Frailty is a homage to the classic psychological horror thrillers of Hitchcock and Aldrich
He’s been a good guy in Hollywood action movies from Aliens to Spy Kids 2; now actor BILL PAXTON directs himself as a religious nut with a penchant for serial killing. Words: Nick Dawson
‘ ith the climate just under a year ago. people were not ready to see this film. They were not watching it and judging it on its own
merits.‘ Actor-director Bill Paxton is talking down the phone line from Mexico about l-i'ui/ry. which. when it first screened for the LS press in the wake of the tragic ey'ents of September 1 l. was met with an unappreciatiye response.
(iiyen that I-i'ui/ry is about a family. lead by Paxton's character Dad. whose task it is to kill people who they belieye (iod has identified as ‘demons'. the initial critical reaction from a traumatised America was understandable. A moyic whose central character is a religious fanatic perpetrating multiple murders in God's name was always going to be meet with a negatiye reaction in light of 9/] I. even more so with all-American 'I‘exas-born nice guy Paxton (sec Apollo 13. Tlt'fSlt’l'. l.'-57l. etc) playing him.
lleld hack for release as a result. when the film did finally come out in spring. American critics‘ heads had cleared and it won wide acclaim. This is especially pleasing to Paxton. as l'i'ui/Iy' — ‘my baby". as he calls it — is only his second film as director (the first was the IOSZ obscurity l‘lS/l Hem/s).
‘l'd been wanting to direct a film for some time and this felt like a nice vehicle for me.‘ says Paxton. ‘The script [written by Brent llanleyl completely freaked me out and I couldn't stop thinking about it. It’s a really excellent piece of screenwriting and l was yery intrigued by the characters and all the twists and turns of the story?
Despite the film's subject matter being both pt'oyocatiyc and edgy. Paxton wanted to return to a classic style of tilmmaking. and the yalucs cherished by Hollywood during its golden era. ‘Yeah. it's an old
‘We wanted to earn our scares
fashioned way, build up to the moment of violence’
fashioned kinda moyie.‘ he agrees. ‘I always loyed good storytelling. good performances. The moy ie is an homage to the classic psychological horror thrillers that I remember growing tip with. eyerything from l’syt'lio to Hus/I. Hits/i. Slt't't’l (War/Ultra.
Thus the film's piyotal scenes. where the ‘demons' are killed. were particularly important to get right. ‘\\'e wanted to earn our scares the old-fashioned way.. he says. “and do it more in the Hitchcock or Robert Aldrich tradition. We build tip to the moment of yiolencc. but use slight of hand and different sound effects so we don't show graphic depictions of Violence.~ lloweyer. as in
such films as (’harles Laughton’s creepy classic .\’i'glir of
Illt’ Hlllllt’l‘ (another of Paxton’s touchstones for l-i'ui/rr) this restraint makes for much more tmnerying Viewing.
Did not only directing. but also acting in one of the principal roles proye something of a challenge for Paxton'.’ ‘I found it physically demanding. so yeah I guess it was quite a feat. I'd be on set.’ he says. ‘setting up a shot. then I'd haye to run to the trailer. get some make-up on. get my wardrobe changed. and then run ltilc‘k.‘
Despite these demands. Paxtoii‘s' direction is sure-handed (hut tittohtt‘ttsiyc). while his performance proyides some of the film's strongest moments. The character of Dad. a religions man who sins for the ‘right reasons‘. was a role Paxton felt well- cquipped to play: ‘l'yc always played characters who are basically good btit who end tip in these morally conflicted situations. and usually capitulate. I think.’ he says. ‘that there’s an liyeryman quality that I'm able to bring to it.’
Speaking as the film is about to get its release oyer here. Paxton is hopeful that [K audiences. more discerning and thoughtful than their Stateside counterparts. will appreciate his baby. ‘l'ltimately.’ he says. ‘I just want people to sayour the dark journey into the night that this iiioyic takes us on.’
If there‘s any justice. the intelligent and unsettling trip that is I'i‘ui/ly will be one many British cinemagoers will be taking. It‘s certainly not one they‘ll forget.
Frailty is on general release from Fri 6 Sep. See review, page 25.
Lights, camera, action . . .
AND THE WINNER IS . . . THF 56th Edition of the Edinburgh International Film t estival Closed at the end of August With a gala screening of /risomnia and the obligatory awards (:(3l'(}!ii()'iy. the winners were: oininic's Savage for Out of Contro/ Michaei Powell Award for Best New British Featurei. (Sailor; Heygadas ‘or Japori lT/i‘t,‘ Guard/arr New Director's Ayn/ardi and Philip Noyce to" Rah/ii: Proof / once
iStandard life Audience award.
The short film winners were: local talent Anna Jones for Sky High iSaItire Seeiety GrlCrSOti Award for Short Documentary). Joachim Trier for Proctor iKodak and Short Film Bureau Award for Best British Shorti and Shynola and Ruth Lingford's An Eye for An Eye iMcLaren Award for New British Animation‘i.
EIFF award winner Rabbit Proof Fence
GOOD NEWS FOR THE FILM Festival comes in the form of renewed sponsorship from FilmFour. FilmFour, you may be aware, recently announced a downgrading of its film production and distribution activities. That announcement was made the day before the Film Festival launched its 2003 programme in Edinburgh. Speculation was thus rife that the Film Festival’s major sponsor would be reigning in its purse strings north of the border. However, FilmFour has agreed to extend its support of the Film festival for a fifth year. YOU WANNA MAKE MOVIES? Cinev-xorks. the SIasgow-hased short film funding scheme for first idilO filmmakers. is hosting an open day/style event at Fdinhurgh's Dominion picture palace on Saturday 1‘1 September. The event. which consists of Iectur<~>s and seminars by industry professionals, is pi‘iiittipally an applications (ll'!\'(}. Those inteiested w'ii'f find t'Og'SlfilllOti forms at: ‘.‘.’\'.’\‘.’.(IllHE‘S/()l'kSCOtIK
‘8' SM) AW." THE LIST 23