‘Life After Beth’ Director Jeff Baena On Film’s Dreamlike Visuals

 

Life After Beth has been part of director Jeff Baena’s creative world for well over a decade. He penned the script back in 2003, and with a bit of luck and determination, the film is finally a reality with what the filmmaker describes as his “dream cast.”

The ensemble includes Aubrey Plaza playing Beth, a young lady who’s killed by a zombie during a hike, leaving her family (Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly) and neurotic boyfriend (Dane DeHaan) distraught beyond belief. When Beth comes back into their world as a card carrying member of the undead, they surprisingly welcome her with open arms.

Dane DeHaan & Aubrey Plaza in Life After Beth (A24 Films)
Dane DeHaan & Aubrey Plaza in Life After Beth (A24 Films)

Plaza was the first actor on board Life After Beth, and DeHaan’s casting literally originated from a friendly card game.

“I met Dane at my house playing poker one night,” said Baena, who co-wrote the screenplay for I Heart Huckabees. “I’d knew, in addition to his unbelievable dramatic work, that he’s kind of a silly guy and has a really good sense of humor, and he hasn’t really had an opportunity to show that. Even though he’s the straight man in the movie, he has such a sensitivity to that humor and is such an amazing actor, his reactions are real and they’re also funny at the same time.”

Baena and cinematographer Jay Hunter shot Life After Beth with Arri Alexa cameras, but to give the movie a more dreamlike feel, Kodak gray cards and film elements were also mixed in. I’m not a tech or photography guy, so to fully understand the process, listen to Baena’s explanation below:

Now available on DirecTV, Life After Beth opens in New York and Los Angeles on August 15.

Dane DeHaan Brings ‘Life’ To James Dean With Upcoming Film

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (Photo Credit:  Olivier Vigerie)

Today in Los Angeles,  Dane DeHaan sat down with reporters to talk about his latest film Life After Beth, a project that’s now available on DirecTV and opens in limited release August 15. A romantic comedy/zombie hybrid, Life After Beth centers on Zach (Dane DeHaan), a lovelorn young man who is heartbroken over the death of his girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza). When Beth digs herself out of the grave and returns back to her parents (Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly), Zach is more than happy to see her – even if she’s a zombie.

I’ll be posting much more material on Life After Beth in the coming days, but for now I wanted to share DeHaan’s recent comments on Life, a movie which has him playing James Dean, with Robert Pattinson starring as photographer Dennis Stock. A Most Wanted Man filmmaker Anton Corbijn is the man behind the camera, and the project is slated for release next year.

Below is a full transcription of DeHaan’s comments on Life:

***plot summary

“Well, the movie’s called Life and Anton Corbijn is directing it. It’s about two weeks of James Dean’s life right before East of Eden comes out. And Dennis Stock played by Robert Pattinson gets permission from Life magazine to do the first ever photo essay of James Dean and they go back from L.A. to New York and then from New York back to James Dean’s hometown (Fairmount, Indiana). Some of the most iconic images of James Dean. Images of him from Times Square, the images of him with the cattle. Just a lot of the ones that make him look the most human – because in a lot of ways he was. He wasn’t famous yet.”

***on the themes of Life:

“It’s about a lot of things. The photographer’s journey and the influence James Dean has on him and what it means to be a professional but also to still have a place that you want to call home. It’s a pretty deep exploration of a movie.”

***on preparing for the film:

“I had tons of time for that. I had probably four months to prepare. I was about 20 pounds heavier at the time and it was great to have that much time. It was a real luxury to be able to prepare, to read as much as I could. He’s my favorite actor and I was really. . . I didn’t know if I wanted to do that movie at first but when I decided to do it, it was something I wanted to make sure I had a lot of time to prepare and honor as much as I could.”

To hear the edited audio comments from Dane DeHaan, click on the SoundCloud bar below (Aubrey Plaza is also heard in the clip):

The trailer for Life After Beth is below:

Blu-ray Review: ‘Kill Your Darlings’ Explores Allen Ginsberg’s Well Spent Youth

Kill Your Darlings (Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan)Now out on Blu-ray and DVD,  “Kill Your Darlings” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 103 minutes) focuses on Allen Ginsberg’s (Daniel Radcliffe) close bond with fellow Columbia student Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). Carr’s innate charisma enables him to start a new literary movement among his peers, which include William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (“Boardwalk Empire’s” Jack Huston). Michael C. Hall is David Kammerer, a man who becomes jealous of Carr’s newfound friendship with Ginsberg.

The picture, a labor of love from writer/director John Krokidas, is not a by the numbers retelling of how the Beat Generation’s most famous scribes changed the world. Instead, the narrative focuses on Ginsberg’s attempts to challenge his own belief systems, even if it changes his own approach to his vocation. Whether it’s questioning a professor in class by defending Walt Whitman, or even discovering Carr’s fickle approach to writing, Ginsberg’s decision to sacrifice a few of his own “darlings” will eventually give his own words a deeper level of resonance.

Even on a miniscule budget, Krokidas manages to evoke the spirit of a 1940s New Y0rk while also delving into the complicated friendship between Ginsberg and Carr. With Kammerer’s killing at the hands of Carr“Kill Your Darlings” could also have creatively drowned as a one-dimensional, somber tragedy.

Though Kammerer’s death is indeed pivotal to the friends’ eventual parting of ways, “Kill Your Darlings” mainly explores the themes that its moniker suggests. If one must push forth and progress, an individual must leave a few cherished loved ones behind.

Kill Your Darlings (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Kill Your Darlings (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Special features on the Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack include:

  • “On the Red Carpet at the Toronto Film Festival”
  • Commentary with Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, John Krokidas and Austin Burns (co-writer)
  • “In Conversation with Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan” (this is a six minute talk during a screening of the film, with a moderator conducting the chat)
  • Q&A with Director/Co-writer John Krokidas and Austin Burns
  • Deleted Scenes

The deleted scenes are a total must if you’re a fan of “Kill Your Darlings,” since it gives more screen time to Jack Kerouac and his first wife Edie Parker (Elizabeth Olsen). There is also a congenial goodbye sequence between Kerouac and Ginsberg which is also worth checking out. Ginsberg’s homophobic roommate Luke (Zach Appelman), an understandable afterthought in the theatrical cut, is given two scenes in the movie. The sequences deal with Luke’s discovery of Ginsberg’s sexuality and his eventual bullying of his roommate.

During the press conference for “Kill Your Darlings,” Daniel Radcliffe talked about the joy of doing acting improvisation during the production of the film. It was a first for the actor, and click on the bar below to hear Radcliffe discuss the experience: