Luc Besson Discusses ‘Lucy’ and Why Scarlett Johansson Was Perfect for the Role

scarlettjohansson_lucy_universalpictures (PCM) Most human beings only access 10-15 percent of their brains. “Lucy,” starring Scarlett Johansson in the title role, is the story of a woman who unwittingly exceeds that capacity.

From “La Femme Nikita” and “The Professional” writer/director Luc Besson comes this action-thriller that tracks a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

Lucy (Johansson) is a carefree young student living in Taiwan who is tricked by her boyfriend into delivering a briefcase to a business contact. Before she can understand the situation in which she’s become ensnared, Lucy is grabbed and held hostage by the merciless Mr. Jang (Cho Min Sik).

When his thugs surgically implant a package loaded with a powerful synthetic substance – one that would likely kill her if it were to leak — in our heroine, her terror turns to desperation. Even more so when the chemical is accidentally unleashed in and absorbed by Lucy’s system, and her body begins the unimaginable: Her cerebral capacity is unlocked to startling, and previously hypothetical, levels.
LLucy turns for help to Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman), whose decades of research on the brain’s potential makes him unparalleled in the field … and the only person with the ability to see where this might lead.

In this interview, Luc Besson discusses how he developed the idea, how much of it is real, why Scarlett was perfect for the role and more.

Where did you get the idea for the story?

Here [he says touching his head]. I had a discussion a long time ago, probably 20 years ago, I was doing a presentation of a film. The mayor always wants to invite you after to dinner. They always sit a girl next to me. I was guessing: Is it the niece of the mayor, or does she want to be an actress? I said, “What are you doing?” She said, “I’m a professor and I’m working on the nucleus of cells.” I talked with her for three hours and I learned amazing things about the brain.

For example, we have 100,000 billion cells in one body. Each cell is sending 1000 messages per second per cell. That is the level of the web system that we have. So the numbers of information per second is huge, and we have no access to it.

I just started to work on that and then I met a couple of professors. I wanted to know more about the background before I got into the characters, to make sure I had a real statement. Half of what is said in the film is true; the other half is totally fake. But if you mix up everything together, everything looks real.

The stuff that Lucy can do with her increased brain power at 30 percent, is that what you got from the scientists, or is that what you made up?

The theory about the 10/20 is fake. It was a theory in the ’60s, but the theory is wrong. But I use it. It is a film. The number of messages per second per cell is true.

LWhat made Scarlett Johansson the perfect person to play Lucy?

There are a bunch of actresses who could play, but it is about meeting the person and you need to feel the desire from one and the other. I didn’t propose a job; I proposed an adventure. I spent 9 years working on it, I want the person to be committed. I am going to bother her 24 hours a day. She has to be ready for that. She has to be willing to do that. You have to be clear and say, “Do you want to do the travel with me? Do you want to do this four or five months together?” The good thing about Scarlett is she is a tough cookie. She is from New York. She said yes.

You said it took 9 years to write it. During that time science changes a lot with new discoveries, as does technology. Did you have to keep updating?

Yes. I am one of the founders of the Institute of the Brain. It is a huge hospital with nine Nobel prize winners working there. These guys are fascinating. I see them once in a while and I ask them questions. I gave them the script to read and they had more questions than me.

You used some new techniques for audiences to see in “Lucy.” Can you talk about that?

I chose the street first, a very famous street in Paris: Rue de Rivoli. There are five ways in, but you can’t come back. It is one way. It is always a fantasy for me to take this avenue full speed. I know the street for 30 years, so I went little by little.

“Lucy,” produced by Virginie Besson-Silla for EuropaCorp and distributed in the U.S. by Universal Pictures, opens in theaters on Friday, July 25.

The post Luc Besson Discusses ‘Lucy’ and Why Scarlett Johansson Was Perfect for the Role also appeared on PCM Reviews.

VOD: ‘Her’ Review

In the new sci-fi tale Her, Spike Jonze introduces us to his vision of the near future where artificial and human intelligence interact and form relationships and the lines between the two are forever blurred.  Her, written and directed by Jonze, looks at the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence and is set in the not too distant future where society and technology are based off what we already have today, which makes for a very believable interpretation of the future.  Her stars Joaquin Phoenixas Theodore Twombly, who having recently gone through a divorce from his wife Catherine (Roony Mara) is going through the motions of life and seems to get no pleasure anywhere in his world.  His job is to write letters for other people who have trouble expressing their own emotions to give to their loved ones.  Feeling alone, Theodore purchases a new operating system for his computer called the OS One.  This new OS is the first of its kind, and is developed to evolve and grow over time just like a human.  Theodore decides to give his OS a female identity, and the OS gives herself the name Samantha (Scarlett Johansson).  Samantha talks Theodore into going on a blind date that his friend Amy (Amy Adams) sets up, and while the date seems to be going well at the end right before they are about to go home together the date, played by Olivia Wilde, asks if Theodore is willing to commit to her.  Theodore of course stumbles on the answer and the date leaves, after saying a couple hurtful things.  After this failed blind date, Theodore, who is really searching for someone to love him begins to fall in love with Samantha, who also is beginning to fall for Theodore.  Samantha has a thirst for life and knowledge and this excites Theodore, who loves the way she looks at the world.  Samantha begins to change Theodore, and Theodore is helping Samantha change even more.  Her envisions a future where humans and OS’s interact as one, with the underlying question of whether or not we need actual human contact for relationships or if artificial intelligence romances are enough to keep us satisfied, while losing the little things that make us human.

While set in the future, Her hits close to where our society is currently shifting in terms with our relationships with technology.  One of Theodore’s only hobbies is video games, which are very interactive and not too far off from where we are today.  Theodore interacts with the characters in the game through speech and movement, and some of the few times early in the film we actually see Theodore smile and genuinely look happy, and again its another form of satisfaction from technology as opposed to human contact.  Theodore seems the most alone when he is surrounded by people.  Whether at work or on his way to work, Theodore seems to have no human friends except Amy, who lives in his building and who he had once dated briefly in college.  In a city filled with millions of people he can’t seem to connect with another human, and the one person he once had is on the verge of being gone forever if he would only sign his divorce papers.  This feeling is felt by millions of people today, as they turn to social media and other technologies to fill in the loneliness in their hearts and to try to connect to someone, or anyone who will love them.  These current technologies, and the new OS in Her may help fill some of the loneliness we all experience on a day to day basis, but can it ever truly replace human to human contact?

_DSC2097.tifTheodore, who is a talented writer, works in a cubicle like many of us do today writing letters for other people.  This commentary on the dying art of letter writing, which has already hit our society is spot on and very funny.  With technology today, many people my age (25) and younger have given up letter writing all together, in favor of a quick email, call, or text which they believe accomplishes the same same thing.  Talking to my grandparents, I know what receiving a letter can do for someone to raise their spirits.  Taking time out of your day to hand write a letter and mail it is incredibly more intimate and personal rather than just emailing or texting them.  A letter shows more thought and preparation, and used to be an important part of interpersonal communication but in our society and especially in Her this isn’t the case, where the act of writing a love letter is passed on to someone to do for you.  In Spike Jonze’s future, letter writing is another casualty of technology, as the conciseness shifts from people to machines.

The color palettes used in Her are visually very stimulating.  Everything on the outside from the exterior of the buildings landscape to the bland minimalist interiors of the future are very grey and beige, while people wear bright color shirts, and everything from the paper to the blinds are bright realms of colors.  Showing that may make it seem like there’s not much going on looking just at the surface, but when you go inside there is more than you originally thought.  This goes with the evolving technology in that at first the OS is bland and like the rest, but the more time you spend with “it”, the more unique it becomes and you can see the different colors.  Heris a film that will have many different interpretations, and will be equally good on repeat viewings.  Spike Jonze has constructed a tightly filmed love story set in the not to distant future, with the question of whether or not technology can fill in the holes left in the heart from past failed relationships.

Spike-Jonze-HerJoaquin Phoenix played the lonely Theodore to perfection, with the possibility of being the frontrunner in the Oscar competition.  Phoenix can display the full spectrum of emotions simply with his facial expressions.  This role required him to interact with his OS Samantha for a good chunk of the film, so he had to do a good job not being able to bounce his performance off another actor but also had to show his emotions by body language and sometimes minimal dialogue.  Even though you only hear her voice, Scarlett Johansson plays off Phoenix very well and does an excellent job in giving Samantha life, making her feel more human than most of the people Theodore saw every day.  Besides technology and his friend Amy, Theodore’s only really other friend is Paul (Chris Pratt), who did a great job with some of the funnier moments of the film.  Everybody from Phoenix to his ex-wife Catherine, played as a small role excellently by Rooney Mara, did their jobs well and were perfectly cast in the film.

The fourth feature film by Spike Jonze may be his best overall.  Being John Malkovich showed Jonze had his own style.  Adaptation showed that he can get stellar performances from his actors, as Nic Cage was nominated for an Oscar, while Where the Wild Things Are showed that Jonze could handle a big-budget film.  Her however combines all these elements from his previous films to make what is his most complete film and it shows his evolution as a feature film director.  Her has all the quirky elements that Jonze is known for, while getting some incredible performances as well.  Her offers a unique glimpse into what Spike Jonze believes is the future based on the current trends of society.  Her is sure to be on top-ten movie lists of the year and it deserves all the recognition it gets.  Phoenix and Jonze is a match we’ve all been waiting for, and the result speaks for itself.  We are working on developing artificial intelligence, and as Her becomes more and more plausible, it will be interesting to see how it effects interpersonal communication of the future.  You may never look at Siri the same way ever again.

Spike Jonze’s new film Her starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Scarlett Johansson, and Chris Pratt is available on blu-ray/DVD and Video on Demand (VOD).

The post VOD: ‘Her’ Review appeared first on Age of The Nerd.

Under the Skin in Theaters 4/4

Under_the_Skin_3(PCM) Scarlett Johansson is showing off a completely new side of her acting chops in Jonathon Glazer’s latest thriller, Under the Skin, in theaters on a limited run starting April 4.

Johansson plays an alien on earth, disguised as the perfect aesthetic form of a mesmerizing woman. She scours remote highways and desolate scenery looking to use her greatest weapon to snare human prey — her voracious sexuality.

She is deadly efficient, but over time becomes drawn to and changed by the complexity of life on earth. With this new found humanity and weakening alien resolve, she finds herself on a collision course with her own kind. Taking her point of view throughout, the film presents a unique look at our world through alien eyes.

The trailer, seen below, is heavy with foreboding atmosphere, hinting at Under the Skin’s dark story.

Starring in the film are Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers, Her), Paul Brannigan (The Angels’ Share, Beyond), and Jessica Mance. Under the Skin was directed by Jonathan Glazer, well known for his other films Birth (2004) and Sexy Beast (2000),

Clocking in at 1 hour and 48 minutes, Under the Skin is rated R for graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language.

Check out Under the Skin’s official website here and be sure to catch the movie on its limited run starting April 4!

The post Under the Skin in Theaters 4/4 also appeared on PCM Reviews.

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