has bought some grown-up pants, and Brenda just sent her kid to the University of Minnesota and is really trying to read more novels? That wouldn't be a very exciting reunion movie, but it would be warmly true to life.

Also weighing against what might be the expected outcome is that much of the beauty of Friday Night Lights didn't live in its high-school stories at all, making some of its strengths inadmissible on the grounds of relevance. Eric and Tami Taylor may have had one of the most significant and beautifully realized marriages in the history of television, but does that make it a great high-school show? Much of its heft, too, depended on the tense relationship between Eric and the town of Dillon, Texas: its mistreatment of him, its manipulation of him, its single-minded belief that he was and always would be only as good as his last win — but that's not a high-school story either. Friday Night Lights is a specifically adult story, in many cases, about the sacrifices people make in light of individual passions and ambitions that, in fact, do survive the bonds of marriage and the births of children. It's often a beautiful meditation on the opportunities lost and traded and mourned by adults as they pass into middle age. All that doesn't necessarily count here.

90210, on the other hand, was handcuffed to its to high-school underpinnings, even after it went to college (although I admit that with both shows, I base my position primarily on the first three seasons or so, as this is when both were most purely themselves, and when I watched them most faithfully). It wasn't just the way a wailing electric guitar could obscure the fact that Brenda and Dylan fighting actually wasn't a matter of life and death, and it wasn't just the way virginity and grades and Hard Lessons About Life had a significance they could never have for people with jobs. It was the way that all of life seemed to be in one place: school.

All the conflict, all the promise, all the disaster, it all somehow arose out of school and the people Brenda and Brandon knew there. West Beverly may not have actually been a hellmouth, but it certainly sucked up all the oxygen.

So, maybe, against all odds, we have to consider the possibility that —

Kidding, kidding, there is no contest. COME ON. Look, Friday Night Lights stumbled from time to time with its sudden swerve to murder and its emotionally undercooked love interests. But its first season in particular is a nearly flawless sequence, beginning with a deceptively slack pilot that suddenly tightens into what easily could have been the most clichéd opener in history. Somehow, though, it matures into a slow-rolling tour through the interior lives of not just the most obviously well-served characters, like Eric and Tami, but surprising late bloomers, like Lyla Garrity, who turned out to have more going on than it might have seemed. The echoing uses of "Devil Town" early and late in the season are among the finest musical decisions TV has ever made. Matt Saracen alone is a better character than everyone who was ever on 90210 and Melrose Place and Models Inc. (bet you forgot that part of the 90210-verse) put together. That its adult characters were its most compelling doesn't change the fact that it often drew remarkable portraits of teenagers.

Everything worked that maybe shouldn't have: the unlikely passes that were caught, the heroic QB felled by an injury, the shy new star in love with the coach's daughter. It was a show that was smart about race, smart about sex, smart about love, smart about athletes, smart about parents and kids. It was funny and surprising, it was disappointing, then thrilling, it was precious in ways that felt earned but totally ephemeral — and those things, too, are high school.

And while 90210 never figured out how to be a post-high-school show — it took the easy way out by following its characters to their uproariously implausible intact transplantation to California University — Friday Night Lights let its kids graduate. It let them leave, in some cases; it let the pleasure of knowing them mix with the bittersweet act of letting go of them, which every great teacher experiences. Not every new character worked, but a locker-room scene in the fourth-season premiere, "East of Dillon," beautifully scored to Sufjan Stevens's recording of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," involved few of Coach's original players but was one of the most devastating, resonant sequences the show ever aired. FNL lived with and survived some of the realities of high school that 90210 didn't: its impermanence, and the good-byes that hang over it always.

What 90210 aspired to be at best was a populist, diverting, sometimes stiffly edifying lark, and God knows you need a certain number of those in order to enjoy life, as far as I'm concerned. (The "stiffly edifying" part was the part that was supposed to be classy, thus the special one-off episodes on AIDS and racism and people with disabilities. This was what it meant to sprinkle a show with quality as one might sprinkle a sundae with ... sprinkles.) Like its main characters, 90210 asked for a bent, adolescent kind of love — which is to say a love that feels good, means little, doesn't really hold up to scrutiny, but decays into something rueful and dear. It aspired to watchability and rewatchability, to a soapy addictiveness that it very successfully achieved.

It was made to be social in living rooms and dorm rooms, to be like Scandal, except before Twitter.

What Friday Night Lights aspired to be, on the other hand, was a creative work of the best-possible quality that spoke truth while being hugely entertaining, wildly romantic, and all the other things you might ask a piece of fiction to be. Friday Night Lights had "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose"; 90210 had "Don't be a squeef."

It's funny — Dawson's Creek, the first show that got booted out of this bracket, is the exact midpoint between these shows temporally, in that it kicked off in 1998, eight years after the premiere of 90210 and eight years before the premiere of FNL. It's kind of the exact midpoint between them aspirationally, too. It came along at a time in the mid-to-late '90s when there was a little burst of experimentation with higher-class teen serials: shows that wanted respect while still inviting obsessive shippers and popcorn-munchers. (My So-Called Life is a little too much a family drama to lump in here, but think of Buffy, Party of 5, Freaks & Geeks, and so forth.)

90210 came before all that. FNL came after. The game changed in the 16 years between their respective pilots; what was being asked of television was different. This is not a fair fight — it's 100 horse-size horses against one duck-size duck. "Can't lose," indeed.


Linda Holmes is the editor of NPR's entertainment blog, Monkey See, and the host of the "Pop Culture Happy Hour" podcast.

Nov 4, 2015

7 Films to See This Month

From Todd Haynes' buzzy new film about a lesbian romance in the 1950s to a spine-tingling thriller out of Ireland, here are the seven movies you shouldn't miss this month.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 11.35.54 AM.pngCarol
Another milestone in the brilliant career of director Todd Haynes. Rooney Mara plays an aspiring photographer in 1950s New York who, while working in a department store, meets a beautiful, wealthy, mysterious older woman Carol (Cate Blanchett) buying a Christmas present for her daughter. They enter into a flirtatious friendship, while Carol battles her ex-husband (Kyle Chandler) who is threatening to use a "morality clause" to retain full custody of their daughter. The (always) wonderful Sarah Paulson plays Carol's dearest friend who once had a dalliance with her. This spellbinding masterpiece is one of lush romanticism without one drop of cheap melodrama or false sentimentality. That's in part to the whip-smart screenplay by Phyllis Nagy (based on a Patricia Highsmith novel), the gorgeous score by Carter Burwell, sumptuous and evocative costumes by Sandy Powell and dreamy cinematography by Ed Lachman. The sublime Cate Blanchett shows the fragility and passion behind the composed classy exterior and Rooney Mara is a revelation, not to mention having the screen beauty of a young Audrey Hepburn.

To see the other six, go to:

Oct 24, 2015

Islamorada getting into filming of Netflix show ‘Bloodline’

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