I never spoke to directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris when they were making the rounds to support their first film, "Little Miss Sunshine." I was aware of them from their music video work, and I enjoyed "Sunshine," but at that point, our paths just never ended up crossing.
This time, I made sure to set time aside so we could discuss their new film, "Ruby Sparks," which opens tomorrow in limited release. I wanted to talk to them about the way pressure to match their first film's remarkable success played into the length of time it took them to decide on a follow-up. I wanted to talk to them about working with Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan, and how they defined the different relationships they had with Kazan as a writer and as an actor. And I absolutely wanted to talk to them about one of the key choices made in the film, one that may throw some viewers.
It's also always interesting to see what the dynamic is, even in conversation, between co-directors. It's still not a common relationship, and Dayton and Faris are very unusual anyway, since most of the co-directors working are brothers or long-time writing partners. In conversation, there's such a connected back and forth between them that I have to assume that bleeds into their professional dynamic as well.
And that choice? We got into it a bit, and I think it's one of those things that helps define the nature of a film. In something like "Big," where you have to make a magical leap of faith, they explain it via the magic fortune-telling machine. In "Groundhog Day," they specifically never explain what happens to make Bill Murray drop into his endless loop of days. When a studio is involved, they will most likely push for some sort of explanation, whether it's magical wishing powder or a lightning strike or an enchanted coin, and ultimately, all of those things end up feeling like an excuse, a manufactured explanation that exists merely to be brushed over quickly. I like the "Groundhog Day" solution, where the film simply accepts this magical moment as part of the story, and that's how "Ruby Sparks" handles things. Dayton and Faris explained their decision, and I think it makes a lot of sense.
I'll have a review for the film later this evening, and you can also look back at yesterday and my interview with Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan.
"Ruby Sparks" opens in limited release tomorrow.
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
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