#1.24 – “Winston’s Birthday” Promo
Hollywood.com Chats with Jake Johnson About “Drinking Buddies”
Within moments of meeting the cast and director of the new movie Drinking Buddies, you can see exactly why the end product turned out as funny, loose, and honest as it did. Their rapport in real-life is just as fast and loose and funny is it played out on screen. Case in point: while discussing blurring the lines of male-female friendships, the conversation bouncing between director Joe Swanberg, and stars Jake Johnson and Ron Livingston, sounded like something, well, straight out of a comedy.
Joe: ” I feel like when people who have had that kind of chemistry, through whatever means have gotten past it, and you’ve sort of gotten close to the flame and figured out how to stay close and create a boundary, those can become great friendships and you kind of have to push them past the breaking point and let them break a little bit and then you know where that is and then you both just agree to stay on your side of the line from there on out.”
Ron: ”Or you f**k the whole thing up and move to a different city.”
Drinking Buddies, which opened to raves and boisterous laughs at the Paramount Theater at SXSW this weekend, is a sexy, smart will-they-won’t-they romantic comedy about two friends Luke and Katie —played by Johnson and co-star/producer Olivia Wilde — who toy with the boundaries of friendship, flirting and their relationships — both to each other, and their significant others Jill and Chris, played by Anna Kendrick and Livingston, respectively.
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Drinking Buddies’ Anna Kendrick, Olivia Wilde And Jake Johnson Talk Improv, Skinny Dipping At SXSW
Actors and directors often say that the script is king. Haven’t you seen movies that – despite rich potential – fly off the rails? The issues often can be traced back to a script issue, a plot hole that swallows all effort and can doom even the most noble of projects.
Joe Swanberg swears by a different philosophy. The grassroots writer-director behind Hannah Takes the Stairs, Uncle Kent and V/H/S prefers not to lock his cast into a fixed screenplay, opting to let them react to conversations and emotions, which allows his dramas to live in the moment. It’s the use of improvisation to search for the beating heart of a particular story helps Swanberg’s latest, Drinking Buddies - which held its world premiere at the South By Southwest Film Festival on Saturday night – stand apart from traditional romantic comedies.
The movie boasts Swanberg’s most recognizable cast, exploring one of his most accessible character studies. It tells the universal story of an endearing yet mismatched couple, played by Anna Kendrick and Jake Johnson, who are tested by the temptations of infidelity when they begin interacting with a second couple, played by Olivia Wilde and Ron Livingston. Though Swanberg puts his foursome in familiar scenarios – a joint vacation at a secluded beachfront cabin; work events at the brewery that employs Wilde and Johnson – his reluctance to put words in his characters mouths allows Drinking Buddies to go down unexpected avenues as it searches for its truths.
Following the screening on Saturday night, I attended a private meet-and-greet with Swanberg and his cast and learning how liberating the director’s unconventional approach was to the actors helped me better appreciate the magic that’s captured in the loose, free-flowing but authentic film . “Putting dialogue in somebody else’s mouth has always felt strange to me,” the director told us – though the cast was quick to point out that Swanberg always had a strong vision about where he needed his story to go. The performers just had more leeway than usual in how they arrived at their destination.
‘Drinking Buddies’ At SXSW: Jake Johnson & Olivia Wilde Try To Be Friends Without Benefits
Can men and women be friends? That eternal question, perhaps best asked by Nora Ephron in “When Harry Met Sally,” takes center stage in Joe Swanberg’s new film ”Drinking Buddies,” which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival on Saturday night.
Swanberg’s latest focuses on two couples, Luke and Jill (Jake Johnson and Anna Kendrick) and Kate and Chris (Olivia Wilde and Ron Livingston), and the too-close-for-comfort relationship between drinking buddies Luke and Kate, who are co-workers at a Chicago brewery. As the title and that description indicate, “Drinking Buddies” features beer drinking, more beer drinking, even more beer drinking and lots of intriguing drama about what is worse for a relationship: physical affairs or emotional ones. As is Swanberg’s style, “Drinking Buddies” is unscripted; instead of writing a screenplay, Swanberg discussed the characters and story with his talented cast and filled in the blanks during the editing process.
Typically, if you’re working from a script you’ve written a joke or moment on the page, and it’s really hard to tell if it’s landed.” Swanberg, best known for making films that fit into the indie sub-genre of mumblecore, said during a post-screening press conference. “You have to rely on the fact that you knew it was a funny joke when you wrote it and then, in the context of the movie, that it will land. This way, I’m watching it as a viewer; I’m watching it unfold. Then I know what’s working and not working.”
Which isn’t to say Swanberg made “Drinking Buddies” by the seat of his pants.
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