Tag Archives: Isabelle McNally

The Song of Sway Lake

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Relationships between family members can sometimes be complicated. Add death to the mix and things can turn dark and almost unbearable. In the new film The Song of Sway Lake, we get a wild mix of not only a life lost but of troubled souls struggling to make sense of their lives and forming new yet awkward bonds. This is a smaller movie than most but it has a wide scope and deals with a myriad of important issues. The location is gorgeous, the acting top notch, and the direction really quite special. The film recently screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival, earning high praise from those who were fortunate enough to view it.

Sway Lake focuses on two young men: Ollie Sway (Rory Culkin) and Nikolai (Robert Sheehan). Ollie’s father has committed suicide and as an act of anger, Ollie plans to steal a vintage 78 record from his wealthy grandmother Charlie Sway (Mary Beth Peil), who resides in a house on, you guessed it, Sway Lake. During the heist, Charlie shows up and over the course of a few days, the three form a special connection, especially free spirited Nikolai who develops romantic feelings for Charlie.

A human drama, through and through, Sway Lake is filled with colorful characters and interesting plot points. The performances by the three leads are great and Ari Gold’s (Adventures of Power, Helicopter) direction is a thing of absolute beauty. Rory Culkin (Signs, Mean Creek) leads the cast and shows that he is more than just Macaulay Culkin’s kid brother. The man actually has acting chops. The same can be said for Robert Sheehan (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The Road Within) who really steals the show as a carefree Russian who eventually falls for Charlie. Tony-nominated actress Mary Beth Peil adds a touch of class to the proceedings as Ollie’s well-to-do and graceful grandmother who looks back on her husband Hal (voiced by Brian Dennehy) who is sadly out of the picture.

Filmed in upstate New York, the setting of Sway Lake is as much a character in the film as the people in it. The lake is calm and quiet and perfect for driving boats, going for the occasional swim, and even striking up a romance. During the course of the film, Ollie meets Isadora (Isabelle McNally), a young lady who lives in the area and together, their adorable courtship makes for some really endearing cinema. There is even a great yet understated performance from Charlie’s housekeeper Marlena, played by the late Elizabeth Peña. Though they are supporting characters, they leave a significant impact on the film.

Last but not least is the music in Sway Lake which is without a doubt one of the film’s best features. Singer-songwriter John Grant provides some awesomely authentic vocals, transporting the audience to the 1930s. There is an almost timeless quality about the film and for this reason, viewers are in for a real treat. All of the pieces of the production work in concert, putting together a picture that is not only beautiful to look at but is a pleasure to listen to. The Song of Sway Lake is not just a good film, it’s a moving experience that must be taken in, digested, and remembered fondly just like Charlie remembers her beloved Hal.

Interview with the Cast and Director of ‘Loitering with Intent’

The new independent dramedy Loitering with Intent focuses on two friends (Ivan Martin and Michael Godere), who are tasked with writing a screenplay in just 10 days. During their writing period, they are met with distractions, from an old flame (Marisa Tomei), a potential new flame (Isabelle McNally), and slightly unstable individuals (Sam Rockwell and Brian Geraghty). I recently had the amazing opportunity to interview Marisa Tomei, Sam Rockwell, Ivan Martin, Michael Godere, and director Adam Rapp. It was a lovely discussion as the stars and director spoke about the film’s origins and the different themes explored. Ms. Tomei and Mr. Rockwell also spoke about their favorite roles from the past and potential future projects. All in all, it was a truly wonderful interview. Loitering With Intent will be released January 16, 2015.

Love the movie, saw it twice.

Sam Rockwell: Wow, nice!

How did it come about originally?

Marisa Tomei: These two creators!

Ivan Martin: We were largely unemployed, and we love the movies-

Tomei: Actors.

Martin: Actors, yeah, and we had worked writing together on a previous film Daylight where we wrote some scenes, and we liked that process and we felt we should, we wanted to do something in our free time. And we started batting around ideas. The Stallone film?

Martin: What’s that?

Michael Godere: Incidentally, there is another movie that just came out called Daylight.

Tomei: And that’s a Stallone movie?

Godere: There’s a Stallone movie from the 90s, there’s our movie Daylight, and then there’s a new movie Daylight by David Barker. It’s really kind of a nice film, but yes… We act in it too, so it’s the same type of thing where we wrote and acted in the movie.

Martin: We worked on it. These guys were in our head. Michael is great, he’d do everybody’s voices, so we were very nervous, but after a year, we had a draft and we brought it to this one over here and she liked it and that got the ball rolling. When she threw her hat into the ring, people started answering their phones. So then we were finally able to get Sam to pick up the phone because he’s a tough one to get a hold of.

Tomei: He’s kidding, we’re all really good friends.

Martin: Only a little kidding, these guys are busy.

Tomei: Only a little kidding!

Martin: No favors!

Godere: Hey, we were really nervous about it. We wrote these parts, but there was no guarantee they were going to do it, and we really wanted them to want to do it.

Tomei: And that is the case. Like I was saying, there’s no favor as it was.

Rockwell: No, they wrote us good parts.

The film has such a natural feel to it. Was there a lot of improv on the set?

Rockwell: Not really. A little bit, not really.

Tomei: There was improv before to kind of shape the scenes from what they had written and just kind of get more of it in our mouths, so we did that with Adam a lot.

Martin: We workshopped it.

Adam Rapp: You know, what’s interesting too is the one scene that we rehearsed when we were all there on set together that-we rehearse and we improv and we want to keep it loose, and they kept it loose and it was great-was the fire pit scene. Ultimately, when you cut it together, it actually came back to what the script was. And that scene took weeks to cut correctly, and we finally got it down to what the essentials were and what was most important. It’s funny how that is when you approach it radically, like we’re going to keep it loose. Hit these big points, but we’re going to keep it loose, and you come back to the editing room and it goes back to what it was.

About that fire pit scene, that was the most emotional scene in the movie. What was it like filming that?

Rapp: Well, it was 45 degrees, freezing, and I’ve got to hand it to them, it was a lot of hours of sitting in the dark and the cold night air, and you know, these guys have really intense moments together. They really have intense moments together. They kind of find their reconciliation in some way in that scene, and they just kept hitting it. We just kept shooting it and shooting it, and we had dollies going and two cameras, and we were able to, there was not one take that was not usable. It was sort of a lot of intense, I think it was towards the end of Sam’s tenure on the phone, right? That was the last night maybe?

Rockwell: Yeah, the scene with me, Marisa, and the tree, you mean?

Rapp: Yeah, I guess it was one of your last nights, the fire pit scene.

Rockwell: Yeah, maybe, yeah.

Rapp: There was a sense of, that we had to get it done, and so the stakes were high.

Rockwell: That’s right. The toast was the last shot.

Martin: These are consummate professionals. We would take a cue from them. They know how to conserve energy, they’re beautiful, I would only need to look into this one’s eyes and have what I needed, and this guy wouldn’t stop harassing me.

All: (Laughs)

Martin: It was happening!

Rapp: And to, just to say this, we did that thing where he stands up and delivers and confesses his love for Marisa’s character, we did that four or five times, and every single time, we could have used each one. We wound up landing on the take because, we used the take-they were all equally good-but we used the take because it had nicer lights behind it or something.

Rockwell: Yeah, you banged it out in the rehearsal.

Martin: And these guys, you know, I love that scene also because what’s happening between our characters but also what’s happening between them when somebody, an outsider, speaks that way, and I thought it was really beautifully performed by these guys.

It was just so raw, so genuine.

Martin: But that’s who they are, raw, baby.

So friendship and togetherness is obviously a theme in the movie. Was there a lot of socializing outside the set?

Rapp: Yeah.

Tomei: For years! Decades! We’ve been rehearsing that kind of comradery for decades!

All: (Laughs)

Godere: Part of that was a big influence, honestly. We all know each other and we hang out and there’s something, you know, there’s, you know, the obvious thing, the appreciation that one has for having such a beautiful sort of tribe of friends and family, but then the stuff that we kind of dig and find funny and find inspiring about each other. And that was something that Ivan and I were constantly stirring, particularly with Marisa’s character with Sam. So that kind of joy and support and, you know, the stuff that you lean on them for and the stuff you learn from them and how you grow as a person, so that was a fuel for this movie, so it certainly is a theme.

Martin: And then there was socializing at Polachi’s, the little motel-hotel where we stayed up there.

Tomei: We all stayed in one place in the Catskills.

Martin: Everybody. We were all together, it was great.

Tomei: Actually a summer camp. It’s a camp, like a resort for families. It’s been there since the 40s. So this was off-season, so we got to take over the whole place.

Rockwell: And stumbling bicycle distance was a store called Beer World.

All: (Laughs)

Martin: Really fun at that place!

Rockwell: It was great beer.

Do you guys plan on working together again in the future?

Martin: Absolutely… Not.

All: (Laughs)

Martin: Oh yeah.

Tomei: Never again!

Godere: We definitely hope. Ivan and I-

Martin: We have some things in the works.

Godere: Yeah, with the same gang. That’s nice.

Martin: People that saw the film, producers that are interested in other projects that we have in mind with these guys, so we’ll see what happens.

I hope to see it soon because you guys click, all of you.

Martin: Thank you very much.

Rockwell: Thanks, thanks, man.

Now, Marisa and Sam, you’ve both led, you know, brilliant careers.

Rockwell: Thank you.

Ninja Turtles and on.

Rockwell: (Laughs)

And Galaxy Quest is a personal favorite of mine.

Rockwell: Right on.

Do you two have like favorite roles over the years? Stuff that stands out? Probably My Cousin Vinny comes to mind.

Tomei: Well, that was like the first one that I got to do, so it definitely always stands out.

Rockwell: I like In the Bedroom also.

Martin: Great performance.

Rockwell: Amazing performance, yeah. That’s one of my favorites.

Tomei: Actually, this was one of the most fun times I’ve had on any set.

Because of the comradery?

Tomei: Yeah, and because of the role itself. What about you? What’s your favorite?

Rockwell: My favorite? Of me?

Tomei: Yeah!

All: (Laughs)

Godere: You know, honestly, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is like one of my favorites.

Rockwell: Oh god, thank you. You know, I’ve been very lucky, so yeah, I have a lot of favorites.

Tomei: Did you see Laggies already?

Godere: Not yet, no.

Tomei: I think he’s great.

Martin: I think his performance in Conviction is something that needs to be revisited because I think you’re fantastic in that.

Rockwell: Thanks, thanks.

Martin: Just fantastic.

Rockwell: Thank you, thank you. So we’ll keep plugging away.

Well, what do each of you have in store in your future?

Rockwell: A lot of porn.

Yeah? Good!

All: (Laughs)

Rockwell: Transgender porn.

Tomei: Always up to date.

Rockwell: Got to stay with it. I don’t know, stuff. Got some stuff coming. Stuff.

Tomei: Yeah. Nothing we can…?

Rockwell: Secretive stuff, yeah. I’m really interested in you two, what the next screenplay will be like.

Godere: Well, we have a couple of things that we’re charting out.

Can you give me a preview?

Martin: It’s a thriller.

Godere: Or it’s thrilling! Ooh!

Martin: Yeah, it’s a thriller, so yeah, it’s not a dramedy. It’s a new direction.

Okay.

Martin: It’s a new direction. It’s going to be cool.

So what do you hope that audiences take away from Loitering with Intent?

Rockwell: Laughs, cries, shits and giggles.

Yeah, all that good stuff.

Rockwell: You know, Michael, I hope I’m not speaking out of school, but Michael’s father was a cop. A detective, right?

Godere: That’s right.

Rockwell: And I’ve been sort of egging him on to do a 70s cop movie.

I could totally see you in that.

Rockwell: Yeah.

Tomei: You could see all of us in that! That’s a good little-

All: Yes, yes.

Martin: This is one smart cookie, and in this next movie, you’re going to see some machinations coming from her that we haven’t seen her get up to yet, and you guys are going to be shocked.

Do you have a title yet?

Martin: No, no. Looking forward to it.

Rockwell: You know, there was that documentary I always thought Marisa and I should do about the guy-

Tomei: Oh, Crazy Love! Oh my god. I called to find out about that.

Wait a minute, Pugach? The guy who throws acid-

All: Yeah, yeah. He lives in my building!

All: Wow!

Tomei: What?

Rockwell: Get the f*** out of here! I live in Forest Hills, Queens. He lives in my building.

Rockwell: She passed away. He’s still alive?

He’s still around. He wears a fur coat, he’s wacky.

Tomei: Oh my god.

Rockwell: That’s an incredible story.

Tomei: Get those life rights!

Godere: Well, that’s, that’s like made to order. But I’m hoping to put some of those type of characters in this kind of cop world thing. Sort of like 60s, 70s.

Sounds good, looking forward to that character, cool.

Loitering with Intent

The independent dramedy is one of filmdom’s most interesting and reliable genres. With stories and actors that are grounded very much in reality, movies that fall under this genre provide for the most honest pieces of cinema to ever come to fruition. Loitering with Intent is one such film and while it has two notable stars headlining it, it feels like any other indie production, not flashy or anything huge. It is a bittersweet tale that features some very talented people and it is a movie that everyone should get around to seeing at some point.

Raphael (Ivan Martin) and Dominic (Michael Godere) are struggling actors in New York City, making ends meet by working as bartenders. Fed up with an existence that they feel is below them, they soon decide to get a little proactive. When they randomly run into a big shot producer (Natasha Lyonne), the two actors tell the producer that they are writing a script. Peaking the producer’s interest, the two men now have 10 days to finish the screenplay and submit it before it’s too late. In order to successfully finish said script, Dominic and Raphael venture upstate to hole up in a country house, so that they can get some work done. But when a flirty neighbor Ava (Isabelle McNally), one of Rafael’s ex girlfriend’s Gigi (Marisa Tomei), and mentally unstable brothers Wayne (Sam Rockwell) and Devon (Brian Geraghty), distraction takes over and the writing duo must confront the unexpected house guests and confront their inner demons in the process. Also, Wayne is Gigi’s current beau, so this creates some serious tension between him and Raphael.

Loitering with Intent is a small film with big ideas. With a slim runtime of just 80 minutes, it is a film that feels much longer and this isn’t a bad thing at all. It just has an air of a big budget dramedy since Tomei and Rockwell have such impressive resumes and the rest of the cast also knocks it out of the park. It should also be noted that Tomei and Rockwell also serve as producers for the film. Having said that, Ivan Martin and Michael Godere are also sensational here, pulling triple duty as writer/producer/stars. Both men pull off each job excellently and here’s hoping they bring their creative spark to future projects. Martin and Godere’s script is an effortless example of realism brought to a movie. Their dialogue flows naturally from the mouths of the actors and it is an absolute joy to watch. That same authentic feel can also be said about Adam Rapp’s (Winter Passing, In Treatment) exquisite direction. He has a firm grasp of the camera and each shot is strong evidence of this. Cinematographer Radium Cheung (All is LostMargin Call) should also be commended since the lighting in the film is mostly natural inside the country house, with beams of sunlight piercing the set. The final campfire scene is also lit quite well with nothing but the flames flickering off of the cast’s faces.

Though Loitering with Intent contains Academy Award-winning actress Tomei and the extremely talented and always reliable Rockwell, this is Martin and Godere’s baby through and through. Based on actual stories from the actor/writers’ pasts, this is a film that mirrors real life in more ways than one. Their tale has been told with Loitering with Intent and it is a film anyone trying to make it in film business should see. Not only that, it is a film about friendship and old flames that might get reignited. It’s a movie about people and people on a mission to find themselves. Basically, this is one dramedy that is not to be missed.