The 2014 Miami International Film Festival is officially underway, and Cultist was there as familiar-looking people followed a red carpet into the Gusman Center downtown for the opening night screening of Elsa & Fred.
The film is an unconventional romance that in the words of its star, Shirley MacLaine, is about "older people who fall in love before they croak." It's an independent movie, so she and her romantic interest, Christopher Plummer, croak in a racially motivated shootout during a drug heist gone wrong. (Maybe? We didn't stick around for the film.)
More salty talk from MacLaine in a bit but first, if the cast and crew wanted to get inside, they had to face our stupid questions on the red carpet. Or, failing that, at least ignore our timid waves.
"Anne Hathaway! Anne? Anne, I think you dropped your keys?"
Jared Gilman, actor
Hey, look! It's Jared Gilman, star of Moonrise Kingdom and Elsa & Fred, too.
Cultist: What's the most romantic thing you've ever done?
A man who looked suspiciously like Gilman from the future began to chuckle.
2044 Jared Gilman: Maybe I should move. As his dad, maybe he doesn't want to answer that in front of me.
2014 Jared Gilman: Well, I guess if anything -- because I'm not someone people, like women, swoon over or anything. I'm not...I'm not...
Is that true?
No one does any of that. So, in terms of romantic things, I guess this could count... Back when I was in middle school -- well, two years ago; I'm in ninth grade now -- they did the 3D re-release of Titanic. I took a girl to see it with me. So that could count.
Did it go well?
How well did it go?
It went well. It went well.
And what did you learn about romance from being on the set of this movie?
Well, I guess if anything, when it does come around, you're just kind of really lucky, I guess. Because it's just one of those things where it's just... They always say that there's someone for everyone and it's just a matter of finding that person. And so, you know. Timing.
And how gross is it to watch old people kiss?
Luckily, I didn't have to see any of that when I was on set.
Osvaldo Ríos, actor/musician
Osvaldo Ríos, the musician and telenovela hearthrob, was present as both an actor and part of the production team.
He knows quite a bit about romance, having been married three times. And he knows a little something about how not to be romantic, too, having served three months in a Puerto Rican prison at age 42 for beating his then-girlfriend.
But Elsa & Fred is a movie about second chances at love. And Ríos attended the big premiere with dancer Taymi Olivera in their first public appearance as a new couple.
So what's the most romantic thing you've ever done for someone?
Ríos: Wow, I think walking this red carpet with Taymi Olivera today.
So up until now, you have not been more romantic than walking the red carpet with her?
You know, everywhere, every time, every day. This is our first time public, so...
And how did you decide that this was the moment to take this relationship public?
Well, this is a special moment for me. You know, I was part of this movie as an executive producer as well as acting on it. So for me, it's like a dream come true. Especially for Latin American people, we work so much, and we really fight to do what we really dream about.
This "everywhere, every time, every day" business had us intrigued, so we called over Olivera.
Taymi Olivera, dancer/choreographer
How romantic is he?
Olivera: Ah! Really romantic.
What does he do that is special?
Everything is special.
What's one thing he's done?
Does he give you flowers? Does he vacuum? [Cultist is single, obviously]
What is his best dish?
Chocolate chip cookies? Does he put soap in them?
Everything. Arroz con gondules.
We see this relationship going the distance. What do they have going for them? Everything.
Nelson O., singer
Then our heart began beating a merengue rhythm, which could only mean one thing: paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia. Fortunately, sultry singer and amateur cardiologist Nelson O. was charming his way down the red carpet.
You know a little something about romance, right?
Nelson O.: A little bit, yes.
So give me some tips on romance for late in life, as in this movie.
I think the most important thing about romance is being in the moment and also respecting each other's opinions and individuality. As a human being, we know how important it is to be an individual.
What if you're trying to romance someone who's not really much of an individual but you'd like to romance them anyway?
I'd say try a little vodka? It will help. No, I think being yourself and being authentic to yourself, your values and who you are, it can be contagious. And being happy. So maybe that can get them going, for a little romance.
What do you think your romantic life will be like when you're in your 80s like Elsa and Fred?
I hope I can have some. Well, it's an achievement in itself to be 80. So to have romance at 80, let me see what it will be like... It will be like Elsa & Fred tonight! Their story is unexpected, and then they are led by the moment. That happens to me. I know that it will, because I am a man of passion, and when passion is inside of you, it's forever. And I have hope, because my grandmother died when she was 114.
Was she in a relationship at the time?
I want to say yes but no, she wasn't.
She was just dating around, then.
Exactly. She knew all the men around the neighborhood.
Michael Radford, director/writer
Two-time Oscar nominee Michael Radford, the director and co-writer of the film. Radford was hired to remake the 2005 Argentinian original film and set about writing it with his co-writer on Il Postino who doesn't speak any English. So they wrote the screenplay in Italian in 15 days and then translated it into English.
As a co-writer, how does Anna Pavignano compare to your co-writer on The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare?
Radford: She's a wonderful, wonderfully funny and human writer. And so is Shakespeare.
What's the most romantic thing anybody has ever done for you?
My wife, last year, gave me a surprise birthday present. It was incredibly complicated because my life is incredibly complicated. I had no idea. She managed to organize the people who worked with me, the people who were going to work with me, my lawyers, my manager -- everyone kept silent.
And on the eve of my birthday, my daughter handed me an envelope and said, "Forget about the restaurant you're going to tomorrow night. Get your swimming costume together. You're getting on a plane tomorrow morning. Destination: somewhere."
I had no idea. And [my wife had] organized this whole thing, and it was only when I got on the plane from London that I realized I was going to Barbados. And that -- what actually was romantic about it was that everybody collaborated, and I felt incredibly loved by all the people around me. You know, it's just a wonderful feeling.
And who went with you? Did she send you on your own?
My wife went with me! And we quarreled the whole time.
The Back of Anne Hathaway's Head, brain container
A massive fuss! Flash bulbs! Shrieks! Were they for This Guy?
No! They were for Anne Hathaway who, while not in the movie, had apparently taken advantage of a Voice Daily Deal on MIFF tickets. We did not see her inside the theater later so she may have left immediately.
(It's possible that we weren't looking in the right place. But, you know, there are human rights violations going on in Venezuela almost as devastating as the Bride Wars of 2009, so we had other things on our mind.)
Still, as future ruler of Genovia, Hathaway is in a position to comment directly on the Venezuela situation. We made a decision to keep talking to This Guy rather than yell to her while she speed-smiled past the press line. If it improves things for you, we're sure she feels the exact way he does. Just imagine her saying all this while crying and someone shaves her head.
This Guy, guy
What should people know about what is going on in Venezuela right now?
Guy: People should know that we have a government that is not as democratic as the world thinks it is. We have a national guard and national police who are supposed to be taking care of the Venezuelans and they are shooting our kids, shooting the students.
They are shooting against the families. The tanks and everything that's supposed to be in favor of Venezuelans are being used against our families. We need to make the world see Venezuela so they know what's really happening in our frontiers.
And what can just ordinary people do?
In Venezuela, there are not many communications or media because the government has closed them or the government has bought them. Or, in the case of the newspapers, they cannot buy anymore paper so they can't come out. So they just have the voice of the government.
What we ask the people in the whole world to use social media to let every country, every person who makes important decisions in their countries, to know and look toward Venezuela. We have no voice in our own country. This is why I put the S.O.S. on my mouth. Because they are not letting us speak in our country.
Is it going to be difficult to enjoy the film, knowing what's going on back in Venezuela?
Right now, every moment is difficult. Every moment we are getting messages from family, from friends who are seeing things happen in every corner of our country. So every moment is difficult. It's difficult to be watching the movie. It's difficult to be at home. It's difficult to be in any moment without looking at the phone or at Twitter to know what's happening, at Instagram, at WhatsApp to know what's happening in our country.
Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer did not speak with press on the way into the theater, but they did chat on stage with MIFF executive director Jaie Laplante before the lights went down. Whatever. There wasn't a red carpet on the stage so who cares what they had to say.
Michael Radford, however, told a fun story about cast member Chris Noth, who didn't answer any press questions, either, but at least had the decency to not show up.
"He used to drag me out at night," Radford said. "Nobody knows this. He used to feel lonely. He used to feel that nobody knew who he was. So we'd go to a restaurant. We'd pick a restaurant in New Orleans, and I've never seen anything like it.
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"We'd walk in and the women would literally stand up, leave their tables, leave their partners, leave their lovers and sit on his lap. And he's a big guy. But he wasn't big enough for all these women to sit on his lap, so some of them sat on my lap, as well. And for a little moment, I felt what it was like to be a movie star."
And then the baddest bitch in the room, Shirley McClaine, smirked and asked, "Are you sure you were in a restaurant?"
The 2014 Miami International Film Festival continues through March 16. For schedules and tickets, visit MiamiFilmFestival.com